Trees have long been associated with life; from ancient religions to modern evolutionary science, the tree of life has always been represented as an important source of life-giving energy. Even our human ancestry is referred to as family trees.
Importance of Trees
Acknowledgement of this sacred and interdependent connection between human life and the life of trees is nowhere more evident than in the West Indian state of Rajasthan, India. There, every time a baby girl is born, members of the Piplantri village celebrate by planting 111 new trees.
In Italy, designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel started the Capsula Mundi project. Rather than costly traditional burials with caskets, the goal of this project is to allow people to use their remains to provide nutrients for a beautiful tree grown from an organic, biodegradable burial pod. The ancient practice of celebrating both life and death with trees is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity all over the world.
The symbolic significance of trees is evident in the many rituals associated with them throughout history, but the value of trees throughout our lives is much more than symbolic. In addition to providing the oxygen necessary for human life, many trees also have important healing qualities. Their roots, leaves, and bark have been, and continue to be, used for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Trees can also provide shade to reduce cooling costs, fruit to reduce grocery costs, and with a little expert advice, caring for trees require very little investment compared to the many benefits.
Reducing the Use of Toxic Chemicals
One of the reasons for the growing number of people who want to replace traditional burials with planting trees is that it eliminates the toxic chemicals currently used in the process of burial. People have become more aware of the potentially harmful effects of chemicals on their health.
According to environmental experts, the average household contains approximately 62 toxic chemicals. These chemicals, found in many household products, have been linked to a number of health concerns, including asthma, cancer, neurotoxicity and hormone disruption. Cleaners, detergents, and even soaps can pose serious health problems after years of daily exposure to the chemicals many of them contain.
These chemicals continue to damage the environment as they are washed down drains and into the water supply. Increasingly, people are demanding 'green' cleaning products made of natural, usually plant-based ingredients. These products often list their ingredients as being safe for children and pets even though they are not required to do so by law.
Since organic cleaning products can be expensive, many people have begun making their own. Tea-tree oil is both antibacterial and antifungal. Mixing a few drops with vinegar and water makes a great all-purpose cleaner that kills germs without posing other health risks. A few drops of lavender essential oil can make it smell great, too.
The internet is a great source of information for ideas for making your own natural and effective cleaning products. Common ingredients include, vinegar, baking soda, and citrus peel, which is another natural antibacterial with stain-fighting properties also.
Pharmaceutical drugs have been found in the drinking water of many communities. Some of the most common ones include antibiotics, hormones, and mood stabilisers. Experts are still uncertain about the extent of the potential health risks due to low levels of commonly used drugs being present in drinking water.
In addition to prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs are often used to treat minor health conditions. In many cases, an herbal remedy could prove just as effective, without the physical side effects and potential problems of disposal.
Herbs have been used for centuries to treat a number of common ailments, and pose no danger to the water supply. Ginger has been used to soothe an upset stomach. For colds and respiratory problems, eucalyptus provides relief, and is even used as one of the many ingredients in pharmaceutical cold medicine products. Some herbal remedies are provided by trees as well, such as white willow bark to replace aspirin for minor pain and swelling without causing an upset stomach.
Even one person going green has the potential to help raise the quality of all our lives.