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Self-Care is Caring for the Planet

By Kimmie Torgerson

My self-care is caring for the place and people that give me the ability to live and love: our planet and my community. I am fulfilled when others are taken care of, when I know I’m making positive change for the better in other areas of life. Without the proper health of the life around me, I don’t feel my best self. 

“Self-care” has always been a pretty convoluted term to me; I understand how important it is for humans to connect with themselves, focus on their own needs, and put themselves first in order to live both a mentally and physically sound life. How can you be the brightest light in somebody else’s life if you’re not feeling cared for yourself? Every human being goes through their own battles and has their own way of fulfilling their personal self-care journey, whatever that means to them. But if we’re always putting just ourselves first, how can we also focus on caring for the community around us? If we’re only giving back to our individual selves, what damage are we creating to our environment along the way? What are we depleting for our own self-benefit? 

For me, self-care is all about the circular outcome of my decisions and how I am affecting the chain of life.

Humanity craves community, and the earth is hungry for change. It’s time for us to release our excessive consumption habits, reconnect with society, care for nature, and learn that happiness doesn’t always come from instant gratification or material objects. We hardly slow down and think about how we’re depleting the environment and in turn, humanity. Sometimes we are so focused on our own needs that we often overlook what our planet and community need: for us to care for each other and the place we inhabit.

As I’ve written this, I’ve realized my personal experience with self-care stems back to my childhood and the environment I grew up in. I was raised by my mother who somehow always managed to put food on the table for her kids, no matter where we were financially. She rarely focused on herself; her goal every day was to take care of her children, make sure the lights stayed on, and offer her support no matter if she agreed or not. She was open-minded, loving, and was constantly putting others before her needs (all of these things still reign true presently). Her selfless actions taught me at an early age to take care of others, be kind, listen, appreciate everything you own, and to love and support all walks of life. I see my mom as Mother Earth in human form: she provides, gives, offers, receives, and nurtures without expecting anything in return. I am so grateful to have been raised by her!

Aside from learning how to provide for others, I learned the importance of taking care of the things we owned, because we didn’t have an influx of material wealth. The things we invested in were meant to last a long time, to be worn until they were no longer deemed acceptable by society, and to be repurposed and rearranged to feel “new” again. I got a job at 13, saved every penny, and only spent it when I felt right about it. These childhood experiences have deeply shaped my choices as an adult. What’s crazy is that I’m just now realizing it.

I spent the latter half of my 20s evolving into a person that deeply cares for the planet and considering how my existence affects its well being. It dawned on me one day how much waste I was creating daily, and how mindless my decisions were. For someone who was raised to make mindful decisions and take care of other humans, I knew I had to shift my mindset in a radical way. Since this realization, it has been my mission to figure out how to educate my community and break the learning barrier around sustainability issues.

In the past three years, I have slowly and successfully shifted my focus around my daily consumption. It truly has been a journey, but a rewarding one. High-level shifts I’ve made include refusing single-use plastic items (produce bags, straws, to-go cups, disposable utensils, etc.), bringing lunch to work and drinking coffee at home [editor’s note: when our office was open before the shelter-in-place order], buying foods in bulk, upcycling my jelly and pickle jars into reusable food storage for leftovers, limiting my retail therapy, and refilling containers for my household goods over and over from my local refill shops (shout out No Tox Life, Sustain LA, and Refillery LA). I understand and acknowledge how lucky I am to be able to make these shifts and to have access to these shops.

When it comes to educating my community around sustainability, I lean on my design skills to help communicate things I’m learning, or to pulse out my self-care message on my Instagram. I am definitely no expert, but it has been a fun passion project and outlet for self-discovery. In a way, designing makes me hold myself more accountable. I hope to be a resource for others, a person people can count on!

Shifting my daily consumption habits and creating fun designs have allowed me to connect with nature more and more. I am enjoying the sun and appreciating the free therapy I receive anytime I’m outside. I’ve had so much joy seeing my friends, coworkers, and family making sustainable changes in their everyday routines. Their shared excitement when they’ve made a change in their life motivates me to keep creating and keep up with my self-care mission. We’re making change together—what’s more powerful and rewarding than that?

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What does self-care mean to you?