Jennifer and Farzan Dehmobed with their Lotus Trolley bags Photo by Jamie Lytle
Soul on Fire

Soul on Fire: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

So, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And everywhere I go is an opportunity for me to shop and spend in-person and online. How can we bring spiritual principles into the consumerism that seems to suck the living soul out of so many?

We have been on a quest that included consciousness, and that also provides mindfulness — paying attention to the present moment. And presently, pardon the pun, we are in a global crisis that the hottest selling Frozen toy coming in from China will not fix. I mean, these toys are locked down with so much plastic and packaging, it’s as if there is a security breach about to occur just getting most of the items out of the box. And don’t even get me started on batteries.

I posted on my social media about Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday and holding firm during Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. By Wednesday I was crying, there’s so much pressure to buy. If you absolutely must succumb to this culture of giving, my plea to the readers is that at least shop local and with consciousness to the impact that purchase has on the planet.

I went around North County on a quest to find the most eco-friendly and Earth-conscious gift-giving opportunities. I found items that could not only please your most picky gift list, but make a positive impact on the planet, and will send a message globally about how a mindful, spiritual, Soul on Fire enlightened shopper wants to buy.

The first stop was with the founders of The Lotus Trolley Bag (www.lotustrolleybag.com) Jennifer and Farzan Dehmoubed. Fueled by a desire to put even a small impact on plastic pollution after the 2016 ban on single-use plastic bags, this part-time project has turned into a full-time immersion into the burgeoning eco-industry the demand has been so high. This company is owned and operated by a local, passionate surfer and real estate investor, along with his earth-loving outdoorsy bride who retired from her teaching career to meet the demands of this successful enterprise. They are fulfilling their dharma by impacting companies and influencing change with the “only shopping bags you will ever need.” This type of sustainable innovation is the future that we need now, not only for gift-giving ideas but to make every part of our existence compliment co-existing on a finite planet.

I can’t tell you how many plastic bags I have stuffed in the hall closet, never having them when I am checking out. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing. The problem seems to have gotten worse with the ban and these thicker single-use bags. And the thought that there are 160,000 bags created per second, with their microplastics polluting our landfills and ocean waters — there is no excuse.

The Lotus Trolley Bags are the sharpest solution. I feel totally put together when I use mine, and I will bring them back out to my car and have them on hand when I go shopping. They are designed super efficiently and are so cute; you will love them as a gift and especially for yourself. They have also come out with vegetable bags to try and combat the produce area of the store that is almost worse in terms of plastic bags. Look for them as you shop locally in Ralphs, Von’s, Fraizer Farms or online.

Let’s talk about single-use plastic water bottles. It’s gotta stop. The average American uses 156 plastic bottles per year.

At this rate, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish as 8 million tons of plastic goes into oceans annually. It’s time to choose your path as far as ecology is concerned. Many water companies are getting the memo that they need to climb aboard the sustainability bandwagon, or they are going to be left behind as the consciousness rises daily. Aluminum recyclability saves 90% to 95% of the energy necessary to recycle plastic, so instead of grabbing a plastic bottle, try one of the Pathwater aluminum bottles, a company that plans to help everyone make the shift to a reuse culture.

This is something you will start to see locally as more and more companies are embracing the need to change the way we use plastics. If you don’t already have a stainless steel reusable water bottle, get one for a gift and one for yourself. Check out Cobo, a local Oceanside company that manufactures the www.cobobottle.org and gives back to programs that fund sustainable corporate partnerships to make the world a better place. The oceans will thank you when you stop using single-use consumable goods.

Refilleries and zero waste shops and apothecary are other fantastic and innovative shopping experiences where these local proprietors are walking their talk and bringing cool package free living to the shopping experience. I visited two amazing shops — Sonora Refillery and Reap & Sow in Oceanside. Locally owned and operated, it was so refreshing to meet the owners and feel the passion of wanting alternatives not only for themselves but for the coastal community. Sonora started at the local farmer markets and grew to a brick and mortar shop on Coast Highway and not only educates customers but offers thoughtful gifts in stainless steel, bamboo, refillable glass from baby bottles to dog toys with the emphasis on zero plastic. Check Marissa out by visiting her in person or online at www.diyrefill.com. Her motto is by changing tiny things, we can make a significant impact on our carbon footprint.

I mozied down the coast and popped into one of the OGs of the movement, Cyan Trujillo’s modern apothecary shop, Reap & Sow. In business for over six years, this shop is promoting an actual lifestyle of green beauty. Only selling vegan, hormone-free, cruelty-free beauty products, Reap & Sow is also one of the first stores to introduce CBD to the market.

There is a myriad of shopping options in this boutique voted one of the 18 places to visit in Oceanside by San Diego Magazine. You’ll discover 450-plus crush-worthy brands covering personal care, hemp CBD, zero-waste bulk refill, crystals, teas, plants, French aromatherapy and more (www.shopreapandsow.com).

Thoughtfully curated wellness products and planet-friendly goods gathered together in a one-stop shop for conscious shoppers and gift-givers. That’s what I’m talking about. Ask about the workshops in vermiculture, encouraging composting and growing your own food. She also sells water barrels and works very closely with Green Oceanside, a campaign that was established to educate residents, businesses, and visitors about how to be better stewards of the earth. These eco-boutiques make eco-conscious life approachable and fun.

So there’s a lot of shopping opportunities that protect and conserve natural resources, reducing your carbon footprint beyond Christmas that can bring about a conscious, spiritual approach to consumerism and gift-giving. Seek them out. Shop local and shop consciously.

We are only scratching the surface, but what I saw out there is a whole generation of people who are demanding this lifestyle so they can live a more natural and ultimately more spiritual life. They want to take care of this world and one another. Isn’t that what the Christmas spirit is all about?

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s up to us to demand these kinds of products from businesses, and it translates when you spend your money locally and support these eco enterprises.

By gifting items that can raise awareness and are ecofriendly, we can make those small changes that will impact on a larger scale, making a difference in our life and the world. Besides, when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance, and their soul catches fire.

Happy holidays!

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