Hoogly Blogs / Plastic free

Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. While we are still under the long shadow of the pandemic, I thought I’d share something I’d discovered over the last month that made me sit up and pay attention; something that offered a well-timed shift in perspective, and simply put a smile on my face. As with our company’s beloved Hygge ethos, the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi provides an inspiring and philosophical way of looking at the world, and—just like Hygge—offers a way of reducing stress and feeling better, even in difficult circumstances.

In essence, the ancient Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi seeks to counter the world’s obsession with perfection, trends and the purchase of new and fancy items. It views imperfection as meaningful and valid, and in its own way, beautiful. It offers a way to navigate the unpredictability of life by embracing the idea that all things pass, that what we have now is truly worthwhile, even if it is damaged or worn, as long as we love it, and appreciate it.

Wabi-sabi is a cracked and re-glued vase. It’s a misshapen, homegrown fruit or vegetable. It’s a Lego construction built from a box of leftover pieces. It’s an old floor with scuff marks that echo a life well-lived. It’s a button wonkily re-sewn on an old jacket. It asks us to appreciate simplicity, modesty and imperfection in all its guises. By learning to be content with our lot without yearning for more, we can select what we truly love and need, offering a cheery antidote to a materialistic, mass-produced society.

Wabi-Sabi can help us in our everyday lives, too. It allows us to pause and take a mindful step back from the relentless pursuit of perfection, offering the opportunity to count our blessings and rejoice in the way things are rather than the way they could be. It does not diminish or reject the complexity of life and its trials, but chooses to see life as temporary, incomplete and imperfect. A great example is the Japanese art of kintsugi, in which cracked pottery is filled with gold-dusted lacquer to highlight its age and imperfection rather than concealing it.

By utilizing seven Zen aesthetic principles, including Kanso: simplicity, Shibumi: beauty in the understated and Shizen: Naturalness without pretension, Wabi-sabi can also be used to help curate and shape your home. By following the principle of less-is-more, Wabi-sabi seeks to reduce consumption and lessen the strain on our planet. It allows us to appreciate the natural world around us and encourages us to incorporate long-lasting options like wood, steel and stone into open, spacey decors. If you can’t use these natural materials, then you can always take inspiration from nature in your choice of colours, suiting your mood and personality, and bringing a rustic, humble aesthetic into your life that will enable you to treasure the space around you, and imbibe its transience. By getting rid of unloved or unused items, you allow your most cherished items to flourish and shine, and you increase the tranquillity of your surroundings.

Hoogly fans will be delighted to learn that Wabi-Sabi has roots in a Japanese tea ceremony introduced by Zen monk Murata Shukō, who incorporated simple, plain and imperfect Japanese pottery and utensils into the original Chinese ceremony that was traditionally luxurious and lavish, in order to help guests better appreciate what was in front of them. Whereas guests had previously drunk tea and admired the full moon; Shukō wished them to appreciate a half-moon, or a moon covered by clouds. Shukō did not entirely replace the extravagance of the traditional ceremonies, choosing instead for coexistence, but he is credited as being the founder of the more minimalist Wabi-cha ceremony, which then led to Wabi-sabi.

And to celebrate Wabi-sabi, as well as Hygge, why not indulge in one of our most delicious brews, Apple Strudel, which combines Chinese and Japanese green teas, as well as a gorgeous combination of spices, fruit and petals, giving you a taste of the ancient, as well as a cheeky slice of Danish delight!

Until next time, stay safe, look after each other and try a little Wabi-sabi in your life!

 Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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A Time of Waste

A Time of Waste

Plastic is a pretty remarkable material. It’s cheap, strong, long-lasting, and can be made into any shape you can imagine. Humans are so enamoured with the invention that since the fifties, it’s estimated that we’ve created over eight billion metric tonnes of plastic. Although plastic has been put to good use and has been a success in many areas of our everyday lives, the impact of its supreme durability is now becoming horribly evident.

 

Nearly eighty percent of plastic made in the last seven decades has been discarded onto landfills or into the general environment. Less than ten percent is recycled, and the rest is incinerated. This has led scientists, conservationists and activists to call on the population, from top to bottom, to urgently reassess the way we think about and use plastic.

The statistics they cite are damning. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the sea each year, and some experts estimate that, by the middle of the century, there will be more plastic than fish, and that 99% of all seabirds will have eaten some plastic during their lives. The sea also contains over fifty trillion particles of micro-plastic—five hundred times the amount of stars in our galaxy. Sea turtles can mistake plastic bags for tasty jellyfish, floating plastic can tempt a swooping seagull, and young perch will readily eat plastic over plankton. Scientists think that this waste effects over six hundred species, and the damage done by consuming this indigestible poison is often lethal, which is not only an obvious disaster for the creatures themselves, but also has a knock-on effect on our species, as we eat so many sea-dwelling creatures ourselves. Owing to the fact that plastic can degrade into fragments tiny enough to pass through the gut and into the flesh of fish and other animals, we are already consuming the waste plastic that is polluting our oceans. This is not good news, as some plastic is toxic and can cause disruption to the normal functioning of hormones. Additionally, plastic has been known to attract other spilled pollutants and poisons like a magnet, which simply heightens the importance of removing it from our oceans.

It’s not just the sea that is affected, of course. There are over three hundred billion pieces of plastic in the once-pristine Artic, and some of the remote Pacific Islands have some of the highest levels of plastic pollution anywhere on the globe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s now thought that plastic may be contaminating the air. Microparticles from cosmetics and microfibres from synthetic clothes wash into our sewage systems and enter treatment plants, finally finding their way into the sea. Some particles, however, combine with the sewage and are then used to fertilise farmers’ fields. Once these dry, and the wind picks up, these particles may be blown into the atmosphere where they can be inhaled as we go about our lives.

The good news is, the world is beginning to respond to the problem. The United Nations has engaged in a ‘War on Ocean Plastic,’ creating a CleanSeas campaign which have notable signatories, including the UK and France, Brazil and Italy. The UK itself has enforced a ban on microplastics in “rinse-off” cosmetics, and has tried to raise awareness in communities about the best ways to recycle, and how to avoid single-use plastics where possible.

And we at Hoogly are doing our part too. Our ethos, Hygge, is about being cosy and content, focussing on the things that bring you joy, and most importantly, being kind to yourself. But being cosy starts in your surroundings and your environment: we want the natural world, from which we take so much pleasure, to be as beautiful and healthy as possible, so that it can provide purity, safety and comfort to us now and in the future, helping us find balance and tranquillity in our everyday lives.

To this end, all of our tea pyramids are fully biodegradable, giving you peace of mind every time you flip on the kettle and indulge in our tasty range of brews. In addition to this, we will very soon be packaging and presenting our tea pyramids in fully biodegradable cellophane bags made from natural, renewable sources. The new NatureFlex bags are static-free, compostable, heat-seal viable, and won’t biodegrade on your shelf. So now you can relax, enjoy the Hoogly moment, safe in the knowledge that you’re sharing a smile with Mother Earth.

And if you’re looking for help navigating your way through our delicious selection of eclectic treats, look no further than our Hoogly Brew of the Week: Early Grey black tea. Our riff on an old classic provides the perfect way to unwind in style, with a delicate blend of Sri Lankan tea leaves, infused with bergamot oil and complemented by zesty lemon and sweet orange, offering a scintillating scent as well as a treat for the taste-buds!

That’s it for now. Until next time, look after yourself and the beautiful world around you—and don’t forget, for a huggable cuppa…it has to be Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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