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Lifestyle | The Spix's Macaw & Why I Am Who I Am

Rachel DeCavage

News just dropped that the Spix’s Macaw is now extinct in the wild and I am heart broken. I’ve never seen one, haven’t watched the movie Rio, barely know a thing about the species, but the Spix’s (Blue) Macaw is one of those animals that lit me up as a child, and honestly, to this very day.

Backstory : The Lorax by Dr. Seuss has always been my favorite book. The lesson behind it, and the colorful imagery of the natural world where the Truffula Trees thrive, shaped who I am today.  Earth’s most vibrant creatures like Scarlet & Spix’s Macaws, coral reefs, cheetahs & zebras, make my heart sing. They’re like make-believe… only completely real.

According to Birdlife International, mainland extinctions may now be outpacing island extinctions; this worrying trend is caused by habitat loss and degradation due to commercial logging, deforestation and agriculture (70%+ of which is used for cattle farming). So, in essence, the story of The Lorax is quite literally becoming a reality. (My heart is actually falling apart; someone please call 911.)

The news about the Spix’s Macaw troubled me deeply when I heard about it, and as I shared it with friends and family, no one seemed particularly concerned. For me, it’s not only the loss of a beautiful creature, but it’s a sign of what’s to come.

. . .

Generally I like to leave personal politics out of my business, but this is who I am and thus this is what cinder + salt stands for :


I was taught as a child that America is a MELTING POT. I took that to mean that diversity is celebrated here. I believe all ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, hair color, waist sizes are equal and amazing and our collective diversity is a GOOD THING. I believe appreciating diversity is not an American ideal, but a philosophy that encompasses the entire Earth. Our differences make us great and we are all one global community.


I was ta
ught that in America we have FREEDOM - from oppressive government, to be who we are, to do what we want, from whatever we want to be free of. I believe every human on Earth deserves their freedom. I believe every animal and plant on this Earth also deserves a space to thrive. I don’t think any one person, or group of people are above any other living thing on this planet; that we are all a part of Earth and we all deserve our habitat and resources to live, breathe, and do what we want to do with our lives. We ALL (people, animals, plants) deserve to live here and use the resources we need to survive.


I was taught to be a GOOD person. Good can be subjective but basically I don’t break the law (I mean, I drive 10mph over the speed limit but other than that I’m terrified of crime); I don’t cheat on people, I don’t steal, I don’t murder, I don’t intentionally hurt people for selfish gain. I used to believe all people are inherently good, I’m not so sure anymore, but those not-so-good people are probably in the minority. I believe animals are as good as, (some even better than) people.


So ya know, I think it’s really sad that people have destroyed the habitat of the BEAUTIFUL Spix’s Macaw to the point of extinction and/or trapped the few remaining of their species to sell as pets. It’s actually DISGUSTING. On so many levels. This Earth doesn't belong to humans and it's not ours to ravage.

. . .


Ok, ok ok so I know some people reading this might think, “It’s just a bird! I care more about peace on Earth than I do about a stupid bird.” In fact, a friend just suggested that she’s excited for the day when, say, an alien invasion of Earth comes to pass because she thought it would bring people together to fight for a common cause - saving humanity. My thought is, how about, just… Earth?


Acts of war, human-to-human, or alien-to-human, are based in our own ideologies. We fight for our religion, our money, our freedom, our power - I believe humans will ALWAYS fight each other. I’m not sure peace is possible. (I hope it is, but i’m not super convinced of it). In my lifetime, war, terror, invasion hasn’t resulted in people coming together; it’s pulled people further apart. In my lifetime (in the past 10 years specifically) what’s really brought people together is the wrath of nature.


It’s after major storms that have devastated communities that I see people pulling for one another; putting aside their differences to help SAVE LIVES.

Nature doesn’t need us, but we need nature. We need the sun, we need water, we need plants (and animals) for sustenance. Without nature, we do not exist. And its when Nature reminds us of that, that I see the most hopeful signs of humanity in this world. Above all other forces, NATURE can, and does, unite us.


Truth be told, I am someone with ‘haves’ - I have a home, I have a car, I have my own business that provides me with an income, I have a retirement account, I have a supportive network of family and friends, I have a healthy (enough) body to live in, I have clean water to drink, I have food to eat throughout the day, I have heat when its cold and AC when its hot, I have opportunity, I have freedom, I have so many things.


I used to have a little note on my fridge that said, “if you have a bank account and roof over your head you are in the top 1% wealthiest people in the world.” I don’t take that lightly; as tough as times may be for me, I have a lot to be thankful for.


The “have” I’m most grateful for is my passion for the planet. I have a cause; a reason to go to work every day. Thus, I have a responsibility to the Earth, to promote and excite people about living sustainably. A couple months ago I realized I could be doing a lot more so I decided to begin transitioning cinder + salt’s flagship store into a ‘sustainable living store’ rather than an eco-clothing boutique. In a few short weeks we’ll be stocked with products that do good for the Earth, and your life. We’re bringing options that are equally stylish and practical as they are environmentally sustainable. And we’re launching this transition at our first Sustainability Social (please come!)


In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more of these great new products and the changes we’re making at the shop; interjected with stories from my own eco-journey. It’s not always easy to live sustainably, but its rewarding AF and worth every annoyance along the way.


. . .


But it all comes back to the Spix’s Macaw. We may not be able to save it but if there’s any glimmer of hope that a few still survive in the wild, they’re worth fighting for. Easy first step : boycott BIG MEAT & CHEAP MEAT.


I don’t eat meat. I don’t eat meat for like…. a thousand reasons. But I’m not going to tell you those reasons and I’m not going to tell you to not eat meat.


What I will suggest is that you know where your meat comes from - find a LOCAL farmer (like within 50 miles) and eat real, healthy meat. Eat that meat and enjoy it because it tastes good and its healthy and sustainable and you’re supporting a farmer.


Don’t eat at fast food because though it may be quick, easy & ‘cheap’, that burger actually costs 99 cents, a rainforest and the extinction of the Spix’s Macaw.

- farewell, vibrant friend



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