The natural world has the potential to offer us our greatest source of humility, awe, and belonging as humans. But because of our fear of death, darkness, and the unknown, society has attempted to sterilize, dissociate, or eliminate certain natural processes from our daily lives that most stir our existential discomfort. Not only does this distancing have great ecological cost, especially the resources it takes to maintain this shielding, but psychologically as well, as we become further disconnected from our own true nature.
The Riverstyx Foundation strives to identify ecologically based initiatives with high potential for reducing environmental wastes (i.e. carbon emission, water and air pollution, etc), and the opportunity to increase awareness of our embeddedness in the cycle of life. The three primary target areas are: the green burial movement, the legalization of composting toilets, and protection of night skies from excess light pollution. Over the years, the foundation has also worked to advocate for the health of certain threatened species which have been most stigmatized out of fear or harmful social narratives, such as sharks, wolves, and bison.
When the body dies, microbes in our gut rapidly begin to multiply, teaming with growth and new life as they dissolve the barrier between us and the outside world. There are currently few options available for those of us who want to nurture this process, and offer our bodies, and their nutrients, back to the earth. Embalming and cremation, two prevailing options in society, hinder or stop this natural process, and have high environmental costs in carbon use and the toxins they release. RiverStyx has made impact investments in Coeio and REcompose to explore new technologies that encourage the natural process of returning our bodies to soil.
Looking into a starry night sky, and into our Milky Way galaxy, we are often struck with the sense of wonder, awe, and humility of our relative place in the universe. Unfortunately, due to excessive man-made light pollution, 99% of the population of Europe and the U.S. live in areas where the Milky Way is virtually invisible. Not only does this excess lighting deprive us of our mystical connection with the cosmos, but also has a great environmental costs in the carbon it requires to light the night sky, as well as disorienting many animals in their natural systems of navigation. Further, new white spectrum LEDs used in many cities has been linked to certain cancers and the disruption of our circadian rhythms. RiverStyx has teamed up with IDA to reverse this wasteful and harmful trend by improving lighting quality and reducing excessive and unnecessary lights.
Every time we flush a toilet, we are apt to reinforce a psychological sense of dissociation from our natural bodily processes- as we send this 'waste' out of sight, and out of mind. Further, individuals use on average around 20 gallons a day flushing drinking water, and thereby contributing to the 20% of our state’s energy expenditure on transportation and treatment of water, all while we continue the need to add petroleum based fertilizers to our fields. Riverstyx is working with the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center to help conduct research and prove the viability of composting toilets, ultimately to legalize a technology that can safely process pathogens and return essential nutrients to the soil, helping to restore this most basic cycle of life.