we’re all superheroes

I must admit I’m a bit of a joiner.

I’ll join sports teams, books clubs, Instagram challenges, cooking competitions, even a really long line at a public toilet but most of all I’m a sucker to join a good cause.

I recently let my Greenpeace membership lapse and we’ve been a supporter of UNHCR’s Refugee Emergency Relief Aid for a long time but Earth Hour is one of my favourite good causes. Not only is it an altruistic way to help reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on something as simple as electricity in your home for an hour+, but it gives me an excuse to turn all the appliances & lights off and indulge in a romantic candlelight night!

earthhour

So why don’t you join the Earth Hour revolution which hits this weekend on Saturday 23rd March at 8.30pm? And in preparation I’ve thought of a few things we can do as individuals to help minimise our impact on mother nature and her glorious blue planet…

  1. take your own shopping bags when buying groceries; in Australian over 4 billion (yes BILLION) plastic bags are used per year and the majority end up in landfill or worse, in the ocean. If you think of those numbers as 10 million new plastic bags per day or each of us using 200 plastic bags each per year it puts it in perspective that we aren’t thinking of our impact on the limited landfill area or poor little sea turtles that could suffocate from eating plastic bags which they mistake as jellyfish. There are so many cute & fashionable alternatives to the plastic bag that why wouldn’t you do this simple swap? anyahindmarsh [via]
  2. use fans instead of aircons or turn your aircon up 1°c; Living in Australia in summer is akin to visiting hell on baking day. It’s hot. We need our aircon but all it takes is to put it up a degree or so just to take the load off.
  3. don’t buy bottled water. for goodness sake, we’re a lazy & unsustainable bunch! water costs less than 1c per litre from the tap and we go and pay 3000% increase & create tonnes of plastic landfill by buying bottled water. There are so many cool reusable bottles to carry around with you. This is why initiatives such as Tap™ are so wonderful. bottles[that’s mine in the middle!]
  4. swap out your lightbulbs; with energy saving bulbs. Not only are you helping the environment and saving on your electricity bill, you also get to watch your partner up on a ladder doing sexy handyman (or handywoman) tasks! Score!
  5. keep it clean with environmentally friendly detergents; to say I’m a clean freak would be an understatement. My house is well kept (even Harley is the cleanest doggy you’ll ever meet) and up until about 6 months ago bleach was my favourite cleaner of choice, until my BFF Gracie told me of the wonders of vinegar & baking soda! It’s bathroom chemistry you never experienced in high school science class! Super cheap, effective and friendly to our waterways!
  6. ditch the junkmail; I.hate.junk.mail. It’s 2013 and we have something called the internet. Get one of those little stickers you put on your letter box to stop those pesky wastes of paper and ridiculous & unnecessary destruction of trees. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA [via]
  7. Meatfree Mondays; as my friend Tam likes to remind anyone who’ll listen, that meat is murder. Although she’ll be occassionaly persuaded to eat a juicy steak, like, once a year! For those of us who aren’t generally vegetarians/vegans/et al, Meat free Monday is all we can handle! See her comments below for stats on exessive carbon monoxide from farting animals! But on a more serious note, people on our planet eat way to much meat that isn’t sustainably farmed. I’m more for cutting down on the quantity and eating quality – meat farmed from animals raised in as natural state as possible (get rid of grain feed beef, it is terrible for their well being and only stick to grass farmed animals) including chicken & their eggs that are certified free-range, pigs that can be ‘piggy’ in mud baths and fish that are sustainably caught in the wild. You pay a bit extra but if you cut down on the portion size and frequency then it’s better for everyone; you, the animals & the earth. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA [via]
  8. It’s a matter of integrity; buying local produce from farmers markets and farmers co-ops. Unless we want our future to resemble Demolition Man (remember the only restaurant they had was Taco Bell?!) with widespread globalisation taking over our availability & personal choice of produce & products if we let multinationals drive/bully small business out. Buying from growers markets & co-ops also means the food is fresher and in season. It’s good to know where it comes from! 
    my local Pyrmont Grower's Markets
    my local Pyrmont Grower’s Markets

      [via]

♦♦♦♦♦

I hope these tips remind you that any act of environmentalism, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, really helps.
After all small acts can create big change!

Now go forth and procure candles for your romantic Saturday night in!

x♥x

a question a day in may | one

My darling friend and fellow blogger Neen has challenged me to a blogging game; A question a day in May!

She’s posed 31 questions for me to answer & post each day in May.

Day 1 question

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? 

There are so many things that I wish I could change about the world; gender inequality, poverty, hunger, over-fishing, child labor, animal cruelty, reality TV, vacuous celebrities, people dying before their time, blind religious beliefs, corporate greed….the list goes on. But for this exercise the one thing I’d most like to change is human impact on the environment. Of course there is much that we can do as individuals & households (like recycle, upcycle, reduce our carbon footprint by using public transport when possible and walk/cycle more, reduce our food waste, turn off unnecessary lights/heating/cooling, buying sustainable & ethical food and goods etc) and don’t get me wrong, these things make a huge difference when hundreds of thousands of individuals do it over & again (think of Earth Hour!) but the biggest impact to this cause would be a global adoption of environmental initiatives by every country especially the largest consumers like EU, USA, China, Australia, etc. We need a monumental policy shift in reduction of fossil fuels as a start. Governments need to admit that there is climate changed due to the way we’ve lived since the Industrial Revolution. We need to stop producing and consuming so much oil and utilise wind, hydro & solar power as primary energy. We need sustainable & ethical farming (meat, produce, coffee, cotton, honey, fish, paper, etc). It needs to become 100% about minimising our destructive footprint on the earth and less about the dollar.

Just like the movie plot from The Day the Earth Stood Still, maybe we need a technologically advanced alien race to come and kick our butts before we actually do anything about it…

It’s a serious issue that I lay awake worrying about at night. You didn’t think I could be that bleak on a Tuesday morning, huh?

things I have learnt

  1. if you want to get attention, go walking with Harley
  2. there is little that can’t be fixed by a friend, a hug & a cup of tea
  3. everything looks better with candles & fairy lights
  4. butter makes everything taste better (evil butter, evil!)
  5. no matter how drunk you are, having a shower before going to bed will do wonders for your hangover
  6. always check that the lid is properly secured before taking a sip of your take-away coffee
  7. triple-check your “send to” email field just incase you’re sending something to the wrong person
  8. avocados ripen overnight if they’re hanging out in the fruit bowl with the bananas
  9. icecream is not dinner (as much as I’d like to think it is…)
  10. spiders don’t remember your mercy; kill them the first time

be super nice!

  1. Make a mixed CD for a friend.
  2. Give flowers to the host next time you’re at someone’s house.
  3. Tell a loved one how much you appreciate them.
  4. Hold the door for someone.
  5. Give a $ note to the homeless.
  6. Let someone jump ahead of you in line.
  7. Compliment a total stranger.
  8. Send someone a small gift anonymously.
  9. Write a letter of compliment to a restaurant when you’ve had good service.
  10. Pick up trash laying around.
  11. Help someone change a flat tyre.
  12. Put a love/thinking of you note in your partners/friends luggage.
  13. Treat a friend to a movie or coffee.
  14. Babysit for a friend so they can go on a date.
  15. Write a thank you note for someone who did something nice for you.
  16. Make your partner breakfast in bed.
  17. Give another driver your parking spot.
  18. Buy an inspirational book for someone special.
  19. Volunteer.
  20. Call a friend you haven’t called in awhile.
  21. Turn your phone off next time you go out with a friend.
  22. Buy someone behind you in the Drive-thru an icecream cone.
  23. Donate to a local charity.
  24. Do your partner’s chores without being asked.
  25. Call your parents only to tell them you love them.

“Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

the secret life of bees

I am a bee keeper. 

Well, that’s an exaggeration, but I have little bees that visit my lavender pot each day, and sometimes I am fortunate enough to be able to watch them; buzzing around in their black and yellow striped glory, on their recon mission to seek & pollinate. 

my lavender

They’re not just any bees – they are the Amegilla or common native Australian Blue Banded Bee. 

my friendly neighbourhood bee

I’ve always had a fondness for bees, mostly because the origin of my name is Greek for Honey Bee. But as you learn about bees; their role in our ecosystem, their hive social structure, their daily missions, you start to understand the importance these little creatures have on Earth. 

I think bees often have a bad rep for being angry buzzards out to spoil our fun in the sun by zoning in on our feet and hands and stabbing us with their stingers. That’s really not the case (hornets or wasps maybe). The bee is usually just flying around trying to do its job – pollinate or collect for honey – and in the case of the Australian bees, they aren’t aggressive. Sure, they have stingers, but they die when they sting you so it’s not like it’s their mission to inflict discomfort to humans resulting in death for the bee. 

The Bee is from the scientific family Apoidea (a classification which includes wasps and bees). Australia has around 1500 species of bee. Depending where you live there are different bees native to that area. 

native bees by area - aussiebee.com.au

Over the past couple of decades the bee colony population has been on the decline. By 2006/07 it had gotten so bad that the term Colony Collapse Disorder was proposed to describe the sudden disappearance of bees from their hives. Scientists were baffled and research for the cause of this epidemic is still ongoing, but it’s commonly thought that the disappearance is due to a combination of factors that have compounded over time to cause the issue. Immunodeficiencies, fungus, pollution, pesticides and mites are the general consensus of the cause.There have been a few documentaries about this, the one I’ve seen is the Vanishing of the Bees which talks about pesticides as being the major cause, which in my opinion is a bit to conspiracy theorist, but it is informative. 

Because I’m a worrier (something I’m working on to curb) I actually stay awake a night worrying about environmental issues (amoung other things) but logically I know that the best way to deal with issues outside of my control is to be informed and do what I can on a local level; buy locally produced honey, make sure you declare everything when you come/go into a country (this is how continental cross contamination began), let bees do their thing when they’re buzzing around flowers & try not to step on them in the garden! The last thing we want is to end up like the Japanese, who have no bees left and actually hand pollinate their fruit orchards…

My little lavender bush is completely available as a one stop pollination shop for my little Amegillaian friends.

amazing david attenborough

Next on my list during Melly’s Fan Week…..Sir David Attenborough….Can you believe that this brilliant man is 84 years old? 

I first started watching him on the “Life” series & “Living Planet” doco with my Dad when I was a little girl in the 80s. Under his influence, my love & respect for animals and the environment was nutured and I became a ‘Greenpeace Warrior’! 

Sir David Attenborough was born in London in 1926. He has two brothers and two sisters (who his parents adopted after WWII). His elder brother is the well known actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough. David received a degree in Natural Sciences, married Jane in 1950 and had 2 kids (his son Dr Robert Attenborough is a lecturer at Australian National Uni in Canberra). He was Knighted by the Queen in 1985. 

His defining career, as we know it, began after he left the Navy and joined the BBC as a producer (his employers discouraged him from appearing in front of the camera because he had big teeth). Through his work at the BBC he met a curator at the London Museum and they collaborated on Zoo Quest which at the last minute Attenborough had to present on camera as his partner was sick. So began his brilliant career as a documentary host. He presented political broadcasts, archaeological quizzes, short stories, gardening and religious programmes. In ’64 he took over BBC2; helped introduce colour TV to Britain & brought Monty Python’s Flying Circus to the world! In ’79 he wrote & presented the 13 part Life on Earth doco-series. This doco-series changed the way Wilderness & documentary filming was done. He followed it up by Living Planet in ’84 & Trials of Life ’90. In the late ’90’s & early Noughties he made two of my favourite series Life of Birds and Life of Mammals. He continues to be actively involved in creating and presenting  naturalist documentaries. He is actively involved in charity work; being patron of both World Land Trust, which buys rainforest and other lands to preserve them and the animals that live there, Optimum Population Trust, a group seeking to cut the growth in human population, and ARKive and organisation that promotes the “Conservation of the World’s Threatened Species, Through the Power of Wildlife Imagery” http://www.arkive.org/ 

I admire him because not only is he the ultimate professional (crawling around on his hands and knees in the insect infested mud in the Amazon, still managing to sound like a proper authoritarian) but he inspires fascination with the natural world around us. He’s intelligent, has experienced the real world, seen things only a handful of people have witnessed close up and takes a camera along for the ride; not for self-gratification but to share his knowledge of the natural world so that generations of viewers can adopt respect for our environment and put into practice actions that won’t devastate our natural surroundings but will sustain them for future generations. He’s in his 80s and still gets excited like a school boy when he sees animals and nature in its element. It’s taken me years to understand my beliefs on a spiritual level and like Sir David I am also an agnostic, so I find his beliefs and authority on things of this nature fascinating and enlightening. 

He would have made one hell of a science teacher! 

Sir David Attenborough

to my future self

Dear future Melly,

I hope you are being socially and environmentally responsible.

I hope you have tried hard to be more altruistic in your life, rather than thinking only about yourself (what can I buy, how can I get ahead, who have I cut in on to get to where I want to go). As necessary as introspection is, you don’t want to become narcissistic.

Two small and beautiful things happened earlier this week that has made
2010-Melly think hard about her social and environmental footprint;

The first was the delivery of two Keepcups (see www.keepcup.com.au) which I ordered last week that came with the quote;

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And the second was a lovely quote that my friend Janine sent through which is;

“If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner” – James Frey

And so with that in mind, I will strive to be better; not buy into frivolous advertising, but to work on shining up my soul and limiting the damage that I can cause other people and my surroundings.

There was a quote from John Steinbeck’s legendary novel Of Mice and Men that has stayed with me long after I closed the book covers which is beautiful in its profoundness;

“It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.”

With this all in mind, I’ll end on this one quote that sums it all up perfectly;

“Strive not to have more, but to be more.” – Oscar Romero