Sunday, 30 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #369 Support Artists

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #369 Support Artists


Being an artist can be a very difficult occupation. It’s hard to get known and it’s hard to get support. Artists work intuitively. It is a need they have to express themselves through creative endeavour. It is a life that calls them from deep within, one in which they find ways most others would never be able to imagine to express thoughts, feelings and ideas.
When governments need to tighten their belts the first area that usually has its funding cut is the arts. Somewhere along the line we forgot how important art is and people decided it was of little value. Let take a look at history and what do you see? Of course! You can only see history through ‘art’ – painting, sculpture, literature, architecture. These are all things that are studies under the banner of the ‘arts’. During World War Two one of the first things many countries did was hide their portable pieces of art and a special task force was created to find masterpieces that had been stolen. It has also been proven that art is a valuable tool for beating depression in individuals and communities. So why would we think it a sensible idea to reduce our support?
Instead of going to a department store or chain store to buy a piece of cheap art mass produced in some other country, decide to save up and buy a piece of real art from an artist. Support someone whose work you really admire. When you go looking for them you will find many artists living nearby who are struggling for recognition and support, having to work at jobs they don’t enjoy and are probably not well suited to in order to put food in their mouths. When you discover them, you will find something that makes your heart sing, and it will be so much better than the cheap garbage you could buy at those other stores.Value art, and support an artist.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #368 Support a Sculptor

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #368 Support a Sculptor

Being an artist can be a very difficult occupation. It’s hard to get known and it’s hard to get support. Artists work intuitively. It is a need they have to express themselves through creative endeavour. It is a life that calls them from deep within, one in which they find ways most others would never be able to imagine to express thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Sculptors work in many varied materials. A few are able to sell large pieces to government bodies and have their work displayed as public art. This is a fantastic outcome for those few. Many other sculptors will work on a smaller scale, so the next time you think of buying some type of ornament for your garden, stop! Don’t walk into the garden section at some hug chain store and buy something mass produced in a factory in another country. Think about buying a unique piece of sculpture from a local artist, one that no other garden will ever have, something that makes you a patron of the arts and contribute to another human being’s ability to earn a living. By supporting a sculptor you give that person the opportunity to be what they were always meant to be – a sculptor.

Friday, 28 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #367 Support Local Tourism

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #367 Support Local Tourism


I recall the time I was in Venice sitting in a cafe when some locals came up to my group and asked if they could join us to practice their English speaking skills. We learned that this couple lived in the countryside just outside of Venice, and had never been into the churches and other attractions in that magnificent city. Naturally, as Aussies, we said, “come along with us, mate.”
My family has always shown interstate and international guests around our local tourist attractions. I grew up regularly visiting the sites in my city and those within a couple of hours drive away. It’s a healthy activity that supports local tourism, as well as providing you with a deeper insight into your own environment. Don’t grow up and fade away without ever having explored your local area properly. Visit the attractions regularly and support your own town/city/area and its workers, who rely on visitors for their income. If you have a local zoo, try to support them financially as well, through donations and gifts. Maybe there’s a beautiful geological feature not far away, a waterfall, a gorge or a beautiful lake. Go and check it out. Have you lived in Sydney and never been to the Opera House? Have you lived in Melbourne and never seen the view from the top of the Shrine? How many New Yorkers haven’t been up to the top of the Empire State Building? Don’t miss out. Be sure to take visitors from out of town to see your local attractions and be proud of them. You don’t have to travel very far to enjoy the rewards of this amazing world we live in – every spot has something to be proud of. Do some research to see what gems you can find locally and schedule a visit in your diary for some time within the next month. Go and explore.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #366 Buy UTZ Coffee

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #366 Buy UTZ Coffee


UTZ Certified is a program and a label for sustainable farming, including the farming of coffee and cocoa. It covers good agricultural practices, farm management, social and living conditions, and the environment.  There’s a lot to be learned about this program at https://www.utzcertified.org/ so please take a look. Here is a quote from that website:
Good coffee no longer just means good taste, quality and price. There is also a growing interest in the conditions in which the coffee was produced. Today’s consumers demand that it is made responsibly, with care for people and the environment. This means, for example, appropriate and modest use of fertilizers, pesticides, water and energy. Children of coffee farmers sent to school rather than put to work. Farm workers given decent labor rights, housing and healthcare. And farmers empowered to act as professionals and become better businessmen. … The goal of the program is to create a sustainable, viable coffee market. How? Through an efficient certification and traceability program for socially and environmentally responsible coffee production that meets the needs of both producers and markets.
Also at this website you will find a list of places and products that are UTZ certified – you can check it out for your country. By simply making better informed choices about the simplest things we do, we can make a huge difference to the life of a fellow human being in another part of the world, without even knowing that person. In this way, we make an impact on the world – for the better.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #365 Save the Sea Turtles

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #365 Save the Sea Turtles


Six of the seven species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. These threats come in a variety of forms. They are harvested for consumption, reducing numbers dramatically. Turtles can ingest marine debris which then causes starvation and death. They are caught in fishing nets and trawling nets, causing injury and sometimes death. They are hunted and killed for their shell, which is illegal, but the price for shell is attractive to poachers. Nesting sites have been reduced as humans encroach upon coastal areas and build great urban environments. More and more beaches are used by humans for entertainment activities, preventing turtles from returning to sites they once used for nesting. Oil spills affect turtles when it gets in their eyes and skin, and because it gets into their lungs when they come to the surface for air. It pollutes their habitat and breeding areas, affects their health and hence their lifespan.
All of these threats come from humans, and the sad truth is that the loss of turtles species would affect the food chain and hence the human race. Turtles are a part of the ecosystem. They graze on sea grasses, which are vital for the survival of other marine species, including many that we eat. If turtles disappear and the sea grasses then diminish, more and more species will disappear, our food sources will diminish and that will lead to even bigger problems for the planet. Look after every species. Care about turtles: the green turtle, loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherback, ridleys and flatback. Check out www.conserveturtles.org for lots of information and play your part.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #364 Make Your Own Shampoo

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #364 Make Your Own Shampoo


It’s actually very easy to toss the commercial shampoo bottle away and wash your hair using only two ingredients, although you could keep the old shampoo bottle to store your new mixture in. Mix 1 part baking soda with 6 parts water. Shake your container well each time you use it. Put some of the mixture onto dry hair and massage well into the scalp. Go on! Give yourself a relaxing head massage. Leave for a couple of minutes then rinse off. Follow this with a second mixture of 1 part white vinegar (go organic) to 8 parts water. You can add something like a cinnamon stick and a few drops of vanilla to this, or a few drops of your favourite essential oil to mask the vinegar smell. Rub some of this mixture onto your scalp and leave for about half a minute before rinsing thoroughly. Done.
Making your own shampoo with a few natural ingredients will save you a lot of money. It will still give you clean hair, and you may even find your hair is healthier. It will be a whole lot better than pouring chemicals over your body in the shower and then down the drain to pollute the water systems. It can only serve the planet better, and your health as well. Give it a try.

Monday, 24 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #363 Reduce Your Cat's Litter

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #363 Reduce Your Cat's Litter


Car litter is a big problem, and unfortunately, one we can’t solve easily. Flower #242 has shown how choosing an environmentally friendly cat litter is difficult, so let’s look at reducing our impact. Working with USA statistics, which are easy to find on the Internet, the Americans buy about 4 billion pounds of cat litter every year. If the quantity of cat litter used was reduced by 10% there would be 400 million pounds less cat litter going into landfill every year (just in the US). Some cat owners would be able to reduce this by up to 50%. So imagine the savings if everyone around the world did this. It would be a huge reduction in pressure on the planet.
How do you do this? Some people fill their litter trays almost to the top. This is not necessary, particularly for one cat. When you reduce the amount of litter in the tray it is easier to find the waste that needs to be removed and you may even be encouraged to remove it more often. This will reduce the build up of odours, which are undesirable. Kitty may not like you changing the tray level dramatically, so take it easy and reduce it in small increments each time you clean it out and allow kitty time to adjust to the change. Eventually you will both come to an agreement as to the optimal level of litter, and you’ll have the added benefit of making a huge difference to the planet.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #362 Buy Fair Trade Tea

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #362 Buy Fair Trade Tea


Sadly, tea production is another one of those areas where people can be exploited. Growing tea is a sensitive business, with reliable and regular rainfall and important factor. Global warming has made rainfall less reliable and this impacts on tea production and consequently on the people employed in the industry. With profits at risk, some plantations resort to forced labour and child labour. This is undesirable, and we can make an impact on how people around the world are treated by purchasing products that we can be sure are produced by companies that stick to fair trade practices. We need to support the right companies so we know their workers are paid fair wages, that children are not used for labour, and that people are free to leave if they choose. We want to be sure that the people who work on plantations are not completely reliant on the plantation owners for all their basic needs, which puts them in a position from which they cannot break free. You can find a list of fair trade teas and tea companies at www.ratetea.com - see if your preferred brand is there, and if not, change to one that is fair trade, and look after your fellow man.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #361 Reject Products with Microbeads

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #361 Reject Products with Microbeads


Microbeads are tiny, tiny, tiny balls of plastic often used in personal care products such as facial scrubs and even toothpaste. They are too small to be caught in sewage filter systems and therefore end up in water systems. Lake Michigan in the United States has been found to contain large quantities of microbeads that have polluted its water. Once these beads are in the environment they cannot be removed. That’s pretty major, don’t you think?
So what happens is: you wash your face with a product containing microbeads that get washed down the drain. They don’t disappear, of course, they end up in the water system where they are gobbled up by fish and other marine creatures, and drunk in by birds and animals. You go and buy yourself some fish for dinner and whammo – microbeads in your system. Sound good? No, I thought not.
We need to stop these pieces of plastic from entering our environment. We can do this by refusing to purchase products that contain them. There is an app you can get for your smartphone that you can use to check if a product contains microbreads and there is a lot more information about the fight against these tiny but disastrous plastic beads at www.beatthemicrobead.org. There are natural alternatives so let’s get together to support the companies that are doing good things for the planet.

Friday, 21 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #360 Save the Red Panda

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #360 Save the Red Panda


The red panda is a vulnerable species. There are only about 10,000 of them left in the wild. If you’ve never seen one before, check out if your local zoo has any in its collection and go and see these beautiful creatures. Zoos around the world are cooperating with each other with breeding programs to ensure the future of this gorgeous animal, but there is also a major network of players working towards saving them in the wild.
Red pandas live in forested areas in Nepal, India and China. They eat young, fresh shoots of bamboo but their habitat is being decreased as logging and human activity encroaches further and further into the forest. At www.redpandanetwork.org you will find a huge amount of information about these pretty little pandas. This network exists to save this species by working with communities that live near the panda’s habitat. These communities also rely on the forest for their livelihoods, but the panda network is finding solutions that will ensure the needs of both panda and human are met. It is important to maintain the habitat of the panda by working with Mother Nature for the benefit of all species.
Check out www.redpandanetwork.org, donate to the cause, buy some merch or even volunteer your time and help save this wonderful creature.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #359 Have Regular Health Checkups

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #359 Have Regular Health Checkups


Looking after your health may sound like an obvious thing to do, but if you take a look around at most western societies you might want to acknowledge that most of us do not attend to our health as well as we should/could. Here’s the scenario: by eating poorly, being overweight and not exercising, eventually the body buckles under the strain and begins to suffer. It could react with diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure, cholesterol, back injuries, foot and knee problems – the list is endless. This means that eventually people will need some sort of medical intervention. Medical intervention uses a LOT of resources. Operations create a lot of waste that goes into landfill or is biomedical waste (where does that even go?? I’ll have to make a Flower for that one). Hospital stays generate huge amounts of waste: fresh gloves used every time a nurse touches a patient are then tossed; every time a patient is transported the vehicle uses fuel and all the ‘linen’ on the gurney is thrown away – one for every person transported; gowns worn when entering rooms of infectious patients are tossed after one use; hospitals use many single use items that are then tossed into landfill; medications don’t disappear when you swallow them, as the chemicals still go through your system and leave it along with the rest of your waste; hospitals have to set up huge resource guzzling buildings that use energy and they have to administer everything with paperwork and management, where even more resources are gobbled up. The picture is a HUGE one. These are only a few examples.
By simply ensuring you have regular health checkups and remaining on top of any health issues you may come across, you can prevent disease and mechanical problems from getting out of control. This has the two-sided effect of giving you a happy, healthy life and keeping you from contributing to a resource guzzling part of our society.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #358 Use a Drip System

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #358 Use a Drip System


This is a good way to conserve water and use it wisely. Installing a drip system in your garden allows you to ensure the water goes where it needs to go, with little if any waste when installed appropriately and used properly. The drip system is particularly useful for vegetable gardens, which need regular watering, and with the use of a timer, water can be delivered to the garden in the correct amount at the best time of the day. This can prevent water loss through overwatering or evaporation as well as saving time and energy. As the most precious resource for humans, looking after our water in regards to quality and quantity is the highest priority we should have. No water – no life.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #357 Write a Love Letter

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #357 Write a Love Letter


There’s already plenty of bad news all around the world. Wouldn’t it be lovely to receive something pleasant for a change, perhaps even something really meaningful? Instead of waiting to receive something wonderful, give something wonderful. Write a love letter to the most important person in your life. Tell them how much they mean to you. Let them know why you fell in love with them in the first place and what you have grown to love about them all the more over the years. List everything about them that you adore, all their idiosyncrasies that make them unique and give you reason to love them. Tell them what you appreciate about them, the things they do and say that mean so much to you. Tell them what you hope for your future together. Tell them how your world would be affected if they weren’t part of it. Let someone know they are loved.
As the Beatles told us: All you need is love, love is all you need.

Monday, 17 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #356 Protect Fruit Trees Naturally

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #356 Protect Fruit Trees Naturally


Having your own fruit trees in the back yard, or front yard for that matter, can be very rewarding and the crop, although probably too bountiful to eat all at once, will contribute towards other pleasures like jams, marmalade, pies, stewed apples etc. Protecting these previous resources in a natural way is the best solution for a planet already straining with the use of chemicals. We don’t want more chemicals sprayed on our food, or leaching into the soil and being washed into our water systems. Invest some time researching the best methods to protect your particular variety of fruit, but in the meantime, some simple ideas include: Plant lavender underneath the tree to deter pests. Wrap the trunk with corrugated cardboard to attract codling moth and burn it before spring. Nasturtiums planted beneath a fruit tree will also repel insects. Rid apple blight by burning dead tomato plants beneath the tree.
Maybe you can find more solutions that are completely natural and share them with others. By protecting our fruit trees naturally, we protect the fruit and thereby ourselves. Our actions have far-reaching benefits when we do things naturally, just as, conversely, the damage caused by the use of chemicals is extremely far-reaching.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #355 Collect Rain Water

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #355 Collect Rain Water

I can’t actually say I’ve never heard of anyone being charged for rainwater before, but essentially, this is (or should always be) a free resource, so why not catch some of it to reduce the amount of treated water you use. The water that is pumped to your house via kilometres of pipe is treated water, which uses other resources with which to treat and transport it to your house. Chemicals are put into dams that service vast metropolitan areas, such as fluoride and chlorine. Many more chemicals are used, the amount depending on where you live. Then there is the energy required to pump that water into the system that delivers it. This will often be using fossil fuels and therefore creating carbon emissions. You can reduce all of this by catching some rainwater in simple containers, of any size or shape. Old plastic barrels make good water catchers, but make sure you clean any container out thoroughly before storing water in it. Use the water on your garden, to fill the bird bath, wash your car, clean pathways when necessary or even to wash the dog. Thinking about ways of using collected rainwater will take the strain off the water catchment system in your area, even if only by a little bit – every one of those little bits count, and if multiple households do likewise then the results quickly multiply into large savings. And speaking of savings, you’ll save a bit of money too.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #354 Use Natural Snail and Slug Reppellent

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #354 Use Natural Snail and Slug Reppellent


Reducing the number of snails and slugs in your garden will be a good start to looking after your precious seedlings and plants. A good step towards this would be to eliminate any rubbish lying around. Get rid of old logs, empty plant pots and general rubbish where snails and slugs like to retire after a night out eating your plants. This will also create a nicer garden, so it’s a win/win. If you have chooks, let them loose to chase after the snails, moving them around different spots in the garden to find their snacks. No chooks? You might have to get out there yourself, after dark, with a torch and pick them up before they reach their dinner. Drop them into a bucket of soapy water to drown. In Australia the snails that eat our plants are accidental imports from Europe, not native snails, so don’t feel too badly about killing them. Other methods for killing the snails include a saucer of salt water or diluted beer in a jar buried to the rim.
Repelling or keeping them away from your plants can be done without chemicals by surrounding seedlings and small plants with crushed eggshells, wood shavings, wood ash or sawdust. Unfortunately these are only effective when dry. However, it has been proven that copper works as a very effective repellent to snails and slugs, is non-toxic, last a long time so obviously reusable and is safe to use around pets. A product called Copper Barrier Tape is available with which to make your own copper rings around your precious plants. Escar-Go is another product that seems to be an environmentally friendly slug and snail repellent that contains copper, and can be sprayed around tree bases, letterboxes, or even around plants, which covers those tricky areas where a copper ring may not be suitable. I can’t find all the ingredients in this product but it seems better than a lot of other options with lots of chemicals in them. Use it sparingly and try some of the natural remedies for your solution. Being natural means not using chemicals, which would then be washed into the soil and eventually into the water system where they damage all living creatures.

Friday, 14 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #353 Use Natural Insect Repellant

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #353 Use Natural Insect Repellant


You can make your own natural insect repellent by putting a few drops of lavender oil in a little olive oil. When and as required, dab a little on your pulse points to keep the insects at bay. The advantage to making your own is the reduced cost, the ability to use a glass container which is reusable, the reduction in waste and the capacity to make only what you need, reducing waste even further.
If you can’t be bothered making your own repellent then search the Internet or local organic stores for a commercial solution. Ensure all the ingredients are actually natural and consider any packaging you may be purchasing and its ability to be recycled. A good one I found with a quick look at that world wide web is called ‘Bugged’, a local product for me and one made using 100% natural ingredients. It comes in a tin which can be reused or recycled and it’s even hand made [check out www.beebeauty.com]. See what’s available in your neck of the woods and share your discovery. By choosing ‘all natural’ we reduce the amount of chemicals being put into the environment, not to mention on our skin, and encourage the use of sustainable resources.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #352 Fight Against Sea Dumping

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #352 Fight Against Sea Dumping


In 1972 it was agreed amongst a number of nations that sea dumping was not acceptable. Unfortunately the London Convention was not particularly broad and only covers deliberate disposal at sea of wastes from vessels, aircraft and platforms. It does not cover the disposal of waste from land using pipes and outfills, and there are a large number of countries around the world who control none of these things. Judging from the state of the oceans these days, one could be forgiven for thinking the convention hasn’t been all that successful.
The Great Barrier Reef has been under threat recently, with large ports and shipping lanes planned for the area, including dredging and dumping that could cause long term damage to the reef. There has been opposition to this dumping that may still be avoided. Check out www.fightforthereef.org for more information.
Surprisingly (and horrifyingly), the dumping of nuclear waste into the ocean was legal prior to the early 1970s, when it became ‘regulated’ (whatever that means). Yet still, radioactive waste, toxic waste, sewer sludge, chemical waste from factories and a huge amount of contaminated dredging waste containing heavy metals is dumped into the oceans, often illegally, but does the legality even matter anymore? The fact that pollutants are dumped into the ocean is one that should concern every human and every nation. The health of the oceans and our waterways determines our own health as toxins find their way from the bottom of the food chain into our own diets.
The ocean is not a giant disposal unit. It is not that magic place many people like to think exists, called ‘away’. When things disappear beneath the waves they don’t disappear altogether – they still exist, and they’ll find their way back to you one way or another. So take an interest in your health by taking an interest in the health of the oceans and participate in the fight against sea dumping.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #351 Repair Tools

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #351 Repair Tools

Looking after your tools in the first instance is always the best course of action, but if one of your tools does happen to break, try fixing it before tossing it. Tools range from electric tools, hand tools, garden tools, mechanical tools, building tools and handyman tools to tools used for sewing and tools used in the kitchen. There are all types of tools we might use around the house or for our employment.
When we repair what we already have, we prevent useful items from becoming ‘stuff’ that goes into landfill, and this is a high priority. Repairing tools also saves money, as often the cost of repair is far less than the cost of buying a new one. When you keep a tool in use as long as possible there is less need for natural resources to be mined to produce new tools, particular oil for the production of plastics which make up so many modern tools. This, in turn, saves energy, reduces carbon emissions, produces less travel miles and therefore more energy, and helps you value your tools.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #350 Learn How to Cook

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #350 Learn How to Cook


In this world of fast food, preserved food, take away food, convenience food, drive through food and home delivered food, there’s very little incentive left to cook it yourself. People seem to be completely enamoured with cooking shows on television, spending their evenings watching them and their lunch breaks talking about them, but in the western world we’re still turning to the quick and easy stuff to fill our stomachs and maintain our thickened waist lines. People seem to be going to the supermarket regularly enough, but maybe they’re only buying the convenience foods and only buy a token vegetable or two to satisfy their consciences.
Staying home to prepare a healthy meal of vegetables with a small portion of meat doesn’t seem to fit in with today’s lifestyle. People have the time to watch it on the tv but not to practice it for real. If more of us learned how to cook properly there would be some huge benefits as a consequence. Learning how to cook promotes family time. Children spend time learning from parents, parents spend time passing on their knowledge, and their favourite recipes, to their children. When you know how to cook properly it’s easier to prepare a menu plan, understand what time is required for meal preparation, schedule appropriate time slots to cook healthy meals and save a whole lot of time because you actually know what you’re doing. It won’t happen overnight – but it will happen ... with practice.
There are further benefits to learning how to cook. Food portions can be properly controlled, leading to less waste (and we know current figures put food waste at 30%). Less waste means huge financial savings. Home cooked meals will generally be healthier than the ones you simply heat up in the microwave or grab from someone as you ‘drive through’. Your weight should stabilise, your children should have more energy and they will even find learning a lot easier at school. The opportunities for family bonding are immeasurable. The planet will breathe with less waste going into landfill, fewer resources being used to produce the food no longer being wasted, health services will have less strain put on them from the community meaning reduced medical waste (blah), less packaging going into landfill or having to be recycled (which uses more energy) ... everything is ‘less’ and less is better for the planet.
Wow! One small suggestion – many massive benefits.

Monday, 10 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #349 Make Your Own Furniture

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #349 Make Your Own Furniture


This Flower suggestion tugs at my heart strings a bit because I had a great-aunt who lived a difficult life and was compelled to make all her own furniture (during the mid 20th century). I admired her for her tenacity and strength of character, but I also felt sad that she could never buy anything new. She was an amazing woman. What she did for herself, we can all do, not only for ourselves but for the sake of our planet. We may not have to make every piece of furniture we need but it could be fun, even a family project, to put something together with one’s own hands and be able to say, “I made that.” Find things already lying around the house and garden that could be put together and given a second life. Broken crockery could be used to make a mosaic table top for the garden, with bits of wood or steel for the base. You could have fun pottering through your local second hand dealers for bits and piece too.
It’s also okay to buy new materials because this gives you the chance to make informed choices, such as sourcing FSC timber or locally produced metals, products made in your own country from local resources, or simply supporting local businesses. You may find you enjoy the process of building an item of furniture and that it is a lot cheaper than buying one already made. Your choices can make a big difference to the environmental footprint of your piece of furniture: reduced travel miles for resources and materials, a consequent reduction in fuel usage, less carbon emissions, and support for local industry and business. You may even find yourself a new hobby.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #348 Make Your Own Clothes

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #348 Make Your Own Clothes


If one good thing came out of the Global Financial Crisis it might be that young families began making their own clothes. This is particularly true of young mums with a sewing machine who have found pleasure in taking a length of fabric, cutting it into the right shapes and sewing it together to create something nice for their child to wear. There is a huge community of these talented women on the internet, who blog, chat and share via this modern method, giving them literally an entire world of information and advice that their ancestors never dreamed possible.
Apart from sewing circles there are also knitting and crochet circles as these two handcrafts have found their way back into the home and the hands of clever, talented people who have almost made knitting and crochet as extreme as any snow sport out there. I love what they’re doing, with bright colours and snappy patterns. Love it!
Making your own clothes and clothes for others in your family is a good way to save money, and sewing skills can be extended to repairs and remakes, putting even more money back in one’s pocket. It also ensures traditional crafts from centuries past are preserved for future generations, so long as we pass on the skills. Some of these handcrafts are particularly cultural, with patterns and techniques unique to certain areas around the globe. It’s good to be continuing these traditions and keeping them alive. Mother earth also benefits when better made clothing lasts longer, creating less landfill, less waste of natural resources and lots of appreciation for what one has.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #347 Make Your Own Preserves

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #347 Make Your Own Preserves


Making your own preserves may sound like a very old fashioned thing to do, but it is becoming increasingly popular these days. Those who grow their own fruit and vegetables will understand how sometimes the crop produces more than the family can reasonably eat, and whilst it’s great to give excess crops away to other families, it’s also a terrific idea to preserve the excess. Fowlers Vacola is a well-known brand of preserving equipment here in Australia, with everything included in its range that you’ll ever need for preserving. Check out what’s available in your country.
Fruit, due to its high water content, can actually be preserved using glass jars with metal lids, in the microwave. Yes! That’s right. I’ve even done it myself (which for someone who doesn’t like to be in the kitchen was pretty amazing). This is an incredibly easy, fast way to preserve fruit - you’ll love it.
Making preserves might seem daunting, but like everything, it simply requires a bit of research effort, a learning curve along with some trial and error, and some great success. Once you know how to do it and have practiced a bit it will be easy enough to do. Maybe the task could even reconnect you with the older generation – ask mum or grandma to show you how to do it. That would be a fun, memorable way to help the planet, and aside from these personal rewards, making preserves prevents food waste from going into landfill, which saves money both in food costs and rubbish removal, makes use of all the resources that have gone into growing the fruit and vegetables in the first place and saves energy. It’s ‘preserving’ on lots of levels.

Friday, 7 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #346 Make Your Own Ant Rid

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #346 Make Your Own Ant Rid


Ants work as a team, going out looking for food and leaving scent trails so the others can come and harvest the hoards of food they find. This creates the long line of ants you sometimes find in the kitchen – perhaps you left the honey out! The key to getting rid of the ants is to break the line so they don’t know where to go and they’ll head off somewhere else more appropriate. There are lots of different methods and an Internet search will reveal one that works for you. Personally I always find lemon juice works very well indoors when squeezed around the edge of the sink and/or bench where they are marching. On the footpath you can draw with chalk across their line to break the scent trail.
Methods using natural products are far friendlier towards the ants that can simply go searching elsewhere and no longer bother you. There’s no need to kill them all. Making your own natural ant rid also avoids the use of chemicals, which we don’t need to put around our kitchens or outside on the paths where it gets washed into the soil.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #345 Make Your Own Fly Repellant

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #345 Make Your Own Fly Repellant


For many people, fly sprays are a total nuisance to sensitive noses and some of the commercial options for being rid of flies are not particularly attractive. Nor are they wonderful for the planet. Try making your own fly repellent. Here are some ideas from the Internet: a bowl of crushed mint leaves, or ¼ fill a jar with sugar, add a drop of dishwashing liquid and water to half level. This will attract flies and wasps that become trapped and drown. There are lots of ideas floating around. Have fun trying them out and see which one works best. Maybe the trap depends on the type of fly. Here in Australia we have a good variety of flies from tiny ones to rather large blow flies, which are okay in the great outdoors but never welcome inside the house or at the barbeque, where spraying chemicals over food or kitchen benches/countertops is never desirable. Kick the habit of using commercial fly sprays and have some family fun coming up with your own homemade repellent or fly traps that get rid of the nasties without adding anything nasty to the planet.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #344 Make Your Own Air Freshener

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #344 Make Your Own Air Freshener


If potpourri is not really your thing and you just want to be able to mask a bad smell as required, then make your own air freshener. Add a few drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with distilled water. You can try lavender, cinnamon, bergamot, cedar wood or orange – whichever your nose prefers. Of course, the Internet is a great source of recipes and ideas, including precise quantities if you need them, but experimenting for yourself is always a fun option.
By making your own air freshener you avoid using chemical based sprays that are costly and damaging to the environment. Nothing beats opening a window or two and letting the fresh air in, but when it’s too cold to do so, a homemade freshener will be far less damaging to the planet than something out of a can. Give it a go.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #343 Make Your Own Potpourii

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #343 Make Your Own Potpourii


Choose not to spray chemicals around your home and make your own potpourri instead. Gather flowers in the morning, dew free. You can pick flower heads, petals and sprigs. Remove the stems, place on a screen mesh in a single layer and leave in a warm, dark place for about three weeks or until they are completely dry. Gather them into a bowl, add 6 drops of essential oil and 2 tablespoons of orris root powder, then leave in a pretty container in your entrance hall or sitting room. If you don’t wish to use your potpourri straight away store it in a sealed container until you require it.
This is another opportunity for you to search the Internet for lots of lovely recipes for making your own potpourri. You will have a healthy product made from all natural and renewable resources, no chemicals and no packaging to throw away.

Monday, 3 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #342 Recycle Coffee Grounds

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #342 Recycle Coffee Grounds

There are quite a few amazing things you can do with your coffee grounds: They can be put onto the garden to repel slugs and encourage earth worms. They can be put in with your compost. Use them as a hand rub to remove garlic or onion odours. Used gently, they can remove scratches from wooden floors and furniture. Put them on a plate in the refrigerator for 24 hours to remove odours. Artists can use them for dying cloth.
Have fun searching the Internet for more ideas that may suit your household and give recycling a go.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #341 Take Your Rubbish Home

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #341 Take Your Rubbish Home


Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, always take your rubbish home if you can’t dispose of it properly. You might be having a picnic, at a music festival, watching a parade, strolling around an outdoor market, having fun with friends in the city, cycling or bushwalking – whatever your activity, often you end up with some rubbish to hand. Don’t throw it on the ground where it will blow away into the bushes or find its way into the water system where it will cause harm to marine and bird life. If there are no rubbish/trash bins around, or if the available bins are overflowing, take your rubbish home with you and recycle what you can. It will still be less to carry than you started out with and it will make a world of difference to the planet.