Wednesday, 31 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #400 Celebrate Milestones

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #400 Celebrate Milestones


Milestones are the perfect points in time to stop and reflect – how are we going? Are we achieving what we set out to do? What have we learned? What do we need to do differently? These questions apply to everyone on the planet, even more than ever, as we face global warming, threats from super weather patterns, rising sea levels and pollution. As I take this journey of finding 1000 suggestion for how we can all improve the planet, I have at times felt desperate despair when I discover more and more corruption in every corner, when I listen to people who couldn’t care less about anything other than their own pockets, and when I see people mindlessly adding to the problems. When I start to think I’m fighting a losing battle, I remind myself that if I don’t keep doing something about it I’ll have to curl up on a remote island somewhere where I can’t see it all, because as long as there are things we can do better, then let’s get together and do it better.
So let’s celebrate the milestones, no matter how small. If we save one bear from a cage, close down one factory farm, free a bunch of chickens from battery farming, stop Bayer killing the bees (Flower #1), fight to stop Nestle from stealing drinking water around the world or Monsanto from suing farmers for saving seeds, then every step is a victory, every step takes us closer to a better, fairer, healthier world, and that’s worth celebrating.
Find things to fight for at sumofus.org where you can pick one reason to take action, or have a go at the lot – like me. I’ve reached Flower #400 and that is a milestone for me to celebrate, quietly at home with my family, before I plough ahead to find the next 100 ideas. I hope you’ll continue the journey with me.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #399 Dispose of your Xmas Tree Responsibly

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #399 Dispose of your Xmas Tree Responsibly


Another disposal task after Christmas is that large tree you cheerfully brought into the house a few weeks ago, covered in baubles and tinsel, draped in lights and placed lots of beautifully wrapped present beneath. Now it’s a bit worn, the needles have dropped all over the floor, the cat has climbed it once too often and you just want the darn thing outta there! It’s time to think about where it goes – preferably somewhere more thoughtful than your neighbour’s front nature strip or hidden at the back of the garden bed at your local park (not acceptable). Yep! You bought it, you have to dispose of it responsibly. Some councils offer a mulching service, which is very useful. Otherwise, the pine needles make very good mulch in your own garden, particularly for acid soils – gardenias, rhododendrons, hydrangeas. You’ll still have the branches and trunk to be rid of, but less mess to tote around. If someone in the neighbourhood owns a mulcher, suggest they have a special mulching day and charge a nominal fee per Christmas tree. This may even promote some neighbourly spirit and good cheer. You may have to take it away yourself to a recycling facility or waste transfer station where they take garden waste and turn into mulch. Finally, if you’re really lucky you have a kerbside waste collection for green material into which you can put your Christmas tree – chopped up of course. Make sure the Christmas clean up is truly clean, that you think about your actions, and those responsible actions become a routine part of your holiday traditions.

Monday, 29 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #398 Recycle Xmas Cards

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #398 Recycle Xmas Cards


Now that Christmas is over and it’s nearly time to pack away all the decorations until next year, think about how you dispose of all those Christmas cards responsibly. The easy option is to put them all into your recycling bin, but there may be a couple of ideas for repurposing them. Create next year’s gift tag by cutting out pretty sections or using the entire picture from smaller cards, ensuring there is no writing on the back (of course). Make a garland by cutting out pretty elements, such as baubles, stockings or trees, and stick them onto a length of pretty cord. Use the pictures or parts thereof to decorate plain gift bags or even brown paper bags you have acquired throughout the year. The pictures can be used for all types of decorating ideas, from making placemats, Christmas decorations and bookmarks, to simply using them as scrap card for your shopping lists throughout the year. Using them more than once is preferable to putting them into recycling, because the recycling process will actually use resources such as water and energy to process them into new product. Remember, in the USA alone, nearly $8 billion is spent on cards annually (Flower #388) – that’s a lot of product wasted on a single use, so try to find other recycling/repurposing ideas.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #397 Adopt an Animal

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #397 Adopt an Animal

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Zoos around the world are doing their best to care for animals using various avenues. Some are ensuring their animals are housed in decent cages/surroundings. Many have breeding programs and some do valuable research into specific species to try to prevent them becoming endangered, or worse, extinct. Many zoos do not take enough money at the gate to even feed the animals they have. They need further assistance to ensure their valuable work continues, and to that end they have programs whereby people can adopt an animal. This means a financial contribution towards the preservation of the animal of your choice. Some ideas to head you in the right direction:
www.orangutan.org.au

or check for options in your own country. As we approach the New Year and its resolutions, think about adding one more to your list of resolutions – the support of your favourite animal through an ‘adopt an animal’ program, and help save a threatened species.
 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet on World Animal Day website

Supporting Each Other Through Art

1000 Flowers for the Planet began on 4 October 2013 - World Animal Day. Recently, WAD and I have joined forces to keep the message alive that all animals everywhere deserve to be cared for by humans, to ensure species do not become endangered or extinct, and that they are cherished and acknowledged everywhere. There are many ways in which we can do this, so I encourage you to take a look at the World Animal Day wesbite at:
www.worldanimalday.org.uk
Find out what events are being held in your area, so you can participate in making a difference to how we treat all creatures on this wonderful planet, and make it a better place to live.
While you're there, take a look at 'In Focus' where I have written a piece about my art project, 1000 Flowers for the Planet. I feel privileged to be included on the World Animal Day website and thank them for their support. Together, we can make a difference.

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #396 Study Consequences First

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #396 Study Consequences First


Australia and New Zealand have been unique countries in that they have only been known to the entire world for a couple of centuries. As such, we can easily see mistakes that have been made and the dire consequences that have affected the land. For example, in Australia they introduced the cane toad with the intention that it would rid the cane of cane beetles, but the result has actually been uncontrollable numbers of cane toads that have spread across more than half the top of the country, endangering native species and damaging the environment. Likewise, foxes and rabbits were introduced into Australia for the purposes of hunting and have grown to plague proportions covering the entire nation. They have no major predators here and cause environmental havoc and threaten native wildlife.
We cannot change what has happened and there is no point blaming people from the past. What we can do is learn from past mistakes – that’s what makes the study of history so important. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the wisdom of past generations either. Reinventing the wheel is pointless, and ignoring warnings from our ancestors only proves foolish, even if you think you know better, which if often the case with science these days. Yes, we do know more, but instead of doing things recklessly, just because we are capable and have the technology, we should take more care to study what the consequences are before charging ahead recklessly. This is not to say we should form a committee to investigate whether or not we should have a committee that investigates the viability of a committee that might put forward a report on which committees should be formed to do a study. Let’s drop the idiocy and use our brains and supposed intelligence to ensure we make the right decisions regarding the planet and our impact on it, and look after our children’s inheritance.

Friday, 26 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #395 Take Care of a Seeing-Eye Dog

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #395 Take Care of a Seeing-Eye Dog


Seeing eye dogs are amazing animals that make a huge difference to the vision impaired person for whom they work. You can help the development of a Seeing Eye dog by being a puppy carer, whereby you provide a loving and caring home for a puppy for the first year of their lives. It is demanding work but very rewarding. The pups need to be handled and trained to become used to all kinds of social situations and public spaces. To assist the work of Seeing Eye Dogs Australia is to give a supporting hand to a blind person, without their knowledge, and to give without recognition is the humblest, most sincere form of giving.
[In Australia: http://seda.visionaustralia.org/] Check out the Seeing-Eye dog program in your own country.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #394 Be an Eco-Gardener

 

 1000 Flowers for the Planet - #394 Be an Eco-Gardener

Being a gardener is often found to be a rewarding pastime for many people. Others just like to enjoy the visual beauty of the garden. Flower #278 suggested creating a sustainable garden so let’s take that further by adding some eco elements to the organic, pesticide free, seed saving practices of the sustainable gardener. Gardens usually have other elements in them besides the plants, trees and shrubs, such as footpaths, fences, edgings for garden beds, statues, water features, decks, seats and all the tools that are used to maintain them. Aim to be environmentally friendly and think of the planet when adding these manmade elements to your garden. Consider products made from recycled materials, including any statues or garden art you choose. Use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), or the equivalent in your country, timber products for furniture and decking. Try to reduce the amount of plastic used in your garden, including any tools such as watering cans, rakes, trimming saws, shovels and secateurs etc which have many non-plastic alternatives available. Use a galvanised metal tank for rainwater collection instead of a plastic one. There are many ways in which we can take care of our planet through conscious effort, the garden being just one. Be an eco-warrior!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #393 Support Old Trades

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #393 Support Old Trades


Old trades are dying out almost as quickly as Bayer is killing the world’s bees. For millennia, humans have developed skills with their hands, making, creating, inventing and crafting items of function and beauty. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, old trades have gradually seen their demise. In the 21st century we are seeing the demise of panel beaters, as questionable insurance companies that offer low premiums make their profits by squeezing the industry into sending damaged vehicles into landfill rather than repairing them. Panel beaters are the extension of blacksmiths – they both understand the alchemy of metal, and their knowledge and expertise will soon disappear altogether.
Fletchers, bookbinders, tool makers, stone masons, calligraphers, chair makers, basket weavers, spinners, coopers, weavers, leadlighters, leather workers, bucket makers, hedgerow makers, coachbuilders, lace makers, tatters, blacksmiths – these are some of the old trades that will disappear into the history books unless we encourage two things: We need to inspire young people to learn these trades so they are able to hone their skills over a working lifespan to become masters of their trade and pass it forward, and we need to support these trades by investing in them financially and emotionally, by purchasing goods produced by these tradespeople and returning our mindset to a love of things gently crafted by hand.
This is one way we can choose to slow down, enjoy the process and the result, and help our planet by producing less pollution from mass production and decrease our demand for material possessions, thus demanding less of our planet’s resources. This also supports ‘people’.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #392 Refuse Plastic Products

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #392 Refuse Plastic Products


Plastic is such a versatile and inexpensive material. We find it in just about everything we use these days. Unfortunately, it’s an oil-based product, and oil is a finite resource, so one day we’re going to have to learn to either live without plastic once again, or continuously recycle all the plastic we have already produced.
Somehow, plastic creeps into our homes and our lives without us even desiring it. We are given free giveaways such as drink bottles, highlighter pens, magnets, mouse pads, keyrings, pens, rulers, stress balls, the list goes on. From all kinds of sources we are given loyalty cards, CDs, marketing DVDs, knick knacks, product samples and more. The next time you put your hand out to be polite by taking something plastic being offered to you for free, retract that hand and think about what you’re doing. Do you really need that item or will it likely be tossed into landfill as soon as you get home?
On a more direct level, think about the consequences of buying plastic products and consider whether you can buy a better quality item made from more sustainable resources. Try disciplining yourself to refrain from buying things by testing whether or not you need them at all – go home and give yourself one week before returning to the store. If, after that week, you really can’t live without it, then buy it, ensuring you’re guilt-free. Otherwise, try to refuse plastic products, and save the planet’s resources.

Monday, 22 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #391 Learn About Your City

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #391 Learn About Your City


Just as it was suggested in Flower #375 to explore your own neighbourhood, learning about your city is an expansion on that. Even if you live in the country, it’s a great idea to spend some time in your nearest city and mix with the urban dwellers. Inner city areas have a very different feel from that in the suburbs, and even more striking contrasts from the country. Take some time to explore this, learn what interesting and diverse activities are available in your city and have some adventures. Discover how your city came to be, what industry created it in the first place, how that industry survived or died, and what makes the city viable in the twenty-first century.
By understanding how your local area works and what makes it survive or thrive, you will educate yourself on the impacts your area has on the planet. Do you come from an industrial city based on the export of coal or other mining activities? Does your city thrive on computer-based businesses like banking and finance? How green is your city? How clean is your city? How moral is your city? Is it based on the sex trade or child labour? Can you be proud of your city? Learn about it, see how you like it, and see what contributions towards a better society you can make.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #390 Create Your Own Urban Forest

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #390 Create Your Own Urban Forest


I’m particularly lucky to live in a major city that has many urban forests, enough to make them easily accessible to most inhabitants. That’s one of the reasons Melbourne was voted the most liveable city in the world. Urban forests provide many important benefits to people, the landscape and the planet. Humans benefit from trees, which increase their sense of well-being, provide shade and a meeting place where people interact, decrease stress and consequently improve health. Trees provide shelter and food for many animals and insects, and may also help ensure the preservation of some species (red squirrels, for example). Urban forests moderate local climate by reducing wind and stormwater effects, and by keeping the climate cooler in summer, when cities are otherwise likely to experience the urban heat island effect. Trees counter-balance carbon dioxide emissions and reduce air pollution.
It follows that if people living in urban areas feel healthier and calmer due to the existence of and easy access to trees, then crime rates should reduce as a consequence. You can help by contacting local politicians and encouraging them to develop, maintain, increase or expand urban forests. You can add to the public forests by planting trees on your own private property and discouraging others from moonscaping. You can assist urban forest projects by helping to plant out new areas and taking an active interest in ensuring the trees survive. Trees help the planet to breathe – so let’s add more trees.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #389 Save the Orangutan

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #389 Save the Orangutan


The orang-utan is a critically endangered species, with less than 6,300 in existence. They live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, where they have faced threats to their existence for decades. These threats mostly come from humans, the main one being deforestation, which can be caused by fire, but is mostly caused by logging. Timber is taken out and the forest cleared, then the land is covered with plantations for the production of palm oil. Mining also takes place along rivers of the rainforest where the large mining operations destroy the habitat of the orang-utan. And sadly, although illegal, orang-utans are popular as pets.
The reduced habitat of the orang-utans may be diminished even further if plans to exploit natural resources go ahead, and this would ensure the extinction of this endearing creature. To learn even more about this important issue go to www.orangutan.org.au or search ‘save the orangutans’ for other good sites trying to do something positive.
We need to be aware of how our actions affect the planet and all its creatures. 85% of the world’s palm oil production comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. We use palm oil in everyday products such as: baby soap, baby formula, wipes, cake mixes, biscuits, bread products, cakes, muffins, candles, cereals, cheese, chocolate, cleaning products, cosmetics, dish washing liquid, pastry, pizza, shampoo, toothpaste, snack bars, ice cream, soap, margarine, noodles, lip balm, pet food, skin care, chips, snacks, peanut butter, and a whole lot more! There is a lot of information at www.palmoilinvestigations.org where I found a list of products in my country that contain palm oil. Flower #137 suggested avoiding palm oil. This would mean a huge change in lifestyle and one few would take, but unless we do something about changing the way we produce palm oil, and try to find a way to make it sustainable without losing any more rainforest, and therefore orang-utan habitat, then we can tell our children and grandchildren they can only look at pictures of these red apes because they’re extinct.
Help save the orang-utans by pressuring manufacturers to either not use palm oil in their products, or to at least grow sustainably. Mandatory labelling of products with correct information must be introduced and enforced so people can make considered choices. Speak up, phone or email companies and ask them to do the best thing for the planet. Donate to organizations on the ground helping to save the orang-utan and its habitat. Volunteer if you can. All of these things will help.

Friday, 19 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #388 Do We Need Cards?





1000 Flowers for the Planet - #388 Do We Need Cards?



Sending cards became very popular during the Victorian era and are now a major business, with the USA market estimated between $7 and $8 billion. What must it be worldwide? Just like wrapping paper (Flower #387), cards use valuable resources: trees, chemicals, inks, energy, water, transportation and plastic. Greeting cards are lovely to receive, but is it time to rethink this habit as well?
When I was growing up there was etiquette to using greeting cards. They were only sent in the mail to loved ones you would not see for their birthday or during special holidays, like Christmas for example. If you were going to see a person for a celebration a card was not required. If you gave a gift to that person, a small gift tag was all they was required.
Christmas isn’t known as the ‘silly season’ for nothing. People have a tendency to send cards to recipients they haven’t seen or spoken to once in the whole year. There seems to be this sense of duty to hang on to old friendships that may well be past their use-by date. Consider it this year and think about who really needs to receive a card from you, shorten that Christmas card list and help save some of the planet’s resources. It could be your ‘second’ gift to the planet.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #387 Do We Need to Wrap Gifts?

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #387 Do We Need to Wrap Gifts?


Perhaps it’s time to question some of the things we do without thinking about it very much, particularly as we approach Christmas time in the Christian world. Do we really need to wrap gifts? Admittedly gift paper is recyclable, but it still uses lots of resources in its manufacture and transportation, then more energy and resources to recycle it. It’s estimated that 5 million tons of waste is generated in the United States alone during the holidays. That’s an awful lot of resources from just one country – imagine the total worldwide.
We like to wrap presents because we like to control the exact moment the recipient receives the surprise, and we like to see the expression on their face. Would that element of surprise really disappear if we simply walked into the room with a gift in our outstretched hands? We could hide our gift behind our back while building up the tension of the big reveal. We could have the present in a bag or basket from which it is pulled out, perhaps by the recipient. We could have the recipient close their eyes and put the gift in their hands, or on the table or floor in front of them, build up a little bit of excitement then ta-da – reveal. Children’s unwrapped Christmas presents can be put into a sack – in my family we had pillow cases with Christmas scenes printed on them. (If you’ve got more than a sack-full for your child, maybe you could rethink the impact of ‘too much’ stuff and not enough quality time.)  Wait until Christmas Eve to put all the presents under your Christmas tree labelled with gift tags. It will still be exciting in the morning to all come out and see what is there. If you struggle to cope with the idea of going wrapper free, use gift bags which are recycled around the family. Another idea is to make your own fabric Christmas sacks for each person and reuse them every year.
There’s always a different way to do something. This idea will save a huge amount in resources and money, making it more viable for the planet. All it takes is some lateral thinking and habit readjustment. Try it this Christmas and make it your gift to the planet.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #386 Save the Harp Seals

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #386 Save the Harp Seals


This is a very complicated issue that takes place in Canada off the Atlantic coastline, during spring when the harp seals give birth to beautiful baby seals with gorgeous white fur. Highly prized, these furs are desirable to some humans to wear as fur coats. Consequently, baby seals between the age of 3 weeks and 3 months are hunted and killed. They are bludgeoned to death in front of their mothers, by hunters often uninterested in a humane despatch, and if the mothers try to intervene they too are bludgeoned in the face. The hunters bludgeon the baby seals to prevent damage to the pelt, and in some instances it doesn’t matter if the poor creature is skinned while still alive. Some hunters shoot the seals, aiming for the head, of course. Most of the hunters are of European background, so this cannot be claimed as a solely Inuit activity. It’s certainly an obscene one.
Why do we need to kill baby harp seals? For the fur – but we can use other things to keep us warm. For the oil – there are probably alternatives that are more sustainable. For the meat. This is where it gets complicated. A simple view is that the fishermen over-fished the cod along the Atlantic coastline and the industry collapsed, leaving thousands of people out of work, so they turned to killing harp seals for their income. The complications of this are way too involved to go into in two paragraphs. Please read more about this issue at www.harpseals.org and educate yourself before making up your own mind about it. Then, if you agree that the harp seals need to be saved, do something about it. There has to be a better way.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #385 Preserve Antarctica

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #385 Preserve Antarctica


Isn’t it enough that we have already abused our planet to such a degree that we may be close to the point of no return, without including Antarctica? This massive continent to the south of our planet has heretofore been a sanctuary where biodiversity and the environment are mostly protected. It is an amazing place, teaming with life, much of it found nowhere else on earth. Whilst human presence is on the increase there, at this point only scientific research takes place and it remains a demilitarised zone. This may not always be the case. Like cavemen fighting over the latest kill, with the winner being the strongest man with the biggest club, mankind looks like they could destroy the peace and natural beauty of this last frontier, if nations with the biggest clout decide to go in and exploit the area for energy and natural mineral resources.
Global warming is already affecting the area, with ice caps melting at a faster rate than ever before. Flora and fauna are affected as a consequence. This is already having an impact on every human worldwide. If humans start removing mineral deposits, oil and gas, they will undermine the ecological balance and destroy the area. Antarctica is protected under treaties at the moment, but what guarantees do we have that this won’t change in the future?
Why do we do this? Why is everyone blindly going about chasing their record profits, more money, more stuff, more, more, more – taking resources from the planet and poisoning everything in sight? Don’t you realise that nothing is infinite – eventually it will run out. Eventually, when you’ve taken the last drop of oil, used up the last piece of ground, fished the last fish out of the ocean – there won’t be anything left! – Unless we stop this craziness right now. And if we’re too dumb to begin at home, maybe we should begin with Antarctica.

Monday, 15 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #384 Travel an Unknown Road

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #384 Travel an Unknown Road


It’s very easy to stay where it’s safe, to do the same thing day in, day out, and keep with the familiar. People do that because it is the easy road, the road with fewer challenges and one that makes them feel secure. I want to challenge everyone to travel an unknown road – to see what you might find, to discover something different, to expand your own skills and knowledge, and to grow as a person.
If you’re constantly grumbling about your job, go and seek a new job or train to do something different. You could gather a huge new knowledge base that might change your life completely. If you’ve never been outside your city or state, plan a road trip to literally travel an unknown road, and go on an adventure. See more of your own country and meet people who live in different areas, with different lifestyles, and learn how many ways there are to do things. Change the way you normally do things by challenging yourself – reverse the order, switch things around, stop doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing, and start doing something you know you should.
Sometimes we need to travel an unknown road to awaken ourselves to what’s around us. We take a new route and open our eyes to the beauty and majesty of a different place. We can also awaken ourselves to the problems around us, and with that new knowledge, try to make a difference. Do it. The planet needs you to.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #383 Look After Your Brain

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #383 Look After Your Brain


We’re told to look after our physical health, to join a gym, eat well and take plenty of exercise, but our brains need exercise and care as well. Along with a healthy body, a healthy brain will serve us well and ensure we get the maximum from life. Looking after your brain will ensure a good memory, the retention of information and the ability to problem solve quickly and efficiently. It can be fed by a good diet, and exercised by problem solving, doing puzzles or playing memory games. Being active at work and in social circles will provide mental stimulation that helps keep your brain in good working order. If you’re not already participating in some type of activity that exercises your brain, find something that will fill this need. Learn chess, play games with your grandchildren, join a debating club, read books, meditate – find what best suits you.
By looking after our brains and our mental health we can stay active longer and avoid unwanted trips to hospital, which puts pressure on health services and uses a lot of resources, which in turn are a huge drain on our planet.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #382 Avoid Food Waste

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #382 Avoid Food Waste


Food waste in the Western world seems to be at an average of 30% of what we ‘throw away’. This food has already used a huge amount of resources to be grown – water, fertiliser, human effort, land use – and then transport expenses in terms of fossil fuels, carbon emissions, air pollution and traffic congestion, just to get to the shop where you buy it. Then you use effort and fossil fuels, creating carbon emissions and traffic congestion, to get it home, where you continue to use resources to store it – refrigerants which eventually create toxic waste – then cook it (more fossil fuels, carbon emissions, air pollution), to put it on a plate in front of your family who do not wish to acknowledge everything that’s gone into providing this meal, can’t be bothered eating it all, so you chuck it in the bin. = 30% food waste
I haven’t even mentioned the money that’s been wasted.
Food waste can be avoided in many different ways. If we could all get over this idea that fruit and vegetables come in standard sizes and shapes, then farmers wouldn’t be throwing away perfectly good food because it isn’t ‘appealing to the eye’. Only buy what you need and consider shopping more regularly, and locally, for foods that don’t keep for long periods in storage, such as fruits and vegetables. Cook less. If your family is not eating everything on the plate, they obviously prefer to eat less than you’re providing. Many Westerners eat too much anyway, so reducing portion sizes is a step in the right direction for many reasons. Learn to deal with leftovers by finding ways to use them in another meal, rather than chucking them in the bin. Share recipes and ideas with other families to inject a new idea or two into your menu planning. Write that menu plan weekly, or fortnightly, to ensure you buy the right foods in the right quantities. So there are six ideas from my five minutes of brain effort. What other ideas can you come up with?

Friday, 12 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #381 Reject Bullying

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #381 Reject Bullying


Bullying occurs everywhere – it’s in schools, streets, workplaces and homes. For some reason it seems to be part of human nature. It’s not something I personally understand, but it must have everything to do with a desire for power. 20% of the world’s population are HSPs (Highly Sensitive Person). HSPs are found in the animal kingdom too – they’re the ones in the herd who warn the others of danger lurking nearby. They are valued members of the herd. HSPs are born with a nervous system specially wired to be extra sensitive. They are our moral and ethical compasses. But in the human world, certainly the Western world, these people are no longer valued – they are bullied. Anti-bullying programs in schools are not working, and bullying is taking on new forms via the Internet. It can be physical, mental and deadly. Most bullies are actually cowards, because they work in groups, need an audience to get their kicks and are often weak when alone. Some of them come from homes where they are bullied themselves, either by a parent or siblings, and this is perpetuated as they pass on that behaviour in order to feel power over someone else.
Passive aggressive people are particularly nasty. They are able to take advantage of situations to make another person look foolish without seeming to be involved themselves. They can even make it look as though the person they are bullying is the bully. These are very clever people, but insidious. They are usually found in the workplace and it’s very difficult to catch them out or get them to stop.
Because this problem has existed for so long and is worsening, there should be concern that a solution has not yet been found, and until dramatic change occurs, more victims of bullying will commit suicide. As communities are responsible for the wellbeing of all, we need to create zero tolerance to bullying and stamp it out, because everyone has a right to pursue their lives in peace, and to thrive.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #380 Find Your Own Space

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #380 Find Your Own Space


As the number of people in the world grows and grows, it can be difficult to find your own space, but it could make all the difference between happiness, health and wellbeing, and a life of anger, frustration and disease. The world is struggling to support the human race. We have passed the point where we have time to think about what to do – we must take action, every day, to create a better planet. It’s a huge task, but must be done now.
Struggling to deal with everything that gets thrown at us on a daily basis can be hard. It wears a person down. This is why it’s important to find your own space. It may be half an hour doing yoga alone in your room, some tai chi in a park space, creating art in your own special studio, reading a book in a cosy chair in a quiet spot, walking through the bush, sitting on the rooftop of an apartment building. Wherever you find your own space to recharge your batteries, go there regularly. It will rejuvenate you, so you have the energy to face the difficult tasks of each day. Then, when you’re rested and at peace, join the fight to save the planet and make the world a better place for everyone.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #379 Support Traditional Book Binders

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #379 Support Traditional Book Binders


Making a book from scratch is a very rewarding task. Making a superb book requires talent. Most people are unaware of the years of training and practice that goes into making a hand-bound book. Traditional bookbinders are becoming fewer as old trades fade away in this fast world of instant gratification. Traditional bookbinders use ancient methods to create books that are works of art, using natural and sustainable materials. Usually, these artisans are also able to repair old books, preventing these items from going into landfill. This makes bookbinders valuable contributors to looking after our planet. It’s important not to lose these old trades, and to support those people who have the skill and the patience to commit themselves to these wonderful crafts. So instead of buying a cheap journal, seek out a traditional bookbinder and support a true artisan by buying one of their hand-made books. It will make you value your journaling even more and you will be supporting something wonderful.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #378 Create a Sustainable Garden

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #378 Create a Sustainable Garden


Whether we live in the desert of Arizona, the parched outback of Australia or the raining hills of Ireland, we all need to consider creating a sustainable garden – one that will thrive and survive in the conditions of the area it adorns. Native fauna will always be the most sustainable selection for you area. Planting with the future in mind will ensure your garden will last a long time. There’s no point planting a pine tree right beside a fence. You’ll only have to chop it down when it grows too big, and that’s not sustainable gardening.
Being truly sustainable means being organic by using methods that support what would occur naturally. Composting is one part of the process. Using rainwater by collecting it in rain barrels ensures quality water to feed your garden. Save seeds from fruit and vegetable crops, and from flower heads, to enable future plantings. Consider the design of your garden, ensuring plants receive the amount of sunlight or shade they require, and that they have the appropriate amount of space to achieve their likely size. Of course, don’t use any chemicals or pesticides. It means a return to more traditional gardening practices that will not only have you creating a sustainable garden, but probably enjoying the process a whole lot more too. A sustainable garden looks after you, the future, and our planet.

Monday, 8 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #377 Notice Your Surroundings

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #377 Notice Your Surroundings


Usually when I go to work I walk in the door, do my job and go home at the end of my shift, but recently I took a stroll around the grounds and noticed, to my pleasure, that we have lots of different flowering gum trees. Those that were flowering had subtle blooms in shades of pink or yellow, and those that had finished had empty caps, and others had gumnuts of different shapes and sizes. The variety was a true delight to discover.
Take pleasure in your surroundings, notice what’s happening in your environment and keep an eye out for the good and the nasty. If you notice any problems, such as factories pouring waste into the environment, do something about it. Look at what problems might be nearby – pollution, illegal dumping of rubbish, infrastructure in need of maintenance, any threats to health and safety – and do something about it.
Conversely, notice all the good things too. Take time to watch what happens nearby, how people have fun, what makes them laugh and how much beauty there is around you. Try to fix what’s wrong, for the sake of our planet, and focus lots of attention on what’s good, to create a better world.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #376 Value Something Olde

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #376 Value Something Olde


There are plenty of people who really hate old things. They like everything to be new and modern, and that’s okay. We don’t all want to be the same. But there are others who do like old things, and that needs to be valued too. If you’re a modern person who has something old you really don’t want, find someone who will value it and give it to them. Don’t toss it into landfill. This is how we come to have antiques and other such beautiful things – when we value something olde. Fill your home with treasures from the past and you will be doing something good for the environment, by keeping goods out of landfill, by ensuring the resources already used in the production of those items are still being valued, by not putting further pressure on resources to create new items to replace the old ones and thereby reducing carbon emissions and other pollutions. When you feel you need something, see if you can buy a version that is older than yourself. Have some fun with that idea, and value something olde.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #375 Explore Your Neighbourhood

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #375 Explore Your Neighbourhood


Check it out. When was the last time you really looked closely at your neighbourhood? How long since you walked around the local streets and saw what was happening nearby? Some new people may have moved in. There may be new shops or other industries nearby that sell something you need, or home businesses that need your support. There may be a local art gallery, sports facilities, youth clubs, special interest groups, nursing homes where you can visit a lonely old person, churches, health groups, new playgrounds or undiscovered parks. All or some of these can be of use to you.
Things change all the time. Progress keeps marching on. It’s certainly marching down my street. Maybe you’ll like what you find, maybe you won’t, but if you do find something in your neighbourhood that you really don’t like, then you’ve found an opportunity to make a change for the better. See what’s out there and think about how well it looks after the planet, and make a local contribution yourself.
(In my efforts not to be a Pollyanna - maybe your neighbourhood isn’t so great and maybe it’s unsafe to walk around – so how can you change that?)

Friday, 5 December 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #374 Enjoy Time with Friends

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #374 Enjoy Time with Friends


Special friends are an important part of life. They help create lasting memories. They gave childhood fun, see you through tough times, and share in your ideas. They are giving and caring, and will be there for you whenever you need them, any time. They make you feel loved and, conversely, give you someone to love. In this busy world we have created for ourselves, friendships can easily fall by the wayside. All too often we make it too difficult to find time to catch up with our friends as we race around being self-important. Friends are vital to our health and well-being. They teach us things, provide lessons through life, and show us how to live selflessly, to share and to love. Enjoy time with your friends. Make time for them. It will make you a better person and help you make the world a better place.