Saturday, 31 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #430 Make Your Own Toothpaste

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #430 Make Your Own Toothpaste


There are quite a few homemade toothpaste recipes to be discovered on the Internet, so take some time to look around for something that suits you and your family. The basic recipe appears to consist of baking soda, sea salt if desired, peppermint essential oil (or other oils of your choice) and purified water. I found an easy ‘how to’ at http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-toothpaste/ but please look around and try different ideas. There are vegan recipes, tooth whitening recipes and some that focus on oral health. Apart from getting a good quantity of chemicals out of your bathroom and out of your body, there is the added benefit of financial savings. The amount you save will depend on where you live and how much things cost in your country, but the savings will be there, and very little time is required to make your own toothpaste. Before cancelling out the idea as unappealing, give it at least one chance and then make up your mind if you’ll go all natural or all chemical.
And the added benefit for the planet will be fewer chemicals being washed down the drain.

Friday, 30 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #429 Recycle Correctly

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #429 Recycle Correctly


Recycling is a complete waste of time if it’s not done correctly. In my local area we are required to put our recyclable items, all loose, into one large wheelie bin for fortnightly collection. If they are tied up in a plastic bag those items are not recycled. It messes up the process at the recycling plant. In some areas of the world, citizens are required to sort their recyclable materials into different bins at a local collection spot. The Scandinavians do this really well, but they do it well because they are reliable, conscientious people, who do things correctly, ensuring each item goes into the proper bin. The whole system would fall apart if people put paper in with the glass etc. Likewise, don’t mix up soft plastics with hard plastics if the collection only takes a particular type – that’s why there are numbers on the bottom of the harder plastics, to help with recycling. By not contaminating recyclable materials we assist the process of transforming waste into new products that can be of use. This saves valuable resources and prevents useful materials from ending up in landfill.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #428 Understand Peak Oil

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #428 Understand Peak Oil


Peak oil has been discussed a lot since the 1970s, with no one quite sure exactly when production will peak and the inevitable downhill run take effect. The bottom line is that oil is a finite resource – it will run out eventually. Understanding this unavoidable truth is important for how the human population will manage to move forward into the next century. You may not be alive to see it, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to abuse the resource without thought for future generations. Oil is used to fuel our cars so we can get around easily, our tractors to help in food production so we can eat, and is the basis of plastic products. The next time you go to the grocery store or supermarket, look around and see how much you could purchase that does not contain plastic. Walk into any shop and notice how much plastic is used, particularly a toy store. Look at all the plastic in your own home. Imagine life without it.
It is thought that we have already passed peak oil production, which means we are now using the second half of what is available to us, and if we continue to use it at the rate we currently do, it will be gone some time this century. Read a better explanation at: http://www.peakoil.net/about-peak-oil and think: How you would live without oil in your life?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #427 Recycle Baby Furniture

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #427 Recycle Baby Furniture


Baby furniture constitutes a large investment when your first baby comes along. Furniture specifically designed for baby generally takes up a lot of room, can be expensive, and will only be used a relatively short period of time. So lots of resources are being used in the production of goods that will no longer be required after a few short years. In order to do those resources justice, make sure you recycle your unwanted baby furniture. The better you look after this furniture, the better condition it will remain in, and the more likely you will be able to receive some money for these second hand goods. Even better, donate the furniture to a good cause where mothers in financial need are able to access decent furniture for their baby. A quick search of the Internet will reveal many outlets for recycled baby furniture. Consider recycled before buying new, and save the planet’s resources.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #426 Insist on Sensible Architecture


1000 Flowers for the Planet - #426 Insist on Sensible Architecture


Architecture presents a major and important opportunity for humans to make a difference to how we impact the planet. Sustainable architecture uses many methods to reduce our footprint, yet there is comparatively little of it around. The Scandinavians are very good at sustainable architecture, giving us somewhere to focus and learn – if we’re sensible. With more and more people on this planet, as population explodes across the world, there is greater demand for places to live. The type of architecture being constructed in Australia at present is thoughtless, destructive and wasteful. The only thing being valued here is ‘profit’.
If we, as responsible human beings, insist on sensible architecture, that’s what we’ll get. Buildings of all shapes and sizes need to use the technology and intelligence we already have, in order to reduce environmental impact. Things such as renewable materials, recycled materials, correct placement for taking advantage of the sun to help reduce energy use, sensible use of space, human health, low or no impact materials, passive heating and cooling, solar energy, wind energy and how humans interact are all part of the architectural equation. But if we keep putting short-term profits over long-term environmental responsibility, we fail the future. Let’s insist on sensible architecture at every possible opportunity.

Monday, 26 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #425 Eradicate Dangerous Weeds


1000 Flowers for the Planet - #425 Eradicate Dangerous Weeds





Here in Australia we have unique flora and fauna that can be damaged by the introduction of weeds. Noxious weeds can endanger our ecosystem, spread beyond control, and have environmental, social and economic impacts. Asparagus fern, lantana, prickly pear, blackberry, and arum lily are few of the very common plants that are on the list of weeds of significance. There are many, many more.
What we can do to help the Australian environment is educate ourselves, plan our gardens well, consult lists of plants that should not be included in our gardens and do our best to remove any we find currently growing in our garden and dispose of them correctly. Education is key. Make sure you help protect the beauty of Australia’s natural flora, and if you live anywhere else in the world, find out what problems exist in your corner of the planet and what you can do to help.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #424 Weather the Storms

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #424 Weather the Storms


My last social suggestion for the week – when things get rough we need to weather the storms and see it through. When we take action to improve the way things are, sometimes we have to go through some rough patches before we reach our goal. Some of you are fighting for a better world, taking action against animal cruelty, standing up against corruption, trying to clean up pollution, using less and caring more, trying to encourage others to reduce their footprint etc. etc. Keep up the good work. And when you find yourself feeling the end is too hard to reach, or the corruption is too big, or people too blind and too deaf, that’s your storm – and you need to work your way through the storm until it passes and you can continue your good work. If you need to ask for help, ask for help. If you need encouragement, seek likeminded people who can give you a hand. Do whatever you need to weather the storms so you can continue being a game-changer, and together we’ll make this world a better place.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #423 Change Your Perspective

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #423 Change Your Perspective


One of the reasons people don’t get along is because they have very different views. This is, of course, part of life and what makes us all different. Respecting those differences seems to be a much harder thing for most people to do; otherwise we wouldn’t be suffering the conflicts we have around the world today. If we can find ways to reduce our conflict, the world would be a better place.
One suggestion is to change your perspective. It’s something that needs a fair bit of practice, because it’s hard to change the way you think about things. Consider a room full of artists, all painting a picture of a model posing in the centre of the room. Every single painting will be different, because each artist sees the model from a different angle. The model is exactly the same person in each painting, but will look completely different – not wrong, just different. That’s the way it can be with our views of the world. So shift your position now and then to look at things with a new light. Try seeing things through the eyes of a child, or listen to the perspective of an old person who has experienced life. If we can acknowledge in our hearts that others see things differently, not wrongly, and that that is okay, we can create better communities, happier places to live and a better world.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #422 Dare to Try

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #422 Dare to Try


My old school motto was ‘Non Sine Palma Pulvere’, which we were told means ‘He who strives not wins not the victor’s palm’, but then they simplified it to ‘No reward without effort’, which I like very much and is a life mantra for me. Now the school simply says ‘Dare to Try’ (because you’re not permitted to be negative these days). It’s all the same message, though. There is no achievement without putting in some effort, daring to try, giving it a go and seeing what happens. There is no change without change. Unless we get up out of bed each day and do something different, we get the same results day after day. When presented with an opportunity to create a different ending, dare to try.
This ‘1000 Flowers for the Planet’ art project is about making the world a better place – environmentally, socially and morally. I’m spending this week offering different ways of facing the challenges we meet as a global community. I’ve taken a huge leap of faith that I can blog a flower every day for 1000 days and invite you to share the journey with me. I’m creating flowers, not prickles, with every suggestion a positive one. Join me in the quest to make this world a better place for every person, and every creature, by committing to just 10 new actions (that’s 1% of my suggestions). Go on! Dare to try.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #421 Find the Silver Lining

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #421 Find the Silver Lining


Bad things happen all the time. We each go through our life journeys enjoying the good times and working our way through the bad times. None of us is immune to either end of the scale of experiences. Usually, though, there is a silver lining to be found – something good that we can take from the bad. It may be as straightforward as learning not to do something again, because that action gave you a bad result (don’t touch fire, for example). But when it comes to our planet and all the issues we face with global warming and plastics pollution, corruption and warmongering, it can be a lot harder to find the good in any of that. The silver lining may be that we learn from our actions. There is no change without change. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results. No Pollyannas – just plain old determination to make the best of any situation and make things better. What silver can you find in your life today? How will you use that silver to create a better world?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #420 Enjoy the Journey

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #420 Enjoy the Journey


Life is often difficult and challenging, and at this point in history we, as the human collective, have some huge challenges to face: global warming, carbon emissions, plastic pollution and the number one issue – over-population, just to name a few. It’s very easy to become despondent and overwhelmed, to think there are no solutions to the problems and to want to bury our head in the sand and hope it all goes away. There is, however, a different way to approach it all, and that would be to ‘enjoy the journey’. Let’s get excited about finding the solutions facing the world. Let’s get together as a global community, one race (the human race) working as a collective to improve our conditions, look after the planet in every sense and pass it forward to our children and grandchildren, and their descendants, teaching them how to enjoy the journey too.

Monday, 19 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #419 Start Afresh

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #419 Start Afresh


Once you’ve simplified your life (Flower #418) you can start afresh. But then, starting afresh doesn’t require any specific preliminary tasks to have been completed. There’s no need to ‘prepare’ for it – just do it. Begin today with the resolve to start afresh – it can be with anything you like. Start a new eating plan or exercise regime; create abetter work/life balance; reduce plastics in your life; use less of everything; educate yourself about the planet’s health. Whatever your footprint on the planet was before, you can change that today. Whatever arguments you had with loved ones, you can begin treating them better today. Whatever failures you had in the past, you can try again today. Whatever was done poorly in the past can be done better today  - all we have to do is start afresh.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #418 Simplify

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #418 Simplify


So many of us rush around like crazy all day and all evening, falling into bed at the end of the day with a long list racing through our mind of everything we need to do tomorrow. What sort of life is that? We seem to have developed a grossly over-rated sense of importance and to have attached this importance to everything we do and everything we ‘must’ have. Will you really fail to live another day if you don’t move to a bigger house? Will your children suffer permanent life trauma if they don’t have that new trampoline or the latest video game? Do you really think your workplace will fall apart if you suddenly weren’t there anymore? You may be surprised to know that they will carry on without you, without skipping a beat. We’ve succeeded in complicating our lives with lots and lots of stuff we don’t need, with pumped up egos thinking the world won’t spin without us.
Take a serious look at your life, at home and at work, and consider what’s important. Is it more important to take your child to after school activities five days a week or to stay at home and spend some quality time together? Do you really need to work back late every night or are you exaggerating your task list to make yourself look important? Is there something you could delegate to someone else? Get rid of your clutter. Clear your head. Clear your spaces. Examine your motives and decide what would be more important to you if you knew you were going to die tomorrow. Simplify your life and reap the rewards of better connections with humans, better connections with your environment and a lighter impact on the planet.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #417 Save the Elephants

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #417 Save the Elephants


In Africa an elephant is killed every 15 minutes! At this rate there will be NO elephants living in the wild by 2025. At this rate there will be NO elephants living in the wild by 2025. Yes, I did think that was worth repeating, twice! because I’ve already stated this in Flower #301.
Elephants are being poached (that’s killed) for their tusks, which are made of ivory, which demands a really high price, particularly in the East (Flower #253). That’s why so many are being killed daily. It’s a difficult problem, but one which needs to be addressed immediately if any future generations are to be able to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. Otherwise, as with mountain gorillas and orang-utans, we will only be able to look at pictures of these animals. Another problem faced by these gentle giants is loss of habitat, which is ultimately due to over-population of humans, who claim more and more land for food production and places to live. As large beasts, they need large areas to roam, but when humans take away their land, elephants have less food to eat, so their numbers must naturally dwindle. It’s a double-edged sword for them. You can learn how to help African elephants at: www.ssavetheelephants.org and Asian elephants at www.saveelephant.org by donating, supporting and spreading the word.
Elephants are an important part of the ecosystem. They are part of the whole picture and without them this picture will alter irreparably. At http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/elephant it says: the seeds of many plant species are dependent on passing through an elephant's digestive tract before they can germinate. It is calculated that at least a third of tree species in central African forests rely on elephants in this way for distribution of seeds. That’s an interesting fact! And it demonstrates how much is at risk. Help turn this around – today.

Friday, 16 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #416 Save the Gorillas

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #416 Save the Gorillas

With fewer than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in the word this is a critically endangered species, which needs saving right now, unless we’re happy for our children and grandchildren to know these amazing creatures only by looking at photographs or stuffed animals. Gorillas are losing their habitat, being poached and being caught in traps set by humans for other animals – all of this is putting them at risk. There is hope though, as they are responding well to projects designed to help them increase their numbers. People are working on the ground doing everything they can to save these creatures, by working with local communities to ensure they don’t encroach on habitat illegally, that local people have other sources of income and that trapped gorillas are given veterinary care. You can help by supporting the volunteers, the local communities and the veterinarians by donating to their cause, or you can volunteer to help if you are in a position to do so. Otherwise, simply become more aware of the issue, spread the word to everyone you know, make those donations or even buy products sold by organizations trying to save the gorillas. Two good sites to get you started and where you can learn a lot more are:

Thursday, 15 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #415 Use Rock Wisely

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #415 Use Rock Wisely


Many different types of rock are available around the world, with a multitude of uses. For example: building materials, bench tops, interior wall decoration, floor tiles, roofing material, retaining walls, roads, headstones to name but a few. We use granite, marble, bluestone, sandstone, quartz, slate and many other types of rock for lots of everyday uses. It’s a great material, very versatile and very strong. It can withstand weather and looks fantastic when highly polished. Humans seem to have a natural love affair with rock.
But let’s face it, it is a finite resource. Some rocks take millennia to form under compression. Some rocks formed millennia ago are quarried in a few decades for humans to use. It’s important that we value our precious natural resources that have taken so long to become part of our environment, but which can be quarried away during a relatively small space of time. Use rock wisely, and tread carefully on this planet.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #414 Avoid Polystyrene

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #414 Avoid Polystyrene


Put very simply, polystyrene is a plastic based product, therefore it has all of the negative environmental impacts that any other plastic might have. It is used to make products such as: CD jewel cases; plastic model kits; license plate frames; disposable plastic cutlery; disposable razors, and what we are all more familiar with – foam packaging, such as comes around electronic equipment. This foam packaging is particularly nasty in that it is so light and therefore easily blows about the environment and gets trapped in waterways where it can harm marine life. In Australia we throw away over 40,000 tonnes of polystyrene packaging every year – imagine what is sent to landfill in other countries around the world with far greater populations than Australia. The good news for Aussies is that it can actually be recycled, if not through our kerbside collections, then through other collection sites (search the Internet for recycling collection sites near you). Another major contributor to landfill and environmental waste and destruction is the foam coffee cup. Think about how many of those must be used around the world every day!
If we avoid using polystyrene products, we avoid putting many single use products into landfill. We avoid using valuable resources to make these throw-away products in the first place – a senseless thing to do if you stop to think about it. We also avoid littering our landscapes with rubbish that blows around easily, and we can avoid using even more resources to clean up and recycle.
It’s just a matter of finding more sustainable ways to do things, which many of the Flowers in this art project have already addressed. Create a monthly challenge for yourself and your family to identify polystyrene in your life and discover ways to avoid it altogether, and give the planet room to breathe, so it can look after us into the future.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #413 Keep Alive Music from the Past

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #413 Keep Alive Music from the Past

Have you ever wandered around an old trades day and listened to the old time music they play? We did recently, and it was such a lot of fun. I also remember, with much pleasure, a special evening watching and listening to live music played in the Tirol when I toured Europe many years ago. Music from the past can be a new experience to many people. It’s important that we not only cherish the music of our classical composers such as Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Haydn and many, many more, but keep alive the music from even earlier centuries and cultures. Even music from the 19th and 20th centuries should be preserved and brought to life by live bands or musicians. Live music has a whole different feel to it, a completely exhilarating experience. Encourage yourself and your children to listen to different types of music from many different periods in history. You may be surprised how much you like it. Let’s ensure out musical heritage is kept alive.

Monday, 12 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #412 Buy Ethically Sourced Gold

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #412 Buy Ethically Sourced Gold


$135 billion is spent globally per year on gold jewellery. That means a lot more gold has to be mined from the ground to support this trade, and it’s a very difficult trade to understand what is being done right and what is wrong. There’s an extremely interesting and thought provoking article about ethical gold at:
Meanwhile, you can support better working conditions for miners if you source Fairtrade gold jewellery, which comes with a Fairtrade stamp (see www.fairgold.org to learn more about that). Big mining companies can take advantage of their workforce, paying low wages, failing to ensure safe work practices and providing poor working conditions. They are also capable of damaging the environment in big ways through mercury and arsenic spills. Sometimes they forcefully remove indigenous people from their ancestral lands, or farmers from their properties. And they use huge amounts of water. These are the possibilities, and sometimes the realities, of big mining. The best way we can prevent bad mining practices is via the way we make our purchases. When looking for gold jewellery, look for the Fairtrade symbol and ask questions about its origins – buy only ethically sourced gold. Here’s a website to help you find it:

Sunday, 11 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #411 End Violence Towards Animals

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #411 End Violence Towards Animals


How can we continue to tolerate violence of any kind towards animals? We make ourselves out to be civilised and the most intelligent creatures on earth, yet in so many ways, societies everywhere behave worse than animals themselves. Bears in cages, dog fighting, cock fighting, live export, puppy farms, deliberate animal cruelty and torture for fun, poaching, testing on various animals, cutting horns from rhinos that are still alive, cramming livestock into overcrowded conditions, whale slaughters, baby seal slaughter, pigs in cages – sadly the list goes on and on. Does any of this sound like the behaviour of a humane society? Can we call ourselves civilised when these acts against the ‘dumber’ creatures entrusted to our care continue mindlessly?
There are so many foundations and action groups that are dedicated to the better treatment of animals everywhere:
Find the ones in your country. Learn about the changes we can make, spread the word that cruelty and violence towards animals is NOT acceptable, have zero tolerance for people you know who are cruel to animals, actively participate in encouraging lawmakers to rid the planet of the maltreatment of animals, donate to groups who are doing the hard yards on our behalf, and most of all, don’t buy products that are the result of the suffering of even one small animal.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #410 Ban Live Export

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #410 Ban Live Export


Debating this difficult issue in a paragraph or two is not possible, but conversation and debate can be promoted. A very simple look at things would indicate that live export is not essential to Australian exports, because they are a mere 0.4% of total Australian exports (source: www.banliveexport.com). But live export does lead to animal cruelty in the form of animal deaths during transportation, and at the other end when animals are slaughtered in brutal ways while still conscious. Some animals suffer torture before their final death. Animal cruelty should not be an option, anywhere, for any reason. We are supposed to be intelligent, humane beings, so surely there is a solution to this problem that can satisfy everyone concerned. It is not our right to take anything we like from this planet and behave as we please. We are supposed to be civilised. Animal cruelty does not demonstrate civilised human beings, yet it seems to be happening everywhere, by all races. Let’s get together to do things better.
To get more informed go to www.banliveexports.com

Book SIgnings at Ringwood Sewing Centre

The Fabric Frolic is coming up and I will be doing book signings at Ringwood Sewing Centre on Sunday 18 Jan from 9-11am and 2-4 pm, plus on Saturday 24 Jan from 10am - 12 noon. If you haven't got the latest book in the series, The Glenvale Challenge Quilt, or want to build your set of the Australian Challenge Quilt Series, come and see me at Ringwood Sewing Centre and have your book/s signed personally. See you there :)

Friday, 9 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #409 Enjoy Solitary Time

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #409 Enjoy Solitary Time


In this overcrowded world it can be very difficult to find time to be on your own, but making the effort to find that time and enjoying it can be very rewarding. Good health relies on us creating a balance in our lives between activity and inactivity, exercise and rest, noise and peace, interaction and solitary time. If it’s necessary, create an area where you can enjoy this solitary time, in order to make it effective and give you the space to clear your head and refresh yourself. It may provide you with the time you need to calm down after a hectic day at the office, an argument with a loved one, or your anxiety about the state of the world. We all have information fired at us from left, right and centre these days, telling us what to do, what to buy, how to live, what’s wrong with the world, who died and who we should believe. Make it a priority to schedule some regular solitary time into your life, when you can escape to simply breathe – reconnect with your mind, body and soul. It may make the difference between coping well with the demands made on us these days, and feeling like you’re suffocating under the strain of it all. Any activity that helps us be at peace will benefit us individually and as communities, and hence help the planet.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #408 Explore Your Creativity

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #408 Explore Your Creativity


In this world of machines and appliances to do things for us and ‘save time’ (questionable) we often find ourselves overwhelmed and stressed. Many people say they aren’t the least bit creative, but if you give yourself a chance, the results may surprise you. Next time you’re feeling like everything is crumbling all around you, explore your creativity. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil, find a quiet place to relax and draw. Draw anything. Draw whatever it is you feel is weighing you down. Draw whatever is sitting in front of you. Draw a house and a garden with children playing in it – the picture might look like your kindergarten efforts from decades ago but that doesn’t matter. Enjoy the experience. Have fun and pretend you are just five years old again. No one told you that you couldn’t draw when you were five – so why did you stop?
Drawing is a basic starter. If you have inner desires to try something more daring – go for it! Grab a piece of clay and create something three-dimensional. Buy some paints or pastels and enjoy spreading the colours across a canvas. Take some lessons at your local community centre or adult education campus. Explore. Create. Invent. Discover.
Our creativity centres us, calms us, inspires us, helps us to clarify – all of these things make us see things in a better light and help us to move forward in a positive way. Calm, centred people make a better community and better communities make a better world.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #407 Encourage Others to Belong

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #407 Encourage Others to Belong


Another way to create harmony in any community (or any situation, for that matter) is to ensure everyone feels like they belong. And it starts with YOU. Don’t be the one expecting someone else to extend an invitation to a newcomer or to notice someone looks like they are uncomfortable in the group. You be the person who extends an invitation to join in. We all share this planet together, so let’s find ways to get along and be part of the global village we have created.
If a new family has moved into your neighbourhood, make them feel welcome and help them find their way around the area. If someone joins your club, group, society or team, ensure they feel like they are genuinely a part of that group. Refugees and migrants can be made to feel like they belong to your community if you invite them to share in activities that are typical of your culture. It might be as simple as having a barbeque. Children can be encouraged to ensure newcomers to their school are orientated to the campus so they know where they’re going, and invite them to join in at play time. Even someone who has lived in your area for decades might feel detached and lonely, so keep an eye out for all people who need encouragement to belong, and make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #406 Discover a Different Culture

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #406 Discover a Different Culture


What makes us fight against each other is fear – it’s a fear of what we don’t know and understand. When someone is different from us, we don’t know how to behave. We get scared and the natural reaction is to lash out to try to protect ourselves from some perception that we might get hurt. The solution is very simple and has the potential to be both extremely rewarding and planet-altering.
Discover a different culture through participation. Ask questions to learn why people do things differently, creating a better understanding of their view of the world. Remember! You don’t have to agree – you just have to learn, understand and accept. Also remember that your own culture isn’t faultless and may well be open to criticism from others. None of us are perfect, and maybe that’s what we need to acknowledge when investigating a different culture. Seek the common ground between your group and theirs, try new foods, learn about different traditions, and watch their celebrations and ceremonies.
Imagine the honour in participating in the colourful celebrations of India on Indian soil, or a traditional tea ceremony in Japan inside a genuine tea house, or feasting on fresh bread and cheese with the beautiful French countryside as your vista. Take any opportunity offered to you to learn something about a different culture, widen your views on the beauties within this amazing world of ours, and reciprocate by extending an invitation to someone from a different culture to join in something unique to yours. Once we start celebrating our differences we’re bound to discover how much we actually have in common, and in taking away the fear of the unknown, we can make the world a better place.

Monday, 5 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #405 Revitalise Some Childhood Games

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #405 Revitalise Some Childhood Games


When I was a school girl I had to do an assignment that involved interviewing an older member of my family to find out what games they played as a child. I interviewed my great-uncle Harry, who grew up in the bush on the Australian gold fields in the early 20th century. He told me some fantastic stories about the types of games he used to play as a young boy – simple games like marbles, chasey, knuckle jacks and games that needed no tools whatsoever. No fancy board games in Uncle Harry’s house.
Do you remember Mousetrap, Twister, Trivial Pursuit and Kerplunk? I bet you can remember lots of fun games you used to play when you were a child. Perhaps you still have some of them in the cupboard, or at least your children have some under-used board games hiding away there. We’re talking about games that don’t require batteries – just a lot of fun and laughter, maybe a little skill or luck, but definitely some real interactive play. Turn off the TV, take a look in that cupboard and pull out a dusty old board game, blow off the cobwebs, sit down at the kitchen table with your family and spend an hour or two having fun. Watch the laughter on the faces of your loved ones, reconnect with them through play, teach young children some skills or strategies through play and relax while you’re doing it. Forget the office or the workshop, forget the bills, forget what’s happening on some crazy unrealistic ‘reality’ TV show and spend some real time with your family. It will be worth it.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #404 Save the Koala

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #404 Save the Koala


Whilst the koala is not actually listed as an endangered species, if Australians are not careful they will lose one of their unique native animals – an Aussie icon. Between 2.5 and 3 million koalas were shot for the American fur trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, yet today’s figures estimate our current koala population at a mere 40,000 to 100,000. Modern threats looming over this dwindling koala population include loss of habitat due to urban sprawl, deforestation for mining and farming, road accidents, dog attacks and population isolation. These are all man-made threats. Bushfires are a natural threat to koalas that can die from burns or smoke inhalation, or starve to death waiting for regrowth to occur.
These fabulous furry friends of ours are truly worth looking after. We can help in varied ways by actively pursuing governments at all levels to legislate for the protection of habitats, write letters to politicians, ensure dogs do not attack koalas who venture into back yards, plant trees of the correct species for koala’s to feed upon, volunteer at a koala sanctuary, buy products to support koala foundations or donate money so others can fight for the cause. Australia Zoo has an informative piece at www.australiazoo.com.au and the Australian Koala Foundation is very detailed at www.savethekoala.com.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #403 Recycle Batteries

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #403 Recycle Batteries


Flowers #194 (Use Rechargeable Batteries) and #280 (Recycle Car Batteries) have already talked about the impacts of batteries on the environment, but let’s take another, serious look at what batteries cost the planet. Initially, they use finite resources such as metals, steel, zinc, manganese, potassium, cobalt, paper and plastic. These resources have to be dug up from the earth and transported to a factory where the manufacturing process occurs. Batteries are then put into packaging – paper and plastic – to be transported to the point of sale, where you pay for them and transport them home. There’s a lot of energy (fossil fuels) being used in this process, as well as air, water and land pollution, greenhouse gasses, deforestation, erosion and habitat loss for wild species.
Once the life of the battery is extinct, via your use, your instinct is to toss it ‘away’, but putting it into landfill is merely damaging the environment further. If put into landfill, batteries will eventually leach toxic chemicals into the soil where they then seep into our water systems and pollute the environment. Human health risks include pulmonary, respiratory and neurological problems – all undesirable. Further to this, thousands of other species are affected.
Hopefully, this will be enough information to convince everyone to recycle batteries (if you can’t do without them altogether), but you can certainly gather a lot more information, plus recycling ‘how to’ at www.batteryrecycling.org.au or search for places within your own country.

Friday, 2 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #402 Discover Your Ancestry

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #402 Discover Your Ancestry


Lots of people are not the least bit interested in history and don’t think much can be gained by looking at the past, but when you watch a show like Who Do You Think You Are, you’ll see how people’s perspective of their own lives can dramatically change when they do discover their ancestry. It’s quite a different thing from studying the history books. When you discover your ancestry it’s personal, and that makes all the difference.
When you learn where you have come from, you better understand where you are and where you’re going. Understanding your ancestors can help you discover who you are yourself and why you do things the way you do them. You may discover your ancestors came from a different country, that they were slaves, or convicts, or fought in a war. Learning what they endured or how they thought may change your perspective on things, which often leads to a better understanding of the weaknesses in us all, and understanding leads to better reactions and improved actions. When we study how we fit personally into history, we can learn how to make things better for today and beyond.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #401 Give Someone Your Time

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #401 Give Someone Your Time


Having just passed the Christmas season, with all its gift-giving and over-eating, maybe the pleasure of spending time with your family has been brought to mind, enough to remind you that family and friends are actually our most important gifts. Perhaps, if we could replace the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh with love, patience and generosity, the world would be a better place. As we head into a new year, according to the Gregorian calendar, let’s take the opportunity to make a new year’s resolution to spend more time with those we love.
When someone phones, take the time to listen to them. Don’t hurry them or tell them you don’t have time to talk. Cherish time with family and friends, ensuring you’re in the moment, both in body and in mind. Be careful not to make work more important than people. Will you be able to look back on your life and say, “I’m so glad I worked all that overtime,” or will you say, “I’ve loved my family and friends completely, and I have so many wonderful memories.”
People are more important than things or timelines. Let’s make this a better world to live in, and start by giving someone your time.