Tuesday, 30 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #547 Use a Metal Nail File

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #547 Use a Metal Nail File


An easy Flower suggestion for today. Emery boards are all well and good, but these days they come in plastic packaging that the recyclers in my area won’t take (how about yours), but it’s not really about that, is it? We can work better for the planet when we move away from buying stuff because we know the packaging can be recycled, and buy stuff that doesn’t have packaging at all or doesn’t need replacing. A metal nail file is such a small item but it will last a lifetime, saving time, money and resources – think about how many trees must be used to make disposable emery boards! So make sure you buy a nail file that doesn’t have plastic packaging or a plastic handle – that would defeat the purpose.

Monday, 29 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #546 Use Lemon Water Hairspray

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #546 Use Lemon Water Hairspray


Take some time to think about what hairspray does: it is capable of changing from a wet liquid form in a can to a stiff dry product that can hold hair in place. It sounds like a form of glue, so what is in this magic can? Propellants, plasticizers, surfactants, adhesives and fragrances are required to make this handy little product, and many of these ingredients can be harmful to the environment and to our health.
At zerowastehome [http://www.zerowastehome.com/2010/03/zero-waste-recipes.html] you can find a recipe for making your own hairspray out of lemons and water – see the site for the measurements and instructions. By making your own hairspray you not only save yourself a lot of money, you also know exactly what you are spraying on your hair, saving the environment from harmful chemicals that leach into our waterways when you wash your hair. The air will be cleaner too.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #545 Open the Oven Door

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #545 Open the Oven Door


Another great tip from zerowastehome.com is to open the oven door. After you’ve cooked your delicious meal or baked scent-filled goods for self and family, don’t close the door, turn off the oven and walk away. DO turn the oven off, but leave the door open and allow that heat to disperse into the room. This will keep your home cosy in winter, maybe even allow you to turn down the central heating by a degree and save a little bit more energy, which is always a good thing for the planet, and you’ll remain toasty warm. Conversely, in warmer weather it allows the oven to cool more quickly, helping the air conditioning to work more efficiently if it’s not struggling to combat the extra heat in the room. Easy tip, good effects.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #544 Ditch the Bin Liners

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #544 Ditch the Bin Liners


There are lots of people who are living their lives plastic-free and lots of people who are living their lives creating zero- or near-zero-waste. They are to be admired, because it takes conviction, effort, thought and a truly proactive life to live by those credos. One such woman writes a terrific blog at http://www.zerowastehome.com/p/tips.html, which I would encourage you to take a good look at for lots of wonderful ways to help make this a better planet.
Today’s challenge is to ditch the bin-liners. We all know they are made of plastic, and they are, in fact, ‘bags’, so while people are concentrating on reducing plastic grocery bags, let’s take a look at this other type of overlooked yet equally unnecessary bag: If you are doing the right thing with your food waste (wet waste) it is being composted or put in a biofermenter to be buried later or rotted down some way. Good. That means that everything else that goes into your rubbish bin / trash can will be ‘dry’ rubbish, which doesn’t need to be wrapped up in a plastic bag. If you ever have something wet that needs to go in the bin then wrap it up in newspaper. However, ditching the plastic bin liner is a device to make you more aware of what you actually ‘throw away’, and hopefully you will stop in your tracks and have a think about what you’re doing. This may lead to finding different ways of dealing with your waste, or better still, finding ways not to produce that waste in the first place. Try ditching the bin liner as a family exercise and take pleasure from the group discussion it will promote and the ideas you can brainstorm together as a family that cares for the planet. Less waste will go to landfill, you may very well end up saving lots of money, and the earth will breathe more easily.

Friday, 26 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #543 Observe International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #543 Observe International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking


Today, 26 June is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, about which you can learn more at: http://www.un.org/en/events/drugabuseday/
Drugs are a worldwide problem, affecting communities everywhere. Despite the problem being acknowledged as a world issue back in 1909 we don’t seem to have come very far in resolving it, with ice, meth, crack (whatever name or drug you want to mention) being a bigger problem than ever. Drugs particularly affect the young members of our communities and the consequences are felt far and beyond the drug user themselves. Families are torn apart, siblings are confused and abused, parents are distraught, grandparents feel helpless as they watch their beloved family member being taken over by the effects of illicit drugs. Drug users become desperate people, turn to crime to get their next hit, harm loved ones, ruin their health and sometimes even end up dead. There’s nothing pretty about the drug story, so take today to think about how it’s affecting your community, or sadly maybe your family, and either get help or offer help to someone who needs it. Somehow we need to find a solution to this form of self destruction in order to make our communities the wonderful places we want them to be.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #542 Quit Smoking

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #542 Quit Smoking


This is definitely a hard one, because smoking is addictive and very hard to quit, but if you can, the benefits will be numerous. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. Cigarette ingredients include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT. If reading that doesn’t turn you off, then perhaps the benefits will turn you on. When you stop smoking you eventually feel much better, as your health improves and your breathing becomes easier. You reduce the risk of certain diseases such as heart conditions and emphysema.  The health of the planet will improve too, by not having all that chemical filled smoke floating around and by reducing the number of cigarette butts that find their way into the environment. The filters in the butts are designed to trap a lot of the chemicals mentioned before, hence these chemicals are leached into the environment when butts are not disposed of properly. Wildlife often mistake butts as food and can be made ill or die as a result. Furthermore, for those of you against plastic in the environment, the butts are made from a form of plastic (acetate), which only adds to the plastic pollution problem. There are many reasons to quit smoking, and smokers usually know most of those reasons. It’s hard – but it’s worth it.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #541 Make Green Investments

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #541 Make Green Investments


A lot of people have probably never thought about their investments making an impact on the planet, but they most certainly are. You put your superannuation with a company that invests it on your behalf without any knowledge of which companies are being supported through those investments. For all you know, you could be supporting corporations who take water from villages around the world without compensating the local people, or who buy raw materials from people who use slave or child labour, or a corporation intent on owning the world’s food supply. If we are going to put our efforts into making things better for the planet, we also need to ensure our investments support sustainable practices and human rights. You’ll need to do some research for this, but having knowledge gives you power, so go check out your investments today.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #540 Boredom Bust Your Kids

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #540 Boredom Bust Your Kids


I’ll never forget one of my Year 7 teachers saying, “There’s no such thing as boredom, only boring people,” and I think she’s right. All too often we hear the excuse for bad behaviour by young people living in rural areas and small country towns that they’re bored – there’s nothing to do in the country.  However, I also hear the same excuse being used to explain revolting behaviour by city kids. Life can’t be boring everywhere! So I agree with my old teacher – they’re not really bored kids, they’re boring people, and maybe that’s because they have boring parents and the cycle of life continues. I’m here to tell you that there are SO many things to do in this world that I know I can’t live long enough to do everything I want to do.
A friend who had 5 children told me of a wonderful idea she used to prevent her children from hanging around listlessly complaining they were bored. She wrote a list of things to do and put it on the fridge. The children were not permitted to say they were bored – if they ever found themselves in a state of thinking they had nothing to do they had to work their way through the list on the fridge. I don’t remember the details but here’s an idea of what you could put on your own list to boredom bust your kids: 1) do a jigsaw puzzle, 2) play a board game, 3) do your homework, 4) write a letter, 5) tidy your room, 6) invent a game, 7) read a book, 8) draw or paint, 9) vacuum the floor, 10) wash the dishes, 11) clean the windows, 12) go to bed.
See how it works? The bored child must work their way down the list and if they can’t decide on something to do then obviously it’s time to go to bed. My friend never had a bored child in her bunch of 5, they all grew up to be wonderful people who contribute to society in many ways and the world is a better place because of it. Give it a try and boredom bust your kids today.
[With thanks to L. Berry for this Flower idea.]

Monday, 22 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #539 Recycle Jeans

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #539 Recycle Jeans


In light of all the resources that are used to produce jeans (see Flower #535 Buy Fewer Jeans for all the statistics), it’s important to the planet that we get as much use from this product as possible. Flower #538 showed you how to turn your blue jeans green by donating them to a program in the US that turns them into insulation. Failing that type of recycling program in your country, there are lots of other ways we can recycle our jeans. All we have to do is search the Internet for ideas. I’ve found some people turn them into bags, with the pockets making terrific extra storage and the worn out leg section is used to make sturdy straps. Quiltmakers have turned denim jeans into patchwork denim quilts that look fabulous and must surely be very warm. Old jeans can make fab new home decorating items such as hardy rugs and floor mats, cushions for the couch, place mats and coasters, and even a patchwork pouf to stretch out your weary legs at the end of the day. The denim can be cut into strips, which are then woven to make seats and outdoor furniture. Recycling your jeans is good for the planet because it reuses hard earned resources that have already cost the planet through the use of pesticides and chemicals to grown the cotton and all the water used in manufacturing. So reinvent the fabric into usable items that last a long time.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #538 Turn Blue Jeans Green

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #538 Turn Blue Jeans Green


Recycling jeans is a fantastic way to make good use of all the resources that originally went into making these popular clothing items, and as those resources have already cost the planet a lot, it’s important to be mindful of what we do with them. http://www.bluejeansgogreen.org/ is a wonderful program in the U.S.A. where old jeans are turned into insulation for communities and people in need. You send them your jeans, they pull them apart to recycle all the different pieces and turn the cotton into insulation. Then they use it for the sectors of the community that really need some help. Win / win / win. Sadly I could not find a comparable recycling program in my own country of Australia. There are some interesting recycling programs in Europe, but altogether, those people who wear jeans need to encourage more and better recycling methods for this resource hungry, environmentally damaging product and make something positive happen in your area.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #537 Wash Jeans Inside Out

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #537 Wash Jeans Inside Out


Continuing the theme of ‘jeans’ this week, in the light of all the statistics mentioned in Flower #535 (Buy Fewer Jeans) and how damaging the production of them is to the planet, we need to ensure we get the longest wear from our jeans as is possible. When you wash your jeans inside out they keep their colour better. It also avoids other clothes being affected by dye from the jeans and it helps all your clothes last longer, as the thick seams on the jeans, as well as the metal parts such as zips and studs are not rubbing them and damaging more sensitive fibres. Ensuring all our clothes last longer is better for the environment, keeps things out of landfill longer and uses fewer resources.

Friday, 19 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #536 Buy Green Jeans

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #536 Buy Green Jeans


In light of all the dreadful consequences from manufacturing jeans, as listed in the previous Flower #535, next time you go shopping for a new pair of jeans, buy green ones. No, the suggestion is not to change the colour of your wardrobe, but to change the effects your wardrobe is having on the environment – buy organic cotton jeans. They’re made from the same type of material, except organic cotton doesn’t kill the environment like regular cotton does. The jeans will definitely cost you a lot more in dollars than the deadly ones do, but the non-organic will cost everyone heaps more in the future, in environmental damage and human health problems. Besides, the more demand there is for organic cotton, the cheaper organic jeans will become – we just have to struggle through that first push for change in order to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #535 Buy Fewer Jeans

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #535 Buy Fewer Jeans


In the U.S.A. over 450 million pairs of jeans are sold annually and the average woman has 6-8 pairs in her wardrobe. Two thirds of the worlds jeans are manufactured in China, where the environment is not given any consideration and pollution is so extreme that in some areas where denim jeans are manufactured they cannot even give their houses away, because nobody wants to live there. Nearly a billion jeans are produced annually. This figure may sound like a dream number for number crunchers wanting to make a profit from the sale of jeans, but their profits come at our huge losses.
·       About 1500 litres of water is used to make one pair of jeans
·       Cotton is one of the thirstiest crops to grow
·       25% of pesticides used worldwide is used in the growth of cotton, making it the most environmentally damaging crop produced
·       indigo dye, used to make jeans ‘blue’, is usually made from coal or oil
·       The chemicals used to give jeans that distressed look are released into waterways where they eat up oxygen, leading to the death of all marine life
·       Pollution is so serious in areas where jean manufacturing occurs that people are suffering dire health concerns, including infertility, rashes and death
In light of these few pieces of information, next time you go to buy a pair of jeans and look at the price tag, add a few people’s lives to the cost, then reconsider whether or not you really need another pair of jeans.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #534 Observe World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #534 Observe World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought


Desertification is a serious problem across the globe, affecting billions of people. It is caused when trees and plants are removed from the soil when land is cleared for timber or cultivation. Without the trees the soil has nothing to bind it together. Grazing animals can deplete grass and their hooves erode away the topsoil. Persistent farming also depletes nutrients in the soil. Wind and water erosion aggravate the damage, carrying away topsoil and leaving behind a highly infertile mix of dust and sand. It is the combination of these factors that transforms degraded land into desert, which in turn affects people’s ability to grow food. Drought and desertification are causing the loss of 12 million hectares of arable land every year, where, for example, 20 million tons of grain could have been grown. So the United Nations has declared 17 June World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in order to promote awareness of this problem all around the world and to prompt a combined effort by people everywhere to take action to avoid and prevent the problem. Check out more information at: http://www.un.org/en/events/desertificationday/

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #533 Participate in Multiple Solutions

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #533 Participate in Multiple Solutions


Recently a debate raged on social media about a young man who had invented a way to clean up our oceans of plastic waste. The invention is absolutely amazing [as at 16 June 2015 you can read a good article about it here: https://www.minds.com/blog/view/450715060952633344/the-world039s-first-ocean-cleaning-system-will-be-deployed-in-2016] and it deserves our support, because cleaning up the ocean is an extremely important matter. Sadly, there were people posting on social media that this ‘wasn’t’ the solution to our problems, that we needed to stop the plastic from getting into the ocean in the first place, so education was the key to rectifying everything. I think this is very narrow-minded because both actions are part of the solution. Instead of knocking what people are doing to make a difference and banging on about ‘better’ options, we should be applauding and supporting every effort to put things right and using all the ideas and actions available to us to make this a better planet on which to live. Why do you think I’m bothering to come up with 1000 ideas for improving our world? It’s because if we all took on just 1% of my ideas (that’s only 10 new actions), imagine the positive shift in our condition. There is never going to be only one solution to the issues we face as a human race. We need to participate in multiple solutions and encourage all kinds of different action in order to clean up and create a better place for future generations.

Monday, 15 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #532 Make Your Own Sunscreen

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #532 Make Your Own Sunscreen


There are plenty of recipes available on the Internet for making your own sunscreen at home. Do the research for yourself and find one that suits, rather than having me dictate one to you here. But if you need a nudge as to why you should do this, then take some time to read the ingredients listed on your current sunscreen lotion. Many contain toxins, and there have even been claims that commercial sunscreens may increase your risk of skin cancer, but as I’m no scientist and maybe you aren’t either, do your own research on this matter too. I’m here to make suggestions for how we can improve the planet, and it makes sense to me that when you make your own sunscreen you can be sure of the ingredients that go into it and be fully aware of what you’re putting on your skin. Whatever the human health benefits, the benefits for the planet are the you also have the power to use metal containers, thereby keeping plastic out of your life and out of landfill. You’ll be using less resources because you’ll only make what you need. Perhaps you’ll find it a cheaper option too.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #531 Take Away in Your Own Bag

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #531 Take Away in Your Own Bag


Usually you know when you’re going to buy takeaway (take out) food. You’ve rushed home from taking the kids to their fifty different after-school extra-curricular venues and have no time or energy left to cook a meal, so you pop out to buy some fast food to save yourself from the grief of cooking (you may need to re-read Flowers 276 and 483). You know where you’re going, so take a reusable bag with you (or even a basket) and have the food put straight into that instead of receiving a new plastic bag. Plastic bags have been a big topic of conversation for many years. They’re not just at the supermarkets, they are received from many different venues and takeaway is one of them. When you carry reusable bags in the boot (trunk) of your car you are always prepared. All it takes is a little bit of thought on your part and the difference you make to the planet is huge. Don’t ever think that small actions don’t have massive consequences. Small ideas – big rewards.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #530 Decline Plastic Cutlery

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #530 Decline Plastic Cutlery

When you buy takeaway (take out) food and they pop the plastic cutlery into the plastic bag, say “no thank you” and let them keep their cutlery. It’s as simple as that. Single use plastic is an environmental killer. When you take your food home to eat, you have your stainless steel cutlery at hand. There’s no need to use plastic cutlery and chuck it in the bin, and there’s very little effort in remembering to tell the person at the food venue that you don’t need the cutlery. These very simple actions make a huge difference to the planet. Remember to decline plastic cutlery whenever possible.

Friday, 12 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #529 Drink Leaf Tea

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #529 Drink Leaf Tea


Reducing waste in your household is a good way to help the planet. It cuts down on landfill and saves a lot of resources, as well as money. A simple way to do this is by drinking leaf tea in preference to using tea bags. Teapots can be purchased in an amazing variety of styles and sizes, suited to one or half a dozen tea drinkers. They can even make a good talking point, but the best talking point is the fact that you are reducing your impact on the planet. Teabags are usually put into the bin where they end up in landfill. The spent leaves from leaf tea can be put into your compost or your biofermenter where they will return to nourish the soil. No bags means your tea will taste better too, without the added flavour of the paper ‘bag’. But wait! There’s more. Some tea ‘bags’ are made of plastic. How does the idea of drinking something that has had heated plastic in it sound to you? More information is available in this interesting article at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/are-tea-bags-turning-us-into-plastic/274482/
Turns out grandma was right again – leaf tea is definitely better. So dust off your teapot and get pouring.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #528 Give Pure Attention

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #528 Give Pure Attention


Recently I was sitting in a local cafĂ© watching the people. Across from me sat two women and a small girl about 1 or 2 years old (not speaking using proper words yet, so young). The mother went off to the ladies while her friend sat with the child. She spent the whole time scrolling through her phone while the little girl repeatedly showed her something in her hand, stretching it out for the woman to see and making a googoo sound. The woman repeated the googoo sound followed by ‘yes’, but never once looked up from her phone. The child was persistent but pleasant and never got upset or screeched. The woman was just as persistent with her scrolling. What the child learned from that adult was that people don’t engage with eye contact and she was not worth connecting with. How sad.
When anyone politely seeks your attention, give it to them, but give it to them with your whole mind and body. Engage with people fully. Look them in the eyes and listen with both your ears. Hear what they are saying and see what they are showing. So much is expressed through body movement, but this language will be as forgotten as Latin if we continue to fail to engage properly. Give pure attention to everyone around you, learn how to disconnect from the phone and the virtual world and connect with the real world. It has a lot more to give. Give back to it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #527 Reject Double-Standard Producers

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #527 Reject Double-Standard Producers


Hopefully by now you are getting the hang of all these Flower suggestions and thinking about what you do, how you do it and how it affects the planet. Ideas that have been presented include buying fair trade (Flower #22) and thinking about how your purchases affect those people who provide the raw materials such as gold, tea, chocolate etc, where slave labour is sometimes used and people are trapped in harsh conditions with no hope of a better life. The same goes for animals, and hopefully you are thinking about them when you buy your food: pigs in cages, chickens in battery farms, animals slaughtered in cruel ways.
Now I want to suggest a way of taking all that good work and pushing it further, by rejecting the companies that have double standards. There are egg producers who sell free range eggs, and that’s a good thing, but if those same producers also sell battery or barn laid eggs, are they simply marketing their product to make you feel better but not really doing the right thing by the chickens? How can you be sure the eggs actually come from hens in different living conditions, or are they all actually from the one place? What about those corporations who market their ‘healthy’ products and tell you how wonderful they are for you and the environment, whilst also selling unhealthy products that cause obesity and health problems? Take bottled water as an example (research it!). Why give your hard earned money to a corporation who really doesn’t care about you or the environment? Take that extra step to show producers and corporations that we won’t put up with their double standards, that they need to do the right thing all the way, or we won’t support them. In this way you can really do something good for the planet.

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #526 Dig Out Your Lipstick

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #526 Dig Out Your Lipstick


Don’t you just hate it when your favourite lipstick runs out? Well, when you do finally reach the bottom of the stick, it doesn’t have to be the end. There is still quite a lot of lipstick remaining, you simply need to dig it out of the container. You can use a cotton bud (Q-tip) or a firm lipstick brush/applicator to dig out that gorgeous colour you love and apply it to your lips. There are many applications still left in that bottom part of the container, so extend the life of your product and help the planet by reducing the resources you use, not throwing things into landfill so often, getting your money’s worth and keeping plastic out of the environment as long as possible.

Monday, 8 June 2015

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #525 Observe World Oceans Day

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #525 Observe World Oceans Day


June 8 is World Oceans Day, a day to reflect on the health of our oceans, how we contribute to that health and what we can do to make things better. This year’s theme (2015) is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet and the idea is to focus on reducing plastic waste that finds its way into the oceans where it kills marine life. Imagine a beautiful leatherback turtle choking on a plastic bag just because you couldn’t be bothered keeping reusable bags in the boot (trunk) of your car.  Ponder on the Great Pacific Garbage, Patch which is now the size of a small country! It’s made up of plastic waste – waste that you might think you put in the bin. You threw it ‘away – now you know where ‘away’ is – it’s in the ocean. It’s time to rethink our behaviour and consider the consequences. It’s time to act. Take a look at www.worldoceansday.org for events in your area and start taking action today.

1000 Flowers for the Planet - art installation May 2015


I recently displayed all 1000 Flowers at a local exhibition, using two square columns which sat at the entrance to the show. Many people were amazed at all the flowers, but few stopped and read about the project or understood what all the suggestions were about. It made me feel despondent about the state of the planet and how people are incredibly difficult to engage even in conversation, let alone in action. People told me it was all too hard and they couldn't do more than they were already doing. Sad.
But some people were happy to steal a few flowers from the art installation - check out the blank spots.