The lazy persons guide to saving the earth

The lazy persons guide to saving the earth

captain planet

I had a look at my Facebook profile the other week and realised that 4 of
my last posts were in relation to animals and/or planet earth. At first I thought the inevitable had happened and I had turned in to a crazy animal activist that was saving the planet one plastic bag at a time. Although this is true, I realised I’ve always been cautious of pollution, global warming and the welfare of the worlds environment and the wildlife that inhabit it. But in recent times I had been paying more attention to these issues and it got me thinking of all the simple things you can do everyday to help look after our environment.

I’ve developed 10 tips that I try to do. It’s what I like to call the ‘lazy persons guide to saving the earth’ and if everyone was to follow these little things, hey! It might just help out the earth?

1. You don’t need a receipt once you’ve used an ATM. I might be speaking for myself here but I don’t need a little piece of paper reminding me of how little money I have remaining in my bank account that inevitably ends up in the bin. Plus, we are in the age of internet banking. If you want to see how much you do or don’t have, go online.

2. Confession. I carry fold-able shopping bags in my handbag. Yep, that’s right, I’m one of those people that pack my own groceries in my own shopping bags and take a million hours to do so. Say no to plastic bags and you’ll help save a whale (true story).

3. Use a KeepCup. They’re so trendy right now and perfect for coffee lovers! If you have two take away coffees a day, that’s two paper cups a day or 730 in a year that end up in the bin. You can choose heaps of cool colours and in general be a better person by having one on you at all times. You never know when you’ll need an emergency coffee.

4. Like number 3, buying a good drink bottle is a really cool* thing to do. My personal favourite drink bottle is the Frida Kahlo one I bought from Ishka. I feel slightly more superior drinking from a bottle with a strong feminist icon printed on it. Two other things also, 1) drinking from reused plastic bottles isn’t that good for you and 2) plastic bottles are incredibly bad for the environment.

5. Remove bottle caps and jar lids before putting them in the recycling. Although technology has improved over recent years and able to sort through large lids (bigger than a business card), you are still required to undo those lids so they can be sorted. Bottle caps from beer and wine are too small to sort so keep them separate.

6. Throw your gum away responsibly, e.g. put it in a bin. A little bird may think it’s some kind of delicious, gooey worm and try to eat it and instead choke to death (in the most serious cases). Could you really live with that?

7. I have often been guilty of this, but for those of you that take public transport, ‘accidentally’ leaving your newspaper on the seat next to you or your empty drink bottle between the seats isn’t fooling anyone but yourself. If you used it, pick it up and throw it away properly.

8. Really easy one here folks, actually follow the instructions on the bins that tell you what does and doesn’t go in recycling. I have often been caught standing by bins trying to figure out if fruit scraps go in recycling or regular rubbish. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

9. Have you ever purchased 4 pairs of shoes at once? I have and it does not hide the fact you have a shopping addiction because you walk out of a shop with 4 plastic bags with a box of shoes in each. When I splurge on shoes, I now ask if I can take the shoes without the boxes so they fit in one (reusable) bag. This is of course hoping that the nice environmentally aware shopping assistants reuse the boxes or dispose of them correctly.

10. It’s summer time here in Australia and that of course means a lot of of time spent on the beach. Similar to number 7, burying your rubbish in the sand doesn’t mean it has disappeared. It will eventually be swept up in the sea and some poor sea turtle will try to eat your leftover Twisties which will not end well (for both the Twisties and turtle; no one likes soggy Twisties).

So there’s 10 tips that you easily adopt. They may be obvious and you may already do them, but it’s always nice to have a reminder. As Captain Planet once said, “the power is yours!”

*my version of ‘cool’ will most likely differ from yours.

A day in the life of a coeliac

A day in the life of a coeliac

Cassia and I

Meet Cassia. She’s one of my best friends. We have a lot in common including breathy laughs, boring conversation starters (including window cleaning, cats and politics) and we both DO NOT find Jackass movies funny. Yep – you read it right (ground breaking, I know). We do have our differences, however. For example, Cassia is in the small percentage of Australians who have coeliac disease. I am in the large percentage that doesn’t.

FYI.
When people with coeliac disease consume gluten, an abnormal immune reaction occurs causing inflammation and damage to the small bowel lining. This impairs absorption of nutrients and can lead to a wide range of symptoms and medical complications(so I’ve been told..).

Aside from having some faint memories of stealing Cassia’s gluten-free pretzels at lunch time during school and them being strangely addictive, I’ve never really known too much about the disease. So I did some investigation!

The Facts.
One in 100 Australians have the disease.
80% of Australians remain undiagnosed.
Symptoms include lethargy, anaemia, nutrient deficiencies, loss of fertility, arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
People are generally born with the disease.

The Expo.
As Cassia is a member of the Coeliac Society (lol), we got discounted entry in to the Melbourne Gluten Free Expo so we had began the day on a high! We made a beeline for the hot jam doughnuts I had heard so much about, and they did not disappoint! They were delicious and didn’t taste much different from the regular kind, same with the bread samples. According to Cassia, these have made a big improvement compared to what they used to be. The chocolate eclairs however (aside from the cream of course) weren’t that great. Safe to say gluten-free pastry has a long way to go still. I also tried gluten free beer, brownies, cereal, pasta, chips and other various gluten free things that I didn’t even know usually contained gluten. It was all very educational, and most importantly tasty!

The Fad.
10% of Australians are currently following a strict or significantly reduced gluten diet.
This is 10 times greater than the total number of Australians thought to have coeliac disease.
The gluten-free industry is booming with a global market estimated to make US$4 billion over the next few years.

I am ALL about fads so I’m by no means hatin’ on anyone who’s adopted the gluten-free approach. Speaking to Cassia about this however, I did find it interesting that gluten-free diets aren’t actually recommended to everyone as there’s minimal evidence that people without the disease will get any benefits. I guess though with beautiful people like Gwyneth Paltrow endorsing gluten free diets, it’s bound to take off. As they say, each to their own.

It was a very fattening, interesting and delicious experience but I have to say I’m grateful I don’t have the disease. From what Cassia says, the food can still be a bit hit and miss and quite often expensive. But good on the gluten free society for being so cute and welcoming. And thanks to Cassia for showing me the ropes and letting me blog about her!

Cassia and Jessie

Coles expo

Beer

Cakes


References
1. Everything you need to know about coeliac disease (and whether you really have it), The Conversation.

World War Sugar

World War Sugar

World War Sugar

Since finishing up my 8 week no sugar stint a couple of weeks ago, I have dived head first back in to sugar. Among other things, my 8 week challenge highlighted the fact that I’m an extremist and find it difficult to keep a balance.

The second half of my no sugar challenge was a lot easier. I had less sugar cravings and had developed a habit of appropriately avoiding these cravings when they did attack. I introduced fruit back in to my diet, yippee! And people had been commenting that I looked healthier, my skin was glowing and most importantly, I definitely felt a lot better.

By week 5 and 6, I think I began to get a bit cocky and thought I had my cravings under control. Until, one night at my friends place, I turned in to an absolute maniac. I entered her room to find sugar everywhere, in particular a very large container of lollies which included my kryptonite – coke bottles. I thought I might try to challenge myself and just have one. Well, all self control went out the window to the extent that when my friend went to the bathroom, I ran to her room and shoved as many coke bottles in my mouth as humanly possible. Embarrassingly, I was busted when she walked back in to find me inhaling vast quantities of coke bottles at a rapid speed. I imagine this would have looked like a deer in the head lights of an oncoming truck, both sights as equally as tragic.

Unfortunately, somewhere towards the very end I gave in, threw the towel in, bowed out ungraciously and started saluting to the all-mighty sugar Gods. Which is really strange because I was determined to try to keep off sugar. I guess between the manipulative voices in my head and the enormous amounts of sugar everywhere, it became hard to fight the temptations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a firm believer that sugar is evil and plan to reinforce this to myself again soon (riiiiiiiiiiiight after I finish this bowl of ice cream). And despite some people saying sugar isn’t all that bad, my verdict is in and since being back on sugar, I feel crap! I’m far more tired, I’m lethargic and I’ve been feeling quite ill and nauseous. Since feeling this way, I’ve remembered that I used to feel like this prior to quitting sugar, and while being off it, I didn’t. To me – there seems to be an obvious correlation here.

I’m currently reading Sweet Poison by David Gillespie which is proving to be very interesting and reinforcing my current evil suspicions about sugar. I guess there’s only one thing to do – steer clear from sugar and see what changes again. Oh! And most importantly.. find a healthy balance!

I quit sugar!

Four weeks ago, I quit sugar! Chocolate, lollies, fruit, juice, soft drink, tomato sauce – I’ve quit it all. Inspired by Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar, I decided to lay off the sugar for 8 weeks. Half way through the program now, I’m feeling pretty good and quite impressed I’ve come this far – and I’m determined to finish the last four weeks too! It’s been really interesting learning about everything sugar-related and actually being mindful of what I was shoving down my throat. Why I’m doing it? I was a) curious b) bored c) wanted to improve my energy levels and avoid the 3.30 slump and rush to 7/11 and finally, d) to see if my skin improved.

Week 1 and 2 were pretty easy, I aimed to slowly work myself off sugar. It was really just beginning to be conscious of what contained sugar and being aware of what I was putting in to my body. Week 3 marked the absolutely NO SUGAR part of the program. That surprisingly went fairly well too. But then, day one of week 4… BANG! I was feeling dizzy, sweaty and faint – the lack of sugar in my diet had finally hit me. I went straight to my filing cabinet at work and pulled out my saladas and vegemite – I’m not sure what you file at work but my cabinet consists of mostly food. The rest of week 4 improved, thankfully. I had my first visit to a health food shop which was super exciting! I found lots of organic and sugar-less alternatives including cacao nibs, raw cacao powder and coconut butter and oil. The cooking so far has been a bit bland but it’s slowly improving. According to Sarah Wilson, week 5 is when you really start to notice the lack of sugar so I should be in for a ride this week.

What I’ve noticed so far? My energy levels seem to be improving, less up and down than usual, especially in the afternoons at work. I also feel a lot less bloated. My concerns? As I’ve cut out fruit, I’m really conscious of eating well. I’m trying to eat as much vegetables as I can, it’s tough though! Another concern is that I’m replacing sugar with more (bad) fats. I’ll try to eat less of these in the coming weeks.

I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to anyone who has witnessed my mood swings, particularly my brother and his girlfriend. They’ve seen some award winning tantrums!

Four weeks to go – wish me luck! I’ll report back with the rest of my findings soon.

Calling all Shopaholics! Join the movement.

If you’re anything like me – or some of my friends – I feel a little lost without buying that special something every few weeks (or usually every few days..). Often when I get bored, I’ll casually jump online and buy that $109 perfume I’ve always wanted, or the other week I submitted a poorly written assignment so I cheered myself up with a $79 pair of pants from Forever New and a top to match from Country Road.  Are these things vital to my survival? Although I’d like to think so – they’re not! And my bank account certainly doesn’t appreciate my need for expensive clothing. So yes – I consider myself somewhat of a shopaholic…

BUT for me and others of my kind out there – here is a solution! I’ve learnt through a friend of a campaign called “Buy Nothing New Month” which is a global movement in consumption. It’s a little idea that started in Melbourne and has reached the USA and the Netherlands. It encourages people to start thinking before buying, it’s not about going without something but instead taking a month off to start asking yourself; Do I really need this? Can I borrow this? Or can I get it second hand?

So, aside from the very first day of October (where I had a little impulsive episode and bought an entire new outfit) I have since made a conscious effort to not buy anything new during October. I’m not going to lie – it’s hard. I don’t know what to do at work if I can’t do some online shopping here and there? And unfortunately I’m educated enough to know a bargain when I see one. But it’s a fantastic movement in which I’d love to support. Because really – do you ever stop to think where your old clothes and things might end up before you throw them out? Likewise, I told myself to consider our resources and landfills before purchasing that $200 dress from Kookai.

My advice for the rest of the month: Move out of the department stores and check out the local op-shops and markets because not only is it good for our wallets but also our planet!  

Make a pledge here! http://www.buynothingnew.com.au/pledge/

Retail Customer Service – Good or Bad?

So I found out recently that there’s a thing called Choice magazine, who describe themselves as The People’s Watchdog. They pride themselves on ensuring the consumer voice is heard loud and clear.

They have released an article this week that rates the best and worst of Australian Retailers including Big W, Bunnings, David Jones, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Myer and Harvey Norman are among others. A recent American Express global customer service survey found Australian consumers believe service standards have continually declined over the last three years.

SO  – Choice sent four individuals to stores in Sydney over a two week period to judge the in-store experience. Here were the results -(http://tinyurl.com/cxz8m8y)

But really – who are these four people that wondered around Sydney and visited stores? Do they have qualifications? It is said that “they rated staff member on helpfulness and product knowledge, as well as noting any other efforts to close the sale such as offering a price reduction or added extras.” I’m not a research scientist (believe it or not), but shouldn’t studies show the verdict from a focus group of actual consumers, not four random people? And shouldn’t it be mentioned that often these stores are separately owned and operated across the entire country?

The only thing they noted was the subjective element involved in any shopping experience. Well yes, exactly, so shouldn’t a number of customers, or at least the same four shoppers go in to the same store and speak to a variety of salespeople? If they did mention this it wasn’t clear in the article.

And also – as this Choice magazine is Australian, shouldn’t they be supporting Australian retailers? No, instead they’re deferring people from in-store shopping  and encouraging people to shop online. Because let’s face it – people continue to shop in-store as they are getting a one-on-one shopping experience with customer service being the number 1 draw card. Oh, but wait – if customer service is failing in most regards and at most retailers – what’s the point of shopping in-store at all?

Being a casual Harvey Norman employee over the last three years, I have experienced my fair share of unsatisfied customers. My position as a cashier lets me speak to customers at the beginning and end of their visit to the store. When it comes down to it – I can recall more good feedback than bad. I always make an effort to pass the praise on to the salesperson on behalf of the customer and make sure to let the boss know. I believe that you hear too much of the bad stuff and not of the good!

I am not defending Harvey Norman or any of these other stores because as a customer too, I often get frustrated with some of the service I receive. However, I think it is entirely poor of Choice to judge the entire chain of these retailers from one visit to one Sydney store. I think this study is a joke.

What are your experiences with customer service in retail? Do you agree with Choice magazine? Let’s hear it!

Swan Lake

Last night, I saw my first Ballet at the Melbourne Arts Centre. It was breath taking! Completely mesmerizing.

Funny story however. As my friend, Victoria and I arrive (5 minutes late, whoops) we have to wait until we can be ushered in as the prologue had just began. While I was standing there waiting, I watched the monitor to see the show commencing. It was then when I realised – I have NO idea what Swan Lake is about? “I’ve seen the movie Black Swan, which was terrible.. is it anything like that?” I thought. I was completely surprised that I had never known the story, even though the name was so familiar. Embarrassing really?!

After having seen such a wonderful version of Swan Lake, I’d describe the story as beautifully tragic. Prince Siegfriend celebrates his birthday with his friends while four Princesses are presented to the Prince as potential wives, he shows no interest though. Later in the evening after the party, the Prince escapes to the lake where he seeks solitude. He becomes transfixed on a swan that transforms in to the beautiful Princess Odette, who gives her heart to the Prince.

The following night, there is an extravagant ball in process at the Prince’s palace. He is expected to choose a wife, but his mind is elsewhere thinking of Princess Odette. The festivities are interrupted by von Rothbart who introduces his seductive daughter to the Prince, who has an uncanny appearance to that of Princess Odette. Prince Siegfried is mesmerised by the beauty of von Rothbart’s daughter and falls under her spell, breaking the vow of fidelity to Odette.

As the swan maidens protect the Princess, the prince begs for her forgiveness, but she knows that they have to separate. In desperation, he drowns himself. His sacrifice frees the soul of Odette from von Rothbart though she will remain a swan.

The dancing was superb & so sophisticated. The orchestra was truly wonderful and an absolute joy to listen to.

I appreciated the experience and am already dying to see another ballet performance. Horizons have been broadened!  Dose of Melbourne Culture – Check.

Training is underway!

Hey all!

Welcome & thanks for reading my first blog post!

If you haven’t already – please read the about me pages and learning quests to give you an idea about what I’m about!

So 10km hey… I’d be lying if I said I’ve ever ran 2km without gasping for air half way through.. Before thinking twice about it though, I registered for the 10km Melbourne Marathon on the 14th of October. Less than 4 weeks away…eekk! With the run soon approaching, I’ve been under pressure to get fit again! I’m pleased to report that it hasn’t been as tragic as first thought. Thanks to some encouraging friends who have also challenged themselves to do the run, we’re getting better and better each week.

Record to date – 7.5km in 56 minutes.

My aim is to run the whole distance within 1 hour!