Thursday, 27 November 2008
Just wanted to share a quick post on today's new moon which is in the sign of Sagittarius. Both the sun and the new moon are in the same sign so it will be a warm fiery time with plenty of optimism floating around. It's a great time to begin projects that are focused on spiritual or educational endeavours.
However, it is also a time to shine a light on the truth as Sagittarius embraces honesty. It provides the chance to listen to our own truth and to hear what others have to say without judgement. The power of Sagittarius can help us see past our own limitations, let down defences that block the light and help us to realise new adventures and explore new pastures. It is after all the sign of travel and exploration. At this time of year I plan to use this as a focus for inner travel and exploration as the wheel of the year is in its darkest phase.
Today I have done some really useful emotional clearing and felt really in tune with my need to look after myself during the new moon. I sought and found solace in a large mug of peppermint tea, a big blanket and the chance to sew tiny chicken finger puppets as gifts. Bliss!
Wishing you a joyful and optimist exploration of your inner truth.
Yay, only four days left of our Buy Nothing Month and then we can unleash ourselves on the shops and buy loads of, urm, organic coconut oil and selotape. Wild - huh?
This week I am working on sourcing amazing clothing and accessories for our Ethical Fashion special edition of The Green Parent magazine and I have got to admit to a haze of avariciousness enveloping my desk. Hunting down inspirational stories of women creating beautiful recycled items and speaking to key people in the ethical fashion industry whilst musing over their gorgeous designs, it has been hard to keep a lid on the "I want" mentality. I have subconsciously created about a zillion wish lists.
One positive aspect of this is that it has inspired me to get crafty and start making some garments of my own ... for the girls' Sylvannian characters rather than proper people sized clothing. But it feels good to sit around the fire in the evening with needle in hand and a bevvy of small woodland folk to clothe.
I have also discovered the Handmade Pledge for the holidays and am delighted by its ethos. Encouraging consumers to make gifts or purchase homemade presents for giving this festive season, Pledge Handmade has collected over thirty thousand signatures to support its cause over the last couple of months. That means over thirty thousand people who are going to steer clear of shopping centres and give one-of-a-kind meaningful gifts this year. They say, "The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. We are encouraged to be consumers, not producers, of our own culture. Our ties to the local and human sources of our goods have been lost. Buying handmade helps us reconnect."
Reconnecting through crafting sounds like something to aspire to!
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
You may be aware that the government is considering making vaccination compulsory in order for our children to attend UK schools & to claim child benefit. This link will take you to a Downing Street petition if you want to record your opposition to it. This will only take a minute. More and more parents are looking into the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations. Greater knowledge enables parents to have the confidence to exercise their right to an informed choice. To be forced into vaccinating our children so that they can attend school or that we can receive child benefit would be ridiculous.
A useful starting point for parents keen to find out more about vaccinations is The Informed Parent website and newsletters. My children are not vaccinated because I believe that inoculations can cause more harm than good. I think that bolstering their immune system with a healthy diet, plenty of fresh air, dirt and a little homeopathy when they need it is a better course for us in achieving complete health.
The RSPB have just released results from the first year of their Homes for Wildlife campaign and have reported that 300,000 actions have been taken to create habitats for garden creatures. Apparently, more than 25,000 gardeners have done an average of 12 things each that help frogs, toads, bats, insects, hedgehogs and birds. Providing seed mixes, growing flowering nectar-rich plants and planting dense thorny bushes are just some of the top actions people have taken as part of the project. Alongside the campaign the RSPB is offering free, tailored wildlife-gardening advice to help people transform their homes and gardens into mini nature reserves. The RSPB’s Richard Bashford, said: “Wildlife is increasingly reliant on our gardens for food, water and shelter so it’s fantastic that people are so committed to making their homes and gardens wildlife friendly. “Through Homes for Wildlife, we’re trying to reverse the alarming declines of familiar birds such as house sparrows, starlings and song thrushes. Large numbers of these birds make their homes in our gardens. The time committed by people in taking actions will help create a better future for them and other wildlife in the not too distant future.” One of the most popular activities in the project - growing plants in tubs to attract insects – shows that regardless of size or shape of garden everyone can take part. More than 4,000 people took action on balconies or in gardens smaller than squash courts. In even a tiny space, you can make a real difference for wildlife. On average, 60 bugs were seen in each garden. Snails were most common with an average of 12 per garden. Ladybirds were seen more often in the south and east than the north and west. Other results show that three-quarters of gardens surveyed had frogs, more than half had bats, a third had hedgehogs and newts and a quarter had toads. Richard added: “We’ve made a fantastic start but it’s really important that more people get involved. Now is a great time to think longer term about turning your garden into a haven for wildlife. The more people who sign-up and take action, the bigger effect we will have. By taking simple wildlife-friendly steps in our gardens, collectively we will make a real difference for many of our birds and other wildlife.” To get involved you can sign up on the Homes for Wildlife site and you will receive seasonal advice sheets and surveys that the whole family can take part in.
Monday, 24 November 2008
Just a little note for anyone who's starting their christmas shopping early - here's some lovely offers from companies we like, including money off organic wine and free handmade soaps:
• 20% off organic clothing at Tattybumpkin - code: GPWIN
• 20% off natural petfood at Denes - code: TGP002
• 15% off toys and games at Ecotopia - code: GPTOY15
• 15% off Soft Star Shoes - code: Greenparent
• 15% off healthcare and natural beauty products at 100% Nature - code: GP12
• 10% off organic clothing at Dam Tam - code: GP1008
• 5kg of fairtrade dates in time for Christmas - £33
• 10% off all natural beauty products at Purely Bliss - code: GP08
• 10% off organic clothing and ethical gifts at Love Cow - code: GREEN
• 10% off vegan skincare at Innocent Oils - code: GP11
• Free Box in the Boot with every shopping trolley ordered at Trollease
• Free subscription to The Green Parent magazine when you sign up to Ecotricity
• 10% off beautiful toys and playthings at Laughing Bear - code: GXM10
• 10% off organic wines at Vinceremos - code: GP
• 10% off Clothes, toys and nappies at Makes a Change - code: Greenparent
• 10% off soft baby slings at Bambino to Go - code: Green Parent
• Free handmade soaps and p&p at Centre for Alternative Technology - code: GP08X
• Free nappy sample at Spirit of Nature
• 5% off ethical gifts and homewares at Fig 1 - code: m/gparents
Hope this helps.
Wowzer, can't believe that we only have a week to go. We are now thinking about how to roll this out into our lives beyond Buy Nothing Month. It's surprisingly liberating. And whilst the kids have a yearning to take some hard cash into our local town to splash out, when we asked what they wanted to buy they explained that they wanted to get each other a Christmas present at the bookshop. Bless!
They have gone to their beloved aunt and uncle's house for a sleepover and are looking forward to butter with their bread and a chance to go to the shops (not to buy but just to look), as well as lots of love and silly games as well I'm sure.
A friend is organising a bring and buy sale in the village in aid of Blue Peter's Mission Nutrition and I felt a bit churlish when I remembered that we wouldn't be able to purchase anything. Surely this is the sort of consumerism that we should support regardless. Jury's out on this. Sale is this afternoon so I'll keep you posted what decision I come to.
Food around here is getting decidedly weird - cabbage soup anyone? But essentially apart from an ear infection, chest infection and a few sniffles we are all fairly fit and healthy! For medicine we have relied completely on the kitchen cupboard and a bottle of amazing tonic from the marvellous Nancy Makin of Barefoot Herbs, who is really our family doctor.
In the office we have run out of recycled paper envelopes and tape so have been more careful than usual about opening envelopes to ensure that they can be re-used and using old stickers to seal mail.
I have not experienced the spiritual effects that I thought that a buy nothing month might bring. I expected small moments of epiphany. I expected to discover greater clarity and and a sense of lightness. Perhaps I have experienced this but on a smaller scale than I envisaged. Perhaps I need to step away from the computer and my day-to-day life to realise that on a grand scale?
Anyway, although we did this for political and environmental reasons, I expect that the economical effects won't have hurt either. And now, I'm off to make a few felt toys for the advent calendar, which will be hung expectantly in just six days time!
I've been tagged by the lovely Mrs Green at My Zero Waste (thanks Rae!) and asked to write six interesting things about myself but since this blog is ostensibly about the office in which I work I'll post three things about the company and three things about me.
1. This magazine was conceived in a small cottage on a Cornish cliff. We were on a winter holiday with our two very small beans and wanted to create a way in which we could home educate, live and work together and grow our family relationships. Jez is into design, I love to write - perfect combo!
2. We work out of a spare room at home - this means having to be very disciplined to leave work behind at the end of the day. I am descended from a long line of workaholics so have to be very careful!
3. in the last year we have been featured on the BBC news, in The Observer, Guardian and lots of glossy magazines, including Woman and Home and Eve. We haven't won any awards yet but we think what we are doing is pretty special and unique so maybe one day we will.
4. I love to sing and got offered a recording contract when I was a teenager. Now, when I sing at home, everyone leaves the building.
5. Before having babies, I used to work for a multi-national company on the Kings Road in Chelsea and hang out with meed-ya types. I swapped all that for wellies and chicken poo and have never been happier.
6. I have itchy feet and am always ready to move onto something new. Sometimes it involves gypsy caravans, sometimes Spanish olive groves. My current dream is to live in a yurt in the middle of a wood. I also want to set up a moon lodge for all the wonderful women in my life, and my daughters when they are older.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
We're nineteen days into our abstinence from consumerism - so how is it going? What are we missing? Any slip-ups?
Each of us has expressed a desire for some food that has not been prepared in our kitchen. My youngest wants sandwiches on white bread with hula hoop crisps to accompany. Jez wants to go out for a luxurious meal at our favourite veggie restaurant in Brighton partly to eat amazing food but also to avoid the washing up for a night! And create washing up we have done. In a normal month we eat little processed food anyway but never before have we made so much washing up. It seems that when everything is prepared from scratch, at least double the amount of time is spent in the kitchen. Which can be tricky when you have a business to run and two home educated daughters to inspire. Yesterday whilst making a load of breads and pies and stuff to last for a couple of days I made salt dough too, for the girls to get creative with. We also boiled up some beet juice to make pink food colouring and the salt dough creations look really gorgeous in shades of pink and white.
As for me, I seem to get a brief burning desire for things that normally I wouldn't feel too bothered about. It passes quite quickly and sometimes I don't get affected at all. At the weekend we went to Wakehurst Place as we have Kew membership (so free to get in!) and the shop there is great. I really enjoy noodling round gift shops in these sorts of places. I saw plenty of nice things that would make great Christmas pressies. And yet, walking around I felt so liberated. Completely freed from having to make a decision on any of this STUFF. Which is essentially what it was, albeit very nice stuff.
And on to slip-ups. Have we had any? Well yes, last week we had a home ed trip pre-organised and despite lots of creative ideas about how we could get there and get in without paying in money, but using other resources instead, we ended up parting with cash. Yep, I spent over £10 that day; on entrance to the fort and also on public transport home. So we didn't actually buy anything physical but we bought experiences and it still felt as though I was 'breaking the rules'. To our credit we did have a crazy packed lunch of things like sprouted seeds and pieces of dried fruit that we ate alongside friends availing themselves of café fare.
So, that's where we at at the moment - 11 days to go...
Well the Heavenly Cake Company must be busy little bees if their testimonials are anything to go by. They make vegan birthday cakes and celebration cakes with 100% coconut oil, which owner Luzolo believes is the healthiest oil on earth. Apart from the range of gluten free cakes, their cakes are made with organic spelt flour; an ancient flour used by the ancient Egyptians and Romans, also known as the 'mother' of wheat. It contains more protein and fibre than wheat and also has ingredients which stimulate the body's immune system. Even though it contains gluten, it can often be tolerated by gluten intolerant people because it is whole and unadulterated. I like the sound of their Chocolate Love cake, which is apparently melt-in-the-mouth good. Hopefully I'll find them at a vegan fayre next year.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
It's been nearly two weeks and we have not succumbed to any of the temptations of acquiring more stuff - yet! As I mentioned previously this is chiefly to do with the fact that we live in the sticks but we have had to brave the lure of internet shopping daily! I have run out of tape and am feeling a bit under the weather. Dosing myself up on lots of honey and lemon drinks and wearing lots of scarfs! So I thought I'd use today's post to write about health.
The average person spends £137 on medicine a year in the UK. Although some of this is necessary all too often we seek quick fixes from pills so that we can 'get on' with our lives.
BE AWARE OF THOUGHTS - Being aware of your thoughts and how you react to things can have a profound effect on your health. Positive thinking instantly lifts our spirits and gives us more space to seek out an alternative.
TRY AN ALTERNATIVE There are a growing number of alternative practitioners in many different fields. Ask friends for recommendations and notice what form of treatment you feel drawn to. I would advise building up a bank of alternative practitioners that can support your family's health and wellbeing. You might want to consider homeopathy, reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine, herbalism or cranial sacral therapy for example.
BE YOUR OWN DOCTOR Our bodies are incredible organisms that strive to create health - they are always working in that direction, to be healthy. If you are unwell and you sit quietly with your thoughts, you can find out what is the problem and what your body needs in order to effectively heal. Just be willing to dialogue with the disease or the part of the body that is suffering.
LOOK OUTSIDE YOUR FRONT DOOR Many herbalists believe that the plants that a family needs for health are growing around the house or in the local environment. What is growing outside your front door? Mint is good for digestive troubles, lavender for aiding relaxation, sage to soothe a sore throat.
HYDRATE YOURSELF Many headaches are caused by dehydration. Ty to drink around 2 litres of water a day. A glass of water with lemon juice first thing in the morning is a cleansing start to the day. Every time you walk past the kitchen tap, fill a small glass and drink it.
To your good health!
This time it's all about the fabulous Raw Gaia and their yummy living skincare. When raw foodie Lisa Lennon couldn't find a chemical free moisturiser to soothe her dry skin she started to experiment in her kitchen. She utilised the principles of her raw food diet to create a vegan skin cream, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Lisa created the first ever 'living' skincare product, 'For Her Daughters Living Moisturiser', (£12.50 for a 60ml jar) handmade through a special low temperature process, using only organic cold-pressed butters and oils. Raw Gaia now sells a range of beauty products made with 100% organic, living and vegan ingredients. We like the selection of articles on their website about aging, detoxing the bathroom and the importance of deep sleep for radiant skin.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Hey, good morning everyone!
Just a quick post to say that we're on day twelve and all is well. The fact that the sun is shining makes a big difference! I also wanted to post that I LOVE my job. Am just planning and putting together a fairtrade edition to come out in January and am very excited about all the projects and ideas that I am reading about and the people that I am speaking to. Discovered a Canadian based eco mama yesterday who runs an online homebirth supplies store and also provides natural birthing kits for women in Uganda through a programme that she and some friends have set up.
The programme is dedicated to helping children, women and communities in Uganda find peace and health. They believe that in order to overcome trauma and conflict in a community, first people need to heal and uplift their bodies, minds and spirits. Shanti Uganda aims to provide the tools needed to support inner peace and wellbeing, encourage conscious birth (in a country where medicalised birth has taken its toll and many of the traditional practices lost) and manifest health, happiness and community.
Some of the initiatives include running yoga classes and art workshops to aid trauma release and providing luna washable pads to the young women. The latest project was to build a chicken coop next to the school so that the school children could have fresh eggs for breakfast. An organic farm and birthing centre are planned for the Community Centre that they are hoping to build. All in all - an inspiring vision and one that brings a real sense of hope that such pockets of light exist around the world.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Bourgeois Boheme have a fabulous range of vegan shoes and accessories. In their new eco range, made from hemp and fairtrade cotton, I love the BoBo Rhea Oat in hemp. I know it sounds like a large feathered flightless health snack but look (pictured right) it's really very pretty, dainty and just ideal for an Earth Goddess stepping out. I know that I can't have a pair of these, especially not right now, but I just like to look. Anyway back to BBoheme's sterling ethics... They aim to provide quality footwear and products that last and last. They are not into throwaway fashion so they actively want you to wear last summer's sandals next year, and the year after and so on. They are trademarked with the Vegan Society logo and always use organic and natural materials to create their shoes.
Well at number three it has to be Yaoh, home of a large range of hemp goodies, organisers of the world's biggest vegan event and now publishers of new funky vegan magazine, Off the Hoof. The Bristol Vegan Fayre which Yaoh organise takes place next year on May 30th - 31st, complete with musical entertainment, workshops, demos and lots of yummy vegan goodies to sample. And next year will see the start of a Brighton event in March too. Expect to find juice bars, an eco boutique, showcasing the latest in ethical vegan fashion and a dedicated kids area. This vibrant vegan vessel is expertly captained by Timbo, who I'm sure has many other cunning plans up his animal-friendly sleeves. Send us a copy of your exciting new magazine Tim and we'll write a proper review! Also check out the Oct/Nov 08 edition of The Green Parent for your chance to win a set of luscious products from Yaoh.
It's day ten of Buy Nothing Month and we ate soup for lunch (again). Trying to remain calm and optimistic in face of depleting food stocks - at least we have a gazillion squashes in all shapes and sizes that can be put to many different uses - bread, soups, stews, cakes etc, etc.
I have looked through the waste that we have accrued and discovered that it is all plastic packaging - bags for lentils, muesli, pasta etc. I am going to email each of the manufacturers and ask them if they have any advice on what I can do with it. I'll let you know how I get on!
All our lovely subscribers will have received the latest copy of The Green Parent magazine in the last couple of days and it goes on sale in shops later in the week. I'm really pleased with all the juicy editorial in this issue from how to make edible Christmas pressies to a fabulous article on celebrating ageing, rather than trying to hide behind expensive creams. It's certainly helped me be kinder to my reflection in the mornings!
Saturday, 8 November 2008
Hey, we have completed the first week or buy nothing month and all is going well. I expect the real challenges to come in a couple of weeks time. I am carefully rationing food items and it is making me more creative in the kitchen. We are going to a party tonight and I am planning what to take with me as a gift - will probably make some edible treats and maybe something from the garden, like a bunch of carrots, in place of flowers!
One pleasing aspect is the reduction in the amount of waste that we have created over the last week. So far we have accumulated half a carrier bag of rubbish in just over a week. I know that we have further to go on waste reduction so I am aiming to cut this as we progress.
I haven't travelled further than we can cycle over the last week so have enjoyed more time spent with close neighbours and people in the local community, which has been another added benefit. Next week we have a couple of home ed trips planned and I haven't yet worked out how we are going to travel and pay for these, if we go. I am sure that there is some creative trading that could be possible. I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, off to make something to rival a box of organic chocs...
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Yay - today in our vegan spotlight we have another yummy food company. This time we are focusing on the lovely Natural Balance Foods (NBF), who are a small company dedicated to increasing world happiness. NBF produce a range of scrumptious raw bars called Nakd and Trek from their base in Wales. I found some of their products in a health food store in Wales and was hooked.
Nakd bars come in a range of flavours including Berry Cheeky, Apple Tart and Cocoa Loco. They don't contain any artificial ingredients or added sugar and are 100% raw and v tasty.
Their website contains things to make you laugh, get more health aware and plenty of great competitions to enter - fancy a big box of raw bars?
Although they do not carry the Vegan Society label, there is no animal-based products inside these healthy bites and each product does display the Animal Aid symbol on the packaging.
Hello - it's day four today of our month long period of abstinence from shopping and I have been getting a little panicky about food and whether we are going to be able to manage on a veg box a week alone. I made soup for lunch and carefully metered out the ingredients for the kids to make scones to go with the soup. My youngest said to me that I'm not very good at following my own advice in that the thoughts you focus on and give most time and energy to are the ones that are mostly likely to happen. I broke off a big piece of humble pie and marvelled how even when I think no-one is listening, it's all being absorbed.
We said goodbye to our adopted puppy yesterday and I felt really sad to see him go, although the house had started to acquire that warm, wet dog smell and he did try to eat one of our lady chooks. Jez rescued her in the nick of time. As he is a rescue dog he was in quite a bad way emotionally and health wise. We gave him Bach Flower Remedies to balance his emotional state and fed him on 'natural' dog food but it got me to thinking about other ways in which we can reduce the carbon pawprint and nurture our animals in as natural a way as possible.
Over 50% of us have pets at home and £3 billion pounds are spent annually on petcare products in the UK. So it is certainly worth making ethical choices in this area of our lives.
COME TO THE RESCUE - Find out about your local animal shelter and adopt a rescued animal if possible - there are thousands of mistreated or abandoned animals who need safe homes. Try the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs Home or Cats Protection.
ORGANIC FOOD - Look for organic or natural petfood at your local pet food store. Try and avoid plastic packaging as far as possible. The most healthy diet for cats and dogs is said to be raw meat, combined with cooked rice and vegetables. There are many books with recipes and further information about providing pets with a diet as close to their wild ancestors as possible - try the local library. Find out more about the nasties contained in conventional pet food and about how to give your pet a natural diet in Issue 23 of The Green Parent magazine.
NATURAL TOYS - Shun plastic in favour of homemade toys - what cat can resist a feather or a ball of string? Animal Pure and Ecoutlet have a great range of natural alternatives made from hemp and loofah.
SCOOP THE POOP - Bag and bin dog poo in a biodegradable Poop Scoop bag or use the Onya Dump It with biodegradable bags inside.
BANISH FLEAS - Add 2 crushed cloves of raw garlic to your pet's food at each mealtime as a natural flea repellent. Ask a herbalist about a herbal treatment, containing wormwood and tea tree for example, that can be added to your pet's collar. Find out more about pesticide-free flea treatments at Pesticide Action Network.
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE - Animals respond well to many alternative therapies including homeopathy, Reiki and Bach flower essences. You might also be able to find a holistic veterinary surgeon near you - we have one at the end of the road! You can read more about natural therapies for pets in Issue 23 of The Green Parent magazine.
BIODEGRADABLE LITTER - If you use cat litter, for kittens or housebound pets, source natural cat litter, which is made from 100% paper and is completely biodegradable (although faeces has to be removed before composting).
ANIMAL WELFARE - Exotic animals are not suitable for pets but are still sold in some pet shops. These animals have usually been trafficked thousands of miles, often illegally, in cramped and inhumane conditions. Find out how you can help stop this at Traffic International. In this country some dog breeders are unscrupulous and puppies are kept in dark, cold, cramped conditions. Find out more at The Dogs Trust.
PROTECT WILDLIFE - Domestic cats are one of the main causes of declining bat numbers in the UK - fix a bell to your cat's collar and stop him from being so stealthy. RSPB reports show that bells reduce wildlife deaths by over a third.
Any other green tips for pets - do let me know!
Monday, 3 November 2008
Mum of two (soon to be three), Helen Blaber has created a great alternative to disposable nappy wipes - the washable cheeky wipe, after four years experience of nappy changes. She says that using these soft cotton cloths instead of disposable wipes, which can contain chemicals such as benzoic acid, parabens and phenoxyethanol, could save over £200 during the baby's lifetime in nappies.
Every nappy wipe that is thrown away ends up in landfill but these little beauties require only water and possibly a few drops of essential oil to soak. They come in an airtight container with 25 towelling wipes, mesh bags for when out and about and 2 different essential oil blends. A kit costs £29.95 and holds everything you need for one baby.
Of course, you could just do as Helen did to start with and cut up an old towel into small squares and soak in water to use as wipes. There are plenty of recipes for baby wipe soaking solutions if you fancy making your own. I like a combination of chamomile tea bags, steeped in a cup of hot water, mixed with 50ml of organic sweet almond oil. Place cut up flannels or towels (preferably organic) in an ice-cream tub and pour the solution over. Top up with water and use as needed. Great as a facial cleanser before bed too!
The first vegan company that I would like to feature in our spotlight is Plamil Foods because they are probably one of the longest running. Originally the company was set up in the 1960's to produce an alternative to dairy milk, producing milk from plants, the original 'soya milk' called Plant Milk. PLAnt MILk became Plamil Foods.
All their products are suitable for vegans and are also gluten free. Plamil's chocolate is almost a 'guilt free indulgence' and even comes as a 'no added sugar' bar, sweetened using Xylitol, which is made from birch trees. They also have a new range of snack bars, an organic dairy free chocolate spread and the ever popular carob bars.
Ethics are high on the agenda securing high scores in the Ethiscore ratings published by Ethical Consumer magazine. From sourcing ingredients right through to the way they do business ethical issues are at the forefront and in fact all the energy used to make the products is sourced from 100% renewable energy.
Look out for their yummy chocolate range at your local health food store.
November is Vegan Month, organised by animal welfare charity, Animal Aid, to raise awareness of an animal-free diet and lifestyle and to improve availability of vegan food.
Visitors to the site can download a vegan recipe book and action pack, enter a competition to win a hamper full of vegan goodies, find out about events taking place in the local area, source recipes, watch videos and find out why going vegan is good for animal welfare, the environment and our health.
I am going to be celebrating a different vegan company every day on the blog this month so keep reading to find out which companies have animal welfare at their heart.
Well, we haven't spent any money for three days although I did go a little crazy whilst playing shops earlier and spent a whole purse full of crystals on some pieces of wooden fruit. I also got a slight pang for lunch in a café, rather than having to make everything from scratch again (and wash up afterwards!) but that passed quite quickly.
Our office is also part of the Buy Nothing Challenge as well so we will not be splurging on stationery items this month or indulging in edible treats to fuel the late nights that are often necessary when producing a magazine every two months. We don't really buy 'things' for work though so I thought I would come up with a few other ideas on how to create a really clean green office.
• SAVE PAPER - The average office worker uses 20,000 sheets of A4 paper a year, most of which gets thrown away. It is easy to reduce the amount of paper used though - print and photocopy on both sides, send emails rather than letters, reuse envelopes and turn scrap paper into notepads. Set up an office recycling scheme and be sure to source recycled paper.
• BUY TO LAST - Avoid disposable biros and choose refillable pens or pencils instead. A plastic pen in landfill will still be there in 50,000 years time. Globally 14 million biros are bought a day!
• SOURCE GREEN STATIONERY - Buy recycled stationery, eco staplers and more from the Green Stationery Company. If each of the UK's ten million office workers used one less staple a day, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved a year.
• FAIR TEA BREAK - Drink Fairtrade tea and coffee, bought from a local shop, if possible. Use a real mug, instead of a disposable cup. Rather than buying pastries and cakes to treat colleagues, bring in homemade goodies instead.
• PACK AN ECO LUNCH - Mrs Green recommends a zero waste approach to packed lunches over at the fab Little Green Blog, capitalising on nature's own perfect packaging.
• RECYCLE YOUR CARTRIDGES - Over 7.5 million toner cartridges and 12 million ink cartridges end up in landfill each year - and the sad thing is that about 90% of them could be recycled. Cartridge World says that 12 months of cartridge recycling in the UK could save up to 15 million litres of oil. Look for one of its 280 stores in high streets across the country where you can refill your cartridge instead of buying new. Alternatively check the manufacturers guidelines on the packet for the freepost address to send used cartridges to for recycling.
• RECYCLE FURNITURE - Unwanted furniture can be recycled by Green Works, a not-for-profit organisation that donates office furniture to schools and charities. This reduces landfill, supports projects in need and provides employment for disadvantaged and disabled people.
• SAVE ENERGY - Position desks to get the best natural light. Switch off lights and machines when not in use. Screensavers do not save energy - switch your machine to sleep mode or turn it off.
• GET WATER EFFICIENT - The Environment Agency has produced a range of leaflets to encourage organisations to become more environmentally aware. You can download free guides on becoming more water efficient and other aspects of greening your business.
• LOOK FOR THE STAR - If you need to buy new equipment, look for the Energy Star - a system developed in the US that also applies to goods sold in the UK. Purchasing a printer, modem or monitor with the Energy Star, you know it will be one of the most efficient models and you will save around £25 a year in energy costs.
• READ CHANGE THE WORLD - For heaps of inspiring ideas and actions to take at work, check out We Are What We Do's book - Change the World 9-5.
• TRAVEL LIGHT - Work out your carbon footprint of travelling to and from work and how you can reduce it. Try a car pool and who knows you might find some new friends whilst saving the planet.
• GET A PLANT - House plants improve indoor air quality, they can reduce pollution by 87% in 24 hours. They look good and lift your spirits too.
• GO NEW AGE - I have a selection of crystals round my desk, specifically clear quartz, as it helps to soak up some of the ElectroMagnetic Radiation that leaches from electrical equipment.
Any more ideas? Do let me know ways that you have managed to make your work environment a greener, more lovely place to work!
Sunday, 2 November 2008
• In the past 30 years, one-third of the planet’s natural resources base have been consumed.
• In the United States, less than 4% of the original forests remain.
• Forty percent of waterways in the US have become undrinkable.
• The US has 5% of the world’s population but consumes 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste.
• If everybody consumed at rates, similar to those of the UK we would need 3 to 5 planets to support us all.
• There are over 100,000 synthetic chemicals on the market today.
• Only a handful of synthetic chemicals have even been tested for human health impacts and NONE have been tested for synergistic health impacts.
• In the US, industry admits to releasing over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals a year.
• The average person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago.
• We each see more advertisements in one year than a people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.
Well, it's a gorgeous autumnal afternoon on day two of our Buy Nothing Month and I'm sitting here with a cup of tea and an almond and chocolate muffin, feeling pretty good. So how is it going? And what temptations have we encountered so far?
It's going well, although this might have something to with the fact that we live in the back of beyond and retail temptations don't really exist out here - unless you count the fab village shop and of course, the ever present lure of internet shopping. We are all looking forward to the challenge and even the kids have volunteered to forfeit their pocket money for the month, in order to be more involved in the experiment. I have cancelled our weekly newspaper fix and the film club that we belong to.
I am being extra cautious and sparing in the kitchen with store cupboard ingredients like coconut oil, agave syrup and dairy items such as butter and yoghurt as these will run out quite quickly and we will not replace them during November. I guess there will come a time towards the end of the month when we eat lots of soups and flat breads!
Yesterday, I made big batch of pastry using flour, coconut butter and cold water and turned it into a gigantic pumpkin pie (to make use of all that pumpkin flesh left over from Halloween) and a batch of mini tartlets filled with leek and cheese or tomatoes and herbs, which should last a day or so. On presenting the massive pumpkin pie at dinner last night, amid cinnamony wafts and proud smiles, I discovered that I am the only one of us who likes this traditional treat. Anyone who visits in the next day or so will not get away without being sat down for a cup of tea and a large slab of pie.
Today for lunch I unearthed a packet of couscous from the back of the cupboard and made a salad with tomatoes, herbs and chilli from the garden. Dinner will probably be pasta with similar seasonal veg. I must confess that my cupboard is probably fuller than the average store stump as we do an Infinity Foods bulk order once every few months, so I have a stock of items like tinned tomatoes and large bags of flax seeds, almonds etc.
We usually sell our eggs to neighbours and passers by but this month I will be using them or maybe bartering them at the dairy farm round the corner. I am really interested in nutrition and will keep a close eye on the kids to check that they are getting everything they need this month in order to thrive. I used to feel that my girls were very picky eaters but since I have relaxed my attitude to this, they in turn have relaxed and are mostly happy to try things before rejecting them. My eldest is happiest with raw fruit and veg and her sister prefers pies and potatoes and more carby food. It is an interesting balance but I now love being in the kitchen, when a year or so ago food had become a bit of a sore point.
Over the last two days we have discovered that we 'need' a few things for the house - a lightbulb, new washer on the tap, over mitt etc. and although these items have been on the To Buy list for a while, now that we can't just go out and buy them, they are causing more frustration. Perhaps I might get around to making my own oven glove this month. Watch this space...