Archive | June, 2011

#6 – I wonder if people realise…

29 Jun

that the plastic waste and litter that gets washed down drains and waterways (particularly in the Northern hemisphere) ends up here

The plastic breaks into tiny pieces that are eaten by fish and birds as well as contaminating the water. If you’d like to see some quick vids to learn more please watch this and this. I also highly recommend this documentary. It’s free to watch it.


Don’t give up!

27 Jun

I recently heard someone say that recycling is pointless, that we should just put everything into landfill and be done with it.

You’re probably about as dumbfounded right now as I was when I heard this. I couldn’t believe it. People, even now, believe this. It’s terribly sad. Firstly, let’s look at how this common misconception starts and then spreads….

With the exclusion of people who for whatever reason simply cannot participate in recycling household products it’s widely believed that everybody should recycle. We’re taught that recycling is good and ethical and that we should do it. Most people accept this and have no problem with the act of recycling in fact they enjoy it because they know that they’re making a contribution to a better planet. But there are still many people who are able to recycle yet choose not to. This comes down to one or any combination of these three things:

Laziness – I can’t be bothered recycling

Self Righteousness – I shouldn’t have to recycle

Misinformation – I believe that recycling is a waste of time

So, lazy and self righteous people have probably had an entire lifetime to develop these habits and are unlikely to change anytime soon without intervention. There’s not much we can do for them. The misinformed people on the other hand have the potential to do some serious damage because it’s more likely that they’ll be passionate and motivated, unlike the other two… we can help them!

So why would people believe that plastic, glass, metals and other waste that could be recycled is better off in the ground?

Because it takes more energy to recycle items and turn them into something new than it does to just ‘create a new one’. And the output is significantly less than the input. And many recyclables are shipped overseas to be processed. So why bother?

The above is only true for certain materials. Some things use less energy to be recycled than to create from new and some materials, like aluminium have the equal outputs to inputs. Regardless of the specifics, it’s thinking like this that has gotten humans into all the trouble that we currently face and it’s less than helpful. Here’s why….

Energy is only one part of manufacture. It’s not that simple. First we need to consider where the materials for the product are coming from and how easily they can be replaced. As it turns out, the items that we normally recycle have been selected because they are not made from renewable resources. Plastic (oil), glass and metals all come out of the ground and are finite. This means that one day they will run out (probably not in the misinformed person’s lifetime which is likely to be why they do not care). This is a good reason to recycle them regardless of the energy used to do so.

So we can’t keep making new stuff forever. And what about the REAL costs of making things from virgin materials in the first place? The statistic above about recycling using more energy than creating new products may be true of the actual energy used in a factory that spits out glass bottles. But what about everything that needs to happen BEFORE that factory can start producing the bottles? Example:

First of all, glass is made from limestone, sand, sodium carbonate and aluminium. These materials come from all over the place and even before they are transported long distances to the factory to be made into glass they need to be mined out of the ground first! This involves huge amounts of energy, resources and infrastructure and don’t forget that these materials are non-renewable!! Glass requires the materials to be processed/crushed using powerful machinery and to be heated to very high temperatures BEFORE the materials are again transported, processed, heated and combined to create glass. AND mining usually results in the destruction of irreplaceable natural habitats.

So even though the factory that recycles old glass bottles to turn them into new ones may use more power than the factory that combines all the mined and transported materials to make new glass, this comparison is by no means realistic when all the other factors of creating new glass are considered.

Also landfill is not a magic place that makes problems disappear. There are numerous issues with burying waste in the ground. Public health, emissions, space not to mention environmental damage and pests. Land needs to be cleared to make way for landfills, habitats are destroyed and pests invade. Sites need to be deep, protected and away from highly populated areas leaving few desirable options in already occupied areas.

Transporting waste (that could be recycled) further away creates unnecessary pollution which will only increase as existing sites fill up and new ones are built even further away again. As many recyclable items break down they release carbon dioxide and methane even moreso if they have not been cleaned and still contain food. Items like glass will never break down. Buried forever when it could be recycled. As the content of landfills breakdown they also release toxins into the atmosphere, the soil and into precious ground water.

Bob has been looking into technology whereby old landfill sites will be mined to sort and recycle the contents. This is now becoming a common practice as humans recognise the mistakes that we’ve made and try to do something to fix them. Imagine how much energy and resources could have been saved if those recyclable items were never buried in the first place.

Just because it can’t be ‘perfect’ now doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t at least make an attempt at doing something that’s on the way to perfect. This is how humans work. We start with an idea and then we improve on it and make it better. If we decided that recycling was too inefficient now and gave it up then you can imagine how much extra waste humans would produce and how quickly we would run out of resources?

Consider this: We continue recycling even though at this stage it is inefficient due to the carbon miles and energy involved. As we progress we find more efficient and local ways to recycle AND before too long renewable energy is available which reduces (or eliminates) the environmental impact that recycling used to have. As we move into the future we will continue to improve both production and system design resulting in an efficient (near perfect) approach to sustainable recycling.

THIS  WILL  HAPPEN. Isn’t this a reason to try instead of giving up now?

#5 – I wonder if people realise…

24 Jun

just how evil supermarkets really are…

I avoid them at all costs.

bizarre illegal

23 Jun

so I used to make this zine.

It was a long time ago now but I’m thinking about working on issue #5. Maybe I’ll get around to it after I finish writing the 10 unfinished draft blog posts I’m currently procrastinating on.

If you want to be a part of the zine let me know…

#4 – I wonder if people realise…

21 Jun

that ‘green’ bags are actually made from plastic… and are imported from china.

#3 – I wonder if people realise…

15 Jun

just how much food is wasted in this country…

Vegans on guard!

14 Jun

I recently heard a great quote…

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

This made me feel al bit better about all the shit I cop from people all the time about not eating meat and also explains a few things about climate change haters too…

I believe that some people don’t ever mature past the first two stages. Well that’s certainly been my experience anyway. This is the ego at work. The ego serves only to protect and preserve one’s own self image even at the expense of all others. Most people though, don’t realise that this is what they are doing. They take great pleasure in pointing out all the ways that I’m not living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle…

“If I point out your flaws then I can feel better about myself.”

and do their best to make avoiding animal products look ridiculous….

“If I make a joke of vegetarians then it’s easier to justify my own meat eating.”

I don’t know how many times upon discovering that I’m vegetarian, people have said to me, “If we are not supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat? (Insert smug chuckle)”. In the beginning this used to fire me up because: 1) I’m not claiming that humans are ‘not supposed to’ eat meat and 2) This question is designed to fire me up. This is not interesting conversation nor is it respectful, friendly or even remotely attempting to show an interest in my dietary choices. If you’re genuinely interested, let’s talk. If not, shut your mouth.

Sometimes I do get a little opinionated here on the blog but you know me, you know that generally I’m not preachy at all about this stuff. I could be the type to come around to your house and smugly crap on about how everything you eat is terrible for you, many vegos/health-nuts do this. But I respect individual’s right to make their own choices in their own time.  You can eat/do/think whatever you want. So why are people picking a fight with me?

The quote above holds so many answers. It all makes so much sense to me now.

Even occasionally thesedays when I’m under attack I can’t help but get defensive. Yes I do struggle with the idea that someone could have me all wrong. People usually choose one typical animal product to hound me about. Here are my responses!

Eggs. Yes I eat eggs. No I’m not 100% vegan. For the time being eggs are a good complete protein for me to include in my diet. I pretty much only eat them at home. Once I step outside the house I usually won’t touch anything using egg as an ingredient. I know that even the free range/organic eggs involve some level of cruelty once their laying slows down but I just do my best to purchase from local, ethical farms for now. Some farms sell or give away their older hens to prevent them from meeting their end just because they don’t produce 1 egg a day any more. See my post on animal products to read more about chickens raised for egg production.

Leather. Yes I own some things that are made from leather. Yes I know that this is the skin of a dead cow, I’m such a bad vegetarian, shame on me. I’m a real fence sitter when it comes to leather. On one hand, I don’t like that an animal has to die (after having a pretty mediocre life) to get it and on the other hand, leather is a sustainable, ‘natural’ material that makes alot of sense. Let me explain… would you prefer synthetic, oil-based, potentially toxic clothes/couches/seat covers/shoes/bags that break, scuff and wear out OR would you rather use a fabric that although it involves some cruelty/environmental damage will last for many years, reducing the need for those items to be replaced as often and thus breaking the cycle of obsolescence? This is a tough question to answer. Some people simply cannot justify the environmental devastation caused by cattle farming not to mention the animal cruelty/slaughter no matter how ‘sustainable’ leather may appear.  My personal opinion has a focus on waste reduction: If humans are killing cows for food anyway then why not use the skin to make something useful? From this stance I’m a believer in leather for now although I buy it sparingly and prefer second hand where possible. If however, our eating and farming habits changed then I would have to reevaluate my stance on this.

Feathers. I haven’t bought anything containing feathers since before I became a vego over 5 years ago. If faced with this decision now, I’m not sure which way I would turn… Feathers used for quilts, pillows and sleeping bags come from geese ducks and chickens. The best case scenario (given the circumstances) is that these birds are slaughtered for both their feathers and their meat. Like with leather, I would feel happier knowing that the body of the bird is also being used for another purpose and not just  being killed for the feathers then discarded. But there is no way to know for sure. Many ducks and geese have their breast feathers painfully plucked off seasonally, a practice that although ‘sustainable’ is not something that I agree with. Again, if I choose the artificially created alternative it’s likely I’ll discover that not only is the product inferior in quality, durability and earth-friendliness that it’s also made from something that I don’t want to be in close proximity to for hours on end while I’m sleeping. Thankfully I have no need to buy anything of this nature anytime soon although I would probably look into options involving natural materials rather than plastics before turning to feathers as an option.

Honey. Some people include bees and other insects when they are ruling out ‘animal products’ and therefore, honey is another product that involves cruelty and should be avoided. I personally agree that the majority of commercialised honey bees are terribly abused and mistreated however I do believe that it IS possible to keep bees ethically. I use honey that is organic and has not been heat treated from a farm that is transparent about their bee keeping practices. Raw honey is really good for you (in small amounts) and it lasts forever (literally!) so I think it’s handy to have around at home.

Wool. This is tough. Wool is used for so many things: carpet, clothing, felt, curtains, blankets. Many vegans are strongly opposed to wool with good reason. Sheep are violently sheared and are kept in extreme conditions. I get it. But once again, like with leather, I think that as a useful, sustainable material it outdoes it’s artificial counterparts. It lasts a long time, it’s biodegradable, it’s relatively easy to manufacture (at the expense of the animals). In saying that I do avoid wool where possible especially where a good plant based alternative exists. We will be re-carpeting our bedrooms soon and I’ve been looking into natural fiber alternatives to wool and plastic but wool would definitely be my second choice.

Fur. Breeding animals purely for fur is just plain cruel. The cause of death for many of these animals is being skinned alive. It’s truly horrendous.  And the animals aren’t then used for meat either so it’s a terrible waste for something which is completely unnecessary. We’re not cave men, clothes are made of all kinds of warm fabrics now. Fur has no place in clothing thesedays.

Gelatine. This shit is pure filth. I can’t believe people feed this stuff to their kids and have no idea about what it really is. Find out some really simple info here or a pro gelatine vid here which explains how massively processed it is and how much power it uses to create. Agar Agar is a perfectly good alternative which actually has nutritional value too. It does everything that gelatine can do. Agar also does not require so much processing which means it does not require masses of electricity like gelatine does. And gelatine usually goes hand in hand with sugar, food colouring and junk food in general – all stuff that I tend to avoid.

Hot Chips. Hot chips are not vegan nor are they vegetarian. I know, it’s not fair because hot chips are possibly the best comfort food ever. I love them. Have you ever wondered why when you fry potatoes and home that they don’t taste as good as from the chip shop? That’s because the ones from the chip shop have been pressure cooked with animal fat (mostly beef) before being frozen, transported to the shop and then cooked again in oil that is likely to contain flavour additives or animal products anyway. Occasionally it’s possible to find chips that are made without the animal fat but it’s rare. I must admit that this is my one downfall. I will cave for hot chips. I will throw all my values around organics, animals and health out the window for some salty, oily potatoes. I have seriously reduced my chip eating recently though and I feel great about it. I do give myself a break if I happen to be somewhere with limited food options although one day I really hope to give them up all together.

So yes… I know. I’m not a great vegan by anyone’s standards however I’m not afraid to be exactly where I am on my journey right now. I am informed and approach my life with awareness and am happy with that!

Also this girl feels it.

#2 – I wonder if people realise…

14 Jun

that everything they have ever thrown away, still exists… buried in the ground.

I need a big loan, from a girl zone

10 Jun

Most of my friends are guys, this has always been the case (apart from that 5 years I spent at an all girls school) and for the most part this is not a problem. I find it far easier to relate to males than females generally because I’m quite boy-like and I’m so far from a stereotypical girl that I really struggle to relate to ‘normal’ girls at all.

I enjoy talking to guys until they start talking about cars or worse… cameras! So then I realise that perhaps I’m more girly than I once thought, that maybe I would prefer to talk about clothes, cleaning products or … feelings!

I talk to other people about their feelings all the time. I’m good at it, I like it and it comes naturally to me plus I genuinely care about people and have all the time in the world for people who are willing to have an honest look at their lives and are courageous enough to change the things that aren’t working effectively for them. But I spend so much of my time offering support to others that when I’m feeling down, I look around and there’s no-one supporting me…

You’re probably thinking, what about Bob? Yes, he is lovely and caring. I’m sure he’d rather talk about cars or house plans or power tools than to a girl about her feelings though. Like most men, he is a problem solver. If you’re cold, put a jacket on. If you’re sick, see a doctor. If you’re sad, stop being sad. Simple. And he’s become so self conscious about his own lack of ability to naturally support me that if I try to talk to him about something that I’m going through we promptly plummet into a counselling session where I’m trying to convince him that he’s not a bad person because of it and my initial concern is lost amongst the drama. It’s less than helpful.

Ok then what about my family? I only really hear from them when they want to complain about their life but not do anything to help themselves. And trying to talk to either of my parents about personal issues normally results in the typical “you’ll be fine once you get over it” type response. This explains why the poor, little girl that complained of having a belly ache her entire life didn’t discover her food intolerances until she was in her late 20’s! Come to think of it, many of my friends respond like this too. I think this actually interprets to “I’ll be fine once we stop talking about your shit”. Most people can’t wait to get rid of bad stuff, it is the human way. So someone asks me how I am, I reply honestly “I’m feeling a bit depressed today” and they say “Aw, that’s no good. I hope you cheer up soon, so anyway…”.

This has happened to me so many times that I’m not even sure why I continue to try.

I always make sure that people know that I am here for them no matter what, that I will support them without judgement. I go out of my way to mention this because I want people to know that there is someone they can talk to if they need to. I know (all too well) what it’s like to want to express my sadness but being afraid of being a burden to the people that I care about.

Many people, like Bob feel that because they haven’t learnt skills about counselling that they will not be able to be of any use to a friend in need. This is not true. Everyone is capable of compassion and that is all that’s needed. Just genuinely caring for someone else without judgement. You can’t learn this.

So I started off by thinking that by spending more time talking with women that I might tap into some of this compassion (that women tend to express more than men) but  this didn’t work for me either. I just discovered that we’re all so caught up in our own little worlds, pushing away bad stuff, insisting that everything be good. I also discovered that once I allowed myself to surrender the fear of burdening people by talking about my problems, that my male friends turned out to be far more caring than I’d first given them credit for.

When we moved to Qld I decided that I would like to find some more female friends to balance things out. It’s hard making friends when you’re a weirdo hermit like me, but I seem to be making some progress. I’m even getting together next week with a bunch of women who live on my street. And this weekend I’m even going to a new friend’s house for lunch. I haven’t had someone cook a meal for me in over 6 months, I could cry with excitement. Things are looking up!

Also this might explain a few things …

In another life we were most certainly in love

6 Jun

A post for Tim.

We met on a rooftop and drank cheap champagne. I don’t remember much from that night… only that your secret man-crush was Richard Gere. Well that certainly broke the ice!

Can you believe it was 9 years ago?

Initially to me you were this elusive, unstoppable, late night explorer who was so young yet had everything together.  The ultimate cool kid. Exploring for the pure thrill of discovering something amazing, being in places so beautiful and yet completely hidden from the world. Before cameras, before train tunnels, before head torches, even before you moved to Parkside, you were an inspiration to me. It’s nice to know that we knew each other from the beginning. I could tell even then that exploring was spiritual for you in the same way it was for me.

We’ve been friends for many years but we’ve had both times of closeness and distance. I don’t see this as a bad thing. The truth is that both of us are moody and temperamental! So statistically there’s only going to be a handful of times when our moods can harmoniously coexist. At least that used to be the case. I think since we both left Adelaide we’ve commenced our separate journeys of self discovery which has allowed us to enjoy each other’s company a whole lot more. In the same way that you become better friends with your parents once you move out of home. And in a strange way, you always felt like my family anyway.

It’s fun to look back at how we’ve changed and grown. Early on you didn’t drink and I was a piss head, you didn’t smoke and I was hooked! Did we ever actually both smoke at the same time? You owned a car while I rode my bike, walked and caught the bus. What a role reversal (not intentionally calling you a piss head). We both found enlightenment in the changes we made and sometimes you surprised me too. Mr city-lover who passed on the camping trips and vowed never to take a photo of a tree sprung this on me out of the blue.

So much like me, stubbornly refusing to believe anything until you experience it first hand for yourself. You couldn’t be told about nature’s gifts, you had to venture out into nature and uncover them for yourself in your own time. And then you came back to Australia and got a job in a camping store. So perfect.

I’m so glad now that you’re travelling and creating again. When you create, love shoots out of you. It doesn’t matter what it is specifically: photos, dreaming, painting, skinting… when you are living in the moment, you are alive, your heart is open, you are free. And freedom is ultimately what you’re after I’m sure of it. The freedom seeking Taurean who can’t sleep lest he miss out on some waking adventure. This freedom-loving desire in you is so strong that it surely must generate both some amazing and thrilling exploits along with tremendous difficulty with simply sitting still!

Above all, my favourite thing about you is your fearless and honest approach to life. You are not a slave to money or stuff. You don’t try desperately to create an image of yourself simply to please or impress others. You stay true to your values even if that involves doing something unconventional or illegal which in turn may open you up to judgement and criticism. Following your heart is more important than compliance with rules and expectations. Some people just don’t understand how much courage living like this requires. You’re truly an inspiration to me, quite possibly more than you realise.

I’ve been really loving the random chats that we’ve been having since you’ve been off RTW and I look forward to chatting in your physical presence asap. I haven’t explained the title of this post because piz, it’s just for you. I know that you’ll understand. Be love.