Mindful Christmas Gifts

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It’s that time of year again…Christmas is looming and the annual gift giving frenzy is on the cusp of making us all crazy. You can hear the factories in China gearing up to spew out container loads of useless, plastic materials that will lie broken and discarded within hours, days or weeks after the event.

Time to step back and rethink the whole deal.

You don’t have to make your own gifts (although people DO appreciate the thought when you do), but you can be just as thoughtful in gifting things that will help others in your community without sending money and jobs overseas and filling the landfills with unnecessary rubbish.

Women control about 65% of all household spend, so it’s time to really exercise that financial clout and support the things you believe in at the same time.

1) Gift something from your home. Home-made gifts are always special. Gift a plant that will remind the receiver of you everytime they look at it. It is a living, growing thing that will assist in the planet’s air quality.

2) Make jams, or candles, or sewed items (table runner and napkins) that can be used on the special day. It’s such a thoughtful thing to bring to the table.

3) Ask people what they need. I never buy my grandchildren toys. They don’t need toys. But the family often needs new towels or quality sheets and bedding that they just can’t afford. Buy good quality and they will be able to use them for years.

4) If you really want to give the kids toys, try things like home-made playdoh in a raft of colours, miniature tools so they can make things, bug catchers so they can examine the natural world. Kids are curious. Most of the toys they are given are boring and discarded in a short time. Give a gift that will keep on giving.  One thing they never get enough of is your undivided time and attention.  Book them in for a serious play date!

5) Buy local services. Most of the people you will know will describe themselves as time poor, rushing from place to place to get their daily tasks done. Buy them some time. A cleaning service for a few hours, a manicure or pedicure, a massage, a car service, a car wash or detail, gardening, laundry, whatever. These things will be hugely appreciated and will keep the money (and jobs) in the local community. Everybody can use some sort of service and the gifts are easy to wrap!

6) Gift food. A basketful of fresh items from the local market, a baked dish, a special dessert for later. A group I was part of once pulled together and bought the makings of a really nice Christmas dinner for a family we knew were struggling financially. We just put it on their doorstep and left. They really appreciated it. No words were exchanged, so no one was embarrassed.

A bit of thought about what people need or what you have to give, rather than just buying the items that are advertised to us makes the giving and receiving much more meaningful. Think hard about the people in your life and let them know what you would like in return. No extravaganzas…just thoughtful gifts to ease our way into the new year.

You’re the Voice!

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Stand up for something and stand out from the crowd

We all know of people who have become inspired or passionate about something and changed the world. My hero is Ian Keirnan. I didn’t know Ian, but I was inspired by his passion to clean up the world.

Ian’s journey started quite literally, sailing around the world. On that journey, he was horrified by the garbage he saw on the oceans and beaches of the places he visited. He decided to do something.

In 1989, Sydney Australia hosted the first Clean Up Sydney Harbour day. 40,000 volunteers turned up to help pick up garbage. It was an idea whose time had come and rapidly spread to become Clean Up Australia Day, then Clean up the World Day. It now involves 40 million people in 80 countries. Thousands of tonnes of rubbish have been cleaned up and removed from the environment and there is more every year.

Ian died this year (2018), but his legacy lives on.

This is what I’m talking about.

Take a simple idea. Advocate for it. Devote yourself to it. Share it with your friends and family. Find a way to get involved.

There is no shortage of causes that need advocates. Environment, women’s rights, child abuse, refugees, anti-bullying, aged care, wildlife, climate change, LGBTI, anti-corruption, conservation, drug abuse. I could go on.

The point is to find one that you feel passionate about and raise your voice to your local politicians, media, community. Take a stand and be prepared to fight for it, noisily or quietly. Do it your way, but do it.

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” -Benjamin Mee

My passion is climate change. I have been reading and studying alternative lifestyles, low energy housing concepts, gardening and conservation for my whole adult life. I live in Australia so I have become increasingly aware of droughts and devastated landscapes, fire storms, dust storms, record breaking heatwaves and our crazy, inefficient suburban building methods.

When the IPCC (UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reported on October 9, 2018 that we have just 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe and 32 years to get out of fossil fuels all together, I was alarmed.

When my government said they would not be told what to do by an overseas report, I was enraged at their arrogance and stupidity. That’s when I decided to act.

  • I joined a political party and donated funds for the next election.
  • I am supporting and will volunteer assistance to those challenging the coal dinosaurs in our current parliament. It’s vital we get them out of office.
  • I am studying the solar equation in our power grid. Turns out wind and solar power are now cheaper sources of energy than coal, and getting cheaper. So despite Australia not having a coherent energy policy for over a decade, the market has made its decision and is going around them. (There is a great video presentation by Ramez Naam on the increasing viability of renewable energy here.  Valuable and worth 15 minutes of your time).
  • I bought a super rated insulation and had it installed in my ceiling to protect from heatwaves and reduce my energy requirements.
  • I calculated, then offset my carbon footprint.
  • I am following and will actively support Mike Cannon-Brookes movement ‘Fair Dinkum Power’ (So named due to the Prime Minister repeatedly using the phrase when referring to Australia’s energy sources – primarily coal). Sidenote: Cannon-Brookes is one of those restless entrepreneur billionaires who seek solutions, cutting through the politics. His ‘tweet’ to Elon Musk last year led to the world’s largest battery storage facility being invented and installed in South Australia stabilising their power grid. More here.
  • I have signed up to volunteer for the Mulloon Institute which is using natural sequence farming to rehabilitate Australian farm land and make it virtually ‘drought-proof’.

And I have started this blog to announce my intentions to the world and to encourage you to find your own passion to advocate for.

The most damning quote against inaction is “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

Don’t ‘Do Nothing’.

 

Climate Actions. Little things matter.

 

From little things, big things grow.
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    A recent report out of the UN suggest that without drastic action, the earth may only have another 20 good years left before climate change makes it a dangerous place to be.So with our politicians dragging their heels and the concept just seeming too big to deal with, a little consumer dot to dot is in order. Yes, you can make a difference and while you make a difference, others will be making a difference and maybe, together, we can turn this thing around.

To do that, we need to understand that everything is connected.  So point #1:

1) Vote.

Do not support politicians that are not passionate about doing something about climate change. What is the point of having a ‘solid economy’ if the planet is laid to waste in the bargain? Think about your children and your grandchildren. You owe them the right to live in a decent climate. If you can extend that to becoming an activist, great, but at the very least, do your research and exercise your vote.

2) Examine your housing.

Do you live in a place that is insulated well enough so you don’t need heating and cooling year round? Do you have curtains on your windows? Draught stoppers at your doors? Are you thinking of installing solar hot water or electricity? If not, examine what you can do to minimise your power usage on these large items. It matters. To the climate and your comfort.

2a) Change all your lights to LED.

Bulbs are expensive but last up to 10 years. Fittings need to be put in by an electrician, but will save you hundreds over their lifetime in minimum electricity draw.

2b) Turn off your large appliances at the wall.

Most appliances have a ‘standby’ mode that draws electricity continuously. Turn those appliance off at the wall socket either each time you use them or by using a timer. The difference will be noticeable on your next bill.

2c) Change your power source.

With the savings you make on LED lights, notify your power company that you want at least part of your supply to come from sustainable resources (solar or wind farms).

While it may cause a minor increase in your bill, it sends a signal that you don’t want your power to come from coal fired or gas powered carbon emitting plants. It will inform their investment strategy in the future.

3) Examine how you shop, especially around food.

Minimise the purchase of items wrapped in plastic and trays. It can be difficult, but not impossible. Bring your own paper bags for produce, make or purchase your own cloth carry bags. (See: boomerangbags.org to start a local movement). The supermarkets went from single use recyclable bags to purchased single use unrecyclable bags. So one step forward, 2 back. Not helpful.

3a) Purchase less red meat (serious contributor to methane in the air) and either make it go further or replace with vegetables, white meat and fish.

3b) Eat more whole foods.

Fresh fruit and veg comes with less packaging. Try to minimise pre-packaged foods. Not only will you be saving money, you will have a lot less garbage to deal with at the end of the week. Recycle what you can, compost if you know how, minimise your rubbish.

3c) When you find products that you want to use but their packaging is excessive, complain to them.

Say you want to use their product but that it needs to be presented in a more sustainable way. Understand the power you have. They will listen.

4) Invest ethically.

Almost everyone has a stake in the stock market because people have superannuation and investment accounts. Contact your super provider and ask if they have a ‘socially responsible’ fund. This means that your money doesn’t support things like big tobacco, mining or polluting industries. It’s not just for the planet, it’s good business sense. They often make as high or higher returns. Make the call.

4a) Buy less and neutralise your carbon footprint.

Manage your personal day to day finances by using an app that tracks your purchases. I use RAIZ. It sits on my phone and is linked to my bank account. Every time I buy something, it rounds up the purchase to the nearest dollar and puts that money aside. Once a week, I invest $5 plus whatever is in the round up account. That money is then invested in shares and any dividends I collect are re-invested. You wouldn’t think it would amount to much, but in using the app for 1 year, I have saved/invested over $1400. And because the app knows what I spend my money on, it has calculated my carbon footprint. I ‘pay-off’ my carbon footprint through the app and trees get planted. Nice way to use technology.

5) How are you getting around?

It’s hard to get out of the car, I know. So try to purchase something efficient. If you can’t do that, try to minimise the use so you do one trip instead of 3. Can you replace the odd trip with a walk or a bike ride to the shops? If we slow our lives down, we can sometimes find the time to do things in a different way. Public transport isn’t always a useful option, but consider it for those big events so you don’t have sit and stew in traffic or to find parking. Try to negotiate a day a week to work at home. You know your own situation, just do what you can to minimise the pollution and petroleum usage.

6) Garden.

Grow food, plant trees, encourage flowers on your balcony, in pots, in the ground, on a wall. Grow things. It’s great for the air and it’s a balm for your soul. Trim, snip, propagate, watch, learn, eat, heal.

7) Don’t buy junk.

Buy good quality products made from natural materials. Everything else is bogus and harming the earth in one way or another.

Join the dots. Each of us as a role to play in reversing climate change and improving our lifestyle. We have the power. It’s time we used it.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I’ve been sitting at home fretting over the past 2 years watching the news on global warming get worse, listening to politicians spouting nasty, lying and self-indulgent rhetoric and agonising over what sort of world my grandchildren are going to inherit.

I’ve decided it’s time to act.  Fretting isn’t going to achieve anything – we need to become activated to make our voices heard and realise the change we want to see.

I have my own views on many things and I do not want to indicate that it is ‘my way or the highway’.  You will have your own views on what should be done.  This is an outlet for me and it may give you some ideas, or it may inspire you to do different things.  The point is to stop fretting and start acting.

As mature women, we have time, resources  (often) and energy.  Women control over 65% of all household spend and any sort of market that would ignore this demographic does it at their peril.

Let’s get going.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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