That Sophie Monk Ad: Am I Insane?

Around the water cooler this week there is a lot of talk about that Sophie Monk / Lynx advert. If you have 3 minutes of your life that you don’t particularly care about you can see the ad hereMama Mia questioned whether it was clever or crass. SMH shrewdly analysed the hypocrisy of Unilever: a corporation that feeds highly sexualised young women to hungry males with one hand (Lynx) and then claim to empower the women that they have just served up with the other (Dove ‘love your body’). Anti-sexploitation campaigners (such as Collective Shout) are calling for consumers to boycott any products that fall under the Unilever umbrella.  And now this lowly blogger poses a question to you;

Am I insane or is everyone mad about the wrong thing?!

Yes, the ad is sexist, ageist and racist but giving the Wash Your Balls campaign the attention it is so desperately craving does nothing but encourage those crafty advertising creatives to go one step further next time (please refer United Colours of Benetton circa 1980’s).  Stop talking about it and it will go away. What cannot be disregarded is the key to this companies undoing – the type of controversy that cannot be manipulated to garner free publicity (the good kind, anyway). Yet this is the information that is being ignored the loudest!

Unilever Supports Animal Testing

Unilever test their products on animals such as dogs, cats, pigs, monkeys, rabbits and rats. These animals are locked in small cages for their entire lives where their only respites are the times that they are tested upon. Ingredients and finished products are tested on animals using a variety of methods which include;

The Draize Eye Test

The toxic substance is dripped under the lower eyelids of rabbits who are then monitored for their reactions.

The Draize Skin Irritancy Test

Animals are put into full body restraints where their fur is shaved and their skin is applied with the ‘irritant’ for a period of 4 hours to verify whether the product is corrosive – displayed through redness, burns or blistering.

The Lethal Dose Test

The lethal dose test measures the amount of a toxic substance that will, in a single dose, kill a certain percentage of animals in a test group. “To avoid interference with results,” no painkillers are administered. During a lethal dose test, the experimental substance is forced into the animals’ throats or is pumped into their stomachs by a tube, sometimes causing death by stomach rupture or from the sheer bulk of the chemical dosage. Substances also are injected under the skin, into a vein, or into the peritoneal lining of the abdomen; they are also often applied to the eyes, rectum, or vagina, or forcibly inhaled through a gas mask.

Please keep in mind that several hundred animals may be used for every substance that is tested. Unilever also chooses to test products that are not legally required to undergo any form of testing.

I am not into shock tactics BUT I do think that everyone needs to see the reality of animal testing. Below is a PETA video called ‘Testing 1, 2, 3…”. If you have not made the link between animal cruelty and the products that you buy please be brave and take the time to watch it;

What Can You Do?

There are two very simple steps that every one can take to end this cruelty.

  1. Boycott any companies that test on animals. If you are not sure PETA has this handy online sources where you can type in the brand/company and see for yourself. Click here to use it.
  2. Tell them about it!!! Write to the company and tell them exactly why you are taking your hard-earned cash elsewhere. Get your friends and family to. Forward details to everyone you know. The more they hear the more likely it is they will change. Corporations listen when something affects their bottom line.

In the end it all comes down to Consumer Power – vote with your dollar and all of a sudden people start listening.

Brands To Avoid… (some will shock you)

It can be hard to discern which brands fall under which companies. Here is the Unilever ‘brand wagon’ that you should avoid if you do not want to support animal cruelty;

Backwards

This is happening day-in and day-out yet the only reason Unilever are in the news today is because they scripted a tacky advert with a whole lot of juvenile double entendres. Yes, it pushes some fairly lack-lustre ideals on an impressionable youth but surely disregarding the barbaric torture of defenseless animals is the more deplorable of the two? I am in no way trying to trivialize the massive and scary issue that is sexism. Then again, I do sometimes feel that we need to apply some Never Ending Story logic to it and let The Nothing swallow it up; ignore the non-consequential assaults like this ridiculous advert and focus our energy onto real injustices. We can all turn off the TV and this ad goes away. It is a very different story for the millions of animals that are tortured and killed each year in the name of cosmetics.

Take a stand for something important today-  Boycott any companies that animal test!

Big News, Little Facelift and A Whole New View

Well it has been quite a while since I got my blogging clogs on… two whole months in fact. And my, my how much can change in such a short time! Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to all the little emails and messages that I got, checking I was still alive and greening. I am! And after a two month interlude I feel that not only should I give a bit of an explanation on where the hell I’ve been but also a re-launch of sorts. I am taking the blog in a slightly different direction and wanted to explain how I got there and the little journey I have been on.

The Big News

Back in March I started feeling really sick and really tired. There are some fairly obvious deductions a young lady can make about those symptoms and after a quick dash to the chemist it was confirmed – we are expecting a little bundle of joy! My gorgeous husband and I are ridiculously excited about the bub but I have encountered one not-so-tiny drawback… morning sickness. Except it was actually all-day-all-night sickness! This is not the type of green I like to promote on my blog! So even though I have been dying to update my blog I have been completely incapacitated. My amazing husband has seriously picked up the slack and has basically spent the past few weeks carting in buckets and buckets of raspberries – Hero! Slowly, slowly it is starting to get better though so it is onwards and outwards from here my friends!

Nicknamed Yertle.

The Move

In some weird collision of fate my little family has made the move back into the home we own rather than our gorgeous shabby rental in Freo. The timing was partly perfect (due to the impending expansion of our brood) but also a tad upsetting as Secret Harbour is a decidedly less eco suburb. I have moved past the devastation though and I am now actually really excited about this new challenge! In Fremantle it is expected and oh, so easy to be environmentally friendly. Don’t get me wrong, that is fab, but my blog is about encouraging people to be sustainable which includes a large amount of people who may not have all the resources conveniently at their fingertips! I am now one of those people. I will be constantly reminded about how hard choosing the more sustainable, ethical option can be for some people and therefore will make sure I give as many options, ideas and resources as possible.

We have set sail for the coast.

What does this all mean for the blog?

Even though I have been splitting my time between moving house and vomiting (charming beast aren’t it?) it has, in a way, been great having a bit of time away from the blog. It has given me time to look from afar, think about what I enjoy writing about most, seeing which posts you guys like reading the most and just pondering how I want to approach life in general. Here is what I came up with…

More Positive Posts

In the past I have undertaken massive and draining articles about huge issues like the other GFC (the Global Fish Crisis) or Palm Oil. The main reason I wrote these was because before looking at how to change bad habits, I like to ensure I am absolutely the full bottle on the issue myself. I used it almost as a self-education process. But one thing I have noticed is that even though the posts are important, reading about catastrophe after catastrophe can be, well, bloody depressing. I also found it made me narrow-minded and a bit cockeyed really – a Green Nazi if you will.

We definitely all need to make sure we know exactly what is happening in the world – knowledge is power – but I think it is also SO important to focus on what we can do as well as acknowledging the good that is being done already. Use success stories as your cheer squad – prevent that completely unconstructive feeling of hopelessness. So while I will touch on the nitty gritty I will mainly focus on what we can all do to avoid contributing negatively to the planet. This being said… there will be the occasional issue that I won’t be able to pass on – Monsanto, I’m looking at you punks!

There’s still a whole lotta beauty in the world!

Health Focus (With Occasional Baby Bits)

I want to make my house the perfect healthy environment for a little munchkin to grow up in which for me equates to no chemicals, organic food and a happy lifestyle. And – according to Mrs Obama – that means being selfish and looking after myself! This is a new concept to me. So I am looking forward to exploring and experimenting with natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, possibly throwing away the TV and cooking foods from scratch. And updating my blog with the progress of course.

More DIY and Upcycling

Now that I am in my own home I am able to renovate, retrofit and plant! I have so many projects that I just didn’t have space for in the last place so I am really excited to now have the ability. Hopefully I can give ideas on simple DIY ways to be more sustainable (eg; growing your own food) as well as fun ways to reduce your impact (like making your own products, furniture and art). I will also commit to using as many (if not all) recycled and reclaimed materials rather than just being one of those craft blogs that just goes out and buys everything new!

Bunting… or “Funting” if you will?

And Finally…

In keeping with the selfish theme I am just going to start enjoying life a bit more. Get out there exploring (with my camera always in tow so that I can share my virtual picture album). Be happy. Read some books. Draw.  Smooch my husband a bit more. Take the scenic route. Marvel at simple beautiful things… like strawberries! Choose some crazy wallpaper just because it makes me laugh. Read Dr Seuss every day. Judge less. Do more for animals. Finally, hug that Boab in Kings Park (his name is George). Celebrate the good that is being done rather than mourning all the bad. I have come to the conclusion that a smile will change a lot more minds than a big, ranting frown will! So here goes.

Barefoot and without a care in the world.

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what the inspiration is behind this sudden perspective change then please take some time out and watch the video below. Alice Herz Sommer provided me with a virtual kick in the arse. When I’m 108 I want to be just like her…

“I look where it is good. I know about the bad, but I look at the good thing” 

– Alice Herz Sommer, Happiest Woman In The World! 

Eco Resolutions

Resolution: A firm decision to do or not to do something.

Why not take a stand and make your firm decisions in favour of our planet this year? In Australia, the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998 and each decade since the 1940’s has been warmer than the last. Those are pretty scary statistics which I think we all need to take heed of. So here are some suggestions if you are looking to green up your resolutions.

Save water

“Thirsty World” – A photo-essay by Brent Stirton

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet yet we are often completely carefree with our water usage. I often think of what a bizarre comparison it is when I drive past Aussie kids playing in sprinklers when there are kids in Africa that literally have to walk kilometres to get a bucket of water to live off. Especially when you realise that it is so, so, SO simple to save a couple of litres every day. I wrote a blog post that lists lots of simple ways that you can save water. Challenge yourself and see how many things on this list you can adopt.

Did you know… Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh and only 0.3% is available to humans.

Choose social activities that are eco-friendly

There is such beauty in the simple things in life. My husband and I the other day just went into Fremantle and lay down on the grass and looked up through the trees. It was so relaxing and lovely that we have decided we will be doing it a lot more often. Give it a go! Here are some suggestions of low impact activities that do you some good as well.

  • Instead of a restaurant meal… Go for a bike ride and finish it at a coffee shop (make sure they are Fair Trade conscious though!)
  • Instead of going clothes shopping… Make a map of the op-shops in the area and go exploring there instead. (you’ll save money and not look like everyone else)
  • Instead of playing Wii or Kinect or any other computer game… Play a boardgame. Beware – Trivial Pursuit can get aggressive. In our household anyway.
  • Instead of lying on the couch watching movies all day… Volunteer! Go walk dogs at the local shelter or be a companion for an elderly person. There are plenty of opportunities out there and you feel a hell of a lot better than you would have sitting on your bum all day.
  • Instead of ordering a cheap book online… go to a second hand bookshop or charity store and find a pre-loved beauty to bury yourself in. Appreciate what is the magnificence of a truly old book. I found a beauty the other day – see below!

My fave vintage find ever! A worn and pre-loved Dr Seuss ‘Yertle the Turtle’ book (which also happens to be one of my faves)

Reduce your household energy use

My husband and I have been graphing our power bills for a few months now and we challenge ourselves to reduce our energy consumption month on month. It has really worked for us and we have reduced our energy costs significantly. Amazing what a bit of competition can do? Here are some simple ways you can cut energy costs this year.

  • Close blinds and curtains during the day to prevent your house heating up
  • Try cold showers in summer! It can be really invigorating and cold water is better for both your skin and your hair.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. It cleans just as well and saves 80% of the energy used in hot washes. (Exceptions for bedsheets or reusable nappies for health reasons)
  • Use the shortest washing cycle possible
  • Abolish your clothes dryer during summer!
  • Microwaves and gas burners use less than a quarter of the energy as an electric stove and half of a conventional oven
  • Use low watt lamps where possible. It often creates a far nicer atmosphere and uses a lot less power
  • Turn your fridge off when you go on holiday
  • Turn off all appliances at the plug!
  • Never leave lights on that don’t need to be on.

Did you know… Australia has the highest emissions per person in the industrialised world, 35% more than the US?

Green up your diet

His name is Winston

The great thing about this one is that it generally goes hand-in-hand with another very common resolution – Be Healthy. Eating organically, cutting meat and dairy from your diet, cooking whole foods; these are all small steps that we can all take towards a healthier body and a healthier planet. If you want to see how you can reduce your carbon footprint just by altering what you eat then see my comprehensive list here.

“When you go to the grocery store, you find that the cheapest calories are the ones that are going to make you the fattest – the added sugars and fats in processed foods”

Michael Pollan

Let your voice be heard

At the Walk Against Warming Protest with the Save Our Marine Life Crew

If you are passionate about something then let it show. There are social groups, organisations and companies all around the place crying out for volunteers. Volunteers can be involved in organising functions or fund-raisers, tend to animals, be part of the protest, rattle a tin for a day, man a stall or even just to write a letter to their local government. These places are great for meeting like-minded people, talking about new ideas or discovering new opportunities. Here are some ideas if you want to give it a go;

Ban completely useless crap from your life!

Plastic water bottles, plastic bags, paper towels – these are all completely useless products that you use one time and then throw away. Rid them from your life! There are so many funky reusable options that are around. Get yourself a reusable shopping bag, buy an insulated bottle to keep your water cool, get a microfibre cloth. Look at anything that you throw out and ask yourself if there were any alternatives that you could have used that won’t end up in landfill.

Here are a two of my favourite reusable shopping bags.

The FEED Bag ($70), By Lauren Bush

The brain behind this is Lauren Bush (pictured) who is also – surprisingly – the niece of former president George. She took inspiration from her travels as UN ambassador on the World Food Program. She is now CEO of FEED which has spawned an iconic range of reusable shopping bags made of burlap and organic cotton. Each bag purchased provides school meals for one child for one whole year.

(L) The converted clutch (R) The full bag with it’s designer, Lauren Bush

Buy it here.

The Big Fair Bag ($8.95), by Oxfam Shop

As soon as I saw these bags in Oxfam I loved them. They are eye-catching, fun and – best of all – Fair Trade. They come in four colours and are made by the Federation of Tibetan Cooperations in India (FTCI).

The FTCI provides an income for producers (Indian and Tibetan) and also supports the refugee community in India. The biggest part of profit is used through the Tibetan government in Exile for education and health with some of the profitsalso going towards better working conditions.

I love ’em!

Fun, Functional and Fair

Buy it here

Did you know?… In March 2002 Ireland introduced a tax on plastic bags. Each plastic bag handed out costs the consumer an extra 15 cents. Since the tax scheme began it is estimated that plastic bags available at stores have been decreased by 90%. 

The Greatest Speech Ever Made…

Who would have thought that the greatest speech the world has ever heard would come from a comedy actor that was famous for silent films?

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The Dogs of Bali

I am not sure what it is about dogs but they have my heart and I feel forever changed after meeting some of the Bali dogs. Once the ‘Island of the Gods’ Bali has been unofficially renamed ‘Island of the Dogs’ and with a human population of four million and a canine population of 600,000 (some estimate one million) it is clear to see why. So why are the dogs of Bali such a massive problem? And is there any hope for these broken souls that guard the temples, get shipped off to Java for food and wander the busy streets?

Street dogs of Ubud

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