Will You Pause For A Cause This May?

It’s well known that meditation is a powerful tool that can completely change your life… but imagine if your practice could change someone else’s? That’s the hook for Mindful in May – and I must admit that the bait is lookin’ pretty tasty.

mindful

What Is It?

An awesome group of Aussie’s created this amazing campaign which is part challenge, part online course, part fundraiser, 100% good juju. I’ll let the MIM team take the stage here;

Mindful in May is for both beginners and more experienced meditators, aimed at bringing the benefits of meditation to you whilst improving the lives of others. The funds raised during Mindful in May will be given to Charity Water, an innovative, not for profit organisation that builds clean water wells for those in need.

So basically you donate $10 minimum to receive a comprehensive online meditation course and it all goes towards helping to bring people in Rwanda clean water. I’m in.

Why should you do it?

310950_519100228127952_25068777_nMeditation is awesome for you…

Meditation is the only true one-size-fits all lifestyle choice. Not meaning to sound like a ‘meditational’ fundamentalist here, but everyone in the world would benefit from regular meditation practice. I’m not a yogi by any means and have just started committing myself to daily dedicated mindfulness – but my word am I converted! I feel calmer and more grounded and if I don’t meditate I really feel a difference; I am flightier, I don’t sleep as well, I feel my anxiety creeping up again.

And if you don’t believe my humble opinion then rely on the credible evidence proving that regular meditation leads to reduced stress, improved physical and mental wellbing, enhanced immune function, reduced genetic ageing and increased happiness. Sold – to the woman in the pyjamas!

…Clean water is awesome for everyone

I try to keep this blog positive but occasionally the nitty-gritty is called for. Here are some heartbreaking stats to get your mind ticking;

  •  Every 20 seconds one child dies from a disease caused by lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
  •  Over 1 million children are killed every year by diarrhoea through dehydration and malnutrition.
  • 4 million people die every year from water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases.
  • Many women and children in Africa and Asia walk an average of 6km every day to collect clean water.
  • In the past 10 years the number of children killed by diarrhoea exceeded the total number of people lost to armed conflict since World War II.
  • More than 1 in 6 people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water.
  • In just one day, 200 million work hours are consumed by women collecting water for their families, which is equivalent to building 28 empire state buildings each day

Plus, you get awesome stuff!

If you take the challenge to commit a meager 10 minute a day to meditating you receive the following;

  • Weekly guided audio meditation downloads
  • Daily instruction and guidance through different meditations hurdles
  • Accessible cutting edge scientific research to help motivate your practice
  • Daily inspiration through curated videos, quotes and article links
  • Access to interviews with leading experts in the field
  • Opportunities to partake in community events (although predominantly in australia at this stage)
  • Invitations to host your own Mindful in May events and connect with other like minded people in your community

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Hurry, time is almost up!

If you want to partake in the challenge you need to register here by Saturday 4th May, 10pm (Australian EST).

Or just donate?

If you don’t want to meditate though, or you missed out, feel free to sponsor someone who is taking the challenge. If you want to sponsor me please go through to this page. Or you can pick a totally awesome celebrity to sponsor like comedian Magda Szubanski or nutritionist Lola Berry.

So, will you take the challenge?

We Did It!!! Plastic Free July Is Over.

Sorry about the illustration quality… a quick lunchtime squiggle then rendered with a very outdated Paint program! :)

Well, we made it! Today is 1st August which officially draws to a close the Ehlers household’s Plastic Free July Challenge. What an unbelievable month it has been; challenging, eye-opening, exciting, comical and – at times – infuriating! If I tried to get down everything that happened to me this month then we’d need a virtual Falcor to ride through the Never Ending Blog-Story so instead I am going to try get this down to some fairly succint (for me anyway) points. Here is my list of moments and lessons…

Wins

The health kick! Pre-July I was convinced that I only ate wholefoods. Really, there were quite a few things that were slipping through – the sort of things that had numbers in their ingredients list. I have now learnt to make so many things from scratch (I have listed and provided links for some of them below!).

Chips and Gravy (or as I like to call it Yay-vy). My work friend and I like to have chips and gravy to celebrate Friday. We get it from a small deli that is always busy and sells many deep fried food-like substances. I did not think that they would be overly supportive of my challenge but they were amazing. They even started teasing my friend about the fact that he did not bring his own container. Win. Hot saucy win.

Fails

  • Berries. I have not been able to find any breed of berry (unless you count cherries) that is not somewhat plastic wrapped. Trying to recreate some awesome childhood memories, I researched ‘pick your own’ farms but there aren’t any in Perth – boo! I even visited three seperate farmers markets and called two organic delivery services to ask if I could have my berries sans plastic and have them reuse the container. Sadly they all said they would probably just throw away the container. Yeah I’d get them plastic free but that’s hardly the point is it? My only solution here is to grow my own… which I have been wanting to do for years now anyway so I guess I should count it as a win?
  • Straws. Those sneaky buggers got me every single time! When my lust for berries became too much I would head to our pub and get myself a berry mocktail. Maybe it was karma for cheating because every time I forgot to mention “No Straws” and not one but TWO would arrive with the drink. So pointless. I have now ordered some stainless steel straws to add to my plastic free kit.
  • Rice and/or Oat Milk. See below.

Funniest

For context it is important to note that I am pregnant. So imagine the face of my coworker when he asked me what I would do for plastic free milk and I cheerfully replied;

“I am just going to make my own and drink that”

His face was the most perfect mix of shock and disgust that I am giggling while I type. I was of course referring to trying out nut milk (like this recipe here). I didn’t have success with my cashew milk but I will continue to try other recipes.

Worst

Day 3. I spoke about it in this post summing up Week 1 but to recap; the true scale of the plastic dilemma we are in hit me. Hard. Sifting through the aisles and finding perfectly good glass jars shrink-wrapped in plastic, seeing plastic straws wrapped in plastic and not being able to see one trolley (bar mine) with reusable shopping bags in it. Too much for this hormonal little beast. But my mum (counselor/hypnotherapist/all-round awesome lady) has always told me that the 3rd of anything is always the biggest hurdle. For example it is very common for smokers or dieters to relapse on the third day, week, month or year. So maybe this was just that first hurdle?

Apples belong in tummies and trees NOT plastic

Frustrating

Week 2 brought us Ehlers’s a real challenge. Hubby’s birthday meant we had to host 3 seperate dinner parties for the 3 sets of parents. First lunch, Parent “A” asked what they could bring. Feeling awkward about it anyway my hubby explained the challenge and then suggested a garden salad; knowing that was Level 1 in terms of plastic free ease. A plastic wrapped lettuce, a punnet of mushrooms, two polystyrene trays of tomatoes and mandarins all carried in a plastic bag. Jaws literally hit floor. Not one of those items needed to be in plastic… in fact they are the easiest items to get without!

“All great changes are preceded by chaos”

                                                             -Deepak Chopra

Parent “B” is equally well-intentioned and will never leave my house without lamenting that my fridge looks scarce and then proceeding to fill it with whatever goodies she can find (read; packaged nom noms). First world problems? Entirely. In no way am I anything but grateful for the fact that we have such generous, beautiful parents looking out for us! What I am frustated about is that for Parent A and B (who don’t have the word PLASTIC running through their mind 24/7 x 365) these choices were the easiest and most acceptable choices. This perceived convenience is a farce – having more rubbish in your home that has taken time and energy to create and ship is not more convenient than handling only loose produce and putting the peel in your compost. We need a massive paradigm shift!

Innovations

I have concocted and experimented and facilitated and implemented so many little innovations in my life and home that I have decided to dedicate part of my blog to it. When I get a spare minute I will be changing the menu’s and have a designated plastic category that will be chock-a-block full of resources, recipes and ideas. Here are some of the changes I have made – they won’t be the last!;

  • DIY Toothpaste – this is a winner. See the recipe here.
  • Make Your Own Cleaning Products. Good for you, good for the environment! Recipes here.
  • DIY Deodorant – easy and so much healthier than the chemical alternatives! Recipe coming very soon.
  • Lots of beauty products like this Facial Cleanser (made from cucumber!) or this simple herbal toner!
  • Get yourself a wrapping pile! I managed to wrap this present using only waste paper that I have save from previous occassions.

  • Or you can make pretty wrapping out of old magazines like this one!
  • Paleo (grain and dairy free) Pizza Crust. Recipe coming very soon.
  • We very rarely put any rubbish into our green bin now and we reuse so much more – whether it is plastic or not! We have a bucket plus a Bokashi Bin for our green waste so we can compost it and use it to enrich our soils. We have a bucket for recyclables. We have storage space for reusables. You would be amazed at the things you can make from old aluminium cans or toilet rolls. Will share the photo’s soon.

Getting a small green waste bin makes it easy to put on your kitchen bench while you cook. Just put the scraps in there and then ferry out to your compost bin! Simple.

Habits

The best new habit I have adopted is certainly “Take 3”. Readers of this blog will be aware of my long standing admiration for environmentalist Tim Silverwood (follow his blog here) and his organisation, Take 3. Quoting directly from their website

“the Take 3 message is simple: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference”

Rubbish from a 30 minute beach walk. TAKE 3!!!

How simple. I always used to take whatever plastic I could hold from the beaches but not I take down a reusable bag and fill it while I walk (whether I am on the beach or not). It only takes one plastic bag to kill a dolphin so I know I am making a difference. I love this campaign by Take 3;

(Here is one my favorite posts from Tim. This post really inspired me to be a bit brave and approach people that I see doing the wrong thing. Be strong and try to educate. Some people may just be oblivious… others may just be old dogs).

Advice

Assemble a Plastic-Free Survival Kit

Make sure you always have on hand whatever plastic free alternatives you may need – a BYO coffee cup, your own knife and fork, your own food container (for chips and yay-vy), a water bottle and/or reusable bags. If you don’t want to lug them around leave the pack where you need it ie; your car or work desk.

Find Great Suppliers and Support Them.

Once you find those stores/suppliers that help you live plastic-free support them! Firstly, it makes it easier on yourself. Secondly, it sets the example of voting with your dollar. It also makes me feel like my grandma must’ve – you know, where they knew suppliers by their first names and actually conversed with them about the produce. My husband will always support our local butcher because they were so supportive of his challenge… one of them went absolutely gang-busters and threw his plastic gloves to the wind and was in there with his hands. A madman – but funny nonetheless. I will but a list up in the coming weeks of the best places to shop plastic free in WA. I will always patronize Planet Ark in Fremantle and Kakula’s  Brothers and Sisters (Perth and Freo stores, respectively). This being said while your ol faithful’s should be supported it is also vital that we…

Speak Up. 

Being interviewed for Western Earth Carers, reflecting on my journey.

I was SO inspired by the Western Earth Carers regular ‘Plastic-Free’ weekly newsletter that was circulated to keep our spirits high. Within one of those newsletters (which for the life of me I cannot find in my inbox) were stories about people who had seen unnecessary plastic being used and had written to the companies to explain why this was a problem and suggest alternative solutions.  If companies do not know there is a demand for something they will not change it so make sure you let them know. This inspired my husband to write to the brand he uses for his Ventalin (and unavoidable plastic casing). He wanted to know why it was that they cannot just provide the canister new to be inserted into the plastic shell rather than having to throw it all away each time. I will update you as soon as we hear back.

Future

Now that it is August I guess I could lock all these experiences away in a dark dark memory box and pretend it never happened but the reality is I am forever changed. I have had a plastic wake up call and I don’t want to go back now. In fact I think that a month is actually the perfect transition time. It takes a month for all your little changes to really settle into an effortless routine.

The big change I have taken from this is a serious interest in ‘growing my own’. My husband and I are planning an entire week off this month to turn our garden into an edible sanctuary. Before I was formulating so many different ideas and options for the layout that really I was just procrastinating the whole plan into oblivion. What a great kick in the butt.

SO… I’d love to hear from you. How did you go? Challenges? Best changes to your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments…

If you liked this article you may like some of my other plastic related posts…

Plastic Free July – Take the Challenge!

Plastic is literally taking over the planet. Wherever you are right now stop and have a look around. How much plastic can you see near you? Then take into account the plastic that you can’t see – plastic in cosmetics, clothing material and in your chewing gum (yep, it is made of plastic!). Then there is landfill. Now go further – think about our oceans. We have basically created a thin soup of plastic that touches every corner of the globe. It doesn’t have to be this way though – it is easy enough to change habits and shift demand towards better, kinder alternatives. As always it starts with the individual – so here is an encouraging kick-in-the-butt to get started! One of my favourite Perth organisations Western Earth Carers have started Plastic Free July; a challenge that anyone can partake in to try and reduce their dependency on plastic.

Why Give Up Plastic?

What resonates most to me when I think about why we should all try to eliminate plastic from our lives is this; we are using a material that is designed to last forever to create items that are designed to be thrown away. That just doesn’t make sense. Think about the lifespan of a lollipop wrapper for example, the plastic is made using precious oils and gases (both non-renewable resources) it is ripped off without a thought and is thrown away. But where is ‘away’? Away is landfill or our waterways where it then kills animals, pollutes the ecosystem and eventually breaks down into microscopic particles that are ingested into the food chain (which ends with us).

And, more directly, there are also all the links between plastics and serious disease such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics. Our use of BPA is so prolific that a study detected it in the urine of 93% of the population over 6 years of age. The convenience and ‘economical’ nature of this material is literally killing us (and the planet) and the real tragedy is that it is completely unnecessary. There are so many opportunities to recycle, reuse and – best yet – reduce by using biodegradable alternatives. But while we continue to accept the status quo, nobody is going to change anything.

(If you want to learn more about plastic pollution then check out this quick and bloody interesting You Tube video featuring Charles Moore – the man that discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1997).

The Challenge

Here are the rules;

  • For the entire month of July attempt to buy no plastic packaging.
  • Choose your commitment level – either 1 shopping trip, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.
  • Create a ‘Dilemma Bag’. This will be your sin bin, used to collect any plastics that you accidentally accumulate or couldn’t avoid. At the end of the challenge Earth Carers have requested that everyone sends in a picture of your dilemma bag.

I will be committing to the entire month and I really hope that if you decide to give it a go that you push yourselves! It is not a competition, it is a challenge. If you accidentally consume plastic that is okay – just stick  it in that bag.

When I first found out that I was pregnant I was at a loss at how on earth I was going to get through nine months without my customary Saturday night champagne (not to mention my equally important Sunday through to Friday red wines?) but now that I am used to it, it is actually really easy. I am confident it will be the same with this challenge. Who knows… it might stick?

Take the leap!

Come on… Be brave! Make a concerted effort to do what is best for the planet and your health and register with tfor the challenge here. They also have a Facebook page with all sorts of updates and encouragement.

But don’t stop there – get your family involved, put some information on the fridge in your workplace, form a pact with your partner. The more people that are involved the pool of creative minds to bounce idea’s and tips off.

I wanted to include this gorgeous TedX by Beth Terry who founded My Plastic Free Life (a fabulous resource). In it she explains the moment that made her stop and change direction, her experience so far and her tips and tricks on reducing her plastic consumption. She is so inspirational because she is so normal. Absolutely gorgeous.

Start Planning

This is not the sort of thing that you can just jump into without at least a little bit of preparation. I am going to make sure that I provide plenty of resources and recipes to help you out.  Stay tuned for my next post which will contain instruction on exactly how to prepare yourself and your household for the challenge. In the meantime here is an old post with tips and tricks on reducing consumption or you could take a deeper look at the effects of plastic to really get you motivated.

If you are in Perth the Western Earth Carers also have a whole heap of events to provide inspiration and information like an introductory workshop before the challenge starts,  a screening of Bag It, a wholefood cooking class with Jude Blereau and a finale party to celebrate your efforts!

For Em’s follow up post 5 Steps To Being Plastic Free click here