Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reducing waste

Happy New Year! Feliz novo ano! 

I'm mostly posting on my To Brazil blog, however few posts will still make it to this page when they feel relevant enough of the general theme of a more sustainable life. 

It’s the start of a new world. A new life. I feel motivated and inspired to really change my life. 
My biggest dream in the world is to see a more sustainable planet. And in order to do that, I realize that it has to start within. Yes I'm still working on sustainable projects here in Brazil, very initial stages and I'll be elaborating more on them with time. For now I'll keep you up to date with my progress in becoming waste free and more sustainable. 

For the last few months, I've been really thinking a lot about it, but in the last week I've been making progress with daily sustainable goal setting, which has been amazing. 

I've also garnered a lot of inspiration from the book "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert. 
Basically just putting 100% into your passions and not expecting anything in return, because you love them. And not getting pulled down when things don't always go your way, because that is also life, and what matters is your dedication and nothing else. Your passion also doesn't owe you anything, it doesn't owe you rewards of any kind, monetary, success or anything, it's there to just be there, so we can enjoy this experience on earth, knowing that we lived it with full heart. 

I've started creating goals for myself every evening for the following day, of course I've been learning portuguese so they have involved that, they have involved step by step processes of starting my personal projects and carrying them through, also involving personal health -- so whether it's healthy food prep or exercise, meditation and then also daily journaling at the end of the day to track my progress and prepare for the next day. This has really fueled my motivation in a beautiful way, helping me keep on track with my work and my goals. 

In the past few months, I have stopped using shampoo from plastic containers -- I use bar soap now for everything. I have started making my own toothpaste -- my latest recipe is 1/4 cup of coconut oil 10 drops of organic mint oil, 3 drops of tea tree oil and 2-3 tbsp of baking soda. It seems to work great. However I think for best results also couple it with oil pulling and flossing using -- smartfloss -- I use smartfloss because it is amazing and can absorb essential oils. I realize smartfloss comes in a plastic container but one of my goals is to contact the company if they can sell the product with the plastic/ create a petition for them to sell the product without the plastic container-- or some kind of recycling/reusing program for the container. 

In the past few days, I've also started using water instead of toilet paper. This is no big deal for many other countries, in particular india where I've spent a significant amount of time, yet for other countries, this is unfortunately a new and bizarre concept, with bathrooms not set up for using water. So I bring with me a small bag with a small bottle of water and cloth so I can be prepared, the water for the washing and the cloth for drying. As I write this, I realize that this makes it much easier for women in the west to go toilet paper free as they often carry bags that can accommodate this, for men perhaps its more difficult. But a good start is start in the home. When traveling people usually have to bring some sort of back bag or bag anyway, even men. So anyway. All is possible! Lets save our trees!! 

The other thing is, I travel a lot. I'm not even sure what I can call my home and what isn't anymore.. because wherever I am has suddenly become home.. because I feel like a total vagabond. But anyway. Previously I would only compost in compost friendly homes. Yet now, I am finding ways to compost in homes that aren't set up for it. I recently stayed in an apartment where there were only potted plants. So what I did was make a veggie scrap smoothie and poured it onto the plants -- in particular the plants that were having pest issues. Who knows maybe it can help :) This way the scraps break down much easier and assimilate into soil faster. Helping the plant. 

I've also started to reconsider while shopping and avoiding things that come in plastic, this has meant that sometimes I buy conventional foods over organic foods because they don't come in plastic. However this is a lose lose situation. My heart can't figure out what is better.. conventional foods with agrotoxins.. or organic foods wrapped in material that doesn't decompose. Eeek. Best is to grow my own food... or work harder seeking out organic plastic free foods. Unfortunately I have yet to find in Brazil organic plastic free grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits.. etc. I will have to meet farmers and see what is possible. I have a friend starting a company where he will sell organic produce straight to consumers.. I feel there is an opportunity here, to sell bulk organic foods... but time will tell. Else some kind of movement, petitions, contacting farmers.. may also work. 

Also, a huge part of waste free living in my opinion is reducing our ecological footprint overall. Plant based eating/ eating more plants can help with this. Check out my other blog here, for recipes and ideas :)  http://theveganfooddiary.blogspot.com.br/






Tuesday, September 27, 2016

To Brazil

I've recently started a new blog, documenting my new journey in Brazil. Working with the forests and the environment....

http://protectingforests.blogspot.com.br/

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Permaculture/sustainable/organic demo site Maharashtra

Recently I was contacted by someone who is interested in creating a 5 acre demo site for his village.

It's about 7 plots, that he would like to convert to include the following:
Food forest, kitchen garden and sustainable/organic demo plots of the kinds of crops other farmers in his village grow.





Arriving at the land, which is about a 3-4 hour drive depending on road conditions, one can immediately notice the dry state the soil and land is in.

They haven't had a decent monsoon season in over 2 years.

However, the land itself is beautiful with distant hills surrounding the area.

It's the midst of summer here in Maharashtra so the heat of course was obvious and was needed in large amounts.

I was shown an example kitchen garden which had some castor plants, and few other herbs, but overall the quality and vitality of the plants were less, this ultimately seemed to be an issue of water availability.

All farmers in this village use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, although a few farmers are progressive in the sense of trying new techniques on their crops to see if the use of the chemicals could possibly be mitigated.

One farmer we visited, used a netting over his crops to help keep the insects out. He saved a significant amount of money in the process of using this net. However, he will need to remove the net in order to allow for the pollination of the crops. And at this time he mentioned he may also need to use a little bit of pesticides.



In my mind water retention is the main priority, followed by improving the soil quality.

They mentioned that there is a free soil testing service provided by the government, called KVK. According to their website they test, pH, electric conductivity, organic carbon, available nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, exchangeable sodium, calcium and magnesium.

This would of course be a good place to start for many of these farmers who have never taken a soil test. As manure and urea is often a main source of fertilizer, tests are needed to ensure that the balance of nutrients are in order.

Unfortunately in this region, farmers have been taken advantage of in the past in terms of products. They mentioned a story that someone had spent 80,000 rupees for someone to manage their fields organically for 1 year. And the result was that the produce did not fair well.

Anyone should be very skeptical of those who say you can become organic in 1 year, especially after years of chemical use on soils. Generally it may take about 3 years to switch to organic practices while maintaining productivity, and another 3 years of being organic in order to be called organic. In total it's more of a 6 year process. Sure anyone can go organic overnight, but that doesn't mean that it will be financially viable for the farmer. It could take him another 3 years of organic in order for that crop to show any positive change, and for someone who lives off of the income from a farm, it's not a solution in becoming organic.

They spoke about the increasing problem of pest resistance, and mentioned a few of the issues that they had seen such as downy mildew, mealybug (often attracted to plants with an over application of fertilizer and overwatered), karpa and blight (can be mitigated with plant rotations, avoid watering from above, and water early in the day).









On our way back to Pune we spotted this guy::





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Saving the rainforest

I've recently been in touch with a vegan agroforestry expert in Brazil. He trains farmers in sustainable methods of rejuvenating forests and growing products that are both profitable and compatible with the ecosystem and the forest. His goal is to buy a piece of property about 100 possibly more acres, which is relatively affordable in the location he is at, to start a farmers training center. 

This is crucial for South America as many farmers are in fact dairy and cattle farmers that are ruining the environment and the soil. His wisdom and his trainings help enable Vegan farmers who essentially promote and protect the rainforest. I'm in contact currently with someone in California about visiting his land next year to hopefully put together more information about his land, the farmers and the products. I wanted to reach out to the community to see if anyone else might be interested in a project like this, feel free to email me (esther.shanti1@gmail.com). 

Skills that could be very useful to this project:
Passion for the issue
Herbalism
Portuguese and or Spanish
Familiarity with South America/Brazil, avenues to sell valuable medicinals/ tropical goods
Experience in media relations, film, editing, marketing and fundraising. 

Goods that are for sale by the ton:

PEACH PALM
"Some of the best health benefits of peach palm include its ability to boost energy levels, protect vision, prevent the development of cancer, improve the health of your skin, optimize your digestive system, reduce blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, protect infant health, speed up growth and development, and aid in weight loss.
The fruit is considered so valuable because it provides a storehouse of energy, which can replace common culinary staples that provide carbohydrates, like potatoes. In fact, the consistency and texture of cooked peach palm is similar to a sweet potato. Peach palm is usually not eaten raw, as it has a rather strong, acidic taste, but when cooked, it can be dried into meal or flour to be used at a later time. The raw fruit does not stay ripe for very long, and should be eaten or cooked soon after being picked. Economically, it is important both as an export crop, but also because it can replace some of the other overexploited species of exotic fruits that have received global attention in recent years, such as acai. The rich combination of nutrients in peach palm makes it very beneficial for our health in a variety of ways.

Besides being a delicious addition to a fruit basket, peach palms are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds that make it an ideal component of a healthy diet. Peach palms contain significant levels of fiber, carbohydrates, vitamin C, E, A, B, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc.
Energy Booster: Peach palm is perhaps best known for acting as an energy reserve. This energy-boosting fruit packs a whopping 37 grams of carbohydrates in every 100 grams. Carbohydrates are the building blocks of our energy supply, and by breaking down these carbohydrates, our body is able to refuel itself very quickly. For this very reason, peach palm is often turned to as a quick energy booster in South American countries, and this very effective carb-loading tool is becoming more popular in other countries as well.
Digestive Health: As with most fruits and vegetables, peach palm is a very good source of dietary fiber, which impacts our body in a number of ways. When it comes to digestion, fiber facilitates the smooth digestion of food and eliminates constipation. It can reduce excess gas and bloating as well, while also helping to prevent more serious gastrointestinal conditions, like gastric ulcers and colon cancer.
Heart Health and Diabetes: Fiber continues to serve the body in terms of diabetes, as it can help to regulate the insulin and glucose production activities by affecting those levels in the bloodstream. By slowing down the release of glucose into the bloodstream and optimizing the functions of the pancreas, peach palm’s fiber can help to reduce the effects of diabetes, or prevent it from developing in the first place. When it comes toheart health, fiber clears out excess cholesterol from the blood vessels and arteries, thereby lowering the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Vision Health: One of the most important vitamins found in peach palm is vitamin A, as well as other carotenoids that help protect the body. Carotenes are essential for vision health, as they act as antioxidants to reduce or eliminate cataracts, while also preventing macular degeneration in the ocular cells.
Skin Protection: When it comes to keeping our body’s largest organ protected, vitamin C, vitamin A, and a healthy fluid balance in the body can be very effective. Peach palm possesses both of those antioxidant vitamins that can stimulate the regrowth of new skin cells and protect the ones that are there, while the potassium levels in peach palm ensure a proper water balance in the body and facilitate the exchange of fluid to cells to keep them functioning at an optimal level.
Growth and Development: Peach palm is especially recommended for children, as it is ideal for spurring proper growth and development. Aside from its balanced composition of vitamins and minerals, peach palm also has proteins and other organic compounds that are essential for growth. Furthermore, for pregnant mothers, the folic acid levels in peach palm make it great for protecting against neural tube defects."

Protium heptaphyllum

It is extracted an oil and amorphous resin, the general applications ranging from the manufacture of varnishes and paints, to have light yellow color and be solidifying in contact with air; the caulking boats to cosmetics and insect repellents. On the therapeutic side, the species presents as an expectorant and wound healing, as well as anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions. In folk medicine, this resin oil plant gums are used for various purposes such as, for example, stimulating, antiulcer and antiinflammatory. In religious rituals, it is used as incense to have such aromatic resin.



BARU
 "The taste of almond baru, like the peanut, leads the region's population to attribute aphrodisiac properties: it is said that at the time of baru, increases the number of women who become pregnant. What we do know is that baru has a high nutritional value. The chestnut has around 23% protein, higher value than the brown-of-cashew and Brazil nuts-and-stop.

The seed can be stored in a burlap sack, indoors, for a period of one year, without any damage to the quality of the kernel. Out of coconut, almonds can also be stored for the same period, provided they are stored in plastic bags in the freezer.

The preparation of almonds for consumption is simple. After drawn from the pulp, just toast. They can be eaten alone or used in the preparation of foot-brittle, brown sugar and peanut candy.

The oil extracted from the almond is of excellent quality, and is often used by local people as a flavoring for tobacco and as antirheumatic. Despite all its qualities, the baru is not yet commercialized, being very rare to find it in the cities of Southeast fairs. It is common, however, in free-trade and health food stores in Goiás and the Federal District.

The baruzeiro qualities have been researched since the late 1980s by Embrapa and its properties make it a relevant plant. The baruzeiro because it is a fast growing tree and the quality and strength of its wood, is a plant of great interest and suitable for reforestation companies" Source: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baru


Cachaça (Portuguese pronunciation: [kaˈʃasɐ]) "is a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice. Also known as aguardentepinga de tutocaninha[1] or other names, it is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil.[2][3] Outside Brazil, cachaça is used almost exclusively as an ingredient in tropical drinks, with the caipirinha being the most famous cocktail.[4]"

Cumaru:

CUMARU
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
Main Actions
Other Actions
Standard Dosage
·  stimulates
·  reduces fever
Seeds
·  thins blood
·  aids digestion
Infusion: 1/2 cup twice daily
·  supports heart
·  promotes perspiration
Tincture: 1-2 ml twice daily
·  calms coughs


·  reduces inflammation


WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
Amazonia
contusions, coughs, cuts, earaches, fevers, rheumatism, snakebite, shampoo
Brazil
as an antispasmodic, emmenagogue, cardiotonic, and antiasthmatic; for asthma, coughs, digestive complaints, hair loss, heart conditions, mouth sores, pain
Peru
as an antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, perfume
http://www.rain-tree.com/cumaru.htm#.VrouD5MrKRs


Guarana:

GUARANÁ
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
Main Actions
Other Actions
Standard Dosage
·  stimulates
·  relieves pain
Seeds
·  increases energy
·  enhances memory
Decoction: 1 cup 1-3 times daily
·  dilates blood vessls
·  mildly laxative
Tincture: 1-3 ml 2-3 times daily
·  increases urination
·  increases libido
Capsules: 1-2 g 2-3 times daily
·  soothes nerves
·  kills bacteria
Standardized Extracts:
·  fights free radicals
·  thins blood
follow label directions
·  reduces weight



WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
Amazonia
for arteriosclerosis, blood cleansing, cramps, diarrhea, dysentery, dyspepsia, fasting, fatigue, fever, headache, heart support, intestinal gas, malaria, obesity, and as a stimulant, aphrodisiac, and astringent
Brazil
for constipation, convalescence, central nervous system stimulation, depression, diarrhea, digestive problems, dysentery, exhaustion, fasting, fatigue, fever, gastrointestinal problems, headache, heart support, heat stress, intellect, intestinal gas, jet lag, lumbago, malaria, memory enhancement, menstrual problems, migraine, nervous asthenia, nervousness, neuralgia, rheumatism, skin disorders, stress, water retention. weakness, and as an adaptogen, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, appetite suppressant, and stimulant
Canada
for fever, libido enhancement, nervous disorders, and as a stimulant and tonic
Europe
for depression, diarrhea, exhaustion, fatigue, heart support, headache, migraine, nervous disorders, neuralgia, vaginal discharge, water retention, and as a stimulant and tonic
Latin
America
for diarrhea, fatigue, hangovers, headaches and as a stimulant
Mexico
for diarrhea and as a stimulant
Peru
for cellulite, convalescence, diarrhea, dysentery, fatigue, fever, heart support, hypertension, migraine, nerve support, neuralgia, obesity, paralysis, rheumatism, and as an aphrodisiac, astringent, stimulant, tonic
South
America
for arteriosclerosis, bowel problems, diarrhea, fever, heart support, nerve support, pain, and as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, tonic
U.S.
for appetite suppression, athletic enhancement, concentration, diarrhea, endurance, exhaustion, fatigue, headaches, mental depression or irritation, migraine, nerve support, obesity, PMS, vaginal discharge, water retention, and as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, tonic
Elsewhere
for convalescence, diarrhea, debility, dysentery, headache, lumbago, migraine, nerves, neuralgia, pain, rheumatism, water retention, and as an aphrodisiac, astringent, stimulant, tonic

http://www.rain-tree.com/guarana.htm#.VrotqJMrKRs


Andiroba:
"Andiroba oil is an anti-inflammatory oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids that promote skin healing from cuts and may slow the growth of skin cells in psoriasis and age spots. It promotes normal circulation to the skin and relieves pain and swelling. Andiroba oil is used in heated massage to relieve arthritis.,1

The Northwest Amazons use the bark and leaves for fever-reducing and worm-inhibiting tea, and externally as a wash for skin problems, ulcers, and insect bites, and as an insect repellent.2"-http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail413.php
1.     Bell, Stacey; Balch, CNC, Phyllis A. (2012-04-03). Prescription for Herbal Healing, 2nd Edition: An Easy-to-Use A-to-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies (p. 22). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
2    Andiroba oil may accelerate healing of skin damage by providing myristic acid, one of the chemical building blocks of an enzyme that links together the proteins that form the skin�s protective outer layer. One of the fatty acids found in andiroba oil, linolenic acid, was shown in a laboratory study to slow the growth of skin cells in psoriasis and age spots.


COPAIBO:

COPAIBA
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
Main Actions
Other Actions
Standard Dosage
·  relieves pain
·  increases urination
Resin
·  reduces inflammation
·  expels worms
Internal: 5-15 drops 2-3
·  kills germs
·  reduces acid
  times daily
·  kills bacteria
·  supresses coughs
External: apply diluted resin
·  kills fungi
·  expels phlegm
  on affected areas
·  inhibits tumor growth


·  dries secretions


·  heals wounds


·  protects gastric tract


·  mildly laxative


·  sooths and softens


·  disinfects



WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
Amazonia
for coughs, excessive mucous, flu, gonorrhea, incontinence, inflammation, psoriasis, skin sores, syphilis, urinary tract disorders, wounds, and as a diuretic and disinfectant
Brazil
for bacterial infections, bladder infections, bronchitis, cancer, cough, cystitis, dandruff, dermatitis, dermatosis, diarrhea, dysentery, flu, gastric disorders, gonorrhea, hypertension, incontinence, inflammation, intestinal parasites, kidney inflammation, lung disorders, pain, pneumonia, psoriasis, respiratory problems, sinusitis, skin disorders, skin ulcers, sore throat, stomach ulcers, syphilis, tetanus, tumors, urinary infections, urinary inflammation, vaginal discharge, wounds, and as an antiseptic
Europe
for bladder irritation, bronchitis, chilblains, constipation, cystitis, diarrhea, excessive mucous (bladder, vagina, respiratory tract), edema, gonorrhea, hemorrhoids, intestinal gas, itch, stimulant, urinary inflammation, vaginal discharge, venereal diseases, and as an antiseptic and diuretic
Peru
for bronchitis, excessive mucous, diuretic, edema, gonorrhea, hemorrhages, herpes, incontinence, inflammation, intestinal gas, insect bites, leishmaniasis, muscle pain, pleurisy, syphilis, tetanus, tuberculosis, ulcers, urinary infections, vaginal discharge, venereal disease, wounds
U. S.
as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, stimulant
Elsewhere
for constipation, dermatitis, eczema, gonorrhea, urinary insufficiency, venereal diseases, wounds, and as a massage oil

Source: http://www.rain-tree.com/copaiba.htm#.VrotKpMrKRs

Other Items available:
Arrowroot
Cassava
Moringa
Ora Pro Nobis




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