Thursday, January 31, 2013

Food Handlers Permit - understanding the underlying unsustainability

It was interesting to me, 3 days ago I recieved a food handlers permit.  The most basic permit you can probably attain in the states.  It was a very simple test, I recieved 100%.  I could credit that to the fact that my dad is a health food inspector, and always used to talk about food safety to me and my brothers growing up. 

The food handlers permit, gives allowance to those wishing to work in a restaurant or cafe to prepare food and or serve food.  Since I recently have gotten hired on with a yoga studio with a kitchen, I decided to get my food handlers permit.  I have started to help the studio create healthy recipes for the menu.  So far it's been a lot of fun!

Something interesting about the food handlers permit training is it pretty much all has to do with having a kitchen with meat and animal products on it.  Some of the regulations:

-Any animal product left out for atleast 4 hours must be thrown away.
-Any animal product not cooled down from 130 degrees to 70 degrees in 2 hours, and further cooled from 70 to 40 at maximum of 4 hours, must be thrown away.
-All animal product foods must be either kept above 130 degrees while being served - buffet style, or below 40 - refridgeration. 
-Every time a different task in the kitchen is taken up, one has to throw away the plastic gloves, wash hands and put on a new pair of plastic gloves - to prevent cross contamination.
- All counter spaces must be sterilized between operations.  Separate cutting boards must be used for vegetables and meat. 
-Sterilization either means by temperature or by chemicals.  (eek) 

I really started thinking about all of this.  Why are we the only supposedly "meat eaters" who actually can't tolerate the germs associated with meat.  Why is that we can only eat certain parts of the meat - only after heavily processing them (cooking, marinating, pickling, drenched in sauces, herbs, oils, vegetables, etc) and without cross contamination at any level.  If we accidently leave it at room temperature for longer than a few hours, it renders it unsafe and deadly for us to eat.

Now, think about how long it takes us to digest food.  Not to get graphic, but they say a typical digestion process can take up to 24 hours.  Now if meat goes bad at room temperature - and our bodies are roughly room temperature.  And if that meat is in our gut, for more than 4 hours, well that meat has technically gone bad.  What kind of health effects happen from that?

Maybe chronic illness?

Who knows. 

Why is it that other carnivores, can let the carcass sit for days before they decide to consume it - dogs bury bones, cats leave prey for a few days so the meat can rot a bit to make the bones separate easier from the flesh.  Why is it so easy for them to eat an entire animal on the spot, guts, bones and all?

Why are our teeth flat edged?  Why are our mouths so small, our intestines healthier when they in an basic environment, as opposed to acidic. 

Ps.  All carnivores have acidic digestive processes, this is why they easily eat rotting meat, with no health ailments.  Their digestive tracts are short, so it takes hardly any time fo the meat to quickly pass through the system.

As opposed to our bodies, if we eat too much meat we become constipated.  Actually more accurately speaking, if we eat too much protein we become constipated.  Now our society has become so accustomed to this constipation, no one realizes that there is a serious problem happening in their guts every day.

Nutritional experts say that we optimally should be visiting the toilet after every meal. 

Why is it that we enjoy eating throughout the day.  When carnivores can usually have a big meal every few days and be fine in between. 

What other kinds of animals like to graze throughout the day?


My whole point was, it would be nice to step back a bit.  Really look at what we are doing, and the destruction being made because of our lifestyles.

Because we have chosen to eat meat, we have made our restaurant industries take up unsustainable practices on a regular and exceeding problematic level in order to meet our demands.
 This shows in their energy consumption - making sure foods are kept at certain temperatures so they don't make people fall ill.  When vegetable foods (excluding oils - which are exceedingly unnatural and unhealthy) don't make people become ill even when they are consumed a little overripe.  In fact - we love vegies and other plant foods which have 'gone bad' - pickles, sauerkraut, beer, wine, vinegar, etc.  And before industries took them over, they were great for our health!  They are full of vitamin B12 and other wonderful nutrients for our digestive systems. 

We use an exorbitant amount of chemicals to clean tables and floors.  We use excess water to wash and rewash dishes and hands after touching 'contaminating' products.

Does this seem a little funny?

At the same time we are experiencing one of the worst health epidemics of our time.  Cancer, heart disease and other serious 'uncurable' ailments are plaguing us!  Who else experiences these kinds of illnesses and why?

Well other herbivorous animals eating meat.

Milk, and egg - act as meat in our bodies.
How does a meat cookie sound?  Great huh... ?  Well that is what we basically ingesting every time we eat them.  Most storebought cookies have milk and egg as the main ingredient.  In other words, meat. 

I am not completely denying that these foods can serve us in one way or another.  To someone who is absolutely starving or someone who only has access to refined foods, these products may save lives.  I am not doubting that.  But we are eating these foods 3x plus a day.  This is not healthy.  This is why both paleo and vegan diets create huge health shifts in people.

However, both diets can lead to traps.  Paleo - being consuming too much animal protein and vegan being consuming too many refined foods. 

The reason both diets have had such wonderful healing and success rates is that if they are done correct, they eliminate refined foods, refined oils and add plenty of vegetables and fruits to the diet.  Which in the end, its the addition of all of the extra plant foods which helps protect the body against cancer and other diseases.

But, be aware if you are already suffering from a degenerative disease, meat and other animal by-products will only fuel the fire. 

I do believe that someone can probably be healthy consuming animal products at most 1 or 2 times a week.  However, I believe that same person will be much healthier if they take them out.

Personally, I don't have an issue with people eating whatever they want to eat.  But my passion in life, is living my truth.  And what I have found beneficial for me is being an herbivore.  I personally love it.  My bones are strong, my mind is clear, my energy levels are great, my joints are fine, I have no complaints. 

I love supporting local organic farmers, I love seeing people around me starting off on plant based diets getting well.  I love supporting a world where no animal suffering is caused - including animal suffering on non-factory farmed animal raised on pasture.  In the end of that animals life - it still experiences pain and it will still experience suffering. 

I love animals.  I grew up on a farm, and I spent much of my free time with chickens and goats.  I used to train the chickens to do tricks and I loved getting to know all of their unique personalities.  No two animals are alike, and until you have lived among them and spent every day with them, you may never get the chance to learn them.  And even if you do work with animals, yet they are confined to unnatural places, you will still never know them, because they won't be able to fully express themselves, and they often develop psychological disorders due to the confinement.  Just like we do. 

Even if you have a so called 'organic grass fed cow pasture', or some other animal.  You are still taking that much land away from indigenous species.  You will still be inclined to shoot wildlife who threaten your livestock.  You will have to manage your pastures meticulously to make sure your cows or animals are getting the nutrients they need.  In the wild, these animals eat a variety of grasses and travel.  It's not natural for them to be in one place for the rest of their lives.  It's not fair. 

I have a beautiful choice to live without consuming these products.  As far as I am concerned these products are created because it's what we are used to.  It's basically for 'texture'.  Who eats plain meat without any kind of condiment?  Who eats boiled chicken?  Who smells rotting flesh and suddenly becomes hungry?  What smells good when we cook something?  It is the vegetables, the herbs the condiments - made from plant foods..

Who enjoys the smell of rotten milk?  No one.

I love having the choice to live off of plants.  Today we live in  world where it's completely possible to do, even in the winter. 

I love that opportunity.

It's a gift.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Interconnecting the Globe.. Really

As I was writing about the eco-friendly careers, I wrote a section on translators/anthropologists.   At first glance it doesn't seem like they really have anything to do with greening the world, but I think they play a very important role.  And it doesn't have to be people who have actually studied some odd number of years and have PHD's.  Basically it's about getting out there, living amongst a people who you never would have dreamed to live amongst before.  Learning a language and spending time in a place with a culture completely different from your own. 

All of our stuff is completely interconnected, not to mention a few common foods routinely shipped from respective parts of the world to every other part of the world.  We've connected ourselves through transportation, tourism, computers, STUFF, food.  The one last thing we haven't seemed to manage is understanding.  Understanding what it is like to be living in a place other than where you actually live.  Understanding the real issues behind the scenes of all of the items we routinely buy from the store without even thinking twice about what is inside of them and what kind of destruction happens half way around the world due to this product's production or extraction. 

Of course, maybe environmental pollution or destruction may seem small to some, compared to much scarier things in the world like war, and the atrocities which go along with it.  But actually, it's really all connected.  In the end, it's a lack of understanding, what it means to be in someone else's situation.  I know this is quite oversaid.. but at the looks of things, it still hasn't been said enough.  Those who have the ability to ship off the pollutants to some other country, haven't connected that country as a part of their own world.  That same person who chooses to fight against that other country for some reason or another, hasn't connected that country as connected to their own world in any way.  In reality, it all comes back to haunt us.  That division between countries is completely made up.  It's completely non-existent.  The more we can learn about it's non-existence.. the more we can actually live in harmony.. together. 

The more we can get out of our comfort zone, or the more we can volunteer for a great cause either in our town or half way across the world and the more we can take the time and effort to be interested in other cultures and ways of the living, the better off we will all be.

After all, it's not my country against yours.  It's not one person's wealth against anothers.  It's one world.  One people.  Our problem is your problem and vice versa.  Pollution has made it's way to all of the corners of the earth.  Over fishing has negatively affected all sorts of remote wildlife.  Filthy waters have found their way to places, people haven't even had the chance to explore.  Your forest helps our air quality, and your lack of forest debilitates every individual on earth's ability to breathe, period.  The same holds true with any other forest or lack of forest throughout the world, we all benefit from forests on earth, and we all suffer in their disappearance, no matter where they are.  It's all the same. 

We can't continue to think of a "globalized world", of course it is, but the meaning of these words are completely diluted of an essence which we ought to be grasping for.  the word currently has both negative and positive connotations depending on where you are from and what your values are.  The meaning I get from these words, is somewhat negative, a watering down of tradition while taking on a culture of waste and a lack of understanding. 

Not to say that it is all bad.  Bad doesn't come alone, no matter how dire a situation, there will always be some glimmer of light.  The beautiful thing about this world is the persistence of people.  The persistance of people in trying to get it right, not giving up, and continually facing their fears, hopes and dreams.  Re-thinking systems and societies to be more fair and as safe as possible.  I just believe that if we are going to be globalized, it can't be without understanding.  Many may not have access to teachings of the value of local foods and not letting go of culture and language, but for those of us who have seen the impact of processed and industrialized foods and goods on a society, we can at least know to choose healthier options for ourselves and our planet, by avoiding these "goods". 

And maybe many of these eco-costly products we are already addicted to.  Which sucks.  But the more we can learn about the effects of our actions not only in our 'own' country but in all of the other countries that our addiction affects the easier it will be for us to make healthier decisions, for our own sake and our world's.  For example it's possible for us to learn about the effects of these industries in the places that aren't near us, to get out of a comfort zone and volunteer across the globe to be involved with issues we perhaps would have still been contributing to, had we not gone out and seen for ourselves the effects.   We have this amazing opportunity to learn languages not our own, and the more we dedicate our time to doing so the more likely we will to visit the places where they are spoken, and the more likely our world view will open up.  And we will feel more connected.  The more connected we feel, the less likely we will to designate a difference between,' my problems' and 'your problems'. 

There it is, another dream.

I pray that we all continue to learn from another, and we never stop expanding our borders and our hearts to include everything that happens in our world.  I pray that one day we will not only consider the effects of all people and places in every decision we make (especially purchases) but also animals, plants and the general health of soils and water as well.  How do the decisions we make effect everything which surrounds us?  How do those things come back to haunt us? And how we can most effectively change so we do as minimal damage as possible? 

More than seeking for solutions which have minimal damage, we need solutions which have positive inputs for our surroundings.

I think it's possible.

We just have to think bigger, expand our borders, expand our hearts.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Amazing upcycling company

Check this out, this is incredible.  They collect all sorts of otherwise waste material and turn it into everyday household, garden, or other personal items.

For every 1 item you send them, they give you 1 cent to donate to the charity of your choice!  They have raised almost 5 million dollars just for charity.

They sell their items at everyday convenient stores.


Looking for internships, careers or a job?  They have a pretty good list of available options to be employed with them.  

Dam Removal Article

This is incredible, definitely my favorite kind of a story.  Restoring the natural river back :)

Most Eco-friendly Careers

This list may not be as comprehensive as it could be.. so feel free to add a comment and continue on..

Land Based Careers:

1. Wild Food Forager-
That is, as long as you are leaving enough of the product behind that its able to still reproduce and keep at the same numbers that it has always been, or even better that its population is able to grow even while you are collecting whatever you are collecting. 

This is local, it requires you to use your observation skills, you are obtaining nutritionaly superior foods, above anything in the grocery store, you are adding to people's knowledge of local wild foods, to their health and attracting interest to conservation of local wilderness.  Great job! 

2. Vegan, Chemical free Farmer -
You are an amazing example to the world that it is possible.  You are free of toxic residue on your plants and in your soils.  You are off the hook from being blamed for degraded water quality.  In fact your site serves as a water purifier with all of your green plants and organic compost piles.  You are not contributing to animal suffering, hopefully you are using as many wild local plant varieties as possible, to reduce your need to interfere too much with the process.  You are supporting your local community by giving them excellent non contaminated food options, teaching them the importance of local, organic, toxic free food! 

3. Sustainable Land Designer-
Permaculture consultants, Eco-village creators, Green City Designers, etc.  These careers, help everyone become more aware of the land that they are using and how to best incorporate wild life aspects into their development.  How can we spend less money, work with nature, use less energy, be more connected, have a better community, etc.  What are the ways in which we can integrate with our surroundings in a more peaceful way! 

4.Professional Tree Planter-
You may or may not be able to be paid for this one, unless you make a NGO or you are involved in planting trees for people's excess carbon points.  There are places in the world, who will provide you food and shelter (this would be for long term volunteers > 1 year) for merely planting trees and helping in water conservation work.

5. Ecological Restoration-
There is amazing work being done in this field at the moment, Paul Stamets has written an incredible book, "Mycelium Running"  He hosts workshops worldwide on mushroom cultivation and how to remediate toxic soils with these methods.  Recently he has gained a lot of recognition from the government as well as a variety of Universities.  Check out his work:

Healers and Teachers

6..  Energy Healer -
The great thing about this, is that absolutely no medicine, or lengthy scary treatment is needed for this!  Everyone feels more relaxed and at ease because of it, and nothing has been injected, no scary side effects and no contaminents contributed to the water supply.. awesome!

7. Nutritional Health Coach-
Teaching people the miracles of food!  How wonderful, showing them it's possible to reverse multiple disorders from food alone!  Teaching them the wonders of plant based foods, and vegetable juices! 

8. Chiropractors
Are probably one of the most sustainable doctors around, they are actually trained more in nutrition and anatomy than your family physician!  Simple adjustments can go a long way and can reduce significantly your need for medicine! Wonderful :)

9. Therapist, Life Coach, Counselor-
All you need is a room, and a voice or an ear or a mind to comprehend what is being said and maybe some helpful advice or a bit of compassion for the other.  You are helping the world in a very simple way!  It's great!

Teachers who get you active!

10. Yoga Teacher -
Assuming you are providing eco-friendly mats, this is a very wholesome career!  Teaching people how to come into themselves and be more loving as well as flexible!  Learning to listen to their own bodies and build strength and wonder through simple movements, this is a fascinating discipline and always something beautiful to learn!  Thank you for the work you do! 

11.  Hula Hoop Instructor -
Assuming that you use spent pieces of pipe for your hula hoop??  This is just fun.  It gets you in shape, it gets you, again, more in tuned with your body.  This is an awesome way to spend your time, it means less time online or watching TV.  Way to be :) 

12.  Dance and Exercise Instructors
Same thing, assuming that they have eco-friendly costumes and props, this is an awesome career.  Getting people moving and active, connecting more with themselves and their inner creativity and energy. Wonderful!


13. Local Singers
Support your local artists!  They bring so much beauty to our world.  You don't have to travel to see them, they don't have to travel to see you!  It builds community and if the crowd are all of your neighbors in a local hub- most likely a microphone won't even be needed. 

14. Sculpturers and Designers
I'm talking about those who are using re-usable, recylable materials - or even better those items that would have been classified as waste.   Spent plastic forks or knives...

Green Technology

15. Small scale, green technology for home and business use. 
Sometimes the effectiveness of using huge plots of land for solar or wind energy, is depleted as the local wild life diminishes as a result.  Its about being integrated with nature not obstructing nature.  Granted alternative energy is better than fossil fuels, but in order to make most use of it, it needs to be on a small scale.  Solar paneled roofs and energy efficient building techniques.

16.  Natural home builders
- how about a home made of clay?  In a place that gets hot, this is a wonderful way to keep your home cool! 

17. Green Tech Inventors
Make sure all parts are sustainably sourced and you are good to go!  How about a solar powered blender?  The more green gadgets we have the better off!  The less we consume unsustainably from the grid. 

Commercial , Political Advertising, Politics
 I don' think this kind of a job exists as of yet.  But it needs to!

18. Wild Native food, Vegetable Lobbyists and Campaigners
Stick with me on this one.  Right now, we have a ginormous Milk and Meat Industry and Insurance and Pharmaceutical industry which are pretty much running the country.  We need people whipping up incredible advertisements on the healing benefits of plant foods.  The wonders of the natural world, throwing buckets of money at political leaders to save  beautiful wild places, listen to indigenous people of the world, fund organic vegetables, non-gmo produce, local vegan farmers!! This would be amazing.  Fund tv shows like: Reversing Diabetes the natural way, How to meditate, 60 days on a juice fast! Best green technology of 2013, how to make your car run on algae oil - how to make your own algae oil (check out my previous blog on sustainable technologies :) )
If there is a will there is a way.  Maybe it can start out as an NGO and gain enough momentum and popularity to become the biggest lobby in the nation.. :)

19. Environmental Policy Maker/Anyone in office who can vote for environmental causes, or create change.
Unsustainability is so interwoven into our system at this point, it's going to take much more than just individual efforts to make an impact  (Unless every person literally moves to an eco-village in a place where there are no government taxes, spends their time developing ecosystems, never visits a government regulated hospital or restaurant - however the likelihood of this happening is.. definitely less than 0%).  The truth is, that the majority of the population (at least in USA) believe in the way we do things, and even if they don't, they are 95% clueless how to make it any different, and frankly, afraid of it becoming different.  It's important not only to have personal commitment, but also a commitment from our government to transition to eco-friendlier policies.
For example I was thinking just about plastic.  Many people have switched over to canvas bags.  And every bag, makes a huge difference.  However, even if everyone in their personal lives decides to omit plastic from their lives.  We cannot escape the reality of our 'hygenic' codes and laws in our restaurants and hospitals, which states we have to use plastic.  In restaurants in America, you are required by law when handling food, that the food handler must wear plastic gloves, and every time that person switches a task they have to throw away those gloves, wash their hands and put on a different pair of plastic gloves.  I watched an interview of this guy who said he typically would wash his hands 25x in  day!! That is a lot of plastic gloves we are shifting through.  That is only 1 guy in 1 restaurant.  How about all of the people who work in the food industry as well as hospitals where they have similar codes.  How can we develop technology to help us use less plastic - and more re-usable wear and sanitary items.  We need people working in places in the government to help make these new kinds of codes and vote for them.

Cross-Cultural Affairs

20. Translator/Anthropologist
This is a big one. Currently we are living in a world where it is cheaper to buy a product which was designed in USA, assembled in China-with parts coming from mines located in 4 different countries, packaged in England, and distributed from Chicago, then it is to buy something made by a local artisan in your town.  We all know that we live in a fully connected globalized world, but we don't allow ourselves to really become too involved with what it means to those countries making the products for us or what it means for our own country.  We still have pride in "our" nation, whatever that Nation may be, and we hardly make an effort to learn a second language - if English is our own.  Many Americans say that English is the language of USA, and that others should learn it before they come.  However, if we were to be a little more politically correct, perhaps we should be learning the languages of the native Americans who were here before us.  The more we can understand, different cultures fully and wholeheartedly, the more we can work together and care about the same things.  Instead of only caring whether or not a landfill is created right next to our home, the more we learn about other people around the globe and the trials they face, the more we will care if a landfill is put right next to their home.  We live an absolutely interconnected world, the more we can understand each other, the better.  The more sustainable we will end up being. 

Professional Sports
Not all sports are created equal.  After a good amount of time thinking, I came to the most sustainable sport being,

21. Surfers
- No park is needed, not too much of crazy equipment or energy needed - perhaps a part from a ride to the beach - which could be done on a algae oil bus?? :)
-The only needed equipment is a surfboard and a swimsuit - both can be eco-friendly made:

22. Street Skaters
- Hey no carbon usage in the use!  Get around for free :) 
again no parks need to be made and ecofriendly boards are available:

23. Chin lone-
Check out this amazing Myanmar sport.  It reminds me of a jazzed up, meditative version of hacky sack.  They need a small soccer-like ball and a people standing in a circle.  It's beautiful to watch, and it can be done anywhere :)  It's not about winning or losing, but how beautifully the game is played.

If the environment needs to be altered too much for the sport to take place.. I would say its a no go. 

Football, soccer, even snowboarding take a lot of resources to maintain environments in a certain way.. not to mention golf.  They can also leave behind quite the consuming trail - from out of towners and everyone knows the kind of junk eaten on game days! 

NGO's -- And these aren't necessarily green, but if the management is done right, they can definitely be green and wonderful additions to all communities.

24. Animal Sanctuaries
Taking in abandoned animals and nursing them back to health

25. Orphanages
Taking care of those who have no homes

How to make your workplace more sustainable.

Are you stuck in a job where it feels impossible to make a positive difference in the world?
Do you feel that it is almost impossible for your workplace to make any kind of positive change to help the planet?

Here are few small things you can do at the workplace to make a big difference.

Any Profession:

-Bring your own lunch, and re-usable water container
     -Eating out is not only expensive, but you can pretty much guarantee that the restaurant uses conventional produce (non-organic) and most likely doesn't compost.  If you are eating out at a fast food joint, the food is pretty much toxic and in a short 5 minutes a whole tray full of waste has been accumulated.  The more you can avoid plastic water bottles, the better for sea and land life!

-Resist temptation to get anything from a vending machine
    -These products are overly processed, involve a lot of energy to make, leave behind a plastic trail, and take a lot of energy to digest.  Bring your own healthy snacks, carrots, cucumbers, nuts and seeds, be prepared for a long day at work.  Plan ahead of time what you may feel like eating.  Once your body is hungry - there is no control over your cravings.  But if you can plan and shop while you are full and can think of the healthiest options for snacks, and you 'forget' your money or your change at home, you will be left with some great options when you start feeling a bit hungry :)

-Get sustainably sourced paper products
-Where are your paper products coming from?  Unfortunately much of the paper we use today comes from unsustainably sourced trees which were planted to replace of beautiful rainforests around the world.  The destruction is devastating.  However, we can make a difference, we need to focus on buying recycled product, post-consumer products or if not available then from sustainably managed local trees.  Think about all of the paper products not just paper to write on - toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, etc.
-If you can get a bunch of cloth napkins to be used as paper towels and napkins, take turns in the office bringing them home and washing them every week.
-make a box for used papers - the ones with writing on only 1 side can be collected and sewed into a new notebook!  They can also be cut up and glued on one side as a post-it-note replacement.
-Even better, laminate the papers you plan to use in your home-made notebook.  Make notes with an erasable marker, once those notes no longer apply, wipe it clean.  Use it again :)

-Turn off the lights
Sometimes businesses use so many lights, when they could make do with half the amount.  Talk to your manager about the possibility of becoming more green, using less lights, turning off lights when not in use, what if you could cut your electricity bill in half as a company?  Where could that money then be allotted to?  Maybe you could hold a competition among different sections of your company about who could save more electricity.. with the saved money in the end throw an office party.

Change the lightbulbs, now there are lightbulbs - check out my previous blog - that last for decades and can save $10 a year on your electricity bill.

-Does your company recycle?  When I was working at an environmental consulting company, we took turns taking care of the recycling boxes.  There was hardly any recycling in town, but I guess that was the advantage of commuting to work.  We took turns driving the weekly recyclables to our home towns and dropping it off at a center.  Sometimes glass needs to be turned in to a separate place, find out what's available where you work or live, see if you can save that much waste material from being dumped. 

This can be a tricky thing, but as long as it well managed it shouldn't be a problem.  If you have a little bit of land at your company, find out if you can make one!  Some places in the US actually charge more money the amount of trash you have in a week.  So much of what we throw out, is actually completely compostable!  It could be an easy way to save the company that weekly bill.  Not to mention, that if you have place for a compost at your workplace, you have place for a garden!  How awesome is that, go for a lunch break in your garden, get a few fresh tomatoes.. hey healthiest fast food ever! :)

Re-use and re-create cardboard boxes
No need to toss them, re-use them.  Make a take home art project out of them.  Ask your kids to paint them and decorate them.  Create a new filing cabinet made of decorated boxes.  Make folders out of them.  Make small boxes, or keep small boxes for keeping thumb tacks, rubber bands, paper clips, and staples.  Keep slightly larger boxes for organizing your papers or keeping your pens and pencils.  Make it fun.
This will help reduce  the need to buy all those plastic organizing products that are all too popular. 

Dont be afraid to get creative!
How can you add joy to the workplace??  Think of the Pakistani fish seller in England - 1lb fish song!  He became famous over night!  I heard another story where a bagger at a grocery store started putting happiness quotes in every grocery bag that he packed, people used to stand in really long lines in his row only, while the other cashiers stood unoccupied since the people really wanted to get a happiness quote.  It's the little things that count!  Being sustainable is also about being happy and spreading happiness.  :)

Cleaning Services:

Green Cleaners
-Any job which uses chemicals, you may or may not have the authority to use a cleaner that is safer for the environment, but the most you could do is at least talk to your boss about how much money you could potentially save while switching to a more natural cleaner.  Offer to make the cleaner yourself and mention that its just as effective if not more than what you had been using.
- Vinegar works wonders, mixed with baking soda... creates a nice bubbly solution, mixed with lemon gives a nice scent.  Voila!

Check out the following website, there are many recipes for all sorts of surfaces

Save Bags
When emptying trash cans, reuse trash bags as much as possible.  If a trash isn't completely full, combine it with another trash in the building and save a bag in the process.  If the company isn't using green bags yet, maybe find a a cheap green bag that can be used instead of what had been the norm before. 

Re-usable/Compostable cleaning materials
There are plenty of sponges which are made of plant fibers.  So they decompose once you throw them out.  better yet, use rags, and wash them on a regular basis.  Skip paper products. 

Sales Representatives:
-If your job involves bagging, make the habit of first asking the customer if they would like a bag.  Many times, the customer is happily surprised that you even asked.  And they don't take a bag.  I worked at a clothing store a number of years ago, and I remember when people came in to return clothes, they often returned the bags with them!  I would re-use these bags!  Maybe they were a little crinkly, but hey it's still a bag!  Re-use bags when you can, who cares :)

You have a big opportunity here.  Expand your vision as a company.  Dedicate the growth of your company to a great cause.  Decide to donate 10% of profits to the rainforest, environmental awareness, or other green causes!
Set goals to meet environmental ideals monthly, yearly etc.  Try at reducing the companies carbon footprint - encourage car pooling, less eating out, incorporate some of the ideas listed throughout this page and research further, the amount the company can save using simple techniques will add up!  Encourage employees to get involved in the community, spend more time with family, make work fun and meaningful for them to come in, and different everyday. 

Invest in green technologies, alternative energies - solar, wind, geothermal, etc. 
Make sure healthy snacks are on the house and always available to employees - order from local organic vendors - carrot and celery sticks, etc. 
Get rid of your vending machines :) 

If you order company clothes, consider ordering organic cotton, support sustainable industries who are fair trade with all of their employees. 

If your business is about technology - how can you source materials closer to home?  Is there any kind of environmental company you can hire to help you make sure the environment is being taken care of in the process.  Make sure any place where you extract materials from, you clean up and make it as good as new.  Make sure no indigenous voices are being squashed out through the grapevine.  Visit your sites personally, make sure they are ethical and secure. 

Remember money isn't everything, most people are interested in doing good in the world.  And many people are willing to pay for it.  The higher your ethical value, the more customers will flock to you.

- think of whole foods! :)

one more time

So apparently we have still been getting requests to donate on behalf of Sadhana Forest Kenya...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

100 ways to help the planet

Here are some of the ways in which we can do our part to help out some of the pollution, global warming.. etc. 

1- Eat whole plant based foods - not only will your body, mind and soul thank you for the added nutrients to your pallate, you are helping the world more significantly than any other one thing you do.  You reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, anxiety, arthritis, obesity - saving that many medications from being made and also being eventually flushed down the toilet.  Connecting to whole plant foods, releases our support on factory farms and the suffering caused to thousands of animals daily in those concentration camps.  A reduce in the demand on animal foods reduces animals on the farms and their emissions- methane - a compound 20x more of a greenhouse gas than CO2.  The consumption of plants supports wildlife and forests, as animal farming has taken up more than 70% of the amazon rainforest either by directly raising cows or raising grains for animal feed on its soils.  (check out the documentary, "Eating" by Mike Anderson).  Eating plants is great karma!  It feels good on the conscious and the soul!

2- Buy less -  Be a conscious buyer, everything you buy leaves an impact on this world, are you supporting people who are respecting the earth and its resources, who use re-usable, recyclable material?  Who don't take advantage of indigenous cultures or developing countries?  Is there product in order to better the world or your health?  What kind of impact does the production of that product leave on the earth, is there a lot of pollution involved in it's creation? 

3- Make it yourself!  Develop your talents, make you own gifts for people.  Experiment with making, rice milks, soy milk ( I just bought a nut milk maker, amazing!), make your own breads, experiment with homemade pickles, cereals, homemade salt (I actually just made some tonight, cut up celery into teeny pieces and dry it in a dehydrator for a few hours!  An amazing salt substitute and great for the health!)  Can you sew?  Can you knit?  Can you paint?  Use material laying around the house, get creative. 

4- Fix it yourself!  Why throw anything away!  Superglew it, tape it, re- sew it, cut it up and make something new.  Get creative.  I keep so many jars and glasses, I use them for all sorts of things!  They are handy to have, and eliminates my need to go buy stuff!

5-Buy Local!  Support your farmer and your community!  Help your neighbors, get to know your farmers, tell him your interest in sustainable farming, ask him/her about how he/she grows his/her crops, offer your help to increase the man power on the farm and reduce fossil fuel needs! 

6- Buy organic and sustainably sourced foods - non gmo - support those doing it right!  alleviate the pollution load on the planet!

7- Avoid products that contain known products which are extremely damaging to the environment - for example - palm oil.. most peanut butters contain them, most butters, check twice, read your labels!  If you don't understand the ingredient.. forget it, find a more natural solution.

8- Use alternative products - for example use olive oil for lotion instead of lotion.. actually it feels great on the skin and maybe even moisturizes much better than lotion, use tooth powder or tooth soap instead of toothpaste.. its more natural and better for your teeth!  Use natural clay instead of baby powder, make home made food for your pets rather than buy it.  Get creative!  I used flax seed as shampoo before and its absolutely amazing for the hair!  It takes a bit to get the seeds out.. but hehe maybe if they are ground finer it wouldnt have been a problem.. however it is a great soap substitute :)

9- Don't take medicine if you dont have to.  Use medicine as your last resort.  If there is any way you can experiment with nutrition, alternative treatments, do it!  Don't support big industry support local healers and your own bodies ability to heal itself, learn to listen :)

10- Get out of the house! Exercise - the more active you are the less likely you will be spending excess amount of time and energy in front of energy consuming devices.  Enjoy the Earth!  The more active you are the more you will realize how beautiful the world is and how important it is for us to preserve it in a way in which humans can thrive :)

11- Work less - give up your monetary goals, spend more time with family, prioritize people and happiness rather than money.  The more focused we are on money the more we miss the big picture.. LIFE.. being alive :)  The more we miss our compassionate side and our ability to help each other out when needed.  Let's take a breather, let's have a good time. 

12.  Donate - it doesn't matter how little or how much you earn, billionaires have billion dollar problems, and beggars have zero dollar problems.  Give whatever you can to organizations you care about.  Share the love, help keep beautiful places, help support indigenous people and their knowledge, support people who work to expose the truth, who care about the health of people, happiness and peace in this world. 

13. Be nice -  one bad comment has its effects, one bad comment can ripple the whole world 'round till it comes back.  You never know what those kind of ripples can eventually create.  Don't take the chance.. be nice, even if you feel bad on the inside.. don't be afraid to ask for help.  Let's spread peace.  It always comes back.

14.  Care more than what you think the other deserves.  Everyone deserves a chance, everyone deserves to be listened to and to be cared after.  The more we can care, the more everyone else will care, and the more everyone else cares, the better of a place we can create to live in everyday. 

15.  Don't give in to temptation.  Just one more brownie, just one more cookie.. Just that new car, just one more ... whatever it is.. so what.. everything is impermanet.. don't let greed get the best of you.  Bless your neighbors who decided to move into a bigger 'nicer' home.  Who cares, be grateful for what you have.  It's okay.  In the end, it's gratitude that will get us further ahead.. not bigger and better stuff. 

16.  Don't give up.  Never give up your goals, your passion.  Your passion will inspire others to live their passion.  Do what you love, do what makes you want to get up in the morning happily!  Don't live your life in a cubicle.. express yourself.  Express your dreams.  It has the capacity to change the world!  Don't doubt yourself!

17.  Be adventurous! Get outside of your bubble.  Try something new!  Take that new class being offered at your local college.  Try something different, try something opposite from what you ever thought you could do!  The more we understand that which is different from us, the more well rounded we all become.  The more open minded we are and the more we are open to alternative solutions!  Break free!

18.  Pray.  Pray everyday in everyway that you know how.  Pray to your ancestors, to god, to the universe, to the animals, for your friends for your relatives for the planet.  Give thanks for your life and your gifts, for your friends gifts and your families gifts and the gifts of the world.  Pray for a happy, peaceful planet. 

19.  Set goals for yourself.  Everyday write down your goals, your dreams your motivations.  Check them off throughout the day.. throughout the weeks.  Go out of your comfort zone to make sure they happen!  Accomplish small things and maybe even big things!  Actually the smaller the better, small goals gather momentum to push big goals along!  Strive for your best :)

20.  Make everyday fun and exciting.  Do something crazy, do laundry in your bathtub, take a shower in the rain, build a compost toilet, start composting in your kitchen, make a recipe you have neverrrrr tried before, take your cat for a walk.  Be crazy.  Gathering fun experiences in your life, will create a life you will never forget and many stories that are much cooler to talk about than what you saw on tv last night.

21.  Don't believe anything you hear or see. This is said so often, that we don't even realize what this means anymore.  We are inundated with messages from the media every single day.  They do not have our health on their minds, they are catering to our weaknesses in order for us to support their businesses, never take anything at first glance.  Don't trust their recommendations for our lives, don't believe what they say we need or what will make us cool or sexy.  It's all rubbish.  Develop you, develop yourself.  Don't be fulled by their tricks. 

22. Watch documentaries.  They aren't called documentaries for no reason.  These are made by passionate people who have dedicated their lives to a cause.  You may or may not agree.. who cares.. open your mind, learn something new. 

23.  Go a day without plugging one item into the grid.. See what its like!

24.  Fill up your tires  - some of these we have heard a million times, but it does make a different

25.  Use a bicycle, a scooter, a moped, something else?? How about your feet! Yes!

26.  Volunteer!  Get out there, help your community!  Do something awesome!  Don't be afraid to say yes!  The world will provide for you, don't be afraid :)

27.  Have sustainability on the mind!  Bring it to your work, bring it to your house, your lifestyle.. in what ways can you reduce consumption, help someone in need, use alternative energy.. get creative.

28. READ - read everything, don't limit yourself to your favorite novel set or magazines.  Expand your horizon, pick a random book from the library.  Learn something that previously repulsed you.  Seeing more sides to a situation can develop peace, awareness and compassion.

29.  Give away your stuff - Anything that doesnt add beauty, knowledge or purpose in your life on a regulary basis, get rid of.  Give it to your local thrift shop, sell it on ebay, ship it to a country in need.  Let's share! Make a business out of re-creating your unwanted stuff into treasures! 

30.  Stop listening to your thoughts.  Meditate more!  Realize that nothing in your brain belongs to you.  Its like a drifting cloud, don't attach to an outcome.  Don't attach to your reality.  Just be.  Allow life to flow. 

31.  Forgive.  Forgive yourself, forgive your enemies, forgive your children, forgive your partner, forgive your parents, forgive your circumstances.. you can't change it, its not worth it to fight it.  Just let it be.. allow it.  Forgive it. 

32.  How can you dedicate your life to helping others?  Do it.  Do it, regardless of what it might give you.  But don't do it unwaranted, make sure that it's actually benefiting someone else.. don't do what you think would benefit someone else.. do what you can postively be sure of the positive benefit not only in that persons life.. but the surrounding environment - nature, the world, YOU, and anything else connected. 

33.  Learn a new language.  Connect to a different culture, delve in its pecularities, its differences its similarities, enjoy the new rhythym in your mouth. 

34. Don't support chemicals - stop buying them, stop ingesting them, stop producing them, stop spraying them, stop driving with them.  They don't support life.  Period.  That's it. 

35.  Eat less - be conscious, be wise.  Most cultures who lived to be the longest, didn't indulge, and it was considered taboo to overreat.  Be mindful. 

36. Share your life!  Write a blog, tell your friends about the wonderful things in your life, share with them the secrets to your success, tell others about what you have learned.  The more we know the more we all benefit.  We all have such wisdom, let's relish in that! 

37.  Preserve your heritage. Not to the extent of becoming extremist, but to the extent that traditional values are considered, and languages are not lost.  To the extent that modern western life isn't the ultimate goal... Relish in the traditional ways.. the ones that make sense and support our neighbors, environment, wildlife and animals. 

38.  Get involved.  Write to your local leaders, politicians, share your voice!  Go to meetings, speak up about what is important to you.  Share it with school committees or other organizations in your area. 

39.  Never throw away electronics or batteries - Always always find a recycling center for these items.  Very toxic and damaging to the environment.

40.  Re-use bags.  Don't use the little bags in the produce section, or if you do.. wash them out when you finish the produce, dry them and use them again when you go back to the store.  Better yet.. if you go to the bulk section, bring your own containers! 

41.  Triple Challenge - Only buy products in the fresh produce section at your supermarket!  Try to avoid all package foods!  All packaged products.. can you do it?

42. If you happen to be in a country who uses paper products -napkins, toilet paper, paper towels - figure out ways you can cut consumption, or substitute them out.  Can you use water instead, cloth products?  Is there an option to buy from sustainably managed sources?

43.  Buy fairtrade

44. Stop using soap - they say that in order to absorb vitamin D from the sun you can't use soap for 24 hours after sun exposure.. not sure if it is true.. but I hardly use soap in the summer for that reason and surprisingly water and clay are pretty effective cleaners. 

45.  Go to a school of eyesight camp if you have glasses.  I have actually been meaning to go, because apparently its possible to improve your eyesight naturally.  I have yet to try but its something worth looking into. 

46.  Be nice to animals.  They dont have a voice, they dont have powerful weapons, lets be compassionate, they are co-habitants of this earth, lets respect them. 

47.  The less gadgets the better.  All of these little electronic devices pay a toll on our planet.  Let's be mindful about how many new phones we buy in a year.. cameras, tvs, etc. 

48. Read environmental news as often as possible. Be up to date, know the facts. 

49.  Speak your mind.  If you know something, share it, don't let it burn inside of you. 

50. If you see something you dont like, speak up.  Don't let something be passed up because of social pressures or anxieties, if it bothers you, most likely it bothers others.  The power of asking for what you want and making it clear what you like and dont like in this world. 

51.  Use local materials to build your home.. or repair..

52. Go to bed with the sun, get up with the sun.  Reduce your consumption of lighting.

53.  If you wish to have kids, really consider adopting.  Help those children who don't have other options. 

54.  Don't do things just because you think you are supposed to.  You are a free person.  Do what you want to do.. Who cares if no one else is doing it.. actually all the more reason to do it! 

55. Eat more greens!

56. Cook your food less - its better nutritionally speaking, its better for your health, its easier on the planet, it uses less resources. 

57.  Buy more fruit and nuts from trees- this supports perenial plants, which supports soil health, which supports water quality, which supports wildlife and human health.  We are all connected. 

58.  Never make a decision without considering its impact to the people who will live 7 generations ahead of us. 

59.  Move to an ecovillage - support those doing it right!

60. choose a career which serves the world!

61.  Bury your weapons.. we don't need a world with them. 

62.  Go visit a beautiful place on earth.. fall in love! 

63 Go visit a gold mine which has had devastating effects on the locals.  See first hand the destruction made by us.  Don't just read about it, experience it. 

64.  Don't support industries with no real purpose - diamonds, gold, - these are just for show.. they cause massive amounts of pain and destruction in our world.. for what reason?  To show off what we have? It doesn't make sense.

65.  Shower with a partner.. save water!

66. Drive less

67. Love more!

68.  Stop wearing perfume.  Be natural.. too many chemicals in our world as it is.  Essential oils are okay :)

69.  Get geothermal energy

70. solar

71. wind

72. or another alternative!  Get creative! 

73.  Live out of the city.. and don't commute! 

74.  Create your life in a way that what you do directly supports nature.. grow wildlife.. sell wild dandelion leaves! 

75.  Dance. 

76.  Sing

77.  Make art of waste

78.  Start a compost in your yard

79 Build yourself a vegetable garden!

80.  Better yet, allow nature to take over your yard and learn native plants.. learn native plant recipes and enjoy the abundance! 

81.  Travel to the opposite side of the globe.. to learn everything you thought you knew but didnt. 

82. Be grateful for what you have.

83.  Enjoy the little things in life.

84.  Come up with your own list and share it :) 

85. Challenge: Consume more vegetables than grains.. :)

86.  Learn about almost extinct varieties of vegetables in your region.. do what you can to bring them back! Plant them, share them, talk about them! 

87.  Do not breed animals!  We have so many animals in this world who need homes.. there is no need to bring animals into this world at this point just for the sake of a pure breed.  Forget it.. give love to what we already have. 

88.  Support wildlife.. don't litter, be mindful about hiking in nature preserves.. treat it with respect.

89.  Stop consuming milk, meat, fish and honey.. it doesn't serve your health, it doesn't serve the world. 

90.  Recycle your microwave.  Honestly , it's good for nothing. 

91.  Request companies to stop using so much packaging.. why do we need all of that stuff just to be thrown away?

92.  Don't buy bubble wrap.. if it comes to you.. fine... keep it reuse it.. but no need to add more bulk of waste in the world.

93.  Tell your loved ones what they mean to you on a regular basis. Life is too short to not express yourself or your love fully.. Let them know.

94.  turn off lights..

95.  Start a monthly stuff swap with friends, family or neighbors.. host it and tell others to bring things that are nice but they don't use anymore.. set up everything nicely in your home.. whatever doesn't get taken home by somebody else.. give away to charity.

96.  If you hear something you don't believe, look it up.. you might be surprised to find it may be true. 

97.  Take public transit

98.  Remember to walk your dog on a regular basis.. he/she depends on you! 

99.  Give atleast one hug a day!

100. Remember to smile.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  It's okay.. Don't take life sooo seriously. 

All the best.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sustainable Cell Phone plus DIY lighting

For those of you who are interested:  Check out this cell phone, it is 70%  recycled plastic, and 80% recycled paper in the packaging..

In regards to lighting:

Basically cut a hole in your roof and stick a a plastic bottle in its place!! LOVE IT

Sustainable Healthcare

I've recently started taking care of my grandmother who has been diagnosed with Thyroid cancer.  It has been an on and off problem for 15 years.  She has already had all of the conventional treatments multiple times and at this point, there is no more thyroid to be taken out of her system, there is not enough tissue as it is to safely do any more operations to remove the tumors that have taken over her throat.  The doctor roughly implied she may only have less than a year left - perhaps a few months.  The tumors had been getting so large that it has been difficult for her to swallow - and in order to get anything down she needed lots of coffee and dressing on the whatever food she was eating.

She has been on multiple prescription medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as others to make up for her lack of a thyroid in her body.  She even was taking 6 extra strength pain killers daily just to get through the day because she has had severe arthritic pains her joints - due to some previous surgeries after crushing multiple bones in her body from a serious car accident.

At this point, most my of my family had accepted that this is the end of the line for her and that we all just need to enjoy while she is still around.

After spending enough time with my grandmother, I could see that she wasn't quite ready to give up yet.  Although the medical world had completely exhausted their resources on her and had nothing left to help her condition, she still had hope.

The very last thing the doctors were telling her to do, was to get a tube in her stomach, so she wouldn't have to worry about if her throat completely closed off.

This also sounded a little jarring to me.  I took my grandmother aside one day and asked her, if she would be willing to do something a little different and maybe a little crazy to see if it would have any positive impact on her health.

She agreed.

The program consisted of a week long fast on only vegetable juice.

Today is day 5, and I am honestly astonished by the results.

Through only juiced vegetables and few fruits the following has taken place in the last 5 days.

- She is completely off of her pain medication
-She is quit taking one of her cholesterol pills
-She is more mobile than she has been in a long time
-She has more energy
- She is looking brighter and brighter every day - her skin has taken on a glow!
-She is sleeping through the entire night without waking up at all! - She previously had woken up at least 3-4 times in a night because of all the pain she was in, and usually had to switch between the bed and her recliner to relieve different muscle groups
-the tightness in her neck has been reducing
   - even a few of the tumors have felt "lose"
-Her digestive track has been completely cleaned out
- She has lost 9 pounds - she is 5'6 and started out last week at 191 lbs.
-She is swallowing with much less difficulty - she used to wake up in the night and realize that she needed to swallow but took a bit of effort to do so, now she no longer wakes up with this problem.. and doesn't actually wake up at all until morning!
-The swelling in her legs and joints is completely gone!  She has no pain, unless she twists in a certain direction or lifts something really heavy- which she wouldn't do anyway.. so for regular movements there is no pain.
-Previously every few days she would have a sharp pain in her neck - as if it the tumor (s) was (were) growing.. and she hasn't been experiencing that.
-She had previously been saying that she is done traveling- and that she won't be going out anywhere anymore because she doesn't want to be burden to anyone.  Now she is saying that she is feeling so good that she wants to travel, and visit friends and family who don't live in this state!

She has also been recording her own progress in a little journal, which I think is great.  She has been so happy with this week, she is looking forward to more of the program.

I slowly introduced a few solid foods to her in the past couple of days which included : oatmeal and one lentil stew.  She didn't seem to have any issues with that, and she has also be eating small amounts of fruit on her own.

Come Monday I will be preparing solid foods for her, most likely consisting of a :
Steamed vegetable
fresh salad - grated carrot/beet/cucumber - whatever I feel like making
vegetable juice
small serving of a whole grain - or a porridge made of the grain.
lentil or bean soup
Greens! and a green smoothie

- this will most likely be too much food for her, but we will see how it goes come this monday, how she is feeling.  I think what I will do is suggest a fresh vegetable juice fast 1 day per week.

Already she has been getting a bit of attention from the retirement community she is currently in.  One other from the home she is living in his interested in the program.

So this is all very interesting for me.. I am just ecstatic to see such wonderful results.

The book which guided me on juice fast recipes was :
The Juice Lady's Guide to Juicing for Health
by, Cherie Calbom MS

It has some really wonderful recipes!
They mentioned how good artichokes are for cancer in the book, and I was eagerly looking for a juice recipe which included artichokes.

I finally found one and happily made the recipe.. only to find that my juicer almost caught on fire, because of all of the fiber in the vegetable!! I had to do it with extreme care and continuously clean out the juicing filter.

But the funny thing about it was, that they had called for a jerusalem artichoke.. not an artichoke.. ooops.. no wonder.

Anyway.  There are many many incredible reads out there on how diet can cure heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high bp, high cholesterol, etc...  as well as documentaries.. just check out documentaries on netflix --- there is a whole section on health related ones.. which I recommend them all .. It has really been an eye opener for me to learn that many of our current day ailments are not only preventable but also curable and reversible.

All the best,

May we all have good health


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A twist on Permaculture

My first encounter of permaculture was 4 years ago.  I, at the time was applying for Greencorp, an environmental advocacy agency.  I had been working on this application for over a year, out of thousands of applicants they choose 30 people per year to hire on to the company.

In college I was an environmental policy major and I was dedicated to and passionate about everything I was learning.  I even considered applying for law school.

There was one essay question for the Greencorp application, "If you could successfully install one program nationwide for the environment, what would it be?"  This was a fascinating question for me.  I had absolutely no idea what I would do.  If I could succeed at anything, what would it be?

Lucky for me, the year before I graduated, I studied abroad.  It was the same year I decided that I would apply to Greencorp my final year of college.  It was lucky because my year abroad, I had ample of free time on my hands.  I studied in Norway and basically I had virtually no classes during the week and no homework, they emphasized at the school the need for students to reflect and get to know themselves.  This was a very different kind of an opportunity for me, since, somehow, every piece of electronic equipment that I had previously had before going to Norway, was either stolen or mysteriously or not working/broken.

My computer had been stolen, my phone broke, my camera broke, my mp3 player broke - very depressing.. I feel like one last thing went out of commission but I am not recalling what it could have been.

The 2 things that kept me company in that room, in all of my spare time was a journal, a wall to stare at, my danish/english dictionary and I managed to maintain one electronic device - a walkman!! LOL.
I know, I'm a bit oldschool.

I can't tell you how many hours I sat on my bed, staring at the wall.  Often I would stare out the window.  The scenery in Norway is absolutely breathtaking, I was very lucky to have been able to have that experience.

I managed to read to letter j or k in my danish english dictionary.  And I have no idea how many times I listened to Coldplay.

With all of that time, I was really able to think about that dang essay question.  I wrote pages of ideas down in my notebook about what I would do.

Over the 5 months I was in Norway I slowly added more detail to all of the ideas.  It would be interesting to go through the list again, today.  I'll have to write another blog about it!!

But I narrowed it to one thing.

Building greenhouses across the nation - USA - I had been referring to.  It's hard for me to remember all of the details now, but basically it was about getting healthy local food options available to everyone.  And teaching each person about the importance of growing your own food.

Speed forward a bit - Remember it took me most likely 8 months or more to refine this idea.  By the time I was getting ready to submit my essay - almost exactly a year later.  My brother was helping me revise my final draft.

After working with me on this draft, he shows me a video, that changed the entire course of my life.

He showed me a video called, 'greening the desert'

It was a permaculture video about Geoff and Nadia Lawton creating an oasis out of a completely barren landscape.  I saw this film and something inside of me just clicked.

This is it, this is exactly what I want to do.

Turned out my application was accepted by Greencorp and they wanted a phone interview.

I was so extremely nervous for my phone interview, and it was the strangest thing, while I was speaking with the lady, I realized that this wasn't what I wanted to be doing.  I didn't want to spend my life arguing with the world about how important the world is!! How important greenery, nature and wild animals are!  I wanted to be actively creating these places, actively protecting these areas in tangible ways where I could see the results on a regular basis.

The phone interview somehow was so awkward because I realized I didn't want to do it, and I'm pretty sure simultaneously the lady realized that I didn't want to do it.  I didn't get accepted but it was great!

This new thing, Permaculture, was gonna be my life. I wanted to dedicate myself to it fully and know everything there was to know about it.

Although I grew up on a farm.  I felt I really knew nothing when it came to actually knowing anything about what permaculture was apart from .. creating beautiful spaces!

I started researching every avenue of possibility within the permaculture movement in the US.

I was looking for the longest apprenticeship/ internship/learning possibility that I could find.  I don't know how I managed to do this, but the longest one I could find that included a PDC was 2 months.  This was not long enough for me! I wanted to become an expert, I was looking for something in the term of years!  But regardless of my search I found nothing.  Which is strange because at this point in time, I know of several places that offer long term  apprenticeship programs.

I decided to take it on, and in my search I also found Rico Zook.  Voila, you've come full circle.  This blog was originally created to document my experience in India.

Welcome to the story behind the scenes!!

Rico Zook at that time had a permaculture site in New Mexico.  I had been considering going there before heading off to India, however, since I was already studying in NY, it turned out for me to be easier to go to the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute in Ithaca for an apprenticeship along with my PDC.

I was interested in also going to India, because I had felt that in school I had learned so much about the environment in all parts of the world, but I felt that none of it really could be validated unless I actually saw it first hand.  How can we be one world, when so many nations use more resources than they can produce.  And they take those resources from nations who give more resources than they can re-create.  How can we know the destruction if we don't see it first hand.  How can we even know if there isn't any destruction if we don't see it first hand?

I knew I wanted to study more on permaculture after studying in Ithaca, I have always been fascinated with tropical climates and I was ready for an adventure.  I was ready to face my fear of the unknown.  And I was also ready to embrace a new culture and a new land.

Despite my family being a little against my will to go, I was determined, nothing at that point could hold me back from my heart felt decision to take the leap of faith and learn something new.

India turned out to be one of the best, craziest decisions I have ever made in my life.

Not only did I learn more about my self, the world and life in general than I probably ever did up until that point, but I met my husband!  Which of course while I wrote the blog at that time, I was very careful to ever mention him or our time together because, well I had a lot of family reading my blog and keeping up with my travelings from afar.. .lol it definitely would have been a little much to find out your daughter was engaged from her blogpage!!

An email was bad enough.. Lol... anyway.. that is a totally different story..

My point was about permaculture, and how my perception of permaculture has changed dramatically over the years.

I used to think that permaculture was this magical knowledge about growing plants where it was virtually otherwise impossible to grow them.. But now I view permaculture as such a a broad spectrum of light.  When I received my PDC, I felt like I wanted to learn about everything.
- aquaculture,
-plant relationships
-food forests
-native plants
list goes on and on and on and on.

I bought book after book reading everything I could get my hands on, regarding the specifics of botany to how to restore a polluted piece of land with mushrooms.

I loved the essence of permaculture.  When I started learning the specifics, I realized there was absolutely no end to learning.  It's about creation.  It's about living as one with your surroundings.

Today I do live differently than maybe I could have ever imagined for myself, even a year ago.

But I am passionate and excited everyday, because I feel my life has purpose.  I feel that in my little way I am contributing to the greater whole 1% towards a more sustainable planet.  And that fills me with so much joy.

I have taken on this project with Sadhana Forest to help raise money for an eco-project in Kenya - which is ever rewarding, I've started something else which is, to me, just as much a permaculture project.  If you break down the word permaculture, it means, perma-culture -permanent culture.

What enables our culture to be permanent?  Not other than a lifestyle which is sustainable correct?  What entails a sustainable lifestyle?  Living the way humans were meant to live... and in what way is that?

Bare with me on this one.  This may be where the title gets its name.  In no way am I regarding what I am saying as ultimate, but as of now, so far in my life, this is how I view my world and how humans can live which is sustainable.

- small units of people - with a reverence toward the elderly, and no categorization based on age.  Everyone works together and everyone helps each other.  Ages are intermixed, children and grandchildren assist the elderly.  Elderly assist in taking care of the children.  Everyone is responsible for proper management of resources and how many children are brought into the world.  No new land is allowed to be taken for homes.  The unit of people have to manage with what they have.  Everyone is equal, and all different skillsets are honored within a group.

-Food is simple, plant-based, non processed, mostly raw and is used as medicine.  No animal products are used, except perhaps in an emergency.

-the purpose of life is joy.  the purpose of life isn't about climbing any social ladders of success or trying to attain more than your neighbor, its about having a good time, enjoying the beauty around you and inside of you.  It's about laughing at the wonderful simple things and enjoying a good hug.

- Everyone has a reverence for life.  All life.  Every tree, every rock, every cloud, every bug, life is never taken for fun.  Life is honored, respected and admired.  We use everything in moderation and with common sense, we do not take more than our needs, and we leave enough behind for all other life aspects to thrive as well.

I could easily make this list go on and on.. but it's getting late.. and I haven't gotten to the whole reason I am writing this blog!  :)

Don't you love how long winded I am :)

My grandmother has had cancer for over 15 years.  A few months ago it has gotten to the point where it's very difficult for her to swallow, because the tumors are lining her throat.  The doctor really has no options left for her, as she has already undergone several treatments and surgeries to remove all sorts of growths and body tissue.  The only thing left is to put a tube in her stomach to feed her and wait til the end.

My grandmother doesn't like this outcome very much.  Neither do I.

A week ago, I asked her, if she wanted to do a crazy experiment, which actually may not be so crazy after all.

She was so happy to even have an option of such, she readily agreed.

She has always been a lover of food.  A lover of every single kind of food, yet mostly just animal based foods.  I am not sure she has ever gone a day without meat, or milk.

I offered to help her do a juice fast.

Today is day 2 of the experiment, and so far, it's going well.

She is funding all of the vegetable material, and I am getting up every morning eager to make juice!  Day 1 I made 7 juices for her.  I realized that she doesn't eat a whole lot.  So we will be reducing that number to 4.

In helping my grandmother in whatever way I can.  It may be a stretch, but to me, it's permaculture.  It's taking care of our elders, it's promoting natural medicine as opposed to large corporate industries, it's promoting as much local organic produce as possible.

If this works, if this juice fast works, it will most likely have huge effects on the town I live in.  Maybe it won't, I really have no idea.  But the possibility of this kind of an option spreading, of gaining strength through organic fresh produce, is just a delight to me.

The more people who become interested in whole plant based foods, the more we can support those farmers doing it right.  The more we support the farmers doing it right, the more we don't fuel the industries that destroy our natural, beautiful world.

This is why, me, making juice for my grandma everyday, is in essence, one of the most amazing permaculture projects to date.

And even if nothing comes of it, at least I know that for those times that I provided her meals, those meals were making a positive impact on our world.  And of course, the fact that I get to spend more time with my awesome grandma.  And that's what counts.

Thanks for tuning in... more on the this later :)

I know I know.. super long.. lol oops.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2 weeks left!

Just a reminder,

We have exactly 2 weeks left of our fundraising campaign on indiegogo for the Sadhana Forest Reforestation Project in Kenya.
The team has really been working hard and contacting as many folks as we could possible manage,
It would be greatly appreciated if the word could be spread :)  It's a fantastic project reducing foreign food dependency and reinvigorating soils which are currently unable to support much life.  It's a great opportunity to give back to the earth as well as creating green livelihoods for those who live there.

We've almost raised half of what we need in order to actually start the project officially in Kenya!  Help us make it to our goal!

Thanks :)

UPDATE this link no longer accurate, to donate to this organization go here:

The Cookbook Project

I had the opportunity while I was in Sadhana Forest to meet an amazing couple doing great work.  Their names are Alissa and Adam.  They have a really amazing story which you can be read about below, in how they started doing the work that they currently do.

Basically they both came to the conclusion that something needed to be done about this growing culture of disconnectedness from our food.

They developed beautifully empowering programs for kids and adult alike, to reconnect to their favorite recipes in a fun, healthy and lighthearted way.

They travel the globe holding kid's workshops and teaching educators how to carry on the movement in their local areas through incorporating children in the food scene while making it interesting and inspiring for them.

A few of the values they teach:
Healthy eating through whole grains, whole foods, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, reduced consumption of cholesterol foods - animal protein.  Local and organic. Recycling and composting.

I have actually just started their online local leadership program.

So far its very well put together and wholesome, they have developed many inspiring activities for kids.

So, we will see how it all works out :)

Read more about their project here:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Palm Oil

I had never gotten around to researching myself, but I had vaguely seen and heard that the creation of palm oil plantations can be a very devastating process, and that rainforests were being cut down in order to harvest palm oil - either directly or by planting the palm oil tree plantations once the forest was gone.

This has been driving many rainforests to the brink of their existence along with the animals and people who call these places home.

My husband and I, have become extremely mindful in the supermarket about which products we buy and what ingredients they contain.  Doing our best to avoid anything with palm oil. 

I decided to research a little more about palm oil.

And, can I tell you there is a lot of information on the web!  Many are saying that it's one of the world's top threats,even more so then the use of fossil fuels. 
One of the reasons for this is because the forests we are so hastily harvesting in order to grow these trees are immense carbon sinks for the planet.  Once these trees are cut, all of the carbon that has been stored throughout the forest's existence goes into the atmosphere.  That is pretty intense.

It's also said that 50% of all products in the grocery store contain palm oil.
Biodiesel production from palm oil is in demand globally, and as mentioned before is more damaging than regular petroleum.  For a better biodiesel option check out my previous blog on biofuel made from algae. 

If you do a google search engine for 'Palm oil'.  You can easily find a bunch of videos and articles about the social injustices and environmental destruction. 

But of course palm oil is one culprit and paper trees are the other.  Most likely, USA is one of the biggest users of paper on the Earth. 

Many books are not made from ethically sourced materials.  So books made from recycled paper -- lets start requesting this as consumers! 
Check out this website for more information:

The most commonly stated endangered animal due to palm oil plantations is the orangutan and sumatran tigers.

Here are a few organizations really doing a lot of work to help this problem. 

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil - NGO working to create more sustainably sourced Palm oil
Nature Tropicale
Green peace
Rainforest rescue

The following are a few interesting excerpts from wikipedia on palm oil: 
- some are postive excerpts about palm oil.  But it is important as a consumer to learn to discern which products are healthy for the world to support and which aren't.   If in question, buy local as much as you can.  Know your farmer.. or BE your own farmer.  Let's bring back nature into our daily lives :) 

"A 2011 analysis of 23 countries showed that for each kilogram of palm oil added to the diet annually, there was an increase in ischemic heart disease deaths. The increase was much smaller in high-income countries."[95]

"PT Carrefour Indonesia reiterated its commitment to exclusively source for sustainable palm oil products by 2015.[82] In August of that same year, RSPO marked one million hectares of certified sustainable land, bringing the volume of sustainable oil to over 5 million tonnes.[83"]"

"Palm oil producers have been accused of various human-rights violations, from low pay and poor working conditions[62] to theft of land[63] and murder.[64] However, some social initiatives use palm oil profits to finance poverty alleviation strategies. Examples include the financing of Magbenteh hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone through profits made from palm oil grown by small local farmers,[65] the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance's Food Security Program, which draws on a women-run cooperative to grow palm oil, the profits of which are reinvested in food security,[66] or the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's hybrid oil palm project in Western Kenya, which improves incomes and diets of local populations.[67]"

In Kenya--
 "Since 1993 a new hybrid variety of cold-tolerant, high-yielding oil palm has been promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in western Kenya. As well as alleviating the country's deficit of edible oils while providing an important cash crop, it is claimed to have environmental benefits in the region, because it does not compete against food crops or native vegetation and it provides stabilisation for the soil.[61]"

"Some Afro-Colombians claim that some of these new plantations have been expropriated from them after they had been driven away through poverty and civil war, while armed guards intimidate the remaining people to further depopulate the land, while coca production and trafficking follows in their wake.[58]"

Indonesia has been one of the biggest exporters of the oil, however it's said that,   "In Kalimantan, the activity of palm oil companies endangers the living space of Indigenous Tribes,[50] and orangutans. "[51]

These are also taken from Wikipedia but it refers them as having unclear sources, but could most likely be easily researched,

"According to Hamburg-based Oil World trade journal,[citation needed] in 2008, global production of oils and fats stood at 160 million tonnes. Palm oil and palm kernel oil were jointly the largest contributor, accounting for 48 million tonnes or 30% of the total output. Soybean oil came in second with 37 million tonnes (23%). About 38% of the oils and fats produced in the world were shipped across oceans. Of the 60.3 million tonnes of oils and fats exported around the world, palm oil and palm kernel oil make up close to 60%; Malaysia, with 45% of the market share, dominates the palm oil trade."

"As the food vs. fuel debate mounts, research is turning to biodiesel production from waste. In Malaysia, an estimated 50,000 tonnes of used frying oils, both vegetable oils and animal fats, are disposed of yearly, without treatment, as wastes. In a 2006 study, researchers found used frying oil (mainly palm olein), after pretreatment with silica gel, is a suitable feedstock for conversion to methyl esters by catalytic reaction using sodium hydroxide. The methyl esters produced have fuel properties comparable to those of petroleum diesel, and can be used in unmodified diesel engines.[44]"

I know, this all can be overwhelming.  I guess the most valuable thing I learned from all of this research is to be more mindful.  Use less paper- if not totally stop using it.  Be more mindful of the products we buy, check ingredient lists.  If you can't pronounce the ingredients.. maybe put it back on the shelf, if it says palm oil.. just think about it.  Apparently palm oil is found in soaps, laundry detergent, dish soap, butters, processed foods, cereals, the list goes on. 

If you really feel motivated there are several organizations who are taking donations check out some of the ones I've listed earlier.  Contact local representatives, contact businesses who use palm oil- check to see if they are ethically sourced. 

We deserve to know the truth, we deserve to help each other out as people. 

There are solutions. 

In fact, we are the solution. 

Thanks for reading in!