Save the Planet!

Save the Planet!

Save the Planet placards

STOP saying that, because the planet is in no danger.

Just look around, Earth doesn’t need life; there are plenty of lifeless planets.

It’s all the living things on this Planet that are in danger.

The planet ‘Earth’ is going to keep on spinning for a long time yet. So instead you could say: Save us!  Save us!  but who would want to save us? We have to save ourselves.

Planet Earth is in no danger

To save ourselves, we have to consider what we need, you know, REALLY need.

What we really need:

There’s a much used ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ developed by Maslow, and whilst we may dispute some aspects of his theory, the basics are pretty sound. We need clean air, clean water, clean food and clean shelter. It’s very simple.

      Air          Water         Food        Shelter

Life on earth has evolved in such a way that these basic needs are met by the intertwined life cycles of all living things together with ‘Earths’ geology. That’s the earth doing its thing in a very efficient manner and at NO MONETARY COST to us. There is a natural cost, though, and that is that everything has to continue to do its share in the cycle of life.

Put simply, everything that grows needs to consume something to get the materials to build new cells. When a living thing dies, its’ cells have to become available to nourish new living things to grow. And non-living things need to remain available to this cycle of life; we are still very ignorant about our dependence on things like minerals in our physiology.

Without this cycle, there is no life, but there will still be a planet. Earth doesn’t need us, but we REALLY need Earth, we absolutely rely on the lifecycle that exists on earth.

Earth doesn’t belong to us

People pollution

The life cycle on Earth flourishes with so little effort on our part, that we have assumed it will always be so. Earth has met our most basics needs so well that we have moved on up the hierarchy of needs to the top level. We consider ourselves the smartest creatures, because we have fulfilled all our ‘needs’, and most of our ‘wants’. Well, some of us have.

We consider ourselves the smartest even though we’ve trampled others on the way; we’ve used, abused, extorted and defiled our way to the top. In our rush to be at the top of the life cycle, we’ve dirtied the air, fouled the water, and compromised our food. And now we’re starting to see our shelter on Earth at risk.

With dirty air we’re developing breathing problems and using air purifiers. With dirty water we’re seeing disease, and use water filters. With compromised food we’re suffering bad health and taking multivitamins and minerals. Broken shelters from floods, fires, storms and earthquakes see us scurrying to rebuild; but even with our increase in numbers we can’t keep up, people are without shelter in many places all over the earth. We’re not so smart, after all.

We’re not so smart because

Save the People placards

Our air filters don’t treat the dirty air problem.  Plants treat this problem; we need a better balance of plant life to clean our air.

Our water filters either don’t work well enough, or work so well that they remove even the beneficial minerals from the water. Nature cleans water for free, by evaporating it then bringing it back as rain, or by filtering it through the soil and bringing it back through springs that become creeks and rivers.

Our food is compromised by the use of chemicals which remove all the minerals from the soil. The plants and animals that we eat used to provide us with all the vitamins and minerals we need. Now we have to take ‘supplements’, for things which we used to get free, from nature.

Clean shelter. Here’s something we appear to have done pretty well at. But look closely, if you want to find a place to live that has clean air, clean water, and good soil, you have to look pretty hard. And these simple things are the basics of life; we’re not looking for anything fancy. Most places of shelter suffer an affliction, there is either

•    Pollution (dirt) from vehicles, a coal mine or power station dirtying the air, or
•    gas fracking poisoning the air, the soil and the groundwater, more dirt
•    pollution from industry dirtying the air, water and soil
•    pollution (dirt) from chemical monoculture farming running into the creeks, rivers and oceans
•    pollution (dirt) in the form of plastics and other things that don’t biodegrade; these things have been made with molecules which are now no longer available to the life cycle.
•    Or exposure to a new, violent climate that brings hurricanes or cyclones, floods and fires with ever increasing frequency. We have to invent better emergency shelters because we have so many natural disasters now, we’re just moving from crisis to crisis.

A plague of humans

The life cycle on Earth is out of balance.
We have seriously eroded the foundations of our life; not the planets’ life.

We work every day to fulfill our wants, but the supplies for our basic needs are fast disappearing.

Bee Hero can save us

We can’t bring them back, unless we can get really smart and work together with ALL living things to regain an ecosystem that is in balance.

The rare conditions that have prevailed on earth to enable life forms to evolve are rapidly changing to exclude the larger life forms, such as humans. Yes, you, it’s time to move;
Clean up the mess you’ve made on this planet, or find a new planet.

PS: If you’re thinking “Some would say that we’re doing very well, there are so many of us, we’re thriving!” Think about locust plagues. What happens to a plague of animals when they have devastated their food supply?
Plagues flourish into oblivion.

We carelessly kill the life that sustains us

Bee Hero poisoned EaHWhen we abuse Earth’s eco system, when we remove parts of the cycle of life, when we use parts of the lifecycle for ourselves exclusively, greedily, thoughtlessly… and then toss them away without a care but denying their use to all other living things; when we do these things we are destroying our own lives. We humans are spiteful, selfish, and self-destructive. And we’re so self-centered that most of us don’t see what we’re doing.

We’re cleverly making new materials, so cheap, so useful, but not biodegradable! We make plastics that are going to outlive the next 20 generations of our offspring (let’s hope Earth can sustain us that long!), but we use them only once then ‘throw them away’. But there is no ‘away’. The only true ‘away’ is the compost bin; nature’s recycling plant, the system that regenerates all parts of our cycle of life into new life, including human life.

Eviction Notice

Mother Nature will ultimately heal herself. But to do so she may have to evict the humans messing with her systems. And she doesn’t differentiate based on colour, creed, status or looks; she doesn’t see what sort of phone you use, who you cheer for at sport, or what you eat for dinner, if anything. She doesn’t check your bank balance or your gardening prowess. Everybody is on notice. Every child, every parent and grandparent, uncle and aunt, cousin and sibling is on notice. The message is pretty clear: Show consideration for all other living things, and fix what you’ve ruined. NOW!

I blame him!

Oh, it wasn’t you? You didn’t make any mess?? Oh I see, it was your brother, or your neighbour…

You can make up convincing stories about it, you can even believe those stories yourself, they can be soooo convincing. But in the end you’ll have to own up and clean up, or pay the price. Mother Nature knows it’s us who is messing with her, and she doesn’t accept credit or cash, regardless of currency.

Can we fix it?

We have to regain the balance between all living things.
We have to give back all the things we’ve taken.
It’s going to be difficult, because we don’t yet know how to return many of the things we’ve taken. But if we really are smart, one of us will work out an answer, which may lead to another answer; if we work on it we may be able to be creative instead of destructive.

We have to work until clean air prevails, clean water runs free, food thrives on land and in the sea, and homes are havens of safety. We ALL have to CHANGE what we do and how we do it, and we have to change QUICKLY.

So start now.

How to choose the best eco or green cleaning products; Global Awareness and Packaging (Part 4)

When selecting eco cleaning products, the Global Awareness step is often overlooked. Products can be safe and natural but not ‘eco’.  The decisions you make here will depend on your own views – so ask yourself:

4. Is it as environmentally friendly as possible?

Orangutans need rainforests.

Image source DeviantArt, by hatestock

Consider the many products that contain palm oil.  Palm oil may be labelled as plant oils, palmate etc. The trees that produce palm oil grow in massive plantations in places where tropical rainforests used to grow. Don’t be misled by claims that the palm oil is certified or ethically sourced. All palm oil plantations compete with rainforest for habitat. Without rainforests we are depriving animals of their habitat, the orangutan is an example. Participating in bringing about their extinction with knowledge and foresight, that’s not eco1, 2. Also, the rainforests have been described as ‘the lungs of the earth’. We need rainforests to clean the air, more than we need palm oil.

How eco is your cleaning product?

How eco is your cleaning product? Image Source DeviantArt by AleckJo

Another common ingredient which is not eco is peroxide, or oxygen whitener. Peroxide is a far better choice than chlorine or bleach (hazardous), both are used to whiten. However, the manufacture of hydrogen peroxide is energy intensive, and often derived from petrochemicals3 . Wear more coloureds, even tennis players wear colours now!

If you cannot get a local product, whenever possible select a product endorsed by a recognised Fair Trade Organisation4. Why should someone else suffer poverty on your behalf?

Do soap nuts wash your mouth out?

Soap nuts?
Image by rustedscrapmetal from DeviantArt.

Understand your product. Soap nuts, for instance, are a very eco cleaning choice in those regions where the trees grow. Be wary of claims that the soap nuts come from plantation trees; they are very slow growing trees, it takes about 10 years before they become productive. Check the species, as the seeds from the commonly used plant (Sapindus Mukorosis) are a prohibited import to Australia because it could readily become a weed5,6.  Remember too, if it is not a local product, it has already failed at step 2, buy local.  An eco-option here is to do a bit of research on the trees native to your area. Many plants have a high saponin (soap) content, and could be useful for washing.  (for example:  Alphitonia excelsa (Red Ash or Soap Tree),  an Australian native tree (and there are others), soapwort is a herb that can be used, and the roots of the Yucca contain saponin.)

5. Is the packaging ‘eco’? Packaging is also an important eco consideration:

  • Not biodegradable means forever.

    If it doesn’t biodegrade, it’s here FOREVER! Image by !M10tje from DeviantArt

    Look for products that keep packaging to a minimum.

  • Look for biodegradable packaging, recycled packaging (eg FSC paper or cardboard, soy based inks) or at the very least recycle-able packaging.
  • Buy in bulk; it saves a lot of packaging as well as being economical.
  • Buy where you can refill your own containers.
  • Buy concentrates, don’t transport water unnecessarily.

6. Do eco cleaning products work? When you see a new cleaning product advertised, or displayed at the supermarket, do you interrogate the shop assistants about the products manufacture or ingredients? Or do you just try it and see for yourself? You will find that an eco cleaning product works as well, if not better, than the toxic chemical cleaners which are so heavily advertised and ‘in your face’ available.  Do a bit of research, or just give it a go! You have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

Scales of Justice

Image by LunaNYXstock from DeviantArt

The price and value of eco cleaning products is very competitive on a straight cost for cost basis. But there’s more to life than money, and eco cleaning products give you more benefits. Never forget that buying local boosts your own welfare, staying healthy is much cheaper than treating illness, and that the happiness of all creatures is necessary if we want to live in a wonderful world.

(If you’re in Sydney, check out our range of excellent Australian Eco cleaning products here.)



How to choose the best eco or green cleaning products; Check the ingredients! (Part 3)

The obvious thing to check when you’re buying cleaning products (and anything else) is the ingredients list. So what are those ingredients anyway? You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Ignorance is no excuse’, it means that no one else is looking out for you, you have to be informed. The law doesn’t offer you much help if you chose to be ignorant. This step takes a little more effort, but as they say, “you’re worth it!”

Obvious signs of hazardous ingredients need to be understood!

It’s best to avoid products labelled ‘Poison’ ! Image source DeviantArt by HauntingVisionsStock

3.  Does it contain any hazardous chemicals? A Poison sign, or a caution symbol, or a flammable substance symbol, or a ‘keep out of reach’ notice; these need to be considered and understood.

Take extreme care with flamable products.

Take extreme care with flamable products, they are generally toxic. Image source DeviantArt by lilith187

If it is designed to kill insects or mould it may not be very healthy for other living things, like people, especially cute little people, or pets.

Keep in mind that people or animals with a lower body weight can tolerate a much smaller amount of chemicals before they are affected. Someone a quarter your size gets a dose of chemicals 4 times what you get (proportionately).

Checking the ingredients is really important. If you need help (and who doesn’t?), get a copy of The Chemical Maze, in Book form or The Chemical Maze App (iPhone).

The Chemical Maze App

The Chemical Maze App is easy to have on hand.

Chemical Maze - Complete Edition -The ultimate shopping guide to decode the Food Additives and Cosmetic Ingredients Maze - Gridstone Pty Ltd The Chemical Maze is an indispensable and quick and easy reference for looking up the ingredients in food and cosmetics. The cosmetics section covers most cleaning ingredients. Yes, we put the same sorts of chemicals on our faces as we use to clean our floors! (All for the sake of beauty or fashion.) The internet is of course a great way to research ingredients too. Make sure you go to reputable sites, preferably university research papers or one of the not-for-profit groups’ chemical indexes.

If the ingredients appear acceptable, consider the confidence you have in the manufacturer. Cleaning products only need to have 80% of their ingredients listed. So if there’s anything a bit ‘iffy’ in that 80%, you can be sure the undeclared 20% is not going to be better! To find out about the other 20%, you need to approach the manufacturer and ask for a full ingredients declaration, or ask for a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). The MSDS will give details of possible hazards, which will indicate how safe it is.

Heed the warnings on packaging!

This warning label was on a box of wire. Not all manufacturers are as socially responsible in declaring the hazards of using their products.  Image source DeviantArt by JennyAnyStock

When you’ve followed the three steps outlined so far, you’ll have culled most of the greenwash products. Your shortlist of products will be modern, locally made and have healthy ingredients. But there’s more to consider, see part 4 of this series.

How to choose the best eco or green cleaning products: Buy Local (Part 2)

You’ve decided to switch to nontoxic, Eco cleaning products, but how do you start? The first Part of this series covered going 21st century, using modern science. This is Part 2, the next step to choosing the best Eco or green cleaning products, ask yourself:

It's time to do the laundry!

Fred the Cocker Spaniel, helping with the laundry! Image rights: Donna Kelly

2. Is it made locally? Buying local is very important if you want to consider your product eco! You’ve heard of food miles? The same applies to cleaning product miles; and in fact all FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods, or supermarket items)  For us in Australia that means not imported from anywhere further away than Sydney to Perth. A cleaning product which has traveled a long way (some travel half way around the world) is in no way Eco. It may be safe and natural, but not environmental. There are very effective, safe and natural cleaning products made locally. Why would you bring a litre of something that is mostly water, half way around the world, just so you can wash your smelly socks? If anyone is going to do any traveling, it’s going to be me, not my laundry liquid!

There are many more reasons for buying local, so if you need further convincing, here goes: We have laws regarding wages and work conditions, laws for ingredient declaration and laws for truth in advertising and labeling, laws for permitted ingredients and we have weights and measures regulations. Whilst these laws can still be improved on, we have better controls than some other places and there are some ingredients which are allowed to be used elsewhere but not (or no longer) allowed here. And if you encounter a problem with a product, there are avenues for recourse. Last but not least, waste is controlled by local regulation, so you can be more confident that rivers are not being polluted just so that you can do your cleaning.

There is also the very timely issue that buying local is better for the economy. We need jobs locally, and we really need to keep some manufacturing industry locally.

So use some Eco Common Sense and buy ‘Local, Local, Local!’, wherever you are. (Of course if you’re in Sydney, check out our range of excellent and Australian Eco cleaning products here.)

How to choose the best eco cleaning products; 21st Century style! (Part 1)

Deciding to switch to non toxic cleaning products is easy.

Do you wear safety gear when cleaning?

That ‘clean’ smell could be damaging your respiratory system! Think of Health and Safety at home.
Image Source DeviantArt by WWGMwC1

That ‘clean’ smell, which you know is chlorine bleach, or ammonia, is damaging your respiratory system and who knows what else! So switch to non-toxic cleaners, it’s not scary or hard! But where do you start? How can you tell if it’s ‘greenwash’? What are those ingredients anyway? And how do you know it will clean properly?

In the first part of this series which helps you choose the best eco or green cleaning products, ask yourself:
1.    Is it 21st century? You can opt to clean the old-fashioned way using Bicarb Soda and Vinegar to replace some of your cleaning products, it just requires a bit of preparation time and a little effort scrubbing.

Not all old-fashioned cleaning methods are safe.

Old-fashioned cleaning methods require a bit of effort, and are not always safe by modern standards.
Image Source: DeviantArt by GothicBohemianStock

However, don’t think that old fashioned is the same as safe and natural; not all old-fashioned cleaning recipes are safe.  For example cleaning glass with Methylated spirits and newspaper is not such a good idea; Methylated Spirit is toxic and flammable, so it is dangerous to have around the house.

Eco cleaning products use modern science and safe ingredients to clean, without the old fashioned hard work.

Look for products which are safe and natural, biodegrade quickly, and are formulated to clean easily and effectively.
A good Eco cleaning product does not kill the garden if you use the waste water (grey water) to water the plants.

More details

The Humble Candle, but which candle is best?

Many candles

We light many candles at once, to make an impact

The humble candle, for passion and love, Birthdays and Christmas, remembrance, devotion and so many other things. Before electricity, candles were precious, expensive, and lighting a candle had meaning. Now you can get candles very cheaply; but lighting a 10c candle doesn’t seem to have the same meaning. So we light many candles…

When we researched candles to find out which candle is best, we considered as many aspects as we could, giving health the highest priority.

Smoke from paraffin candles is toxic

Smoke from paraffin candles is toxic

The common paraffin wax candle was rejected early. Paraffin is a by-product of the petrochemical industry. Dr Peter Dingle (1) found that burning three paraffin wax candles in a room put as much toxins in the air as idling a car in the room. Not good for anyone’s health. It seems it’s healthier to stand by the motorway and breathe in the exhaust fumes! On the plus side, paraffin is very cheap, and you can afford to burn many candles at once, a bit like moving onto the median strip of the motorway and getting the exhaust fumes from all sides.

Hand holding soy bean

93% of all soy beans grown in the USA are Genetically Modified.

The new kid on the block, the soy candle, was cited to have Eco credentials, and was enthusiastically researched. The report by USDA which showed that most of the soy produced in the USA is Genetically Modified (2). Exit the soy candles; GM is not supported by us, for many reasons best discussed in a separate article. I can hear you arguing that soy is safe enough to eat… true, some soy is. Most soy is not. If it is non-GM soy, then it’s better to eat it than burn it.

Next we briefly considered palm oil candles. You don’t have to look too far to find that palm oil is grown in many SE Asian countries.  If we burn the oil in our candles, more rainforests will be cleared to grow more palms to produce more oil. We need rainforests to stabilise the earth’s atmosphere, they are the lungs of the earth.

Orang utans lose their homes to palm oil plantations

Save the rainforests for the Orang utans

They are also the home of the Orangutan, a species close to becoming extinct. Our candle needs are not important enough to go up against that, and we want to feel good when we light a candle. Destroying rainforests doesn’t make us feel good. (3,4)

So far in the candle options, paraffin is out, soy is out, palm oil is out. It’s not looking too good for our birthday cakes!

The final contender is the beeswax candle. The wax made by bees, which coats the side of the ‘frames’ in a commercial beehive, is excellent for your health. It is simply scraped off the hive, warmed and strained to remove any bits of twigs etc., and then moulded or rolled with a cotton wick in the middle. Simple, clean, and it has a divine honey smell (without adding anything to create a smell)

Beeswax candle, pure, clean and naturally honey scented

Beeswax candle, pure, clean and naturally honey scented

Many, many bees work hard to make the wax, they are little guys, and although they work fast, we burn candles fast too.  On the down side (yes, without the bad there is no relative good), beeswax is more expensive than the other waxes, which means you start to cherish lighting a candle, making the lighting of a candle a more meaningful past-time. Birthday candles are suddenly appreciated more, a candlelit dinner becomes more special, and the candlelit bath becomes a real indulgence. When we have ‘special moments’ any old time, they take the shine away from the real special moments. Let a beeswax candle bring back the passion and love to your special moments. Gaze into its’ mesmerizing flame and breathe in deep, enjoying the non-toxic honeyed air brought to you by many, many busy little bees gathering nectar from the flowers. What could be more delightful, more natural, less processed? As far as being good enough to eat, look into the health benefits of honey, propolis and royal jelly. Just plain good for you!

a candle for love

A candle for love

When you think it through, Beeswax Candles are the champion candle choice. In fact it’s our only candle choice!

Photos from: hand holding soy bean by pennylayn : orang_utan_II_by_mimose_stock , many_candles_11054611_by_stockproject1-d4c097o , 616___candle_hands_by_WolfC_Stock , Interstate_3_by_Polly_Stock

Free Food, share where

There’s a great App for the eco minded, greenies and frugavores alike. This App has permaculture and guerilla gardening at heart! It’s called Berry Hunters, and it’s free for a short time, so check it out now!

Take me to theBerry Hunters - IGC Computing Limited

I really like this App because it makes use of existing but neglected resources.

Screenshot of Berry Hunters App adding your trees
It’s easy to add trees to Berry Hunters.

The idea is that when you find a fruit tree, nut tree or berry bush that’s not on private property, you register it using the Berry Hunters App. You can include a photograph of it, which indicates the size and condition of the plant, and where to find it if the location is a bit tricky. The Berry Hunters App uses your phone/ipads’ GPS locator to record where the tree is, or you can enter it manually if you’re not on-location.

Screenshot of Berry Hunters App showing fruit tree locations in Cambridge

Screenshot of Berry Hunters App with tree locations

It’s easy to search the Berry Hunters collection. Use the magnifier in the top right corner to type in a different address.  The example shows Cambridge, where it’s been used for a while. The App has been developed in the UK, so to see it in action type your location as London, and see just how much free food is available in a big city! It would be fantastic to see hundreds, no thousands, of food trees logged in Australia.

To expand on this, remember to plant some trees in your area, outside your property. This is a great way to get some of the larger trees, like nut trees, mangoes and avocados, close to you but not in your property where it will overshadow everything else. Your street verge, or the bit of ground at the end of a cul-de-sac, in amongst some bushes in a local park; I’m sure you can think of other places where the tree may be overlooked until it is well established!

Other Berry Hunters can now share in this otherwise wasted bounty, and in return you can see any other free food that’s within a radius of up to 10miles from you current location. Handy if you need a lemon for that fish you’re baking or tart you’re making! Or you can set your location to somewhere else, and register gandma’s tree which hangs over the fence with a load of free lemons or plums or pomegranates (that’s in the apple family, just type in the title). Knowing about a nearby cumquat would have been handy during my last jam making session!

Check it out. Do it now, you have nothing to lose!
Berry Hunters - IGC Computing Limited