A Good Day

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One doesn’t often have the opportunity to say ‘yay’ and celebrate an environmental win. Today however I could say that. Today the Federal Court overturned the approval of the Carmichael Mine at Abbot Point near the Great Barrier Reef. LINK to article.

The proposed coal mine would have had a serious impact on the Great Barrier Reef. It was the source of one of my grumbles last year (https://ecomummy.com/2014/07/29/protect-the-great-barrier-reef/). So it was with much relief and excitement that read today that the Federal Court overturned the approval. It still can go ahead, which is why the pressure on the government and Greg Hunt must continue.

Please sign this petition or better  still contact Greg Hunt directly:

Greg Hunt MP
Member for Flinders
Minister for the Environment
Postal Address:
PO Box 274
Hastings Vic 3915
Electorate Office:
Shop 4/184 Salmon Street
Hastings Vic 3915
Phone: 03-5979 3188
Fax: 03-5979 3034

But that excitement wasn’t enough because today, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia joined other banks in not wanting to do business with Adani (the project proponent).

While there is always much to do, it’s always great to celebrate achievements.

celebrate-accomplishments

Palm Oil Detox – an Update

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Earlier in Spring, I decided to go on a Palm Oil detox. I set myself a target of reducing palm oil in my house by 50% within 6 months. I’m about half way now and I thought I’d give an update on this journey.
After finding palm oil all too pervasive in many things within my home, I wanted to take action. While I am a lot more aware of the issues related to palm oil, I have to say it hasn’t been easy to detox.
These have been my challenges.
Time: juggling a family, work commitments and home renovations gives me little time. In fact I don’t always do the shopping and leave this to my husband, but the times that I have gone shopping since my detox mission have taken considerably longer. I usually wander through the aisles reading labels and looking up whether something is on the okay list or not according to these sources (http://www.orangutans.com.au/orangutans-survival-information/helping-you-buy-responsibly-palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx). All in all, I end up a little frustrated and stressed because I usually need to be in and out of a supermarket quick smart.
This issue has gotten a little easier though because we’re starting to know the brands and products that are on the ‘ok’ list which saves us time trawling through websites and wandering aimlessly in supermarket aisles.
Education: As I stated earlier, my husband often does the grocery shopping, so it has taken a few goes to get him to remember to check the palm oil status of a product. The result has been some big purchases which I’m still working through…..
Again, this has gotten better as my husband now knows to check before making purchases and comes and tells me proudly when he has done his research.
Alternatives: If you’ve checked the websites for alternatives to palm oil, you will find that there are not always alternatives. For example, one night I tried to find sustainable palm oil or palm oil free ice cream, but I couldn’t. Or I should say the miniscule and very expensive tubs were not enough to convince me to buy them. Also, I recently had a few guests for an afternoon tea. Without time to bake something myself, it was a mad dash to the shops to buy something. I looked, but apart from bland biscuits there was nothing I could buy! So this got me thinking – the lack of alternatives makes it very difficult sometimes to stick to the plan. I am not a purist and I admire those that are, so I ended up with a few things in my basket which were decidedly not palm oil free. But I also did discover that some products are starting to exhibit their palm free credentials and that makes me happier because at least it’s on the radar of manufacturers as being an issue.

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So how am I going really?
I’m doing okay. It was once starting this challenge that I realised how much toiletries I had. Some are quite old and probably not the best to use, but rather than throw things out, I’ve decided to use everything up. This is going quite well and I’m happy in that I am simplifying my life to a degree. I still have a little way to go, but actually there are alternatives that I can readily use, so once I’ve finished the various lotions and potions, I will easily transfer to sustainable palm oil or palm oil free products – yay!
This also extends to cleaning products. Thankfully I was already buying sustainable palm oil products anyway, so a small tweak going forward will have me in a better position.
Now, my main challenge is foodstuffs. I usually eat healthy, so usually buy fresh products, but sometimes I am not so healthy and buy processed foods. The next phase of my detox will be to continue the path I have chosen for where I am doing well, but also to concentrate on food! Here are some general tips from what I’ve found over the last 3 months or so:
Simplify – simplify your life. Like I said earlier, once I got all my toiletries together, I was quite surprised and I am not a person that buys a lot of toiletries to begin with. Still, I had accumulated a lot and now that I am working through them, I feel so much lighter. I am probably going to buy from now on: Sukin because they are sustainable palm oil products. This is not a paid endorsement, simply my opinion. For more info go to: http://www.sukinorganics.com/sustainability.asp?id=80&pid=3
Go natural: this is the main tip and one I have to live by more and more. While I use more ‘earth friendly’ cleaning products, I want to reduce these even more and not use many cleaning products. I did an experiment on some grout using bicarbonate soda and I was very impressed with the results. I think the mainstays in my kitchen and bathroom are going to be bicarbonate soda and white vinegar.
As for food, I am going to focus on fresh and homemade. It is one of the surest ways of knowing what’s in something anyway.
As general tips though, what I have found is:
• Opt for chocolate blocks, rather than those with a filling;
• Go for shortbread biscuits rather than filled biscuits;
• Do your research – you may have to make a choice of one things over another. For example, with candles, well that opens another can of worms in relation to soy vs palm oil: http://www.alohabay.com/people/why_no_soy_candles.html
However, I did buy MikeRa candles for my sister as a gift and I especially selected them because of the Sustainable Palm Oil certification.
Candles
• Educate those around you. This not only spreads the word, but also helps make sure that gifts that you receive are aligned with your beliefs.

Shark Cull – Western Australia

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It has been a while since my last post. In that time I have had a baby (a girl!) so have been very busy, but I am now beginning to return to my grumbles. At least this grumble keeps my mind off my other daily grumbles about sleep deprivation!
Many many years ago, I visited some family in Oklahoma. During that visit I stayed with my mother’s cousin. Her son was terrified of the water and would not go near it, even in a swimming pool. The reason was that at the age of three he was shown the movie ‘Jaws’. Now forgetting whether that was the most appropriate thing to show a 3 year old, what this demonstrates is the fear humans have generally of sharks. I mean they are pretty scary looking with their sharp teeth, fins and sharp noses. I know I would certainly not want to come face to face with one.
Australia is a nation of beach goers and surfers. Inevitably there is likely to be some contact between the two. I am not making light of the fact that many lives have been lost to shark attacks (an estimated 217 deaths since records began in 1791) (http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2014/01/shark-attacks-in-australia-a-timeline/). I feel terribly for any family impacted negatively by sharks and this blog piece is not in any way belittling the pain and suffering that these families have felt.
I am not much of a beachgoer myself, but whenever I do go to the beach for a swim, I know to swim between the yellow and red flags and not to wear jewellery. Here is an article with more tips on avoiding sharks when out in the ocean: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/wildlife/2011/10/how-to-avoid-a-shark-attack/
In the last 6 months, there is one state in Australia which has decided to take matters into their own hands by culling sharks. The reason for this action has been as a result of a number of shark attacks near popular Perth beaches. This action has resulted in a total of 172 sharks being caught. ‘Of those, 50 tiger sharks larger than three metres were destroyed, with the biggest shark caught at Floreat Beach measuring at 4.5 metres.’ (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-07/shark-catch-and-kill-data-released/5435682). This policy has also resulted in other animals such as stingrays being caught.
Through all of this the WA government is claiming that the program has been successful without actually demonstrating through any scientific research whether this is so. Needless to say, the shark cull has been controversial and ignited protests around the country with the WA Environmental Protection Authority receiving more than 23,000 submissions against the policy. The response however has been to seek permission to extend the program for another 3 years.
This policy is unethical and expensive. Sharks play an important part within the ocean ecosystem. There are many studies that show that sharks in fact don’t like to eat humans, but get confused and mistake humans for other yummier food. So there is no conspiracy like there is in the movie Jaws.
So what to do? There are a number of organizations that are actively opposed to the shark cull and while it has stopped for the year, let’s work to make sure it doesn’t return. Please check out these organizations for ways to get more involved:
Greenpeace: https://www.greenpeace.org.au/action/?cid=60
Australian Marine Conservation Society: http://www.marineconservation.org.au/petitions.php/9/save-wa-sharks-stop-the-cull
Conservation Council of Western Australia: http://ccwa.org.au/action/no-shark-cull-wa
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