Tuesday, December 9, 2014

my latest contribution

I don't really want to say I've just started, because I have been doing some small things to help the environment  for a while now; things that many people do, like...

  • Using reusable bags instead of taking plastic ones at the supermarket!
  • Recycling paper, plastic, glass, and metal.
  • Turning out the lights (okay, I'm not the most conscious of that one but I'll try harder now.)
  • Hanging the clothes on a line instead of using the dryer. Not recommended in the winter, Canada!
I have my parents to thank for making me conscious years ago. This next one is a lesser known action.

This one's for the ladies. (And the guys who don't get queasy easily.)

Diva Cup. Or Moon Cup. Or...any other names for the reusable menstrual cup. Yes, this sounds....disgusting at first. The first time someone told me about this contraption I shut her down instantly. "Gross" is what came to mind. But later, you know what came to mind? Landfills and landfills of tampons. And completely separate landfills of tampon wrappers and tampon applicators. Tampons everywhere!!!

This is what a menstrual cup looks like and after a little practice it gets much easier to insert and remove. One of these will put you back about $30. Thirty dollars and it will last you years. Now think tampons. Even if you use O.B.s, which have less waste because there is no applicator and a much smaller amount of plastic wrapping, think of the cost. $10 for a pack of 40, which would last about 2 months. That will take you to at least $60 per year. I've had my Keeper cup for 4 years so that's about $250 worth of tampons. Quite a saving, both in the wallet and the environment!

Some other pros: You won't get toxic shock syndrome so you can wear it for quite a while without any worries. Of course, it can fill up so this benefit coincides for lighter days.

Things to be mindful of: Make sure you change and clean it where there's a sink next to you. Made that mistake before. If you put it in crooked it can...jab you so take the time to do it right. Also, don't forget to empty it before yoga class...enough said.

Get menstrual cup and save the environment!!

And finally, my newest and cutest step to helping the environment:
a roll of cotton "paper" towels! Not only are they super cute and great conversation starters when you have guests, they're not trash. Just toss it in the wash when you're done. There are many colours and patterns too. I went with a simple design that matches our kitchen perfectly!

 A little pricey at 90 000 colombian pesos (About $45) but I guess that's just what I do because i heart earth.

Friday, December 5, 2014

share the passion

It is common belief that teachers who are passionate about what they do make a profound impression on their students. When children observe the excitement and ambition they are often lead to curiosity, inquiry, and learning of their own. I recently encountered quite a manifestation of this very thing and it has continued to grow for a couple of weeks now!

I have to admit, I was and continue to be really excited for this "trash free" endeavour I've found myself embarking on. Now I like to share personal experiences (of an appropriate nature) with my class,  so I thought I'd share this with my grade 1's. Already, our school is determinedly raising awareness amongst the children of their own trash disposal means. This often consists of 1. dropping it wherever they happen to be; 2. putting it on the ground or in the goal posts of the soccer field with the intention of picking it up later (unless the wind blows it elsewhere); or 3. throwing it in the garbage can and if they miss, "well at least I tried?" These kids are the future and they need the information and the means to understand how to live in a way that is not detrimental to our planet. We are well past the point of a neutral sort of living; life where everything balances out and the planet can sustain our needs. We need to do something and it has to be big. Sorry, next generations, you've got a rather large task ahead of you. But we can help too, now. We can give them facts. We can give them the means. And this is why I shared my goals with them. I must have been really "passionate" because I have never seen these children as excited and driven as I have these past weeks. The leadership, cooperation, sense of responsibility, and initiative is through the roof!

the provocation

First, we began with a conversation about some past topics from our previous units. Problems that children face around the world, poaching animals, etc. I also showed some pretty bleak photographs of animals who have eaten or become affected in some way by trash. Then, we talked about a perfect world, or a Blue Sky World. What would it look like to us?

 "No throw garbage."

 "If we don't pick up garbage we will die. If we pick garbage we'll live all years."

"My world is a clean world. I don't want a contaminated world."

Pretty clever kids, eh?  To follow up: "How will we get to this place--this Blue Sky World? Is this something we can accomplish?"

 "Yes, but only if the world works together!"  (Heartwarming.)

the outcome

1. A club, complete with clipboard, that was going around the school asking others to sign up and join in the campaign agains littering at school.
2. The idea that we were going to use this trash and turn it into treasure. We can then see these treasures and donate the money we made to help the world!
(I swear this was all them.)

This is not where it ends. The was just the beginning. A group of children are responsible for number 1. The rest of the class is all in for number 2. We are going to do this. It was an awesome idea and we are...

taking action

The first thing we did, was look at other organizations that work for the world. What comprises their teams? What makes them work effectively? After some research, we had our own organization in the making and everyone had a part.

This group made posters to circulate our need for plastic bottles. (You'll see what we're transforming our trash into later.)

This group worked on developing a name and a logo for our team.

This team researched different charities and organizations that would be able to use our money to help others.

the first results

We have a name and logo,
we have  signs to advocate for our cause,
and we had a list of charities, ranging from animal charities, orphanages, a deafblind charity in Brazil, and environmental organizations.

We're on our way to making a difference!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The next step

I have been investigating a lot of information on the impact of meat-eating on the environment but I would like to assure you that this is not a blog about how amazing your skin will be if you revert to veganism, or a catalogue of amazing glow-inducing recipes, (though I do frequent a couple of handfuls of those! ) Yes, I believe that food choices play a major role in the condition of the environment and I continue to find more correlations between the two. Actually, I find it quite interesting that the healthier we eat, ie. the more natural we eat, the more we are helping the environment. Just think, if you buy local produce, you avoid all the extra packaging;  you just buy the fruit or the vegetables or the grain (you get the point). Now think of the plastic and styrofoam was used to package imported and processed, the energy, oil, and other pollutants involved in transporting or processing....When you eat natural, the only waste left is the biodegradable "left overs" that you could compost. But that experiment is for another time...

Anyways, the purpose of my jibber-jabber is to document my journey (and hopefully my boyfriend, Ryan's) to do my (our) part for the planet. And it all began with THIS:

Man, I keep a lot of tabs open! How embarrassing.)

This girl has not made any trash in 2 years!! Reading this article (here you go: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html) was totally inspirational. My partner, Ryan and I have both been on this mind track lately and when I read this artical it just resonated in me. I want to be like this! I know I probably won't be able to, and I don't say this to let myself off easy. I live in Colombia and let's just say that there are many goods that are not available here that will assist in this goal. BUT I will try and I think that aspiring to do this is going to be quite the undertaking. I have to start somewhere and I hope that I may inspire you to start somewhere too.

 So how am I going to begin my trash-free existence?

Visit Lauren Singer's blog and find out what she does to eliminate trash from her life.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wait, I'm vegetarian (on a path to becoming vegan?!)

Whoa this is a lot harder than I thought!  How can this be?! I rarely eat meat as it is so vegetarianism: no big deal. I'm lactose intolerant so I figured I've already been working on giving up the hardest things of all--2 of my favourite foods: cheese and yogurt. The rest should be simple right?


So utterly false. During lunch with my colleagues this afternoon, I was regrettably and disastrously reminded that gummy candies are made with gelatin. And tell me this: how am I to enjoy s'mores on camping trips if I can't eat marshmallows!? Just to add icing to the cake, I can't even eat honey?! Damnit to hell! Is there anything I can eat? Oh yeah, VEGETABLES!

Regroup! I must remind myself that there is a reason I am doing this and yes,  it is still important enough to me to aspire to this goal. I am still sticking to it but I realize that it will not be as easy as I thought. I've been doing some more research and have come to learn that most people can't go vegan, for lack of a better expression "cold turkey." There are many different ways to be vegan and to transition into a vegan lifestyle. Take these for example!
Now I don't feel so bad. I can still keep my handmade leather jacket! Phew. So I am aiming at being a "Green Vegan" and I also like to dapple in raw food. Okay, I'm being modest. I experiment with raw food all the time (and friends are quite impressed, if I may say so. I can't say the same about my boyfriend though...) I know at times I will have to pull out good ol' number 10, the "Travel Vegan" as I'm an expat teacher and travel a lot. But I have options!!

 This "namelymarly" individual also reminded me that it's not really possible for most people to be 100% vegan.  Did you know that tires have animal products in them? According to Marly they do! I'm going to go ahead and NOT research further, but rather take her word for it just because whether or not this is the case, the point is, animals are most often effected in some way. I'm looking to make a difference for the good of the planet and I will do my best. 

If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations about particular vitamins or supplements that vegetarians/vegans must ensure to maintain without the presence of animal products, please leave a comment so I don't wither up and meet my untimely, disastrous demise. Thanks!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Time for a change

For the past few years, I've been making a lot of changes in my life. Changes in the country I choose to live, the schools I work in, my health choices, and lifestyle. All of these changes, I've realized-- while important to me are just that: centred around me. Well it's time for a change. It is time to start thinking about the bigger picture.

I am not a vegetarian. I'm a "part-time" vegetarian I guess, and that has been a choice for health reasons. I recently read an article on One Green Planet, which informed me of some shocking information: 

"Globally, deforestation is responsible for 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. While there are many causes of deforestation, including logging and land development, agriculture is widely considered one of the largest ones. It has been estimated that 80 percent of tropical deforestation is driven by agriculture. This is no small charge considering around 40 percent of the world’s landmass is currently devoted to agriculture.
The expansion of agriculture to feed the ever growing population of the planet is logical, however it is becoming more apparent that the logic in our food system is flawed. The majority of the crops grown worldwide are not being used to directly feed the hungry mouths of nearly billion people who go to bed hungry every day, but rather the mouths of the planet’s livestock."
Hmmm, maybe I need to take this "part-time" vegetarianism  a little more seriously. Now I try to feel bad about the treatment of animals and I am truly sorry to say it just isn't a strong enough feeling within me to make me stop eating meat altogether--after all, there are humane ways to raise and slaughter the animals that that's always been good enough for me. But then I became aware of additional issues, also brought to my attention by One Green Planet. This article described the contributions of factory farming (ie. animals for consumption) to the wellbeing of our planet:

"Factory farming is the most destructive enterprise on the planet — and the law is doing far too little to stop this damage. Factory farms inflict widespread misery on billions of intensively confined animals every year, consume nearly half of all water in the United States at a time of widespread drought, occupy nearly a third of Earth’s land mass at a time of rapid extinction rates driven by habitat loss, and they dump massive amounts of toxic pollutants into our air and water."
You may think of me as a cold-hearted bi*t*h not to be influenced by the treatment of animals (though may I just say that I DO care...just not as much as some people!) but all feelings aside, these facts are appalling and horrifying. Yes, it may be easier to play ignorant or not to care, but we are essentially fuelling climate change and the demise of our planet. Well, I certainly cannot go on living in the same way I have been. 

I am officially a vegetarian. 

Read some more information on these two issues by visiting One Green Planet:http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-factory-farms-shouldnt-get-a-free-pass-to-broil-the-earth/http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-surprising-way-your-diet-can-fix-the-soy-and-deforestation-problem/