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Is it worth continuing to try? .. Coming to terms with the health of the Great Barrier Reef

Do you ever find yourself avoiding environmental reality? For months – years – I had been tuning out to a lot of the updates about the health of the Great Barrier Reef. I always supported the efforts to help it and advocated a sustainable and plastic-free lifestyle, but the facts were sometimes too much to handle and I chose to stay largely in the dark. Then suddenly, recently, while scrolling through Facebook I started coming across the reports that the reef has succumbed to another major bleaching event. This, again, after last year’s major bleaching event which killed two-thirds of the reef’s precious corals. Some authorities have pronounced the reef dead, while others say that is in critical condition. Either way, this second bleaching event is another devastating blow and not a situation that is forecasted to improve.

I have an eighteen-month-old daughter who is just learning to talk. Every morning she takes me by hand to the baby-proofed drawer that holds her swimsuits and pajamas. She points to it and says “beach?” We live in a beachside neighbourhood so a play at the beach is a part of our normal morning routine. This morning, while she took off her sandals to jump into the warm, sparkling, bright-white Australian sand, my heart broke. For decades, environmentalists have been warning us to change our ways, or we will lose our natural wonders. Somehow, I don’t think most people really understood the warning or comprehended what it would really mean – and how it would feel – to lose something as magnificent as the Great Barrier Reef. Will I have to explain what the reef was like to my daughter the way that her teachers will describe the dinosaurs? Is there no possibility of showing it to her in person?

Sitting on our bath towel while my daughter played with shells, I wondered if it is worth continuing in my environmental pursuits. For all our efforts, the reef is dying or maybe has already died. The tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Brazil also continue to be decimated, and the planet continues to warm. Is it worth trying so hard to get my partner to stop bringing home plastic bags? Is it worth posting photos of my plastic free shampoo bars to Instagram in hope of inspiring one or two more people to do the same? Can the meaningful small efforts of those of us who care really make a dent in the overwhelming issues that seem to be snowballing and suffocating our delicate Earth?

I really am not sure of the answer to these questions but despite my haunting sadness, I feel that if we were to stop trying to help, our souls would die along with the reef. I know that for me, at least, the answer is to keep going.

 

Note: for anyone local to the Gold Coast, please support my friend Mollie’s initiative to project the Great Barrier Reef. She is holding a beach cleanup and event to support the reef this Sunday, the 30th of April.

Eat pizza for turtles

Hey guys!

Well after a two year labour of love, we have finally almost finished production on the marine wildlife documentary Rubber Jellyfish. As most of you know, Rubber Jellyfish explores the effects of balloon release ceremonies on the environment and the lengths to which the international balloon industry has gone to mislead consumers about the safety of their products.

In the time that we have been creating this film, we have heard about so many balloon releases that have happened all around the world and some of our friends have even witnessed large groups of people releasing balloons while literally standing on the beach. People clearly aren’t aware that balloons are damaging to the environment, it’s precious wildlife, and even to us (the US product safety commission reports that balloons cause more child fatalities than any other toy).

It’s definitely time for the film to wrap so that we can get this message out into the world!

Click here to RSVP to the Facebook invite
pizza

We hope that you will join us at this fund raising dinner. Tiffany Lee of Australian Seabird Rescue and Turtle Hospital in Ballina will be speaking about the effects of marine debris on Australian sea turtles and other marine species. She will be joined by Dr Marcia Bergamini, a marine wildlife vet from Brazil. Carly will also be speaking about her journey in creating this documentary and will reveal our brand new, professionally constructed trailer!

Tickets are $25 p.p. or $15 for kids. That includes your choice of a small pizza or nachos (FYI Mandala is a vegan restaurant but it is still considered delicious by omnavores). If your kiddo is small enough to not need their own meal, then they are free! Drinks are not included in the ticket price but can be purchased at the venue.
Bring along your spare change – we will be raffling off some awesome items and will also have a wishing well for anyone who wants to make a more sizeable (and tax deductable) offering to the film.

All proceeds will go directly toward finishing costs associated with the project (editing, purchasing stock images, acquiring permission to republish newspaper articles, paying a lawyer to review all of our paper work, and hiring a graphic artist to create a poster).

Carly and her partner have shouldered most of the financial burden so far but now that we are heading into the expensive end of things, we are reaching out the community for support.

Roadtest: The Pros and Cons of Cloth Nappies

Image: Kingston & Merton Real Nappy Network

This article was originally published on 1 Million Women.

 

It’s amazing how things that are environmentally savvy also tend to be economical.

Almost four months ago I entered into a new phase of life. I became a mum. It has been exciting, rewarding, exhausting, and illuminating. One of the biggest surprises was discovering just how often a newborn baby ‘goes to the bathroom’ and just how expensive single-use diapers are. I had no idea.

It didn’t take me long to learn that it’s not unusual to change a baby as much as ten times a day which over the course of a year amounts to over 3500 nappy changes. For babies like mine that seem, to fill up a nappy that was put on just five minutes earlier, that number might be far higher!

By the time a child reaches that most highly awaited milestone of being fully toilet trained, most parents will have paid over

I love picking out cute nappies to match my baby's outfits

I love picking out cute nappies to match my baby’s outfits

$3,000 for single-use nappies and that doesn’t include the cost of wipes. Not surprising, the environmental ramifications associated with nappies are frightening as well. In the United States alone, enough single use nappies are disposed of each year to fill Yankee Stadium 15 times. And as a non-biodegradable product, that means that this giant mass of diapers just sits in landfills, growing year after year, generation after generation. The feces contained within the nappies also leak out and contaminate ground water but that’s an even bigger can of worms that we’ll open up another time.

As a greenie from way back, I was always planning to use cloth nappies when I had children but I’ll admit the process of actually doing this had me pretty intimidated. Most of the baby supply stores in my area didn’t carry cloth nappies and the Kmart and Big W type stores only sold the old fashioned ones that my mother’s generation used. They are basically square shaped towels that you fold and pin yourself in a form of bum origami. I did buy a few packets of these but, in the end used them mostly as burp cloths.

 

A few nappies from our growing collection

A few nappies from our growing collection

After my baby had finally arrived, I stumbled upon what are known in Australia as “Modern Cloth Nappies” or “MCNs”. They cost anywhere between $10 and $30 a piece and are easy to use, come in lots of different colours and patterns (so great for an Australian summer – who needs clothes!), and best of all – can be adjusted in size to fit your little one from the time they are about one month old until they are fully toilet trained. There are many types of MCNs. The ones that I use have a pocket in the back where you insert a large, absorbent microfibre pad. The moisture from the urine gets sucked into this pad and your baby’s bum stays dry.

 

 

There are also many nappy companies run by what the cloth nappy community call “WAHMs” (Work at Home Mums). Supporting these companies gives you the opportunity to not only save yourself some money and help the planet, but you also get that awesome feeling of knowing you’ve just helped out a fellow mum.

I purchased most of my nappies from one such WAHM company called Little Aussie Monster for $10 to $15 a piece. I didn’t have enough money to purchase enough nappies all at once to move into cloth straight away (most people recommend you have at least two dozen cloth nappies for a newborn – less for a toddler). Instead, I would buy two or three nappies each payday until I built up a collection large enough to kick disposables out of my life completely!

 

I’m only a few months down the cloth nappy road but I’m really surprised by how much I am enjoying it. I find that the cloth nappies do a better job at preventing blow-outs than the disposables and are much more stylish. If I were to move back to disposables at this stage in the game, it would be like exchanging all of my clothes for plastic hospital gowns! I just could not do it.

 

For those of you with little ones, do you use cloth nappies or have you thought about it?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

Oh crapola, I failed my 90 day consumerism detox .. but .. it’s cause I got a cool job!

Oh dear. Can you believe it? I FAILED!! I already failed my detox and it hasn’t even been a month!! Geez.

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you know that at the start of the year I vowed to go on a 90 day ‘consumerism detox’ where I would not buy anything new for myself (save toiletries, food, and the other basics) for 90 days. I have done this for two month-long periods in the past and have always found it a worthwhile exercise – bordering on spiritual, actually. There’s something very liberating about temporarily stepping away from our society’s emphasis on more and realising that you already have all that you need.

Anyway, as romantic of a notion as this was, I unfortunately already failed! Luckily, though, the only reason I failed is that I just got a fantastic new job and had to buy a few things before I could start – some pants, some boots, a couple new field guides, and a few other job-oriented, survival-type things. I suppose you could argue that this stuff fits into the ‘basics’ category of things that I can buy since I didn’t really have a choice. The job I accepted was as a wildlife rescuer where I’ll get flown all over Australia to rescue animals from development sites. It’s been amazing so far. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for pictures of my daily wildlife adventures.

As I was buying the field guides, I was really really tempted to buy Matt Rolof’s book, ‘Against Tall Odds’, (I heart Matt Rolof so much!!) but by a sheer miracle, I was able to resist. So I suppose that’s progess. In the past I would have justified buying it by telling myself that I was already failing the challenge so I might as well go all the way .. kind of like when I have fallen prey to the sweet allure of a lunchtime cheeseburger and then decided to have a steak for dinner to just make the whole day a write-off.

Oh dear, but not to worry – after picking up the few things I needed for work I managed to crawl back on the wagon. I’m back on the detox and am looking forward to forging ahead with my simplified, clutter-free life! Wish me luck! The good thing is that I’ll be out bush almost all of the time with this new job so there won’t be much opportunity for consumerism, anyway!

De-frumping my wardrobe (90 day consumer detox – day 10!)

“as if a sunset is more beautiful when I’m watching it while wearing the ‘right’ brand of clothing” – Dave Bruno in ‘The 100 Thing Challenge’

Today is day 10 of my 90 day consumer detox! Two of my friends have decided to do the detox with me, yay! I’ll get them to chime in from time to time on how they are going with it.

I’ve had a few close calls already in attempting this fast of ‘American-style’ consumerism – not because I was intentionally trying to fail the detox but because I forgot I was even on it! I nearly bought the Katie Perry movie, “Part Of Me”, the other day (embarrassing!!) and then a few days later I nearly bought a heart shaped cake pan to make a friend’s bday cake. Whoopsie! But luckily I remembered just in the knick of time.

So how am I going with it? Well, apart from forgetting I’m doing it – fine! The strangest phenomenon has again taken place which happened when I attempted the month-long versions of the detox in the past. Instead of willing for the day when I can again be a slave to the enticing red glow of Target, I am actually finding myself more interested in getting rid of stuff. My housemate and I spent a few hours the other day going through our closets and looking for stuff to donate. We decided to get rid of anything that makes us feel frumpy which as it turned out, was a TON of stuff! (see photo below). There’s something very liberating about looking at a closet that is entirely full of stuff that you love and which suits you. And best of all, we donated everything to a special thrift shop where all of the proceeds are donated to RSPCA-QLD.

I’m feeling lighter already!

Look how much stuff we donated to the RSPCA thrift shop!

Photo credit – with thanks