All posts by vashti

Is ‘Healthy’ the New Black?

North West (Image Source: Pintrest)
Gigi Hadid (Image Source: Pintrest)
Rihanna (Image Source: WhoWhatWear)

The gym junkie generation is here and it’s taking the runways by sporty storm!

With the rise of high end designers collaborating with the fitness apparel industry, it might be time to say goodbye to your regular gym gear. The glossy black, mesh tights and candy coloured sneakers are taking over not just our gyms but our regular street garb. The generation of healthy living where coconut cures all bring you the boom of designer ‘athleisure': Athletic wear that women of all ages can wear in non athletic setting.

“It’s a trend. People of all ages are wearing their work outwear all day now, whether it’s leggings with a longer coat and scarf, or…..with a denim jacket and some high heeled boots.” Says Soul Cycle Co founder Julie rice whose clients include Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Khloe Kardashian just to name a few.

Whilst this fashion trend allows us to rock our comfy work out gear without a sweat bead in sight; is an undeniable blessing, not all of us are game enough to rock the tights in a club. However one shall not fear as the baseball hat is back and it looks even better with a cocktail dress or if you’re into a bit of a North West style she was recently spotted on the streets of Beverly Hills donning hers with a $3500 fur coat. Not only will you never have to have a bad hair day again but this ‘Norm corm’ trend of reviving the baseball cap pure genius lies in the fact it doesn’t need to match, in fact it shouldn’t match. So whilst we may not be Gigi-Hadid-ready for tights and tank tops, one can still jump on the sporty fashion movement with the humble baseball hat day and night all day everyday with no sun in sight.

Leggings are the new denim – CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, proclaimed at the Women’s Innovation Summit in New York City

This couldn’t be more true as the Nike-Air Yeezy project was undeniably one of the most sought after collaborations in Pop Culture. Since leaving Nike due to creative differences, Kanye West staged an unprecedented fashion show combining the third season of his Yeezy Adidas Spring collaboration with the debut of his new album, ‘The Life of Pablo’. Showcasing a vast array of models mostly African or of a mixed race in variations of neutral bodysuits, hoodies and hooker heels. Offering a modern day all purpose uniform.

West was notably the first non-athlete to collaborate with the brand, leading the way for a plethora of celebrities, such as Kate Hudson’s ‘Fabletics’ fitness line and Rihanna for Puma, along with the good old ‘KingKylie’ [Jenner].

“Wearing high end sports clothes has become a new status symbol”, says Sally Dixon, a former fashion editor and founder of a premium sportswear company. With this rise of the fashion parlance athleisure tapping into the current wellness craze it’s now ultimately cool to be healthy. According to figures from the global summit last year the healthy living industry is now worth $3.4 trillion globally, almost three and a half times larger than the worldwide pharmaceutical company – meaning drugs are out and Qinuoa is in!  Girls rejoice trackies are no longer a sin!

Words by Bridget McDonnell

Wearable Technology

Image source: FitBit
Photography by Edgar Meritano
Image Source: Jean Baptiste Paris via Flickr

Wearable Technology – either you hate it or you love it!

It’s made significant progress in 2015, but it still has a long way to go.

Have we reached peak wearable technology? According to Mashable, wearable smartwatches still have a way to go before it can replace analogue wristwatches. Chief Industry analyst, Marcel Cohen, at the NPD group believes that even though fashion still has to catch up, 2015 was the year consumers became savvier and believers of wearable technology.

“What we’re seeing in fashion is that no one wants to get behind now that fashion technology is so hot,” Cohen said in an interview with Mashable. “You don’t want to be second in the technology world, which is why we’re seeing gimmicks more than technology”

Consumers want form, function and style when they want to spend money on an investment piece but there is little room within the wearable market, dominated by fitness trackers and smartwatches, for consumers to be able to find items that fit their needs. Smartwatches still look traditionally masculine, with smartwatches targeted at women falling within typical “gender-ascribed” marketing gimmicks. Quite simply smartwatches promise much but nothing specific.

Compared to fitness trackers, smartwatches are failing to capture the female demographic because they are simply over complicated, whereas fitness trackers (which are popular in the female demographic as well) embrace simplicity. Fitbit CEO James Park, in an interview with The Verge, explained that the most common reason for women not wanting to buy a smartwatch is that “they’re very overwhelming; they do too much.”

If smartwatches embraced simplicity and was able to enhance the wearer’s ability to express their personal identity, then smart watches might just have a shot of capturing the female market. Yet this isn’t to say that the wearable technology market is just about smartwatches and fitness trackers. Over the past few years, fashion has started to embrace wearable technology.

OMSignal, the brand behind Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech shirt, recently brought out the OMBra, which aims combines fitness tracking with sports bra.

“If you look at the wearable market since the beginning, it really started with activity trackers, and women were driving that adoption.” OMSignal co-founder and CEO Stephane Marceau said in a Forbes interview.

“Right now it’s about sport, the future is about wellness, but over time it’s about monitoring and preventing heart failure and other health issues. The future of wearable technology is about the disruption of the clothing industry, but its impact on healthcare will be even larger.”

It isn’t just sport companies embracing wearable technology, it’s also airline companies. Recently Easyjet partnered with CuteCircuit to update their uniform. CuteCircuit is internationally well-known with their fashion lines, with Katy Perry wearing CuteCircuit’s clothes in her appearance at American Idol in 2011. Using LED light patterns, or tweets scrolling across bags or mood-coloured skirts, CuteCircuit marries technology and fashion in a symbiotic manner.

Love it or hate it, the wearable technology market is growing and we’ll see leaps and bounds made over the next few years.

Words by Sophia van Gent

The Horrors of Hazelwood

Image source: https://syd-cp1.promptwebhosting.com.au:2096/cpsess1298706184/3rdparty/roundcube/?_task=mail&_mbox=INBOX&_uid=2990&_action=show&_format=html
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazelwood_Power_Station#/media/File:Hazelwood_Power_Station_seen_from_the_air.jpg
Power Plants /Image Source: http://environmentvictoria.org.au/index.php?q=replacehazelwood
Hazelwood is not a name you associate with horror folklore, however it is the name of one of the world’s most dirtiest, polluting coal fuelled power plants in Victoria, which sadly we rely on at a state and national level for our energy production. This is a true modern day horror tale in light of climate change and the need to produce energy from cleaner and greener sources. We explore the history of Hazelwood, its environmental impacts and the recent mine fire, which caused significant problems for the Government and the local community.

The Hazelwood power station is a brown coal fuelled power station located in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Australia approximately 150km east of Melbourne. Opened in 1971 it is jointly owned by two large energy corporations: GDF SUEZ Australian Energy (72 per cent) and Mitsui & Co Ltd (28%). The power station is fuelled with up to 18 million tonnes of coal each year from the Hazelwood mine. (1) (2). It supplies between 20 and 25 per cent of Victoria’s energy requirements and 5.4 per cent of Australia’s energy demand.  It uses a gigantic 27 billion litres of water a year. That’s almost as much water as the whole of Melbourne uses in a month, which is a valid reflection of the poor environmental record of this plant (3).

Hazelwood was set to be shut by the Victorian Government in 2005, however the mine’s license was renewed until 2030 in what environmentalists rightly called a ‘tragic decision’, allowing access to 43 million tonnes of brown coal deposits in a realignment of Hazelwood’s mining license boundaries (1)(4). The agreement did require Hazelwood to reduce their estimated emissions by 34 million tonnes and cap its total greenhouse output at 445 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over its life. Investment in renewable energy will allow the mine to operate within its cap and extend its life (1).

Despite this agreement to improve the environmental measures of the mine the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) states Hazelwood is one of the most polluting of all major power stations in industrialised countries. This disastrous result means Australia is directly contributing to climate change through increase greenhouse gas emissions, and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (5).

The mine has continued polluting and damaging our environment since its opening and subsequent license renewal in 2005.  However it came to the forefront of the media and public in February 9, 2014 after a fire occurred in the Hazelwood mine resulting from embers from a nearby bushfire. It burnt for 45 consecutive days sending heavy smoke and ash over surrounding towns in the Latrobe Valley, mainly the township of Morwell with a population of approximately 14,000 (6).  An increased in deaths was reported across the Latrobe Valley during and after the fire with many residents also suffering health concerns with complaints of sore eyes, respiration and breathing problem and headaches.

‘…Hazelwood is one of the most polluting of all major power stations in industrialised countries. This disastrous result means Australia is directly contributing to climate change through increase greenhouse gas emissions, and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere’

An enquiry was launched by the Victorian Government to determine the cause, impacts and recommendations of the fire to prevent such a tragedy occurring again (7). The enquiry has determined there was high chance the mine fire contributed to the increase in deaths and health problems suffered by residents (8).Whilst the cause of the mine fire was due to a nearby bushfire’s embers spreading to the open cut coal mine, the issue is that due to the abundance of coal stores this resulted in the formation of very hazardous smoke and ash adversely effecting residents. Had Hazelwood been a clean energy plant and the same bushfire had fronted the plant, it is likely the damage to the environment and people’s health would have been far less severe.  Sadly, not willing to admit corporate responsibility GDF Mine owner GDF Suez highlighted two words in the enquiry’s report — no “absolute proof” (concerning the link between the fire and the adverse health residents of the Latrobe Valley residents) (9).

Whilst Australia still cannot decide on an emissions trading or carbon capture scheme and the environmental concerns Australia facing seems to be off the political and public agenda for the moment, it sadly appears this heavily polluting plant will retain its license. The government is reluctant to close the plant due to the easily accessed mass reserves of coal for hundreds of years and our reliance on it as an energy source both within Victoria and Australia, as we correctly do obtain a majority of our energy from Hazelwood. And despite too of course the recent public health crisis resulting from the mine fire.

So of course to shut it down means we have to replace it with something else right? Many environmental groups advocate how Hazelwood can be transitioned into a clean, green energy production site. Environment Victoria states within two years using a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and as a transition gas and fuel we can cut greenhouse gases, create new jobs and shut Hazelwood (3). Many other organisations also support this transition including Alternative Technology Association, Environment Victoria, Friends of the Earth, Moreland Energy Foundation Ltd, Victorian Climate Action Centre and Yarra Climate Action Network (10).

Shutting Hazelwood ultimately makes so much sense from an environmental, economic, social and ethical perspective. It is abhorrent we are operating one of the most polluting power plant in the world in Australia while the rest of the world transitions to greener and cleaner energy. We must keep pressuring and rallying the government to close this antiquated giant and move our energy sources into the progressive 21st century.   

Words by Simon Chitre

Grow Yourself Through Gardening !

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/bridge-japanese-garden-arch-park-53769/
Garden 2
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/vegetables-garden-harvest-organic-790022/
Garden 5
Image source: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/mar/06/community-gardens-melbourne

Gardening is a pleasurable and relaxing activity and is the perfect antidote to our technology filled, stressful lives. There are numerous benefits to the human body, mind and soul and many ways to get involved in gardening in the community as Colosoul explores. 

Gardening is a great activity for the mind, body and soul and to enhance connection with yourself and the earth. In a day and age where most of us are consumed by technology and spend a majority of our time inside soulless and corporatized  buildings and offices, the garden is a juxtaposition of beauty and peace.

Gardening has proven to be relaxing and a great stress buster, with Gillian Aldrich a magazine editor from the U.S describing the feeling, “When you sit at a desk all day, there’s something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that’s really beautiful,” (1) Gardening can also help connect people to their primal state and man’s need to be immersed in nature.  It can also be a form of exercise, particularly for those who have difficulty doing more vigorous exercise, healing and immunity as the outdoors, sun and plants have a positive effect on the body (2).

Gardening can also improve your mental health.  A study in Norway of people diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood and bipolar II disorder made them garden, tending to flowers and vegetables six hours per week. After three months half of the participants had a large improvement in their symptoms.  This has likely come about due to the presence of Mycobacterium vaccae, a harmless bacteria commonly found in soil, that boosts the release and metabolism of serotonin in the brain and can boost human immunity (1). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for a verity of physiological and physical functions, but is said to contribute to normal mood balance and reduce the contraction of depression and other mental illnesses (3).

In article quote highlighted due to its prominence. ‘The gardens give public housing tenants access to land that they use to grow their own food and the ability to connect with their culture through the food they grow,…..Although many don’t speak English, they can speak the language of food, cooking and gardening.’ (6).

You don’t have to have a massive backyard or perfectly manicured garden to enjoy the benefits. In fact many people with smaller yard spaces, balconies and apartment dwellers can enjoy the benefits gardening brings. There are many community gardens out there that cultivate a renewed sense of community.  The Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network is a great resource linking people interested in city farming, community gardening and community farm systems around Australia. They provide up to date maps of community gardens across Australia and steps for starting a garden (4).

Cultivating Community works with low income and diverse communities to create fair, secure and resilient food systems. They do this through establishing community food gardens for residents to grow food in public housing settings, and undertaking other community food projects (5). Cultivating Community project manager Sharelle Polack, praised public housing gardens asserting, ‘The gardens give public housing tenants access to land that they use to grow their own food and the ability to connect with their culture through the food they grow,…..Although many don’t speak English, they can speak the language of food, cooking and gardening.’ (6).

Veg Out, a community garden in gentrified, trendy St Kilda in Melbourne exemplifies itself as an example for other community gardens and for those wanting to establish a successful garden. It is a financially independent garden on local council land and has over 140 plots where members, friends, families and community groups enjoy getting their hands dirty (6). It has thrived despite being in a commercial/ tourist precinct that has risks of being developed into a commercial project.  The garden includes plots where can grow their own vegetables and herbs, flowers, artwork and animals. The garden is very welcoming to all people, including those with a lack of gardening experience (7).

Words by Simon Chitre

Getting fit and keeping your commitments!

Okay, so you want to get fitter or start exercise and have no idea how and when you will fit it in your life?! I can definitely understand with so many pressures cast upon us young people these days: study, work, relationships, socialising, errands and of course some time to relax! Well it is possible to all these things and still find time to exercise if you are smart about it.

The first thing to do is be smart about it and write down exactly what you want, the more specific you are here the better! Do you want to lose 5kg? Or get more toned? Be specific like aiming to reduce body fat from 13% to 11%. Look at what you want regularly, set reminders in your phone, and put them on the fridge / at your desk as a reminder to motivate yourself. The more you see the reminder you trigger your subconscious to realise this goal is important amongst the thousands of other thoughts your brain is processing. This means you will prioritise your health and fitness even when you are busy as you will keep reminding yourself through looking at your goal and visualising it how much it means to you.

Secondly, write down when you are going to work out that week. If you go to uni in the afternoons and work evenings, mark a few mornings down in your diary and allocate this like an appointment, you wouldn’t not show up to an appointment right? You need to be committed and may have to sacrifice a bit of personal time if you are serious about fitness. That means setting the alarm for 7am not 8am and jumping out of bed at 7am, not going back to sleep at 8am complaining you are tired! Further on this point if you have allocated to exercise three mornings a week at 7am to 8am make sure you commit. Let work or anyone important going to contact you that you are unavailable during this time, put your phone away and do not feel guilty, this is your time!! Getting up early and being organised means you still have time to work, socialise and fulfil all your other commitments.

Joining a 24 hour gym is a great idea, and for many young people who may not have the 9-5 lifestyle, this allows you to train at any time you like around your schedule, such as 2am after work if you wish!  Reward yourself for your fitness session buying a healthy treat like a post workout protein shake or maybe a really healthy meal (e.g. chicken and quinoa salad) that congratulates yourself and reinforces the positive moves your doing to your health by participating in fitness.

There are ways to get fit too even if you are busy and don’t like gyms so much. Most uni’s and community council run centres have fitness classes to offer at random times of the day, and include fun activities like yoga, zumba, spin, crossfit and dance! If you are working full time what about working out at lunch time at your local gym or if there is a park nearby go for a quick run? A lot of offices these days have shower and changing facilities.

Speaking of such combining your fitness and commute is an amazing time saving idea and saves you money! Consider walking to work, okay maybe not possible if you live super far away, but cycling is becoming increasingly popular and your only investment really is your bike and helmet. With the government increasingly recognising the importance of cycling and improving the associated infrastructure, it is easier than ever! A final fun way to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle is instead of meeting friends for drinks or dinner how about you exercise instead! Go for a walk or job, rollerblade, bike ride or bush walk. Even smash a gym session together! Good luck with your fitness goals in 2016!

By Simon Chitre

Dolphin Safe Fishing

Dolphin 5

http://logodatabase.net/dolphin+safe+logo

Dolphin 3 Dolphin 2

Firstly what is dolphin safe fishing? Well back in 1990 an organisation called Earth Island Institute (a non-profit, non-governmental conservation organization based in the U.S) and several large tuna companies in the U.S agreed to define dolphin safe tuna as ‘tuna caught without setting nets on or near dolphins.’ This standard was incorporated into the Marine Mammal Protection Act later in 1990 and in 1997 was expanded by the United States Congress with the statement that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured in a net set to qualify as tuna for a Dolphin Safe label.

These standards were implemented in response to decades of tuna fishermen intentionally chasing dolphins and catching the tuna swimming underneath. This horrific practice has largely now being wiped out with approximately 90% of the world’s tuna companies committed to dolphin safe practices and dolphin deaths in tuna nets declining by 99%.

The problem is not over though with many South American tuna fleets chasing, netting and drowning thousands of dolphins annually. Countries including Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and El Salvador are petitioning authorities to change the dolphin safe tuna laws to have them weakened. Their proposed definition would allow the chasing and netting of dolphins as long as the required on board observer does not witness the event or seriously maiming of the dolphin. It is hoped this deceitful endeavour does not go ahead.

However the term ‘dolphin safe’ is controversial, in the United States it only defines dolphins within the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP), so the thousands of dolphins killed outside these waters are not reported. In 2012 the World Trade Organisation reviewed the scientific evidence and concluded that the standards implemented in 1990, whilst effectively at halting the mass slaughter of dolphins beforehand, were outdated and misleading. Many of the thousands of dolphins killed outside the ETP are still sold under ‘dolphin safe’ labels under current labelling standards, this is extremely concerning as the United States is one of the largest consumer  markets in the world for tuna as well as a major exporter.

Further what is also discounted is the enormous amount of ‘by catch’ (the surrounding marine life besides the dolphins) killed and often left for dead in the ocean, by the ‘dolphin safe’ fishing technique including sharks, turtles, sea birds, billfish and countless juvenile tunas. So ironically whilst more dolphins are being saved in certain oceans, many other marine life species are being killed instead and left for dead due to their lack of economic value (as tuna can be canned, sold and made for profit).

Consumers in Australia can play a part by trying to avoid illegal fishing activities, buying fish caught within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean Region (WCPO), as purse seine caught skipjack tuna has illegal fishing rates of less than 5%. Skipjack tuna is one of the most ethical tunas to purchase. Independent observers monitor and observe illegal practices to authorities and operate throughout the WCPO. Vessel blacklists, i.e. vessels which have been reported for illegal activities are maintained by the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and Greenpeace, an independent organisation supporting environmental justice.

By Simon Chitre 

Useful Links: 

  • • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphin_safe_label
  • http://savedolphins.eii.org/campaigns/dsf
  • http://www.earthisland.org/immp/QandAdolphinSafe.html
  • http://www.ecosafetuna.org/about/key-issues.html
  • http://www.allaboutwildlife.com/dolphins-whales/the-disturbing-facts-about-dolphin-safe-tuna/4298
  • http://www.tuna.com.au/