Category Archives: Featured

Grow Yourself Through Gardening !

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/bridge-japanese-garden-arch-park-53769/
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Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/vegetables-garden-harvest-organic-790022/
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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

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

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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/

Circular Economy – The Next Big Thing?

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BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 20: Greenshowroom/Ethical Fashion Show, at Postbahnhof Berlin, 20.01.2016: General view at the Ethical Fashion Show.
BERLIN, GERMANY – JANUARY 20: Greenshowroom/Ethical Fashion Show, at Postbahnhof Berlin, 20.01.2016: General view at the Ethical Fashion Show.

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A circular economy might just change our economic structure and provide practical solutions to our resource problems. The idea behind circular economy, or also known as a closed-loop economy, is to produce no waste and pollution, either by design or intention. It’s a restorative industrial economy where the aim is to rely on renewable energy, to minimise, track and eliminate the use of toxic chemicals and eradicate waste. Advocates, including Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, and Susan Sarandon, are behind the movement calling on a deeper shift in our current economy. Some are saying that the future of economic growth lies in recycling, repurposing and reusing goods and resources. It’s not like the circular economy (or cradle-to-cradle economy as it’s also known) is a new concept – it’s philosophy echoes back to the great depression.

“We’ve always had a linear model. We dig it out of the ground, turn it into something, consume it and stick it back in the ground [as landfill]. The idea of a circular model is that once it’s out of the ground, it keeps circulating,” says James Moody, a panellist on the ABC’s The New Inventors show.

Economically speaking, a circular economy has its merits. The World Economic Forum estimates the economy could be worth $1 trillion worldwide and $26 billion in Australia by 2025. It’s been argued that the circular economy has the potential in stabilising issues of the growing tensions around geopolitical risk and supply risk (which contributes to volatile commodity prices) in the way it decouples economic growth from resource consumption.

Yet for UTS Institute for Sustainable Future’s (ISF) Damien Giurco, it is important that the economy is not branded as under the “green umbrella” for fear of alienating businesses.

“We’re careful not to brand it under a green umbrella. We need to engage businesses to say this is an economic opportunity [instead of thinking that] environment equals cost and regulation,” said Giurco in a Sydney Morning Herald article.

“To be sustainable, you must make money. The reason we can do it … is that waste is a resource,” said Rob Pascoe, Managing Director of Closed Loop Australia. Closed Loop Australia works with companies, including Qantas and KFC, on ways to reduce their waste.

But for many households, it’s not yet profitable and that needs to change. Part of this is because Australia’s economy is too focused upon the short-term benefits of the extractive economy rather than longer-term benefits through other industries. Another reason is that we, as a society, are culturally programmed to own and consume goods in a rather linear fashion. Renting products is not appealing to the mainstream and when it does appeal to individuals, it is appealing to a very narrow segment of the economy. One of the possible ways to drive the circular economy is changing the concept of renting where we ‘rent’ products on a ‘pay per use’ basis. This basis, currently popular for services like movie and music streaming services, could be extended to standard goods, such as washing machines, clothes and DIY equipment. The ‘products as services’ model allows companies to retain product ownership, which makes it easier for repairs, reuse and remanufacturing but would see responsibility extend to users as part of the purchase agreement. Companies, such as Philips, Kingfisher Group and Mud Jeans are already currently piloting the ‘products-as-services’ model.

The idea of ‘closed loop’ economy is already one that is making waves within the fashion industry. Within the fashion industry, we are seeing pioneers, start-ups and big players working on new concepts that see the production of yarns, materials and products in a continuous circle.

“We see potential when it comes to chemical recycling. But we need more innovation and more capacity in chemical recycling to provide for the possibility of cellulose and different synthetic fibres being reused,” said Henrik Lampa, H&M’s Environmental Sustainability Manager at Accenture’s Sustainability 24.

Circularity was recently one of the main themes of the recent Ethical Fashion Show in Berlin where labels such as Bleed, Navarpluma (Neokdun), Paramo, Patagonia, Primaloft and Pyua, exhibited some of their products produced within the circular economy.

Circularity is already being implemented within fashion label’s production line. Levi Strauss has programs that allow you to return your old clothes and shoes to any Levi’s store in the US, where they’ll be reused, repurposed or recycled.

“The opportunity [to do this] is tremendous. We’re aiming to establish an infrastructure that supports closed loop products by 2020. Our vision is to recycle your old Levi’s into new ones. And by doing this, we’ll reduce the impact of cotton agriculture by harvesting the denim from people’s closets that would otherwise end up as landfill,” wrote Michael Kobori, Levi Strauss’ Vice President of Social and Environmental Sustainability in a blog post.

A circular economy has the potential of radically changing the way we consume goods and services but it will need innovation and technology to find the answers to the questions posed by a growing a population.

By Sophia van Gent

 

Big Bad Bullies

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Image source: http://sites.duke.edu/cyberbullying/

 

 

 

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Bullying is an unfortunate part of our society and particularly effects young people in school, work and social situations. Bullies are essentially insecure and often have emotional problems, as well as a complex need for power, so they exert this through putting down others and engaging in repeated physical, verbal or physiological abuse to their victims. We explore the extent of bullying and provide solutions to young people who feel they are victims of this anti-social behaviour.

Bullying is a massive problem for the youth of today and it is more pervasive than ever thanks to increasing technology capable of taking harassment beyond school, work and social settings into home and everyday life. What is bullying exactly and how severe is the problem? Bullying is defined as the ‘repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons.’ Cyberbullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies.’ (1)

Statistics show bullying is relatively common with one in every four Australian school students affected, and cyber bullying effecting about 1 in 10 young people (2). The latter is likely to increase as our lives become digital and youth spend more time online than ever before (3). Disturbing statistics also reveal children who were bullied were up to three times more likely to display depressive symptoms and nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, according to some studies (2).

Bullying can take different forms too: social, including gossiping, talking behind a person’s back, and ignoring people from groups; physical: unwanted touching, fighting, stealing someone’s objects; and verbal/ emotional including name calling, intimidation and teasing. All forms of bullying are damaging to a young person, their mental health, self esteem, character and quality of life. Bullying can detrimentally affect a young person’s relationships with their family and friends, confidence at school and to participate socially at work in sports and so forth. Sometimes young people turn to alcohol or drugs or dangerous activities to mitigate unpleasant emotions and feelings.

Cyber bullying in particular is of great concern for a number of reasons. The online world is like the real world replicated with mostly good content out there, but also nasty, hurtful comments. The problem with online bullying is it is very easy for people to see the comments, videos and/or photos and like and share with their networks. In our social media age along with the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is somewhat fashionable (and along with peer pressure) to share negative abusive comments and videos, and it is often marketed as funny. Sexted images gone viral, kids getting bashed, horrible belittling comments putting down kids are just some of the abuse posted online, which is often shared, making the victims feel powerless due to the unstoppable nature of the Internet.

What can kids do about bullying? There are numerous strategies to protect against bullies and fight back. Firstly, tell someone in a position of authority, like a teacher or school counsellor. Kids can often feel stupid, ashamed and upset to tell someone they are being bullied, and may blame themselves. It is important to realise bullying is not your fault, and trusted adults are the best step to finding a solution to the situation. You may also want to confront the bully directly about why they behave that way, and politely ask them to stop, (if it is safe to do so). If a bully confronts you, ignore them as much as possible and don’t have a strong emotional reaction (that is what they thrive on), act as neutral as possible, and the bully will likely get bored and move on (4). So remember bullying is temporary, but action can take place immediately to put bullies back in their place! 

By Simon Chitre

References:

  1. http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/studentsupport/bullying/definition/
  2. http://www.kidspot.com.au/school/secondary/peer-pressure/facts-and-figures-about-bullying
  3. https://www.qld.gov.au/youth/family-social-support/bullying-facts/
  4. http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/bullies.html#

 

Fashion Forward Sun Safety

 

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Image source: www.lyst.com

 

 

 

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Image source: www.gurl.com

 

 

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Image source: www.clash.co.nz

 

As Australia Day approaches and summer gets hotter than ever, can hats be the answer to sun safety without compromising fashion?

There’s no denying; hats are one of the hardest elements to get right in any outfit. They can ruin an outfit just as easily as they can make them shine, and it’s because of this that a lot of people have given up on the hat as a fashion accessory. Until recently, that is.

As fashion conscious people in hot countries like Australia are becoming more conscious about the effects of sun, hats are beginning to creep back into mainstream fashion. An accessory to suit all genders, the hat is transforming to keep you sun safe without compromising fashion.

Australians are well aware of the harsh effects too many unprotected summers can have on your skin. From aesthetic issues like leathering skin and deeper wrinkles to serious health problems like cancer, the problems associated with sun exposure are extensive. They are also easily avoided. Hats provide instant coverage for your face to prevent pretty much all of this, and are even endorsed by Cancer Council as part of the Slip Slop Slap campaign since 1981.

The problem is, until recently hats were not exactly the icons of style. When the word ‘hat’ is mentioned, most people think straight to the sports cap or the stiff, style-less hats worn in schools as the main options. While they may be functional and effective in covering up from the sun, they hardly inspire fashion-forward looks.

Happily though, as the floppy hat takes the reins as the most popular women’s hat this summer, the reputation of hats is beginning to change. Not only does this style look fantastic, it also has the widest brim available for a hat, covering the whole head, face, and even neck from the sun.

Face shape is the most important thing to consider when buying a hat. It’s the reason a lot of people give up when they get it wrong, but it’s also the reason a hat will practically live on your head when you find the perfect style. There is a lot of advice out there for finding the perfect hat for your face shape. Fedoras tend to sit more flatteringly on people with rounded faces, whereas wide brimmed hats soften the angles of square shaped faces.

The sheer amount of advice, and even the amount of face shapes and hat styles out there can make it really difficult to find solid advice. Really, the only true way to find the perfect hat is to go out there and try on every hat you set eyes on and think, ‘that looks gorgeous’ until you find the one that fits. There are some key hat shapes are taking centre stage this summer, making it a little less daunting to start that search for the perfect hat.

The floppy summer hat is the most popular style for women this summer, because of its ability to add a splash of sophistication to any look. The floppy hat can be dressed up or down to suit the mood of your outfit, from a casual beach day to a big summer garden party.

For those who haven’t fallen in love with the floppy hat, though, there are a vast variety of hats to choose from. For both men and women, a bowler hat is another hugely popular trend. If the floppy hat is the most flowing style of hat, the bowler hat is the most structured. It features a still rounded dome shaped crown with no creases or pinching, and has a short brim that curls slightly at the sides. Though it does not offer as much coverage in terms of sun protection, the bowler hat is perfect for adding some edge to an outfit.

For men, a fedora hat is an easy way to add a bit of up styling to a look without much effort. Where top hats are too formal for most occasions nowadays, a fedora will draw an eye, but is casual enough to wear out confidently. The pinched sides and lengthwise crease down the crown of a fedora creates a rough wedge shape that can be manipulated by the wearer to frame the face more comfortably. The big, flexible brim is the biggest advantage of this style of hat, and makes it the most popular men’s style of hat.

A close relative of the fedora, the trilby hat is great for men and women who like a smaller hat. With a short back and long front, the trilby provides good shade for the face, and flatters most face shapes because of its ability to be tilted.

They may have had a bad rap in the past, but hats are fast becoming an essential element to any summer fashion look. With so many looks to choose from, there’s sure to be a hat to suit every outfit.

By Kate Oatley