Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time for the Things We Value

One of the bloggers I follow usually does short posts which are then followed by a lot of comments. She did one recently about finding time to do the things one values. There seemed to be a general consensus that we tend to place those things at the bottom of our list of priorities. Many ideas were put forward as to how to redress the balance and I certainly began to think long and hard about it.

Something really important happened to me as a result of that post. I had a wonderful “light-bulb” moment. Teenage Son is overseas right now and the moment came in the lead-up to his departure. On the Monday morning of that week I walked into his room 20 minutes before he was due to get picked up for school. There he sat on his bed, in his pyjamas, strumming on the guitar. I tactfully suggested that perhaps he get dressed, eat breakfast and then play the guitar; all the while my blood pressure was skyrocketing. He did so but seemed perplexed that I should ask him to leave getting the riff just right to do such mundane things.

Two days later he was in the midst of packing but suddenly disappeared out to our detached rumpus room. A little later, he excitedly came and got me and said I had to listen to a mash up he’d done on the piano. I sat in the armchair listening to his mash up, stewing. I couldn’t understand how he could be so blasé about getting organised just 36 hours before he was due to leave. And then it hit me. If I had been a cartoon character a bolt of lightning would have come out of the sky. Teenage Son doesn’t care if his suitcase is a shambles or if he has to throw on clothes and bolt down cereal. He’d much rather spend time doing what he values.

I smiled and relaxed into the armchair listening to him play. Music is his passion and he places it above everything else because it’s what he values above all else. In reality, I should be learning from him, not the reverse. Maybe, just maybe, I could research ethical companies and write a blog post before I do anything else each day instead of doing a little if I happen to get the chance at the end of the day. And if I don’t get through my “to-do” list does it really matter?

Teenage Son got to school dressed and breakfasted on the Monday. Furthermore, he left home at 4am last Friday neatly packed and all organised. I helped very little. After all, he has to do it by himself when he’s travelling. The two things he made sure to pack were a harmonica and an iPod full of songs!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Over the past few weeks, we’ve significantly reduced what we’re throwing away. By significantly I mean we’ve reduced our landfill rubbish by well over half. We’ve also reduced our recycling a little.

I’m sad to share that most of our kitchen waste was going into landfill since we have neither a compost bin nor a worm farm. Husband, however, did a short half-day course in sustainable living and brought away a piece of extremely relevant information. Our local council now encourages people to throw their food scraps into the garden waste bin. I knew that was the case in other council areas but didn’t know it was in ours. Not only do they encourage it but they give local residents bench top bins and compostable bin liners.

We already had a bench top bin and most of what went into it was food scraps. Unfortunately when we emptied it most evenings it went into the rubbish bin outside. Our habits have not had to change at all. The only difference is that the scraps now go into the garden waste bin instead at the end of the day. We can also throw in used tissues and shredded paper. I shred any correspondence which has personal details on it so all that is now going into the kitchen bin instead of the recycling one. In fact, shredded paper for the recycling bin needs to be put into a paper bag first because the bits of shredded paper can cause problems. Not so with the food scrap bin; just throw in the shredded paper as is.

I would encourage anyone whose local government provides a green waste bin to find out their policy on food scraps. You may get a pleasant surprise.
If you can put your food scraps into your garden bin, be aware that it’s preferable to wrap them in newspaper – which is acceptable – or compostable bags. Otherwise they get smelly and, since our bin is only picked up fortnightly, we don’t want that! Alternatively, you can freeze all those scraps until bin day and then throw them in. I guess it depends on how much disposable freezer space you have.


Monday, August 26, 2013

How NOT to Make a Cup of Tea

The other day I proceeded to make cups of tea for Husband, Teenage Daughter and me. Things didn't quite go to plan.

I put enough water in the kettle for three cups and turned it on to boil. While it was boiling I put a teabag into each mug. We usually use loose leaf tea and a teapot but Planet Organic makes really nice Earl Grey tea. In fact, I prefer it to Twinings. The bags can be put into the green waste bin, as well, so I don't mind the small indulgence.

Once the water had boiled I poured it into the mugs. It was then that I realised that the Planet Organic chamomile teabags had been sitting on top of the Earl Grey ones and I'd accidentally grabbed them instead. So, while the three mugs of chamomile were steeping, I refilled the kettle, got three fresh mugs and three Earl Grey teabags.

This time, once the water had boiled I again poured boiling water into the mugs. It was then that I discovered I'd only filled the kettle with enough water for two mugs. (It's unusual to have to make three.) So, as all the various teas steeped, I boiled the kettle for a third time! I got it right on the third attempt.

We all got our cups of tea in the end and I'm gradually working my way through the jug of chamomile in the fridge. I was pretty annoyed with myself for boiling the kettle not once, not twice but three times. Grrr!

How not to make a cup of tea!!!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bangladesh Accord

Below is a list of the companies that have signed the Bangladesh Accord to improve worker safety. Big W is not on the list but is in negotiations to do so. Furthermore, the Ethical Consumer Guide now has a section on clothing. Here is the link if you want to check it out. I've also been in touch with Miller - which hasn't shown up on either list - and they responded immediately with, "Kindly be advised that Millers do not partake in the operation of sweat shops nor do we produce products in this manner. All of our colleagues are paid a fair wage by Bangladesh trading and employment standards. Millers supports the growth of employment and trade in Bangladesh and are always looking to improve and build on this." Just Jeans and Pacific Brands are yet to answer. In fact, I contacted Pacific Brands over two years ago and heard nothing. Sadly, they dominate the underwear market here so they don't really have to play by the rules because no one is going to go knickerless in protest.


Abercrombie & Fitch

Aldi Nord

Aldi South

American Eagle Outfitters, Inc.









Charles Voegele


Comtex GmbH

Coop Danmark

Cotton On





DK Company

El Corte Ingles

Ernstings's Family


Fat Face

Forever New





Hemtex AB


Hess Natur-Textilien GmbH





John Lewis





Kmart (Australia)






Marks and Spencer




N Brown

New Look

Otto Group





S Olivier


Schmidt Group

Scoop NYC / Zac Posen

Sean John Apparel

Shop Direct Group



Target (Australia)




Topgrade International


Van der Erve 

Varner Group

Voice Norge AS

We Europe


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reverse Culture Shock

I spent a lovely couple of hours yesterday morning with Teenage Daughter, her friend, The Traveller, and The Traveller's Mum. It was a catch-up I'd really been looking forward to. The Traveller's been back from India for a month now and I got to hear all about her five month stay there.

One of the first things The Traveller mentioned was reverse culture shock. Anyone who's travelled overseas knows what I'm referring to. It's the culture shock you experience when you get home and it's real.

The first morning The Traveller woke up in her own bed at home, she was overwhelmed by the fact that she was alone, not only in a big room but, in a big house. I imagine she never before had thought of her room or her house as being particularly large but she was feeling it that day.

I remember years ago when Australia began to welcome Vietnamese refugees and asylum seekers how people were shocked that several extended families would live in one three bedroom suburban house. By the mid-seventies, when Saigon fell, most Australian families lived one family per house. That's still the case but the houses keep getting bigger. Families of four these days think they couldn't possibly live in houses the size of the ones they grew up in. It's all relative, of course, because people in Third World countries seem to be happy just to have a roof over their heads and don't seem too hung up on who they're sharing a room or a house with.

After waking, The Traveller ventured into the kitchen for breakfast and encountered her second wave of culture shock. For five months she'd been happily starting the day with a vegemite and cheese covered chapati. Back in Australia she was faced with the endless choices of breakfast foods. That's not bad by any means but have you gone to a full pantry or fridge, stood there with the door open, your finger to your lips wondering what to have? We're so blessed with choice that sometimes it's a curse. And we don't even appreciate it for the most part.

The Traveller told me that they had flour, rice, dhal, tomatoes, potatoes and onions as the staples out of which they made most of their meals. (Hopefully, if The Traveller is reading this she can add to the comment section anything I may have left out.) They made fresh chapatis everyday. All their meals were cooked on a small gas burner and there was no fridge which made things like milk and meat somewhat tricky. In all the photos she took over the course of the five months in India, she is the picture of health. I don't know about anyone else but I have a lot more than a fridge, small gas cooker and full fridge and pantry in my kitchen. One cupboard is replete with appliances I rarely use.

I could never live the way The Traveller did for that five months. For a start I'd end up with the worst Delhi belly in the history of the world. As I listened, however, I felt blessed by my modest suburban home and comfortable kitchen.

When The Traveller went to the supermarket for the first time after her return she was appalled by the amount of packaging on all our products. In India she shopped at local markets and used her plastic and material bags until they fell apart. A lot of us are trying that here and fighting what feels like a losing battle. Can you even buy strawberries loose anymore?

Out of the kitchen and into the laundry. What laundry? In India The Traveller hand washed all her clothes outside and hung it to dry. Hand wringing was sometimes a two-person job. The area The Traveller lived in is prone to fog and it was difficult to dry clothes on foggy days. The "Chinese laundry" set up in my rumpus room doesn't seem so bad now. After all, it's only the clothes that can't be put in the drier.

And finally, a piece of advice. When travelling in India the rule of thumb is to allow an extra five hours. Yes, five hours. I wonder how the people who get antsy if the plane sits on the tarmac a little too long or if the bus is late would cope in India. Hang on, that's me. I think there's a lesson in both patience and gratitude there somewhere.

We are just so lucky here. I'm not saying we're better or our life or our country is. I'm just saying our life is easy in comparison because of all the luxuries we have. And they are luxuries even though we think they're necessities. I also think we can learn a lot from the Indian lifestyle. It's not one I could adopt or cope with but I like the idea that less is enough when it comes to what's in the kitchen, as well as packaging. In fact, I like the idea in relation to our rooms and houses, too. My house feels pretty small but I bet if I off-loaded all the superfluous stuff it would feel big enough. After all, in previous generations a house the size of mine may have housed a couple of families or, at least, an extension of my own.

As for the five hour rule. Aaargh. I'm going to remind myself of it, however, every time I find myself feeling impatient because I have to stand in line or am caught in a traffic jam.


Monday, June 10, 2013

What Can You Eat?

Some friends invited us over for "beer o'clock" yesterday. One of them felt bad for a number of years and went through the whole see-saw of investigations until it was finally discovered that she had multiple food intolerances. She said that these days when people ask her what her dietary restrictions are, she prefers to tell them what she can eat.

I asked her what she can eat and she told me. It was obvious to me why she answers that way; while there is much she can no longer eat, there is still a lot she can eat so why dwell on the negative. I've written many times about what I no longer buy. Sometimes that frustrates the family and it becomes a case of having to point out what there is to eat, instead of dwelling on what there isn't. No, we don't have chips, dips and sweets. We do, however, have fruit, nuts, bread, crackers, cheese, veggies, wraps, rolls ... No, a lot of it isn't instant gratification. Not much in life is.

Trying to live in an eco-friendly and ethical way opens a can of worms. There is always more that can be done. I'm with my friend on this one, though. I don't want to focus on what we're not doing. I want to focus on what we are doing and feel proud of it. I've always said that it's more than some people and less than others. I'm just glad we're doing something. Furthermore, the better we feel about it, the more likely it is that the positive energy will carry us over into doing more.

It's been nearly two years since we decided to make the lifestyle change. There has been both progression and backslide. Nothing is set in concrete; we're writing it as we go along. I'm not very good at sticking with things so, for me to have been doing this for two years is quite a feat. It's still something I'm very passionate about.

As I write, the front garden is a disaster area. That's because we're in the process of having it turned into a productive garden. We still have our front door veggie patch, which is still giving us eggplant after eggplant after eggplant, and our raised beds in the back garden. That gave us no end of basil over the summer and is still giving us chillies. Over the weekend, Husband strung up several batches of chillies in our sunroom to dry out. I don't know how we're ever going to get through them all. Our winter lettuces and cabbages are growing well but the pea plants don't seem very happy.

The Ubiquitous Chillies

My laundry isn't going to dry on the line today so I'm using the dryer. Since it's running, there is no need to have the heater on.

The fridge and pantry are full of ethical and locally grown/produced food items.

I'm planning a trip to the Salvos soon to fill in some gaps in my winter wardrobe.

I've discovered that Gallery M is a treasure trove of interesting objects made by local artists that make great presents.

Now that Daughter has her drivers license, we share my car and that has cut down on driving and, thus,  carbon emissions.

It's all ticking over quite nicely. There's a lot we're doing.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shopping in Bulk

I've been putting time and energy into shopping ethically. It's no secret that when environmental and ethical concerns clash I choose the latter. The on-going dilemma is packaging. Sometimes the brands I buy come heavily packaged and looking at what I'm putting into the bin week after week is disheartening.

That being the case, I've been buying in bulk again over the last few weeks. We've got a great little shop ten minutes away where I've been going. My reluctance in the past was being unable to ascertain who made the products I'd be buying. Having done this for awhile, however, I've come to learn which products are usually owned/made by multi-national nasties. Most of the things I buy in bulk are the kinds of foods that are unprocessed and, therefore, much more likely to be made locally by a local company.

At this store, one still has to fill plastic bags, rather than bring their own containers. I've just been using the same bags over and over again. I know that they'll eventually make landfill but there are many weeks in between where I won't be contributing to the problem. They'll probably be demoted to rubbish bin liners or dog poop bags before landing at the dump. It's not ideal but it's preferable to the packaging some of the products come in which can neither be reused nor recycled.

The one item troubling me is couscous. If I buy it at the supermarket it comes in a cardboard box which can be recycled. This means I'm putting a box in the recyclables nearly every week. (We eat a lot of couscous.) Recycling raises its own environmental issues of energy usage and, thus, carbon emissions. If I buy it in bulk, I can buy more, less frequently and reuse the bag numerous times. In the end, however, the bag is rubbish. I don't know which is preferable. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

One Library to Rule Them All

The title makes it sound like Dr Who meets Lord of the Rings. The idea of one library isn't quite that dramatic.

The libraries in South Australia are in the process of joining together in a one library system. So far, I have only benefited from the move. I put a hold on a book I wanted several months ago and, when it came, it was the property of a library in a different part of the city. Similarly, a member of my writers' group saw a book he wanted at one of our meetings in a library to which he didn't belong. No problem; his card was good there anyway.

Last week I had a meeting with a friend I'm doing some work for. We went to my local library in order to use their wifi which is free to members. It's not just free for members of that library; any library card holder can use it. My friend belongs to another library but that membership allowed him use of the wifi. My work of editing articles on my friend's website just got a whole lot more portable. Maybe as the work increases I'll invest in a dongle but it's not necessary at the moment.

Generally speaking, I tend to find that centralisation can equal rationalisation and/or a cutting back on services. In the case of the one library system, however, I'm all for it. My local suburban library is a hive of busy-ness most of the time. Why wouldn't it be? It has computers, wifi, a toy library, pre-school activities, work tables, puzzles, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs and, of course, books. And whilst it's great to be able to reserve a book from any library, it's equally good to just browse shelves with no specific book in mind until the perfect one leaps out in front of you. It's the best of both worlds for me. The only thing missing is a good cup of coffee to sip on while working or reading there. Other libraries now have cafes near or even inside the building. To be fair, it's really only a short stroll across a car park to the nearest cafe, however.

My writers' group meets at a different branch of the same library. It's the main branch and, when we're there on a Sunday afternoon, it's always crowded.

That all being the case, I think it's unlikely the one library system will jeopardise local branches. Besides, we'll need to collect our reserved books from somewhere, won't we?


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Neglecting Near, Nurturing Far

Mother cut her activist teeth in the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. Deep South in the 1960s. She met all kinds of people and learnt many valuable lessons. It was from those experiences that she developed an intense dislike for activists who treat individuals badly. She firmly believed that it was the height of hypocrisy to march for better rights and conditions for people and then treat a checkout operator with disdain and condescension or cheat on your spouse or beat your kids, whatever. I’ve certainly met some of those people and I share Mother’s dislike. Yesterday, however, I was one of those people. It’s all very well to sit at the computer and write what I hope are eloquent blogs or shop with the Ethical Consumer Guide in my hand but I left my grumpy footprints across Teenage Son’s psyche yesterday. Compassion did not begin at home.

On my behalf, it was always going to be a tough day. I had a lot to do, was suffering from hormonal grumpiness and hormonal insomnia which was exacerbating the grumpiness and Teenage Son was having braces put on. I try to look after myself to avoid such situations but hormonal insomnia only lasts a week or so and there’s not much I can do about it. Unfortunately, I’m like a cantankerous toddler when I’m overtired.

Teenage Daughter couldn’t wait to have braces to close a gap between her front teeth. We always told Teenage Son he wouldn’t need them since he had straight teeth. Famous last words. A quirk of nature meant that one of his adult canine teeth ended up sitting crooked in the gum and wouldn’t come down. All because of that, he’s had to have the baby canine removed, his gum opened and a chain attached to the adult tooth. Now braces are holding the other teeth in place and encouraging the adult canine to grow and to do so straight.

Teenage Son is a very good trumpet player; more than that, he’s a passionate trumpet player and it defines who he is. When we arrived home yesterday, Teenage Son was understandably on a downer. His mouth was aching and his tone on the trumpet was not up to its usual standard. As a lay person, I thought it still sounded very good but he’s a perfectionist and was well aware of the difference. He and I were alone in the house together so I was the person he took his anger and frustration out on.

I’ve become fairly adept at shielding myself from teenage angst and not personalising it. Not so yesterday. First, there was the low-level complaining. I tried soothing and placating. That made things worse so I tried just listening but was then told I was ignoring him. My back began to get up. Eventually, I shouted. I can’t even remember what the trigger was or what I said. What I can remember, however, is his face as I did so and the way I felt inside, even as I did it.

Almost as soon as I’d finished I apologised. Of all the times to yell, it had to be when he needed to be strongly nurtured. I think mothers often feel too much guilt but I’m wearing and claiming every ounce of guilt I feel on this one. We were fine later - he even teased me about it in front of his sister – but I think neither of us will forget it in a hurry.

Today was a nurturing day for both of us. Teenage Son stayed home from school, the pain rendering him unable to eat or concentrate, even with analgesics. I only did the red star things on my to-do list, spending time instead with Teenage Daughter who had a late start at uni and Teenage Son when he eventually emerged from the fog of sleep. I tempted him with porridge and milkshakes which he devoured and we just sat and chatted or watched his favourite show together.

I still feel ragged, having not slept well again last night but the low-key day helped a lot. I don’t feel as if I’m going to burst into tears or yell at the slightest provocation anymore. One blogger I follow wrote some time ago that sometimes we need to think of ourselves as toddlers and nurture ourselves accordingly. Ie. “Rachel gets grumpy when she’s overtired.” Maybe I should have made yesterday one of those days when I only do red star things. I didn’t know until I snapped at my son, however, how fragile I was feeling. Maybe I need to be proactive when I’m overtired and assume I need nurturing.

What about teenagers? If my son had been a toddler I would have given him paracetamol immediately, fed him a soft lunch and tucked him in for a nap. The fact that he slept thirteen hours last night speaks volumes about his own tiredness. He’s not a toddler and he’s at an age where he is determined to assert his independence. Furthermore, I don’t have a monopoly on hormonal grumpiness; he’s fourteen years old. All I could see yesterday, however, was one angry kid pushing my buttons.

Today, Teenage Son fluctuated between cheerfulness and anger. The difference was that I was able to deflect and nurture, almost wiping away the grumpy footprints from yesterday. Now I feel like I can campaign on behalf of others again.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Shopping (Almost) Locally

It's good to shop locally, right? It's good for the environment and local business. It's even better if you're not just shopping locally geographically but buying local products.

My nearest shopping centre is great. There are two supermarkets, a butcher, baker, candlestick maker and even a library. Okay, I jest about the candlestick maker and have left others out for poetic license! Many of the businesses are independent, too. I live in a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant area in the heart of the mortgage belt so it's a pretty boring and homogenous shopping centre. What it lacks in diversity and "flavour", however, it makes up for with a sense of friendliness and community spirit. I rarely go there without running into at least one of my friends.

Over the past several months, however, Foodland seems to have decreased the number of brands it's carrying. The larger ones seem to be squeezing out the smaller ones and, while the shelves are as full as ever, it's more and more of the same. Furthermore, it's only carrying a fraction of some of the products that some companies make.

In the recent school holidays I ventured slightly further afield. Tucked away in an unassuming block of shops in the heart of industrial Lonsdale, is a treasure trove of a shop called Suntralis. They sell nuts, dried fruit, dry beans, grains, flours, cereals, snacks and sweets in bulk. Teenage Son loves going there so he was the reason for the trip. We had a great time filling bags with products we can't get hold of at our local Foodland. There was an added bonus in that we can reuse all the bags until they fall apart.

Maybe it was because of our trips to Suntralis, I don't really know but today I decided to shop elsewhere. I went to Pasadena Foodland. I read somewhere that "it's more than a supermarket, it's an experience". I've been there before and I'd have to second that opinion. It's a foodie heaven, filled to brimming with diverse brands and products. Interestingly, I went to my local shopping centre first for something and saw no one I knew. I had barely stepped off the travelator at Pasadena when I ran into one of the children's bosses. (Teenage Son is also working at the restaurant where Teenage Daughter works.)

I walked through the aisles finding everything I wanted and more, entranced by the fact that I passed a couple of women chatting in Greek, one of the checkout operators was African and I kept crossing paths with a young woman in hijab. I'm a sucker for cultural and culinary diversity.

The shopping centre also has a bakery, butcher, fishmonger, Target, news-agency and chemist, among other things. It's not local; it is, however, the closest best shopping centre to meet my needs. Furthermore, the Foodland actively promotes local producers. I'm having to go less local to buy more local.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

People Power

Two events have occurred recently that have got me thinking about people power.

A few weeks ago, local food company, Spring Gully Foods, announced that it had had to hire an administrator. I knew nothing of the company because I thought all it made were pickled onions and gherkins, neither of which I like. I certainly didn't know it was a local - and I mean local to my state - or that it was a family run business.

After hearing the news I went to their website to see if it made any products I might like; I really wanted to help. Me and everyone else in South Australia, it seems. A couple of days later I "liked" Spring Gully on Facebook so I could follow its story. After visiting its website I knew I would like to try some of its products. Me and everyone else in South Australia, it seems. I went to a bigger, independent supermarket and found that many of the Spring Gully products were sold out. I managed to get hold of a jar of sweet chilli chutney and one of jam. The chutney is really good but I haven't opened the jam yet.

Over the course of the next few days, many of my local Facebook friends were posting updates about Spring Gully foods; which supermarkets had which products and which were sold out. Spring Gully is still in trouble; there was a meeting with the creditors last week. It is in less trouble, however, than it was before and its administrator said that he had never seen such a turn-around before. I've got my fingers crossed for the company and I think the people of this state have its back.

How's that for people power???

So, what about this for a thought? What if the same passion were shown by the public by boycotting the clothing companies that use the kinds of sweatshops like the one in Bangladesh that collapsed? I can tell you right now that the cute $6 t-shirts on sale at Big W at the moment are made in Bangladesh. Maybe even at the same factory. Do you want one of those on your back? Do you want one of those on your conscience?

I use my Ethical Consumer Guide every time I go to the supermarket. Sadly, however, it only gives grocery items. You can bet your bottom dollar that if such a guide exists for other products - particularly clothing - I will find it and use it. I don't want to be complicit in future deaths and my silence and my buying of any of those products is complicity.

It was never my intention to use this blog for anything other than to tell my family's story and share our experiences. I never wanted to try to get anyone else to do what we do. Now, however, I ask each and every one of you to think about the clothes on your back and where they come from. You don't know? That's the problem and that's why companies get away with human rights violations. None of us know and we need to find out. Some of the companies using the Bangladeshi factory have been named and shamed so, please boycott their products.

Fellow blogger, Katy Wolk-Stanley made a similar heartfelt plea, along with other information. I would urge you to read that post to learn more about the situation and what you can do.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Media: Director or Reflector of Public Opinion

Like a great number of people in the First World I sat glued to my television screen in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

As I sat watching the same footage repeatedly shown, I noticed a worm move under the pictures which read that bombs had detonated in Iraq. I furthered realised that many more people were killed and injured there than in Boston.

It occurred to me that we're used to bombs going off over in the Middle East but when it happens in a First World country we sit up and take notice. At least I hope that's the reason because I would hate to think that we believe that First World lives are worth more than Third World ones simply because of an accident of birth.

I decided that the media was at fault for showing so much footage from Boston and none from Iraq. I immediately knew that the media would counter that argument with the justification that it was just meeting the public demand.

That begs the question: is the media the director or reflector of public opinion? Does it shape the way we think and feel about issues by what it shows or does it show what we want to see?

Either answer makes me feel somewhat hopeless. If the media shape the way we think and feel about things then we are living in the very society George Orwell wrote about in his futuristic novel 1984 and can no longer think for ourselves. Scary stuff.

If, on the other hand, the media really is just showing what we want to see, what kind of a society have we become when we place a higher value on someone's life just because of who they are and where they live?

Footprints is about trying to live as ethically as possible. To sit and blindly accept the images being shown without questioning the fairness of the coverage would go against the way we try to live. To blindly accept what we - as a society - have become or, at least, what the media think we've become would also go against it.

Fortunately, in the same week, I've witnessed a magnificent and heartening example of consumer power at its best. That, however, is for another post.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You're Going to Get a Fat Ass

Mother was a tall, thin woman, except for her bootyliciousness. Apart from the lack of booty I'm built like Mother. She used to look at me and say with deadly sweetness in her melodic southern U.S.A. accent, "Wait till you're forty, you're going to get a fat ass."

In nine months and four days I'm going to be out of my forties and, so far, my ass has decreased rather than increased. It's become a pancake and redistributed itself onto saddle-bags and a muffin top instead. I know that, at this point, my friends reading this are guffawing into their coffees, wondering where these saddle-bags and muffin top are.

I'm not saying I'm fat - far from it. It's just that I've reached an age where the body distributes things differently. It's not a problem for me because I know that I exercise and eat very well and Husband still finds me attractive. Consequently, I have no desire to try to fight middle-age.

Recent photos have revealed to me, however, that perhaps it's time to stop wearing tight t-shirts. Sadly, that's pretty much all I had...until today. I drove to a local shopping centre to use their branch of my credit union and walked the short distance to a Salvos shop. Fellow blogger, The Book Addict, commented about "incidental exercise" yesterday on my post. I got some of that and bought three new (to me) tops. They're looser than I've been wearing without the need for a Demis Roussos kaftan.

Later I drove to Marion to run more errands. I parked near the entrance in the underground carpark to be in the shade. After finishing there I did more incidental exercise, walking across the rather large carpark to the library. While I was over there I visited Gallery M where I found a wonderful Bat Mitzvah present for a young friend. Then I walked back to the car feeling self-righteous about how I had done my bit to save the environment and gotten some exercise in the process.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Those Sneaky Snacks

I did my weekly shopping, as per usual, at the end of last week. I feel pretty good about the origin and ownership of most of the grocery items I purchase. As I’ve written on numerous occasions, for me, ethicality trumps eco-friendly when they come into conflict. Many of the not so benevolent multi-national companies have jumped on-board the eco-friendly product bandwagon while still doing untold harm to the environment and/or their workers.

There was something that bugged me when I shopped last week, however. I’ve slowly let more processed foods creep into my trolley. Because the ones I buy are reasonably healthy and ethical I’ve let it happen. I don’t really think it’s okay, though. The more I buy that’s processed the more packaging I’m throwing into the rubbish. Even if the packaging is recyclable there is fossil fuel energy used in the process.

I don’t even know why I’ve been doing it. We always have snack appropriate food in the house anyway. It may not involve instant gratification but is that a bad thing? So what if you have to wash a piece of fruit before eating it or cut some cheese to put on crackers? Is it really too much work to make a cheese and tomato toasty? It’s quick and easy to grab a handful of almonds or walnuts, which we usually have in the house. I know a good many of them are also packaged but, to me, they’re necessary food items. I’ve been buying rice snacks and banana chips. Goodness knows, we’ve got fresh bananas!

In the ideal world where I’m drowning in free time I’d have far fewer items and do much more cooking. I’d bake my own bread, crackers, wraps and rolls. I’d do my own pasta and muesli. I’d spend hours reducing kilos of tomatoes into passatta. For now, however, they’re some of my staples. That’s enough. No need for processed snacks.