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Baby wipe solution recipe

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Friday, 16 November 2012
Green Parenting 0 Comments

Here is the solution I use to moisten reusable cloth baby wipes.

Note, I did some web research into different recipes and many seemed very complicated for such a simple matter.  So I made up my own blend. It's very easy.

Ingredients

Melrose Organic Castille Liquid Soap
Organic Camomile Tea Bags
Distilled Water

Method 

I boil about 2 cups of distilled water and put in a bowl with the organic camomile tea bag and let cool.  Then I apply a small squirt of castille liquid soap. I pour into the spray bottle dedicated to Juan's wipes. If necessarily, I fill the spray bottle with more distilled water. Easy.

That solution lasts about a week or so. 

However, I would like to point out that lately I've just been wetting the wipes with water. Nothing else just pure simple water. While Juan is on breastmilk, I think that is all that's necessary. Probably when he starts eating solids and those pooey nappies take on a whole new meaning I will go back to this solution.

Note: The castile soap is actually a bit harsh when I used it to wash my hands on a regular basis, so that's why I only use a very small amount diluted in the tea and water. The castille soap contains: purified water, organic olive oil, organic flaxseed oil, organic palm olein (Columbia), organic sunflower oil and glycerine. 

 

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Benefits of reusable baby wipes

by Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 15 November 2012
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This is the first of many entries about green parenting. It’s been 9 weeks since Juan was born, which gives me enough experience to comment on the effectiveness of some green parenting initiatives we’ve been trying out.

Probably my favourite green product so far is reusable cloth baby wipes. These are such an obvious and easy green choice, yet I didn’t consider them until late in the pregnancy when I found them on Etsy.

I bought a pack of 10 cloth baby wipes made from organic hemp from LilStuff on Etsy.  When they arrived, I decided they were too cute and lovely to be used to wipe Juan’s bottom.  So they became his bath washers instead – and they still make me smile every time we use them.

Curiously enough, I hadn’t really seen reusable wipes on the Australian market. However a few days after I bought from Etsy, I happened to come across some flannel baby wipes in a country craft market.  I purchased five of them and was offered that if I provided my own material, the crafter, Nicole, would make them at a discounted price.  So I purchased a metre of flannel from Lincraft and posted to Nicole, who made up around 25 wipes.

So, how do they rate?

Usability (Two Thumbs Up)

The reusable wipes are just great. I keep them in a basket on our change table and give them a few squirts of either solution or water (see the recipe I use for the solution) and use. I only need to use one wipe per nappy change, as the fabric has two layers, so I can use both front and back of the wipe if necessary.  It is only for really messy nappy changes that I need to use two wipes.  So, in a day, I guess we only go through a maximum of 10 wipes.  Once done, we just drop in a bucket of water in the laundry for soaking.

They will be easy to use for ‘on the go’ too.  To be honest, we haven’t needed to use them in our nappy bag yet, as we were gifted a few packets of disposable wipes which we’ve been using them for travel and on the go.  Once we finish the disposable wipes, we will use the reusable wipes. I bought a fair trade cosmetic bag from Nepal – in support of the Womens Skills Development Organisation Pokhara – and a little tiny spray bottle, to respectively house and wet the wipes.

In terms of washing the wipes, they don’t really require any additional effort. Anyone who has a baby knows that you wash every day or every other day. So we just throw the wipes in the wash with everything else and if anything, it helps fill the load.

Cost effectiveness (Two Thumbs Up)

The bottom line is that by using wipes, you can save up to $1,350 over the nappy changing period for two children!

All in all, the wipes only cost around $40. If we use water to wet the wipes (which I actually prefer over the solution, especially now Juan is still on breastmilk) – it doesn’t cost anything extra.  If we make solution, my calculations show that it would cost an additional $20 a year for the ingredients. Let’s throw in four packets of eco-laundry detergent to cover the proportion used for the wipes at a cost of $6.50 each. Say Juan uses nappies for 2.5 years - that makes a total cost of $176 (if using solution, otherwise, would only cost $126).

Let’s compare that to disposable wipes. The cheapest disposables I could see on the market was $10 for 480 wipes. Assuming there are 6 nappy changes per day and you use 2 wipes each change, you will use 4,380 wipes per year. This will cost $91.25 per year and $228 for 2.5 years.

Now, if we were to use disposable eco-wipes, it would be much more expensive. The cheapest eco-disposables I could find on the market was $5.50 for a pack of 80.  Using the same assumptions as above this will have an annual cost of $301 and $753 for 2.5 years.  Ouch!

That is just for one child.  Assuming that we have two children (ie 5 years in nappies), the total cost for:

Reusables: $100 initial outlay for the wipes  + $100 for the solution ingredients + $52 for the proportion of laundry detergent = Total Cost of $252.  If we don’t use the solution and simply use water, it would only cost $152

Non-eco disposables:  $91 x 5 years = $456

Eco-disposables: $301 x 5 years = $1,505

Wow.  Until doing that math, I knew that reusable wipes were cost-effective, but I didn’t realise by how much!  That’s a significant saving to any family’s household budget.

Environmental benefits

Reduces landfill

4,380 disposable wipes per year makes for a lot of waste going in landfill.  Not to mention the packaging of the wipes.  If you aren’t using biodegradable wipes, that’s quite a footprint.

Water usage

Admittedly, using reusable wipes does require water usage, both in wetting the wipes for use and washing them. As mentioned earlier, if you can throw the wipes into loads of washing that you would already be doing anyway, there is limited water usage.

However, disposable wipes also have a water footprint in terms of the water used in production of the wipes and packaging, however I wasn’t able to ascertain figures for a comparison.

Health benefits

Disposable wipes have been known to contain harsh cleaning agents, preservatives, and fragrances.  These may cause diaper rash. Eco-disposable wipes typically use more natural products and are better for the baby’s skin.

If you use reusable wipes, especially those made from organic materials, you are in control of what you use to wet the wipes with – so you can be in control of what you put on your baby’s delicate skin.  See the solution that I have been using with baby Juan.

So, there you have it folks. Doing this analysis has even surprised me – especially with the cost effectiveness of using reusable wipes. $1,350 worth of savings over 2 children! That is the equivalent of a flight back to the Philippines to visit family. Who said green isn’t good for the back pocket!

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Our HypnoBirthing Experience

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 11 October 2012
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On the 12th of September, our lives changed forever. Leland and I finally met the baby boy that we’d grown to love so much during our pregnancy. Our little Juan Govinda was born into the world, after a beautiful and relaxed birth using HypnoBirthing techniques.

Prior to the birth, the blog entry I had visualised and fully expected to write was this:

We were in labour for four hours and almost had the baby on the side of the road, because the birth was so quick.  When we got to the birth centre, we only had time to say hello to the midwife and fill the water-birthing tub before I started birth breathing.  Three breaths later and Juan arrived, naturally and with no drugs. 

That wasn’t meant to be. However, the birth we did have, was beautiful, peaceful and relaxed. It just also happened to be long and required an intervention. Yet, despite this, it has proved to me that I am incredibly strong and determined, as powerful as any woman can be.

It also proved to me that HypnoBirthing, beyond a shadow of doubt really does work. I mean REALLY DOES WORK! If I could make those words bold and red, underlined and italicized, I would. But that would be rude blogging.

Our son’s beautiful birth was long, with regular surges (aka contractions for the uninitiated to HypnoBirthing) every 3 minutes or less for days. Yes, you read right – days!But, don’t be mistaken. That wasn’t days of hysterical yelling, it was days of relaxed deep breathing, listening to gentle earth music, massage and meditation. It was days of affirmations, positive thinking and pure loving energy.

Rewinding a little, when we had first become pregnant with Juan, we were confused about our options and blindly thought that because we had private health insurance that we needed to go down the private path. We booked into an obstetrician, but something didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my pregnancy – that I was just relying on doctors to tell me what to do.So, I took charge and did some research, and found out about Birth Centres – which are attached to hospitals but are setup to contain home comforts and are run under midwife care.In Brisbane birth centres are lottery-based, and we were fortunate to be selected.

We also looked into alternative types of birthing that would empower us as a couple and allow birth to be the spiritual event we wanted it to be.At around the 5 month mark, we signed up for HypnoBirthing courses with Melissa Spilsted from HypnoBirthing Australia. Melissa radiates such a beautiful and positive energy – you know, the type of person you want to always be around because they make you feel that anything is possible (which it is, of course.) For the duration of the course, the HypnoBirthing classes were the highlight of our week. During the first week we were ‘de-hypnotised’ – ie we were untaught everything we previously thought about birth – and it was iterated that birth is a natural process that is age old. In the subsequent lessons, we learnt various techniques, followed scripts, learnt affirmations and watched positive videos.

It was great that we started the course early, as we had 18 weeks of daily practice before Juan’s birth. This entailed listening to affirmations, posting visualisations around the house and listening to relaxation scripts. We learnt to block any negative stories from our consciousness and only seek positive birthing affirmations and stories.

This worked. During the days of Juan’s birth, we drew on everything we’d been taught. We had all the resources at hand to be fully empowered. We spent most of the time at home, as home is really the best place to be – as it’s where we felt most comfortable and at ease. Then, as labour progressed, we went to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Birth Centre where we were overjoyed to find that midwife Deb MacGillivray (from Family Midwives) was on duty. I had only met Deb the previous week, but in the short session we had formed somewhat of a bond and had exchanged emails during the week. Like Melissa, Deb has a wonderful energy and is an inspiring and passionate woman.We were so blessed to have had such strong women to be part of our birthing journey.

Unfortunately, we experienced some special circumstances that meant that we had to be transferred to the birth suite in the hospital – which meant doctor-led care as opposed to midwife care – although Deb was there to support us throughout the process. This is where we had to draw on the HypnoBirthing affirmation – “I will calmly meet whatever turn my birthing may take”.

In the birth suite we were able to use the decision-making processes we had learnt in class, and were able to make clear-headed decisions.In the one time where I felt that I wasn’t in control, I did lose it. I succumbed to negative self-talk and I stopped HypnoBirthing. The ten minutes that followed were spent in crippling pain – as the adrenalin pulsed through my veins and fear cramped up my uterus. I resorted to gas, and felt hopeless and helpless as a fog entered my consciousness. After about 10 minutes of this, some strength came from somewhere deep within, and I pushed myself off the bed (prior to that I’d been actively moving around, allowing my body to guide me through the surges), threw away the gas and started HypnoBirthing again. The pain that I had felt simply vanished as I allowed calm and relaxation to overflow my being. I was back in control.

During the doctor-led care, there were a few experiences that I think also proves the effectiveness of HypnoBirthing. When I first arrived in the birth suite, the doctor was concerned that I hadn’t had any contractions. I replied that I’d had at least 3 in the last 10 minutes and hadn’t he noticed that I’d had one whilst we were talking? He arched his eyebrows in surprise before uttering: “I’m sorry, I am just used to women birthing very differently.”HypnoBirthing women labour with gentleness, calmness and quiet – unlike the movie-style hysteria that one normally associates with labour!

Towards the end of the labour – which apparently for some unknown reason was failing to progress, even though my surges were coming strong and regular, I was put on Syntocinon which is an inducing drug that takes over the body’s natural rhythm with an artificial rhythm. I had done my research, so I was very much aware that this was make or break time. For the next two hours, I HypnoBirthed through increasing dosages of Synto. Each half-hour the dosage was increased, and it was only sheer determination that got me through it. In the last half hour, the room was full – there were two doctors, around four midwives and a student (we joke that we’re surprised there was no news team!) – all watching in awe as I rode through each intense artificial surge after another, with the support of Leland. I later found out that this was highly unusual – one of the midwives explained that she’d never seen anyone manage such a high dosage of Synto without pain relief. HypnoBirthing really does allow one to manage and calmly meet all circumstances that come our way.

In the end, we did require an intervention, as was baby Juan’s choosing. I remembered the words that Melissa, our HypnoBirthing teacher, had told us during class on a number of occasions – that she truly believes that the baby knows the safest route into the world. I was really impressed with the hospital staff and their compassion and ability to keep my husband and I in good spirits. I don’t remember this time as one of disappointment or panic, but a happy time, as I knew my baby was finally coming to us. I remember laughing and cracking jokes, and practicing deep breathing so that baby Juan would remain calm.

Then, the moment came when baby Juan was born – under bright lights – but there was no cry of distress. At last he was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact and bonding. He was so beautiful, and clearly shared his Daddy’s features. Calm and alert, within minutes he was rooting around looking for my breast, and not long afterwards had self-attached and was breastfeeding with innate natural instinct.

Juan is now 4 weeks old, and our friends and family comment on how alert, peaceful and calm he is, and also how relaxed and calm my husband and I are. I firmly believe this is a result of all the HypnoBirthing practices we’ve done – and the knowledge that if during the labour we were able to calmly meet whatever came our way, so too can we with parenting.

Juan’s birth wasn’t textbook HypnoBirthing – but in my mind, there is absolutely no doubt as to the effectiveness of the techniques. The whole process was an amazing experience and one that we can only look back upon with a sense of pride and strength. In parting, I just want to say that no matter what turn your birthing takes – it’s all a matter of attitude – you have the ability and strength for your birthing experience to be gentle, calm and rewarding.

Note:  Our midwife, Deb, also wrote up an entry about Juan’s birth.  Not only is Deb a compassionate (and passionate) midwife, she also has a beautiful way with words.


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Vegetarian, pregnant and healthy

by Cherie Pasion
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on Monday, 03 September 2012
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As I type this, I am 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant.  Playing the waiting game is proving to be a good time for reflection, as I have the time and space to sit back and think about the journey over the last 10 months.

A lot of my pregnancy has been spent forward thinking, occupying my thoughts on the most natural way to birth that suited us as a couple.  (We chose HypnoBirthing, and I’ll blog about it after the birth.)  I also spent a fair amount of time researching sustainable options for the baby.   

The pregnancy, itself, has been smooth sailing – probably the most blissful time of my life to date.  My daily green-living regime seemed to complement pregnancy very well. However, probably the biggest thing I was conscious about has been my vegetarian diet - as I wanted to ensure that I was giving my cherished baby boy the best start in life as I possibly could.  

What to look out for in a vegetarian diet while pregnant?

There are a number of minerals and nutrients that do require extra consideration for those of us who are pregnant (or breastfeeding) vegetarians:

Iron 

Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron each day (source).  This is compared to 18 mg that non-pregnant women need.  I tried very hard to try to get this amount from my food, doing the old absorb with Vitamin C trick.  Vegetarian food high in iron include chickpeas, raw pumpkin seeds, kale, spirulina and quinoa (to name only a few).  In the end, however, I had to take supplements, as a blood test revealed my iron levels were low.  I’m not sure how much of this was diet based, as my meat-eating sister was pregnant at the same time and required iron supplements, as did many of her friends.  So possibly there were other factors that led to my iron deficiency.

Protein

This isn’t really dissimilar to any other time of life.  All balanced diets require protein, but it’s important to keep up protein intake during pregnancy.  This proved to be a challenge during the first trimester – as, like so many other women, all I wanted to eat was carbs. Luckily, however, cheese goes so well with crackers and bread! I was happy to find that quinoa was high in protein – so throughout the pregnancy I have been eating quinoa as a replacement to pasta and rice.  I also made sure I added superfoods such as chia to my daily yoghurt and had a container of nuts on my desk at work.

Vitamin B12

Again, this is always a concern for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.  My pregnancy multi-vitamins contain B12, as do my daily dose of chia seeds, spirulina (see image to the right), which incidentally is also high in protein and iron.  I never seemed to have an issue with Vitamin B12. 

Calcium

In the last few years, I have tended to shy away from drinking milk - for various reasons.  However, during my pregnancy I have found myself drinking glasses of milk – my body seemed to ask for it.  When I didn’t drink much milk or eat a lot of yoghurt, I would wake in the middle of the night with painful cramps in my calf-muscles.  My midwives, along with internet research, suggested this was calcium deficiency.  I started drinking more milk and yep, goodbye cramps! You may be interested to know that dairy isn't necessarily the best way to consume calcium - green leafy vegetables also contain a high amount of calcium, as do chia seeds.

Omega-3

OK, this is where I must admit, I do not comply to a strict vegetarian diet.  Omega-3s are good to help the brain and nervous tissue development of the baby.  The best vegetarian source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (according to Gabriel Cousens in Conscious Eating) is flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.  Unfortunately, early on in my pregnancy it became apparent that I couldn’t stomach either.  So I have been taking fish oil supplements, ensuring that the oil is of the highest quality, sustainably-produced and mercury free.  I figured that I didn’t need to be put in a box, and if it was best for the baby – then I’d take the supplement, simple as that. 

If you are vegetarian or you want to be vegetarian and contemplating pregnancy – the best advice I can give is to trust yourself and your body – you will know what you need.  When I first became pregnant, I got a bit excited and ordered a book from Amazon about vegetarian recipes for pregnancy.  I have not tried a single recipe – the food in the book isn’t really for my palate.  I should have just trusted myself, as my inner wisdom has been enough.

Disclaimer:  the above information is just based on my experience and research only, I am not a dietician or medical practitioner.  If you have particular questions or concerns about your vegetarian diet while pregnant, I suggest you talk to your care provider.

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Eco options to get rid of cockroaches

by Cherie Pasion
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on Friday, 31 August 2012
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A friend at work just moved to Brisbane from the UK, and was distressed by the amount of cockroaches he suddenly found himself cohabiting with.  He was asking what we did to get rid of them, and here were the eco-friendly options I suggested:

1)  This is possibly a bit obvious - but clean up the kitchen, don't leave food lying around that the cockroaches can snack on during the night.  Also, try not to leave water lying around in glasses, containers or vases.

2)  Spread some bay leaves around your cupboards and pantries.  Apparently cockroaches are repelled by the smell of bay leaves.  

3)  Baking soda and sugar.  I'm not too sure how I feel about this, as it seems a bit mean, however I have heard people swear by this.  Put some baking soda and sugar into a small dish or jar lid, and right next to it, place another dish with water.  The cockroach will be attracted to the sugar and will also eat the baking soda.  Then, when it drinks some water, there is a chemical reaction in the cockroach's stomach which explodes.  Yep, it's a bit mean, so I tend not to use this method very often.

Does anyone else have a roach-ridding method (that doesn't involve nasty chemicals) that they swear by?  Feel free to share.

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Shopping for babies - how to cut down on the 'fluff'

by Cherie Pasion
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on Saturday, 12 May 2012
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I went into a baby store for the second time today.  For the second time, I was overcome with feelings of how overwhelming shopping for a baby can be.   

I thought I would be really excited, but instead, I was awestruck at just how much 'stuff' is out there aimed at unsuspecting soon-to-be mum's like me.  

Furthermore, it was amazing how few of the products are geared towards sustainability.  It made me realise, that if I wanted to use sustainable products, I'd have to be a bit more creative in my research.

So, instead of getting caught up with what is the on the market and being lured into unnecessary purchases, I have compiled a list of what I need - which I then sent over to my sisters for their thoughts and advice.

Because I have a project planning background, this list is now a little Excel spreadsheet tasklist (see above) - split out into categories, and who is responsible for the purchase (my husband has his own list of things to buy - music, car seats, funky little beanies etc).  From now on, we'll do our own research on what's out there, and what the sustainable options are. 

Which begs the question, what do I mean by sustainable options?

  • Pre-loved in good condition, meeting current safety standards
  • Made from non-toxic materials, and chemical free
  • Reusable

I think from now on I might give baby stores a miss (unless they have the sustainable options I need).  There are great internet sites out there, such as GumTree and Etsy, that allow us to pick up pre-loved or reusable options.  Also, a number of online baby stores are out there - you just need to do a google search.  

We've also taken used items from some family members who are happy to get some shed-space back.  Of course I don't necessarily want everything to be pre-loved, so I'm also finding that local markets are a great place to do some shopping, with 'eco-baby' stalls popping up in all sorts of local markets - offering natural and organic products.

Which reminds me, Mathilda’s Market is coming up in Brisbane on May 26.  I have walked through one before, and it is delightful – full of one-of-a-kind, handmade baby and children's items.  Check out Mathilda's Market website to learn more and find out when they will be at a location closer to you.

PS. Here is a thought from Choosing Our Future to leave you with.  I think there is definitely a time and place for prams and strollers and will definitely be buying one, but most of the time I would like to be a babywearer. 

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Soapnuts – do they really work?

by Cherie Pasion
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on Saturday, 11 February 2012
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Last July I started using organic and fair trade soapnuts as our primary clothes washing detergent.  7 months on, I’ve had enough experience with them to write a proper review as to whether I believe soapnuts really work.

Photo source: New Internationalist Shop Online

What are soapnuts?

According to Wikipedia, soapnuts, or Sapindus mukorossi, are part of the Lychee family and the fruit pulp are used to make soap.  Soapnuts have been used for washing for thousands of years by native peoples in Asia as well as Native Americans, plus they have been used in folk remedies historically also.

Recently soapnuts have hit the shelves in green living shops in the Western world, as a natural alternative to clothes washing detergents.  I bought my Soapnuts from New Internationalist Shop Online who describe them as “an environmentally friendly, sustainably produced,  bio-degradable and compostable alternative to commercial laundry detergents”.

I probably would have added the words “cost effective” into that description as well. 

The soapnuts themselves aren’t really nuts, but more like shells or husks.  They are soft, shiny and slightly sticky (almost the consistency of dates) and smell mild and pleasant.

How to use soapnuts?

It’s extremely simple. You put 6-8 soapnut shells into a small calico bag (provided with the soapnuts), soak in hot water for a couple of minutes, and pop into the washing machine.  I usually add a few drops of Lemon or Lavender Oil onto the calico bag before adding to the washing machine to give the washed clothes a clean, fresh smell. 

Do they work?

I did some research prior to using soapnuts, to see whether they were worth trying.  I came across this blog entry by Playing Fair, where the author, Nadiah, provided a test comparison showing how Soapnuts fared against her usual washing detergent, EcoStore’s washing powder.   After reading her blog, I was sold, and I bought a packet of soapnuts.

After 7 months of regular use, I have mixed feelings about soapnuts.  The marketing material states that soapnuts are “especially good for colours”.  Yes, I do agree with that - they are good for coloured clothes.  However, my experience has been that soapnuts are not so effective with whites.  Our white t-shirts and underwear sadly took on a grey appearance after awhile, and we’ve resorted to soaking our whites in Earth Choice liquid detergent (another eco-friendly alternative to commercial detergents) before adding them to our soapnut wash.

I’m also not very impressed with how soapnuts handle marks on clothes and stains.  They seem to be really good at washing clothes that are just dirty from normal wear, but I've consistently noticed they aren't very effective with clothes that have had something slopped on them or stained. (For example, I just took out a load of washing now, and one of my husband's work shirts still has a lot of deodorant residue in the underarms, that needed additional scrubbing.)

My verdict

Love them for their sustainable and fair trade nature

I do love the concept of soapnuts – I love how they are natural, organic, fair trade and thus support all the values that I hold dear – such as uplifting the lives of the workers, being environmentally-friendly etc.  I also love the fact that we can use the small calico bag filled with soapnuts for weeks and weeks without having to replace them (they last around 6 washes), and once we're done with them, they go straight into my composter, making lovely soil that we can grow organic herbs and vegetables with.  I also love how they come in sustainable packaging that can be reused, and given how long they last, by using one bag for almost a year, we cut down on household waste.  So, from that perspective, I think they are fantastic.

They are cost effective

The soapnuts are also extremely cost-effective.  We’ve been using this bag now for 7 months and we’ve still got more than half a bag left.  At $17.50 a bag, that has worked out to be $0.43 a wash so far.  By the time we’ve finished the bag, that will have translated to approximately $0.15-$0.20 a wash.  Not bad. 

But... didn't wash my whites so well...

However, from a washability perspective, I think that once this packet runs out (probably another 9 months worth), we’ll go back to eco-friendly and sustainable laundry powder – at least for whites and stained clothes.  We are expecting our first child in September and I’m not sure that soapnuts will be able to wash reusable diapers very well – given our experience with stains and whites.

Don't give up yet, apparently more recipes worth a go

Although, doing my research for this blog entry, I have realised that there are other ways to prepare the soapnuts for washing - for example, boiling them first and making a liquid - which has seemed to have had better results than adding them straight to the wash like I have been.  I have also found recipes for general purpose cleaning detergents that might be good to try out also (will add another blog or update this one when I've had a go).

In any case, I’m glad to have found soapnuts and given them a go.  I was pleased to have had the opportunity to give Mother Earth a helping hand, as well as Asha Handicrafts Association in India, who followed fair trade principles in producing the soapnuts. 

I would encourage you to buy them and try them out yourself – and come back with any feedback on how you were able to have better luck with whites than we did - and if you have other uses for soapnuts.

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Good reasons to Say No to Plastic and Bring Your Own Bag

by Cherie Pasion
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on Saturday, 28 January 2012
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We recently had a friend stay with us for a couple of months.  He’s quite socially-minded, so, it came as a bit of a surprise when I realised he wasn’t as environmentally-minded as his civic side.  Shock horror, our friend didn’t use reusable bags. Our blissful green-living apartment was overtaken by plastic bags and the fridge became a place I’d peer into and cringe.

So what’s the big deal about using plastics?

Here are some staggering facts:

  • Plastic bags last from 20 – 1,000 years. (Source:  Clean Up Australia (CUA))
  • Plastic bags are good at escaping, and float easily in air and water, travelling great distances. (Source:  CUA)
  • Currently only 3% of plastic bags used in Australia are recycled. (Source: CUA)
  • Australians use around 4 billion plastic bags a year – that’s over 10 million new bags being used every day.  (Source:  CUA)
  • An estimated 3.76 billion bags are disposed in landfill sites throughout Australia each year.   Australians dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute. (Source: CUA)
  • Australians are the second highest producer of waste, per person, in the world with each of us sending over 690 kilograms of waste to the landfill each year (the United States is the highest waste producer).  (Source: CUA)
  • It is estimated that 50 million bags enter the Australian litter stream each year.  Unless they are collected, they’ll remain in the environment and accumulate at a staggering rate. (Source: CUA)
  • Plastic has remained the common category of rubbish picked up on Clean Up Australia Day over the last 20 years.  In 2009, it made up 29% of all rubbish found.  (Source: CUA)
  • It costs Australian government, businesses and community groups over $4 million annually to clean up littered plastic shopping bags. (Source:  CUA)
  • Plastic is the largest source of ocean litter.  The second most abundant ocean pollution is cigarettes.  (Source:  ReuseThisBag.com)
  • Ocean debris worldwide kills at least 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea animals such as whales, seals, turtles.  (Source:  ReuseThisBag.com)
  • Plastic bags are often mistakenly ingested by animals, clogging their intestines which results in death by starvation. Other animals or birds become entangled in plastic bags and drown or can’t fly as a result.  (Source: Envirosax.com)
  • Even when they photo-degrade in landfill, the plastic from single-use bags never goes away, and toxic particles can enter the food chain when they are ingested by unsuspecting animals.  (Source: Envirosax.com)

Read more about the use of plastics in Australia with this factsheet put out by Clean Up Australia.

As you can see, using plastics indiscriminately is a health issue, an environmental issue and an international development issue.  There is a very clear link between environmental degradation and poverty.  In countries like the Philippines, with 7,107 islands surrounded by ocean - an indiscriminate use of plastic and disposing improperly of plastic can impact upon all kinds of industries that the local people, already struggling in their day-to-day lives, are even further impoverished from.  One such example is the fisheries industry.

What can you do?

The simplest thing you can do is refuse plastic bags. It’s as simple as that. 

Bring reusable bags with you wherever you go.  I have a reusable shopping bag in every single one of my handbags and we have a stash of green bags in our car.  I know it might be harder for guys, who don’t carry handbags, but there are some really nifty foldable reusable bags that fold down to nothing – you can carry them in your pocket.

If you are only buying a few items, hand carry them to your car or back to your house. 

There will always be the occasion where you need to use plastic bags, and instead of throwing them out, here are some uses for them:

  • Take them back to your local supermarket who will likely offer recycling facilities
  • Reuse your plastic bags – take it back to the shop with you next time for reuse, store clothes or food in it, take it with you on your next picnic, use as bin-liners so you don’t have to buy plastic bin-liners.

Not just plastic bags – say no to plastic packaging

But don’t forget – it isn’t just plastic bags that you should avoid – but all kinds of plastic packaging where possible.  Don’t use separate plastic bags when buying fruit and vegetables, the checkout clerks can scan them without needing to gather them in plastic – and just give them a good clean back home.

When buying any product, look for alternative packaging to plastic, such as no packaging at all, or recyclable paper, cardboard and cornstarch products.

Join a Clean Up

There is a sad truth out there - no matter what we as individuals do - others will still use and throw away plastic.  But the good news is that we can be part of the solution there too!

When you're out and about, if you see plastic, pick it up and dispose of it thoughtfully - this goes for hiking, at the beach, or just in your neighbourhood (especially in your neighbourhood - we have to start in our own backyards).

Clean Up Australia Day is an annual event that you can join.  This year, it's on Sunday March 4.  Go to their website to find out where you can join in your local area or if there isn't an event near you - organise one!  www.cleanup.org.au

You can always organise a clean up with your family, community group, school, church, office etc.  I co-organised two large-scale cleanups in the Philippines for International Volunteer Day in 2009.  It was quite a lot of organising, but well worth it on the day and we joined forces with the local and national government, the United Nations, community groups and volunteers from all over the world.  Some photos are below.  If you're interested in organising a cleanup, I'll be glad to share in some tips and hints on organising a cleanup - and the internet was full of helpful resources.


Manila Bay before the cleanup - miles of trash almost a foot deep.

Hundreds of volunteers clean up rubbish in Manila Bay, predominantly consisting of plastic products.

 

 

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Green living during business travel

by Cherie Pasion
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on Tuesday, 01 November 2011
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For the last 3 weeks and for the next 4 months, I’ll be doing a weekly eastern-seaboard commute – Brisbane to Melbourne.  I wake up at 3.30am on a Monday morning to arrive at work in Melbourne by 9.00am, and I return back to Brisbane on Thursday evenings.

To the green-living advocate, this isn’t the most desirable position to be in – but hey, this is life, right?

So, I’m now facing a pretty big challenge in my green-living quest – how do I do business travel responsibly? 

Here I would really like your feedback and I’ll be doing some research of my own.  But, my initial thoughts are:

Flying & Commuting

To the green-living advocate – flying is pretty much the worst thing you can do.  In fact, I did a carbon footprint test a few days ago, and by flying each week – plus an international flight from Australia to the US a month ago for work – I have increased my footprint dramatically (as a domestic return flight adds about a tonne of greenhouse gases).

So, what can I do?  This week I was lucky to work from home – which significantly reduces my footprint.  On other weeks when I need to be at the client site, I can offset my flights.

The commute to and from the airport is also something I can consider.  At present I catch a taxi to the airport from my home and my husband often picks me up.  I don’t have much of an alternative here – as there is no public transport option to commute to the airport, but we live less than 6km's away.  Perhaps in the future it’s best to catch a taxi both ways, so my husband doesn’t need to make a return trip when he picks me up (and he can have a delicious homecooked dinner ready and waiting for me!)

During the commute to and from the airport and work – I carpool with colleagues.  Our consulting office arranges our flights so we all fly in at the same time, and we hire one or two cars for us to carpool during the week.

Accommodation

Our consulting agency has booked us into a hotel in the city, which is run by Accor, and adopts some environmentally-friendly practices, although I haven’t asked what energy they use or if they have a greywater recycling facility (doubtful). 

In doing my part, I make sure that my towels and sheets aren’t changed during my stay and I don’t tend to use air conditioning, watch television or use appliances other than the hairdryer.

Eating

Sustainable eating has been my biggest challenge to date.  Normally, in Brisbane, I go to a farmers market on the weekend and buy organic and fresh products for use during the week.  But now I’m uncertain as to how best handle this.  The hotel room has basic kitchen facilities, which is a positive, and generally I buy cereal, organic yoghurt and fruit to prepare in the hotel.

For lunch I tend to eat at the client’s subsidised canteen – as they have a pretty decent daily vegetarian option and a good sandwich bar.  Our office provides fresh fruit on a daily basis (and lollies and chocolate – which I avoid like the plague and instead bring in my own trail mix).

For dinner I either catch up with friends or go out with my colleagues to discover Melbourne’s funky little eateries in the plethora of laneways. If choose to be alone, I go to Gopal’s - the legendary Hare Krishna vegetarian restaurant on Swanston St, that’s been in operation for more than 30 years.  Gopal’s feeds my body and soul – with homecooked, loving meals that give me all the nutrients my body needs and more.

But, I must say, I’m getting really sick of eating out for two meals a day – and need to start working out a balance here.  I don’t wish to buy ingredients that I won’t consume within the week – as I have limited storage options and don’t particularly enjoy wasting food.  I do plan to buy a travel blender so I can make green smoothies and have raw food blended meals, as these are full of living enzymes and nutrients but simple and no fuss.

In terms of health supplements – travel seems to take a lot out of me – so I bring a cocktail of vitamins down with me, and leave a bottle of bee pollen and linseed oil down at the hotel.

If anyone has any suggestions here – I’d love to hear it – as there are still four long months ahead!

Bodycare and toiletries

I am extremely strict as to what I put on my hair and skin – so I ignore the little bottles of shampoos and soaps in the hotel – and instead use my own organic, fair trade and natural toiletries and bodycare products. 

Laundry

So far I have taken home my used clothes to wash in a full load on the weekends using fair trade and organic soapnuts and solar dryer (ie the sun whilst air-drying!)  I think I’ll continue to do that, as I don’t wish to use the electric dryer in the hotel.

How to improve?

That is my green business travel regime as of now – but it can do with some improving – I’ll touchbase back to this entry when I think of more sustainable practices.

In the meantime, I’d love to learn from you as to your suggestions – especially around food.  Do you have any good offsetting ideas?  I don’t necessarily want to use a big offsetting company – so if you have some more community-based and sustainable income-generating ideas – please let me know!

Update, 01/01/12:  I found an Organic, Wholefoods Supermarket around the corner from my hotel - so that made my sustainable business travel a lot more sustainable! 

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Athletes fueled by plants: running vegetarian

by Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 22 September 2011
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I ran my first half-marathon last Sunday in Sydney - fueled by plants!


Funnily enough, even today I read and hear comments about people needing meat for a complete diet and for the body to receive all the nutrients it needs.  Yet, there are many athletes out there who are running on a vegetarian, vegan or raw food diet, with top performance. 

So, who of our elite athletes are vegetarian?   According to Treehugger:

  • Bill Pearl – a four-time Mr Universe bodybuilder
  • Martina Navratilova – one of the greatest tennis players of the 20th Century (but recently gone pescetarian) 
  • Dave Scott – who holds the record for the most Iron Man World Championships (iron man consists of 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26 mile marathon), 
  • Carl Lewis – who ran the 1991 World Championships as a vegetarian

I have a few favourites of my own:

  • Scott Jurek – a vegan runner who has won seven consecutive Western States 100 Mile Endurance Runs on a vegan diet. 
  • Brendan Brazier – a professional iron-man with a vegan and predominantly raw food diet.
  • Matt Frazier – an ultra-runner who blogs under “No Meat Athlete” and dropped 10 minutes of his personal best marathon time, six months after going vegetarian.  He now competes in ultra-marathon races.

What do vegetarian athletes need to look out for in their diet?

Just as there are many different reasons why a person chooses to become vegetarian, there are different categories of vegetarian diets:

Fruitarian – diet consisting of raw or dried fruits, nuts, seeds, honey and vegetable oil
Macrobiotic – excludes all animal foods, diary products and eggs, uses only unprocessed, unrefined, ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ cereals, grains and condiments such as miso and seaweed
Vegan – excludes all animal foods, dairy products and eggs.
Lacto-vegetarian – excludes all animal products and eggs
Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – excludes all animal foods, however includes milk, milk products and eggs  (which is the category I fit under)

The Australian Institute of Sport has some good nutrition tips for vegetarian athletes.

Matt Frazier keeps a blog dedicated to healthy eating for runners and has a couple of ebooks to help marathoners and half-marathoners to plan their diets in accordance to their training.

Brendan Brazier has written a well-acclaimed book called “Thrive: the Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life”.

I must admit, I didn’t follow any fancy diet plan while training for my half-marathon.  I listened to my body and what it needed.  Many days I felt sluggish, so I would up certain foods according to what worked for my body. 

Are you a vegetarian athlete or considering going vegetarian?  I’d like to hear your tips for vegetarian running and sports.

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Running soothes my soul

by Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 15 September 2011
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I guess this is a bit of a reflective piece on how far I have come in recent months.  Tomorrow my husband Leland and I fly down to Sydney as we're competing in a half-marathon (me) and marathon (Leland) on Sunday. 

I'm absolutely pumped, and this surprises me, as I don't remember ever feeling this excited for a sporting event (that wasn't something travel related, like trekking in the Himalayas or something).

When we first decided to enter Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, it was back in April and we were living up in Cairns.  Neither of us had been running seriously for around 10 months or so, so our fitness levels were pretty much at ground zero.

I was in a really bad headspace, as I was working in a toxic work environment which had a debilitating effect.  I remember going for training runs (struggling to run 3kms) and thinking "Each step I take makes me stronger, and when my strength grows, so I will heal."

I knew that as my body improved its strength so would my mind.  I was right!

Now, several months on, I am able to go on long runs of 15km+ with no trouble.  At some point about 6 weeks ago, when I ran 20kms for the first time, my mind broke through a mental barrier, and I realised that I could do anything I set my mind to and didn’t have to settle for anything less.

Now, once the groove really kicks in (generally around the 8km mark) my mind and body work in unity and I feel alive.  I don't run with music, instead I run in the comfortable silence of my thoughts.  On Sunday, when I am running with thousands of others between two of the world's greatest icons, I'll remember how far I have come.  From a state of demoralisation to a state of absolute freedom and strength.

Thank the heavens for running, for reminding me I'm alive and can strive for anything I put my mind to.  I know that I'll make the 21.1km on Sunday.  And that next Monday I'll be signing up for a marathon.  But most importantly, I intrinsically know that when I apply myself to any task I do, it can be achieved.  And all of those lessons were learnt while pounding the pavement along the Brisbane River.

With our good friends Egg and Dee on our last race in the Philippines, June 2010.
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Home remedies for cold sores

by Cherie Pasion
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on Wednesday, 14 September 2011
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Who out there gets cold sores?  I bet there are a lot of you, and together we can share in the pain.

At the moment I have a couple of pretty severe coldsores.  On the weekend I was camping with a group of friends and we went for a 2 hour walk along the coastline to a lookout.  I left my bag in the tent and just carried some money in my pockets. So, when the winds picked up and my lips started to feel chafed and wind-burnt, I didn't have my trusty lip-gloss (I'm using a gorgeous one local to Goomburra Valley made from organic macadamia oil, coconut oil,beeswax, shea butter, honey and orange oil.)

I knew immediately what was going to come, so I started applying coldsore cream when I got back to camp, and when I returned home I started on the lysine tablets straight away, but, the pesky little coldsores still reared their ugly head anyway.

I'm using a store bought remedy, Zovirax, but I've also been researching more natural remedies.  I'm dosed up on Lysine and avoiding arginine foods (such as chocolate, nuts, and grains).  I also apply ice to try to reduce the swelling.

Today I have applied a warm tea bag to the coldsores, as I read the tannins have good healing properties for coldsores.  I also rubbed them with a cut garlic and applied the best quality peppermint oil that is on the market, as I read that they are good anti-virals.  I'll keep applying these remedies throughout the day to see how it goes, and will let you know later how successful I find them.

For those of you out there who get cold sores - I'd love to hear all about your experience with home remedies.  Having read a few other websites, can I please say right now that - No, this isn't a blog where I want to hear about the use of a) bleach or b) nail polish remover (Really??  I mean come on, do you want to put that on your lips?)

I look forward to reading about other remedies out there!

UPDATE:

It's been more than a month since I've written this post - and during this time, I have worked out the formula that really works for me:  garlic and peppermint oil.   As you know, when coldsores are in the system, it can be difficult to get rid of them.  Just when one goes, another one comes up.  So, whenever I have felt the tell-tale sign, I have rubbed the area with a cut garlic and topically applied a tiny bit of high-grade peppermint oil (mixing it with some skin cream to dilute).  It stops the coldsore in its tracks - and it never even breaks the surface. 

I don't really believe in panaceas - and maybe I've gotten lucky - but this really works for me, so I'll be sure to continue carrying around the peppermint oil in my handbag!

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Top toxins to avoid in your shampoo

by Cherie Pasion
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on Thursday, 08 September 2011
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Here’s a scary thought for you.  When you put shampoo or conditioner on your scalp, there are 20 blood vessels, 650 sweat glands and 1,000 nerve endings that soak in what you put on it.  Bad news if that happens to be toxins! 

Here's another scary thought for you. While I'm sure you wouldn’t eat your shampoo, you may actually absorb fewer toxins when you eat something than when you put it on your skin.
(Source:  www.foodconsumer.org)

In green-living, one of the easiest switches you can make is in body and hair care products.  Unlike a few years ago, the trouble isn’t finding an organic and healthy option, it’s narrowing down which one to choose. 

I was prompted to write this blog entry after having impossible luck recently to find a shampoo that really works for me at the moment.  Our hair constantly changes, depending on our hormones, our diets and other health and environmental factors.  At the moment my hair is driving me insane, as about two months ago I became vegetarian, and like the last time I was vegetarian, it makes my hair go a bit haywire.

I’ve been trying out different brands, as I’ve only got a few washes left in my only trusted shampoo, which unfortunately I buy from the Philippines and won’t be getting a replacement until the end of the month. 

Earlier this week I went to the hairdresser and we spent a fair bit of time discussing it.  Knowing I only choose non-toxic shampoos, my hairdresser gave me $60.00 worth (for free) of what she considered organic shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner.  I was pretty chuffed about my score, until I got home and read the labels.  What she considered to be natural and organic contained about 20 chemicals, and some of them were nasty.

Conventional shampoos are full of chemicals.  In fact, if you are using a conventional shampoo, go and take a look at the ingredients – chances are you’ll find around 10-20 chemicals listed down.  Not all chemicals are necessarily bad, just as not all natural ingredients are necessarily good for you (I don’t want us to be romantic about being ‘natural’ as nature has a lot of toxic booby-traps out there). 

What toxins to watch out for

These are the chemicals that I try to avoid at all costs (not just in hair care but in all products):

Parabens

This is a nasty little chemical that is unfortunately used in most body and hair care products. Paraben is a synthetic preservative derived from petroleum or gasoline base (that alone is more than enough to turn me off).  They are known to mimic estrogen, which can increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer, and a male exposed to this hormone as a fetus may develop fertility problems as an adult.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

These two are easy ones to watch out for – as they are in almost all conventional body and hair care products.  They are responsible for the ‘foaming’ that you experience when washing your teeth, hair and body.  We are used to using foaming agents, as the more foaming there is, the cleaner we feel.  In fact, that’s the main question I get from people inquiring about my experience with organic care products – do I still feel like I am clean? Yes, of course I feel clean, and in many cases there is still foaming, but maybe not to the same degree.  

There has been some debate as to whether SLS is toxic, but accordingly to Human Heart Nature, it is a known irritant.  Other sources show that it can cause organ toxicity and developmental/reproductive toxicity.  The main reason why I avoid SLS is because it has been linked with manufacturing contamination with 1,4 Dioxane, which is known to be a carcinogen and can cause damage to your central nervous system, liver and kidneys.

While we are on the Lauryl Sulfates, I generally avoid Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate for the same reason.

TEA, DEA and MEA

Triethanolamine (TEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and monoethanolamine (DEA) are generally chemicals which should be avoided.  They are often used to adjust the pH, and used with fatty acids to convert acid to salt, which becomes the basis for a cleanser.  Unfortunately, they cause allergic reactions, and the amines react with nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogens.

Those are the main ones that I avoid (and truth be told, most of the care products I use don’t contain any chemicals at all), but I just wanted to finish off by sharing one of the chemicals that was on the shampoo that my hairdresser gave me:  Methylchloroisothiazonlinone.

Wowser.  That can’t be good for you.  I googled it, and yep, it’s not.  It’s a preservative which is an allergen and irritant.

I reckon that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter – which is:   "If you can’t pronounce it, probably steer clear of it!"

Sources:
http://www.hallgold.com/toxic-chemical-ingredients-directory.htm
www.humanheartnature.com
http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Non-food/Environment/shampoo_2907100622.html
http://www.good.is/post/what-s-in-your-shampoo/

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Green Smoothies Explained

by Cherie Pasion
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on Monday, 05 September 2011
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As any self-respecting green coach would know, green smoothies are an essential part of any diet.  I’ve been enjoying green smoothies now for more than a year, since first trying them at Bahay Kalipay in April 2010 while attending a rawfood and innerdance retreat.

 

I wanted to write about green smoothies, because, between you and me, I’m slightly obsessed by them.  Honestly, I tell everyone I can about how great they are, I make them for my friends, family and colleagues.  I’m even planning to make some and give to my gym instructors this week! 

 

My love/obsession with green smoothies is starting to drive my husband slightly up the wall, and he groans whenever I bring them up (which is at least twice a week).  But even he loves them, and has dedicated a blog entry to green smoothies/raw food, and usually gulps his smoothie down a lot faster than I can.

 

What are Green Smoothies you ask?

 

Well, green smoothies aren’t what you probably consider smoothies to be.  They aren’t made on icecream or milk, instead they are made with leafy greens and fruit.

 

(Source: Leland Pasion, www.pinoyweekendwarrior.com - but I took the photo!)

(Source: Leland Pasion, www.pinoyweekendwarrior.com - green smoothie lovingly made by me)

 

“Urgh, a smoothie made on leaves and fruit. Yuck!”  Well, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I’d be rich woman by now.  Equally, if I had a dollar for each time someone tried a green smoothie, with their hesitant face all scrunched up and then a relaxed and surprised, “Wow, that actually tastes good!”, I’d be rich. 

 

In fact, I’ve given green smoothies to many a friend, colleague and family member and I only ever had one person not like it.  That one person was my 11 year old niece, and as we all know that kids like their food based on appearance, not on taste, she doesn’t count. Even my dog loves them, she'll lick up every last drop.

  

Why have green smoothies?  What are they about?

 

Why not have green smoothies, is more the point.  Green smoothies were ‘discovered’ by Victoria Boutenko, after ten years of being on a raw food diet.  She initially introduced herself and her family to raw food after suffering from serious illnesses (asthma, diabetes, obesity, thyroid disease etc) and successfully brought her family to health.  After ten years, she realised that something was missing from their diet, and after comprehensive research, realised it was large quantities of green leafy vegetables (as her family were primary fruit eaters.)

 

In Victoria’s research, she found that to access the super nutritional value of leafy greens, the cell walls need to rupture to release the nutrients.  So, she blended some leaves, realised they tasted pretty ordinary on their own, and added a variety of fruit.  The famous and well-loved green smoothie was born.

 

What is the nutritional value of green leafy vegetables?

 

I’m not a dietician or qualified health practitioner, so I’ll leave you to do most of your homework on green leafy vegetables, but apparently greens are a nutritional powerhouse.  I can attest to this.  Whenever my body feels sluggish (especially after going vegetarian again a few months back) or I feel lethargic, the first thing I do is make a batch of green smoothie, as my body is craving the goodness.

 

According to this website greens are perhaps ‘the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.’  They are rich in minerals, for example, iron, calcium (in fact, greens have more calcium than milk!), potassium and magnesium.  They are rich in vitamins including K, C, E and many of the B vitamins.  They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.

 

According to Winston Craig, who has a lot of letters after his name (MPH, PhD, RD),  leafy vegetables are ideal for weight management and are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.  They are also valuable for those with Type 2 diabetes.

 

How to make green smoothies

 

Much to the annoyance of my friends, whenever they ask how to make green smoothies, I usually give a vague answer of “Take any green leafy vegetable and blend it with any fruit.  Go nuts, get creative, have some fun.”

 

That’s never an answer that usually pleases anyone, and I get a reply of “No, I want to know what was in the green smoothie you made me the other day, what ingredients, what quantity.”


So, here are a few recipes of my favourites (or at least, the ones I remember!!)

 

Bokchoy, Pear, Kiwifruit and Mint Green Smoothie

 

1 bunch bokchoy, roughly chopped

1 pear, chopped

1 kiwifruit, chopped

A handful of mint

A generous dash of filtered water

 

Blend until all the ingredients have a fine, green consistency.  My friend Alex, who is an ultra-athlete (and is about to cycle across the USA, sleeping homeless, to raise awareness and money for youth homelessness through the Street Dreams Project, yay for Alex!!) makes this, but he adds ginger.  I tried his addition, and I love it.  Ginger is really good for those of us with an Ayurveda Dosha of Vata, as ginger is a great source of ‘warming’ food.

 

But, my favourite at the moment is:

 

Beet Leaves, Apple and Strawberry Green Smoothie

 

(Buy the beetroot in a bunch, as you can use the beetroot for salad (I recommend Jamie Oliver’s Beetroot, Pear and Feta Salad – so amazing!) and then use the leaves for smoothies.  Therefore, you get free greens, you use everything and therefore no wastage – win/win situation for everyone)

 

Several beet leaves, roughly chopped

1 red apple, unpeeled

4 or so strawberries, leave the leaves and stem on, extra nutrition for the smoothie

A generous dash of filtered water.

 

Blend until all the ingredients have a fine, red consistency.  Technically this is more of a red smoothie, what with the beet, apple and strawberries.  

 

I’ll add more recipes to the blog when I make some great concoctions.

 

Generally, I love to be creative, and use any green I can get my hands on:  bokchoy, beet leaves, spinach, celery tops (again, buy the whole celery, chop the tops off for the smoothie and eat the stems – no wastage), kale, sprouts, whatever.  I have used most fruits:  apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, kiwifruit, berries, passionfruit.  You can use fresh coconut water instead of water, and if you want to, you can add chia seeds and other nutritional boosters.

 

Green smoothies are awesome for breakfast!  (Source: Leland Pasion, www.pinoyweekendwarrior.com - breakfast made by yours truly and was delicious, thank you very much!)

Green smoothies are awesome for breakfast!  (Source: Leland Pasion, www.pinoyweekendwarrior.com - breakfast and smoothie made by yours truly and was delicious, thank you very much!)

 

Organic is best

One last thing I should mention, it’s best to use organic ingredients where possible.  I know this isn’t always easy, even for me – and I do try to mainly eat organic fruit and vegetables.  My raw-food mentors recommend to soak the ingredients in a bowl of water mixed with some white vinegar – as this ozonates the vegies, bringing them back to life, and removing dirt and insects.  

Resources

You’d be surprised how many people are talking about green smoothies – at least I am surprised, and I shouldn’t be!  I’m always coming across posts on green smoothies by athletes, health and fitness enthusiasts, and even the average Joe.  There are even green smoothie communities popping up.  Here are some resources where you can learn more:

 

www.greensmoothie.com

www.greensmoothiechallenge.com

www.greensmoothiesblog.com

 

What is your favourite green smoothie?


I'd love to hear what green smoothies you are making and love - so make sure you leave a comment and share the green smoothie love.

 

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Barefootprint Cleaning Recipe

by Cherie Pasion
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on Sunday, 04 September 2011
Green Living 0 Comments

Looking for a safe, eco-friendly and cost-effective way to clean your house?  Then read on!  For about 6 years or so, I've been cleaning my house with various different concoctions of vinegar, baking soda, lemons and water, with great results. 

It is a pretty common fact that vinegar has excellent cleaning properties.  According to this blog, a straight 5% solution of vinegar will kill 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold and 80% germs.  That's not bad, huh?  Baking soda is equally as well-known as a cleaning agent.

To digress a little bit, a few years ago I read a book on eco-living (I think it was The New Green Consumer Guide) and the author, Julia Hailes, was not very supportive of the use of food-supplies as cleaning products - which is a reasonable argument, as we've learnt this lesson from the use of food sources (corn, etc) in biofuel - as the demand for industrial purposes can drive up the prices of basic staples.  But, I'm not sure this is a problem just yet, but something I do keep in mind and am willing to change my stance if the entire population of Australia rushes out to buy vinegar for cleaning purposes.

To get back to the point, a few years ago, I was on the search for something with a little more pizzazz - something I could mix up in advance and just have in spray bottles waiting for use. With much trial and error, this is my tried and tested recipe.

Ingredients:

500ml vinegar
500ml water
1 scoop baking soda
Few drops of ethical dishwashing detergent (or at least biodegradable)
Few drops of Tea Tree Oil*

Method:

Mix together ingredients (the baking soda will make it bubble a bit, but don't worry about that).  Pour into old bottles, and a spray bottle for all-purpose use on benchtops etc.

Use undiluted.  Because the ingredients are all natural, they can be used on all surfaces.  It can be used in the bathroom, but for a hard scrub, you can mix together a little vinegar with a very generous amount of baking soda to make a scrub-like mixture.

Happy Cleaning! 

*  I use Tea Tree Oil when I'm in Australia, because it's made locally in Australia and there are some excellent brands around.  Tea Tree Oil has known antibacterial properties.   I'm also keen to use Lemon Myrtle Oil, which also is well known for it's antibacterial properties.  When I live in the Philippines, I use Lemongrass Oil - which I buy from a supplier who work with local indigenous communities to produce the oil as a sustainable income-generating project. 

Tags: Cleaning, Home
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Going back to basics

by Cherie Pasion
Cherie Pasion
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on Sunday, 04 September 2011
Green Living 1 Comment

A few days ago I received an email from my brother-in-law's girlfriend.  She had sent it to my mother-in-law and I as something to think about.  My husband's family are already eco and community-minded.  My in-laws grew up in the Philippines' martial law era under Marcos, and have activist blood running through their veins, which of course appeals to me, as I have activist blood running through my veins too.

I remember the first time I met my parents-in-law in a hotel in Bangkok, I was carrying on about the political situation in Burma (as they lived in Burma doing humanitarian work, and I also did humanitarian work with Burmese refugees).  It only struck me much, much later that it was kind of wierd to be ranting on about politics with such passion with the parents of the man you are courting - and that they liked it!  If that had have been done in reverse, to my family, well, I'm not sure the same level of respect would be there. 

So, when it comes to environmental and social-mindedness, we're all pretty much on the same page - and often send around links to share.

This is the email that we were sending and commenting about:

The Green Wave

A  nice piece on "Being Green" roughly translated from a Spanish article.
Are we really green?

In line at the supermarket, the cashier told a lady that she should bring their own shopping bag because plastic bags were not good for the environment.

The lady apologized and explained, "There was not this green wave in my time."

The employee replied, "That's our problem now. Your generation did not care enough to preserve our environment."

He was right - that our generation did not go green at the time.

Back then, milk bottles, soda bottles and beer were returned to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized before refilling, so could you use the same bottles over and over again. So, actually recycled.

But we did not go green in our times.

We climbed the stairs because there were no escalators on each trade and office. We walked to the store instead of riding in our car 300 horsepower whenever needed to go two blocks.

But he was right. We did not go green today.

By then washed the diapers of babies because there was no disposable. Drying clothes by ourselves, not in these energy-shaking machine at 220 volts - solar and wind really dried our clothes. The boys wore the clothes of their older siblings, not always new outfits.

But that lady is right: we had a green wave today.

At that time we had a television or radio in the house - not a TV in every room. And had a little screen TV the size of a handkerchief (remember that?), Not a pantallota the size of a stadium.

In the kitchen, ground and beat by hand because there was no electrical machines do everything for us.

When we packed somewhat fragile to mail, we used crumpled newspaper to protect it, not plastoformos or plastic pellets.

In those times there lighting a gasoline engine and burn them just to cut the grass. We used a lawnmower that ran on muscle. He worked out at work, so we did not need to go to a gym to run on tracks that run on electricity mechanical.

But she is right: there was at that time a green wave.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty, instead of using plastic cups and bottles every time you had to drink water.

The fountain pen ink Recargábamos, instead of buying new and we changed the razor blades instead of throwing away all the razor blade just because he lost his edge.

But we had a green wave at the time.

In those days, people took the tram or a bus and the boys were on their bikes or walked to school, instead of using the mother as a taxi service 24 hours.

We had an outlet in every room, not a bank outlets to power a dozen artifacts. And we did not need an electronic device to receive signals from satellites miles away in space to find the nearest pizza parlor.

So is not it unfortunate that the current generation is lamenting how old we were oddballs for not having the green wave in our time?

-------

For a long time now, I've been pondering on the irony of how my fellow eco-warriors of Generation X/Y and I are going back to the way of the past.  When I read this email, I realised that I consciously do 7 of these 11 points above - and I feel like I'm going against the grain of society.  I walk to the store, I catch public transport, I don't have a TV (well, we have a TV, it's just not connected), I dry my clothes on the line, I pack things with newspaper, I drink from fountains and change my razor blades.  But how many of my friends and family do these?  Well, increasingly the number of my friends (because like attracts like), but I'm not so sure about my family and colleagues.

But, I can't help but wonder how we expect people to go back to the way things were and call it progress in our day and age.  There was a reason why washing machines, blenders and all those other wonderful time-saving and convenient goods were invented.  How tedious it must have been to do everything by hand.  And whose generation invested these goods?  The generation that, in the email, were taking pride in their inherent green wave lifestyle.  (So the email is kind of hypocritical really).

Whenever I have pondered over this point, I can only conclude that there really should be a balance - of taking technology that really improves our lives and gives us the convenience that we are striving towards - and blending it with the sustainable ways of the past.  Why can't we have our cake and eat it too?  Why can't I have a solar-driven electric cake beater, or take a bus powered by bio-waste energy?  Why can't I take an escalator that was made from renewable and sustainale resources and powered by green energy?  Why can't we combine simplicity with new, green and efficient technologies that also uplift the lives of the workers that make them?

If the answer to the future of our race (as the planet will always repair itself - it's not the earth we are trying to save) is going back to the ways of the past - and the actions of the masses have to resort to a regress, rather than progress, I really can't see much hope.  But taking some smart actions to combine the past with the future, now that is something that really excites me - so, I hope the current and future generations can take up this challenge.

This is my first blog entry for Barefootprint Coaching - and I will be actively seeking out the new technologies and products of the gamechangers that do take up the challenge to build a sustainable future.  So watch this space - I can't wait to write about the wonderful inventions and technologies that do and will benefit our lives.

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