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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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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
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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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
Green Living 1 Comment

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.

 

Tags: Food
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Barefootprint Cleaning Recipe

by Cherie Pasion
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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