Monday, April 27, 2015

What Are Our Achievements?

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Day in day out we come across people or situations that make us realize how little we appreciate our achievements. It saddens me when I hear people say that they haven’t achieved anything in their life, well at least they think they haven’t. They can’t imagine how much they have already achieved, the problem is they don’t recognize them or value them as achievements.

A lot of us do not give credit to our own achievements and some are not even aware of them because:

a) If it can’t be seen or touched it isn’t an achievement.

b) If it doesn’t have a certain monetary value then it isn’t an achievement.

c) If an organization doesn’t stamp it and sign it, then it isn’t an achievement.

d) If you haven't been provided with a medal or trophy then it isn't an achievement.

Take a few seconds to think about what you have just read. Our conditioned mind operates on this level, making us feel that achievements are tangible and big in nature, and when we haven’t managed to secure them we feel incomplete. We do not need anyone to recognize whether we have achieved something or not, you must recognize it.

How many of you have sat down and wrote down the different things you might have achieved from the time you can remember until today? Well just like you, I had never done a list, but I sat down and did it, and I was amazed at what things I have achieved small or big. There is no one who has achieved nothing.

Achievements can take different shapes and forms, let us see some examples:

1 Increased your number of friends.
2 Got closer with your parents or others.
3 Managed to grow a fruit tree from seed.
4 Climbed a tree or mountain.
5 Swam in the English Channel.
6 Dived off a diving board.
7 Developed yourself year in year out.
8 Reduced your sugar intake.
9 Stopped swearing.
10 Helped a friend with a problem.
11 Helped a friend stop smoking.
12 Wrote an article.
13 Fixed a mobile.
14 Built something.
15 Read a great book.
16 Gave joy to somebody else.
17 Smiled more.
18 Overcoming a phobia.
19 Staying healthy.
20 Quit your job to start another journey.
21 Expressed yourself to someone.

Read them again, these are beautiful achievements. When you do your own list you will be just as surprised. Give yourself the credit you deserve, be proud of what you have done. Living life is an achievement alone, and what a beautiful thing right? Remember if you don’t give value to what you do then you will never see things as achievements. Don't let society or people make you feel like you have not achieved anything worthy such as the conventionalities.



Do not measure your worthiness today by comparing yourself to what others have achieved, you are unique with your own journey of achievements.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Doing The Green Thing On Holiday

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Going on holiday sometimes pushes us out of our habitual mode of thinking and operating. Being on holiday is a time where we are willing to pay for added convenience without thinking about the consequences of our actions. Going on holiday shouldn't change your responsibility towards the environment, if anything you have to learn to respect other environments outside of yours.

Even when we are on holiday we can reduce our carbon impact in many ways. Let us take a closer a look at some of these ways:

Choosing Your Accommodation 
There are a number of hotels or accommodations which make a conscious effort to reduce their impact on the environment, from structure, to operation, to maintenance. Some classic examples which i have come cross are:
  • Grey-water recycling, which is the reuse of kitchen, bath and laundry water for garden and landscaping.
  • Use of non-toxic cleaning agents and laundry detergents.
  • Energy efficient lighting
  • Renewable energy sources like solar power.
  • Encourage people to re-use their towels and bed sheets reducing water and energy consumption.
  • Air-conditioning shuts off when doors are opened.
  • Serve organic and local grown food.
Some of these establishments concepts are centered on their  unique ecological characteristics, and more importantly they are surprisingly interesting and exceed any persons expectations. There are thousands of such concepts to choose from. You night want to consider staying in one of them on your next vacation. Even if you have not chosen to stay at a ecological lodge, this doesn't stop you from acting in a Eco-responsible manner. Staying in Eco-friendly concepts can be quite fun and will exceed your expectations. Alot of people have the wrong impression about these types of accommodations, these can vary from adventurous to very classy places.

Traveling Around

What is next your probably wondering?, "swimming the Atlantic or Mediterranean to get from country to country". Well that wouldn't be a bad idea if it were physically possible. Well you could canoe it there! Here the basic motive is to consider your options, i.e. if you can walk it then don't bother getting a taxi or a bus. By walking around this allows you to absorb the surroundings better and getting a feel for an area. Most cities or towns have bikes available for rent, so that would be a great way to get around. 

What helps with deciding on how to get around requires a little planning. Gathering information about distances and climate may help you with deciding on the means of moving around.  A lot of cities offer a rickshaw service, allowing you to sit back and be driven around on a bike. Totally environmentally friendly.

So it really is simple. Your responsibility to the environment should never stop.
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Inner Peace Outer Purpose

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The other day these four words came to me “Inner Peace Outer Purpose” (IPOP). I sat and thought about them for a while and said to myself, now that is something missing from our lives.

Our ignorance or reluctance to listen to our “heart” or follow our “passion” prevent us from achieving inner peace and outer purpose. Peace and purpose are interconnected, as you find one of the two the other will be unveiled.

We have so many distractions on a daily basis like media and social pressure that divert our attention away from focusing on our precious selves. We tend to benchmark ourselves against the average expectation of society, which will most of the time make us feel dissatisfied, simply because society is constantly evolving and we end up playing “catch-up” and leading a very stressful life, eating up our peace, piece by piece.

So far I haven’t told you anything you don’t know, and I do not intend to either both because this is part of your individual birth right and we tend to forget this.

If I was to ask you “What does society expect of you?” you will be able to provide an answer quite quickly almost instantaneously without giving it a thought. If I ask you “What do you expect from yourself?” some of you will have some difficulty in answering this even when thinking about it. This tells us how much our minds have been conditioned in different ways, preventing us to get to know ourselves, but the good thing is there is still time. Non-conformity to the norm may be the secret to your peace of mind. The problem is few of us dare not to go down that path.

Doing what is expected of us as opposed to what we should be doing inherently has a negative impact. Money is what makes the world go round apparently, and we seem to be orbiting around this. As I have already explained in a previous article, when you follow your passion you will reap that financial return anyway. If making money is your objective then you will remain far from achieving IPOP. If we were to remove the financial reward associated with your employment you will most probably dislike your occupation, at least in most cases, whereas if you do what you are passionate about, which is ultimately your purpose, you will see that the real reward is in the doing.

We are constantly curious about other people’s affairs and lives, but our curiosity for our own self-discovery has not even yet begun. A conscious decision needs to be taken to achieve self-fulfillment and focus on climbing up the hierarchy of happiness. The more we delay the more we extend this torture.

We expect peace everywhere around us yet we are not at peace with ourselves.  So remember, IPOP.

"Always follow your heart, even though its on your left its always right" - unknown
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Palestinian Woman Recycles Tear Grenades

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Transforming negative energy into positive energy is a true source of inspiration. One such achievement has been identified in the village of Bilin, near Ramallah in the West Bank. A Palestinian woman has been collecting tear grenades used by Israeli Defense Forces and converting them into plant vessels. An important message to us all, a message in a "grenade".

On the one hand we have skilled technicians filling these grenades with harmful agents and on the other hand we have villagers filling them with earth and life. One is used to control masses, and bring out hatred. The other is intended to beautify our world with colours and scents,just as we are inherently intended to emanate love. The same object and yet it fulfils two very different objectives.

The tragic irony of this, is that the tear gas grenades are intended to cause tears, pain and blindness to the Palestinians, but this Palestinian woman's sentimental act makes us realize the tears families have shed, the pain that is being caused and reminding us how blind we have become.

What war can do, peace can do it better. It is acts like this which leave an impact, an impact in our hearts.








           
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thinking Outside The Box

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Whilst schools are focused on improving their education system, schools in India are lacking the basic facilities from their classrooms such as desks. Not having something as simple as a desk is having detrimental effects on the students. Aarmbh an India based non profit organization in New Bombay has found a solution to the problem, by turning cardboard waste into a bag and desk.

Most of these deficiencies are typical of schools in rural areas and slum communities. As a result there have been countless reports of children diagnosed with impaired vision and bad posture, not to mention their bad handwriting.

Aarmbha is an organization which aims on giving support to unfortunate children and women giving them chances of having a better life , for example by giving them the necessary skills to obtain better paid jobs enabling them to leave the slums.

Their “Help Desk” project is made using cardboard waste which has been collected from different sources such as recycling companies and corporate offices. Using stencil technology the cardboard has been designed in such a way which can be folded into a desk and bag.

The below video clip gives a detailed account about Aarmbh’s Help Desk:


The help desk has proven both an economical solution to providing the students in the Maharashtra region with a desk to write on, transforming waste to a life changing product.
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Mosaics Made Using PET Bottles

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Plastic beverage bottles are usually made from Polyethylene Terephthalate or otherwise known as PET. This is being becoming a popular recyclable material, addressing the huge problem of landfills, reducing the burden on our environment. Rivesti, a Brazilian company is using recycled PET bottles to make mosaics. 

Their mosaic range is providing home owners with refreshing and sustainable ideas to decorate their homes. Rivesti helps balance out the negative effects on our environment of producing plastic bottles, by taking the plastic waste and making ecological coatings. According to Rivesti, one ton of recycled PET saves 7.4 cubic meters of landfill space as well as emissions of 1,241 kg of CO2. Moreover, the company helps prevent, 1m ³ of the planet being used as a dump and the release of 166hg of carbon dioxide.

In addition to the ecological benefits associated with the product, it offers other advantages that include the following:

1. Use latest technology in sustainable flooring
2. Durability
3. Eco-friendly product improving the quality of life for people.
4. They weigh 66% less than glass or pottery.
5. Perfect alignment and uniform spacing between the squares.
6. Easy to handle, transport and install.
7. Can be installed up to six times faster than other alternatives.
8. Original and contemporary.

The Rivesti mosaic product range is 100% recyclable and is composed of 98% recycled materials. Their packaging is also made from plastic waste collected by co-operatives specifically responsible for collecting waste. It doesn’t get any more recyclable than that.

The below clip gives a demonstrative account on how the product is applied:

               

Their eco-efforts are not limited only to the products they produce but branch out to making them with the least possible impact on the environment. Focusing on ecological products is giving companies like Rivesti the edge over their competitors especially as customers are becoming more environmentally concerned, but they need to ensure that they out perform their existing competition.
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Friday, July 11, 2014

Self-Sufficiency Protects Environment

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My family's house is situated on a piece of land where we have a number of fruit and olive trees, as well vegetables. Our household consists of three people and we provide for our selves 365 days a year enabling us to eat and live healthy. Out of the total produce, we give 70% of it to neighbors and friends as there is too much. What is important about being self-sufficient is that you lead a healthy life but you are reducing your carbon foot print. 

There are many of us who have a garden capable of providing for themselves. There are also many who do not exploit their land and prefer to purchase. Our failure to exploit our land is harming our environment. Indulging ourselves in some small scale farming is a solution to protecting our environment, whether this be, growing vegetables, fish farming or breeding chickens etc.

Consequently by being self-sustainable we are reducing our impact on the environment because:

1. Less or no visits required to pick up groceries from town, reducing CO2 emissions.

2. Less mass scale supply of food as less demand for it as people becoming more self-sufficient. Large scale production harms our environment because of mass distribution, harvesting machines etc.

Some of us who do not have gardens or land, you can consider growing vegetables in large pots. An alternative solution is buying an earth box or actually making one. This is very convenient for those who live in apartments who do not have the luxury of a garden.There are a range of products and options out there helping home owners to become more self-sufficient Some of these products are: Earth box, city farming concepts etc.

If you have enough space to provide for yourself or family do it, if you have enough space to provide for others to, even better. You will notice that people would prefer buying from you than buying from supermarkets even if you were to charge more. Some people really do not have no choice but to buy from local supermarkets, so if you have land or space then consider it as a luxury.

Something as basic as contributing to our food chain protects our environment.
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

3D Printer Filaments From Waste

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Using plastic waste is becoming a preferred source of material by companies which through its exploitation is protecting the environment. Protoprint, a company based in India, is using collected plastic waste to make the filaments for 3D printers.

Collecting plastic waste allows both Protoprint and its stakeholders to enjoy certain benefits which include the following:

1. Due to lower cost base for the printer filaments, these are more affordable and price competitive.
2. Provides a solution to reducing mountains of plastic, especially in areas where there is an ineffective waste management system.
3. Our environment is protected against the need to create virgin plastic.
4. Help promote a different perspective on how waste can be re-used.  
5. Provides employment to less fortunate individuals.

Protoprint is capable of transforming high density polyethylene waste to a filament used by 3D printers which would otherwise be dependent on making the plastic filament from scratch. What gives Protoprint the edge as a socially responsible company, is that in collaboration with different waste picker co-operatives (e.g. SwacH) they train the waste pickers to collect, clean and shred the plastic as well as make the actual 3D printer filament, paying them better salaries to support a healthier lifestyle.

The short video clip below gives a visual in-depth understanding about the process and the concept:



Protoprint's product has been recognized as the worlds first fair trade filament, demonstrating that plastic waste can be utilized in innovative ways embracing the benefits associated with this process. Let’s hope that Protoprint has set the standard for other 3D printer companies, with the hope that they will also integrate into their supply chain the utilization of plastic waste.
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ecool Refrigeration System (VIDEO)

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When simple works why make it complicated. Danish company Ecool, has produced a product which keeps cans cool all the time by keeping them underground. The concept originates from the traditional basic method adopted many years ago, where people used the ground to keep their food refrigerated.

Ecool was created by four guys from Mors.They decided to return to basics as a way of using a natural process to keeping cans cool as ice without using any electricity.

Specifications

The Ecool system is installed in the ground. It has a length of 113cm and a width of 22-30cm. It has a capacity of 24 12oz cans. Using a garden drill you may make the necessary hole in the ground allowing Ecool sit comfortably. The coolers top is well refrigerated maintaining the same temperature throughout the unit.

Advantages of Ecool is that:

1. Keeps cans cool throughout the year.
2. Frost free in the winter.
3. No use of electricity.


Take a minute to watch a short clip showing the mechanics of Ecool:

             

A little digging into primitive techniques could uncover some economical and eco-friendly concepts green worthy.

Ecool, keeping your cans cool and your pockets half full.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Cycle Awareness Campaign

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We and our environment pay dearly for the added convenience we choose to have. Over the last few years the number of cyclists on the road have increased tremendously globally, some countries more than others. The number of vehicles on the road are still too many though calling out to more cyclists. Cars are still preferred as the most reliable means of getting from A to B. Recently Gothenburg has taken the initiative to introduce a cycle awareness campaign called Testcyklisterna. A concept which involves offering to its local residents free bikes to own for 6 months.

The project aims to encourage people to use their bikes more as well as increase the number of cyclists on the road, instead of relying mostly on their cars. With the various add-on facilities and the different types of bicycles that are available will make people realise how bikes are a great alternative to cars, for example; transporting people, picking up shopping, foldable bikes for commuters etc, making it adaptable to an individual’s daily living. With the various cycling infrastructure being laid down, this is making cycling easier, enjoyable and safer for everyone.

The prerequisite of having ownership over the bike for six months requires the owner to use the bike at least three times a week. At the end of the 6 month period, the owner has the option of purchasing the bike.

INTERVIEW

Below is a short interview with Sara-Linnéa Östervall who came up with this green initiative.

1.What inspired you initially to launch this cycling scheme as a way of raising awareness amongst the community?
 
We work with many different projects to try and affect people’s travel behavior, and from that experience I believe a powerful way to do it is by creating and showing good examples that people can identify with. Creating the feeling of “if he/she can bike – so can I” is the base of the project.

2.What do you believe could be an alternative approach to encourage more bike usage or increase the number of cyclists on the road? Eg Reward Scheme etc

We do work with several other approaches as well, information campaigns, influencing the municipalities to build better cycling infrastructure etc.

3.One of the pre-requisites of owning the bike for six months requires the owner to use the bike at least three times, how are you able to determine its usage?

The cyclists report to us every two weeks how they’ve been using the bike. The rule is they should replace their car trips by bike three days a week (not in total).

4.Not many cities have the appropriate cycle infrastructure to ensure safety and to support a cycling culture, how can they address this issue so that people are not demotivated from starting to cycle?

That’s also one of our hopes with this project, that the participating municipalities will get direct contact with and feedback from some cyclists that can tell them exactly what needs to be done with the cycling infrastructure.


5.Do you believe that people are genuinely developing a green conscience or are they following trends which will eventually die out?

I believe they are, but in this project we try to focus not so much on the “being green” of cycling but more on the actual positive effects for the individual. Better health, better economy… The environment is more a bonus here.

6.In what other area(s) do you see changes being made in an attempt to address the carbon foot print?

As an organization we try to work with basically all possible areas of reducing carbon foot prints – energy efficiency in industries and households, renewable energy production, transportation, food, consumption… There’s lots to be done but also lots of work going on.

Using alternative eco-friendly means of transportation is being preferred more and more, year after year. Each additional individual who prefers to use their bike than their car bring us a foot step closer and one carbon foot print less to achieving a greener environment.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Dark Side Of Our Food System

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Inspirational Wednesday is presenting you with a talk about “what is wrong with our food system”?. What makes today’s topic quite unusual is that it’s being presented by an 11 year old. Birke Baehr gives an adult performance about the industrial food system which we are all exposed to.

A lot of people are unaware of the quality of our food system. Paying just a little attention or even researching into it, you will be quite shocked with the results, and more importantly with what you are actually eating. Individuals are easily influenced by marketing, whether it be price, promotion or even packaging. For example, food packaging seems to influence people in a positive way, for example; the more green the packaging looks the healthier they believe the product is. This is far from the truth. Media has an important role to play, especially with kids. Just because a can of beans has a picture of a cute teddy bear doesn’t mean this is ideal for kids. We must not let media influence our decisions when buying certain food items. Before you buy something, educate yourself about your products and how they are actually cultivated.

Even though we have a harmful food system there are ways to bypass this, accessing healthier food sources. How is this possible:

  1. Growing your own vegetables or fruits. Not everybody has a garden to be self-sufficient. Some of you may have come across Earthboxes. This is a container which permits you to grow vegetables, suitable for apartments or homes without gardens. By growing your own produce you have total control over the process. Organic is orgasmic!
  2. Buy from local producers or from neighbors. I personally am self-sufficient and we sometimes sell some of our vegetables and fruits to our neighbors.
  3. Researching into what you usually buy. This will give you some background information on what you eat, giving you the necessary comfort.
  4. Don’t be influenced by media and marketing. 

We need to question why there are so many people infected with diseases today. A number of factors are to blame, but one of the main causes is because of what we choose to eat. We need to understand and realize that standard quality control practices and company ethics are not 100% reliable these days and so we need to act as control units protecting our bodies. Take a few minutes to watch this 11 year old give an outstanding Tedtalk explaining the dark side to our food system.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Road Asphalt Made From Used Plastic Materials

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According to the The Economist, Vancouver has been considered as one of the most livable cities in the world. Their efforts are continuously focused on making the city greener and environmentally sustainable. One of their recent Eco-projects involved making road asphalt from plastic recyclable materials. This was a joint co-operation between   Green Mantra Technologies and City of Vancouver.

Just the thought of this process is literally quite “ground breaking”, paving the way forward to making ecological roads. What makes this specific process more interesting is that they have managed to:

-Save 20% on gas used to melt the plastic requiring less energy than usual.
-Air quality is improved, as less carbon monoxide fumes.
-Reductions in the greenhouse effect.

One of the lead elements in making this asphalt mix is the wax.This wax is produced after melting down plastic materials such as bottles and containers which helps bind the asphalt.

This joint collaboration between state and private companies should be more encouraged as it is proving an effective approach in improving urban life. This model should be adopted by other cities to try and make their cities greener and sustainable. Vancouver is renowned for its green achievements which would not have been a reality without trial and error. They aim to be the greenest city by 2020.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

A Greener Skateboard

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There was a time when we were not aware of the impact our actions had on our environment. Gladly this is starting to change. It is estimated that 10% of the oceans plastic pollution comes from abandoned or lost fishing gear. Whilst fishermen are using nets to catch fish, Bureo a Californian company is catching fishing nets to make skateboards.

According to Alan Weismann in The World Without Us (2007) plastic constitutes nearly 80% of marine debris. The Chilean fishing authority states
that fishermen are not taking steps to recycle their fishing materials in one way or another. Fishing nets being discarded is a common problem in the world’s waters. These are otherwise known as Ghost Nets which result in “entanglement, suffocation, and ingestion” (UNEP report on Marine Litter) of sea life. Our oceans are vast therefore pollution may not be so easily detected in comparison to land pollution. By attempting to reduce marine pollution this will present fishermen with added benefits, as this will promote healthier sea conditions for fish.

In collaboration with Chilean “Net Positiva”, a fishnet and recycling programme, Bureo is producing skateboards featuring a custom fish design. In addition to the actual board being made from recycled materials, the wheels are made with 30% veggie oil and 100% recycled cores. As a result Bureo has also managed to secure work for the local community and encourage development in the area. Bureo is a project which was introduced by the Eco-trio: Ben R. Kneppers, David M. Stover and Kevin J. Ahearn, each with their own unique role in bringing this product to life.


 Take a few minutes to watch a short clip about Bureos:


Using recyclable materials to make a skateboard is a complex and costly process. Bureo is another eco-friendly company showing us that when there is a love for our planet then we can find an ecological way of doing things. If you can’t reduce your carbon foot print then you might as well “ride your footprint.”
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