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Letting go of a trashy life – Zero Waste Tip for November – Toothpaste

I searched for ways to upcycle toothpaste tubes and honestly, I wouldn’t waste the time.
So, finish that tube, wrestle the hard plastic under the nozzle with scissors and shove it into that ecobric of enlightenment.

From now on, you can make your own toothpaste for next to nothing and without all those nasty chemicals that you haven’t heard of.

Mix 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 3 tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate (bicarb/baking soda) and you are ready to go.

Spoon a pea size onto your toothbrush and brush, brush brush.

If you want to go easy on the flavour, add some stevia and peppermint oil drops. For more recipes, click here

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Virgilia Divaricata – The Tree of Choice

Also known as Keurboom, Tree-In-A-Hurry and Blossom Tree.
This tree is leguminous meaning it is a nitrogen fixer.

Growing Virgilia

The attractive fragrant flowers and the fast growth rate make the keurboom a popular tree for the garden. Of the two, Virgilia divaricata is the better choice as its foliage is more luxuriant, and its growth more compact and it is amazingly beautiful when in full flower.

A keurboom is the perfect tree for the new, bare garden because it grows so fast it will take only two or three years before it will be creating shade, or a screen, and filtering the wind – which is an important consideration in Cape Town suburbs. It is also one of the best species to use as a pioneer in the first stage in the succession to forest. It is happy to grow out in the open, grows fast and quickly and creates the shade that the slower-growing, more permanent trees need to grow in.

Virgilia is propagated from seed. The seed coat is hard and requires some stimulation to initiate germination. Seeds can be soaked in hot water before sowing, or the seed coat can be cracked artificially. They also respond to stimulation by fire and can be treated with the Kirstenbosch Instant Smoke Plus Seed Primer. Seed should be sown in autumn or spring, in well-drained soil at a depth of 0.5 – 1 cm and covered with the sowing medium or milled bark and then watered. Seed can also be sown in situ, e.g. for forest rehabilitation projects. The seeds are highly fertile and can remain alive for many years after they have fallen, even after as many as 30 years they will germinate if conditions are favourable.

Transplant the seedlings after the first pair of true leaves has emerged when they are large enough to handle. Virgilia seedlings grow fast and can be planted into pots or bags for growing in, or directly into their permanent position in the garden. Feed moderately with a liquid fertilizer and water generously. Plant the young trees into a permanent location in full sun or semi-shade. They need good, light soil and plenty of water, particularly during their first 2 to 6 years. Virgilias have strongly spreading surface roots and are greedy feeders; they will benefit from frequent generous applications of compost or organic mulch. Virgilias are sensitive to frost, particularly when young. Mature trees may withstand short periods of frost, but not prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures.

References

  • Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. 2000. Cape plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria & Missouri Botanical Garden.
  • Palmer, E. & Pitman, J. 1972. Trees of southern Africa. Balkema, Cape Town.
  • Phillips, E.P. 1928. Virgilia capensis. The Flowering Plants of South Africa 8: t. 305.
  • Smith, C.A. 1966. Common names of South African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No. 35.
  • Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.

Giles Mbambezeli & Alice Notten
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
August 2003

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Heat waves call for coolness – Basic Recipe for 3 Bean Salad

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

3 Bean Salad may sound like an old recipe for braais but for me, it’s a great staple to have in the fridge and you can dress it up just before you eat it with micro-greens growing on the kitchen window sill, lettuce leaves in the garden and anything else that you have growing or in the pantry. Be creative and use what is in season. You could add almost anything savoury to it. Some examples: Rocket, steamed spinach, nuts, tomatoes, fruit, carrots, cucumber, herbs (you get the picture!)

I have to admit that the recent heat wave in the Cape inspired me to include a cool dish. I do tend to find that when I eat a green salad, I am only satiated for 20 minutes and then ravenous again. Beans are hardcore. They are packed with protein and are nutritionally dense. By building a salad around a basic 3 bean salad, I know it will keep the proverbial monkey off my back for a long stretch and I will be getting enough nutrition.

I have made this recipe as basic as I can because it gives you the freedom to choose and experiment with flavours that you like and also supplement your nutritional needs. I like to cook my beans from scratch so I can double rinse them and I am not exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) lined cans. You can use canned beans from the grocer if you like.

Ingredients:
1 cup each of various pulses of your choice. (Cannelloni beans, black beans, kidney beans, sugar beans, chickpeas, lentils, string beans…….)
3 bay leaves
water
1 large onion
2 tablespoons of a vinegar of your choice (White/brown/balsamic/wine/apple cider/coconut/rice….)
2 tablespoons of any sugar or sweeten as you like (Stevia/xylitol/Agave syrup….)
1 tablespoon of healthy oil (Olive/avocado/macadamia/walnut….)

Method
Soak beans overnight or during the day.
Cook in water and bay leaves until soft.
Rinse until the water runs clear and remove the bay leaves.
Mince or grate the onion and mix with vinegar, sugar and oil.
Mix the dressing with the beans and season to taste.

Enjoy on it’s own or spruce it up with garden greens and pantry products.

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CLIMATE CHANGE

Part 3 of 9 in PLANETARY BOUNDARIES

Climate change is a loaded topic and you can dig deep into intimidating mathematical calculations and chemistry. What it all boils down to (pun intended) are the molecules in our atmosphere. Before the industrial revolution, it worked like this: The sun shines down on earth and mostly the energy bounces back out to space. Water vapour and some carbon  dioxide keeps a fraction of the energy maintaining warmth. This way, the sun warms the earth enough to sustain life but doesn’t burn us to a crisp.
With carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflourocarbons and other gases in the atmosphere, a harmful amount of the sun’s heat is trapped in our atmosphere and not enough is reflected back out into space.
This is ultimately the greenhouse effect which warms our planet. This is why we are reaching record high temperatures and earth’s creatures are behaving differently.

I got so lost in links of links of links in Wikipeadia and whilst I understood the just of it, I couldn’t write about it the way I would like to. Luckily, there are some brainiacs on Youtube that can explain it perfectly in visuals.

Enjoy the videos below and pat yourself on the back for learning the science behind climate change. They all compliment each other and are fun to watch.

 

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NOVEMBER – THE PENULTIMATE MONTH

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds –
November!

Written by Thomas Hood in 1844 when London was subjected to frequent smog.

This poem also describes a future that a handful of transnational companies have designed for us and are ready to profit even more from. Almost every country has a government that can be bought with Mother Nature’s blood money and almost every political leader is ignoring climate change because it’s ‘not good for business.’

These decisions are leaving us to face our own extinction because money seems more important than our survival. Our pensions are literally paying for our death. The madness has to stop NOW!

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

We are going through the most critical, ecological crisis this planet has ever experienced. It is bigger than our previous five mass extinctions and more concerning than world war one and world war two. This is the time for everyone to heed the call to prevent further damage. The social contract between those who govern us and the rest of humanity has been broken.

In order to survive, we must all take up the fight.

Photo by Cleam Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Photo by Cleam Onojeghuo on Unsplash

That is what hundreds of concerned citizens in the UK are doing and they are calling it Extinction Rebellion.

Students in Sweden went on strike from school for climate change and 15 year old Greta made a moving speech.

Civil disobedience is growing because governments fail to acknowledge the severity of climate change and divest from fossil fuels. The youth have foreseen a dark future ahead while those in power are almost ready to retire. Some activists are winning and continue to win with support from ordinary folk like you and me.

Protests have been happening all over the world on a large scale and still we continue to fight.

We can change the course we are on from destructive to regenerative and we must, because we no longer have a choice. It’s not about you or me or them, it’s about every force of life on this precious planet. Every life counts, every creature matters.

If everything we do, we do with the best intention for the planet, then we can live healthy lives, in body and mind. This is no longer the time to start with something small like recycling your glass, this is the time to do a complete overhaul of your life and terminate our bad habits that have a high carbon footprint.

Like John Newton’s successful campaign to end the slave trade, we must do 5 things:

1. Join the community
2. Communicate in images
3. Invoke emotion with intention
4. Create meaningful calls to action
5. Tell better stories

To elaborate on number 4: What can we do?

  • Stop traveling on fossil fuels on your own. Take a bus, a taxi, a train or car pool or even ride a bicycle. Not only will it be cheaper but you will have more time to yourself to read and feed your mind. Riding a bicycle is a healthy gift to your body because you can burn fat instead of fossil fuels. Live close to work or find work close to home.
  • Plant more trees. Plant a tree for Arbour day, for your birthday, for your wedding, for your funeral, for the birth of your children, to celebrate someone else’s life. Plant a tree for the community, for the future, for the unborn, for the birds, the bees and the love in between. Trees sequester carbon, filter noise and wind, drop temperatures, seed rain, fertilise soil, create shade, enhance wildlife, increase value of property, decrease crime and they are beautiful.
  • Eat more vegetables. Grow them too if you can. Eating more vegetables means you eat less meat. Animal agriculture accounts for over 50% of biomass on the planet. We are so busy growing food to feed livestock that children in poorer countries are starving to death not to mention water becoming a scarcity. Growing your own food means less poison on your plate, less salt in the earth, more diverse ecosystems, less fossil fuels from farm to store, less fossil fuels from store to plate, less fossil fuels to keep food cool and better quality food. Growing food is fun, educational, rewarding and it just tastes better – I promise.
  • Ditch the dustbin and the trashy life. Roll up your sleeves and learn to zero waste your lifestyle. Join Facebook groups. Many are on this journey already. Join Freecycle. You will need the help of an ecobrick to get you started.
  • Get involved. Join your neighbourhood community or start one. Go to protests, sign petitions, volunteer for environmental justice, engage in civil disobedience if that’s what it takes. This is your call to do your part for the green revolution.
  • Invest in clean energy and harvest water. You can reuse your grey water for the garden by making your own biodegradable cleaning products. Guerrilla House regularly hold workshops to learn how to do this effectively.
  • Search with Ecosia instead of Google. They have planted over 40 million trees and offered 1 million Euros to save Germany’s forest from coal mining. They have great success and when you search with them all the time, they share these positive stories with you. Latest happy story here.
  • If there is one philosophy, one science, one topic, one book, one youtube video, one subject you should invest your time in, this should be permaculture. It truly does have the answers to live a healthy life. Read about it, investigate it and study it if you can. Want proof? Good! I’m glad you asked. Search for Surviving Collapse by Geoff Lawton and he will show you how he is greening deserts. The most arid, barren, dry, hot deserts where nothing grows. He may even become your new best friend.
  • Invest in an eco loo and build a compost bin. You can use all that water that you were using to flush, for your food garden. Plus, in year’s time, your biowaste would have turned into lovely black compost for your trees. It’s nature’s way and has been this way long before flushing toilets came into operation in the mid nineteenth century. Despite public opinion and paranoia, eco toilets are much cleaner than their flushing counterparts, if managed correctly. No bacteria aerosols, no need for ghastly sewerage pipes running under the city letting off methane in it’s path. Nature does all the work for you and everything you ate is returned back into the ground as carbon, where it belongs. Your water saving efforts are then repeated because soil that contains organic matter retains water very well. This means plants don’t need to be watered as frequently.
  • Support small local businesses instead of transnational companies.

Mother Nature can feed us abundantly with nutritious food, she can shelter us, give us happiness and provide future generations with a diverse and beautiful home. In order to unlock her gifts, we must honour, love and respect her with every single action we take during our lives. Let’s evolve from an industrial revolution to a green revolution!

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ZERO WASTE TIP OF THE MONTH – The Odd Sock

THE ODD SOCK

If you are reading this then you can probably think of a few uses for that odd sock before retiring it to either the ecobric (if it’s made of polyester) or to the compost bin if it is made from natural fibres. The obvious way is to use it as a rag for cleaning.

There are so many uses but my favourite are:

Collect silica sachets from all your empty pill boxes and put them in old sock. Leave it on your dashboard to stop it from fogging up in the winter.

They are great for protecting things in storage: e.g golf clubs, safety glasses, sunglasses, shoes, tennis balls (or any small balls), breakables, game pieces and so on.

Cut them up and stick them to the bottom of furniture legs to use them to protect your floors.

Put the odd sock over your vacuum nozzle to get small bolts and jewelry that may get lost in cracks and keyboards.

Make a small heat bag for you, your loved ones or pet. Simply fill with beans or rice and sew closed. A minute in the microwave and you have someting to keep the bed warm. Sew two together and you can drape it around your neck or place anywhere to ease tension and encourage healing.

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PASTA PRIMAVERA By Toni V Brockhoven

Certainly, pasta primavera is a spring meal, but it’s good anytime.

Here, my version is made using slivers of onion, mixed peppers and carrot. They are sautéed together until the onions are soft and translucent.
Then I add fresh garlic and coconut cream and then Unicorn Cafe’s excellent smoked V-Salmon pieces
Cook gently for a couple of minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
Add to spaghetti with lots of freshly ground black pepper, and top with a little Mediterranean Delicacies caviart for colour and oomph.

 

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PLANETARY BOUNDARIES Part 2 LOSS OF BIOSPHERE INTEGRITY (BIODIVERSITY LOSS & EXTINCTIONS)

 

PLANETARY BOUNDARIES Part 2
LOSS OF BIOSPHERE INTEGRITY (BIODIVERSITY LOSS & EXTINCTIONS)

See part 1 of 9 here.

 

CHANGE OF BIOSPHERE INTEGRITY

This planetary boundary is one of two core boundaries. This means that if this threshold has been crossed, it affects other processes on earth. The other core boundary is climate change.
By looking at the planetary boundary picture above, you can see that the green to yellow to red piece of the pie, indicates that we have crossed this threshold.

We are now experiencing the sixth mass extinction of planet earth. This beautiful blue and green planet of ours has experienced 5 mass extinctions before. These have been said to be caused by volcano eruptions, asetroid strikes, climate shifts and other natural causes. During these natural phenomenons, species extinction occurs at 1 to 5 species a year. This is called a background rate.

The sixth mass extinction known as the Holocene or Anthropocene extinction is caused by humans. The extinction rate of species is 1,000 to 10,000 times larger than the background rate of previous extinctions.

We are facing a future of losing 30 – 50% of all species by 2050 if we don’t act dramatically now.

This is caused by a number of factors:

  • Habitat loss and degration due to farming especially animal agriculture
  • Climate change through heat stress and drought stress
  • Excessive nutrient load and other forms of pollution
  • Over-exploitation and unsustainable use (e.g. unsustainable fishing methods) we are currently using 25% more natural resources than the planet
  • Armed conflict, which disrupts human livelihoods and institutions, contributes to habitat loss, and intensifies over-exploitation of economically valuable species, leading to population declines and local extinctions.
  • Invasive alien species that effectively compete for a niche, replacing indigenous species

The threat of extinction is at large and includes:

  • 1 out of 8 birds
  • 1 out of 4 mammals
  • 1 out of 4 conifers
  • 1 out 3 amphibians
  • 6 out of 7 marine turtles
  • 75% of genetic diversity of animal crops have been lost
  • 75% of the world’s fisheries are fully or over exploited
  • Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C
  • 1/3rd of reef-building corals around the world are threatened with extinction
  • Over 350 million people suffer from severe water scarcity

1.29 minutes

 

4.52 minutes

23.42 minutes

 

 

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October 2018 Update

Despite it’s misleading name meaning eight, October in the southern hemisphere is a time between the sping equinox and the summer solstice.

Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash

Freethought Day

October the 12th, is an annual observance known as Freethought day. This is a day for freethinkers to remember the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem witch trials where 25 innocent people died mostly by hanging due to mass hysteria, false accusations and religious extremism.

 

Bridget Bishop hanged as a witch at Salem in 1692. Briggs. Co. / George Eastman House / Getty Images

 

Beltane

A festival called Beltane is celebrated on the 31st of October until sunrise on the 1st of November.
This festival is celebrated to commemorate fertility and growth.
Deciduous trees who have lost their leaves are budding and growing again. Fertile soil will give abundant food and herbs. Nature is at play while the days grow longer and warmer.

 

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

There are many ways to celebrate Beltane which often include communal bonfires at night and to share the flame for home fires. Maypole dancing is another way to celebrate this solar based festival and committments and promises are made at this time of year.

The planting of a seed into rich soil is an act of magic in itself. It is the beginning of new life and out of the dark earth, it breaks free to grow, express, be, and give seed again.

Fertility is about germinating, sprouting, rising – so while your garden is burgeoning, let your mind be fertile too.

 

Photo by Yuri Efremov on Unsplash

Renew your connection to the force of life on this planet and enhance your dialogue with Mother Nature.
Understanding her, brings out the best solutions to living a wild and happy life.

Without fertility, there is no growth so take some time to meditate on the meaning of this word and see how you can increase the fertility of your life to bring abundance and high spirits.

Photo by Laura Marques on Unsplash

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Help Me Bring Unicorn Cafe to Life

I have been a passionate activist for the environment for as long as I can remember. My first trained profession was accounting and I would be lying if I said my job was a fulfilling one. Almost everyday, I was frustrated that I was not doing enough for our environment.

 

I would read about the devastating effects of deforestation, commercial agriculture, pollution and I felt overwhelmed. Most of all, I felt helpless at my desk while producing management accounts for board members. I knew my passion and skills were being wasted and I wanted to do more with my life.

I came to the conclusion that in order to find happiness, I would need to start a business on my own terms. Terms that respect the laws of nature and a happy working environment.

 

Unicorn Cafe was born as an online shop and educational blog. I knew starting a business was no easy feat and that it requires dedication, commitment, perserverence and persistence. Luckily, I have all these things and I believe in my business so much that I will never give up. It is my baby, that has germinated from a place of hope and inspiration.

 

What I did not have was capital and so I had to grow it organically whilst still working a full time job. So, with the little time that I had, and a small inheritance from my late father, I created a website and built up some stock.

 

The greatest challenge is time and time is running out. I can build Unicorn Cafe myself but to grow a business organically takes a long time and I want to provide a space for my customers sooner than that. I have customers that ask me frequently and regularly about a shop. I want to give that to them. I also want to provide a space to learn how to cope with challenges of climate change and how to restore the land and live a regenerative life. This is why this task has become urgent. People need to learn now and Unicorn Cafe needs this space to provide that.

 

Unicorn Cafe is destined to be a magical space where people can do their shopping in a zero waste store. It will be a place to enjoy colourful and delicious plant based food with ingredients sourced ethically and locally where possible. The greatest gift of all is the community centre where people can come together to enjoy cultural activities like poetry, dance and music. They can maintain a healthy lifestyle by attending yoga, exercise and meditation classes and they can learn. With hands on and practical workshops that range from growing your own food, reconditioning soil with resources at hand to how to make energy and manage water – this training will equip people with the skills needed to face climate change challenges head on and survive together as a tightly knit community.

 

Income will be generated from sale of food, drinks and tickets for the workshops. Each ticket sold to attend a workshop will pay for two people. One for the purchaser, and one for someone who really needs it like a disdvantaged community member battling to find empoyment because of lack of skills and work available. Climate change is everyone’s fight and together we can walk far into the future.

 

The funds I am requesting is to buy a large house on Koerberg road in Milnerton and to renovate it into the space I need to host a cafe, community centre and grocery store. The tipping point amount allows me to at least rent a space large enough for a full year until I can afford to buy premises on my own.

 

It would be a shame to plant a food forest and then have to move again so that is why I want to buy property so that I can maintain an orchard and the vegetable gardens I have created by improving the soil quality.

 

I have so much knowledge and experience and I know I can transform people into a healthy lifestyle through a fun and informative experience.

 

 

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