Wednesday, 9 April 2014

"Energy of the mind is the essence of life" Aristotle

........NOT OIL!

When I am on a dance floor, at a football match, or even rush hour on public transport I often find myself pondered the amount of energy forces catapulting themselves around me.  The Kinetic energy of moving people; the sound and electric energy, thermal and light energy shining from the sun and radiating out from beautiful beings, the magnetic energy which brings us all together!  Imagine if we could encapsulate all that energy….we wouldn’t need to ride the train we could have personalised Spaceships!

We exist in an age where energy is a global daily topic.  The general consensus is we need more.  Millions are being spent developing technology to capture and generate energy. The ever growing demand on fossil fuels needs supporting with a greater diversity of more sustainable energies such as wind, solar and hydro. But what is being used to create the technology to develop and capture renewable energy? More often than not, Non-Renewable Fossil Fuels. 

Fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil are essentially living creatures, plants and animals from our geological past, often described as non renewable. Non renewable would imply that they were irreplaceable. They are replaceable they just haven’t been replaced at any where near the rate in which they are extracted. This isn’t a malfunction of nature, but a non compliance of man.  I have heard statistics to the tune of ‘For every one barrel of oil extracted it takes three barrels of oil to power the process’?!  There is energy embodied in the energy we require.

Embodied Energy-
The direct and indirect sum of all the energy required to produce any goods or services.  Finding an energy Life Cycle includes assessing the relevance and extent of energy into raw material extraction, transport, manufacture, assembly, installation, dis-assembly, deconstruction and/or decomposition.

Rainforests and Coral Reefs are decreasing, human population is increasing with ever expanding needs, pollution levels are rising, Mother Nature is under pressure! Heard it all before??  Our generation are burdened with statistics of the damage we have caused and continue to cause! Burden is heavy and unproductive, guilt and worry never started a revolution. So what can we do?

- Reduce Consumption – use less, share, and communicate
- Self Regulate – be responsible for your own consumptions.
- Replace and Replenish – put back what you take out!
- Integrate not segregate – work with not against.

On face value it is very simple, maybe too simple? See the small and slow solutions.  We live in a world of abundant resources; we live in bodies full of infinite possibilities.  Consuming less doesn’t mean having less.  How we consume is the key to change.

There is no denying technology has been an integral part of our evolution as a species. Many great teachings have come from our technological advances and I salute the ingenuity of scientists striving to combat the predicament our planet is currently in.  But, as we transition into the next stage of evolution, equilibrium needs to be found.  There is no need to go back to the dark ages, I don’t like the bus but it is far more efficient then a pony and trap!  Single handedly I cannot replant what has been lost in the Amazon; but I can (and do) have a compost pile. And together we could plant a forest.  It may not sound like a revolution but a revolution starts with Revolutionaries! 

One resource we all have the ability to give, receive and grow from and the only resource we can guarantee is infinite is LOVE – we have infinite love to apply to our actions.  Love creates family and community; it brings us together as humans to share ideas and to maximise on resources, creating social power and social power creates change.  Acting with love raises awareness to our planet and its needs.  If 100% of us just changes 1% of our consumption we could really paint a new future full of abundance for all.

Lilly x

How Did We Get Here?

'Agriculture is mitigating each new mistake – 
Nature cannot be improved” Vedanta Shiva

Large Scale Agriculture is controlled and manipulated by men in suits from behind desks.  The same men controlling our banks and our medicines are controlling our food.

Shipped in huge temperature controlled, energy guzzling containers, Produce is grown from seeds which have been treated and manipulated by chemicals and genetic modification.  The way in which our food is grown has no representation of how every other being on this earth feeds itself and find nutrients, so why have we changed a system which was never broken?

“We need to feed the world”, the answer I receive from the farming community in which I was raised. I’ve witnessed, in 31 years of my lifetime, acreage and mechanization increase; labour force and diversity of varieties decreased.  Through the last century governments have imposed restrictions and added incentives which have dictated and manipulated our ‘advances,’ making many ancient traditional methods redundant. So I find myself asking ‘How did we get here?’

During WW2 UK and US had a Dig for Victory campaign encouraging regular people to use what ever space they had to feed themselves…and they did.  Under the guise of ‘patriotism’ and independence from non allied nations The Home Front and community was strengthened.  Though not advocating war as a community building exercise, we see our greatest strengths and natural survival instincts come to us in our darkest hours.

Inevitably after a War of that scale and calibre there were many repercussions for the innocent citizens of participating nations.  Along with the physical trauma and turbulence of war people were hungry.  There were huge food shortages! 

The Common Agricultural Policy was introduced under a unified Europe.  The original policy in the 1950 in Western Europe was to encourage better productivity in Agriculture so consumers had a stable supply of affordable food and to ensure that the Agricultural Industry remained viable.  A vision of a self sustaining EU by the 1980 was the ultimate objective.

The Policy took many decades to implement.  As a result of this collective of multifaceted nations opening themselves up to free trading, shared innovations and technologies, mechanisation and the use of pesticides and fertilisers rapidly increased.  By the 1980’s market prices were crashing due to the EU producing a ‘Unmanageable Surplus!’

The 1980’s was also a decade of highly publicised global famine.  Meanwhile in Europe we had more food then we knew what to do with?!?!

By the 1990’s Chemical Mechanised Agricultural practices had started to take their toll.  Small scale farmers all over the continent being forced to sell out to ‘Corporate, Agri-Business’, plant and animal disease reaching epidemic proportions, and the nutrition of Europes rich soil depleting.

Policies have been amended and subsidies redistributed; Emphasis on Environmental and Animal Welfare standards have since been raised, encouraged and implemented. 

The dream of a self sustaining, unified EU were obliterated. The EU is heavily reliant on food and resources from other parts of the ‘developing’ world.  But what did we learn from this journey and attempt at innovation?

Large scale Agriculture isn’t feeding the world!  Europe’s highly nutrition soil is being emaciated.

According to Vedanta Shiva, this style of Agriculture estimated in producing only 25% of the world’s food.  The energy guzzling life cycle of this food is reportedly embodying 75% of our non-renewables in its processes.  How is that possible?  Simply through ‘advancement’ in mechanization, transport, chemicals, and of course, WASTE! 

The majority of the food which is globally consumed is still produced by small farmers, often by women on vegetable plots, home gardens and allotments. Food picked from trees, bushes and forest floors which have fed, supported and sheltered communities and families for generations are still feeding more of us then Large Scale Agriculture.

Growing plants on a small scale nurtures diversity.   Diversity creates balance for all elements, if all elements are balanced their need for fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides is eradicated! Growing our own food and saving its seeds is wildly satisfying! Exchanging and replanting untreated seeds, amongst ourselves encourages diversity to spread and will feed our future!  Seeds could well become their own currency and vital in out independence from Corporate Globalization.

It appears the solution could be in the back yards and gardens of you and I.  From home-grown misshapen vegetables to road side blackberries we can radically contribute food to our diets which hasn’t travelled around the world, and passed through numerous hands before reaching our plates!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Sit back.. relax.. just do nothing, then enjoy some munchies!!

In the summer months the midday heat beats down on us, the sun reaching its highest point in the sky, the rays at their strongest, it is time to find some shade, kick back and chill out!

High temperatures can force us into a state of lethargy, the suns rays can be too powerful for our skin at certain times but we can still use all that light and heat for our benefit.   You can make it work for you.

No, nothing as fancy as Photo Voltaic panels.  In fact we can catch and use the sunlight with no more then an arts and craft kit.

Solar Cookers!!! By catching the suns rays on reflective surfaces and redirecting them into a central point, temperatures can reach over 300 degrees on a clear sunny day. 

Fires are not permitted in the camping areas of many festival and camping areas; a very necessary safety precaution taken during summer months.  If festivalling is your escape to nature this summer and you are feeling inspired to be creative, experimental and sustainable maybe this could be for you.

There are 3 different types of solar cookers

1) The Jar
Find an old coffee jar, or similar, paint it black, screw the lid on tight and leave it sitting in direct sunlight in 30+ degrees.  Be sure to wear gloves when you pick it up, you can boil water, cook rice, heat up tinned goods.  Full Survival style!

2) The Box
-2 cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, a piece of glass or plastic, tape measurer, razor knife, school glue, black paint, duct tape and newspaper....follow the instructions below and get cooking!

3) The Parabolic
…or the SpaceShip!  This incredible contraption is designed in a bowl shape to redirect the maximum number of rays concentrated to a central point, where you can suspend cooking pots.  They can reach up to 600 degrees centigrade!  The Parabolic Oven is highly effective, but potentially dangerous.  When not in use, must be covered!

Tribal African women benefiting from Solar Cooker.
These are fun and wacky ideas to some degree but in certain areas of our planet Solar Cookers could be a simple solution for many communities and tribes.  To make fire to cook, you need wood.  Huge parts of the globe are under threat of desertification and trees can’t be relied upon solely for rural fuel.

Many tribes people are effected by the smoke inhalation from indoor fires.  Women especially who spend many hours inside, cooking, tending to the fire.  Thick black smoke circulates most hours of the day.  Solar Cooking won't damage lungs and eyes, it is far more environmentally sound and also more time and cost effective

Check out more information on charities and organisations already out there sharing this information, with positive responses; and hopefully gaining a much needed step closer towards empower for women in rural agriculture.

Lilly x

Friday, 24 January 2014

"We don't need anymore hero's, we just need someone to take out the recycling" Banksy

Heros, Eco-Warrior, Tree Huggers, Environmental fascists, we salute and applaud you.  Your demonstration of sustainability, ‘Off Grid’ living and freedom from constrains of our oppressive, suffocating, consumerist society, are a positive inspiration for us all.

Want to make a difference? But not wanting to play Tarzan and Jane in the jungle?

If running to the wilderness, using only what nature provides to survive is the ultimate act of extremism, does that mean having a 9-5 office job, mortgage and a retirement plan, is the ultimate in conformity? 

Are our only choices rebellion or submission?

No! Our world isn’t coloured only black and white, just as choices are far more expansive then ‘comply’ or ‘opt out’.  Swinging through the tress in a loin cloth might not be your style, but it doesn’t mean you need to feel like an ant; powerless to the ‘System’.  We can all do our bit. Start by taking out the recycling!!

As with every other living organism we are designed to work within a system, an Eco-System!  We come equipped with the capacity to take responsibility for ourselves and environment.  We are fundamentally designed within a system where all needs are met and all waste feeds another need within that system completing the cycle.  

In the last hundred years a versatile material commonly known as plastic, entered the market.  If we look at nature in terms of a cycle; plastic represents the antithesis of our natural cycle. Plastic is a line! 

Most global nations have some form of recycling.  Despite this re-education taking time in its effect, at least the word and concept is becoming broadly understood.  Understanding isn’t necessarily the same as acting.  In the hectic lives we lead where can we find time to separate the garbage?  My theory is ‘Prevention is better then Cure!’ In having LESS garbage there is LESS maintenance of that garbage.

*Rethink – The most important thing we can do is to question purchases and acquisitions’!  Do I really need this? Is there an alternative? What will happen to it when it no longer serves me?  A few simple questions, but totally effective!

*Reduce – ‘We are excessively multiplying, mindlessly consuming, generating waste with little or no regards for our host, Planet Earth.”
Connect with your actions, asking ourselves simple questions can result in conscious decision making and consideration of alternatives.  Take a cloth bag shopping with you, choose products with less or no packaging and plan ahead to minimize unnecessary use of ‘conveniences.’

*ReUse (Up-Cycle) – ‘Everything has more than one use.’  Instead of buying 5 bottles of water buy 1 and refill it 4 times.  Or be inventive, it’s amazing how long you can occupy a 3 year old with a toilet roll and milk carton.
The sweeping trend of ‘Up-Cycle’ is a great way of bringing old clothes and furniture up to date.  Fun, cheap and quirky! 

*ReClaim – ‘One mans junk is another mans treasure’
Flea Markets, Charity Shops, Antique Fayres, Scrap Yards, they are all treasure chests of wonder.  Not only do these places have a wild assortment of just about anything and everything, you never know what you are going to get and what stories may be imbedded in it…..

Then we find ourselves back at Recycle!  It is a short term solution to a larger problem.  To take a plastic bottle, melt it down, reform it and transport it to the several different locations required to do this is an extensive, oil laden process. 

So we don’t need to be heroes, we don’t even need to take out the recycling. What we need is to be more creative and responsible with the resources we have.

Lilly x