In My Handheld Device

Just sharing a few visuals I’ve gathered over time…

143IMG_20160830_173532_HDR2Lei. Suit hunting with R. Drive up to Falls Creek. Backstage // PUMA. Policemen on horse.

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Andrea fixes my hair. NGV exhibition. Night market @ Ampang, KL. Random sightings in Brunswick.

 

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Raw Moments

I was thinking about my collection of photos yesterday night and I feel like posting the unedited in this perfect virtual world.

Here are some of my favorite snaps taken at different points of my life.

It’s unedited. Off the cuff. It’s raw.

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My first trip to the Dandenong Ranges with R.
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A short family trip to Penang, Malaysia.
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Psychology graduates.
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Hair love affair at the Finders Keepers event.
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Bestie came down to visit from Canberra.
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Ai Wei Wei’s
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Couldn’t resist taking a shot of these two little ones. 
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R getting his “wand”.
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Closing of the NEXT A/W runway show.

My goal was to post at least 4 times every month but that’s not happening in March. I shall try harder in April and challenge myself.

I hope you’re enjoying your Friday.

Wherever you are, have a great weekend!

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My Top 5 Book Recommendations

I’ve recommended some of my favorite movies a week ago. This time it’s all about books!

Happy Tuesday folks! In my last post, I talked about my favorite movies (check it out if you haven’t seen it) and this one is for you bookworms who just want to curl up and read after a long day at work.

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The Bug is set at the dawn of the personal-computer era in the 1980s. Novice software tester Roberta Walton stumbles across a bug and raises her concern to longtime programmer Ethan Levin, who inadvertently created “The Jester”. The bug gained its nickname for its tendency to appear randomly at critical moments, jeopardizing the fate of the company.

Walton and Levin team up to hunt down the elusive bug but the challenge affects both characters differently. Levin’s desire to fix his mistake soon becomes an uncontrollable obsession, threatening to destroy his professional and personal life. Walton, on the other hand, benefits from the existence of the bug. She not only challenges herself to learn to program but also escapes her private troubles by putting all her energy into the learning process.

Although I have no knowledge in programming, Ullman has made The Bug an easy read. It was eye opening to get a glimpse into the programming world and the challenges programmers face at work. Other ideas explored in the book include the boundary between work and personal life, isolation and the relationship between humans and computers. Some parts of the book made me feel uneasy (you’ll know why when you read it) but if you’re curious about the world of programming and the complexities of the human psyche, this one’s for you.

Ellen Ullman is an American computer programmer and author. She owned a consulting firm and worked as technology commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered. Her work analyzes the human side of the world of computer programming.

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I usually treat myself to a pile of books when a bookstore is having a sale. I picked this one up about 2 years ago (I got The Bug at the same time as well) while I was in my final year of university.

Buying books is not an easy feat. Because I don’t read a lot, I have no clue as to which authors produce the best work. So I end up reading the short description behind random books, hoping to stumble across something that interests me (I could easily spend 2 hours in a bookstore!). There were two things that prompted me to purchase House of Stone: the memoir was written by an established journalist and the fact that it’s set in the Middle East.

I’ve always wanted to learn more about the culture in the Middle East and Shadid did a great job in portraying that as well as the agonies and hopes of the Middle East. In 2006, Shadid was sent to Lebanon to report on the Israeli invasion and he discovered his great grandfather’s once magnificent property in ruins. A year later, Shadid returned to Marjayoun (where the house is) and began his mission to restore the house. The renovation not only signifies the attempt to restore what was once great but most importantly it also preserves his family’s identity in the land they call Home.

The author takes you through his experience collaborating with the locals and tells a rich story of how his family came to settle in America. House of Stone has informed and changed my perception on the Middle East. It’s personal, engaging and emotional. I highly recommend this one!

Shadid was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times based in Baghdad and Beirut. From 2003 to 2009 Shadid was a staff writer for The Washington Post acting as the Islamic affairs correspondent in the Middle East. He won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting twice for his coverage on the Iraq War. At just 43, Shadid suffered an acute asthma attack and passed away while attempting to leave Syria in 2012.

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If you look at the cover, can you tell what this book is about? You guessed it – technology! My desire to read technology related books started when I finished G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen. This was actually a prescribed book for my Popular Fiction class and I’m glad that I was introduced to range of great writers while I was a literature student.

Alif the Unseen is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state where a 23 year old Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance. Alif’s relationship with an aristocratic woman named Intisar ends abruptly when her father arranges a marriage for her with a man of her class. It turns out that Intisar’s fiancé is the state’s leading censor, also known as ‘the Hand’. One day, Alif’s computer is breached by the state’s electronic security force and they come after him with guns drawn, forcing him to go underground. As their final communication, Intisar sends Alif a mysterious book titled The Thousand and One Days which he soon realizes is a dangerous source of old world magic. As the keeper of the secret book, Alif is about to become a wanted fugitive from the corporeal and the celestial worlds…

I have to admit it was impossible to put down Alif the Unseen. Although reading one book per week is usually impossible for me (yes, we Lit students are hard core), I had no problem with this one. The story is action packed, filled with suspense and you’ll encounter themes related to spirituality, democracy as well as love and betrayal.

Gwendolyn Willow Wilson is an American comics writer, prose author, essayist and journalist (wow!). After converting to Islam while attending Boston University, Wilson moved to Cairo and made her contributions to the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and the National Post. Wilson’s writing career began from her work as a freelance music critic for DigBoston. In 2014, Marvel debuted a new Ms. Marvel series written by Wilson. Her debut novel Alif the Unseen won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for best novel.

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I was introduced to The Great Gatsby while I was pursuing an International Baccalaureate degree back in 2010. At first it was hard for me to digest as I wasn’t used to reading classics. But after going through it twice and discussing it in class, I begin to appreciate Fitzgerald’s work.

I recommend that you watch and read The Great Gatsby. You’ll get the full picture of what is it like to live in America during the 1920s and Fitzgerald’s (or Nick’s? This point was debated in my but I’ll let you decide) views on society and the country’s values. My favorite symbol is the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. When I first read the book, I didn’t think twice about them but it has an interesting meaning attached to them. I’ll leave you with a quote from the book and you decide if you want to pick this one up or not:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And then one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American novelist and short story writer whose work mostly illustrates the Jazz Age. Fitzgerald wrote four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and DamnedThe Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night but the last one didn’t receive the attention he hoped for. Although he wasn’t as successful as other writers in his time, he is known to be one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald’s health wasn’t the greatest in the late 1930s. He was a heavy drinker and he died of a heart attack at the age of 44. His fifth novel The Last Tycoon was only half written but it was prepared by his friend Edmund Wilson and published after his death.

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Of course I have to include this one in this post. I was telling my friends on Instagram how good the book was and that they should have a read if they want to understand the introverts around them, and rightly so.

In my opinion, Quiet is well researched, engaging and passionate. Cain’s discussions are adequately supported by research and she includes materials that invite the readers to participate in her discussion. The book is broken up into four major chapters starting with the discussion on the extrovert ideal, followed by the idea of nature vs. nurture, cultural influences and finally finishing up with tips on how to love and work with introverts. Although the book is filled with research, Cain managed to make it interesting and easily digestible. What I like most about this book is the stories Cain collected from real introverts. Ranging in age and profession, they all provide valuable insights on how they try to “fit in”, adapt and strive in an extroverted world. Cain passionately argues that by undervaluing introverts, society fails to benefit from at least one-third of the population.

There is so much I could relate to in this book. I even shed a tear or two when I thought about my “ugly” days in school and “embarrassing” incidents during social events. After reading Quiet, I realized how far I’ve come and how my constant struggle to break free from my fears has shaped who I am today. Quiet may have opened up the eyes of the extroverts, but I fear that change is happening too slowly…

Susan Horowitz Cain is an American writer who co-founded Quiet Revolution in 2015. The company’s mission is “to unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of us all”. Following Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Cain wrote Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts in 2016 to educate teachers and parents on introverted children and teens. Cain initially had a career in corporate law and consulting but she decided to leave that behind for writing so that she could work from home and spend time with her family.

And there you have it! I hope I managed to pique your interest with these selections. Until then, take care and have a great week ahead!

 

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My Top 5 Movie Recommendations

Need ideas on what to watch during your down time? I got you covered.

Hello all! I hope you’re having a good week so far 🙂

R and I spend most of our weekends watching movies or Netflix. It’s something we both enjoy doing when we stay in. That said, we’ve seen some really good ones and had our fair share of terrible films.

Here are 5 of my favorite movies and if you have no plans for tonight, why not watch one of these?

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“Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”

The Prestige (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi

Starring: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson

Christopher Nolan has directed a number of great films over the years, some of which include Interstellar, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. This film is adapted from Christopher Priest’s 1995 World Fantasy Award-winning novel of the same name.

The Prestige tells the story of two talented magicians who compete against each other to create the best stage illusion. You’ll not only be entertained with amazing illusion tricks, but also witness how obsession and deception could lead to fame and destruction.

This film is filled with unexpected twists and if you like to be surprised, this one is for you.

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“Your Plan depended on other people. People suck, and they’ll disappoint you every time.”

Tallulah (2016)

Director: Sian Heder

Genre: Drama

Starring: Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard

R and I came across this while we were searching for something to watch on Netflix. We decided to watch Tallulah simply because Ellen Page is in it and we both have a crush on her.

Tallulah follows the life of a young drifter, Lu, who travels around America in a van with her boyfriend, Nico. With no stable source of income, they steal to survive. Eventually, Nico decides to leave because he can’t cope with Lu’s lifestyle. Lu drives to New York City expecting to find Nico at his mother’s place but Lu is told that Nico hasn’t been home in 2 years and is asked to leave. With nowhere to go, Lu steals from guests at a nearby hotel. Lu’s life is turned upside down when she meets an intoxicated mother who entrusts her toddler to her after she mistook Lu as housekeeping staff…

This film explores the dichotomy between living freely and conforming to social norms as well as topics on relationships, attachment and extramarital affairs. Watch it and tell me what you think about the ending!

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“You can’t learn anything when you’re talking. That’s a fact of life. As long as you’re talking, you’re not listening.”

Creed (2015)

Director: Ryan Coogler

Genre: Drama, Sport

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

Creed is a spin-off and sequel to the Rocky film series, starring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson Creed (Apollo Creed’s son) and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa.

I’m not a huge fan of sport movies but there’s something about the relationship between the coach and the student that makes me come back for more. Maybe because it reminds me of the relationship I once had with a teacher I highly admire. The first sport movie I watched was Million Dollar Baby (the ending broke me into pieces) and it really inspired me to set my eyes on the goal and never give up.

Creed explores the main character’s inner conflict to follow his father’s footsteps and make a name for himself. Throughout the movie, you’ll get your dose of good soundtrack and awesome boxing moves. The movie also highlights the idea that everyone has their own battles to fight in their everyday lives. It’s how you approach your nemesis that determines whether you win or lose…

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“They say you only really appreciate a garden once you reach a certain age, and I suppose there is a truth in that. It’s probably something to do with the great circle of life. There seems to be something miraculous about seeing the relentless optimism of new growth after the bleakness of winter, a kind of joy in the difference every year, the way nature chooses to show off different parts of the garden to its full advantage.”

Me Before You (2016)

Director: Thea Sharrock

Genre: Drama, Romance

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer

If you ask me to pick a movie to watch on a weekend, I’d go for action/sci-fi/crime/horror (when I’m feeling adventurous) more than anything else. Romantic films aren’t my favorite because they’re either too predictable or just down right cringe worthy.

I came across Me Before You on my flight back to Melbourne and I watched snippets of it before the plane landed. I’m the type of person who will finish a movie (no matter what) if I think it’s worth watching or the actors who play the main characters are highly attractive. In this case, it’s the latter (Don’t judge, I’m sure some of you do that too. Or maybe it’s just me…). Turns out, it wasn’t predictable and I cried my eyes out.

This film is about a small town girl (Lou) who takes up the challenge to care for a paralyzed man (Will) after she lost her job at a cafe. As Will starts to open up, Lou begins to understand his attitude towards her and life in general. Lou dedicates her time to Will in an attempt to show him that he can live a fulfilling life even though he’s disabled. But nothing, not even the girl who makes him laugh again, can change his mind on THE decision.

The major themes you’ll encounter in Me Before You are dreams and hopes, exploration and disappointment. The movie also made me think about how fragile the human body is and how often I seem to take advantage of my perfectly able body.

P.S. Lou’s outfits are amazing!

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“Not many Frenchmen like German tacticians. It only took them two weeks to take over your entire country.”

The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

Director: Richie Smyth

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Starring: Jamie Dornan, Jason O’Mara, Mark Strong

The Siege of Jadotville depicts the 1961 siege of a 150 strong Irish UN battalion by 3000 Congolese troops led by French and Belgian mercenaries working for the mining companies. Commander Patrick Quinlan is the leader of the Irish UN battalion and he’s my favorite character. Even though he has never been in a real fight before, the Commander demonstrates himself to be a level-headed leader. There were moments when I was thinking “OH NO! YOU’LL ALL DIE!!” but I was surprised time and time again. You’ll get a whole lot of suspense and frustration but all of that will be counteracted by the ending. I promise.

I hope you like these suggestions and if you prefer to read a book during your chill time, I have some suggestions for you as well so watch this space!

 

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The State of Gold

My taste in jewelry has certainly changed as I go through different stages of life. Take a walk down memory lane with me and discover the pieces that I’ve selected for my future collection.

7 – 10 m

The first jewelry I wore was simple. It is a gold anklet with a tiny bell attached near the clasp. My mum told me I had it on when I was just learning how to crawl.

The bell emits a pleasant jingle everywhere I went. I guess that was one method of keeping track of my whereabouts.

7 – 15 y

I got my ears pierced at a stuffy jewelry store in my hometown. It was painful and I had tears in my eyes. I hated the piercing gun.

My mum introduced me to her collection of gold jewelry. I didn’t understand the significance they have for her at the time. I remember I love looking at them and trying them on. I always end up disappointed because nothing fits me.

The only “jewelry” I own back then were rainbow colored plastic rings, beaded necklaces, wooden bracelets and cheap custom jewelry.

I got a second piercing on my right ear and I still hate the piercing gun.

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My mum (spontaneously) bought me two necklaces from Foxy Originals. This was one of them: Jade Necklace in blackbrown

17 – 22 y

I love stacking bracelets, rings and necklaces. My approach was ‘the more the merrier’.

I stop by a custom jewelry store whenever I’m out shopping. I pick things out, try them on and put them back. I always wish I have enough money to buy everything in the store.

Occasionally my mum would treat me to a piece of jewelry (or more depending on her mood).

My friends and family members know. I guess that’s why I get jewelries as gift during birthdays or after someone has been overseas.

After I graduated high school, I decided to reward myself with a nose piercing. The process was surely not rewarding.

23 – 24 y

When Lovisa is having a sale, you’ll find me there.

I begin to appreciate fine jewelry. You also won’t find me stacking bracelets and necklaces anymore (but once in a blue moon, I still do).

I fell in love with nature’s stone. Also known as crystals.

25 y

I no longer shop for custom jewelry. I hate that they don’t last and it’s just a waste of money. I’ll invest in the real deal instead.

So what would I have in my “future collection”?

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An ornate bib with brushed gold leaf and deep red stones, this vintage confection is a bold take on a structured statement necklace.

 

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A delicate gold strand with asymmetrical crystal embellishment.

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These are the things I’d buy and wear when I have the means. That is why I called it the “future collection”. You’ll get a second peek soon enough. Until then, have a great weekend!

 

Like what you see? Here are the links I cited in this post:

https://www.baublebar.com/

http://shopesqueleto.com/

https://byboe.com/

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A Short Hiatus

The fancy window decorations, the food and the crowded streets…that’s right, Christmas is around the corner and just like other businesses out there, today is my last day of ‘work’. Or rather, this will be my last post of 2016.

I re-started and re-branded my blog in September with the intention to practice my writing skills and to share the things I’m passionate or curious about with the online community. I challenged myself to maintain this blog for at least three months. I managed to fulfill the challenge but there’s more that needs to be done. However, I’m currently in a situation that requires me to take some time off to sort things out.

Have yourself a gleaming little Christmas and I’ll be back before you know it! xx

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Afrodita Emikaneko Glitter Makeup // Into The Gloss

To those of you who do read and follow my blog, thank you.

Watch What You Throw P.2

Hello fellow readers and writers! If you read the first part of Watch What Your Throw, you’ll probably remember that I briefly discussed recycling in Malaysia (the statistics, the current efforts and future plans) and in Melbourne. I also recommended the documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story directed by Grant Baldwin. This post extends on the idea of being conscious of our actions and addresses the other problem that is straining Earth’s environment – food waste.

For those of you who watched the documentary, were you surprised that Baldwin and Rustemeyer find it easy to survive on discarded food? How did the documentary make you feel?

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I know that food waste exists but the documentary proved how much I don’t know about the gravity of the issue. The extent supermarkets go to ensure their produce look fresh is just unbelievable. I was frustrated because it seems as if nothing much is being done to stop food waste. My heart was in pieces when I learned that supermarkets throw away an exorbitant amount of edible food weeks before the “best by” date. I was angry that the people of power let this happen for decades. The documentary also got me wondering: Is the issue of food waste getting worse? Is anything being done to alleviate the problem?

Let’s find out, shall we?

To my relief, the situation isn’t as bleak as I thought it would be as various countries have taken an active approach to alleviate the problem of food waste. National Geographic reported that Denmark has reduced the amount of food waste by 25% in five years. Part of the reason why is because supermarkets in Denmark (such as REMA1000, Coop and LIDL) have stopped using quantity discounts to encourage consumers to buy more. As much as we hate to admit it, humans don’t always act rationally and a lot of times we make decisions based on how we feel. When there’s a promotion going on, you feel that you should stock up (without checking what you have at home) because you’re worried that you might miss out. And then you find out you already have a bag of tomatoes and oranges in your fridge. You also begin to realize that you won’t be cooking as much during the week because you’re supposed to attend a wedding dinner and a birthday party. What do you end up with? Fresh food that doesn’t get consumed and you have to throw them out because the quality starts to decay.  

Besides Denmark, Indonesia has also taken measures to make a positive contribution to the food waste fight. SEA Makerthon and Smart Living Challenge, for instance, gather young people with different education backgrounds to tackle the issue of food waste. The winner of the SEA Makerthon event, Team Bagi Rasa, made a platform for household consumers to share their leftover food. BagiMak, the team that was awarded first prize in the Smart Living Challenge event, developed an app that allows users to share or donate leftovers to other users. They also have the idea of cooperating with transportation companies to ensure quick and easy food distribution.

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Source: makezine.com

Policies and laws play an essential role in reducing food waste and promote a healthy and sustainable approach to food. In Italy, an international agreement on sustainable and equitable urban food systems – Milan Urban Food Policy Pact – was signed by the mayors in 130 cities across the world. A new law was recently approved to make it easier for companies in Italy to donate food, hoping to recover at least 1 million tonnes of food that gets wasted annually. Meanwhile, France recently became the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them to donate to charities and food banks instead. It may seem like an aggressive move, but I think it’s necessary if we want to see changes as soon as possible.

“It is not easy to make the first step,” she adds. “But once you explain the reasons behind policies like these, citizens start to understand the importance of such decisions.” Vice mayor Anna Scavuzzo

Leading organizations are also doing their part to change the inner systems of the food supply chain in order to tackle food waste more effectively. The EU and its member states strive to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to reduce food waste (per capita) at the retail and consumer level in 14 years. This is achieved by improving the use of date marking by actors in the food chain and enhancing its understanding among consumers (i.e. best before labeling). According to World Resources Institute, the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard, launched at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit in Copenhagen, allows companies and countries to consistently and credibly measure, report on and manage food loss and waste. This could save government and businesses money, protect resources and ensure food is distributed fairly and efficiently.

With technology on everyone’s fingertips, being involved in combating food waste has never been easier. In Denmark, Too Good To Go was created to sell cheap, just before closing bakery and restaurant food to its citizens. Similarly, MyFoody notifies residents in Milan to food in small supermarkets that are either going out of date or the packaging is damaged. So far, MyFoody has 10,000 registered users across the city and it currently collaborates with 23 small supermarkets. Italy hopes to increase that number to 500 across northern Italy by the end of 2017.

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As the fight to reduce food waste gain traction, we’re beginning to see supermarkets and grocery stores embrace the idea of selling ugly produce. The Ugly Fruits and Vegetables Campaign organized a Change.org petition to not only urge retailers to sell ugly fruits and vegetables but also convince big corporations such as Whole Foods and Walmart to offer ugly produce all year round. It has been suggested that when big corporations decide to sell ugly produce, smaller retailers will follow suit. This is only true to a certain extent. It may be unprofitable for smaller retailers to sell ugly produce because the population is “trained” to pick fruits and vegetables that look perfect. Hence, when ugly produce is introduced in stores, we may still prefer the perfect looking produce over the odd ones. This distorted thinking, however, can be altered through campaigns, education and parents becoming role models to their children. It takes time to change habits and perception, but it’s definitely not impossible.

“In Denmark, in all aspects of life, people are starting to think about the environment and there’s a growing consciousness about being green. Not wasting food is part of that.” Rene Hoffman

One thing I find interesting is how culture shapes thinking and behaviors toward food waste. When Danes cook, they tend to make smaller portions and they’re good at using up their leftovers. Frugality is another characteristic that causes Danes to leave the least impact when it comes to food waste. In China, it’s a different story. China Daily Asia notes that food waste is common in large restaurants as people meet for business discussions and networking events. Liu Yao, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, investigated food wastage at restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Lhasa (the capital of the Tibet autonomous region) and he found that the more luxurious the restaurant, the more food waste is produced. In the Chinese culture, hosts are required to provide large amounts of food for their guests to show largesse, which inevitably lead to more food being waste at the end of business discussions and networking events. The Chinese government tried to curb the problem by introducing the Clean Your Plate campaign, which encourages people to not order too much and eat everything on the plate. But Liu’s research reveals that it has minimal effect in cities with strong business environment. Perceptions molded by culture can be difficult to change. But I think creating a taboo among the business community may be an effective way to alleviate the issue. This can be done by spreading the idea that food wasted through the act of generosity is not only inconsiderate but the perpetrators are deliberately causing damage to the environment. Obviously, implementing laws and policies, running campaigns and teaching children not to waste food are equally, if not more, effective ways to change habits and perceptions.

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Although this post demonstrates that there’s positive change happening, it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Food waste shouldn’t be taken lightly and we as consumers should do our best to make a difference and restore the damage we have done to our home. The issue of food waste may not gain as much attention as global warming but it’s happening every single day.

So, are you ready to make a difference? I’ve gathered some links for you and I hope I managed to influence some of you to take action. Read, ponder and share!