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.

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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!

Hunting For The One

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My love for lifestyle magazines started when I was around ten. I always make a beeline to the bookstore after my piano lesson so that I could catch up on the latest celebrity gossips, fashion trends and makeup tips.

As I got older, I lost interest in celebrity gossips. Mainly because they are mostly fabricated, they don’t add value to my life or inspire me.

Sometime around April, I’ve decided to go on a mission to ‘hunt’ down the magazine that has the following criteria:

  • Educate me
  • Inspire me to step out of my comfort zone
  • More content, less advertisements (none is better!)
  • Inspire me to create and be creative
  • Challenge my perceptions
  • Inspire me to fight for what I believe in
  • Encourage me to think outside of the box
  • Consists of fashion and beauty elements

So far, The Collective Hub and RUSSH are both great in my opinion. But there are many more out there waiting for me to explore. It’s still too early to tell which lucky magazine will earn a new subscriber.

Anyway, I came across an excerpt in RUSSH that explores the idea of social identity and self-expression in the world of music and I really like this paragraph:

“Surely so many of you out there can relate? The masks we wear are our clothes and our hairstyles and our voices; it is how we are judged. If we have to accept being judged on appearance, it’s only fair to make it playful, to make it considered – a creative act. We are presented with myriad opportunities to reinvent ourselves, even in the smallest of ways. It is an awesome power, especially if it allows a part of you to be revealed that would otherwise lie unexpressed. Perhaps the costumes we wear are not to hide our true selves and natures from the world, but are a way to more fully express them; a way to communicate our ideas and preoccupations with a world that does not often have time to listen to the quiet voices of people who are shy, or speak softly, or lack an innate confidence to launch themselves headlong into a very noisy world.”

Words by Miranda Darling

Whoever you are today, just remember to be awesome.

P.S. If you know any great magazines, please recommend! I’d love to check them out. x

 

Watch What You Throw P. 1

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Source: http://www.wastelandmovie.com

We tend to think that our actions have little impact on the environment. But I beg to differ.

Malaysia produces about 30,000 tonnes of waste every day and only 5% are recycled. Institutions in Malaysia sometimes run programs or seminars to educate students about the impact recycling and provide tips on how to get started. My family reuses plastic bags, glass jars and plastic containers. We also recycle our newspapers and magazines. Some of us try to do our part but it is not enough. Growing up in Malaysia, I realized that:

  1. A lot of Malaysians still don’t know about the benefits of recycling (especially the older generation).
  2. Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of recycling bins around the city to make it easier for communities to recycle.
  3. Finally, I have a feeling that most people think that engaging in recycling activities won’t make a difference on the environment. Cameron Brick, a PhD candidate in Social Psychology from the University of California, points out that people look at the big problem and often decide that there’s nothing they could do that would create enough change to be worth the effort.

Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, land-filling, and incineration. National Recycling Coalition

In my opinion, an action, no matter how big or small, can create an impact. Every day, people around the world buy, consume and produce waste. If we all take responsibility towards our environment (or at least try to), do you think that will have an impact? Yes!

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Source: http://www.momjunction.com

Now, I’m not saying that the Malaysian government isn’t making an effort. In fact, I found out that the waste segregation law was recently implemented in K.L., Putrajaya and several other states with the goal to increase the recycling rate to 22% by 2020. Residents living in these states are required to separate waste into categories or they will be fined RM 50 for the first offence, RM 100 for the second and RM 500 for the third. For subsequent offences, court action will be taken. These punishments are certainly harsh but Malaysia still has a long way to go as most foreign countries have recycling rates between 50-60%.

Considering that the average person recycles (or composts) 1.5 pounds of municipal solid waste (MSW) every day, it can add up. Every ton of recycled MSW saves 2.27 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. How Stuff Works

One thing I really like about living in Melbourne is that recycling bins are easily and readily accessible. Unlike in Malaysia, most residents here have their own recycle bin. The Victorian government makes an effort to encourage recycling through a rewards program called GreenMoney. Although it was initially trialed in Southbank and Docklands, it has since been implemented to all City of Melbourne residents after its huge success. GreenMoney allows communities to gain points through recycling, which can then be used to redeem vouchers or get discounts on food, beauty products and more. When more people join the program (those living in the same building), more points will be gathered collectively. This encourages us to actively influence others to practice the habit of recycling.

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Source: melbourne.greenmoney.com.au

Besides that, GreenMoney sends out monthly newsletters (through e-mails of course) to alert its members of challenges and programs that keep the community engaged. Last month, Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) hosted a free screening for the documentary called Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Of course I had to check it out. I love documentaries!

Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story documents filmmakers Jen Rustemeyer’s and Grant Baldwin’s journey on uncovering just how much food is wasted across the supply chain (and why). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 133 billion pounds of food is wasted each year in the United States alone. The staggering amount inspired Jen and Grant to take on the challenge to survive on discarded food for six months.

“Those date labels -especially the “best before” date – it’s really all about peak freshness, it has absolutely nothing to do with safety.” Rustemeyer

How do you think they will fare? I highly recommend that you watch the documentary to discover for yourself.

Documentary Just Eat It, part of the local Film Series by the South Cariboo Sustainablity Society in 100 Mile House
Source: iris.theaureview.com

Happy Monday and stay tuned for Watch What You Throw P. 2!

New Habit {Tackling Sluggish Mornings}

Some fight sluggish mornings by doing stretches while others prefer an intense workout at the gym to get ready for the busy day ahead. Now, I’m the type who does neither of those things. If I get 8 hours of sleep, I usually have no problem getting started on my to-do list and I tend to feel positive throughout the day. If I stayed up late or had a restless night, I often have to force myself out of bed to try and get things done. In times like this I’m in a state of constant irritation, which affects my productivity and behavior towards others. That said, I had my fair share of slow and unproductive days but I never attempt to seek solutions to make my life better. Then one day, Taiso came into the picture. Continue reading “New Habit {Tackling Sluggish Mornings}”