Should We still Eat Seafood?

From kicking off the summer holidays enjoying good old fish-and-chips at Cape Town’s famous Kalky’s to giggling with the girls while sipping bubbly and snacking on salmon roses, seafood certainly holds a special, somewhat celebratory, place in our culinary culture.

Plus, opting for ‘the fish’ instead of tucking into a juicy steak, eases the conscience of many meat-eaters for both health and ethical reasons.

That’s slowly starting to change, however, as the dire reality of dwindling fish populations, plastic pollution and climate change are pushing us to rethink our fondness for sushi-soaked date nights and the comfort of deep-fried hake.

Global demand for seafood in 1960 saw a population of 3 billion consuming an average 10kg of seafood per person per year; and with 2018’s  global population of 7.4 billion, this stat doubled to an average of 20kg per person per year according to the FAO. Double the demand in only 60 years.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), fish accounts for 17% of the global population’s intake of animal proteins. While certain coastal communities, who rely on seafood for subsistence, simply don’t have a choice, many of us do… and it’s our responsibility to make the right one.

“Globally and locally, overfishing and illegal fishing are among our biggest environmental challenges,” says WWF’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI)

Currently, 33.1% of global marine fish stocks are overfished and 59% fished at maximum sustainable levels, as fisheries aim to satiate the world’s growing appetite for seafood.

Perhaps the best way to understand this conundrum we find ourselves in is to delve a bit deeper into a few of the forces driving seafood consumption and explore some counter-arguments.

SEAFOOD: ESSENTIAL TO A HEALTH DIET

While there are many factors that have driven the increase in demand for seafood, one of the most prominent could be the fact that fish is touted as the healthiest choice when it comes to animal protein.

  • LEAN PROTEIN

White flesh fish, in particular, is a staple ‘gym food’ menu item for anyone looking to increase their protein intake, while avoiding harmful fats.

A quick google search for ‘weight loss plans’ or ‘healthy protein sources’ will prompt the reader to add more fish to their daily meal plan.

  • OMEGA 3

In more recent years, Omega 3 has become something of a buzzword for anyone remotely interested in their health and wellbeing. And with good reason: these long chain fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and have proven to be a powerful weapon against everything from Alzheimer’s and dementia, to depression and ADHD, as well as heart disease and stroke.

While you will find Omega 3 in certain nuts and seeds, as well as leafy vegetables and berries, cold-water fatty fish, are believed to be the richest source of these healthy fats.

As recently as 2017, the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week to increase Omega 3 intake.

ON THE FLIP SIDE:

Although the benefits of adding fish – both lean and fatty – to our diets have been proven, a number of legitimate health concerns have also reared their ugly heads recently. And, once again, we’re to blame.  

  • MERCURY CONTAMINATION

One of the concerns that has been receiving quite a lot of attention lately, is that of mercury contamination. While this metal occurs naturally throughout the environment, widespread industrial activity is pushing airborne mercury levels up at a terrifying rate. And as we all know, what goes up (into the air), must come down (into the water).

As mercury infiltrates marine ecosystems, it is absorbed by algae and other plants, which are eaten by smaller fish species, which – in turn – are consumed by larger fish.

Eating certain fish species – especially the larger, predatory ones, like tuna – on a regular basis, could put humans at risk of excessive exposure to this potentially toxic heavy metal.

Health risks associated with high levels of mercury in our bodies include neurological damage, such as memory loss, decrease in fine motor skills and attention deficit. Mercury exposure can also increase blood pressure and the risk of heart attack.

“Once this mercury gets into the marine food chain, it ‘bioaccumulates’ in the larger predators. That’s why larger fish are generally riskier to eat than smaller ones,” reads an article on Scientific American.

  • PLASTIC POLLUTION

Then, of course, there is fact that we are finding plastics in whales, turtles, seabirds, as well as mussels, oysters and fish!

As a relatively recent problem, the effect this may have on human consumption of fish and shellfish is not yet clear, although we can probably agree that it certainly couldn’t hold any benefits.

As Elizabeth Royte points out in an article for National Geographic: “It’s difficult to parse whether microplastics affect us as individual consumers of seafood, because we’re steeped in this material—from the air we breathe to both the tap and bottled water we drink, the food we eat (like table salt and teabags), and the clothing we wear.”

WHEN MARINE SCIENTISTS OPT OUT OF SEAFOOD CONSUMPTION

Perhaps the most poignant answer to the question “should we still be eating seafood?” comes from the people who have dedicated their lives to studying the oceans and the creatures that call them home.

Spoiler alert: it’s a resounding ‘No’.

When it comes to marine biology, oceanography and exploration of the deep, you will be hard pressed to find a more legendary personality than Sylvia Earle. Having led more than 50 expeditions and clocked in excess of 7,000 hours underwater, there are few people who know the ocean better than Earle does. And what does she say about opting for ‘the fish’?

In a Q&A with TED, following her famous 2009 ‘My wish: Protect our oceans’, she states:

“If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife.”

Taking a somewhat different tack, Laura McDonnell, a fish biologist at McGill University who studies how climate change affect the African cichlid, made a strong case against eating fish in a recent article for The Walrus:

“Over the past nine years, I’ve seen, read, and heard about what happens to fish before it ends up on our plates. And now, whenever my friends order sushi takeout, or my dad enjoys his breaded fish fillets, or even when my cat eats his ‘seafood medley’ dinner, I get nervous—not just for the fish, but also for my loved ones,” she writes.

While Earle and McDonnell’s opinions may have found some prominence (but also their fair share of resistance) on the internet, you are bound to get the same response from almost anyone intimately involved with the protection of ocean life.

CAN AQUACULTURE SAVE THE DAY?

Fish farming or aquaculture is one of the ways in which our seafood consumption could possibly be made safer and more sustainable.

According to FAO, aquaculture is probably the fastest growing food-producing sector and now accounts for 50 percent of the world’s fish that is used for food. About 580 aquatic species are currently farmed all over the world, representing a wealth of genetic diversity both within and among species.

“Although it is one of many possible solutions to the problems associated with wild-caught fisheries, we need to be cognisant of the varying impacts surrounding farmed fish,” says WWF-SASSI.

Some of the risks associated with aquaculture include widespread disease outbreaks due to high densities and high use of antibiotics to manage this. Ironically, many fish farms also use feed made from overexploited wild fish populations.

In the past, sensitive habitats such as mangrove forests were also destroyed in order to make space for pond farms.  Mangroves are, of course, important breeding and nursing habitats for many fish species.

“While there can be many risks in aquaculture, negative impacts can be mitigated through effective management,” concludes WWF-SASSI.

In her Q&A with TED, Earle also shares a few ideas about aquaculture, stating:

“A smart aquaculture system is not one that is in the ocean or even in a natural body of water, but one that is designed like an aquarium, functioning like a big figure eight: plants on one side, fish on the other. The plants go to the fish and the nutrients go to feed a vegetable garden, with sunlight driving it all.”

  • AQUACULTURE IN SOUTH AFRICA

In South Africa, Aquaculture has been identified as a critical industry. Despite this, as the FAO points out, the local aquaculture sector has performed below its potential and remains a minor contributor to national fishery products and the country’s GDP. 

Fresh water species currently being farmed in South Africa, include trout, tilapia, catfish and carp. Among these, rainbow trout farming has been around the longest, dating back to the late 1800s. The major areas of production of trout occur in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga regions and in 2010 contributed to the total aquaculture production, approximately 950 tonnes

As far as marine aquaculture is concerned, the most commonly-farmed species include abalone, oysters, prawns, mussels and seaweed.  

According to FAO, abalone is by far the largest marine aquaculture subsector in South Africa and largely occurs in the Western Cape with the majority of farms situated in the Overberg region. Despite this, abalone poaching still remains rife throughout the province.

HOW TO MAKE MORE SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD CHOICES

Of course, calling for an end to seafood consumption will always be something of a thorny issue, especially when it could be seen as a direct threat to the livelihoods of small-scale and subsistence fishers.

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that – if you should continue eating fish – there are ways of ensuring that you’re making the most sustainable choice possible.

WWF-SASSI APP

One of these is the easy-to-use WWF-SASSI app, which allows you to check the sustainability of your seafood choice in real time.

It basically allows you to find out whether to tuck in, think twice or avoid altogether within a few quick clicks.

Using a ‘traffic light’ system, the app lists different fish species under ‘green’ that are the most sustainable choices from the healthiest and most well-managed populations, farmed or fished in a way that does not harm the ocean; ‘orange’ if the species is depleted, cannot sustain current fishing pressure or fishing/farming methods have been used that raise ecological reasons for concern; and ‘red’ if they come from unsustainable populations, have extreme environmental concern, lack appropriate management or are illegal to buy or sell in South Africa.

Popular and local green listed seafood include hake, snoek, yellowtail, mussels and farmed rainbow trout. Some species of squid (calamari) are also green listed.

Red listed species include West Coast rock lobster, Red stumpnose (Miss Lucy), Cape salmon (also known as Geelbek) and all species of kob (commonly called kabeljou). There are a number of prawn species also on the red list, and a few on the orange list.

Visit the WWF-SASSI website to explore the list in more depth or take a look at the app.

KEEPING YOURSELF INFORMED ABOUT SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD CHOICES

In the end, the only thing that is really going to help us navigate the rough waters of ‘to eat or not to eat’, is to educate ourselves adequately.

Apart from the app, WWF-SASSI does a lot to raise awareness and inspire action around sustainable seafood choices. Their website offers a wealth of resources, including a downloadable activity book for Gr R – 7 children and various research publications.

Other helpful websites include:

Yacht Boaz: Fighting Single-Use Plastic One Nautical Mile at a Time

What Our Number 1 “R” Should Be Right Now: Refuse

Can Seaweed be the Answer to Our Plastic Problem?

 

Can Seaweed be the Answer to Our Plastic Problem?

While talking to my 94-year-old grandmother over the phone the other day, I mentioned the fact that I was doing some research about how seaweed may be key to providing a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to plastic.

“That sounds wonderful,” she responded. “Because, even though I know it’s a big problem, I can’t see how we’d get by without plastic.”

While I hate to admit it, she is, of course, right. Plastic is annoyingly convenient and almost impossible to root out of our daily lives entirely.

Despite the consumer-driven global clampdown on single-use plastic, the demand for the commodity continues to grow. In fact, it is expected to double in the next 20 years, as plastic also forms an integral part of countless daily essentials – from cell phone components to life-saving medical devices.

This is also precisely why the production of bioplastics – plastic substances based on organic biomass rather than petroleum – are receiving a good deal of attention right now.

Current sources for these sorts of plastics include vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, woodchips and food waste. But a number of researchers around the world have found that certain types of seaweed could be the most sustainable of all.

BIODEGRADABLE, COMPOSTABLE & BOI – CLEARING UP THE TERMS

Before we take a more in-depth look at the way in which these types of seaweed can be harnessed for the production of more eco-friendly plastics, it’s important that we first clear up any confusion that may exist around a few key terms.

With many companies currently looking into production of alternative types of plastic, there are three main terms that tend to be used interchangeably, but in fact, each signify very different things: biodegradable-, compostable- and bioplastics.

Here’s a quick definition of each:

BIODEGRADABLE PLASTICS

Biodegradable plastic is simply plastic that can be broken down at a molecular level through the actions of microorganisms and enzymes.

This type of plastic can be derived from renewable, raw materials (bioplastics) or from petrochemicals containing biodegradable additives which enhance biodegradation.

COMPOSTABLE PLASTICS

As the name suggests, these types of plastic can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass. Importantly, they do not leave any toxic material behind and can serve as fertiliser for plants. Another thing to keep in mind – they won’t biodegrade in a landfill, because they need air, moisture and sunlight to break down properly.

BIOPLASTICS

“Bioplastics are biodegradable materials that come from renewable sources and can be used to reduce the problem of plastic waste that is suffocating the planet and contaminating the environment.” This succinct description from Sustainability for All really captures the essence of what bioplastics are all about.

WHAT KIND OF BIOPLASTICS ARE CURRENTLY BEING MADE?

There are currently two main processes for the production of bioplastics, also known as bio-based plastics.

According to National Geographic: “[They] can either be made by extracting sugar from plants like corn and sugarcane to convert into polylactic acids (PLAs), or… from polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) engineered from microorganisms.”

PLA has become particularly popular for the production of packaging items that are both biodegradable and compostable.

The manufacture PLA products has proven to use 68% less energy than regular petroleum-based plastics, plus – subjected to the correct conditions – it can decompose into water and carbon dioxide within 47 to 90 days. This is four times faster than the average PET plastic bag.

IS BIOPLASTIC REALLY BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

While the advantages of bioplastics as a more sustainable alternative to petroleum-derived plastics are clear, there are also unfortunately, a few drawbacks.

  • The first and biggest concern that has been raised about the manufacture of bioplastics, PLAs in particular, is the fact that they seem to pose a direct threat to food security. The big question is: how can one justify agricultural land being diverted to the production of crops that will solely be used for the manufacture of bioplastic in a world where food is becoming increasingly scarce?
  • Furthermore, cultivating crops for this purpose can end up being rather expensive, as the process will require fertilisers and chemicals.
  • Apart from that, for bioplastics to break down successfully, they require specific conditions that are not always easy to create. This means that, should they end up in landfills, or even worse, the ocean, they will break down in a similar manner to petroleum-based plastic, leaving micro-sized residue that still poses a serious threat to marine life. This is a key fact that many consumers are not aware of – and think that using this alternative is a solution to the waste problem.

WHY SEAWEED MIGHT BE OUR BEST BET

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as a number of recent studies have shown that certain types of seaweed could be used to create the bioplastics we’ve all been hoping for.

Firstly, it would not require investment in agriculture land, which solves the food security question.

Secondly, seaweed – including the types that have been studied – grows abundantly without the need for any expensive and possibly polluting fertilisers or chemicals.

TWO CASE STUDIES: While a lot more research is required to get a fuller picture of all the pros and cons, the following two case studies provide some fascinating initial insights:

 

(1) Wageningen University & Research

Researchers at Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research recently managed to develop successful processes for refining two types of seaweed into bioplastics.

They extracted polylactic acid (PLA) from a type of sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), which proved to be suitable as a raw material for, among other things, biobased soft drink bottles.

A type of red algae known as Gracilaria vermiculophylla, in turn, seems to provide polysaccharides that can be used to make things like plastic packaging film.

Once these possibilities had been discovered, the team of researchers – headed up by Sander van den Burg of LEI Wageningen UR – conducted a lifestyle assessment to establish how economically viable and eco-friendly they really are.

They mapped out the environmental impact of the entire production chain, from seaweed cultivation to the disposal of the end products.

By doing this at a relatively early stage, they were able to establish which “links in the chain have the greatest environmental impact” in order to work on improvements in a timely fashion.

One of their most exciting findings is that seaweed cultivation for the manufacturing of bioplastics proves to be very eco-friendly.

“Seaweed extracts nutrients directly from water,” Van den Burg said in an article on the Wageningen University website. “Unlike with the cultivation of maize or sugar beet, no polluting fertilisers are used. Furthermore, seaweed cultivation has relatively few negative effects on biodiversity. All of this makes seaweed a very interesting commodity.”

The biggest drawbacks proved to be, firstly, that for seaweed to become a viable option, cultivation would have to become a lot more efficient and secondly, finding a use for the residual products so as not to waste any part of the product.

“Let’s say you use 25% of the dry matter in the production of plastics – this still leaves around 75%. The challenge is to process the remainder – for example into animal feed – in a way that produces the highest possible quality,” said Van den Burg. “The upshot is that this amount no longer needs to be produced from other types of biomass. And seaweed has the great advantage of not requiring valuable agricultural land.”

(2) Evoware

It seems fitting that the first start-up to be experimenting with seaweed-based packaging is located in Indonesia, the country with the second highest rate of plastic pollution in its oceans.

Using farmed seaweed free of chemicals, Evoware makes a range of seaweed-based, edible packaging that includes cups, food wraps and coffee sachets.

If you’re not keen on gobbling up the wrapper with your burger, these products dissolve in warm water and are 100% biodegradable, serving as a natural fertiliser for plants.

Being edible, you might wonder about the shelf life. Well, kept in a cool, dry place, they will last for up to two years!

Furthermore, Evoware also supports the local economy by sourcing their raw material from seaweed farmers, who often struggle to make a viable income.

If it all sounds a bit too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. For the time being, at least.

Currently, all Evoware’s products are made by hand in small batch, which means they simply cannot compete with large-scale plastic producers. This artisan approach also, of course, pushes the prices up.

While they have a long way to go in manufacturing products that can truly compete with plastic (or, maybe they prefer to stay a small-scale business, which is also fine), Evoware certainly seems to be blazing a promising trail.

 

 

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Q&A: How and Why SPAR in the Eastern Cape is Working to STOP PLASTIC

What Our Number 1 “R” Should Be Right Now: Refuse

 

Collagen 101: What Is The Hype All About?

Collagen 101 What Is The Hype All About

If you’re the type who peruses wellness websites or enjoys leisurely strolls through health shops on a regular basis (which, since you’re here, we’re guessing you are), you may have noticed the ‘new’ wonder kid on the supplement block: Collagen.
From healing chronic gut conditions to combating fine lines and wrinkles, its superpowers certainly seem without end? But is all the hype real? And if it is, how can we ensure the collagen we’re taking has been soured as ethically and sustainably as possible?

Let’s delve a little deeper…

WHAT IS COLLAGEN?

Thanks to Dr. 90210 we have all heard the word “collagen” before, but possibly with not the best connotations. The most important thing you need to know about collagen is the fact that it’s a protein produced naturally in our bodies. It is found in skin, hair, tendons, nails, bones and connective tissue, as well as in the gut lining and blood vessels.

The word collagen is derived from the Greek word ‘kolla’, meaning glue, which is a pretty accurate description of the connecting and binding role it plays. Up until about the age of 25, our bodies produce collagen in abundance, after which it starts decreasing steadily. After 30, collagen levels in our skin start to drop by 1 – 2% per year, which is why you’ll start noticing fine lines and wrinkles that were never there before.

While all of this is a natural process, the breakdown of collagen can be aggravated by factors such as stress, smoking, alcohol abuse and excessive sun exposure.

 

CAN I BOOST COLLAGEN LEVELS IN MY SKIN AND REDUCE SIGNS OF AGING?

Now, this is the million-dollar question and one to which the answer currently seems to be ‘we don’t really know.’ While there are many products, procedures and cosmetics that claim to boost collagen levels in our skin, there is yet to be a conclusive scientific study proving this. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options out there:

  • COLLAGEN FILLERS

Before Botox came along, visiting your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to have pure bovine collagen injected straight into unwanted wrinkles was all the rage. Although it worked well and offered a natural-looking fill, there were a few serious downsides: it didn’t last much longer than a month or two and it caused allergic reactions in a relatively high rate of patients. Because of this, collagen fillers took a steep dive in popularity, but are nonetheless still available today.

  • COLLAGEN COSMETICS

Collagen creams fall into one of two categories – those that contain collagen and those that boost collagen. Surprisingly, creams that contain collagen are less effective, because collagen molecules are actually too large to be absorbed through the skin. Creams that contain collagen boosting ingredients – such as retinol, which is a Vitamin A derivative – are, therefore, preferable.

  • COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS

Over the past few years, taking collagen as a dietary supplement has gained popularity. While most people who take it, swear by it – citing glowing skin, a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and even a marked improvement in gut health – there is very little scientific evidence to support this. While various studies have been done, many have been funded by companies selling collagen, which calls their objectivity into question.

PERSONAL COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT TESTIMONIAL

So, before we go any further, this might be a good time for some full disclosure: I’ve been taking a collagen supplement for about two months (going on three months) now and definitely feel as though I’m reaping the desired benefits.

Ever since hitting puberty, I’ve always battled with redness, outbreaks and oiliness on my t-zone. Recently, however, it’s calmed down quite a bit and the red spots that seemed to be permanent fixtures on my chin have all disappeared. Apart from this, my hair has a lushness it lacked before – it’s strong, shiny and growing at an astounding pace.

Apart from taking collagen, I’ve also increased my water intake, cut down on alcohol consumption (with a slight increase again over the festive season) and simplified my skin care routine. Along with switching to haircare products that contain no parabens and sulphites.

So, while I definitely do feel that taking a collagen supplement has played a role, I’m guessing the positive changes I’ve experienced are really the result of a combination of factors.

If you want to read another, much more comprehensive testimonial, super popular health and wellness blogger, Lee Tilghman (aka Lee From America) recently did a whole post about her journey with collagen supplementation.

 

HOW DO I CHOOSE A COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT?

This is a very good question and will basically come down to your personal preferences. The first thing to consider is, perhaps, the collagen source. A quick look through the supplement aisle will reveal that most collagen supplements are either derived from bovine or marine sources.

As the names suggests, marine collagen is extracted from the scales, bones and skin of fish, while bovine collagen comes from the skin, bones and muscles of cows. While they do contain different types of collagen, your body doesn’t differentiate, which means the benefits are pretty similar, no matter which one you take.

Do note that certain marine collagens may have a fishy taste, so if that puts you off, it’s probably best to just go straight for the bovine option instead.

 

WHAT DOES HYDROLYSED MEAN?

The other important thing to take note of when buying your collagen supplement is whether it has been hydrolysed or not. Normally, this will be stated clearly somewhere on the label.

As mentioned earlier, collagen is made up of particles that are relatively large and difficult to absorb. The bioavailability of collagen is improved when the protein is broken down into smaller particles and this process is known as hydrolysation. Basically, it’s important that you always opt for hydrolysed collagen.

 

POWDER, CAPSULES, GELATINE OR BONE BROTH?

The final thing to consider when choosing your collagen supplement is the form it comes in. Once again, this really comes down to personal preference and what works best for your lifestyle. But here’s a quick rundown:

Collagen powder is great for anyone who sips a smoothie or cup of coffee/tea in the morning. All you need to do is add a scoop or two of the powder into your beverage and enjoy. Collagen powders are usually tasteless and may even add a pleasant frothiness to your drink.

Capsules are probably the best option for those who already have a good vitamin routine going, as you will simply pop your collagen with the rest of your pills.

Gelatine (yes good old-fashioned gelatine) is another collagen-rich option that can be used in a similar way to collagen powder. Alternatively, if neither powder or capsules appeal to your sensibilities, you can whip up healthy jelly treats with gelatine in no time!

Bone broth is, of course, also an excellent protein source and perhaps one of the easiest ways for your body to absorb collagen. This is a great option for anyone who has the time and patience for cooking up their own bone broth on a regular basis. For those who are often away from home, it’s probably the least viable option.

 

DO THE BENEFITS OUTWEIGH THE SOURCING PROCESS?

The one major drawback of collagen supplementation is, of course, the fact that it is animal-derived. And since we’ve established that there is no clear scientific evidence proving the efficacy of collagen supplementation just yet, I guess the simple answer to this question is: no. Especially if you are vegan or vegetarian.

If, however, you do consume animal products and are curious to see whether taking collagen may help improve your skin, hair, nails or gut, you can make a concerted effort to purchase those that have been sourced as ethically as possible.

When it comes to marine collagen, make sure the label specifies the type of fish from which it has been sourced. If it doesn’t, chances are it may have been derived from an array of species, including jellyfish and sharks. If it does name a species, the next step is to do some research into how widely available it is and whether it’s considered a threatened/endangered species at all.

With bovine collagen, always opt for grass-fed and preferably go for labels which clearly state the country of origin.

 

ARE THERE ANY PLANT-BASED ALTERNATIVES?

Unfortunately, there are currently no plant-based collagen alternatives. You can, however, reap similar benefits from taking a vegetarian-friendly supplement, such as L-Lysine.

AND WHAT IS L-LYSINE?

It is an amino acid that helps to keep skin tissue healthy and supple. It is said to help your body with collagen production, which gives the skin a firmer and smoother appearance. So rather than taking the collagen itself, you are taking a supplement that assists in the natural production of collagen within your own system.

It also helps to clear up acne and blemishes. The amino acid helps to keep your lips supple, soft and healthy, and even helps to treat cold sores.

How To Boost Your Collagen With Plants

Rooibos & Cinnamon Infused Collagen Jellies

Tumeric Spiced Collagen Latte

2019 New Year’s Intentions: 7 Simple Things to cut out and Live a Better Life

There’s just something about the dawn of a new year that brings a new sense of purpose to our lives and a desire to do better. For many of us, the natural inclination is to make improvement promises to ourselves: “This year, I will finally sign up for that boot camp I’ve been meaning to take” or “In 2019, I’m going to make at least one new friend.”

The thing is, a new year often tempts us to ADD to our already crazy lives, in the hopes that this one addition will make everything better somehow. But what if… what if the very best thing we could do was to cut out a few things before we started adding anything new.

So, before filling your diary with even more commitments, why not take stock of the long-held habits and burdens that may be holding you back, stealing your joy or simply leaving you exhausted. Here are a few ideas:

1. OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING

So, you had an awkward interaction with a colleague at the coffee machine – they used an offish tone with you and now you can’t stop thinking about it. What did you do wrong? Did they maybe misinterpret that remark you made in the stand-up meeting? Could they be upset about the fact that you couldn’t attend their birthday drinks? Perhaps they’re jealous of your recent achievements. What if this? What if that?

Sound familiar? If you’re the type who tends to analyse every interaction to the most minute details, you’re probably a bit of an over-thinker. Apart from the fact that it’s a super tiring exercise, it can also leave you feeling paranoid and make it impossible for you to act spontaneously.

Make 2019 the year that you let things be. Some interactions will just be awkward. If it’s really bothering you, pluck up the courage and talk to the other person/people about it to get their perspective. It will save you loads of energy, time and headspace.

2. PEOPLE-PLEASING

Closely related to overthinking is the tendency to want to please everyone around you… often to your own detriment. The root of this incessant need is of course our desire to be accepted and liked. Instead of standing up for what we like, believe or desire, we’ll go with what the majority/more assertive people want in the hopes of seeming easy-going and flexible.

Well, you know what: you have some pretty great ideas! And every time you just go with what anyone else wants instead of doing what you know will make your soul sing, you’re robbing yourself and possibly even those around you of some seriously epic experiences.

Make 2019 the year in which you kick the people-pleasing habit and stand up for yourself, your ideas, your plans and your desires.

3. TOXIC BEAUTY PRODUCTS

It seems like a no-brainer: if you don’t understand the word in the list of ingredients on your mascara, do you really want to put it on your sweet, sweet lashes?

No!

The fact is that most commercial beauty products are filled with toxic ingredients that can be harmful to our bodies, as well as the environment. Fortunately, with a growing selection of earth-friendly, cruelty-free and harmless beauty products around, you can easily make 2019 the year you clean out your make-up bag!

4. 24/7 CONNECTION

There’s no denying that – in many ways – the digital devices we carry around have all but become extensions of ourselves. They’re our primary means of communication and even help us keep track of our health and wellness. All things considered, they’re nifty tools to have around!

However, if we don’t set healthy boundaries for ourselves, we can end up becoming slaves to our devices instead of employing them to assist us in living better lives. So, here are a few ideas for avoiding 24/7 connection in the new year:

  • Stop checking your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Allow at least an hour of screen-free time for settling down or waking up. It will improve your sleep at night and help you start your day on a calmer note.
  • Consider turning off your push notifications for apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even your emails. This will help curb distraction during the day and minimise clutter on your phone’s screen, which will minimise clutter in your head.
  • Take a digital detox every six weeks or so. Spend this time outdoors, connecting with family and friends or tackling that craft project you’ve been putting off.

5. CONSTANT COMPARISON

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison trap – measuring your own beauty, achievements and dreams against others. There’s absolutely nothing life-giving about this.

Why not try trusting your own path this year, believing in your talents, embracing your beauty, pursuing your dreams and encouraging others to do the same?

If you feel envy rearing its ugly little head, try practicing gratitude instead and see your life bloom in new and unexpected ways!

6. SITTING FOR 8 HOURS STRAIGHT

If you’ve gotten used to working through your lunch break, take the opportunity of a brand-new year to break that terrible habit.

Use the 30 minutes or half-an-hour you have at your disposal to eat a healthy meal mindfully, go for a walk, chat to colleagues, meet a friend for coffee or even do a quick little bit of yoga!

You can also keep the blood flowing throughout the day by trying these toning exercises at your desk.

7. PLASTIC

Last, but definitely not least, make 2019 the year in which you cut down on single-use plastic even more. We have loads of articles about minimising the use of plastic in your home and switching to a zero-waste lifestyle.

And there are so many products in the Faithful to Nature shop, which will help ease the transition.

 

New Year’s Realisations – Easy Swaps to Realise in 2019

4 South African Spots to Have a Digital Detox

 

Keep That Smile Sparkling With These Oral Care Tips

It’s safe to say that most of us know the basics of oral hygiene, right? Brush your teeth twice a day – morning and night – and floss. While the first part may be easy to do, many of us fail when it comes to the latter. But we shouldn’t! Flossing is the best way to ensure that you’re getting rid of plaque in hard-to-reach places, which minimises your chances of developing cavities and gum disease.

Plus, when you get to do it with a clear conscious by using a 100% plastic-free silk floss, there’s really no excuse!

While flossing can take you pretty far with oral hygiene, here are a couple of other tips to help add some extra sparkle to your smile!

Switch to natural products

Apart from tasting minty and fresh, what do most commercial toothpastes have in common? They contain fluoride, a highly contentious ingredient that has sparked much debate in the wellness industry.

The mineral is, of course, also widely present in drinking water around the world, as a late 1800’s studies proved that it helped combat tooth decay.

However, as with any pro, there is sure to be a con. And fluoride seems to have quite many. For instance, there is proof that it’s more toxic than lead and almost as toxic as arsenic. It also may contribute to a range of health problems, including:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Acne
  • Early puberty in girls and lower fertility
  • Neurological problems, such as ADHD

While most healthcare professionals would dismiss any concerns about the levels of fluoride in toothpaste, if you’d rather not take any chances, we’re fortunate enough to live in a time where natural oral hygiene products are experiencing a revival!

And, they’re just as effective (not to mention much less harmful to our bodies and the environment) than your favourite commercial brands. Here are a few tried and tested Faithful to Nature favourites:

Try Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing oil around in your mouth for a prolonged period of time to help remove bacteria, promote oral hygiene and assist the body in detoxing.

It is also said to help keep teeth white and sparkle, reduce the risk of cavities, improve gum health and freshen breath. All you have to do to reap these benefits is dedicate the first 5 – 20 minutes of your morning (directly after waking up) to swishing one tablespoon of oil – in the Ayurvedic tradition, sesame oil is preferred, but coconut oil has become relatively popular for the practice in recent years – around your mouth. If this sounds a bit odd, you can also try one of these:

Be patient with yourself – if you can’t do a full 20 minutes to start off with, don’t worry! The important thing is to make it a consistent part of your morning routine. Also don’t swish too vigorously, as this will make your jaw tired – a gentle action is more than fine. Once you’ve finished swishing, DO NOT spit the oil out into the basin or toilet, as it may harden and clog your pipes – spit it into the dustbin instead.

Read more about oil pulling in this article.

Invest in an Ayurvedic Tongue Cleaner

Complement your oil pulling routine by investing in an Ayurvedic Tongue Cleaner.

All you have to do is gently slide the tongue cleaner over your tongue from the back to the tip before brushing your teeth. This will remove the coating on your tongue, which will help remove bacteria, detoxify and fight bad breath.

Whiten your teeth with activated charcoal

If you aren’t using a toothpaste with added activated charcoal yet, you can easily incorporate it into your oral care routine yourself! All you have to do is gently dip your toothbrush’s damp bristles into activated charcoal powder, add
your toothpaste and brush as you normally would.

Disclaimer: things tend to get a bit messy with activated charcoal, so be very careful and don’t even think of wearing any of your favourite garments (or anything white) during the brushing process. 

Despite the messiness, brushing with activated charcoal can help absorb plaque and other compounds that are know to stain teeth, thus leaving you with a whiter, brighter smile!

Keep some bicarb handy

Ever had the toothpaste run out before it could even be added to the shopping list? That’s okay! It happens to all of us… and it will probably happen again at some point.

So, next time, instead of going into a frenzy to get hold of some minty freshness, simply dip your toothbrush into some bicarbonate of soda and get the job done. It will leave your teeth feeling clean and your mouth feeling relatively fresh. Do remember to buy toothpaste the next day, however, as bicarb isn’t enough to keep your teeth healthy on its own!

Chomp on this: Natural toothpaste vs the conventional stuff

Brushing with Oral Salts – A Natural Choice for Beautiful Teeth

How Bentonite Clay Benefits Oral Health

 

7 Medicinal Mushrooms to Include in Your Diet

7 Medicinal Mushrooms to Include in Your Diet

If you’re looking to add some extra flavour to your meal, we all know that mushrooms always do the trick. Apart from being a delicious addition to any dish, however, the humble fungi family also packs a serious wellness punch. Medicinal mushrooms are the perfect addition to include in ANY diet, no matter what health challenges you’re battling with, there’s a mushroom that can help ease your discomfort.

Here are 7 of our choice of medicinal mushrooms:

CHAGA

Known as “the king of plants” or “the diamond of the forest”, Chaga is a wild mushroom with remarkable health-giving properties. Taking the form of a hard, woody fungus, it grows on birch trees and is prized as a powerful adaptogen as well as an antioxidant.

Chaga protects your body’s cells against stress and oxidation and even helps to combat tumours and cancer cells. It also helps slow the ageing process, can lower blood sugar, -pressure and cholesterol, supports the immune system and fights inflammation.
Try Superfoods wildcrafted Chaga powder, best enjoyed as a freshly brewed tea, which acts as a healing tonic.

REISHI

Known as the “mushroom of immortality” or “medicine of kings”, Reishi mushrooms burst with a range of remarkable health benefits. These include promoting better heart-, liver- and digestive health, balancing cholesterol and blood sugar, as well as providing natural cancer and chemotherapy support.

These mushrooms have adaptogenic properties, which means they can assist your body in adapting to stressful situations and handling anxiety. Reishi is also an excellent option for those who struggle with insomnia, as it helps relax muscles and calms the mind.
Check out Medi Mushrooms’ Reishi capsules – they are vegan-friendly, kosher and halaal.

SHIITAKE

The shiitake (pronounced she-TAH-key) mushroom is prized as a culinary and medicinal treasure throughout Asia. It’s known to balance blood sugar and cholesterol, support the liver and immune system, inhibit tumour growth and it even provides natural cancer support by reducing the side effects of anti-cancer treatments.

They’re pretty widely available in the fresh produce aisles of your favourite grocery stores and make a killer addition to creamy pasta dishes. However, if you’re looking for a quick way to consume them on a regular basis, try Medi Mushrooms’ Shiitake capsules.

MAITAKE

The Maitake mushroom (‘dancing mushroom’ in Japanese) offers a wealth of health benefits, including immune system support, powerful anti-tumour properties, digestive support, blood sugar and blood pressure balance, as well as nervous system support.

If you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), taking Maitake as a supplement can also help improve ovulation and assist in balancing hormones.
Stock up on Medi Mushrooms’ Maitake capsules today.

LION’S MANE

Lion’s Mane mushroom is a natural brain power booster and nervous system tonic. It’s an excellent supplement to take when you’re in the midst of stressful work, exams or studies.

It has also been used as natural support for neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This comes from the mushroom’s ability to stimulate NGF (Nerve Growth Factor), a protein that helps to promote memory and brain function.
Medi Mushrooms gives you all the benefits of Lion’s Mane in a convenient, easy-to-swallow vegan capsule, to help you keep your brain sharp and your body healthy.

CORDYCEPS

Taking a Cordyceps mushroom supplement is ideal for anyone who leads an active lifestyle and requires a reliable energy boost. These properties have also made them popular in traditional medicine as a natural sexual tonic.

Apart from this, Cordyceps are also excellent immune boosters that also has health-giving benefits for the liver, kidneys and stomach.
Medi Mushrooms Cordyceps capsules give you all the power of this remarkable plant in a concentrated, easy-to-swallow form.

TURKEY TAIL / TRAMETES

Named for its fan-like shape and autumn-esque colours, the Turkey Tail mushroom, with its immune-boosting properties, has been used as a dietary supplement in Japanese medicine for centuries.

These mushrooms also contains a unique substance known as PSK which has shown promising results when treating cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, intestines, and colon. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that promote circulation and helps cleanse toxins from tissues.
The healing properties of the Turkey Tail mushrooms is at your disposal with Medi Mushrooms’ conveniently-packaged supplement.

Deconstructed Guac: The Ultimate Entertainment Platter

Deconstructed Guac The Ultimate Festive Platter

Forget the cheese and crackers. Spice up your table this festive season by offering guests the ultimate deconstructed guacamole platter instead!

A deconstructed what-what?

Okay, okay… How does this sound: a beautifully presented avocado salad, bursting with all the delicious flavours you’ve come to love in your favourite guacamole. No matter what you prefer to call it, this fresh and nutritious dish is the perfect addition to any summer celebration.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • Avocados – work on half an avo per guest
  • Fresh coriander
  • Finely chopped tomatoes
  • Jalapeno slices – fresh or pickled (up to you)
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Crushed garlic
  • Sour cream
  • Seed crackers
  • Santa Anna Tortilla chips
  • Hard shell tacos
  • Cocktail wraps
  • Lime/lemon quarters
  • Salt & pepper

Those are the basics to have in place. Now, you can play around with additional ingredients, like:

HOW TO PREP YOUR PLATTER:

  1. Start by preparing all the additional ingredients and placing them in attractive bowls, plates and ramekins. Arrange these on and around the board/s you’re planning to place your avocado slices on.
  2. While we know this is really hard, try your best to wait till about half-an-hour before your party starts to prepare the avocado. This will ensure that they taste and look fresh when your guests arrive.
  3. Cut relatively chunky slices of avocado, about 4 per every half. Arrange slices on your board/s without moving them around to much once placed to avoid any squishing.
  4. Squeeze some lemon/lime juice over to prevent any browning from taking place.
  5. Once guests arrive, you can explain any unusual ingredients and then set them loose to create their own mini salads, nachos, tacos or wraps.

Easy, delicious and unique! What’s not to love?

The Magic of Embracing Wabi-Sabi

Imperfect wabi-wasi

We live in an age of perfectionism. While, sure, the world has always had its fair share of perfectionists, a recent study shows that the number is on the rise. And it’s not a good thing.

A recent study by the American Psychological Association examines group generational differences in perfectionism between the late 1980s and 2016. Analysing data from 41,641 American, Canadian and British college students from 164 samples who completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, they measured three types of perfectionism:

  • self-oriented, or an irrational desire to be perfect
  • socially prescribed, or perceiving excessive expectations from others
  • other-oriented, or placing unrealistic standards on others

More recent generations of college students reported significantly higher scores for each form of perfectionism than earlier generations.

Specifically, between 1989 and 2016, the self-oriented perfectionism score increased by 10%, socially prescribed increased by 33% and other-oriented increased by 16%.

There are, of course, a number of factors influencing this – from our results-driven academic curriculum to the influence of social media. According to lead author, Thomas Curran from the University of Bath, raw data suggests that social media use pressures young adults to perfect themselves in comparison to others, which makes them dissatisfied with their bodies and increases social isolation. While this hasn’t been scientifically proven, I’m sure most of us have felt it in our own bodies at least once.

Now, in essence, the desire to improve and be the best possible version of ourselves isn’t a bad thing. However, when it becomes an obsession, it tends to steal our joy and that elusive ability to live in the moment. It’s exhausting!

As the old saying goes: perfect is the enemy of good.

WABI-SABI AND LETTING GO OF OUR DESIRE FOR PERFECTION

To counter this obsession with perfection, the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi has been making its way back into conversations and culture.

While it’s almost impossible to translate accurately, what it comes down to is being able to see and eventually revel in the beauty of imperfection. For Richard Powell, author of Wabi-Sabi Simple, “wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

Or in the words of Andrew Juniper, author of Wabi-Sabi, “If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy or spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi”.

So, if you – like most of us, it seems – constantly seem to be battling with your own inability to be perfect, maybe it’s time to let go of that and embrace wabi-sabi instead.

HERE ARE A FEW PLACES WE CAN START PRACTISING IT: 

IN OUR HOMES
You know that special set of crockery or a bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion? Yes, the one that’s been gathering dust for months now… maybe even years. Well, my friend, life is short and we should celebrate far more often than we do! Why not serve dinner to your family on those pretty plates this evening? Invite your best girlfriends over and savour every glass of that beautiful wine you’ve been brooding over for so long.

You can also bring reminders of imperfection into your home by opting for natural elements, such as wood, fresh flowers and plants. Oh, and if the kids have left their toys strewn about once again, take a moment to appreciate their presence – they won’t be like this forever – before getting them to clear up the mess.

IN OUR WORK 
The need to achieve some form of perfection is particularly pertinent in those of us pursuing creative careers.

There’s that constant need to compare our achievements with those of our peers in an attempt to measure how well we’re doing in life… or not. Apart from this, there’s also the natural desire to want to improve and grow and learn. Neither of these are bad in essence, but once again, if we become obsessive, we lose our joy and the reason we started pursuing our particular path in the first place.

Wabi-sabi encourages us to welcome both the criticism and the compliments, learn from them and use the wisdom we’ve gained to keep growing and improving. It’s all about gentleness and grace.

IN OUR RELATIONSHIPS 
This is perhaps the toughest area to incorporate the flow of wabi-sabi. Our closest relationships tend to hold up a mirror that doesn’t always reflect a pretty picture back at us. Our reaction? Mostly, to take the frustrations we feel for our own shortcomings out on those we hold most dear.

Once again, in these moments we’d do well to remember just how fleeting moments are. This will do wonders for helping us end arguments before they cross lines into really ugly territory or let go of insecurities that hold us back from loving others fully.

The truth is: there is no such thing as a perfect person, which means, there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. The moment we accept this and start seeing the beauty in the ‘failings’ of ourselves, our partners, our friends, siblings, parents etc, we’ll experience a magical unfolding and a new sense of freedom.

DIY Floral Smoke Sticks for Fragrant Summer Cleansing

The year is speeding to an end and soon the festive season will be in full swing. While this brings loads of excitement to our lives, it can also make things feel like they’re spinning out of control. Now, more than any other time of the year, we need to protect our energy by setting clear boundaries – especially with those around whom we tend to feel drained. Similarly, since many of our homes might experience an influx of guests, it’s the perfect time to freshen things up and make sure that any stale negativity from the past year isn’t lurking in the corners. This is where smudge sticks can play a role. 

Burning fragrant herbs in the home is an ancient practice present in many cultures to help freshen and uplift spaces. In some cultures it was used purely as a practical means of chasing off unwanted guests of the insect kind, while others took a more spiritual approach, using smoke to help purify or bless spaces and people.

Smudging is one form of smoke cleansing that has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent years. Rooted in Native American customs and cultures, smudging ceremonies are normally performed using a bundle (or ‘stick’) of sacred herbs, of which white sage is the most important and prominent ingredient.

Of course, there is some controversy around the cultural appropriation of this practice and, if it is something you’re interested in doing to help purify or bless yourself or your home, it’s worth doing a bit of research to make sure you’re going about it in the most respectful way possible.

One way of doing this is to keep things earth-friendly by harvesting herbs from your own backyard (or, if you don’t have one, a generous friend or family member). This also adds an element of creativity, as you can make a smudge stick according to your own preferences.

Even though sage is most commonly associated with smoke cleansing, we quite like the idea of doing something a little different and bringing some floral flare to the mix.

Here’s a little recipe to kickstart your DIY Smoke Cleansing experiment:

WHAT YOU NEED:

  1. Freshly-harvested herbs:
  • Lavender (assists with calming and relaxation)
  • Rosemary (assists with gaining clarity and staying alert)
  • Rose (encourages peace and can also aid in rekindling romance)
  • Thyme (assists in renewal of energy and purification)
  1. Natural cotton or string

 

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Start the process by strolling through the garden and gathering your herbs of choice. Use secateurs to cut off a sprig of about 10cm of lavender, rosemary and thyme. To gather rose petals, you will simply need a rose bloom or two for plucking purposes.
  2. Once you’ve gathered a generous bundle of herbs, lay them out on a clean, dry surface. In a similar way to which you’d arrange flowers, start gathering together a handful of herbs and bind them tightly with your cotton or string. You will probably be able to make a few smudge sticks from your collected herbs, so feel free to play around with different combinations.
  3. Now that you have a few smudge sticks gathered and bound, it’s time to hang them out to dry. Depending on how warm and dry the environment is you’ve placed them in, it could take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to dehydrate them sufficiently. If you’re feeling a bit impatient, you can speed up the process by placing them in the warm drawer of your oven.
  4. When they’re dry enough, it’s burn time! Make sure you light your smoke stick on one end only in a well-ventilated area, far away from any flammable objects. If you want to put it down, place it in a heat and burn proof container, such as glass or ceramic. Once you’re done, douse it with water.

If you want to add any other herbs to the mix, please do some research beforehand. Some plants are toxic when burned, while others may smell unpleasant. Of course, you would also want to pay attention to their properties – if you want to bring a sense of calm to your home, you don’t want to burn herbs with energising properties and vice versa.

 

3 Flower-Infused Meditations for Spring

Edible flowers: Make a Super Pretty Salad!

5 House Plants That Will Purify Your Home (And Are Easy to Care For)!

 

Climate Change is Real: 7 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

climate change

We all know at least one climate change denier whose biggest mission in life is to prove that all the rest of us are crazy for wanting to fix something that ain’t broke.

Typically, they will argue that the earth has gone through various cycles of climate change and that our current situation is just another natural occurrence. They will say that it’s got nothing to do with the industrial, agricultural and daily household activities of human beings and that “really, what’s the fuss about things getting a degree or 2 warmer, anyway?”

We also know how useless arguing with a climate change denier can be. And, unless you find these sorts of debates thrilling (nothing wrong with that) and have the tenacity of a Pitbull, you might want to consider leading by example instead of getting caught up in a battle of wits.

The fact of the matter is climate change is real and carbon emissions from human activity are the main driving force behind it. “Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the ‘greenhouse effect’ — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space,” the NASA website reads.

Now, while climate change certainly requires serious intervention from the highest tiers of government, business and industry, there’s also an individual aspect to it. While many of us may not have the means to switch to greener energy in our homes right away, there are a few small things we can do on a daily basis to help reduce our own carbon emissions.

7 WAYS YOU CAN IMPACT CLIMATE CHANGE POSITIVELY:

  1. FIND ALTERNATIVES TO DRIVING

One of the main way’s humans have contributed to climate change is through the burning of fossil fuels, which on an individual basis, happens mostly when driving our own cars, heating our homes or using electricity.

Many of us love the freedom that having a vehicle of our own offers, however, if our mission is to live more consciously, we simply have to cut down on trips. An easy way of doing this is setting concrete reduction goals and sticking to them.

For instance, you can set a goal of walking or cycling anywhere you need to be within 3km of your home. Also, instea

d of driving your own car to work, set up a car pool with people who live in the same area as you. Finally, make use of public transport whenever possible. Familiarise yourself with the bus routes and schedules in your vicinity and opt to hop on board whenever possible.

  1. EAT LESS MEAT

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined. Supporting this finding, a new report published in the journal Nature called for a massive reduction in the quantity of meat being consumed, so as not to push our planet to the edge of extinction by 2050.

Fortunately, cutting down on carnivorous habits seems to have caught on over the past few years, as more and more people are opting for a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.

If you aren’t quite there yet (or never plan on being), no judgies! The report mentioned above suggests that people start opting for a flexitarian diet, which is mainly plant-based but does allow for the consumption of meat and other animal products in moderation.

But what does moderation mean? Well, preferably only once a week or so. If this still sounds too drastic, why not start with meat-free Mondays?

  1. UNPLUG

While we often talk about ‘unplugging’ in a metaphorical sense, many of us may be overlooking the importance of literally unplugging our devices on a daily basis. Even when you’ve flipped the switch on the power supply, any chord plugged into a socket is still drawing a small amount of energy. Now, if you have multiple chords drawing energy across the home on a daily basis this could add up to quite a lot of energy being burned for absolutely no reason.

So, start changing that today by simply unplugging the following appliances before leaving your home:

  • Any phone chargers
  • Fully-charged laptops
  • Desktop computer
  • Microwave
  • Hairdryer
  • Bedside lamp
  • TV

By doing this, you will not only be reducing your carbon footprint, but may also find yourself saving on your electricity bill!

  1. BUY LOCALLY-SOURCED FOOD

Apart from cutting down on meat, buying locally-grown fresh produce is a great way to ensure that your diet is more eco-conscious.

If you aren’t able to have a veggie garden of your own, you can do this easily by supporting farmer’s markets in your area.

The benefits of doing this are really endless and include the following:

  • Buying fruit and veggies sourced within a 100km of your home reduces transport costs and emissions
  • You’ll be supporting local entrepreneurs
  • Fewer pesticides on fresh produce
  • Fewer preservatives in other products, like cheese, milk, meat, honey, jams etc.

 

  1. SLOW DOWN THE FASHION CYCLE

We live in a ‘fast fashion’ culture where the only way to keep up with the latest trends is to fill your shopping basket at your favourite clothing retailer on a regular basis. Have you ever stopped to wonder, however, just how big the impact of your being trendy is having on the environment?

When you start delving into the facts and figures, the cost of fashion is actually terrifying – not only in terms of pollution and gas emissions, but also as far as its vulnerable workforce is concerned.

In the US alone, 13 million tons of textiles make it into landfills every year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. The water needed to keep cotton crops healthy and thriving is exorbitant, while the toxic chemicals in dyes seep into our rivers and oceans. Oh, and remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1138 people? People who worked long hours and got paid less than minimum wage to create garments for fast fashion chains, such as H&M.

Well, here’s a newsflash: being trendy went out of fashion a long time ago!

Instead, we’re seeing a welcome return to timeless elegance and investing in quality pieces made ethically.

If building a more sustainable wardrobe sounds like something you’d like to do, here are a few ways you can start:

  • Buy products that have been made locally (check the label on the inside of the garment)
  • Delve thrift, second-hand and vintage store shopping
  • Fix/tailor/upcycle your own clothing
  • Have a clothing swap with friends

Read our guide to a more sustainable wardrobe for more details.

  1. PLANT A GARDEN OR SUPPORT A LOCAL FOOD GARDEN

One of the very simplest ways to combat climate change is to grow greenery of your own. And this is true whether you live in a large countryside villa with enough space for a small forest or in a tiny city apartment with only a balcony.

By nurturing trees/plants in whatever spaces available to us, we’ll be increasing the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen as well as creating more cool areas. This is especially important in cities that tend to be hotter than surrounding rural areas.

  1. COMPOST YOUR FOOD WASTE

Whenever you throw food out with your trash, there’s probably that little twinge of guilt about the wastefulness of the act. With hunger and poverty being rife in all corners of the globe, there’s no doubt that food waste should top the list of modern-day deadly sins.

Now, let’s just add to that guilt a bit by pointing out that whenever food ends up in a landfill, it will gradually rot and release methane, one of the strongest greenhouse gasses. In fact, according to Climate Central, if food waste could be represented as its own country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the US.

So, instead of throwing your food waste out with the trash, why not start composting instead? Once again, there is an option for everyone – even those who live in small apartments. Even if you don’t have space for a compost heap, you can invest in a special compost bin small enough to be tucked away under the sink in your kitchen. Don’t know what to do with the resulting compost or ‘tea’? Donate it to a local food garden or to a friend/family member who has a garden of their own!

Read our article on reducing food waste to find out more.

Reduce Your Food Waste

Are Millennials Helping the Environment or Hurting it?

8 Free Greener Living Apps to Help South Africans Stay on top of Their Eco Game