TED carries the catch-phrase ‘ideas worth spreading’ and provides a platform for some of the very best thinkers around the globe to communicate something that they believe will challenge and inspire others. Twice a year TED hosts two conferences in which TED talks pass on a wealth of knowledge and ideas in no more than 18 minutes.
Some of the talks are inspiring, beautiful, and creative. Others are informative, full of knowledge or communicate an innovative idea or invention.
I wanted to share some of my most favourites with you. I hope you find something here that will inspire and move you.
“The benefits of going paperless in the way we wrap our gifts is not just the money saved from buying wrapping paper, but I believe it is a more responsible way of living where we are considering stewarding our resources with care and consideration.
I love coming up with creative ideas for presenting gifts. It’s amazing what you might have lying around that is unused, or some things to pick up that would otherwise be thrown away.” [read more…]
Visit‘Frugal Homeschool Family’and find a list of creative ideas for presenting your gifts without using wrapping paper, or recycling some of the things you probably have lying around the house.
Now more than 6 months later, after having started the transition at the height of summer and now a few weeks into Spring, we are continuing to reap the benefits from this method of gardening.
We found that during the summer, we decreased our watering by about half (as the wood chips hadn’t broken down adequately) and haven’t watered at all since. We’re hoping that this summer we won’t have to water at all, or at least very little.
Sowing Seed and Raising Seedlings
We now mostly sow seeds straight into the ground, simply by raking back the wood chips, putting some compost in, and the leaving the cover back until the seedlings sprout.
We also have some seeds under cover in seed raising trays. Our seed raising mix consists of homemade compost, vermaculture (from a worm farm), and some sand to lighten the mix. This seems to be working well so far. After three weeks we have seedlings that are already 2-3 inches tall (tomatoes, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, zucchini, pumpkins, and capsicums).
Our mini green house is made from a piece of glass inside a wood frame and angled towards the sun. Underneath the glass (about 2cm in) is clear plastic fixed to the inside of the frame which creates a good condensation and diffuses the bright sunlight.
On the ground is concrete so we always had problems with having to put seed trays on a waterproof tray – the dirt would be wet then dry out. So now we have some old carpet over the concrete and 3 inches of mulch on top of the carpet. Our seed trays sit on top of the mulch. This creates a forest floor in our greenhouse and keeps it moist. We water a little every 2-3 days with a watering can.
One of the things we’ve enjoyed was when our plants have self-seeded and new plants have sprung up on their own in various places around the garden. We wondered if this might stop once the garden was covered in wood chips. But gladly this has continued and they can either grow where they’ve landed or we can move them to a better place.
We recently planted some broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds straight into the garden with a month of winter left, but they still came up and are doing well.
As we’d hoped, we haven’t had to pull many weeds at all, and the few that do crop up are easy to pull.
The great thing is that now that it’s time to plant our spring garden, there’s no weeds to pull or soil to till (which would normally have taken about 8 hours) so the motivation to get out in the garden isn’t spoiled. We have some seedlings on the go and these will be ready to plant at the traditional summer planting time in October.
We have two composting bins that we alternate and keep them covered with a black rubber mat. We introduced a bucket of vermaculture from a worm farm, which had a good amount of worms in and have flourished in the compost. The compost is rich and the system is working well.
Some Things to Plan
Finally, here are some things we have yet to plan.
Utilising the space well so as to plant all our seedlings in limited space;
Keeping the wood chips on the garden replenished;
Finding a local source for more wood chips and a place in the garden to store them;
Introducing more herbs into the garden;
Being more intentional about companion planting (eg. flowers);
Organic food is quite simply more nutritious, more ethical, and safer. It is higher in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, flavenoids, and organic food is grown in nutrient-dense soil with sustainable practices. It doesn’t contain harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners, genetically-engineering, and the like. It is also fair trade and ethically produced.
One of the things to consider when weighing up the cost of eating organic food, is the actual cost in eating conventional food, as the true cost is measured in terms of every part of the chain – the cultivation, the effects on farmers and local economies, the manufacture, the distribution, and the waste. We are not only responsible for what we put in our bodies and discard at the end of the day, but also for the additional load we have contributed to the environment via our purchasing. Something to think about.
If you have to compromise somewhere, buy the spray-free alternatives or visit the EWG’s list, ‘Clean 15’, for the things you can buy with the lowest pesticide residues (although these still won’t be as nutrient dense as their organic counterparts).
As you are deciding how you can afford to eat organic food, consider that by making this choice you putting the highest quality nutrients into your body and ensuring the best health for you and that of your family. It may mean making some budget cuts elsewhere, but it is a worthy investment if you can take steps towards greater health.
For our family, we very rarely rent movies or eat out, and have started get better about being more creative with our gift-giving – which has been a little beyond our means at times! It also means we simply go without things sometimes. But we have chosen to make organic food part of our family’s quest towards what we believe is responsible stewardship of our bodies and the environment.
Where To Start
First things first – you’ll need to do some research. Find (preferably) local sources for fresh produce, meat, dairy, and other sources for your pantry goods, many of which can be found online.
It may be stating the obvious a bit, but I’ll say it anyway: you’ll also want to write up a detailed budget worksheet, and see how much you can put towards your groceries each week. We looked at Dave Ramsay’s helpful resources 10 years ago and still use his suggestions in how we manage our finances.
A beautiful spread of fresh produce at a farmers market
Find your local farmers markets – turn market day into a fun family day. Get to know your local growers. They’re often a super source of wisdom and advice.
Find a good fruit and vege box supplier online if you can, which contain seasonable varieties of fruit and/or vegetables. You’ll probably still need to buy the more expensive items that aren’t usually in the boxes.
Join a co-op or start one.
Start a garden, or at the very least, plant herbs such as parsley, coriander, mint and sage. You could do these in planter box off the window sill.
Buy in bulk (eg. flour, nuts, legumes)
Avoid buying processed snacks and simply make your own. It just takes some creativity.
Buy specialty items online (usually for much cheaper) for things such as salt, spices, cacao products, bee products, sea vegetables, etc.
Ditch buying the organic versions of processed foods, such as boxed cereals and bars as these are not usually nutritious anyway and can quickly bump up your grocery bill.
If you can’t get organic meat, eggs and dairy, always buy grass-fed versions.
Preparing and storing food
Make bone broths from chicken frames and beef bones that are left over from your meals. You could also buy them for next to nothing from your meat supplier. Freeze tons of the stuff!
Buy fresh produce in season, and freeze, ferment, make simple sauces to add to meals and freeze these also.
Source simple and nutritious recipes for your meals, print, and store in your recipe folder
Create meal plans, so you are only shopping for exactly what you need that week. If you have some room in the budget, stock up on pantry items.
Don’t throw anything out – I use all my leftovers somehow. Vegetables can be diced and added with eggs and cheese for a frittata; small amounts of meat can be turned into stirfries and rice dishes; ratatouille can be blended and turned into a sauce. Try putting your ingredients into your search engine and see what you come up with.
You might like to consider making a gradual transition into making the switch to organic food.
One of the things I noticed with us, is that I tried replacing ‘apples for apples’ in the beginning, until eventually (after a few years) our eating habits themselves changed and as a result our overall grocery bill dropped.
“From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.”
There’s no doubt that we could do a better job of stewarding this earth in a more responsible and sustainable way. I hope after watching it you will be freshly inspired to make a difference to how you steward your resources.
How we each can reduce the mass waste that we produce, and accumulation of stuff in our lives?
Here are some things that instantly come to mind:
Buy organic and local where possible (both food and other items)
Buy fair trade
Plant a garden in your backyard
Buy less – ask yourself, is it necessary?
Recycle, reuse, but most of all, reduce
Buy more durable items
Reduce household waste
Deal with some of the thinking and motivation behind the accumulation of stuff. Change you.
Become a giver
Become a pray-er
Re-order your priorities
Simplify your life
Look after the needy and vulnerable with intention
Meet legitimate spiritual and emotional needs in a legitimate way, and not through retail therapy and ‘stuff’ accumulation.
Ignore fashions and trends
Switch off the TV and do something different – read, draw, hike, play board games, walk on the beach…
Be thankful in all things!
Remember that one person can make a difference. [Did you know the average American produces about 1,600 pounds (726kg) per year? There’s definitely room for improvement on that. Read the rest of Annie’s blog post here.]
I know this might all seem a little over-simplistic in terms of what each of us can do, as there are many interwoven factors driving this machine. But at the end of the day, as long as there is consumer demand, then the stuff will keep being churned out. And the waste will keep being produced. I believe it will just take individuals, groups, and communities to start to change, and eventually sustainable living and wise stewardship will become core values that we live by. Well, that is my hope.
Obviously if I was to do this topic justice, I’d need to do a lengthy series of posts.
But instead, I encourage you to go on a journey yourself… become a researcher; ask questions; find out where things are produced and purchase wisely; read labels; support causes that seek to bring change; come up with a ‘game plan’ for your family and get everyone involved.