Category Archives: Let’s get Inspired

21 Small Indoor Plants for Apartment Living

Houseplants are a tried and true way to bring vibrant color to your home and to bring nature inside. Not to mention, plants are a great way to purify the air in your home.

Big and beautiful philodendrons and majesty palms are perfect for adding the finishing touch to any room and for filling in empty corners and walls. However, huge plants like that aren’t always the best for tiny apartments and less-than-spacious homes. Thankfully, there are plenty of choices for small indoor plants that can help provide the right touch of green without taking up a large chunk of your room!

Small plants, like succulents and air plants, are perfect for adding greenery to your desk or your nightstand. Slightly bigger plants like peace lilies can take up some floor space, but they won’t overwhelm any corner of the room with lush leaves or big roots.

The best part about most small potted plants is that they can fit almost anywhere in your home. You can even get creative! Think about adding some cute plants in unexpected places like near your bathroom window, in a hanging planter or even on your wall with a space-saving vertical wall garden!

21 Small Indoor Plants to Spruce Up Your Space

To help you get started, we rounded up our favorite small indoor plants and included a few tips for styling them in a small space. Take a look and see which ones you can apply to your own space.

1. Air Plant

Air plants are interesting plants since they don’t need soil to survive. These are great if you’re looking for a small plant and don’t want to deal with pots or soil. If you choose to house your air plant in a terrarium, make sure it has an opening so it gets plenty of circulation.

air plant tillandisa small indoor plant

2. Aloe Vera

Did you know that aloe vera plants are a part of the succulent family? Just like their relatives, they enjoy the sun and prefer that their soil is completely dry between waterings. These small potted plants are handy to keep around if you have any minor burns, like a sunburn. Take a look at our list of medicinal plants to see what other plants you should keep around your home.

aloe vera small indoor plants

3. Anthurium

Smaller anthuriums are perfect for adding a bright pop of color to any room in the house without taking up too much space. They can tolerate all types of light, but will grow best with bright, indirect light.

anthurium small indoor plants

4. Asparagus Fern

Contrary to its name, the asparagus fern is actually a part of the lily (liliaceae) family. If possible, give this plant some breathing room on either side so its leaves can fan out. It will add a beautiful splash of green on any shelf or table.

small indoor plants asparagus fern

5. Baby Toes

These cute plants also hail from the succulent family. Their name derives from their small stature and resemblance to an infant’s toes. Baby toes are perfect conversation starters due to their unusual look.

small indoor plants baby toes

6. Cast-Iron Plant

Cast-iron plants are hardy plants that can withstand a range of light and soil conditions. They’re the plant to choose if you’re willing to give up a little floor space in exchange for a nearly indestructible plant.

small indoor plants cast iron plant

7. Chinese Money Plant

These cute plants are known for their beautiful round leaves and how for how difficult they are to obtain. Chinese money plants are also called missionary plants. This is because Norwegian Missionary Agnar Espergen took cuttings home with him in the 1940s and shared them with his loved ones. This is how the plant eventually spread throughout the world. These plants are easy to propagate, so the easiest way to acquire your own is to find a friend or online exchange willing to help y

small indoor plants chinese money plant

8. Echeveria

The echeveria is one of the most common types of succulents. Little plants like these are more commonly found at office and home desks due to their easy care and small size. A common cause of death, however, is overwatering. Make sure to let your plants’ soil dry completely before giving them another drink.

small indoor plants echeveria

9. Jade Plant

Jade plants are most known for their thick, oval-shaped leaves. Jade plants can live for years as long as they are given the proper care. To keep your plant’s leaves nice and shiny, wipe them down every once in a while to combat dust build up. This will keep the leaves glossy and increase its ability to absorb sunlight.

small indoor plants jade plant

10. Kalanchoe

Kalanchoes are a variety of flowering plants that are known for their beautiful blooms. Place them near a window so that they have plenty of energy to flower. The kalanchoe is also from the succulent family, so it prefers to have dry, well-drained soil.

kalanchoe small indoor plants

11. Lithops

Many refer to lithops as “living stones,” since these plants closely resemble pebbles and small stones. Like succulents, these small plants can survive in hot temperatures and little water. Lithops are great for showing off to guests due to their deceiving appearance!

small indoor plants lithops

12. Lucky Bamboo

These small plants can grow in both soil and in water. If you choose to grow your lucky bamboo in water, make sure you replace the water every 7 to 10 days and use filtered water if possible. If you plant it in soil, make sure to water it when the first inch of its soil starts to feel dry.

lucky bamboo small indoor plants

13. Oxalis

This specific oxalis variety is also referred to as “purple shamrocks” or “false shamrocks.” It earned its name because of its resemblance to the Irish shamrock that is more commonly known as the three-leafed clover. In addition to its name, its also known for its photophilic nature. This means that both its flowers and leaves open and close in response to light.

oxalis small indoor plants

14. Peace Lily

Peace lilies are one of the best houseplants you can have in your home due to their variety of sizes, attractive appearance and ability to clean the air. Peace lilies can also thrive under fluorescent light, so they’re perfect for rooms that have little to no natural light. Take a look at our peace lily care guide to learn how to help them thrive.

peace lily small indoor plants

15. Peperomia

Peperomia leaves grow in tight clusters, making them ideal choices for small shelves or desks. Their thick leaves can hold water and allow them to endure periods of time without hydration. They can also survive under fluorescent light, but grow best with bright, indirect sunlight.

small indoor plants peperomia

16. Polka Dot Plant

Polka dot plants are colorful plants that provide an unexpected dash of color to any shelf or tabletop. These small plants are commonly known for their pink color, but they have more recently become available in other colors (like red and white). Although it prefers indirect sunlight, some direct sunlight during the day is okay for your plant if it isn’t very colorful yet. Just remember to bring it back out of the direct sunlight to avoid scorched leaves.

polka dot plants small indoor plants

17. Pothos

Pothos plants are vine plants that can easily dress up a bookcase or a plain wall with their trailing leaves. They are another popular plant that purifies the air. Their classy appearance and air-purifying abilities make them a good choice for a home office or living room. Take a look at our pothos plant care guide to learn more in-depth information about their care guidelines.

pothos small indoor plants

18. Rubber Tree

Rubber trees are indoor plants that can pull any room together with their large leaves and vibrant color. Rubber trees can potentially grow up to ten feet tall. To keep them at a smaller height, prune the branches and leaves regularly. New branches can sprout from these prunings if you tend to them.

rubber tree small indoor plants

19. Snake Plant

Snake plants are easy to care for and are also useful for purifying the air. These plants grow vertically, so they’re ideal for tight corners that are in need of some greenery. Snake plants can grow in a variety of light conditions, but thrive best in indirect sunlight. Since they originate from the desert, they can also withstand long periods of time without water. You should let their soil dry between waterings. Take a look at our snake plant care guide to learn more in-depth information about snake plants.

snake plant small indoor plants

20. Spider Plant

These plants have a lot of long, skinny leaves that poke out from their pots. Spider plants make interesting hanging plants thanks to their dangling leaves. The spider plant’s other nicknames include the “airplane plant” and the “ribbon plant” — thanks to its iconic foliage.

spider plant small indoor plants

21. String of Pearls

The string of pearls plant is an increasingly popular plant with a unique appearance. Its pearl-like foliage hangs over its container and makes an eye-catching piece of decor for all of your guests. This cute plant is yet another member of the succulent family and thus requires lots of light and little water.

string of pearls small indoor plants
Source: 21 small indoor plants for apartment living

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Why should you be doing more gardening?

Blooming marvellous: Why gardening keeps you grounded

Getting led up the garden path isn’t always a bad thing. You’d be amazed at the treasures and pleasures that await.

George admiring the flower he has grown.As a metaphor for life, gardening is the best there is. Think strong roots and firm foundations. It makes sense in any context, whether you relate it to family togetherness or designing a skyscraper. Any gardener will tell you that.

They’ll also say that life (and gardening) is better with barrowloads of patience. Plants grow slowly and no amount of rushing things (with fertiliser) will speed them up. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Gardening is also good for you. It helps people battling high blood pressure, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, helps moderate mood and alleviate stress and doubles as a workout. Did you know three hours of moderate gardening will burn as many calories as a one-hour gym workout?

But back to gardening itself. Gardeners understand the only certainty is change – it’s why everything looks proportional in a garden for only so long. Plants get woody or diseased. And they die. That’s why in 10 years no garden will resemble the way it is now.

Gardening is an exercise in accepting whatever happens. Going with the flow. Especially when it comes to native plants – our fickle locals can keel over suddenly and inexplicably. Healthy one day, dead the next. And this is why gardeners are such get-on-with-it pragmatists – they rip out the ailing and lifeless, and plant anew. Usually with another little experiment, in the hope it might be hardier.

But enough of metaphors – gardeners have a low-tolerance for fluff. They are ‘practical folk’ whose idea of fun is getting dirty – rugging up and hitting it in any weather, slogging through winter for the rewards of spring and sweating under sunscreen and hat while everyone else is inside with air-conditioning.

Using secateurs to cut the stem off a lemon.This isn’t as unappealing as it may sound. The seasons are so much richer when you see them up close – turning leaves, peaches plumping out, birds gleaning twigs for nests and butterflies appearing like magic on the first warm days of summer.

A flourishing garden is certainly a thing of beauty, although any keen gardener will tell you it isn’t just about the results. It’s about the doing. Gardeners know that every day you miss takes at least two to catch up. Hacking back the overgrown is cathartic but it’s really just damage control – the thing you do before real nurturing can begin.

Beyond the heavy industry of digging, pulling, chopping and raking, gardening is about watching for signs, day in day out. And then one day seeing them – like a tiny green bud on a stalk that, the day before, looked dead.

Gardening comes with some strange belief that all those growing, independent and capable plants somehow need you. They need your diligent watering and well-researched fertilising and pruning.

Who knows where such enthusiasm and dedication originates? Maybe gardening is in the genes, or maybe it comes from childhood remembrance of helping mum or dad on rose-coloured weekends when the distant sound of lawn mowers meant no school today.

You’re either into it or you aren’t.

For gardeners, nothing beats a day in the dirt – potting up cuttings, digging in fertiliser, hunting out weeds. Time either stops or it flies.

As a gardener you become part of a living world that has as many ups and downs as ‘regular’ life, but is infused with an extra richness that defies description. You know the feeling. If you don’t, get out in the garden and find out.

Why gardening is good for your health

  • Three hours of moderate gardening burns as many calories as one hour at the gym.
  • Gardening can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by almost 30%.
  • Gardening reduces the risk of obesity.
  • 75% of gardeners rate their health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.
  • People who grow more fruit and vegetables eat more fruit and veg.
  • Gardening is more effective at reducing the stress hormone cortisol than reading.
  • Gardening requires skills that can protect the brain from ageing.
  • Regular gardeners are less likely to suffer from dementia.
  • Gardening improves your memory.

Source: Blooming marvellous: Why gardening keeps you grounded

An inspiring story…”She Hasn’t Made Any Trash In 2 Years. This Is What Her Life Is Like”

What an inspiration she is!! Such a wonderful life she is living and so much to learn from. It is high time that we all start doing what we could on our part to reduce the impact of our actions on the planet earth. I am doing my bit to live a sustainable life and this article serve as a fuel to motivate me to go further. Here is to living best lives we can.

SHE HASN’T MADE ANY TRASH IN 2 YEARS. THIS IS WHAT HER LIFE IS LIKE

November 23, 2014 by Joe Martino.

Lauren

What if you could live without producing any trash? Would you do it? At first you might think this is impossible or very hard, and it may very well be depending on your life situation. But one inspiring girl is not only doing this, but sharing how we can all try doing the same thing as well.

Eliminating Trash
Not long ago we covered a story about a restaurant who hadn’t produced garbage in over 2 years. It was amazing to not only see how possible it was but that they were able to do it and still run their business with success.

But how could we do that on an individual level and could it be done easily without giving up much of what we love and modern amenities? I came across Lauren Singer’s story and was very inspired by what she had to share. She has gone 2 years without producing any garbage and her story isn’t what you’d expect.

The inspiration came from taking Environmental Studies at NYU. She was passionate about protesting against big oil and wanted to do what she could to help impact our environment in a positive way. While at first you might think she’s probably a “hippie” or “treehugger” who doesn’t live a normal life, when you pay attention to her story you not only find that this isn’t the case, but also that given her experience, we could all be doing this too. All it would take is a little discipline and habit changing.

Her passion for the environment was challenged greatly one day when she realized upon opening her fridge that almost every item was wrapped or stored in some sort of disposable package. Here she was, the “green” girl, being, as she called herself, a hypocrite because she was choosing to live her life in a way that wasn’t green or sustainable. So she decided to eliminate plastic from her life.

Below she shares how she went from being an average consumer to eliminating trash from her life. Use this as inspiration and see if you can begin doing the same. She outlines many details of what she did. See if you can implement this in your own life, I myself am going to start putting a plan together to make less of an impact as well.

Her Journey To Zero Waste
“How did I go from zero plastic to zero waste?

First, I stopped buying packaged products and began bringing my own bags and jars to fill with bulk products at the supermarket. I stopped buying new clothing, and shopped only secondhand. I continued making all of my own personal care and cleaning products. I downsized significantly by selling, donating, or giving away superfluous things in my life, such as all but one of my six identical spatulas, 10 pairs of jeans that I hadn’t worn since high school, and a trillion decorative items that had no significance to me at all.

Most importantly, I started planning potentially wasteful situations; I began saying “NO” to things like straws in my cocktails at a bars, to plastic or paper bags at stores, and to receipts.

Of course, this transition didn’t happen overnight.

This process took more than a year and required a lot of effort. The most difficult part was taking a hard look at myself, the environmental studies major, the shining beacon of sustainability, and realizing that I didn’t live in a way that aligned with my values.

I realized that while I sincerely cared about a lot of things, I wasn’t embodying my philosophies. Once I accepted that, I allowed myself to change and since then my life has been better every day. Here are just a few of the ways life has improved since I went trash free:

1. I save money.

I now make a grocery list when I go shopping, which means being prepared and not grabbing expensive items impulsively. Additionally, buying food in bulk means not paying a premium for packaging. When it comes to my wardrobe, I don’t purchase new clothing; I shop secondhand and get my clothes at a heavily discounted price.

2. I eat better.

Since I purchase unpackaged foods, my unhealthy choices are really limited. Instead, I eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and legumes, as well as a lot of seasonal, local food, since farmers markets offer amazing unpackaged produce.

3. I’m happier.

Before I adopted my zero-waste lifestyle, I would find myself scrambling to the supermarket before it closed, because I didn’t shop properly, ordering in takeout because I didn’t have food, always going to the pharmacy to get this scrub and that cream, and cleaning constantly because I had so much stuff.

Now, my typical week involves one trip to the store to buy all of the ingredients I need. This trip isn’t just for food, but also for cleaning and beauty products, since all of the things I use now can be made with simple, everyday ingredients. Not only is it easier and stress free, it’s healthier (no toxic chemicals!).

I never anticipated that actively choosing not to produce waste would turn into my having a higher quality of life. I thought it would just mean not taking out the trash. But what was at first a lifestyle decision became a blog, Trash is for Tossers, which became a catalyst for chatting with interesting, like-minded people, and making friends.

Now it’s blossomed into my quitting my great post-grad job as Sustainability Manager for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to start my own zero-waste company, The Simply Co., where I hand-make and sell the products that I learned to produce over the past two years.

I didn’t start living this lifestyle to make a statement — I began living this way because living a zero-waste life is, to me, the absolutely best way I know how to live a life that aligns with everything I believe in.”

Pass this inspiration on to others who you think could benefit from her tips and story.

H/T: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html

http://www.trashisfortossers.com/

Source:  She Hasn’t Made Any Trash In 2 Years. This Is What Her Life Is Like

Ten Keys to Happiness by Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers including Super Brain, co-authored with Rudi Tanzi, PhD. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Join him at The Chopra Foundation Sages and Scientists Symposium 2014.www.choprafoundation.org

Here are 10 keys to happiness by Deepak Chopra:

happiness

1. Listen to your body’s wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.

2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment.Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.

3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn’t good for you.

4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts.

5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.

6. Know that the world “out there” reflects your reality “in here.” The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.

7. Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.

8. Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.

9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.

10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth

Source: Ten Keys to Happiness

Let’s Get Inspired: Maya Angelou

In todays Let’s Get Inspired section I would like to pay tribute to world’s celebrated author, poet, dancer, singer and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou and share some of her highly inspiring quotes.

Dr. Maya your contributions to the world shall never be forgotten.

Here are her top 20 quotes that I like most….!!

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Also read and watch this..!!

Maya Angelou ignores the haters and so should you

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Source: Maya Angelou ignores the haters and so should you

First aired on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (31/12/13)

 

Maya Angelou is one of the world’s most accomplished and celebrated writers. Over the course of a career that spans more than 50 years, she’s dabbled in pretty much everything: producing, acting, educating and more, and she has been honoured with numerous awards including a National Medal of Arts from the U.S. Congress in 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Her accomplishments are as remarkable as they are diverse, but Angelou doesn’t see it that way. “Young people, of any race, who are reasonably bright and find themselves with no open doors, they will do many things,” she told George Stroumboulopoulos in a recent interview. She says she’s come across this open door many times, and hasn’t been afraid to step through it, because she believed in herself and what she was capable of.

Not everyone was impressed with Angelou’s ambition, but she’s quick to dismiss those who weren’t supporting or encouraging her. “There are those who will not be forgiving and so they blame the person for trying to make a better world for herself or himself.”

Alternatively, Angelou looked to her supporters for strength. “So many times I’ve had rainbows in my clouds,” said Angelou. “People who’ve been kind to me, who said, ‘You don’t have to do that. I believe you can do better.’ Some were black, some were white, some were Spanish speaking, some were Native American, some were gay and some were straight, fat and thin and pretty and plain. People lifted me up and said ‘I believe in you. You can do better.'”

Angelou believes in paying this forward. “And so I realize that was given to me and all I have as a response is to prepare myself so I can give that to somebody else who is yet to come.”

 

Also read…

11 Ways Maya Angelou Taught Us To Be Better Women

Posted: 05/28/2014 12:32 pm EDT Updated: 05/30/2014 12:59 pm EDT
MAYA ANGELOU

“I’m a woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.”

Maya Angelou, the beloved author, poet and activist who passed away on Wednesday May 28, was even more “phenomenal” than the words of one of her most famous poems can express.

During her 86 years, she wrote seven autobiographies, was active in the civil rights movement and worked with the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recited a poem at Bill Clinton’s 1993 presidential inauguration, became a college professor, befriended Oprah and was awarded the 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom — the list goes on. (As the NYTimes obituary points out, before her first autobiography, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969, Angelou had already been “a dancer, calypso singer, streetcar conductor, single mother, magazine editor in Cairo, [and] administrative assistant in Ghana.”)

In celebration of her incredible life, here are 11 lessons all women can learn from Maya Angelou:

1. Loving someone means risking everything — but it’s always worth it.
“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” “Touched By An Angel”

2. Women need to support each other.
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

3. The key to success is simple: enjoyment.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

maya angelou

4. Make changes where you can, but accept the things that you have no control over.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”
5. Trust your own voice and instincts.

6. Learn the value of forgiveness.
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

7. Looks aren’t everything. Not even a little bit.
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies. I say, It’s in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” -“Phenomenal Woman”

8. Dare to “kick ass.”
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”

maya angelou gloria steinemMaya Angelou and Gloria Steinem on their way to the March on Washington on August 27, 1983 in Washington, DC.

9. If you’re in a bad living situation, relationship or job, get out now.
“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”

10. Always remember to laugh.
“Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives.”

11. How you make people feel is the mark you will leave behind.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We’ll certainly never forget how you made us feel, Maya.

You are a true inspiration Maya..

~E- Living

 

Video

Planting Hope

Planting Hope

Wangari Maathai and The Green Belt Movement

Link

Let’s Get Inspired- Wangari Maathai

Let’s Get Inspired

In todays Let’s Get Inspired section I would like to share some information on an  influential person Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai (1940-2011) was the founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. She authored four books: The Green Belt Movement; Unbowed: A Memoir; The Challenge for Africa; and Replenishing the Earth. As well as having been featured in a number of books, she and the Green Belt Movement were the subject of a documentary film, Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathai (Marlboro Productions, 2008).

Wangari Muta Maathai was born in Nyeri, a rural area of Kenya (Africa), in 1940. She obtained a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas (1964), a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1966), and pursued doctoral studies in Germany and the University of Nairobi, before obtaining a Ph.D. (1971) from the University of Nairobi, where she also taught veterinary anatomy. The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Professor Maathai became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and an associate professor in 1976 and 1977 respectively. In both cases, she was the first woman to attain those positions in the region.

More About Wangari Maathai

(Source: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/famous-people-from-africa.html)

A famous environmentalist from Kenya, Wangari Maathai is the first woman from the under privileged region of East and Central Africa to have attained a doctorate. Wangari Maathai led a life full of struggle. Well-known for the “Green Belt Movement”, she has inspired many people the world over to take up the cause of afforestation.

Wangari Maathai was born on 1st April, 1940 in a Kikuyu family, an ethnic group in Kenya and came from the Ihithe village of Nyeri District. She did her schooling at St. Cecilia’s Intermediate Primary School. After completing graduation from the Loreto High school in Limuru, Maathai received a scholarship for studying at Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas, USA. Biology was her major subject for graduation. Maathai’s brilliant academic record became the driving force in her quest to pursue higher education. She went on to pursue a Master’s degree in biology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Returning to her homeland was not a pleasant experience for Maathai. Despite her great achievements, Wangari Maathai had to face gender bias in her own country; she also found it difficult to get a job. However she didn’t lose hope and finally got employed as a research assistant at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Nairobi. In 1971, Wangari Maathai became the first woman from East Africa to attain a Doctorate in Anatomy.

Dr. Maathai was an activist by nature and worked with organizations like Red Cross Society, United Nations Environment Programme and National Council of Women of Kenya. 5th June, 1977 was a historic day in the life of Wangari Maathai as the first sapling of “Green Belt Movement” was planted. The main objective of Green Belt Movement was to preserve native plant species by creating nurseries. The nurseries were also meant to provide income to women and their families.

Wangari Maathai’s husband filed for divorce in 1979. She also lost elections for the post of chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya. However, her personal problems and failure in elections didn’t stop her from continuing the social activities associated with Green Belt Movement. Many non-governmental organizations from European countries supported the cause of environmental conservation taken up by her. Dr. Maathai was often referred to as a crazy woman who opposed developmental activities going on in the country; however it didn’t deter her from pursuing a hard battle of saving trees. Once she was even attacked by miscreants during a tree plantation program.

Resilience was one force which helped Wangari Maathai to deal with failures in life. Finally, in 2004 Dr. Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; she passed away on 25th September, 2011.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/famous-people-from-africa.html

Here is her interview on Sustainable Styles

(Source: http://www.sustainablestyles.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=114&Itemid=516 )

By Pamela Peeters
 Wangari

Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Maathai passed away September 25, 2011. Wangari, who started the Greenbelt Movement, was the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Her life was dedicated to fighting erosion, bringing jobs to women, and contributing to the greening of her country.

I was meeting Wangari for the third time. I had attended a lecture at Cooper Union, introduced by a member of the Kennedy clan, known for taking environmental preservation to heart. The second time I saw Wangari, she was being interviewed by National Geographic for its special edition on Africa. Now I was in a hotel close to the United Nations with two cameras – and ten questions.

PP: What is your wish for the future of our planet?

WM: I hope that we shall leave for our children a cleaner world, a more peaceful world, and a more just world – and the way to do that is henceforth to see these three themes as intricately connected. For us to live in a peaceful world, we need to live sustainably, and we need to manage ourselves with justice and equity.

PP: Do you think it is a feminine trait to feel called upon to “man”-age our natural resources?

WM: I have given that much thought. It is quite possible that the feminine part of us is also present in men. It is that aspect of all of us that nurtures and sustains life, so that it will survive and reproduce. All of us depend on it.

PP: I didn’t expect this answer. But it is positive, because it means that 100% of the inhabitants of our planet feels called to take part in this challenge. Do you think there is a parallel between stronger environmental legislation and increased women’s representation in the workforce? The more women are in positions in power, is the environment more likely to be taken care of better?

WM: I don’t know how related they are, but again as a woman I want to underline that we are the people who produce life and who have in us that special quality of wanting to protect life. It’s quite possible that the more we get into influential positions, the more our influence will bring about policies and laws that ensure protection of the environment and of all that sustains life. Where there is justice, there is equity. All of this will contribute to sustainable development.

But I also want to emphasize that this quality is not just found in women. I am quite sure it is also in men; it is just a matter of recognizing that trait within them. That aspect pursues sustainability because it is nurturing and goes beyond selfishness, greed, and lust for power. I am quite sure there are millions of men out there who are doing great things. And I wish they would do more, because they are the ones who are most often in positions of power and therefore in a position to improve and protect our laws and policies.

PP: What changes need to occur in existing systems and processes to achieve a sustainable level of well-being on a global level for generations to come? I think, say, of the rule that 0.7 % of the global domestic product of developed nations might go to developing countries.

WM: When people think of developing nations and countries that need assistance from the rich countries, we immediately think of Africa, because that’s where the majority of poor people are. I wish we would get out of that mode of thinking. Africa is an extremely rich continent, only for several centuries now, her resources have been extracted and removed from the homeland. There exists also a minority within Africa who end up with those resources at the expense of millions of ordinary Africans.

Now many of the developed countries, the rich countries, get their wealth through exploitation of those resources in Africa, because they have the knowledge, the skills, and the capital. What is needed even more than the aid, this “zero 0.7%,” is to keep advocating so that the countries being asked to give 0.7% of their resources do not exploit Africa in ways that do not benefit the local people.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not saying we do not need aid. I am not saying that we do not need that 0.7%. I am saying that there is need for economic justice both at the global level and at the local level.

PP: What is your forecast for global environmental stewardship?

WM: We have to do our best to protect natural resources and to manage them correctly. The moment that they are exploited by those who have the knowledge and the capital, a just amount of resources should be given to the local people, so that they are not left poor only to be given aid tomorrow. I believe that through new ways of managing natural resources, dehumanization can be undone and people can gain confidence.

PP: You say that world peace depends on democratic management of and access to natural resources. Would it be realistic to say that if our resources would be better respected and managed, there would be greater world peace?

WM: There is no justice in the economic policies we have at the moment, and that to me is something that we ought to look at. When we hear that Africa asks for help, this actually means that Africa is asking for justice, economic justice, and not just humanitarian aid. But nobody wants to turn the page and pause at the question, “But why are Africans so poor if they live in a continent that is so rich?” Let us look at both economic and social justice at the global level.

PP: In your struggle to make yourself heard as an environmentalist and a woman, what kept you going? Where did you get your strength?

WM: It is not easy to say that I got the inspiration at this or that point in time – that this is where I found encouragement or this is where I go for that surplus of courage. The truth is that we are created as we grow.

I look back at my life, when I was a child and growing up, when I was in college, or at the experiences of living in America and in Europe, studying in these countries, and seeing how things got managed. It gave me a perspective for when I tried to do things in my country: this is the way things should be.

When I said it is important for us to respect human rights, it is partly because of the experiences I had in this country, in the United States of the sixties fighting to liberate its citizens. Those were the years of the Vietnam War and the student movement; it was also the time when African countries were coming out of the colonial era. I was very much shaped by those events. I know that I am a very privileged person, because I have enjoyed a certain education, and this was against the prevailing trend that denied women the opportunity to go to school.

I always say that people who do not have the right perspective, who are not aware, are those who can sleep peacefully. It is those of us who recognize injustices, who recognize inequities and witness exploitation, and who know that they can do something about it who cannot sleep at night.

I myself have developed an easy way to deal with my frustration: planting trees. You dig a hole, you plant a tree, you nurture it, and half your frustrations are gone, because you have done something positive.

The Bible says that those who are given more are expected to do more. And I really do feel that I have a responsibility to people. I should be their eyes, their ears, and their spokesperson because I understand the way of the world.

PP: What do you think of the claim that increased acceptance of nuclear power might be the best alternative solution to our energy demand?

WM: I know that many people who are worried about the increase in greenhouse gases, who feel that we need to be banning fossil fuels, are advocating for nuclear energy. The greatest fear that all of us have about nuclear energy is the danger of accidents. There exists also the potential for abuse, because we don’t know how this source of energy will be used, not excluding warfare.

It is a difficult choice. It is important that we evolve to ways of generating energy that are safe, but nuclear energy obviously is a dangerous technology, because human beings don’t always act for the common good.

PP: The UNESCO decade for sustainable education launched in 2005. I created a film festival to showcase local pressure points and solutions. We also have a creative side to the film festival as we expand internationally, through the documentary film and the international television series Sustainable Planet. We seek to identify best-case sustainability scenarios globally. Would you like to become a partner?

WM: I would be happy to link up with you as a member of Parliament. I have a constituency that bought us a forest that is so degraded. We want to initiate a campaign to protect and rehabilitate it.

It’s both an environmental and educational activity to show people the strong linkage between exploitation of natural resources and degradation of the forest. So I would encourage you to come to Nairobi and film this project. You can see for yourself how these people get their water from the mountain and go to the mountain to plant trees to protect the mountain Njadarea.

It takes one dollar to plant one tree. You can collect money, send money, and plant trees. You can film that entire process. I would be happy to welcome you.

PP: Parallel to the UNESCO decade for sustainable education, what do you expect for the next ten years, and what do you need in order to successfully achieve this.

WM: I hope that in ten years I shall be able to say that the greenbelt movement has become truly global, that all these offices we are establishing have become successful, and that we have found projects in every continent to support. What we are doing in Kenya can be relevant to other areas as well.

Do you remember when the shuttle Discovery came back down to Earth? At the press conference, the commander mentioned one of her observations from space: Africa was very dusty. I hope that in ten years we shall have done enough so that whenever another astronaut goes into space, he can testify that the dust has been removed or greatly reduced. That is my wish.

PP: And so it will be!

After the opening of Greenbelt USA, Wangari left for Kenya to plant more trees. This interview is a tribute to the tremendous efforts of this eco hero. Sustainable Styles hopes that it will serve as an inspiration for reforestation initiatives.

More information: www.greenbeltmovement.org

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