Category Archives: Society

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

Plastic Waste Piles Up as China’s Ban Goes Into Effect

What will the U.S. do now with the plastic China won’t take?

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF RECOLOGY

 BY KATHERINE WEI | FEB 3 2018

If you were at Dolores Park in San Francisco last weekend enjoying a bottle of water, chances are the bottle ended up at Pier 96 not long after you tossed it into a recycling bin. That’s where much of the city’s discarded recycling waste piles up—in giant bales of neatly bound cardboard and plastic scrap, sitting in an empty parking lot just off the pier. The cardboard bales will be shipped off to China in a shipping container for recycling. The plastic water bottles and other scrap will continue to sit there, however, waiting for another country willing to take them.

That’s because China has decided to crack down on the quality of plastic scrap imported from overseas—the yang la-ji, a crass, blanket term government officials have been calling imported scrap. It translates literally to “foreign trash.”

In July 2017, China filed a notice with the World Trade Organization announcing its decision to stop importing 24 types of foreign waste and to dramatically tighten its standards for impurities in scrap bales. In the official notice, China’s Ministry of Environment Protection said, “We found that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This has polluted China’s environment seriously.”

Before the announcement, China allowed 5 percent of impurities in imported bales of plastic. The new, 0.5-percent threshold has proven impossible for U.S. facilities in the short-term, leaving recycling operators scrambling for alternatives.

“We worked hard to make sure our bales contain less than 5 percent of impurities, and sometimes lower than 4,” said Robert Reed, who is part of the team that runs Recology San Francisco near Pier 96.

The ban went into effect in 2018, with a transitional period of five months for its scrap trade partners. WTO members that rely heavily on China’s role in the international waste trade protested in meetings following the announcement; the United States, the E.U., Japan, Australia, and Canada all asked for a longer transitional period of up to five years.

China is already carrying out the ban anyway, which has caused a flurry of panic through the international waste trade. “China practically gave us no time to adjust, no time to transition,” said Adina Adler, a senior official at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. It takes at least two months for a scrap shipment to go from the United States to China; the last bales that the U.S. was able to get out of the country without facing rejection at China’s ports were shipped from September to October, making the ban effective three months after the announcement.

The lack of instructions from China also didn’t help. There is scrap piling up in storage facilities on the West Coast, waiting to be redirected to domestic or foreign facilities, or waiting indefinitely for the regulations to relax. This in turn is taking a toll on the facilities’ budgets; some have informed local residents that they are no longer taking in plastic items and that plastic has been going to landfill instead, according to Adler.

In the official notice China filed with the WTO, the banned types of scrap include “plastics waste from living sources, vanadium slag, unsorted waste paper, and waste textile materials.” But no further explanation was given, and there were no clear examples for exporting facilities on what they are allowed to ship and what they aren’t. The government has also announced a plan to completely ban plastic waste imports in 2019.

China became the world’s main solid waste importer in the 1980s, when it needed cheap raw materials to feed its growing economy. But in recent years, the government has pointed to environmental damage caused by the trade and unwonted smuggling of illegal scraps. China hasn’t made clear exactly what it means by environmental damage. However, one of the heaviest polluted regions in China, Guiyu, a small town in the Guangdong Province, is said to take in the most electronic waste in the world. Once primarily reliant on rice-planting before 1995, the coastal village had transformed into a huge e-waste processing hub by 2013 for economic reasons. Rice no longer grew because the water and air became severely polluted from burning plastic.

In 2013, officials launched the Green Fence campaign, which prohibited unsorted shipments of recyclables from overseas. In March 2017, China also launched the National Sword initiative, a project that led to detailed investigations at nine major ports known for the daily incoming cargo of foreign scrap.

“In periods of development in the past, parts of imported solid waste have served (China) to some extent, but as China advances economically and socially, we see problems exposed in importing solid waste for raw materials,” said Guo Jiang, the head of the environment protection ministry’s Department of International Cooperation. “Especially the yang la-ji. Everyone has something negative to say about it.”

The United States in particular has been hit hard by the ban, thanks to a lack of domestic plastic processing facilities nationwide. There hasn’t been a new recycling plant built in the U.S. since 2003. Meanwhile, Americans throw away an average of 35 billion plastic bottles every year. Up to 40 percent of U.S. scrap exports used to go to China. What happens next?

For now, your bottle and its plastic companions are going to Vietnam or Malaysia. Scrap exports from September 2017 through January 2018, compared to the same period of time in 2016, shows a 95 percent increase of scrap paper going to Vietnam, and a 138 percent increase in plastic scrap going to Malaysia. For that same period, there was a 17.8 percent drop in plastic scrap export from the United States to China.

“We are working very hard with the city of San Francisco and our customers to meet China’s new standards, but after November 2017, our plastic bales have been redirected to Southeast Asia,” said Reed, who hopes that the Chinese government will relax its new regulations.

Inside China, the scrap industry is also seeing fissures after the government crackdown. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection investigated 1,800 recycling facilities last year to see if they followed environmental laws regarding imported scrap, but over half were found to be violating said laws. “These companies either went out of business or lost their import licenses temporarily,” said Adler. This also contributed to the chaos in the global scrap trade, because these licenses not only gave the facilities permission to import foreign scrap, they also determined how much each facility is allowed to import. Once taken away, the losses are huge.

Even more companies were denied licenses this year, said Steve Wong, the owner of the plastic recycling company Fukutomi in Hong Kong. “The number of the first batch of import permits granted in 2018 was released at the end of December. The number is down by nearly 95 percent in comparison to last year,” said Wong.

There is still no official plan on how to deal with the excess scrap piling up in places like San Francisco’s Pier 96, but recyclers are trying to identify domestic options rather than going overseas. “There are resources in the U.S. and Canada that people are starting to scout out now,” said Adler.

Wong agrees. “The amount Southeast Asian countries are taking is small compared to what the U.S. is used to exporting. I’m planning to open a facility in the U.S. to help combat the problem.”

 

Source: Plastic Waste Piles Up as China’s Ban Goes Into Effect

Live Sustainably Everyday- Make Everyday an Environment Day

World Environment Day is just around the corner. While different organisations, educational institutions and community groups are undertaking various activities to mark this day, why don’t we take this as an opportunity to reflect upon our own lifestyles and see the impact of our actions to the environment as well as our well-being.

Waste is one of the biggest problems the world is facing at the moment and there has never been a better time to think and rethink about our consumption pattern and disposal
behaviour. According to the World Bank’s report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management ,globally we are producing1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste every year and are expected to increase to approximately 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. Similarly according to a recent report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems.

Australians are the second biggest producer of waste and needless to say hundreds of tonnes of waste are dumped into landfill sites every year. In addition, most people these days think that landfill is the ultimate destination for most of the waste we produce, where as it should only be taken as a last resort.

The modern lifestyle and technological advancement is leading to not only increase in volume of waste we produce but also producing different composition of waste which is making the waste issue more big and challenging than ever. Disposal of different types of waste ranging from green waste, hazardous waste, e- waste and other household waste in the landfill is not only taking up bigger chunk of our valuable land which could have alternatively been used for other productive causes, but it is also causing severe and irreversible impacts in the environment, socio-economy and health. Wastes dumped in the landfill accounts for air pollution, water pollution and land quality at the same time methane gas produced during the decomposition of organic waste is one of the potent green house gas which is 23 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

If we really want to make our impact in reducing the waste or managing it, we need to reduce the production of waste at source. One of the successful and practical mantra that we have been hearing and to some extent practicing is 3 R Principle- Reduce Reuse and Re cycle.

Reduce mean avoiding the production of waste at source. Avoid the things that we can do without. Reuse is about using items over and over for a longer period.
Recycling is re-processing the item into a new raw material so that
it can be used in a new product–for example grinding up plastic bottles to make fibre. While recycling is helping us in a great way by keeping our waste from going to landfill; a huge quantity of waste could be reduced and reused before it goes to recycling.

What are the benefits of reducing and reusing waste?

1. Keeps materials out of landfill.
2. Helps to preserve the “embodied energy” that was originally used to manufacture
an item.
3. Reduces the pressure on raw material, energy and water.
4. Creates less air and water pollution than making a new item or recycling one.
5. Reduces overall production of waste.
6. Reuse often creates an affordability of goods that are often of better quality .

So what can we do to reduce waste going to landfill?

Here are 10 different ways that will help to reduce and reuse waste:
1. Change consumption pattern: Ask your self do you need or want that product. Only buy what you need
2. Buy quality products what would last long
3. Burrow thing from neighbours, friends and family
4. Rent it rather than buying if you are using for a short term
5. Covert your food waste into rich fertiliser though composting or wormfarming
6. Donate your unwanted items to charity organisation or give away to your friend and family
7. Buy and sell second-hand at flea markets and garage sales.
8. Maintain your goods, it will last longer
9. Repair the items such as electronics or furniture
10.Upcycle the items you don’t want and expand the life of your preloved goods

These simple actions can easily be incorporated in our everyday life at a no or vey low cost. All we need is a little bit of passion and commitment to change ourselves and create change. Every single action multiplied by thousands will certainly make a difference. So why don’t we start from ourselves and from today. And make every day an environment day.

A very happy environment day 2016 to all of you!

My Weekly Small Pleasures #6

Weekly Pleasure#6I was not able to share my weekly small pleasures for the past two weeks. I have been so caught up in family activities and events that I barely got a chance to update my weekly pleasures. However I will try to combine them and come up as one. Some of the small pleasures that I experienced in the past two weeks are-

  1. My in-laws visited us from overseas and will be staying with us for next couple of months. It feels great to be with family. They are enjoying their time to be surrounded by their grandchildren and vice-versa.
  2. We celebrated a weaning ceremony for our little daughter. This is one of the important events celebrated to mark the beginning of solid food. Close relatives and friends are invited to witness and celebrate this ceremony.
  3. We hosted a reception for families and close friends to celebrate our daughter’s weaning ceremony. It was lovely to see all the families and friends together. We feel blessed to have everyone around.
  4. My mother in law (MIL) cooked some lovely authentic Nepalese sweets and it was fun to help her and learn some new cooking.
  5. Amidst all these social events, came the Valentine’s day. We went out for dinner to a lovely Thai restaurant with family.
  6. February is the month of love and our wedding anniversary  falls on this month too We just celebrated the day with my family cooking some nice food at home.
  7. Among various dishes I cooked the fish curry came our really well. Really glad that everybody enjoyed it.
  8. Evening walk is still on the cards though the frequency has reduced due to all these social activities that are going around for a while now.
  9. Went out for a casual dinner to an Indian restaurant. Since my MIL was fasting that day, we were planning for some vegetarian food. It’s only after we ordered our food that we realised the restaurant was vegetarian. This is the first time we have been to any vegetarian restaurant. I would call it a fate!

what are your weekly small pleasures.. would love to hear!

Also see My Weekly Small Pleasures #5                                                                                                       My Weekly Small Pleasures #4                                                                                                       My Weekly Small Pleasures #3                                                                                                       My Weekly Small Pleasures #2                                                                                                       My Weekly Small Pleasures #1

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I came across this blog event ( Weekly Small Pleasures – Blog Event) a while ago. I found it quite interesting and have been thinking of sharing my weekly small pleasures too, which I have not been able to start due to one or the other reason. As we enter the brand new week of the brand new year, I think this is the perfect time to begin this journey.

This blog event is simply about remembering and sharing those small things that made you happy during the week; things that made you smile, made you laugh, made you do a happy dance, made your heart silently smile, or they even made you cry for joy.

Weekly Small Pleasures

Know more about this blog event here Weekly Small Pleasures – Blog Event

 

Nepal: Our Climate Has Changed

27 Diagrams That Make Cooking So Much Easier

Do you love cooking?

Do you love experimenting with new recipes?

Do you like to try different substitutions for various ingredients?

Do you want to learn some fun and interesting cooking techniques?

Do you want to excel in your culinary skills?

Or most importantly

Do you want to reduce your food waste?

well… whatever might be the case, there is something for all of us to learn about cooking or master one’s cooking skill. Here are 27 diagrams that make cooking so much easier including some fun and interesting facts,  easy ingredient substitutions, conversion charts, what kind of mixer to use, knife skills, appropriate storage and much more….

27 Diagrams That Make Cooking So Much Easier 

posted on Jan. 18, 2015, at 2:19 a.m.

1. For making your own vinaigrette.

For making your own vinaigrette.

Which you should be doing, instead of buying the bottled stuff. It’s healthier and tastier, and it’s really not hard. Here’s everything you need to know about building a better salad.

2. For making substitutions when you’re missing an ingredient.

For making substitutions when you're missing an ingredient.

Pretty awesome. Via eReplacement Parts.

3. For cooking red meat exactly how you like it.

For cooking red meat exactly how you like it.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed. buzzfeed.com

If you’re going splurge on a really great piece of meat, you’d better know how to cook it to temperature. If you need more help, here’s how to make the perfect steak.

4. For spicing things up.

For spicing things up.

Sure, you can just dump a bunch of spices into your stew and it’ll taste good. But, you can take your home cooking to a whole new level if you really know which spices taste best with which foods. Via CookSmarts.

5. For making any soup from scratch.

For making any soup from scratch.

It’s actually s(o)uper easy to make a healthy, warming winter meal. Via Shape.

6. For Metric conversions.

For Metric conversions.

7. For boiling eggs:

For boiling eggs:

Cooking time varies depending on whether you like your yolks soft or hard. Here’s exactly how to boil an egg.

8. For volumetric conversions.

For volumetric conversions.

Plainworks / visual.ly

Why do math when this chart has all the answers?

9. For cooking with and maintaining a cast iron skillet.

For cooking with and maintaining a cast iron skillet.

© 2011 Yumi Sakugawa, as first published on http://WonderHowTo.com

Cast iron skillets are great for cooking because they’re good heat conductors, meaning they get super hot, stay super hot, and cook your food evenly. They’re especially great for getting a delicious, crispy crust on meat. Here’s everything you need to know about owning a cast iron skillet.

10. For making sure you’re using the right kitchen appliance.

For making sure you're using the right kitchen appliance.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

Good cooks know that sometimes it’s better to leave the hard work to a machine.Just make sure you’re using the right one.

11. For marinating meat to make it tender and delicious.

For marinating meat to make it tender and delicious.

Chris Ritter / Buzzfeed. buzzfeed.com

No more dry chicken. Here’s more about using marinades to make delicious food.

12. For knowing what oil to use.

For knowing what oil to use.

It’s important to know the smoke point of the oil you’re cooking with so that you don’t set off your smoke alarm and ruin your food. .

13. For when you’re too heavy-handed with the chili peppers.

For when you're too heavy-handed with the chili peppers.

It’s a shame when you spend all evening making a great dish, only to find that it’s intolerably spicy. Here’s how to tone down the heat.

14. For your next trip to the butcher.

For your next trip to the butcher.

Knowing the difference between cuts of meat means you’ll always be able to go into a butcher or grocery store and ask for exactly what you want. Plus, it makes for impressive dinner conversation. Full infographic here.

15. For knife skills.

For knife skills.

A sharp knife is a cook’s most important tool. Knowing how to use it means anything in the kitchen is possible. Via Visual.ly.

16. For knowing what kind of onion to use.

For knowing what kind of onion to use.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed. buzzfeed.com

You won’t ruin a recipe by using a sweet onion when a red onion would have been better, but different onions have different characteristics—some are milder, some are sweeter, etc.—so it’s good to know the difference. More info here.

17. For vegan baking.

For vegan baking.

You may have to experiment a little bit to figure out which replacement is best for particular recipes, but here’s a good starter guide on egg substitutions.

18. For hosting a party.

For hosting a party.

Running out is not an option. Heather from Chickabug has plenty more tips for party planning, cooking and decorating.

19. For cooking your grains perfectly.

For cooking your grains perfectly.

Via Good Eggs.

20. For making a sourdough starter.

For making a sourdough starter.

Freshly baked bread forever! This is how to make the perfect sourdough boule.

21. For cooking vegetables.

For cooking vegetables.

Well, for boiling or steaming vegetables. Via Kid Spot.

22. For filleting fish.

For filleting fish.

They’re much cheaper when you buy them whole, and filleting them yourself isn’t that hard. Via Wide Open Spaces.

23. For pasta lovers.

For pasta lovers.

Impress anyone with your extensive noodle knowledge. Get the poster (or see a zoomed-in version) at Chasing Delicious.

24. For perfect chocolate chip cookies.

For perfect chocolate chip cookies.

And by “perfect” I mean, “exactly the way you like them.” Learn more about how to make the chocolate cookie you want.

25. For grilling everything.

For grilling everything.

Fire it up. Via Visual News.

26. For knowing what’s in season.

For knowing what's in season.

Sure, you can find blueberries at the supermarket in December. They’re just not going to taste very good. From The Best American Infographics.

27. For knowing exactly how to store your groceries, and for how long.

For knowing exactly how to store your groceries, and for how long.

HAPPY READING AND HAPPY COOKING !!
 

My Weekly Small Pleasures #4

I have been so caught up in family and social activities that I didn’t get a chance to post my weekly small pleasures on time.

This time some of the things that made my week are –

Weekly Pleasure#4

1.My little baby started rolling over two weeks ago (she was three and half months then).  She is so confident now that the moment I put her down she will roll over in a second. It is always fun to watch babies do new things.  I know I will get annoyed to this pretty soon.

2.Hubby and I decided to try a Turkish food near our place. The place is usually crowded but don’t know why we have never tried the food there. So thought why not to give it a go this time. We went for dinner on Thursday night. The food was so good that we end up having our Friday night dinner in the same place.

3.We had a long weekend this week for Australia Day and we were so looking forward to it.  We Joined one of the Australia Day celebration near our place. The weather was too wet. But the word holiday itself is sufficient to make one feel happy…isn’t it?

4.Taking the advantage of wet weather we managed to organise our garage which we have been planning for a while. Glad that at least few things got done  due to poor weather.

what are your weekly small pleasures.. would love to hear!

Also see  My Weekly Small Pleasures #3                                                                                                      My Weekly Small Pleasures #2                                                                                                       My Weekly Small Pleasures #1

—————————————————————————————————-

I came across this blog event ( Weekly Small Pleasures – Blog Event) a while ago. I found it quite interesting and have been thinking of sharing my weekly small pleasures too, which I have not been able to start due to one or the other reason. As we enter the brand new week of the brand new year, I think this is the perfect time to begin this journey.

This blog event is simply about remembering and sharing those small things that made you happy during the week; things that made you smile, made you laugh, made you do a happy dance, made your heart silently smile, or they even made you cry for joy.

Weekly Small Pleasures

Know more about this blog event here Weekly Small Pleasures – Blog Event

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