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News

Green thumbs dig in for national tree day

Volunteers can get their hands dirty planting 4,500 new seedlings in Sydney Park today (Sunday 27 July) to celebrate Planet Ark’s National Tree Day.

More than 300 Sydneysiders and visitors are expected to join the free tree planting event, where they can enjoy a barbeque, learn about greening their homes and help cool the city at the same time.

Anyone can get involved and have a go at planting a tree. All they need to do is turn-up between 10am and 1pm and ensure they are wearing covered shoes.

The City supports the annual event as part of its Greening Sydney Plan, which encourages volunteers to contribute to greening the urban landscape.

“National Tree Day is a wonderful opportunity for the whole community to come together and help green our City,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“The City aims to increase our urban canopy by 50 per cent by 2030. We’re planting more street trees and increasing the number of trees in our parks. Events like this help cool our city and make it even more beautiful.”

Sydney Park will also host several education tents on the day, offering tips about green living and the latest innovations in sustainability.

Since 2005, the City has planted 9,791 trees. There are currently around 30,000 street trees across the city, and 12,000 trees in the City’s parks. Along with green roofs and walls they contribute to the urban canopy, help combat climate change, and create wildlife corridors for native birds and animals.

Green spaces also benefit residents’ health, cleaning pollutants from the air, creating shade in the hot summer months and enhancing general wellbeing.

Since Planet Ark launched National Tree Day in 1996, more than 2.8 million volunteers across Australia have planted over 17 million trees and shrubs.

This year, in June as a prelude to National Tree Day, Planet Ark created an urban jungle outside the City’s Customs House in Circular Quay. The installation was to highlight the many values of bringing nature into our everyday lives.

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Books Are They Facing Extinction?

books in article in eco living magazine.

The recent financial demise of Australian book retailers, Angus & Robertson and Borders Books, is a timely reminder to have another look at the effects of the Internet and digitalisation upon the book industry. Coupling this local retail failure with the bankruptcy of the Borders Group in the US, shines a light on how books are now being sold in these developed markets. Time now to see, just what is the long term impact of Amazon and other online suppliers of books on the bookstore concept and retail book chains.

Of course A & R had stopped being an example of a good bookshop years before. Even before it was purchased by the private equity group, Red Group, it was a chain of substandard stores offering a very average range of titles. Indeed that is why it was snapped very cheaply and the new managers accentuated all that was mediocre about A & R, and then had to operate with enormous debt levels . Many will say that bad management is always the true cause of business failure in the marketplace and an inability to respond to technological challenges within your industry is merely an example of this. Borders introduced the super store concept to Australia and in the process contributed to the demise of many small bookshops around the nation.

So we can now purchase a huge range of titles online, relatively quickly and affordably. In Australia we do not pay any GST on books purchased through Amazon or some other overseas online supplier, unless we are spending over a A$1000. Many retailers are now voicing their complaints about this unfair playing field and I would posit that books are one area that the Internet is taking a sizeable chunk of sales, somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 20%. Retailers do pay proportionately high rents in Australia and then they have to pay staff and all the other infrastructure costs associated with retailing.  So how are they going to be able to compete on price with a GST free online supplier? The consumer gets cheaper books if they are Internet savvy and or have access to online suppliers but they lose a sizeable retail presence in their local shopping precincts.

As a community we lose jobs in the book sector, which is a shame, because having personally come from a family retail book background I can tell you it is a great area to work in – very stimulating and people are passionate about their books. It is in my opinion a bit like the wine industry on many levels, the level of knowledgeable service that customers require is intense and like the wine business you cannot hope to survive as a small retailer without providing this. Fosters has been discovering this in its disastrous foray into the wine business, with massive write-downs on the Penfolds and Rosemount businesses. A & R were treating books and more importantly their customers like they were selling stationary – and they have paid the price. The amount of time in a bookshop spent researching titles for customers on a quest for a specific book, which may indeed be out of print, is enormous and you have to have people who love books working in bookshops. Of course much of this research can now be done online if the customer has access and is trained to do so.

The digital supply of books on tablets like Amazon’s Kindle will be an interesting phenomenon to watch and see whether the take-up will move beyond the initial very small percentage of the reading market. Again however this is something which moves book buying into the home and out of the shoppingcentre, removing jobs and the physical social interaction of the book buyer with the book seller. Passion will have to stay at home and sit in front of that flickering screen and book lovers will have to be satisfied with joining online forums. It is sad to see the demise of a wonderful profession, the book seller, and likewise the continuing eradication of book publishing here in Australia. The life of the mind is moving online.

©Sudha Hamilton

Living Next Door to the Bush.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Living next door to the bush.

By Sudha Hamilton

With the ramifications of the horrendous Victorian bush fires still traumatising  all levels of the Australian community, it asks fundamental questions of our lifestyles and where we live.  Should we be building houses on the edge of bushland? Is it safe to be living next door to the bush? Are these communities on the outer edges of our big cities – towns or satellite suburbs? Do they have the necessary services to protect themselves and are we letting developers profit too early in the creation of these hamlets? What should we be looking at and planning for, before we rebuild these houses and homes?

Has a tragedy exposed a flaw in our town planning or the lack of it? Is it the case that we have city people, who have had little or no experience of living in the bush, suddenly facing a natural disaster of extreme magnitude but not uncommon in its cyclical appearances, as seen by Ash Wednesday and Black Friday before? Australia is a continent, which experiences seasonal extreme heat and we have vast tracts of dry bushland. Bushland that is widely populated with the brittle and structurally unpredicatable Gum Tree. Fire has a long history in our bushland, with indigenous Australians utilising fire in their land management and hunting practices. Have we become too sentimental about nature in our desire to conserve and protect flora and fauna? This terrible tragedy of never before seen proportions has shocked Australians at all stratas of society. Stunned governments at state, federal and of course local levels, about what to do and what they could have done to prevent it.

There has been an enormous outpouring of compassion around the nation and great generosity, in uncertain financial times, to help stem the suffering that these people have endured. But before we rebuild these houses and small communities lets ask a few important questions about how and where we live. The bush is a fundamentally unregulated place, that is why it is called the bush, and if families are going to live on its edges then they need to be protected. A growing awareness of the dangers of living next door to national park lands has of course already begun. With the government’s recent reluctance to back burn and clear land, because of fears of contributing to drought conditions, coinciding with a prolonged extreme heat wave to produce a well fueled national disaster. How do we fire proof these communities living on the edge in the future?

I think we will see far greater regulatory conditions prescribing where people can live and what needs to be in place before communities can arise. The bush will be treated with a lot more respect and not simply seen as some benign sanctuary. Australia’s sentimental relationship with the bush might undergo a few home truths. Most of us live on the coast in big cities for a reason – the bush is a tough place to live. Beautiful but unpredictable and wildly savage at certain times. This is another example where intelligent government intervention is called for and where the bar needs to be raised for property developers who ply their trade on the outer reaches of bushland.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Eco News

Planetary  Eco Newsbeat

New Eco Friendly De-Inking Process Developed.

A new technology utilising enzymes (biological molecules) has been shown to remove ink from recycled paper. A research project conducted by the University of  Malaysia Sarawak reported the use of a crude enzyme preparation for the enzymatic de-inking of mixed office paper. Traditional de-inking methods have involved the use of large quantities of chemicals, causing pollution to the environment.  The enzyme material was prepared by growing endoglucanase (enzyme use for the enzymatic treatment) producing Bacillus licheniformis BL-P7 in a liquid culture media containing sago pith waste and rice husk. Furthermore, the process proved to be more effective for the removal of larger ink particles. Also, properties such as brightness, air permeability, tensile, and tear were enhanced in the preparation of the recycled mixed office paper.

Researchers : Hashimatul F.H., Hairul A.R., Andrew Wong H.H., Awg A.Sallehin A.H. (all of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak), Nigel Lim P.T. (Sarawak Forestry Corporation) Adapted from materials provided by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

Organic Wine Leaves Only Half the Eco Footprint of Non-Organic!

Italian environmental scientists from the University of Siena, measured the resources needed to produce wine at two farms in Tuscany. Both were utilizing Sangiovese grapes but one was totally organic and the other was not. The organic farm used natural fertilisers and most of the work was done by hand, while the other farm used conventional methods of production. A bottle from the organic farm had an eco-footprint of 7.17 square metres, half that of the non-organic wine with a footprint of 13.98 square metres. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, DOI: 10.1016/j

Low Sperm Count Link to Soy also includes Nuts, Wines and Beers

The high levels of oestrogen like chemicals in soya beans have also been found in beers, wines and nuts. Gunter Kuhnle of the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, UK tested foods and beverages using mass spectrometry. Previous testing had focused on lignans but ignored isoflavones and this expanded search has found phytoestrogens in many more foods and drinks. Studies into the effects of phytoestrogens have produced a mixture of results, with some showing compounds that protect against cancer, menopausal symptoms and heart diseases, whilst others have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and male infertility.  Journal reference:                                                                                                    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (DOI: 10.1021/jf801534g)

A-Beta Protein Alzheimer Disease Clues

Amyloid-beta the thinking brain’s protein has been shown to be intrinsically involved in increased neuron activity. A study into people with severe brain injuries resulted in steadily rising levels of A-beta protein as their brain activity increased through recovery. A-beta, as the protein is sometimes called, is best known for causing plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It is a normal component of the brain, but scientists don’t know what it does. Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from Milan, Italy and Washington University in St. Louis, USA used advance brain testing techniques to ascertain if brain injuries cause a spike in amyloid-beta levels that could lead to plaque formation, a team of researchers from Milan, Italy, sampled fluid from the brains of 18 comatose patients.

What the researchers found was exactly the opposite of what they expected, says David L. Brody, a neurologist at Washington University who led the study with Sandra Magnoni of the Ospedale Maggiore in Milan. Instead of seeing a spike of A-beta soon after brain injury from falls, car accidents, assaults or hemorrhages, levels of the protein started low and rose as the patients improved, the team reports in the Aug. 29 Science.

Farm Kids Avoid Asthma & Allergies

Pre-natal exposure to farm animals and plants helps protect children from asthma, allergies and eczema. Researchers from the Centre for Public Health Research discovered farmers’ children had a lower incidence of allergic diseases than children not exposed to animals, grain and hay products. The findings have been published in the European Respiratory Journal. Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes says it is the first study to show a direct link between exposures in utero and a significant reduction in asthma symptoms, hay fever and eczema.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Aspartame – Poisons in our food chain.

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading:  Mad, Bad and dangerous to eat…

The “Poisons in our food chain” Series.

Part 1 Aspartame

By Sudha Hamilton

A recent survey of 166 studies into the safety of Aspartame found that 74 of them had NutraSweet related funding and that they all found that Aspartame was safe. Whereas of the 92 independently funded studies, only 8% of them found that Aspartame did not have safety concerns in humans to answer to.

Aspartame is the technical name for the main ingredient in many artificial non-sucrose sweeteners; including NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal-Measure. It is also at the top of the list of chemical baddies that are still being approved by government agencies for use in our food. You will also find Aspartame commonly used in soft drinks, pharmaceutical products and over the counter cough lollies and syrups. It is said to be an ingredient in over six thousand items of consumer foods/drinks. It is a compound of aspartic acid, phenylalanine (a free amino acid isolate) and methanol (wood alcohol). This combination is subsequently responsible for some very serious negative activity in our bodies, including nerve cell necrosis (death) which can lead to organ system disease and also contributes to dangerous toxic interactions with other pharmaceutical drugs. Aspartame crosses the blood/brain barrier and damages brain tissue and causes lesions on the brain, where the dead cells once were. It also affects the autonomic nerve system located down the spine and the conjunction system of the heart. It is quite simply a neurotoxin.

How, why and when did Aspartame become approved for human consumption? It was discovered accidentally in 1965 by James Schlatter – a chemist working for the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Co – and was found to be 180 times sweeter than sugar. Initial safety tests were inconclusive, as to whether Aspartame may have caused cancer in rats and the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) did not approve its use in food for many years. Further testing did not answer why the brain cancer developed in the rats, and the debate raged on until some familiar names entered the scene.

One Donald Rumsfield became Searle’s CEO and Ronald Reagan became US President, and he appointed Arthur Hull Hayes FDA commissioner, who approved Aspartame in the dry goods food category. In 1985 Monsanto bought G.D.Searle and the Aspartame business became a separate subsidiary; the NutraSweet Company.  I would love to tell you that it is not about money or that there was never a suspicion of corruption; but I cannot. In 1995, the FDA Epidemiology Branch Chief Thomas Wilcox reported that Aspartame complaints represented 75% of all reports of adverse reactions to substances in the food supply from 1981 to 1995.

The metabolic journey that Aspartame takes once ingested causes it to break down into several residual chemicals and further break down products include formaldehyde, formic acid and diketopiperazine.  Exposures to very low levels of formaldehyde have been proven to cause chronic toxicity in humans. There has however been scientific disagreement regarding how the body deals with the methanol and formaldehyde produced by Aspartame, and this debate is one of the key reasons why Aspartame has not been reviewed and subsequently banned by regulatory government bodies in the western world.  The phenylalanine component of Aspartame, which is one of the nine essential fatty acids, makes up around 50% of Aspartame’s mass and this is highly unsafe for those with the rare genetic condition known as Phenylketonuria. It is also known that Aspartame can spike blood plasma levels of phenylalanine, as it is absorbed much faster than naturally occurring phenylalanine containing proteins. This has caused further debate into whether Aspartame ingestion by pregnant mothers can harm the safe development of neurotransmitters in the brains of fetuses.  Similarly the 40% of Aspartame broken down into Aspartic Acid also causes large spikes in the level of the acid in blood plasma and these can act as excitotoxins- which can inflict brain and nerve cell damage by crossing the blood/brain barrier. Again there is scientific debate over whether humans are as susceptible to this extensive brain damage as are the rats, for which the research shows conclusive proof. Further concerns regarding Diketopiperazine, which is created in products as Aspartame breaks down over time, can through nitrosation in the body create a chemical which can cause brain tumors.

So we are left with a situation of scientific disagreement paralysing regulatory bodies, and lots and lots of health complaints, ranging from the small, to claims involving hundreds of thousands of possible deaths.  A recent survey of 166 studies into the safety of Aspartame found that 74 of them had NutraSweet related funding and that they all found that Aspartame was safe. Whereas of the 92 independently funded studies, only 8% of them found that Aspartame did not have safety concerns in humans to answer to.  Science may not be as clean and trustworthy as those white lab jackets that so many scientists are fond of wearing might indicate to us. After all, if you ask the right questions in any scientific study you can pretty much get any answer you are after. Omission is as much of a cause of death as anything else.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Help Save the Orangutan

Eco Living Magazine presents:

Heading: HELP SAVE THE ORANGUTAN

Palm Oil Plantations Threaten Their Survival

By Michelle Walker

Currently, these beautiful, shy and intelligent great apes are on the critically endangered list. They are in grave danger of becoming extinct within the next 10 years unless we all come together to fight for their survival.

The orangutan was once found throughout Southeast Asia, but now the species only survives in relic populations in Borneo and Sumatra. Recent estimates suggest that wild orangutan numbers could be as low as 50,000. Orangutan populations have declined by 50% over the last 10 years and their habitat by 80% over the last 20 years.

The word orangutan is Malay for ‘person of the forest’. The orangutan is 97% genetically the same as humans and has the intelligence of a 5 to 6 year old child. Orangutans are shy, solitary animals that are active during the day and build nests to sleep in at night – these are made from leaves and are high up in the trees. They live alone in large territories – probably due to their eating habits. A large portion of the orangutans diet is fruit and if there are too many trying to feed in one area this may lead to starvation. The only real social group is the mother and her offspring who live together for around 8 to 12 years. When mating the male and female usually only stay together for a few days. The female is capable of giving birth from 12 to 15 years and usually has only one baby about every 8 years. The mother and baby have a very strong bond and the baby depends entirely on its mother for nourishment, protection, to learn what to eat and where to find food, how to climb and swing through the trees and how to make a nest. The orangutan is estimated to live for about 50 years in the wild.

The single most significant threat to the survival of the orangutans is the expansion of palm oil plantations. The beautiful rainforests, in which the orangutans live, are being cleared at an alarming rate. Plantations in Indonesia have expanded from 600,000 hectares in 1985 to an estimated 6.4 million hectares this year. According to the UN, “The natural forests of Sumatra and Borneo are being cleared so fast, up to 98% may be destroyed by 2022”. This is due to the high world demand for palm oil to be used in products such as biofuel, cooking oil, chips, chocolate, biscuits, margarine, toothpaste, soap and much more.

Many consumers are unaware that they are purchasing products containing palm oil as the label usually only states vegetable oil or palm oil derivatives. As the orangutan’s forests are disappearing so is their food supply. This then causes them to go onto palm oil plantations in search of something to eat. The orangutans are then killed by the land owners or the farmers as they are considered to be pests.

As the forests are being cleared and the land burnt to make way for palm oil plantations this is also a major contribution to global warming. Biofuel was developed with the intention of being a greener fuel but bio-diesel containing palm oil is anything but green. Palm oil is high in saturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fat. Research indicates that the consumption of palm oil increases the risk of heart disease and should be avoided in your diet. This is difficult to do when manufacturers aren’t required to label it.

Another significant factor in the decline of the wild orangutan population is the illegal pet trade. Orangutan mothers are being killed so that the babies can be stolen from them and sold as pets. Unfortunately it is estimated that only one out of four babies will survive this experience.

Other issues affecting the orangutan are legal and illegal logging for timber and pulp for paper, and also gold mining. Even National Parks and protected areas are being deforested by illegal logging and mining.

Fortunately, there is a group of volunteers working very hard to try and save the orangutans and they belong to the Australian Orangutan Project. The Australian Orangutan Project is a non-profit organization and was set up in 1998 by Leif Cocks.  AOP is the Australian contribution to international efforts to save the great apes, and is a partner of the United Nations Environmental Programme, Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP). AOP’s mission is to raise awareness and ensure the survival of both the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan in their natural habitat and promote the welfare of all orangutans.

AOP has been working with in-situ conservation organizations to protect the orangutan in the wild. They provide funds for conservation, protection and education programmes such as –

  • Food, salaries, medicines and equipment for rescue centres.
  • Anti-logging patrols in National Parks.
  • Community based rangers.
  • Safe release sites for ex-pets, orphans and injured orangutans.
  • Support for conservation research.
  • Community education programmes.
  • Community based Eco Tours.

Rehabilitation centres in Indonesia and Malaysia are set up to treat and care for sick, injured, or captive orangutans. The ultimate aim is to return the orangutans back to the forest. Many have been returned successfully, however due to lack of available habitat this process is becoming more difficult.For more information or to get involved please go to www.orangutan.org.au .

For more information about palm oil, the issues and what you can do to help, such as letter writing, please go to www.palmoilaction.org.au

“Every person can make a huge difference to the lives of these beautiful animals”.

©Eco Living Magazine.

Eco Living Magazine

Midas Word

Eco Living Magazine

Welcome to Eco Living Magazine’s Blog.

Eco Living Health Aware is the freshest holistic health and eco magazine now currently available in Australia in print.

Eco Living Magazine is all about vision and sustainability – inspiring all our readers to find and follow their vision and contributing practical advice to help us create a sustainable future. Eco Living Magazine is full of articles that aim to inform and motivate all those who read them to take action in their lives.

In issue 100, currently onsale, we feature Anthony Ackroyd and the power of laughter; Bernie Prior and the dance of love on four legs; building your sustainable dream home with Libe Chacos; spas and retreats are the new holiday; and Wild Borneo – an eco adventure. Great recipes for delicious and healthy food, discover organic wine and regionalism, and get the low down on the poisons in our food chain.

112 pages of transformative eco living health aware content – chock full of positivity and beautiful stories. Reviews, organic skin care tips and dance your way to health with Wu Tao. Save the gentle Orangutans by taking action against palm oil.

Eco Living Magazine great reading for the twenty first century.

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