Buy or Borrow? Plan a great winter beach getaway!

When planning a winter beach getaway, whether by yourself, with a few friends or family, there is a lot to do before you board the plane. Making your trip a little greener is easy to do. Use this infographic to remind yourself what you should buy and what you can borrow. Borrowing is great for items you only use once a year and it’s a great way to save money and reduce waste.

buy vs. borrow for beach vacation


How to Become a Socially Responsible Consumer

We are all consumers and customers. However, there is a larger difference between what we consume and how we consume, and how it can have an effect on people in the production and supply chain of these goods we consume.

responsibleconsumerWe mainly see socially responsible products pushed to the forefront of our consciousness these days due to slick marketing campaigns and ads, pushed by both corporations as well as celebrities on how their product gives back to the communities which they gain their raw resources from.

The real question here is, does it really do that? Who’s benefiting here? Behind a slick marketing campaign is the need for us to feel good about what we are buying, especially after many journalists and undercover whistleblowers shed light on how the luxuries of modern consumerism are produced – in the sweatshops of china, with slave labour in Africa, and sometimes, child slave labour too.

Sometimes, the product of such methods also cause massive environmental devastation, not pollution, devastation. We may or may not see it, but who knew your bar of soap causes forest fires every year in Indonesia started by farmers for their crop of oil palm? What’s oil palm you ask? Well, nothing much, except that it’s a major component in making many kinds of soap, dye, and luxury and everyday bathroom products for both genders.

Here’s how you can do your part to combat worldwide exploitative labour and consumerism destroying communities and livelihoods.

1. Check The Source

A product needs to be made from raw materials that have to be refined, processed, and shipped to your point of sale (POS). Now, in between the mining and processing of such raw material, many things happen.

We first need to look at where the raw materials come from. Generally speaking, it is neither practical nor feasible to trace back every raw ingredient in your shampoo to its source, however, a quick Google search will give you the locations and operational areas of the main ingredients of your product’s manufacturer. Sometimes, the manufacturer deals with its supplier who operates independently, however, you can still do a little research and find out.

A quick example is knowing where your paper comes from – is it from a sustainable timber and wood pulp source? or is it illegally mined? Some countries as a whole have very bad reputations in regulating their own resource extraction industries, it is best to steer clear of companies who operate in such countries.

2. Corporate Accountability

This is quite straightforward. Some corporations are very bad at telling the truth, resorting to bribery, lies, and intimidation as well as hushed deals to get as much wealth as possible from both consumer and communities that thy exploit.

Such businesses should be shunned, and their products avoided at all cost.

These businesses sometimes, in a bid to hide their bad rep, undergo a rebranding exercise and sell their products under different subsidiary brands, making it easy to hide their bad reputation from consumers like yourself.

This is especially prevalent these days, and can also be countered with a quick google search.

An exception however – should apply. Sometimes, said companies with a bad reputation get bought over, or taken over by a more reputable corporation and overhauled. In that case, it should be prudent to do your research on whether the company has adopted sustainable and responsible practices before buying their products again.

3. Check Production Partners

Modern day manufacturers very, rarely act alone. Such is the case that a company needs to harvest, say, oil palm in Indonesia for its soap for example; it works with a business partner in Indonesia to supply the local labour, machinery as well as raw material, while it provides the financing.

However, the local labour may be exploitative, and the harvest and planting methods may be damaging as well as polluting to the environment and neighbouring countries. In extreme cases, the manufacturer is unaware of such unsustainable practices being used by its partners as well, and is only notified upon a case being brought to court by watchdog agencies or whistleblowers leaking news.

4. Consider Materials Used

Before you actually buy the product, have you considered the impact it will have during and after its use?

Is it a one off product? Do you need it? Is the packaging/container re-usable, recyclable, or is it hard to decompose and recycle? These factors should come into play when you are considering buying or even getting the item for free.

For this reason, plastic bottles, styrofoam and other non-biodegradable materials should be sparsely purchased, or never, if possible.

5. Consider Impact of Product

Consider the product from a consumer standpoint, and the attitude it generates in society. is the product actually needed? Or is it just another whim that the market demands, but we don’t actually need?

Going by the saying, “if you don’t need it, don’t get it” is a good way to go. Needing and wanting are two different things altogether. A consumerist lifestyle not only pollutes, but also contributes to your general decline in a standard of living, as one-use items tend to be lower in quality.

Buying more and more of these one-time use items with short product life cycles only drains your finances as well as encouraging manufacturers to supply more of them, in a vicious cycle. Be aware of what you buy!

With all these points in mind, we hope you can become a more responsible consumer!

How to Start a Sharing Movement

When we look at the way society functions in modern times, we seem to forget that amongst the teeming masses of humanity are made up of individuals.

Individuals of a Society

The thoughts and beliefs, as well as the actions of individuals in this mass of humanity we call society shape the future, the reality of our existence as we know it.

It is then imperative that we understand our own power as an individual. Power is simply the ability to do, to change, or to affect change in a situation, in reality.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
— Gandhi

The fact that we can affect change in our society and as an individual, we must also carry out the obligation that we have to share.

To share, and create social value is a very natural human phenomenon, albeit not restricted to Homo Sapiens alone. To share and to consciously understand and create sharing movements, and values, as well as social value is however, a uniquely human concept.

Sharing is not limited to advertisements on billboards, nor is it, or should it be limited to thirty second jingle tunes on the radio, accompanied on tv by a short clip.

The Sharing Movement is not about the promotion of goods, services, or values for the purpose of collecting a profit. It is a wider social movement to promote a cultural and very human need to be socially connected, through the act of sharing.

The origin of the Sharing Movement is from a cultural and human need to socially connect.

The sharing movement itself does not start, nor does it end with the physical act of sharing either – it starts with a mindset within us, as well as the understanding of what we are doing, and why.

Some people share because they feel great doing it, since altruistic acts in human behaviour actually help to propagate the altruist’s genes in the race for survival in the natural selection process. In certain cultures, sharing is seen as both a form of wealth redistribution, as well as promotion of the largesse of the patron who shares his wealth with others, hence their ability to share material goods.

But looking beyond just personal feelings as well as creating social value for ourself, sharing is about connecting people in an egalitarian manner. This is not about the promotion of our largesse, or the promotion of other’s largesse, but about us, and another person forming a connection through the need for a physical item. This connection can be formed only in the most personal of settings, as it requires trust as a currency, and trusting people is the first step to a closer community of friends, neighbours, and family.

These connections cannot be forced upon people, coerced onto people, nor can they be really effective, since being friendly, and being friendly and trusting are two different things altogether.

How we can truly see this is through ad campaigns for a friendlier neighbourhood, which rarely work. What does work however, are events where social value is created and trust slowly but surely formed amongst community members.

Sometimes, these events are initiated by the local council, made up of more outgoing members of the community, and other times, the local government(rarely).

Most of the time, these kinds of events, such as barbeque cook-outs, communal celebrations and observations of religious, cultural, or ethnic festivals open to everyone in the community are usually started by people in the community.

These are simple, yet effective tools to open up people to the idea of a sharing community that is there for every member to utilise and support.

Barbeques, celebrations and gatherings aren’t too hard to organize for someone of average means are they? yet they are the ties that bind, that hold a sharing community together.

youYet, all these need not be started by companies. Nor governments. These can be started by you.

The people you come with into contact daily, as well as the people you talk to, can be part of the sharing movement, but you have to speak out, and more than just talk about what being part of the sharing movement means, to also act on it.

Share when you can, with the people you can

If everyone did their part, and practiced sharing in their own corner of the world, soon, communities of people accustomed to sharing naturally and consciously will form.

And then, growth of the sharing mindset will increase exponentially, since ideas spread like wildfire.

Ideas are powerful, and so are actions. Alone, you cannot reach the moon, but with friends, neighbours, and other people who share, connecting groups of people will become easier, and more viable, not just economically, but physically as well as socially.



Renewable Energy in Germany by Citizen Action

Often, renewable energy generation seems to be a pipe dream. Far away, expensive and only available to governments and extremely wealthy individuals.


However, this is a myth. Just a quick search online will yield a vast trove of results for consumer appliances powered by solar energy and wind energy, and even more tutorials on how to install renewable energy sources.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon, but when talking about mass scale industrial renewable energy generation – there are few projects to be seen available for the common layman.


There are many types of renewal energy generation for the consumer, including:

Solar energy, using PV or photo-voltaic cells which convert sunlight into electrical energy. Solar cells currently operate at about 15%-25% maximum efficiency, meaning that only up to 25% of the sunlight that falls on a photo-voltaic cell is converted to energy. The 25% figure, is achieved only in lab tests, in real life actual usage, it usually falls to 20% maximum. As expected, PV cells can only be deployed in areas with sunlight, and the stronger the sunlight, the better. On top of that, solar energy farms need a massive area to capture sunlight to produce a reasonable amount of electricity to justify its cost.

Another form of solar energy is based off mirrors and a steam turbine. Multiple mirrors focus the sun’s rays on a boiler tank painted in black. This heat collected by the multiple mirrors focussing the sun’s rays on it causes the water to vaporize into steam, which then turns the turbines connected to the boiler tank and generates electrical energy.

Wind energy, usually through wind turbines, which use the kinetic energy of moving air to turn fan blades, which then turn a generator, generating an electrical current.

Hydroelectric energy, this form uses the gravitational potential of elevated water that was lifted from the oceans by sunlight. It is not strictly speaking renewable since all reservoirs eventually fill up and require very expensive excavation to become useful again. At this time, most of the available locations for hydroelectric dams are already used in the developed world.

And the not-so-well known source wave energy. Wave energy generators operate using a combination of hydraulic systems and floats to harness the kinetic energy of underwater currents.

The waves force a series of floats to bob up and down. These floats are connected via a hydraulic system to generate more force upon the floats being pushed up, and then the hydraulic system turns gears connected to series or one turbine, dependent of the configuration of the station.

Due to the complex nature, as well as the relatively new development stage it is in, and selective sites in which this kind of station can be deployed, it is uncommon to see consumers using these for renewable energy generation.

In Germany, there are 3 main sources of energy. Traditional and more polluting coal fired plants, older nuclear powered plants, and lastly, renewable energy, which consist mainly of solar and wind power.

The German government decided along with the German public to close down the nuclear power plants following the Chernobyl power plant disaster – and then following that in modern times, the Fukushima power plant disaster.

They decided that they could not replace all the nuclear power plants with coal fired plants either, as it would only cause more issues with climate change. In the 2000’s, climate change came to the forefront of global attention, and with solar and wind technology catching up, Germany took the leap with the Energiewende in 2011.

Energiewende means energy transition, while others have used it to mean a green energy revolution. The term represents a change in the policy of managing energy through supply and demand commonly found in most markets, to a centralized to distribution model from smaller units. Such units include houses which produce and also supply energy back to the power grid.

The German Energiewende did not just come about in 2011. It is rooted in the anti-nuclear movement of the 1970’s.



In addition, Energiewende also encompasses the emphasis on efficiency in the production and distribution of power, as the faster and closer proximity to the supply and consumption sites of energy as well as increased energy saving measures boosts efficiency.

The policy was published in September 2011, about 6 months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, only emphasizing how much the change to renewable energy was needed. It was finally passed and made into official policy in 2011.

Apart from green energy generation, the document also contains some very ambitious and important aspects. These include a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, an increase in renewable energy generation to 60% of consumption nationally, as well as an increase in electric energy efficiency by 2050.

They key tenet of the Energiewende however has been citizen action and cooperation to feed into the energy grid. This action has led to the creation of energy cooperatives and citizen investors pooling their money and land to fund and construct renewable energy sources.

As a result, Germany’s share of renewable energy generation and usage has increased from around 5% in 1999 to 22.9% in 2012, reaching close to the OECD average of 18% usage of renewable energy.


Of course, these cooperatives not only fund and construct renewable energy sources such as wind turbines(as wind is the most common renewable energy resource in Germany) but they also take profits in a scheme where excess power is sold back to the grid. As a result, profits and power has been decentralized, creating a competitive market in which there are few large energy companies that have a large share in the renewable energy market.

This is only possible due to citizen action and cooperation leading to legislation reflected in the Energiewende policy which allows for a sustainable and realistic approach to the transition from fossil fuel generated energy to renewable energy.


Earth Day 2016

With April 22nd drawing near, let us talk a little about Earth Day!

Did you know that the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, almost fifty years ago? Back then, it was a day proposed to honour peace and the Earth itself and it was celebrated on March 21st, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.

However, the April 22nd Earth Day as we know it was originally a forum on the environment founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. In fact, it was only after 1990 that Earth Day became an international event, increasing its previous coverage from just the United States.

The landmark Paris Agreement is due to be signed on Earth Day by more than 120 countries, including both the United States and China.

Just a short summary of the Paris Agreement: it is a global agreement to voluntarily drive down carbon pollution with the aims of maintaining or reducing global temperatures. It also aims to increase the capability of countries to adapt to climate change without threatening food production. What makes this a big deal is that these two countries are literally the world’s largest polluters, accounting for up to 40% of global carbon emissions. When we include other nations like India, Russia and Indonesia, we can account for more than half the world’s emissions of greenhouse gas. That is indeed extremely significant.

With this agreement signed and ratified, the U.S. and China have both demonstrated a willingness to move forward to a low carbon future.

The theme for Earth Day 2016 is “Trees for the Earth”, a call to start planting up to 7.8 million trees by 2020.


Trees help combat climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases, along with providing communities with food, energy and income.

Also, planting a tree is one of the most simple things we can do to save the Earth, no?

The world certainly agrees. Now, let’s take a look at some of the global efforts in contributing to Earth Day 2016.


In line with the main movement, Earth Day Canada has started a new campaign, #Rooting4Trees, which hopes to plant up to 25,000 trees.

They’re doing this by launching a new crowdfunding website and collecting pledges to support tree-planting projects across the country, as well as encouraging individuals to get their own hands dirty and plant their own trees, or to connect with local organisations to host community events.

What a good way to both demonstrate their commitment as well as celebrate Earth Day Canada’s own 25th anniversary at the same time!


Across the Pacific, Earth Day Tokyo 2016’s theme is “Be the Shift!”, with a focus on personal responsibility and a movement towards both a sustainable and peaceful society amidst the chaos of the world today.

With events such as an outdoor concert in a park, study sessions, as well as a candlelight memorial, Earth Day Tokyo hopes to raise awareness of environment degradation combined with a unique focus on world peace.


Meanwhile in South America, ENO (Environment Online) Brazil is conducting a tree-planting day as part of the ENO Treelympics, which is a global campaign that encourages –you guessed it- the planting of trees.

This campaign, mainly for students aged 6-18, encourages them to find suitable areas for planting native trees, with the aid of schools and municipalities. With the motto being CitiusPlusFortius, which roughly translates to faster, greater, stronger, it’s safe to say that they’re going all out.


Across the Atlantic, in Rome, Earth Day Italy has collaborated with Schools of Rome and Retake Rome to create the Io CiTengo Prize. Translated to “I care about”, the award focuses on the love of one’s city, as well as imagining the future of the Earth.

The award also aims to draw attention to the themes of urban décor, care for your city, and green and common spaces.

Apparently, to win, you submit anything that demonstrates that love for your city is also love for your planet, environment, and fellow man. Anything from essays to artwork to projects are being accepted. How cool is that!

Hong Kong

Going east, the Hong Kong University’s Faculty of Science and Department of Earth Sciences has organised a talk and hands-on workshops for students.

With topics such as “buildings and urban ecology”, as well as “earth materials and their uses”, such a course would no doubt give these students a greater appreciation for the symbiotic nature humans and the earth have, as well as help them with their Earth Sciences class!

Abu Dhabi

Next, in Abu Dhabi, Kalidya Palace Rayhaan is organising its third annual “Battle of the Bottles” boat race, in which participants exercise their creativity and innovation to make boats out of recyclable materials such as plastic bottles.

Apart from that, a pageant would also be held where the best costumes made from recyclable and natural materials will be voted for by a panel of judges.

With such novel and stimulating activities, these participants would no doubt have a good time as well as walk away with more knowledge on how to save the Earth through recycling!


Lastly, down south in Australia, a small group of performers have put together a play to as their own contribution to Earth Day.

Dubbed “Mirror Pond”, it is a show that aims to raise awareness of the potential dangers caused by mining for unconventional gas, through the story of a young girl on a journey through the magical Land of Shalom. With the aid of two fairies, she regains the courage to return to her own land which is on the brink of environmental catastrophe.

With such a captivating storyline, as well as comedy provided by the two mischievous fair folk, it is safe to say that adults and children alike would both be entertained, in addition to being more enlightened about how mining irresponsibly for gas can destroy the environment.

So much love for our planet ❤️ 🌍

Tell us how are you planning to celebrate Earth Day in your community?

How to Travel Green!

Travelling is a luxury our ancestors way back before air travel and globalization didn’t have.

But, now we do have this luxury, and we should enjoy it to the fullest, albeit responsibly, and in an as environmentally friendly manner as possible.


I don’t mean walking everywhere and sleeping in tents, that plain takes away the fun of travelling doesn’t it? The point of travel is to experience new and exciting cultures, meet people from different countries and ways of life, as well as see places that don’t look like the scene from your office window of course!

There are two main items to pay attention to when traveling and trying to be environmentally friendly: first and foremost are responsible travel practices that pay attention to local needs. Simply, your actions should have a positive, not negative environmental impact, and likewise social impact and as much as possible, they should be environmentally (and economically) sustainable.

There is no point in participating in “green tours” that are neither economically sustainable nor socially responsible since they will eventually fold without having done any lasting impact on the community or site that they were supposed to protect or preserve.

The second item is more common, and more well known. It is basically the reduction of carbon emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible during travelling. Today, we’ll speak more on this point, as greenhouse gas emissions are the number one cause of global warming. Of course, cheaper means of travel has allowed us to explore and see new places but also exacerbated the problem.

When in the planning stage for a trip, even for a short trip, it is important to cease and stop all energy consuming devices that carry on passively while you’re away. Any activities that also contribute to pollution that you will not use, are also recommended to be paused for the duration of your trip, until you come back.

Here are some examples to reduce your carbon footprint while you’re away:

  1. Cancel your daily newspaper delivery

  2. Change the schedule of your automatic heating system (save on your heating bill!),

  3. Power down your modem and WiFi. If you have phones and radios, you can also unplug all of these so that they don’t passively consume power while you’re gone.

Before you actually hit the road – watch what you’re putting into your backpack or luggage. The reasons for this is two-fold. One, you save costs, and energy on your part (especially if you’re backpacking) and two, you save on the total amount of carbon emissions due to the lighter load you carry.

PRO-TIP:  discard and recycle all packaging such as those cardboard boxes that adaptors and clothes come in, and bring laundry detergent and fewer clothes so you can wash your clothes and wear them again while traveling. Simply put, the less heavy you and your luggage are, the less fossil fuels have to be burnt to transport you to your destination.

The key principle here, if possible is to emit as little carbon emissions as possible per kilogram or unit of weight that is transported, including yourself.

There are several ways to do so. The first has already been mentioned – reduce your total weight, and pack light.

When at your destination, of course, remember to recycle as much as possible, and stay in accommodation that reduces their waste and greenhouse gas emissions too. At the accommodation too, regardless of whether it is with friends or family, and during your entire vacation, remember to minimize wastage of both energy and material goods. This again, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing the amount of waste generated during your stay.

Remember lastly – to enjoy yourself! Happy Holidays!

A Green Valentine: Love More, Waste Less


Green Love!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! What are your plans to show your love?

Before you take the credit card out to show your love with buying stuff, let us suggest something a little different. After all, whether you’ll be going with your regular lover, or someone new this valentines – a change of scenery and focus on love from just between you two will be appreciated, and you’ll definitely find out more things about your date too!

The plan – Helping out the homeless or newly arrived refugees. You’d think that giving out food and clothing would be quite far off from the idea of romance but you’d be wrong!

Why? Simply put, the generosity in you and your date shown and practiced by helping those in need by giving out clothing and food will make them associate you with kindness and generosity, and basically make the both of you view each other in a better light.

On top of that, giving out used clothes repurposed and food to feed those who need it will make your community a kinder and greener place – donations of money can surely buy new clothes, but used clothes in good condition will reduce pollution through wastage, as well as encourage a culture of recycling where you live.

Giving money to the homeless is good, and is needed for shelters as well as soup kitchens, but volunteering brings the concept of helping others in your vicinity into a much more personal space, and isn’t that what Valentine’s is about? Letting others into your personal space to get to know them better?

Spread the love this valentine’s day, and help the needy, for they need your love the most, and your help, as does the environment.

Perhaps you are fortunate to live in an area where the homeless are well taken care of, or you want to choose something else – what about a homely date at someone else’s place?

You could cook, or of you don’t know how to, you could ask a local chef or cook to make something with fair trade and locally sourced ingredients.

Of course, look for locally grown ingredients first, to support your local growers and farmers, since the reduced cost and need for transportation will leave you a lesser carbon footprint. However, it is highly suggested that you DO cook something for the day of the date itself.

Why? You could make one date, turn into two!

How you ask? Well, you need to go to the farmer’s market don’t you? Go with your date! Going to a fresh air market with just the both of you there and friendly farmers will make for good conversation topics, and be less direct and “confrontational” if you were sitting opposite of each other.

It gives you room and space to talk about yourselves, and find out more about each other, without actually having to ask about each other directly, which for some less socially inclined people, will be a much more comfortable situation.

On top of that – you can make a joint decision on what to buy, and engage each other in what to cook with the ingredients you’ve got! Now, just remember, some farmers markets don’t just sell organically grown root tubers and greens, they are also places for local beekeepers, artisans and craftsmen to showcase their locally made and environmentally friendly craft products!

Need an actual beeswax candle? Ask the beekeeper! Need soap? Ask the local soap maker! Or perhaps you need a bag to carry all the stuff you’ve bought? There’s someone spinning hemp and cotton together into large carry bags too!

Now, what will you do with all these? Surprise your date of course! Buy them a gift, or simply, buy things together and then set the table, and the house with those beeswax candles, and give them a body rub lotion of honey and lavender with soaps bought from the market!

So instead of going out of your way to spend a lot of money on flowers, only to be thrown away later, why not make your Valentine’s a more meaningful one, to include the things that matter?

Love is not about what you buy for your lover, it’s about how you make her/him feel. Love is not stored in a box of chocolate with pretty flowers. Love is imperfect, and has many facets. Love exists in this moment but will grow forever if in the right environment. Show your love by making this Valentine’s Day about learning more about your loved ones. Don’t just focus on now, remember the wider community and our earth and the future you want to build with your loved ones.

Love More, Waste Less!