Is ‘consumerism’, like religion, not to be discussed in polite conversation?

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

George Monbiot in The Guardian  has thrown down a challenge when he states: “It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing.” Monbiot takes the position that the insatiable demand for growth is reflected in our demand for energy which underpins our ability to grow and make new. Read his thoughtful article here.


Heather Sylvawood’s view on consumerism


Many of us assume that a constant upward trend towards more and more (consumerism) is inevitable. And it is – under our current economic system.The creation of new and often better technology, research and improvements to the living conditions of most all starts with an organisation/person/corporation assuming large amounts of debt (borrowed money) in the expectation that this debt will be repaid with profit once the product is developed, the house is built, the land becomes productive. It would be simple if only the debt had to be repaid, but unfortunately our economic system expects interest for the use of the money. So the objects/products/houses must all come into being as having more value than they actually represent.

Worse – The current purchasing power of the people for whom the new stuff is being produced is insufficient to buy the new objects/products/houses. So guess what? They go into debt and pledge future income to paying off these items at their already inflated values. Often the people who can least afford the consumer goods are the ones pledging a greater proportion of the weekly income to paying off these inflated products. This leads to a cycle of boom, where lots of bank credit is created, and bust, when our ability to pay interest on the debt reaches crisis point.

How to distribute money more equitably

Another entrenched belief is that the only way to distribute wealth equitably is through taxation. This is not a welcome alternative for those who have grafted themselves onto the rich side of the tree. Besides, taxation is a tool of the current economic system and has proved to be a dismal failure in closing the rich-poor divide. There are however, alternatives.

Last century a homespun economist Clifford Hugh Douglas, whose observations and theories explained this phenomena, said that the problems fundamental to economic depression are those of unequal distribution owing to lack of purchasing power. To solve these difficulties Douglas proposed a system of issuing to every citizen dividends, the amount of which would be determined by an estimate of the nation’s real wealth; the establishment of a just price for all goods would be the result. The theories became the founding doctrine of the Social Credit parties and were adopted by Alberta, Canada.

The perfect channel out of debt

One of the Channel Isles, Guernsey, is reputed to have created its own credit when it was virtually bankrupt and was unable to do even the most minor repairs to its miniscule infrastructure. Instead of taxing its already financially stretched population, it printed its own currency to cover the necessary repairs. The tradespeople on the island were paid in Guernsey currency and that was accepted by Guernsey shopkeepers who suddenly had need to employ others who were paid in Guernsey currency.

According to Wikipedia: “Public services, such as water, wastewater, the two main harbours and the airport are still owned and controlled by the States of Guernsey. The electricity, and postal services have been commercialised by the States and are now operated by companies wholly owned by the States of Guernsey. Gas is supplied by an independent private company.”

Because the Isle no longer required taxation to operate its public services, large numbers of companies, head offices and corporations based their businesses in the 78 sq kilometre island. This brought more affluence to the country without adding one cent in interest as debt to anyone. This of course is a system based on similar accounting principles as the current where the Futures Markets take the whole money-debt thing to extreme lengths by gambling on the future possible returns from a crop that has yet to planted or a technology that has yet to be invented.  In other words, we’re not happy with plain old debt we use today, we have to gamble our future away.

Consumerism has blinded us to an amazing truth

Mankind made the current economic system – so mankind can make a different one.

Our economy is NOT written on tablets of stone. It is merely a tool that no longer serves us, and it forces us into consumerism so we exploit more and more of our planet. We could stop, but we all need a deeper recognition of the consequences of NOT stopping.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author


What’s going onto your skin in make-up?

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author


Going natural protects your body from cosmetic nasties

In this blog I have mentioned on occasion a number of alternatives to using chemical-based make-up and cosmetics. So it’s heartening to see similar well-researched articles appearing in main-stream press.

What’s on Your Face? Cosmetics Uncovered, by Sophie Barclay for the New Zealand Herald, continues the bad news about the ingredients of the products that are supposed to stop us aging and keep us attractive.  Barclay has researched the topic thoroughly and lists the worst offenders and the safest product lines, long with the ingredients that do us grievous bodily harm. Check out the article for yourself.

I have no recipes for make-up – I’ve given up pretending I need to be attractive to the opposite sex. However, there are some things I like to do to my body.

Avoiding tinea or Athletes Foot

I used to buy a cream from the chemist on a regular basis to clear up Athletes Foot. Somehow any bit of physical activity encouraged the fungus between my toes. Well, I have to tell you I have not needed any for over six months because I follow this process.

Into 1 tbs of olive oil I mix 10 drops tea tree oil/manuka oil (the active ingredient), 10 drops Ylang Ylang oil (for fragrance) and 10 drops Bergamot oil (because its supposed to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels – but also smells nice). I rub my feet and between my toes with this oil every morning and often at night. Feet smell great even after being in socks all day, and the oil keeps the skin of your feet soft.


Lavender oil could add extra antiseptic strength to the recipe

I suspect you could substitute other oils, like lavender, for the fragrances, but I’m a fan of tea tree oil as it is supposed to be an antiseptic. Olive oil is an oil kind to the body, so use it freely. Quality olive oil won’t dominate the other essential oils even though they’re added in such small quantities.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Who’s in charge of the US?

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Russia is not flavour of the month, if we’re to believe all we hear about its involvement in the Ukraine. In one area of life, however, this country is taking a lead.

No to GMO

Russia has made a stand against the importation of GMO food and seed. Even though the country admits genetically modified seed has already entered the country, the government has passed a ban on any further imports of GM products.


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

It has been widely reported that the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, Russia will not import GMO products, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Monsanto weighs in against organic farmers

In the US, however, farmers who might want to produce pure organic food cannot guarantee their right to do so. According to a Reuters report by Darren Hauck:

“The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials.

“The high court left intact Monday a federal appeals court decision that threw out a 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and over 80 other plaintiffs against Monsanto that sought to challenge the agrochemical company’s aggressive claims on patents of genetically-modified seeds. The suit also aimed to curb Monsanto from suing anyone whose field is contaminated by such seeds. “


The innocent bee could carry GE pollen
that contaminates an organic crop

Yes, you read that correctly: Independent farmers whose crops might be contaminated by GM pollen could be sued by Monsanto.

Why was this sanctioned by the US Federal Court?

Because Monsanto wants to protect its rights to any of the GMO seeds it produces, totally.

Americans have in the past championed commercial rights vigorously. If a company has patented a process, people infringing that process should be punished, the public reasoned. But hang on: if the organic farmers have their crops contaminated, won’t that totally compromise their right to be recognised as organic producers? It certainly will. Yet the Courts have sided with the giant corporation.


Mass production opened up an opportunity for GMO

Monsanto claims on its website that: “Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company. We deliver agricultural products that support farmers all around the world.

“We are focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. We do this with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables.”

What they don’t tell you is that the seed they sell poor farmers cannot be grown and saved for next season’s crops. Consequently costs for farmers, who must buy new seed (from Monsanto) each year, start to skyrocket.

Could the US say NO to Monsanto and GMO?

Could the Senate take on Monsanto and stop the madness? Hardly likely. The company has just convinced the US Court to make a landmark decision that allows the business giant able to sue an individual who inadvertently has his/her crops contaminated by GMO pollen. That hardly seems logical or fair.

The US Government wouldn’t stand a chance.

Protests are growing

May 24th has been declared a protest day against what Monsanto is doing. The protests re world-wide. In New Zealand the following Marches have been organised:

March Against Monsanto Wellington; 12 PM to 3 PM.

March Against Monsanto Tauranga; 12 PM to 3 PM.

March Against Monsanto Hamilton; 12 PM to 3 PM.

If you live elsewhere either create your own March for the 24th, Or find the nearest one on this page.

Once on the page click to view map view and find your nearest march.

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Thank-you to those who play ‘God’

What would we do without them?

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Benevolent business people who’ve secured their fortunes and then turn their sights to improving the world have always been admired.

In an earlier post I pointed out the work of the Dilmah Foundation, and in this post I’m featuring the work of Richard Branson. He bought an island in the 1970s. Since then, however, he has been turning that island into a sanctuary for birds and animals on the edge of extinction.

We could all bad-mouth rich men who play benevolent benefactor, but the reality is they do much good. I dream of doing similar – if I win Lotto – and I bet you have the occasional daydream along those lines too?

What would you do if you had enough money to ‘buy an island’?

by Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

The Mother a Child Needs

Could this description of the changes in motherhood be improved on? I think not. Thank-you Ann Minnett

Montana Women Writers

By Ann Minnett

When my first child was born 41 years ago, I was not thinking about her growing up.

Ann and Ginnie 1974 Ann and Ginnie 1974

Sounds crazy, but I was so overwhelmed with my precious baby girl that I truly lived one day at a time. Focusing on the day, the moment, we sort of grew up together. She taught me how to be a mom, and when my son was born two years later, I was better at it.

Image Crissy and Keaton 4-24-14

My second grandson was born on April 24th, and my son and daughter-in-law asked us to stay with them for a couple of weeks to help. I was honored to be included, to witness their expert parenting of the newborn and the two year-old during their transition to a family of four. Could I have been that tender, that confident as a young mom? I…

View original post 213 more words

Fixing the damage done by our consumerism

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Palm Oil

Why has palm oil become the big bogey of western products?

Well it’s not because we’re harmed by it; it’s because in order to satiate the huge demand for this product vast tracts of native forests are being felled in equatorial countries which many of the great apes call home.


The masks are worn to protect these babies from human disease

Source Wikipedia: “Palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil. Its use in the commercial food industry in other parts of the world is buoyed by its lower cost. … “

Why do manufacturers use palm oil?

In search of profits, companies producing a range of consumer products base their ingredients on the lowest possible cost. Palm oil has been shown to be a very useful product because it remains close to a solid at room temperature. This property makes it useful as a means of holding other ingredients together, and for ease of packaging.

Consequently manufacturers of the following products may use it in:

Dairy Products:
  • Most Butters and Margarines so check labels before purchasing
Candy and Snacks:
  • Rolo’s by Hershey
  • Skittles
  • Nestle Chocolate products
  • Mars Chocolate products
  • Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
Personal Care Items:

Keep in mind that many companies have Palm free versions (according to labels) so check labels thoroughly!

  • Some organic ‘natural soaps’
  • Dove lotions and soaps
  • Aveeno Daily Moisturizers
  • Nivea Original
  • Oil of Olay
  • Vaseline
  • Pearl Probiotics
Food Items:
  • Skippy peanut butter
  • Many Granola Bars (check the ingredients)
  • Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
  • Cluster Crunch Cereal
  • Thin Crust Pizza (check the ingredients)
  • Flatbread Pizza
  • Chocolaty Nougat Bar with Peanuts and Caramel
  • Honey Mustard Pretzel Sticks
  • Milk Chocolaty Delight Bar
  • NutriCrunch Chocolates

Hidden sources of Palm Oil

Palm oil is called many things other than Palm Oil: Unmask Palm Oil is the Australasian campaign for mandatory palm oil labelling on all products. Currently palm oil can be labelled as any one of 200 different scientific names making it impossible for consumers to not buy palm oil.

See more at: Unmask Palm Oil

In New Zealand where Unmask Palm Oil is based, the current Government refuses to consider changing its policy to expand the ingredients list where another product of combined ingredients includes palm oil products. However, the campaign has enlisted the support of opposition parties such as the Greens, New Zealand First and the Maori Party. …Unmask Palm Oil recently presented a petition of 7,500 signatures to the New Zealand parliament.

Plight of the Orangutan

Source Wikipedia: “The use of palm oil in food products has attracted the concern of environmental activist groups; the high oil yield of the trees, attractive to profit-driven investors, has led to the clearing of forests in parts of Indonesia in order to make space for oil-palm monoculture. This has resulted in significant acreage losses of the natural habitat of the orangutan, of which both species are endangered; one species in particular, the Sumatran orangutan, has been listed as “critically endangered.”

For an overview of what one Orangutan rescue mission is up to, take a look at this video:

What can you do to help?

Check the ingredients on the products you use regularly and change brands to one with out Palm Oil. When consumers (that’s us) stop buying products, manufacturers stop making them.

Write or email your politicians and put the case for reduced or eliminated use of pal oil on a large scale. If enough people express their views on any subject, politicians become uncomfortable and start listening.

Donate to a charity supporting conservation of the remaining populations of orangutans and other apes, such as The Orangutan Project.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author