World Citizens are Greening Our Cities


One of the disadvantages of living in New Zealand, I have decided, is that our abundance of space shields us from the environmental problems of large populations. Yet if we are to shield ourselves from the effects of global warming, we must take immediate steps towards a cleaner, chemical-reduced, sustainable lifestyle.

I often check out the websites and for the innovative news I hear about what others are already doing towards sustainable lifestyles. These are people who have a passion. But they also have something even rarer – they have chosen to step outside their comfort zones, act on their ideas and tell their story to the world – one ear at a time.

If you ever find yourself thinking: “I can’t do anything about global warming and the coming world calamities” then open up and watch/read the links I have added below.

Part 1

How 1 MILLION Pounds Of Organic Food Can Be Produced On 3 Acres

Part 2

How 1 MILLION Pounds Of Organic Food Can Be Produced On # Acres

To show you an example of what these urban dwelling eco-warriors are doing, I have embedded a video:

State of the Re:Union – A Food Revolution in Milwaukee

Here waste spaces are turned into green oases in the middle of a major city. The ideas are equally transferrable to your home town or your backyard shared with a neighbour.

Buying the Advertising Dream

The concept of individualism, that has dominated the last half of last century, and still does in the first decades of this century, works insidiously against the potential of what we can do together. By keeping us focused on doing things alone, advertising is able to drive wedges where they should never be. It’s the old message of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ only the Jones family is struggling to afford things just as much as we are.

Each night we are fed ‘dissatisfaction’.

We learn we do NOT have:

  • A properly shaped body
  • The perfect face
  • The dream car(s), boats, holiday houses, camper vans
  • The correctly labelled clothes
  • The aesthetically decorated large houses
  • The right technological devices or appliances
  • The medications that will prolong our lives
  • The mind-blowing entertainment

The advertising promise, no matter how subtle, is to convince us we are failures for our LACK, and that by buying the advertised goods our lives will be WHOLE again. So we spend our money on trying to fill that deep well of LACK and get ourselves further into debt.

We Cannot Turn Back the Clock …

                         … but we can remember the best of the past

What is wrong with turning off the television (the pipe of propaganda) and:

  • Joining a group (or many groups) and sharing experiences
  • Committing ourselves to a cause
  • Inviting the neighbours to shared meals
  • Pledging the money we save by not buying the newest gadget to support other people in our community
  • Sharing our musical talents by singing or playing together
  • Giving our time and energy to support school education for our children

By joining forces with others we can make magical things happen. Imagine if you and a few mates could get together in your neighbourhood and buy a plastic recycling plant and produce fuel to share? You think it’s not possible? Then watch this video.

Plastic to Oil Fantastic Recycling Machine

This machine is so small it can be set up and operated in villages in Africa–so why not in so-called developed nations?


What holds us back?

Is it that we have helped to create, and demanded of our governments, so many rules we’ve ‘ruled’ ourselves into a state of atrophy?

Are we just plain scared of getting to know people in our community?

Regardless of how we got here, what the world needs now is innovators and those who are prepared to get onto the court to make a difference. In other words: World Citizens.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Rubbish can be a positive thing

Disposing of waste is a personal political act, not a task that we should hand over to others to process.

When we live, as most of the West does, in a highly developed social system where waste is removed from our door and we never have to consider it again (unless the garbage collectors go on strike), then we develop this notion that waste is someone else’s responsibility.


Rubbish protest in Naples, June 2011 

We applaud local body organisations that find ways of recycling or minimising waste. We like that fact that local playgrounds are made surface-safe by chopped up old tyres; we like to hear that plastics are rendered into pellets for use in new products; we like to hear that glass is ground down and reused as weed suppressants in wineries.

It makes us feel good to live in a country that has that kind of commitment to waste reduction. The good guys simply take it away.

We’ve stopped viewing rubbish personally

What we forget is that our environmental choices right at the beginning created that waste. Yes – we’re the ones who made it. When councils or local bodies deal with our rubbish we stop feeling any responsibility for it. Yet there are many ways we could individually reduce what goes out to the gate on rubbish day and live a more sustainable lifestyle. It simply needs some creative thinking.

Buying in bulk and using our own re-usable containers, is one option towards a sustainable lifestyle. Buying foods in their near to raw state is another. Why have we become so fixated on consumer products that we think taking a one-use amount of coffee (in a plastic packet), placing it in a coffee maker and chucking out the dregs with the packaging, is cool? Okay, George Clooney makes compelling adverts, but what’s wrong with grinding beans?

Kids often lead the way in environmental recycling

School children in New Zealand are often challenged to create something useful out of waste materials, and some of them come up with innovative re-uses for what others would chuck away. Few adults, however, take their ideas seriously, or see them as the start of a sustainable lifestyle. It’s just too much hard work to think of creative ways to recycle.

I’m no saint in this either. I watch the one-serve cat food tins opened morning and night for our VERY fussy cat and wonder how to recycle them. The nearest I came was to make some spluttering Christmas candles filling them with recycled wax and essential oils. Not one of my successes!

One rubbish recycling  success

When we were still using milk from plastic containers, I dramatically reduced the number of bottles going out into the waste one Spring. In fact, I ended up raiding neighbours’ recycling bins for the raw material … . I thought I would share the process with you today.

Mini green houses for growing seedlings–and they reduce waste, too.

Love to hear how others have recycled in a way that others (including ME) could take up.

Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

US Navy now runs on seawater – celebrate!

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

I just have to share this article from Addicting Info . Org:

It’s just too amazing not to share. So if you don’t want to click on the link above here is a resume of the content:

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.

But as Addicting Info writer, Justin Rosario, expresses:

“Curiously, this doesn’t seem to be making much of a splash (no pun intended) on the evening news. Let’s repeat this: The United States Navy has figured out how to turn seawater into fuel and it will cost about the same as gasoline.”

“I expect the GOP to go ballistic over this and try to legislate it out of existence. It’s a threat to their fossil fuel masters because it will cost them trillions in profits. It’s also “green” technology and Republicans will despise it on those grounds alone.”

The benefits are immeasurable, here are two:

  • The process pulls carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas driving Climate Change) out of the ocean, which has just about reached its safe limit for acidity from all of the increased carbon dioxide, which is what is destroying ecosystems like coral reef.
  • Oil rich countries such as the Middle East will no longer be of interest to the US and other major oil-dependent countries so they won’t want to meddle in Middle Eastern politics. There will be less spending on war and more leftover for humanitarian spending on citizens.
  • The use of carbon dioxide as a fuel is a carbon neutral process. The ocean is like a sponge for carbon dioxide in the air and currently has an excess amount dissolved in it. The fuel process pulls carbon dioxide out of the ocean. It’s converted and burned as fuel. This releases the carbon dioxide back into the air which is then reabsorbed by the ocean.

Also read this article from the International Business Times

So get the word out there and make it impossible for the oil giants to squash the technology.

By Heather Sylvawood, Amazon Author

Clean and green may be an illusion

Christmas is a perfect example of how our commitment to recycling is only skin deep when we come under pressure. And Christmas is a time of pressure: pressure to spend, pressure to impress, pressure to show affluence.

We only have to look at our rubbish bin on Boxing Day to realise how much we have thrown away in 24 hours. What could be recycled instead of chucked? What could have been recycled from last year? What do these gifts we give actually say about our belief in and commitment to recycling.

Every time we give a gift that requires batteries we are buying into the throw-away culture. When we buy an electric appliance to replace a hand-operated one we are increasing our use of power, adding to trash when it eventually breaks down (because modern appliances can rarely be repaired), and often using more water if we need to clean them.

For many, Christmas is a time of excess not environmental care. So I have to applaud my friend who announced on Facebook: “We’re not sending Christmas cards this year. The money has gone to Oxfam, and I know you’ll all be happy to know you’ve helped donate lots of trees, among other things.”

One challenge I feel every year is whether to wrap presents. The cheap printed paper we use is only able to manage one use – sometimes not even holding together long enough for the present to reach the recipient. And once the present is unwrapped, we don’t fold the mountain of paper to use next year. I often wonder if gifts would be better presented in supermarket bags? At least they would be more likely to be recycled.

So what New Year’s resolutions about recycling are you making?

Heather Sylvawood, author and blogger.

Here’s to Our Rubbish Artists

They are a certain breed, these rubbish artists. They can look at our discards and think: “I could make a xxxx out of that.” More than that, they actually get off butt and do so.

It takes a lot of imagination to see something and imagine it in another life form. For instance, I often admire the creativity of furniture recyclers who spot and old item and with a swift flick of a brush, a swatch of fabric, or bang with a tack hammer recycle stuff into the oh-so-chic items that feature in Home Beautiful.


I don’t do that. Instead along the way towards the conversion (usually very close to the start) I run out of confidence; I’m too scared to take up hammer and paint in case the end product doesn’t meet the perfect image in my mind.

Rubbish artists aren’t like that. They see in their mind a new objet d’art and experiment until they achieve it. One such artist has made Golden Bay her home – sculptor, fitter and machinist Georgina West of Georgeous Designs. She’s also on Facebook if you want to ‘like’ her.


Above: From large garden flowers to small, and from birds to fish, Georgina creates them all from old tin cans and discarded materials, including wire from the back of microwaves.

From these most unpromising materials Georgina’s imagination creates these amazing, whimsical, decorative designs. They’re set to replace the wall butterfly, I’m sure.

So here’s to our rubbish artists whose creativity is helping to deal with our waste – true recyclers.

Would Ellen lie about her toothbrush?

Okay … Ellen DeGeneres looks a million dollars thanks to a secret that is now OUT. But what does her toothbrush look like? Does she use an electric toothbrush?

In case you didn’t recognise this ageless beauty –
it’s Ellen DeGeneres

This evening I watched a television advert for an electric toothbrush. It involved a turned-on electric tooth passing through some substance that was supposed to look like bacteria and alongside it (on the left) a common-to-garden you-move-it toothbrush passing lightly over a similar substance and not moving anything.

I wonder what these TV commercial makers think when they create these adverts? Do they think we are so gullible? The fact was that the common-to-garden toothbrush was not being moved by the normal scrubber on the end of the brush handle. And while I probably cannot move my toothbrush at the speed the electric toothbrush vibrates, I certainly do rotate it at some speed, as I’m sure most of you do when the battery of your electric toothbrush runs out.

Toothbrushes must be big business and the advent of the electric toothbrush indicates how big a market is available around toothbrushes. Low cost toothbrushes need to wear out in order for us to be running to the supermarket every few weeks and replacing them. And even electric toothbrush owners will be replacing heads and batteries. When a few billion people are doing this every week you get a picture of how big the market is.

I would like to warn you, and Ellen DeGeneres, that a simple hand-held toothbrush still works as long as you do rotate it and don’t forget to use your arm and hand muscles. It won’t work if you hold it against your teeth and don’t move it. I’m sure you realised this, HOWEVER, you are about to learn the shocking truth kept secret by Yours Truly for many months …


I trim my toothbrush bristles when they get a bit worn and straggly. And by doing so I DOUBLE the life of my toothbrushes. Yes a simple life-giving act like that and I extend their life by weeks. So Ellen, if you’re reading this, the next time the batteries run out, stow the electric toothbrush in the vanity drawer and get out the scissors to trim the old faithful.

I promise I won’t embarrass you with any exposé, your secret’s safe with me.

Heather Sylvawood, author of the Marigold Brightbutton Adventures.