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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

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Reduce your eco-anxiety with this technique

Mindfulness is a term that you are likely to hear and read about quite often. It has become a bit of a buzzword, but despite its recent popularity, mindfulness isn’t a new fad. It's actually a basic human ability that anyone can tap into. Essentially, mindfulness is the ability to centre oneself in the present moment and become aware of our actions without becoming overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Even though you may understand the basic premise of mindfulness, it can still be difficult to achieve, and actually feel the positive impacts in your daily life, especially during stressful times (like a pandemic) or when we have other life challenges. But, this is when we actually need it most.

One of the ways mindfulness can help improve your life is through its ability to reduce stress. Mindfulness is being recommended for people going through a variety of especially stressful situations such as serious illness and can be used to also help us at least in part,...

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Soil to Silk with Madhulika Choudhary

I had the pleasure of chatting with Madhulika Choudhary who has become a slow silk producer in rural India after inheriting a plot of land from her father. She had fond memories of spending time in the village where her family is from, with its local pond full of fish and children playing.

But when she returned 20 years later, the pond was no longer thriving. Western agricultural practices had taken over, including the pressure to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These new advances left the producer with high input costs as they produce non-traditional crops, but it also meant the loss of fish and wildlife as chemicals ran off into the nearby waterway.

 

 

The mulberry crop to be fed to the worms is organically grown, Madhulika Choudhary.

Madhulika had plenty of experience working in underserved communities and knew a little about the textile industry, so she took the opportunity to bring a traditional practice of Sericulture, or silk farming to her family's...

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Makerspaces: Where DIY meets education

Have you ever heard of a makerspace? You might be able to guess what a makerspace is based on its name…essentially, it’s a space where people can create and make things! More specifically, a makerspace is a collaborative space where people can gather to get creative with DIY or tech projects, and share ideas, tools and resources.

If you are someone who enjoys working with your hands and collaborating with others, a makerspace might just be what you are looking for! Makerspaces are quite unique, meaning that the projects and tools found within them can differ from space to space in order to meet the needs of the community. For example, some makerspaces include activities such as coding or robot building, while others focus on woodworking, inventing, and crafting.

Makerspaces can occur in a variety of places. For example, you might be able to find one at your local library, community centre, in elementary schools, or even within your own home!

How did makerspaces come to...

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Turning waste into resources with community composting

You may be familiar with backyard composting, but what about options for institutions, schools, businesses and people who would like another alternative to backyard and vermicomposting? Community composting can be a great solution to these dilemmas and a way to extend the lifespan of your local landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

But first, let’s talk about why composting is a perennial favourite for taking personal action against climate change!

Why does everyone talk about the need to compost?

When food is thrown out in the garbage, and sent to the landfill, that organic waste is compacted in a sanitary landfill. This is done to save space in the landfill and to prevent animals from scavenging food there. However, this means that the food will break down without much oxygen - in other words, it will be anaerobically broken down.

When this happens, the decomposition of the food does not take the usual route of turning into carbon dioxide and other...

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How the Breath Helps the Mind

Research shows that there are tangible health benefits of hitting pause on our routines and taking a few deep breaths. Our heart rate drops, blood pressure lowers almost immediately, the brain is flooded with oxygen, and our creativity increases while anxiety drops. If we do this deep breathing in nature the benefits are multiplied. We see positive effects on our immune systems and learning.
 
Studies on the health benefits of deep breathing in the forest have been explored for decades already. And you probably have already noticed this yourself, the age-old saying, “take a breath” when confronting a challenge really does help most situations.
 
 
It is what I did instinctively on September 3rd, 2013 at the age of 42 as I sat in my doctor’s office and she walked in briskly to give me the results, “it’s positive”…wait, that’s good, right? Wrong. “It is cancer”. 
 
So, I ask a few more meaningless...
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Greta and the Paradigm Shift

By European Parliament - This file has been extracted from another file: Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to show climate leadership (49618310531).jpg, CC BY 2.0
 
I believe we are in a time of a paradigm shift, and it essential that we do shift our old ways, perspectives, and thought patterns to new ones. We need to move away from old thoughts like we need to choose between jobs and the environment - guess what, there are ways to build an economy on green jobs!
 
We need to get rid of outdated belief systems that said that we can put off acknowledging Indigenous rights, to leave that for another time, another administration, or to when it is more convenient.
 
 
We need to shed the belief that youth just don't care or have real contributions to creating solutions  - for their future, for our future. And similarly, we need to get rid of the paradigm that says, "what I do isn’t part of...
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The bliss of biophilia - indoors!

Why is it that plants, windows with views of greenspace, nature-depicting art pieces, and other natural elements brighten up our indoor environments? Given the choice, most people prefer to spend time in a room that contains these elements instead of a room that is closed off to the outside world. In fact, access to daylight and the outdoors is even a requirement of humane-treatment in some situations like incarceration.

We know that spending time outside is good for our psychological and physiological health. As seen with activities such as gardening, forest bathing, and simply spending time outdoors, nature has restorative properties that we can all benefit from!

So, is it possible that we can access these benefits from indoor environments as well? The answer is yes! Biophilic design is a design strategy that incorporates natural elements into the built environment in order to increase human wellbeing. 

Biophilic design is based on the concept of “biophilia” which...

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Learning about nature - in nature!

Education is one of the most important tools when it comes to protecting the environment and ensuring the health of our planet for future generations. After all, how can we care for the environment if we don’t understand how various environmental components work together to create a well-functioning ecosystem?

As David Attenborough said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

Luckily, we have environmental education centres to help facilitate environmental learning for children and adults alike.

Nature education centres bring people together to share memorable experiences and build sustainable relationships with nature as well as each other. These centres provide the public with nature-based programming, outdoor recreation activities, facilities for environmental education, and ample opportunities to engage with the environment and learn something new!

Now, what kinds of nature education...

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An ancient building technique is gaining new fans: Rammed Earth Construction

Image Sourced From: Green Building Advisor

How familiar are you with construction methods and materials? The vast majority of buildings, both residential and commercial, are built around a frame made of dimensional lumber (standard 2x4 pieces of wood) or light-gauge steel. Other construction methods, such as bricks and reinforced or unreinforced concrete, are often used in conjunction with a frame.

However, these aren’t the only methods of construction available, nor are they the most environmentally friendly methods! For example, concrete has a significant environmental impact, as the cement industry is one of the main producers of the world’s CO2 emissions.

So, what other kinds of construction methods and materials are out there? Rammed earth is an ancient building technique that is just as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago. Not only is it applicable, but it also is sustainable and quite aesthetically pleasing. It is just one of many green building...

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Coffee chat and repair? The rise of Repair Caf├ęs

Image Sourced from: Repair Café

When it comes to dealing with broken appliances, furniture, technology, clothing, bicycles, and more, it can be expensive to get these items repaired professionally. Sometimes you might feel that you should simply dispose of your broken item and buy a new one. However, this endless cycle of buying and replacing doesn’t benefit the environment. It also can end up costing you more in the long run.

You might have also noticed that repair shops seem to be disappearing. For example, it’s not that common to come across shoe repair shops anymore despite the fact that we obviously all still wear shoes! This means that it is much more common to throw out a pair of shoes once you’ve worn out the soles instead of simply getting the soles replaced. With the combination of decreased repair shops and an increase in consumer culture, this leaves people with few opportunities to repair and reuse their items.

Enter a new wave of resources to...

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