The War On Waste

Craig Reucassel (from The Chasers) urges Australians to reconsider their role in theWar on Waste‘, a documentary recently aired by the ABC. The 3 part series tackles the issue of cosmetic fruit standards, fast fashion and recycling in order to encourage Australians to become aware of the problem and do their bit.

I found the series incredibly thought-provoking (and entertaining), and I recommend it to everyone.

What can I put in my recycling bin?

You might be surprised by what you can actually recycle. But take not that each council will have different rules so check online if you’re unsure. And is it actually recycled or are we wasting our time? As it turns out, in most Australian states (excluding Queensland) there is a tax on sending waste to landfill so it’s more economical for councils to recycle. So, yes the contents of your recycling bin are being recycled!

Can

  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Hard plastics that hold their shape when squished
  • Deodorant sticks (in VIC everywhere except Mildura)
  • Bottles; vitamin, shampoo/conditioner, soap pump bottles, milk, cordial, juice
  • Empty food containers; biscuit trays, cake trays, yoghurt, take away packaging
  • Paper; newspaper, books
  • Cardboard; cereal boxes, egg cartons, paper towel, pizza boxes
  • Cans; pet food, food cans

Can’t

  • Coffee cups
  • Polystyrene
  • Soft plastics; plastic bags, chip and biscuit wrappings. These can usually be taken to special soft plastic recycling bins at supermarkets where they will be collected and recycled.
  • Crockery and kitchen glasses– They have a different melting point compared to glass jars and bottles as they have been tempered.
  • Batteries
  • Mobile phones- Take to drop off sites. Mobile phones are sent to the Melbourne Zoo to help with gorilla conservation.
  • Light bulbs can contaminate the recycling
  • Plastic bottle and jar lids– it’s usually recommended to remove the lids and place them in the waste. The lids make the bottles more rigid which stops them from being flattened easily.

Takeaway coffee cups are cardboard, so surely they can be recycled?

No. Turns out that’s not the case. The waterproof lining that keeps the drink in the cup is made of plastic and therefore they aren’t biodegradable and can’t be recycled. In fact, if large amounts are put into recycling bins they can actually ‘contaminate’ the load and prevent other items from being recycled.

Then what do I do with them?

The short answer is; don’t buy them. Reduce the amount of takeaway cups that end up in landfill by; reusing your own reusable coffee cups, or sitting down at a cafe and using their crockery. Some cafes have even introduced a discount when you bring your own cup, see Responsible Cafes.

And next there’s the issue of plastic shopping bags!

Plastic bags possess a huge risk to the environment. They end up in waterways, parklands and streets and cause harm to animals that ingest or get caught in them and then die.

Currently, only South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and ACT have banned plastic shopping bags but even within these states there are loopholed. The documentary shows that some shops in these areas still give out plastic bags, just ones made of heavier plastic and unlike major supermarket chains these bags aren’t always charged for or marketed as reusable.

Biodegradable bags sound like a good idea right? Or at least I thought so, but no! Seems that if they break down into smaller pieces they are potentially more harmful to wildlife. The documentary advises steering clear of these altogether.

I am no sustainable warrior and I certainly do get my shopping in plastic bags sometimes, especially when I am out and about picking up last minute items and haven’t come prepared. If my family is going grocery shopping we will bring reusable bags from home but unfortunately not always which means from time to time we do end up with plastic bags.

My question is this, is it okay to use plastic bags as rubbish bags in your bin? Because that’s where most of ours end up. We won’t put them in the bin empty and if we have a surplus of them will use the soft plastics bins at the supermarket, but is it okay to use them as rubbish bags? If someone finds out then please let me know.

Take away message;

At the end of the day, every bit counts. Check what can go in your recycling bin and try to minimise the amount of rubbish you send to landfill. Take your keep cup with you in the morning and your reusable bags when you go shopping. Educate yourselves and spread what you learn to your friends and family. The government and supermarkets listen to consumers and if we make changes then eventually they will too.

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5 beautiful songs you need to listen to

  Music is such a powerful force. It conveys emotion and meaning and is unique in that it’s interpretation varies greatly between people. Try and find someone who’s life i hasn’t had an impact on and you’ll almost certainly struggle.

I’ve put together a list of 5 songs that I find beautiful. They each bring something different, yet all mean something to me. These are songs that sound pure or help me relax, they make me feel things or stop thinking altogether.

  1.  Broken Things- Clairity

Clairity is a young American singer/songwriter whose songwriting developed from her love of writing poetry. Her voice is pure and honest and you can practically feel the emotion radiating from it. I like to close my eyes and forget about the world while listening to this song.

“I wrote Broken Things as a reminder that we aren’t defined by our imperfections. It’s about learning to accept the things we can’t change about ourselves and others, and making peace with them.” – Clairity.

2. Maisie & Neville- David Beats Goliath

This song is one that I came across by accident. It’s by a UK band who have their genre listed on their facebook page as ‘this one’. It’s a mix of folk and alternative with stunning vocals. Listen.

 

3. Avant Gardner- Gordi

Gordi is a young Aussie musician and she covers Courtney Barnett’s Avant Gardner beautifully. It’s a soft, other worldly, piano rendition that turns what was already a brilliant song, into something even better. This is one of my favourites and I can listen to it on repeat for ages.

‘I sleep in late
Another day
Oh what a wonder
Oh what a waste.’

 

4.  Hello- Music Lab Collective

The second cover and only instrumental song on this list, Hello makes for great background or study music. It’s a piano cover of Adel’s famous hit but with a tonne of emotion. I like to listen to this when I’m travelling or deep in thought but beware, it has the potential to take you on an emotional ride.

 

5. Lost Boy- Ruth B

This is another song I stumbled upon by accident and I absolutely adore it. Ruth B is a Canadian artist and the song is a piano ballad that explores he story of childhood character Peter Pan. It was inspired by a short clip she posted on vine that then went viral.

‘I am a lost boy from Neverland
Usually hanging out with Peter Pan
And when we’re bored we play in the woods
Always on the run from Captain Hook’

 

Let me know what you think. What songs are your favourites?

Things I am grateful for

Sitting on the dining table in the ward is an empty glass coffee jar that has been repurposed as  a gratitude jar. Essentially, patients write down things or people that they are grateful for and then every few days we go through and read some out. It’s a great way to brighten someone’s day by paying them a compliment as it’s completely anonymous, and it also helps to practice mindfulness.

I love this concept because it is such a simple action to take and after a while it becomes less of a  ‘why am I doing this’ activity to something that can be quite enjoyable. Below are 7 of my own;

I am grateful for…

  1. Being able bodied and physically healthy.
  2. Authors who write books about feelings and experiences that I can relate to, and just seem to ‘get it’.
  3. The existence of therapy dogs and their owners. There’s been many a day that I’ve been calmed mid meltdown by a four legged friend. Animal therapy is the best therapy.
  4. Hot cups of tea and cosy blankets
  5. Chocolate fortisips (hospital desserts) that taste amazing. (probably the only thing I’ll miss from hospital)
  6. Lovely, compassionate and understanding patients who are always there for a chat or a hug or even just to pass the tissues. Knowing that I’m not going through this alone is a huge source of my strength right now.
  7. My gorgeous and strong mother who despite everything, has never given up on me. She’s put up with a lot and has learnt and sacrificed more than I could have ever asked for. She’s my lifeline.

What are you grateful for?

Shrinking – A poem about eating disorders

I am sharp edges that hurt
when they are touched.
A hollow chest
with a heart that thuds
exhausted with each breath.
Numbers are my power source
but like how an electric stove
is never quite as good as gas,
I am a slave to the backup
generator
that threatens to sputter out
when I push too hard.

This second-rate life defeats me.
I am an empty vessel
going nowhere but down
and I have no one to blame
but myself.
I am counting down days
until my weight equals death
because there is no joy in
learning to fall.

Turns out living without
is not living at all
and those size 6 jeans
were not made to be worn by
women.

Turns out the people who care
about your size,
they’re not worth keeping.
Turns out magazine are not interested
in teaching you to love what you have
because then,
who would buy magazines?

Take me back to when my little chubby hands
held ice cream cones on the beach,
to when the best part of birthdays was
digging in to cake.
Take me back to when diet culture
was not a thing,
to when going up a size was exciting
because it meant that you were
growing.
Take me back to when food was enjoyable
and not just a source of guilt.

I’m sick of teaching myself how to shrink.
This was not the future I had in mind
when I thought about growing up.

Edit: An alternative name for this was ‘Hollow Bodies’ let me know in the comments which title you prefer

Phrases that trivialise teen mental illness

1. Adolescent angst is a normal part of growing up.

There is no denying that adolescence is a complex and confusing time. It involves changing relationships with peers and family, identity confusion and juggling pressures from school and home. Yet what appears to be normal teen behaviour can often mask deeper problems.

Research indicates that half of all mental health conditions emerge by the age of 14, and 3 in 4 by age 24 (i). Despite the high prevalence, studies have shown that less than a quarter of young people (16-24) suffering from a diagnosable mental illness have had contact with professional services in the last 12 months (ii). Suggesting that despite suffering, most young people are reluctant to seek out help for themselves and therefore dismissing their issues as ‘normal’ teen behaviour could be preventing them from getting the support they need.

2. It’s just a phase

In fact depression is a progressive disorder and instead of getting better without treatment, it’s probably going to get worse. There’s also the risk of suicide and you can’t outgrow something that kills you.

Instead of doing nothing we should take steps to prevent things from becoming a bigger issue.

3. Your mood swings are hormonal

Puberty in teens and menstruation in females may very well cause mood swings but they’re still real and valid. It’s also possible for puberty to mask an underlying problem and  dismissing problems as ‘hormonal’ can invalidate the experience of teens and prevent teens from receiving help.

Some girls do become depressed or suicidal when on their periods. This could be because of hormones exacerbating an existant condition or it could be something could pre-menstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD) which is a serious and legitimate medical condition that can be treated and managed.

4. You have nothing to be depressed about

That’s why depression is classified as an ILLNESS. It doesn’t need to have an obvious cause, it just is. Some people are more vulnerable to becoming ill because of their genetics or upbringing and whilst this doesn’t mean they will become unwell it definitely increases the likelihood.

When you’re 15 the ‘worst day of your life’ will differ greatly to when you’re in your 40s but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still ‘the worst day of your life’. Being a teenager isn’t easy. You’re coming to terms with who you are, juggling stressors from school and home and are usually dependent on your parents. Teens can and do experience abuse, poverty and violence. And they do experience mental illness.

One thing that can separate normal teen behaviour  and emotion from an illness  is the duration and degree of difficulty it causes. A good guideline for depression, for example, is that a negative mood which persists for longer than 2 weeks could be a sign that something is off and needs to be checked out by a professional. This method isn’t foolproof though and if you think something is off, and even if you don’t, just ask.

For many young people who are suffering, the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness can be as difficult to deal with as the disease itself.

Sources

i Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR & Walters EE (2005).  Lifetime prevalence and age of onset distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey replication.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, p 593

ii Slade, T, Johnston, A, Teesson, M, Whiteford, H, Burgess, P, Pirkis, J, Saw, S. (2009) The mental health of Australians 2. Report on the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra.

I don’t care about your diet

‘Raw this’ and ‘raw that’. ‘Paleo’. ‘It’s not a diet, but a lifestyle’. Blah blah blah. ‘Low carb, fat-free’ 100% chance of unhappiness.

When you disparage your body out loud, you contribute to the culture that it’s normal to hate your body. Bonding over self-hatred of our bodies is not okay and what you say rubs off on other people. Please do not impose your own insecurities on other people. Body size is not a measure of worth and weight does not equate to health.

Diet talk can be damaging to people who are attempting to heal their relationship with food. As someone in recovery from an eating disorder, being around people obsessing about their food makes things infinitely more difficult. It can trigger feelings of guilt and shame to resurface and even point me towards the direction of a relapse.

Food is a lot of things. It’s energy, nutrition, comfort, community. But it’s not good or bad and you do not need to justify what you eat. Food is not the enemy. Yes, it can be an addiction, but unlike drugs or alcohol, you cannot ‘quit’ food. So please stop trying to. Instead of becoming restrictive and denying all pleasure associated with food, the aim should be to eat intuitively.

By all means, go on a diet if you wish, I can’t stop you. It’s your body and you can make your own choices, just don’t expect a ‘well done’ from me when you declare that you’ve lost a dress size. I don’t care about your diet. I. don’t. care.

The question I want to pose is this; Why, as a society, are we so focused on shrinking? Instead of trying to take up less space we should be asking ourselves how we can become bolder, more confident, more intelligent, more.

Please stop talking about your diet. I don’t care. I. don’t. care.  There are far more interesting topics. Talk about something else, anything just please spare me another conversation about your own self-sanctioned torture.

Why I don’t make resolutions

In my opinion, resolutions are not much more than wishes. Elusive goals that people make with the best of intentions, but rarely keep.

Sure I want to write a list of all the things I’m going to do differently this year and how I’m going to become a ‘new’ person. But I know better than that. In a month I will have forgotten. In 6 months I’ll be disappointed about how little I’ve achieved, never-mind that my life circumstances and priorities will have changed by then, and I won’t get anywhere.

Resolutions tell you where you want to be but not how to get there. Instead of resolutions set goals. Small goals and often. They don’t have to be huge life changing things. Maybe it’s that you want to catch up with a friend this week or clean out your wardrobe. Whatever it is that you feel like you need.

If you’re aim is to save money then think about what you’re going to do differently in the short and long term. If you want to lose weight (especially if you’re already in the healthy range) then think about why you feel the need to. What would make you happier with yourself and your body? Are you doing this for you or because you think other people want you to and why does that matter?

The problem with setting goals though is that you are always seeking ‘more’. More than what you have. More than who you are. Achieving them won’t suddenly bring you happiness but maybe they’ll push you a little closer.

The most important thing I have to say is to make sure you spend time living. Actually living. Life isn’t all about the far off future, it’s also about where you are right now. If you spend it setting goals then when do you actually get to enjoy yourself?

This year I’m not making resolutions. I’m setting a goal and one goal only. I want to become happier and more accepting of who I am.

The myth of perfection

I’ve spent my life chasing goals that were unattainable. There was always something that I needed to do better. Some minuscule mistake that needed to be fixed. Nothing was ever good enough in comparison to the standards I had in my head. I was never good enough. And it makes sense in a way- nobody wants to be mediocre.

It started small. I learnt early on that neat handwriting and higher level reading books meant stickers and praise. I learnt to be quiet and do what I was told. Keep your mouth shut and don’t laugh too loud or you’ll be told off. I memorised these rules and lived by them.

Then high school happened. Straight hair, crushes and lipgloss. Groups of girls laughing in bathrooms. I was alone. An outsider. I didn’t fit in. I started keeping silent unless I was spoken to. I threw everything into my schoolwork and those allusive grades that made me feel worth something. But it wasn’t enough. Grades. Food. The bullying. I couldn’t take it. Soon, I’d started skipping lunches and experimenting with make up. I’d come home and cry, carve the torment into my skin. My face streaked with black pain. Eventually, I don’t know how, I formed a close group of friends and muddled through the next few years.

VCE. I started it early, with a hunger to prove to everyone and myself that I was capable and intelligent and worth something. The high grades felt good but there came a point where nothing short of 100 left me satisified. I couldn’t cope with the pressure. Back to playing Russian roulette with my weight. I spent a year eating nothing that didn’t taste like cardboard. Then another year with my head in a toilet. I sat with my head on my desk in class having not eaten or slept in days. Nobody seemed to notice.  I skipped class, came in late and threw my homework in my bag each morning without having opened it. My grades dropped. My self esteem was nonexistent. The teachers went on about how I was being lazy and I needed to work harder. I was already doing my best. ‘What’s happening?’ they’d ask, ‘you’re falling behind’. There was little regard for wellbeing, or if there was -everyone seemed content to watch me fall from afar.

I went through stages of throwing everything I had into school and giving up completely. Somehow, I made it through but I don’t think I’ll ever be the same person that I was before VCE. Maybe that’s a good thing. University has meant less pressure from others but the pressure from myself is still there and sometimes that becomes too much to handle. In hindsight, going to one of the most prestigious unis in the country probably wasn’t the best idea because I didn’t come pre-equipped to deal with the constant competition. Everything fell for me again. I wanted to do well, I wanted to be liked.

I’m learning now, to let go of all these rules that were taught when I was younger. I laugh when I feel like it, say what I want to and read whatever I please. I’m still struggling with my body image though and at the moment, it’s  a battle that rules every waking moment of my life. One day I hope to be able to say that I am free from this. That I no longer care about how I compare with others. One day I want to feel important just for being who I am, not for what I achieve.

Perfection. It’s a silly word. Per-fect-ion. Pur-fekt-shion. Perfection is not perfect. It’s misery. Self hatred. An answer to a problem that doesn’t exist. There are days where everything seems futile, but what I’m realising is that the joy in life is not achievement but being happy with the little things. It’s movie nights with my best friends. Warm cups of coffee and hugs. Long walks spent thinking. It’s mindfullness and being aware. Reality, not being stuck in my head. Perfect, and all it’s relatives, need to be deleted from the lexicon. Today I’m dissembling all of my expectations and wiping the sate clean so, that there’s room for me to come up with new ones. Because I am worth it and so are you.

Why do I write?

For me, it’s simple; I have to write. It is a way to discover meaning. A release. It is an addiction to the beauty of words.

When I was 5 years old, I wanted to be both a doctor and an author. I was the child who would make up intricate, dramatic stories in the hope that classmates would adopt me as their friend. I grew up devouring words. At 11 I  was introduced to local writing competitions by a teacher, and I even won a couple. People liked what I had to say! In year 9, I became a judge for a teen literary awards program and I loved it. A year later, during a goal setting exercise at school, I declared to my teacher that I was going to finish a book before I was out of high school. He thought I was mad. I think I was mad. Then, school became serious and I stopped writing. I still have that 30,000 word ‘novel’ somewhere.

At the beginning of this year I was accepted as a first year blogger for unimelb, however the day before we were meant to meet I was hit hard by a wave of depression. Unable to express that I was unable to make it out of bed, and partly fuelled by anxiety about not being good enough for the ‘position’, I decided to drop out. And that’s why I first created this blog here. Last semester, I also took a creative writing subject which helped open my eyes up again. My grades weren’t fantastic and I still can’t believe the horrible poem I handed in (I’ve destroyed all evidence so don’t even ask).  It was my fellow students who inspire me to keep honing my craft, especially because as a science student, I rarely get to express my own opinion, something that I feel is extremely important. Below is a list I have created of the four main reasons that I write.

Four Reasons Why I Write

1. To feel alive

And in the moment. To be able to admire the beauty of the frost that appears on my front lawn on crisp winter mornings. To explain how the warmth of a cup of coffee spreads from my fingers to my hands and the way it’s bitter smell brings me clarity and comfort. I write to get in touch with my creativity and to make art of the everyday.

2. To discover meaning

By grabbing hold of the stray thoughts and combining them, I can create a map of what is on the inside and then work on understanding it. I can connect dots and come up with ideas that I didn’t know I was capable of.

3. To survive

I can disappear into words, all the while forgetting where I am and what’s on my mind. Writing is like therapy, because it involves spilling out words that are too difficult to say aloud.

4. To help

To reach out to other people in the hopes that I will be able to connect with them in some way. I write so that I can make people feel things; happy or sad, hopeful, understood.

Why do you write, or if you don’t, why not? Did you ever keep a journal or are you fond of writing essays? For those who want to be published in some way, what is it that motivates you? I’d love to hear. 

-S

The concept of adulthood

There is this idea that at 18 we officially become adults. But on my birthday a few weeks ago I did not automatically feel any older. I didn’t get my license, go out clubbing, buy a house or suddenly become responsible for my own bills. I was the same person I had been the day before, albeit a day older. Similarly, I find it amazing that we can go from students in a classroom having to raise our hand for permission to go to the bathroom, to being suddenly thrust into adulthood and expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives.

So then, when did I become an adult? Perhaps when I started cooking for myself or using public transport on my own. Or maybe it was when I stopped looking to my parents for advice on the majority of my decisions. Am I really an adult? Is anyone? I still enjoy marathoning Harry Potter movies and balancing on the edge of the pavement on my way to the bus stop. I pop bubble wrap and colour in pictures and hide my feet under my doona at night from the monsters. When it is cold, I pretend that I’m a dragon and that I am breathing out fire. Am I an adult? Well if that means I can’t watch Dr who then I don’t want to be one.

I once came across this quote; ‘Growing old is compulsory but growing up is optional‘. I may be legally an adult but at heart, I am a child and I know that I always will be.

That’s not to say that the benefits aren’t great. I can go and buy alcohol whenever I please, I just haven’t chosen to yet. I could get my license if only I had some hours.

At the same time, I’m scared for my future and all of the responsibilities that come with getting older. For anyone who is yet to turn 18; don’t be scared. You won’t suddenly wake up dressed for your career as a lawyer, with your children waiting for you. Take it one day at a time and you’ll be okay.