otrdiena, 2013. gada 19. februāris

"Hungry for change" - film review

I've had "Food Matters" film on my shelf for couple of years now I think, and I absolutely loved that movie. And so I came to love the newest piece of "Food Matters" creators- "Hungry for Change". This film should be on video library of every family. This is hard hitting, stripping of lies and inspiring piece that is meant to make every person healthy and happy.

Sounds cheesy? Not really. Kirs Carr, David Wolfe, Joe Cross, Jon Gabriel, Dr.Alejandro Junger, Daniel Vitalis along with others tells the story why people try to eat better foods, but fail, put on weight. They not only talk about crisis in our health or lack of it, but also provides guidance how to return to the natural state of health.

One of the speakers I enjoyed the best is Jason Vale, commonly known as Juicemaster whose lovely book we have at home and who inspired me and my husband to do the Juicemasters three day detox in January. By the way, I plan to participate in the next juice detox challenge in April now!
Jason also tells why juicing is so important for our bodies. "It is a 15minute nutrient express to health."

It was kind of surprising to listen about the actual addictions. And when I come to think about it- I recognize the feeling inside. And honestly, at parts of the movie I wanted to reach for the chocolate (natural dark chocolate, not the "chocolate bar" that has everything but chocolate in it.. but it is still sugar!!!).. that is crazy.
I agree to Jason and to Jamie Oliver that it is an abuse of people, especially children, that we allow the stores to sell those things! The cheating by the food, diet and weightloss industry is increadible- hiding sugars under different names, taste enhancing chemicals, smg, aspartame, wrong fats...
I'm never having a diet coke again in my whole life. I've never been fond of it, but I still would have few times a year. Since now I know that it kills your brain cells and is addictive too- thanks, but no thanks!!!

There are more new things I got to know, for example, about the connections of toxins to fat. So when you sweat out the fat, you still have the toxins inside and body produces more fat to link to the toxins. Hence you have to find a natural way to detox the body first instead of just loose the fat. Green vegetables and naturally gelatinous plant fibres are basic to clean your body. Adding two more herbs- parsley and cilantro- can do wonders aparently. Due to the last comment I will hopefully expand on herbs some time soon.

I particularly loved the suggestion how to deal with this problem- instead of putting yourself on a diet that would just turn you more hungry of fats and sugars, replace things you eat one by one. Instead of cutting things out, start by adding fresh vegetables, fruits, unprocessed dairy and meat. Add that cucumber, add that avocado and apple to your meals. And slowly the good things will push out the bad ones, you won't need the bad alternative that does harm to your body, because there will be plenty of good ones and your body will know how to choose.
Can we start by swapping the foods we purchase in store to some more natural, organic ones from local producers, health shops, farmers markets?

According to the film, if you want to go healthy, go simple. If it grows in the garden, it's edible. If it's created in a lab, it takes a lab to digest. If it has a shelf life longer than you, it's a common sense you shouldn't eat it.

Self love is big issue for many people and I liked that this film made a point on that too. All the psychological aspects are important too. What is eating you? Why eating is a solution and what is that something that you solve by eating? Importance of sleep during stress periods is so very connected to piling up the pounds. Do you excersise? It's not just about the burning fats, it's the psychological solutions, decrease of stress hormones, decrease of pain etc.
The idea of comfort food comes from the childhood. And one of the best advices that this film gives to me is to really care what I give to my child so in case she needs a comfort food, she chooses healthy instead of box of cookies or french fries. I'm happy that at the moment her comfort food is breastmilk, raisinis and variety of berries..

The film constantly reminds that health is our natural state and that we can actually become healthy and beautiful. At the beginning I didn't really understand, why they have to "sell" all the good ideas under the beauty banner. But when they spoke on our natural attractions and where ideas of beauty come from, I thought that it was good that they didn't skip the beauty part.

This film has been both a reminder of things we know already, and an eye opener too about the connections in our bodies and the ugly truth of processed foods. But most importantly, it is a true inspiration to do better, to treat our bodies according to their needs instead of what producers want to sell us.

Many of the speakers have made this important turn in their life after getting to the tipping point. They got really sick, obese, almost died. And that made them realise what are the things they must change. So they are sharing this knowledge with us. And I believe that us, the average people with no high overweight and connected diseases, are the ones who are the most difficult to turn to the healthy eating. We eat kind of healthy, so we think that because of that we can afford to have the dead foods, the highly processed foods with refined sugars and bad fats. Including myself. But this film really is an inspiration.
My husband who is currently on juicing tour again, is probably going to laugh about me now and give me that "I told you so" look.. But I know that also for him the above problem is big- he can go juicing for a week and then just crush on meat, cakes, junk food. But with a propper and I should say regular guidance and understanding of connections we should be able to do better.

I want to heal my mind and body having natural divine flavors. It is wonderful to have speakers like this on my computer now! I hope they will inspire you too to clean up and turn away from chemistry and towards living more natually.
p.s. - I think I will pick up the book too!
I am hungry for change!

ceturtdiena, 2013. gada 14. februāris

Ups and downs and Valentine's treats

I have been recently thinking about ups and downs of my efforts to live green. Particularly about downs, as ups are usually posted around here or so taken for granted as a part of my life.

Down No 1- Composting problem. I was planning last Summer to have the worm compost on my balcony, but since I ended up spending most of the days in Summer at my parents house, it was not neccessary. However, during Fall and Winter I spend most of my days in the city and there is this problem of not being able to compost properly. As for those who complain that they can't recycle paper or plastics, that's just excuses, because there are containers around, you just have to want to recycle. And be intelligent to want it. But in Riga there are no composting facilities. So at the moment, I still freeze parts of our food remains like carrot and pumpkin leftowers from juicing and potatoe peels etc on our balcony. Then I take them to my mom's worm compost as "food". But I have to tell you, it is not very comfortable. And you have to follow the weather that the bags don't defrost before you carry them away. It is really a down for me. I wish we had houses like some innovative places in Denmark that has all the biodegradeable matter going down the shaft to the facility that turns it into the heating energy for the same building. That would be wonderful, right?

Down No 2- I still use our car a lot, especially in winter. I mean, a lot. As little one is getting heavier most of the walks are occuring in quite close area, so for the rest I try to plan running my errands all combined as much as possible. I can't wait for Em to start walking longer distances. And spring to return on streets so we can use the pushchair and bicycle again properly. Sling is great, but during longer walks due to thicker clothing- not very comfy. I agree that I could use more public transport. But sometimes price and comfort of being able to carry all the stuff I'm getting or having already (including Emily) comes first and if I calculate my trips, car sometimes is less. At the moment I put up with this down and I try to use less car, as little as possible actually. While I don't have better options at the hand, I am trying to plan better and better my trips, drive eco friendly and look ahead to have a slow drive.

OK, I think two downs is enough for a day like this. It's time to talk about something positive and maybe tasty? It is the Valentine's in the end!

I love chocolates. I truly love good chocolate in every possible form. But I find "surprising" your loved one with box of chocolates that usually is neither orgainc, nor eco friendly in it's packaging, is a little boring, it doesn's carry any surprises if I tell the truth. Unless they're made by your own two hands and placed in a nice reused box..
So why not surprise your loved ones with some other treats? Something you can make yourself. Something that doesn't come wrapped in paper, but home made and served straight up for a moment of indulgence?

This Valentine's my plan is as follows- put the little love angel to sleep and then enjoy some home made masala chai ice cream and raspberry- coconut milk smoothy with my husband. We don't do gifts on Valentine's day, not only because it's not green, but it's also less intimate and much more commercial then. We plan some quality time together instead, the treats and experiences we can give to each other rather than buy in store.. like a special bath or a massage with some ayurvedic oils at home.. some edible treats is what I have on my part tonight.

Very yummy Masala Chai Ice Cream-
the base is the same as I have posted before - the Custard base (Fatty Milk- Cream- Sugar- Egg Yolk- Vanilla Bean). Depending on the amount you are making and how strong you want the taste, pour couple of spoons of boiling water over couple of spoons of Masala Chai. Even though I am a fan of loose teas, this time I'd suggest to have teabags, it's easier to extract the strong flavors in very little water for ice cream. Leave them to soak and get all the flavor, then squeeze the goodness right into the custard base. Check the taste and add more extrac or base if needed. For more fluffy ice cream, fold in some whipped cream in all that and put it in a tray with a lid that closes well. Off we go to the freezer! Or outside it you have proper minus degrees.. Stir few times in the freezing process. Serve with pomegranate and cinnamon stick. My suggestion though is to prepare the ice cream well in advance next year! 

For a Raspberry- Coconut smoothy 
you'll need a can of coconut milk, two cups of frozen raspberries (preferrably picked in wild during the Summer), honey or agave syrup to taste and some water if you prefer the smoothy to be more runny. You might want to add some banana or other berries like blueberries to all that as well. It's filling, yet light (important if you have any activities planned), and taste is awesome. Blend it all together, serve in a beautiful glass and enjoy the moment! 

Happy and Green Valentine's!

trešdiena, 2013. gada 13. februāris

Future of hope- reviews and thoughts

Thanks to my friends at homo ecos: (the Latvian NGO I've been supporting for their actions to make our country the greenest one in the world and to educate our society on Climate Change, Zero Waste and other environmental issues, and to promote green lifestile and green movement in society)!
They are doing movie nights every second Wednesday of the month, and finally (!) I have been able to attend one!

Tonights movie was "Future of hope" - a really nice, little sad, but very heart warming and inspiring film about Iceland and their plan to get out of this crisis our world is experiencing.

copyrights "Future of Hope"

Iceland is not in the best financial position, most of the people are in large foreign debt. And then comes the global warming and stuff. But as many people on the film remind us- change and development of human race have been initiated by various crisis. And maybe we can turn it around and re-orient ourselves from this bubble of economic wealth to other values- joy of simple living and doing things by yourself, growing organic food, refusing pollution by fossil fuels and choosing green energy according to what are the local prerogatives..  enjoying the life, the real life, not the one consumerism imposes on us.

It is great to see how united is Iceland in creating their Ministry of Ideas that leads to National Assambley to discuss, what is the vision of the country. What direction should we go. It somehow made me connect this thought to the one we recently hear here- to make Latvia greenest country in the world, to brand it by eco labels. And fill it with the substance, of course, not only greenwash it.

People in Iceland are not going the easiest way, and it is very touching to see how true they are. The way they choose to live, to educate their children and adults. To actually be there and do things on the ground. Some say that growing organic tomatoes is a waste of life. But we all want to eat those tomatoes! So that is a life that is needed. Obviously, Latvia doesn't have a geothermal heat points on every corner that come steaming up on the surface to heat our homes or greenhouses. But I think what it teaches to us is that we have to use the resources, the circumstances that we do have here.
copyrights "Future of Hope"

I really enjoyed the episodes on the organic farming, especially comments from people working there through  WWOOF program. I could actually feel what they were communicating. Made me wish for the Spring to come sooner to get my hands dirty in the ground while putting some seeds in our garden.

Probably the most amazing part of all movie was the example Iceland has set to us in terms of politics. Not only to talk about finance benefits or losses in their situation, but to turn all the life aspects to new direction, starting with education - that is something we should all learn. Children and young people still learning are like sponges that take in all the knowledge and experience, and they bring it home to their families. Schools and kindergardens are the places where we should emphasize our efforts for behavioral change. And the comment on what being a politician means and how they should work- that is kind of an eye opener. It is true- we vote for them and we must hold them accountable for what we want our country to look like today, tomorrow and in 50 years. They are there to work for all of the nation, not for their ego.

But in order to be able to tell them that and vote right, we must learn ourselves and define our vision here, in our country as individuals and as a nation. Which way we want to go?
This period of time is the last chance to jump in that train that brings us to post-carbon world. We still have a chance to redirect our course not only to adaptation to the Climate Change, but also to improvements in how  we connect with Mother Nature.
copyrights "Future of Hope"

Of course, the film is missing all the negative details about the Iceland. But that was not the point to show them right? The aim was to inspire people by showing that there is a hope for having a future we want. And there is.

As the last comment- I particularly liked that one of the spokespersons used term Village, when he was speaking about our planet. We are all living in a Village with 7 billion people. For the first time in my life I had heard the right name for our world that leaves this feeling of closeness to every single person on the Earth. Global world is way too cold term and suggests kind of infamiliarity. Village, however, is something most of us know as quite close community with all of its advantages and perks. And maybe that is the best way to think of the world to start actually care for it and other inhabitants, even if they are on the other side of the Village.

Thank you once again for the movie night. I hope everyone on green carpet will watch it and have the same feeling of being close and inspired to choose right instead of easy.

otrdiena, 2013. gada 12. februāris

300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds

Another great video on green carpet- short history of fossil economy and visions of what we must do now.
300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds. It's time to control our transition to post-carbon future.

by Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute. 
I have found that such short videos is a wonderful information source for wider public, they are packed with facts and provide also story line, enabling people to see the links and causal relationships. Along the advice and tips how to act in future, they leave an enthusiastic feeling of empowerment within. I believe they are one way to make people stop and think of the situation, their actions and invite them to change behavior and ideas.

Enjoy watching!

otrdiena, 2013. gada 5. februāris


I am looking outside my window on a snowy field.. earlier today I was walking on ice with my kid and enjoyed the winter. Global warming may not yet take that away from us, but it is taking that away from our planet year by year..
It is time to wake up and see how Climate Change is really happening initiating the vicious circle of melting ice in Arctic and warming up the atmosphere and world's oceans.

by Yaleclimateforum Channel

If we saw such things over 2012, what 2013 could bring us in terms of Climate Change? Some scientists have quite an insight to give.. 

It has turned out to be a real video week on green carpet. Many of the videos on the web are encouraging. Many of them- truly depressing. But we do need them to wake up. 

Enjoy watching!

Story of stuff- Cap and Trade

It was some time ago when I re-posted several movies from Story of Stuff here on green carpet. Since I'm still working on my Climate Change paper and one of the nondetachable part of the topic is Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) on which our governments have agreed.
One may argue that it's better than nothing, but honestly I don't really think anyone actually believes that by trading your reduced emissions to others who just continue polluting is any solution to the rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and consequently global warming. It also does not really invoke any serious behavioral change for businesses and societies since it's trying to make them do as little as possible just to keep on going the way they were.
I think Cap and Trade movie by Annie is a wonderful tool to put out the issue in a simplistic way.

Of course, ETS is not the only tool to reduce emissions- there are also tools like clean development technologies, which should take larger proportion of our policies than just carbon offsetting. Even true and honest Carbon offsetting in any way is no long term solution- at the base line you just pay for the rights to emit carbon anyway instead of reducing your emissions. Of course, it is good to invest in reforestation, clean technologies, energy efficiency etc. to help absorb CO2 we emit. However, it should only be accompanied with serous reduction of GHGs emissions instead of using those investments as a pardon and holding to your quota.

I was recently blamed for having too pessimistic thoughts on ETS. I do admit that there are several positive aspects of the system as well. At the end of the day- for now it is the only binding system that makes us reduce the emissions. And there's another additional positive trend here. I should mention Latvia's case then. Through the Financial instruments provided from ETS there have been many educational and informative projects on Climate Change, and many more practical ones like home insulation. And these practical, touchable changes in the daily lives with the help of such instruments have lead many people to think about the Climate issues, about the environment. And that is very, very important!

It is just that the system we have has way too many loopholes, it really needs to be improved to be considered a way to limit the Climate Change. Unfortunately at the moment it hasn't gone through improvement stage yet. We could hardly manage to get an agreement on Kyoto protocol second term. But we must get further than that and pledge to stop emitting much more!

Enjoy watching and think of how to reduce emissions instead of just paying them off! I'll think of my own too and will share it with others. One person's emissions might not be large in comparison to the total human caused GHGs emissions. But all together we can change the marketplace, businesses, home environments and in the end- planet's emissions. Every willing person counts. The more there are those, who care, who choose right and who requires strong action, the better chance we stand in not falling over the tipping point.

svētdiena, 2013. gada 3. februāris

Shower to snow..

I've added many new health practices this winter, you may have noticed few here on green carpet. It's time I share another one with you, real good!
I have switched my morning shower to snow baths outside! I'm not kidding.
I started by taking our compost in the mornings barefoot, when at my parent's place in the country. In city apartment I would just walk back and forth the balcony that is covered with snow. It is truly refreshing, wakes you up, gives good, healthy contrast bath and actually warms you up in the end. Start with just few steps on a flat, thin snow. Do not be scared, feet really are not freezing, and after it you will receive a hot, energetic rush.

Then I took a step further- I ran naked outside (even in not so remote places, it is possible that no one sees you if you wake up early enough!) and grabbed handfuls of snow to rub my skin all over my body. Don't forget the face and neck! Ah, what a wonderful feeling! Rush of energy and excitement runs through your body then!
And there it came, the final step- I just dropped my whole body in a soft, fluffy snow, turned to my back and front several times, washed my face with snow. That is truly amazing to be able to do that, and all it actually takes is a little courage to start it.

Of course, I still shower every other day and wash myself with warm water, but nothing can compare with this- the crisp, fresh winter air and snow baths for your soul and body!

Be adventurous! Be courageous! And take the liberty to do something some would call crazy. But then again- it is insanely great way to wake up your body and mind, and health benefit of hardening oneself is something everyone recognizes.
It's much better to harden yourself than look for remedies to cure yourself later.

Enjoy the snow while winter is still here and surprise your family with some surprising footprints in the snow!

sestdiena, 2013. gada 2. februāris

My carbon footprint and preparation works

I have finally decided to start a little project. I'm not sure how my time management will work with this addition, therefore I now promise to do that for one month as a pilot and then hopefully to continue for a year. I haven't really been able to calculate my CO2 emissions because I haven't followed the numbers of the resources we use. Shame, I know.
Usually I just try to lower my consumption of these instead of focusing on numbers (especially on the bills my husband is taking care of). But visiting the wonderful Resurgence & The Ecologist site for a magazine issue I noticed another offer of a carbon calculator. Took a quick look at that. And there.. I immediately made a decision to follow everything I consume in the next month. Unfortunately my husband is not so eager to participate. Well, I'll try to cover him as much as possible and then hope that he will find it exciting to join in!

It is a difficult period to choose since we have planned a family ski trip at the end of the month. But I will try to keep up everything as much as possible.

So basically as of today I am writing down such things as direct resource amount we consume:

  • electricity usage
  • cold and hot water usage
  • gas usage
  • heating parameters 
  • fuel usage
  • miles driven by car
  • public transport usage 
  • journeys (flights, taxi, buses, railway etc.)
I also decided to add a list of what we consume:
  • food consumption (what comes into our kitchen from stores, garden, market etc. I think of also separating the organic produce, meat and fish, eggs and diary, seasonal produce, conventional produce, sugar and treats )
  • everyday household and grooming product consumption (what new items come into our bathroom and kitchen)
  • baby products consumption (new nappies, toys etc.)
  • clothing consumption ("new" clothes, accessories, shoes etc. I think of also separation of really new items and secondhand, hoping to increase the latter. Another section is for organic textile clothing )
  • other unclassified items that come into our household (usually occasional large purchases like sports, educational or electronic items)
Then I should see also what goes out of my home: 
  • number of bags of unrecycled rubbish
  • number of reused plastic items (these are to be both multi-use plastic items that I still haven't replaced in our home such as take away food containers and things that were designed for single use but we use multiple times)
  • number of recycled plastic items
  • number of reused glass (same as with plastic items)
  • number of recycled glass items
  • weight of recycled paper
  • weight of compost 
  • donated or given away things

Some would think that the first section is the most important, since it releases the most CO2 directly by us. But I believe the second section is as important, sometimes even more important, because every item that we buy, has produced more Green House Gases (GHG) in its production and logistics. The second section will also help me to see, where I could reduce and improve our consumption rates (reducing resource wasteful consumption, increasing organic produce and secondhand item proportion). It should also work as health improving system. Usually when you have to write down things you buy to eat, you tend to avoid things you don't want anyone to see on your list. Funny, isn't it? I mean, it's your own health in the end.. However, if it doesn't work, then you will be able to see on the list later on and maybe decide that you perhaps eat too much bread or chocolate and too little fruits and nuts.. This however will work only in longer term, since I'm not gonna list everything that already have at home in bulk... but someday I will have to replace it.. 
Since there is no such place as "away", it is important to find out how much we put out there for our planet to deal with, since I have no idealistic thoughts of our waste management system here. That should really help to move towards less waste and maybe someday I would be so lucky and happy to share zero waste home idea.. 

Do you have any suggestions, what else I am missing out?