A Shift in Health Consciousness

[Photo by Alex Ling]


I heard some wonderful news recently. It went something like this:

“McDonalds is experiencing a slump in worldwide sales…!”

On the back of Morgan Spurlock’s documentary film “Super Size Me” 10 years ago that revealed the disgusting reality about how McDonalds (colloquially known as Maccas in Australia) food can negatively impact a human being’s health (in the doco, it was his own), I was surprised the company bounced back at all.

You may be wondering why I’m even bringing this up.

The truth is those golden arches represent so much of what is entirely wrong with our society. We as a people have become so preoccupied with what we’re doing that we’re forgetting to live! And living to me includes the basic things like eating healthy. This focus on study, on career, on the material, on the stuff out there, on squeezing so much in our day, on trying to get through the day, on paying the bills, on raising kids – it can be taxing! And of course, it is little wonder that we’re all so time poor and have been turning to those convenience foods that McDonalds & Co. are only so willing to provide. But then we don’t get the nutrition we need from these foods so we get tired, we get moody, and then we get sick. And then the vicious cycle begins again..!

So you see, we as a society have in fact fed this fast food monster!

But to hear that Maccas sales are declining has given me hope that the tide is turning. There could be a host of reasons that could explain their downward spiral (issues with Chinese meat production, American wage disputes etc.) but I personally think that changing consumer preferences towards healthier options is the primary reason for their dismal sales. I really think people all over the globe are beginning to realise that McDonald’s products aren’t food, they’re poison!

The decline in demand for Maccas is the evidence that leads me to believe that people are waking up. For a while there I really thought it was just me, my family and close friends and our circle of influence..!

It’s great to see that the wider community is starting to see through the highly mechanised, highly industrialised, fast food offered by this fast food giant. It’s not fresh, even if in the ads the burgers look that way. It’s full of sugar and other nasty ingredients that aren’t that great for you and we can’t even pronounce. And if you follow the food all the way up the production line, I’m pretty confident there’s a high proportion of factory farming going on as well!

So yes, I’m raising this topic because I am really quite excited by this shift in human consciousness.  And if each of us continue to pay closer attention to our nutrition, our overall physical fitness and our spiritual well-being and that of our families as well, we may just get the chance to evolve past diseases such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and mental illness – but to name a few!

Which could eventually spell the end of Big Pharma and transform our entire healthcare industry from one of ‘medicating’ to one of ‘prevention and healing’.

And then it would be the beginning of a much needed revolution….!
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Thank God It’s Thursday

The days of 3 inch patent stilettos, tailored trousers, a face full of makeup and the need for an iron are long gone.

In its place a new kind of work uniform: gumboots, torn jeans, comfy tees (eco friendly of course!) and makeup free skin.

It may seem like I am in a style rut, but the truth is, comfort and practicality has its place in fashion. A woman wearing makeup whilst working on the land is as silly as a job candidate wearing trackies to a job interview.

There are glimpses of my previous city slicker life in the day-to-day. Like my choice in eyewear. Often designer, preferably Prada. Or when I choose to wear my black wide-brimmed studded felt hat when I’m gardening when a baseball cap or straw hat would suffice.

And then there’s that day you make an extra effort for. For some people it’s on Sunday when they’re dressed in their Sunday best. For others it might just be ‘date’ night. When I was in Melbourne, I’d make an extra effort on Friday. ‘Casual Friday’ was really more like ‘Smart Casual Friday’ given my penchant for after work Friday night drinks that meant getting dressed up a little more in case the work colleagues and I ended up at a stylish new bar with a dress code.

Nowadays, that once too familiar ‘Thank-God-It’s-Friday’ feeling is but a distant memory. For a start, working for your self means that the work doesn’t end on a Friday. It means that there is no end to the amount of work that needs to be completed – so working weekends is a reality.

However just because Friday night after work drinks is no longer on the menu doesn’t spell the end to my fashion creativity.

Out here, I make an extra effort on…. Thursday.

Why Thursday?

Well this is the day (the ONLY day would you believe!?) that Ben and I go into town (which happens to be a 45 minute drive through the ‘sticks’) to pick up produce from our local farmers at the markets, run errands, visit the nurseries and pick up more farm materials from the hardware stores.

On this day, I get the chance to flex my creative fashion muscles because I get a reprieve from wearing gumboots or jeans! I actually get to don fashion outside of these parameters. Actually, I do have other parameters, such as an excitable puppy who loves to jump up with dirty paws as soon as you step outside the front door. But that is a story for another post…!

Knit jumper: eBay / Vintage pants: Shag / Vintage bag: Camberwell Market / Prada sunglasses + sandals: My own / Photographer: Ben McGuire


Sustainable Swimwear: Shapes in the Sand

It can be easy to romanticise an entrepreneur’s business journey , especially one that involves moving to a beautiful Queenslander on a mountain slope nestled amongst the trees brimming with natural wildlife. Yes it all seems idyllic. But the truth is, starting a business involves a lot of work. Some of it hard, some of it easy, but all of it necessary to create something of any real significance. Of course, with our foray into organic farming and food production, there has been and will be a constant stream of physical work. On the flipside, there is also a never-ending pile of intellectual ‘work’ involved too. And to add to that, the work can be emotionally taxing too.

Thankfully there is three of us sharing in the responsibility for turning this business vision into a reality. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how it must feel for a lone entrepreneur doing it on their own!

Which is why when I come across the rare individual that is willing to ‘back themselves and have a go’ as my fiancé likes to put it, I am fixated on not just learning what makes them tick, but also tapping into their vibrational energy. One such person is Alexandra Dash, founder of sustainable swimwear label Shapes in the Sand and a young woman undeterred by the sheer competitive nature of the fashion industry.

After completing her studies in Fashion Design and Production, Dash founded the swimwear label with a vision to provide a more sustainable alternative in swim and lifestyle wear that also captured nature’s true beauty. “I have always loved being amongst nature. It’s beauty is endless and it inspires me with each collection I design.” Combining two of her passions together, the natural environment and swimwear, she made the decision to create a label that supported her eco ideals. Dash heavily researched the factors that went into creating a product range that she felt was environmentally friendly but equally of high quality. This is where the idea of making swimwear made from nylon produced primarily from discarded fishing nets and other post consumer waste was born. Dash also found that not only did this recycled fabric feel luxurious, but it was also extremely hard wearing- in line with her sustainability value of making a product to last.

In addition to the label’s environmental credentials, they only use ethical manufacturing processes. All Shapes in the Sand pieces are designed and made in Australia. In fact, with the design studio based in Bilgola on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, it is easy to see where Dash draws her design inspiration from. “I love my home and work space because it looks out into a very tropical backyard with all sorts of wild life.” Enamoured with a family of friendly water dragons who are crazy for bananas and an enjoyer of a relaxed lifestyle, Dash is as endearing as she is talented.

Dash’s new Spring/Summer collection entitled “Into the Wild” inspired by the hidden beauty of the Amazon Jungle where bold colours and tropical shades seem limitless are just a taste of this beauty’s true talents. Having only begun the label last year and already having a collection featured in Australia’s most prestigious eco fashion shows, Undress Runways, this is a young woman to watch. I know I will be – and drooling over her uber amazing pieces too!

Shapes in the Sand swimwear can be purchased online at www.shapesinthesand.com.au. To follow the label on Facebook, click here. You can also find the label on Instagram @shapesinthesandswim

Beware: some of her beach images are so dreamy you’ll find yourself re-gramming with the hash tag #fromwhereidratherbe

Photos courtesy of Alexandra Dash


So You Think You Can Farm?

Starting a business is not for the faint hearted, but starting a farming business? Pursuing this idea is not just on a whole other level, it is in its own stratosphere. Especially with a management team that has no background in commercial farming whatsoever, except perhaps my father-in-law-to-be Paul, who hasn’t farmed commercially per se, but who has a keen interest in agriculture or rather, permaculture, has ‘hobby’ farmed and has at least made a few attempts in his life journey to find real alternatives to a troubled system which has brought him to many a regional community.

And this is exactly why Ben and I decided to move to rural Queensland, to embark on a permaculture farm and organic food venture with Paul. Armed with buckets of enthusiasm, simple values and a yearning for something ‘real’, our pursuit of The Good Life means actively working on ‘being part of the solution and not part of the problem’. This means:

  • a near self-sufficient lifestyle independent of the water and electricity companies;
  • growing our own food, including the humane treatment and free range raising and slaughter of animals (Ben and Paul are not vegetarians unlike myself);
  • building a permaculture farm and food forest;
  • buying less to reduce environmental waste;
  • buying local should we need to;
  • attempting to earn an honest living from working the land;
  • developing a business model that neither exploits the environment or the workers in it;
  • creating nutritious organic fermented food products for market in response to the mass production of poor ‘food’ options currently available; and
  • time for leisure and to be able to pursue our own hobbies such as reading, writing, involvement in causes we believe in and even playing dress ups for a blog if that tickles the fancy (as it does mine!)

With the average age of a farmer being 60+ years and in an industry that is notoriously back breaking as well as spirit breaking, even for farming families, a ‘realist’ may call us perhaps a tad naïve. We aren’t oblivious to the challenges ahead of us. In fact, we know the entire idea is a big undertaking. A massive one in fact. But as with most things in life worth pursuing, we understand our journey won’t be easy. But it will be worth it, whatever the outcome.

Vintage lace dress: Dear Gladys Vintage Boutique / RM Williams boots: eBay / Prada sunglasses: My own / Photographer: Ben McGuire


The Paradox of Eco Fashion

Many of my favourite things start with the letter ‘f’. There’s food: organic and biodynamic of course. There’s fun: there’s too many activities to list here. There are flowers: my first choice are orchids followed by dahlias, carnations and peonies. And then there’s fashion: always sustainable, always ethical.

And as an individual who appreciates beauty in all its forms, I have developed a harmless daily activity of flicking through artistic and inspiring Instagram photos uploaded by the various sustainable ‘eco fashion’ brands and e-tailers that I follow. But then a niggling thought hit me several weeks ago that has been bothering me since it entered my mind. That particular thought bugged me so much that it culminated into the act of writing this particular blog post.

The thought was this: exactly just how eco is eco fashion? Viewing Instagram images of models in beautiful organic cotton garments is a more sustainable option yes – but cotton is an extremely water thirsty plant and being organic doesn’t make it less so. It is advertised as a better option, but I know it isn’t. Garments made from hemp and bamboo are much better options.

I also began to question the motives of some of the ‘eco’ bloggers and ‘eco fashion’ brands that I was following on social media. Upon flicking through countless images, I decided to ‘unfollow’ several because the constant marketing bombardment promoted a shopping philosophy that I fundamentally disagree with: one that encourages you to buy more. How can eco fashion be considered sustainable when it relies on the same capitalistic systems and marketing mechanisms that drive unsustainability in the first place? The truth is that the eco fashion industry still relies on unnecessary consumption as much as the fast fashion industry does.

And herein lies the problem that seems to have permanently wedged itself into the crevices of my brain.

Eco fashion and fast fashion are inextricably linked because the industries both rely on people’s unsustainable practice of mindless consumption. Now I’m not saying that eco fashion is as bad as fast fashion. If you were to purchase a garment, indeed an eco fashion choice is by far the better option – at least it attempts to address environmental issues, as well as social and economic issues. What I am merely saying is that eco fashion has its flaws. To really address the underlying causes of environmental destruction and resource depletion involves transforming the cultural buying habits of much of the Western and developing worlds from unrestrained consumption to one driven more by necessity.

True eco fashionistas understand this and adopt shopping habits that are on a ‘needs’ basis instead of a ‘wants’ basis. They are the ones who can see through ‘green washing’ propaganda. They are not afraid to point out that the greenest action people can take – is not to purchase anything at all!

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