Archive for the ‘Non-Food’ Category

In a previous post, I was bitching about the tedious task of having to always have our garden draped with bird-netting due to these cuddly Ring-tailed possums that live and forage in most urban neighbourhoods around here. When I tell my friends in the U.S. that we have Possums, most think of those ugly triangular-faced creatures in North America. Possums here are marsupials, relatives of cute Koalas and Kangaroos but although cute, they wreak havoc on gardens…including mine.  I have a love and hate relationship with them but I must confess – last year, I saw one walking along the top of my brush fence with a baby on her back and that was absolutely adorable.

Well, I finally got a picture of one sitting in the neighbour’s Lilly Pilly tree.

Australian Ring-tailed Possum

Australian Ring-tailed Possum: They may be cute but will decimate your garden.


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byo bags

The South Australian government has done something pretty radical – it is the first state in Australia that has decided to phase out and ban lightweight plastic shopping bags to help the environment by 04 May 2009.

The one thing that I noticed when I first moved here was that reusable bags were already very commonplace at supermarkets and farmer’s markets.  What made me even more happy and surprised was that people were actually using it for environmental reasons and not just because they got $0.05 credit per bag re-used at a supermarket like they do in many U.S. supermarkets.  My childhood home of Hawaii has a long way to go before people start to get less wasteful – I’ve only recently seen reusable bags for sale at drug stores and supermarkets.

We always keep at least 6 to 8 bags in our car at all times just in case we do that “spontaneous grocery shopping”.  But I have to admit, even someone like myself who is very environmentally conscious, has forgotten my reusable bags quite a few times (especially if I shop on my lunch break at work).  Luckily I have a great reusable bag that folds up into the size of a wallet that can fit in any purse. Having worked at a produce store in my late teens, I know full well how many bags an average supermarket goes through in one day (it is astonishing) and it is so wasteful because the majority end up in landfills.  The only thing that I will admit to being sad about is not having free wastebasket liners…I like using those plastic bags for my office and bathroom bins but I’m sure I’ll get over it.

You can watch the television ads running here about this on Youtube:

Of course, we are not the first city to have a ban on plastic bags.  My former city of residence San Francisco, was the first city in the USA (yay, go SF!) to ban bags in March 2008.  http://www.sfenvironment.org/our_programs/interests.html?ssi=7&ti=6&ii=142

Although China has not banned plastic bags, they have stopped giving away free plastic bags which is great news for a country that wasted billions of bags a year.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/7443530.stm

Here are a few more places that have had a ban:

Plastic bag bans around the world

South Australia joins an increasing number of countries that already restrict plastic shopping bags or plan to do so:

AFRICA: Rwanda and Eritrea banned the bags outright, as has Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia. South Africa, Uganda and Kenya have minimum thickness rules, and Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho and Tanzania are considering similar measures.

BANGLADESH: The first large country to ban bags in 2002. Bangladesh blamed millions of discarded bags for blocking drains and contributing to floods that submerged much of the country in 1988.

BHUTAN: The isolated Himalayan country banned plastic shopping bags, street advertising and tobacco in 2007, as part of its policy to foster “Gross National Happiness”.

CHINA: The ban on ultra-thin bags that goes into force on June 1 will cut pollution and save valuable oil resources, the State Council, or cabinet, says. In May 2007 Hong Kong proposed a 50 cent “polluter pays” levy on plastic shopping bags.

ENGLAND: In May 2007 the village of Modbury in south Devon became Europe’s first plastic bag-free town, selling reuseable and biodegradable bags instead. London’s 33 councils plan to ban ultra-thin bags from 2009 and tax others.

FRANCE: In 2005, French lawmakers voted to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags by 2010. The French island of Corsica became the first to ban plastic bags in large stores in 1999.

INDIA: The western state of Maharashtra banned the manufacture, sale and use of plastic bags in August 2005, after claims that they choked drains during monsoon rains. Other states banned ultra-thin bags to cut pollution and deaths of cattle, sacred to Hindus, which eat them.

IRELAND: A plastic bag tax was passed in 2002. The tax created an initial 90 percent drop in bag use, according to the Environment Ministry, though usage gradually rebounded.

ITALY: Outright ban to be introduced from 2010.

TAIWAN: A partial ban in 2003 phased out free bags in department stores and supermarkets and disposable plastic plates, cups and cutlery from fast food outlets. Most stores charge people who don’t bring their own T$1 ($0.03).

UNITED STATES: San Francisco became the first and only US city to outlaw plastic grocery bags in April 2008. The ban is limited to large supermarkets.

Source: Planet Ark, May 28, 2008

Hopefully more cities will follow suit.  Don’t forget your bags next time you go shopping!

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One day, I’ll take a picture of a Ring-tailed Possum.  There is a whole colony that lives around here and they let us know it by leaving lovely droppings all over the place – on our fence and near the plants.  I just sweep them up and throw them in my plants as fertilizer.  These are Aussie Possums – very cute and marsupials.  They are not the weird-looking Possums you get in North America.  I wonder why they are both called Possums?  I once saw one on my fence with a baby on her back…if only I had my camera!!  Cute as they are, they wreak havoc to any garden with succulent shoots – oh and yes, they loved my David Austin roses!!  Because I hate losing my plants, I have them in pots (they look sad because it’s winter) and they are fully covered by a bird net:

My pots covered in bird netting

My pots covered in bird netting

Anyway, here is another parrot – the Adelaide Rosella, that was in my garden over the weekend while I was trying to plant bok choy, sweet peas, green onions and peonies.  Adelaide Rosellas are a cross between Yellow Rosellas and Crimson Rosellas (bright red & gorgeous).  This guy was eating the red berries in the tree next to my fence.

Aren't they pretty?

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Thousands of people including myself have been following veteran American journalist Leroy Siever’s daily blog “My Cancer” on NPR (National Public Radio) in the U.S. and around the world.  His daily journals on his struggles and thoughts about his cancer formed a community – a community of so many people around the world who have been affected by cancer.  He brought solace and support to more people than he probably imagined it would.  Just reading comments left by readers is amazing how much of an impact he had by writing this blog.

Leroy passed away last night and I write this with a heavy heart.  Although he was told he was only going to live for 6 months, he lived for 2 1/2 years.  So many people got used to reading his daily emails and like me, probably wished for a miracle that his cancer would stop growing.

I contemplated for a few seconds on whether I should write about this on a FOOD BLOG.  But then, I thought about it and realized that this is MY blog and although food is my passion, fighting cancer is equally important to me also.  During this past year, THREE very close people to me have been fighting advanced stage cancers and it is a disease that does not discriminate and it is very sad.

This Friday, 22 August 2008 is Daffodil Day in Australia and 29 August in New Zealand.  Please buy a bunch of daffodils for $5 and/or donate to your local Cancer Council or Cancer Society.  There will be many volunteers (including myself) this week selling Daffodil Day items so look out for us please!

Links to some cancer organisations:

Canadian Cancer Society

American Cancer Society

Cancer Research UK

Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research

Cancer Society of New Zealand

Cancer Patients Aid Association (India)


Wiki Cancer – Stories, Support and Information

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