Waste Not Everyday

As the COVID-19 virus eats into our grocery and other supplies, perhaps it’s time, while we cool our heels at home, to reconsider our consumption.

In ‘Waste Not Everyday: Simple Zero-Waste Inspiration 365 Days a Year’ Erin Rhoads provides tips for every day of the year of ways towards making simple lifestyle changes so that our impact on the world is less about waste and more about meaning.

Today, as we are encouraged to stay at home, and perhaps ration our consumption a whole lot more, it is worth looking at the framework she proposes in her book, including the tenents we all know:

              • reduce
              • reuse
              • refuse
              • recycle

There are several others she proposes (her list includes 11 steps) but it is the order of her framework that matters.

You’ll note that recycling is towards the end. This is because the act of recycling is not the way to fix the problem: instead it simply delays items … from ending up in landfill. (From the introduction of Waste Not Everyday.)

There are lots of simple ideas in this book like, buying your fruit and vegetables loose – and then making sure you display them to ensure you eat them, supporting local growers markets and choosing seasonal foods. There are many tips and recipes for things like cleaners, shampoos and weedkiller – all better for the environment than most commercial varieties.

However, much of the book is to make us pause and think. Do we need more? Is there a better way? Can I repurpose something? Use it longer? Repair it?

A timely page I opened to today said:

# 162 Don’t let scary statistics weigh you down: channel energy into changes you can make in your home or community.

At this time of change in our world, it certainly can’t hurt to look at some of the 365 options Rhoads has gathered together in this book – and start to make a difference – a genuine impact on the future of our planet.

# This is also available as an ebook from many sources – an even better option?

Support and solidarity – Australian Biographies

Want to be inspired by others? have you ever wondered where ideas and action start? Then, maybe you need to look at some of the short but inspirational biographies found in these books:


These books provide words of advice, inspiration and explanation of how the Australians included have succeeded in making a difference in their world.

Examples include people in the world of:

  • sport – Mick Fanning, Kurt Fearnley, Adam Goode, Johnathan Thurston
  • art (music, dance, theatre, film) – Hugh Jackman, David McAllister
  • designers – Akira Isogawa, Harry Seidler,
  • politics – Jack Mundey, Bob Brown, Deng Thiak Adut
  • science – Howard Florey, Victor Chang, Dr Karl
  • conservation – Tim Flannery, Steve Irwin
  • social commentators – Waleed Aly, Chris Riley
  • and many more such as Eddie Woo!

Lesser known names are found in ‘Stand Up for the Future’, which celebrates inspirational young Australians. Those who are:

using their voices and talents to build a brighter tomorrow. (Those) who have taken their first steps towards being a game changer, and others who are firmly established as youth leaders, advocates and role models.

These are all great examples for youth to follow – people like Dylan Alcott, Ellyse Perry, Bindi Irwin and Jess Mauboy (names we know), as well as young achievers making a difference, perhaps yet to be household names?

Each of the bio’s features fabulous illustrative interpretations of the person highlighted. Good news too that the proceeds from the sales of these books will be donated to the Smith Family to help disadvantaged young Australians. Great acknowledgement of people making a difference – and a charity supporting others who could with a little bit of help.

Have a look at these titles – an easy read, accessible to younger readers, but equally inspiring to the YA audience.

Illustrations include these – do you recognise them? Hopefully, you will be inspired by their stories, no matter what your age! (Great for a quick read, too.)

Google It! A history of Google

Can you remember a time without Google? Older readers will remember when research could only be done using books and/or accessing a library. Times before you could easily find out the answer to a puzzling trivia question or idea, by tapping it into your smartphone or tablet… Times when information wasn’t so instantaneously* available (though now I can check the spelling of that word*). It really wasn’t that long ago – but it did involve quite an extensive process to get where we are now in the Information Age.

Thanks to the determination and efforts of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford University students, we now have a multinational technology company which has changed the way many of us now research – for both facts and fun.

Google It has the subtitles ‘A history of Google’ and ‘How two students’ mission to organize the internet changed the world’. And in its 230 pages, you will find details of:

How Larry and Sergey first met (and how didn’t really get on at first)

What they ultimately had in common

The initial project which started it all

The primitive beginnings of Google

What it took to get things going

And the transformations of the Google juggernaut over the years.

The book is written in an easy-going language, with inserts here and there to explain ideas and details (like footnotes and callout illustrations). Some of these inserts are interesting, but can also be a little distracting. However, the Google story is easily absorbed.

There are reminders of how we used to do things, and how we do things now:

Imagine this: you get into a car for a road trip . You’ve got your playlist, your bestie, some snacks and a book on how to get there. Yes, a book of maps. Printed. Paper. Maps. (From Google It, p. 148)

Now- Google Maps

Regardless of what you think of the Google machine, a great theme flowing through this book is how ideas and sacrifice overcame the necessary failures for its gradual development and success. The importance of these elements show that, for Larry Page and Servey Brin, academic qualifications were less critical than their own intellectual drive and determination. An interesting concept. A story worth reading.

Warning, Google It does present the positive glossy side of Google and its evolution. While I was pleased to see its beginnings were actually rooted in making “the credibility of a web page just as citiation validated research” (p.19), we still need to evaluate Google results, and also have to consider some of the negative impacts of Google.

What do you think? Read it and see.

(My copy was available from BMCC library A Kindle version is also available from Amazon.)

Brain Fit – how smarter thinking can save your brain

BRAIN-FIT---COVER for Smashwords 11-3-12

Progressing slowly through my holiday-reading book pile, I decided I needed something I could dip in and out of – and something to get my holiday brain thinking again! That’s when I reached for ‘Brain Fit’!

Do you know the right foods to keep your brain healthy?

Do you know how to keep your mind sharp?

What problems with modern life can we seek to avoid as we care for our brain health?

‘Brain Fit’ is a compact book loaded with information about our grey matter. In a non-threatening manner, Dr Jenny Brockis explains clearly and succinctly how we can best look after one of the most important organs in our body. There are no lectures – just simple factual information stemming from the most recent thinking in brain health.

In eight chapters, ‘Brain Fit’ guides us through these and many other questions – including the things that are good for our brain (and it even includes chocolate!), things we should avoid, and ways to fire up our brain with new and different challenges. Broken into easy to read parts, each chapter includes lots of clear explanations and diagrams for the visual learner.

Throughout the book there are constant referrals to scientific studies which support the ideas presented, most of which, though challenging, are not difficult to include in our busy lifestyles. There is lots of food for thought for busy students, teachers, families and their extended family.

‘Smarter Thinking’ boxes punctuate the book and we are reminded of the key points in each chapter – e.g. Planning regular time off is an invaluable way to provide your brain with the breathing space it needs… Simple suggestions and checklists are also dotted throughout, which make the ideas bite-size and palatable.

Clearly, Jenny knows what she is talking about, since she spends time…

…with individuals and organisations to develop leadership, improve collaboration, and increase productivity and efficiency. Her approach is based on practical neuroscience, which allows us to understand why we think or behave the way we do, and how implement effective behavioural change.

Source: http://www.drjennybrockis.com/about/

‘Brain Fit’ is the first of 2 books Jenny has written, easily available in both physical and Kindle editions. The second ‘Brain Smart: getting more done faster’ looks at how we can better shape our activities to make the most of our brain – and no, this does not endorse multi-tasking. A third book, ‘Future Brain’, is also in production.

There are lots of great ideas in each of Dr Brockis’ books, but there is also more to be discovered at her blog, where she shares her observations about issues such as mental health, mindfulness, leadership, exercise and brain health, and stress management. In the video below, Jenny explains the importance of becoming Brain Fit:

Clearly, the concept of brain fitness is well worth further investigation!

Remarkable journey – Born to Fly

born-to-flyWhat was your childhood career dream? Fireman, racing car driver, ballet dancer, astronaut? How many of us actually followed through on our childhood dreams? Ryan Campbell was passionate about his, and has begun the path to achieving his dream career:

‘I loved our holiday in Vanuatu, but I just could not wait to get back on that aeroplane… Not to go home, just to go flying. That was the day when I decided I would be a jumbo jet pilot when I grew up.’ (He was 6 at the time.)

On June 30, 2013, Ryan took off on a journey to circumnavigate the globe, solo – and with the aim to be the youngest person to ever achieve this. However, as his book Born to Fly details, his departure on this day was the result of a great deal of planning and persistence – with many hurdles to overcome before his journey was to become a reality.

Just exactly how would you begin to plan a circumnavigation around the world in a light aircraft? Where would you begin? Indeed what would even inspire such a massive endeavour? How could a young adult even consider doing it?

Ryan’s passion and determination are evident in Born to Fly – and some credit for this must come from his uncle and grandfather, both passionate aviators. It is also clear that, while he is very much an average young adult in some ways (he admits that he was a fairly non-motivated student at times, a day-dreamer too), once he set his sights on achieving goals related to flying, he became very focussed.

With lots of research,  he began to discover what he had to do to learn to fly, ways to supplement his earnings at the local supermarket to pay for lessons, and also how to meet academic standards for aviation qualifications. Achieving his first solo flight on his fifteenth birthday was just a small indication of things to come! 

Soon, with the confidence from his achievements, Ryan began to dream of bigger challenges, which culminated in his record-breaking solo flight. There is great detail included in his story – the flying challenges, communication challenges, daily revision of decisions and insights to what it is like to undertake such a mammoth journey. He also acknowledges his many mentors and supporters – including Ken Evers, Jim Hazelton and Dick Smith.

There is much to be taken from this story – for both aviation enthusiasts, and others seeking inspiration to achieve their life goals. Born to Fly speaks not only about the challenges and difficulties he faced on this venture, but the ways in which he overcame events and situations that could test even the most experienced aviator. I am sure, Ryan would be the first to admit that he might have done a few things differently, but his courage and determination shines through.

Born to Fly is not the end of Ryan’s story. He is not yet a ‘jumbo jet pilot’. However, he aims to use his influence to encourage other young people to follow their dreams. And he will continue to work on his dreams, stepping towards his ultimate goals while encouraging others to find theirs:

I am proud to have learnt at a young age, proud of my achievements so far and excited at the prospects the future holds for me. I live for aviation, and I know that it is this passion, along with my dedication and commitment that will determine the successful outcome of my next endeavour. (Source: http://www.teenworldflight.com/my-achievements.html)

(Lots more detail is given at the Teen World Flight site, with of course a great focus on aviation.) 

N.B. This would also be a great related text for ‘Journeys’ and ‘Discovery’ – a remarkable journey by a young adult, out to discover the world and himself.