2015 Challenge

Hello, my name is Camilla and I have recently started setting myself a personal challenge each year.

Last year my challenge was to do (at least) 100 altruistic/pro-active actions (https://camilla4peace.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/my-idea/ for the main page, or the ‘2014’ category for individual posts) and this year’s seemed to evolve naturally from that.

This year my challenge is to educate myself about a different topic each week, and either raise awareness about the topic to others or else contribute positively towards it.

I am not an experienced blogger; using my blog mainly as a diary to keep track of actions towards my challenges (rather that as a platform for literary masterpieces). However, I do value feedback and ideas, and if there is a cause, issue or topic you’d like me to raise awareness about, please do tell me! <3

Aroha nui – Camilla x

Topics so far

Week 1 – World Peace

Week 2 – Ingrained racism and microaggression

Week 3 – Overfishing

Week 4 – Holocaust and other genocides (Holocaust Memorial Day)

Week 5 – Cycling (Bike Month)

Week 6 – Epilepsy

Week 7 – Climate change refugees

Week 8 – Bullying (Anti-Bullying Day)

Week 9 – Endangered animals (World Wildlife Day)

Week 10 – Moneyless economies

Week 11 – ‘Lest we forget’

Week 12 – Research for Environmental Education

Week 13 – Autism and employment (Autism Awareness Day)

Week 14 – Criticisms of democracy

Week 15 – Solar roadways

Week 16 – Insulation

Week 17 – Family meals

Week 18 – Living wage

Week 19 – Plastic bags

Week 20 – Appreciation

Week 21 – Chemotherapy

Week 22 – SIDS

Week 23 – ‘Conscious Consumers’

Week 24 – Vegetables

Week 25 – Refugees

Week 26 – Plastic free July

Week 27 – Ewaste

Week 27 – Ewaste

This one took place the other way round – first I did the action then decided to do some learning around it.


I saw an old television in a skip and rescued it. I took it to the Waikato Environment Centre, which has an ewaste collection point and paid $15 so that it will be recycled properly.

What I learned

There are other (free) ewaste collection points, but many of these do no dispose of the parts (or all of the parts) properly. Ewaste collected by the Environment Centre is taken to Tokoroa town, where it is properly dismantled by employees of the South Waikato Achievement Centre – an organisation that supports and employs people with intellectual and other disabilities. When disposing of electrical appliances, it is important to make sure they are recycled properly, as otherwise they can leak dangerous chemical in to the land and water.


Week 26 – Plastic free July

I’ve taken on the Plastic Free July challenge, which is about trying to reduce (or eliminate!) the amount of single use plastic you use.

What I’ve learned

I’ve learned that it’s blimmin’ hard! I already made my purchases based on a number of ethical/environmental/health criteria and did not think I was doing so badly, but now that single-use plastic is another consideration I realise just how few choices there are.


We have certainly cut down the amount of single use plastic since starting the challenge, and we intend to keep it lower than it used to be even after the challenge has finished. I also became an ambassador for Plastic Free July in New Zealand (see Week 19 – Plastic Bags). and became the volunteer co-ordinator for the ‘Step 1: Get A Bag’ campaign, which is a local campaign aimed at reducing the use of single use plastic bags – https://www.pledgeme.co.nz/projects/3852-matt-andy-step-1-get-a-bag

Week 25 – Refugees

Refugeeism is something I hold strong opinions about, with regard to people being allowed to enter countries and receive the support and protection they need to be able to thrive. However, I actually don’t know a lot about the processes refugees face.

What I learned

I learned that there is a quota for accepting refugees in to New Zealand (750 people per year), but that this has not increased since it was first created in 1987. The quota does not reflect the changing number of dislocated people, which is now at 50 million people worldwide, nor does it reflect populations most in need.

I also read about the process asylum seekers face when entering New Zealand. It is a long and undoubtedly stressful process for those involved, though I was happy to see people have access to resources, independent reviewers and support. http://www.immigration.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/E809F05F-60EF-4483-9272-92B0EACDB440/0/claimingrefugeeandprotectionstatusinnewzealand.pdf


I have signed up to be a volunteer for the New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Resettlement Programme https://www.redcross.org.nz/what-we-do/in-new-zealand/refugee-services/.

Week 24 – Vegetables

I recently became the co-ordinator for a social enterprise that delivers organic and/or local produce to people (Ooooby – Out Of Our Own Backyards www.ooooby.org). Each week I need to work with many small-scale growers trying to work out if we have enough of a certain item to put it in the fruit and vegetable box, and I realised I do not actually know a lot about growing vegetables (I have vague ideas about some of the things that are in season – mainly from what happens to be growing or not growing in our veggie patch – but there are so many things I don’t grow, and there are so many vegetables I don’t know how to grow, or even what they are!).

What I learned

I borrowed a book about vegetables from someone that helps me pack the Ooooby boxes. I read about when to grow different vegetables and how long they can be stored. I also checked the back of seed packets to find out what can be grown outside now (beans, chard, beetroot… and probably some other things). It has actually been very interesting, and I am becoming more aware of even the regional differences in produce availability.


I gave some attention to our veggie patch, and planted some seeds and seedlings. I’ve been getting our 2 year old daughter to help and am trying to explain what I am doing to her, so she is also aware of these things. I always try to shop seasonally and locally but I am definitely more aware now and can make choices I am happier with. I’ve also been giving a lot of voluntary hours to Ooooby to help it be successful, and I am giving spare produce to family, neighbours and our local food rescue (that distributes it to charities).

Week 23 – ‘Conscious Consumers’

I found out that ‘Conscious Consumers’ were holding a campaign to raise awareness about what we buy and thought it was a good opportunity to know learn a bit more about what they do.

What I learned

After Googling ‘conscious consumers’, I learned that 46% of people that took part in an international study said they would pay more for products and services that were environmentally or socially conscious. The study explored the kinds of issues people wish businesses to address, and protecting the environment was one of the most popular, alongside education, poverty alleviation and disaster relief. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/the-global-socially-conscious-consumer.html.

I also visited the Conscious Consumers website and read about the positive impact Conscious Consumer accredited businesses are achieving, including supporting local economies, reducing waste generation, diverting waste from landfill, supporting organic and ethical products, and many other good things. http://www.consciousconsumers.org.nz/measuring-our-impact.


I took part in the Conscious Consumers ‘thunderclap’ campaign to raise awareness about their work and that of the businesses accredited by them. I have also tried to make sure that whenever I eat out now it is at Conscious Consumer accredited venues or else at eateries who support making environmentally and socially conscious choices.


Week 22 – SIDS

I chose this topic this week because a friend of mine just lost her 4 month old daughter, and experiencing her sadness was almost more than I could bear – I cannot imagine what she is going through :-(

What I learned

I read a lot about the risk factors of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and how these can be reduced. I had not known until now that breastfeeding and using pacifiers have both been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. I also read articles about SIDS-related bereavement (http://www.sidsandkids.org.nz/bereavement-literature/), including how to be supportive as a friend or family member of someone affected by SIDS (parent, grandparent, sibling) – http://www.sidsandkids.org.nz/media/press/pdf/Family-and-Friends-NZ1415574266.pdf. I found the literature very moving as it included first-hand stories, and I feel I got some ideas to let my friend know I am there to support her (now, in the near future, and years down the line).


I made a donation to SIDS and Kids – http://www.sidsandkids.org.nz,

Week 21 – Chemotherapy

May is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For one of my actions in my challenge last year I learned about breast cancer and did some fundraising for the Breast Cancer Society (https://camilla4peace.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/number-66-fundraising-for-breast-cancer-awareness-and-research). For my action this week I thought I would learn more about chemotherapy, as I have heard it can be effective in treating some cancers, but can also be devastating to the body.

What I discovered

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It works by stopping or slowing the growth of cells which grow and divide quickly (like cancer cells, but also healthy cells that grow and divide quickly, like in the mouth, intestines and ones that make your hair grow).

Chemotherapy can be used to cure or control cancer, or ease the symptoms (e.g. reducing the size of a tumour which causes pain). I did know that there were other therapies for cancer but did not realise they are often used in conjunction with chemotherapy. I looked on the internet for natural remedies for cancer. I found a lot of positive testimonials for many different herbal medicines, though struggled to find resources that backed these up with peer-reviewed scientific studies. It seemed many reputable cancer organisations said there was a need for greater research in to natural/herbal therapies, though it did not seem that they were willing to carry out many/any of these studies.


I organised a ‘Pink Ribbon Breakfast’ for my colleagues, family and associates. I raised $130 which I will be donating to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Society.