Number 101 – Giving my daughter’s cloth nappies away, to be used by someone else

I used cloth nappies for my daughter. Now that she no longer uses them, I want to pass them on to someone else that will; so their purpose (of reducing the number of disposable nappies sent to landfill) can continue.

I asked my midwife if she knew anyone who could use them, put an advert up through ‘The Koha Shed’ (‘The Koha -gift/present in Maori- Shed’ is a free shop run from someone’s garage, where people can give and take as they require) and posted it on our local Freecycle network.

Today a lady replied to my Freecycle post and her tone was excited. I have a lot of cloth nappies, inserts and liners and have been debating for quite some time whether to sell them (I could easily get a couple of hundred dollars for all of them) or give them. I have decided to offer the lady as many as she would like and then maybe sell the rest. I am happy with this arrangement because then I have done something positive by helping a new mama get free cloth nappies (as many as she needs), but can also possibly earn something from the remainder.

Freecycle – www.freecycle.org

The Koha Shed – www.facebook.com/pages/The-Koha-Shed-Hamilton/615527071859291

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/choosing_nappies.html – about different nappies. Both cloth and disposable nappies have an environmental impact, though cloth nappies can be up to 40% better for the environment (according to research by the UK Environment Agency). According to http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/what-is-waste/facts-figures, it takes a cup of crude oil to make the plastic for each disposable nappy, as well as up to 3.5 times more energy, 8 times more non-renewable raw materials, and 90 times more renewable materials than cloth nappies.

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Number 100 – Commitment to a new challenge

Number 100 of this challenge is my commitment to carry on trying to do good things for people and planet in the future. I have decided to set myself a new challenge for 2015: to educate myself about different topics and raise awareness about it to others.

The website for the blog where I will be documenting this challenge is: https://camilla4peace2015challenge.wordpress.com.

Through this challenge I hope to come to understand many (52, to be precise) topics and issues better, and as a result develop greater compassion and understanding of the world.

Numbers 98 & 99 – Fundraising and promoting alternatives to meat

I ran a fundraising event for Hamilton Homeless Trust today. In New Zealand it is common for charities to fundraise by holding ‘Sausage Sizzles’, and many large shops and stores support the charities by offering them. Today I dedicated 6 hours to this ‘Sausage Sizzle’. Except I made it with a slight difference: in this meat-oriented society I decided to also offer a vegetarian option: partly because as a vegetarian I would like there to be vegetarian options at such events, and partly because I hoped to introduce people to some delicious, ethical and environmentally-friendly alternatives to meat.

I donated 3 packets of ‘Veat’ (kebabs and chicken-style pieces) to the ‘Sausage Sizzle. I must say, the sale of (meat) sausages outweighed the vegetarian options. However, there were several non-vegetarians who tried them, including some children. Perhaps it was just a one-off, but perhaps it may start something bigger… a meat-free meal once a week, or even just occasionally buying a meat alternative.

I am especially proud as Hamilton Homeless Trust appreciated the donation and want to offer vegetarian options at all future ‘Sausage Sizzles’ – which could possibly be the beginning of something much bigger (my vision would be that this meat-only Kiwi tradition opens up to the vegetarian community on a wider scale).

Meat-free Monday’s website – not about becoming vegetarian, but about choosing not to eat meat one day a week: www.meatfreemondays.com/how-mfm-helps.

An article about the impacts of the meat industry & how a more vegetarian diet can help reduce these impacts: www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environment

(Veat – the meat alternative I offered at the ‘Sausage Sizzle’: http://sfoods.co.nz/veat.)

Number 97 – Advocating for living wages (and working to get it for underpaid staff)

This action is not yet completed (it is a long process), though as it is underway I have decided to include it as part of my challenge.

In New Zealand, the minimum wage is $14.25/hour but the calculated living wage (the wage which allows you to meet your basic needs) is $18.80/hour. There are between 500,000 and 750,000 (that is 10-15% of the population) living in poverty and I really would like to change this. I wish everyone were paid the living wage.

While this is a huge goal, I have decided to make a start in a place I have some influence: recently I discovered the staff at the daycare centre my daughter attends receive wages on or barely above the minimum wage, and as a parent I am on the decision-making team for all of the day care’s operations and activities – including budgeting and wage determination.

So, another mama and I have decided to make it our mission to get all the staff on a living wage, and have been researching how to go about this, including the practical/financial side of it. It will take some time, more research, and communication to the other decision makers, but we are well on track; and by the next staff appraisals (in 2015) we plan for all staff to be paid the living wage.

As part of this act, I have been educating myself about poverty in New Zealand and the living wage, and have also joined the NZ Living Wage Movement (www.livingwage.org.nz), so that I can keep up to date about their work and progress towards a society where there is less poverty and inequality.

Number 96 – Environmental awareness in child care centre

The day care centre my daughter goes to has a lot of potential to improve its environmental sustainability(!). Since my daughter has started going there I have been slowly introducing them to different ideas that can lessen their environmental impacts, including setting up a recycling and composting system (see Number 70).

To expand on this, I created an A1-sized poster (mainly for parents and staff) about protecting the environment. My daughter’s day care is a Kohanga Reo – a Maori day care centre where Maori culture is learnt and te reo Maori (‘Maori language’) is spoken. So that it was engaging, I created a poster that was in line with Maori culture and beliefs: reinforcing the cultural belief that the Earth Mother and Sky Father created the world and sustain humanity, and that we must look after them so they can continue sustaining us. I wrote as much as I could in te reo Maori as I am currently learning this language and the parents and staff are helping me learn.

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/kaitiakitanga-guardianship-and-conservation

Before I handed it to the staff to put up, I showed it to one of the other parents and she seemed to really like it. Said she was happy I was steering the day care centre in the direction of greater environmental awareness, which really moved me because our family is the only non-Maori family there and so to be appreciated and treated like part of their whanau (family/community) is a great honour. What she said encouraged me and it is my plan to continue working on environmental projects next year, including creating materials that will engage the children in sustainability and pro-environmental behaviour.

Number 95 – Tokens of appreciation for people working in the community

I bought a pack with lots of little Fair Trade candles. They are handmade by villagers in Chang Mai, Thailand.

I wrapped each of them up and stuck labels on them (all with similar messages, such as ‘Happy Christmas, thank you for your work in the community’ or ‘Thank you for helping people, happy Christmas’) and gave them out to some of the people I feel are doing great work to help others.

The list of people, organisation and services I appreciate is vast and sadly I was only able to show my appreciation to a small proportion of them. The people I gave candles to are:

* Staff and volunteers at the Red Cross (www.icrc.org)

* Staff and volunteers at the Hospice Waikato (a service of care for people who are dying – http://www.hospicewaikato.org.nz)

* Staff at Women’s Wellness (a free service to help women needing support – http://www.womenswellness.co.nz)

* Staff at the Refugee Orientation Centre Trust (www.roctrust.org.nz. While I was there I also put my details down to be a volunteer researcher for them next year.)

* Staff and volunteers at Save the Children (www.savethechildren.net)

Fiartrade candles

http://www.fairtrade.net

Number 94 – Financial donation to UNICEF

UNICEF is a charity that fights against child labour and poverty. I have admired their work for years though in recent years they have ‘fallen off my radar’ as I have become more involved with other charities and organisations.

So I was happy today when someone knocked on my door fundraising for UNICEF. I was moved by his dedication to the charity and global issues we spoke about and decided to give a donation to their work.

http://www.unicef.org

Number 93 – Weekly food donations

A few months ago a lady started volunteering as a cook for Hamilton Homeless Trust. She is a pensioner and told us she’d be able to afford to cook once a fortnight. We are always in need of more cooks, but it is a considerable time commitment as well as cost. As she is retired and has some time, this amazing lady said she’d be happy to cook as many nights as necessary, but she’d need help with food resources. So for the past few months I have been buying a box or bag of groceries for her each week, and she now cooks for two or more serves a week.

Number 92 – Registered as a blood donor

‘Become a blood donor’ was my new year’s resolution this year and also what inspired me to do this challenge.

I have wanted to donate blood for years and years, and have attempted more than a dozen times in various countries. Alas, every time I have gone there has been one reason or the other why I have been unable to give blood (I had a cold, I’d recently been pierced, I’d traveled to a high-risk country, my weight, my iron levels… the list goes on).

Today I went to the blood donor clinic. I was prepared. While I was pregnant I had lost a lot of weight and had very low iron levels, but the whole year I have been building my strength to make sure I’d be able to meet all the criteria required from donors. Now, I was ready and eager to give blood, after so many failed attempts and years of waiting.

But it was not to be.

Because I lived in the UK during the time of BSE, theoretically my blood could be contaminated with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (I say theoretically because the overall chance is very low anyway, plus I do/did not even consume any cow products). And because of this, I am not permitted to give blood in New Zealand (and most other countries).

The good news is once a way to test for CJD is found, I will be contacted to start donating blood. However, this test is probably still several years away from being made.

So, I counted this as an act because I am on the blood donor register… my donations are just pending (because of reasons beyond my control)

One blood donation can save up to 3 lives.

http://www.mbc.org/About-Blood/Why-Donate-Blood

Number 91 – Shoebox-full of presents for a child in need

When I was at school there used to be an annual project where each pupil would fill a shoe box with presents to send to a child in poverty. I used to love collecting the items, and have also done the ‘Christmas shoe box’ several other years since leaving school.

I have always tried to tailor it a little as I am not a Christian (I’d put messages like ‘Yuletide Greetings’ or ‘Seasonal Greetings’, instead of ‘Happy Christmas’ or religious messages), though it is only this year -as I have been researching the different charities that have this campaign- that I realised most/all the charities doing a Christmas present appeal are in fact religious organisations that simultaneously promote the Bible/God/Jesus/Christianity.

Realising this I decided I did not want my shoe box of presents to go to a child that would not usually celebrate Christmas: I don’t mind if it goes to someone who is already Christian and/or celebrates Christmas, but I don’t really want to support an organisation trying to convert non-Christians in an country or region where there is perhaps a different dominant religion.

After some research, I found the best option for me (given my personal opinions and values about Christmas, Christianity and religion) was to leave my shoe box of presents under the ‘Kmart Wishing Tree’ in the Kmart on the other side of town. The Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal works with the Salvation Army to distribute donated gifts to children (and adults) in need, and -from what I understand- they distribute the gifts within the country of collection (my main reason for choosing this charity; as most of the recipients will already celebrate Christmas).

In my shoe box of presents I put a set of colouring pencils, pencils that write in rainbow colours, a sharpener, multi-coloured writing pens, notepads, an exercise book, stickers, bubbles, fruit bars, a mini first aid kit, and a few other small items. I hope it reaches someone who will find the gifts useful and who’s Christmas will be a little bit brighter as a result.

There are lots of organisations that do Christmas box/present appeals. The one I used this year was: http://www.wishingtree.kmart.com.au

The one we used in school was: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child