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Working Vegan

My workmates have been very supportive about my going vegan. It probably helps that I’ve been a strict vegetarian as long as they’ve known me, so it’s not really a drastic change. In fact, one of the guys said he only realised this week that I’ve made the transition, and it’s been months now. They’re all interested, and I don’t have to have that stupid conversation about having to eat meat so the cows don’t go extinct, which is really a plus. We’ve always had vegetarians in our team though – there are only two of us now, but there used to be enough that the office would get soy milk in for our tea and coffee like they get the cow milk in for everyone else. I have to bring my own now, and I’m the only vegan, I think.

It is a bit tough when it comes to eating a work events. Oh, the big events are catered to death, so there’s always something there, like the fabulous roasted vege sandwiches from the last one (who knew sandwiches could be so tasty?). When we had a bring-a-plate lunch (like a pot luck), it was ok. I made sure I brought something I could eat (chana masala, which everyone loved so much I had to give the recipe to half the team). The other folks were great when it came to stuff I could eat. There’s no veganising BBQ chicken, but the salad was made with the chunks of cheese in a separate container so I didn’t have to pick them out. There were vegan chips and dips and breads and dukka. I would say about half the food there was vegan. I appreciated the effort and the thought.

vege burger

Vege burger from Raw Energy, Coolum. Burger consists of a rye bun with a vegetable and wild rice patty, roasted capsicum and eggplant, spinach, capsicum, tomato, alfalfa and cucumber. It was delicious, at a restaurant that actually served vegan food.

Sometimes though, it’s just a pain. Today we went out to our local and I had one glass of sauvignon blanc and one Vietnamese spring roll, which wasn’t even nice. There were little duck meat tarts and prawn tempura and other tidbits that I missed because I turned up late. As I watched everyone else eating, I thought – how hard would it be to have veganised those things? It would be cheaper and everyone would still enjoy it. For example, that prawn tempura could easily have been vegetable tempura.

Tomorrow we’re having birthday cakes, which, ironically, I organised. None are vegan. The cake shop doesn’t sell any. However, it would be so easy to make them vegan, some of them at least. I can accept that vegan cheesecake can be a bit of a pain, but the mudcake and carrot cake would be easy enough. I don’t understand why people don’t maximise their customer base if it’s easy and inexpensive to do so. I’m going to look for a different cake shop.

Ultimately I know that I have a really supportive group of colleagues, and lots of other people have a much harder time of it. I do wish the world was more vegan friendly sometimes though. It would be so much easier. How are the rest of you finding working life as a vegan?

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Unforsaken

Oh wee blog, I have not foresaken thee.

I am just swamped at work (typical) and now feel I have tried everything to get unswamped in my current role. As such, I feel comfortable that I’ve given it my best shot and will feel no regrets to leave. In the past I’ve made efforts to leave in a sort of angry ‘I can’t take this anymore’ kind of way. In contrast, I’m now working with folks to transfer to a different department within the same company. Initially, I think my workload will increase, but ultimately I think it will be better for me, my work-life balance overall, and my career prospects.

Also, I’ve been diagnosed with a reasonably serious illness in my spine. Serious in that it requires a series of day visits to the hospital for treatment (which I’m currently undergoing) and regular MRIs, but not that serious, in that it’s not degenerative or terminal or anything, although it might recur over time. Plus, it’s mild so far, so I’ll be ok… I’m not going to end up paralysed at this point! And hey, I’m re-using my hospital band… it’s loose enough for me to slip off my wrist, so I asked if I could just use the same one over and over and the nurses said I could, since I’m always the same person lol.

By the way, why do hospitals give you nasty sandwiches for lunch? I mentioned I was vego and I got egg and lettuce on white bread… none of which I eat, and all of which were particulary nasty versions of the foods in question. The woman who got them for me though was so proud to offer a meatless meal that I didn’t have the heart to not eat something… so I did some fancy bread slice switching so I didn’t have to eat the egg and then ate most of the disgusting lettuce sandwiches… I kinda hid some under the crusts though. I felt not eating crusts was kinda socially acceptable enough for me to leave them. I never even practiced food hiding as a kid, either… my mum had the eagle eye for food. I got served up peas for breakfast once because I wouldn’t eat them for tea. Mum won the battle but I won the war… she didn’t serve me peas again, but as a compromise, I had to eat lettuce (something green had to be on the plate!). I wonder if the copious amounts of eggs and lettuce I ate as a kid have anything to do with my complete dislike of them now…

Anyway, what with that stuff, Mr Teeny-bop’s birthday (including the last ever sleepover part of DOOM) and starting school, Yankee Elv’s on-going work woes and her own health issues, Loodle the escapee crossing a major road (fortunately in the middle of the night with much less traffic) and organising a bunch of extra stuff at work (such as the local company Clean Up Australia day), it’s been pretty full on.

However, just to show you that I haven’t forgotten you, and I’m still keeping up with all things weird and wonderful and environmental…

Check out these awesomely cool living root bridges! We have trees like this here in Brisbane so bridges like this would definitely be doable.

Root bridges in India

Root bridges in India

Living Root Bridges can tell you more about why they’re awesome…

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Reduce: Paper

I hate paper.

Ok, I don’t really. Actually, sometimes I love paper – like when I want to read a book (that I already own or have borrowed from the library – I try to avoid buying new ones). But I do like to avoid using paper unless I really have to. I’m especially conscious of it when I’m at work – reading on-screen and using notepads made from old company letterhead.

paperball-hed1

This article outlines some tips you can follow to help you reduce your reliance on paper. I don’t think digitising your existing paper is necessary for any reason other than personal preference though – you already have the paper anyway.

The other thing I would suggest is to consider other sources of paper that you can also reduce:

  • Paper cups and other disposable ‘crockery’
  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Paper and cardboard food packaging (buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging).

Of course, that’s just reducing. There’s an awful lot of reusing and recycling that could occur – but reducing should come first.

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Spotlight on Zoos: Good or Bad?

Last week, I was looking at some photos my mother-in-law took when she was in Australia several months ago. One of the things she really wanted to do was hold a koala, so we went to Lone Pine Sanctuary (it’s local!) and she and Mr Teeny-bop held koalas and had their photos taken. Lots of other photos were also taken, such as the following one.

Mr Teeny-bop feeding a kangaroo at Lone Pine Sanctuary

Mr Teeny-bop feeding a kangaroo at Lone Pine Sanctuary

There were heaps of other animals there too – birds of prey, kangaroos, wombats, cassowaries, dingoes, tasmanian devils, parrots, cockatoos, galahs, lorikeets, bats, wallabies and farm animals (not sure what the farm animals were about, but anyway…), and Yankee Elv’s mom even took photos of the ugly wild scrub turkeys scratching around outside.

Yankee Elv feeding a kangaroo at Lone Pine Sanctuary

Yankee Elv feeding a kangaroo at Lone Pine Sanctuary

It was nice to go to a place where it’s not overly tourist-y (like Australia Zoo is these days), but still get to interact with all the animals. It did get me wondering though – are zoos, sanctuaries and other places like that good for the environment? I’m not going to argue about whether or not they’re good for the animals – some will say keeping animals in captivity are never good, others will say places like this provide a service to all the animals hurt on roads or displaced by deforestation. Regardless, I’m not going to debate that. What I’m interested in today is: are these places good for the environment?

With a motto like, ‘The Earth is not only for humans’, you’d think Lone Pine would be into all that eco-stuff.  The Lone Pine Sanctuary website does encourage people to do environmentally friendly things like drive safely and be aware of wildlife crossing the roads, plant eucalypts as food trees for koalas and avoiding disturbing vegetation generally (but especially in National Parks). Although all of these are aimed at wildlife conservation, they are also good for the environment generally. There is no statement on the Lone Pine Sanctuary website, however, that indicates they are working towards reducing their environmental impact.

People and animals can live together!

People and animals can live together!

Ultimately, it seems like zoos are under the same environmental pressures as any other big business, such as:

  • Water use
  • Energy consumption
  • Waste disposal and recycling.

Taronga Zoo has a comprehensive page on their site that explains it all quite clearly.

As well as Taronga Zoo, some other places, like Australia Zoo and the Philadelphia Zoo, are making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and potentially become carbon neutral. Chester Zoo was the first UK zoo to be awarded ISO14001s status. Other zoos are following in their footsteps. Some new campaigns that service both the environment and animals are cropping up too. Answer the Call, for example, is a mobile phone recycling program that helps save gorilla habitat.

Granted, my research has been pretty minimal, but what I’ve read seems to indicate that zoos are no worse than many big businesses, and the larger zoos are taking measures to counteract their environmental impact. Considering most zoos get visitors thinking about conservation, I think the good these zoos do likely outweighs any negative impact.

Your thoughts?

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Spotlight: Green Jobs

I’m on the job hunt at the moment, so I thought I’d check out green jobs. Not that my job is ‘un-green’ now… I’m just a boring old office worker. I don’t work in a particularly destructive industry (although lots of metal is used, and metal mining is bad). I would like to actively contribute to making the world a better place environmentally though, rather than just maintaining the status quo.

I want a green job too!

I want a green job too!

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much I’m either qualified for or that’s available in Brisbane. I’m not really entrepreneurial so I don’t want to create my own start-up solar power company. I just want something basic I can do. Surely someone needs some workplace training created for all those new folks who are building wind turbines and solar panels, right? Currently… not so much.

I did find some interesting articles in my search though, including:

Ten Best Green Jobs for the Next Decade
This article lists the kinds of industries that will be in high demand as climate change affects us even more. It’s US-centric but the basics are there. The top ten green jobs are: farmer, forester, solar power installer, energy efficiency builder, wind turbine fabricator, conservation biologist, green MBA and entrepreneur, recycler, sustainability systems developer and an urban planner. I have friends with some of those jobs! But not me.

Green Gigs
This is really a blog, not an article. There are lots of posts about looking for sustainable jobs, many of them telecommuting jobs. Telecommuting is often overlooked as a way to make a job sustainable. It’s something I could do in my current line of work quite easily, and something I keep in mind when looking for jobs. It’s not really getting out and actively making a difference though.

Ten Green Jobs to Stimulate Your Career, the Economy and the Planet
This blog post is related to the first one I mentioned, but instead of focusing on the those ten jobs, it reasons why they’re important. Better yet, it lists the top ten green jobs that will earn you over $100,000 per year. Hey, I don’t want to be greedy, but I would like to own a house on a decent plot of land one day, with animals and children and one of us as a stay-at-home mother. If only one of either myself or Yankee Elv is working, then that person better be making a decent salary!

Green Gold Rush
This article, on the Australian Conservation Foundation‘s site, talks at a high-level about how green-collar jobs can stimulate a fading economy, and how Australia can be a leader in the green industry. It makes sense the way public works made sense in the depression of the 1930s. You’ve got to get people out there earning, so they can be spending, so the economy will thrive. A booming green economy will achieve this, while at the same time encouraging sustainability. You want to be earning and spending, but on the right things. And maybe we don’t need to spend quite as much as we do now… or rather, maybe we need to re-evaluate what we spend our money on.

I know I also saw a site where you can search for green jobs, globally (as opposed to the green section on CareerOne, an Australian job site I hate… it never gives results matching my search strings in an effective way, no matter what I do). Can I find that site now though? I think not. If anyone comes across it, could you please send me the link?

What kinds of green jobs do you recommend?

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