Climate change, overpopulation, animal extinction — it’s all happening and TV is ignoring it

“We have ended up with a litany of programmes about travel, the countryside and cookery that whitewash out all the nasty, threatening stuff. It’s apparently more important to show celebrities in jungles than the diminishing rainforests.”

Jane Dalton, Climate change, overpopulation, animal extinction — it’s all happening and TV is ignoring it

Green Up Film Festival (live now!)

I blogged about the Green Up Film Festival last month. Just so you know, the 10 films have been chosen and you can stream them online for free now. The 10 films are:

  • New York, the Green Revolution
  • Secret of the Fields
  • LoveMEATender
  • Global Waste
  • E-wasteland
  • Chemerica!
  • The Well
  • Nôgô, insalubrity
  • Together
  • Climatic Chaos in the South


Food rationing

“I woke up one day last week and listened to Farming Today. Big mistake. It was all about mass death and suffering. Gassing and shooting badgers first, then chicken farming. Comparatively happy, free-range chickens, mind you, but they still sounded horribly cramped to me. And some are corn-fed, so that in the shops, I heard, their skins are a lovely golden colour. Attractive corpses. But at least not battery ones. I have just read all about them in Chickens’ Lib, by Clare Druce – worse torture on a grand scale. And now the House of Lords EU Committee tells us 15m tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year, so squillions of those poor chickens went through hell for nothing.”


” I long for a strict nanny state, to bring back rationing, so no one would be allowed to over-stuff themselves with great slabs of meat daily, or waste their crusts or peelings, reject twirly cucumbers or knobbly fruit and veg. A time when you couldn’t bulk-buy cheap meat, produce crap food with it, and sell it every few yards along every high street, and outside every school, until loads of us are waddling about, obese and poorly, or malnourished, while others are swanning into Heston Blumenthal restaurants to eat “meat fruit” (c 1500) which is mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait or “rice & flesh” (c 1390) which is made with saffron, calf tail & red wine.”

Not such a ludicrous idea, hmm?

Green Up Film Festival


I sometimes find it hard to explain to the people around me how what we eat and how we live are affecting the environment. Once, in French class, we were discussing climate change and there were several statements in the textbook on how certain actions lead to certain consequences. We took turns to speak about whether we agree or disagree with the statements. Then, one of my classmates said very softly to himself, “Hmm…how does that affect the environment?” At that moment, I wanted to jump up and share everything I knew with him! Unfortunately, my French teacher was already talking about the next exercise…

That’s why I think film is a fantastic way to share knowledge! Let someone else do the talking. The audience is engaged and everything is laid out in a systematic manner, with visuals and explanations along the way. The Green Up Film Festival is offering free documentaries about energy, economy, water, food/agriculture, biodiversity and waste/pollution. These documentaries will be available for free streaming on their website from 16 to 30 April 2014. There are currently 15 documentary trailers on their website, and we get to vote which ones we want to see. The 10 documentaries with the highest votes will then be made available for free. How brilliant is that?!

There are some documentaries which I’ve been meaning to watch, but don’t have access to and this is a great opportunity for me to finally watch them. These are some that caught my eye:

Nos enfants nous accuseront
For the first time ever, our children are growing up less healthy than we are. As the rate of cancer, infertility and other illnesses linked to environmental factors climbs ever upward each year, we must ask ourselves: why is this happening? Our Children will accuse us begins with a visit to a small village in France, where the town’s mayor has decided to make the school lunch menu organic and locally grown. It then talks to a wide variety of people with differing perspectives to find common ground – children, parents, teachers, health care workers, farmers, elected officials, scientists, researchers and the victims of illnesses themselves.
Revealed in these moving and often surprising conversations are the abuses of the food industry, the competing interests of agribusiness and public health, the challenges and rewards of safe food production, and the practical solutions that we can all take part in. [Synopsis taken from the festival website]

Bag It!
Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes, disposable bags that they throw away without much thought. But where is “away?” Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to the environment, marine life and human health?

When Jeb finds out he and his partner are expecting a child, his plastic odyssey becomes a truly personal one. How can they protect their baby from plastic’s pervasive health effects? Jeb looks beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society — from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products — is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process. Two of the most common of these additives, “endocrine disruptors” Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, show links to cancer, diabetes, autism, attention deficit disorder, obesity, infertility, and even smaller penis size. As adults, we make all kinds of choices of convenience: single-serve bottles, small units of food, household items, and bath and beauty products. These products are both made with and come packaged in plastic.

As a consequence of our modern day culture, we have become addicted to plastics, and they have quietly infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Even our children (especially during in utero development) have unwittingly and alarmingly become our modern day lab rats.

Bag It makes it clear that it is time for a paradigm shift. Join Jeb as he meets with people who fought the American Chemistry Council lobby that spent more than a million dollars fighting the Seattle bag fee; as he interviews a man sailing the Pacific in a boat made of plastic to raise awareness about our ocean’s health; as he gets tested to determine the levels of chemicals in his own body; and as he welcomes his baby into the world, a world he hopes we can leave with a little less plastic and in a little better shape for the next generation. [Synopsis taken from the festival website]

Global Waste
One billion people around the globe are chronically malnourished, yet one-third of the planet’s food production is going to waste. Every year, the United States wastes twice the amount of food needed to feed its population. In Western countries, farmers, agro-industrialists, supermarkets and consumers throw out enough food to feed the world’s undernourished inhabitants seven times over.

Forests are being destroyed. The production of food that will never be eaten is responsible for nearly one-tenth of the greenhouse gases emitted in the West. While wealthy countries negligently waste food, developing countries are watching their crops spoil because farmers don’t have the tools to treat, conserve or get them to market.

But public awareness of the problem is growing. Surprisingly simple solutions could resolve what has become one of the most pressing environmental and social dilemmas facing the world today.

We look at fruit, vegetables, bread, meats, fish, grains and ready-made meals, travelling from Europe to Costa Rica, with stops in Pakistan, the United States and Japan. Viewers are introduced to the key players in this infernal food system: producers, industrialists, distributors and consumers. We see distressing examples of waste, but also inspiring innovations and solutions for making the most of the food we produce.

Our modern lifestyle has created a global food crisis and we have now look at things that can be done to resolve it. [Synopsis taken from the festival website]

**Most of the films are in French, but some are available with English subtitles and Bag It! and The Well are in English. So hurry, vote so we can watch and share these documentaries for free!

Factory farming and meat consumption

“Farm animals gobble more than a third of the world’s supply of arable harvests and they waste most of this as faeces and heat. If your aim is to provide adequate nutrition for the world’s billions, the fewer factory farms the better. By contrast, traditional systems let ruminants graze on grass while pigs and chickens snaffle up leftovers and forage, thus increasing, rather than decreasing, total food availability. Factory farming may also have helped to breed strains of superbugs that medicine cannot defeat because farm animals have been routinely fed antibiotics merely to increase their growth rate.”


“Lymbery rightly focuses on how much meat we eat: on average, in rich countries we eat two to three times more than is recommended. But the other side of the equation is how many people there are in the first place. When is population going to become an accepted part of the food debate? If it’s fine to encourage people to think about halving their meat consumption, can we really not cope with a conversation about how many children we have?”

Tristram Stuart, Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat by Philip Lymbery – review

I hate factory farming. It’s bad for the animals and it’s also bad for those who eat them. So why do we continue with this ludicrous activity?

Sharing a message from Feeding the 5000

“Calling all gleaners in Kent and London! We’ve found thousands of brassica going to waste on a farm in Kent! We went last year and saved 2 tonnes of caulis and cabbages, and they enjoyed having us so much they’ve invited us back. On Saturday 1st February, we’ll be going on a mission to save as many as possible of these tasty delicacies for charity! All produce going via our good friends FareShare to charities dealing with food poverty.

Saturday 1st February 10am-5pm (TBC). Travel expenses paid from Kent, London and nearby (just ask us first) – priority to Kent gleaners, but might be London spaces too.

Contact to volunteer or for more info – join the Glean Revolution!

If you can’t join us this time, sign up to our gleaning list to be the first to find out about our next gleaning day near you – gleaning is spreading all over the UK!

Thinking about ethical banking

The older I get, the more I realise how little I know about what’s going on in our world. A friend shared this post (in French) about changing our lifestyles and it got me thinking. If you can’t read French, or if you don’t want to read the article, here’s a summary: the author writes about the changes she has made in her life to contribute to making a more harmonious world. Some of these changes include always having a reusable bag, replacing all household cleaning products with products we can easily find in our kitchens such as vinegar, recycling, reducing purchases with excess packaging, composting, considering the ethical aspect of our purchases (are the people who make our products treated fairly and respectfully?), reflecting on where our food comes from, switching to organic, becoming vegetarian, making the switch to using menstrual cups, switching to a bank which supports environmental, social, cultural and ethical projects, etc. There are many interesting suggestions on how we can be more ethical – and thankfully, I have been doing my part in many areas – but this is the first time I’ve heard of ethical banking.

Wikipedia (I know you’re rolling your eyes, but they’re a convenient and quick resource for definitions!) says, “An ethical bank, also known as a social, alternative, civic, or sustainable bank, is a bank concerned with the social and environmental impacts of its investments and loans. Ethical banks are part of a larger societal movement toward more social and environmental responsibility in the financial sector.”

I had no idea such a thing existed! Is there hope for the banking industry after all? I did a quick search on ethical banking in Singapore and even the search gods couldn’t come up with anything optimistic, or maybe I’m not searching hard enough. But then I started to wonder what my banks are doing with my money. What are they investing in? Is it a cause that I would support? How do I find out where my money goes?!?? It’s all a bit depressing and I still have no answers after scouring the Internet for hours. It made me more inclined to switch to an ethical bank. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find any Singaporean ethical banks apart from a bank with religious affiliations.

The Guardian (they have an entire section dedicated to ethical money) recently published a few articles about ethical banking options in the UK and the French article that my friend shared also gave a few suggestions in France. Perhaps I should consider an offshore bank account? Here’s hoping that ethical banking makes its way to Singapore and the rest of Asia soon!

All this banking talk is giving me a headache. 😦