You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.







If you are like me you probably enjoy a bit of chocolate on the odd occasion (or even quite regularly!) One thing that has amazed me though is to find out that until recently Cadbury’s chocoate contained palm oil, as do many other products that I regularly purchase.  Apart from the fact that palm oil isn’t particularly good for your health, it also has a curious link to orangutans becoming endangered.

That is because much of the palm oil used in our grocery products comes from plantations that are growing on land that previously contained natural forest; the primary habitat for the orangutan.

Orangutans, found in Sumatra and Borneo, Indonesia, are now an endangered species and not helping their plight is the fact that between 2000 and 2005, the equivalent of 300 soccer fields an hour or 51 a day of forest were destroyed in Indonesia.

Some interesting facts:

  • Around 10% of items on our supermarket shelves contain palm oil
  • Every Australian consumes on average 10 kg of palm oil a year
  • It may not be be labelled as palm oil, but rather vegetable oil or other
  • Palm oil is high in saturated fats and is used to improve the texture and longevity of certain food products

Apart from the relationship between Indonesian deforestation, the possible extinction of Orangutan’s and the production of palm oil. There is also the real concern that this immense rate of deforestation is contributing to global warming trends as well as threatening the well-being and future of many animals and people based in these regions.

How do you know if you are consuming palm oil?

Other websites/articles of interest:


Recently my son picked up a brochure entitled

“Think you can be a meat-eating environmentalist? Think again!”

He liked it because it had a picture of the world surrounded by stars, but didn’t notice that the continents were actually depicted as cuts of meat with a bite taken out of them.

Having this display by a local vegetarian society brought to my attention made me cringe, as I have read many convincing arguments about why we should not be eating meat (particularly red meat), due to its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. However being part of a family of male meat lovers, I find it a struggle to introduce even one vegetarian meal a week into our diet, as anything that obviously doesn’t have meat is quickly rejected.

According to the brochure my willing son armed me with

“A Sydney University study calculated that reducing your meat intake from the Australian average of 300 gms per day to 150 gms saves 1.4 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year – about the same as reducing your annual car travel by 4,700 kms in a family car.”

After reading this and many other convincing arguments in other literature, my main concern is how do I trick my family into eating vegetarian meals without them realising! Any tips on vegetarian child-friendly meals (must not look or taste like vegetables!) would be greatly appreciated. 

Canneloni with spinach & ricotta, vegie rice bake (my own invention) and fried rice seem to be the only dishes I have had any success with (success classified as being eaten without any complaints).

Also apparently

“in Australia, meat production is responsible for a massive 18 per cent of the country’s CO2 emissions. CO2 is the measure of total greenhouse gas contribution.” Read more

Yes, that is “Ode to” and not “Odour of the compost bin”. I have been working on the art of composting over the last 10 years or so and am still a mere novice compared to some. One of my main aims is to spend as little time on it as humanly possible. My ideal situation is to have a bin that I can throw things into and only have to do something with every 6-12 months when almost full.

What I love about composting is that I am reducing the rubbish our household sends to landfill and reducing methane emissions in the process (methane is 23 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, food and garden waste in landfill producing methane gas). 

…and no you don’t need to have chooks to or a vegetable garden to collect food scraps, all you need is about one square metre and a cheap compost bin.

My HOT TIPS for compost are:

  • put in a mix of fruit, vege scraps and crushed egg shells, plus stray leaves (not too many) and coffee grounds
  • throw in a bit of torn paper and water every now and again

Don’t put in:

  • onions, meat, sticks or big piles of leaves (mix in with other things)

Signs of success are:

  • lots of worms!
  • no smell (if you do have a compost bin with an “odour” it probably isn’t working properly and is probably producing methane – not what we are trying to achieve!)

I have also discovered that young kids love digging through compost and discovering worms which is a great time to chat with them about why do it and the science behind how it works.

More information on composting is also available at

So stop making excuses……for every tonne of food or garden waste you stop from going to landfill you save about 300kg of greenhouse gas emissions.