Making kind choices in your everyday life.

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In Praise of the Rescue Mutt

Posted by on Jan 11, 2015 in dogs | 10 comments

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own” – Elizabeth Parker

10593124_942932065733160_7819971502649832245_nYou may have noticed (by the myriad of photos adorning this blog) that we are rather fond of our little rescued mutt, Garp and his fly in, fly out sister Ivy (my mum’s nutty little hound from Staffy Rescue) who spends alot of time with us.

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Ivy and Garp

I have had a dog throughout my life – from the pedigree Airedales I grew up with to the perfect staffy pup my mum bought for me from a breeder at  a difficult time in my 20’s (saying goodbye to her 11 years later was one of the saddest days of my life). And, of course,  I loved each and every one of these different souls equally.

From now on, however, I would only consider adopting a “rescue” mutt. They are quirky and resilient souls who have had a bit of a rough start to life and deserve that second chance of finding their “forever home” which so, so many of them in desperate need of.  At this time of year, inexplicably, pounds are full to the brim.

I follow Pound Rounds on facebook and every few days the sad and innocent faces of the young, middle aged and old “death row” dogs are shared. These dogs have just a few days to find a home and it is quite a devastating reality check to witness. The Pound Round community is a generous one and last minute donations and people willing to foster / adopt save some of them but, unfortunately, it is a perpetual cycle and, clearly, there needs to be a better system in place to stop so many healthy animals ending up in this situation.

It is a strange world we live in where we have puppy farms and dodgy back yard breeders churning out thousands of puppies to meet the demand for certain breeds and pet shops, whilst overflowing pounds are simultaneously killing hundreds of thousands of them ( estimated to be 250,000 Australia wide healthy dogs and cats) due to lack of willing homes. This is nonsensical and morally skewed.

I would love to see people needing to obtain a licence to buy an animal – it is way too easy at the moment. You need one for a jet ski but not a dog. Go figure. People need to be educated on the lifelong commitment, cost (estimated to be around the $20,000 mark for a dog’s life !) and obligations which come with owning an animal. Animals need to be desexed to stop this rampant oversupply. People need to learn to walk and socialise their dogs to prevent problems like biting, digging and barking which lead some people to surrender their dogs. People need to plan ahead for having babies, moving house, animals becoming large and all the other unsurprising occurrences which lead to some people to give up their animals.

So, please, if you hear of anybody planning to bring an animal into their life, have some resources up your sleeve to recommend to them. There are brilliant (and, unfortunately, copious numbers of) rescue groups in every state.

PetRescue is an Australia Wide organisation – it amalgamates many of the rescue groups out there to make it easy to search for your new family member. Breed specific rescue groups (I have just been swooning over the bull terrier rescues available) are represented too and there are even ones devoted to deaf dogs (Hear no Evil) !

We got our little fella, then aged 3, from Monkia’s Doggie Rescue which are a great no kill rescue group located on the outskirts of Sydney. He had been waiting for a home for 8 months after being rescued from an inner city pound which defies belief as he is the world’s most adorable animal.  I love Monika’s stringent application rules – to ensure you have done your homework prior to adopting one of their dogs and they thoroughly suss you out to ensure that you are going to be a devoted fur baby parent.

Avoid “free to good home adds” in gumtree and the like at all costs. They attract undesirable people who use “free” animals for a range of dreadful things and do not address the over breeding problem in any shape or form. Likewise, sales on the internet are more than likely going to be puppies sourced from puppy farms or “backyard breeders”.

Following the recent change in government to Labour’s Daniel Andrews, Victoria is moving in the right direction to cut down on unscrupulous puppy farms and pet shop sales. I hope that they follow through with their promises and that other States follow their lead. In the meantime, it is up to individual council’s to take the lead in regards to encouraging responsible pet ownership. Mine does not appear very proactive in this regard and could take notes from Sutherland Shire Council animal shelter which is a wonderful example of  what some “thinking outside the box” can do. They give library talks to provide free education about responsible pet ownership, advertise their dogs in their best light on facebook and set up bins in the local IGA to enable people to readily donate food etc. They have a great net work of local volunteer dog walkers to tend to the dogs whilst they are waiting for their forever home. Renbury Farm and it’s efforts to provide mental stimulation for it’s shelter dogs are a great organisation too.

Of course some people do want a certain breed of dog (although, keep in mind that there are rescue groups for many breeds) and it would be a shame for some of the beautiful breeds around to die out. There are legitimate, kind, ethical breeders around who care for their dogs and encourage you to visit them when seeking out a pup. The RSPCA have a responsible puppy buying guide here.

Oscar’s Law is an amazing organisation to follow and/or donate to and is a hub of knowledge about everything concerning “puppy farms”.

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I too want Oscar’s Law Sia!

Should you need any further inspiration to encourage yourself or others to “adopt not shop” :

The ultimate pin up rescue dog is local Sydney boy Pikelet. I love the Life of Pikelet photos and the variety of foster dogs which share his bed. Too cute.

If you love photography and dogs as I do, have a look at these sad, beautiful, haunting portraits of dogs on their last day on earth immortalised by Taiwanese photographer Tou Chih-kang . This may sound like a completely morbid subject matter but it does show the individuals behind the numbers, raises awareness and gives some respect to these souls.

Landfill dogs is another wonderful organisation from the US who do everything they can to portray rescue dogs looking for homes in their best light. Stunning photography and dogs.

I would love to hear about your fur baby and how he/she came into your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Garp’s wisdom and Ing’s lists from 2014

Posted by on Dec 28, 2014 in Uncategorized | 6 comments

“Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance” ― David Nicholls (from his book “One Day”)

I have been mentally salivating at the thought of doing this 2014 wrap up post for the year. I adore “best of” lists so here is my version. I want to share the things I have read, heard and experienced which have brought good things to my life so…..here we go…..my beloved list-a-thon, inter-dispersed with some very cute Garp moments from the past year.

First though….2014 was an up and down year for me but the highlights were a trip to beautiful snowy Japan in Feb, doing the fabulous Blog with Pip course, being brave and moving jobs which has been the best decision ever, taking a 7 week mini sabbatical (most of which I spent pottering at home), a trip to gorgeous country Victoria, making lots of candles to raise money for Animals Asia and keeping my little blog on the move.

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Beautiful, cold Japan

 Books

* “It’s Not You, It’s Geography” and “Get Well Soon” by Kristy Chambers. LOVED both of these funny memoirs. I wish that Kristy Chambers was my friend. She is a hysterical, self deprecating, flawed, honest, warts ‘n all real chick.

* “High Sobriety” by Jill Stark (another great memoir)

* “Rise” – Ingrid Poulson (one more memoir, from one brave domestic violence survivor)

* “Love In the Outback” by Deb Hunt (and another – I like memoirs, by ladies, it seems !)

* “The Happiness Show” by Catherine Deveney

* “Tiny, Beautiful Things” – Cheryl Strayed

* “The Husband’s Secret” –  Liane Moriarty

* “The Death of Bees” – Lisa O’Donnell (If you liked “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time”, this is a good one)

* “Bed and Broccoli…a very special vegan experience” – by Nikki Medwell (gorgeous cook book)

* “Us” – David Nicholls (not quite as brilliant as “One Day” but a great read all the same)

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Be a good listener

Movies

* Boyhood (my fave…it is a brilliant must see)

* Oh Boy (from the German film festival)

* Still Life (you’ll need tissues for this UK movie)

* Belle and Sebastian (about a boy and his dog)

* We Are the Best ! (took me right back to being 12 in 1982 – gorgeous “Stand By Me”-ish coming of age Swedish movie)

* The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (I was a late comer to this one but it was so worth the wait)

Series

* Derek (Series 1)

* Borgen

* True Detective

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Set yourself lofty goals

 Music

A bit light on here…..I need some recommendations beyond….

Sia’s 1000 Forms of Fear…..which I would have listened to about 1000 times this year. It is brilliant.

Thanks to Spotify I discovered “U2 Live in Milan.” Bono’s rendition of Miss Sarejevo  (make sure you listen to the chorus – Bono gives Pavarotti a run for his money!) is why I still love this man’s rousing voice after a devoted, slightly bashful, 30 years (eek).

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Sleep soundly in the crook of a loved one’s arms

 A few wonderful, random discoveries

Ecolosophy – an online shop full of delightful things. Lovely blog too.

Biocheese – an animal product free “cheese” which, finally, actually tastes like cheese. I am a convert.

Kinda Bacon – tastes just like bacon bits but it is made with coconut !

House Slippers – lordy, I am showing my age when such apparel  appears on my best of list but I am in love with my handmade New Zealand groovy slippers.

Sunburst – a brand new dairy free margarine which contains no palm oil (unlike Nuttalex) and 5 c from each sale goes to Orangutan Foundation International Australia. Sold at Woolies and IGA. Love it.

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Share and be generous 

  People who have inspired me 

Jill Robinson from Animals Asia and Lyn White from Animals Australia – permanent fixtures on this list. What these women have achieved, year after year, for animals is mind boggling

Rosie Batty – for her resilience and courage faced with the murder of her son by her ex husband.

Reverend Bill Crews – I have not a religious bone in my body but his organisation’s (the Exodus Foundation) feeding of 3000 needy people on Christmas Day in Sydney brought a tear to my eye !

Sam Simon – the animal loving Simpsons creator who is dying from incurable cancer and is giving away his fortune in the worthiest of ways. Take notes Gina Rhineheart !

Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew for their no holds barred, courageous, politically incorrect approach to stopping animal cruelty in the oceans.

Nikki Medwell – for making her dreams become a reality. Her B&B and book are wonderful.

The beautiful dog rescuer guy in all the Hope For Paws videos. I implore you to watch one if you are having a bad day – they are all heart melting.

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Buy from nice companies wherever possible

 Blogs I Love

I am reluctant to make this list as there are so, so many great blogs to come out of the “Blog with Pip” course and I don’t want to leave anybody out but here are some of my faves…One Small Life, Life with the Crew, Heike Herrling, These Woven Words, Authentic Abundance,  dI terza maNo, Zinc Moon, That Summer Feeling, Sarah Hearts Writes, A Wondering Life, Naomi Loves, Miss Pippilotta, Betty Rose and George, Sewcraftygoodness, Made With Loops, Bear Loves Dove., Dig In, I Give You the Verbs…………so many clever, creative, funny and inspiring people. My world is a better, brighter place because of you guys (but you aren’t helping my worst of habits – procrastination !)

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Make time to hang out with friends

 Great Websites that I subscribe too which give me all kinds of living well lifestyle tips and recipes

1 Million Women

Consume With Care

One Green Planet

Otter

The Mindful Foodie

My Darling Lemon Thyme

So, now that 2014 is all but wrapped up, I want to say thank you to everyone who has read my little blog and to those who have commented and encouraged me along the way. You are lovely and I am grateful.

As for 2015, I aim to continue to tread as kindly as I can through this life – learning, doing and sharing what I can. A trip to Ubud and Tulamben in Bali is on the horizon as is a journey to north west Tasmania to see the Tarkine wilderness area before the Liberal Party get their mitts on it. More candle making, blogging (including sprucing up my blog’s rather wayward appearance), gardening, power walking, cooking, camping and learning to crochet await. I hope it is a wonderful, safe and happy one for you too xxx

Happy 2015 from my little family to you !

I would love you to share your favourite things of 2014 in the comments section – books, music, travel spots, movies, recipes ? Please tell ! AND, lastly, I am keen to build up my Tread Kindly audience in 2015 so I would love it if you could like me on facebook or subscribe just over there to the right of this page to ensure you never miss a post xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ethical Christmas Feasting

Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Christmas | 2 comments

“As custodians of the planet, it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness. People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It’s ludicrous. It’s not as bad as mass animal death in a factory.” Richard Gere

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Art: Paco Catalán Carrión

When you’re planning your Christmas day feast, please ponder the plight of the millions of animals who are confined to the most hideous of conditions in factory farms to fuel our endless demand for cheap and plentiful meat so we can “eat, drink and be merry” at this time of year. Life is far from merry for them.

If you are going to have turkey, pork, chicken etc on your table for christmas lunch, please spend a bit more time, money and effort to source it from an “ethical supplier”.

Some great Australia wide websites which help you decipher who the real free range suppliers are, look no further than :

Consume with Care

Flavour Crusader

Sustainable Table

And for seafood, there is this guide :

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide

For Sydney-siders, a new shop has just opened up in the inner west called Chop Shop Carivorium which stocks, amongst many locally grown, organic products, Melanda Park pork which is unambiguously free range.

If you want to take that one extra step and leave animals off your table this year (or, chances are, you will have at lease one vegetarian / vegan guest at the table – our numbers are on the rise !), read on for some sumptuous suggestions :

* The wonderful people at Bed and Broccoli have shared their fear free christmas recipes. I am going to have a crack at the Tofurky.

* The Sanitarium Vegi Roast with Rosemary and Mint Glaze is an easy, tasty option and can be picked up at your major supermarket.

* Partake in one of the many christmas recipes on display at VeganEasy.org.

* This Easy Vegan Christmas Pudding looks divine.

* For some more snazzy / fancy pants (featuring Donna Hay and Bill Graninger) vegetarian / vegan christmas recipes have a look at these mouth watering suggestions.

Have a happy and compassionate christmas everyone xxx

 

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Smelling gorgeous

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Animal Testing, Perfume etc | 11 comments

“Dear intelligent people of the world, don’t get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now fucking stop torturing animals” – Ricky Gervais (love this man !)

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photo credit : acuteaday.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s be honest, we all enjoy smelling good. A heady, evocative smell can whisk you straight back to a time in your life or remind you of a person quicker than any of our other senses.

However, as with all things beauty related, there is something particularly offensive about having an animal suffer in order for us to smell or look pretty.

My treading kindly quest is a continual learning curve, including the discovery that sourcing cruelty free perfume is not the simplest of tasks.

I have worn Issey Miyake perfume for about the last 20 years. It reminds me of my friend Meg who has worn it for even longer. My fella wears Issey Miyake aftershave. Suffice to say, I love its very particular aroma and all the memories it evokes with just one little spray.

In response to my query to Issey Miyake (owned by Shishedo) about their stance on animal testing, animal ingredients and why they don’t appear on any of the third party certification sites, I received a rather vague and wofty reply which didn’t adequately address my concerns. (“We strictly implement the regulations in favour of the development and the insertion of our cosmetic products in the market. In accordance with the European Directive, we follow the progress of testing methodologies in order to avoid animal testings as we go along with alternatives methods. Therefore, we no longer experiment animal testings for the products introduced in the market.”) What on earth does that even mean ?

I don’t want give money to a company which thinks squirting painful chemicals into an animal’s eyes or onto their skin causing it to blister is an OK thing to do to make money. I want to give my money to a company who has the integrity not to sell to the massive Chinese market (where animal testing is still compulsory for beauty products sold there) and who places the suffering of animals and the environment above making a quid. I think we probably all want this but the seductive world of the perfume industry does not make this an easy feat. Virtually every big name brand (think Clinique, Calvin Klein, Avon, Estee Lauder, Michael Kors) which you see in the David Jones perfume hall either contains animal ingredients and/ or  it (or the ingredients contained within it) is tested on animals or the big company who owns it endorses animal testing. This Choice article is critical of the sales assistants of some brands who will tell you otherwise so don’t always trust what you are told !

The Shop Ethical perfume site is a grim collection of crosses and calls for boycotts due to a whole manner of dirty little secrets which the perfume world gets up to (including animal testing, use of microbeads, use of palm oil).

As for some of the animal ingredients which many perfumes contain…….Musk, Civet and Castoreum are three of the bizarre animal derived ingredients (fancy some anal gland secretions from the civet cat anybody ?) which are often found in perfumes to create longevity but are often produced in a cruel manner – with the animals either having to be killed (beavers in the case of castoreum) or kept in tiny cages for their lives (civet). This article explains a bit more.

To get around the whole dilemma of ambiguous advertising (such as the common line “we do not test on animals apart from if required by law”) or, as in the case of Issey Miyake, they may not test on animals but the “parent” company does (so the profit filters through to the “bad” company anyway…) use one of these independent guides. There are stringent requirements to get on their lists and companies are struck off if they don’t comply. So, the hard work is done for you and you can sit back and smell nice with a clear conscience.

* Choose Cruelty Free

Leaping Bunny Guide

PETA’s guide

A quick inventory of my dressing table reveals, aside from my Issey Miyake, remnants of Pure DKNY  and  Michael KORS (also owned by evil animal testing giant Estee Lauder) and Davidoff Cool Water owned by Coty Australia – also known for animal testing. Sigh. What sort of kind treader am I ? A woeful one !

Cruelty free perfumes I have either tried or yearn after are these ones (and feature in the above guides):

Pacific Perfumes – gorgeous New Zealand company selling a summery array of affordable solid, oil and spray perfumes. I have my eye on the solid perfumed, cute vintage tinned “The Lady’s Moustache”. Who could resist a name like that ? whoreSHOP_1_large

Pacifica Perfumes – USA ethical company (donates to women’s shelters, only uses recycled boxes etc) which are easily found in Australia. They have tantalising “flavours” such as Indian Coconut Nectar and Mediterranean Fig. I have a couple of these perfumes and they are lovely and I usually get a compliment when I wear them. Not so long lasting but affordable enough to have a wee spray every couple of hours.

Lush – I am a huge fan of this kind and ethical company and they have a great perfume selection. I have their solid “Gorilla” Perfume which is a long lasting Jasmine scent.

Natio  – another Aussie kind company that I love. Limited women’s perfume  but a few men’s aftershaves which are deliciously manly and “fworgh” smelling (will try out on my fuss pot other half soon !). Easy to find in Myer, David Jones etc.

Lavanila – this US based company receives consistently glowing reviews and has environmentally friendly (they plant a tree when you order a product from them), chemical free, cruelty free credentials. I want some. They can be purchased in Australia with free delivery from Beautiful Because (which sells an array of cruelty free products). The “Vanilla Summer” promises wofts of “Madagascar Vanilla, mango, pineapple, coconut”. Get out of the house !

Arbonne – love their cute bottles and cruelty free philosophy. Would be a perfect perfume introduction to a teenager who would go nuts over a bottle like this……5243.lg

 

 

Olo – unusual scents aplenty (tobacco, whiskey, wood combo ?!). Sweet little Portland company.

Givescent – small, philantropophic company inspired by the smells of Italy and is chemical free. Gives a portion of it’s profits to worthy women’s charities including “every mother counts”.

So, Issey Miyake, for the next half of my life, I am going to replace you with a kinder, better, more transparent you and find a new signature smell which ticks my kind living lifestyle boxes too. After a couple of decades (nostalgic old stick in the mud, who me ?!) , it is time.

 

 

 

 

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Kind Clothing

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in Clothing, Kind Companies | 7 comments

Do your little bit of good where you are, it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” – Desmond Tutu

I am a bit of a bandit for wearing the same clothes year in and year out. I faithfully don the same dresses, cossies etc year after year, some of which I bought over a decade ago (kind of mortifying when I think about it !) only to discard them when they become threadbare. I am not overly confident with my fashion choices and can get paralysed by indecision in clothes shops so I kind of stick with what I like for a long, long time.

The time has come to take the plunge and buy a few new clothes. I am keen to buy from a company who is going to do something good and kind with my patronage. Here they are, my chosen few garments for 2014 – here’s hoping they are long lasting !

1. This top from Ecolosophy : Made by disadvantaged women in India and Nepal.

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This gorgeous on line Australian shop is chock a block full of desirable things – all of which give back in some capacity (environmentally, by employing under privileged workers etc). Now is a good time to snap something up too as you have the chance to win a eco friendly product packed hamper when you checkout.

2. These pyjama pants (or should I say my “lurking around the house” attire) from Punjammies. This lovely company assists women in India to escape from sex slavery by teaching them new skills and a way to make a living. Each pair of punjammies is named after one of the women who work in the sewing centres. There are many, beautifully coloured ones to pick from but I like “Kalyani”.

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 3. This limited addition Hello Kitty t-shirt from the wonderful, amazing Animals Asia. A christmas pressie for my 9 year old niece with proceeds going to help the bears.

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4. These ballet flats from Toms. Thanks to  Toms “one for one” policy, my purchase will mean that a pair of shoes is donated to a child in need (they do other lovely things too such as providing clean water for a person in need for a week when you buy a bag of their coffee).

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As for who I WON’T be buying from…….the Just Group in Australia (which includes Dotti, Portmans, Jay Jays, Just Jeans and Jacqui-E) are off my list. Despite a swag of big names (including Myer, David Jones, Collette Dinnigan, Big W) advising that they will no longer be selling garments containing angora wool, the Just Group is continuing to do so despite being faced with the evidence of the horrendously cruel way which is it produced.

It takes a tiny bit more work fishing out these “giving back” companies than just wandering into the likes of Myer but it feels good to know that your purchase is helping another person or animal in need. If you know of any other similar companies, please let me know so that I can add them to the list when my next shopping “spree” comes calling !

 

 

 

 

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