South / South-East Asia

Being able to see every country in the world is likely most people’s dream. Budget and timing, however, are the real deal breakers when actually going anywhere.

I’ve compiled a list of the cheapest and most productive places to visit as a digital nomad or as a cultural seeker. This article is Asia specific.

Always remember that in another country, they live differently to you, even if it seems similar. Respect the laws, culture and people. Your tourism helps their economy but their economy does not depend on you. Just be respectful at all costs.

Indonesia

Australia’s neighbour is made up of thousands of volcanic islands with hundreds of ethnic groups and corresponding languages.

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While a predominantly Muslim country the traditional cultures of Indonesia are very much alive and colourful.

While most nomads head to Bali (as do the bogans) there is a treasure trove of Indonesian islands that haven’t succumbed to their own success.

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia, on the island of Java.

Other major islands include Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua, Maluku islands, Sulawesi and Bali.

While there are other major hub islands I can’t list them all in one article.

With lakes, hiking, volcanoes, clear water, the most amazing food (get yourself to a warrung) and the most cultured and friendly people, Indonesia is a paradise without the ego.

So here are the average living numbers:

Restaurant meal: $2.50

Beer: $3.50

Bus ride: 40c

Rent p/month: $197

(not in the city centre)

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Most of Indonesia uses the barter system, so brush up on your skills before you go and follow what the locals are doing.

Language: Indonesian with plenty of English

Healthcare: standard with lacking resources but satisfactory

Sanitation: flushing and non-flushing toilets, bottled water

Politics: Democratic republic with presidential head and multiple parties.

Religions: Mainly Islamic but also factions of Catholicism, protestant Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucianism.

Currency used: Indonesian Rupiah. $1AUD= 10148 Rupiah.

 

Vietnam

Vietnam has three major cities; Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Da Nang. Hue is another beautiful city to stay in.

While most people associate Vietnam with the American war it is so much more than that with a rich history, unique culture and spirited people.

Before the American war, the people fought back colonial French rule and you can see the French influence all around the country. They are originally dated to be a huge agricultural economy due to the many river systems throughout the country. Notably the Mekong river.

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Americans are welcomed and the animosity is very minimal considering. The people are very resilient and polite and are always helpful and excited to share their culture. Always be polite, they don’t owe you a cultural experience.

The food is absolutely one of a kind and every town or city you go in Vietnam will have its own cuisines. From secret lotus flower dishes to meatball Pho there are a billion dishes to try out.

On the main city streets, you’ll find home draught beer and blue chairs. The beer is cheap and refreshing and the locals love a laugh.

Vietnam is also the most populated city of scooters so watch your step.

Living average in numbers:

Restaurant meal: $3

Beer: $1.2

Bus ride: 43c

Rent p/month: $350

(not in the city centre)

Vietnam also uses the barter system in street markets but not in stores. Don’t offend the locals by haggling set prices in restaurants or street food.

While the western world sees Vietnam as a poor communist country, it is, in fact, a booming economy, rich culture and progressive land that keeps tradition while unafraid to mend their policies to adjust to a changing world.

Language: Vietnamese and English

Healthcare: Standard. Pharmacies are everywhere and are super helpful but hospitals are clean and have standard care. Can be pricey though.

Sanitation: very clean. Flushing toilets and average water purity. Still, boil water or drink bottled water.

Politics: Socialist Republic. One party system with elected leaders, president and prime minister elected by the national assembly

Religions: majority atheist or local religions with factions of Buddhism and Catholicism.

Currency used: Dong. $1AUD= 16,333 Dong

Cambodia

Vietnam’s neighbour Cambodia may look similar due to its connection to the major river systems of south-east Asia but they are worlds apart in culture.

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While most Cambodians and Laotians can understand Vietnamese, Vietnamese cannot readily understand the others.

The landscape glitters with incredible and literal breathtaking ruins and ancient temples. Hidden behind tree roots and vines it’s clear why they filmed tomb raider here.

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The food is again so unique. Khmer cuisine is derived from very old recipes that have lasted the colourful history of war and imperialism in the region.

Top five dishes would have to be fish amok, banana flower anything, loc lac, Khmer curry and any of the street food.

The term Khmer is synonymous with the Khmer Rouge. While there are parts of Cambodia’s history most of the world remembers, the term actually refers to many parts of Cambodian culture and history. The Khmer empire was the Angkor empire that existed before modern Cambodia.

The Khmer script is the language spoken and the Khmer people are the ethnic group that mainly inhabit Cambodia.

Living average in numbers:

Restaurant meal: $5

Beer: $1.50

Bus ride: $3

Rent p/month: $380

(not in the city centre)

Language: Khmer and mostly English

Healthcare: Above standard. The gov is working towards universal healthcare which can be a struggle due to the majority of rural areas.

Sanitation: Flushing toilets but bottled water.

Politics: An elective monarchy with a prime minister.

Religions: over 90% Buddhist with factions of Islam, Christianity and tribal animism.

Currency used: The Cambodian Riel. $1AUD= 2831Riel

 

India

India is a huge country! Absolutely massive! You could fit India only twice in Australia so it’s pretty damn big.

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Due to its size, the country has several landscapes and climates. The Himalayas, the Indo-Gangetic plains in the north, central highlands, The Thar desert that’s 10,000 years old, the mountainous Ghats in the east and west, the beaches all around its coasts, the Andaman islands and so much more!

India is a place you’ll need a lifetime to explore.

The history before the British colonial rule was one of incredulous scientific and mathematical discoveries. It holds one of the oldest civilizations in the world with some of the first humans to leave Africa.

Remnants of the Gupta empire and before are found throughout the country and the people while portrayed in lacking in civility are resourceful and intelligent people with traditions that have brought economic power to their country.

The food is also different all over the country.

The north uses more meat and more cream in their recipes like their famous rice puddings, while the south is more vegetarian based like appams and Ishtu (crepes and stew in a way you’ve never had).

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this photo is not my own.

With countries like India, we’re going on averages, because the country is so diverse these numbers are a seriously loose estimate.

Living average in numbers:

Restaurant meal: $3

Beer: $2.45

Bus ride: 40c

Rent p/month: $150

(not in the city centre)

India also mostly uses a barter system, practice a heap before you jet.

The culture itself in India is also super diverse. The dance, customs, languages and customs are different in each city let alone each province so it’s very difficult to pinpoint the best place to stay in such a huge country.

Language: 22 languages are listed in the constitution. Most people speak Hindi or English but many others including Urdu, Bengali and Gujarati are also common.

Healthcare: state responsibility therefor is varied from place to place. Basic healthcare may be found in cities and major towns but not as equipped in many other places.

Sanitation: mostly manual flushing toilets and bottled water.

Politics: A constitutional republic with a prime minister and a president.

Currency used: Indian Rupee. $1AUD= 50 Rupee.

 

Philippines

 

Oh the Philippines, how I love you.

A country made up of over 7100 islands. Each island is unique with its own cultures and biodiversity.

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People from here call themselves Filipinos and they are found in almost every country you visit. Probably because of how friendly they are.

Before the US occupation and the Spanish empire saw a collection of ethnic groups with rich agriculture, explorers and warriors. These cultural traditions and practices still survive today with tribal tattoos that are distinct and characteristic of their homes.

The food is also different on each island as each island has similar but distinct ecosystems.

Dishes you must try while there are Lechon, Adobo, Sinigang, Kare Kare and the rum.

Emperadado rum is the local favourite in most places and it is normally drunk with lemonade.

Living average in numbers:

Restaurant meal: $4.50

Beer: $1.30- San Miguel or Red Horse is the local.

Bus ride: 30c

Rent p/month: $215

(not in the city centre)

While there is bartering in the Philippines most of the main areas are westernised and don’t use this.

When using transport, the Jeepney is the king of the road, the public bus comes second and the scooter is last on the list of choices.

Don’t bother with cars you won’t get far, especially in Manila.

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Language: Tagalog, English and some Spanish.

Healthcare: Above standard. It’s very inexpensive to see a doctor and buy medicines and the health professionals are very well trained.

Sanitation: manual flushing toilets outside the major cities and bottled water.

Politics: democratic republic with a president.

Religion: majority Catholic with Islamic factions.

Currency used: Filipino Peso. $1AUD= 37 pesos.

While there has been unrest politically due to drugs and other issues, the Philippines is a very safe place. Always use caution when being a foreigner but almost all of the Philippines is welcoming and safe.

Leave a comment with your favourite destinations or any advice on where to go next!

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How To Dye Easter Eggs

Easter time!

While I don’t consider myself religious, I come from a traditionally and culturally rich heritage that has religious holidays and rituals so I like to celebrate them with my family.

This year was the first that I didn’t do the egg preparation with my grandma as she has passed. So this time I was going solo and trying to also show off to my partner of a different background.

This is one of the most entertaining activities though. You can dye all different types of eggs or paint them yourself.

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The background

 

Growing up in a Serbian Orthodox community I was told that Easter eggs were a symbol of Jesus being resurrected and we dyed eggs to symbolise his blood.

Sounds morbid.

To me, it’s always being a part of the traditions of my heritage and spending time with my family while being creative.

The egg has also been a long standing symbol of new life, particularly in pagan spring symbolism.

The oldest example of egg decoration was found by archaeologists to be over 60,000 years ago with the discovery of a decorated ostrich egg.

This was still a time that human artistry boomed and we went from the first humans to the first creative creatures.

Growing up we could draw whatever we wanted and used whatever colours.

Some places in the world keep it more traditional with the images of the cross as well as using the colour red.

In our tradition, we use the eggs to compete for bragging rights to see whose egg is the strongest by cracking them in an egg crack showdown.

How I did it

 

Here’s the fun part.

First of all, you want to use some really good eggs. Like proper farm eggs that had chickens having the time of their life.

Fun fact, there are so many chickens on earth in this point in our history that aeons from now when they describe our time on earth, the remains of all those chickens will make us seem like they rivalled us in population.

Anyway, you want a good set of eggs because they last longer without smelling and have a great taste afterwards. Quality!

Also, you should try and support your local farms.

You’re going to need the following:

Stockings

Food dye (I chose blue)

Some garden trimmings and/ or some candle wax.

First, you hard boil the egg.

Put your eggs in cold water that covers them.

Put them on the stove or fire and leave on med-high heat until it comes to a rolling boil.

Turn the heat to med-low and leave for a good 15 minutes on this lower heat for the eggs to boil through.

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Once boiled put them in some icy or very cold water to cool them down.

Dying the eggs

While your eggs are cooling, set up some warm water with a tablespoon of vinegar.

I reused the water I boiled the eggs in.

Then try and put a few drops of colouring in. this can be hard if you don’t have a dropper mechanism.

If you are using the garden pieces and stocking, you want to put your pieces on the dab dry egg and pull the stocking over it to hold it in place and tie the stocking off like a balloon.

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Obviously, don’t squeeze hard.

If you’re using wax, take a piece of candle wax and draw your won invisible design on the egg.

Once you’ve done your design work, you carefully place your eggs in the mixture.

It doesn’t really matter if they’re touching in the pot just make sure they aren’t crowded.

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The dying process can take anywhere from 10-25 minutes depending on how dark you want the colour on your egg.

Once they’re the colour you like, take them out, dry them off and leave to cool and dry.

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The goods

So my egg was the second strongest.

My sister won by default.

But I clearly won.

Conclusion

The tradition of eggs stems from the pagan traditions from the beginning of humanity.

We use the egg religiously because it symbolises new life and Jesus’ resurrection.

We also do it because it’s a fun bonding activity for the community.

You can include many different designs with garden pieces or drawing on your eggs with wax.

While I didn’t do it this time, you can use natural dyes instead of food colouring, and you can also get some very elaborate eggs happening for Easter.

Stay tuned for next year to see what we come up with.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you and learn some new designs.

Leave a comment or a photo and show of what other techniques are out there.

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Cuban Street Food

Ahh, Cuba.

This is one of those places on earth that one you’ve been, you’re so moved that a piece of you remains behind.

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The music, the people, the terrain, the Internet (I’m Australian), the climate and of course their food!

I spent a good two and a half weeks in this beautiful island country and I cannot recommend it higher.

Firstly we’re talking about purchases so I need to clarify the currency disparity. Due to trade sanctions Cuba has two currencies. One is the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) that was a replacement for the American dollar and the other is CUP (Cuban Peso). Most people use both throughout the country but the local Peso is more regularly accepted.

A Brief History

Firstly I think it’s best I give a little background to the country and why their food blended with their culture is so unique.

Cuba was originally an island populated by three main indigenous tribes of whose descendants still inhabit the island.

The islands like many others in the Caribbean were transformed into plantations, mainly for sugar cane.

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This is still a major source of economic growth in the country and slaves that were sent to labour the plantations also contribute to the population of descendants.

After Spanish colonial rule, the country was engaged in a treaty that declared Cuba as part of the US’ protectorate between 1898 and 1902 when the country became independent.

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(yes I wore a fedora, I accept your judgement)

In 1952 Bautista, a previous president staged a coup when he lost re-election and overthrew the country. His coup was funded and supported by the US, a trend that can be seen throughout Latin America. Cuba at the time was a safe haven for America’s gangsters with the majority of funding provided by and for the rich elite and the criminals.

In 1958 a revolution led by infamous Fidel and his brother Raul Castro ensued leading the country to become independent and form its current socialist democracy.

During it’s time as a communist entity during the cold war years led to Cuba being a perceived threat of the USA and the subsequent actions that led to long-standing sanctions against its trade.

For this reason, the money the country does have is funnelled back into the support of its people with education, healthcare, employment and this is one of the reasons behind it’s lacking in infrastructure and run down appearance. This is also contributed to the many hurricanes it faces throughout the year.

What this does mean is they subsidise a lot of things.

Subsidised Ice Creams

Thanks to the Bautista years of capitalism, Castro set up a chain of state-run subsidised ice cream parlours around the country with a home base in Havana called Coppelia. However on the street, as you, as it gets hot enough any day of the year you’ll find state-run ice cream vendors pop up all over the towns with subsidised ice cream.

I paid for this chocolate heaven (half is already missing) for only 1 CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso), which equals out to today’s rate of $1.40 AUD.

Creamy but not sickening made with real sugar cane sugar right off the island.

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Ice cream in Cuba is a bit of a big deal, make sure you indulge in the Heladerias.

Street Pizza

Ok, these seem to be the locals favourite and they are EVERYWHERE!

Most places you’re going to get these are holes in the wall. Literally. It’ll be from either a small shop window or the window to someone’s kitchen.

They come in cheese, meat lovers style, supreme and Hawaiian. Personally n9ot a fan of pineapples on pizza but the Cuban people definitely know how to do it right.

These yummers go for about 5 to 10 CUP (Cuban Peso) so that’s about 40 cents AUD.

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Coconut Shell Gelato

 

Another favourite among locals and tourists alike are the gelatos sold in coconut shells. They’re a great mix between sweet ice and gelato. They come in so many different flavours and the mobile store you buy them at always seems to have new flavours.

Every one of them that I bought was homemade with natural ingredients.

Definitely, need to have these when walking around town in the heat but maybe byo a spoon to save having to use the plastic one.

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These go for about 20 CUP so around 80 cents to $1 AUD.

Hamburguesa de Cerdo

 

This one I see a lot of in other posts but in my time I only came across it a few times and only when there were a lot of people around, particularly street festivals or hot evenings.

They come to around $1.50 AUD and are unbelievable.

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You have the option of adding pineapple or onions to them but with the chilli, they are perfection on a bun.

One Peso Coffee

This one is self-explanatory. You buy it at the food stall around the city. They are one peso. They are freshly roasted beans. Just buy them!

RON

 

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/cub/) $387 million of Cuba’s $1.4 Billion exports was raw sugar. Knowing this and the fact that Havana Club is a national drink then Rum is the way to go!

Light, Dark and old there are many types of rum to moisten your palate with.

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Whether you’re having a roadside mojito on the way to Ayala cave club or just having a break from walking the sea wall, rum is your friend. Drink Responsibly!

 

Conclusion

 

All in all when you travel to Cuba (I say when because the beauty is irresistible) you cannot shy away from the street food.

Most things will cost you less than $2 AUD per item and the flavour is never disappointing.

Each morsel has a history behind it that stretches before communism and sometimes even before the Spanish era which only adds to it’s wholesome and rounded flavours.

Do you think I missed any?

Be sure to comment with any ideas or experiences of your own.

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DIY Deodorant

The issue of home beauty is one that I shied away from for a long time.

While I’ve always loved to call myself a hippie I’d never allowed myself the concept of being able to make my own home beauty devices.

This was mostly because I have a fairly strong stance against pseudo-sciences particularly those that discredit scientific processes that have empowered humanity to conquer the war on disease.

So it was a great disappointment when I found out how many lies were being fed to the public through trusted journal articles in the scientific community based around deodorants.

The main issue I have here is the use of aluminum in most deodorants to stem sweating.

Ok so first of, sweating is very important. It’s our way of expelling toxins that cause us health detriment. Stopping this process is already questionable.

Who’s going to decide to smell instead though?

So I decided to do research like I would for my university assignments and discovered that most if not all scientific journal articles that had dismissed the correlations between aluminum and carcinogenic properties were often confounded by having been funded by those aluminum industries.

I’ve attached these sources for you to see where I found this information.

As I was confused and could not put my faith into companies that still used single-use plastics as well as other harmful chemicals and unethical water practices, I decided to make my own.

But first, I needed to know why we use deodorant.

A brief history

 

Sweat comes from two kinds of glands; the eccrine and the apocrine glands. The amount you smell depends on the gene ABCC11. The least common occurrence of this gene is in East Asia.

The eccrine gland produces water and sweat. The apocrine gland mixes with bacteria like micrococcus which then leads to smelly pits n groins.

Ancient times consisted of making a paste or having perfumed baths as part of a normal society.

The first normal deodorant was MUM. This is still around today but first became available in the late 1800s.

The first antiperspirant (so just the stopping of sweating, not just the smell) was introduced in 1902 by Odorono.

To stop sweating they used aluminum chloride, which in order to be effective need to be suspended in acid.

The next step was the age of aggressive advertising. This was aimed directly at women. Like this old faithful that I acquired from the Smithsonian online catalogue. And a link to a great article that sums it up for us: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-advertisers-convinced-americans-they-smelled-bad-12552404/

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So while women were out busy getting dates with this new found self-knowledge (sarcasm) deodorant became a very big part of our lives.

Now I’m not suggesting you try pure natural no deodorant living all together. More just how we got to where we are today.

In 2018 the deodorant industry was estimated to be worth $72.7 billion USD. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/254668/size-of-the-global-antiperspirant-and-deodorant-market/)

So to wrap it up nicely, deodorant is a very lucrative market, with aggressive advertising that depends on your insecurities, the unethical testing procedures on animals, the pollution the aerosols cause to the layer of oxygen that allows us to live, threat to our water sources through runoff AND the chemicals that mimic growth hormones and cease proper biological functioning.

It was time I made my own way to smell nice.

How I made mine

 

I don’t want to do a lot of work and I’m sure you won’t either. It’s very easy to pay someone to do something.

So I made sure that my deodorant making was going to be very easy.

Here’s what I got:

  • Some coconut oil- maybe a tablespoon
  • Some baking soda- a tiny amount, maybe half a teaspoon- this has the antibacterial properties you need.
  • Some corn flour- maybe a cup depending on how pasty you want it, this is for volume
  • Some essential oils- this depends on the amount you want to smell.

I picked lemongrass because it appeals to my nostrils.

I used rough estimates because each person is going to do things differently.

The ingredients can have other stuff but I’d recommend against it. This is because of the number of chemicals you want to reduce and the economic savings.

The benefits

It’s cheap af!

It’s chemical free

It’s plastic free

It’s a great amount of choice

It lasts for a whole day (for me anyway, everyone sweats differently)

I feel empowered

Still, sweat a little so I know I’m still riding my body of toxins just getting rid of the bacteria without properly upsetting the system I need to function.

The downfalls

So just being too lazy, I didn’t find a way to apply it without putting it on my fingers and just circularly rubbing it into my pits.

This works for me so I don’t care

It doesn’t stop you sweating so sweat patches, but honestly, I still sweat anyway and the above-mentioned benefits of sweating.

That’s all.

 

Conclusion

This was awesome! I can’t go back now; I use it every day sometimes every two days.

I’m aware of why I made this choice which is rational and socially acceptable and I’m saving so much money while also not contributing to the destruction of my home planet.

And I smell great!

I want to hear other DIY stories and designs, maybe on application. Hit me up in the comments.

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Here are a few of my sources and some further reading:

https://ojs.library.carleton.ca/index.php/pcharm/article/view/1586/1430

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429161247/chapters/10.1201/b15205-2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14639125

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3503514/

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/myths/antiperspirants-fact-sheet

http://asiapharmaceutics.info/index.php/ajp/article/view/260

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/86b4/9985ba6ebdf250e1d2c79af41c657b94580e.pdf

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-radiotherapy-in-practice/article/an-investigation-into-the-use-of-a-nonmetallic-deodorant-during-radiotherapy-treatment-a-randomised-controlled-trial/54ED4C1375CBC1E748C8DAE40EE1996C

https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr2424

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0162013405001613

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5651828/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S174418700600117X

DIY Shampoo & Conditioner

The history of shampoo is actually quite an interesting one.

Before all modern shampoos, people used soap based cleaners and this would happen seasonally as soap would strip the hair.

Like literally, strip it of all moisture, etc.

The old school shampoo was a mixture of lye-based soaps and herbs for fragrance. Those who had hairdressers or wealth could afford better quality extras and therefore set the class standard for nice and manageable hair.

The term shampoo comes from the Hindi word chāmpo, which means to knead and massage. This process was done using natural oils and herbs that would stimulate circulation, cleanse the hair and scalp as well as being a form of meditative relaxation.

The first modernized liquid shampoo came by the way of German inventor Schwarzkopf in 1927.

The subsequent use of shampoo throughout history has negated the need for conditioner.

Once you strip it down, you have to moisturise.

Add in all the surfactants (detergents) that are used to make every hair treatment unique, and you have a society buying plastic packaged products that they’ve never needed, and in fact, damage your hair more than they realise.

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Really couldn’t find an ad image for actual textured hair to include.

Why I changed

My original reason was because of the cost.

I’m very privileged to have straight, flat hair, which I’ve never dyed and rarely cut. This is mainly because it doesn’t grow much at all and I’ve always felt my hair and its colour are a direct link to my ancestry and I hold this in great importance.

Totally want to shave my head someday though.

So seeing as I was bouncing between products that I’d hoped would make my hair longer, less brittle, not so oily, more shiny, less shiny, more manageable, more able to be styled, more easily to detangle… Bla bla bla.

This cost me on average $7 a bottle every three weeks to a month. So annually I would spend almost $730. So I’ve been buying my own since I was 15, I’m 30 ow, so all up in my lifetime I’ve regularly spent almost $11,000 on regular shampoo and conditioner alone.

This doesn’t include all the extra hair care stuff I’ve bought for styling, fixing, masking and god knows what else.

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This was taken an hour after I got it styled. It was supposed to be curly.

And this is for someone who has VERY manageable hair.

For someone with 4C textured hair, the costs alone could make you a property investor. Hell, you could be a politician with all that spent money!

On top of the costs it seemed no matter what I tried, all the products I used and all the haircuts in the world weren’t making my hair feel healthy or fresh.

I’ve never dyed my hair!

For this reason, as well as the desire to steer away from plastics, I decided to make my own.

What I use

 

This process needed to be as convenient as possible.

Not too expensive, time-consuming or difficult to remember or comprehend.

This is why what I use now is a DIY mixture.

I put it together in a small cup and whisk until liquid enough and then I knead it through my hair and rinse.

So what is actually in my little mixture?

Firstly I needed to know what my hair actually needs.

Moisture.

So coconut oil.

Secondly, it needs to be cleaned.

Soap.

The soap I use is castile soap that I find very cheap, I can get it at my wholesale bulk food shop and I fill a jar with it.

Soap works by being both attracted to water and afraid of it at the same time. Soap molecules like to grab onto non-water soluble molecules like dirt, oil as well as little nasties and by rinsing it out of your hair, (or anything really) it drags the dirt and oil with it.

Lastly, it needs to smell nice.

I chose lemongrass essential oils.

I figured if my pits smell nice so will my hair.

That’s all there is to it.

Sometimes if I’m fancy ill put honey in it. Unfortunately real honey is hard to come by due to industrial farming so I only use it when I go visit the Honey World just outside of town. So not everyone will have access.

Also, some people make use of tee tree oil for its antibacterial properties.

I mainly avoid this because I have a cat and was advised it’s severely toxic for her.

I also trust in my skin and normal bodily processes to protect me from harms that could come through my skin on my head. That’s what skin is there for.

I don’t have a set time that I wash my hair. I live close to the beach so sometimes I go down and dunk my head. When I don’t do that, I wash my hair only when it needs it.

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If it gets too oily and is unmanageable I’ll wash with less oil. I’ll do the opposite if it’s dry.

On average I wash my hair maybe once a week but sometimes I’ll stretch it out to see how long I can gather the natural oils.

 

Disclaimer

 

I know I mentioned this briefly however it needs to be plainly put and very obviously explained that hair is something that is unique to every person. Your type of hair, its colour and habits all derive from your genetic makeup.

This is never going to change.

So know that your hair is unique, learn the origins of this hair type and the types of others. Celebrate all the different types and respect them.

Understand that all types of hair have history, some more than others, and this history has been a base for discrimination and oppression.

All hair is incredible and all should be celebrated.

I will be doing some collaborative work in the future regarding different hair types and solutions for more environmentally as well as economically friendly solutions for different types of hair.

Conclusion

 

Wrapping up, Hair care is expensive and wasteful.

The amount of crap we pour on our hair and down our drains is killing the oceans, our planet, our hair and our wallets.

Seriously how in the f**k did it equal to $11k?!

So with simple cheap ingredients, you can begin to take back your hair’s health and save some casholas.

Natural soaps and oils are what has been the base of every hair care treatment from the beginning of time.

The best thing you can do is try it out. Hair can be very resilient so unless you’re pouring chemicals on your head, your hair can stand some natural oils.

Finally, remember to respect and celebrate other’s hair as well as your own. All types of hair are another person’s story and all should be equally admired.

This is how my hair looks now after it’s been rained on. Very satisfied with its volume and health.

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I’d love to hear from you all and learn what type of hair you have, listen to your hairetage stories and learn from you too.

What have you found works for you and what would like to see more of?

Hit us up in the comments.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Here’s some further reading with a few of my sources:

https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9Z6vCGbf66YC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=shampoo+history&ots=YM3dB_qbm7&sig=VGYjVOGu34-Le8vQN33BGvjDuS0#v=onepage&q=shampoo%20history&f=false

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2007.00414.x

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/PL00007707

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1467-2494.2001.00057.x

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/18125440903151538

https://patents.google.com/patent/US4919838A/en

https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=oCbSCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA225&dq=hindi+champo&ots=gZuk8zCnGA&sig=0eytnR6J_9iPvyKQcd2lT_lCmeA#v=onepage&q=hindi%20champo&f=false

http://www.plantsjournal.com/archives/2017/vol5issue2/PartD/5-2-29-448.pdf

http://kccollege.edu.in/pdf/srujan/2013-14_Srujan_V-3_Is-1.pdf#page=54

https://search.proquest.com/openview/750bb418352b2a95fef2b57a95089735/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1096438

The Best Workout For The Perfect Body!

So you want to look incredible huh?

You want to be toned and fit looking. Maybe a golden tan and be able to wear whatever you want whenever you want?

Have fun.

Ever heard of vanity sizing?

This phenomenon has been broadly documented in regards to ready-to-where clothing, particularly for women.

Thought you were a size 4 or 6 or 10?

Too bad, now you’re a 22. Guess you’re too fat for that store.

You’re not going insane.

Yes, the mirrors in the change room are distorted.

Yes, the lighting in the store is overly bright so you feel shit about how you look.

Yes, the sizes are different in every single store and no matter how much weight you lose, creams you apply or diets you go on, you will never look like the photoshopped image on the ad.

Doesn’t take much thought to figure out where the increase in childhood eating disorders is stemming from.

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Sourced from CNN

But we still want it!

Even now I think about why I can’t look like I think I’m supposed to.

Why am I so fat, un-toned, unhealthy looking, pale?!

It’s because the shitter you feel, the more you’ll buy.

Conspiracy of fashion.

 

There are a few methods the beauty and fashion industry employ to make you feel like shit to make you buy more.

The first one that comes to people’s minds is photoshopping.

Yes every brand uses it and the brands that say they don’t are also not rectifying the perfect lighting, background, makeup, clothing, model etc.

Just because there’s no apparent photoshopping doesn’t mean the picture is natural.

You all know how easy it is to filter your Instagram pics.

Secondly we need to consider fast fashion.

In the 90’s Zara opened in New York with the idea that clothing would take less than 15 days to go from design to showroom floor.

It’s mostly shit quality so even if you aren’t buying the $120 t-shirt, you’ll spend that by the end of the year buying pieces that won’t last.

Before this we bought clothes seldomly, maybe for special occasions or because there was one style we liked and it became a piece.

These days you buy clothes at least every fortnight and if you don’t you’ll miss out on the piece you wanted.

In marketing this is called the last chance effect. We buy things we think we might never have the chance to again.

Keeping up with the jones’ is another tactic. Making sure everyone around you is being fashionable every 15 minutes means you have to keep up. It’s out of your control.

In the meantime all your clothes that you donate, go mouldy and rip apart, thrown into landfill where they form a compost heap, emitting carbon emissions and fucking up our planet.

It also means that every item bought is going to be replaced with another. More water for cotton growth, more plastic production for synthetic materials and labelling and packaging, more run off of chemicals, more sweatshops and child labour, more unethical practices.

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It’s our fault this happens.

Vitamins and supplements.

While the production and sale of vitamins and supplements in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration under our department of health, the companies making them are not going to go out of their way to make sure your health comes before profit.

In any chemist or pharmacy and even health food stores you can find all sorts of pills and powders that claim to heal your every ailment.

snake_oil

We’ve done all this before.

If the supplements you take truly do assist your health, wouldn’t we be healthy now?

Wouldn’t it be the thing the doctor (you know, the guy who studied for over a decade to provide you with the most informed and experienced advice for your health) would prescribe you?

If you do the research you will find an alarming amount of products that have been pulled from shelves because of the harm they cause and companies that have class action suits for the mass effect of their drugs.

If you can’t be bothered, watch Vitamania to get some basic facts. And then fact-check it.

Your body is capable of protecting itself but if something isn’t right, you see a medical professional, you source your supplemented vitamins and needs from actual natural sources, like the sun, salt water etc.

Please don’t fill your bodies with chemicals you don’t need.

The real workout you need to get into shape and look perfect.

So here’s the goods.

You have so many ways of getting fit.

Once you are fit, you will look and feel better.

Once this happens you’ll realise you are fucking perfect!

Your body is your body. You aren’t made to look like anyone else or we wouldn’t procreate.

There is, however, the best version of you.

Not everyone is going to like it or think it’s perfect. But it doesn’t actually matter because there are twice as many who do think it’s perfect.

To gain this perfect body you need to work on more than your physicals, you need to be wholly worked on.

Make sure that as you train you to keep your mental health at the forefront of every workout.

Play music you are inspired by, workout with encouraging people who compete in a healthy manner. Workout in ways that you are comfortable, whether that’s at the gym, going for a bike ride, a sweaty bedroom workout or whatever.

The four main physical things to work on are as follows according to science and medicine.

Cardio.

This is anything that requires endurance.

The point of this is to raise the heart rate and training the body to cope with everyday activities.

The body needs to be kept in check.

We have gone from nomadic and agricultural cultures who ate and lived sustainably to working 30 hours + a week, mostly sitting or standing in one spot or manual labour.

These activities are not natural for the human body.

They just aren’t.

So cardio will keep you’re endurance high.

Try new things; yoga, walking, swimming, tennis, football, softball, jump rope, rowing, stairs, dancing, aerobics, bike riding and the list can go forever. Even playing with the dog or cat counts as cardio.

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Still counts as exercise.

Body composition.

This is the reason two people of the same sex and weight are different is because of body composition.

This is the measure of bone, tissue, water and fat percentage in the body.

Every person is different because we are made differently. It’s as simple as that.

Typical exercise to improve body composition would be burpees, interval training, squats, lunges etc.

This is the way you increase overall strength.

That doesn’t mean you’ll bulk up, that’s a weights routine.

Once your body is balanced in its composition your overall strength increases.

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Yep, still exercise.

Muscular strength.

Building muscular strength isn’t just lifting weights.

Yeah, you can lift weights but you can mix it up with other high energy consuming and strengthening activities.

Examples can be dancing like salsa or ballet that require good muscular strength, hiking, intense gardening, cycling and even yoga cos that shit is hard.

In training the muscles you will be tearing muscle fibres as they contract and release.

To form real muscular strength you must give your muscles rest!

If you don’t rest the muscles after tearing them in training you will have an injury and the work you do is redundant.

Always listen to your body. This is so important. Once you mess you back up you may never recover. Ligament repair surgery is expensive and takes ages to heal.

Only push your limits not the limits of others.

Lastly, muscular endurance.

You want your muscles to be strong all the time. Not just because you’ve done some training.

Once you have the endurance your ligaments, joints, bones and other necessary tissues will allow you to achieve anything.

The improvement of mental health due to fitness is also a major plus.

With muscular endurance training, you want to focus on strengthening exercise like core strength. Planks, lunges and squats are a great starting point.

Yoga and Pilates work wonders for giving your muscles practice with endurance and stretches the muscles too.

Long walks and hiking are good as are surfing, skating, golfing, martial arts, rock climbing and basketball.

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Still going

All these activities are capable of training your body to hold its strength for extended periods of time.

Conclusion

All in all, you must take care of your health. Always discuss your exercise plans and diet with your doctor, that’s why they are there.

Once you reach a certain age, if you have been fortunate enough to reach it, you will become incapacitated.

Either your family or medical staff will be feeding you, walking you, cleaning you up after the bathroom and showering you.

If you maintain your fitness through working your cardio, muscular strength, muscular endurance and body composition as well as focusing on mental health, you will be guaranteed to postpone your decline.

While it has a lot to do with genetics, lifestyle can make the ultimate difference.

Poisoning your body with alternative treatments like supplements and vitamins will deteriorate your body’s ability to function in the long term with almost no short term benefits.

Lastly, remember you are not what you buy or what you wear.

You are created to live your experiences for the time you are on earth and in 10 years you won’t remember what outfit you wanted to fit into.

Don’t let the ads tell you how to be perfect.

You tell you how to be perfect, and the first way is to be healthy in all aspects.

Guaranteed the toned, sexy summer fit body comes along with it without you even trying!

Last but not least, you must have fun. Be silly with it. Rest. Eat sustainable junk food. Be grateful that you have a body that works for you because you never know when you won’t

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If you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

 

Here’s some further reading and most of my sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1057740811001148

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jcps.2013.07.003

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969698916302557

https://content.sakai.rutgers.edu/access/content/user/hollye/Vanity%20Sizing.pdf

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.28.3.217

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-010-0581-3

https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/466564?journalCode=jle

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2561299/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1424733/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2648.1996.tb00017.x

https://docplayer.net/23885317-Redefining-fitness-for-health-and-fitness-professionals.html

https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8CR5T2R

https://shapeamerica.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00336297.1988.10483898#.XNdBvWQza2w

Is Climate Change Really a Hoax?

This article has to be one of the hardest I’ve had to write.

I’ve lost count of how many drafts I attempted.

Since the 80’s people have been prophesying global warming and the apocalypse brought upon us by our own actions.

It’s been going on so long, a lot of people have climate exhaustion.

My own mother still believes that, because she had scientists selling this idea throughout her whole life that this is just more of the same.

So why the build up in a panic?

Why the sudden emergency?

Is it because we have a changing political climate and therefore this is another hot button topic for everyone?

Maybe.

But maybe we need to listen to both sides.

Maybe we don’t.

Maybe instead we look into the motives of those from each side.

Those who say it’s a hoax ten to have a vested interest in the industries that profit off of industrialised sources of energy.

We are those people.

We profit off of those industries.

Every time you turn on your phone, tv, laptop, light switches, shower, sink tap, flush your toilet or drive your car.

Even when you drink out of your water bottle, put makeup on, type on your keyboard, scroll your newsfeed, eat dinner, have that side of fries.

This is because everything we have that we as a species have created. All of it is done so with fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses.

Everything.

Yes including your cheeseburger, we industrialised our farming and control breeding habits of the livestock we eat.

We have more chickens on the globe than humans. By more than double.

We have over 19 billion chickens on the planet and only 7.2 billion humans.

If future humans were to excavate and categorise this era in history, it would be fair to assume we were run by chickens.

Our actions have in turn altered the way the earth works. This, in turn, affects how each species survives.

What is the cause of climate change?

In short, the greenhouse effect.

C02.

This is a waste product of using and burning fossil fuels to make all the awesome stuff we have.

Our atmosphere already has C02 within our blanket of gasses that make our cosmic bubble liveable. We need C02 in our atmosphere to absorb the heat coming from the core of the planet and make the surface a warm enough place to live.

Since 1950, the amount of C02 in our atmosphere has gone up from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million.

In a nutshell, if you have 1 million molecules of gas, 280 of them would be the C02.

Even if you don’t understand climate scientist, you can tell that 400 is way bigger than 280, especially when you learn that it’s been 280 parts per molecule up until we started using fossil fuels. Period.

By pumping out the excess C02 into our atmosphere makes it a hot place to live. Like a greenhouse.

We know it’s not the sun doing the warming because we’ve been measuring the sun’s irradiance for ages. So while the sun’s effects on our planet have been relatively stable, our earth has been getting hotter.

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What’s the big fucking deal if it gets hotter?

Evolution and species loss

Another point I’ve heard a lot is that if evolution theory is correct then we would adapt to climate change like we have in the past.

I wish that were true.

The speed at which the earth is getting hotter is way too fast to adapt to. We’ve just lost our first mammal to climate change in the world.

It happened to be in my home country Australia.

Its habitat was covered in rising sea levels.

Here’s a fun little graphic I picked up from Iberdrola and their article on the sixth extinction.

Animal_extinction_eng.jpg

So we warm the planet up, destroy 8% of the species on it, so what?

Ok if we lose species of insects like ants, the animals who eat ants that we eat will die out and we lose food sources.

We also lose a butt load of plants that ants protect and help germinate.

So that’s our shelter and atmosphere screwed up as well as our food sources.

So even the tiny insects are important to our survival. Who knew.

 

Extreme global weather events

 

Growing up in Sydney the only extreme weather I experienced were heatwaves and bushfires.

The bushfires that swept through my surrounding suburbs when I was 4, 7, 11, 13, 16, 16, 16, 16, 17, 23, 23, 27, 27 and 28.

This was my threat of extreme weather events. And they were scary but at the same time they were part of life. Now flooding has increased in areas we’ve never seen before in our cities and the bushfires are spreading more and lasting longer while being more and more unpredictable.

While not every weather event is due to climate change, the increase in events overall and their severity is directly linked to it.

Just this week the country of Mozambique was hit by a second cyclones. Six weeks after the last one swept through.

Cyclones being these giant engines of power use warm moist air as fuel and love warm and damp air systems. This is why they are forming over tropical areas near the equator.

This is a drastic change however as with warmer ocean temperatures, more water is being evaporated, meaning this warmed water and air are more prevalent thus making cyclones more likely to form.

The number of inhabited places on earth, by humans and animals, are going to be underwater within your lifetime.

Towns in Louisiana are being relocated entirely because of rising sea levels.

Pacific island nations with people and cultures and animals are being covered in the ever-expanding, warming oceans.

The island of Manhattan has projects ready to build to create sea walls to prevent it from being enveloped. These projects are yet to be funded.

This leads me to:

The economics

The last main point here I want to make is the cost of climate change.

If we really get all of our things through the use of fossil fuels, we would have to give it all up and be hippies!

Not really.

Fossil fuels are one way of getting the energy to make these things, even if these things are also bad for the environment.

Remember we aren’t talking about plastics right now just the use of energy overall and it’s effect on the planet and our species.

Plastics are a by-product of that industry and not the cause of it.

So to counter this idea of throwing everything to the side and donning the smelly hippie life, we only need to use a different source of energy.

Let’s weight this up economically. Keep in mind that pricing would be different in each part of the world but this is how my life will change.

For solar energy, in almost all cases the monthly costs reduced by more than 50%. The 20-year savings reach up into the $30k mark. So Solar is a good way to go. It also has a negative pollution production meaning it doesn’t pollute while you get energy. And hey the sun isn’t going to burn out any time soon, in fact, we already get too much of it sometimes.

If you are in the US, it’s estimated that a switch to total renewable energy would save each person $240 a year. That’s almost $9.4 billion a year in the US alone.

Ok but how about jobs? Australia is a huge mining country. Our economy basically can’t survive without coal mining.

Here’s a sexy little graph about where jobs in the fossil fuel industry sit in relation to other jobs in the US.

Coal Jobs.png

Here’s one for Queensland, Australia. This is my state and one that has a lot to do with mining.

1_L9dnAlTlBZoUxTIM6XzgPw

How about the amount of energy production in Brazil?

Untitled.png

Now, what about renewable sources?

Screen-Shot-2017-10-05-at-12.25.01-PM-590x384

What about rural USA?

Clean-Energy-Jobs-vs-Fossil-Fuel-Midwest

I bet you can tell I really like graphs.

The total cost?

 

Australia is looking at over $226 billion in infrastructure damage due to rising sea level damage.

The US is looking at $62.5 billion a year due to wildfire damage.

In 2012 the drought in Russia totalled $9 billion of lost harvest.

The current Egyptian projects to protect agriculture, drought relief, flooding and the disappearance of coastal systems will only cost $31.4 million.

In less than 30 years, anything that is 2 metres above sea level now, will be underwater.

This includes major economic hubs of trade like Shanghai, China; Osaka, Japan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Miami, USA and many others.

So what really is the cost?

Billions of people migrating for resources such as food and energy, both will be scarce after extreme weather events cut people off of these resources.

If this happens, the most likely scenario is that a dictatorship will arise and covet the resources that do exist, just like we’ve seen in almost every major conflict in the history of mankind. Heck, just Google Yemen’s famine.

If it’s that bad, why bother?

Hope.

There’s still some of that around.

Never in the history of mankind have we have young people who can’t even vote, taking action to change political policy for the betterment of the globe.

There are projects all over the world aiming to stem these effects.

People are coming together to plant trees that have been lost through deforestation, which also builds up emissions as they decompose and take away our filtration source.

Politicians are taking actions.

More jobs are being created.

And on the personal level, if every single person did only a few things lie, avoiding use of plastics or palm oil products, reducing water waste, voting only for fair trade advocate and climate-friendly politicians who will make the right choices for their people, reducing your footprint through travel, energy and consumption.

If an average family skipped just one day of meat and cheese, just the one day, it’s equivalent of not driving your car for 5 weeks.

Not to say veganism is the answer either.

It’s not. Sorry not sorry.

The vegan alternatives are not much better. Looking at you soy farms.

But buying and eating sustainably, supporting your community with local farm products will reduce the overall cost and improve the quality.

These things will make the biggest impact as we have only survived as a species because of our social bonds. If come together as a collective like we did about the O-zone, we will survive and we will fix the climate crisis.

Conclusion

So yes, it’s real.

No, sorry, it’s not a hoax.

We really are on the brink of a point of no return. While we may have ten years to change our ways, we don’t have all of those ten years. As the global temperatures rise, we will see worsening effects every day.

So the sooner we act the better.

The better economically, the initial cost are significantly dwarfed under the money we will spend fixing a demolished world.

The better socially with more global cooperation and new technologies that will bring you all the luxuries we like without killing off our species.

The better biodiversity. We can stop the increase in severity and occurrence of extreme weather events, that impact our species and societies economically and socially.

I wish it was a hoax. It would be better to be irritated at fake news than to stare into the face of the sixth extinction but this is our future.

Our future and the future of our species and the networks that provide us with a liveable planet.

If you still don’t believe, maybe listen to a scientist like David Attenborough or Jane Goodall who have spent their whole lives analysing the data.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear more regarding the disbelief of climate change and what the reasons are.

Leave your opinions in the comments and anyone who doesn’t respect each other will be blocked whichever side you’re coming from.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Aquaponic Lettuce- The Kratky Way

Lettuce is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, folate (a member of the Vitamin B group) as well as being recognised to have anti-inflammatory properties, cholesterol-lowering agents and anti-diabetic compounds.

So if the lettuce is indeed dainty you probably don’t want to check out my recipe for my zesty falafel, halloumi and lettuce salad here either.

The thing is lettuce is almost necessary to our natural diets. The fibre alone keeps you digestively regulated that are disrupted by the strain of processing the manipulated foods we eat.

The second best part is that lettuce grows all year round and I have a cheap, no-energy consuming, viable method for growing lettuce for small spaces and produces a high yield.

It’s called the Kratky method.

Say we’re trying to grow 4 heads of lettuce.

Lettuce takes about 9 weeks to harvest from seed planting, so if you set up two seeds a week, you’ll have never ending lettuce.

Like forever lettuce.

So without further ado, here’s the step by step.

The Kratky method

What you need:

  • Jars – one jar per lettuce head
  • Lettuce Seeds
  • Yogurt cups- or similar
  • Drainage- I’m using gravel
  • Water
  • Plant food- soluble nutrients- it’s easier to buy than to source naturally unfortunately
  • That’s all, don’t make it complicated

This method entails empty jars. Mason jars are the size you’re after but any jars will do.

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So the first thing you want to do is grow your seeds.

If you plant your seed in its eggshell and get them grown until they have a little sprout out the top and some nice roots coming down, you’re set.

Secondly, you’ll be cutting up the yogurt cups.

I had leftover seeding trays that I upcycled when I bout some plants from the hardware store so I’ll be using those.

Look around your house or recycling bin for something you can use without having to go out and buy extra.

You’re going to be making slits all around the bottom half of the cup. The idea is to make space for the roots to come out of the bottom to sit in the water but not for the gravel or plant itself to fall in.

This is what the plastic store bought ones look like.

images

Next step is to mix your nutrients with the water.

Follow directions on the bottle. The one I got was cheap and had listed ingredients that I researched to make sure my lettuce wasn’t going to get covered in unnecessary chemicals because that slightly defeats the purpose.

The one I got is Manutec’s Hydroponic nutrient. There are two bags inside; one is the fertiliser and the other is calcium nitrate.

So following the directions you dilute in some water and you mix well.

So with your yogurt cups sitting in the jar, you fill the water so just the first cm or so of the cup is sitting in water.

Make sure there’s a little bit of an air gap at the top of the jar.

Next, you transfer your lettuce seedlings into the cup without any soil, and you put gravel around it so they sit flush.

You want the roots to head into the water solution and the gravel acts as a drainage system for the plant.

My fellow blogger http://www.greenandvibrant.com have the perfect graphic to describe what’s going on:

The-Kratky-method-system

Finally, you want to cover the jar with something.

The water in the jar is nutrient rich and allowing sunlight to get to it will help Algae grow. These algae will steal all the lettuce’s nutrients.

I’ve wrapped the jars in the newspaper.

Voila. Hydroponic lettuce.

No electricity.

No soil.

Almost no effort.

Conclusion

Lettuce should be a part of everyone’s diet but the price of food is ridiculous. And I call it food, not healthy food, just food. The point of food is sustenance, flavour and bonding.

The going rate for lettuce at my supermarket right now is $3.50.

That’s the price of a full course local meal in Vietnam.

For the price alone, I’ve sent $15 on this setup, using trash items most would throw out, and now I have lettuce forever.

Literally forever.

This method is excellent for kids or anyone trying out hydroponic methods.

It’s economical, it’s super easy and accessible and can be used in small spaces like apartments and share houses as well as maybe having colder winters where frost would normally kill your leafy’s off.

One day I want to try and set up a system with siphons and fish but I travel too much and it’s not fair for the fish.

Let me know how you’re getting on with your garden or if you have any other no-fuss hydroponic systems worth sharing, leave me a comment.

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For further reading on the sources I’ve used:

https://www-tandfonline-com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1300/J484v11n02_04

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157516300230

https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/vc-1.pdf

https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/hawaii/downloads/Growing_Lettuce_by_a_float-support_non-circulating_Hydroponic_Method_in_Hawaii_and_Pennsylvania.pdf

My Garden (round 2)

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 7.32.26 am.png

I killed off most of the first plants. I had a whole tonne of different plants and was determined to be all natural with no pesticide.

I also forgot how important drainage was to potted plants.

So I lost most of them to aphids, White Flies and growth stunting.

ROUND 2!

This time around I made sure I gave each plant it’s space, drainage, enough water and a new pesticide help.

What I’m Growing Now

At the moment we have

  • blueberries (not currently in season)
  • Tahitian Limes
  • Strawberries
  • Parsley
  • Mini capsicums
  • French carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Endives
  • Bulb zucchinis
  • Potatoes

So it’s definitely a full house but it’s lots of fun learning about each plant and being overly excited when a new flower or fruit shows up.

What pesticide I Use

After a couple of weeks of research, I landed on eco neem.

Neem targets sucking and chewing insects specifically like aphids, whiteflies and caterpillars.

7ec4ead0-95e2-47be-b372-8f84bd84c205

Another name for the tree that produces neem is the Indian Lilac.

This tree is used in many medicinal properties and is part of the mahogany family.

Do not use eco neem for medicinal purposes. Leave that for doctors, chemists and specialists. They know what they’re doing.

The oil is extracted from the bark of the tree and when you buy the bottle from your hardware store, a small amount 5mL to a Litre of water and spray on the plant while avoiding any flowers or fruit.

Neem_trees1_cropped_grande

While it has rid us of most other pests that were eating our plants it seems to have freed up our garden with these guys who I still haven’t been properly introduced to.

Leave me a comment with the answer if you know it, please.

The main thing I like about eco neem is that it’s a natural property with a small number of chemicals unlike more damaging pesticides on the market.

It is also a safe chemical to have run off into the drainage and further down the track, into our rivers and oceans.

Australia has a very damaging problem when it comes to chemicals in our water supply.

Particularly our mining industry who uses the major water supply from the Great Artesian Basin that is our country’s only source of fresh water. But that’s another story. Our politicians are really corrupt.

Anyway, the last thing I want to note about neem as a pesticide is that it DOES NOT AFFECT BEES!

Bees are absolutely integral to your garden and the ecosystem.

Without them, nothing gets pollinated and the health of your garden diminishes.

This season has been particular barren.

We all know there is a major problem with how we manipulate and destroy the world’s bee populations but never has it been more apparent than now.

To increase bees to our garden we got some viola flowers that bloom most of the year, and I can use them in food if I’m being fancy, and sage.

The most common way to attract bees is to grow lavender but I have allergic family members so sage and viola were the next best things.

So far we’ve had one bee in the last month.

That’s depressing.

Disclaimer

One thing that must be brought up is the importance of land and sustainable living and eating. This point is that of oppression. The withholding or inaccessibility to land and food resources has for centuries been used to disenfranchise people. Having the ability to sustain yourself releases you from that control and your dependence.

Keep this in mind when you grow and think on the people all over the world who are food insecure due to war, man-made famine (Yemen) and greed.

Many areas in major western cities have been put there into ghetto-like situations where food insecurity becomes a major issue and getting fast food is the only option. This diminishes health and keeps people impoverished.

Maybe look into starting a community garden if you are in these areas, or just share your extra harvest with soup kitchens and food banks.

Donate extra plants so people with children can also learn how to feed themselves like we as a species once knew to do.

So what next?

 

At this point, the zucchini’s will have to be pollinated manually but everything else is growing really well.

By giving them the boost with lots of water nutrients, a helpful and constructive pesticide as well as the right amount of sun and drainage, your plants will grow in no time.

We have a big fat tomato that’s almost ready to turn red and every little fruit is like having a new puppy born.

The ultimate goal is to provide enough ongoing harvest so we have no reason to go to major supermarkets to get our food.

Being self sustainable is a feat that most don’t venture. This is sad and worrying for our species.

While technologies are amazing, we have gotten to the point where we have overdone technologies in agriculture.

While we have more food than we need, we dump 40% of it into landfills and people we don’t see across the world have absolutely no food.

Food security is a serious issue. If you are financially struggling, having food can be the be all and end all of your health, making it harder for you to get money.

The pride you get knowing you rely solely on your knowledge and your own resources frees you from being dependant on exorbitant prices (looking at you Coles with your $2.50 capsicum) and poor quality food.

Having a garden can be hard if you don’t have space. Luckily I live in subtropical weather so my plants have a real fighting chance as well as a large area to house them.

In the next article, I’ll be going through how we make our hydroponic lettuce using the Kratky method which will hopefully provide tips for the space challenged.

If you’re looking for new inspiration check out these Instagram accounts. I would love to have a garden area just to be able to do these.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 8.01.35 amScreen Shot 2019-05-11 at 8.04.53 am

If you have any tips or advice for me to improve my garden or what to try next, leave a comment and I’d be happy to try some of them out.

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Here are my sources for further reading:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15777222

http://articles.x10.mx/neem_mother_earth_news.pdf

http://www.madr.ro/docs/ind-alimentara/risipa_alimentara/presentation_food_waste.pdf

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rstb.2010.0126

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652614003680

https://www.pnas.org/content/104/50/19703.short

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5967/812

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/319/5863/607

The Worst Things You Can Do For Your Garden!

Ok so it’s your first garden, whether that is outside in the yard or in your apartment. The point is you’re ready to begin raising your plant nursery.

The question is, where to start?

Well starting a garden, particularly an apartment garden is relatively easy if you know the basics and science can go a long way. Indigenous science can go even further.

The first thing you need to consider is the reason you want a garden.

Is this for food or decorative landscaping? What plants are best for the season you’re growing? How do you juggle each plant’s needs without too much work or effort?

What will the new garden look like? How organised and modern is it going to look, maybe even a little fancy with the landscaping?

While I’d love to have the garden of @urbanveggiepatch or @ggthegardengirl, I don’t have a backyard but that’s not going to stop me.

Untitled.png

My first garden was when I was a child and my grandparents had a massive backyard where they grew everything from figs, mulberries, tomatoes and coffee. My first attempt was a watermelon and one thing to know about watermelons is that they’re tricky if you’re a five-year-old with no gardening knowledge.

The main reason I grow my garden is to have a sustainable food source all year round without relying on the big food companies. In doing this it’s a great investment, saves a lot of money in the long run, the quality of your meals improves dramatically and the sense of accomplishment of bolstering your own survival is unmatched.

The first thing you need to know, however, is that you are going to fail!

Many times.

This is what you do when you learn. You may get half a good crop then stunted plants for the rest of the season. This is totally normal and while it may feel like a waste, it’s not! Every garden is unpredictable because plants are living things with their own versions of personality. Helping the plants grow rather than expecting to control their growth is the best way to mentally engage with the process.

One thing to remember is, as beings on this planet, we need food to survive. We eat a variety of foods to make sure the quality of nutrients is at it’s best. We live in a time where food is accessible from all over the globe and yet most of us in Western societies have no idea how it grows or how it gets to us. This is one of the saddest detriments to our species and our planet.

Without this knowledge and engagement, we have become complacent, dumping 40% of the worlds food surplus into landfill, using famine as a weapon of war and depleting our water resources for waste to be accumulated on an industrial level.

The engagement in a garden is one of the fundamental ways you become a global citizen as well as a biological achievement.

Which plants?

So you’ve made the decision, you’re going to paint your thumb green.

But what plants?

If you’re a novice you may want to start out with an easy plant to get your confidence up.

My first apartment plant was lettuce. I bought seedlings from my local hardware store (with the necessary snag for a gold coin donation) and a couple of plastic pots with some fancy-sounding soil mixture.

This was very exciting.

1st lettuce.png

After two weeks the pots were overrun! I picked the lettuce and had three massive meals.

Unfortunately, they never grew back.

Winter came and the frost killed them off.

So that was my second failure at having a sustainable food source.

A good first plant would be a herb like basil or mint. These plants produce a lot of yields, grow quickly and need little attention. The more you pick, the more they grow!

A few many sources will tell you that tomatoes or zucchinis are also a good place to start. This is a lie!

Tomatoes and Zucchinis are picky.

Zucchinis may grow quickly but they need to be pollinated in order to fruit, which is difficult if you don’t get bees often. They also need just the right circumstances. Tomatoes are the same. Both are prone to pests and if you’re starting out, there’s just too much to think about without enjoying the early stages of garden life.

Basil is a plant that regenerates and clones. This means that the more you pick the more it yields and instead of dying out and needing to be re-sewn like tomatoes do, basil almost never goes away. Tomato plants, on the other hand, have a life span, meaning that after harvest, it’s time to start over again. So if you want quick gratification, go with the herbs. Basil also only takes 8-14 days to yield whereas tomatoes can take up to two and a half months to fruit.

For a decorative plant; bamboo will grow faster than you can prune and needs very little attention other than your inevitable admiration.

These are a great starting point; grab some pots and some decent potting mix.

I go for Bunnings Tomato and Vegetable Growing mix mainly because of its price and that it comes with blood and bone, a great fertiliser. This averages out at $4 AUD a bag.

fertilizer

https://www.bunnings.com.au/brunnings-25l-tomato-and-vegetable-growing-mix_p2960225

For pots, I like to keep away from plastic as they don’t last in your garden but last forever in our oceans. Try and get ceramic pots, they are great temperature regulators for your soil and they don’t crack and fade easily like the plastic ones will.

What are the choices this Season?

So when thinking about your garden nursery you need to consider seasons.

Coming from Australia, our climate is different in all different parts of the

continent. For 60,000 years Indigenous Australians cultivated, shaped and worked with the land and the climate, yielding one of the most impressive and comprehensive agricultural systems on the planet. To ignore this knowledge will only be a detriment to yourself.

To find out what your specific climate is in your area of Australia check out the Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive page here to see where you sit:

http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/index.shtml

My home is in the Banbai region and there are six seasons here.

indigenouse seasons

This means I don’t get eh typical 4 seasons we see in the movies and to be honest, you probably aren’t either.

As I write this it’s late April so the weather is changing from dry to cool. I live in a semi-tropical climate so cool never really gets proper cold. The plants that are fruiting in my garden right now are tomatoes. While my potatoes, limes and strawberries are flowering (possibly because I planted a bit late this season) my blueberries have dried their leaves and turned pink.

The key is to find out what plants grow best in what temperatures. Check out the seasons according to your indigenous calendar and plan ahead.

Some plants will grow all year regardless of the season. These are a good staple to have in the garden as you always get satisfaction through your efforts even if everything else is growing quietly under the soil.

The plants that will grow all year round are:

Onions, garlic, potatoes and beans.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you just leave them out in the elements and they’ll grow regardless. This just means it’s possible to keep them yielding all year round with the right amount of TLC.

How much Sunlight?

So we all remember year 7 biology I’m sure, plants need sunlight to convert into energy through a process of photosynthesis and they get their nutrients from the water they absorb from their roots and body, depending on the plant.

But how do you know when enough sun is enough and you don’t end up with sad and defeated cucumber plants?

dead cukes

No, they didn’t last but I’ve learned a lot for next season.

The traditional rule of thumb is that plants that need full sunlight need six to eight hours of sun a day, the partial sun would need three or four hours direct sunlight and of course, the shady plants need a good disguise. Just kidding, they’d only need two hours of sunlight maximum.

This works if you have a typical lovely late summer day that’s not too cold and not too hot or cloudy or humid that lasts all year round. Which is obviously unrealistic.

If you live in more tropical climates it can be very hard to judge what the temperature will be like throughout the day. Most plants have mechanisms to combat and control the amount of sunlight they need such as cucumber plants having very large leaves that are covered in white hairs (cilia) that reflect sun rays. Some plants will shift entirely to shield themselves from too much sun.

If you live in a place that does have too much sun at times, or where the sun burns harsher like my own, it’s a good idea to invest in a shade cloth.

If a plant isn’t getting enough light the new leaves may come out yellow as well as overall poor growth. This also happens if there’s too much sun so it can be tricky to figure out.

Just remember what we said before, you’re helping it to grow, not controlling its growth. Have a look and see what the plant is doing, try a couple of things, if they’re potted plants move them to a new location and see how they react. While there is science involved it’s not exact and even if you’ve been born with a green thumb, it’s impossible to predict.

 

How much and how to drainage?

Drainage… drainage…. Drainage!

So in my second garden, we bought a whole bunch of seeds and seedlings and set them up in pots with the proper mixture and great sunlight and watered them regularly and got our first batch of chillies!

Then things just stopped growing.

At first, I thought it was the pests that were starting to take up the rent. But then once we almost killed everything, we renovated our garden.

We got rid of the table, we re-potted everything and gave them some yummy fertiliser.

Then we nicely put them on pegs so they had…… DRAINAGE!

Rookie mistake.

If you give something some water, that water has to go somewhere.

This one doesn’t need much explanation. Make sure your plants have drainage!

(I’m looking at you pot planters)

Chemicals

 

First things first.

A pesticide is a chemical that kills weeds, insects, fungus and some plants.

An insecticide is a pesticide that kills insects specifically.

A herbicide is a pesticide that targets unwanted plants or weeds.

So with your new garden, you want to make sure your yields are fresh and your plants are healthy.

My first mistake was thinking that this could happen naturally. I was naïve in thinking that my perfect plants could defend themselves and I really wanted my plants to be chemical free.

So when the White Flies, slime mould, aphids and spider mites moved on in they wiped everything out!

slie mould

This is slime mould- they don’t affect the plants very much but the soil was saturated in the slime threads, blocking the nutrients for the plant.

So in keeping with the chemical-free approach, I tried my mum’s old school remedy of vinegar and water solution.

This killed whatever was left of my plants.

So this learning curve led me to do my research and find the best natural insecticide I can get without poisoning my plants or our food.

The best thing you can get for your plants is Neem. Neem is a tree native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh and the Maldives and is part of the Mahogany family. While the plant is used for many medicinal properties like anti-inflammatories and antibacterials, Neem is also a great insecticide.

Neem targets aphids, White Flies, cockroaches, mosquitos, snails and nematodes.

What it doesn’t target are birds, mammals, bees and plants.

This is essential because you want the good bugs but not the bad bugs. You also don’t want to kill ALL the bad bugs. This is because what might be bad bugs for our plants are great bugs for our compost or against other predatory plants.

For this reason, I chose Neem. Neem only kills insects that are eating your plants, not the ones that are visiting.

If you choose a pesticide that doesn’t moderate its kill-shots then you may end up with no fruits or flowers at all. Without the bugs that visit or pollinate, you won’t get any cucumbers, tomatoes or any pretty flowers.

Lastly, I chose Neem because of how it breaks down. Its half-life in water is between 48 minutes and 4 days. It’s easily broken down in the soil as well as by the plants themselves. In doing so the runoff and ongoing effects beyond your garden are absolutely minimal and effective.

For more information please do your own research but the University of Oregon is a good place to start, http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html.

I picked up my Neem from my local hardware store for just over $20 AUD and 100ml can be diluted to 50 Litres so it’s also very economical.

 

Conclusion

 So to wrap it all up, you need to decide what type of garden you want and how it needs to be set up, whether that’s in a yard or pot plants in your apartment or balcony.

Great plants to start with would be high yield little maintenance plants like basil and bamboo.

Understand the seasons of where you live, use the indigenous knowledge of the land respectfully and figure out what sun and climate are best for your garden and each plant.

Don’t forget to provide drainage!

Do your insecticide research, find one that has the least amount of impact and best results. I’ve found Neem was the best for my garden and my environmental impact.

All in all, the take-home message is to give it a try. Gardening is a life skill you’ll never forget even if it’s not a predictable success, the successes you do get will greatly outweigh the obstacles.

What were your first garden blunders?

Or if you’d like to be apart of Jaskulic contact us or become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Here are the sources I used for this article if you want to learn more and fact check my advice.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-010-9803-z

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1442-8903.2011.00622.x

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-010-9804-y?LI=true

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/impact-of-a-schoolbased-food-garden-on-attitudes-and-identification-skills-regarding-vegetables-and-fruit-a-12month-intervention-trial/97893704F2180E391EA1F76DDAC315F3

https://academic.oup.com/heapro/article/25/2/166/561809

https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=GbIWAAAAYAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=how+to+garden+vegetables&ots=nj_AtLgvw2&sig=cuuutX1iHpMQQb5VqeDCiSQi-cU#v=onepage&q=how%20to%20garden%20vegetables&f=false

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494412000060