Events

Not YourAverage Mom

This Sunday, when many moms are having a well deserved sleep-in, or breakfast in bed, Heather Hawkins will be trekking in the Himalayas, thousands of metres above sea level on stage four of the World Expeditions GHT with her son Callum, daughter Rebekah (Bek) and Bek’s boyfriend Matt.

It’s not your average Mother’s Day. But then Heather, like the new breed of bold women, is not average—this mom climbs mountains!

A descriptor for her might read: Heather Hawkins, a 50 year old mom, marathon runner and cancer survivor. But there is much more to her character and abilities. Athlete, adventurer, ambassador, might encapsulate a more accurate portrait.

In tribute to all boundary breaking moms, I offer her inspiring itinerary…

In January this year, Heather successfully competed in the ‘Seven marathons in Seven days on Seven continents’ Challenge, raising $13K for cancer research along the way.

And last year she was the first female across the line in the North Pole Marathon Challenge—competing in minus 41 degree Celsius temperatures.

Heather is undertaking the World Expeditions GHT Trek to raise money for the Australian Himalayan Foundation to rebuild Nepal after last year’s devastating earthquakes.

Follow Heather in the Field: www.worldexpeditions.com.

And don’t miss Heather’s article in Bare Essentials, her path is positively empowering!

Sign-up to get every issue in your inbox!

There are many meaningful ways to reflect on the importance and beauty of earth—perhaps none more poignant and simple than the Japanese art of Shinrin-yoku.

It is easy to go days, months, and—dare I say it—years, without physically connecting with the raw power and serenity of nature. Even today, as we celebrate ‘Earth’—many of us do so surrounded by walls with perhaps a view of something green.

Whatever your plans, demands or other obligations we all need nature to inspire our spirits and restore our instincts. One of the simplest ways I know to do this, is to emerge yourself amongst the trees, breath the air of open winds and wooded scents, touch the earth and feel it’s energy, awaken your soul and celebrate life.

City folk stroll to the closet park, urban dwellers retreat to your gardens, everyone everywhere if you can find a forest to bathe in…

Shinrin-yoku

Allow me to introduce a friend of ours, a fascinating guy with a passion for fitness and a fondness for forests.

David Boycott-Brown is the Director of Elite Athletes, a sports performance company supporting international, world-class and Olympic-level athletes. Previously he was Head of Strength and Conditioning for GB Water Polo at the London Olympics 2012. Additional experience includes working with MMA fighters competing in the UFC and professional cyclists at the World Cycling Centre.

So how doe’s David celebrate Earth Day?

Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese word which can be translated as “forest bathing” or taking a leisurely trip to the forest. This is done to wash away the stresses of daily life, reconnect with nature and boost health. Many scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the benefits of “shinrin-yoku” with prime areas of research including cognitive function, stress reduction and general wellbeing from both a mental and physical perspective.

It is intuitive for a lot of people to get outside in nature and participate in physical activity, whether it be walking, running, riding or some other favourite pursuit. Many feel the call of the great outdoors and find it more appealing than training in gyms or breathing hard in polluted areas. However many studies from a western scientific perspective are now investigating the ancient knowledge held within many traditional cultures such as “shinrin-yoku”.

The benefits of exercise on health, strength and happiness are well documented and range from improved immune function, a stronger musculoskeletal system and positive mood states. The principle of “shinrin-yoku” may suggest that the combination of physical exercise within a natural setting, such as a wooded area, may provide even greater rewards.

The benefits on the Mind are difficult to discuss with relation to western scientific literature due to debate regarding what the mind actually is. The mind is related to difficult areas such as memory and consciousness. Fields such as neuroscience and psychology struggle to explain and when added to the attempts of religion and philosophy, the area of debate can deter people. Topics such as mental health, mood and cognitive function are generally easier for many rational minded scientific individuals, all of which can addressed in relation to “shinrin-yoku”.

Dr. N. Wells is an environmental psychologist who studies the effects of the environment on health and behaviour. She has written a number of studies which detail the improvement in cognitive functioning in children who have access to natural or rural environments when compared to their urban dwelling counterparts. Helping to preserve or improve the function of the brain in children is one way to ensure the “childrens fire” continues to burn bright. If you don’t live in a rural setting this is not a problem as a weekly or monthly visit can provide a significant boost.

There is obviously a strong connection between the body and the mind with a complex feedback loop between the psychology and the physiology and both areas affecting the other. From a physical perspective there is again much documentation which details the positive affect on mood states following increased secretions of “positive” hormones, stimulated by physical activity.

Dr. M. Yamaguchi has written many books and journal articles which detail the reduction in stress hormones when exercising in forest environments compared to urban settings. As exercise creates a physical stress on the body (this is a “good” stress as the body can make beneficial adaptations to this stress), further stressors from the environment are undesirable. The fact that environmental stress upon the body can be reduced by exercising in the forest means the body can focus more closely on the “good” stress that can gained from the exercise rather than fighting the negative aspects of pollution.

The positive affects on the soul are harder to study, put down in words or quantify in any way. The positive effects “shinrin-yoku” have on the soul need to be experienced first hand. If you take anything from this article, go out into nature, take a bath in a forest, breathe in the pristine air and even engage in some physical exercise if you feel inclined.

Wild plants, seagreens, heirloom harvests, medicinal herbs and other purely botanical sources of nutrition offer a diverse source of earth grown energy.

No Meat May

The untapped potential of plants is powering athletes and inspiring a new ‘meat-free’ movement, says reformed meat head and No Meat May founder, Ryan Alexander.

By feasting on only fresh, ripe, organic fruits and vegetables (alkaline foods) and eliminating all acid-forming food from their diet (animal proteins), athletes Alan Murray and Janette Murray-Wakelin attained a new level of optimum health, improving their physical fitness, and increasing their performance levels.

Their new plant-based diet fuelled their 2013 world record together running close to 16,000km around Australia. To break that down into a more digestible sentence for runners, that’s each running 366 marathons (43 km) in 366 days, with a sum total of zero days off! 

Yep, plant power is pretty remarkable. Not only providing us with an abundance of nutritional firepower to break world records, but the diverse world of plants is also vital for medicine with about 70% of the world’s population reliant on traditional plant remedies for medical treatment.

Indigenous Australians have a long history of cultivating plants for many medicinal purposes as well as for nourishment. Different regions having different plant staples, including yams, bush tomatoes, figs and quandong fruits. Corms of bush onion, wild orange truffles, green plumbs, gall nuts of the mulga apple or bloodwood apple and the seeds from some grasses are other native Australian bush foods that are very rich in vitamins and minerals, butt unfortunately we can not buy these at Woolworths.

Not understanding the medicinal and nutritional value of native Australian plants, British colonists instead chose to introduce their own foreign plants for commercial production in Australia. This same approach has been used around the globe for centuries, and sadly it’s led to the loss of much botanical knowledge and plant varieties.

However more recently, some exciting agricultural projects have achieved great success in commercialising native plants. This more sustainable approach to farming could be a part of the solution to feeding our world in the future.
All up, botanists from around the globe have identified almost two million distinct plant varieties, with samples of these identified seeds kept by governments and private enterprises in more than 1,400 seed banks. (Picture underground vaults built into remote mountain ranges as a kind of insurance policy against a zombie apocalypse, or the almost certain impact of climate change).

Only 30,000 species of identified plants are edible. Still, that’s probably a good 29,950 more varieties than most of us eat each year.

One way to increase your exposure to the dazzling abundance of the plant world is to sign up for the No Meat May challenge and give up meat for a month. It’s a simple yet powerful way to try out the many benefits of a plant-based diet, both for your health and the world.

There are four big, and incredibly compelling reasons to register for No Meat May. You’ll improve your health, do some good for our planet, make a stand against factory farming, and learn about the impact of our food choices on developing countries.

With more and more research showing shifts towards a more plant-based diet reducing your risk of diabetes, heart-disease, certain cancers, obesity and weight gain, the month of May is a great opportunity to break some habits and make some long term adjustments to your diet.

Introducing more plants could not only improve your workout recovery time but also up your odds of being able to walk to the post office to collect your letter from the queen, with her likely unrestricted access to the British seed vault possibly the reason she’s not going anywhere fast.

Along with athletes such as Alan and Janette, you’ll also be part of the plant-based health revolution that is happening all around the world.

Animal agriculture is a massive contributor if not the leading cause of climate change, and Australia has one of the highest rates of meat consumption in the world. Without doubt, an unsustainable rate. Each of us has a crucial role to play in addressing the massive risks faced by our planet. No Meat May is an opportunity to turn real climate concerns into positive action and reduce your contribution of greenhouse gasses.

People often talk about having a personal choice, but how great would it be if your personal choice became the ethical choice. No Meat May empowers you to make the best choices for yourself, your family, all animals and our planet. It’s a time to make a clear stance against the incredible violence and abuse we see in factory farming, and to raise awareness of the inequitable distribution of food around the globe that contributes to millions of children dying of starvation each year.


You may not come through your No Meat May experience a certified veg head, but eating half as much meat seems like such a no brainer when you look at the many devastating effects of our current over-consumption. Bring with you your own unique sense of adventure, explore exciting new ingredients and discover new favourite restaurants.

No Meat May encourages supporters and participants to take a selfie with a fruit or vegetable and hashtag #vegelfie and #nomeatmay to social media, and to connect with the global No Meat May community online. Challenge some friends to post a #vegelfie and increase awareness.

On average, everyone who takes part saves 17 grateful animals by saying no to 16 Lbs of meat. And each prevents 134 Lbs of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. That in itself is an achievement worth celebrating and a step towards a healthier, kinder, and greener future.

Even if you don’t put on your running shoes and run a marathon a day during May, you’ll almost certainly feel the benefits of greater plant power and a shift in your energy-levels by feasting on the abundance of our plant world.

Sign up officially at nomeatmay.net and click through the social links to stay connected during May.

YouTube Preview Image

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is the most prestigious international film competition and an annual presentation of short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports, and environment. It was launched in 1976 as The Banff Festival of Mountain Films by The Banff Centre and is held every October in Banff, Canada.

Approximately 375 films are entered into the film festival annually, and the top 80 films are selected by a pre-screening committee to be shown at the week long festival in Canada. During the festival, the international film festival jury chooses the best films and presents awards in various categories including: Best Film on Mountain Sport, Best Film on Mountain Environment, Best Film on Mountain Culture, Best Film on Exploration and Adventure and more.

From this selection a program of over 2 hours of thought-provoking films, with subject matter ranging from remote landscapes and cultures to adrenaline-packed action sports are selected to tour Australia each April, May and June. In Australia the same 2+ hours of films are shown at each screening.

In November the Radical Reels Tour travels around Australia screening entirely new films in 14 cities. Radical Reels is kind of like the adrenaline loving younger brother of the Banff Mountain Film Festival with all of the films focusing on mountain adrenaline action sports. To find out more about the Radical Reels Tour go to www.radicalreels.com.au

Tickets to the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Festival Australian tour are selling out fast.

See website for locations and dates: http://banffaustralia.com.au

As climate change impacts some of Australia’s most incredible natural places, WWF-Australia www.earthhour.org.au is calling on supporters to take action to change climate change and help protect the #PlacesWeLove.

EarthHour 2016
Earth Hour is a global moment of solidarity for climate action and comes only months after governments agreed a new global climate deal.

As the lights dim in homes, offices and landmarks, the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment will once again bring together millions of people to shine a light on climate action and the role people can play in global efforts to change climate change.

“The world is at a climate crossroads,” said Siddarth Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global. “While we are experiencing the impacts of climate change more than ever, we are also witnessing a new momentum in climate action transcending borders and generations. From living rooms to classrooms and conference rooms, people are demanding climate action. This tenth edition of Earth Hour is our time to ensure people are empowered to be a part of climate solutions.”

This Saturday, as more than 350 of the world’s most iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Taipei 101 and the Sydney Opera House prepare to switch off their lights, individuals around the world will switch on their power to make climate change history. From lending their voice to the planet through Earth Hour’s ongoing ‘Donate Your Social Power’ campaign, to signing petitions for climate policy and making individual pledges for sustainable living, millions will celebrate their potential to help build a better future for the planet and future generations.

“Earth Hour reminds us that while people are on the frontlines of climate change, they are also our first line of defense,” said Das. “Our actions today, as individuals and the global community, have the power to transform what the world will look like for generations to come—the time to act against climate change is now.”

To date in 2016, Earth Hour has powered more than 530,000 individual actions taken to help change climate change. Whether it is rallying individuals to participate in reforestation efforts in Georgia and Indonesia, promoting a switch to renewables in Uganda and India, spreading awareness on sustainable food in Italy and Australia or encouraging sustainable lifestyles in Chile and China, WWF and Earth Hour teams across six continents are harnessing the movement to mobilize public action on climate change in the lead up to the hour and throughout the year.

This year, supporters have also been invited to share their commitment to the planet by donating their own personal landmarks—their Facebook feeds and social media profile pictures—to Earth Hour to inspire their friends and communities to join the movement.

“Whether it is the flick of a switch or the click of a mouse, Earth Hour’s enduring appeal lies in its ability to connect people and show them that we all stand united in our ambition to change climate change,” added Das.

Social media users can promote their commitment to the planet by donating their Facebook feeds to spread climate awareness and action in a few clicks on www.earthhour.org/climateaction. Users can also add a custom-made Earth Hour filter to their profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter to show they believe this is our time to change climate change.

“Social media knows no physical boundaries and neither does climate change,” said Das. “A simple action on social media is the kind of powerful statement that can excite friends and communities to be a part of the climate action we need to take on this global challenge.”

With the innovative ‘Donate Your Social Power’ Facebook app, created by Earth Hour in collaboration with creative agency iris Worldwide, supporters around the world can share climate information that matters most to them.

By donating their timelines, users can invite friends and followers to discover how people and communities are helping protect #PlacesWeLove in Australia such as the World Heritage Forests in Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef or how they can be a part of India’s ambition to #GoSolar. They can also collectively shine a light on the most pressing climate issues facing countries, people and wildlife in Latin America and be a part of Africa’s efforts to change climate change by helping protect forests and promoting access to climate education and renewable energy.

“Climate action today will decide the future of our planet for generations to come. As more people sign up, an increasing number of individuals will be able to see how climate action starts with each of us, here and now,” said Das. “Earth Hour empowers each individual—through a social event, interactive campaigns or through social networks—to be a part of making climate change history.”

This year marks Earth Hour’s tenth lights out event. In the past nine years, WWF and Earth Hour teams worldwide have harnessed the power of the movement to raise support and funds for access to renewable energy, protection of wildlife and their habitats, build sustainable livelihoods and drive climate-friendly legislation and policy.

In 2016, Earth Hour will continue to power grassroots efforts to change climate change including driving a petition for 100 per cent renewable energy in Spain, protecting forests and biodiversity in Africa and helping devise a comprehensive solution to Southeast Asia’s persistent haze crisis by working with governments, businesses and civil society simultaneously on peatland protection and sustainable palm oil.

Earth Hour 2016 will be celebrated on Saturday, 19 March 2016 between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time. Log on to www.earthhour.org for more stories and articles on teams using the Earth Hour movement to shine a light on climate action. This is our time to change climate change.

Australia’s Culinary Elite Release Earth Hour Cookbook

Earth Hour Cookbook

This year, Earth Hour is about celebrating Australian food and farming and reminding us of the need to tackle global warming for the sake of our rural communities and the supply of fresh, healthy and homegrown food to our door.

Burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas makes global warming worse, contributing to more extreme weather and droughts that threaten farming communities and Australia’s supply of fresh food.

As well as being a collection of the very best recipes from the country’s top chefs, Planet to Plate is full of information on how global warming is already affecting produce we enjoy everyday including fresh vegetables, cereals, bread and fruit.

Purchase The Earth Hour Cookbook for yourself or as a gift. All proceeds go to supporting Earth Hour’s work with schools, small business and community groups. https://earthhour.org.au/cookbook-purchase/