To celebrate Australian Organic Awareness Month, leading industry body Australian Organic hosted a lunchtime BBQ at Parliament House, Canberra, on 19 September 2019.
Australian Organic Awareness Month (or AOAM for short) is one of the biggest promotional events on the organic calendar in Australia. Not only does AOAM promote certified organic products across a wide range of categories, it also aims to educate consumers on what certified organic means and how to trust that what they buy is truly organic.
The BBQ presented an opportunity for certified organic operators to meet and network with MPs whilst enjoying delicious certified organic produce including sausage, burgers, salad and beverages.
Joel Fitzgibbon, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources, opened the event, commenting that organic “is a really great industry”, and, “people are realizing in the agriculture sector that we’ve got to chase these premium markets.”
He also commented that big companies with large numbers of consumers are always looking for something different, with vignerons in the Hunter Valley and the Margaret River doing just that with certified organic offerings.
Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie applauded organic operators to approach their State Ministers in pushing for domestic standards – agreeing that it is something the Government will be working towards.
She added that the organic industry “is on a trajectory to be realizing significant profits; it’s great for the environment, great for communities, and it’s not just about safe, sustainable, clean green food… it’s also great for our national economy and the growth of local jobs right throughout the community.”
Minister McKenzie also applauded the strength of relationships across the organic industry; “You’ve grown your domestic market share through a lot of hard work. It’s a crowded market, and consumers have an enormous amount of choice at the moment and I think that you, through your careful branding and consistent messaging and by working as a team across the certification bodies, means that actually the Australian consumer can go in and know with confidence that what they’re purchasing is organically produced.”
We’d like to thank all those that attended the BBQ and a special mention to Parliament House for their assistance in hosting the event.
Ever get to Friday and wonder how you survived the week? Taking time for yourself shouldn’t be left to an hour on a Sunday afternoon. Self-care needs to be part of your daily routine, for very good reasons!
Don’t believe us? Many studies have proven the importance of relaxation as part of our daily routines. The many benefits of relaxation range from improving mental health by relieving stress, calming the mind and reducing feelings of anxiousness; to benefitting physical health through stress relief by relaxing the muscles, increasing blood circulation and metabolism, reducing fatigue and improving your mood and concentration.
Relaxation isn’t all about yoga and meditation (although they both help!) and can be done in as little time as just 5 minutes here and there.
Here’s some of the best ways to relax, unwind and focus on you.
Sounds simple, but sometimes the simple things are the most effective. Heavy, rapid breathing can be associated with stress and anxiety, so taking the time to breathe deep and slow can help to relax the body and increase blood flow to vital muscles and organs. There are lots of apps available on your phone and even smart watch to help with breathing exercises, however the principles are easy:
Close your eyes and take a deep breath in for 4-6 seconds, and breathe out for the same amount of time. Continue this process, gradually taking deeper, longer breaths, until you feel more relaxed and notice your heart rate slow down.
Breathing is also an essential part of meditation, which is often used to calm and clear the mind.
2. Essential oils
A range of different scents have been noted for their calming and relaxing properties and can be directly applied to the skin, mixed in with creams and lotions, spritzed on fabrics and clothing, dropped in your bath water or added to diffusers to freshen the air.
Using certified organic essential oils will ensure there are no unwanted surprises in your oils, making them safe to use on your skin.
3. Me time
How often do you set aside time to focus on yourself and do something that makes you happy? The answer is probably not enough! Me-time means different things to different people, so taking some time for yourself might look different to your friends and family. Whether you enjoy reading, relaxing in the bath, watching a movie, baking or taking a walk, taking some time for yourself should be a part of your daily routine. If you want to use your me-time to relax, make sure it isn’t something that is too overstimulating on the body and mind to reap the full benefits.
4. Fresh air
Fresh air is something we take for granted all the time. Getting outside and breathing fresh air does wonders for your body and mind. Although not all of us have access to clean air all of the time, aim to spend time in clean, fresh air at least a few times a week. If you spend 5 days of the week in an office, try spending your lunch break outside, or use the weekends to enjoy time outdoors. We’re lucky to live in a country with some of the best weather and scenery in the world, so make the most of it (and of course, we always encourage you to be sun-smart!)
5. Reduce stimulants
How many coffees do you have each day? Coffee, and caffeine in particular, is a stimulant that can increase heart rate and can become addictive as your body becomes more reliant on it with time. By reducing your caffeine intake progressively over a few weeks and increasing your intake of water, you’ll notice your body will become less reliant on it as an energy source and you’ll feel more energized throughout the day.
This is the same for caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar and other stimulants that are often used to relax but can actually create the opposite, negative effect on the body. Teach your body to respond to stress in a different manner by using other relaxation techniques or simply drinking herbal teas or water instead. Your body will thank you for it.
6. Sleep well
Sleep is one of the most important things your body could ask for. When you sleep, your body uses the time to repair and regenerate whilst your mind processes the day’s events. A lack of sleep has been shown to lead to an array of health issues, from anxiety and stress, to fatigue and exhaustion, to gut related problems and muscle tension.
By setting a strict wind-down bed routine, you can help your body to become more relaxed before you go to bed and promote a better sleep. This includes turning off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed, not going to bed on a full stomach, and avoiding stimulants such as alcohol, sugar and caffeine in the hours leading up to bed time.
Make sure you set some time aside this week to help yourself to relax and unwind – a great way to begin focusing on yourself.
Australian Organic ambassador and former beauty editor, Elle Halliwell, gives the low-down on her go-to organic beauty routine.
I’ve got a hypothetical scenario for you. If I was to ask you to lather your skin every day with a bunch of synthetic chemicals – only 10% of which has been tested for safety – would you do it? You may not like the sound of it, but for many Australian women, this is an everyday reality – all in the name of beauty.
Our daily chemical cocktail
This routine is something millions of people do every day, blissfully unaware of the potential hidden dangers in their morning beauty routine. It’s been estimated that the average woman applies about 12 beauty and skincare products on her skin every day, containing up to 515 different synthetic chemicals.
I was that girl, once. The ingredients of my shampoo didn’t matter, as long as my locks shone like the model in the brand’s latest marketing campaign! And if that moisturiser made my skin glow, a little sodium laureth sulfate or methylparaben was no big deal.
Overloading your skin does you no favours
Three years ago, I had a big wake-up call after being diagnosed with cancer. As a former beauty editor, one of the biggest realisations was the complete, unwarranted trust I had placed in so many major cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies, whose mission was to make money and sell products. I blindly slathered on anything and everything that came my way and never bothered to really analyse any of the mysterious ingredients.
I can’t be sure what caused my cancer but overloading my body’s largest organ – my skin – with endocrine disrupting toxins, known carcinogens and artificial preservatives for more than a decade I’m sure didn’t do my system any favours.
As I wasn’t able to begin chemotherapy whilst pregnant, I decided to take drastic steps to change my lifestyle and prepare my body as best I could in the lead up to treatment beginning after the birth and rid myself of all synthetic chemicals and going strictly organic with all products I used – including skincare and make-up.
Synthetic chemicals and commercial makeup
One tool I found really useful at the start of my beauty overhaul was the Think Dirty app, which lists the ingredients of thousands of products and rates them out of 10 for safety. One of the first things I noticed after using the app was that most products listing unspecified “parfum” or “fragrance” automatically received a poor rating.
I looked into it further and discovered The International Fragrance Association’s list of the industry’s most commonly used ingredients. It’s 96 pages long and contains almost 4,000 chemicals. You won’t find these listed on your average bottle of au de toilette though, as the ingredients of a perfume are considered a ‘trade secret’. The only fragrances I now use, both on my body and around my home – are essential oils.
My natural beauty routine
I celebrate my three-year cancer-versary this month, and here’s what my current beauty routine looks like:
I have a very basic body care regimen, which involves a certified organic bar of Eco Botanicals castile soap and a nut oil to finish (coconut or almond), which I like to buy from my local bulk foods store. My theory is if you are making the choice to reduce your synthetic chemical load, you may as well avoid plastic packaging where possible and save the planet at the same time.
For cuts, blemishes and bruises I use calendula cream, for deodorant I use an aluminium-free deodorant paste, and in the sun I use a zinc-based sunscreen such as Harmony Harvest and a wide-brimmed hat. I rarely paint my nails, and if I do, I will use an 8 or 10 Free polish from brands free of synthetic chemicals like camphor, formaldehyde resin, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and fragrance.
I use a MicroGlo at home microdermabrasion device every two weeks, as it leaves my skin feeling super smooth and it’s a physical exfoliant, so no nasties. I also make my own exfoliator regularly (see recipe below) but as I write about beauty, I’m also often trialling various natural and organic skincare products. I’m currently using Sanctum’s soothing cream cleanser which has supported my skin during the seasonal transition and kept it nicely hydrated. My skincare regimen does vary from week-to-week, but I always check the ingredients and company ethos before trialling a product.
For toning I’m using Divine Company’s soothing rose toner, but I also like a basic witch hazel extract (So Saba Organics has a great one with Aloe).
For removing makeup I’m a big fan of Clear Organics and I will finish with a lightweight oil or serum, like Endota Organics radiance boost serum. I also use Endota Organics’ Charcoal Detox Mask, which I apply when my skin is feeling congested.
I’m a big believer in the idea that everything we interact with has an energy, and if a product is made ethically, organically and with care it’s going to radiate that good energy. There are a few brands out there that I think really give off good vibes like Miessence, Mukti and Endota Spa. Ethical practices, holistic philosophies and natural ingredients are really important elements to consider when buying beauty and skincare products.
I recently started using Miessence honey translucent foundation which gives my skin a really healthy glow. I’ve also been using Inika Organic for years, and I love their brow products, long lash mascara and baked contour duo.
Even in the three years since my lifestyle overhaul I’ve noticed a huge shift in the direction of the beauty industry towards a more earth, animal and human friendly focus. We deserve a safe beauty cabinet which is gentle on the planet, and I think by making sustainable, ethical and organic shopping choices we can make a difference.
Health coach, media personality and author Elle Halliwell is one of this year’s Australian Organic 2019 media ambassadors and will MC the Australian Organic Annual Awards in November.
As part of Australian Organic Awareness Month, SBS recently highlighted Australian certified organic producers in a special Small Business Secrets segment, alongside an interview with Australian Organic Ltd CEO Niki Ford.
Featured organic operators include:
- The Unexpected Guest
- Mock Red Hill
- Cowobbee Beef
The segment highlights the lift in sales for Australian organic produce caused by a rise in demand from export and domestic markets.
The organics industry in Australia is now worth over $2.6 billion.