The last straw!

I know we’ve had this conversation before but truthfully – plastics are taking over the world.  Or rather, they are playing a big part in messing it up!

Why is that?  Petroleum-based plastics like PET do not decompose in the same way that organic material does. Stuff like wood, food scraps and grass gets transformed into useful compounds by bacteria – but this does not happen with plastic. Plastic never really goes away. After hundreds of years it might break down if it is exposed to sunlight – but even those tiny pieces are still floating around in the place. Of course, if it gets buried in a landfill – it never sees the sunlight and so it stays… and stays.

One way that we can help – I know it seems a teensy way – but every little bit really does help, is to say “No Thank You” to straws.

Seriously! We don’t need to use a straw to drink a cool drink. By the way – if the cool drink is in an aluminium can – that also takes 500 years to break down – so make sure you recycle those too please.

The problem with straws is that they are light and even if they do get disposed in the proper way, they get picked up by the wind and carried off to places unknown. Often they land up in rivers, damns and the sea and they cause untold damage to birds and other marine life.

Yes – I know it’s very cool to pull the paper off the straw so it’s concertinaed up, and then use the straw to drop a little bit of cool drink on the paper and watch it magically unfold all by itself. This drives my mum crazy if I do it when we are out, so she’ll be glad to hear that I am giving up straws in the interests of helping to save the planet.

Of course, if you absolutely must have a straw in your drink – then take it home with you and in another blog I’ll share some cool stuff to do with straws. Sciencey stuff!

In the meantime – I’m sharing my book – Sibo Tackles Trash – on the website  for everybody to read free for a few days.

Every little bit really does help people – let’s all try. Together we can make a BIG difference.

Lots of love,

Sibo

 

Growing succulents

A friend of mine recently moved into a house and they have a section of water wise plants in their front garden. To begin with I thought they were sort of ugly. But then I looked at them a bit longer and thought that maybe they were not so bad. In fact – some of them were quite pretty.

The thing about succulents is that they really do not need much water. Of course, if they get more water than they bargained for, then it’s not like they wither up and die either.

Did you know if you want to grow your own succulents it is really easy?

You simply lay a leaf or three down on a bed of soil in a little pot, with the pointy bit facing outwards, and give it a few drops of water every now and then.  They are not even too fussy about the water believe it or not.

Aloe

After a while teensy tiny little leaves start growing (in the middle of the pot). And it does not take too long either. Perfect little teensy weensy succulents. In fact, it is incredibly rewarding

The crazy thing about succulents is that some of them are good for various things – like Bulbinlella – a common garden plant.

Bulbinella is the ideal plant to have in the garden if you have children because it is a first aid remedy for most knocks and scrapes.

This hardy plant grows easily in many places. It has a nice bright yellow flower. The Bulbinella leaf can be crushed softly between fingers and the clear sap can be squeezed out from the leaf and used to smear on the following problems: wounds, rashes, burns, itches, ringworm, cracked lips, cuts, boils, eczema, insect bites, cold sores or acne.

The same goes for Pork Bush or as it is more commonly known by its Afrikaans name, Spekboom (Portulacaria afra), it is also pretty fabulous stuff. Not only is it Proudly South African but it is also a water-wise plant that can manage on less than a litre of water a year.

Poultices made out of the leaves can be applied to acne, blisters, corns, insect bites, sore feet and sunburn. It has also been said that chewing Spekboom leaves several times a day can successfully treat high blood sugar levels.

Great idea for Christmas presents – but you’d need to start growing them in little pots now!

Have fun.

Sibo

Draining Away

The other day mum and I were visiting a friend of hers and mum was moaning that she was going to have to call out a plumber to unblock our shower drain.  The shower kept filling up with water and you could almost have a bath in the shower well. She was whinging that plumbers were so expensive and she’d much rather buy a pair of new shoes with that money.

Her friend smiled and told her to relax – there was no need to call a plumber.

She gave us a recipe to unclog the shower. Mum was a bit sceptical – she’s not big on doing innovative stuff – but I wrote it all down and said I’d try it when we got home.

It was a bit like a science experiment – and I am very fond of those.

Mum assured me had all the ingredients needed – nothing fancy at all – just hot water, baking soda and vinegar.

Mum supervised and I got to do the fun work.

First we boiled the kettle and poured the whole lot of boiling water down the drain.

Then we poured in half a cup of baking soda – and let that sit in the drain for about 5 minutes.

Next we added a cup of vinegar followed by a cup of boiling water to the baking soda in the drain. This was the fun part – it all fizzled and foamed. Mum made me wear safety goggles in case it whooshed up too much and got in my eyes. (I felt even more like a scientist!)

If you have one of those drain plungers – put it over the plug hole at this stage – so that all the fizzy stuff stays in the drain.

Finally, after about 5 to 10 minutes – we poured another kettle of boiling water into the drain.

The next day we all had a shower and the water flowed perfectly out of the drain – no more bathing in the shower.

So maybe – if you have a blocked drain – you should try this first before you call a plumber!

Have a fabulous week further.

Sibo

World Humanitarian Day

19 August was World Humanitarian Day. This day was initially declared by the United Nations back in 2008 after a terrible terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, where 22 people were killed.

Nearly every day some disaster happens – whether it is war, terrorist attacks, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, disease, poverty or hunger. These things cause huge suffering for all the people who are caught up in these events and, sadly, it is usually the poorest people who suffer the most.

Humanitarian assistance workers go all-out to provide help in these situations both in the short and long term. Often these workers put themselves at risk too and sometimes even die in their efforts to help other people.

 

We can all be humanitarians.  There is no special training needed to do the right thing every now and then. Sometimes it is as simple as delivering blankets or warm clothes to the needy when there is a very cold spell. Or helping out in your local community if something untoward – like a flood -happens.

Basically it all boils down to being kind and thinking of others. The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous.

It’s not very hard to be any of those things, but sometimes it does require conscious thought. Often we get so caught up in everyday life that we forget there are many people who have considerably less than we do and could use a bit of a helping hand. It could be as simple as knowing somebody at school who needs to share your lunch occasionally.

Remember a while ago we talked about having “Friendship benches” at school.  Where kids who don’t have any friends, or just maybe need somebody to talk to, can go and sit and know for sure that somebody will come and talk to them. That also boils down to being kind – and generous. You don’t have to be generous with money always. You can be generous of spirit or with your time.

There might even be an elderly person in your neighbourhood who is lonely and could use somebody to chat to or maybe needs help with shopping or garden work.

The main thing is for us all to keep an open mind and not miss out on opportunities to do the odd good deed. Or many good deeds!

Sibo

Do your own science tricks

Just because National Science Week is now finished it does not mean that you have to put science out of your mind until next year. Remember, science is all around us all the time and it is very cool. Without it, we’d be living in the dark ages.

Thought I’d share some interesting tricks that I found in a little booklet that was distributed by SAASTA many years ago. Can you believe that you can wow your friends by making fireworks with a naartjie?

All you need is the skin of a nartjie, a candle (in a holder), matches or a lighter – and maybe you should keep some water close by too – in case somebody gets so excited that they set fire to something.

Remember – whenever you do a science experiment, no matter how simple it seems, you still need to be careful.

Light the candle. Take a piece of naartjie skin and fold it in half while holding the orange (outer) side of the skin a few centimetres from the candle flame.

See what happens… cool hey!

What does happen?

There are many little “bags” containing oil in a naartjie skin. The oil, which is responsible for the specific naartjie smell, is flammable. When you fold the skin, the little bags burst and spray the oil into the candle flame. The end result is a little sparkling mini firework show!

If you don’t have any naartjies you could try this experiment with a lemon or an orange and see what the result is.

Or you could make a flower bloom. All you need is some paper, pencil, scissors and a bowl of water.

Draw a flower on a piece of paper. Cut it out and fold the petals up. Lay the flower on the water in the bowl and watch it open up and bloom.

What happens? The paper gets soaked with water and expands. The petals open and the flower appears to bloom.

You could make all sorts of flowers – for everybody! Try it out.

Science really is fun!

Sibo

Science is Seriously Super!

It is time to celebrate National Science Week again!  This is an initiative that is run nationally and is funded by the Department of Science and Technology. The programmes are managed and co-ordinated by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Awareness (SAASTA) but it is actually implemented by many different service providers.

If you want to find out more about this, please do go and visit the SAASTA webpage .

The theme this year is “Advancing Science Tourism”. There are all sorts of exciting demonstrations, activities and exhibitions happening all over the country.

On the 5th of August – in the Springs Mall – there is an expo on The Science of Paint! It is on from 10am to 5pm and is open to the general public – you don’t have to book or anything – you can just rock up.

This is what you can expect…

Take a walk through the history of paint and learn how the processes have changed overthe years. We will start with Rock Art move on to natural dyes and pigments then oils and water colours and finally on to synthetic paint.

During the activity you will get an opportunity to test the methods of making paint with the end goal of making art. Engaging, fun, and messy – come join us!

For more info you can contact Anthea Moys (info@thecolouredcube.co.za) Tel: 011 021 1177

Sounds like a lot of fun to me – and best of all – it’s free!

Of course, although National Science Week starts on the 5th August and runs for a week – the world is full of science that is all around us, and can be seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year…. you get what I mean!

We’ve done little science experiments in this blog before – but if you are keen on having some serious fun at home go and visit Arvind Gupta’s website . He is Ginny’s friend and shows you how to make fabulously fun toys from trash (so you don’t need any fancy stuff) that all work on scientific principles.

Of course you can always visit a science centre too. Those are tremendous fun and are open all year round. Not only during National Science Week.

Lastly – if you want to be a space tourist – you can visit our website and read Sibo in Space free for the next week or so.

Science is super!

Sibo

World Day against Human Trafficking in Persons

The 30th of July is World Day against Human Trafficking in Persons.  That’s quite a mouthful and probably not something that most people think of – but they should. It is a very serious topic and very scary too.

Worst thing is that it happens – a lot more than you think.

The International Labour Organisation reckons that there are about 20.9 million victims of human trafficking around the world. 68% of these people are trapped into forced labour, 26% are children and 55% are women and children.

It is horrendous to think that unscrupulous people make money out of snatching other human beings and exploiting them for money. Often false advertising is involved. Like somebody sees a billboard for as enticing job in a faraway place with a toll free number to call. But instead of getting the job that they are expecting, they are tossed into a brothel or a sweat shop and forced to do jobs that they would have never in a million years wanted to do. Because they are illegally in a foreign country, with no paperwork and usually no money, they have very little chance of ever going home again.

These are some of the signs that traffickers look for in children:

  • Homelessness
  • Isolation
  • Drug, alcohol or tobacco use
  • History of prior neglect
  • Gang involvement
  • Bad history with child welfare services
  • Low self-esteem
  • History of victimization
  • Criminal history
  • Current involvement with criminals

Here are some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Never give your social media passwords or bank pin numbers to anybody.
  • Never let anybody hold your ID documents for you – even if you think they are trying to help.
  • Avoid posting your location on-line. (This is a biggie these days with social media and cell phones automatically offering to post where you are.)
  • Remember that you have a RIGHT to stay safe.
  • Remind yourself that your worth should not be determined by another person.
  • Think of a plan of who to call and what to do if you feel you are in an unsafe situation.
  • Memorize the number of an adult you completely trust and the Human Trafficking 24/7 hotline +1 888-373-7888.

So, when your parental agents tell you not to talk to strangers – they are not kidding. If somebody promises you something that sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

Stay safe

Sibo

Holiday Fun – Short Story Writing

It’s school holidays again and whilst it is great not to have to get up early on cold winter mornings, I bet some of us are going to get a bit bored somewhere along the line. Especially if we are staying home and our friends have gone away.

When I get bored I like to read. It’s hard to stay miserable if you have a great story to get lost in. If you don’t have any nice books to read you could maybe swop with a friend or even ask your parental agent to take you to the closest library. Libraries are awesome places, full of fabulous things to read and some of them even run holiday programmes that don’t involve only reading but doing lots of fun stuff too.

If you do get fed up and have nothing to do, think about writing your own short story. It could be about anything – your life, your pets, your family or even something crazy that you just thought up in your head.

Remember though, stories have a structure. They have a beginning, a middle bit and an end!

Before starting to write a story, think about the stuff you like to read… probably most people are not that fond of boring old blah blah blah stuff that puts one to sleep. Mostly we find that something that‘s exciting and makes us wonder what is going to happen next is much more interesting. The ones that have us turning the pages in a hurry to get to the end to find out what happens.

Here’s another idea… think about writing a story from a funny point of view.  Just imagine if you were a bath plug… you could write a seriously wacky tale. Or maybe a tree – a tall skinny one that can see incredibly far and has odd wavy branches that point all over the place. Think what fun a person could have writing a story involving all the creatures that live in that tree.

Go nuts and use your imagination. You could illustrate your story too.

Email your stories to sibo@sibo.co.za (or click on the email icon above) and we’ll publish the best ones on Sibo’s website so that other people can also read them. (Keep your story between 400 and 1000 words please. Remember to include your name and age.)

Happy holidays everybody – get your creative writing hats on!

Sibo

Sniffy Season.

It’s that time of year when people get sick with colds and flu. Here are some rather simple ways of avoiding catching those dreaded lurgies …

Wash your hands – we are always touching things and people. Our hands are a prime spot for germs to hang out. If you wash them often, with soap, this dilutes the germs and they go scooting down the drain along with the water. While you’re about it – give up gnawing your nails too. Germs lurk under your nails and when you nibble them – you ingest the germs.

If you need to sneeze – sneeze into the crook of your elbow. It sounds funny but actually we don’t touch things with the inside of our elbow – right. So it makes a lot of sense.

Try not to touch your eyes and nose. These are common places where the germs sneak in.

The experts also say that our bags and suitcases pick up germs the same as we do. It’s a good idea to wipe them down every now and then to get rid of any little suckers that might be hanging around.

Get enough sleep – at least 8 to 10 hours a night is what the doctors prescribe.

Exercise! Working out helps our immune system function better – this is what we all need to stay healthy.  And smile – being happy boosts the immune system too.

Eat healthily. Stock up on Vitamin C naturally – this is not a cure for a common cold but it also boosts our immune system and helps prevent catching cold and flu bugs. The daily recommended dose of Vitamin C is 60mg.

We all know that oranges are full of vitamin C, but there are many other things that also have loads of the same vitamin – more in fact. A medium sized orange has around 70g. A cup of strawberries yields 85mg, 2 kiwi fruits equal 128mg and mango has 122mg per fruit. Pineapple is rich in the good stuff too. Bell peppers range from 95mg for a green pepper to a whopping great 340mg for a yellow pepper. (Plus those are low in calories so are great to snack on.)  Brussel sprouts are also rich in Vitamin C and are delicious roasted in the oven with bacon. Broccoli (raw) is another veggie that can be nibbled to get our daily intake. Don’t forget about kohlrabi – not such a pretty vegetable – but can be used instead of cabbage in salads or in stir-fries.

Stay well and be happy everybody!

Sibo

Friends are Fabulous

The 30th of June is International Day of Friendship.

I’m reminding you nice and early in case you need to make a plan to make a plan to get together and have a lunch date or something, or even just to remind yourself to call somebody.

Friends are good for a person’s heart and soul. Literally!  But friendship is very much a two-way thing.

One has to give as much as one gets – and I don’t mean “stuff” here either. I’m talking about time spent together, laughing, sharing experiences, chatting and more importantly, listening to the other person. Really listening to hear – and not listening to talk when they’ve finished speaking. Often friends just need to talk to somebody that they know really cares about them – they don’t want to hear how the same thing happened to you.

If a friend tells you a juicy secret, don’t go blab it out to the world in general afterwards. That’s not what real friends do.

Research has shown that people who have lots of friends are much more likely to survive a major illness than somebody who has no friends. This is because the loving support (both physically and mentally) of friends helps a person get better

Companionship is also known to reduce stress. People, who are married to a person that they both love and are friends with, are more likely to stay married. (Yes – it’s very possible to love somebody and not like them very much!)

In your life time, you’ll probably make around 396 friends, but according to research, only 1 in 12 friendships last and of those, only about 4 will be really close friends.

These days, with social media – it’s easy to think you have loads of friends, but this is not always the case. Next time you meet up with your friends, put your cell phones away and talk properly to each other, instead of chatting via text messages.

Amazingly enough, scientists have also discovered that there are animals – like dolphins, bats, chimps, baboons, elephants, horses and… wait for it… hyenas that have been known to form friendships for life with individuals that are not the same species. (I was quite surprised to see that they did not mention dogs and cats – specially seeing as how they have bonds with their humans.)

Remember people… in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend!

Sibo