Healthy Life Essex is proud to be hosting
on behalf of the South East Essex Women's Environmental Network

Women's Environmental Network South East Essex WEN

Roots of Change

We've set up a study group to work through the Roots of Change course material which looks at the history and impact of 'development' and globalisation. 

The material is pretty thought provoking challenging, as it does, the notion that people in 'undeveloped' countries are inferior and backward and are living at a subsistence level struggling daily to find enough food and that 'developed' countries owe it to them to go in to bring them up to our superior way of life which is seen as 'progress'. 

While the material doesn't romanticise land-based, indigenous, societies, it does highlight the face that development is leading to a world monoculture with the destruction of ancient human cultures which have maintained peoples in a sustainable way of life dependent on an maintained within their local environment. 

Sometimes heavy-going but pretty exciting stuff!  You can find more info on the Roots of Change website (  which says:

"The curriculum, comprising voices of leading political, economic and ecological thinkers from around the world, lays out both how we’ve arrived at our present predicament and what we can do about it. The emphasis is on education for action: moving beyond single issues to look at the more fundamental influences that shape our lives. No academic background is required". 

Latest News:

 Re-Skilling ...................................................................................................................... Click Here



As technological advancement has crept its way into most aspects of our lives over the past few decades, we seem to have lost something, namely the skills and abilities previous generations took for granted.  In lots of ways we’ve been de-skilled.  We’ve most of us forgotten how to knit, how to mend our clothes, how to grow food, how to repair a bicycle, cook a loaf of bread or look after a few chickens in the back garden.

Crochet sessionHoping to encourage us all to re-learn some of the skills our grandparents grew up knowing, we have launched a local campaign centred around ‘re-skilling’. Earlier generations lived before the throwaway society bloomed, but they knew a thing or two about how to use, re-use, make-do and mend, skills which it might well be very valuable to have as we approach an era of peak-oil and low energy. 

Rob Hopkins, the Founder of the Transition Town movement, calls the educational work we need to be doing over the next couple of decades “the Great Reskilling,” acquiring and re-acquiring the skills we will need to manage the energy transition we face. 

We started our campaign at our Earth Day celebration this year when we included sessions on bicycle repairs & maintenance, how to make a wormery and a solar oven, how to make natural cosmetics & toiletries, knitting & crochet, gardening, IT for the future, sewing to repair clothing, preserving fruit & jam making and how to keep chickens. 

We meet on the third Thursday of each month at Growing Together and are gradually working our way through many of the skills which we would like to learn and for which we can find a teacher.  We were recently  introduced to the techniques of crochet and are hoping to find someone to teach us willow weaving and bread making soon.

If you’d like to know more please get in touch with Sharon on:
079 4765 5947 

 Let's 'Reclaim' Christmas ......................................................................................... Click Here



A recent newspaper feature, where someone when asked 'What makes you unhappy' replied 'Christmas', made me think: Just what has happened to Christmas?

After all, when people are asked 'what makes you unhappy?' you would expect them to say something like 'world poverty' or 'cruelty to children' but 'Christmas' is supposed to be a time of joy and goodwill.

So, does Christmas make lots of people feel unhappy, and if so, why?

Decorating a Christmas treeA quick check among family and friends gave me the impression that Christmas, while being jolly for many, with good times spent with loved ones, also brings with it lots of stress, financial hardship and loneliness. After all, aren't we all supposed to be enjoying the festive season in the bosom of our families when in reality many folk spend their Christmas Day alone?

Aren't we all encouraged to spend time tracking down just the right gift when in reality we end up with a massive credit card bill which hangs over us well into the New Year? And, isn't the spirit of love and joy which is the basis of the Christmas season just swamped by the mad dash of consumerism.

A festival which is supposed to be centred around love, joy and togetherness has been taken over by the market and turned into a competition where we are encouraged to buy bigger and better Christmas trees, decorations, gifts and food. Just go into a supermarket a couple of days before Christmas to get a sense of the frantic scrabble which has come to epitomise Christmas.

A festival in the dark days of winter pre-dates Christmas, so even those of us who are not Christians need an uplifting celebration to help us through the shortest days of winter. So, how can we begin to focus on the true meaning of Christmas? How can we encourage less consumption and competition and more creativity and collaboration?

Be great to hear your ideas. Christmas may seem a long way off but perhaps the time is right. We could exchange ideas and prepare to make Christmas 2012 a celebration that helps to turn the tide.

If you are interested please contact Eileen on


 Ending the Cosmetics Cover Up campaign ..................................................... Click Here


Ending the Cosmetics Cover Up campaign

CosmeticsWEN has been encouraging people to think about what they are putting on their skin by way of cosmetics and toiletries. Their Ending the Cosmetics Cover Up campaign highlighted the thousands of potentially harmful chemicals used in personal care products and make-up. In response to public demand, WEN has invited cosmetics and toiletries companies to complete a questionnaire on the sustainability of their manufacturing processes, with a view to their inclusion on WEN's Careful Beauty Checklist.

This is especially important for babies. (You might be surprised at the potentially harmful chemicals included in some of the best known baby products.........)

Please CLICK HERE to find out more information on harmful chemicals and to see the 'Careful Beauty checklist' - a list of companies that offer the safest products and what is included in their respective cosmetics and toiletries.


 Make your own natural toiletries evening 19th March 2009 .................... Click Here



Because Women's Environmental Network members are concerned that toiletries which are used daily usually contain chemicals which are potentially harmful to their health, they held an evening discussing ways of making natural non-toxic toiletries themselves. WEN member Anna-Lisa who held the evening at her home in Rayleigh, demonstrated the use of a cooling and revitalising face mask and members were themselves able to make lavender pouches to use for a relaxing bath. Tips given out during the evening included:

Never throw a squeezed lemon away without first using it to rub over your hands and elbows. It softens, cleans and bleaches them

Rinse fingernails and hands daily in lemon rinse

After a cup of camomile tea, don't throw the bag away - squeeze out excess water and put over your eyes for ten minutes. Reduces puffiness and refreshes tired eyes

Use diluted lemon juice in your final rinse when washing fair hair to increase shine - 1 part lemon juice to 8 parts water.

For dry, damaged, hair heat some oil and massage into the scalp. Wrap head in a warm towel and leave for half an hour. Wash off with a mild shampoo. Coconut, olive and castor oil can all be used.



Back to the top

          Picture Credit "Cosmetics set" © Vicente Barcelo Varona |