The Slippery Slope

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It is 3 weeks since my last blog post.  All of the usual home stuff has been happening as well as going to the movies, lunch with friends, family visiting and a trip to Sydney so there is possibly a reason why blogging has not been a priority.

However, that is not really an excuse as these sorts of events usually provide plenty of material for posts rather than simply not posting.  I think it is simply that I am tired and the end of the year is fast approaching – it is exactly 11 weeks until Christmas Day.

Once it gets to September, it feels as though the year is almost gone and we seem to be on some sort of crazy trajectory and hurtling towards Christmas and the end of the year.  My work is such that deadlines loom, demands increase and everyone expects the impossible to be achieved.  I am very thankful that this is the last year I will experience this pressure as I will be well and truly retired by this time next year.

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Quite aside from work commitments, most of us celebrate Christmas and it is easy to get caught up in all of the commercialism and hype.  Our Christmas celebrations are fairly low-key and are usually a small family gathering for a special meal together and modest gifts for the immediate family.  As much as possible, I aim for experiences or practical gifts.

This year our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters will join us for a week at the beach.  We will not be too far from home so it should not be a major undertaking.

My Christmas preparation so far has been to book our accommodation (several months ago) and I bought a gift a few days ago when I was in Sydney.  I happened to see it and thought it would be perfect.

There will be a couple more gifts to source and I will need to plan a menu for Christmas Day.  We do not indulge in huge amounts of festive food and I expect there will be lots of fresh fruit and simple salads consumed during the time we are at the beach.  Some casual, relaxed down-time for everyone (including the cook) is just what will be needed by the end of the year.

I may need to find a copy of this book!

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Some Statistics & An Upgrade

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It is hard to believe that I have been writing this blog for over 7 years now.  A couple of years after I began I had a hiccup and lost all of the photos.  I had be able to reinstate most of them but a few seemed to have been lost forever.

One post that was affected in this way was my Worcestershire sauce recipe.  This morning I started a new batch so decided to take the time to photograph the steps and I have updated the page for you – Worcestershire sauce.  If you have never tried it, I can highly recommend this homemade version.

As an added incentive, it is budget-friendly.  I used home-grown lemons and homemade chilli powder but spent up big on local organic garlic @ $50/kg.  The final cost was 99c/250ml.  This compares very favourably with the cheapest home-brand version for $2 for the same quantity, Holbrooks brand for $3.60 and I have it on good authority that artisan/gourmet offerings are in the vicinity of $8 – $12 for 250ml.

Apart from over 7 years of blogging, the other statistic I wanted to mention today is that this little blog has 597 followers.  That is not a huge number in the scheme of things but I am pleased that you have found me and hope that you will discover something of interest.  Since many of you have joined in more recently, there are probably many posts that you have yet to discover.  So, in the interests of sharing some of the wealth of information lurking in the depths, I will be sharing an older post each week for Throwback Thursday.

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A Deadline

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A bit quiet on the blogging front as I have been busy sewing.  As always, once I get started on a sewing project I just want to keep going.  However, this is more than just my own interest which is driving me – it is a deadline.

Sunday 28th January will see the official launch of Maleny Boomerang Bags.  In order to make this a successful event, we want to have has many completed bags as possible available on the day.

I have been doing my bit and have finished 10 so far.  Here are some of them.

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I have more straps made and bags cut out so hope to be able to add to that number before Sunday.

You would think that would be relatively easy since tomorrow is Australia Day and we have a 3 day weekend but there is the small matter of the Australian Film Festival.  This festival is an annual event hosted by the Maleny Film Society and we will be attending 4 films over 2 days as well as a couple of additional sessions so I am not sure how much sewing will get done.

To my Australian readers – what are your long weekend plans?

Blogging Benefits

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I meant to tell you that there would be a break in blog posts as I was going on holidays but I was caught up with final preparations and forgot to do a post.

So, here I am on the other side of the world and just wanted to let you know that I am still blogging, albeit on a different site.  You can follow along with my UK adventures on Somewhere, Anywhere.

We have just spent two nights with friends in south Wales and you can read about it on the travel blog.  This was particularly special because we are friends as a direct result of this blog and a close connection formed as a result of our common interests.

People write blogs for all sorts of reasons – as a diary, to make money, to promote their business and so on.  I started my blog as a way of recording my thoughts and particular interests and hopefully to connect with like-minded individuals and share ideas.

Meeting someone on the other side of the world, whom I regard as a good friend and who I have been lucky enough to meet in person on two occasions has been a real joy. I am truly grateful for her friendship.

You never know what is on the other side of that door………….

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Camera, Internet and Rain

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I am sure you are scratching your head at the title of this post so I will explain what these three things have in common.  There has been precious little of any of them and all are impacting on my ability to post.

The camera is currently being repaired and will be ready next week, I hope.  It had been playing up for a while with the automatic flash getting stuck intermittently.  This was becoming more of a problem so I decided to take it to be repaired because I want it in good working order when we head off overseas in November.  So, I will use existing photos for any blog posts at the moment.

Our internet access (not NBN) is average at best but lately it has been virtually non-existent for hours at a time which culminated in minimal, very slow access for the past couple of days.  It seems to be better at the moment so I am grabbing the opportunity to post.  At least I haven’t had to resort to carrier pigeon!  It is not as though we live in the outback – we are barely 80km (50 miles) from the CBD of the third-largest city in Australia!

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Speaking of things being non-existent – that is the state of our rainfall here at the moment, too.  We live in what is generally regarded as a high rainfall area with reliable rainfall throughout the year, however, thanks to climate change it is becoming much less reliable.  The type of vegetation which grows in area is dependent on regular rainfall so everything is a bit stressed.  I have not planted too much in the vegetable gardens except beans which I am hand-watering.  I am also watering the blueberry bushes as they are loaded with fruit at the moment and I want to make sure that I don’t lose that precious fruit.  The kale just keeps on growing regardless of heat, cold, water or not.  It is very resilient.  I know that it will rain again but in the meantime the lack of rain is impacting on my enthusiasm for the garden.  We depend entirely on tank water but we are in a better position than most as there are only 2 of us, we are generally fairly frugal with our water usage as we know what it is like to have very little and we have twice as much storage as most people in the district.

Thank goodness for a hose!

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Taking it to the Streets

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Blog posts have been pretty thin on the ground over the past couple of months.  There has been plenty going on here which would generally be perfect material for posts, however, I have written about most of it before, and in some instances, several times.

I know that there is no reason not to revisit a topic but I have been grappling with a broader issue and want to discuss that here today.  I am looking for other people’s views and would really appreciate your input.

It is good to be doing what you can within your own home and personal decisions with regard to reducing your carbon footprint but should we be doing more?  To really make a difference it is vital that we work to influence change on a bigger scale.  This can be overwhelming and make you wonder whether it is even worth trying but we need to remember that change does not happen overnight nor is it likely to be easy.

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In the past few weeks we have been busy.  We attended a local screening of ‘Before the Flood’ and associated audience discussion. This is a 2016 documentary on climate change features Leonardo DiCaprio.  Like anything on this topic it left me torn between optimism that we can all make a difference and despair that any action will really be a matter of ‘too little, too late’.  However, my final decision is a renewed enthusiasm to really make a difference as soon as possible.

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On a more local note, I went to an information evening about recycling in the Sunshine Coast Council area which was presented by Barung Landcare with a speaker, Sandie Johnston from Envirocom, an environmental consultancy who provide education and training for Sunshine Coast Council.  Waste minimisation and recycling have been at the forefront of my actions for over 25 years and this was an eye-opening presentation.  Some things have changed with regard to recycling so it is great to have up-to-date information that I know is accurate for our local council area.  I am looking forward to sharing this information in the hope that it can be disseminated more broadly which should lead to a greater compliance with recycling ‘rules’.

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I also attended one of the five consultation evenings regarding the ongoing management of the Maroochy River estuary as preservation of our natural environment is critical and the issue of coastal management is paramount if we are to protect low-lying areas such as Cotton Tree from inundation.  Whilst the issue of replacing the geotextile bag groynes with rocks may only have come to the notice of some people recently, there has been a small but dedicated band of people working to preserve the natural river mouth for at least 40 years.  This is a perfect example of long-term activism.  If you live in the Sunshine Coast Council area or visit the Maroochy River estuary (Cotton Tree) please consider completing the council survey here.

Just like charity, activism begins at home, or at least in your local area so here are a few ideas that have caught my interest.

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I have begun looking into the idea of Boomerang Bags with a view to getting this idea up and running in Maleny.

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A couple of months ago I joined Spare Harvest, an online platform dedicated to sharing garden produce and resources.

I have been active in a couple of different Zero Waste/War on Waste Facebook groups and am pleased to have discovered a local Sunshine Coast group.  These really seem to have gained momentum since the ‘War on Waste’ television program here in Australia.  I am hoping to be able to connect with more local people to see what difference we can make as a group.

I will continue to write about the small things I do each and every day to live more sustainably  but I am looking forward to trying to extend this to more people in the community and I hope to share more of that with you, too.

 

10 Days

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Yes, it is 10 days since my last blog post.  There is no good reason – I just took a break.

I think the biggest news (in Australia) in the past couple of weeks has been the announcement by Woolworths that they will stop using single-use plastic bags.  This was closely followed by Coles announcing that they would do the same.  Here is a news report.  I have not commented on this announcement so now is probably as good a time as any.

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“What a great initiative” was my my immediate thought, especially in the midst of Plastic Free July.  Perhaps the movement was really starting to gain some traction with mainstream consumers?

My optimism was short-lived as I began to hear and read various responses.  In fact, despair would have been a more accurate description of my mood over the following days.

Here is a round-up of the sort of comments that came to my notice:

  • It is only so they (supermarkets) can sell more heavy-duty plastic carrier bags.
  • Green bags are made from a plastic-based fabric – you have to use them 347 times to make the impact less than the single-use plastic bags.
  • What will I use to collect dog poo when out walking?
  • Research shows that the sale of bin liner bags has increased in those states that have completely banned single-use plastic bags.
  • What will I use to line my bins?

Seriously??

It is evident that many, many people have long way to go before they understand the impact of the millions of plastic bags which are produced every year and used only once.  They also do not appear to be prepared to adjust their lifestyle even slightly.

So, how do you counter these and a million other ill-informed comments?

The first and simplest thing is to consider investing in some strong fabric bags that do not contain plastics.  I can assure you that these will last for many, many years and can be repaired as necessary.

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Work towards generating less waste so that you have a reduced need for bin liners.  Purchasing larger packs, from bulk bins, unwrapped, using your own produce bags will all assist in reducing the amount of packaging waste.

Take more care with grocery shopping and buy only what you will actually use.  Remember, first world countries such as Australia, the USA and UK discard around 25% of all food produced.  Make sure you are not part of this dreadful statistic.

Consider composting food scraps to reduce the amount which you currently send to landfill.  Even if you do not have access to a backyard there are numerous systems available which can be used by people living in apartments.  Additionally, there are opportunities to connect with people who may be happy to take your scraps for their compost system or search for a community garden in your area.  Online connections are invaluable in the 21st century for developing relationships which are mutually beneficial.  One such example is Spare Harvest which is building a sharing community for excess produce, plants and garden resources.

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Small bins that do not contain wet food scraps can be lined with newspaper.  So, the naysayers point out that not everyone gets the newspaper anymore!

The real point of this post is to encourage everyone to take a positive, solution-based approach to change.  We need to be looking for innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint rather than railing against any change which may happen to impact our wasteful lifestyle.

I live in a semi-rural area and our local town has a Woolworths and IGA supermarkets as well as a selection of independent retailers.  Almost all of these businesses routinely provide plastic bags for purchases.  I believe that the impending phasing out of plastic bags by the retail giants can taken up by all retailers and set a precedent by making Maleny plastic bag free.

I intend to promote this idea and encourage others to become involved.  My first strategy will be to contact the IGA supermarket and ask them to match the Woolworths ban on plastic bags.  I am also looking into the Boomerang Bags project which would be a perfect way to introduce people to the options available to fill the void left by the removal of plastic bags.