Plastic Free July

2 Comments

Well, it is a week into to Plastic Free July and I decided that rather trying to to buy any plastic for the whole month, I would simply shop and live as I do on a regular basis and try to capture a true picture of my plastic consumption.

Having our own vegetable garden and fruit trees certainly helps.

Orange juice ready to freeze.

2018-07-07 01

Grapefruit marmalade.

2018-07-01 03

Yesterday I took a Weck jar when I went to buy feta cheese at the deli counter of the local IGA.  This was a definite win, but only after reminding the attendant to weigh the jar before filling it.  A reminder that this is not yet the norm and you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your plastic-free attempts are not hijacked by well-meaning staff.

2018-07-07 02

Fruit and vegetable shopping is relatively easy to achieve plastic-free, particularly if you choose local, seasonal produce as much as possible.

Here is what I bought today.

2018-07-07 03

The supermarket is a very different story.  The items I bought today represent the majority of what I buy at the supermarket.  By its very nature, everything is packaged.  The cans are recyclable as is some of the plastic but, as we know, recycling should be the last resort.

2018-07-07 04

There was also a bottle of vinegar which did not make it into the first photo.

2018-07-07 05.JPG

We make at least some of our food from scratch which helps to eliminate some plastic packaging.  These include bread, pizza bases, tomato sauce and peanut paste.

These pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and ready to be frozen.  The plastic wrap is old cereal packets which have been washed and re-used many times.

2018-07-07 06

I am far from perfect when it comes to Plastic Free July (or any other time for that matter) but by making and growing some of our own food, having virtually no takeaway and not shopping for recreation we are fairly successful at limiting our single-use plastic consumption.

Are you participating in Plastic Free July?  How is it going?

2017-06-28 03

Remember, there are no failures – just increased awareness.  And that is a good thing.

 

 

Plastic – A Personal Perspective

1 Comment

I have spent the best part of 3 days this week at a conference, hence the lack of posts.

Here is a photo of some of the things I took with me in an effort to reduce the inevitable waste that an event like this tends to generate.

2018-06-29 01

A stainless steel water bottle which I was able to refill during the course of the conference.  Cloth serviettes to use instead of disposable ones.  A bamboo straw in case I felt I needed it but it remained unused.  2 small Ball jars of snacks – 1 of sultanas and 1 of walnuts.  This was as much about making sure that I had gluten free snacks which were to my liking as it was about no plastic.  A tub of homemade hummus in a reused plastic container and a packet of rice crackers as well as some home-grown mandarins (not shown) completed my food supplies.  Although the rice crackers are in plastic packaging, the food selection I took was much lower waste than buying snacks at the venue.

I also took a plastic tumbler from our picnic set and was very grateful that I did because the morning/afternoon teas included tea and coffee with ‘real’ cups and saucers but there were disposable plastic cups with the dispensers of chilled water.  That was very disappointing.

On the upside, the straws provided in drinks were paper ones, however, I simply asked for my drinks with my standard, “no ice, no straw” request.

3 of the meals were in disposable ‘packs’ as we had to eat en route to the next item on the program.  I chose to partake as starving was not really an option.  I did not eat any of the single-wrapped mints which were on the tables in the conference room and stuck to my nuts and dried fruit as required.

Other unavoidable plastics included plastic-wrapped notebooks and plastic tag-holders on lanyards for every participant.

All in all, the waste was probably not excessive, however, it was still too much for my liking so I will be providing some feedback to both the organisers and the venue in the hope that they will take sustainable practices into consideration when planning future events.

Beyond the Bags

Leave a comment

The ban on single-use shopping bags seems to have garnered all of the media attention recently and not all of the publicity has been positive.  I have already had my say about some of the ridiculous commentary here.

Tonight I want to talk about moving beyond simply banning one particular type of single-use plastic bag and look at other things we can do.

Plastic-Free July is just around the corner so now is a great time to focus on the many single-use plastics that are still part of many people’s everyday lives.

2018-06-25 01

Here is a list of some of the single-use plastics which have combined to create enormous islands of floating waste in our oceans.

  • Bottled water
  • Soft drink bottles
  • Single use cups – styrofoam and plastic
  • Plastic plates
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Plastic straws
  • Balloons
  • Clingwrap
  • Ziplock bags
  • Plastic produce bags

All of these items have relatively cheap and easy alternatives/replacements.

  • Stainless steel drink bottle refilled with chilled tap water2018-06-25 02
  • Limit your consumption of soft drinks
  • Carry your own reusable cup – Keep cups are suitable for hot drinks.  Seek out cafes who will accept your own mug.  Check out Responsible Cafes or just ask.

2018-06-25 03

  • At home – choose to use regular crockery.  When eating out – take your own reusable plate.
  • At home – choose to use regular cutlery.  When eating out – take your own reusable cutlery.
  • Skip the straw – ask for ‘no straw’ when ordering your drink.  If you really need to use a straw, consider buying a stainless steel or bamboo one.

2018-06-25 04

  • ‘Message’ balloons – consider a card or practical gift.  Decorative balloons can be replaced with paper decorations.  Balloon releases are just mass littering.  They do not go to heaven, they end up harming wildlife on land and in the oceans.  Plant trees or scatter wildflower seeds in memory of a loved one.
  • At home – replace clingwrap with a lidded container, plate on top of a bowl or beeswax wraps.  Refuse to purchase produce wrapped in clingwrap.  Buy it unwrapped.

 

2018-06-25 05

2018-06-25 06

  • Ziplock bags – use lidded containers.  If you have ziplock bags, use them multiple times – they can easily be rewashed.
  • Plastic produce bags – buy or make your own produce bags for buying fruit and vegetables.  Tulle or mesh curtains work really well.

2018-06-25 07

As with any change, it is probably best to start with a couple of items and work from there.

What will you commit to changing for Plastic Free July?  Make it a new habit that you can carry forward into the future.  Then build on your achievement with other changes.

2017-06-28 03

 

The Bag Ban

2 Comments

I really wish I did not feel compelled to write this post and I apologise in advance to those readers who live in jurisdictions not affected by the impending plastic bag ban in Queensland.

2018-06-21 01

It seems to have generated some of the most ridiculous comments I have heard in a long time.

I offer the following observations.

Lightweight plastic shopping bags have not been around forever.  They have been in use in Australia for less than 50 years.

Remembering to take your reuseable bags is as simple as remembering to take your purse and keys when you go shopping.

The ban is about the lightweight carry bags only – not the thicker plastic bags which some supermarkets may choose to sell, nor the flimsy plastic bags for produce.  However, you can choose to refuse these too.  Bring your own reuseable carry bags – fabric ones are best.  They are strong, durable and can be washed as often as required.  You can also buy or make lightweight produce bags for fruit and vegetables.

2017-01-25 01

You do not need supermarket carry bags to line your bin.  Rather than re-invent the wheel please read this post.

Instead of railing against the fact that supermarkets are profiteering, that the ban will not reduce plastic use, that you will not have a bag to line your bin, that other plastic bags are still available and so on, let us use this as a real opportunity to take a leap forward in moving away from a range of single-use plastics.  We do not have wait until change is legislated and forced upon us.  Take the lead and make a difference now.

The ban on lightweight carry bags should be just the beginning.  Plastic Free July looms on the horizon so tomorrow I will address some of the other single-use plastics that we should be campaigning to eliminate.

2017-06-28 03

Do you have a bag story?  Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insourcing

3 Comments

Insourcing is a term that my friend Mimi from ‘A Tray of Bliss’ uses.  I don’t know whether it is an original term but it is basically the opposite of what so many businesses and households do – outsourcing.  So, insourcing is pretty much an alternative term for DIY.

It probably sums up a lot of what we do routinely – everything from growing food, gardening, sewing and even cooking meals.  However, I am nowhere near as diligent as Mimi when it comes to calculating the potential savings of learning and using skills instead of handing relatively simple tasks over to someone else.

However, the calculating was handed to me on a plate today when we received an email with a quote for replacing the outdoor steps and installing a handrail.  Upon reading it we saw the amount which had been allocated to removing and dumping the old pavers and timber sleepers.  This included the hire of 2 rubbish skips.

“We can do that!” These 4 simple words saved us almost $2,000.  Additionally, none of this will end up in landfill, we will have a pile of pavers that we can use for other projects as well as old hardwood sleepers that will provide firewood for next winter.

2018-05-30 01

I know that pulling up pavers is not for everyone but it is definitely worth looking around and seeing if there are things that you could do and create for yourself rather than parting with your hard-earned cash for what may even be an inferior product.

2018-05-30 02

We made a start this afternoon and will finish it on the weekend before the real work begins in earnest next week.

I can’t wait until this job is completed as it will provide a much improved entrance to our home.  The new steps will be concrete with a non-slip finish coloured to blend in with the surrounding rock walls and there will be no issues with pavers subsiding and causing a trip hazard.  The handrail will provide safer access, too.

My Shopping List

Leave a comment

The impending ban on regular plastic carry bags in Queensland has created a definite upswing in interest in alternatives.

There will be heavy duty plastic bags for sale, however, these are really no better as very few people seriously reuse them and the inherent problems still exist – the use of non-renewable resources to create the plastic and the waste which invariably ends up in waterways and the oceans.

Many of the so-called ‘reuseable bags’ are also derived from plastic and are far from ideal.

2017-07-04 01

You can make your own fabric bags (preferably from second-hand or salvaged fabric) or buy from groups such as your local Boomerang Bag group.  Otherwise, grab a cardboard box or two to stack your groceries.

2017-01-25 01

Beyond these obvious choices, there has been much discussion, both online and in real life, about the impact of the changes.

But what will I use to line my bin?
The fabric bag won’t fit the metal packing rack?
There is no space to pack my groceries?

And so on………

All of these questions are valid.  We need to think outside the box and perhaps change some other habits.

The first thing that springs to mind is reducing waste so that there is less or no need for bin liners.

Secondly, is about how you shop, what you buy and where you buy it.  This is what I want to discuss today.

In an online forum, I recently mentioned that I bought very little at the supermarket and could generally place it directly in my cloth bag as it was scanned through the checkout.  I place the handle over one arm and with the other hand I load the items into the bag.  I think this comment raised some interest about how I actually achieve this.

The most important tip is make the supermarket your last resort.

Eat simply, cook from scratch, grow some of your own food, support local small businesses, buy in bulk, buy online, buy at Farmer’s/Growers markets and finally, go to the supermarket.

I do not shop at either of the two major supermarkets here in Australia, Coles and Woolworths.

We live near a small town with a Woolworths and an IGA supermarket.  I buy a few things at the IGA and also go to the local butcher and our Co-op which stocks a wide range of organic products from both Australia and overseas.  Most of my supermarket shopping is done at Aldi which is about 10km away in a different direction.  The fruit and vegetable vendor that I go to is not far from Aldi.  I buy the majority of my dry goods at a family-owned shop with bulk bins.  It is about 45km away so I plan my trips and stock up about twice a year.

2011-04-09 02

By shopping at small, independent retailers you will find it much easier to use and pack your own bags as there is generally more counter space, less pressure and the seller will probably be much more supportive of your decision.  I also take my own containers/bags to have them refilled in almost all instances but that is a discussion for another day.

To give you an idea of what I buy and where I buy it, I have created the following lists of everything I buy, including food and non-food items.

I have not included fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer as this is seasonal and depends on my planned meals for the week as well as what is growing in the garden.

2017-07-30 03

Butcher

Beef mince
Diced beef
Bacon
Chicken breast fillets
Gravy beef

IGA supermarket

Vita Brits
Taco shells
Salmon
Olives
Salami
Cleaning vinegar
Soda Stream gas canisters

Co-op

Brown rice
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Tamari
Coffee
Honey
Shampoo
Conditioner
Face wash
Moisturiser

Simply Good

Bread flour (white)
Wholemeal flour
Rye flour
Potato flour
Brown rice flour
Chickpea flour
Quinoa flour
Arrowroot
Almond meal
Flaxseed meal
Corn meal
Raw sugar
Pepitas
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Almonds
Peanuts
Walnuts
Chickpeas
Kidney beans
Black beans
Haricot beans
Red lentils
Brown lentils
Sultanas
Raisins
Mixed peel
Cocoa
Coconut
Psyllium husk
Chia seeds
Quinoa
Bicarb soda
Herbs
Spices
Salt
Pepper

Aldi

Vegemite
Corn chips
Cheese
Butter
Milk
Sausages
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Cat food (tinned)
Cat food (dry)
Frozen peas
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
White vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Tuna in springwater
Flavoured tuna
Baked beans
Corn kernels
Coconut cream
Curry paste
Stock powder
Tinned tomatoes
Rice cakes
Rice crackers
Ice-cream
Skim milk powder

Online

Tea
Dog food
Eucalyptus oil

Direct from manufacturer (local)

Laundry liquid
Enzyme soaker
Dishwashing liquid
Dishwasher powder

I am sure you can see items missing from the lists, so please feel free to ask questions.  It may be that we simply do not use it or that I make it myself.  For example, I make tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, jam, peanut paste, onion flakes, pasta, pizza bases and GMan makes bread.

 

Boomerang Bags – Getting Started

2 Comments

Some years ago I was introduced to a person whose first comment to me was, “What is your passion?”  I was absolutely floored and had no idea what to say.  I consider myself to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests but as for a particular passion – I think I just stammered something unintelligible.

However, I think I have just discovered something that satisfies my twin passions of sewing and environmental activism combined with a healthy dose of community action.  I did not realise when I first went to a meeting in December about this initiative, how satisfying it would be to be involved in this project.

When I was in Maleny this morning I picked up some pieces of fabric screen-printed with the Maleny Boomerang Bags logo.  This was the last hurdle to making a start on making the bags.

I had previously located and washed several pieces of suitable fabric, sourced the pattern and instructions and even had my sewing machine serviced.  It really needed to be done before I embarked on the numerous sewing projects I have planned for 2018.

Whilst I will use some production line techniques in the future, I made the first bag as a complete process from beginning to end.  This allowed me to understand the sequence and how I could streamline the construction of subsequent bags.

Here is the result.  The logo doubles as a pocket.

2018-01-21 01

There are 8 bags cut out and straps made so now I will be able to do a few at a time.

2018-01-21 02

This is barely a dent in the fabric I have earmarked for this project.

I am really excited about the launch of Boomerang Bags – Maleny next Sunday and am looking forward to contributing many more bags.