Bulk Storage

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I am very fortunate to have plenty of storage in our home – wardrobes in each bedroom, walk-in corner pantry, several large drawers in the kitchen as well as underbench cupboards plus a tall cupboard in the laundry.

As if that was not enough, I seized the opportunity to have another cupboard near the foot of the internal staircase.  This space had housed the hot water system but became vacant when we installed a solar hot water service not long after we bought the house.  Fast forward a few years and we were having renovations done to the bathroom and kitchen so I asked the cabinetmaker to create a built-in storage cupboard in the empty alcove opposite the foot of the stairs.

Today I was reminded of just how useful this space has proved to be over the years.  I took everything out and cleaned it thoroughly before sorting and re-arranging the contents.  The majority of the space houses the buckets which I use to store the bulk quantities of dry goods.  They are certainly not all full but it is great to have the opportunity to store the excess.

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When it was built the shelves were intentionally spaced to allow 2 buckets to be stacked on top of each other.  The lowest shelf is high enough to allow the camping refrigerator to be stored on the floor.

A couple of simple doors keep this all of out sight.

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It does not take a lot of space to create some really useful storage.

Cause for Optimism

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It is easy to feel worn down and thwarted at every turn when you try to live according to your values with regards to reducing your carbon footprint.  However, this is not always the case.  At times there is cause for great joy and optimism and I have experienced that feeling this week.

I have been buying laundry liquid, pre-soak stain remover, dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder from Felix at Kin Kin Naturals for a number of years now.  This family business is located at Kin Kin in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, about 80km north of where I live.  The products are available nationally particularly in Queensland and most especially on the Sunshine Coast.

Felix also sells the products at the Kin Kin markets which are held once a month in the small village.  We make the trip about every 6 months and stock up because it is cheaper to buy them direct from the producer.  Additionally, if I pre-order by email I can avoid new plastic packaging and buy the liquids packaged in re-used 2 or 3 litre juice bottles.  You can see some in the photo below from when I cleaned out the laundry cupboards.  You can read about it in this post.

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Last week I emailed an order to be collected at the next market at the beginning of April.  I decided to make it a bit more than just an order and sent the following email.

Hi Felix

I have previously purchased products from you at the Kin Kin markets on several occasions.  I have bought the dishwashing liquid and laundry liquid in the reused 2 and 3 litre juice which I really appreciate as it helps to limit the amount of plastic waste which our household generates.

I would like to buy:

8 litres of lavender and ylang ylang laundry liquid in the reused bottles
4 litres of tangerine and mandarin dishwashing liquid in the reused bottles
1 x 2.5kg refill pack of lemon myrtle and lime dishwasher powder
2 x 1.2kg eucalypt and lime eco laundry soaker

Does the laundry soaker come in refill packs?  If so, that would be my preference.

Is it possible or have you ever considered having bulk containers of all products at the market so that people can bring their own containers to be refilled?

There is a growing movement of people who are trying to reduce/eliminate single use plastic (including packaging).  Many of us are keen to buy/support locally produced/family businesses such as yours who produce a true eco-friendly product. Any opportunity to purchase these products without additional plastic would really be appreciated.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your help.

Kind regards

I really had no idea what sort of response I would get so I was absolutely delighted to receive the following email 2 days later.

Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your order – and for thinking with us on how to reduce senseless packaging.

I will put 2.5 kg of laundry soaker in a refill pack rather than 2 of the plastic jars. Depending on the exact size of the re-used bottles on hand when we fill we’re looking at about 17 kg/L total x $5 = around $85 for your order please.

I can see the beauty of refilling on the spot at the markets but I prefer the current way of pre-ordered re-used containers because we are doing only the Kin Kin markets which are on only once a month and would be stuck with remainders of the refill drums of each of the 4 liquid variants for months which wouldn’t be ideal for product freshness.

On your broader question of packaging reduction, great point. Our current approach is to encourage stores to get our 20L drums and offer refills from those. The problem is that apart from a few stores in an area with refill-minded people (e.g., Cooran and Pomona) this refill route isn’t doing too well, I think mainly because stores don’t like the extra effort, mess – and of course selling a prefilled plastic bottle is easier, but that’s what Coles and Woolies can do too. If you have any ideas, don’t hesitate..

See you at the April markets.

I will respond to Felix and also look forward to discussing some possibilities when I see him next month.

In the meantime, this has renewed my confidence in the ability of individual consumers to influence positive change.  Not every approach will be received as positively as the example above but I will definitely be making more of an effort in the future to provide feedback to suppliers and retailers regarding plastic packaging.

And the Cleaning

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When I cook I invariably make a mess.  In fact, we have a standing joke that I cook and GMan cleans up.  I must admit he is very good at doing the dishes and I think he spent the majority this weekend washing dishes.

I finished off yesterday’s efforts this morning by portioning up the refried beans for the freezer as well as cutting and pureeing lots of mangoes to go in the freezer.  Mango preparation is a messy, sticky business.

In between all of this GMan is experimenting with making sourdough bread and he cooked the first two loaves this evening.  I think that is a work in progress which will not be discussed any further until we have some more successful attempts.

After we had dinner it was time to tackle the last of the dishes and eliminate any mango residue from the benches and splashbacks.

The kitchen is now sparkling and my final step was to mop the floor.  Everything is ready to go for a new week.

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Lots of clean and clear surfaces.

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I remember reading about minimalism that clear surfaces simply afford possibilities.  I love the truth of this statement.  From an uncluttered sofa which invites you to sit and relax to a clear kitchen which is just brimming with the opportunity to prepare meals this logic can be applied to virtually every surface in your home.  It can be a powerful tool in creating a mindset that embraces a simple, uncluttered home and life.

 

Not the Regular Rubbish

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It is about 10 days since I last emptied the small rubbish bin in the kitchen.  This week it is lined with an empty corn chip packet and most of the usual culprits are still there – a rice cracker packet, cheese wrapper, toothpaste tube, an empty mayonnaise bottle and so on.

Every week there seems to be some ‘one off’ items and this time is no different.

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On the weekend I cleaned out the drawers in the vanity in the bathroom.  Of course, this is not the first time I have cleaned and decluttered the drawers in the vanity unit.  This post is from about 12 months ago.  If you look carefully you will see the nail polish in one of the photos.

Anyway, the 3 bottles of nail polish have gone in the bin.  They came to me via Freecycle over 10 years ago and I have used them intermittently for my toenails – I have never painted my fingernails as it was not compatible with my work.  I last did my toenails just before Christmas and at that point decided that I would not do them again.  The cotton cloth was used with the nail polish remover so it is going, too.

The other item in the photo is a globe from the headlight of GMan’s ute.  It had stopped working so needed to be replaced.  GMan was able to remove the old one, buy a new globe and install it.  It is good to be able to tackle these type of jobs ourselves.

Cleaned for Christmas

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It is now one week until Christmas. This year we are hosting Christmas lunch for my family.  They will be arriving from near and far on Thursday evening and Friday.  Some will be staying with us and others in accommodation just a few kms away.

This weekend I have written numerous lists and managed to cross off a few things and I feel relatively organised.  The menu is planned, necessary ingredients bought apart from fruit and vegetables which I will do on Friday, gifts bought and wrapped and the outside of the house cleaned.

We usually try to wash down the Colorbond wall of the house twice per year.  It is now looking clean, fresh and ready for guests.

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The hardest part is the back wall which is quite high and requires the use of the mobile scaffold.

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The table which GMan painted recently is in position and Ready for Christmas lunch.

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I have also cleaned most of the windows in the living room and am hoping to get a few others done as well this week.

How are your Christmas plans coming along?

The Time It Takes

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Well, it has been a while since I wrote a proper blog post.  I have been busy in the real world as things seem to speed up towards the end of the year.  At least some of it was of our own making as we chose to go to Adelaide for 3 nights about a week ago.

I managed to have the housework pretty well up do date before we left last Saturday but I have not had any free time since arriving home on Tuesday evening to an almost empty refrigerator and the prospect of long days at work for the remaining 3 days of the working week.

It would have been easy to say that I had no time but it really was a matter of making time.  Have you ever considered how little time it actually takes to do some of your regular household tasks?  It only takes me about 6 minutes to hang out a load of washing and about 2 – 3 minutes to get a load of washing off the line.

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So, during the past 5 days I have managed to unpack a suitcase, do a couple of loads of washing, including hanging, bringing it in and folding, plan and prepare meals as well as getting myself to work each day.

Things I do to create time where there does not appear to be any include preparing at least part of the evening meal for the following night while dinner is cooking, putting a load of washing on before I go to work, wiping over the mirror and vanity when I get out of the shower.

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Housework does does not need to be an enormous undertaking.  By doing a little bit often you can keep things humming along with very little time.  Other jobs that take a couple of minutes are unloading the dishwasher, wiping down the sink, cleaning a single shelf in the refrigerator, dusting a polishing a table and so on.  Every small task that you can slip into your routine is one that does not build into an overwhelming project.

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Did you notice the one thing I have not mentioned?  Ironing!  I need at least an hour of clear time to get stuck into a pile of ironing and make it worthwhile.

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How do you arrange your housework into the time available?

Another Weekend

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Well, Sunday evening has rolled around yet again in the blink of an eye.  The weekends are simply not long enough for me to achieve everything I hope to do.

Some weekends are more productive than others and I am pretty happy with what I managed to accomplish.

All of the washing and 95% of the ironing are done.  Why 95%?  The iron decided it was time to die when I only had a few items left.  So, one of my jobs for this week will be to buy a new one.

I have planned our menu for the week, bought fruit and vegetables, swept and vacuumed the floors as well as doing some painting on the verandah.

GMan and I went to the computer shop to buy a new tower for the desktop computer as the other one had been deemed as unrepairable.  The new one should be ready next weekend.

Apart from sanding and painting GMan managed to do all of the mowing so he has been busy, too.

However, the weekend was not all work as we went to the movies in Maleny on Saturday evening to see, ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’.  It was both funny and sad in places and I really enjoyed it.

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