A Bulk Buy

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As you know, I am not a great fan of shopping.  However, there are still things that need to be purchased.

I needed more eucalyptus oil which is an ingredient of the homemade cleaner and wool wash that I make.  It is also a useful disinfectant and aid for removing labels from jars and the resultant glue residue.  Needless to say, I use a bit of it and was keen to buy a larger quantity than the 200ml bottle that I had recently emptied.

After some online searching we managed to source a 4 litre bottle in Australia.  It is the same brand as the previous bottle and was significantly cheaper.  In fact, I calculated that it cost about 60% of the cost of buying an equivalent volume in 200ml bottles from one of the major supermarkets.

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Although it is in a plastic container, this quantity will last me a lifetime and I will not be buying any more 200ml plastic bottles of eucalyptus oil.

I understand that many people would not be interested in buying this sort of quantity as there is a significant financial investment as well as storage issues.  Neither of these are a particular problem for me so I am happy to have been able to buy a large quantity of eucalyptus oil.

If you live in my vicinity and would like a smaller portion of this eucalyptus oil, please let me know and I will let you know all of the details including pricing which will be the same as I paid.  I am not doing this to make a profit but simply to give others the opportunity to access eucalyptus oil with minimal packaging in quantities that are appropriate to your needs.

**Please note that this is labelled ‘Commercial Grade’ and the directions are for use in cleaning applications.

There are a couple of hyperlinks in the second paragraph to the ‘recipes’ for cleaning products that I make using eucalyptus oil.

A Spot of Re-Arranging

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While I am pretty happy with the level of organisation in our home, there are always little things that can be done to improve to make things work a little better.

We have a dehumidifier which is almost an essential in our climate.  In fact, as I write this the clouds are floating past the window.  The dehumidifier is generally stored in the wardrobe in the guest bedroom when not in use.  This is not a major problem although I do need to remember to get it out if we have guests coming to stay.  Moving it would also provide a bit better access to the hanging space in the guest room.

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I feel that the ideal spot to store the dehumidifier would be in the laundry, however, that is a small room with limited storage space.

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The project to re-arrange things has evolved over a few months and the first step was to tidy and adjust the shelving in the linen cupboard.  This was relatively easy as I knew the space was not being utilised in the best way.

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The ultimate goal was to allow enough space to store the vacuum cleaner at the bottom of the cupboard.

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Then it was a simple matter of relocating the dehumidifier to the laundry cupboard.

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When the electrician was doing some work earlier in the week I asked him to change the single power point in the cupboard to a double one.  Now, the stick vacuum charger can remain plugged in while I am running the dehumidifier.

The dehumidifier is portable so does get moved from room to room but it is great for drying off damp towels or freshly ironed clothes in the laundry.  Since it is a small room, the drying effect is magnified and quite efficient.

I am currently researching the next stage of the project which is to purchase a ceiling mounted airing rack for the laundry and then I will be able to eliminate the mobile hanging rack which I move back and forth between my sewing room and the laundry at present.  This is the sort of thing I am looking at.  I also need to check with GMan about the practical implications of installing it.

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Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t think of this long ago but on the other hand it can be better to allow ideas and processes to develop over time because you will generally get a better outcome in the end.

Mending

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Today I mended something that was not the sort of thing that normally springs to mind when you mention mending.

I decided to thoroughly clean our bedroom and began by dismantling the bed.  We bought a new mattress earlier in the year – you can read about it here.  The new mattress is on the existing ensemble base and the whole lot sits on a metal frame.

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Once I removed the ensemble base I could see how much the covering on the underside had deteriorated.  It is a paper-like fabric and has become very fragile and ripped in places as you can see in the photo below.

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After removing the ripped covering, I vacuumed it carefully and then set about replacing the covering.  I used an old flat sheet and an upholstery staple gun.

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Here is the result.  Even though it will never be on show, I feel better for having done it.

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The skirt which fits around the ensemble base was washed and before I put it back on I replaced the elastic straps which had stretched so that it did not sit neatly on the base.  Hew elastic straps and ready to reassemble.

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I was really pleased to have got these jobs done and the bed is now all back together.

Before and After

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It is now almost a week since we arrived back home from overseas.  In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago.  We went back to work on Monday and after 4 very busy days it feels as though I have never been away.

I managed to do some washing last weekend and prepare meals for us but that was about it until today which was my day off.  We have 3 Air BnB guests arriving tomorrow and that will necessitate the use of both of the spare rooms.  The second bedroom is always set up as a guest room but third bedroom also doubles as my sewing room and ironing space.

So my focus today was the third bedroom.  It had been used for packing and preparation for the trip so there were a few random things left from that.  I stripped the bed and washed the bedding during the week.  There was ironing piled on the ironing board.  Then there was the small matter of the sewing projects that had got out of control and been abandoned in the lead-up to the holiday.

This was what I had to tackle.

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I started by moving the bed and vacuuming that side of the room as well as removing the inevitable cobwebs and cleaning the skirting boards and picture frames.

The bed was made and put back in position.  I had also cleaned the window by the time I took this photo.

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From there it was simply a matter of working my way around the room – and doing the ironing.

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I managed to fit the small cabinet of mini drawers into the bookshelves rather than having it standing on the table.  I am happy with the change.

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This bookshelf hand been swapped over with the one that we now have in the office.  However, I had not organised my sewing things properly so it was a good opportunity to do some rearranging.

Having a major clean up of my sewing things has meant that I have rediscovered some UFO’s (unfinished projects) which I have earmarked to do.

I even tidied the contents of the wardrobe.

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I have never been completely successful in getting this room organised but I am hopeful that my effort today will be the basis of keeping it under control.

The thing that I am looking forward to most is getting back to doing some more sewing.  I am reminded of the comment that Francine Jay makes in her book, Miss Minimalist, that having clear surfaces simply affords opportunity.  Whether it is a table to eat your meal, a bed to sleep in or a craft table to work at, you need a clear surface.  It really makes a lot of sense.

 

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.