The Big 4 – Part 2

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Following on from my previous post about coffee cups, the next item on the list is bags.

Bags really fall into 2 categories in my opinion.  The first is carry bags – from the supermarket, other grocery stores as well as department stores and specialist boutiques.  There are reusable ‘green’ bags which are only marginally better than the single-use plastic bags that they are supposed to replace.  They are still made from plastic and do not have a long life as they are prone to tear.  I have a selection of bags that I use which have come from a variety of sources.

Here are some the calico ones including the one which has had the handles replaced.  You can read that story here.

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This one was a gift that my sister brought back for me from Alaska.  They were made in the town she visited.  It is sturdy and folds up into its own pocket for easy storage.  Yes, it is plastic but I believe it will last forever.

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Finally, this one is my go-to bag every time I leave the house.  It is looking a bit the worse for wear after almost 5 years of constant use.  I bought it in Vermont when we visited the USA in 2012.  It was plastic-lined – fused onto the inside of the hessian but when the plastic began to break up, I removed it all and sewed in a new cotton lining.  The project is detailed here.

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The second type of single-use plastic bags are produce bags – the flimsy ones that you find at the greengrocer or the fruit and vegetable section of your local supermarket.  Apparently, reusable alternatives can be purchased from various Etsy sellers and also on Amazon but I simply chose to make my own from some leftover tulle that I had at home.  They are very easy to make with very basic sewing skills.  You could really use any fabric but I find the tulle is perfect because it allows for the cashier to identify the produce and because they weigh virtually nothing, I do not have to worry about tare weight.  The fabric does not fray so there is no need to worry about finishing the edges.  I also chose not to worry about drawstrings or ties as I find there is simply no need.  Remember, the plastic ones are just a bag with no added extras.

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I also carry a folded Ecosilk bag which I use on the rare occasions that I make clothing purchases.

New bag

There are other opportunities for refusing plastic bags but if you are starting out, I would strongly suggest that you begin with reusable carry bags and produce bags.  This will make an immediate difference.

Do you use your own bags?

Everything Good

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Tonight I want to share a find for ‘Plastic-Free July’ which officially begins today.

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We recently discovered a local business on the Steve Irwin Way at Glasshouse Mountains.  It is called ‘Everything Good‘ but if you drive this way you probably know it simply as the fruit and vegetable stall between Glasshouse Mountains and Beerwah.

The unassuming frontage hides a treasure trove of fruit and vegetables, much of it locally grown and some organic.  The majority is unpackaged, too.  The tables at the front offer up a variety of punnets of flower, vegetable and herb seedlings.  If you head out the back there is an amazing nursery with a great range of healthy plants.

When we were here a couple of weeks ago I noticed some ‘Boomerang Bags’ hanging up behind the counter.  Each time we have shopped here I get some positive feedback from the staff about my tulle produce bags.  It is lovely to feel that we are among like-minded friends when shopping at ‘Everything Good’.

Today we had a longer conversation with the gentleman who runs the shop and it is obvious that he is passionate about limiting plastic packaging so he has definitely won my custom.

Although they do not have a website, the link near the beginning of this post will give you a little more information about this great business.  I noticed on this page a mention of recycling punnets and pots so I will definitely be chatting to him about returning punnets for reuse.

We grow some of our own fruit and vegetables but it is fantastic to have a local business where we can source unpackaged produce without a battle.  Congratulations to ‘Everything Good’.  May there be many more similar shops in the not too distant future.

Are you committed to reducing your consumption of single-use plastics during July and beyond?  What are your specific plans?

Flashback Friday

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Here is one I whipped up earlier.  Four years ago, in fact.  This post with a video of how to fold plastic bags is one of my favourites.  Please let me know what you think.  Do you use this method?  Will you give it a try?  I find one of these takes up next to no space in my handbag and it is useful to have one on hand.

In the first days of this blog I posted a link on ‘How to Fold a Plastic Bag’ Here it is again for anyone who missed it.  This really captured my interest. I have two bags hanging inside my laundry cupboard where I store reused bags which I use constantly but I had another lot in the cupboard in the spare room which needed a better way of storing them.

2011-03-25 01I decided to try my new-found skill on this lot.

2011-03-25 02All folded on the bench – now for how to store them.

2011-03-25 03The only thing left to do is to put the box back in the cupboard.

Plastic Bags – A Curse

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A couple of days ago I read this post from Joanna over at Every Week is Green where she discussed being ‘forced’ to accept a plastic carry bag from a retailer.  I have had a similar experience, albeit, close to 20 years ago.  Refusing plastic bags at the time was far less prevalent than it is today so I regularly was confronted by some very odd responses.
On the particular occasion in question, I was in a department store in Adelaide where I intended to buy a pair of socks for The Duke.  I approached the counter and as I handed over the socks, I advised the assistant that I did not wish to have a bag.  Then ensued one of the most bizarre ‘arguments’ I have ever had the misfortune to be involved in.  She was adamant that I had to take a bag and I was equally determined that I would not accept one.  Her reasons were quite ridiculous but she finally became exasperated and asked, “Well, how will people know that you bought the item at *******?”  Seriously, I had to accept a bag so that the store could advertise that I shopped there?  I was not about to back down and advised that I would not accept a bag or I would not buy the socks.  I finally paid for the socks and left with them and the docket in my hand.

It was then and there that I realised just what hard work it was to stick to my principles.  I have continued to do so and it has become easier, however,you need to be constantly on your guard to avoid plastic bags sneaking into your life.

Don’t give up, Joanna.

Finally, here is my hessian bag that I finished relining.

Bag with new lining
You can read about the beginning of the project here.  It is towards the bottom of the post.  I did try handsewing the lining in but it was too difficult so this morning I used some heavy linen thread and sewed it on the machine using the heaviest needle I had.  The stitching is clearly visible but I am not concerned as I now have a functional bag again.  Thanks, Carol for the lining fabric.  🙂

The Kitchen Bin

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Tonight’s post is in response to a question posed by Jean in the comments of my post a couple of days ago about Zero Waste.  She asked about alternatives to using plastic to line a kitchen bin.

I have read about using newspaper to make an origami-style bin liner and one day I might do that.  In the meantime, I find that despite my best efforts, I always seem to have plenty of plastic bags for the purpose.

I line my small kitchen bin with whatever plastic bag comes to hand.  I do not knowingly bring any extra plastic bags into the house but some is simply unavoidable at this stage.  Any bag that looks as though it would be useful for this purpose is saved. I keep them in a ziplock bag in the laundry cupboard.

For example, I buy frozen peas so I carefully slit the top of the bag and then use that in the bin.  Often, it does not tuck neatly over the edge but I am prepared to accept that.  I use a rubber band to tie it off before throwing in the bin.  If I get any plastic bags in packaging of items such as small appliances these are kept for the bin as well.  They usually have a few air holes to avoid accidental suffocation but that is not a problem as my waste is usually just confined a small number of non-recyclable items which need to be contained rather than necessarily sealed in plastic.

I do not put any meat scraps in my kitchen bin. I generally buy meat that has no waste eg: skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, premium mince etc.  The exception is bacon as I trim the fat off it. I put the meat scraps in a bag in the freezer and occasionally add them to a kitchen rubbish bag immediately prior to putting the garbage out for collection.

Anything which can be composted is collected in the compost bucket  – this includes all fruit and vegetable scraps as well as eggshells and butter wrappers.

Finally, here are the bins in a pull-out drawer in my kitchen.  Each bucket lifts out for easy disposal and cleaning.  On the left is the small one I line with my rubbish bag and on the right is the recycling.

I will do another post soon and examine exactly what rubbish we have for a week.

Let me know how you manage your various waste streams.  Have you made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of rubbish you send to landfill?