Waste Not

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I will never fit a year’s worth of rubbish in a small jar but I manage reasonably well at this ‘zero waste’ gig, mainly because we don’t actually buy a lot of stuff.  However, some things are unavoidable.  After much discussion and debate we recently purchased a new suitcase for our upcoming overseas trip.  You can see it here.

We bought the case online and of course there was the inevitable packaging.  All things considered, it was not unreasonable to ensure that the case arrived in perfect condition.  A large cardboard box which will be flattened and added to the pile which we use as weed mat under mulched areas of the garden and a large, lightweight plastic bag which I have carefully folded and put away.  This is sure to be used at some time in the future.

Finally, there was this piece of thin foam sheeting.

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This is not recyclable in any shape or form so it can only be destined for the rubbish bin.  Although it will still end up in landfill, I decided that it could have one more use before ending up there.

I cut it into two pieces and stitched them up to create these bags.

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They will be used as rubbish bags for the relatively small amount of household rubbish which we produce before tossing the bag and its contents into the large rubbish collection bin.  Based on past experience I expect that each of these will hold about 4 – 6 week’s worth of rubbish.

It is not an ideal solution but one in which I feel that I have made the best of the situation with which I was presented.

But back to the online shopping and packaging.  I regularly hear people complaining about the packaging they receive when shopping online and their attempts to change they way things are shipped.  We do not shop extensively online but it does have advantages.  We live in a semi-rural area and saved an enormous amount of time and fuel driving long distances to locate an appropriate suitcase.  Secondly, the packaging I received is probably the same packaging which any retail outlet would receive when ordering from the supplier.  I am sure that the shop would not have made any effort to re-purpose the various pieces of packaging materials as I have and best I could hope for is that the cardboard may have been recycled.  Therefore, even though I have added to my personal landfill tally I feel that I have done the best that I could.  What do you think?

Bed in a Box

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I am not a huge fan of online shopping but it does have some advantages.  For example, we buy premium dog food in 15kg bags and order 2 at a time.  There is a financial saving and the added bonus that it is delivered to our front door.  Additionally, there are more and more items that are only available online.

We recently decided that it was time to consider replacing the mattress on our bed and I started searching online to see what types of mattresses were available.  I stumbled upon the Sommuto website which produces Australian made mattresses by an Australian owned company.  The catch?  There is no shop and your order online.  I have spent a couple of months reading and researching before biting the bullet and ordering it on the weekend.  T

The mattress was delivered today.

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It was quite weighty so took GMan and I to carry the box upstairs.  It was a simple matter of cutting the plastic tape and sliding the roll out of the box.

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A special cutter was provided to cut the plastic wrap.  We then lifted the roll onto the existing ensemble base and unrolled the mattress.

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It feels quite different to what we have had previously but I am very confident that we will be happy with our new purchase.  Anyway, it has a 100 day trial period with a money-back guarantee.

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For something as large as a mattress there was minimal packaging.  The cardboard box will be opened out and used as weed mat under mulch in the garden.  The plastic tape will go into the rubbish and the heavy-duty plastic has been folded up and will be sure to be used at some time in the future.

I have made the bed and now am looking forward to a relaxing sleep.

Goodnight.

Glass is Good

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I have tried, as much as possible, to reduce our use of single-use plastic.  I know that there is always more that I can do so it is a work in progress, or as some would like to say, a journey.

As with any journey, it is also easier if you are connected with like-minded travellers so I am a member of a couple of different Facebook groups whose members have similar goals.  Some people are keen to remove all plastic, however, I am not about to throw away all of the plastic containers I have (to landfill) so that I can replace them with glass.  On the other hand, I am happy to look for glass when I need some more.

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After much research, I recently purchased 2 dozen Ball preserving jars.  You can read all about them in this post.  I have used some when I made jam recently but am also looking at other ways of using them.

I am aware that some people regularly freeze food in glass but that is not something that I have really done much so I decided that some research was in order as I know several people have had problems with glass jars breaking in the freezer.  This is not a saving of resources or money so I want to avoid that happening.  It turns out that for a glass jar to be suitable for freezer use it must have straight sides – that is no shoulder where it slopes in to the neck of the jar.  The preserving jars which I chose meet this criteria and are also deemed as suitable for freezer use on the panel on the box.

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Naturally, you also need to use commonsense and not put hot jars into the freezer and leave suitable headspace for the food to expand when frozen.  I also choose to chill them first in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer as well as keeping the lids loose until they were completely frozen.  This strategy seems to have been successful.

Here are some jars of frozen mango puree and refried beans which I was about to transfer to the small freezer downstairs.  I tend to keep this freezer for storage and items which I use on a day-to-day basis in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

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The other purpose for which glass can be used is when taking your own containers to be filled at the shop.  This afternoon I took one of the smaller jars to the deli counter at the supermarket and bought olives.  There was no problem with the staff weighing the container prior to filling to to assess the tare weight and the price sticker was attached to the bottom of the jar.

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Plastic containers certainly have their place and I will continue to use them rather than discard simply for the sake of discarding them, however, it is an interesting exercise to test the boundaries as to how and where glass jars can be used.

 

I Bought a Bucket

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This may seem like mindless consumption as I did already have a bucket to collect the kitchen scraps for the compost but I recently bought a new compost bucket.

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I first considered buying this over 12 months ago when I saw the one my daughter had at her place.  The thing that appealed to me about it was the drop-in lid with a silicone seal.  The following photo shows the lid  and also  the bucket insert.  It is also rather more stylish when sitting on the kitchen bench and has the added bonus of being labelled which is a help to guests who are unfamiliar with our kitchen.

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These are the 2 buckets I have used previously.  Each one is a bit larger than the new one so I will definitely need to empty it each day but that is not a great imposition.  The lid is the main problem as it takes 2 hands to seal it tightly as opposed to the drop-in lid on the new one.

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I ordered the bucket online and it arrived packaged in a cardboard box.  This had clearly been re-used which is pleasing but the downside was that it had 2 layers of plastic tape.  I managed to remove all of the tape so that I can use the cardboard as weed mat in the garden.  There was quite a pile of tape.

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In fact, the tape contributed quite a significant portion of our waste for the week.  You can see it all here.

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The rubbish for this week weighed in at 264g which is considerably more than the previous couple of weeks.  This is due in to the plastic sticky tape from the cardboard box.  There is also a selection of items, including, plastic bags from rice paper wrappers, tortillas, cheese and carrots, an expired credit card, foil packet from medications, festival wristband, bottle tops, screen cleaning cloth and plastic packaging from a computer program.

Taking Responsibility

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Firstly, I would like to apologise to those of you who have commented over the past couple of months for not replying to your comments.  I do read your words and value your input, however, too often I set them aside with grand plans to reply ‘later’ and ‘later’ does not happen.  I have gone back and tried to fill in the blanks and have promised myself that I will do better in 2017.  Thank you for sticking with me.

I had already written the title for this post when I realised that I had used an identical title in February last year.  You can read it here.  Perhaps it is a new year that makes us reassess what we are doing in a variety of ways.  Reducing our carbon footprint, minimising our reliance on single-use items, supporting ethical businesses, taking stock of our possessions are just some of the ways we can make a difference to our own lives as well as the lives of others and of course, the health of the planet.

I read something recently where someone commented that if everyone had to deal with their own rubbish rather than just wheeling a bin to the kerb then they would think differently about what they acquire – both in goods and packaging.  Of all the articles and discussions I have read, this makes more sense than most.

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It is easy to get jaded when the discussion is about where the nearest supermarket is that accepts soft plastics for recycling.  Do you think that shoving a bundle of soft plastic bags and packaging into a supposed recycling collection point absolves you from making any additional effort to reduce your waste?  Do you really believe that soft plastics are actually recycled?  Have you any idea how much energy is required to recycle materials into new products?  Is it true that plastic can only be recycled once?  And the absolute no-brainer….. Did you know that plastic is made from oil which is a finite resource?  That means it will run out one day!

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This is just one example of where it would be far better to make or buy a few sturdy fabric bags to transport shopping and other goods.

Give up shopping as a pastime, buy only what you actually need……that is need, not want and remember that recycling should be a last resort, not an easy option to salve your conscience.

Call me cynical, but I do whatever I can to minimise the amount of recycling I produce because I am not convinced that my efforts end up reaping results.  I have heard that if there is any contamination found in an entire truckload of recyclables then the whole load is dumped.  Whether or not that is true, I would much rather save any cardboard and newspapers that we acquire and use it as a mulchable weed mat in the garden.  Smaller pieces of paper are shredded and used as bedding for the chickens and then finally make their way to the compost.

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Tomorrow I will discuss the concept of zero-waste and what it means to me.

 

A New Chair

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Last week in this post I mentioned that I had moved the chair from the office desk.  I addition to the arms banging the desk I did not mention that the finish of the upholstery was all cracking a flaking.  The wear on the front edge of the seat was so bad that I had previously made an elasticised fabric cover for the seat and I noticed that the back was showing the same tendencies.

It was definitely time for the chair to go.  I was not hopeful of finding a new home for it but placed an ad on the local Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell page give it away.  Happily, it was just what someone wanted so it has gone.

The dining chair was not a suitable long-term replacement so yesterday we looked for a replacement at Officeworks.

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We were a bit like Goldilocks trying out all of the various options which ranged from very lightweight and uncomfortable to positively luxurious and everything in between.  In the end this is what we chose.  It is sturdy, comfortable and relatively compact.

It fits neatly under the desk and I am very happy with our new chair.

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Buying for a Bed

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It is 4.5 years since I wrote this post about covering the mattress on an old bed to use as a day bed on the verandah.

Unfortunately, it did not quite turn out as I had planned for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, the cat thought I had made it for him and proceeded to lie on it regularly and blanket the entire surface with grey fur.  Secondly, I realised that it was directly accessible to anyone entering our property and I would not feel secure being asleep there.

The second issue has been addressed somewhat by having a lockable gate installed.

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However, the problem of the cat remains.  I have considered this for some time now and decided that the best option was to have fabric on one side and vinyl on the other.  I will keep it vinyl side up generally so that any cat fur can be easily wiped off but turn it over to the fabric side when I (or anyone else wants to lie or sit on the bed.

Since the original post, we have painted the bed frame in a dark grey (the same colour as the surround of the gate in the photo above).  Additionally, the outdoor table is now red.

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I had an idea that I could incorporate these colours into my new plans for the bed.  So, today when I was shopping I went to Spotlight and was surprised and delighted to find exactly what I was looking for.

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The plain black vinyl will be for the cat while the stripe fabric which was described as ‘outdoor canvas’ will be perfect for the fabric side.  I should have enough left to make a couple of cushions, too.

I was really pleased to find exactly what I had imagined and I am looking forward to getting it made and ready to use.