The problem with the way things are…

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I don’t like the way we are led to believe we should be living our lives; always seeking out instant gratification and convenience for ourselves without any thought to the cost to our planet and its other inhabitants. So this year I made the decision to put my ethics and conscience above the easy, convenient options and live a life that doesn’t leave me feeling guilty about the environmental impact of my lifestyle- refusing single use plastic as much as possible, buying new only as a last resort and thinking creatively about reusing items before tossing them away.

Plastic is an amazing material- there’s no denying that. We ingenious humans have managed to come up with a cheap, durable, and endlessly versatile product that has changed the way we live our lives in unimaginable ways over the past century. Only problem is that this plastic is made with precious non-renewable resources that are in increasingly short supply, and is also extremely slow to degrade, which leaves us with a whole mountain of environmental and societal issues to deal with!

Australians are the second highest producers of waste, per person, in the world with each of us sending over 690 kilograms of waste to landfill each year. My family has tried to minimise our waste for a couple of years, after becoming sick of having to borrow neighbours garbage bins to dispose of all the weekly rubbish that we couldn’t fit in our own bin on bin night. We managed to reduce our waste to half of the volume it had been at its worst, and we just sort of left it at that, feeling quite pleased with our efforts and continuing with life as normal.

Over the past year though I’ve become more aware of the huge environmental dilemmas our waste- and in particular plastic waste- is causing, and began to think more about what I put in my bin, and where exactly it goes when I’m done with it. I loved the idea of my garbage going away, as though the moment it left my sight it would somehow magically dematerialise and was thought of no more. Unfortunately the reality is a lot less pleasant than that. The waste I toss away is really just beginning its life journey, often destined to pollute the Earth for hundreds of years to come. I found that once I became fully aware of the blatantly obvious truth about my waste, it wasn’t so easy to just roll my bin to the kerb and forget my garbage forever.

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I began to imagine all the plastic waste I had ever thrown away still in existence somewhere, clogging up our planet with crap that I thought nothing of using (most often for a matter of minutes or hours) and tossing away. And I decided I wanted it to stop. So I FINALLY made the decision to dump my supermarket and source my food and grocery items  in reusable packaging from my local coop, organic farm and from an ethical butcher, and I’ve become an op shop lover who rarely buys new anything. There are always alternatives being found to unsustainable plastic items in our lives, such as hemp produce bags instead of nasty plastic ones and cooking from scratch rather than purchasing processed foods, and a few small sacrifices have had to be made along the way; saying goodbye to our plastic packaged cheese was tough! But each time I consider a new purchase I ask myself the question, is this item and its packaging worth the burden it will be to our environment? And the answer is most often NO.

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The Great Recycled Christmas Experiment.

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Well, I’m ready to make it official. I’ve thought about doing it each time a gift giving occasion has rolled on by this year, only to cave at the last minute and follow the crowd, do what’s expected- buy new. But this is it, I am absolutely ready now. This Christmas I will buy every single gift, decoration or festive related item second hand. Not new. Old. Recycled. I know its possible- I buy just about everything for my family used and love it- but for some reason I do have a nagging feeling that buying used for other people is different. I feel as though there is an expectation that gifts must be shiny, new and have an appropriate monetary value attached to them. But why? What does a gift really symbolise and how exactly does it represent all that we want it to convey to loved ones?

I broke the great Recycled Christmas news to my kids yesterday. “Well I guess that means no Life Proof Case for me,” Mr11 glumly replied, as though it was to be expected that Mum would go ahead and ruin his Christmas with her crazy rubbish ideas.
“Is my Christmas present really going to come from an op shop!?” Miss13 asked, sounding completely horrified by the prospect.
“No, it’s going to come from the heart!” I replied. This silenced her, but I don’t think she was happy.

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Who wouldn’t be happy to receive this $3 gift??

I’m sure I can do this. I love gift giving, and see it as a way to express how much someone means to me, how much I know about who they really are, and the time and effort I’ve invested into finding the perfect gift for them. I have always believed that purchasing a meaningful gift on a small budget or making your our own gifts means more than blowing a heap of cash on a flashy buy- I mean, that’s just too easy. So really, isn’t buying used just taking that notion a step further? Of course I also see the environmental and ethical benefits of purchasing recycled items as extremely important, but I do believe second hand stuff still rocks, even if the green thing means nothing to the gift receiver.

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I’ve already begun my recycled Christmas shopping, and found my folks the perfect gift- this cookie jar- for $5. My dad eats allot of chocolate biscuits, and my folks do more for me than anyone on the planet, so this gift expresses exactly how I feel about them and is something that will be useful. Is it less special because it cost $5 rather than $50? Must I feel stingy because my gift will be the cheapest they receive? I don’t know when gifts began to be judged by their cost, but I really think it completely misses the point of giving and receiving. So, if you are someone I love dearly, and expect a gift to be heading your way from me to you this Christmas, be warned. Try to think outside the box when you open said gift, and remember that it really is the thought that counts and that shows how much you mean to me- NOT where it was purchased or the price I paid 🙂

So what do you think? Would you be happy to receive a recycled Christmas gift? Do you already give non-new gifts, or are you game to give it a try this Festive Season?? I’d love to hear what you think about the whole gift giving ordeal…

 

Sacrifices for Mother Nature

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We all make sacrifices for the things in our lives that matter the most; partners, children, career, education. Perhaps money or health and fitness. Sometimes making sacrifices sux, but even when it does the underlying reason for the sacrifice and the eventual reward that comes of that sacrifice will make whatever we are doing or giving up feel worthwhile (though perhaps not always particularly enjoyable at the time)! Someone much more studious than me may be willing to dedicate themselves to many years of arduous study in order to pursue a particularly rewarding career. My children mean the world to me and I’ve made countless sacrifices- some particularly sucky ones I might add- for them so that they may lead happy, healthy, and safe lives.

But where on our list of priorities that mean enough to us to give up some of the good/easy/convenient stuff, does Mother Nature- an incredible, unique and endlessly astounding creation without which we would most certainly not exist- fit in? How much does it, how much SHOULD it matter to us what state of health our Mother Nature is in, and what impact our lives are having on her health? How many sacrifices are we willing to, or should we feel obliged to make to ensure Mother Nature’s improved health and longevity??

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This question is really part of a modern dilemma that our convenience rich and ethically poor lifestyles have created for us. To live as inhabitants and dependents of our Earth and yet be as disconnected as we have become from the impact our lifestyles have on our home would seem like insanity to any outsider. How do you ensure the survival of your species, one of the most crucial purposes of any living beings life, if you are trashing the very thing you rely on for your food, water, air and shelter?? How did we even get to the point where this seemed like a good idea!?

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by United Nations Photo

We as a society don’t seem to have a whole heaps of answers right now (we’re working on it, albeit pretty slowly). Ironically, if we look to our more “primitive” ancestors we see countless examples of civilizations which have managed to live in harmony with Mother Nature and tread so lightly upon the Earth as to leave little evidence of their presence once their time has passed into mere memory. There is much to be learned from these societies connection to and respect for their environment, and their ability to live within the bounds of a sustainable relationship with Mother Nature. Our modern lifestyles have meant that this relationship has now become less valued or prioritized, and yet with over seven billion people now sharing our home the impact of our daily lives has become MUCH greater indeed.

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by Jayaprakash R

Things can seem dire at times, and the disrespect with which Mother Nature is often treated can feel truly disheartening, however we all as individuals have the opportunity to prioritize Mother Nature in our lives and consider the impact our actions are having upon her health and well being. When I walk along the beach and stop to take in the seemingly endless and overwhelmingly powerful ocean before me I cannot imagine knowingly doing anything to harm this environment, and as I walk through the forest and find myself surrounded by crisp, fresh air and breathtaking shades of green it is almost unfathomable to think that human beings may one day destroy this delicate ecosystem in the name of profit or convenience. Where once I wouldn’t have thought making sacrifices for Mother Nature was worthwhile or important, I now find it hard to think of any sacrifice that isn’t worth making for the planet we rely upon for our survival.

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I choose to refuse single use plastic, create as little waste as possible, buy used rather than new and try to conserve resources as much as I can. It may seem too extreme, or it may seem that my life is still far too resource hungry and unsustainable, depending on how you look at the picture. The sacrifices I choose to make do mean giving up a degree of convenience, time, effort and money, but as with any worthwhile sacrifice it is more than justified by the eventual reward- in this case a healthy, balanced Mother Nature- and rather than feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by what is given up, there is a feeling of real satisfaction that comes with knowing there will one day be a reward, and that this one will be shared by billions of people, in our future and beyond.

So, what do you think is worth sacrificing for our Mother Nature? How much do we owe her, for sustaining our lives and surrounding us with the incredible diversity and beauty of our planet?

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The single best waste reducing recipe ever!

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A few years ago my family produced a lot of garbage. SO MUCH garbage. Our bins would be so full by the end of the week that we’d sneak a few bags into our neighbours bins before the garbage collection just to get rid of it all! At the time I thought that was just how life was- now I find it hard not to think about where all that garbage has ended up, a burden on our planet that just won’t go away!

When I finally became sick of all the crap leaving our home and began to think about how to minimise the waste we were creating, I realised that our kitchen created more waste than any other part of the house, and milk seemed to be the most consumed product in our kitchen. We would go through two 1 litre rice milk cartons a day, and they were making up a large portion of our weekly garbage. It was about the time I began to realise that we were really making a mess of our planet with our lifestyle choices that I came across the Thermomix, which made it SO easy to prepare food from scratch and cook an absolute heap without spending my entire life imprisoned in the kitchen!

So, armed with my handy new gadget I began to make our very own super yummy and completely additive free milk. Oh, how good it felt to no longer see our bins overflowing with those milk cartons! And how awesome I felt for making a kitchen staple from scratch- our one dairy tolerant family member even agreed to drink it! I can’t stand the store bought rice milk anymore- it tastes so ordinary compared to home made, and considering it’s so easy to make even my kids can manage it AND it saves a small fortune to make from scratch, it makes sense to give making your own dairy free milk a go.

I discovered Quirky Cooking a couple of years ago, and began using her dairy free milk recipe, which I’ve altered a little over time (I substituted the nuts for more rice because my kids school is nut free). I did attempt to make rice milk from scratch using a small blender whilst travelling without my Thermomix and it was a icky grainy disaster! A high power blender or grain mill would do a much better job and would be worth trying if you don’t have a Thermomix- just grind rice and then simmer all ingredients on the stove top, before re-blending the milk to finish. Let me know how it goes!

Rice Milk Recipe

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All the ingredients for my rice milk are bought in bulk using my own containers, including the coconut oil which is an old container I refill- so completely waste free!

Makes 2 litres of milk. If you prefer 1 litre just halve everything except the water.

Grind for 1 min on speed 9:
-150g brown rice

Add and cook for 6 min, 60 degrees, speed 4:
-1 litre water
-50 grams rice syrup (or other sweetener if preferred)
-2 tbsp coconut oil
-pinch of salt

Blend milk for 40 sec on speed 8

Pour into jug and add another litre of water to make up 2 litres of rice milk. Done! Now give yourself a pat on the back for being so fantastically wasteless, and enjoy 🙂

Why bother being different, when it means you’re not like everyone else??

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I sat in a staff meeting today, quietly enjoying a homemade beetroot brownie that I’d brought to work in a jar from home, and sipping steaming hot chocolate out of my thermos, when a colleague sitting opposite tore open her plastic packaged muesli snack,  guiltily looked up at me and apologised for the rubbish her snack was creating! The other day a friend popped round for dinner and brought a cute tea towel as a house warming gift, only to message me later saying that she’d just realised she given me a gift packaged in plastic and to apologise for the oversight. Last week I heard a friend telling her daughter to hide their plastic food packaging because “Amanda doesn’t like that!”

This is starting to happen a lot. I’ve developed a reputation, as the girl that hates plastic and doesn’t throw things out. People may- I’m pretty sure they do- think I’m a bit nutty. I guess I probably even seem somewhat extreme to “normal” people! After spending a lifetime trying to blend in with the crowd and avoid creating waves these situations feel strange, not because I’m embarrassed by the reputation that I have developed, but because I now see real value in creating waves, and have come to realise that it actually seems to encourage the people in my life to confront the issues of rampant consumerism, overuse of plastic and waste creation, without my creating any awkward or embarrassing situations!

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We always give a crap!

I’m no activist. I wish that I could be, but I’m probably never going to be the person gathering masses to their cause and changing the world with amazing ideas and initiatives, at least not while I’ve got a bunch of kids to raise! I just go about my business, get things done and do my bit. I had never realised that just being me could make a difference- I seem so very inconsequential in the grand scheme of things! Perhaps though, I have failed to realise that we all make an impact on those around us, and regardless of how big or small that impact is, it is making a difference all the same.

I was pretty excited at that staff meeting today to discover that my new employer has decided to take on the suggestion of a waste free lunch week that I recently put forward, and is eager to include parent education, kid’s workshops and a movie night to encourage families to jump on board with the initiative. Colleagues were even sharing their own “tosser” tales and discussing how to confront and deter people that so carelessly trash our environment! All this interest and action after just a couple of emails and a little information shared at a meeting. Not too confronting, not too intimidating- a little effort for a pretty neat change making return really.

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I guess I’m slowly learning that being an activist and changing the world doesn’t have to mean speaking like a seasoned pro and amassing countless thousands of followers- sometimes just living a life can change the world, and regardless of how small that change is it most certainly does have value, and can be the beginning of a ripple that has the potential to quickly travel far and wide, inspiring and growing change far beyond just a modest little life. So yep, being different, making an effort that may seem futile when it goes against the mainstream, and having the courage to stand up for personal beliefs is definitely a worthwhile effort to make, and is really something to be super proud- and never ashamed- of!

What little, “just being you” victories have you won for the greater good?? Have there been times when your ethics and lifestyle choices have sparked an awareness and interest within your inner (or outer) circle about important issues that really matter to you? Think hard, you may not even be aware of the change you are creating around you every day 🙂

 

What’s in your bin, and where does it go?

There is no AWAY.

There is no convenient place that our garbage disappears to, free from environmental consequences, once we decide we’re done with it. Australians are the second highest generators of waste in the world, producing over 40 million tonnes of garbage every year, so what we do with this stuff really matters! And if every single item that is placed in our bin ends up somewhere…where exactly does it go??

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This is one weeks garbage of an average, fairly convenience dependent family of 2 adults (and a dog) which fills a 240 litre bin to 2/3 capacity. It was a little windy when I photographed this- with permission I might add!- so I left what was in plastic bags contained within them. There are a number of recyclable items visible, such as cans, glass jars, recyclable packaging and cardboard, as well as non recyclable plastics, a HEAP of plastic bags and some food (this family has chooks which reduces their food waste). Their weekly waste also includes a recycling bin 2/3 filled with garbage, which contains a number of plastic bags and unrecyclable items that have been added to the incorrect bin.

In 2006-07 each Australian produced a massive 2,100kg of waste, with the average 4 person family producing enough garbage annually to fill a three bedroom home from floor to ceiling! According to the information below from Marrickville Council 79% of this waste is recoverable, however at present the rate of diversion to recycling facilities is just over 50%, up from 36% in 2000. Over a third of the contents of a general waste bin is food, which can easily be diverted from landfill by composting the organic matter either at the source (or feeding to chooks as this family does) or through municipal digestion and composting facilities where available. There is also much to be said for the case against food waste to begin with, as this is a resource that has required large volumes of water and other resources to produce, and is best utilised when eaten!

The other 42% of recoverable bin contents includes a variety of materials which can be reused or recycled, although the technology to do so is often not feasible or available to consumers.

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So where does it all go once the garbage truck comes along and takes the waste off our hands?? Well, that really depends on where you live and the waste management facilities that are available in your local area.

The owners of this garbage live in an area where general waste bins are not sorted, and all this garbage- recyclable or not- will go straight to landfill. That’s a great volume of potentially recoverable materials ending up in a hole in the ground- in 2007 21 million tonnes of waste was disposed of in Australian landfill sites. Landfills impact on air, water and soil quality, producing methane gas as organic matter decomposes, in addition to leachate, which is formed when water moves through landfill and becomes contaminated by the waste. This leachate can then contaminate surrounding waterways and soil.

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There are a growing number of Alternative Waste Treatment (AWT) facilities within Australia that offer services such as advanced waste sorting, recycling and composting as alternatives to landfills. Some AWT facilities, such as the DiCOM system being built in WA are capable of sorting waste and recycling, reusing or composting the various components, returning the unusable portion to landfill. This process then produces biogas which will power the plant, and promises to divert 75% of waste from landfill. There are other facilities have failed to produce the results promised, or have become incredibly expensive to run, so this is definitely a developing industry.

While strides toward a more sustainable approach to managing our waste are being made, there is a long way to go and landfills are still heavily relied upon for dealing with our garbage. This means that as consumers and waste producers the first and most important thing we can do to to reduce the environmental impact of our waste is to reduce the waste generated in the first place! With a conscious effort to minimise purchases of packaged items, reduce reliance on convenience items and a willingness to change waste creating habits, household garbage can be dramatically reduced.

This is our family’s weekly waste, and a particularly wasteful week it was with a number of out of the ordinary purchases.

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The second thing we can do to create positive change is to treat waste as a resource where possible, and make use of it through recycling or reuse rather than ending its productive life in landfill or in the environment. I have noticed that as we’ve sought to minimise waste, many items that I would once have thought of as garbage are now valued and used resources in our home (I value my beautiful recycled spice jars just as much as I do the ghee which came in them).

And finally, where waste cannot be reused or recycled, it should be disposed of in the least environmentally damaging way. This is something that we must rely upon local councils and governments to take responsibility for, but as citizens we always have the opportunity to voice our concern regarding the environmental issues surrounding waste disposal, as well as the power to support politicians and political parties that are willing to work towards positive change.

At the end of the day, we produce waste as a direct result of our lifestyle and consumer choices, and we have a responsibility to take on some sense of ownership over this garbage and what happens once it leaves our home. Perhaps if we begin to become aware of the true environmental and societal impact of our waste we may feel the urgency of this dilemma, as well as the power we have to minimise waste and improve the future environmental outlook.

Sleeping on other people’s sheets

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Country Road, Pottery Barn and Sheridan towels

I’m embarrassed to admit to it, but in my past, thoughtless consumer life I was the kind of girl who wouldn’t sleep on anything less than Sheridan 1000 thread count sheets, and would only dry myself on the softest, plushest of Country Road towels. I liked to have the best, and would happily fork out the cash for it. Well, things have changed a little since then, and I would now be unable to justify paying $100 for a whole bedding set, let alone one sheet as I once did! And as a buy-everything-used kind of shopper I now happily buy other peoples couches, mugs, lamps and even clothes…but sleeping on other people’s sheets?? What if I can smell their smell in my bed??

In the end my finances made the decision for me- furnishing a new family home on a tight budget does limit the options- and of course purchasing used linen also means I am easily able to avoid plastic packaging and other waste, plus avoid consuming a new product with its much greater embodied energy.

So I took myself off to the local op shops in search of sheets, quilts, towels, tablecloths and more!

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Quilts from Ikea and Target, odour free!

I just happened to choose the perfect day, with a special fill a (huge) bag for $35 deal. And boy, did I fill that bag!!

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2 queen sized Onkaparinga blankets…they feel AMAZING!!

And in the end? It was fine, just like all the other used items I have become used to buying and using. Some things were a little worse for wear, others looked pristine, and yep, a few were a bit stinky. But that’s part of the fun of buying second hand; finding the great stuff feels like a real achievement, something unique that you won’t find in every second persons home and that has a history all of its own. Some may call it stingy- I think its the smart way to buy what you really need!

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Laura Ashley quilt cover and woolen blanket

 

The trials of a Zero Waste kid

Or perhaps more aptly named “The trials of living with a Zero Waste parent!”.

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So this is something I have been struggling with for a while now- I believe I have a responsibility as a citizen of our Earth to conscientiously strive to do as little damage to our environment as possible- but is it fair to push that belief onto my children? Some parents have religious beliefs they pass onto their kids, others a sports team they follow religiously and share with their offspring, so can I not  pass a respect of the Earth and a sense of ethical responsibility onto my kids!?

I have been told that I’m depriving my children of happy childhood experiences. Like chips. And lollies. I have been told that the way I choose to live is unrealistic and is not allowing my children to experience the “real world”, that it’s too difficult and time consuming and just plain pointless, and really, “what difference are you making anyway?”

I get what people are saying, but I don’t know, I just believe that teaching our next generation to respect, appreciate and care for the environment and the creatures we share it with trumps chips and lollies anyday! And sure, maybe my little gang don’t always agree with me, and maybe its real hard to see these issues for what they are when you’re 12 and the message you hear from the media and your peers is consume, consume, CONSUME, but should that be a reason to not pass on my ethical beliefs to my children? That feels to me like it would be doing them- and the future of our planet- a great disservice.

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Yes, Miss12 really does randomly hug rock faces 🙂

I asked my two eldest guys, Miss12 “but I’m SO nearly a teenager Mum!” and Mr14 “now get outta my life already!” what they think about reducing waste and plastic usage to lessen our own impact on the environment, and it really came down to 1 thing for them- convenience. Miss12 explained to me, “When I’m at the shops with my friends and I want something to eat, I just wanna be able to grab a pack of chips” and Mr14 grunted and mumbled something to the effect of “If I’m out I really don’t think about packaging”. It always seems to come back to chips in our family.

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by Rupert Ganzer

I asked them what made it easy to avoid using plastic and to minimise waste and Mr14 began to enthusiastically list the ridiculous overuse of plastic he sees in his life, from food to technology product packaging to school supplies, and how much it frustrates him. Miss12 quickly answered “When I know that the plastic I use could hurt other animals I really don’t want to use it”. So true.

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Midway, 2009-2010, Chris Jordan, http://www.chrisjordan.com

This young albatross, like many others from Midway Atoll in the North Pacific Ocean was fed plastic waste found floating in the ocean thousands of kilometres from the nearest continent by its parents. As a result the chick starved to death, all the while feeling full from the sheer volume of plastic in its stomach. The huge impact of the plastic waste we generate can be seen causing direct harm to our environment in all corners of the globe, even here at home on the beautiful Lord Howe Island, where the Flesh-footed Shearwater is one of the seabirds most impacted by plastic pollution!

So I will hold fast, ignore the criticism and continue to pass on my set of beliefs to my children, but I’m really curious how others feel about this issue. Is it cruel to raise children (and especially older guys) in a way that differs greatly from the mainstream, and may make them feel “different” from their peers? I imagine my kids at recess as they eat their homemade beetroot cacao muffins while their buddies eat chips, muesli bars and lollies and wonder…should feel proud or guilty??

 

How to make a PLASTIC FREE terrarium

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I’m a big fan of terrariums. They’re the perfect lazy gardeners garden; small, contained, (mostly) self reliant- but unfortunately, full of plastic ! I’ve made a few terrariums in the past, and have always had my terrarium supply box stocked and ready to go- potting mix; in plastic, various gravels; in plastic, charcoal; in plastic, potted plants; yep, more plastic. I’ve avoided gardening for a while now because everything seems to come wrapped, contained or packaged in plastic, and I just wasn’t sure how to garden without the stuff. So when I found a huge jar that would make a perfect terrarium for $2.50 at The Salvos I decided it was time to try my hand at gardening, minus the plastic. Beth Terry from My Plastic Free Life explains her gardening without plastic experience really well, although I found working on a small scale made sourcing some materials a bit trickier.

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The Materials

There are four main materials used in a terrarium- potting mix, gravel, charcoal and plants- and each one is sold in plastic packaging. Gravel and potting mixes are readily available in bulk at landscape centres and nurseries in bulk, but when I asked to shovel a small amount into my own container at my large local centre I was told it was “against WHS” to let me in the area of the store where these products are. So I tried somewhere else, and after initially trying to convince me to just accept the plastic packaged products, I was given a shovel and told to just go for it (which my fantastic helper did!) So I managed to score my potting mix, sand and gravel without plastic packaging.

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I’ve always bought my charcoal in small bags from the nursery, and maybe it’s very dense of me but I only just realised I have my own supply of charcoal in our fireplace, which I simply crushed myself to add to the terrarium.

Walking around a nursery, purchasing plants without plastic just seems impossible- they’re all in plastic pots! I have avoided buying plants all together because of the pots, but I decided to try and find a solution for this project. I visited a local nursery, and after running into a friend who works there I explained my predicament to her. She was happy to take the pots back to reuse, and even offered to take the plant tags back as they will be reused as well.

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So I managed to find all my materials plastic free, although it did require more driving around than it would have otherwise. Next time though I’ll know where I can buy the products I need without plastic, which will make the process less time consuming.

The Terrarium

Firstly be sure to clean the glass container well to prevent bacteria growth within the terrarium. A layer of gravel or small stones of a few inches is added to the jar for drainage. This will keep excess water away from the roots as there are no drainage holes.

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Next a thin layer of charcoal is added, to keep the soil fresh.

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Now the soil is added to the jar. The total volume of gravel and soil should be roughly one third of the container, and enough depth to allow  for the plant’s roots to be covered. The type of soil used will depend on the plants chosen, I have gone with a sandy mix for my succulents.

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Once the soil’s in plants can be added. Its a good idea to plan the positioning before planting anything, and if the opening of the jar is large enough have a play around with the plants inside it, remembering to allow space for growth.

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I’ve added gravel on my soil to decorate the terrarium, and depending on whats planted you could also use moss, shells, crushed gravel etc.

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Remember to choose a variety of plants that require similar growing conditions. Closed containers are best for plants that require high humidity such as ferns and mosses , while open containers suit sun loving plants such as succulents and cacti.

Always water with care, and as there are no drainage holes it is better to add too little than too much water. A closed container will rarely, if ever need water, and always check the soil of an open terrarium before watering to see that it is really needing water.

Experiment, design and enjoy building a miniature ecosystem inside a jar WITHOUT the environmentally damaging plastic packaging!

 

Second hand decorating, in yellow

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Yellow is the happiest of colours, and a little cheer on a cold, miserable winters day like today is more than welcome!

One year ago we moved in with my lovely parents, bringing only some clothes, my beloved Thermomix and a ridiculously enormous and expensive dining table with us. We’re now about to move into our own place and I’ve been gradually collecting everything we need to make a new home for ourselves from op shops over the past few months. So I have a great excuse to shop, and make the most of it!

>I’m currently collecting old wooden squash racquets to decorate with, they have great character, colours and texture, and they’re alot cheaper than other wall art;  $2 @ Vinnies.

>A travel chess set was on my need-it-list for months and I searched every week without success, until I found this beautiful wooden set; $3 @ Vinnies (I was so happy with the price of this purchase I’ve refused to remove the tag!)

>Beautiful french book, which I read with my perfect french accent whilst having little idea what I’m saying; $2 at Lifeline Book Fair…

>And a favourite “just because it’s so cute dish”; $5 from Salvos.

Second hand stylin’

I love buying second hand. It’s cheap, helps out the planet and its lots of fun- whats not to love?! It’s also possible to find so many beautiful, special, one of a kind items, from clothing to accessories to furniture and home wares. I will now only buy new as an absolute last resort (although the kids and I decided underwear should always be new!), so I spend a lot of time op shopping and am always on the hunt for something on my “need it list”. I’ll try and capture some of the amazing, useful, beautiful pieces I discover, because they’re worth sharing- and it’s fun!

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Sass Black tee, $8…Top Shop Floral Jacket, $10…Dotti Jeans (that I wear EVERYWHERE) $8…Belt, $2…Watch, $20…Hankie 🙂 50c…all from Vinnies or Salvos. The necklace and shoes were bought new, still looking out for second hand shoes. (Apologies for the fuzzy photo, for some reason my phone has decided it doesn’t want to take crisp, clear pics anymore!)