Collective Action

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Much of what I write about here falls under the broad categories of cooking, gardening and sewing and of course, the all-encompassing category of self-reliance.

The little things that I do every day contribute to my overall philosophy which is summed up in the byline of the blog – ‘A Simple, Sustainable Life’.

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It is important that we should never underestimate the value of the little things that we can all do each and every day.  However, sometimes we need to look beyond our own backyards and get involved on a larger scale.

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8 days ago on 30th November several major Australian cities and regional centres saw significant numbers of school students, young people and adult supporters marching for their future – a future generated by renewable energy, not coal.  I marched in support of these intelligent and articulate youngsters.

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I am somewhere towards the rear of this photo which was taken today.  There were many, more more out of view of the camera.

Thousands of people marched again today and will continue to do so until our state and Federal governments take serious action on climate change.  The most pressing issue is to have the proposed Carmichael mine by Adani in the Gallilee Basin stopped.

There will be more events in the coming weeks.

All of the research shows that a clear majority of Australians support this action so please consider being involved.  Stand up and be counted and let the politicians hear our collective voice.

Meanwhile, I have made another batch of strawberry jam.  That is 8kg of strawberries made into jam.

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Gone

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Decluttering and streamlining what we own is a recurring theme here.  I have never had a huge cleanout but have tended to gradually reduce what we have by not replacing things as they are used or removing things that no longer have a purpose in our home.

However, I want to share a couple of things that we have re-homed in the last week.

The first was actually at work.  It is nearly 18 months ago that I wrote this post about a bulk amount of paper clips being discarded.  Unfortunately, I received very little support from the sustainability team so the bag of paper clips was still languishing in the cupboard beside my desk.  Every time I opened the cupboard I was bothered by the thought of what was going to happen to them.  Last week I noticed a small bag of assorted paper clips/bulldog clips in the ‘Mail Out’ tray.  These were being returned to the mail room so I asked the courier from the mail room if they could take the bag of paper clips and she was delighted and said they would be so useful.  The quantity did not daunt her in the least!  YAY!!!  The rescued paper clips now have a new home.

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Today my sister and brother-in-law came and collected a pile of old broken pavers.  This post from 3 months ago was about removing the old pavers from an outdoor staircase.  We gave some of the salvaged pavers to our neighbour to make an outdoor path and kept the remainder for a small landscaping project we have to do.  Of course, in the process of lifting them some broke and others had been cut to fit the space.  We did not want these but my brother-in-law was happy to take them for solid fill at his place.  Today was the day that they went to their new home so that is something else gone.

These are some of the good used pavers but the pile of broken ones have been moved along.

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More Purple

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The lavender flowers are not the only purple in my life.  Today I was ironing one of GMan’s shirts which happens to be purple.

This shirt is one of his favourites and the cuffs had worn out some time ago so I cut the sleeves off to turn it into a short sleeve shirt which continues to be worn, albeit, not as frequently as when it was a long-sleeved business shirt.

I was ironing it today and I caught the tip of the iron against the edge of the back yoke seam whereupon the stitching gave way across about 2/3 of the back.  After my initial shock, I examined it closely and realised that the cotton thread had simply worn out.

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The fabric is faded and I know it will not last forever but I have restitched it and there is quite a bit more wear in it yet.

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It makes good environmental and economic sense to repair items and retain them for as long as possible so I am very pleased to have been able to extend the life of this shirt.

Plastic Free July

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Well, it is a week into to Plastic Free July and I decided that rather trying to to buy any plastic for the whole month, I would simply shop and live as I do on a regular basis and try to capture a true picture of my plastic consumption.

Having our own vegetable garden and fruit trees certainly helps.

Orange juice ready to freeze.

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Grapefruit marmalade.

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Yesterday I took a Weck jar when I went to buy feta cheese at the deli counter of the local IGA.  This was a definite win, but only after reminding the attendant to weigh the jar before filling it.  A reminder that this is not yet the norm and you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your plastic-free attempts are not hijacked by well-meaning staff.

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Fruit and vegetable shopping is relatively easy to achieve plastic-free, particularly if you choose local, seasonal produce as much as possible.

Here is what I bought today.

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The supermarket is a very different story.  The items I bought today represent the majority of what I buy at the supermarket.  By its very nature, everything is packaged.  The cans are recyclable as is some of the plastic but, as we know, recycling should be the last resort.

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There was also a bottle of vinegar which did not make it into the first photo.

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We make at least some of our food from scratch which helps to eliminate some plastic packaging.  These include bread, pizza bases, tomato sauce and peanut paste.

These pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and ready to be frozen.  The plastic wrap is old cereal packets which have been washed and re-used many times.

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I am far from perfect when it comes to Plastic Free July (or any other time for that matter) but by making and growing some of our own food, having virtually no takeaway and not shopping for recreation we are fairly successful at limiting our single-use plastic consumption.

Are you participating in Plastic Free July?  How is it going?

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Remember, there are no failures – just increased awareness.  And that is a good thing.

 

 

Plastic – A Personal Perspective

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I have spent the best part of 3 days this week at a conference, hence the lack of posts.

Here is a photo of some of the things I took with me in an effort to reduce the inevitable waste that an event like this tends to generate.

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A stainless steel water bottle which I was able to refill during the course of the conference.  Cloth serviettes to use instead of disposable ones.  A bamboo straw in case I felt I needed it but it remained unused.  2 small Ball jars of snacks – 1 of sultanas and 1 of walnuts.  This was as much about making sure that I had gluten free snacks which were to my liking as it was about no plastic.  A tub of homemade hummus in a reused plastic container and a packet of rice crackers as well as some home-grown mandarins (not shown) completed my food supplies.  Although the rice crackers are in plastic packaging, the food selection I took was much lower waste than buying snacks at the venue.

I also took a plastic tumbler from our picnic set and was very grateful that I did because the morning/afternoon teas included tea and coffee with ‘real’ cups and saucers but there were disposable plastic cups with the dispensers of chilled water.  That was very disappointing.

On the upside, the straws provided in drinks were paper ones, however, I simply asked for my drinks with my standard, “no ice, no straw” request.

3 of the meals were in disposable ‘packs’ as we had to eat en route to the next item on the program.  I chose to partake as starving was not really an option.  I did not eat any of the single-wrapped mints which were on the tables in the conference room and stuck to my nuts and dried fruit as required.

Other unavoidable plastics included plastic-wrapped notebooks and plastic tag-holders on lanyards for every participant.

All in all, the waste was probably not excessive, however, it was still too much for my liking so I will be providing some feedback to both the organisers and the venue in the hope that they will take sustainable practices into consideration when planning future events.

Beyond the Bags

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The ban on single-use shopping bags seems to have garnered all of the media attention recently and not all of the publicity has been positive.  I have already had my say about some of the ridiculous commentary here.

Tonight I want to talk about moving beyond simply banning one particular type of single-use plastic bag and look at other things we can do.

Plastic-Free July is just around the corner so now is a great time to focus on the many single-use plastics that are still part of many people’s everyday lives.

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Here is a list of some of the single-use plastics which have combined to create enormous islands of floating waste in our oceans.

  • Bottled water
  • Soft drink bottles
  • Single use cups – styrofoam and plastic
  • Plastic plates
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Plastic straws
  • Balloons
  • Clingwrap
  • Ziplock bags
  • Plastic produce bags

All of these items have relatively cheap and easy alternatives/replacements.

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  • Limit your consumption of soft drinks
  • Carry your own reusable cup – Keep cups are suitable for hot drinks.  Seek out cafes who will accept your own mug.  Check out Responsible Cafes or just ask.

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  • At home – choose to use regular crockery.  When eating out – take your own reusable plate.
  • At home – choose to use regular cutlery.  When eating out – take your own reusable cutlery.
  • Skip the straw – ask for ‘no straw’ when ordering your drink.  If you really need to use a straw, consider buying a stainless steel or bamboo one.

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  • ‘Message’ balloons – consider a card or practical gift.  Decorative balloons can be replaced with paper decorations.  Balloon releases are just mass littering.  They do not go to heaven, they end up harming wildlife on land and in the oceans.  Plant trees or scatter wildflower seeds in memory of a loved one.
  • At home – replace clingwrap with a lidded container, plate on top of a bowl or beeswax wraps.  Refuse to purchase produce wrapped in clingwrap.  Buy it unwrapped.

 

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  • Ziplock bags – use lidded containers.  If you have ziplock bags, use them multiple times – they can easily be rewashed.
  • Plastic produce bags – buy or make your own produce bags for buying fruit and vegetables.  Tulle or mesh curtains work really well.

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As with any change, it is probably best to start with a couple of items and work from there.

What will you commit to changing for Plastic Free July?  Make it a new habit that you can carry forward into the future.  Then build on your achievement with other changes.

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The Bag Ban

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I really wish I did not feel compelled to write this post and I apologise in advance to those readers who live in jurisdictions not affected by the impending plastic bag ban in Queensland.

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It seems to have generated some of the most ridiculous comments I have heard in a long time.

I offer the following observations.

Lightweight plastic shopping bags have not been around forever.  They have been in use in Australia for less than 50 years.

Remembering to take your reuseable bags is as simple as remembering to take your purse and keys when you go shopping.

The ban is about the lightweight carry bags only – not the thicker plastic bags which some supermarkets may choose to sell, nor the flimsy plastic bags for produce.  However, you can choose to refuse these too.  Bring your own reuseable carry bags – fabric ones are best.  They are strong, durable and can be washed as often as required.  You can also buy or make lightweight produce bags for fruit and vegetables.

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You do not need supermarket carry bags to line your bin.  Rather than re-invent the wheel please read this post.

Instead of railing against the fact that supermarkets are profiteering, that the ban will not reduce plastic use, that you will not have a bag to line your bin, that other plastic bags are still available and so on, let us use this as a real opportunity to take a leap forward in moving away from a range of single-use plastics.  We do not have wait until change is legislated and forced upon us.  Take the lead and make a difference now.

The ban on lightweight carry bags should be just the beginning.  Plastic Free July looms on the horizon so tomorrow I will address some of the other single-use plastics that we should be campaigning to eliminate.

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Do you have a bag story?  Please share in the comments.