Buy Nothing November – An Update

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It is nearly 2 weeks since I first posted about Buy Nothing November. You can read the first instalment here.

Since then we have bought 2 more physical items which have come into our home. The first is a rat trap which fairly self-explanatory and does not need a photo.

The second item is a timber storage box. I had been perusing secondhand sites for a few weeks as I was looking for a seat for my mini-mudroom. That is probably too grand a description as it is actually a corner of the workshop near the entrance to the house via the internal staircase. Anyway, I turned my attention from benches to storage boxes and found this timber box in a neighbouring town for $50. The storage space which a box affords is an added bonus to the original purpose of providing seating.

I will provide a final update at the end of the month.

Monday Mending

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I have a pair of jeans that were bought in 2012 and are becoming rather thin. This is particularly evident at the inner thighs and the tiny hole is becoming larger.

Although they are no longer my good jeans I still wear them regularly so decided to try my hand at patching them. I have patched jeans previously but usually with no consideration to the aesthetic as they were only for wearing in the garden. This time I was aiming for a better looking result.

This is what I had to work with.

2 patches cut from some denim offcuts.

Double-sided interfacing ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric patches.

Patches ironed onto the inside of the jeans.

Two rows of stitching around each patch to secure them.

I then turned the jeans to the outside and using a tight, wide zigzag stitch I stitched over the hole and the worst of the thin areas to reinforce them.

The view on the inside.

All finished.

Once they are washed these will be ready to wear again. After 9 years of consistent wear the jeans are getting a bit thin all over but I think I have extended the life for a bit. One or two years, perhaps? I don’t know but I do know that it was worth 20 minutes of my time and a small quantity of materials I had on hand to make these jeans wearable again.

Buy Nothing November

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As per the title, it is Buy Nothing November. Have you heard of it? It is the pushback against the mega-retailing phenomenon known as Black Friday.

Black Friday (the day following Thanksgiving in the United States) sales started to become popularised as a day for retail sales in the 1980s. This insidious spread of rampant consumerism has now spread its tentacles to the UK and Australia as well as other places of which I am unware. Of course, online retailing has jumped on the bandwagon in a huge way, too.

I found out about Buy Nothing November via The Story of Stuff on Facebook. Their actual post is copied below.

The Story of Stuff Project 

Welcome to #BuyNothingNovember! For years, the Story of Stuff Project has been actively promoting Buy Nothing Day, the alternative to Black Friday. But the holiday season, in general, has an outsized impact on the planet, so this year we’re expanding the call-to-action for the entire month of November. Throughout this month, we will be sharing facts and figures about the link between consumerism and climate change, and the ecological crisis at large. Refusing to buy new, nonessential goods is a direct-action protest against the corporate conglomerates who are destroying our home. Apple, Amazon, Coca-Cola — these companies are only allowed to be so large because we give them permission, with our dollar. It’s time we show them who is really in charge here. #BuyNothingNew

We generally keep our buying of stuff to a minimum and are certainly not enticed by the crazy Black Friday sales. I had no prior knowledge of this particular month and we track all of our spending so it is going to be quite easy to see what stuff we actually buy during November.

One third of the month is almost gone so it is probably time to review what stuff we have bought.

I am not including groceries and fuel which are both consumables nor ‘experiences’ such as gym fees, dining out and entrance to entertainment venues.

We have purchased and brought 3 things into our home. They are:

A pump for a 20 litre drum of chemical. It took a bit of research to find where we could source one but we succeeded.

A new lockable door handle for the freshly painted door between the garage and the workshop area.

A small bundle of fabric from the thrift shop. I have already used most of the orange fabric and the remainder will be used up as I continue making Boomerang bags.

I am pretty pleased when I consider how little ‘stuff’ we buy.

Spring has Sprung

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Here in the southern hemisphere it is springtime.

The romantic ideal of spring promotes images of renewal, growth and new beginnings, however, the reality can be somewhat different.

We have very few deciduous trees in our climate so we enjoy being able to witness the changing seasons through the liquidamber tree in our garden. Here it is looking magnificent and covered in new leaf.

Spring serves to remind us all that we never know what is around the corner.

In the past 6 weeks we have had wild thunderstorms, ferocious winds and a couple of heatwave days all interspersed with some glorious and moderate weather. The extremes and sometimes violent weather events are becoming more frequent as the climate changes.

A couple of days ago we heard creaking and cracking. Upon investigation we discovered that a couple of the lower limbs had come off the liquidamber tree. I suspect this was as a result of the wind we had experienced in recent weeks.

Time to clean up the debris.

Being prepared is not just something for the Boy Scouts. We should all be prepared for whatever might happen. Whether it is driven by the weather, linked to the pandemic or of global origin out of our control, there are plenty of things that could immediately and suddenly disrupt our comfortable lifestyle.

As the seasons change we need to prepare ourselves for the shocks that natural and other events may have.

Storms and bushfires are our main threats in the coming months. If you are in the northern hemisphere and approaching winter, what are your risks? Blizzards? Storms? Flooding?

I am interested in what your seasonal risks are and how you prepare yourself and your family.

Take care and stay safe, wherever you are.

Wrapped Up

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I have made salad wraps for our dinner tonight as we will be out of the house and between events.

Wraps are a great portable alternative to takeaway. An added bonus is that you can tailor-make them to meet individual choices and dietary requirements and there are no unknown, hidden ingredients.

In order to make this a totally waste-free option, I make my own wraps which are simple and gluten-free. The recipe is here.

Today the fillings include a spread of refried beans topped with mushroom and cucumber slices, leftover quinoa salad, grated cheese and a little mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce.

The rolled wraps are the rolled up diagonally in greaseproof paper and can be eaten by unfolding the paper from one end.

What is your favourite portable meal or snack? Is plastic-free? Love to hear your ideas.

Production Line

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When making Boomerang bags I do not simply make one bag from start to finish as I try to use my time efficiently.

Today I cut out, hemmed and edged 50 screen printed pockets.

Then I added a prepared pocket to each of 32 bundles which include a pre-cut piece of fabric for the bag as well as a pair of prepared handles.

I am not about to make 32 bags in one go but it is now a simple matter of grabbing a pack and making a bag without having to find and cut material as well as choosing fabric for suitable matching or contrasting handles.

These are all made from used doona covers, sheets, pillow cases, cushion covers and curtains.

Upcycled Packaging

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My last couple of posts have focused on avoiding packaging when grocery shopping. While avoiding packaging and waste is ideal, we still need to consider all potential waste and whether there are other options for it.

Upcycling is one of the strategies for removing items from the waste and recycling stream.

I would not buy Pancake Shaker mix but I ended up with a container of it which had come from my mother’s pantry. I decided to use it rather than waste perfectly good food but was then left with an empty plastic container.

I decided to cut it down to make a scoop.

After marking the proposed cutting line with a felt-tip pen I then carefully cut it with a Stanley knife. These are the 2 pieces I ended up with.

The offcut will go in the recycling and the scoop will be handy for GMan when measuring our flour during his breadmaking adventures.

There are many opportunities to reuse or upcycle all sorts of packaging. Do you have any examples?

Zero Waste Shopping

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One of my passions is reducing packaging. My life is far from totally zero waste but I do the best I can. That is all that any of us can do. What works for me may not be an option for you.

I buy most of my dry goods – seeds, nuts, flours, spices etc from bulk bins at Simply Good. It means that I can buy as much or as little of a product as I wish without any packaging.

The shop is about 50km from home so I do not pop in every other day. In fact, I generally shop there about 3 times/year and always combine in with a trip in the same direction (usually to Brisbane).

Tomorrow is the day as I am running low on several staples and I have a dental appointment in Brisbane. So, I have made sure the containers are clean and labelled. You can use the lightweight plastic bags provided at the shop, however, I choose to take my own bags, or better still jars.

The staff are happy to pre-weigh the jars before filling them and then the weight is deducted at the checkout. For this to work accurately the jars do need to be labelled.

When I arrive home it is a simple matter of placing the jars in their correct location in the pantry and I fully restocked until next time.

Do you try to reduce packaging? Do you have any tips or tricks for minimising packaging when grocery shopping?

Back to the Beginning

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One of the very earliest posts I wrote for this blog was about folding plastic bags. It was back in 2011 and you can revisit the post here.

As part of my sustainability strategy, I reuse everything as many times as I possibly can. Even though we do not intentionally acquire any new plastic bags they do seem to accumulate. This is due to several factors, including other people giving me things in plastic bags, the longevity of the bags and finally, an enormous number of both new and used bags that have resulted from cleaning out my mother’s possessions.

Plastic bags are not the only ones that I seem to have. There are also paper bags. I know that these can be recycled and/or composted but it is still better to reuse them where possible. I give consideration to the resources that have been used to generate these bags and feel that they deserve to be used as many times as possible.

I seemed to have different types of bags stored in various locations in my home so I recently decided that there needed to be a better and more co-ordinated approach. Hopefully, this will assist in ensuring that what we have can be easily accessed and used as required.

Additionally, the bags I use every day are in the kitchen drawer – ziplock bags and reused bread bags as well as lightweight plastic bags hanging in a dispenser in the laundry cupboard.

I made the new dispenser as the old one had really seen better days. All of the materials were recycled bits retrieved from my stash.

Finally, I created a small pack of bags for the glovebox of each car. A few small ziplock bags, paper bags, lightweight plastic bags and a small foldable carry bag all contained in a medium ziplock bag. The plan is that this will cover all possible unforeseen contingencies when we are out and about.

I am happy with my new arrangements and keen to gradually reduce the quantity of bags in the household through natural attrition rather than wholesale disposal or recycling.

Designed By Me

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Today I made a new peg bag for my laundry trolley. The last one was about 15 years old and worn out. It also also had some serious design flaws – yes, it was another of my creations. At least I was willing to learn from the shortcomings.

This is the old one once I had removed it from the trolley. Once upon a time the fabric was navy and the buttons were red.

I sourced some heavy gauge wire from GMan’s collection along with some wire cutters and pliers to fashion the approximate size and shape of the hanger for the bag.

This piece of heavy cotton fabric was an offcut in my stash and seemed perfect for the purpose.

The hanger shaped and completed.

The next step was to make the bag. Note the mitred corners to create a boxed base. This was an improvement which resulted from my experience of making Boomerang Bags.

Stitched onto the hanger.

Filled with pegs and ready to use.

A closer shot to show the hanger over the handle of the trolley.

I have not specifically mentioned Plastic Free July this year, however, making/upcycling/refashioning things we need is one way that we minimise our use of plastics and other resources all the year round – not just in July.