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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvaged

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I make simple cotton boxer shorts to team with singlet tops for pyjamas and the elastic had given up in this pair.

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I intended to replace the elastic, however, they had been languishing on the ‘to do’ pile on my sewing table.  Rather than simply replacing the 2 rows of 6mm elastic, I decided to use this elastic which I had salvaged from some of GMan’s worn out underwear.

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The first step was to remove the remnant of the underwear fabric.

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The elastic attached to the upper edge  of the shorts.

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Then turned over and stitched again.

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The boxers are now ready to wear again with no extra cost and no wastage from the worn out underwear.  As a side note, the worn out cotton underwear makes fantastic cleaning cloths and dusters.

 

Two Becomes One

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As promised, this post is about making do and mending what you already have.

4 years ago GMan and I capitulated and both bought an iPhone.  I refused to pay $75 for an Apple branded case but felt that a case would definitely be a wise idea to protect our expensive investments.  We managed to pick up ones for about $20 each which are both a bit the worse for wear now.

A few weeks ago GMan ended up buying a new phone (not an iPhone) as his had clearly reached the end of its useful life.  I decided to purloin the old case so that I could use the good bits of both cases to re-create a decent case for my phone which seems to be going along without any problems.

This is what I started with.

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The pink case is mine and the plastic phone cover had broken and become detached from the case.  The black case belonged to GMan’s phone and although the clip had broken off the case, the plastic cover was still in good condition.

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So I removed the phone cover and re-glued into my case.

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The edging had also lifted from my case so I redid it with some duct tape.

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The end result is not particularly pretty and I have my doubts of the wisdom of the duct tape.  However, I have gained an insight into how simple it would be to make a new case from scratch and re-use the black phone cover.

Meanwhile, my next assignment is to make a pouch for GMan’s new phone.  I hope to get that done next weekend.

 

The Pantry Project – Part 2

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This is a follow-up post about my reorganising of the pantry.  You can read the initial post here.

Once again, there are no before photos which may be just as well because it was not a pretty sight.  My pantry has been been well-organised on previous occasions, however, a few things had conspired and it had spiralled out of control.

This version is a complete departure from my previous methods.  I have decided to group the jars by the type of contents rather than by size.  This means that all of the dried fruit is together, then several types of sugar, various flours and so on.  I will be interested to see how this works out.

Here are a selection of views of the shelves.  Not everything has been placed as yet and I still need to update the labels on some containers.

The top shelf has roasting pans, the dehydrator and pizza maker.

The next 2 shelves are primarily devoted to all of the ingredients which I buy without packaging and store in a selection of containers.

The lower shelf is the grocery items that I buy plus any home-made jam, chutney and sauce.  The breadmaker and food processor are also stored here.  Note:  The food processor was in use when the photos were taken.

The stockpot and tub containing the attachments for the food processor stand on the floor.  The paper bag on the far left is where I keep unrefrigerated vegetables such as sweet potatoes and garlic.

You may have noticed the 2 wire baskets under the shelves.  These are screwed to the underside of the shelves and roll out.  They are some of my favourite features of the pantry and I use them to store small containers.

The upper drawer is for spices and a substantial part of this organising was devoted to the spice drawer.  I have gradually been collecting an assortment of glass Vegemite jars  for storing the spices which I buy from a bulk store.  The jars are about 4 different sizes so I have chosen to utilise them according to the amount of each spice that I generally keep on hand.  They are now labelled on both the jar and the lid for easy identification.  There are still a few more to add.

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The other drawer has yet to be sorted out.

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One of the results of this job has been to locate various items that needed to be used up and identifying a few things that I will never buy again.  I try to avoid recipes/meals that incorporate huge numbers of ingredients that are outside of my regular selection and stick to basic ingredients that can be used in many different ways.

 

 

 

Re-Purposed Boxes

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I am not a great fan of re-purposing as I feel that some people use it as an excuse for not trying to reduce the stuff (particularly packaging) that they acquire.  However, sometimes it is impossible to to gain items.  This was the case recently when my birthday gift from my work colleagues came in 3 matching cardboard boxes.  They looked too good to simply put into the recycling so I put them in the cupboard with the vague notion that I may be able to reuse them as gift boxes as they had no visible brand name on them.

Today I needed to pack up my sewing as I was going to a production day for our Boomerang Bag group.  I keep all of the sewing threads in a small plastic basket but it was not really easily transportable as it does not have a lid.  Additionally, the basket was overflowing, thanks to several reels of thread that had been given to me recently.

Thank goodness for the boxes.

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The threads fitted easily in 2 of the boxes and I put the box of bobbins as well as scissors, pins etc in the third box.

The slide-on covers mean that things could not fall out during transport.

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I have decided to keep the threads in the 2 boxes on the shelves in my sewing room.  The other notions are back in their regular places and the third box is available to transport them on future occasions.

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The small white basket at the far left of the shelf is identical to the empty one which previously held the threads.  I will probably rearrange things of some of the shelves and use it for storing other items.

The plastic baskets have stood the test of time as I originally bought them for dividers in the drawers of our bathroom vanity unit.  I subsequently replaced them with some straight-sided containers which were a better fit for that space.

Something from Nothing (Almost)

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About a week ago I made Thai Beef Salad for dinner.  The first step was to marinate some thinly sliced beef which was done the day before.  I did not not have a recipe for the marinade but it did include lime juice, olive oil and fresh chillies.

On the night I quickly pan-fried the beef before adding it to the salad.  The meal was truly delicious.

However, the essence of this post is the residue that remained in the pan.  After dinner I added a cup of water to the pan and heated it gently to lift the remnants of beef marinade.  This resulted in a rich and tasty ‘stock’ which I allowed to cool and then froze.

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Today I thawed this to make gravy.  All that was required was a sprinkle of herb salt and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot blended with a little water and I had a delicious gravy.

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A simple yet tasty meal – sausages with mash, peas and carrots topped with gravy made from last week’s pan residue.

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