Pantry Staples & Re-arranging

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Yesterday we made a trek of about 80km round trip to Simply Good to stock up on dry goods for the pantry.

The use of bulk bins means that I can buy items without any packaging.  I have used paper bags for a number of years that I reuse over and over again but have recently begun taking my storage jars and having the tare weight recorded before filling them directly.  This makes unpacking a breeze when I get home.

I decided that is was time to tidy the pantry and wipe the shelves before replacing all of the jars.  Here is the end result.

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One of the things that had contributed to some of the space seeming cluttered was the abundance of varieties of loose leaf tea.  I do not drink tea or coffee but GMan does, and of course we like to have it available for guests.

I have read of several people who choose to have a tea/coffee ‘station’ with all of the requirements set up together, however, I had never really considered this as a possibility until yesterday.

This open shelf and cupboard are above the oven and and immediately adjacent to the corner pantry.

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I relocated my small collection of cookbooks to the top cupboard and have made the open shelf the tea/coffee ‘station’.

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The bowl in front of the teapot contains the mesh balls which we use for single serves of tea as we do not buy teabags.  The cork mat next to the bowl is for the other plunger which was being washed when I took this photo.

This does not include the jug which lives in the appliance cupboard or the freshly ground coffee which is refrigerated.

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I am very happy with the result of this re-arranging as it frees up some space in the pantry and keeps the necessities for hot drinks together without cluttering up my bench space.

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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Boomerang Bags – Getting Started

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Some years ago I was introduced to a person whose first comment to me was, “What is your passion?”  I was absolutely floored and had no idea what to say.  I consider myself to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests but as for a particular passion – I think I just stammered something unintelligible.

However, I think I have just discovered something that satisfies my twin passions of sewing and environmental activism combined with a healthy dose of community action.  I did not realise when I first went to a meeting in December about this initiative, how satisfying it would be to be involved in this project.

When I was in Maleny this morning I picked up some pieces of fabric screen-printed with the Maleny Boomerang Bags logo.  This was the last hurdle to making a start on making the bags.

I had previously located and washed several pieces of suitable fabric, sourced the pattern and instructions and even had my sewing machine serviced.  It really needed to be done before I embarked on the numerous sewing projects I have planned for 2018.

Whilst I will use some production line techniques in the future, I made the first bag as a complete process from beginning to end.  This allowed me to understand the sequence and how I could streamline the construction of subsequent bags.

Here is the result.  The logo doubles as a pocket.

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There are 8 bags cut out and straps made so now I will be able to do a few at a time.

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This is barely a dent in the fabric I have earmarked for this project.

I am really excited about the launch of Boomerang Bags – Maleny next Sunday and am looking forward to contributing many more bags.

Boomerang Bags

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A few months ago I wrote this post in which I mentioned the fact that I was interested in getting Boomerang Bags started in Maleny.  Well, interest was as far as I got before life and other stuff got in the way.

However, others were a bit more pro-active.  The latest issue of the local newspaper, Hinterland Times, featured an article about 2 enterprising young women in our local community who have set up a Boomerang Bags group in Maleny.

Thanks to the article and the Facebook page, a group of about a dozen people gathered on Monday to discuss how to progress this fabulous idea.  There was lots of positive discussion and I came away with a renewed enthusiasm to be involved in this initiative which has the capacity to make a real difference.

I came home to check my freshly organised stash of fabric and found several pieces, several of them gifted to me, which will be perfect for making the bags.

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My job this week is to wash and iron all of the fabric ready for cutting out.  The calico at the front of the photo will be used for making the screen-printed Boomerang Bag logos which are sewn on the bags.

I am really excited and determined to see our small group have an impact on the plastic bag usage in our town.

If you are reading this and live in or near Maleny and are interested in being involved in any way or donating suitable fabric please let me know.

Here is the official Boomerang Bags website if you would like to set up a group in your community.

Instead of despairing the lack of action by governments, becoming involved in grassroots community initiatives like Boomerang Bags may be the way forward.  I believe we hold the potential to define our future in our own hands.

The Big 4

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When it comes to Plastic Free July and reducing your single-use plastics for the long-term good of the planet in general and the oceans in particular, there are 4 major culprits.

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Although they are the worst offenders, I think it is relatively easy to make changes to eliminate many of them.

In no particular order they are:

Coffee cups
Bags
Straws
Bottles

Why are they regarded as the biggest problems?

  1.  Volume – there are just so many used every single day.
  2.  Only used once in most instances.
  3. Lightweight – so they easily become unintentional litter which ends up in waterways and ultimately in the ocean.
  4. Unnecessary – there are easy alternatives.

What do you currently do and what can you change to reduce your usage of these plastic ‘nasties’?

I will address one of these items each day and today I will begin with coffee cups.

Australians have developed a love affair with coffee, and more specifically takeaway coffee.  Once upon a time we were a nation of tea drinkers and coffee was almost a special occasion drink.  Even more recently the norm was to go to a cafe and sit down with a cup of coffee.  However, the trend of grabbing a coffee ‘to go’ has become a national pastime and we are killing the oceans in the process.

Those innocuous paper cups are NOT recyclable, compostable or anything else.  They are rubbish, that at best ends up in landfill or at worst in the ocean.  This is because they are made of composite materials, including a layer of plastic.

The recent ABC television program, ‘War on Waste’ shone the light squarely on disposable coffee cups and the havoc they are creating.

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I am not a coffee drinker and fail to grasp what amounts to an addiction to coffee but you can still have your ‘caffeine fix’ without destroying the planet.

Simply take your reusable cup along to your favourite cafe and have it filled for you to take away.  Simple.  Easy.  We could very quickly eliminate disposable coffee cups.

Some cafes even offer a discount as an incentive to bring your own mug.  If your cafe is not willing to oblige you could vote with your feet and take your custom elsewhere as there are no shortage of cafes looking for your business.  Remember, conscious consumption can make a difference.

So, what is your coffee story?  Do you take a reusable cup for your coffee?  How it is received?  Do you get a discount?

 

 

Everything Good

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Tonight I want to share a find for ‘Plastic-Free July’ which officially begins today.

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We recently discovered a local business on the Steve Irwin Way at Glasshouse Mountains.  It is called ‘Everything Good‘ but if you drive this way you probably know it simply as the fruit and vegetable stall between Glasshouse Mountains and Beerwah.

The unassuming frontage hides a treasure trove of fruit and vegetables, much of it locally grown and some organic.  The majority is unpackaged, too.  The tables at the front offer up a variety of punnets of flower, vegetable and herb seedlings.  If you head out the back there is an amazing nursery with a great range of healthy plants.

When we were here a couple of weeks ago I noticed some ‘Boomerang Bags’ hanging up behind the counter.  Each time we have shopped here I get some positive feedback from the staff about my tulle produce bags.  It is lovely to feel that we are among like-minded friends when shopping at ‘Everything Good’.

Today we had a longer conversation with the gentleman who runs the shop and it is obvious that he is passionate about limiting plastic packaging so he has definitely won my custom.

Although they do not have a website, the link near the beginning of this post will give you a little more information about this great business.  I noticed on this page a mention of recycling punnets and pots so I will definitely be chatting to him about returning punnets for reuse.

We grow some of our own fruit and vegetables but it is fantastic to have a local business where we can source unpackaged produce without a battle.  Congratulations to ‘Everything Good’.  May there be many more similar shops in the not too distant future.

Are you committed to reducing your consumption of single-use plastics during July and beyond?  What are your specific plans?