Gone From the Office

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Tonight I decided to get rid of more stuff I can do without.  My office is still the area where there is significant excess stuff.

First, I tossed a pile of ‘scrap’ paper which I use for writing shopping lists, menu plans and so on.  I realised that there was no way it would ever be used up so into the recycling it went.  I still have a small pile of used A4 paper for using in the printer as well as 6 notepads.  They are more user-friendly than what I recycled which included blank pages from diaries back as far as 2006.

Next I did a quick sweep through the filing cabinet.  It is far from finished but I did cull a lot of stuff.  2 books to the op shop bag, then the cards, piles of old catalogues, fliers and brochures (mostly gardening) from 5 – 10 years ago went into the recycling.  I am not sure how they managed to escape previous culling sessions but it just goes to prove that just because you have decluttered an area once that it is done for all time.  Things tend to creep back in as well as our needs and interests constantly evolving.

2 plastic sleeves have gone back into the stash of sleeves, 1 bulldog clip and 2 Post-it notepads will go to work (I use them there but not at home).

I intend to move something out of my home everyday this week.

Till next time.

New From Old

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A couple of weeks ago, in this post I outlined what I was planning to do to rejuvenate an old bed.

Firstly, I covered the mattress in plastic, using one of the heavy-duty bags that was packaging from the new mattresses.

I stitched it to fit using my sewing machine.  It was a bit awkward but I was happy with the result.  Here is a close-up of the stitching.

Then I trimmed the excess plastic and set to making the fabric cover.  I made it so that it fitted neatly and at the open end I made a velcro fastening.

2012-01-29 03Here it is on the bed and you can see the straps which go underneath to secure it.  I don’t want to find the mattress at the other end of the verandah after we have a storm.

2012-01-29 04The straps are elasticated so that they easily slip over the ends of the frame and hold the mattress snugly in position.

All I need now is some nice warm days to invite me out to use my new creation.

Mend & Make Do

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It is a sad indictment on our current Western society that we have to be reminded to consume less with the catch-cry of “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle”.

2011-12-08 01One of the most important ways to consume less is simply to repair what you already have.  For some things this requires a degree of lateral thinking and sometimes it is nearly impossible, but we should try wherever we can.  When buying a new item it is important to give consideration to whether or not it is likely to be able to be repaired or is it designed to be thrown away as soon as part of it fails.

Repair would have been the first (and probably only) option available to our forebears 50 – 100 years ago.  If something no longer functioned you fixed it with whatever was to hand as they did not have the option of tossing it aside and getting a new one.  This was due to a variety of factors, including isolation, availability of replacements as well as cost.

Most of us have lost many of the skills needed to maintain and repair household items.  This has mainly been due to the accessibility of relatively inexpensive replacements as often as we wish.

2011-12-08 02This week I took one of The Duke’s belts to the bootmaker to have the rivets replaced.  This is a quality leather belt that will last many more years so it made good sense to have it repaired rather than throwing it out (to landfill) and buying another.  A new belt would probably be made overseas by someone who is not even paid a living wage.  You also need to consider the environmental cost of transportation to Australia, the raw material and the resources used in creating the item.  Instead, I have supported a local business, used 2 rivets and created no packaging by carrying it to and from the repairer in a re-usable bag.  It cost $5 to repair and now has many years of wear left in it.

Although I had to outsource the mending of the belt, there are plenty of things we can repair at home.  I have mended 3 pairs of socks this morning instead of throwing them in the bin.  I hesitate to call it darning as that would significantly devalue the handiwork of generations of women before me.  At least my efforts close the offending hole and extend the life of the socks.

2011-12-08 03What do you repair ?

Rubbish Revealed and Reviewed

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Many aspects of organisation and sustainability could probably fall into the ‘sexy’ category.  They are fun, presentable and generally OK for public discussion.

But underpinning all of this is rubbish.  The stuff that gets shoved into garbage bags bought specifically for the purpose, then dropped into the ubiquitous ‘wheelie’ bin and dragged to the kerbside.  A truck lumbers past, the automatic arm grabs the bin and upends it into the depths of the truck.  We are relieved of the detritus of our lives for the week and will do it all over again next week.

It is time to get down and dirty.  This photograph shows the bag of rubbish for 10 days from our 2 adult household.  267 grams of waste for 10 days – that is less than 15 grams per person each day.  It is not zero waste and I am not sure that I will achieve that anytime soon but I do work hard to keep our waste to an absolute minimum.

Here are the contents of the bag.  Let’s examine what is in it.  You will probably have a hard time identifying some of the items so I will help you out.

2 pasta packets – I refilled the jar containing pasta in the pantry.  I am using up my stock but I will be making my own pasta with my pasta machine once the existing supplies are used up.

Foil tablet sheet – there is one each month from essential medications.

Foil pack from cat medication – one every 3 months from worm/flea treatment for the cat.

Non-recyclable lids – I always recycle any plastic bottles but as far as I am aware the lids are not  suitable for recycling.  I must check and see if this is still the case.

2 pairs of broken glasses – these are a one-off thanks to The Duke getting rid of some clutter.  I send any OK glasses to be re-used in Third World countries but ones that have broken are no use to anyone.  Check with your local optometrist for information about the recycling program.

Silver foil wrap – this is what was removed from the balloon topiary stands when I recovered them last week.  The new covering is recycled brown paper made from carry bags.  The bows are scraps of fabric from a recycled dress.

The rubbish bag is packaging from a parcel I received.  This will be sealed with a rubber band before I put it in the bin.

There are also assorted other small bits which I cannot easily identify but by now you get the picture – very little goes to landfill from our home.

We only put our bin out every few weeks or if there is something that would be unpleasant to leave for any length of time.  This means that most weeks the truck does not need to stop outside our property.  This saves fuel and the noise of the constant starting and stopping.  Consider putting out your bin only when required rather than every week through habit.

TO BE CONTINUED – There are so many other things I want to say about rubbish but I will save it for another day later in the week.  In the meantime I would love to hear you thoughts about rubbish and how you deal with it.

A Recycled Bus

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We generally prefer to choose our own itinerary when travelling rather than going on organised group tours.  However, group tours are sometimes the best (or only) choice.  Yesterday was an example.

When we were planning this trip I decided that I would like to go to Cape Farewell, the northernmost point of the South Island in New Zealand and the adjacent sand spit.   We chose to stay here at Pohara on Golden Bay.  I checked out options for seeing the area and found that while individuals could take private vehicles to the base of the spit (about 30 km in length), the only way to go out along the spit and see the lighthouse was to join an organised tour.

Farewell Spit Eco-Tours have been doing these tours for 60 years and we were lucky to go with John who has been doing these tours for about 25 years.  His knowledge of the geology, history and birds of the local area was amazing and he was an entertaining guide also.

So, what is an eco-tour?  My idea is one where due care is taken of the fragile environment which we are visiting as well as respect for the history.  This certainly fulfilled my criteria and we even travelled in a recycled vehicle.

2011-10-28 01This coach was originally a ‘crash truck’ for the New Zealand airforce.  It has undergone numerous re-incarnations over a period of more than 50 years and was a satisfactory and fun transport for our tour.  Rather than spruik the wonders of the latest and greatest fleet  of ‘state-of-the-art’ coaches, John was very proud to tell us of the history of the vehicle.

2011-10-28 02When we reached the lighthouse precinct we were treated to a delicious afternoon tea of tea, coffee and muffins at one of the  lighthouse keeper’s cottages.  Catering is the area where so many supposedly ‘eco’ events fail but not so here.  The coffee was served from plungers in china mugs, the muffins were most definitely home-made and once we had finished, everything was packed back into the boxes to be brought back on the bus for washing and replenishment.

It was great to see recycling and eco-tourism in action.

The Recycling Trail

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I read Rhonda’s blog at Down to Earth today about recycling and her suggestion that we link together our innovative recycling ideas.

While recycling is good it is even better to refuse and reduce as your first 2 options.

A lot of the things that we have re-used or recycled her at home are no different to what others do so I have tried to add a couple of more unusual ideas.

Here is my shower cap and a piece of elastic that I salvaged from a dress that I refashioned into a skirt.

The elastic edging on the cap had completely given way so I revamped it using the salvaged elastic.

I made this soap dish from the base of a 2 litre milk bottle.  The diagonal ridge in the base helps to keep the soap dry.

An old school desk has become an occasional table in the guest bedroom.  Decoupaged by Missy when she started high school.

002Cardboard boxes for storing things….a shoebox for stationery items in the office.

Stationery moduleAnother box for newspapers in the kitchen.  I use the newspaper to wrap scraps for the compost.

I will keep the camera handy tomorrow and hopefully capture some more recycling/reusing tips for another post.