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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Supermarkets Here Are Up to Something

As you know, my eco-warrior friends and I have been campaigning outside our local Countdown supermarket each weekend for a couple of hours with our reusable bags, trying to get people to buy bags from us, prompting them to bring their own and generally just being a reminder about plastic bags not being good. 

Japanese exchange student Kotori helped us with our bag campaign

Well a few weeks ago we were excited to hear on the news that Countdowns nationwide will be quitting plastic bags, as from 2018! Not only was that great, but only a week after that New World supermarkets announced that they too will quit plastic bags from 2018. That is pretty much all of our supermarkets, as the one other chain already charges people for plastic bags.
The supermarkets have plans for providing reusable bags - New World plans to give away thousands of free bags over the summer, and Countdown has dropped the price of theirs to $1.

We have been so excited by this because our government was pathetic, they wouldn't issue a nation-wide ban. Good news there too - we've just had a change of government to a more eco-minded one, so we are waiting to see some positive changes for our environment.

The announcement has brought about a change of attitude to what we are doing too. The girls report that instead of our bags selling slowly - they are now flying out - they've been selling 3-4 times as many.

We've had some media promotion for our Boomerang Bag making recently (got our picture in the local paper), and one spin-off was that yesterday I got to talk to a group of Girl's Brigaders, who are embarking on making produce bags for their families.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow 

Another positive from New World supermarkets has been their Little Garden giveaways. This is the second year that they have given away these cute little pots of lots of different types of seeds.



The only non-biodegradable part is the wee name card - provided you didn't buy their stupid plastic watering system. They make a nice change from the usual plastic ticky tacky toys they give out as promotions.
People have been loving them, and now that the promotion has finished, they have donated boxes of leftover seed pots to schools and kindergartens.



This is the celery patch that is growing from last year's starters. It's the best celery I've ever grown - with very little input from me.



Well that's all for this week, a bit of happy news, eh. It's Labour weekend here, when everyone traditionally swarms the garden centres and starts planting. Not us though - we've grown all of ours from seed (except the basil which didn't come up).  

Sunday, 8 October 2017

What to do with Pumpkin Skin and About Viscose.

Sometimes I have a collection of snippets that make their way into my blog - this is one such time, so sorry, it is a bit disjointed.

It has been a busy weekend, part of which was playing sax in a charity event after being invited to join a few others.






Viscose for cool playing
I had some idea that viscose and rayon were plant based materials, and being natural, were therefore breathable - which is important when I'm playing in the band as it gets really hot up there sometimes.
Having picked up a viscose top recently, I thought I would check. It turns out that these materials won't wick moisture away from the body, so maybe not so good if it's really humid (and you get really sweaty), but they are breathable.
They won't give off plastic fibres when washed, but the process to make viscose/rayon has a lot of chemical/processing - much more than say, cotton.
More earth friendly if it's second hand.

Is it called viscose, or rayon?

Great question. There is some confusion between the two terms. Viscose is actually a type of rayon, even though “viscose,””viscose rayon,” and “rayon” are often used interchangeably. What started as “artificial silk” in the late 19th century became known as rayon in 1924, with the name “viscose” coming from “a viscous organic liquid used to make both rayon and cellophane.”  Rayon is “the generic term for fiber (and the resulting yarn and fabric) manufactured from regenerated cellulose by any one of six processes.” Keep in mind that modal and lyocell, along with viscose, are also considered types of rayon.

Excerpt taken from www.barnhardtcotton.net

I also attended The Rubbish Trip presentation - which consists of Hannah and Liam, who are travelling throughout New Zealand talking to audiences in every city about reducing their personal rubbish footprint.



I recommend it if you are in New Zealand and haven't seen them yet.They have another 9 (?) months to go. I thought they were awesome, just love what they are doing.
It was practical, and having researched local places to buy packaging-free made it all easier for people.  
The presentation was well attended by about 100 people of all ages. 

Pumpkin Skin - do you eat it? We normally do, but a recipe that I used recently needed to have the skin off. Previously I would have just composted it - but this time I roasted it while cooking other things and added it to the dog's food. He was really pleased.
Timely for Halloween I thought - cook up any unwanted pumpkin - dogs love it.

Munta - really, he was pleased.




Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Jam Drops, Plastic-Reducing Wins

Life here is a flurry of music, bag making, gardening and cooking - not that blogable at the moment but day-filling all the same.

Last week Derek wanted to shout morning tea for his ex workmates (approx 50 people) and was going to buy it all. I said "no, I can do that" (thinking reduced packaging), so whipped up date scones, my favourite cracker recipe with cheeses, cut up rock melon and pineapple and made a batch of Jam Drops. All of these recipes are quick and simple, and are staples in my kitchen.

Jam Drops





This recipe makes 35.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C

1/2 cup of milk (I use 2 Tbsp milk powder and  1/2c boiling water)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
450g flour
250g butter
jam

Mix the milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add the baking soda, then cool.
Mix the flour and butter until finely mixed. The food processor is your friend here if you have one.
Mix with the sugar/ milk mix and stir to a firm dough.
Roll heaped teaspoonfuls in your hand and place on a baking tray. Poke a well into each one and fill with jam. 
A sprinkle of coconut over each one will stop the jam from boiling over.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.
I can tell you that if you forget to put the baking soda in - they will still turn out ok 😄

This recipe came from a lovely book - worth a look if you find it...

Beautiful photography, grandma-style recipes, wonderful garden and country decor.


Our team at Plastic Bag-Free Northland celebrate all plastic-reducing wins, and lately it seems there have been a few. Our local butchery, Omak, have told us that they've had a meeting and have decided to order in their own reusable bags and will be charging people to use plastic bags. They will also be actively encouraging people to bring in their own containers.
This is a result of many of us greenies shopping there, and management having just taken a Pacific Island holiday and being disgusted by the plastic problem they saw there.

Our Kamo Bin Inn now give me all the sacks that their bulk food comes in, and our Boomerang Bags group is turning them into reusable bags. They are woven plastic, but it's better than dumping them and they are strong.



A local food co op has asked if we can provide them with hundreds of these bags to replace the plastic bags they currently send out each week. It's a big undertaking, but worthwhile. I wish we had more people to sew, but we're working on it.
The Food Co-op send out five times this many bags each week

Our thoughts are with everyone around the world struggling to cope with the devastation from the previous storms and now Hurricane Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico. The world is struggling in so many ways. I can only carry on in my own small ways to try to help Mother Earth.💗💗
  

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

2 Movies, 2 Bargains and More

Viewing two environmental movies in one week could be somewhat depressing. For me, it just reinforces how we need to keep working away at reducing waste, cleaning up what we can, writing letters to companies and the government and voting wisely.
The first one we saw was A Plastic Ocean. We know the situation is dire, but this has us thinking twice about eating fish because of how much toxin laden plastic they have been found to be eating. 



The second was Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel. Some reviews that I have seen called him self promoting and gave this movie lower marks than his first, An Inconvenient Truth, but I admire him. He is a wonderfully passionate speaker and uses his time to draw attention to the environmental crisis.
It's good to see the bigger picture, and some positives in there too.
The current situation in Houston is one more reminder of how furious storms are becoming, and how devastating, as predicted in the movie. We watch the news and feel for the people there. 


On a cheerier note a couple of bargains from op shopping. I won't buy new if I can help it, so when our clock in the bathroom died, we tried to go without, but we both missed it. I decided to visit our local Habitat for Humanity shop (Every Sale Bangs a Nail) and found 2 possible replacements. As they had no batteries in them, I couldn't tell if they worked - but for $2 and$1, I bought them both. Well they both work, although one was so noisy we could hear it ticking all over the house (probably why it had been donated). I set to with some cardboard and wadding to the back of it for sound insulation and now can barely hear it.
Now that I've seen the time - I should be cooking dinner!


My other bargain that I found there was a set of Caran D'Ache soft pastels. I had been wanting to buy pastels for a while, so when I saw this barely touched set for $10 I snaffled them up. Online later I looked up the price of a new set - $266! (They are artist quality)

...And some happy news from the garden - our avocado tree has 35 fruit on it! They are around $3 each here at the moment, so we're very pleased.
Also after several attempts we now have sugar cane growing.
I have been on my 3rd bout of cold and flu, but Derek, bless him, has been working away to clean up our vegetable garden. Today we have picked up a trailer load of compost to top it up, and most of the seeds are in trays in our enclosed outdoor area, already starting to peek through. Roll on Spring. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Reusing Cellophane

Cellophane -(taken from ehow)
In 1908, a Swiss chemist, Jacques Brandenberger, was attempting to make a stain-proof tablecloth while working in a French textile factory. He coated the tablecloth with a viscose film but soon realized that no one would buy these "plastic" cloths. He did realize that this viscose film held other possibilities. Ten years later, he had developed a machine that would produce what he called "cellophane'"-- "cello" from cellulose and "phane" from "diaphane," which is French for "transparent." In 1919, cellophane was publicly distributed and, in 1927, the film was improved with a waterproof lacquer.

While most "cellophane" is biodegradable, still made from cellulose, some is not and is just made to look like it from plastic. I always check the packaging before buying.

Just because it's biodegradable, it doesn't mean cellophane shouldn't be reused, but normally after it's first use it is a crumpled mess. I have had a go at ironing the used cellophane under an old silk scarf - or I guess you could also use brown paper -  just a barrier to stop it melting onto your iron. I used a silk setting on the iron. I'm so delighted with how it came out! It has a new texture - not the same as new - more like fine leather. It looks new, but just a different product.

Used cellophane at top, ironed below (the pattern is on the ironing board)


More Bags

You know I'm all about making bags lately so I wanted to show you some materials that I've sourced from our band's drummer, who is a farmer. They use 500 of these calf feed bags per season and the big white bags are fertilizer bags. None of these are recyclable, although the farmers do reuse lots of them.
On one I have laminated some soft plastics, using my iron. I'm showing them to the Boomerang Bag girls today - I wonder if they'll love or hate them.




Finally, so that you know I don't just spend my life making bags and recycling stuff....here's a pic of our band playing this weekend just gone at the Bay of Islands 2017 Jazz and Blues Festival...

"Inertia" - yup that's me - sax player.
 

Friday, 28 July 2017

A Lovely Story that Made My Day

It's just a post to let you know I'm still here! I have just been doing more of the same lately, and sometimes inspiration fails...but I have a cute story, and something zero waste that I've made...read on!

Fresh from the garden


Last weekend as I did my two hour stint with reusable bags for people to buy at the local supermarket entrance ($1 each - bargain!), I had a local taxi pull up next to me. The driver hopped out and bought ten bags, then came back a few minutes later with a $5 donation to our cause. I told her that I would use her money to give 5 bags to someone who I thought would use them. 
Minutes later a young mum with two children was about to enter the supermarket, and when I asked if she would use these donated bags, she was really pleased to accept them. 
A while later she exits with her shopping - no plastic bags used and a big smile. Her young son asks her as they walked away "Mum what is that lady doing?"
Young mum answers "She's trying to stop people using plastic bags because they are bad for the Earth".
I've shared that story via our Facebook page tagging the taxi company - so hopefully Rose got to see it. It made my day.

Teabags are no longer something I buy, given that I can't trust who puts plastic in them and who doesn't. We've been using loose tea - which is far nicer by the way - in little metal strainers or teapots. But sometimes it would be convenient to have teabags - so I'm trialing how much hassle it is to use reusable ones. Here are my samples that I made from some silk remnants.



I'm not much into the garden at present - it's too cold and wet. But the price of veges at the moment! I'm sometimes surprised by the amount of produce that I can round up, by walking about outside...Limes, oranges, guavas, avocados, kale, spinach, some stray broccoli that grew by itself, rhubarb, plus there is more - lemonades, spring onions, lemons, mandarins, herbs. We are very fortunate.




Friday, 14 July 2017

Volunteer - It's Rewarding!

It took me a few years into my (early) retirement to be ready to get out and turn up for the causes that I'm passionate about, and it came about by accident really. 
One day I was writing letters with suggestions for environmental change - and the next I found myself working alongside a dedicated little group to promote a plastic-free market, then added in helping to run a community sewing group, as one thing lead to another.



I have got so much more out of these groups than I have put in. I've met some fabulous like-minded people, and had loads of positive feedback, plus I'm working to change things that are important to me.
A few weeks back our local volunteer organization held a promotion in the city to showcase all of the local groups who are looking for volunteers. The marquee walls were lined with opportunities to give a little time in a plethora of different ways - anything from gardening to preparing food to sewing banners or volunteer firefighting.

That's not me in the pic - thanks Trish from Volunteering Northland for the pic


I thought how wonderful these opportunities would be for the bored or the lonely or the unemployed or the depressed.


 Today I have just offered to join a nation-wide group who harvest fruit that is going to waste and redirect it to people in need. The group also preserve or freeze fruit, or turn it into jams and chutneys to give away. I'm looking forward to meeting a whole new bunch of people and  new experiences, and even less housework getting done.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Bag Lady, Ball Gowns and the Benefit of Hoarding

Ball season is upon us in NZ, with school balls costing parents an arm and a leg.
Katie had her second school ball last weekend, which of course required a different dress to the year before. Last year's dress still hangs in the wardrobe, despite listing it for sale.
I discovered a shop in Albany that hires out new gowns. They are still expensive at around $120 to hire, but generally half the price of a new one, plus they handle the cleaning of them. A much more environmentally friendly option too.
Katie found one that she liked, but it had a bare area over the breastbone - somewhat immodest for a 16 year old. I found a motif that I already had that worked perfectly, hand stitched it on and removed it prior to returning the gown.





Bags, bags, bags - that's what I've been making for the past week or two.
The first lot is to help a fellow zero waster who is running a conference and wants to include reusable produce bags with one topic of the conference covering environmental sustainability in the Early Childhood Education area. She wants 250 bags! So I have been busy with my overlocker and net remnants donated by our local curtain shops.
I've also had requests from people to make produce bags - one was a young mum needing chemical-free material. I whipped her up some made from damaged vintage sheets and a tablecloth from my stash (how can you let those lovely vintage materials go?) and she was delighted with them.



The other set was for a young lady in her early twenties. This young lady works in a supermarket and has got the produce manager to agree to stock reusable produce bags! (I gave her a link to commercial ones, I'm not making those) I find it really exciting that there are so many youngsters coming on board with zero waste.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

More Plastic Bag Free Roll-out

Do you love social media? I'm not into all of them, but blogs and Facebook and Messenger I love.
One Facebook group that I follow is Journey to Zero Waste. It has 46,800 worldwide members. How heartening is that?! It's a closed page that you ask to join, and your comments or posts are only shown on that page.

I have met like-minded people via some of these sites, just recently someone from nearby as passionate about reducing plastic in our city as I am. 
She's joining us with our Grower's Market project - we are planning to make enough produce bags for the biggest stallholders to put items in for those people who insist on a plastic bag for items that then go into their reusable bags - go figure! Thanks Pania!


Curtain samples - fortunately most of the remnants were not in this form

Our local curtain shops have been great - donating remnants of nets and sheers for us to sew up. We're going to make the bags big enough to hold a whole cabbage, with no drawstring top.

The Supermarket Project  

We've had two weeks now, spending 2 hours in front of our Regent Countdown supermarket, encouraging people to use reusable bags. After the first 20 minutes we decided to start keeping a tally of who shopped with what, so that we could log progress.
Both weeks were very similar in numbers. Japanese student Kotori came to help us last week, making a beautiful neat tally.



The figures showed:

95 people used plastic bags including 11 people who left with just a single item in a plastic bag.
20 people used reusable bags
2 people had a mix of both
23 people left with no bag - just carrying the items

and we sold 42 bags on the first day and 53 on the second Saturday.

Now that might not seem like a lot of bags, but if they are reused for their estimated lifetime of 100 uses, that's 9,500 plastic bags saved.

We were delighted that the supermarket manager came out to see us as we were finishing up - saying that he's happy for us to continue past our month's trial! 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Ngunguru

Today we visited the little coastal village of Ngunguru (pronounced Noong uru), to check out their new little market in their community hall, and go for a walk.



Ngunguru is on the Tutukaka Coast, about 25mins drive from Whangarei, the nearest city. It's becoming a popular place to live, with young families and retirees making it a lovely community.
There is a definite arty element among the residents there.

Ngunguru Bach


The market was thriving - lots of knitted toys and handmade soaps, food stalls, a vege stall, handcrafts, pickles.
 
Ngunguru market


One of the things that I love about the Tutukaka Coast is that they have embraced plastic-bag free, and the shops there will provide alternatives. It is an environmentally conscious area, even so, I was impressed by brunch being served on a biodegradable palm leaf plate, with bamboo cutlery at the market.



There is a sandspit that protects the area from the open ocean, which after lots of protest by locals, was saved from developers and protected by the government as a wildlife sanctuary.
The local school children use the estuary as their swimming pool in summer for school swimming lessons.

Ngunguru Estuary, Sandspit in the background

Thanks to Derek for some of the photos - his are usually better than mine!




Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A New Project

Monday mornings are to be celebrated by those who have jumped off the mainstream workforce in my opinion. So happy to have my man along on those good times now.




This is Frogtown beach, a short drive and a 2km walk from home. We had it all to ourselves and enjoyed a glorious late Autumn morning there. We picked up a shopping bag of plastic and such, which makes it a walk with result.

I'm excited to say we have a new project on the boil for Plastic Bag Free Northland. We've had approval from the Countdown Regent supermarket manager to have a stall at the supermarket entrance to promote reusable bags and to promote their soft plastic recycling bin that is in-store.

My newly painted signs. The background mountains are the view from Whangarei Harbour

We have a month's trial starting June, and it will be very interesting to see what kind of response we get. At present there are very few reusable bag users at that supermarket - we want to change the trend.
We are not using nice handmade bags, as we just can't supply enough, but have sourced a supply of the ones made from recycled plastic, that should save at least 100 plastic bags each in their life, if used consistently. We do have calico ones too, but they are $2.50 each. 
I'll let you know how it goes.


Feijoas


Ah well, it's feijoa season again and I'm off to do something with all these...I have recipes for low sugar feijoa loaf, no churn feijoa icecream, and some will go into the freezer for later in the year. 
I'm delighted that my guava moth traps seem to have worked, we've had no bugs in any of our fruit this year.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Refreshed post Travel

After 3 weeks in Tasmania and Melbourne, home's still a great place. I'm so grateful to have a home, having seen how many homeless people are out there. It's not really something we see in my local city.

My first discovery was on the plane. I wasn't fully prepared to deal with the disposables on the plane, but had taken my own water bottle, which can be filled pre flight once checked through security, and my reusable cup. Both of these were useful on the flight, with the flight attendants cheerfully filling my own cup for a hot drink. Next time I will be taking the plastic cutlery we were given as I would have been able to refuse these on the Qantas Flight, they didn't come automatically with the meal.


Tasmania has banned single use lightweight plastic bags since Nov 2013 and it was such a delight to see so little plastic in use. Why can't every country do this? I traveled with home made carrier bags, and used them every day.

Op-shops in Australia are fabulous! It is hard to tell them from an actual retail shop - beautiful, colour coordinated window displays and no op-shop odour. Lots of designer clothes. Good prices too.

My $5 leather bag


I learned to use the macro setting on my camera while I was away. This shot is from Nelson Falls in Tasmania, also the video..

Moss, macro shot

video


We visited the Van Gogh exhibition in Melbourne. We were able to get up so close to the masterpieces. I found it thrilling to be able to stand in front of each piece, not only admiring the work, but knowing that van Gogh himself had stood in front of each of those works all those years ago. He would never have imagined their impact on the world. 

Derek has the best shots ever


I loved this quote of his...






Thursday, 20 April 2017

Musings on Travel and Blogging

Driftwood screen
The above pic is one of two screens I whipped up to cover the utilities in our carport when we were expecting lots of visitors, and it is an area they need to walk past. 
I thought it was good use of a couple of free pallets and some of the many fine pieces of driftwood we have accumulated. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think better than looking at the rubbish bin and worm farm etc.

This post is going to be a bit of a mix, as my head is in preparation mode for our imminent trip to Tasmania and Melbourne, where we will be holidaying with my siblings and their spouses.


Travel is not environmentally friendly, and it makes the little things we do to help the environment seem like a drop in the ocean. Never the less, we will continue to do them, and use the travel as an opportunity to learn more. 
I'm looking forward to visiting Tasmania, where I understand they have quit plastic bags in many parts. 
I have my reusable bags packed. I also managed to stop the travel agent giving me a plastic folder and more plastic luggage tags.

Why Blog?

With some of the bloggers that I follow deciding to stop blogging (and then starting again when they missed the outlet and their online friends), I thought about why I love my blog - here are a few reasons...(none of which are for money)

1. Just for myself - so I can find my own recipes and references - I've used this heaps. I can log my own progress too.
2. So that one day, should my daughter or step kids ever want to find a recipe or heaven forbid - even find some of it interesting - it will be there. I would have liked to have something like this from my mum.
3. A surprise aspect has been getting to chat with other lovely bloggers.
4. Maybe I'll inspire someone.

OK, the next blog will be when I get back - so until then - so long.

 






Thursday, 6 April 2017

The World's Best Cracker Recipe

Pretty intriguing title huh. My friend Di sold me on this recipe with some she had made - better than anything you can buy.
The recipe comes from The Australian Womans Weekly, a recipe from Wendyl Nissen. It is so simple to make, makes about 3 packets worth of crackers, and they keep, perfectly crisp in an airtight jar for weeks (If you don't eat them all first).


Knackebrot  -  Swedish Crackers

220g wholemeal flour
220g rolled oats -wholegrain if you can
2 tsp salt
150g sunflower seeds
75g sesame seeds
75g linseed/ flaxseed
40g pumpkin seeds
700mls water
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 130 degrees C

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the oil and water.

3. Oil a large oven tray (I actually use 3 trays, to get it thin enough), and pour the mixture onto the trays.

4. Spread as thinly as possible. I put a piece of wax paper over it and use my hands to spread the mixture out evenly. Don't leave the paper on there though.

5. Fan bake for 15 mins, then remove from the oven and cut it into pieces. (A pizza wheel works well here)

6. Bake again at 130 degrees until golden and crisp - around 1 -2 hours, depending on the thickness of your crackers, and whether you use fanbake or just bake. 

Oh bliss with blue cheese! Tell me if you make and love them!


How is it that a person can get to their fifties and discover simple things they should have been doing for years?

Please tell me if you have a bunch of things like these, that you think everyone else must surely already know. Maybe one person will not already know these - I'm writing this for you.

1. Lettuces keep way better in the fridge if you wrap them in a clean, damp teatowel.

2. Cucumbers keep crisp if you put them stalk end down in a jar of water.

3. You can wash and reuse silicone baking paper.

#3 is going to raise some comments from my daughter and the step kids about my frugality. I deserve this after making similar comments about my mother washing and reusing clingwrap. At least I don't do that (because I don't use it). I try not to use silicone baking paper much because it's not biodegradable, although I hear there is now a biodegradable one available. Now at least it doesn't have to be single use.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

More on Books

You'll find plenty of mentions of old books in my blog posts. Books are a passion of mine, and collecting old books, a passion of my Derek.
I  was excited when I recently found this book in the library - Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Have any of you been to this iconic bookshop with such an interesting story to it?



It is an English language bookshop founded on Socialist ideals by eccentric American George Whitman, where poets, writers and drifters were able to find a free bed in exchange for working in the shop.
We are off to Paris later this year - and this shop is on my list of places to go.


There are a lot of books here for me to dip into - most of them very droll, but they harbor some interesting insights into the past, such as from The Saturday Magazine for 1839, a book made of the collection of magazine articles. There are diagrams of early electricity, tales of travel to exotic lands, examples of fashion and carriages.



I read an article about a young English woman servant, who after sailing for months to Australia, quickly married a man who turned out to be an ex convict, who hadn't changed his ways. Ah Australia - we Kiwis always tease the Aussies about their convict past.

An article on dental care gave a recipe for toothpowder  - 
2 parts chalk and 1 part well burned charcoal, or another using just ground cuttlefish. 
But I wasn't so keen on their ideas for filling teeth using creosote, metal and cement - hmm. 

Derek should have plenty of time to enjoy his books now - today is his last day of work. Early retirement starts at 4pm. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

I'm Working on Straws

It's not easy to go zero waste and to be quite honest, we'll probably never achieve it. To offset the bit of rubbish that we do make, we make an effort to work some environmental improvement of our own, such as picking up beach and roadside litter, trapping pests, removing noxious weeds, giving out reusable bags at the Grower's Market....and my latest one....

Targeting Plastic Straws 

When I started to search for solid paper straws, available in New Zealand, that wouldn't collapse on use, could be bought in bulk and weren't too expensive - I came up with nothing...until I found out about The Rubbish Whisperer.
I figured that if it was difficult for me, then bar and cafe owners would probably be pleased if someone found that for them.

The Rubbish Whisperer has since sent me samples and price brochures which I have made into a little pack with cellophane. I  have been dropping these into our local bars and cafes with it - three or four every time I go into town.
In the pack I have included a little information from The Last Plastic Straw which is an organization dedicated to ridding the world of plastic straws. The line that I use is that even if they don't buy into using paper straws, would they please consider adding a sign that says straws available on request, instead of putting them into every drink automatically. 



I point out that I'm not affiliated to the company - just concerned about single use plastic.
I've generally had a good response so far from the places that I have visited.
It's just a little step, but if some take it up, then my time spent will have been worthwhile. At the very least - it makes them think. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Something to Wake You Up and to Put You To Sleep

We don't drink a lot of plunger coffee here - but our visitors do, so we are often left with opened packets of ground coffee. They don't keep forever, so we have sometimes used them to make a body scrub, which is divine, but a bit wasteful too.

Lately I have started drinking Iced Coffees and find this a great way to finish off packets of coffee. I make a full plunger of strong coffee and let it go cold, then put it in the fridge - where it is good for several days. My iced coffee recipe is a large glass of ice cubes, topped with a scoop of homemade icecream, a little extra sweetener if necessary - pour the coffee over, top with low fat milk, stir and enjoy.
Small quantities of leftover plunger coffee get made into coffee ice cubes to go in the iced coffee too.


I reckon it's better than most ice coffees that I have tried from cafes.
I have some metal straws that I usually use, but this straw is special - more about it in my next blog post.

If I accidentally overdose on the iced coffee then sleep can be elusive.
Derek and I have just had our shared birthday, and as part of his gift, I found this cool little antique pot, then just had to make something to put in it.


Hence...
Sleep Salve

2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
2 Tablespoons of olive (or grapeseed oil)
2 Tablespoons of beeswax
15 drops of lavender essential oil
15 drops of cedarwood essential oil

In the microwave or a double boiler, melt the coconut oil and beeswax then add the olive oil and mix. Remove from the heat and add the essential oils and stir.
Pour into a suitable container and leave to set.
Apply a little to skin somewhere, such as hands or feet, to aid sleep.  

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Upcycled Beach Debris, Rolling out the Green Carpet




My Latest Upcycle

I loving reusing something that would have been just waste - so how about this:
When I ran out of nylon for my weed whipper, which isn't zero waste, but is better than weed spray around the house and garden, I spent ages hunting for a spare reel, but there was none.
Well we live out of town, so I looked around for an alternative - finding this lump of fishing nylon that we had picked up off the beach. It was the perfect diameter, so I wound it on to the reel - and it works perfectly well!

Putting beach debris to good use


Exciting developments on the local zero waste/ plastic bag free/ environmental front.
There has been a round of emails to gather all of those working and volunteering in these fields in Northland to get together to present a unified front.
There are quite a lot of groups keeping our beaches and roadsides clean, our events as low waste, reducing plastic bag use, helping our schools and businesses to reduce waste, encouraging small coastal towns to go single use plastic free, putting pressure on farmers and the government to clean up our rivers and working on better waste management in the North.
Isn't that fabulous? Watch this space.

As if that weren't enough! Yesterday, my favourite Bin Inn bulk store in Kamo, has decided to give all shoppers who bring their own containers a 5% discount, as well as giving away a free jute bag (with no plastic liner) to shoppers who spend over $50.
Then I stopped in at the Kamo butcher's to pick up my order (in my own containers) and I noticed that they have a huge roll of brown paper behind the counter for wrapping meat purchases. The lovely young butcher proceeded to tell me that he's turned into one of us - refusing plastic bags and receipts, and taking his trundler to the market. Change is a-happenin'.