22 May 2015

No Plastic and Zero Waste Cheek Tint

No Plastic and Zero Waste Cheek Tint, that you can use as a lip colour too. You betcha. And all you need are two ingredients.

Blushing. Something us redhead's are really good at, especially in summer. I don't wear much blush in the warmer months and if I do it's usually at night. But come winter when my freckles have gone into hibernation I like to add a rosy glow to my cheeks.

I have always preferred tints to powder blushes and this one I love especially. 

Plastic Free and Zero Waste Cheek Tint

1 Beetroot
Gin (vodka or a lemon can subsitute)

Method: Peel the skin off the beetroot and grate the beetroot into a bowl. Use your hands to squeeze the grated beetroot. This will extract the beetroot juice. Pour through a strainer collecting only the juice in a new bowl. Measure out two teaspoons of the juice and put aside. Add your gin (or vodka or lemon). I usually add 1/8 teaspoon of gin to 1 teaspoon of beetroot juice. Then store in a bottle.

I store mine in an old essential oil bottle with an orifice dropper. You could use a glass roll on bottle too like I use with my homemade perfume.

No Plastic and Zero Waste Cheek Tint

To use: This depends on the type of vessel the cheek tint is stored in but it's pretty straight forward. With my bottle I tap one-two drops into my palm, then dab onto my cheeks. 

Gin and vodka are preservatives. I don't really drink vodka so rarely have it in the house, so I put gin in mine. If you can't tolerate alcohol you could use lemon juice. My cheek tint will last for three months. 
How to tell if your cheek and lip tint needs replacing? The best way to tell is to check the colour. If it is still rosy pink, it's going great. If it has turned a darker colour then it is best to get a new batch going. 

And for those wondering what I do with the grated beetroot you can rest easy knowing that I store it in the freezer and use it to make yummy borscht. 

Rosy cheeks,

19 May 2015

No Plastic and Zero Waste Hibiscus Lip Cream

A soft pink hibiscus lip cream with no plastic and is zero waste. This is my go to recipe.

No Plastic and Zero Waste Hibiscus Lip Cream
Over the past two years of being plastic free and making my own makeup, I have tried many different ways to create a lip cream using natural products that I can buy in in my own containers. It has been interesting with some wins and a couple loses.

I love hibiscus tea. It is a sweet tea with a deep red colour. Over a cup of said tea I wondered if it might be my answer to making a lip balm that gave my lips a colour that was natural and eco friendly. I experimented first with grinding the leaves to a powder but that made such a mess in my kitchen and the result was a grainy lip balm. Then I decided to try a much more simple method that I have now used successfully over the past year. So I thought i'd share it with you.

Plastic Free and Zero Waste Hibiscus Lip Tint

2 tablespoons cocoa butter
1 tablespoon beeswax grated
1.5 tablespoons almond oil
1 teaspoon hibiscus tea

Method: Steep the hibiscus tea in hot water to draw out the colour. I usually leave it to steep for an hour. Remove the leaves and measure out 1 teaspoon of the tea water and set aside. Melt the cocoa butter and beeswax together. I use a double boiler (example below). Add the oil and mix together. Pour the 1 teaspoon of hibiscus tea in and with a fork start whisking everything together. You will need to move quickly and stir for at least five minutes. Once it looks like the colour is dispersed evenly through the mixture and not sitting in little red beads, pour into a container and pop into the fridge for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes has passed pull the container out of the fridge and with a chopstick (or something similar) stir vigorously to create a whipped consistency. Put it back into the fridge for another 10 minutes and repeat the same process. Once you are happy with how it looks, let it set. You don't need to put it back into the fridge to set.

I call it lip cream because it feels like lip stick...I just could not get it into stick form because I don't have a lipstick container. So lip cream it is!

No Plastic and Zero Waste Hibiscus Lip Cream
Because I am going into winter I have not added as much beeswax. You can adjust the measurements of the cocoa butter, beeswax and oil to suit your climate. If you have made a batch, let it set and found it too hard or too soft the next day you can put it all back onto the double boiler or pan and add either more beeswax or more oil to make either harder or softer.

No Plastic and Zero Waste Hibiscus Lip Cream
The lip cream is super nourishing and adds enough colour without being overwhelming. The ingredients last for up to a year, but if you are anything like me it will disappear fast.

Has anyone tried to make their own homemade lip balm/cream/gloss/lipstick? Did you add colour? If so, what colour and where did you get it from?


15 May 2015

Zero Waste Questions - what you have always wanted to know

A little while ago I shared the Zero Waste Bloggers Network that I had been invited to join. It is a growing group that talks all things living zero waste. We share obstacles encountered and provide support to one another. It has been wonderful connecting people from around the globe that are passionate about reducing their trash. 

One of the members came up with a list of questions for us to answer across our blogs. These are the type of questions we have all been asked in some form when people learn about our life style choice.

Zero Waste Questions - what you have always wanted to know...

1. How and why did you switch to a zero waste (near-o waste) lifestyle?

When I decided to begin a zero waste lifestyle I had been actively living plastic free. Living plastic free eliminated much of my waste already so making the switch to a waste free lifestyle was a seamless transition. The two lifestyles overlap in so many areas. So if you are daunted with the prospect of going zero waste I suggest reducing your plastic intake first.

2. Since when are you pursuing a zero waste (near-o waste) lifestyle?

July 2015 – a year after I decided to go plastic free.

3. What are some of your favourite ways to avoid making trash?
  • Investing in reusable containers, jars and produce bags
  • Composting
  • Keeping reusable cutlery and a small cloth bag with me
  • Using the Bulk App (great to identify where I can buy unpackaged food) 
  • Asking questions like ‘do I really need this?’  
Zero Waste Questions
Zero Waste Questions

4. How do you have so much time to make all that stuff from scratch?

When I first decided to go plastic free I was spending a lot more time making sure I could continue to eat all the food I used to without any packaging. I used to stock my pantry with as many items I could get from the bulk store. It did take up my time trying to keep up with my old eating and cooking habits.

By the time I decided to go zero waste the way I cooked had changed over the year. Eating seasonal and local produce eliminated many meal options, and we eat a lot less grains and beans now. We no longer try to keep up with our old life.

Occasionally I put effort into a meal but frankly we are eating simple vegetarian meals or meat & three veg for dinner most nights enjoying the left overs for our breakfast and lunch the next day. How we eat has simplified significantly. Occasionally I will cook some beans or make a stock, and yes it does take more effort than opening a can of beans or buying premade stock in a cube. But it's really not that difficult. One upside of making your own meals, beauty and cleaning products is that many of the ingredients are multi use, so I could buy say tapioca flour for cooking and use it in my makeup too.

Making my own beauty products used to take a lot of my time too but that has changed. I have found things that work well, and now that I have practiced making them for over a year it is easy and takes no more than 10 ten minutes to make something like my mascara. It used to take me longer than 10 minutes to chose a mascara from the shops!

At the beginning I think it feels like everything takes so much time because it’s new and different. You are learning new skills, a new way of living. Like with anything new, it takes practice and finding what works for you. I am now probably spending less time than I used to before because everything is now a habit.

5. How much garbage do you/ does your family produce per week?

I live with two people; my boyfriend and a housemate. My boyfriend lives plastic free but has not subscribed himself to being a zero waster. Our housemate does not participate in either lifestyle. I don’t use any of the bins in our house instead I have a small box where I collect my trash and sort through it every six months. I have not added anything to the box for weeks but this week I added a small stamp from a package my mum sent me. Below is a photo of my first six months worth of trash.

Zero Waste Questions

6. Must be expensive to cook from scratch. Are you rich?

I am not going to lie – it was expensive at the start. In question 4 I touched on how my new lifestyle was a little overwhelming because part of me wanted to keep up with how I used to live. But over the years what we now spend on food has decreased significantly. I calculated that we are saving $60 a week on our shopping. When you take choice away it is a lot harder to spend money.

Because I have to take my own bags and containers my shopping is planned before I get to the farmers market or bulk store. I write down everything I need and assign a bag or jar accordingly. I can't roam the aisles buying things I think I might need because it's on sale. That alone saves so much money.

I have saved money in other areas like beauty and personal care products too. For example, replacing my tampons and pads for a cup and cloth pads has saved me $290 over the last two years. And my whole makeup collection would cost me less than $20 a year. 

7. What was the hardest thing to give up?

Junk food. Like proper junk food. Chips/crisps, chocolate, sweets, burgers, fish & chips, ice creams, takeaway - convenience food really. I still enjoy the odd fish & chips or burger, but will sit in and eat it on a regular plate. I no longer miss packaged junk food like the chips and chocolates mentioned above. I have not had a Tim Tam for two years and have survived just fine.

Zero Waste Questions
8. What are your compromise items (not zero waste but you still buy them)?

None. I don’t think I have one I can name off the top of my head. It is so much easier to say no now than it was two years ago. I suppose buying essential oils and rosehip oil because I can't buy those in bulk are a compromise. They come in glass bottles with plastic lids, all of which can be recycled.

9. What are your favorite Zero Waste blogs?

Paris To Go is probably my fave and I also enjoy fellow Aussie Lindsay of Treading My Own Path.

10. What’s one random fun fact about you?

I don’t know one…you can read ten here if you like.

Zero waste love,

12 May 2015

Upcycle an old scarf into artwork

We had an old empty picture frame sitting at home. The frame was already fitted with mounting and board, all I needed was something to put inside. 

I decided to visit the local Vinnie's (a second hand clothing store in Australia) to find a scarf or piece of material that I could put inside the frame. I snapped up an old pink and blue silk scarf for $2. The material was wrapped around the board and secured with old cork board pins that I had laying around not being used.

Upcycle an old scarf into artwork

Upcycle an old scarf into artwork
Upcycle an old scarf into artwork
This project could easily be put together with any type of frame. Many second hand stores, like Vinnie's, have old picture frames with matting that could be upcycled in a similar way to add affordable artwork to brighten the home. A fun rainy day project.

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6 May 2015

Plastic cards: what to do with old bank cards and other plastic cards

I take a look inside my wallet to see if bank cards, licences cards and gift cards can be recycled in Australia and if not, what is there to do with them. 

Plastic cards: what to do with old bank cards and other plastic cards
The last six months my wallet has seen plastic cards move out of my wallet and others have moved in. I have replaced my NSW state licence with a Victorian one, applied for a library card and removed a sleuth of old cards from past years hiding in various pockets. And I announced recently that I would be switching banks and superannuation funds where no doubt I will receive two new cards.

Some of you would have read a previous blog post about my attempt to get a library membership without a card. It was a failure. need a plastic card to drive a car or enjoy the ease of having access to my money without needing to carry it with me. It is pretty hard to be card less these days. Unless of course I move out to the bush...

In the past I would have chopped up any old cards and tossed them into the trash. I have never recycled any or knew you could!

I contacted my old bank to see if they offer a recycling program for old cards but was told that while they do not have one in place they were looking into it. And VicRoads have yet to get back to me about recycling old licence cards.

Plastic cards: what to do with old bank cards and other plastic cards
The cards are made of varying types of plastic, mostly polyvinyl chloride known commonly as PVC. While PVC is claimed to be one of the more harmful of all the plastics it can be recycled over and over without the need to add more materials in the process.

Depending on the card they can also contain lamination, microchips, magnetic stripe application, signature panels, screen metallic, pearl and glitter printing, foil stamping, holograms. Made How have a detailed description on the design and manufacture of plastic cards.

There is no information to  indicate what the cards are made of. If there is no information about materials or details about disposable procedures I'm stumbling in the dark to find a solution. For an item that features heavily in most Australians lives we should be encouraged to recycle them.

My first point of call was the National Recycling Hotline (1300 733 712). Their answer was simply that any plastic cards could not go into household recycling bins. There are two reasons why:
  1. Due to size and weight the cards could easily end up in the paper stream damaging the paper being recycled and harming machines.
  2. The cards do not have easy to identify indicators that would make it easy for the cards to be sorted into the different plastic streams quickly.
The only way around this would be if a large group of cards went into the kerbside recycling bins and could be picked out and sorted manually. And by large group I mean the thickness of a brick. I don't have that and really cannot imagine any of my neighbors accumulating that in their lifetime.

I have other cards like gift cards, an old library card, yoga membership card and customer loyalty cards. And none of the the companies I have contacted could provide me with the information I needed to know if recycling is an option.

In recent years bioplastics popularity has surged and more companies are getting on board. And why wouldn't they? Offering gift cards or customer loyalty cards made of biodegradable material is an easy way to add a green tick in the environmentalists eyes. But without detailed instructions on how to dispose of your bioplastic card there is a chance it will end up going into a kerbside recycling bin due to the word bio having an affiliation with being eco. And I explained before that unless they are placed in a recycling bin in large quantities the cards, bio or not, will likely end up in the paper stream. Communication is key - the responsibly cannot fall completely on the consumer and this is an issue way beyond the cards in my wallet.

With the knowledge that most cards are made of PVC plastics (which is vinyl) I decided to contact the Vinyl Council of Australia hoping they could assist me (seeing how the card providers were without a clue what to do!). The Vinyl Council of Australia were particularly helpful. They admitted too having similar frustrations there was not a company that could take back plastic cards. Ideally it is up to the companies that passed them onto me. Vinyl Council of Australia did indicate they are working to put together a country wide recovery scheme that would work with banks, major retail stores and other card providers. They see the environmental and economic potential to collect cards here in Australia encouraging the recovery of materials that will allow for new cards to be made locally rather than import cards from overseas that ultimately end up in landfill. I asked them to let me know when this will be available - so watch this space.

So, I have not found a solution.

In the US there is a company called Earthworks where you can mail your cards. They grind the plastic cards up and reuse the plastic for new cards. The same idea behind Vinyl Council of Australia's plans.

Right now the Earthworks website is under construction so I could not email them to double check what cards they do take.

Another option is to up-cycle them which looks like the only option I have right now. Our laundry door does not stay open on its own. I am thinking of wrapping the cards in fabric and using them as a door stop until I find somewhere to recycle them.

If you have any information for recycling cards in Australia put it into the comments below or send an email to the Vinyl Council of Australia.

Feeling deflated,

30 April 2015

My Dream

I walk past this building every day.

I have never been inside but am often gazing longingly through the window. The mixed business convenience store has nothing inside I want. I only peer through the window dreaming for what I wish it could be.

If the building went to sale tomorrow and at the same time I won the lottery – I would buy it. I’d quit my job and put everything I had into making this place a hub of massive plastic free and zero waste proportions. It would be a sustainability mecca for the western Melbourne suburbs.

Like No Plastic Fruit and Vegetables I would work actively to create a store void of plastic.

There would be no plastic bags. No plastic receipts. No plastic anything. I would aim to make it as natural as I possibly could.

The walls would be lined with wooden containers housing the staples sans any packaging. Flour (gluten and gluten free), rice, salt, sugar, quinoa, nuts, cereals, dried pastas, beans – the whole gambit would be housed there. And on the identification labels, next to the weight would be a detailed description of how the item is transported to the store, in what material and if the packaging is returned to the supplier for reuse or how it is recycled by my store.

There would be barrels of olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, tamari, almond oil, vinegar, tahini, nut butters and honey. If there is something missing, then the shopper can let me know and I will see if I can stock it.

Hard to source items would be available like tofu, olives, nori, soba noodles. Milk, yogurt, cream would come to us in glass jars that would have a 10c refund scheme. I wold sell butter unwrapped – just bring your container and tell us how much you would like. Cheese would come in wax without a sticky label.

And I would have a small range of broths frozen for people to take home in winter.

A collection of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit from local farmers would be available without those annoying plastic stickers.

There would be a counter with freshly made condiments and spreads like mustard, tomato sauce, jams and maybe even a Vegemite equivalent that people could buy with their own jars.

Oh and there would be a aisle of tea and coffee too.

On one wall there would be taps ready to pour alcohol. Patrons would visit with their growlers and empty wine bottles to fill with beer, wine, vodka, whiskey and any other locally made alcohol. The empty barrels would be collected and swapped by the delivery team for new flavors and blends – but never new bottles.

Then there would be the cleaning products. Safe and simple ready to go into reusable containers to take home. I would sell a collection of natural and locally made cleaning items too not made of synthetic fibers.

Bulk buying options for beauty products would be available. Rosehip oil, jojoba oil, select essential oils, cocoa butter, beeswax, massage oils, activated charcoal, clay and also suitable containers to put your homemade beauty into. Because sometimes it can be hard to find those. Customers could pick up a bamboo toothbrush too.

The store would own a truck, fitted out with bulk containers. Once a fortnight I would visit rural communities on the outskirts of Melbourne’s western suburbs allowing keen locals to buy items from the truck in their own containers like olive oil or vinegar or floor cleaner. The community would be so inspired they would start their own bulk co-op store.

Because this is Australia and our mornings revolve around brunch there would be a cafe within. It would be modelled off a venue in Berlin where I had a treasured dining experience, enjoyed not just because it was my brother’s birthday (that is a big contributing factor of it being a fond memory) but for the simplicity. Patrons would enjoy hearty vegetarian and vegan meals with no plates over $10.

A set amount of food would be made each day and if the meals ran out before the store closed then that's just the way it is. I would not over cater. There would be no food waste, everything would be composted and I would not offer take away unless the patron had their own to-go containers – this includes coffee. Nope, not even bio takeaway coffee cups would be available in this cafe. You either have to bring your own or sit down to enjoy your coffee. There would also be no straws available either.

Also, I would offer to take customers vegetable scraps for compost. It’s only neighborly.

It is close to the train station, has ample parking and is a stone’s throw away from a busy main street. I would have space for classes on plastic free & zero waste living and host local community groups.

Right now it’s just a dream,
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28 April 2015

The Ersatz Fantasia Project

Over the weekend I visited The Ersatz Fantasia Project exhibition at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, a fantasy forest of recycled toys, games and plastic products that would otherwise end up in landfill, reflects on the environmental impacts of our consumer choices. 

The Ersatz Fantasia Project
The main room is created to look like a magical forest. In the center is a tree covered with discarded plastics toys. Surrounding the tree lays garden with a path guiding viewers along, passing a bench made of teddy bears and by a fairy garden.
Words from the artist Rachael Hallinan  
The Ersatz Fantasia Project evolved when I realised how many material items my family of six have accumulated. I was particularly shocked at the number of toys my children had, and how quickly they outgrew or became disinterested in them. Not only that, but the majority of the plastic toys were either broken or had parts missing. This work extends beyond me as the artist. Community members, friends and family have contributed to the making of the work or donated materials. Many toys in this exhibition were also collected from charities which, not being able to offer them for sale, would have otherwise been forced to pay for their disposal. 

For someone who tries their hardest to avoid plastic walking into the room was overwhelming. I saw every object on its own. Had this exhibition existed before I went plastic free life I wonder if I would have seen each piece or would it have been just a colourful installation making a comment about plastic pollution. I also wondered what had happened to all my old toys. Is my childhood just sitting in landfill? And what will happen if I were to become a parent?

Fantasia Rules: Explore, look & find. Have fun, touch & feel. keep to the path, keep the toys in place.
Up the stairs there was a room dedicated to workshops with different interactive stations for groups to understand the deeper meaning of the exhibition. Downstairs one could easily loose themselves in their childhood but in the workshop I was firmly reminded that this exhibition is about the future. In one corner visitors are asked to take a rubbish bin and sort the items into how long they believe each item would take to break down. Children are encouraged to create sunflowers and tulips by up-cycling scraps of paper from books and magazines. There is a place to sit down and watch the migration of a plastic bag from a grocery store parking lot to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean in the mockumentary The Majestic Plastic Bag

It's an imitation forest or garden made of artificial, plastic toys. It is made completely of man made products, the manufacture and disposal of which causes harm to the natural environment that it is imitating. 
This coming Saturday visitors can join artist Rachael Hallinan to repurpose toys and create household items. Create colourful and eye catching objects for your home. No crafty experience necessary, just have fun learning how old toys you might usually throw out can become something new and delightful!
Date: 2nd May 2015
Time: 11am-12pm
Capacity: 20
Price: Free (but please book)
Ph 9294 6313

The Ersatz Fantasia Project is wonderful hands on approach to get conversations started about plastic and our consumer behavior. Thank you to the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum for inviting me along.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 24 May 2015 at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Lilydale.

For more information:

Feeling arty,
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P.S This is not a paid or sponsored post. I was invited by the museum and visited out of interest. If you have a exhibition in the Melbourne area or even rural Victoria that focuses on trash or plastic let me know so I can share it on Facebook.