16 September 2014

Charity and the misuse of plastic

Last weekend I was walking to the train station. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I was on my way to visit a friend. My joyful walk was interrupted by a billowing pink form moving across the street. It was a plastic bag that had escaped from a mailbox put there by a charity clothes collection. It was not the only bag that I encountered on the walk to the station. I picked up five bags! It was disheartening especially with the proximity of this street to a river. Not to mention the grumpy mood these wandering bags put me into.


The clothing charity company, like other charities, has good intentions. They want to take unwanted clothes and sell them on for money that will be donated to those in need. The plastic bag creates ease and convenience so people like me will participate. All they ask is that you put your clothes into the bag and leave on the door step for collection. I only walked along one street that day and I wondered how many other streets had pink plastic bags floating about that had the potential of ending up in the waterways close by.

I give away clothes frequently and I know a plastic bag is not necessary.

“Overall 525,000,000 bags are delivered across Britain annually, or 2,625 tonnes of them. Yet only 3% of bags are filled and left out on collection day. As a result, 509 million bags or over 2,500 tonnes are not used for their intended purpose." Source 

As I sat on the train with a big ball of plastic bags stuffed into my handbag it got me thinking about charities and the misuse of plastic.


There was a recent charity drive by a group in the CBD. Each year I give money to this group and take away a little pin (made of plastic!) that ends up sitting with pins I bought from previous years. But this year I decided to not take the pin and left my money only. The man was baffled and was looking through the his paraphernalia to give me something, anything. I explained that I did not need anything in return. He straightened up and smiled at me, thanked me for my donation and I went on my way.

There are many charities that ploy a donation with the promise of pens, hats, fake noses, bags/pins, wrist bracelets, toys, sweets...the list goes on. If we keep going at this rate we will need just as many charities raising money to deal with the pollution as a result of our thoughtless choices. I don't mean to come across as attacking charities for their hard work and dedication. I simply think there is a better way and ultimately this also falls to us, the people who donate.

Truth is, the tokens would probably end up in a junk draw. Prized for a few a weeks then tucked away.

How can we know where these products are made - the impact they had on the environment or a community during the production process. Not to mention tha one day be removed from that junk draw and make a journey into landfill to sit for who knows how long.

This is not charity. This is mindless pollution.

I ask you that when you are passing your hard earned cash or goods over to a group in need, ignore the temptation to seek a physical reward or follow convenience. Mention that it is a waste of resources and that they should not give out products that will never go away. The act of giving is enough. The earth will be better off and so will generations to come.

Jumping off the soapbox,
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11 September 2014

Sustainable clothing line Jacob & Esau invite you to Meet the Maker

Recently my brother and I had a conversation about my lifestyle. He made a valid point that I need to meet people halfway. For instance some may want to live sustainably but the thought of buying second hand clothes is not appealing and find buying only local limiting. No one wants to be limited and I don't ever want anyone to feel limited on their path to sustainability. It got me thinking about local and what it means in our ever expanding world. That is why I was interested to meet Jacob & Esau an Australian sustainable clothing line that invites you to Meet the Maker.

I heavily promote buying local if people don’t find joy in an opportunity/thrift shop. I realised my stance, had good intentions, was slightly ignorant. Turning my back and forgetting the conveyor belts of fashion fed from unsustainable brands that litter our malls and streets was not fair. It was neglectful. I questioned how I can make a change beyond boycotting all overseas fashion goods. Instead I have decided to celebrate the pioneers who are putting their heart and soul into setting up companies overseas that promote ethical business models, supporting their workers with fair wages and providing opportunity for men and women to work a skilled job with dignity.

The talented and forward thinking founders Joanne Yu and Esther Chin of Jacob & Esau want to take it a step further by inviting the shopper to meet the tailor who made their clothing. Each item will carry a code which the wearer can key into the Jacob & Esau's website to learn about the person who made the item. The feature is called Meet the Maker. It reminds me of what it would have been like in the days when you knew your tailor but with digital edge. A simple and kind idea that makes a garment sewn timezones away feel local.

Jacob & Esau do not plan to engage large manufacturing factories, but instead source from garment makers of whom they desire to invest their time and money in. At the same time, they can ensure fair treatment and wages of the people they employ. The last thing they want to do is take advantage of the cheaper costs resulting in less than desirable conditions of the workers. They are determined to be different from the norm, even if it meant that they would need to pay more and not have a short turnaround time to have garments made.

Their aim to use natural fibers over synthetic, allows for longevity through wearability and the life cycle of the garment. Meaning it can be layered (due to breathability), worn for many different occasions (for example as casual daywear then over time for exercise and even as pyjamas as the garment loses it's 'newness'!), used as rags or cleaning cloths and then finally broken down naturally in landfill. This is my kind of thinking.

They support a local textile supplier in Bali whose primary source of cotton is from the neighbouring islands in Indonesia. They stock quantities on site, which allowed them to purchase the fabric on the spot rather than importing it from other suppliers. This minimises the carbon footprint left from shipping and transport.
The first line will be made by a Balinese married couple, Kholil and Wiwik. But before these two talented tailors get started a donation is necessary to kick start the dream. Already Jacob & Esau have raised $6,295 and need $15,000 to launch their summer collection. Let's help them!

J & E has an exciting vision for the future of sustainable fashion and need the support of people like yourself to have our first ethically produced collection made Pozible!

Visit www.pozible.com/jacobandesau to help turn this dream into a reality. I have a feeling Joanne and Esther are setting the foundation that will help turn the fashion industry around and bring about more respect to the people that make clothes. Making clothes is no easy feat and the people who do this deserve to be rewarded fairly for their hard work.

If you would like to know more about their story jump to their website, www.jacobandesau.co and watch their gorgeous video. Ah, it is super inspiring. Don't forget to share this post with your friends.

Terima kasih,
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9 September 2014

DIY natural homemade plastic free deodorant

DIY natural homemade plastic free deodorant

I am going to let you in on a secret...I don't really wear deodorant. What I wear for a deodorant is a popular question I get asked when anyone discovers I don’t purchase items housed in plastic and prefer a zero waste life. The question is asked with good reason too as standard deodorant comes in plastic packaging. Read on to find out my DIY natural homemade plastic free deodorant that is also zero waste friendly and get to know your pits.

I have tried home-made deodorant using bi-carb soda as a base, tailoring with coconut oil or coco butter and essential oils to form a paste. There have been attempts of straight bi-carb on the pits and a bi-carb/tapioca mix. Sadly none of these worked for me. I found my underarms would break out in a red rash. And if I am breaking out in a rash that is my skin telling me to back off and use something else.

But let’s wind back and talk about armpits, sweat and smell. Because it took me learning about how this area worked to believe that my own deodorant recipe would be OK and not render be friendless.

Armpits are made up of sweat glands and hair. The area also generates heat and would explain why you see people fold their arms and put their hands near the armpits on colder days. The sweat glands produce sweat throughout the day. If you are exercising then you will produce more and sitting still will mean less sweat production. Many different factors can affect body odor like diet and genetics but there is one thing that we all have in common that creates a smell; bacteria. It’s completely normal so don’t freak out. But the best way to help eliminate smell is to wash really well. I wash thoroughly in the shower with soap and a wash cloth each morning. I also wash under my arms after I brush my teeth in the evenings too.

Previously when I used regular deodorant I did not pay that much attention to washing my armpits and no doubt did a lazy job. After all I had deodorant that I purchased to deal with that any smell.

DIY natural homemade plastic free deodorant

Sweat does not smell - it is the bacteria that causes the smell. Simply by washing your armpits thoroughly you will find that using homemade deodorant successful. Even though the hair is there to help eliminate odor under the arms, most ladies (and even gentlemen) shave the hair and regular shaving does take away that layer of bacteria too. But you still need to wash with a simple  natural soap.

After I finish washing, I pat dry the area and apply my one part apple cider vinegar and one part filtered water deodorant. Yes, that’s all there. I keep it in an old spray bottle that I had. You could easily put this into a bottle and splash it on old school style. The apple cider vinegar is bought in bulk and the water…well that just some from my tap. Apple cider vinegar helps balance pH levels of skin so it is a gentle and effective number to keep on hand. Plus most bulk food stores have this item in stock.


DIY natural homemade deodorant recipe:

½ cup apple cider vinegar


½ cup filtered water (boiled water left to cool completely)


Put into bottle and shake. 


I then dab on my perfume which is usually a lush essential oil from Perfect Potion (my fave is Umi at the moment) and go on my merry way.

When I began using this mix I let one of my girlfriends at work know and asked her to tell me if I ever smelled off or weird. It has been five months and all is going well between the pits.

This formula has an EWG rating of 1 (hooray!). Meaning no weird chemicals are getting into my body like the usual shelf bought products.You can read here about chemicals found in most deodorants. Plus who knows what kind of chemicals leach out of plastic and into products I used to buy. Oh and it is really, really cost saving.

I would love to hear if you use homemade deodorant and tell me in the comments below what worked and what did not? If you liked my post please share and lets have some love for the pits.

Smelling good,
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8 September 2014

Just for fun

I thought I would partake in a questionnaire passed on by writer Mandi from Dreaming Fully Awake. Let's get started....


How important is music in your life and why?
I like music. I like it as a creative outlet. Every morning I wake up to music and will have a dance off with my man for fun. But to me it is not myworldwouldend important. I might not listen to any music for months and then have a couple weeks where I am not seen without my earphones. My necessity for music goes in waves. I think it was more a necessity when I was younger. Right now I am in a music wormhole with Patti Smith, Lana del Rey, Talking Heads, and Alabama Shakes on high rotation.

What is your fondest childhood moment?
I have boxes and bundles of fond memories from my childhood tucked away into the memory bank. My childhood was pretty rad. I grew up in a small country town with state and national forests on either end of the Shire. The beaches of the beautiful South Coast were not far away too. My grandparent’s sheep and cattle farm featured heavily and was the ultimate playground. There were many adventures, days of dreaming, playing, creating and laughing. It was idyllic and I am grateful for the childhood my parents worked hard to give me. I became good friends with a girl that lived next door leading to a lifelong friendship with her family that has spanned decades. Our fathers put a gate in the fence so we children could get to each other without scrambling over the fence when we were little. I am fortunate to still count them as dear friends. When we get together we often unravel a memory or two with a smile.

What are your three essential items that go everywhere with you?
Refillable water bottle. A hair tie. Money.

What is one book that you would recommend to someone else and why?
The Story of Stuff would be the book I would thrust onto anyone who was looking for a book recommendation. In fact, I wish this book was on the school syllabus across the country. It explains where everything we buy comes from and the mass effects our daily spending can have on people right around this earth. It is a wake-up call we all need.

What is one of your annoying habits?
Daydreaming. I can get lost in a thought and not emerge which is annoying if you want to get my attention. Not having my phone on me constantly is also an annoying habit for family and friends.

Where is your get away when you want to hide from the world?
The movies. There is something so indulgent sinking into a seat in the dark and being swept into a story with a room full of strangers. For a few moments as the credits begin to roll at the end I feel connected to everyone in the room because we had the experience together. It’s comforting.

If you could go to dinner with someone dead or alive, who would they be? And why?
My friends and family. I don’t have idols as such. There are people I like that have done great things and are famous for those actions, but on the whole my loved ones, the ones I know will make me laugh would be the ideal dinner guests.

Do you have a routine for switching off for the night, if yes, what do you do?
I have never been someone that had trouble sleeping. Once my head hits the pillow I fall to sleep pretty quickly. If on the odd occasion I am struggling I will read a couple pages of whatever book is on my bedside table. Right now that would be Pushkin selected poetry.

What is your favourite movie?
This is tough. I don’t think I can pick just one as it depends on my mood. Stealing Beauty is a fave... Friend Green Tomatoes, Billy Elliot, Bridget Jones Diary, Little Women, Thelma and Louise, Raging Bull, Forrest Gump, The Sound of Music, Anne of Green Gables, Dr. Strangelove, My Fair Lady, Doctor Zhivago, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dances with Wolves, Annie Hall, Out of Africa, Legends of the Fall....nope, this is too hard. I could be here for days. 

However my favorite TV shows is easy - Parks and Recreation. 

Where is your dream get away place?
Right now my dream get away place is the Faroe Islands or Greenland…this list could go on.

What motivates you to write?
There is no real motivation other than I simply enjoy it.

Happy Monday,
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4 September 2014

My top movies about plastic that will change your life

I love movies! All types of movies…well except horror. If I watched a horror movie I would not sleep for a week. My favourite genre (aside from period dramas…) is the eco documentary especially to do with plastic free living. Here is a list of my top movies about plastic that will change your life – plus two I am excited to see this year.


movies about plastic

Bag it

This movie was the one that really got the Builder to understand why I decided to give plastic the boot. The movie follows Jeb as he stops using plastic bags leading him to question the role of plastic in his life. It is a humours and relatable documentary that will leave the you thinking that giving up plastic is not that hard.


Addicted to Plastic

Addicted to Plastic explores the creation and lifecycle of plastic, highlighting environmental consequences across the world. This is an in-depth look at plastic and how we have indeed become addicted to what we have been made to believe is a necessary item. 


Trashed

I have reviewed this movie previously. From the opening scene I was struck by unease and guilt as mountains of trash were displayed on the screen. Like Addicted to Plastic the movie visits many different countries exposing problems our trash is posing and the stories of people who are looking to make less trash. This was a movie that reinforced the idea that I can make a change no matter where I live. Plus it is narrated by Jeremy Irons...who doesn't love Jeremy?!


Plasticized

The land around us is not the only place plastic pollutes. Plasticized takes a journey with 5 Gyres to understand the extent of plastic pollution in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a harrowing look at how forgotten the waste we create on land has the biggest impact in our mighty oceans.


Tapped

Anyone can see that the water bottle industry is booming. I stopped drinking bottled water years ago and if I was looking to convenience someone on the idiocy of bottled water I would show them this film. The documentary makers created an inspiring insight into the world of how plastic water bottles are made and where the water actually comes from while exploring the social, economical and environmental risks of what most would deem a seemingly harmless item.


The Clean Bin Project

Ah, the movie that sparked my journey to become a plastic free warrior. My whole world was shaken upside down by the tale of Jen and Grants experiment to not create any waste for a single year. Like Bag It this movie will have you laughing along with the pair as they go against one another to see who can produce the least amount of waste. Their journey is commendable and will have you thinking that you too can take on the challenge. I won't tell you who wins, so you will have to watch it.




There are two exciting movies that will be out this year. 


Divide In Concord is currently screening selectively and I have not yet seen it made available in my city. I am waiting for it to be made available over Amazon or another provider. From The Waste Up will follow a group of people as they try to give up plastic. The movie is due out this year and I know they are still seeking funding so jump over and donate.


Movies are powerful mediums that have the ability to change and spark ideas. It did for me. Please share this list with your family and friends. Let's get a plastic free revolution going!

Pass the plastic free popcorn,
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2 September 2014

Try a sweater comb to look after your fave knitwear

No matter what type of clothing you have there is a 99% chance your fave item will end up with those small, close to microscopic balls. You know, pills. This does not mean you need to throw out your sweater or pass it on to charity because of pilling. Try a sweater comb to look after your fave knitwear. 

Try a sweater comb to look after your fave knitwear

Pills are not the most attractive accessory. Those little balls are the result of fibres that have broken away from the thread and rubbed with others fibres to become a ball. You might find they appear more prevalently in places where your garment rubs. And if you are an Op shop/thrift store lover or clothing exchange fashionista don't let those little balls stop you from picking up that second hand cashmere top or festive christmas jumper.

Sweater combs are super easy to use and these plastic free wooden options will have your clothes pill free in no time. 

Try a sweater comb to look after your fave knitwear


Try a sweater comb to look after your fave knitwear
If you don't want to invest in a sweater comb try using a razor with extreme care and delicacy. Another way to decrease the risk of pill is to hand-wash garments that have a higher percentage of natural fibres or wash them inside a wash bag on a gentle short cycle.

Just because an item pills does not mean it is defunct or cheap. Looking after clothing will help it last longer and continue looking great.

What tips do you have for removing pilling? 

Sounding like your grandma,
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A shout out to Melbourne readers - The Clothing Exchange is hosting their Spring Swap next Monday 8th September. I will be there with dresses perfect for spring. For more information visit the Clothing Exchange events page for details

28 August 2014

Green Reads: One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein

Green Reads: One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein

I love calling on my friends for book recommendations and very rarely will any of their choices fall flat.

One Magic Square is one of them and has become my go to for garden inspiration. The friend who told me about this book has put together an impressive suburban garden that feeds her husband and baby daughter each season. Seeing the success of her backyard I knew this book would live up to my friends praises.

The book focuses on growing a variety of plants in one (magic) square meter – ideally great for those with a small plot of land to toil. Lolo Houbein provides ways to maintain an organic garden utilising her thirty years of expertise with her easy to understand eco tips. Following her book I have found getting a garden established easy.

The standout component of the book is the twenty plus suggested plots you can grow. Plot ideas include a soup plot, summer salad plot, stir-fry plot, pasta and anti-oxidant-rich vegetables to name a few. These ideas are illustrated so newbie gardeners like myself have a visual guide to layout the plots. This is super handy as I have learnt that some vegetables don't do too well next to other vegetables. Want to keep bugs away using natural methods? the book covers this also. And if you need recipe inspiration for your bountiful harvest, the book has that too.

If you are like Lolo and want to take back control of the food you eat then this book will help and inspire the green thumb in you.

Garden love,
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26 August 2014

Drying herbs - Rosemary

Drying herbs rosemary

This last weekend I spent time in our garden. There was the usual chores of turning the compost and removing weeds from garden beds. Some winter plants have come to the end of their life cycle signalling spring is not far away. Time was spent thinking about what I will plant for spring and how I can become an efficient gardner.

One way I can become a cleaver gardner is by choosing plants that I use often and remove those that I won't use over the next two seasons. One such plant is rosemary. I LOVE rosemary. It is my best friend in winter. But I doubt it will get used for much except tea and the occasional cocktail over summer. I decided to remove it and try drying my own herbs for the first time. This way I can use it for tea and other summer refreshments - and the plant does not go to waste.

I simply pulled the plant from the earth, shook the dirt off and tied string around the stem. 

Drying herbs rosemary
Right now the rosemary is hanging in our hallway, adding a sweet smell to the air as it dries. In a month the rosemary will be dry and I will crush it up, housing the contents in an old repurposed glass bottle.

I have a fun project coming up on the blog for plastic free teabags (uh-huh there is plastic in your teabags) and I plan to include a tea recipe from the rosemary I am drying.
Drying herbs rosemary
There is something calming about taking herbs I have watched grow and drying them. It is a satisfaction that I never got from buying herbs prepackaged in plastic bags or with plastic lids. This new process is nourishing, kind and familiar.

Have you dried herbs? What is your favourite herb to dry?

Happy Thursday,
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