21 August 2014

S'well Bottle: stylish refillable bottles

Ditching plastic water bottles and buying a refillable bottle is a big investment.

The bottle you buy will be an investment you make for a good many years. Don't think you have to settle for a dreary stainless steel bottle with no personality or a glass bottle with a silicone grip that would be better suited to a college student than you.

It's OK to look good and be environmentally conscious. Being sustainable and living plastic free can be chic. S'well Bottle think the same way too and I have a bit of a crush on their hand painted wood and textile collections....I think you will as well!



Non-leaching, BPA free and non-toxic 18/8 stainless steel, will keep my drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, holds an entire bottle of wine and part of the proceeds from each sale go back into the community.

I can't decide which one I want!

Staying hydrated,
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19 August 2014

Easy home-made mascara

My quest to find the ultimate easy homemade mascara has been just that: a quest.

There are fantastic store bought mascaras that are void of cruel practices and harmful chemicals while providing oomph to lashes. Unfortunately mascara packaging that can be recycled is non-existent in Australia. And even if I did have the option to use recyclable mascara the constant use of resources to make each packaged container and all the mascara wands did not sit right with me especially when I can reuse the same wand and container

I have toiled, mixed, melted and swirled a variety of home-made mascara recipes. I had found an OK recipe but was not 100% happy with it. I wanted something easy – something I was used too. With the various tutorials out there for home-made mascara I have discovered that sometimes a recipe requires tweaking to allow the end result to suit the individual.

So I persevered and finally, FINALLY made an easy home-made mascara that is perfect for my lashes and maybe even yours too.

Easy home-made mascara recipe

Adapted from here.

Easy home-made mascara


1/2 teaspoon finely grated soap
1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal
3 drops almond oil (can substitute for coconut or any oil you like)
1/8 teaspoon purified water

Method: Place your finely grated soap into a heatproof dish and warm on the stove (or microwave). I put my heatproof dish into a pot on the stove. As the soap warms up add the water then add the activated charcoal and oil. Mix together with a wooden skewer and pour into your designated container. Let set. Wash your heatproof dish and skewer for next time.

To use: Wet your mascara wand with a drop of water from the tap or use purified water. Rub across your mascara and apply to your lashes as you would normal mascara. The mascara dries quickly and there is no flaking. Hoorah! To remove use a wet wash cloth.

Easy home-made mascara
Easy home-made mascara
Easy home-made mascara
Easy home-made mascara

I have not had sore eyes but I imagine that if I got any of the mixture into my eyes it would sting considering the soap component of the recipe. I make a fresh batch every two weeks using this soap.

Currently I am using activated charcoal capsules. They are messy and I suggest putting down an old tea towel when you open them to get out the charcoal. They come in a recyclable container but I would love to try Ariana's tutorial on making your own activated charcoal. No packaging + learning a new skill = win.

None of the ingredients used have an EWG rating beyond 0. Pretty awesome right?

Mascara is my fave makeup item – like it used to be a can't live without it, take on a desert island favorite. I do sometimes miss store bought mascara. While this mascara gives my blonde eyelashes a lovely rich colour it does not have the volume that I loved about my old mascara. But I know the world will keep turning whether I have full bodied black lashes or not. Right now I am very VERY happy with this easy home-made mascara that is zero waste and plastic free. So happy, I dance about it.

Easy home-made mascara

Have your tried to make your own mascara? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments below. If you like this post please share.

Batting my lashes,
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14 August 2014

What is a bulk food store?



I am often asked what a bulk food store is. It is the kind of store that most of us have never ventured into or have walked past without a thought. And why would you when there is the ease and convenience of a supermarket that has everything processed, packaged and ready to go under one roof!

If you are wanting to start stripping plastic from your life, then shopping at a bulk food store is going to be your best friend. After a couple of months the over packaged supermarket that you used to frequent will be a distant memory.

Some people get confused and think that shopping in bulk translates to taking kilos of flour or beans home. I don't and most bulk food shoppers don't. Bulk food shopping generally means that the store sells their produce in bulk like drums of dish-washing powder, coconut oil or even peanut butter rather than individual wrapped portions.





For those wondering what a bulk food store/bulk shopping is, this is how it works:


Supplier delivers a bag, container or drum full of grains, oil, honey etc to a shop.


The product is put onto the store floor in its original bag, container or drum OR transferred to a dispenser for the consumer. The supplier picks up the empty containers for reuse.


The shopper (you and me!) comes along with containers (the store might even supply empty containers to take home) to fill up with the exact amount needed to take home. 


And that is it. That is bulk food shopping.




But how do you get started? Where do you get all your bottles from? And how did you find a bulk store? 

Easy. Start by collecting glass bottles or check to see if your local bulk food store has some you can buy on your first visit. Visit the bulk app to locate your nearest bulk store.

You can also ask friends and family for bottles. Thrift stores are also great place to find old glass bottles and sharing websites too.

If there is not a bulk store within an easy commute to your home grab a group of friends and make a day out of it.


My favorite bulk stores to visit in Melbourne and Sydney are:
Ray's Top Nuts, Moonee Ponds
Organic Wholefoods, Brunswick East
Friend of the Earth, Collingwood
The Source Bulk Foods, Balmain

Share you favorite bulk store below with a link – I would love to see it.

Bulking love,
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12 August 2014

Nico Underwear - Australia's first ethical clothing underwear brand + giveaway

When I tell people that I buy all my clothes second hand I usually get challenged with the question “But what about your underwear?” I will freely admit that I don't buy thrift store underwear or stockings (nothing wrong with those that do!). When I admit that I do buy NEW items I add that it is ethical, sustainable and Australian made brands like Nico the first Australian underwear brand to be accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia that sits snuggly in my lingerie draw. 

There are labels on just about everything outlining if it's organic, not tested on animals and fair trade providing transparency into the companies practice. Ethical Clothing Australia is one of those bodies that lets us, the consumer, know that a product is being made ethically ensuring all workers are being paid fairly and working in good conditions and is a sustainable practice. If you see the ECA logo then it is safe to say the company has ticked the boxes to earn them that badge.

Ethical Clothing Australia

I was fortunate enough to interview Elisabeth Harvey the designer, brains and beauty behind Australian underwear brand Nico a Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand.


Where and how do you source your fabric? Why do you source it from here?
Every collection is different and we source from a lot of different places and suppliers. The things we are always looking for though are the eco credentials of the fibre (eg. Organic cotton over regular cotton), the conditions staff are working under to produce it and of course that it is lovely and soft and beautiful to wear!

Why did you have a desire to make your garments in Australia? What do you think are the benefits?
I knew that we certainly wanted to ensure an ethical supply chain and ensure that no workers would be exploited in the creation of our garments. This can be achieved offshore as well as in Australia but the idea of keeping things local did appeal to me. NICO is manufactured in our hometown of Brisbane - just 15 mins away from our office, so I can be really involved in the process and ensure that everything runs smoothly.

What credentials did you need to have to be Australia's first underwear brand accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia?
The way that Ethical Clothing Australia works is to provide independent accreditation of our supply chain to ensure that everyone involved is being paid fairly and working in good conditions. We report regularly to ECA with details of what suppliers we are working with and they in turn visit those suppliers to ensure fair workplace laws are being upheld.

Nico Underwear - Australia's first ethical clothing underwear brand
What are the benefits of being apart of Ethical Clothing Australia? What kind of support do they offer?
Fashion supply chains can be complicated things and so to have an independent body who are able to investigate thoroughly and provide a guarantee to me and in turn to my customers that our garments are being made in ethical conditions is really invaluable. They are also so great at connecting us with consumers out there who are looking to make more ethical clothing choices.

What are your plans for the future of Nico Underwear?
Right now we are working on a basics range which we are really looking forward to releasing later this year. It's going to be all about great cuts, beautiful fabrics and the colours we need for the everyday – all made right here in Brisbane :)

Nico Underwear - Australia's first ethical clothing underwear brand
Ethical Clothing Australia is without a doubt necessary for a sustainable and ethical clothing industry to flourish here in Australia. And as a sustainability advocate I support their hard work and vision for the future. Not only does it keep operations crystal clear for the consumer, it promotes and supports local businesses like Nico so we can enjoy kind and beautiful lingerie made right here in Australia. I think that is pretty awesome.


If you feel called to support Australian fashion head to Fair Fashion to help reinstate funding to Ethical Clothing Australia.


G I V E A W A Y :
As a special treat Nico is offering a 10% discount for the next week (19.08.2014). Use the code 'THEROGUEGINGER' at the checkout. This is for one week only so don't miss out.


Supporting ethical clothing,

7 August 2014

Why I Write

The Why I Write bloghop is a set of questions that pokes writers to share the intention of why they choose to write. This exercise was passed onto me by Katie of Rosehips and Rubarbs. Katie's passion for food is evident with her appreciation of its role as a way to tell a story. Local and seasonal food is to be respected on her blog and I look forward to seeing her grow as a writer.




WHAT AM I WORKING ON

Right now my brain is consumed with taking my passion for plastic free, zero waste, sustainable living and finding ways to funnel it into helpful and accessible resources.

I have two ideas where I want to combine my love for writing with illustration that will result in an engaging children's book. There are some other fun ideas that I plan to create this year - one being a calendar. But that's not really writing... I do sometimes think of writing a fun and accessible how to guide about making your first plastic free year easy. I have been encouraged to try writing something for Tiny Buddha or Elephant Journal - maybe one day an article for a magazine.

HOW DOES MY WRITING DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN ITS GENRE

My writing differs purely based on the approach that I take. I have only just realised the style and approach i want to take my writing in. My aim going forward is to weave more of my everyday life into my story and show readers that I am your regular every day girl, working in a corporate gig and just happen to totally rock a plastic free life.

My aim is to not be labeled under hippie or environmentalist. I don't want to be boxed with a name limiting myself and the readers that grace this page. Just because i live with sustainability in mind does not mean that is all there is or who I have to be.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO

I write what I do simply to show others that living without plastic and living waste free is easy. I want to set the example and inspire; turn the light switch on. Just because I have given up plastic does not mean I have ditched the corporate world for bare feet in the grass. While I enjoy that I still have my regular job.



HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK

My writing process is not structured as it depends on what I choose to write each week. Sometimes it calls for research or pulling on my own experiences. I do know that I write a lot of ideas and notes on scraps of paper or into my phone for later development.

I write mostly in the evening after work or over the weekend. My writing is published each Tuesday and Thursday on my blog. I have found sticking to a routine helps with the writing process.

The process is also wholly supported by my family, friends and especially my boyfriend known affectionately on this blog as the Builder. He encourages me to write and believes I have a message that needs to be shared. It helps to have a support team but at the end of the day I am my biggest support team. Having the passion to write on this subject keeps me going.

SHARING THE LOVE

These three bloggers all make sustainability fun and informative. Let's meet them...

Sustainability in Style
Katie has inspired me to rethink my wardrobe with her 365 day challenge where she will not buy anything choosing instead to shop her wardrobe. I have to say that since I began following Katie's daily Instagram outfit snaps I have limited my trips to the thrift stores for clothes.

Home Heart Haven
Living a simple life is ideally about living a meaningful life that is kind to yourself and others. Caz explores the importance of cultivating a nurturing space – simple and loving. She has a love for upcycling and reusing objects turning them into new treasures. I have been inspired to try her projects in my home.

The Greening of Gavin
Gavin knows green living – in fact he has made it his goal to educate others on how to make better, low impact choices through his blog. Gavin recently completed the Climate Reality Project with Al Gore. He has many how-to's on his page like cheese making so pop over to Gavin's page and say hello.

Now the big question - Why do you write? And how do you do it?

Happy writing and reading,
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6 August 2014

I choose sustainable condoms and why you should too

Choosing a condom was never a decision that I spent a lot of time thinking about. Who does? I would grab whatever looked appealing and head to the checkout. I just wanted them to do what they were designed to do. A couple months ago I began to look for a sustainable condom. Not only did I find a sustainable condom that was packaged in 100% recycled packaging. It was a condom that could save a life.

Choosing a sustainable condom is just as important as buying anything else. Being sustainable is defined as not being harmful to the environment. To me this translates as choosing to be kind to all living things. I am conscious where I open my wallet. I want to make sure the product I am buying has little impact on the earth, animals and people. This choice may seem overwhelming and I admit it was at the start. But that is why I am here...to forge the road so it is easier for YOU. And today I am going to make your choice about condoms so much easier and introduce you to Hero Condoms.


Sustainable condoms? Well...why not! Contraception is something that most people use in one varying form or another. It is a no brainer to choose a condom that lives by the ethos to save a life and save the world.

The concept of Hero Condoms is simple: For each condom purchased in Australia the team at Hero will donate one condom to a person in a developing country with a focus on areas where HIV/AIDS is prevalent. The condom packaging will be made with local communities in mind. Keeping language and design to be as appealing to the community as possible.

The condoms are manufactured with the environment and community in mind too. The condoms latex is extracted sustainably meaning the tree it is harvested from can continue to produce rubber later on. Plus they harvest within 30km of the factory meaning less emissions from travel. A win for the planet and a win for the local communities.


“Our manufacturing plant utilises environmentally friendly practices throughout the production of its condoms including water treatment and water recycling. We are continuously working to further develop our earth friendly solar power generation. Many of our production employees are now taking advantage of our mini-bus scheme, which allows people to travel in a carpool rather than using individual transport.” Hero Condoms


While the condoms come in 100% recycled cardboard packaging, the condoms and wrappers cannot be recycled and go off to landfill. Natural rubber latex condoms can be composted but not in our regular household compost bin. They would take too long to break down. I did email TerraCycle regarding the possibility of future recycling programs for the wrappers and there response was that while they are not focusing on this particular waste stream now, never say never. So I am not going to throw out the foil packets into the bin for landfill. Who knows what TerraCycle might be able to do do in the future. The packaging also come with two small plastic stickers located on the opening to provide anti tampering. These cannot be recycled but when compared to the majority of condoms shrink wrapped in plastic it really is not the. Again I can hold onto these until they too can be recycled.

To find stockists visit the website for details.

Sustainable love,
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31 July 2014

Buckwheat corn crackers

Buckwheat corn crackers

There is a cute scene in The Clean Bin Project when Jen laments about not being able to enjoy chips so she sets out to make her own. This is something that I encountered when I gave up plastic and general packaged foods. No more chips and no more crackers. So I made my own plastic free, gluten free buckwheat corn crackers and they are yum!

The Builder has an allergy to gluten. Now I don't live a gluten free existence. When we go out for dinner I get the bread basket to myself. Not the whole thing...well sometimes the whole basket. I can't just leave it sitting there tempting him. That is what you do when you are in love. Sacrifices people, sacrifices!

I made this gluten free cracker by chance with what was in my pantry at the time and have made it many times since. It has the Builders seal of approval. Plus you can mix in whatever seasoning to suit your taste. As with all my recipes I have bought the ingredients package free using my own containers and bags.

Buckwheat corn crackers
Ingredients: 1 ½ cups fine yellow ground corn flour; 1 cup buckwheat flour; ½ teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon pepper; 1 ½ teaspoon basil; 1 ½ teaspoon rosemary; 1 teaspoon garlic powder; 3 table spoons olive oil and ¾ cup warm water.

Method: Add dry ingredients to a bowl mixing well; Add a little water and the oil; Start kneading while gradually adding the rest of the water; Keep kneading until the mixture stops sticking to your hands. If it is still sticking to your hands add more buckwheat flour. If it feels to dry add more water; Let sit for 20 minutes; Turn your oven to 220 celsius; Grab your baking trays and rub a little olive oil onto them and put to the side; Once the dough has rested divide the dough into four separate balls and then begin to roll out – you can use a wine bottle, rolling pin, tortilla press or pasta machine; Once the dough has flattened to 3-5mm begin to cut out your crackers. You can do this in any shape you want; lay the cut out dough onto the baking trays and put into the oven for 8-9 minutes; Pull out, let cool and serve.

I have made this recipe using paprika and onion in lieu of basil and rosemary. It is up to you what flavourings you would like. I sometimes sprinkle yeast flakes onto the dough before they go into the oven for a slight cheesy taste too.

If you make the recipe I would love to know how you go in the comments below. If you liked this recipe please share it. 

Crackers and dip,
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P.S There are more plastic free recipes at the Plastic Free Kitchen. Enjoy x

29 July 2014

Welcome to my garden patch

I spout about my garden but have yet to show it. I took a couple photos before I jumped in and planted new seeds over the weekend. The space we have is small but I have not let that stop me from making something of it. Welcome to my garden patch.

When the Builder and I first started dating two years ago he had only been in the house for a short time. He had landscaping done with a range of tropical plants and there were many balmy afternoons spent watering and caring for his plants to make sure they survived the summer. 

When I moved in late last year I began adding various sized wooden wine barrel pots and started growing vegetables. In fact the first birthday present I gifted the Builder was a lemon tree because he loves lemons so much. The guy will eat them like an orange! 


With the back wall and corner getting the most sun I was limited as to how much I could fit on the deck. 

The builder decided to move two plants from the garden to add a raised garden bed. He then went on to build planter boxes coming off the retaining wall. Construction was completed two weeks ago and with blue skies this past weekend I jumped in and started planting.

I was gifted an Aloe Vera and Silver beet plant. Both have found there way in and are looking good. I also added more radish and expanded my lettuce into the planter boxes hanging off the back garden wall. 

The raised garden bed is now home to Kale, Snow Peas, Spinach and Chinese Broccoli. The pots have a variety of plants that need to be moved about or removed. I already had four snow pea plants in a pot and are producing lovely sweet morsels. The radish were harvested this weekend too and have been added to my lunches for the week. My favorite crop is my Horta mix. I keep track of what is planted and how it is going in an old note book.

While it would be great to replace the various birds of paradise and palms with vegetables, I simply can not do it. Especially when I know how much effort and time went into getting it established. I have plans to put pots in between plants and utilise as much space as the weather warms up. 

Hope you have enjoyed a peek into my garden. I will do an update in the spring as I am sure I would have put more plants in by then.

Happy gardening,
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