16 April 2014

I am going to China!

The builder is in Guangzhou for business. I will be meeting him there and then we will be checking out Yangshuo and Hong Kong. I am excited for our first trip overseas together. Plus I get to revisit one of my favourite cities, Hong Kong. 

This is my first trip I have actively sought out eco minded accommodation. I suggested camping in Yangshauo but that was met with a weary look from the builder. Our original choice was an eco-hotel but with it being booked out we decided on another sustainable option. I am super excited to be exploring this pocket of mainland China with my best friend.

It will be interesting to attempt another plastic free and waste free holiday. I learnt valuable lessons from my trip to Myanmar that I can apply on this trip.

It does feel a little contradictive to announce I am going travelling on my eco minded blog. Travelling is a heavy polluting exercise. I don’t know if I will ever be able to say no to travel, especially when half of my family live overseas. So being vigilant about my waste and avoiding all plastic, just like I do at home, when travelling is a must for me. Perhaps I should donate a weekend to Landcare and plant trees to offset my emissions?

4 April 2014

How many caps does a single household possess?

Mrs. Easton asks the question, How many caps does a single household possess? and her visual answer speaks for itself. This was not a full collection from her home. I wonder what mine or yours would look like?

1 April 2014

New sustainable font

UK design agency Hogarth and custom font makers Monotype have come up with a sustainable font for Grey London to be used across Ryman Stationary and hopefully implement further.

Ryman Eco has been designed in a way that when printed would save ink. On close examination each letter looks to have gaps making it look like a decorative font. When printed at popular point sizes, 10, 12 or 14, the brain does not see the gaps instead fills in the blank gaps so we see the form as a normal letter. The printing process also helps fill in the gaps with the natural bleed of inks that can happen on certain stocks of paper.

If everyone replaced their standard use of Time new Roman with this font there would be a saving of 490 million ink cartridges. You can download it for free here

31 March 2014

Putting value on everything; big, small, second hand and my new hair elastics

I lost my LAST hair elastic and needed to buy some more. That is the family of new hair ties in the photo above and yes each one is worth its weight in gold. Let me explain why.

I have loooog hair and it is thick and there is alot of it. This combination has resulted in multiple hair elastics snapping, being lost and really no second thought about where they end up over the years. Frankly the resources that have gone into making them where never a thought until the beginning of this year. They are a dime a dozen at any supermarket or pharmacy; why would I need to ever treat them with care?

The hair elastic I lost was found after being inspired by Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home who wrote about finding hair elastics everywhere prompting the thought that you really don't need t buy new ones. Two days after reading Bea's post I was lucky to find two hair elastics, one for my thick hair and the other was used to tie my hair when i keep it in a plait. The larger one was not ideal for my thickness of hair. While it held my hair up for most of the day I would find myself readjusting and redoing the many buns I wear throughout the week. Then I lost the hair tie last week. I wore my hair down for many days until I bit the bullet and bought a pack of brand spankin' new hair ties designed specifically for thick hair. I had simply not found any more hair ties on the streets or...well anywhere. And the other little guy that i was using for my plates had become stretched out when I tested to see if it would hold my mass of hair in a bun (I like putting my hair in a bun).

I was especially excited when I bought the new hair ties and explained why to a friend of mine. She laughed with me at my over zealous love for these 20 new hair ties I purchased. I told her they were like gold and I would hopefully have them forever stating my intention to value my stuff rather than fall to connivence which usually results in waste.

Bea's post also made me open my eyes a bit wider. Sometimes what you need is sitting on someones curb side or on a street, or even a friends house being unused. There is so much around us that can be reused, given a second life. We recently needed some extra space for my clothes in the room I share with the builder. With the wardrobe not big enogh for two we eventally found a disued bookshelf on someons curb side. Ask around your friends or ask the universe for what you need. I have this new found magic belief that what you need will show up. I didn't find any more hair elastics but when I do they will be treated as important as the new ones i just bought.

27 March 2014

We should value our stuff

I am not anti-plastic. I understand that in some aspects of society it does play an important part. I have mentioned it here.

But I am anti waste and against the misuse of plastic.

Plastic is constantly being created and falls into our lives in so many different forms. Some of it is beneficial but a lot of the plastic produced is not. Saying NO to the unnecessary plastic that comes in the form of packaging, plastic straws, cutlery, and all those other items that populate consumer shelves is the most effective method to send a message up the chain that this thoughtless plastic production needs to stop. How you spend your money is like a vote. The less you spend on plastic the less will (hopefully) be made. This is how we, as a group of individuals, can make an impact; avoid it to show we don't need it. I am proud member of this group and hope one day everyone will be too.

Waste goes beyond pointless plastic pieces. It is the general mistreatment of our resources.

I went to the Queen Victoria Night Market with my own container in hand. I asked for a food vendor to put the food in there as I have been doing at places around work and street festivals. I was met with weird looks but they were happy to serve my request. As I waited for the food one of the waiters asked me why I do this and why I could not be happy with the biodegradable takeaway packaging the food already comes in. He said it in a tone that implied I should be happy with that. I explained that the resources used to make the packaging for single use, whether it breaks down completely or not, is wasteful in my eyes. I told him that I had been reusing this container for 8 months to collect take away at food markets like this. You could tell I valued this container.

Those biodegradable takeaway boxes add to the already huge layer of waste that goes to our landfill. The man agreed that my point was valid and more people should bring their own container.

I believe that if we placed more value on our stuff our waste would be minimal.

I don’t have an answer for the plastic and waste that has already been produced. It is piled up in big pits, away from my waste free home. I don’t know what the answer is to that. I do know that our recycling programs are not growing at the same rate our obsession with stuff is expanding. It would be so easy to point the finger at our State governments and local Councils. But really it is ourselves we should point at. Instead it is our problem and the lack of responsibility we have for our stuff. We spend the money, we make the message.

There are pioneers out there that are rolling up their sleeves and taking responsibility for their own and others misuse of plastic. They are buckling down and creating alternative methods to the current definition we know as recycling.

Organisations like the Vortex Project tackling ocean pollution and producing an item of clothing from that pollution will no doubt spark other bright minds in the world of recycling and up-cycling. That bright spark could be you.

Upcycling and the recycling of goods are inspiring me more and more. Giving objects, plastic or not, a second or third life that will hopefully keep that item from ending up in landfill straightaway or at all is a growing industry and one that should be in the spotlight more.

My stuff is special; I treat it with care and will hopefully have it forever. Our resources are not infinite but our imaginations are. I applaud the pioneers that have arrows in their backs from daring to make a living with our discarded stuff. Recycling and Upcycling could be one of our most lucrative industries yet to come. Instead of neglecting our stuff to landfills, we should take a second look at the possibilities and treat it with the importance it deserves.

23 March 2014

Avasol: my first plastic free sunscreen

Summer has come to an end in the southern hemisphere. The northern hemisphere is counting down until the days are longer and warmer. This past summer I tried out my first plastic free sunscreen by Avasol and as weather cools down as it slips into Autumn mode does not mean we should get lax about exposure to the sun.

Slip, slop, slap is a popular mantra in Australia. As little kids we were trained to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. This is a rule that many of us take into adulthood. But I had never thought much about the vessel my sunscreen came in. With summer holidays approaching last year and my aim to avoid unnecessary plastic in my life, my relationship to sloping on sunscreen was given a shake up.

Avasol in a small company operating out of California. They hand make each batch and ship it out to you. I never intended to buy a natural sunscreen with organic and fair trade ingredients. I only wanted one that had no plastic packaging. When I began reading about Avasol's dedication to providing a safe sunscreen that also thought about the environment I knew that I had to try it. Plus it reminded me of zinc stick (something every Australian child from the 80s and 90s would remember!).

The creation of the product is done in a way that does not harm the environment. The idea is that if the product was to be left behind at the beach, the product won't disrupt the eco system the way a 'normal' sunscreen would. They want to lessen there impact on mother earth. 

I tried the people safe/ocean safe original Surfer’s Barrier Stick. The smell is much more pleasent than the sunscreen I was used too. It is water resistant and offers UVA/UVB protection. The packaging is biodegradable made from recycled paper. No plastic. I will admit that my first use left me with sunburn on my shins. I will admit that I did not reapply when I got out of the water. And being on the (very) pale side I should have adjusted for my skin type. Since, I have not been burnt and regularly use it when I ride my bike. 

While the stick works well I would be more inclined to try the Environmental Defence Cream that allows for a refills. I am used to using a cream and the stick took some time to get used to. 

It is great to see a company thinking about the full circle of a product and its impact on all living beings. It is the type of brand I will continue to put into my make-up bag after I focus on putting more natural, organic and simple products

Do you have any recommendations for plastic free sunscreen? Put your suggestions into the comments below. 

These comments are my own and I have not been asked to review this product by Avasol. 

17 March 2014

My visit to Hobart, Tasmania PLUS my pick of sustainable and eco food and shopping in Hobart

Late last year I was dreaming of what trips I would take in 2014. After my trip to Myanmar I was drawn to explore somewhere at home. Australia is a large country and each State offers something beautiful for everyone. Can you tell I love this country? Tasmania was at the top of the list and as I started looking at flights over Easter break my boss told me I told would be spending three weeks on secondment in Hobart. Isn't life funny when it does that? Is that serendipity?

I settled quickly into Hobart life and work (and lots of work). But when I had days off I made the most of them and got out to see the jaw dropping landscape that makes Tasmania a must on any travelers list and posted snippets onto instagram. I enjoyed time in Port Arthur, the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, Bruny Island, a chilly visit to Mt. Wellington and MONA.

My pick of sustainable and eco shopping to see in Hobart

Hobart has a small city centre and everything I discovered was within walking distance. Eumarrah Organic& Natural Food on Barrack St had an outstanding bulk food selection. Fresh vegetables can be picked up on Saturday mornings at Salamanca Markets. Jackman & Ross is a Hobart staple offer fresh organic bread. City Organics is a gem and the staff are so friendly. We talked at length about mascaras (no pun intended).

EcoHaven will draw you in with its range of eco products like fashion, (mum and bub) kitchenware, and gifts. Hobart is known for it's antique stores if you want to find a second hand treasure. I scored stylish second hand goods at Hello Gorgeous, Red Hand Design (level 1, 147 Liverpool St), Antiques to Retro. There are many second hand book stores. I found many interesting titles at Rapid Eye Books on Sandy Bay Rd.

Resource Tip Shop was the most interesting store I found on my juants through Hobart. It takes anything that would ordinarily go to the tip (landfill) and given a second life. The shop was busy with people sorting there way through the odds and ends the store had to offer. The store is part of the Resource Work Co-operative. The main goals of the Co-operative is to create employment, minimise waste and promote waste minimisation in the community. Winning!

I am hoping to go back again soon and see more of the north and east coast. Where would you recommend to visit?
01 09 10