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

31 March 2014

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 convenience 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 enough for two we eventually found a disused bookshelf on someones 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.
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We should value our stuff

27 March 2014
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.
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Avasol: my first plastic free sunscreen

23 March 2014
plastic free sunscreen

Summer has come to an end in the southern hemisphere while 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. 

plastic free sunscreen

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

17 March 2014


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?
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Shaking out my make up bag

14 March 2014
Image from 31.media.tumblr.com
Since my break-up with single use plastic, my personal grooming regime has been hit hard. But not only because of the plastic items that encase my blush and eye shadow. The shakeup came also from the chemicals in the make-up.

When I started delving into the history of plastic, reading about its uses and misuses, there was a staggering amount of information pointing to the hazardous chemicals that lurk in the plastic making process. This, coupled with the harm plastics and the chemicals wreck on our environment, was enough for me to question the not so nice chemical intake in my general life. It was a natural progression to start looking at what I put onto my skin too.

Everything was slapped on my face and body without a second thought. If it said natural, organic, or cruelty free – that was enough for me. I never questioned the ingredients.

Foundation. Eye shadow. Lip stick. Lip gloss. Mascara. Blush. Highlighter. Eye pencils. Eye liner. Night cream. Day Cream. Eye cream. Eye lash tint. Eye brow tint. All of my products were punched into EWGs Skin Deep Database and the results were not good AT ALL. And I have been wearing make up since I was 12! Ewwww.

I am close to finishing up most of the makeup I own and will start looking at more natural alternatives. The only downside to finishing my makeup, is figuring out what parts of the packaging can and can't be reused or recycled.

So that is where I am at in this less-plastic-less-waste-sustainable-living journey. This ginger is detoxifying her beauty bag BIG TIME.

My new mantra is: The only ingredients I will put on my body will be ones that I can put into my body. Simple. Kind. Reduced packaging. Less waste.
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Make your own compost bin

10 March 2014
Make your own compost bin

For a couple weeks the builder and myself were on our own. No housemates. Just us. While our previous house mate knew about our progression into a plastic free life we never pressured on them to adapt to our ways.
So when we were on our own, looking for a new housemate, I discovered our household bin was filling up with nothing but food scrapes (and not much at that). With part of our food scraps going into the freezer to be saved for vegetable broth the garbage bin was not being emptied until it was full. And sometimes that took longer than a week. So I proposed a compost bin.

Why compost?
Composting is not only great for the garden but is a fantastic way to keep food scraps from going into landfill where it does not break fast enough and creates a methane hazard. Plus your get great nutrient rich matter to add onto the garden.

I wanted one that would fit against the side of the house with the recycle bin and garbage. Our backyard is not huge and so I decided to keep a contained one. This helps in case we ever moved and to stop any vermin getting in too. Why did I make my own? Because it seemed pretty impossible to find a plastic free compost bin. Plus I saved some dollars making ours from a metal bin. Here is what I did it.

The key to a good compost is air. Regular garbage bins are not made to circulate air to keep the smell in. But with a compost bin the better the air circulation the less it will smell. I drilled holes in the body, the bottom and in the lid to get good air circulating.

I marked out the holes using a pencil.

Make your own compost bin
Next the drill. I used a 3.2 drill bit and followed the markings we made. I did this around the body, the bottom of the bin and the lid.
Make your own compost bin

Make your own compost bin
The compost was placed on top of two bricks to get the air circulating underneath. I put it in a shaded area so it does not dry out in the hotter months.
Make your own compost bin
Ready to fill it up now. This was the fun part. I needed to layer the bin with brown and green to get a mix of nitrogen and carbon rich materials. An even distribution will help the items in the compost break down. Too much green will not break down into compost but instead just rot. And if we have too much brown it will take a long time to break down.

Green: Think kitchen scraps, green leaves, grass clippings.
Brown: leaves, paper (not shiny), branches, twigs.

When I layered the thought was to alternate; a layer of soil, leaves and paper followed by a layer of kitchen scraps and green leaves. Brown, green, brown, green. In between each layer I sprinkled water to keep everything moist but not wet.

I decided to add worms to help speed up the process of the compost. Worms can eat one third of their own weight in one day and add nutrients to the soil. My worms did come in a plastic bag *(eek!). I had hoped to get some from a friend but a piece of citrus ended up in their compost. Word of warning: worms do not like citrus or onion and will vacate the building.

Make your own compost bin
The compost is now a weekly job of turning it to keep the matter as aerated as possible. I use a stick and sometimes I roll it on its side. It will be ready between three to six months to move onto the garden.

If you do not have space for a compost you could see if there is anyone in your neighbourhood that does like a community garden or neighbour. You can keep your scraps in a paper bag in your freezer until you are ready to drop it off for compost.

Have you ever made your own compost? I would love to hear your tips in the comments bellow.

*I did wash the bag out to be recycled.
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Free wallpaper download - Garbage does not exist in nature

7 March 2014

This quote is from an inspiring talk given by Tom Szaky CEO of TerraCycle.

If you feel equally inspired, right click and save the wallpaper to your desktop for use as a wallpaper or print it out for your home. Trying to live waste free can be tough and I find reminders handy.
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Recycle cigarette butts

5 March 2014
On Clean Up Australia Day 2014 more than 15,000 tones of rubbish are estimated to have been removed from 7,140 sites around Australia.


This year each site was given a bag solely for cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are one of the biggest problems in Australia. For the first time this year these harmful and toxic items were being collected separately to be recycled. 

Yep, you read that right. You can now recycle cigarette butts.

The cigarette butts collected on Clean Up Australia Day were handed over to TerraCycle to be recycled into park benches, railways sleepers and rubbish bins. The venture is co-funded by tobacco companies making up the financial difference that it takes to get those small, often forgotten butts recycled.
The ash, tobacco and paper are turned into compost with the soil to be sold on for use. Filters are sterilised and broken down and this is what gets recycled into usable products.

TerraCycle relies on everyday people to help act as stations to collect items like cigarette butts outside of events such as Clean Up Australia Day. TerracCycle has worked with Australia Post to encourage anyone across Australia to post the collected cigarette butts them onto TerraCycles collection in NSW. The post cost is covered with free mail labels available from TerraCycles website. You (the station) will be award points for each box you send. These points can be donated to a local chairty or school. Want to learn more? Click here.

"TerraCycle works with more than 100 major brands in the U.S. and 24 countries overseas to collect used packaging and products that would otherwise be destined for landfills. It repurposes that waste into new, innovative materials and products that are available online and through major retailers." www.terracycle.com

Right now they do a limited collection of items aside from cigarette butts in Australia. Viewing the Canadian and US websites they offer a wider range of hard to recycle items like toothbrushes and document folders.

What do you think of this? Is rewarding people for recycling the way of the future?
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