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Welcome to the world, little one

Early last week, I got to birth this human being into the world. 

Weight, perfect. Length, long enough. Name, still deciding. Even though he does not have ginger hair, I decided to keep him. This is of much relief to the Builder, as he is very smitten with the squishy and snuggly bundle of joy. We are happy and healthy, swimming in a sea of love neither of us have experienced before and feeling grateful this little person chose us to be his parents.

This is the fourth trimester, a time to bond with my baby and learn how to be his mother. While I navigate the sleepless nights and days, endless nappies and his feeding schedule, my body is busy healing too; the next forty days will be intentionally slow, as I take time adjusting to all the changes. Dear readers, this means no posts for a little while. When I return, I will have many words to share, on my pregnancy, birth, and trying to raise a human, plastic-free and zero waste.

xErin
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Upcycling material scraps into twine

Upcycling material scraps into twine
To say I enjoy up-cycling is an understatement. I'm not sure what it is about the activity, that draws me to it. Perhaps it's the problem solving aspect; nutting out a solution to a dilemma, pushing the cogs in my brain to creative overdrive. I love reading about other peoples solutions to practical problems too, and I know that is why I am drawn to blogs, both reading and writing one. Most blogs are infinite resources of solutions. If I have found a good solution or idea, either by myself or read someone else's, I feel compelled to share it, whether one hundred people find it useful or only one. I'm not sure what category this blog post falls into, but I'm going to share it anyway.

The Builder had a couple t-shirts he was not wearing, half synthetic and half cotton. The thread itself was not a blend, rather the graphics on the shirts were clearly a synthetic raised print, not a simple screen print. I have written previously about my dislike of synthetic clothing, due to the micro fibres entering our waterways when they are washed. This week, Story of Stuff shared their campaign on microfibres. Rather than pass the synthetic clothing I had on to charity (for someone else to deal with and to continue polluting water ways), I came up with the idea of turning all of my old synthetic clothing into pillow stuffing. And those pillows I mentioned above, are full!

The t-shirts were all cotton (except the weird plastic print graphic) making great rags for when the baby arrives, to help mop up spills, vomit etc. I feel like rags will be our best friend very soon. The graphic part of the t-shirt could not be used as a rag. I cut up the t-shirts for our rag pile and put the plastic print graphic squares with other odd scrap material, left over from shirts I had turned into cleaning cloths previously. I knew I could turn this pile of scrap fabric into something, but was unsure what.

I then came across a tutorial on turning scraps of fabric into twine. I had found my solution, turning the cloth into strips and began turning it into twine.
Upcycling material scraps into twineUpcycling material scraps into twine
It's not as colourful as Cinita's tutorial and I had to plait it, as it would not twist. But it worked and I am now figuring out what I will turn the twine into from here. I am tempted to replicate the weaving skills, learnt at a class last year with Put Your Heart Into It.

I have had my share of upcycling projects not go 100% to plan, yet I never see them as fails. More like learning curves, the object morphing into something else or more than I imagined. Taking old items, deemed as useless and turning them into something useful, was a common occurrence last century and beyond. I wonder if our ancestors did it purely out of necessity OR was reimagining and rethinking simply an integrated part of our mindset that we as a modern society have lost? Many of the upcycling ideas I find are not new ideas, they are old. Making fabric twine from scraps of is not a new concept.

I feel like this post could start rambling on and on. So I best leave it here and think about what object I will turn my new found fabric twine into.

Are you a fanatical upcycler? Do you like purchasing up-cycled treasures? What is a favourite up-ycled piece you have seen someone create? If you don't like upcycling, what is it about the process that turns you off it? What else could I have done with the scraps of fabric?
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Zero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?

I usually wax lyrical, as do many other zero waste bloggers, on the virtues of zero waste food shopping. Those photos of us, filling up our jars or bags with bulk binned food, is one of the more popular visual associations people have with the zero waste lifestyle. See below.
Zero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?
But when the curtain is pulled back on the store room of these bulk food shops, you would find there is no such thing as zero waste shopping.

Yes, zero waste shopping does not exist! Hear me out, because I am going to talk about a solution further down. Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest we all start growing everything from scratch in our backyards either. 

Bulk food shopping allows the consumer (you and me) to buy food without packaging. We go in, collect our food, shampoo, cleaning products, honey, soy sauce etc from bulk bins. It's usually purchased in jars, plastic containers and cloth bags that are used each time we all shop. Bulk shopping is about the reuse of packaging by the consumer.

It's also about freeing up the responsibility of disposing the packaging. When I take my newly filled jars and bags home, I don't have any packaging to throw away. This type of shopping model is challenging the present supermarket individually wrapped system and I applaud it. Bulk food shopping puts the responsibility back onto the store where I bought it – it's up to them to find a way to deal with the packaging.

When I shopped at the supermarket or corner store, the food came individually packaged for us. Once I emptied the package of food, we disposed of it in our rubbish bin or recycling bins at the supermarket. I was making the rubbish and it filled up the bin each week.

Zero Waste shopping does not exist, because those bins of food we collect it from, is originally filled with food that is packaged, just on a larger scale. Large plastic sacks and tubs, that can not all be recycled or reused is what you would find in the back room of a bulk food shop. If that packaging is recycled, it would be down-cycled, meaning the plastic become another item of plastic and thats it. Down-cycling is the end of the road. Some items do come in paper, but not many. So while we the consumer are not making rubbish, our bulk stores are and that is why there is no such thing as zero waste shopping. It does not exist, yet.
Zero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?
At my wedding, we hired TAP. Wines to serve wine. We chose them because we loved their business model; to challenge the wastefulness of wine bottles in restaurants. In a nutshell, TAP. have stainless steel kegs, filled up at wineries and then fitted into restaurant/cafe/bars, providing wine on tap. Rather than a new wine bottle, that comes with a cork or metal lid, stickers, boxes etc, TAP. simply fill up a stainless steel barrel, drop it off at the venue and replace it when needed. The stainless steel barrels are cleaned between refills and will last for over twenty years. At the end of their life, they can be recycled completely, not down-cycled like plastic. One, 20 litre stainless steel keg, is the equivalent of 26 bottles of wine. That is a lot of resources saved. 

The business model got me thinking about bulk food stores. Could a third party company do the same, but for bulk foods and make the zero waste food shopping actually zero waste?

I'll explain how the idea works using chickpeas:

  • Farmer harvests and prepares chickpeas for sale 
  • Puts chickpeas into stainless steel barrels 
  • Third party business that owns the stainless steel barrels, picks up the packaged chickpeas, transporting them to bulk food stores 
  • Bulk food store empty the chickpeas into their dispensers OR let's them sit on the floor for use straight from barrels 
  • Once barrels are empty, third party business collects barrel from bulk store, takes it to another location where it is clean/sterilised
  • The newly cleaned barrels are then dropped back at the chickpea farm
  • The circle continuesZero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?
That's my idea to bring zero waste food shopping a step closer to zero, and make it more circular. My intentions when writing this blog post, was not to call out bulk food stores. As mentioned before, I applaud them for challenging the system. I'm merely putting an idea out there, hoping someone, say a millionaire that would like to launch or invest in a sustainably minded business, has read this. You are free to take this idea and run with it. Truly.

Tell me, what do you think of this idea? Or is there a simpler idea on how to make zero waste shopping truly without waste? How would you do it?
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