Holiday here this year and don't forget to take along your empty esky

22 October 2020
Holiday here this year

Rural towns in Australia have been hit hard in the past twelve months. They have faced droughts, bush fires, and now COVID-19 keeping visitors away. As restrictions begin to lift and the weather warms up Aussies will be looking to plan their holidays, and with limits on international travel many of us will be looking to domestic trips.

Before Australia experienced the first lockdown earlier in the year my family took a short trip to regional Victoria and NSW, taking along our empty esky after coming across the #emptyesky pledge on social media. 

The Empty Esky pledge is to get people to visit townships and support small businesses affected by the Australian bush fires. Travellers are encouraged to take along their eskys to fill it with local produce and wares. 

I documented our road trip hoping to inspire others to holiday here this year and support towns in need of visitors. 


Holiday here this year

Our destination was the Southern Highlands to visit my parents and attend a wedding in Kangaroo Valley. To break up the journey we visited Mansfield and Adelong in country Victoria and New South Wales, two communities impacted by the bush fires. 

On day one, our lunch stop was in the small town of Yea. We stretched our legs with a walk along the main street and visited the Y Water Discovery Centre and Wetlands. My three year old enjoyed the interpretive displays and we learned more about the area too. There is an information centre on site, tables and BBQ outside the building. There were some antique stores I would have loved to check out but a tired toddler derailed this idea. We made a note to return here in the future for explorations of the region.

Holiday here this year
Inside the Y Water Discovery Centre and Wetlands

We spent our first night at Delatite Hotel, Mansfield. Arriving late to the town meant we didn't get to see much. After dinner we walked along the main street and played at the Mansfield Botanic Park with our toddler. Mansfield does offer many activities and is a great jumping off point for exploring Victoria's High Country. Coincidently I ran into a friend from high school at the pub bistro running Hidden Trails a local horseback adventure tour company and got to hear first hand how the fires hurt the regions tourism over summer. 

The next morning we woke early, collecting breakfast from the local bakery. We usually sit down and eat in, keeping our reusables for collecting snacks. 

As we moved past the town of Holbrook there were hints of burnt landscape here and there along the Hume Hwy. Turning onto the Snowy Mountains Hwy the evidence of the catastrophic fires is everywhere. We saw homes and sheds destroyed, the country turned black. It was heartbreaking to see. 

I chose Adelong specifically because this part of the snowy region was one of the worst affected by bush fires. It's an area known for apple and pear farms, most being destroyed during the natural disasters. Blaze Aid are still on the ground lending a hand between the south coast and snowy region. 

My husband, The Builder, has not traveled around this part of Australia. The snowy region is one of my favourite parts of Australia and I like to drive through on the way to Batemans Bay to see my grandparents. 

Adelong is a village with less than 1000 people nestled in a valley next to Adelong Creek. The main attraction is remnants of the gold rush at Adelong Creek Falls Gold Ruins. The town consist of two pubs, a hotel, local supermarket, RSL with a Chinese restaurant, Op Shop, antique store, Post Office, real estate, community bank, local wares shop...pretty much the usual operations a small town offer. Most rural towns will boast an Op Shop as their only clothing retails store. I really like that about Australia.

We visited the Adelong Creek Falls Gold Ruins. When we arrived we kicked ourselves because we forgot the hiking carrier for our son back in Melbourne. We got as far as the water but couldn't go further down the track. Which was a shame as the creek walk looked beautiful from what we could see. 

Adelong


Our accommodation was very cute. An old house brought back to life. It could easily fit a larger family or two small families inside. 

Adelong

We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the local Chinese restaurant inside the RSL. We weren't the only ones that liked it, with many locals popping in to pick up takeaway throughout the evening. 

The following morning was the final drive to Moss Vale to see my parents. Before leaving we ventured to the main street to visit some of the local stores. First stop was the Op Shop (thrift store).

Adelong



A cute top that I had to take home with me. I rarely buy new to me clothes, mainly because I'm nervous my son will spill something on it. But I couldn't resist this one.

We walked down the street to Rustic Creations and walked out with arms full of locally made soap and jams. 



We filled our empty esky at a farm gate before leaving Adelong. Raspberries, pumpkins, more jams and chutneys went in, to be shared with my parents. We got to chat with the owners of the road side stall about the fires and how they have hurt business, including hers. She hadn't heard of the #emptyeksy initiative but liked the idea of people visiting gems like Adelong on their adventures. 

#EmptyEsky

#EmptyEsky

Having grown up in a country town I know visitors are important for sustaining local business and adding to the wellbeing of a small community. I'm excited to see where everyone will holiday here this year and fill up their empty eskys with locally grown and made food.

It might sounds weird for an eco blog to encourage a road trip. Aren't cars bad for the road? Yes, they are. We all know that. Unfortunately the most eco friendly options are not the easiest for all. Getting to many of these small towns by public transport requires two-three days of travel and sometimes costs more than a flight or road trip. It's not impossible and is part of a growing movement called slow travel. We have travelled by train many times between Sydney and Melbourne, and highly recommend the trip.

One way to reduce your impact is to offset your trip through an offset program or by personally owning your carbon through volunteering to restore habitats in your local area as suggested by Zero Waste Dork

Holiday here this year


How local government can help communities go zero-waste and plastic-free

8 October 2020
How local government can help communities go zero-waste and plastic-free

Our local government Councils provide hundreds of services we use day to day in our communities and they are most likely the first level of government we interact with. I wasn't always aware of this and often wondered what Councils do beyond charging rates and collecting our bins.

It wasn't until I was hired by Councils as a zero waste speaker that I realised how much our Councils do and the tools they can provide in helping make successful zero-waste and plastic-free communities through education, guidance, grants and community collaboration.

Some of us might know our local Councillors. They are the people we vote in every four years to represent the community. Compared to State and Federal elections the Council elections don't seem as important but this is probably because the role is considered part-time. Plus the larger media outlets pay little attention to them. But the roles are important and learning how these elected officials can help create positive environmental change is valuable.

Alert! In Victoria local government elections are happening right now. Every Victorian will be receiving a ballot pack this week to be returned by 23 October. Engage with candidates and find out if reducing waste, tackling plastics and addressing climate change is part of their plan. Because Candidates are unable to door knock starting conversations with them on social media, by phone and email will help. I saw one candidate in a neighbouring ward stat they wanted to just keep collecting rubbish. Over the years I have engaged with Councillors passionate about reducing waste and plastics and this is who we want elected.

Behind the Councillors are Council staff, hired by a CEO to work on projects and maintain the liveability of our communities by making sure services run smoothly. If we want something added to our communities we can approach Councillors that will then work with the teams at Council to make it happen. For example I could approach a Councillor about a cloth nappy rebate or creating a seed library for residents. They would pass a motion at a Council meeting to look into setting one up or liaise with the Council team to see if it could happen.

Each Council has a sustainability team with dedicated waste education officers in some. The role is to create, deliver and promote the services on a range of sustainability projects, like waste and recycling.

Councils can also work with a body like a Metropolitan Waste and Recovery Group or the regional equivalent . They'll also work with the State government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, agencies such as Sustainability Victoria, the EPA (Environment Protection Authority ). Then there are environmental and sustainability consultants that come in to advise or run projects too. Council is kind of an extensions of State government.

Individuals, business and government are becoming more aware of the impact of waste and the need to make changes. While many of us look to our Federal and State governments to create legislation that would see change move quickly the role of Council and its ability to enact change and even help create new systems local to us is overlooked. In this blog post I will list the different avenues Councils can provide assistance to growing and and helping facilitate behaviour change and even system change for reducing waste and plastic, and creating local solutions for fighting climate change.

Education

Our Councils organise free community events across various topics. The events with a focus on waste and plastics usually fall under the genre of Green Living or Sustainability and these are spread throughout the year. The events can range from talks, hands on workshops, and larger events like a festival. Topics might include composting, looking at energy efficiency, how to organise solar or draft proof your home, starting a garden, preserving, cloth nappies, DIY eco beauty and cleaning, keeping chickens, understanding greenwashing, reducing food waste, general guides to starting a zero-waste life, plastic-free living tips, how to recycle right, how to start a wildflower garden, keeping beehives. Some Councils collaborate with organisations to run a six week sustainable living program that residents can sign up for and commit to as well.

When I first started giving talks for Councils on zero-waste living I was so shocked to discover 99% of events were free to the public. FREE! Okay so they are not technically free, some of our rates go towards this which I think is great. Reinvesting money for free education, yes please.

Community education is great at helping build behaviour change. After all each person learns differently. Absorbing information on the internet or through a book is not for everyone. Some of us (like me!) find it empowering being in a room full of people that want to make changes, just like them. When one person is educated on the topic they can then take what is learned back to their homes or to school or workplaces, and share. So that's why I believe in providing education through different mediums.

These Events also provide a space for likeminded people to connect. I've seen attendees exchange numbers after Council run events and strangers quickly becoming friends plotting to reduce waste in local primary schools their children attend. Many local community groups have formed after events as locals discover their power in numbers.

The education programs Councils run are not only for adults. They also cater to early childhood, primary school and high schools. The Council sustainably teams can help organise excursions and incursions too.

Sustainability officers at Council work VERY hard to provide this free education and I always encourage people to engage and attend a session. Even if it's not on waste or plastic or climate change! See what your council offers and enjoy. Councils want to put on free events the community are interested in. So speak up and ask for topics you'd like to learn about.

Right now some Councils are running their regular events online. Like many people I'm looking forward to safe face to face events starting up again.

Waste services beyond the kerb

Councils are beginning to offer ways to recycle tricky items beyond our recycling bins. Items like CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, X-rays, electronics, soft plastics, mattresses, clothing. These collection points are being set up at Libraries, Council buildings, or added to Transfer Stations/Resource Recovery/Tip Centres. Some Councils will have dedicated Tip Shops or Resource Recovery Shops selling items meant for landfill but salvaged to sell on.

Grants

Individuals, community groups, not for profits, and businesses wanting to help reduce waste and plastics can apply for Environmental Grants through their Council. These grants range from $500 to $10,000+ depending on the Council and project tiers.

Grant applications can be confusing with many criteria's needing to be met. Luckily Council run grant application education sessions. These are helpful for the current application and any you might do in the future with external grant bodies.

I have seen a large scope of local ideas come to fruition thanks to grants from Council; toy libraries, tool libraries, kitchen sharing schemes, waste reduction education services for businesses, community gardens, mobile wash against waste trailers, reusable party kits. If your idea doesn't meet the criteria for their environmental grant you can ask if they know of other options to get grants or funding.

How local government can help communities go zero-waste and plastic-free

Working with businesses

Councils can also work with business to help them reduce their waste and plastic. Glen Eira City Council in Melbourne's East worked with 18 business to reduce and replace the common used single-use plastic items with reusable or compostable alternatives. Another Council The City of Yarra has a Proudly Plastic Free program working alongside businesses to cut back on plastics. A Council staff member is usually assigned to this role. They research and collate resources that would be applicable to business in the local area. Reducing plastic as a business does take time (something a small business might not have spare of) and with the extra assistance working towards a solution together is beneficial for everyone.

Last year the City of Yarra Council created a zero-waste map. This is an an online directory for residents in the City of Yarra municipality to find businesses and community initiatives promoting waste reduction through their products, services or business practices. I'd love every Council to have this!

Plastic Wise Policy and Zero Waste to Landfill plans

Councils don't have the power to enact bans on items like single-use plastics. But they can set up something called a Plastic Wise Policy for events run within the municipality. The Surf Coast Council has created a Plastic Wise Policy for event organisers to work with their stallholders, sponsors, contractors, volunteers, participants and patrons to use alternatives to single use and disposable plastic bags, packaging and promotional materials.

These policies can be extended to include all buildings run by Council like community buildings, council offices, and clubs.

Many Councils have zero-waste to landfill plans. For these plans to work they require change that is outside the control of Councils but that's not to say these plans are not worth implementing. Councils representative groups around Australia would like to have more uniform bans and legislation on materials like plastic and they can use their collective power to advocate this to Federal and State governments.

The zero-waste to landfill plans include building on behaviour change, creating new local systems, encouraging residents to seek alternatives. State governments collect a substantial waste levy that often sits around propping up budgets that could be released and provide more local grants to help small businesses or schools set up programs or integrate changes. I am wary of zero-waste to landfill plans because waste to energy is seen as a solution to keeping waste out of landfill. But it's not. It doesn't address consumption. Doesn't encourage repairing or choosing secondhand. Community will have to help make sure this does not become a "solution". 

Connecting with community and programs for developing projects

Having been involved in many plastic-free and zero-waste community groups I know how important they are for creating change on different levels. Some Councils will publish a list of committed community groups on their website for people to find and connect with. If yours does not have this ask a Councillor to put forward the idea to include it. Having the list published publicly is a great way to let people know they exist.

I'm seeing a rise in Sustainability, Eco or Enviro Champion programs run by Councils. This is a course to help develop a community project that will help the environment. Participants learn a range of skills needed to create their project alongside environmental problems. You don't need an idea before doing these courses either, it might come during the program and you might end up working with someone you meet in the program to bring their project to life. In my area a repair cafe, children eco incursion business, online bulk buy service, and wildlife garden programs was created through this type of program.

Link up with your Council

The best way for community members to direct change, see policies and programs developed requires more than just making comments on social media. You and I need to engage through phone calls, emails, attending events.

Sign up for their newsletters or find other ways to stay up to date with projects requiring community feedback, join any advisory committees if available, attend a Council meeting so you know how it runs. Local government is the most accessible level government to us. Let's make the most it.

System change is important and something that needs to happen if we want a zero waste society to flourish. These system changes can be built today, by you and me, using the tools I mentioned above. It's possible to build resilient regenerative solutions accessible for all right here in our neighbourhoods. In fact we must if we want to move away from the harm of global capitalism. I could write another ten paragraphs about building local systems but not today. Instead I'm going to learn about the candidates plans for the area I live in and make sure I vote for those wanting to create zero waste and plastic free communities, like me.

Photos in this blog post are by Stonnington Council

My reusable party kit & how to join the Party Kit Network Australia

6 August 2020
Reusable Party Kit Network Australia
Three years ago I hosted my first waste-free kids party. It was birthday number one for our kiddo. Due to his inability to comprehend what was happening meant I had full control over everything and to be honest there were more adults than kids. You can read about it here

In the blog post about my sons first zero-waste birthday I wrote about my decision to keep most of the second-hand partyware I spent time collecting. My aim was to share it with anyone in my community wanting to host a zero-waste or low-waste party. Sharing my kit would help reduce single-use party supplies like plates, cups, platters, decorations AND save another person money and time sourcing reusable partyware.

The thing is people only found out about my reusable party kit if they chanced upon that particular blog article, an instagram post or info on Reusable Nation (thanks Vicky and David!). Luckily people have found out about the kit and it has been used by the community saving over 300 single use plates and cups for going to landfill in the past three years.

I began to wonder if there was a website that could help connect reusable party kit holders with members of the community and if not, could I build one. I believe sharing what we already have to be one of the first steps to reducing waste. I knew there were others in Australia with reusable party kits, the problem is finding and connecting with each other easily. A directory would help change that.

After a search of the internets I found nothing in Australia. However I discovered a brilliant set up based in the UK called the Party Kit Network. It was exactly what I envisioned for Australia and so much more. 

The Party Kit Network are a “non-profit community project working to make parties more sustainable. By providing reusable party kits we offer an accessible and easy way to avoid waste from disposables.”


On a whim I decided to reach out to the Party Kit Network asking if they would consider expanding into Australia. After seeing the popularity of community sharing through sites like Responsible Cafes, Trashless Takeaway, ShareWaste and OlioEx I knew the Party Kit Network would do well here too.

My message to the Party Kit Network was met with enthusiasm and I started chatting with the founder Isabel Mack. This led to a zoom chat and a month later a website for Australia - www.PartyKitNetwork.org!


Reusable Party Kit Network Australia
Screenshot of the Australian Party Kit Network website


Reusable Party Kit Network Australia
Zoom call with Isabel confirmed how talented she is!

So what is a reusable party kit?

A party kit has reusable tableware like plates, cups, cutlery, decorations and whatever else you think to be helpful. These help reduce the need to rely on single-use items, saves money and makes planning parties for young and old easier. Everything is picked up or dropped off in one box depending on arrangements made with the kit owner. 

Party Kits are either hired out for free or for a fee. For example, my kit is available for free. If the kit needs to be delivered I'm happy to do this within a certain distance.

A party kits can also be used by schools, community groups, not for profits as a way to raise money.

Information on what each kit contains is on the website along with information on how to book.

Reusable Party Kit Network Australia

I love the huge amount of support there is to get a kit started. To learn how to put a kit together simply become a member. There is no charge for this. You'll receive a guide that will provide a lot of information plus access to a members section. Here you can downloading a logo for your kit, editable posters to advertise in your community (think schools, daycare, community notice boards), a price list template, inventory list, booking guide, discounts to help start up a kit, images for social media...really, everything! There is a supportive and active facebook group too should you need it. Isabel has made it very simple and straightforward.


Reusable Party Kit Network Australia

Once you have your kit organised and set up, you can then register your new listing via the registration form on the website. Here is a link in case you are ready to go > www.partykitnetwork.org/join

Should you need to make any adjustments to your information on the Party Kit Network website you can contact them directly using their email.

What's in Erin's Party Kit?

My reusable party kit in on the map. Here is a peek at my kit:
  • 30 plastic kids plates
  • 30 plastic kids bowls
  • 30 plastic cups
  • 30 sets of plastic cutlery (knife, spoon, fork)
  • 1 plastic jug
  • cloth bunting with the words Happy Birthday
  • reusable cloth pass the parcel bags 
Reusable Party Kit Network AustraliaMy original kit was a mix of kids and adult partyware. I decided to seperate the kits making it easier for sharing and storing. I'm just trying to find secondhand adult cutlery before I list the big people kit which will call proper crockery and adult size cups.

90% of my kids reusable party kit been sourced second-hand including the plastic tub. Originally everything was organised in multiple boxes making the process a little cumbersome. The only thing new are the reusable pass the parcel bags from Partyora.

I chose plastic plates for the kids tableware for two reasons. 

One) kids can be a little more clumsy especially if they are running about with their friends. I'm not so worried about crockery or glass breaking at my house. If someone was to break crockery or glass at a park then it could be hazard for others visiting. I don't know if it's because I'm a parent now but I'm hyper aware of risks. Kids wear open sandals in summer. One small shard of glass or crockery that wasn't picked up can easily slip under and get stuck. Or a child could fall on it. There is also the fear something would break and nothing would be picked up. So plastic was picked for public safety and durability.

Two) These plastic plates, cups, bowls, cutlery, jug were second hand and already existed, so I'm putting them to use rather than risk going to landfill. It wasn't hard for me to find plastic party plates. One look through a Op Shop or Facebook Marketplace and I had a matching set. If enough reusable party kits are set up then demand to manufacture new plastic plates especially from virgin plastic will decrease.

If you are unable to source items for your party kit secondhand don't fret. There are options for buying plastic plates made of recycled material through the Party Kit Network. Do what works for your budget, time and accessibility. The goal of the Party Kit Network is to encourage reusing.

Certain Councils in Australia do recycle this type of plastic tableware but not through kerbside recycling. Contact your local Transfer or Waste Recovery centre for the correct disposal should anything break beyond use.

Compostable options are a good option but still require a lot of energy to grow, make, transport to use once and put into a compost. My home compost would struggle with over 60 compostable products and my council doesn't accept compostable partyware in their organics collection.

What about the washing up?

Most kits owners ask that the items are returned cleaned. I don't mind washing up. There is always someone at the party willing to help so I say get them to assist you. Use the time to catch up and have a chat.

Erin, my town/city/state is in lockdown...

So is mine! While the State of Victoria can't host parties let alone visit with anyone, other areas of Australia are allowed to celebrate. 

If you are unable to host a party because of the current conditions consider using the time to put a kit together if you are keen to join the network. As I mentioned before the Party Kit Network has a compressive guide to setting up a party kit. You might have a lot of the items already.



Help me get the word out

Know a community group, council, library, toy library, neighbour, friend...anyone that has a party kit?Share the website with them. I'm hoping we can get 100 onto the map by September.

A party with 30 kids can equal up to 30 throwaway plates, bowls, cups, spoons, serviettes. Then there are the tablecloths, decorations. That could equal around 160 disposable items.

Creating a reusable party kit in your community will help reduce waste and normalise reusing in a big way. With 30 kids in attendance that's 30 people than can then share this information with their parents or caregivers. Something so simple as sharing and reusing partyware can have a far reaching impact on behaviour habits now and into the future. 

The Party Kit Network features everything I think is needed for a circular regenerative system; sharing, reusing, connecting what we already have with our neighbours makes the Party Kit Network a truly eco friendly alternative.

See you on the Party Kit Network map, Australia!

Modern Mending

21 May 2020
Modern Mending

I can't sew. Okay I'll take that back. I can do basic hand sewing with backstitch being one of of the only stitches I remember as an adult and can somehow do in a straight-ish line. I used to be under the impression having little to no sewing skills means you couldn't repair clothes properly and if you tried, well then the world couldn't see your attempt. Turns out you don't need professional sewing skills to mend clothing (hurrah). All you need is the book Modern Mending by Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald and a basic mending kit to get you started. I liked Erin's book so much I put my endorsement on the front cover. True story. 

If you have been a long time reader of my blog you might recall a post about a small electrical repair enterprise called Bright Sparks. After the (sad) end of Bright Sparks owner Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald  began offering clothing repairs. The style was not the mending I was used to. It was called 'modern mending' and everyone could see it! Stitches or whatever application placed over the hole in your clothing was thereto be seen, a rebellious gesture to the hyper consumer world showing you cared about your clothing and all the resources that went into making it.

I commissioned Erin to mend holes on my much loved green speakers shirt. She not only fixed the the holes but also added personality to my top. From there I was hooked. So hooked I asked Erin to contribute to my first book sharing her mending tips. Over the years Erin has unsurprisingly become a highly sought after teacher and spokesperson in the mending and repair space with her workshops continuously booking out, face popping up in publications, media and voice on the radio.

I had wanted to participate in one of her mending workshops but always missed out. Erin was adamant no one has to be a great sewer to mend, they simply needed to try. She really believes anyone can make do and mend. So when she told me a book was in the works I was delighted. Finally I could have Erin's knowledge and guidance at home with me.

Years of teaching visible mending helped Erin create a book that is for everyone. When I first sat down to read it and try my hand at mending my three year olds pants it felt like like Erin was holding my hand as I worked through the new to me techniques. And I really enjoyed the humour sprinkled throughout.

Around the time I received Erin's book for an advanced reading Woolykins reached out to me asking if i'd like to try their mending kit. It felt serendipitous so I said yes.

My own sewing kit is basic (created by Mum, master sewer extraordinaire!) and has served me well for my basic level of sewing and repairs. Erin does explain in her book how to create a mending kit on your own with second-hand thread, patches and other items handy for mending. But if you are like me, a ready made mending kit was really REALLY helpful to get started and try a variety of techniques. My local secondhand store don't have robust sewing supplies like stores in other areas. And I don't really have anyone to ask for donations. Except Mum. But like most sewers I doubt she would relinquish too much from her own sewing kit just yet, holding onto all her much loved tools, thread and scraps. Luckily the Woolykins Mending Kit is available on Erin's online mending store along with a growing variety of items specific for modern mending.

Modern Mending

Before I talk about Erin's book, let's look at the kit...

The Woolykins kit arrived by post in a cardboard box with a small amount of paper packaging materials. Both have been put into my child's craft pile and can be composted at home or recycled via kerb side recycling. Everything for the kit is packaged inside a cute blue bento style bag. Here is a list of what is inside the kit:

Darning mushroom made from reclaimed hardwood
Darning needles
Thread scissors
Dry felting needle
Biodegradable earth foam block
Needle threader
Thread card with assorted wool and alpaca yarns
Thread card with assorted line and cotton threads
Wool fabric patches
Linen fabric patches
Wool roving (the fluffy stuff)
Loose leaf tea

Thread cards, wool patches, and roving were inside home compostable zip lock bags by the company Better Packaging. These bags are a good option if you have a home compost but I'm not convinced the bags were needed for shipping. I understand moths would have a feast on the wool but perhaps advice on how to store to avoid this happening could work better. The bags clearly ask for re-use before composting and we will do that. The kit is plastic free a commitment I like.

Modern Mending
My red jumper pre-mend


When I saw the red wool thread in the mending kit I immediately jumped for joy. A much loved red woollen jumper has been sitting in my mending pile for about a year and the red thread matched the jumper perfectly. After completing some basic mends on my sons pants I decided it was time to attempt my fave jumper with the help of Erin's book.

This red woollen jumper was purchased second-hand in Hobart sometime in 2014. You'll easily see me wearing this every other day from autumn through to early spring. With its frequent wearing holes developed under both arms, one on the hem, a hole near the breast, the beginnings of another under that one, and lastly small dark blemishes on the bottom left.

There are five technique themes in the book ranging from beginner to more experienced. I of course kept to the beginner steps. Here are some photos of the book to give you an idea of info and layout:


First up the holes were darned using the classic darning method. I did have to start the first one several times since the weave of the wool was fine. But once I began to understand the fabric (something Erin helps with in Fabric 101 at the start) and the right darning needle, it became easier to do. In hindsight I should have practiced on the holes under the arms.

A glimpse at what needed mending


After the two holes near the breast were mended I decided to sew a heart around each one mimicking the large heart already on the jumper. Both were a little wonky but I liked them. I did use templates I cut out on scrap paper to help sew a heart shape.

Once the holes were mended I was a little stumped on how to cover the small stains.  As I flicked through Erins mending guide I kept coming back to needle felting using wool from the jumper. I could needle felt a heart shape over the stain and the two darning mends higher up the jumper.

Needle felting is essentially taking a clump of wool and pushing it into the fabric where it somehow magically stays. I didn't have an exact colour match for my jumper so I took Erin's advice to use wool from the same jumper, pulled out my wool comb/sweater comb. Well it worked and I'm pleased with how the hearts turned out. I was so impressed I considered offering commissions myself. Kidding. I have enough worn knees on my childs pants to keep me busy. 

Modern Mending
Needle felting in progress

I looked forward to working on my jumper after my toddler went to bed each night, enjoying the meditative task to unwind from a busy day. My mum tried really hard to teach me to sew when I was a child but I didn't enjoy how slow and fiddly sewing was. Admittedly I was around eight years old and even more stubborn then. Getting into modern mending has helped boost my confidence to try learning sewing again and once classes open up after this peculiar time I look forward to joining. 

Erin's book has a lot of photos and illustrations making it very easy to follow along. I appreciated the close up photos and detailed step by steps provided. It was simple for me to figure out if I was doing something right or not. Her writing is down to earth and chatty but straightforward where it needs to be. You can tell from the text Erin is passionate about mending and reducing fashion waste. Modern Mending isn't only about mending; creativity, problem solving, and activism is also at the heart of this book.

Modern Mending
I'm not sure why the photo has blurred but you get the idea :)
Modern Mending
Finished!

Modern Mending
Another photo because I'm proud as punch :)

I couldn't wait to put on my “new” jumper. When I left the house for our afternoon walk I wanted to tell everyone we met I fixed my own jumper. I darned holes. I needle felted. I learnt a new skill. On reflection I think what I really wanted to tell people was I can look after my clothes and stop them from going to landfill, so can you. Visibly mending clothing is a growing trend and it's no wonder Erin's book is a popular resource leading the way.

Modern Mending is available at all good book stores and online.

The Woolykins mending kit can be found on their website and at Modern Mending Shop, Erin's mending supply store.


P.S I'd like to thank FeedSpot for featuring me in the Top 30 Eco-Friendly Mom Blogs and Websites To Follow in 2020

SCRAP, Swanpool Creative Recycled Art Prize

8 May 2020

Last year I took a road trip to visit my grandparents on the South Coast of New South Wales. The journey required a detour to the very tiny village of Swanpool, 20 minutes off the highway, in country Victoria. My sister and her family had left behind car roof racks when they finished their housesit in the village. Since they were now in Sydney it was easier for me to collect the roof racks on the way through.

I jumped out of the car quickly to collect my sisters things hoping kiddo would stay asleep in the backseat. But as I started chatting with the owner of the house my son woke up. I had hoped he would stay sleeping so we could stop further along the highway. Seeing anxiety on my face as cries grew louder the kind person suggested I visit the local hall for the Swanpool Creative Recycled Art Prize and have something to eat.

I only heard the words “art prize” and “eat.” Eating was a good idea for both of us but art prize, maybe not. I drove up the road to the Swanpool Memorial Hall hoping there was a small park at least because a cranky toddler wandering around an art show is the perfect disaster recipe.

Surprisingly the carpark was busy and as I started to undo my seat belt the dark clouds I had been driving under let fourth the rain I had been hoping to avoid. The art prize it was.

Related blog post: The Ersatz Fantasia Project

As we settled down to enjoy a scrumptious home cooked lunch and piece of cake I looked over the literature given to me on our arrival. The exhibition was dedicated to recycled art.

A war on waste art show.

Was it fate a zero-waste advocate stumbled upon an art show made of rubbish?

I eyed my son. Judging by his calm behaviour I knew the energy from his lunch had not kicked in yet. So I had at least 30 minutes before he needed to burn that energy off. The art would be safe.

The Swanpool Creative Recycled Art Prize is the largest exhibition of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Entries must be created from at least 75% recycled material, including salvaged or repurposed materials. The work can be wearable, functional and artistic pieces, outdoor art, two and three dimensional works and more.

I was very impressed with the entries and decided to snap a couple of photos to share on the blog.

This would be a great exhibition to visit with kids. My then 2.5 yr old loved everything but I think older kids would get a lot out of seeing how waste can be repurposed and how art can be used to make comment on environmental and social issues.

At the moment the 2020 Swanpool Creative Recycled Art Prize is planned to run from Saturday 1 August to Sunday 16 August.

Entry forms are available online: www.swanpoolanddistrict.com.au/scrap-2020-update.html





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