Broccoli pesto

16 December 2013
Broccoli pesto
I first made pesto when I was living on my own at University. On my kitchen windowsill sat three happy herb plants; parsley, mint and basil.
The basil plant always did a little too well. I would come back from class or work, and it felt like the plant had grown another 5cm. I was constantly adding basil to dishes so none of the herb would go to waste.

Even now I do not like having food go to waste. So when we had a growing collection of left over stalks from broccoli I decided to turn it into broccoli pesto. It is great to toss in with roasted vegetables, a cold pasta dish or on roasted sardines. I opted for some pistachio nuts as we had no pine nuts in the house. Necessity is definitely the mother of invention. This will make 1 1/2 - 2 cups.

2 cups of raw broccoli stems
1/2 cup of pistachios roasted
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 tablespoons grated lemon
Salt and pepper to taste 

How to put it together
Place all the ingredients into your blender or food processor and blend. If you find the consistency is not smooth enough add olive oil until mixture is at a consistency you enjoy. Freeze what you don't use and write on the jars how much is in there. That way you know if you have 1/2 cup or 1 cup frozen. The pesto will be good to freeze for six months

Optional: Add basil leaves. Basil leaves have a sweet peppery taste. If you add basil leaves wait until the end to see if the pesto needs any pepper.

My first clothing exchange

5 December 2013

clothing exchange australia

When I was young one of my favorite game was dress ups. My mum kept a lot of her clothes from the late 70s and early 80s.
They sat in large garbage bags in her closet. A treasure trove for the imaginative kids that we were. My siblings and the neighborhood kids would regularly ransack the pile, making a mess as we put together worlds built on the outfits we assembled. You could say that from then I have always had an affiliation for second hand clothes.

Where I grew up there were no malls or buildings worthy of being called a shopping center (at least to a girl in her teens). The next town over had a handful of shops that my friends and I would trawl through for that magic outfit. As much as I loved doing the circuits with my friends I undoubtedly preferred second hand clothes.

What the area lacked in popular clothes stores it made up with the abundance of second hand clothes stores known as opportunity shops in Australia (affectionately called called Op shops). I would purchase items and take them home where I would get my mum to use her talented sewing fingers to adjust for me.

My style had always swayed between second hand and new. That was until I learnt about fast fashion and the waste produced. About that time I had moved to London and with my goal on saving for travel rather than shopping I switched my style to second hand or re purposed clothes. With London you have an HUGE variety of second hand clothing stores and places like TRAID could fulfill buying “new”.

As I write this I am wearing second hand jeans and a old top my friend did need anymore. I had never traded clothes with a friend before. It was sustainable and cost efficient way I could update my look and stick to my second hand mantra.

I remembered reading about The Clothing Exchange and saw they were hosting a fashion exchange for ahm in the city. I had to go!
Here is how it works:

1. Bring up to 6 items of clothing (anymore and it would have been even more crazy than it was!). The clothes are inspected by staff to ensure the clothes are good quality (no stains or holes). I took four dresses, one shirt and a handbag.

2. Receive a token for each of you items.

3. Use your tokens to swap for clothes.
I had not expected the large crowd of women and men, but the day worked seamlessly and was fun. There were a floor of helpers available too. Plus whatever is left over is given to charity.

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

clothing exchange australia

If you decide to visit a clothing exchange here are my tips:
  • Go to where the tops are. That seemed like the first to go!
  • Try to only take 3 items into the change rooms (yes, there are change rooms). This keeps the swapping field fair for everyone. 
  • Hang around after the first wave of people try on their clothes. You never know what will come back out of the change rooms
I scored a new skirt, a top, sweatshirt, and a slip. Not bad for my first clothing swap.

UPDATE: Have you been thinking about getting a new outfit for that work Christmas party? You are in luck. The next clothing swap for Melbourne will be on the 9th December. Head to Deakin Edge, Federation Square at 6:30pm to check-in your clothes. Swapping starts at 7:00pm. You can get your tickets here.

Wondering what fast fashion is? Check out this video:

Let me know if you have ever been to a clothing swap and what your tips are. And if there are stores in Australia that let you swap your old clothes i'd love to hear your experiences there?

Trashed the movie

2 December 2013
In the last six months I have dug my heels in, striving towards a sustainable life.

It has become a passion, learning to wean out the disposable plastic from my life, buying in bulk, wasting less and just trying to be plain ol’ kinder to the earth that I get to walk on each day. Articles and books about plastic and waste are devoured each week. It seems to be a drum I can’t stop beating and left the builder asking if I’m going to turn into a bare foot plastic fearing hippy.

Recently I have stopped patting myself on the back for the efforts made to be more sustainable. Instead parts of my life that are not wholly sustainable are magnified, and I feel like I have lost the battle. The mountain looks too big. The other day I was left wondering why I bother as I pick up another handful of rubbish from the footpath on my way to get the bulk items free of packaging. Nobody else cares, so why should I? It was a bit of a pity party.

Last Thursday night I was reminded why I care as I sat in the dark, with other like minded people watching the movie Trashed. From the moment Tim Silverwood of Take 3 Clean Beach began the introduction to the film right until to the end I was thrust back onto my path and felt more fired up than ever.

Trashed is a documentary about our garbage, what we do and don't do with it. It is the type of film you hope more people see as it screams out a message that we are in trouble if we don't change our ways. The subject studies the effects of trash on our health as he talks to a range of people. It is somber and had me wiping away at tear or two. Jeremy Irons takes us around the world showing this is a global problem that is oblivious to most of the world. It's the somber message that makes you want to stand up and make a change. The film ends on a warmer note as you witness individuals, groups and cities that have made it there goal to be sustainable as no other option. It was a message I needed to see and hear. To be reminded why the choice I am making is not in vain.

Image from
If you can, get your hands on a copy and watch it with a group of friends. Don't forget the tissues hanky.

Learning to travel without single use plastic

25 November 2013
I am going to start this post with a little anecdote to show how I didn't think far enough ahead when it came to travelling in Myanmar without using any single use plastic.

I had planned to not buy any plastic water bottles on the trip. My reusable drinks bottles were ready, sitting next to my beat up backpack. The day I was due to set off I found myself in Paddy Pallin purchasing an item for my mum (who was my awesome travel buddy and was super patient with the whole no plastic thing). 

As I stood in line getting ready to pay, I started to think about dinner. This thought then that led to plane food and all plastic cutlery that is given to you...wrapped in plastic. I had a flight to Kuala Lumpur followed by a connection to Yangon. That would be two sets of cutlery. Plus I had internal flights. That was a lot of plastic to consume. I only had metal cutlery from home, which I knew any airline would not allow in my carry on. As I looked at the selection of metal and plastic travel cutlery at Paddy Pallin, a wave of guilt flooded over me. I either had the option of buying something here or eat with my hands. 

I hurriedly bought a plastic contraption that was a spoon/fork/knife combo. Yep it was plastic and went against the aim of not buying plastic. But having one item that was bought for the purpose of reusing was ok. At least that was what I told myself. 

I am pleased to say that it was used ALOT. And still does. A part of me does wish I had bought something biodegradable, like wood. I also think next time i will take my own food on the flight.

travel without plastic

I was reminded of the biggest rule for avoiding plastic and any waste in general – be prepared. Sit down, write a list of every possible scenario and get yourself prepared. Since I have come back, I have found the perfect items to take when you travel to avoid plastic. 

travel without plastic

Water was easy. I found boiling to be the best option. I boiled the water twice, let it cool and poured into my two litre water bottles. You must let it cool as the hot water will heat up the steel or aluminium of the reusable bottle and you won't be able to carry it. 

I am, in a geeky way, proud that I did the full two weeks without buying one plastic water bottle and turning down free ones offered to us in the hotel rooms. Every room that I stayed in had a kettle. So the process was super easy. I did not get any upset stomachs (my biggest fear) and still don't have any signs I bought back a bug. 

However, the kettles were made of plastic and I began to wonder if the plastic was leaking into my water after being boiled to death. 

travel without plastic

We had a eight hour boat trip down the Ayarwaddy from Mandalay to Bagan. We were advised to take our own food and ventured to the local market to get snacks. I love checking out local food markets and supermarkets when I travel. This is where taking your own fold up bag comes in handy. I have had this bag for years time and I take it everywhere. So bringing it along felt like second nature. We were able to buy snacks and pop them into the reusable fold up bag. It also came in handy when I did my souvenir shopping. 

Some plastic did make its way into the trip in the form of food packaging that we shared. I did feel guilty about this (ahh this guilt!). I was doing pretty good avoiding packaged food but temptation got to me and we went halves on local treats.  There was also the first internal plane trip and I had a roll and cake, that were wrapped in cling film. I didn't open the cutlery. There is my confession and below is the evidence.

Ugh, the guilt! I did bring back the cling film from the rolls and cakes to wash and reuse at home. 

While I succeeded with my aim to not purchase or use a single plastic bottle, I feel I could have done a better job with my overall plastic use. So if you are about to embark on a trip, whether it be two weeks or two days, sit down and plan every bit. I am now seeing this as the way to be best prepared for tackling single use plastic use. 

I was happy to see glimpses of environmental awareness throughout the country. It was uplifting and made me hopeful. I hope they do for you too.

travel without plastic

travel without plastic

travel without plastic

Myanmar, the golden land

18 November 2013

‘How was Burma?”
‘You mean Myanmar.’
‘Yeah that’s what I meant, Myanmar.’
‘It was fabulous.’
‘Where is it again?’

This has been the casual exchange since I have returned from my jaunt to Myanmar (or to be technical the Republic of the Union of Myanmar).

I can understand why people ask where it is. Myanmar has not been included on the holiday packages that take travellers on the South-East Asia ring road of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. It has sat in the shadow of its neighbours. I won’t get into the politics of the country’s forced isolation. But I was happy to hear from locals that they wanted people to visit their country, see the rich and varied culture. Aung San Suu Kyi’s face is immortalised on calendars, framed in photos and splashed across t-shirts. People are not afraid to show or talk about politics. A sign of a peoples hope for their future.

Before jumping aboard my plane, I had conjured up ideas that it is backwards and behind its south eastern Asian brothers and sisters due to it unpopularity. Especially since the travel sanctions have lifted and the travel supplements of newspapers advised that you must get there before everything changes.

How wrong. Myanmar is an organised and efficient country that is catering to the growing swell of interested people. I don’t know if it was travellers luck, but I did not encounter anything that would warrant this country as backwards or slow in the context of its history. I visited Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake. Each place is so uniquely different with history in every nook and cranny. The food is like nothing I had ever tried. There are small overlapping elements from the neighbouring countries cuisine and English colonial influence. The stand out dish was mohinga soup that made for a robust way to start the day.

The easiest and probably fastest way to get around is by plane. The trains are slow and we were advised to avoid buses. I don’t mind a slow train and have been on many (hello Serbia and Cambodia!). But this trip I decided it was better to maximise my time. Instead we enjoyed an 8 hour boat ride from Mandalay to Bagan. Our hotels had advice on what to do in the area and can team you up with local guides. There are places like Bagan and Inle Lake where a local guide is needed to explain the history of the area and help you get about.

If you want a place bursting with kind, humble people and exotic surroundings put Myanmar on your ever growing list of places to visit. I’d say get there before the tourists do, but I have seen they already have.

How I found a fabulous hat and avoided fashion waste at the races

12 November 2013
I grew up in a country town and one of the big social events was the local races. It was never about the horses. It was about an excuse to dress up and put on a fancy hat.

The months of October and November is the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne. The Builder and I were fortunate to receive tickets for Stakes Day.

Due to the last minute surprise of the tickets, I did not get organised to buy a second hand hat. So I found myself at a department store trying on one hat after the other. I stood in a mirror admiring the assortment of ribbons and tulle atop my head, when I suddenly realised buying a hat that I probably will not wear again was wasteful. It went against my second hand style ethos too.

Last year I bought a vintage hat to go with my second hand dress. But that took a few weekends to find. With my vintage dress featuring a loud pop of lime green, I know trying to find a hat that matched would be hard to do in less than a week, especially with the vintage stores not so close to my work. And even though I love the hat I bought last year, it does take up precious room and I am not sure where I will wear it again.

I had read about websites that rented out designer handbags, so surely there would be something for hats…especially in Melbourne. So I put the tulle down, stepped away from the feathers and sinamay, then had a search on the internet.

Designer Hat Hire came up, within 5 minutes I found the perfect hat to match my 1950s vintage cocktail dress. The name of the business does what it says – lets discerning hat lovers rent a hat.

There were many options and you could see clearly if your hat was available or not. I placed my order and it showed up the day before the event. The service was professional and the hat was just what I was looking for. They also cater for weddings.

A few days after the event, the hat was picked up by the crew at Designer Hat Hire, ready for a new head. I was quite chuffed to discover this service and thought it was a fun solution and minimised waste. Plus I would not have to worry about storing a hat away. I was also delighted to here that the brains and beauty behind this cleaver business, Kerrie Stanley, favoured up-cycled materials to make the gorgeous creations on offer.

As for the races – it was an anti-plastic nightmare. It seemed my mind must have stopped working after attaining my pleated green treasure of a hat. I felt really annoyed at myself that I didn't think to take my own cup. It would have been an easy fix. I have a wine glass sitting in my picnic basket at home. But I just plain old forgot. So there is my confession, I used one plastic cup and recycled it. I am not perfect. I know there will be times I will fall off the horse, so to say. But with practice, I know that I will fall less and less. Everything takes practice and to me, practice is perfect.

Tell me, what ideas or tips do you have to make your race day experience more sustainable?

Plastic free kitchen (almost)

13 October 2013
I am excited this week. You might think it's because I have my impending trip to Myanmar in six days. Well I am excited for that! But this week I'm excited about something else...

My kitchen is almost free of plastic packaging.

That’s right. I predict in the next fortnight there will be no more food in plastic packaging. The pantry and fridge will be void of packaged pasta, rice, noodles and frozen vegetables. Admittedly I did decant my spices into glass jars I found at a second hand store and recycled the plastic (more on that below).

The last remaining plastic packaged items are rice paper rolls. Hurrah.

I’m not going to throw out food for the sake of my plastic-free crusade. I have accepted this is a slow process and I'm tackling this at the speed of a turtle. Turtle speed power! After all it's about making better choices and not perfection. Being new to this eco living and less plastic thing I feel the need to always remember that I'm still learning.

While I have been tempted to throw all the plastic packaging away and start fresh, instead I'm honouring the resources by reusing instead. Some of the plastic packaging will work great to put loose vegetables and food from the bulk store when we do our weekly shop and I'll use them until they begin to wear. Then I'll look into getting reusable cloth bags. I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't happen for another year.

We buy our grains, beans, rice, flour, nuts, cereals from a bulk store now and the vegetables are from a grocer as they have more plastic free produce. Shopping at bulk food stores has been an interesting adjustment. Nothing is packaged! Instead there are big bags, dispensing bins, tubs of whatever food you want. I then come along with my own packaging, bag, container, jar and fill it up. Just yesterday I took bags to the bulk store, they weighed them, then I filled them up with lentils and nuts (seperate bags of course), the staff at the store reweighed subtracting the original weight, I pay for the food not the packaging, we have a chat, then I leave. This is called to tare.

There is a bulk food store right here in our suburb that the Builder's grandparents shopped at. It's not huge and is more of a ethnic food store, but is affordable compared to the dedicated bulk store Friends of the Earth in Collingwood. I would like to visit CERES bulk food store soon too. I need to visit these stores if I want more variety, spices, cleaning products and even shampoo! Yes, I can get my shampoo bottles refilled. Or go back to shampoo bars.

When I get home I then transfer most of the food to glass jars that I've kept from recycling or gathered from Op shops. You don't need to buy new glass jars at all. Repeat, you don't need to buy new glass jars. The old pasta bottles are sturdy and work well.

Let’s get back to these plastic packages I have been left that we can't use to shop with. Some went to landfill but most we discovered are a soft plastic that can be recycled through the new RedCycle program at Coles a local chain of supermarkets similar to Kroger in the US or Tesco in the UK.

recycle plastic australia

REDcycle allows shoppers to return packaging to be recycled into outdoor furniture and signs. Presently, soft plastics can't be recycled through kerbside collection.

What can be recycled at REDCycle bins?
  • Shopping bags
  • Fresh fruit and veggie bags
  • Bread bags
  • Biscuit packaging
  • Confectionery packaging
  • Rice & pasta packets
  • Frozen food bags
  • Reusable or ‘green’ bags

REDcycle bins are found at a variety of Coles around Australia. Hopefully there will be more in other locations soon.

We are keeping a box in the pantry to collect any incidental soft plastics that may find themselves in our house. It's essentially there for emergencies including any soft plastic i pick up on my walks, and if the builder buys food that is carried in soft plastic or visitors at the house. While the Builder supports my decision to say no to plastic packaging, I realise this is my journey so I don’t beret him if said plastics end up on our pantry shelves.

Habits are had to break and giving consumers the option to recycle is fantastic. But I feel we need to see more innovative ways to stop all this plastic packaging. We can't recycle our way out of this. I guess this is when we begin writing to companies and the government to look at alternatives.

We ran out of our plastic cling wrap too and are using plates on top of bowels, jars, tupperware instead. And it works! I did read about beeswax wraps and had a look online to buy. They were a little expensive so I might try making my own with local beeswax and cotton remants from Spotlight. The beeswax acts as a water proof barrier for the cotton and they can be washed in cool soapy water (never hot).

I've also begun making homemade dips like an avocado tahini dip which is amazing! Simple vinegar based salad dressings, mustards, mayonnaise and pasta sauce.

I'm seeing more food scraps in our bin now they aren't hidden under plastic packaging. So to reduce the food scraps I am...

  • Making my own apple and pear cider vinegar from scraps. It's very easy! I take 6 large apple cores and peels, 1 tablespoon of sugar and around 6-7 cups of water, preferably without the chlorine (I was told to let water sit for 24 hrs and the chlorine will break down?). Cover everything in a sterilised jar then cover with a breathable cloth. I try to do this on a Friday night so then I can stir it several time on the weekend. Then once it starts t bubble you can decrease stirring to once a day which you'll ave to do for two weeks. By this stage it will be ready so strain and bottle, remembering to burp (open to release the air) the bottle every so often. The leftover fruit goes onto the garden.
  • Saving up the tops and tails of all my vegetables when cooking to make a vegetable broth and i've also experimented with making a relish with them too. 
  • Storing my fruit and vegetables properly. Such as tomatoes in the fruit bowl not the fridge, carrots in water. Wrapping herbs in a damp towel. Avocado in a glass jar with the seed.
  • Using citrus skins infused in vinegar to make homemade cleaning products. The oils in from the citrus really help to cut through grime. I just fill up a jar 3/4 of the way with the peels then top with the vinegar and let it sit for six weeks. Strain it off and into a glass pray bottle I upcycled from an old glass bottle I found at home. The citrus is then sprinkled on the garden. 
  • Making candied citrus peel. I'm not wholly sold on that but it's an OK snack.

Now we are no longer using plastic, we are storing food differently too. Glass jars for the freezer. Which might sound intimidating but really it's not. To freeze cooked food, i simply let it cool down before transferring to a jar. I never fill to the top, leaving a two finger gap to allow the food to expand. I also try not to use glass jars with shoulders too and the wider the mouth, the better. Also be careful to stack the freezer so nothing slips out. I have been thinking about getting old socks to put around the jars just incase a jar should fall or if it breaks.

If I want to freeze raw vegetables or fruit in their own and not part of a meal, i'll put them onto a tray and freeze, then place into a glass jar. That way I can get out what I need easier, for example if i need half a cup of frozen carrots then I can pull them out easily, just like a plastic bag of frozen vegetables. I was freezing food in the plastic bags but find the packaging gets holes rather quickly. So off to RedCycle it went.

I'm also been thinking about how lucky I am to access to stores where I can buy food without packaging (technically there is packaging, but I don't have to deal with it), the time to research and try this new way of living out. Having an OK income is a factor that could make it easier but if anything I'm saving money. Then there is also my physical ability because buying in bulk is heavy on the arms! Part of this journey has highlighted that some of these eco swaps are easier for those with less physical ability, time, location and money. Just something I need to keep in mind.

4 ways to say NO to plastic bottles when you travel

5 October 2013
I have a holiday to Myanmar coming up. I am eagerly counting down, until I get to shut down my computer, ditch my phone and spend two weeks in a new land.

I also plan to say no to plastic bottles.

Myanmar (also known as Burma) lays snugly between Thailand, India, China, Laos and Bangladesh. Besides being worried about snakes (I hear they have many) I am also worried about, the waste I could potentially create while I am there from plastic water bottles.

Why am I thinking of buying water bottles when I can use my trusty Sigg bottles? Myanmar does not have safe tap water and buying plastic bottles is the easiest way to avoid getting sick.
Water is kind of a necessity so I’m in a little bit of a panic mode thinking of how I am going to combat this issue. Especially with the heat, I know my water intake will be higher than normal. A lot higher.

I cringe thinking back to how many plastic bottles I went through in India or Cambodia. Often these countries do not have adequate tap water and your reliance on a disposable bottle of water becomes greater. Then you travel around these countries and see where these water bottles end up in make do landfill on the side of the road, discarded in local environments and clogging up waterways.

alternative to plastic bottles travelling
Image from
And here I sit, sipping water from my glass realiSing with uneasy guilt just how much we take water for granted. Not just clean water, the ability to reuse the vessels it comes to us in.

So what am I going to do?

I researched a whole bunch of methods to remedy this, exhausting google with terms like ‘how to purify’ or ‘how can I drink water safely in Myamar.’

The internet coughed up results like tablets, purifiers, LifeStraws, and boiling water.

Tablets were my first go to option. But then reading in more depth, the chemical factor got to me. The tablets varied between iodine and Micropur, each with drawbacks like the chemicals going into my body and high iodine levels. But the ease of popping tablets into water and waiting for them to work their magic does make them an easy and carefree option. Then I think of the packaging of the tablets. It all got a bit much and I put them into the ‘might be good in case of emergency’ list.

Filters looked great. The total filter especially ticked yes boxes. The price and size of the ones that offered filtration of parasites made me take a step back. If I was going somewhere for a longer period of time I wold definitely go in this direction. Plus Cheryl Strayed made working filters sound like fun. Really, she did. Yep, they are made with plastic but can be reused many MANY times. It’s disposable plastic I am trying to avoid here after all.

LifeStraw is a miraculous device that works as a straw but with a built in filter. Check it out, because it is awesome. The straw lasts for 3-5 years, depending on how much it is used. So the potential for it to be used over a long period of time is definitely a bonus. Plus the price is affordable. There are different styles but I am having a hard time reading their website, so will need a little more investigating.

Boiling water seemed like the best option and most effective. Boiling water will kill all the harmful things that make people sick. Then all I need to do is transfer my boiled water to my Sigg water bottles. So simple and I know I can boil water. The only problem is finding a place to boil water. The logical step is to email places that I am staying to see if they have kitchens that I can use. The downside is if I want to make the time in my busy schedule to sit down and boil close to 2L of water each night.

As you can see, there are options.

I know there will be instances when I will need to buy a plastic water bottle. There is nothing worse than being sick, even more so when you are in a foreign land and can’t speak the language. If I have to choose between myself and a plastic bottle, I will ultimately pick what is best for my health. Until I am faced with that decision I will do the best I can. I have seen what a country looks like with consumption of plastic being tossed aside and forgotten. I don’t want to leave my waste behind for them to deal with. I want to explore this country with purpose and tread lightly.

Have you used any of the above methods for dodging plastic consumption while travelling or use for other reasons? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

If you want to help get clean water to Myanmar check this article here and here (I know the last link are a company that produces plastic products, but hey, they are trying to help).

Clean streets = clean beach

15 September 2013

The first environmentalist that made an impact on my life was my dad – I just did not know it until now. I chatted about it with my siblings, each of us with the memory of him picking up other peoples tossed aside food wrappers.

It was never him walking around our town with a bag collecting rubbish. Only what he encountered on his way to his destination in town. It was such a simple act. Pick up and place in bin. There was no anger about doing it or a lecture to us to do the same. It is like he does it without thinking. He simply saw a problem and responded.

I do it also, having learnt from my dad’s habit. On my way to the train station, walks to the shops – if I see a piece of rubbish I will dispose of it. It’s not hard. I don’t get angry at the person that left it there. Simply, I don’t want it ending up at my beach where I swim or in the bushland I hike in. So I move it. Even the builder has mimicked my moves and will do the same when we go for walks by the local river. The rubbish I pick up ended up on the street or parkland for different reasons; maybe it fell out of someone’s bag, it got blown out of a rubbish bin, or perhaps there was not a bin available. The idealist part of me like to believe people would not intentionally leave rubbish behind.

Why do I make the effort to pick up another person’s rubbish? The answer is simple. To stop it from getting into our waterways. The chip packet or bottle you have seen laying on the side of the road has the possibility of getting washed into a storm water drain and ending up in a local river or ocean. Huge amount of debris get washed into our waterways, while most of it gets caught in stormwater litter traps or beach-end drain there are pieces that escape and can get through.

Image from
Pockets of people with the same attitude are coming together and creating organisations that are spreading the message of picking up rubbish before it ends up in our oceans. It is exciting to see. One of those organisations is Take 3.

Take 3 encourages beach goers around the world to collect 3 pieces of rubbish from the beach to dispose of responsibly. Three pieces of rubbish. While the focus is on collecting from the beaches of the world, the organisation believes in taking from everywhere. Proud supporters will tag the rubbish collection on instagram. It puts a smile on my face to see people standing excitedly with the rubbish they picked up. I know the lively feeling.

So I am going to take it further and I am asking you too. Let’s expand it, focusing on our streets and start taking three. Let’s stop the food packaging from sitting forgotten in our drains and ending up in our waterways, flowing into our beautiful oceans. Having a clean beach starts here in our cities and town; on our doorsteps.

How I got rid of packaging during my periods

5 August 2013
Ladies products. Sanitary items. Never thought I'd be so damn interested in writing about this subject.

Since jumping on board the Plastic Free July bandwagon and deciding to continue on with it, my shopping habits have been scrutinized. Everything I buy has been put under a microscope. And this includes below the waist line products. I have already reviewed alternate to tampons and had such a lovely response that I thought I'd go ahead a try cotton pads.

The concept of the menstrual pad has not changed much. The fibers used today are less natural than what our ancestors used back in the day. Wool, papyrus, sponges, grass and cotton (to name a few) have been used as different methods across this mighty globe. They were organic and went back into the earth.

I am a woman that had not used any of the above (or would want to, lets be honest). But I am a woman that has become interested in less plastic. And this means tackling the issue of the products I use down there, each month.

Of course the items we used today fit out lives. Our days are different to what we did hundreds of years ago, we move in different ways. What works for us has led to the current design of the modern pad. But with the design and our on the go life, other elements have crept in that are not organic and won't go back into the earth. Plastics. Chemicals.

So when I went looking for a product that would replace what was familiar to me I was naturally drawn to Luna Pads.

Image from
Luna pads is a fabric pad that fits just like your regular, run of the mill menstrual pads that you buy. Except, they are made of cotton and are washable. Yep, you wash these in your washing machine (or by hand). It's not as gross as it sounds. Really. Again, this is the type of product you need to use if you have a comfortable relationship with your body. So far I have enjoyed two months with them (I use them with my mooncup because I am a lady that has been blessed with a more generous flow) and had no trouble. The clip onto your regular underwear and off you go. 

You might be thinking how do I carry them when they are not wrapped in plastic? Luna Pads has thought of that. These little beauties fold up and you can purchase a washable bag that you carry them in. No one is the wiser. Plus you get to choose the fabric for all the products you buy. I picked the mermaid pattern!

While there are many brands that offer the same product I decided on Luna Pads (Luna? Moon goddess...Moon cup. What's with the nocturnal references?) because of their dedication to providing girls and women a free pad for each one purchased by you and me through their One4Her program. And the wonderful ladies at Luna Pads shipped my goods out here with no plastic, which was an added bonus! 

I'd love to hear from you. Have you tried cloth fabric pads?

I'm quitting plastic: Plastic Free July 2013 is not the end, only the beginning

31 July 2013
My first Plastic Free July ends tomorrow and I have decided I'm quitting plastic.

Why? Simply because this challenge held a mirror up to my life and my habits...I do alot of buying without thinking. I don't think about the people affected by the manufacturing of the item or where the packaging will end up. I use a lot of plastic, more than I need. Way more than I realised. It's scary and sad. In the first week my dilemma bag was full of plastic straws (not against them myself but I don't need one), plastic bags, produce bags, coffee cup lids from my chai, food packaging, takeaway, online clothing purchases....AGH! 

I'm not anti plastic, only anti the misuse. Plastic has been beneficial in health care and transport. But plastic packaged junk food, maybe not?!

Of course the whole problem is not on me, alone. There are big companies and big people making alot of money out of plastic. So while I *try* to quit plastics on a personal level, I also be will work to figure out what I can do to change beyond the individual. There has to be something. 

It's not just the huge amount of plastic that has led me to this decision. There is also the upsides to reducing my plastic; I ate healthier food, saved money, took the bin out less, enjoyed more of my life without opening my wallet. 

So this little space on the internet was going to be a travel diary of sorts. Move aside, it's now a blog about plastic free living.

I never imagined watching one movie would lead me a big lifestyle change. But there you go. It has.

Here is a round up of why I'm going to continue this plastic free challenge beyond July

The environment surrounding the petrochemical factories and manufacturing facilities and recycling and landfill... are commonly low economic and being introduced to polluted air, water, food sources. My role as a mindless consumer encouraged corporations creating the plastics to continue taking advantage of poor communities. My purchases were part of the chain that endangered a persons health due to lax environmental laws and unfair working environments propped up by the Westerns obsession with stuff and convenience. The more I read the more I realise how Western practices really screw over non-white people. So while I'm learning about this I'm also looking at how my own life has attributed to this and what I can do to make changes in the future. 

Eight million metric tons of our plastic waste enter the oceans from land each year. It migrates through our creeks, rivers, beaches and storm water run off, through different circumstances. Ocean currents take the plastic to gyres, creating large areas of concentrated plastic in our oceans. During the plastics movement, marine animals becoming tangled init pollution and are mistaking it for food. Albatross on the Midway Atoll are dying due to the heavy amount of plastic pollution found in traditional feeding areas. Here in Australia, vast quantities on turtles are dying due to the ingestion of plastic bags. What's worst is many communities also rely on polluted areas as their food source. 

From extraction to production, the manufacturing of plastic has a heavy impact on the environment, polluting air, soil and ground water. It requires the use of fossil fuels, oil and gas, both of which are non renewable resources. The pollution from fossil fuels contributes to 19,000 deaths every day. Then there is the resources, waste and danger associated with shipping nurdles (plastic pellets before they become a single us plastic spoon) around the world. Once plastic is used and disposed of, it does not completely breakdown.

Unlike organic matter nothing in plastic is returned to the soil for nourishment, food or life. It will sit around clogging up landfill or end up in our rivers, oceans, forests and deserts, releasing chemicals into the environment. Plastic is disturbing the natural environment everywhere.

Plastic can break apart, becoming microscopic particles known as micro plastics. They act as magnets for other harmful toxins like DDT. Scientists are seeing these micro plastics entering our food chain, being found in fish, honey, beer and salt.

Potentially harmful chemicals / Bisphenol A (BPA), Bisphenol F (BPF), Bisphenol S (BPS), Phthalates, Vinyl Chloride, Dioxin, Styrene; the list of the chemical compounds found in plastic that could cause reproductive and brain development, asthma, obesity, diabetes and cancer did not sit comfortably with me and I was left wondering; did I really need these chemicals in my life? Was the uncertainty of these chemicals worth the risk? The answer was no. I understood that some plastics have become necessary in our lives. For instance in medicine and transport. But much of the plastic I was using, exposed me to these potentially harmful chemicals, could be avoided.

Recycling is a bandaid
I used to think recycling would solve our environmental issues that greenies were always going on about. I was a lazy recycler, meaning many items that ended up in my recycling bin, were put in there under the guise that someone on the other end would figure out for me if it was truly recyclable. I quickly realised that recycling in the not the solution. While our recycling levels have increased, so has our consumption. How much we consume is the issue and recycling does nothing to curb it. 

There is no away
Our rubbish that is put out on the street moves away from our lives, but does not go away. Because there is no away. It's merely transported to the outskirts of our cities, taking up valuable agricultural land, to sit around for eons, never truly breaking down. All the single use plastic, and frankly, everything else we toss into bins will be left around for the next generation to deal with.

They were just some of the issues I discovered and I'm sure there will be more to learn.

I came across this clip of Jack Johnson singing about single-use plastic. It's kinda funny because I've been a BIG fan of his for years and years...but never properly understood his love for the environment. I guess we all have to find our way to those light bulb moments. Maybe this clip will be yours...

I can't wait to share my new life without plastic. It sure will be an interesting journey. Gosh, I wonder what my boyfriend is going to think! Maybe we'll see if we can use a mug from home to get his take-away coffees...or just sit in?  

Saying NO to take away containers and learning to take my own

15 July 2013
take your own take away containers
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My Monday to Friday lunch ritual starts on Sunday.

On Sunday I cook four lunches for days Monday through to Thursday. Usually the dish is roasted vegetables. This will be pumpkin, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli, zucchini and onion cooked in coconut oil with garlic (i love garlic) and either yeast flakes on top or turmeric. Simple, healthy and affordable. I occasionally snack on a mandarin before lunch. And the day time feast is completed with gulps and gulps of lovely water.

Growing up lunch was different; it was prepared for me. I received a Le Snack and three Arnotts biscuits for recess and a Vegemite and cheese sandwich (or lettuce and cheese) with a juice for lunch. This was my lunch from kindergarten to year 12.

Except on Fridays, there was no lunch made by my mother. This was the day I would be given money to buy something from the canteen. The usual was a cheese and bacon roll for recess. Lunch time I would have a sausage roll, chocolate Moove and packet of chips. 

To this day I never bring a packed lunch to work on a Friday. I still see the end of the week as my time for a treat. Yep, going out for a meal still feels like an occasion. Normally my work colleagues and I get a takeaway meal, come back to the office, and have a company communal lunch away from deadlines, emails, and phone calls.

take your own take away containers
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My Friday takeaway has been etched into my life like some ritual. For the past 23 years I have stood in line, ummed and ahhed about what I want. But my well trod path came to a little bit of a hill with Plastic Free July. I stood in line at my usual local cafe, waiting to place my order when I realised that my take away container was plastic. Sure it was in a container that I could reuse and reuse, but how many can I take home. There are 52 Fridays a year. That is 52 containers. And how many had I already thrown away?! I took one look at the tall stack of containers ready to be filled for the days orders and wondered how many of these would be tossed into the garbage. I decided mine would not be.

So I left the line, went back to my office and got a container from the communal kitchen. I asked the staff at the cafe if they would put my order of food into my container and they did, without a second look.

I felt wonderful. It's funny how such a small change can make you feel powerful.

The following week I went to a different cafe with my same container and asked for them to put my lunch in there. I received a strange look like they wanted to ask me a question. And I was ready to tell them why. I have now done this for last four weeks.

I know there will be instances where I will be somewhere without my container. And when this happens I will need to get creative, think hard and remember that every piece of packaging (plastic, paper or aluminium) ends up somewhere.

Are you a fan of takeaway? Do you think you could implement the same change? And do you think cafes/restaurants and eateries should reward those who bring their own containers with a 10 cent discount?

Turn your kitchen scraps into vegetable broth

13 July 2013
Plastic Free July has changed the way I shop for food.

I roam the supermarket aisles avoiding everything in plastic, and look for packaging that can be recycled and have begun to take my own bags for vegetables and containers for cheese. I find that it is easier to buy food that is not packaged in anything. Hello more vegetables and fruit!  

Going without plastic, especially single use plastic is not as hard as I imagined. It has been small changes here and there, mainly going without items. Most packaging is made up of plastic (those cardboard milk cartons have plastic in them!!!). I am learning a lot of about the impact plastic is having on the environment, animals and other people. It’s staggering!

I have not had to tackle letting go of take away drinks like coffees as it’s not something indulge in. I was already in the habit of carrying my refillable water bottle on me if I needed a drink. My usual routine of picking up takeaway food has dwindled down. If anything, I find I am saving money and eating better. And the best part is, that I have seen my waste decrease.

I also discovered that my apartment block has a compost bin. It is not a big compost bin, so I am limited as to how much can be put in. I have decided to keep kitchen scraps to make vegetable broths as a way to use up as much food as possible.

The process is so easy. Did you know, a stock can only be technically called a stock if it has bones in it? I didn't. I love learning new facts.

For the last three weeks I put away an assortment of food scraps. Stuff like the first layer of onions, the rough part of celery, carrot ends, parsley stems, coriander stems, pumpkin skins, squash skins, garlic, and fennel. I packed these away into the freezer until I was ready to make the stock.

Turn your kitchen scraps into vegetable broth

Handy tip: When putting your finished vegetable broth into jars or containers, measure how many cups are in each jar/container and write them on a label with the date it was made. That way you will know how much broth you have for your recipes and how old the broth is.

Going plastic free for my periods

9 July 2013
When I decided to attempt Plastic Free July, I sat down and wrote a rough list of items that fall into my shopping basket each month that would be covered in plastic.

My list showed that the biggest offender was packaging. I made my way down the list writing down alternatives and feeling chuffed with my ideas. That was until I came to two items I buy each month – My pads and tampons. I felt deflated. These are covered in single use plastic. Essential woman items. I was stumped.

And like any other person who has an internet connection and a problem to solve, I turned to Google.I was going to apologise for sharing a post about periods but then I thought why should I? I don’t think it’s something we should be shy of. But if you are, that is OK.Google response to alternative tampons was a cup. Yep, a cup. They went by names like Diva Cup and Moon Cup.

They are made of medical grade silicon. And can be reused and reused and reused. All that is needed is water for cleaning and a comfortable relationship with your body because it does take practice to get it right the first time. Plus a little courage because some people might tell you that it is gross when they find out you reuse rather than dispose. I see tampon packaging and applicator waste gross.

Not to mention the chemicals that lurk in most sanitary products (not all, I know there are brands that focus on being kind to the female body). Its all about your own perspective and what you believe in and I believe in plastic free living.

Would I recommend it? Of course! The Builder can testify to my enthusiasm. He sat through a long speech about how happy I was to find a product that has allowed me to be kinder to the environment in a small way.I'd love to hear if you have used a cup or another alternative like a sponge. Prefer pads? Check out why I love my reusable pads.

If you need help finding the correct size, visit Menstrual Cup Sizing Guidelines created by Menstrual Cups Australia Online. 

The Plastic Free July challenge

14 June 2013
plastic free july

I have decided to take on the challenge of Plastic Free July. This means for the month of July I will abstain from single-use plastic.

After watching The Clean Bin Project I immediately jumped online looking for ways I can reduce my waste. I discovered Plastic Free July, deciding it would be an interesting way to see if I can cut down on how much I throw out. 

Items include shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging. I can already tell that the shopping bags, straws and plastic cups will be easier to avoid as they don't feature much in consumer habits. At least I think they do. I guess my dilemma bag will tell me at the end how much single-use plastics I use. 

Clean Bin project

1 June 2013

During my weekend of convalescing I decided to break up the marathon of Nicholas Sparks movies and watch a documentary. Watching too many Nicholas sparks will have you contemplating life in a seaside town somewhere in North Carolina. Maybe that is just me.

Anyway, the documentary I watched on recommendation from my sister was The Clean Bin Project. My first eco documentary and one that provided a much needed wake up call especially about how much plastic we all use.

"The goal is zero landfill waste. For one year we avoided buying material goods and attempted to live without producing garbage." The documentary creators, Jen and Grant

The rules looked simple but as they begun their quest it became obvious they were hard to follow in our conveniently packaged world. Jen and Grant were not aloud to buy any material goods (new or used), no producing garbage (they could not purchase anything that comes in non-recyclable package, and be responsible for all their own waste (they would take home any waste to be recycled or composted).

A blog was kept throughout the year detailing how they made their own toothpaste which can be found in their DIY section.

Could I do the same?

I feel like I need to do something. But where to start? Buying habits would become full of rigorous conscious thoughts about how each item can be refused/reused/recycled. I bought a regular cup of yogurt that I would normally throw into my bin at work. Instead I took it home, cleaned it and put it aside for future use. I now have a portable yogurt cup with folding spoon. Maybe I can make my own yogurt?

Somewhere in my room are two foldable reusable shopping bags gifted to me by friends. I wonder how often I've actually used them? The fact I can't tell you the location might be an idea in their lack of use. My parents gave all of us children reusable water bottles years ago and I don't know where that is. I did use it in London mainly to save money or to use when travelling...but wouldn't know where it is now. I generally buy all my vegetables without packaging but then they don't come with too much packaging unless it's organic which can be a little out of my price range anyway. But small things like taking additional bags for mushrooms or beans would be even better. The list goes on. I have started looking at my consumer habits closer. I always opt for second hand clothes opposed to new ones but more for fun than to be eco. I might write more on that choice later. I have always prided myself on buying package free shampoo from Lush again it wasn't to reduce my rubbish or plastic it was because they are light to travel with. But items like toothpaste and other products have me looking for other options. It all adds up.

So I am going to try hard to think about how purchases I make will affect others and where they will end up. It takes planning but I think this type of life can be managed more easily than we think. Maybe.

I am going to Myanmar

26 May 2013
Soooo I am not technically going to Myanmar (Burma) for another five months - but I booked my flights today and I am excited.

This will be country number 46. My ultimate aim is to visit 50 countries by the time I turn 30. Time to start looking up ways to travel sustainably and to be environmentally friendly as possible.

Garlic soup

20 May 2013
I love garlic. When a recipe calls for two garlic cloves, I will put in another.

Roasting my vegetables cannot be done without at least five to six garlic cloves thrown in and they are the first things I eat once the roast is pulled from the oven. I especially love garlic as a remedy.

Last week was full of deadlines and I could feel my body start to stumble. Slight headaches, aching ears and the runny nose. Usually at this stage I would cut up 2 garlic cloves, toast them slightly and consume. I would do this every day until those symptoms went away. And then I would not get sick. Crisis averted

But this time I focused too much on those deadlines and forgot what my body was saying. I pushed those little signs to the side. When the week came to an end and I started to relax - I got sick. Bed ridden for the weekend, watching Nicholas Sparks movies.

During this time I turned to my old friend garlic soup to help me through and get me right for Monday morning. I first had garlic soup in the Czech Republic. I love trying new foods and garlic soup was definitely one I had never tried. It is simple and nourishing.

8 cups chicken or beef stock
6-8 cloves of garlic
2 medium potatoes
peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons parsley.

How to put it together 
I cut the garlic fine (you can use a garlic press) and mixed with salt. Add garlic and salt to a warm large pot adding the broth and bring to boil. Do this slowly. Once the broth, garlic and salt is at boiling point reduce the heat and let simmer. Add your butter, potatoes, caraway seeds, marjoram and pepper. Cook until potatoes are ready to eat.

And that is it. You have made garlic soup. Once you have served it up in a bowl, add your parsley.

Optional Czech extras: Those Czechoslovakians love fried bread. Before serving your soup, fry some lovely dense brown bread in butter and put the fried bread into the bottom of the bowl you are serving the soup in. Then pour the soup over the top. Yum!
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