Ginger and the Plastic Pirates

18 December 2015

Around 6 months ago I announced on Instagram I would like to publish a children’s book. Previously I have been asked to write a zero-waste guide for adults by American publishing companies but I don't know If I'm ready to commit to that. Or if I have enough experience to do it. A kids book would be less daunting. At least that's my logic. 

The main aim is to present an ordinary family, doing ordinary things and how changing a handful of habits can reduce single use plastic and potential pollution. My biggest hope is that it will act as a tool for education and drive conversations within the family home.

...and yes the main character will have red hair! 

Let's see if this will eventuate anywhere though. I get distracted easily!!

My local bulk food store

17 December 2015
This is my local bulk food store in Melbourne.

It's not your typical, new one. It does not have everything I need either. But it has the essentials. The space is small and smells like roasted nuts.

My local bulk food store

Not much is organic, but it's mostly Australian and very affordable. Everything sits in the bags they are delivered in. Beans, lentils, nuts, dried fruit, flours, salt, grains, popcorn, ...really just about anything dry is available. The only thing wet is peanut butter and olives.

It was the first bulk food store I discovered.

The place has been in its location for over 20 years, originally part of a big market in Moonee Ponds, of which is now a desolate parking lot (soon to be apartments). Ray's Top Nuts is one of the few survivors of the old market and is still run by the same man all that time. My boyfriends Teta and Jeddo (grandma and granddad) shopped there, then his parents and now him. I kinda like that this place and its owner, have served generations of my boyfriends family.

They never bat an eye when we first brought in our bags or jars, commenting that some of the older customers use cloth bags.

And that is my local bulk food store in Melbourne.

Odd habit confession

13 December 2015
I realised the other day, that a odd habit has grown from my attempts to reduce my waste.

If I am running late, not prepared my lunch for the week, can't afford to get lunch out at a cafe or takeaway in my own container (you know, the last couple days before pay day....) I will usually hastily throw some apples and oranges into my handbag for lunch.

Since we don't compost at work (yet!!), I take my scraps home. You know, the apple core and orange peels. One day I did not have a container to take my peels I put them into my drink bottle. This was at lunch time too. I continued to fill it up with water during the day. Strange yes, but the water tasted nice, like orange and apple.

I took photos of my odd habit...

It made me wonder, if anyone else has any odd habits that have created while trying to reduce waste? Share below...

Plastic Bag Free Victoria - the beginning (Update 1)

10 December 2015
I never ever considered that I would end up being an activist. Like, ever!

Jump back to three years ago and I barely recycled anything other than paper, glass bottles or plastic bottles. Yet, here I am, helping run a campaign to get plastic bags banned in my adopted state of Victoria.

Well not an entire ban - we are starting with asking for ban on limited-use plastic bags distributed at retail points of sale in Victoria.

Lucky, I am working with an energetic and knowledgeable group of people, that have in a short amount of time, gone above and beyond to get this state wide campaign running. No one is paid to do this, it's done out of passion.

Plastic Bag Free Victoria - my foray into activism part 1

We had our first workshop a month ago, where we nutted out the plans for our campaign. Since then we organised a petition. This was a fidly process - there are rues and regulations that go into submitting a petition to government legit. If it's in any way inaccurate, then it won't be considered.

To get the petition to parliament, 10,000 signatures need to be collected. We had our petition signed off the week of the climate march in Melbourne (27 Nov). Members of the group headed to the march and gathered 1,000 signatures. We have 9,000 to go.

We cannot do an online petition - they do not hold up in the Victorian State Parliament. They are great at raising awareness but not so great for what we want to achieve right now.

Already businesses and individuals have asked for the petition too. Soon, people around Victoria will be able to check the Plastic Bag Free Victoria website and locate where petitions can be found. At the moment we only have a facebook page and instagram.

I designed a simple logo for the campaign:

The campaign is not solely about gaining signatures. While we are aiming to beat Plastic Bag Free NSW efforts, they got 12,472...we want to get more....state rivalry ;). It is also about raising awareness for reusable bags, showing alternatives to bin liners, and generally showing how to live without any plastic bags in general and not scaring people. The last thing we want to do is build a campaign on fear.

Positive education is KEY.

We are joining with local communities that are either plastic bag free or are working on their own campaigns of which there are many.

We have our second workshop this Saturday, all details are here. I would love LOVE to have you visit :) This workshop will focus on education and community awareness, plus talking about the website. Don't worry, you don't need to be at the workshop to be apart of the campaign. Email us at if you would like to offer help, no matter where you are in Victoria.

The plastic bag debate is growing in Australia. South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT have already enacted bans. NSW, QLD and WA are the states lagging behind. Right now plastic bag bans are a state issue.

State Environment Ministers meet in Sydney on December 15th to make some big decisions about tackling plastic bags.

Plastic pollution, including plastic bags, is a major threat to wildlife. Globally it is estimated that 1 million sea birds and over 100,000 mammals die every year as a result of plastic ingestion or entanglement.

The Boomerang Alliance has created a thunderclap. Thunderclap is a tool that lets a message be heard when you and your friends say it together. Think of it as an "online flash mob." Join a Thunderclap, and you and others will share the same message at the same time, spreading an idea through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that cannot be ignored. It is a one time message and will not be repeated (no spam!).

I know people look at things like this, thinking couch activism or slacktivism does nothing...but I don't like those terms. They are ableist and discouraging.  

The industry groups and politicians do look at numbers. If 20,000 people across Australia have a status or twitter update asking for a plastic bag ban, that is hard to ignore!

So I am calling on all Australians to join our Plastic Bag Free Thunderclap. Follow the link below:

I plan to share more about the campaign as we move along. It is interesting, requiring alot more than I thought it would. We could completely fail in our efforts...but if we can convert one person to using reusebale cloth bags, then i'd say that is a win.

I would love to know, if you have ever been involved in a campaign. What tricks or tips can you share? If you live in Victoria, and would like to know more, our email is

20 tips to reduce waste during the holiday season

1 December 2015

Christmas can be a tricky time of year. Everywhere you look, there are ads on TV, telling us what we need, where to get it.We are busier than ever before. So I can see, how easy it is to say yes to everything, just to make it through the holiday season unscathed. But there are ways to reduce waste over the festive season.

1. My best advice is to TALK.

And by talk, have conversations about where you stand on waste/plastic and why.

If you don’t want a Christmas present OR don’t want to buy one for others (new, secondhand, handmade, experience, whatever), let people know. You are not forced to buy a present for everyone. I will be buying one present for my Kris Kringle/Secret Santa and that is it.

The Builder knows not to buy me anything, not even a card, because we had a conversation.

If you would prefer handmade, second-hand, experiences, whatever – let people know.

The conversations around creating less waste or avoiding plastic crap, doesn't have to only be about presents.

Entertaining is a big part of the holiday season. Recently we had our friends over, about 20+ people, for a holiday get together. We reminded people in the invitation (Facebook message and texts) that we try to live a zero waste and plastic free life, and if anyone brings stuff that cannot be recycled in our kerbside recycling, they would have to take it home…including cigarette butts.

When I hit send on that invitation, a part of me was nervous. Was I too mean? Was it harsh? I pushed those thoughts out of my head. It was neither. It’s a bit like when you visit someone else’s house and are asked to remove shoes (we don’t do that, but we should…). This is our home and our rules. Your family and friends will understand.

So that is my number one tip for reduce waste at Christmas – have conversations and let people know about your desire for less waste and less plastic.

Reducing waste at Christmas is not a new idea. Read about the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, a group created over a hundred years ago to fight wasteful spending at Christmas.

Image on the left from SPUG Image on the right from

2. Suggest a Secret Santa/Kris Kringle. Participating in these will reduce how many people you will have to buy presents for. Instead of buying a gift for five different people, you can now choose one gift.

3. Try your hand at homemade gifts, like jams, relish, chutneys, a cake, body scrub, face oil, wooden toy, artwork…the list is endless.

4. Re gift items. Take a look in your jewelry box, kitchen cupboards, and give away items that you don't use and think someone else might enjoy.

5. Ask yourself questions like, do they really need this or will this be useful (again, conversations).

6. Experiences over things…movie tickets, theater, dinner events, dog walking, bush walk. Check out MyBestGift for children specific experiences.

7. Give plants like vegetables or herb plants.

8. Make a donation to a charity on the behalf of your loved one.

9. I learnt this one from a very nice lady. On a piece of paper, everyone writes down three things they would like to achieve, like running a half marathon, learning a new skill and saving for a holiday. The papers go into a hat/bowl/box, and like secret santa/kris kringle, individuals in the group pick a name out of a hat. The person you choose is the one you are there to support, so they can help achieve their three goals throughout the year. I really like that idea.

10. Wrap presents without plastic.

11. Upcycle old sheets into cloth bags, that can then be reused for others things, like bulk food shopping or at the bakery.

12. Make present labels with toilet paper rolls.

13. Eat all the food in the freezer before Christmas day, that way it is empty, ready to store leftovers.

14. Start composting. There will be a lot of cooking and eating done over the holiday season. Composting is a guaranteed way to reduce what is sent to landfill.

15. If you are ready to go package free, go bulk food shopping with your own bags. Take containers to the deli, butcher and fish monger. I know for a fact that the Sydney Fish Markets will accept peoples containers for prawns. Don't forget your reusable bags :)

16. Learn about the RedCycle program. Again, there will be much cooking and eating. Set up a bin to collect all your soft plastics. It is better they are recycled then going to landfill.

17. Store your leftovers in jars, plates over bowls, beeswax wraps or containers. Ditch the cling wrap this year.

18. See what food-scraps you can keep to make a stock or broth.

19. Use a tree or plant you all ready own as a Christmas tree. If you do buy your own real one, take it to your local transfer station or chop it up once Christmas is done, then put the pieces into your green waste bin.

20. Make your own ornaments, check local op shops or buy locally made options from places like the Men’s Shed.

The festive season might seem overly daunting and wasteful. But the problems we see, we can fix. We have the solutions. We just need to buy a little less, think a little different...

How do you plan to reduce waste over the holiday season?
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