Weekend trip to Warrnambool

26 February 2016

There is something I don't do enough of, and that's travel around the state of Victoria. Each time the Builder and myself, return from a jaunt away to some town, we always remark how much fun we have. This past weekend we escaped to Warrnambool on the South-West Coast of Victoria.

Australia is a large country, so when I tell you, that our destination was three hours away, you might gasp. Rightly so. But for most Aussies, this is kinda standard travel time. However, the long drive west, is worth it. We had planned to take the Vline train, also a three hour trip, but the services were under repair, so we opted to drive. And by we, I mean the Builder.

Another reason why we drove, was because I was giving a cooking demonstration and talk at the Warrnambool Sustainable Living Festival. With it being my first cooking demonstration, I brought everything except the kitchen sink, so the car was handy. Our next trip, will be done by train. Yes, we loved it so much we have planned to return, to do the rail trail bike ride between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

We took most of our own food, with the usual zero waste essentials like water bottles, cutlery wraps and calico bags. It's so second nature now, that it does not feel weird anymore.

The festival was a lot of fun, filled with locals from all over the south-west coast. I got to meet some of the ladies that run the local Warrnambool bulk co-op. In some of my talks I have given recently. people don't know what a co-op is, so I will be sharing an interview with them and another group from northern Victoria about co-ops and how to get one going.

The festival had a wash against waste station. Patrons were served food on real plates, that were collected, washed and used again. In place were clearly marked bins, with my fave bin, organic waste! 

I could not imagine any food going into the organic bins because it was all. so. good. Especially the organic wholefoods plates served up by Day Kitty Cafe

Being tourists, we took a wander down the main street of Warrnambool, Liebig Street. We visited Totally Barking Vintage. It was a gem of a shop, with so many second handy clothes and vintage wares.

A couple doors down Liebig St, we found Enique Eco. They had a range of environmentally friendly and fair trade items. Toothbrushes, agave facecloths/cleaning cloths (ones that I use!!), soap nuts...I could go on about the plastic free and zero waste items they had for young and old.

Warrnambool is a seaside town. During school holidays, the place doubles its size. Visiting in winter will reward those with views of migrating whales and their new calves.

It is an easy walk from town to the beach, passing alongside Lake Pertrobe. We visited Merri Marine Sanctuary before wandering along Lady Bay.

We walked along Lady Bay, picking up rubbish - mainly plastic bags. A walk anywhere, is no longer just a walk. Our hands are always full of rubbish by the end.

Warrnamnool is not too far away from one of Victoria's first plastic bag free towns, Timboon. We ummed and ahhed about visiting but decided to check out Port Fairy before heading home. I had heard nothing but nice things about the little seaside village. Safe to say our visit did not disappoint.

We were told that there are no plastic bags offered to anyone in Port Fairy. We ate our breakfast just outside their IGA Supermarket and watched people come out with their own reusable bags or limited paper bags, and not one plastic bag in site. I did pop my head it to double check at their tills. Yep, no plastic bags!

We walked around Griffiths Island admiring the clear water and wildlife, before heading back to Melbourne.

I get so fixated on countries to visit. Making endless lists of places I'd like to trek too. But when I travel in my own backyard, I feel just as reinvigorated and inspired. 

Zucchini Relish made with vegetable scraps

22 February 2016
Summer is coming to an end - not that Melbourne had much of a summer. It was cooler than past summers. There were long days of cloud filled skies and more rain than usual. I think my vegetables were a little confused. While my harvest was not as robust compared to past summers, I did grow a fair few zucchini, tomatoes and capsicum. 

During a recent talk, I shared how I make the most, of all the vegetables that pass through my kitchen. Whether they were grown by myself, friends or the farmers from the market. I try to add as little to my compost bin. That's hard earned dollars and time!

In time past, I would have thrown all vegetable scraps into my bin for landfill. Then I started composting, so the scraps went into that instead. With each practice, I was throwing away valuable bits of the vegetables. These days I have jars of cut up vegetable scraps in my freezer. 

Here is a photo on the left of the type of scraps I use to toss - ends of zucchini, tops of carrots, ends of onions and tomatoes. Now I chop these up into tiny pieces, pop them into in glass jars and store in the freezer. I then use them for making jars of zucchini relish at the end of summer and for soups or stocks in winter. 

Zucchini Relish made with vegetable scraps

I will admit, chopping these little bits into, well, smaller bits, does take up an extra 10 minutes but doing this helps me save money. I don't need to go and buy an extra vegetable to make relish, chutney or stocks later in winter. Because I eat with the seasons, I'm generally eating the same vegetables constantly for a couple months and it does not take to many weeks for my jars to fill up with the ingredients. Last week I had enough stored scraps to make my zucchini relish, that I may now enjoy through autumn and winter. 

Zucchini Relish made with vegetable scraps

Zucchini Relish made with vegetable scraps 
(Makes two 500ml jars)


250g zucchini
200g red capsicum
150g onions
150g celery stick
500g tomatoes
1/8 cup cooking salt
3/4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/8 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard
1 tablespoon curry powder

How to put it together
Combine zucchini, celery, capsicum and onion in a bowl, stir in salt and cover over night.

Next day drain water from vegetables and rinse well under cold water.

Combine vegetables, chopped tomatoes and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to boil and cover, letting simmer for 10 minutes or until veggies are tender.

Add sugar to pot, stir over gentle heat until sugar is all dissolved, let cool.

Blend water and tapioca flour. Add to the pan with mustard and curry powder.

Bring to boil and simmer covered for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Let cool, then pour into sterilised jars.

Kuttlefish, a global community designed to reduce waste

9 February 2016
Shopping is never going to cease. As much as some of us would like to see less wasteful things being bartered and sold, the general desire for trade will never relent. And until the internet stops working, shopping online is not going to vanish. According to PWC, 60% of Australians participate in shopping over the internet. That is a crazy huge amount of the population shopping online.

Hidden amongst the larger commerce sites, sits an online marketplace, that sells upcycled and recycled items ONLY. It’s called Kuttlefish…and I think it’s pretty cool.

The principal goal of Kuttlefish is to reduce waste and consumption by helping people find value in materials rather than throwing them "away". We achieve this by recycling, reusing, upcycling, repurposing, etc. We achieve this by inspiring each other to think outside the box with items and materials in our homes and businesses. We achieve this by creating a circular economy around materials, and buying and selling products that support this goal.

How does Kuttlefish work?

Much like other online stores, people who make items from upcycled and recycled materials, can upload and sell their wares.

Products can be rated, artists can be contacted and idea sharing is encouraged through their forum or browsing their Get Inspired page.

Prospective sellers, don't pay until they sell. And even then, the transaction fees are lower than other online marketplaces - 1% during the first year and 3% thereafter.

The Builder is always looking at ways to upcycle leftover materials for jobs. I love seeing the cool ideas he can come up with. It has a puzzle solving aspect to it that appeals to him.

The marketplace has SO MANY great items. I liked this coat hanger made from an old chair (um, yep!) or old door turned into a table.

This denim pouch would be a great cutlery holder when out and about.

And I think my Dad would really like this at his place. Actually, I think all the members of my family would like this.

I am not sharing this because I have been paid or anything like that. But because I like to share little known endeavours that people are making to do things different. I was so inspired by Kuttlefish that I decided to interview Ian, the brains behind the space, a couple questions.

What was the inspiration behind Kuttlefish?
When I lived in Africa, I was surprised at the creativity and resourcefulness of people there. I saw a ton of raw materials that we were missing out on because of the negative stigma with “garbage," and at the same time, an immense opportunity. Years later, with the growth of the internet, social media and e-commerce, Kuttlefish became my project to connect people, their ideas, their resourcefulness, their creativity, and their entrepreneurship, from all over the world.

Did you come across any misconceptions when it comes to upcycled or recycling items?
Yes, I come across misconceptions of the many terms that weave their way into the space - recycled, upcycled, reclaimed, salvaged, reused, refurbished, repurposed, etc. For us, people can debate what the terms mean, but our bottom line is our mission, which is to reduce waste and inspire others to reduce waste, while growing a vibrant marketplace.

When I lived in Africa, I was surprised at the creativity and resourcefulness of people there. I saw a ton of raw materials that we were missing out on because of the negative stigma with “garbage," and at the same time, an immense opportunity.

Any challenges you have overcome?
Starting a business is not easy, especially in pre-investment funding stages. We need to be highly resourceful and creative in everything we do — and prepared to work around the clock.

Have you always bought secondhand or up-cycled gifts previously? If not, what was the turning point?
I grew up around recycling. In fact, my mother helped start one of the first recycling centers in Santa Monica, California. At a certain age, I decided I didn't want gifts because I thought our culture of over-consumption was creating a one way stream of waste - I didn’t have a “Kuttlefish” to buy things from. The turning point was when I began seeing all the "garbage" as a raw material, and the opportunity for business to mimic natural systems where everything is reused.

Can you share with us some of favorite items right now?
We have a great mix of products on the site right now, and the variety and quality gets better and better everyday. I recently bought a bicycle inner tube bag and a necklace for my fiancĂ© (see attached photos). During holidays, we feature our favorite gift ideas on the site—home decor, bags, jewelry, clothing—there is something for everyone on Cuttlefish.



What are your plans for the future of Kuttlefish?
We plan to continue growing at a steady pace, making sure we don't lose sight of our mission and values. We ultimately want to become the place that people go to for products and ideas that make a difference to people and planet.

And my last question...why the name Kuttlefish?
Kuttlefish, known to be some of the most intelligent sea creatures, are often referred to as “chameleons of the sea” because they are able to change color, shape and texture for camouflage. Kuttlefish represents the ideas of change and adaptation, through the practice of recycling and upcycling. The materials are the same but the form is new, and the “cuttlefish” survives.

Avocado seed shampoo update

4 February 2016
It has been over four months, since I started making, my avocado seed shampoo. For those that are new, you can read my first post plus the recipe I used to make it by clicking here.

Right off the bat, I can say that it has been great. Like, really, really great. For the first time, in I don’t know how long, my scalp never became irritated when I did not wash it. If I did not wash my hair after four days, I used to get irritation, accompanied by itching on the back of my scalp.

I always thought this was my scalps telling me that it needed to be washed. But this stopped once I started using avocado seed shampoo. I don’t know if it was because of the seed or reducing the amount of soap.

Avocado seed shampoo update

Avocado seed shampoo update

My hair feels thicker with the added bonus of becoming more manageable. I have wavy hair something akin to a lions mane when I brush it. It became less lion maneish, if that makes sense. Overall, there my hair doesn't feel as dry when I'm using the avocado seed shampoo. I do style my hair most days...usually it is in a bun though.

I even went on national TV a couple of times with hair washed in this concoction and no one knew…except you. Photo evidence below from The Project.

I've been able to use this experiment as a way to try moving away from using shampoo and conditioner. 

In between October and December, I made up three batches of the recipe, decreasing the shampoo each time. The last batch affected my hair a little different. I could start to see a result of using less shampoo, with more oil production than normal but not to the point of it looking overly greasy.

By the time January rolled around I had run out of liquid shampoo and there was an avocado shortage across the State. All other avocados were being shipped from overseas. Since I try to only buy food from my region, I figured it was a good time to try washing my hair with water only.

I expected the oiliness to increase, but it didn’t. It stayed the same, and now it is slowly moving down my hair. I brush my hair more, to help the oil move down. I did fear that it would be a matted oily mess, but it's not. 

Will I go back to using avocado seed shampoo?

Yes, I would – but at the moment, I am going to stick with water only. If I get to my wedding and my hair is looking not so great, then I will knock together another batch. I have read a couple of blog posts about people that use only water too (here and here, to name a couple). There is even an eBook called HAPPY HAIR: THE NO POO BOOK! by the fabulous Lucy AitkenRead.

I have been water only for about five weeks and so far the results are nothing to complain about. Over the weekend I applied a vinegar, egg and oil mask, massaged it in the rinsed after 30 mins. It is the only thing I have put on my hair other than water.

Part of this plastic free and zero waste journey has not just been about the waste, but also questioning what I need and don’t need. Maybe shampoo is one of them.

Update 10.01.2019: My zero-waste hair care routine, still shampoo free
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