Saturday, 20 December 2014

Waste free Christmas

Christmas is a time of year where consumerism and waste is at its height, but there are ways to minimise these things. I only buy presents for the children in the family and I am a big advocate of making presents. If I have to buy, I always try to buy ethical presents; meaningful, useful gifts that are environmentally friendly and guaranteed fairtrade. Then there's the wrapping:
I recycle newspaper for the wrapping paper and
use raffia or paper painter's tape to secure it. I
will also cut out pictures from magazines or old
calendars to make the wrapping more interesting.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

There's plastic in the strangest of places

I am having to rebuild a room in my house that was shonkily erected by a previous owner in the early 1990s. I was a bit shocked at the amount of plastic rubbish that had accumulated under the floor. A lot of it would have blown in, but some of it is just too heavy - it had to be dumped. Considering I have found a lot of clearly dumped rubbish elsewhere on the property, I am sadly not surprised.
After 20 years a lot of this plastic is still perfectly intact.
Just goes to show what a menace to the environment
plastic is, and how careless we are with it (this is
litter from just a 2m by 4m space).

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A sore sight for eyes

I was recently told that I need glasses permanently. I chose to go down the contact lens route as I have an outdoor and quite physical lifestyle. Much to my horror, as part of the trial period (determining if my eyes could cope with contacts), I was given two weeks' worth of daily contact lenses. Here's the waste I've produced as a result of using disposable contacts:
It's frightening to think that other contact lens users choose daily. That's an awful lot of waste over a lifetime of impaired sight.

I am now giving monthly ones a go. Any suggestions about where to go to from there? Can I get contacts that last longer?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The magical edible weed

PLANTAIN - grows in your lawn and tastes like
mushroom. Yum!
Last night I had guests coming over for dinner, but when I went to my garden to get lettuce for the salad I found it was on the point of going to seed and was quite bitter.
However, my selective weeding saved me - I do tend to ignore a lot of the young edible weeds if I can help it.
Here's what I made a delicious and very nutritious (most edible weeds are packed with vitamins and minerals) out of. They are all common weeds:
OXALIS - the wonder weed as it's very hard to get rid of.
Its tiny bulbs break off when you pull it. I've learned to
embrace it. Tastes lemony.
PUHA or Sow Thistle. Only eat the young leaves as the
older ones can be bitter. Very good for you. Try turning
it into pesto.
ONIONWEED - tastes exactly like its name.
I use this a lot usually instead of chives.
CHICKWEED - has a refreshing, slightly earthy taste.
I use it insandwiches a lot. Makes a good pesto.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Plastic free discoveries

My year of being plastic free taught me to be pretty resourceful. Here are some simple discoveries I made purely through not being able to purchase the products I needed:
I bought salt in bulk and used it as weed killer for areas
that were hard to weed by hand, like between the cobble
stones on my driveway. It worked a treat and is of course
is not just plastic free, but chemical free, which is particularly
important when your garden revolves around food production.

The previous owner of my house thought pitted linoleum
was a good idea. Makes the floor a bugger to clean though
even with a scrubbing brush. I covered the floor in baking
soda (which is very cheap to buy in bulk) and added water
to make a paste, left it for a couple of hours then cleaned
it up. The result was a sparkling floor!
I bike a lot lot - for commuting and for recreation. I ran out
of lube and started using good old cooking oil. Works just
as well as the specialised stuff AND is free from the synthetic
additives they put in cycle lube.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Plastic Free July 2014 in Raglan

Here's some of the great stuff happening in Raglan this year to promote Plastic Free July:
Xtreme Zero Waste, helped by Plastic Free July's
Nabilla Zayan, conduct a waste audit of rubbish bins
on Raglan's main street.
Several cafe and bakeries offer discounts for people
who bring their own take away coffee cups.
The Raglan Creative Market launch their 'Towards
Zero Waste' initiative, offering crockery and cutlery
instead of plastic take away containers, discounts
for reusable coffee cups, and a waste stream that
discourages landfill.
The Harbour View Hotel gets
onboard even before July has started!
Local businesses advertise
their support.

Monday, 30 June 2014

One year's waste

My year has ended as of the 1st of July and this is all the waste I have produced in the last 365 days (most of which was due to my cat's specialist diet).
What an enormous impact we can have on our
waste stream by eliminating plastic.
My waste:
Receipts - thermal printers only work on paper imbedded with plastic
Accidental plastic - not knowing that there was plastic in something when I purchased it
Gift plastic - people carefully choosing plastic free gifts and then sending it to me in plastic courier bags
Hungry plastic - this didn't happen very often thankfully, but once or twice I was forced to buy food in plastic out of hunger and lack of choice

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Plastic free bathroom

It's easier than you think to reduce plastic in your bathroom. Here's a look at some of the things I use:
Go Bamboo toothbrushes are now widely available in
stores. Toothpicks can work well in lieu of dental floss,
and I make toothpaste by mixing up baking soda and
water with a few drops of peppermint oil.
Metal razors are not difficult to source. Ask at
your local barber or buy online at shavershop.
I buy my blades at my local dairy.
I have trialled lots of plastic free shampoo.
Lush produce by far the best hair washing
soap. They are expensive (about $15 a
bar) but they last a long time and they wash
my hair better than liquid shampoos.
Deodorant is another product that can be hit and miss.
The best I've found is an allum stone. It works well at
preventing body odour, but of course won't stop you
sweating as it's not an anti-perspirant. No natural product
will accomplish that.
My local health food store makes a lot of their own
natural products (but do package them in plastic). I
asked them to make me up some moisteriser and
simply provided them with a jar.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Best food shopping tips

Food shopping can be very tricky for plastic-conscious people.

The best piece of advice I can give is be prepared to be inconveniencedPlastic exists to make our lives easier, so if you want to really make a change you will have to allow things to be a little harder sometimes. This might mean leaving your full shopping trolley in the store and returning to your car because you left your resuable bags in the boot. It also means planning ahead. It can be difficult to shop off the cuff if you don't have bags with you or if you are in a rush and don't have the luxury of time to make considered choices.

Most supermarkets have mushroom
bags. Use them for all your fruit and
veges, and even your bulk bin purchases.
Always carry a tote bag with you. I made this
one from a light weight pillow case, it folds
up very small and I can easily fit it into a hand
bag or back pack.It means that I can avoid getting
a plastic bag when I do unplanned shopping.

Don't be afraid to ask. You will be surprised at how
accommodating businesses can be (after all they want
your custom). My butcher always packages my orders
in paper. I only had to ask once or twice and they now
automatically do it for me without me reminding them.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Plastic free jems

The wonderful, multi-purpose glass jar.
I use them all the time, most often for
transporting food. This picture shows how
I freeze food using them. The newspaper
prevents the risk of breakage from the
low temperatures. Make sure you leave
the lid off during the initial freezing period
to allow for expansion of the contents. 
I thought I'd share a few great plastic-free discoveries in my 7 months of non-plasticness.
This was my grandad's razor (I have a
feeling he might have taken it to war with
him, so it's pretty special). I can buy blades
at my local dairy.
These are old sports socks that have no elasticity left in
them. I use them as panty liners. They are the perfect
shape and size.
I have a fantastic assortment of different sized tins
that can be found in Indian supermarkets for a very
reasonable price. They are perfect for freezing food,
leftovers, lunches. I've also found a great array of tins

in the local thrift shops (though these aren't often great
for storing wet food).

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Non-Plastic Maori

In the new year another eco-warrior entered the battle against plastic. Tina Ngata is also going a year without buying plastic. Check out her blog.

And she is awesome; eloquent and smart with some great ammunition for the doubters out there. Have a read of what she has to say:

I recently had this discussion with an older, conservative man and honestly... YAWN. I cannot believe people still try to play this ridiculous circular argument card. It's like saying "unless you give up speaking English you cannot demand Maori language rights".

Look here - the VAST majority of everything you have around you, and on you, at the moment, will be fossil fuel based or sourced. Your mode of transport, the clothes you wear, the utensils you cook with, the toilet you sit on, the device you are reading this on. I, for instance, could not post on here if it were not for petroleum based plastic products.

SO BASICALLY - they're saying that, in order for me to have a say - I need to go live in a cave with no transport (where nobody will hear my say). Convenient huh.

Bollocks. I have had no say in how our economy has developed and the choices made available to me - I can make choices about my own expenditure but if I REALLY want to effect change and demand alternatives FOR our society then I need to be a member OF society and for now, because of historically biased economic choices, that means consuming fossil-fuel based products. If I want to use my voice to demand better processes, fairer economies, sustainable alternatives... then I will damn well do that so that I CAN use fossil fuel free alternatives to push my case further - without having to go and live in a cave.

Of course... there's the shorter answer - which is - I'll use my voice however the hell I want, when I want, where I want.

And then there's the even shorter answer, which is only two words. 

Exactly! What more can be said? Kia ora Tina

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

6 months in and going strong

I'm now starting my seventh month of non-plastic purchasing. Here's is a pretty unarguable testimony for avoiding buying plastic. This is the amount of land-fill I have produced since I stopped buying it. Not quite waste free, but very darn close! I'm working on finding ways to recycle some of it, so watch this space.
This is stuff I've either had to buy or have had given to me.
The pile of paper is receipts - yes, thermal print receipts have
plastic in them.