Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘green living’ Category

I’ve been reading a lot about food waste recently.

It’s one of the biggest environmental threats facing our planet at the moment, with overflowing landfills releasing tonnes of methane as perfectly good edibles are discarded and left to decompose. Ronni Kahn is the founder of OzHarvest, and her recently released autobiography is both a wonderful read and an eye-opener. Did you know that the average Australian household throws away $3,800 of groceries per year (one in every five bags)? Almost half the fruit and veg produced are wasted, yet one in nine people, nearly 800 million of them, don’t have enough to eat…


As a family, we’re trying to do our little bit. We’ve been making a concerted effort to finish our leftovers, and all our leavings and other food waste is, as much as possible, fed to our backyard menagerie of chickens, worms and soldier fly larvae. I’ll try to write a separate post on what we’ve found works and doesn’t work, but until our council is able to offer us food waste collection, we’ll continue to process as much of it as we can here to keep it out of landfill.

These soldier fly larvae are an integral part of our backyard food recycling system!

After watching David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet, both Pete and Small Man declared that we needed to eat less animal products (not easy for a house of meat lovers, but we’re determined to try). Last week, instead of our usual chicken curry, we made this vegan version instead and it was delicious…

In keeping with our goal of reducing food waste, we picked up some of the vegetables for the curry from the AddiRoad Food Pantry. You might recall that I’ve written about them before, and that we recently made and donated over 150 masks to them…

Now, I’ve always been hesitant to shop there, believing that if I could afford to pay retail prices, then I shouldn’t compete with those that couldn’t. But when we dropped off our last batch of masks, Food Pantry Manager Damien encouraged us to do so. He explained that their main goal was preventing food waste, and also that when customers paid the asking place, it put them in a better position to give food vouchers to those in need.

The shop is set up on a points system, with each point charged at 50c. All items have a number written on them indicating how many points they’re worth. If you spend $5, you also get a free loaf of day old bread, one or two frozen dinners, and a bag of rescued fruit and veg which might otherwise have gone to landfill. Everything will be past its best before date, but still perfectly fine to eat, and by purchasing from them, you’ll be supporting their ongoing efforts to fight food waste.

Here are some photos I took of the shop…

And here’s what we picked up on our first visit…

If you still have qualms about taking food away from those who might need it more, then try my approach.

I go to the pantry just before it closes, so as to not compete with anyone who needs access to the service more than I do. Then I add $10 to my purchase price as a donation. It’s a win all around: I pay less, I help fight food waste, I don’t take away from anyone else, and I’ve donated enough to provide a box of food to a family in need.

Of course, if you’re not in the area and can’t shop there in person, you can still support AddiRoad by donating directly through their website. The organisation’s hashtag is #WeAreStrongerTogether, and I really do think that says it all! ♥

Read Full Post »

A Life on Our Planet

Friends, if you haven’t already watched this, please, please make a point of doing so.

It’s available on Netflix but is also screening at some cinemas. It’s Sir David’s witness statement about the changes he’s seen during the course of his lifetime. When he was a young boy in 1937, the human population of the world was just 2.3 billion; today it stands at 7.8 billion.

Today, we and the animals we raise to feed us account by weight for a truly staggering 96% of all the mammals in the world. That means everything else, from blue whales to mice (as Sir David puts it) accounts for just 4%. Domestic birds make up 70% of the total birds in the world, and most of those are chickens raised for meat and eggs. 50% of the fertile land on the planet is farmland. We have truly and completely overrun the planet and we risk self-extermination within a century if nothing is done about it.

It is a show which will terrify you, make you cry, and give you hope. Please, please watch it. ♥

Read Full Post »

Those of you who’ve been reading along for a while will know the now almost legendary story of our stripey socks. If not, you can read about it here.

Over the four years that we’ve been rescuing them, we’ve diverted well over a thousand socks from landfill. As an added bonus, Richard the podiatrist and his gorgeous wife Karen have become our friends over that time. Until 2020, when COVID concerns halted donations, we were distributing a lot of these to charity groups, but this year, they’ve been handed out to family and friends. That’s not a bad thing either – as a  donation to homeless services, the lifespan of the socks was often limited by a lack of washing facilities, whereas my friends will happily wear them over and over again.

So…why would I mend free socks?

It’s because I understand that even though these socks were free to me, they’re actually very valuable.

Yes, they cost my podiatrist a few dollars. But they also cost the planet in terms of resources – the cotton had to be planted, watered extensively, harvested, and processed. A tiny bit of elastane – a non-biodegradable synthetic fibre made from petroleum – was woven in to make them fit. There was dyeing involved, with its associated pollutants. Industrial machinery needed to be built and subsequently powered by fossil fuels, and human hands were involved in every stage of growing, spinning, manufacture, packaging and shipping. In addition, the plastic sleeve they originally came in had to be manufactured, machinery and labour were involved in transportation, and every process required yet more fossil fuel generated energy.

So…I keep mending them.

Otherwise they’ll end up in landfill, where the cotton will spend months decomposing, creating methane in the process, and the elastane will take hundreds of years (if not more) to break down. And then all the water, nutrients, ore, coal, petroleum, infrastructure and human labour that has gone into this single pair of socks – all those resources will be lost. Worse still, throwing them away contributes to a variety of environmental problems – from towering mountains of trash, to greenhouse gasses, to chemicals leaching into the soil and waterways.

Interestingly, once we can train our eyes to see the things we own in this way, rather than judging their worth purely in dollar terms, we start to understand that everything is expensive and should be preserved for as long as possible. Even a free sock. ♥

Read Full Post »

I am VERY excited to tell you about these!

As you know, we’ve been on a long quest to live more sustainably. We’ve managed to find alternatives to almost all the disposable items in our kitchen – crocheted dishcloths in place of paper towels and chux wipes, beeswax wraps have replaced cling film and plastic bags, cloth napkins have eliminated our daily use of paper serviettes.

But the one area where I was stuck was finding a sustainable alternative to potscrubbers. The crocheted ones I’d made didn’t pass muster – the cotton ones lacked the necessary abrasive texture, and the acrylic ones shed microplastics into the waterways. For the past couple of years, I’ve been properly stumped.

Then I started experimenting with the hessian that lovely Pauline at The Sewing Basket gave me to play with. Success! Not only do our new potscrubbers work well, they’re also washable and completely biodegradable! Here’s how I make them…

Start with a square or rectangle of hessian (burlap). The size isn’t really important, but my most recent ones are made with a 30cm (12″) square. Make sure the hessian is made from jute – some manufacturers now use synthetic fibres. You can test this by carefully burning a strand – if it completely burns away without leaving a hard bead, then it should be fine…

Fold two of the edges in to meet at the middle. Crease by running your thumb on the folded edges…

Now fold the other two edges into the middle. This process encases all the raw edges, which ensures the hessian won’t fray or come apart in the washing machine…

Finally, fold the whole thing in half again and pin. This results in eight layers of hessian…

You now have two options. The easiest way to make these is to machine around the outside edges with a zig zag stitch. I like to stitch a couple of lines through the middle of the scrubber as well to hold all the layers together. I used cotton thread from The Sewing Basket rather than polyester, firstly to ensure that the end result was completely biodegradble, but more importantly to keep any potential microplastics out of the waterways…

Using a sewing machine makes this a very quick project…

The finished scrubbers hold up well in the washing machine, particularly if you wash them in a lingerie bag. I don’t put them in the dryer though…

I was pretty happy with these, but my engineer husband thought we could do better – he was concerned that sewing cotton still takes a very long time to breakdown. He wanted a scrubber which we could use and wash repeatedly, then put into the worm farm at the end of its life. So I unraveled long strands of jute from the remaining hessian…

…and used double strands of it to handstitch the scrubbers together. I started with a row of running stitches near the fold to hold the layers together…

…then whipstitched around the edges to finish…

The final potscrubbers will now biodegrade quickly when we’re ready to throw them out…

The handstitched ones have held up well in the wash too – I didn’t want to put this post up until I’d washed them a couple of times…

These are great for scrubbing pots, but they need to be laundered regularly, so it’s worth having a few on hand. Also, it’s best not to leave them sitting in water. They probably won’t have a long working life, but I’m okay with that – I’m just so happy to have a sustainable option! ♥

Read Full Post »

Mask Making

Apologies for the radio silence, friends.

I haven’t been away on holidays (remember those days?), or pottering in the kitchen, delightful as that would be. Instead, I’ve been frantically sewing masks.

As COVID19 continues to spread in parts of Australia, NSW Health has urged us all to wear masks whenever we’re unable to socially distance, and I’ve been trying to make enough for our family and friends. I’ve got the process quite streamlined now, having churned out nearly a hundred in the past few weeks. Here are some thoughts…

#1: In my personal opinion, ties work better than elastic ear loops. It does, of course, depend on head shape, but we’ve found that ties give a snugger fit with less gaping.

Stretchy cotton lycra makes extremely comfortable ties which tend to stay in place. We’ve been cutting 3cm (1¼”) strips across the width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge), then giving them a good tug until they curl. I thread a 90cm (36″) continuous strip through both sides of the mask and then tie behind my neck. I’m actually using bamboo lycra which I found as a remnant at The Sewing Basket, and it’s gloriously soft…

. . . . .

#2: Fabric masks can be a sustainable alternative to paper ones. We’ve made masks from old jeans, rescued scraps, and materials sourced from The Sewing Basket (which I’ll henceforth refer to as TSB as I’ll probably mention them another ten times in this post).

These ones were made from Big Boy’s old jeans, lime green binding, interfacing and lingerie elastic that I found at TSB, and straps cut from Small Man’s old tshirts (see this post)…

The denim ones were so popular that I made a second batch. I was able to cut ten masks from a pair of $2 Salvos’ (thrifted) jeans, and lined them with fabric from a Japanese cushion cover that I also picked up for $2 from the Salvos Store in Croydon. All the components – including the interfacing and straps – were sustainably sourced from rescued and donated materials…

. . . . .

#3: Very little fabric is actually needed to make a mask, so they’re the perfect project for leftover scrap. My darling friend Dan recently made me this patchwork quilt from a $30 donated kit that I picked up at TSB…

She then gave me all the excess fabric back, and I was able to turn the scraps into nearly thirty masks…

Including a pair for these little monkeys…

I’ve had these  pieces of Schoeller Dryskin Extreme  in my sewing room for nearly two decades. When it was first released, the fabric retailed for an astronomical amount – over $100/m from memory – so I’ve hoarded these rescued manufacturing scraps like gold. The high tech material was originally targeted at adventurers hiking in the Swiss alps, so naturally I made pieced jackets for Pete and the kids from them. It turns out they’re perfect for masks, because water runs off the external surface but they’re still reasonably breathable and comfortable to wear.

I’ve said it a dozen times, if the universe doesn’t want me to be a quarter hoarder, then it really needs to stop positively reinforcing me for it…

. . . . .

Finally, something to make you laugh. I sneezed inside my fabric mask the other day (it was seriously gross) and basically proved the truth of this graphic which Jess sent me. Stay safe, folks! ♥

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: