Moving towards a plastic-free life

Thankfully more & more celebrities are bringing to light the frightening impact of single-use plastic on our planet – to animals, our waterways, & the chemicals leached from them into our bodies. Sadly, I don’t understand why so many people will only follow an action once a ‘celebrity’ spruiks a cause. Don’t get me wrong, I think they should do it more!

I do not claim to be perfect but as a family of 5, we are slowly moving towards decreased plastic consumption & hope that we can encourage you to make these simple changes too

1. Loo paper – we use Who Gives a Crap – they are made from 100% recycled materials & wrapped in paper (not plastic like the supermarket brands)

2. Paper towel – while you’re ordering your loo paper, add in some paper towel from Who Gives a Crap – again it’s made from sustainable materials (sugarcane & bamboo) & comes wrapped in paper.

3. Coffee cups – sorry to sound harsh but if you’re not using a recyclable coffee cup by now, slap a big “L” sign on your forehead. There’s literally no excuse not to have a reusable cup – we love Frank Green (although my bestie hasn’t loved hers), KeepCup & I love my glass one from The Source. Single use coffee cups are not recyclable. They contribute to landfill. If over 300 cups per year are yours then it’s time to take your head out of the sand & buy one. Now.

4. Pantry staples – I started buying from Naked Foods about 4 years ago. Take up your own glass jars, they’ll weigh them, then fill ’em up. I also love The Source. Check them both out to see if there’s one near where you live. Honest to Goodness are also great – we visit them at Orange Grove Market most Saturdays – if you forget your jars, they will give you produce in paper bags.

5. Water bottles – again, slap that big ‘L’ up on your forehead if you’re still buying single use plastic water bottles. They contribute to landfill, chemicals leach from the plastic into your water then into your body & they cost a lot when you think about it! Buy a reusable water bottle. Now. My sons have glass water bottles w detachable silicone bases for home, we have 5 stainless steel water bottles too which are shared around. We never leave home without at least 3 of them (joys of 3 children – someone is ALWAYS thirsty).

6. Soap – I really dislike those plasticky (is that a word?) soap packets. We are loving the Ecostore soaps – you can even buy them in Woolworths. Ecostore get bonus points IMO as they are a carbon zero factory. How awesome is that?! We also love their washing machine powder (comes in a cardboard box). Their laundry liquids are also great & come in renewable sugarcane plastic. Big ticks all round!

7. If you have little ones, buy some corn starch nappy bags – we love Wotnot brand, they come in cardboard packaging & are about $8 a packet for 50 bags.

8. Produce bags – I love ONYA bags to take to do my grocery shopping, they are great for putting fruit / veg in, rather than doing the juggle of apples, pears & bananas rolling off the scales at checkout (we’ve all been there!). I’ve had mine for about 2 years & they are in perfect condition. They are made from recycled plastic drink bottles, giving those single use products a 2nd life – why not, seeing as they will never degrade?! I also have Ever Eco bags which I’ve had for a year & are in perfect condition. These are also made from recycled plastic drink bottles (also called ‘rPet’).

9. Organic fruit & veg bags for the fridge – we LOVE the Harris Farm organic muslin bags. They keep our herbs, veggies & even lettuce super fresh in the fridge. I can genuinely say (no sponsorship) that they have prolonged the life of many a veggie in our fridge.

10. Toothbrushes – you guys think about how many plastic toothbrushes you’ve had in your life & that not one of them has ever degraded. YUK. No excuse not to switch to bamboo now – my faves are from Harris Farm Markets (Bondi Beach Store) which unfortunately don’t seem to be on their website & Nourished Life. My older children (aged 6 & 8) use the bamboo toothbrushes & the 1 year old has a bamboo but also a Jack & Jill which are made from 100% corn starch & are biodegradable. Plus they won’t break the bank at only $5.95 each. Plus the legends at Nourished Life deliver to your door & I can honestly say I have to hold in my excitement when one of their gorgeous pink boxes arrives on my doorstep!

11. When you’re buying sushi, ask them to hold the soy sauce plastic fish. Even better, ask (nicely) your local sushi joint not to pre-pack them into the boxes. It will save them money & have a positive impact on the environment.

12. The last tip would be one that you hear from me ALL. THE. TIME. As a consumer, every cent you spend is like a voice to the companies you buy from – buying their apples in a plastic container wrapped in plastic rather than the loose ones tells them to produce more plastic. Purchasing parsley not wrapped in plastic sleeves (like the legends at Harris Farm) says we are cool with that – we all wash our herbs when we get home anyway. Refusing to buy single use plastic water bottles tells the producers we don’t want this rubbish (literally) in our lives. Supporting companies who utilise biodegradable corn starch based packaging & produce encourages these companies to produce more of the awesome products & hopefully eventually bring down their prices as a result of increased demand.

I still have a lot of room for improvement & am shocked by how much soft plastic rubbish we create. Being conscious is not enough & I am striving to improve all the time.

I’d love to hear your tips on moving to a more plastic free life – leave me a comment on Facebook.

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2018 Intentions

I had great aspirations for 2017 of how productive I would be. The reality was that 2017 hit me for six. I kicked off the year with a 2 month old, 5 year old & 7 year old. I wasn’t back at work (my paid job) until April. I felt like I was chasing my tail constantly, & when I wasn’t chasing, I was passed out in a heap somewhere, mostly with a baby attached to my boob. Every day I told myself I would work at night but instead I would eat dinner mindlessly & stare at a TV.

2017 was the year I discovered Netflix – more specifically Outlander, The Crown, Call the Midwife & Land Girls. An epic time waster if ever there was one.

so 2018 is going to be more productive, right?! I am not setting “resolutions” but “intentions”…

  1. To live life authentically – a bit of a wanky buzz word, I agree but my take on this is to just own it if you f**k up, & put your hand up to say I did bad, but I’ll do better next time. Perfect example today was I met up with cousins from the UK. We ordered a coffee which I had already mentally noted served their coffees in ceramic cups (tick), but then i got a call saying someone was waiting at my front door who i had totally forgotten about so I raced off & 15 minutes later on my return, my cousin had kindly got my coffee put in a take-away cup. So I’m saying I screwed up. Last year I always had a reusable coffee cup with me but within a month (again, see ya 2017), i lost my 2 favourite reusable coffee cups – frank green & klean kanteen you are missed. Feel free to return to me..
  2. it’s ok to disagree with a “trend”. I don’t like the texture of chia pudding. Plus growing up with a pond at home, it bears way too close resemblence to frog spawn. I think goji berries taste like dirt. Too much maca in something makes it taste like stinky socks. You don’t have to love it just because it is the new “superfood”. But as a side note, I am genuinely a kale addict – I can’t get enough of it!
  3. It’s ok to change – I constantly question products I buy. A brand I used 6 months or a year ago, may not be my choice now. I may have thought it was ‘healthy’ or low-tox but now know better. Or there may have been some products I no longer support due to their ethics. For example I used to think it was ok to buy soy-wax candles & now I know it is potentially genetically modified soy & burning it does not support my health. So coconut wax candles are IN. I used to buy plastic toothbrushes & now I realise how much they contribute to our plastic pollution so I buy bamboo.
  4. No more buying “healthy” snacks – I’m looking at you organic corn chips, sugar-free chocolate & protein bars. Making my own is totally acceptable, but sometimes I would buy a product in a supermarket purely for convenience & assure myself it was “healthy” when in my head I know they’re not.
  5. Food choices: Less cheese please! I literally can’t say no to a nice cheese. I need to stop buying it & not sit in front of the cheese platter at a function!
  6. Be loud & proud: I may be becoming that person my friends recoil from when they see me & I’m pointing at their single-use non-degradable coffee cup but I’m going to keep owning it (& death staring everyone in the supermarket piling up their trolleys with unnecessary plastic bags). It’s 2018 peeps, I’m going to troll you if you think it’s cool to use plastic bags, throw-away coffee cups & straws. I’ll go easy on you for this half of the year but by Christmas I’d also like to see y’all starting to compost your food scraps, definitely recycling your soft plastics & purchasing ‘imperfect’ fruit & veg where possible. Be warned, I’ll test you & check where exactly you’re taking them so there’s no hiding. While you’re at it, start getting a loo paper subscription from Who gives a Crap; & start buying (compostable) bamboo toothbrushes. Don’t underestimate the power YOU have, especially when you begin to install these values in your children.

Until next time, say it how it is & own up when you f**k up!
Let me know what your intentions are for 2018….

A.

War on Waste

Watching War on Waste on ABC the last two weeks, I iniitally felt despair, followed soon after by motivation & determination.

I always thought I was pretty good when it came to minimising waste & optimising recycling but turns out I can certainly lift my game in two particular areas.

Food waste: a staggering amount of food waste is thrown out by Australians every year. Put in financial terms, it would be close to $3,000 per family. I am committing to better utilisation of my food (not letting it turn rotten); as well as composting.
So what are my food scraps that cant be used? I’ve been keeping an eye on that too – banana peels, apple cores, pear cores, plum stones, banana skins, avocado skin & stones, radish tops, eggshells, coffee grinds, soggy leftover cereal, tea leaves, strawberry tops, leftover baby food that cannot be used, herb & kale stalks, outer leaves of cauliflower & outer husks & cobs of corn. I have 2 plastic containers that I keep in the fridge & fill with any food scraps. I am surprised at how quickly they are filling up.

Soft plastics: once again, an overwhelming statistic that only 1-2% of our soft plastics are recycled. You may have noticed the REDCYCLE bins at coles / Woolworths supermarkets, then again you may not have because for some bizarre reason they don’t seem to want to encourage people to recycle their soft plastics. The test is: if it’s soft plastic & can be scrunched into a ball, throw it in the REDCYCLE bin. You can pop onto their website & enter your suburb to see the closest bin – mostly in Coles & Woolworths. This psoft plastic waste is then re-purposed by the legends at Replas – currently predominately being made into commercial furniture but it would be great to see it move to homes & non-commercial usage.

Since watching War on Waste episodes 1 & 2, I have HALVED my rubbish. I am fortunate that my Mum is part of a Community Garden so I am able to give her my fruit & veg scraps to add to their compost bins. I have also started a separate “soft plastic” disposal just above my normal rubbish bin which I will then take to the RedCYCLE bin at the shops (for locals reading this, Coles Edgecliff is the closest).

My biggest bin contributions currently are nappies – I use a brand made from 40% sustainable materials (Tooshies). Their wipes are compostable. I also use compostable nappy bags made from corn starch which are from Wotnot (via Nourished Life).

I need to either stop using baking paper, or find a more environmentally friendly alternative. Suggestions anyone?

I have recently started using Who gives a Crap paper towel, which is made from sugarcane & bamboo – & is biodegradable.

Rubbish bin liners themselves – check out Compost-a-Pak. It seems like a no-brainer but so often when we see images of rubbish tips, the overwhelming thing is the tied up rubbish bags. Let’s support companies like this.

Got 20 seconds? Sign this petition to get Coles & Woolworths to stop wrapping small amounts of fruit & vegetables in plastic & styrofoam. All you need to do is put in your first name, surname, email address & postcode. Your name does not have to be published if you wish. When I signed it today there were over 193,000 supporters.

Got another 20 seconds? Sign this Greenpeace petition to ban plastic bags in NSW. Let’s hope we don’t get a pathetic ban like Tasmania whereby they just used a loophold & introduced thicker bags that they could then call “re-usable”.

Coffee drinkers, I’ve got my eyes on you. It’s time to care. Cafe owners too – rather than discounting a customer for bringing a re-usable cup, how about penalising someone for not bringing one. I guarantee charging 20 cents extra per coffee for a disposable cup will motivate people to remember it. as an Owner/Manager, could you also look at the expanding ranges of compostable coffee cups.

FUN SITES TO FOLLOW IF YOU’RE SERIOUS ABOUT THIS
Be an Unf**ker – these guys are awesome at short, succinct posts that make you realise what a f**ker you are being to the environment. If you action even half their posts, you’re doing well!
The Greater Good Project
Take 3 – it’s not their only message but how simple is it to pick up 3 pieces of litter when you’re next at the beach?
Obvious Bits – follow them, it may just be a lightbulb moment for you
ME (Alice aka 6 Clean Ingredients) –  come visit me on Facebook or Insta. I am a firm believer that making your own meals from scratch goes a long way to helping the environment. See what I’m growing in my garden, feeding my growing boys, low-tox products I’m using for my baby girl, how I’m embracing minimalism & doing my best to be an eco-warrior & of course pass on everything I am learning to you!

Please share this post – if it helps just 100 families change their habits forever, I would be absolutely thrilled (& Mother Nature will send you a big hug) xx Alice

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2017 resolutions 

Be An Unf**ker is a brilliant account you should be following on both Facebook & Instagram. Their messages are short & succinct. Here’s my 5 resolutions for 2017:

1. Embrace minimalism to the best of my ability. With 3 children I feel we have more clutter than I would like- 2 scooters, 2 bikes, 2 boogie boards, rugby balls, books, school bags. For the baby a change mat, bouncer, car capsule – all hand me downs but still take up a lot of space

2. L.E.S.S Local | Ethical | Sustainable | Seasonal – buy products that haven’t been transported thousands of kms, that haven’t been made using child labour or sweatshops, sustainable products including MSA certified seafood, buying food that’s in season (no apples in summer!). Using Nappies that are produced using sustainable ingredients for example. As a side note, I don’t want anything to go to waste, so I haven’t thrown out my plastic containers & won’t do so until they break. If I choose to no longer support a product but have some of it left in the house, I will use it because throwing it out just contributes to the issue of our “disposable life”

3. Activism – rather than just boycotting brands, write to them or tell them what they could change. A simple one is telling the local sushi shop not to package in a soy sauce “fish” with each container – just ask people if they want soy. Ultimately they save money, & we decrease our environmental impact. Even better, tell them to ditch the fish & have an alternative.

4. Go even more plastic free. I already buy pantry staples in recycled glass jars & use recyclable bags for shopping. For me this will mean making more school snacks rather than buying packaged ones. 

5. Encourage friends & family to do the same! This point is also about authenticity & having the confidence to say “this is what I stand for & im not ashamed to say it” ie a total environment & food nerd who wants to be actively involved in educating our children & making the world a better place for them. 

What are your 5 things to unf*ck in 2017?

micro-actions to help our environment

This post is a culmination of things that have been mounting over a period of time, so please excuse me if I ramble or jump spot to spot.

Does anyone feel like their micro-actions, can be helping the world? I do.

I want to explore a few ideas with you, in the hopes that if everyone who reads this, is either already doing this action, or is going to adapt at least one, that we can make this world a better place for future generations.

OUT
I keep recyclable bags in my car at all times.
I keep a recyclable bag in my handbag.
When I started saying no to plastic bags as part of Plastic Free July 5 months ago, it made me realise (ironically) how many plastic bags I had been using.I throw a re-usable drink bottle into my bag. My sons are always asking for a drink, so this saves me buying a plastic bottle that will end up as landfill.
If I get to the supermarket & there is a trolley lying idle near where I’ve parked, I return it to the trolley bay or use it. If all of us did this, they wouldn’t need the trolley trucks which emit pollution.
I have started shopping for pantry staples at Naked Foods – so I can buy only what I need. I take my own jars (when I remember), but when I forget them, I scoop only what I need into a brown paper bag, minimising wastage. I then recycle the brown paper bag.
Sushi – my sons love sushi & I enjoy it too, but to paraphrase another one of my idols, Be An Unfu***r, soy sauce bottles are out of control in terms of the volume of rubbish they create. Say no to sauce if you’re not going to have it (it’s high in sodium & gluten anyway); or return the soy sauce if you don’t consume it – along with the rubber bands from around the boxes.
We shop most weekends at our local Growers Market – Orange Grove at Lilyfield in Sydney. Buying direct from the Farmers ensures that the food has changed hands minimal times & is mostly from more local sources, ensuring a decreased carbon footprint. I also try where possible to purchase products with no plastic. There are generally a few products that will contain plastic packaging including salad leaves & berries.
I have been walking to work for over 10 years now (except for a period of 3 months where I had to drive) – it’s a great way to start the day, you get in some steps – in my case about 3km in each direction, & it means one less car on the road. This is probably the biggest thing I would like people to adapt. It helps you get closer to your target of 10,000 steps a day & in this time poor age, it serves as a double purpose – your mode of transport to work & exercise.

HOME
We recycle as much as possible at home -I’m not just talking cardboard, plastic, glass & tin in the recycling bin, we donate clothes to charity bins, pass on toys to our daycare, give items that could be used for kids, such as egg cartons to school to be used for creative projects.
I turn off our hot water heating, sometimes for 2 days a week & still have plenty of hot water. Not only am I decreasing our electricity bill, but decreasing our usage.
This next one is a little extreme to some & I get that – I have a rule of “maximum 4 lights” in the evening – I am a single Mum 5 days a week & my sons are generally asleep before it gets dark. Anything more than that seems excessive & wasteful.
Planning for the next step – we are hoping to renovate our house next year & top of my priority list is the installation of solar heating. Our previous home had solar hot water & it was fantastic.
We have started a little herb patch with mint, chilli, thyme & basil all going well. Not having to buy packaged herbs that travel from who-knows-where, is a big green thumbs up.
I love that Sarah Wilson is using her public image for such good – her message of minimalism & decreasing consumption is one many of us could take on board. I’ve realised that since having children, in the last 6 years the quantity of my clothes has certainly decreased; but in contrast, the overall amount of things we have has increased, much against my beliefs. Hear me out – we have lots of children’s books. I read to them every night & try to rotate them. Perhaps my next micro action should be to borrow books only from the library? My sons are growing almost before my eyes, which means buying the next size up in clothes, but also keeping the size below for my younger son. We have puzzles, games, lego, animals, a train track, duplo, scooters, textas, pencils, activity books, bikes & quite a lot of balls. We have a no TV policy during the week so they enjoy other forms of play, including the above mentioned items. I’d love to tell you we have a scooter which breaks down into LEGO pieces then converts into a puzzle but it isn’t so.
We use recycled paper from my Dad’s office that has his old work on one side.
We have ceiling fans installed in both bedrooms, but no air conditioning.
We have never owned a drier & do all our washing on a cold cycle
It may sound a little extreme but I also try when I am cooking to turn off the oven &/or stove, a minute or so before an item is cooked. As it is an old cooker, it takes a while to cool down & I figure that saving a minute of electricity a day, surely adds up.
Sharing is caring. Luckily, my brother is into a healthy lifestyle (mostly!) so when I have excess of an ingredient, I let him know & none goes to waste. I recently bought some Lucuma & baobab but don’t think I’ll get through either of them so he is taking half for me.

Tell me what YOUR micro-actions are – I love to learn something new!
I still have a long way to go, but don’t we all?

The fabulous quote as the cover shot of this post is from the Natural History Museum in London 

Until next time, RE-USE,  REDUCE & RECYCLE xxx