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

How do you vegan?

Often I watch a lecture in my IIN study & afterwards, wish I could sit down everyone I know in front of it. Tonight was one of those moments, watching a passionate Mark Bittman sing about policies very close to my heart:

He commenced a form of veganism 6 years ago. Before you non-vegans start rolling your eyes, just read on a little further. Mark is entirely plant based (fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds) from when he wakes until 6pm, every day. From 6pm, he gives himself carte blanche – whether that is a steak, cocktail, wine or a cheeky dessert.

Here are some of his beliefs:
1. Make it hard to sell junk food to children
2. Make it illegal to sell ‘soda’ to children
3. Stop dispensing junk, including soda, in schools
4. Subsidise production & sales of real foods, including fruit, vegetables, nuts & seeds.
5. Lead by example – encourage your friend
6. De-incentivize companies whose products have been shown to make people ill.

All of us have an opportunity to make a change to the earth, in the form of food consumption. Yours could be:
1. supporting small to medium farmers by purchasing at farmers markets, instead of purchasing processed foods built on mono-crops like corn & soy which are ineffective & have negative benefits on the soil.
2. Decrease global warming by having one less meal containing meat every week (or cut down more if you choose)
3. Decrease the amount of processed junk you eat each week & replace that with a plant-heavy meal.
4. A form of veganism – perhaps it is plant-based foods only Monday to Friday; or daily til 6pm; or you could decide to have lunch only containing meat.
5. Work on the above points regularly. Encourage your friends to do the same. Do you think if all consumers stopped buying GMO products or poor quality meat, it would continue to be produced? Supply & demand my friends. Help me on this journey to making the world a better place for our children, their children & for many more generations to come.

What am I doing?
1. 7 months ago I ditched dairy & despite having a bit of cheese on holidays in Scotland over Christmas, I am back to being dairy-free.
2. I read labels on everything I buy & make conscious choices to buy organic where possible.
3. I shop at Farmers Markets every weekend, & have done so for nearly 5 years.
4. I haven’t eaten meat in nearly 18 years
5. I give my children meat, which is 90% of the time organic & grass-fed. I also explain to them where the meat comes from, as I feel education is part of the issue that needs to be discussed.

I’ve attached images of vegan meals & foods I enjoy to show you that veganism is far from boring or unsatisfying. If you would like tips on replacing meals with vegan options, come say hi over on Facebook at 6cleaningredients & I would love to help you out x

 

 

Giving up plastic for lent

My friend Lucy & I have given up plastic for lent. I’m not religious, but every year she gives something up for lent & this year when I asked what she was giving up, she replied that we were giving up plastic.
What does giving up plastic mean?
  • For me it means saying no to plastic bags always.
  • Having at least one recyclable bag in my handbag at all times (I recently did this on a month long family holiday in the UK & used it almost daily).
  • Being prepared when I go to the supermarket with bags in the car.
  • Buying more ‘unpackaged’ foods – I now buy most of my flours, nuts & pantry health foods from Naked Foods Organic Health Foods & take my own jars (which they happily weigh before I fill them & also there’s no double handling).
  • Taking a recyclable water bottle everywhere we go – the kids both have a Thermos drink bottle to keep water cool in summer & I fill my own before going out.
  • I’ve gone off caffeine (2 weeks, going strong with decaf) which means not buying take-away coffees & no plastic lined coffee cups, as I just make one at home in the mornings.
  • Saying no to soy sauce ‘fish’ bottles (I notice a LOT washed up on beaches).
  • Not buying anymore plastic storage units – I started purchasing glass pyrex containers for food storage last year but refuse to throw out plastic tupperware for the sake of throwing it out (our tendency for overconsumption or to upgrade is where part of the problem stems from)
Lucy has already had 2 situations where she clearly asked for no plastic – once to a straw & then to flowers just being wrapped in paper, but it seems that the people providing the products just did it out of habit.
We need to grow our consciousness about what can be recycled when we do purchase plastics; & what can be recycled. I found on a recent trip to the UK, it was much more clear as to what could be recycled on packaging.
Next level of minimal plastic consumption for me is:
  1. Not buying products wrapped in plastic.
  2. Not ever using cling film/snap lock bags in the boys lunchboxes
  3. Utilising biodegradable rubbish bin liners
  4. Not purchasing toys made from plastic, especially those that are poorly produced & likely to break quickly, ending up as landfill/in the ocean
  5. On the occasions I purchase take-away sushi, taking my own container & putting it in there, rather than the plastic take-away containers.
  6. Influencing friends, families & the broader community on how each of them has the power to make a difference – decreasing the amount of plastic they use & the strength of the consumer voice (if everyone stops buying poorly made plastic toys, they will not be produced anymore).

So I pose this question to you, what are YOU doing to decrease plastic usage? You may not realise it, but if you just action saying no to plastic bags, & get a few mates to do the same, you are making a huge difference.

Thank-you. From me. My children. From future generations. We’ve got this one with your help.