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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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

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.