June Jumbles

Kia ora all!

Hope you are all doing well and staying warm and cosy. It certainly has been raining a lot… Good for the garden but not so good for my mood! There are a few things going on in my world at the moment so it’s going to be a bitsy post I’m afraid – hang in there, chaps!

JUNK FREE JUNE

When I first heard of this initiative I actually got it confused with Plastic Free July (another great idea, which you should all challenge yourselves to try).  It’s a pretty cool thing though, and it’s always nice to support the Cancer Society and all the great work they do.

Each person will define their own junk (heh) slightly differently, but here’s my crack at it:

Junk, rubbish, trash… We know I am not a fan. This month I am going to make more of an effort to reduce the things that often cause me to slip up when it comes to zero waste – Cheese (either don’t purchase or get unwrapped), Grease paper from late night fast food, anything bought online, chocolate (I’ll look into dark choc, bought bulk).

What I think is awesome about JFJ is that (hopefully) is will lessen the amount of trash the average person produces. Unless you make it at home with bulk ingredients, most junk foods will come in packaging that is less than ideal. If people cut out these treats (chips, lollies, fizzy, takeaways, baking, etc) then they can easily cut out a LOT of plastic wrapping from their lives. The flip side is that more and more produce is coming in excess packaging now so you have to be a bit selective (markets and produce stores are usually best). On that note, there’s a petition to get Countdown to stop over packaging their produce and you should sign it 🙂

Sweet treats – I wouldn’t call myself a sweet tooth, but sometimes I wonder if that’s only because I live in denial… I work in an office and every day I find myself snacking on some sort of sweet yummy goodness. We happen to work near a bakery that also sells seconds like broken cookies or slice ends, and often when one of my co-workers goes there for a sandwich they end up with a free 1kg bag of brownie! My willpower really needs a booster because I swear I end up demolishing that kilogram single-handedly. It’s a problem. From now onwards, fruit is my sweet treat (though I might make an exception for 1 slice of the Beetroot Choc Cake I’m going to make for the Green Party AGM this weekend… It’s kinda healthy?).

Fizzy Drinks – another nemesis of mine ☹ While I always choose to drink from cans, which are more versatile for recycling, it’s better to just cut back or cut out completely. This month I’m going to be hitting up hot water, tea, and some coffee to get through the day well hydrated.  When seriously craving that fizz, I’ll use my soda stream to make soda water and infuse it with fruits if I need a hipster kick.

Takeaways/fast food– Occasionally I fall into a takeaway trap when it’s late at night, I have just finished a show, and I find myself driving home and hangry. I am also a fan of fish & chip Friday. NOT THIS MONTH!! To avoid fast food binges I need to get a little more organised and make sure that I am satiated or supplied with jars of nuts or a trusty banana. And I might have to make homemade roast vege chips on Fridays, but they’re delicious so no complaints there.

So those are my BIG 4 this June. It’ll be a struggle at points but it’ll also keep me mindful, healthy, and force me to experiment with food a little more. Tonight I made pizza with a cauliflower base (my bf is ‘low carb’ which sounds torturous) and it was super scrumptious, if not instagramable.

Speaking of experimenting with food and trying new recipes, I wanted to share my latest discovery with you all. I’m very excited about it.

Recently I have been introduced to the miracle of the Organic Vege Box from Spring Fed Organics. For those of you who like to hop down to the Riccarton Bush Market on Saturday mornings, then you’ll know these awesome folks already. What you might not know is that they offer $30 or $50 boxes that are simply BURSTING with delicious, fresh and organic veges.
I ordered myself a $30 box via email, and popped down to the Exchange Chch (another cool spot) on Wilsons Rd to collect between 8-3 on a Tuesday.

Here’s my $30 box:

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It included carrots (multi coloured), broccoli, Leek, ½ celery, beetroot, radishes, white turnips, potatoes, ½ pumpkin, ½ cabbage, spring onions, mesclun/lettuce leaves, kale, silverbeet (and coloured), spinach, parsley and dill.

Pretty incredible! I have ended up sharing it between at least two of my other flatmates and there’s plenty to go around.

I asked them to keep my potatoes loose (which they forgot on the second week but apologised!), and I think I will try to organise reusable salad bags for my mesclun. It sounds as though they are happy to reuse the banana boxes if I return them the next week, and I have been popping the rubber bands and plastic bags in there to reuse as well. The good news is that the bags are made from “biodegradable cornstarch plastic bags” so that’s better than nothing, though I would suggest asking for your ‘tatoes to be loose, coz why not?

That’s it for me this month, folks! I’ll be in touch next month – hopefully over the moon about our efforts for Junk Free June.

In other exciting news, I am going travelling from mid-July, spending two months in Europe and a month in Namibia! I’m super excited for my first big overseas adventure, and I’m interested to see how I keep up with my zero waste efforts while travelling. I’ll try to keep you all updated ☺

Stay groovy xx

Poppy

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Poppy’s Top 5 Tips!

Hey everyone!

Phew, one year has absolutely flown by- Happy birthday, us! I realise that you guys have had A LOT to process, and I thought that the best thing to do at this stage is to do a recap:

The top 5 ways to reduce your waste. Easy steps and switches to make the biggest difference!

1. Buy local

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Check out this awesome Cup Library initiative at the Lyttelton Market

It doesn’t take that much to realise that locally sourced produce is the best. It’s fresher, healthier, has less of a carbon foot print, and can actually be cheaper – especially because you have to buy produce that is in season. I have also found that it’s the best way to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging, it’s just a matter of scoping out the stalls that keep all their produce loose! My two favourite farmer’s markets in Christchurch are the Lyttelton Market on a Saturday, and the smaller Opawa Market on Sunday. I usually take big canvas bags, and a couple of smaller bags for bread or breakfast pastries! You might want to also get some smaller cloth produce bags if you like to separate your apples and oranges.

Of course, buying local isn’t only about food though (even though food is always at the forefront of my mind..). If you can find ethical companies that make a cool product or offer an awesome service, then hit them up!

2. Buy bulk

When I began researching a zero waste lifestyle I started to notice what was making it’s way into my rubbish bin. In the end it seemed to be primarily thin plastic packets that had contained pasta, rice, nuts, cheese, spices, sweet treats… The list could go on. One of the first ways I cut this rubbish out, was through using jars and cloth bags to buy most of my cooking and cleaning supplies in bulk!

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3. Avoid food waste

Obviously I have just covered this in my last post, but it bears repeating! Reduce your food waste through organisation and meal planning, making stock, preserves, or fermented foods, freezing extras and composting the rest.

4. Refuse single use plastics

Take a look at this wee info graphic from www.oceanconservancy.org

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This is a list of top items found in international beach clean ups. Obviously many of these are things we really don’t need (don’t get me started on cigarettes, I mean REALLY!?), but we can cut down on all these items by using alternatives. Here’s a list of simple swaps to reduce plastic items in our life – especially those which we use for 5 minutes then toss:

  • Cigarettes… Just don’t.
  • Food wrappers/containers – Buying bulk using your reusable containers, buying or making fresh baking, getting sweets from the bulk bins in your containers!
  • Beverage bottles and cans – I admit I’m a bit of a fizzy drink fiend, and I have tried to offset my waste by using soda stream as a reusable fizzy option (though apparently this company is not the most ethical so it’s worth shopping around), and buying aluminium cans or glass bottles instead of plastic and making sure to recycle them. Should probably do my best to just cut back though. As for water – just buy a good ol’ water bottle and go hard on that! Also take your reusable containers for takeaways.
  • Plastic bags – reusable canvas ones! Produce bags are also great if you want them. I have forgotten my bags on occasion (this is often people’s excuse for using plastic) but my solution is to either ask for a box to carry stuff, or just pack everything into the trolley/basket and unload stuff individually into your car… you won’t forget again. Here’s a cool song to help you to remember though.
  • Caps and lids – if you cut down your plastic bottles this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but if you do find yourself with lids them make sure you are organised and recycle them correctly.
  • Plastic cutlery and straws/stirrers– Always carry a set of cutlery, reusable straw, and tea towel around with you! I just take cutlery from home, but some people use camping utensils which might be more portable. It also helps to have a container on hand if you want to get food on the go without a plastic plate! Remember that the main way to avoid them is by USING YOUR WORDS!! Communication is the key, people. Just say clearly “no plastic straw/cutlery/plate/bag please.” Then you can always follow up with “I don’t use single use plastic” if they look confused. I know some people say they are allergic to the chemicals in the plastics as a way of ensuring they don’t get them, but I prefer to just be honest and open about why I avoid these items, and then maybe people can learn about the cause!
  • Paper bags- While I still think it’s better to use paper over plastic, we want to avoid killing too many trees so it’s always best to use fabric cloth bags instead.

Other swaps

  • Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 3.00.46 pm

    Check out my new gorgeous Keep Cup

    Coffee cups – reusable keep cups, or just sit at the café for five minutes!

  • Cleaning products – Baking soda and vinegar, look into homemade products. You can also switch out your plastic scrubbing brushes with wooden ones where you can change the head of the brush.
  • Sponges – reusable cloths and natural sponges
  • Bathroom products – Ditch the bottles and use natural and unpackaged products! Ethique is a great company for this, as is Lush because they’ll reuse any containers you return to them.
  • Toothpaste and brushes – brush with bamboo! And look into making your own toothpaste if you want.
  • Utensils – switch out plastic kitchen utensils, chopping boards, plastic non-stick pans, with bamboo alternatives and cast iron pans!
  • Pads and tampons – reusable cloth pads or menstrual cups

5. Buy quality, care for your possessions

We live in a disposable and consumerist society, and one of the biggest changes we can make is by refusing to take part in this culture of stuff.

If you are buying something new then it is important to think clearly about what you really want the item for, how it is made, and what would make the item last. Buying second hand is also a great way to avoid waste! You can give something a whole new life and purpose by buying second hand, and often go pretty easy on your wallet at the same time. I definitely feel a much stronger connection to things that have meaning and are connected to experiences in my life.

Take my black boots for example! My mum bought these boots back in the early 1990s. She wore Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 3.01.12 pmthem consistently until the 14yr old me stole them for myself. They continue to be my favourite boots – going into fashion and out again, but always remaining a solid basic in my wardrobe. I recently had them re-soled and touched up for maybe the 2nd time in the 8 years I have had them. Cost me $75 this time because I went to the expensive guy in the mall. Still feels worth it to pay that price instead of buying cheaper boots I’d have to replace in a year or so. Plus I feel attached to these boots because of the memories I associate with them!

So there it is ☺ A few simple steps and swaps can make a huge difference in the amount of trash you produce. It will take a little mental effort, some forethought and organisation, but it will make such a positive difference to your life. So give it a whirl! I love to hear about your experiences – some of you have lived plastic free for a fortnight, some have enjoyed gardening or foraging, others have created a capsule wardrobe!

Keep the stories coming ya’ll.

Xoxo Poppy


header image by Melika Osareh via thinglink.com

Waste Not Want Not

Hey Stuffers! I hope you had a nice Easter break with lots of rest, fun, and food. Speaking of food, the discussion around food waste has been pretty big in the media lately, especially in the light of recent legislature in France which forces large supermarkets to donate food to charity as it nears its best-before date, or have it turned into animal feed or compost. Other countries are starting to move in the same direction as well, with Italy and the UK taking steps toward other food waste reduction bills. Very cool.

While it’s nice to know that some *hesitant first* steps are being taken towards reducing food waste in the industry sectors, it is also important for us to be mindful about the waste in our own homes.

Getting the most out of your food is good for the environment, your health, and your wallet – so why not? Here are a few key tips to reducing food waste.

QUANTITY CONTROL AND STORAGE

One of the first ways to avoid food spoiling and going to waste, is to get to know your own shopping needs and storage at home. You want to get the balance between finding yourself at the supermarket four times a week with three carrots in your basket, and buying so much produce once a month that only half of it fits into your fridge. I try to do a weekly shop at the market for fruit and veg, then a trip to the supermarket or Bin Inn for other stuff. Often I fail and end up at Countdown with a single random ingredient, but it’s a work in progress! It’s also important to know the best way for each to be stored once it’s at home. Recently I found out that potatoes and onions are best stored separately because they produce gasses that work to spoil each other. Good to know!

Once you have an idea of what you need for the week, and the best way to store your food then you are less likely to have anything going off.

COOK VARIETY

Make sure to use up any sad veggies that are going floppy in your fridge by challenging yourself to cook new meals, as well as finding your favourite recipes that can use up all sorts of different ingredients. Curries, soups, stir-frys, omelettes, fruit crumbles… Whatever floats your boat!

PRESERVE

Sometimes you are inundated with a certain fruit or veg and there are more than you can use up or give away – especially at this time of the year when harvests are coming in! Foraging has been an awesome way to get a load of fruit that can easily be preserved in lots of ways, and a pear/apple stew is definitely on the cards for me.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 6.25.51 pmForaged fruit! I made sure to use the bruised and squishy peaches in a crumble straight away. Yummeh.

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 6.25.58 pmMy courgette plants have been churning out goodies this season and I ended up with a few too many in the fridge. Knowing that I always crave courgette in the winter but don’t want to buy it out of season, I had a go at blanching then freezing a batch.

USE UP THE REST

Even when you do your best to use up all the food you buy, sometimes there are bits and pieces that won’t get used in your everyday cooking. But never fear! There are lots of things you can do to avoid those scraps ending up in the landfill.

Composting

Living in a city with a built in composting system is pretty rad – if you don’t want to have your own compost, then the Green Bin really is the biggest GB in your life. Chur brah. I have also heard of other places setting up community composts in lieu of a council system, so check out what might be in your area. I recently started my own compost, and I’ll update you on how that’s going once it’s fully up and running! So far I have been chucking my scraps onto the pile and letting the chooks pick through what they want from it. It’s been very convenient ☺

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 6.26.07 pmThis is my compost bin, complete with a leafy carrot top garnish. I bought it from Kmart before my zero waste days. It has a handy lid to keep smells in, and is a good size for 4 people to fill without everything rotting at the bottom in the meantime. An ice cream container also works perfectly, or you could thrift for a non-plastic equivalent. To make sure that my flatties and I use the compost bin regularly, I have it within easy access at all times so there is no temptation to throw food in the rubbish.

Stock

This is my favourite way to make the most out of your scraps. It’s easy, it uses good parts of vegetables that you might usually not cook with, and gives you a whole new product! Stock is a cupboard staple, but many stocks are packaged wastefully, cost a load more than they should, and are made with extra additives you don’t really need or want in your body. This way you have control over your recipe and can use variations of scraps to customise your stock. Win!

I make a simple veggie stock, but of course you can also use up leftover meat and bones you may have. Might as well use every part of the animal!

My process of collecting scraps is easy. I simply keep a sturdy paper bag in the shelf of my freezer and every time I cook I pop my stock scraps in it – it can fill up pretty quickly! My most common scraps are usually: carrot tops, onion ends/outer skins, potato/kumera/pumpkin skins, celery ends and leaves, herb stalks, courgette and capsicum offcuts, and often a couple of random veggies that are floppy enough for even me to not want to cook with (I have pretty low standards and I’m fine with that). The only things I’ve heard aren’t so good in stocks are the cruciferous veggies – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts… the kinda things you don’t want to eat if they’ve been boiled to smithereens.

There are lots of recipes out there on how to make stock, but here is my version!

  1. Fry some onion, garlic, and a couple of bay leaves in a big pot, using an oil of your preference.
  2. Add your scraps and fill the pot with water. You can also add other types of herbs if you have them on hand. I like a lot of parsley and a sprig of rosemary. Feel free to season with salt and pepper – I think this technically makes it broth rather than stock, but whatevs.
  3. Boil then simmer for a while. I usually give it 45-60 mins.
  4. Tip the stock into a big bowl through a sieve or colander. Then use a piece of muslin cloth when transferring the broth into containers – this catches any little particles that may be hanging about.
  5. I use small-ish jars as stock containers because I can defrost the amount needed for a meal quite easily. Some people make stock ice cubes, while others do a big batch and defrost and refreeze as necessary. Up to you! Just remember to leave some space for the stock to expand as it freezes. You don’t want to deal with that kind of mess. Trust me.
  6. Chuck your leftover veggie mush on the compost with the contented knowledge that it had a useful life and can now nourish the soil.

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It’s as simple as that! Enjoy your delicious, nutritious, cheap-ious, waste free-ious stock ☺

There are many other ways to use up leftovers, and at the moment I am working on making Apple Scrap Vinegar that I found through Zero Waste Chef! I think I will have to do another post on the topic of food waste, and I can let you know then how my vinegar experiment turned out.

In the meantime we love to hear your suggestions and questions so hit us up!

See you next month,

Poppy xx


header image from https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens/g/25265615/food-waste-in-australia-facts/

 

UGS SEALED SECTION – Eco-friendly Sex: The Ins and Outs

I have been writing at you guys for almost a year now, and I think it’s time we talked about sex and the environment. Don’t worry- I’ll be gentle.

Now, please don’t get your hopes up. I am not going to give you advice on how to avoid rubbish sex – that’s your own responsibility. What I can do is give you the low down on how to have sex without feeling like you are also fucking up the planet. Guilt is a mood killer, and we wouldn’t want that.

The most environmentally harmful by-product of sex is probably a baby. Frustratingly, the only sex that is totally eco-friendly is the fully au-natural kind, which I only recommend to partners wanting to have little kiddies. It’s kind of a catch 22. Unless you cannot conceive for whatever reason and have a steady partner, in which case you can also go for it!

This post is primarily for those of us who want to have sex without the risk of pregnancy or STDs, while also being kind to mother nature. Kudos to us. It’s also mainly aimed at women because most contraceptive duties seem to fall upon our shoulders… Grrr. If you can’t be bothered with the responsible contraceptive shenanigans then skip through this article to get to the fun stuff later on, just don’t blame me if you end up with a child and genital warts.

Contraceptives

Firstly, I should point out that the only absolute zero waste way to ensure non-pregnancy is abstinence and a) even the Pope knows that it doesn’t work very well, and b) it’s not very fun. So let’s look at the alternatives shall we?

Condoms

The most mainstream of contraceptives, condoms do have their ups and downs. Most importantly they protect you from STDs and pregnancy, but they’re definitely not the most eco product on offer. There are some reliable earth friendly companies out there that have made the effort to keep the impact of their products down. Here are a number of key considerations when looking into the environmental impact of condoms:

  • Materials. Most condoms are made from latex rubber, which is collected from the sap of rubber trees, so it has the potential to be done sustainably. Check out what the company’s policies are on sourcing their latex.
  • Vegan. Emma mentioned this in her last post. Many condom manufacturers use casein to make the rubber smooth and fine. Casein is a dairy by-product and is made up primarily of milk. There is also a type of condom that is made from lamb intestines (though they call it lambskin…), and is usually marketed to those who have latex allergies. This is a biodegradable product but is obviously not vegan, and be aware that it doesn’t protect against STDs.
  • Fair-trade. Obviously, when it comes to getting freaky it’s important to know that it doesn’t come at the cost of another human’s happiness or livelihood. Make sure that the companies you support pay their workers a decent wage and have fair labour laws.
  • Chemical nasties. Many companies are vague about what ingredients are in their condoms, but they can include carcinogenic chemicals as part of the rubber, lubricant, or spermicide.
  • Rubbish. Both the packaging and actual condoms themselves will unavoidably become rubbish in the landfill. Latex condoms do not biodegrade, and I haven’t heard of a company that offers biodegradable wrappers either.  In saying that, make sure you dispose of condoms responsibly by putting them in the bin. Do NOT flush them down the toilet because they will cause problems to the sewerage system and aquatic life.

So there are lots of things to be cautious of when buying condoms, but the good news is that the companies with an earth-friendly focus usually tick all these boxes, except the last. Check out companies such as Sustain, Glyde, L Condoms, and Sir Richards. Not all of these can be found in NZ, but maybe you can stock up next time you go travelling…

The Pill

Lots of women rely on the pill, but it comes with a few problems. Firstly, it can mess with your hormones, which isn’t ideal. Secondly, the blister packs that the pill comes in are non-recyclable plastic. Finally, you have to remember to actually take it each day, and it won’t protect you from STDs, so remember to use a condom if you’re having casual sex.

Depo Provera/Jadelle/Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

If you’re up for a quarterly jab in the bum then the Depo could be for you ladies! On the surface this contraceptive may seem to produce no waste, but it’s important to remember that each visit to the GP for The Jab will result in medical waste like needles and syringes, gloves, and sterile packaging.

The Jadelle or IUD contraceptives involve small medical procedures to insert the devices, but they last for up to 5 years so are very effective when it comes to waste. There are numerous IUDs available so they can work for different people with different needs – have a shop around.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a comprehensive list, and it can take a while before you can find the best contraceptive for you – but don’t give up!  I have tried all of these options over the years, and have found that a Mirena IUD has worked the best for me – so now I know what works and I don’t have to be concerned about unnecessary environmental costs when it comes to my contraception!

The Fun Stuff

Ok, ok. So I’ve covered the responsible side of eco-friendly sex. Now I want to look into some of the other elements that come into play.

Lubrication

This one is a bit of a sticky issue guys. Unfortunately some lubes have nasty, often petroleum based chemicals as part of their ingredients. It’s not necessary something you want to digest, or get all up in and over ya. On top of that, the packaging options are all pretty unsustainable. Some more natural options include aloe vera or coconut oil, but be aware that natural oils can break down condoms so they shouldn’t be used together. Let’s also not forget that ladies have built in lubrication, so that’s pretty cool and ya’ll should make the most of that.

Clothes/Lingerie

Remember how we talked about the environmental impact of fashion? The same applies to sexy get-up. Don’t buy cheap, fast fashion, and always get items made from natural and sustainable materials. Now THAT is sexy.

Toys

Whether you want to spice up life with your partner or get down to some self-love, toys are great. However, it’s important to keep certain factors in mind when it comes to buying the right product. Here are some handy tips:

  • Remember that it’s better to spend more money on a quality, well-made product that will last.
  • Stick to electronics that are rechargeable, or can use rechargeable batteries – there are even solar powered options!
  • Metal and glass products are more eco-friendly than plastic.
  • Candles are great for mood lighting, but it’s best to stick to beeswax or another type of sustainable candle.

So I think that pretty much sums it up. Have a good ol’ Google and you’ll find lots of companies who supply eco-friendly contraception or adult toys – it actually seems to be a booming industry, which is awesome!  If you have any questions or comments then feel free to flick us an email or write something below. Stay safe and have fun!

Poppy xox


Header image via someonelikeme.com

Reducio!

Hey folks, how’s it hanging? Do me a wee favour and have a look around you right now. Where are you? Bedroom? Office? Bathroom (because you’re reading this while on the toilet (no judge))? Take a moment to notice the things that surround you. Start with the big stuff then work down: House, room, couches, bookshelf, DVDs, pens, etc, etc. I’m going to estimate that around 85% of you can spot a rogue bobby pin from where you are. They defy logic and are mysteriously everywhere. I think they have magical powers. Anyway, it’s likely that there are a lot of different things within a 3 metre radius of you, and today I want to talk about Stuff. More specifically, the existence of The Stuff in your life and why it might be better to have Less Stuff in general. Yes, I know this blog happens to be about Using Good Stuff, but I also think it’s important to consider whether we should actually Use The Stuff at all. Ok, I’m going to stop capitalising now.

Reductionism, minimalism, simplicity, austerity… I’m going to be honest and say that I’m not that good at living by these terms. It’s no secret that us western affluent types buy a lot of stuff to put on the shelves in our houses. I would go so far as to call it a shit tonne of stuff. We go even crazier during holidays, where we spend a shitload of money on a shit tonne of stuff for other people to put on the shelves in their houses. It’s another not-secret that many other people around the world not only have no stuff but also no shelves or even houses. The concept of owning a sonic screwdriver-shaped pizza cutter (which I do) must seem bizarre to these people. And fair enough, too.

Consumerism and the role it plays in our society is a big fish to fry, and many could wax lyrical about it from anthropological, psychological, and economical angles. I, of course, want to address it from an environmental and waste perspective. How does this stuff come to exist? What real purpose or point does it play in our lives? Where does it go once we no longer want it? Let’s take my pizza cutter for example. I bought (or was gifted?) this during a Doctor Who phase a couple of years ago. It makes the sonic screwdriver buzzing noise when you use it. It’s good fun and a great novelty. It is made primarily from plastic that is non-recyclable, but it also has a metal rolling blade, and some sort of electric speaker system inside for the sound effects. It exists as the only pizza cutter that I own, however due to my lack of pizza making (I should change this) and my habit of using a knife to cut my occasional pizzas, it mainly sits in my flat’s kitchen drawer. A drawer that is filled with kitchen utensils we don’t really use. You know the one. If this pizza cutter breaks or is re-gifted and then chucked out, it will end up in the landfill, like most of the other stuff we accumulate over our lives. Just another story of an item bought to fill some perceived (sonic screwdriver shaped) gap in our lives, and then discarded.

Q: So what do we do about it?
A: Just be mindful.

Like I said, I’m not a minimalist, but there are ways you can reduce the amount of junk in your life. Mindfulness is a concept bandied about a lot these days, but it really and truly is important in relation to our urge to consume. Consider asking yourself these questions when you want to get something new:

  1. What purpose does this item serve in my life?
  2. Will I use it often?
  3. Is there something that I already own which will do the same job?
  4. Does this thing have multiple uses or is it a ‘one job’ item? If so, is it actually worth owning?
  5. Is this item made in a sustainable way and with sustainable materials?
  6. Are the people involved in its production paid and treated fairly?
  7. Will it last, and if not, how can it be repurposed or recycled?
  8. Can I buy this item second hand instead of new?
  9. Is this something I find beautiful or meaningful?

This last question is an important one. It is the question that when applied to my life, marks the difference between reductionism and minimalism. Personally, I want to own books that inform or inspire me; art that I will always love looking at; trinkets passed down through generations. I want to be able to create stuff. I want to support artists who make wonderful things. But I need to make sure that these things are important to me, and add value and colour to my life. I don’t want them to last a few weeks then end up chucked in the bin.

The first items in my life that I have started to mindfully reduce are my clothes. I took note of what I haven’t worn for months, or what didn’t fit anymore, and I either sold them or donated them to an op shop. Slowly, I am getting rid of the fast fashion that has accumulated in my wardrobe and am building a set of staple items that are either second hand or high quality lifetime pieces. Eventually (hopefully) this endeavour will be applied to all aspects of my life.

This has been a bit more of a ramble than my usual posts, but I hope it inspires some thoughts and changes. If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions then make sure them flick them my way!

Stay mindful when out shopping guys, and make mental notes about what things you don’t actually need to spend money on. After all, if life has taught me anything it’s that you never need to buy your own bobby pins.

Ciao xx

Poppy


header image via hopkinsmo.com

 

Cling On, Wax Off

Cling film, ya’ll.
I understand. The handiness. The cheapy cheapness. You need to cover the leftover potato salad from Christmas so you whack a sheet of plastic fantastic over the bowl and voila! When you next need to chow, you take the wrap off and it doesn’t matter that it has mayonnaise on it because you can just chuck it away! Easy.

But where does it go after you’ve popped it in the bin, out of sight out of mind? Collected by the garbage truck and taken to the nearest landfill? Swept up by a gust of wind and blown into a stormwater drain and taken out to sea? Picked up by a scavenging seagull or other animal?

My zero-waste motto for this year is “There is No Away”. It reminds me that everything I use has a life cycle. What happens to a product once it is out of my life, and how does this affect others and the earth?

When I ask that question about cling film, the result is not positive. For such a small and unnecessary purpose, it has a long lasting and negative impact.

So what can we change?

– Does it need to be wrapped at all? Sammies and other lunch goodies can just as easily be popped in reusable containers. Using a plate or bowl as a lid over your leftovers is also awesome.
– Alternatives. There are many out there! Reusable containers, damp covering cloths, paper bags, jars, wax wraps, and baking paper are all preferable to cling film. Many people turn to aluminium foil, though a quick search will tell you that this may actually be less environmentally friendly.

Personally I am a huge fan of wax wraps. We’ve already talked about the wonderful Honeywrap,  and there are other brands out there too (although the added bonus of Honeywrap is that it hasn’t got plastic packaging and has therefore been my first choice.). However I decided this year to make my own Christmas gifts and I ended up making my own wax wraps! Yippee!

I needed: cloth, bees wax, a sewing machine + accessories, baking paper, an oven, a cheese grater, string + pegs, and a partner in crime.

I am very lucky to have Henrietta in my life. She’s a cool chickadee who is also interested in environmentalism and conveniently has a family that keeps a few beehives. Having recently harvested honey, Henrietta set about separating the leftover wax and then bringing it over to my house to play! This was our method:

1. We cut our cloth into variously sized squares, then Henrietta ironed and I sewed up the hems. I imagine there are ways of avoiding fraying but I was in Christmas sewing mode, so we just went for it.

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2. We preheated the oven to a random temp because all the numbers have rubbed off my oven. But it was a medium-ish heat. Go with that. We then lined oven trays with baking paper.
3. We popped a couple of cloths on the tray, then sprinkled grated beeswax evenly over the top. The wax was actually quite tough to grate, so shout out to Shaun for dutifully putting in some elbow grease for us, while somehow managing to play computer games at the same time. I don’t even know.
4. Chucked them in the oven until everything seemed melted and looked ok.
5. Used a makeshift clothesline to peg the cloths out to cool.
6. Done! We even used leftover wax to make a few candles at the same time.
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7. Tidy up is a bit of a mission when it comes to wax. Henrietta’s tip is to use boiling water and paper towels, which worked like a charm. Still, I don’t recommend using any precious kitchen items on a project like this.

So that’s that! They work great, they look, great, they smell HEAVENLY. And as a plus my Christmas presents went down a treat. I made reusable hessian bags with denim designs and inside went an assortment of goodies: the wax wraps and candles, bamboo toothbrushes, homemade lemon, honey, and ginger cordial, jars of Henrietta’s honey, and reusable metal straws. I reused bits of paper collected throughout the year as wrapping/labelling paper and tied them up with leftover hessian threads and reused rubber bands. Went down a treat 😀
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So, that’s a wrap. Hope you all had wonderful holidays!
See you next month – Poppy x

Chicken Run (The Christmas Edition)

Here we are at the end of another year, and the holidays are looming. I want to take this time to go over some tips and ideas for Christmas but I also want to fill you in on my exciting new thing!

For a wee while I have been considering getting a couple of hens. I grew up with a wee flock around home and I like the idea of giving them my food scraps and getting an egg or two in return. While we have green bins for compost now and free range eggs readily available, I still think it’s nice to be able to do it yourself if you can! So I talked about the idea without actually going through any steps to carry it out, until I saw a facebook post about a Battery Hen Adoption program. A battery farm in Christchurch was about to cull its current flock and bring in a new batch of poor clucks.

Instantly I knew I wanted to adopt some hens and give them a chance at a new and happier life. I contacted the person organising it all, made a call to mum and dad asking for help sorting out living arrangements for the newbies, and we were away! The chooks cost $2 each, a price sadly going to the battery farm… I guess it’s all about the money to these people. It’s a factor to take into consideration if you want to adopt a chook – you have to know if you’d be happy to pay to save a chook but fund the industry… A difficult decision but the right one for me.

So anyway, now I have two new family members!

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Introducing Helen Cluck and Rustle Crowe! They’re 18 months old and this was the first day at their new home. Note how pale their combs are – these have become pinker over the weeks, which seems like a good sign.

They weren’t in the best shape. They had lost a lot of feathers because battery hens peck each other and themselves out of boredom. This means they find it hard to stay warm outside of the heated battery sheds, so for a few days I kept them in jumpers fashioned from old socks and also popped them in the garden shed overnight.

It’s been such a pleasure to watch these girls improve over the last few weeks. They have picked up lots of things naturally that they were never able to do during the 15months in cages. They can now flap and stretch their wings, scratch at the dirt, have dust baths, preen themselves, sunbathe, and peck at insects and bugs. They live in an old a-frame patched up from my parents place, but I often let them out in the garden and they have slowly become more confident at exploring. All this from two animals who had never stood on grass before. Amazing. I’ve had a few eggs but they’re pretty “egged out” after battery farm life and I don’t mind if they never lay. They also get along happily enough with the cat which is an added bonus!

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The girls checking out their new digs and the first egg!

Ok so it’s probably quite clear that I am a clucky mother right now, but I also want to spend a little time talking about the upcoming holiday season and what you can do to make Christmas better for others and the environment!

We all know that Christmas is crazy. Wrapping paper everywhere, socks and unwanted gifts piled on couches (because lets be honest, if it’s not socks you probably don’t want or need it), half finished food and drink placed precariously on the floor… It’s great in so many ways but it’s also important to think about the impact of this consumerist stuff explosion.

Here are a few ideas to help lead to a less wasteful Christmas and New Years.

Ditch the Cards

Don’t give out unnecessary pieces of cardboard with generic greetings in them to people you don’t even like… Save it for the special few, use your space wisely to say charming and witty things, and consider making your own cards out of spare paper stationary ☺

Bag Wisely

ALWAYS remember to take a reusable bag xmas shopping. Plastic bags are stupid and I hate them with a fiery passion that is not in accordance with the Christmas spirit. You should too.

Consider the packaging

Take note of the way your chosen gifts are packaged. Does Dad need the new set of kitchen scissors that are in a plastic case, or would he be happy with the unpackaged ones? And do you really care what he wants anyway? No, because you are doing your shopping drunk because you’re a goddamn adult now.

Wrap Happy

I save bits of paper throughout the year to use as wrapping, but I have also used newspaper, paper bags, and reused wrappings from the year before! Keep it creative, and remember that you don’t have to wrap absolutely everything. However, DO remember to Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap – because being Sun Smart is cool.

Plate Up

Do what you can to reduce non-recyclable food packaging. Also avoid single use nasties like plastic straws, plates, and cutlery – especially when camping or picnicking over the holidays. While getting sloshed at New Years, make sure to drink from glasses or cans and avoid plastic bottles. Being a responsible drunk is also pretty cool.

Set Goals

Need a decent New Years resolution? Forget the gym resolutions, and the carpe diem resolutions, and the not-throwing-up-in-your-flatmates-undie-draw-again resolutions. Take the opportunity to challenge yourself to produce less waste in 2016 than you did in 2015. This could be as simple as ditching all plastic bags, or straws, or takeaway containers, or cutlery. Baby steps or it ain’t gonna happen.

Gifts that Keep Giving

Finally, take some time to reflect about what you want to be giving this Christmas. I really struggle with the idea of getting people arbitrary crap, just because that is what is expected of me. If you are an unconscious over-consumer then you are part of the problem. Instead:

  • Ask people what they NEED. Socks are always a great place to start.
  • Give a donation-gift! Buy a resource/animal on behalf of someone through Oxfam Unwrapped (http://www.oxfamunwrapped.org.nz/). It will help people in need ☺
  • Invest in a project, event, or trip. Time can be a great gift, especially when it is invested in doing something special with those you love. Go plant some trees! (http://treesforcanterbury.org.nz/) Get a massage!  Go to the theatre!
  • Consider getting others gifts that will in turn help them reduce their environmental impact. Reusable produce bags, or natural beauty products are good ones. Last year my parents got me a beehive, which was the raddest! This year I have asked for gardening equipment and metal clothes pegs – they last much longer than plastic or wooden ones.
  • Get crafty and creative. Gift a homemade beauty product, preserve, or plant!
  • Become comfortable with concepts of re-gifting and buying second hand. Someone else might absolutely love that expensive novelty vase that you loath with every ounce of your soul.

… There’s a lot there but that about sums it up. Do what you can ☺ And remember to ask others to do the same when it comes to their gifts to you! Get specific if they need some directions.

Jeepers. That’s the last of me for 2015. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

Much love and peace xx

Poppy

Save My Bacon – Zero Waste Meat

***Please Note: This post is about killing and processing animals for food (I won’t mince my words (Ha. mince. Gettit?)), so please proceed with caution.***

***Please also note: This article links well with Blick’s recent post about vegetarianism/veganism so go check it out***


I started to think seriously about hunting rabbits and hares when my friend Simon returned from a hunting trip and offered me wallaby mince. Once I had got my head around the fact that there are wallabies in NZ (I mean really?!) he explained to me that they are a pest down south and that the numbers are controlled through hunting or organised culls –where no part of the animal is used. This seems odd to me. If you need to control a population by killing (by no means the only option, I’m still working on my thoughts around this issue/alternatives) then it seems like an absolute waste to use no part of the dead animal.

I tend to describe myself as a vegetarian, but this is not strictly true. Just over a year ago I made the decision to stop purchasing meat and contributing to the huge impact that animal agriculture has on the environment, as well as avoiding the crazy amount of packaging that goes with it. I can’t say I have been perfect (there are odd occasions where I have bought/eaten meat) but I would say that at least 95% of the time I have held steady. However, I like to keep my options open and part of that is asking myself why I eat the way I do, and what factors change or confirm my decisions.

Growing up in a rural environment I have always been aware of the impact of introduced pests on our native environment. Predatory pests such as wild cats, rats, or ferrets are a threat to our native birds, while the herbivores like rabbits, hares, deer, and wallabies contribute to the destruction of native plants. My family has a focus of promoting native plant growth and animal population on our property and I understood the subsequent importance of controlling the numbers of pests hanging around. Rabbits and hares have always been the biggest issue, and my family usually controlled the population through poisoned bait. My parents had recently mentioned that the rabbit population was growing at home and I suggested that Simon and I have a go at hunting them.

I have never hunted before but Simon is a great and experienced tutor – a huge emphasis on safety and no pressure to fire if not 100% ready and sure! Gun safety is super important, guys. We did some theory and target practice as a refresher each time and then headed out.

Poppy1Target practice on old baked beans cans

On our two evenings hunting we have caught four hares and one rabbit, despite some gun sighting issues and my lack of experience.

After a quick YouTube video search, we set about skinning, gutting, and butchering the catch. We kept the meat and disposed the rest in a bushy area – the dog was pretty interested too and he got some good tid-bits (he’s too slow to catch all but the sluggish rabbits, so this was a treat for him).

Poppy2Skinning the hare. Note the Macbook Pro in the background. Bear Grills eat your heart out…

I then separated the meat into different portions to freeze/give to family etc, and cooked up a hare stew! Lots of red wine and bay leaves are a must! It was delish.

Poppy3This hare was quite tender but from what I understand, slow cooking methods are best

So here are my summarising thoughts about hunting your own meat:

  • I feel more morally comfortable eating meat that I have hunted myself as opposed to store bought meat.
  • It’s about as close to zero waste meat eating as you can get – no processing, packaging, raising of the animal etc.
  • Killing an animal can be confronting. Personally I favour shooting and eating over poisoning. And I like knowing the animal is wild and has lived a free life. I don’t think the death will ever be something that I enjoy however, and I think that is important.
  • Some would argue that hunting pests helps the environment, while eating farmed meat is one of the major contributors to environmental harm.
  • Consider looking into buying hunted meat from a friend, instead of farmed meat. If you don’t know anyone who hunts then look into buying from a butcher and using your own container.
  • Going fully vegan or vegetarian is an absolutely admirable thing to do and something I am considering for myself in the future.

It is always important to consider whether your actions reflect your beliefs, whatever these may be. Take some time this week to think about how and what you eat – it’s a big part of our lives and a huge contributing factor to our negative impact on the world around us.

If you want to flick me a line about this post, or anything else then just email me! I would love to hear from you. 😀

Peace out!

-Poppy

The Last Straw

Winter has come and gone, and I am excitedly anticipating the spring and summer buzz. Sunny mornings, gardening, swimming, barbeques and beers… Fan-fricking-tastic yo! The hot weather also results in a need to stay hydrated and sadly this often comes at a big cost. Today I’m not talking about plastic water bottles (though I do curse their existence), but something smaller and less noticeable that still has a hugely negative effect on the environment.

Plastic straws.

They’re popped into our drinks at parties, cafés, and bars all the time. Sometimes there will be numerous straws in a single drink! Don’t get me wrong – I love sipping my OJ through a straw, the problem is that each of these little plastic tubes go straight into the garbage, and these add up extremely quickly. It is estimated that in the United States alone 5,000,000 straws are used and disposed of every day. 5 million. Every day. This number is based on straw manufacturers estimates of how many disposable straws are distributed for use around the U.S. It doesn’t even include all the extra straws that come attached to juice and milk boxes. Pretty scary. So… Let’s take a closer look at the average disposable straw shall we?

Firstly, how are straws made? 

Most straws are made from polypropylene – a petroleum by-product which does not easily bio-degrade naturally and can have a huge effect on the environment around us. Without getting into the whole debate around fossil fuel extraction, the products and by-products alone are a huge cause for concern. Straws are manufactured in factories around the world using equipment like the stuff in this Youtube video.

Why do we use them and are these reasons justifiable?

There are a number of reasons why we choose not to go straw-less. Hygiene has been cited as a key reason for using straws – they mean drinks can be more easily shared, and (theoretically)the plastic material and style of manufacturing means that they are a safe and sterile product to drink from. This argument seems pretty bogus to me. Reusable straws are washable (plastic ones aren’t as they melt and release toxins) and solve any hygiene problem, though if you really are concerned then I suggest not sharing a drink with anyone in the first place…

Straws are also cheap to manufacture and buy, while their disposable nature means they are always in demand. Clearly that makes for a safe sales investment, but just because a product is being purchased doesn’t mean that it is therefore justifiable despite its consequences. Many people seem to struggle with this concept.

They are also toted for health reasons – sipping fizzy or juice through a straw means you can enjoy these drinks while protecting your teeth from the worst of the sugar. Finally, the use of straws is simply ingrained into the way we drink! “How do we sip our G&T without one?” cry all the Merivale mums. “Drinking while out would simply feel different without straws!” … You wouldn’t be wrong. Luckily these issues can be solved by using straws made from alternative products.

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Environment Impact

Once our straws are out of our mouths and into the trash this is where they start making a significant impact. It doesn’t take much research to see that plastic straws are a large contributor to the plastic pollution of the world and specifically in our oceans. The reason I wanted to discuss straws in particular is because of a video I watched recently which shows some scientists prying a straw out of the nostril of an olive ridley sea turtle. (Warning: some may find this video upsetting)

We all know about how our use of plastics is effecting the environment but I will pop a few basic stats in here because knowledge is power, even if that knowledge is terrifying.

  • Plastic constitutes 90% of all trash floating in the world’s oceans.
  • 61% of this plastic is less than a mm in size which means that…
  • Marine life often mistake fragments of plastic as food, leading to the deaths of these animals and toxins entering the food chain.
  • 1 million sea birds and 100,000 mammals die from this plastic pollution every year.

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So, it’s bad. And plastic straws are a surprisingly large part of this general badness. Straw and stirrers were 5th out of the top 10 collected items as part of the International Coast Clean Up initiative, after cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottles, and plastic bottle caps.

Ok, ok… So it’s all very gloom and doom-y so far. Sorry about that. I want the article to be less sad from here on in, so it’s probably the time to say THERE IS HOPE AND WE CAN TURN THAT INTO AWESOME! Better? Good.

Let’s make simple changes and big differences by following these easy peasy steps:

  • Simply say “No straw please” when ordering in cafes, restaurants, and bars etc. Say it 10 times in a row now and make sure you turn this into a habit while out and about.
  • If you know of a eatery that is sustainable and/or doesn’t use disposable straws then make sure you go a lot, mention how cool they are, and drag all your friends there at any opportunity.
  • If you’re getting fast food then ask for a cup without a straw or plastic lid – especially if you’re eating in.
  • Go out and invest in your own personal straw and keep it in your bag alongside your reusable cutlery! You can get metal, glass, or even bamboo straws! Check out online or peruse your local boutique-y/kitchen-y store.
  • I have two metal straws as well as a wee pipe cleaner brush that I use to clean them. One of the straws is bent and narrower and the other is wider and straight – this means I choose which one I need depending on the thickness of my drink!

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 11.40.09 amPoppy’s fancy reusable straws

It’s as simple as that! Also try to remember not to beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Last weekend I forgot to ask for no straw while out for brunch and my smoothie came out with two! I took a deep breath and thought of the countless times in recent months when I had remembered and made a difference. This isn’t about beating yourself up, but making your sustainable efforts a positive and uplifting experience.

If you want to know more about this, or just have a general discussion with me about zero-waste stuff then feel free to flick me an email – I’d love to talk to you! See ya next time ☺

– Poppy

My Cordial Thanks

Hello Use Good Stuff-ers, hope you’re doing well!

Life continues to be hectic (show #2 opens in five days) so today I thought I would simply share a gift idea that I used recently. Behind the glitz and jazz hands of a stage show lies hours and hours of tireless work from a dedicated team. I wanted to thank the director, choreographer and musical director of show #1 for all their work – what better way to do this than with homemade Lemon, Honey, and Ginger Cordial made zero-waste style? It felt appropriate because of the high level of winter snuffles that were going around the cast and crew. This cordial is great to give to a sickening loved one, or y’know, keep it for yourself because they’ll probably just pass the plague along to you anyway.

Step 1: Collect lemons.
I have two great lemon trees but these got a little cold over winter and the lemons have suffered. Instead I chose to go for a stroll through the Red Zone here in Christchurch and forage for sour goodies! While many of the houses have been demolished, the trees have been kept standing and I found lots of great citrus trees. I also spotted an old plastic bag blowing around so I ran it down (this took an embarrassingly long time) and reused it as my gathering bag.
If you are keen to grow your own lemons then check out E Cus’ post on lemon trees!

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Foraged lemons from the red zone!

Step 2: Collect other ingredients.
I wizzed in and out of my local Bin Inn with my trusty reusable jars and came out with sugar and citric acid. I already had ginger at home – I buy it from the Lyttelton market (which is my favourite market). You can also get zero waste honey from Piko’s! They have various types of honey and you can just fill your own jar with the runny goodness. I had ‘home grown’ honey from the bee keeper who tends the hive I got for Christmas. Unfortunately the latest news is that the hive died this winter – from what I hear, bee keepers around the country are losing large numbers of hives to cold, disease, and other problems. Check out James’ article on bees for more general reading. It’s all pretty scary but hopefully we can start to do something about it!

Step 3: Collect your containers.
I reused the glass Lemon and Honey Cordial bottles which are bought for hot drinks at my work. Before I put any cordial in them I made sure to fill the bottles with boiling water to make sure they were completely clean and sterile.

Step 4: Improvise your own recipe based on a random selection from Google.
This is pretty much how I do all my cooking – I’m a rebel yo.
Basically I combined the lemon juice, lots of rind, grated ginger, and water in a saucepan and then boiled these up. I then sieved out the bigger hunks of ginger and rind. Adding the honey and sugar sweetened and thickened the cordial, with a wee bit of citric acid to kick up the sour taste! You can make this recipe without the sugar, acid, or water but I needed to make a large amount so these helped bulk up my mixture.

Step 5: The Thank You’s.
I reused old wrapping paper and ribbon to write thank you notes and tie these to the bottles. Mine came out looking pretty snazzy!

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The finished product!

That’s all this month folks! Get out and enjoy the beginning of Spring!!

-Poppy