Use everything twice!

One persons trash is another’s treasure. I have little collections of ‘rubbish’ all over our small house, although I have become much better at organising these collections. No longer do I throw random rubber (elastic) bands, twist ties, ribbons etc into drawers, now there is a dedicated jar full of each of these used but still useful items.

And it’s great when you get a chance to re-use them. The other weekend I packed up some gifts to send over to America. The gifts are wrapped in tissue paper (saved after purchasing a new shirt etc.), the box and packing peanuts were from online shopping, the gift tags were card from a craft project literally years ago.

packing peanuts

Occassionally, you  do have to throw some of it out though. I’ve set myself a rule of only collecting a ‘fruit box worth’ of glass jars, any more go straight into the recycling bin after use. Of course seeing all of the salsa jars piling up reminds me that I should just make my own tomato salsa! That’s another bonus of hanging onto all of this disposable packaging, it shows you just how much waste is being created. And it makes you think, and perhaps even changes some habits.

jar cupboard
I cheat a little on my own jar rule by ‘using them’ to store dry goods (which I could just keep in the plastic bags they come in)

 

Camping trip

Over a week ago I did some more research into the whole infertility thing, because although i’d like to forget about it I can’t help thinking about my non-functioning ovaries. The research helped bring together some thoughts about it all, and I’d like to blog about those issues soon.

In the meantime, we went camping last weekend as planned. We only camped one night, but preceded that with a very enjoyable 4hr hike. Afterwards, it was lovely sitting around a camp fire, relaxing after all of that walking (including down into the steep ravine-like valley to check out a cave entrance, and then back up the very steep hillside). Also, this week a close family member of mine had a narrow escape with a serious health condition. It’s very unfortunate, of course, and it’s hard to know that someone you love is in pain, but it also serves as a reminder that life is short and you have to make the best of things.

To that end, I’m heading outside now for a shorter bush walk in my local suburb (I’m so grateful that I can do that so close to home!). So instead of properly blogging, I’ll just quickly put up these photos from our weekend trip:

skink

I took my new macro lens on the walk, which wasn’t great for capturing the landscape but at least the locals were willing to do a little modelling for me 🙂

bush.jpg
The ‘bush’
valley
Heading down into the valley to explore the caves
cave ferns.jpg
There was a whole separate climate and ecosystem down in the damp caves
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Crossing the river near dusk, looking forward to a campfire and some red wine. The water is up to my knees while I take this shot

 

Quick post

I haven’t had time to post this week! A busy work week, and physically exhausted after bike commuting in the hot weather of the extended summer we’re having. But summer is officially over here, and the days are noticeably shorter. As per usual, we haven’t spent as much time in the great outdoors as we would have liked to this summer. But it’s a long weekend, so we’re packing up the car this morning and camping overnight somewhere. I’ll take the camera so should have some nice shots of the Aussie bush to share afterwards.

Lazy sustainability

Sometimes sustainability is hard work, as mentioned in my last post. These days I put more effort into living sustainably by riding my bike rather than driving, preparing more meals from scratch, attempting to grow my own vegetables, composting etc., etc. And I know that these lifestyle measures don’t suit everyone. Our child-free lifestyle and the fact that I currently work part time means that it is easy for me to soak dried beans overnight, and then monitor them for a few hours while I write a blog post or clean the house, rather than just opening a tin of refried beans (mmm, bean burritos/quesadillas/nachos). I’m also lucky in that I enjoy chopping vegetables, so doing things the longer way, with a knife, means that we don’t need to clutter up the kitchen with fancy appliances. The modern conveniences do help in our often-too busy lives but it’s more STUFF, and usually using electricity too. So it often seems that it’s a question of convenience vs. sustainability.

IMG_20160221_115708 (1)

It’s not always though. A while back we pruned some branches in the garden, then we left them gathered in a pile in our driveway. We could have taken the whole lot to the mulch supplier, who takes your discarded green waste and turns it into mulch, but we were lazy instead and left the pile where it was for a few weeks. Seeing as it doesn’t rain often in Canberra the leaves on the branches quickly turned dry and brittle and fell from the branches and twigs. This was fantastic. We collect vegetable waste from a few friends to add to our compost bin and sometimes I need to go hunting for dry materials to add to the sloppy wet vegetable waste for the correct mixture. This time we just lifted the larger branches out of our discard pile and then scooped and swept up the valuable leaves. Something that was a large volume of waste material that had to be disposed of had ‘magically’ transformed into half waste, half valuable feedstock material and all because we were too lazy to haul the waste away.

It made me think of other lazy sustainable measures that I use:

  •  installing solar panels (not personally, there were professionals involved). These of course involve some effort to earn the money for the initial outlay but the best part is that they eventually pay themselves off (certainly in this quite sunny part of the world). These also contribute to guilt-free use of our big appliances. We now only run the dishwasher/clothes washing machine when the sun is shining.
  • Water wise plants in the garden. Our garden came already planted with plants that grow on little water. I’ve added some native plants that require little input, maybe just a little pruning to encourage flowering.
  • I don’t dry dishes. If the dishwasher hasn’t dried things adequately (plastic lunch boxes!) or if I’ve hand washed a bunch of stuff, it remains in the dish rack till dry enough to put away. Why bother using a tea (dish) towel just for it to get that damp smell and then need washing?
  • More and more these days I don’t wear bras. I’ve always hated bra shopping (I’m an A cup, and therefore lucky that I don’t really need bras except for sport), so wearing them less often means buying less, and less washing. Oh and it’s a million times more comfortable.
  • When I need some basil from the garden I pick a whole stalk, strip the large leaves from the bottom and then store any remaining in a glass of water. Result: an easy way to start a new plant that just needs to be poked back into the soil once strong roots have been produced. At the end of summer now, my veggie beds are full of little basil plants. I’m looking forward to pesto.
basil
Ready for planting

There are probably plenty of other little actions that I don’t do, out of pure laziness that come with a sustainability bonus (like washing the car very infrequently).

One thing that I put some mental energy into at least, is noticing all of the single serve items that are used in food service these days. I think I noticed it especially when I was living in the U.S.A., where for instance, you will be handed a serviette/paper napkin with just about any food or drink purchase (um no, I don’t need some paper to hold my can of drink thanks). It’s supposed to signify good service or something but there are often times when you are given a whole wad of disposable paper in a bag of takeout (or ‘takeaway’ in English). Last weekend here in Canberra we came across a stall operated by one of the major supermarket chains, handing out free chocolate samples. So I asked for a piece, less than a square and was handed it with yet another disposable serviette. This ‘fancy’ marketing trick, aiming to make a cheap piece of chocolate seem like some delicacy did not work on me. Instead the chocolate went straight into my mouth, barely touching the serviette, which therefore remained clean enough to be pocketed. I’ll use it later when I’m feeling lazy and need to clean up a spill.

 

serviette
At least it won’t go straight into the bin

And straws! Back when I was in my twenties and spending too much time in bars it was the feminist in me that would be bugged by straws. Why is it that men are given mixed drinks without a plastic straw but it is assumed that a woman will want to demurely sip through a bit of disposable plastic? Not me, and luckily I’m not the only one. Check out the great work that The Last Straw are up to. Hopefully everyone can start being a bit more lazy with this kind of stuff and stop automatically handing out serviettes, straws, disposable cutlery etc. I’ll start putting some effort into refusing them!