Friday, December 30, 2016

I believe in the whole "Zero Waste" thing but I'm NOT throwing out my tupperware...

Not just yet anyway.

There's this thing I like called "Mindful Minimalism".

It makes you think about your "stuff" before you minimum it.

That is, making sure that you send it somewhere appropriate.

I think too many of us who have fallen in love with zero waste principles begin by clearing up the clutter in our homes and reducing the waste we produce by chucking everything we own and every ecologically negative purchase we ever made on the doorstep of the nearest  Opportunity Shop.

I mean then it's someone else's problem right?

But how does that make you any closer to your zero waste goal? Aren't you just making your (often regrettable) past consumer purchases someone else's problem?

I mean, clearing out your Tupperware cupboard and giving it all to the charity shop is fine, if it's something that you never ever use and it's still in good condition. But although I never reheat food in mine (I take it out of the container and put it on a plate or in a saucepan, I do still use them for storage both in my pantry, fridge and freezer. Just last week I used a small orange container that came from my partner's parents house (a cool colour but non-eco-friendly survivor from the seventies) to store my homemade deodorant concoction and it works great. Yes I would have liked one of those cute little mason jars or a quirky reusable tin, but I have a teensy little orange Tupperware container with a perfectly sealing lid that would be sitting useless in my cupboard otherwise.

So throwing them at my local Op-Shop and buying all new (or even quality secondhand) glass or metal containers kind of just shifts your plastic onto them. And by making it available for someone else to purchase opens up the very real possibility that because they got it cheap from the charity shop that they may not ascribe any real value to it and treat that bit of Tupperware like any old single use plastic item and just mindlessly chuck it into landfill.

How is that creating less waste?

Much better to use these items until they are beyond repair and actually require replacement. I mean, the energy to make them has already been expended and even those lovely new eco-friendly items you replace them with require energy and materials to produce.

And if you really can't find a use for them anymore yourself, do your best to find someone who can before simply chucking it at charity. There's heaps of swap groups on Facebook, friends who need a thing or even organisations that want your stuff  for refurbishment or parts.

I looked around a bit and found a fellow locally who can weld plastic back together. While this is probably not a completely non-toxic occupation, it means that plastic crisper thingy in the bottom of the fridge that got broken can be fixed rather than replaced avoiding another piece of plastic going to landfill and the need for a new one to be produced to replace it. Our grandparents repaired stuff over and over, then re-purposed it  before it went anywhere near landfill. In the 1940s it was not only socially acceptable but governments actually encouraged it. They called it "Austerity".

It seems to me that "Austerity", "Mindful Minimalism" and "Zero Waste" principles actually fit really well together if you think about it. Neither is about dumping your now unwanted stuff - whatever that stuff is on someone else or mindlessly chucking it into landfill, it's about looking at the stuff you have accumulated, evaluating it and making sure it goes to the place where its of the most use or at a pinch, will do the least damage.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Year, New Intentions NOT Resolutions

I hate New Years.

I admit, it's fun and all. New Years Eve, a few drinks with friends or a quiet night in with the family, watching the fireworks, either in person or on the telly.

But all that resolutions stuff, you know you're never going to keep any of them and who says you have to wait until New Years to make them anyways...why can't I start in June, or April or to heck with it, RIGHT NOW.

I mean putting stuff off til New Years is just another excuse to procrastinate a few extra days and for lots of us avoid facing the fact that you've been an over- indulgent slob since all those Christmas parties started mid-December.

This year I started already. Waiting around until 2017 to start what I could already be working on in November just seems silly - especially when you're a multi-passionate, creative procrastinator like me.

So what did I start?

1. For starters, I applied to do an Honours Year at university. I haven't quite finished my Bachelors Requirements, I have a few units to finish over summer session, but I had a thesis idea and a potential supervisor so applied anyway. And got accepted. The year doesn't start until mid-February, but I've started analyzing available literature already.

2. I ditched plastic shopping bags (almost completely). Back in October I stumbled across "Zero Waste" and a bunch of other stuff about reducing our footprint and ditching the trash habit.

We probably produce a lot less non-recyclable waste than most households. Five kids mean I've learnt to be quite frugal most of the time.

I cook real food, we have a chicken for most of our kitchen scraps and a compost bin for those she won't eat, I've always chosen paper over plastic when I can, I reuse things multiple times before chucking them in the recycle or garbage bin, we buy a lot of our "stuff" through the local op shops and repair clothing whenever I can rather than buying new.

 But we still produce more waste than we should.

There's always room for improvement right?

It  seems like a little thing, but so many plastic bags seem to accumulate in our house, it's actually been quite a challenge to get my partner and kids to use the cloth shopping bags I've been slowly replacing them with, but they may finally be getting the message.

3. I've also been quietly replacing our accumulated (and often useless) cleaning products with more eco-friendly homemade versions for months. It's gone mostly unnoticed as I've just decanted them into the washed out  containers once they've run out. I even ordered some soap-nuts yesterday from an online eco-store, bonus is, if they work like they promise they'll be way cheaper than washing and dish powder.

I found alternatives to commercial deodorants and shampoos which I'll try out over the next few weeks. If they work I'll start the sneaky change over in the bathroom as well.

4. I Quit Sugar Although I may have fallen off that bandwagon a little over Christmas, I didn't fair too badly (a couple of serves of pavlova and a box of Turkish Delight and maybe a few more glasses of wine than normal and some Malibu may have made it's way into my glass somehow ). Back on the wagon now though, so all good. I've even managed to get my kids to eat a few low or no sugar snacks I've made at home (some more successfully than others - while the three year old liked the avocado "ice cream", the older members of the family almost lynched me over it).

5. I've gotten off my butt and started actually using this blog which has been sitting here for that day when I have some spare time for over a year. It'll be another whole work in progress thing for a while, but started is better than idle right?

I pre-ordered Leonie Dawson's 2017 workbooks this year.

So far I love them. It's all about actionable goal setting, accountability and intentions. Plus her stuff is arty farty, full of colour and there's a whole gentle spirit grounded earthy kind of vibe to it.

There's pages in them where you list 100 things to do in 2017. Small, large, stupid, serious, whatever things... I think I'm already up to 87 and I'm already able to cross a couple off.

 I mean, why wait til after New Years?

If the idea, action or intention is good enough to write down on my 100 things list, it's good enough to do right now!