I tend to think that people who read this blog are already doing whatever they can think of on this issue. But I find that there are stages, not always in sequence, in the matter of waste. I learn new things about what I am using and doing. I find out about strategies that had not occurred to me (like those learned in Japan). I go back to things I used to do. I establish a different level of comfort or dislodge a piece of entitlement. And sometimes a new conversation opens up at home, at work, or more widely–in the case of Australia, The War on Waste has opened new conversations.
So my best jeans went through in the knee and I decided to patch a bit more thoughtfully, as they are my best jeans, and I have so many fit for the garden already! Here is the patch on the inside. I had kept my grandma’s pinking shears for well over a decade even though I couldn’t free them up. I had one more attempt and shazam! I have mended jeans and functional pinking shears (the new sewing machine oil did it)! So the patch has pinked edges.
Here is my stitching grid (yes, an ordinary drawing pencil in pale pink). Since visiting Japan, I’ve read more about sashiko (sometimes called Japanese folk embroidery–but to summarise, running stitch made into a higher art form) and realised the simpler thing would have been to just trace a grid of lines. This worked though! Much more attractive than my previous utilitarian approach, in fact I had a confusing conversation with a gentleman who thought I’d done this just for decoration recently. I had to break the news it was actually mending, not distressed denim–but we shared some puzzlement bout distressed denim as we clearly both wear our jeans out.
This morning, I went for a pre-work walk and took some years’ worth of our dead batteries (including rechargeables) to a recycling station at the Clarence Park Community Centre. They also accept electrical goods and mobile phones for recycling. Community Centres are just SO GOOD. Our local Food Co-op at Clarence Park Community Centre has an excellent range of foods including eggs, honey, flours, seeds, grains, nuts, driend fruits, pulses. It is run by lovely volunteers, and has been running with a view to reducing waste and keeping food affordable for many, many years. National list of bulk food co-ops here.
On the way back, a friend stopped on their bike and asked what I was doing in that spot–and they said Goodwood library also take batteries for recycling. We went on our separate ways and I collected dye leaves on the way home, and they passed me again and stopped to say it had improved their day to see me and remember there are other people who also care for the earth. Aww! (That was the trigger for this post). So there were hugs and there was love and then off they rode and off I walked.
Needless to say there has been more spring guerilla gardening, and I always pick up rubbish while I’m at it.
We already do lots of the simpler things like refusing straws (I started on that in the 1980s); taking our own bags to the shop, packing fruit and vegetables without extra bags, reusing plastic bags, recycling, composting, worm farming and such. But we’ve stepped up to seeing if we can bring less plastic into the house, difficult as that is given the way industry and commerce are now arranged. I’ve been stopping off at Drake’s Foodland Panorama which has a huge bulk section and is on my bus route home from work. I take pre-loved ziplock bags from earlier purchases with me and refill them. It’s not especially cheap but it’s accessible and involves no new packaging. When coming home from my parents’ house, I’ve been doing the same thing with a Coles that has a smaller bulk section (each Coles I’ve seen a bulk section in has a different selection). But in Adelaide, the bulk place to go apart from your local co-op or Farmer’s Market is the Central Market. Needless to say the Markets sell fruit, vegetables, pre-made foods and all manner of other foods. No one turns a hair when I buy bread with my own bags and this is expected by many stallholders. (Random picture of a rosella peeping out of a nesting box–look carefully!).
The Honey Shop at the Market sells all kinds of unpackaged soaps, tea herbs, ingredients for making your own cosmetics and massage oils, plus bulk oils, cleansers (dishes, bathrooms, clothing, you), shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser–and of course honey. They’ve been doing it ever since I first went to the markets in about 1983. There is also the upmarket and relatively expensive Goodies and Grains which has a huge selection. (Random picture of home made sourdough with whole barley rising).
Then there is the much cheaper Tardis of bulk shopping The House of Health (every time I go there I discover more things I thought were not available in Adelaide–like sourdough starter–as well as more things I don’t understand, like freeze dried vegetable powder). You have to be prepared to dance in a very small space here but I can get virtually everything we use for breadmaking, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, FODMAP friendly granola making and more.
Then there’s hankies. I’m one of those who never went over to using paper tissues. But now I make my own and share the love. These were a small amount of double gauze I just could not resist, bought new and sized for smaller friends who have smaller pockets (and smaller noses!) And then there is this stack: an entire fitted cotton bedsheet worn through–soft and lovely for hankies–and gifted to me by a friend. Then I made some more from a vintage paisley green lawn from Joyce’s stash but I gifted them away before taking a photo. And some others from fine lovely cotton from Beautiful Silks’ remnants section. What have you decided to do to reduce waste at your place lately?
9 responses to “Waste and avoiding waste at home 1”
Great to see all you’re doing to reduce waste. Gives me great ideas and inspiration.
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Thanks Elaine, I am delighted to hear this! I am always taking inspiration from other people’s blogs and instagram posts and whatnot. As much as anything, I believe we are encouraging each other into thinking that we can do it, and that it is the right thing to do, which is a big help when the might of advertising and commerce is weighing in on the side of needing everything new, everything super-convenient, everything right NOW. It’s time to push that back, and we all need a cheer squad in the meantime.
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Well done for promoting plastic free shopping. I’ve had a few grumbles at central market stalls where they are filling plastic bags with bulk fruit and veg and selling the bagged produce. They are trying to attract sales to people who still expect a supermarket presentation! Your blog helps change attitude, I’ve been a reader of your blog for years. Best wishes, Christine Beardsley
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Dear Chris, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and thanks for doing your bit! I can understand that stalls try to attract those extra sales from people who are in a hurry or seek the convenience of pre-bagged produce–I assume they believe those people will go to the big supermarket next door otherwise. I think it’s going to take a whole lot of cultural change for us to have the expectation that this is not how we do things around here, because think of all the years it has taken to create the expectation that we can have all this convenience and that everything has to happen so very quickly! Thank you so much for doing your bit to make that change happen, and I am just delighted that you think I’m helping it happen too.
Fantastic post and absolutely spot on. We have, post War on Waste, become much more conscious of recycling soft plastic (which we did when we were in Japan as it is part of their ongoing re-cycling process). The ACT has just introduced a bottle and can deposit scheme which we have taken to as well. We particularly like that there is an option to donate your collection fee to a range of charities, rather than keep the money for yourself. In addition to collecting the bottles etc we now also pick up, on average, one full bag of rubbish as we go on our daily walk. Most of it is non-recyclables and we target plastics as we are very close to the Murrumbidgee river and we can see that it could easily end up there. I have also got the sewing machine out and have just finished two pairs of simple trousers in fabbric, some of which was stashed almost 20 years ago! Yikes. This has almost been the hardest thing to achieve even though I have time and fabric enough to sew for decades. As I was sewing a friend said that she had just seen similar in Target and why didn’t I abandon what I was doing and go there instead. What shocked me was, despite my good intentions and desire to really be conscious about my clothing choices, was how much I was tempted to do what she said. Decades of habits are hard to unpick! Thanks for the prompts to keep on the greener path. Apologies for long reply.
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Thanks Leonie! Lovely to have a long reply. We are recycling soft plastics too, and if nothing else, it revealed to us in stark terms how much soft plastic was coming into the house. We can literally see that we are creating less of it now. SA has had container deposit legislation for decades, and it is so obvious that it works! Shame on Coca Cola Amatil for the effort and money they have spent to try to prevent it being taken up elsewhere–and how wonderful the ACT has stepped up. I salute you as fellow rubbish picker-uppers. Like you, I am trying to stop rubbish making its way into the local catchment– Brownhill Creek–and out to sea. Congratulations on dusting off the sewing machine. It is pretty clear as a regular sewer that the sewing machine is an instrument for turning what would otherwise be textile waste into useful items. Hooray for you–and is it any wonder with the whole might of commerce and advertising backing wasteful ways of engaging in consumption that it is tempting to buy fast fashion? Good on you for making your own with what you already had. Cheering you on.
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Thanks Maz! Together we are stronger. My niece is also making big efforts to reduce plastic into her home. I suggested she consider what her grandmother might have used instead of all the plastic. She said it must be easy for me because I remember that time. Too true.🤣
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Yes! I agree. Both past generations and future apps are going to be part of the solutions. As are we all. 🙂
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