Since my blog in December I feel I have come a long way and learnt a lot. I have gone to a few classes to learn more and constantly ask questions when buying products to ensure any money that I am spending is on a product that will last the test of time and be sustainable on the environment. My wishes to learn how to make my own cleaning products and beauty products have been successful and whilst I won’t be expanding on those in this post I will be posting something very soon in relation to these which will include the ingredients and methods used. This post though includes a number of items or ways in which we live to ensure we are impacting less on the environment and reducing our waste as much as possible. I hope you can learn a thing or two and if you have any other ways to become healthier and greener feel free to leave a comment below.
- Reusable shopping bags: These are so easy to keep in the boot of my car and I just grab them when I’m heading into the store to buy some food. It’s a habit that I just don’t forget. If you are get to get on board or as I hear other shoppers at the counter say “I have so many in the car, I just always forget” perhaps now is the time to make a conscious decision and change.
- Onya produce bags: Such a great alternative to using those single use plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable aisle and they are see-through so the attendant doesnt have to open the bag to see what they are weighing.
- Return your soft plastic back to Supermarkets: I enevitably buy products that are packaged in plastic. It’s very hard these days to buy pasta, rice and many other products unless you have easy access to a bulk food store. I now buy these products in larger volumes and return the soft plastics back to Coles or Woolworths and place them in their recycling bins.
- Onya bread bag: I have started baking my own bread at home with a breadmaker and there really isn’t much better than the smell of fresh bread baking wafting through the house on the weekend. These bread bags are great to store the bread in, are easy to roll and clip closed and can be used in the freezer too.
- Compostable bin liners: A move in the right direction with a compostable bin liner but I hope soon I wont be needing many bin liners. I have seen people make a bin liner out of newspaper, so maybe ill go in that direction when we reduce our waste further.
- Swags for storage: For the produce that I’m not able to grow at home and harvest, I store in these swags in the fridge. They keep the produce fresh for about twice as long as it normally would in the crisper and they can easily be washed in the washing machine.
- Reusable cutlery: I made this cutlery roll from a bag that I received a dress packaged in and not only was it a great way to use something that was sitting in my draw at home but I now carry this around in my handbag so if I’m out anywhere and order some food that requires cutlery and they only have plastic or disposible cutlery then I will use this instead.
- Reusable straw: I keep one of these in my cutlery roll and a few at work and at home. I use the stainless steel ones and have thin ones and thick ones for smoothies. I dont remember the last time I had to use a disposable straw.
- Takeaway containers: These days plenty of lunch places are getting on board and dont mind packing lunch that you buy in an alternate container. Ask your local shop if they can put your lunch in your container to save packaging waste.
- Reusable coffee cup: I have plenty of these as I like to keep them at home, in the office and in the car in case I want to buy a coffee. They are also far more readily available and come in so many different designs.
- Water bottles: Just like my coffee cups I have a T2 one at the office and a few different glass and metals ones at home. 5 years ago I used to buy a 24 pack of water from the store and throw each bottle away after it was consumed. I cannot fathom that now and so glad I have changed my ways.
- Compost bin: Keeping a small bin close to your kitchen will make filling it with excess food scraps so much easier. I then empty it once a week into the worm farm and place a few small items in the chooks feed to give them a treat.
- Beeswax wraps: I must admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan in the beginning and I think these wraps take a couple of uses to get plyable enough to wrap around items. They are fairly stiff in the beginning but I love them now and use them all the time. I no longer use or purchase cling wrap and have no need for it.
- Eco baking liners: I tried two different types of these out. One was a green plastic type that was easy to use but really horrible to clean. It sticks to itself and does not make my life easier. I have since invested in another type that you cut to size and is much easier to wash and reuse.
- Paper Towel: For 99.5% of the time, I will use kitchen cloths to mop up any spills in the kitchen and they just get washed. I do still have a roll of paper towel on my bench though and I probably only go through a 2 pack, once a year. It’s not often used and only when the dog has an accident, like the other night when his dinner came back up after he consumed something in the bush that he shouldn’t have. I’m sure this will be one of those things that over time I just wont use and replace and will become redundant but it’s also a work in progress and some things take longer than others.
- Coffee Capsules: It’s very rare for me to go a day without having my morning coffee. It’s a ritual and one that I very much enjoy. I also recognise that the capsules can be very wasteful. I use the Nespresso ones and for many years now once we have used the capsules I will cut them open, scrape out the coffee granules into my worm farm, wash the pod and recycle the aluminium casing. I guess I am trying to get as much out of it and produce the least amount of waste as possible and I hope that the casing can be recycled properly. Nespresso do have a recycling program whereby you can drop your used pods to a collection point or return them to the store or via mail if you don’t have a use for the coffee granules.
- Who gives a crap toilet paper: Premium bamboo toilet paper. Soft, forrest friendly and best of all, wrapped in paper rather than plastic. And that paper you ask, I use to make pots to plant seeds in before transplanting into my garden. If you aren’t already sold, they donate 50% of their profits to building toilets and improving sanitary conditions in third world countries. Get me some here.
- Reusable face wipes: No more need for swispers or face cleansing wipes or all those other products. Just cloths, some soap and warm water. At the end of the week I toss them in the washing machine with a load of clothes and they come out clean again.
- Safety Razor: The Parker safety razor. Deadly yes, but it really gives me the closest shave I’ve ever had. No more disposable razors or heads, when the blade gets blunt, I can recycle the metal.
- Menstrual cup: This was one of those items that I had thought about buying for a long time but was never really ready to take the leap. I did, and I’m glad that I did. The menstrual cup is a silicone cup that is used in place of a tampon or a pad. They are very easy to use and can be kept in for 12 hours. I dont notice i’m wearing it either and best of all, you just wash it and you can keep using it month after month. No need to buy sanitary products again, although I was glad to hear they are removing the tax on these products.
- Make your own beauty products: After my class at the Agrarian Kitchen I have started to make some of my own beauty products. I have made toothpaste, salt scrub, lip balm and soap so far and as products run low I find a recipe to test out. I’ll be posting a blog on these products very soon which will also include the ingredients and method if you are interested in making a change. I can tell you now, I have saved so much money!
- Solar panels: We had 11 solar panels installed in May and have learnt to change our usage to draw on the power being produced rather than just putting most of it back into the grid. It has been easy to program our dishwasher and washing machine to start in the middle of the day, when we are generating the most power. We are still using a lot more energy than we are producing but it has been winter so hopefully we will be able to reduce our bill a lot more during the Summer months.
- Water tank: It really is nice to drink rainwater and not have to pay money to service providers to have the water connected. With the rains that we have had over the past few months the tank still remains fairly full especially with all the sheds now feeding the tank. We had to buy a couple of truckloads of water over Summer last year so hopefully we can cut that down this year.
- Envirocycle: We aren’t connected to the any underground water or sewage systems at home so have an Envirocycle. This system recycles our domestic wastewater from the bathroom, kitchen and laundry and treats it in an underground tank to a purity approved by relevant health authorities throughout Australia. The water is then pumped through irrigation lines to trees so the garden benefits from regular watering too.
- Worm farm: My worms have been producing liquid gold in terms of the worm juice as well as castings which are collected in the bottom tray. This setup wasn’t cheap but has been a fantastic design and given the worms are surface feeders the tapered sides work so well. I keep a couple of mats on top so the worms don’t go run about and it keeps them warmer through the winter months.
- Garden beds to grow your own food: You may have read from pervious posts that I have built a number of raised garden beds and have been growing my own food. It’s been great for the two of us and has allowed me to introduce a number of new vegetables and herbs into Clint’s diet. It really adds to the circular economy whereby my only consumption has been seeds which are planted in seeds pods made below. The worm farm is feeding further nutrients into the beds, once the food is grown we eat it. Any scraps are fed back into the worm farm and the process starts all over again. Quite a number of the food I have grown I have been able to harvest seeds for next season too which is reducing the number of seeds packets I have needed to buy.
- Ensopet – pet waste composting: Dog poo sucks and it’s one of the negatives with having a dog, but one that you have to deal with. Although we have a large block, if we don’t pick-up the bulk of it, it starts to add up very quickly and becomes a mine field. I saw this product in my local eco store Teros in Hobart and after going home to do some research on it, invested the money to buy the pack. Basically you dig a hole in your backyard which you place the green bucket into and then you collect the poop and tip it in there, sprinkle some of the wood chip bag contents on top and then place the lid on top. Over time it decomposes, returning carbon to the soil and rebuilding the soil on a microbial level. No longer does any of this go to landfill.
- Making seed pots from toilet paper wrapping: I make my own little paper pots using this wooden tool which you roll the paper around and fold the bottom under which creates a pot. I use the paper that my toilet rolls are wrapped in as it is a great way to use this product but if you don’t have these then you can use newspaper or brown paper. When the seed has grown into a seedling the entire pot can be planted into the garden bed and as it grows the pot will disintegrate. Here are some that I have growing at the moment.
- Gardening Tools: Dewit garden tools are now my go to tools in the garden. We have a very hard clay soil which I have been working to improve but tools can easily bend or break. Dewit tools are made of the highest quality boron steel and their ash wood handles come from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests. They come with a lifetime warranty and are built to last and stand the test of time. They are more than a tool, they are an heirloom that we are meant to hand down to generations.
Eggs that taste like nothing else. Yolks that are so bright that everything I cook them in turns fluoro. They are quite entertaining too and I enjoy watching them run around freely in the backyard. Their droppings are great natural fertiliser for the garden too and I shred paper that gets thrown away at work to use as bedding which then goes into a composting heap when the coop is cleaned weekly. These are the eggs they are laying below. One given me a myriad of blues to green and the other ranges from olive to a dark mottled brown. Certainly not your run of the mill ISA brown eggs that you get in the supermarket.
- Make your own cleaning products: Yes, not only is it possible but it is so easy. As I wrote above in relation to beauty products, I will be posting about my experience with making my own cleaning products very soon. So far I now make washing powder, dishwasher tablets, surface and bathroom cleaner and oven cleaner.
- Reusable cleaning cloths: No more disposable cleaning cloths or wet wipes to be seen. Just some basic towels that are washed after each use. Simple really, but very sustainable and far more hygenic than a sponge.
- Wooden cleaning brushes and duster: I have a number of differrent brushes that I use for cleaning and most of these are from Redecker. From the heavy duty scrubbing brush that I use in the shower, sinks and even on the entry decking to an Ostrich feather duster, dishwashing brushes and vegetable scrubbers. Each of them have been thrashed and when they run out of steam, ill place them into the composter.
I recall when we moved into our place in Old Beach and found out that the bin collection only occured on a fornightly basis and I thought at the time that we would need to make some changes to ensure we could last this long. I think back now and wonder how we were producing so much waste. We are luckily only needing to put it out on a monthly basis and even then its only half full and we only get it emptied because it could start to smell. I’m fairly certain 50% of the rubbish is from the vacuum cleaner and things that Odin has chewed.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and as I said above, if you have come across something lately or something that you have been doing for a while that has helped you reduce waste, live a more healthier lifestyle or be greener and more eco-conscious then I really would love to hear about it.