Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2020. May we all “live our best lives”.
On this day 5 years ago, I said goodbye to my London Banking career.
My daily commute then was a packed train through city suburbs into London Bridge Station and London Cannon Street Station.
Today my commute starts at a bus stop overlooking the river and mountain, with a journey on an uncrowded bus passing the beach.
There are several stops and depending on the weather, I try to walk a while rather than waiting at the nearest stop. I enjoy watching the seabirds, whilst walking and waiting – cormorants, oyster catchers, plovers, herons, dab chicks as well as gulls.
There is a bus stop with a shelter, up the hill which is convenient on cold or rainy days.
Buses before 8.30am are an express route, picking up passengers this end but then non-stop into the city. I have to remember to get off at the local shopping centre and change to another slow bus to work. I’m sure one day I will be so engrossed in a book that I‘ll miss the interchange and end up across the bridge in the city centre.
As I review the Challenge Checklist I am pleasantly surprised by what we were already doing and what we’ve achieved in just one month. It has been easy to create new habits with our shopping, with storing food in the fridge.
I’ve bought this book by a local Hobart family who have been living a specific lifestyle for a few years. I’ve only read the early chapters but it is inspiring and practical. It focuses on the key R’s of waste free living:
The book talks about our consumer society, food miles and the benefit of buying local, eating seasonal produce, connecting again with where our food comes from, the effort and energy needed to grow it.
It talks about composting, growing your own, getting to know your local farm shops and markets, being part of a local community, buying in bulk, preserving food that is in season to last through winter, foraging, natural remedies, repurposing, upcycling. It talks about thinking how our parents and grandparents lived before plastic. Is there anything we can learn from them?
It has recipes, suggestions, solutions. I don’t know that I’ll be making my own mascara or toothpaste but never say never.
So I’ll wrap up Plastic Free July in beeswax. Thanks for all the support, comments, inspiration and for joining the discussion. Let’s all try to make a difference, no matter how small. Our changes have a ripple effect. Let’s create a new normal. Hopefully our politicians and multi-national companies will soon get on board.
I’m looking at the plastic that is still ending up in our recycling bin and I have a dilemma.
We purposefully buy locally produced milk and orange juice and both come in plastic bottles. We could buy them in tetra pak cartons, but then the food miles is a huge compromise and we are not supporting our local Tasmanian economy. I was surprised to see one carton of juice on the shelf with this labelling.
We need to find a butcher in our new suburb. We have taken the convenient option and been buying prepacked meat from the supermarket. That needs to change.
Another dilemma is soft fruit and cherry tomatoes, that are packed in plastic boxes. Raspberries and blueberries are a favourite with my breakfast cereal or porridge. Small tomatoes are sweet and an easy option with my packed lunch. So far I haven’t given up these favoured healthy foods. I have frozen blueberries in the freezer but they are a “Product of Chile”. So more food miles and still in plastic packaging. I plan to grow tomatoes so that will be a seasonal solution. Perhaps I could plant some raspberry canes too.
This month I have only really tackled our food shopping. Cleaning products and toiletries are a whole different quandary.
#plasticfreejuly is just the beginning ……
Although our council collects recycling rubbish each fortnight, there are concerns where our plastics go when they are out of our vicinity, out of sight. Australia has a big problem. Two years ago, China stopped taking our recycled products. Now, Indonesia is returning several shipping containers of “contaminated waste”.
There are companies here making products from recycled plastic. The reusable produce bags I purchased, street furniture, public benches, bollards. Some councils are resurfacing roads with a plastic by-product. I have pencils and a rain jacket made from recycled plastics. But so much more needs to be done on a national level as well as local and individual scale.
Tasmanian beaches are generally rubbish free, but I have picked up some bottles and the plastic rings from bottle tops. I now purposely cut the plastic rings before I put any in our recycling bin, so they can’t strangle a bird or animal if they end up somewhere unexpected.
Three weeks into this challenge and I’ve made some positive changes
I’ve stopped using plastic produce bags that are provided in our supermarkets. I’ve bought reusable produce bags, some cotton ones, others that are made from recycled plastic bottles. They work well for shopping and keeping cauliflower, lettuce, etc in the fridge.
Where possible I’ve bought produce from farmers markets or at local shops.
Some items on the checklist have been easy to tick. For over a year, I’ve been using a keep cup for any take away coffee. We have metal drink bottles that we take out instead of buying water. At home we have a Soda Stream for sparling water or flavoured drinks. I don’t use straws and haven’t bought balloons for many years, although balloons were always a part of birthdays when our daughters were young.
I guess I’ve been making conscious decisions for a while. When we moved and had an outdoor washing line again, I bought metal pegs, not plastic ones.
We have also changed to a sustainable, ethical, plastic free toilet paper, made from bamboo.
We are far from being “plastic free” but we are making changes and reducing the amount of plastic that we buy and place in our recycle bin.
I have been in my current job for twelve months. It’s nice to celebrate my first anniversary with this Aged Care service provider.
I enjoy my admin and finance work, processing supplier invoices, creating client contribution bills, taking phone payments and reconciling our bank account. I admire colleagues who deal directly clients, organising the services they require. I admire our Social Workers, Exercise Physiologists and others who visit clients in the home. I’m happy in the background working the numbers. And I can knit at work!
This company has a great ethic of health and wellbeing for clients and staff. We have a monthly staff program that encourages us to step away from our desks, computers and phones for a few minutes during the work day. We have team exercise challenges, we’ve had “Where’s Wally?” hunts around the office. Most recently we were all encouraged to knit squares for a charity blanket. We all took turns knitting a few rows of the squares, during our work day. It inspired several new knitters and created a warm, colourful blanket.
We write on the bathroom mirrors, compliments…. a gratitude journal. All these ideas create a friendly and joyful workplace.
Beeswax wraps are an easy alternative to cling film or single use plastic food bags. They are reusable, washable and last up to twelve months. They are becoming increasingly popular here.
We started using them to wrap cheese in the fridge and they have been great. We now use them for wrapping leftovers, cooked meat. Also for sandwiches and snacks. I must try them in the freezer.
Beeswax wraps are made by infusing squares or rectangles of cotton with a mixture of food-grade beeswax, pine rosin and oil, usually jojoba or coconut. The waxy coating makes the cloth waterproof, but breathable and “sticky” like plastic wrap. I have bought ours but apparently they are easy to make yourself. That is a challenge for another day.
Have you seen them or used them?
The first Australian town to completely ban non-biodegradable plastic bags was Coles Bay in Tasmania, back in 2003.
In 2013, Tasmania banned single use light weight plastic bags. So we were dropped straight into the expectation of taking our own reusable bags to shops and supermarkets when we moved here. We have a stash of bags in the boot of our car, I have a couple in a drawer at work and I have a few … ok… lots of canvas bags at home that I swap about and use regularly.
I am turning into a bag lady. My Mum has always carried her own shopping bags. I now appreciate the habits of previous generations. I remember going to local shops with my Nana, where the greengrocer would weigh and drop produce into the bottom of her shopping bag, potatoes first, then carrots and other heavy vegetables, lighter or fragile fruit and salad on the top. No plastic bags, no separation, just occasional paper bags.
A few retailers in Tasmania offer reusable plastic bags. Many offer paper bags.
Saying no to single use plastic bags is an easy challenge for me to tick.
I’ve signed up to be a part of “Plastic Free July”.
The campaign started in Western Australia in 2011. Last year, 120 million people across the globe took part in the challenge, across 177 countries.
I won’t be able to be totally plastic free but I can begin by simply saying no to the top four most prolific single-use plastics:
~ plastic bags
~ water bottles
~ take away coffee cups
~ plastic straws
I hope the month will make me take notice of the plastics I do buy, what habits I can change or products I can switch to reduce our overall household waste, to reduce our recycle bin and make a contribution to tackling the worlds plastic pollution problem.
Here is a link to their website for more information, suggestions or to sign up for the challenge.