2017 begins

Happy new year everyone!

Thanks for following my waste-less journey if you are a regular reader or if you are a first time visitor thanks for stopping by!

I have begun 2017 with a bit of  a switch around of inside and outside of the house. Our new year was spent changing the kids rooms around and everything that goes with that – cleaning, sorting, paring down and arranging. The two little ones are now sharing a room so the nine year old can be left in tween peace.

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Nena getting her things sorted thanks to a little upcycling!

A friend who has many years experience in horticulture was kind enough to assess my property and advise on planting that has spurred me into action. Our to do list for outside involved putting together raised beds in an area that is better suited to our outdoor living as well as being in a better position to the kitchen and sun. A productive garden not only provides a source of food but also provides a ‘waste’ solution by the means of a compost for our kitchen and garden waste.

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Max picked up a wooden box on the side of the road that he sawed into 3 that I am using for my raised beds. I have begun to layer the beds with cardboard, lucerne straw, bokashi, compost, comfrey leaves and coffee grounds that will hopefully all break down into some great soil ready for planting in autumn. I also picked up two steel gates from the side of the road that I will attach to one of the beds and the deck to serve as a trellis. The side of the road has served me well!

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I will mulch around the beds to keep the weeds out and to cut down on overall maintenance of the grass. I also have do some work to do in the periphery garden that I haven’t paid much attention to over the years. I will start with mulching and adding compost once I have some to help bring the soil quality up then begin to add native plants to achieve a lush border.

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Sandwich garden -Pictured is the start of the one of the raised beds: thick layer of cardboard followed by a layer of lucerne straw

My lovely husband built me a two bay compost from pallets that has replaced my circular wire compost which did the job but was a bit of a challenge to turn. I love my new compost and it will be integral to providing nutrients back into the garden. From experience, talking to others and reading, compost – made on site is vital to a garden succeeding. I guess it has something to do with the microbes all working together in an ecosystem – like familiar friends kicking off where they left off.

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So this is the last season my vegetable garden that has served me for 4 years will exist. Once the summer crops are over I will take the edging away and let the grass grow over. I am now in the process of planting fruit trees down the back of our property. It will be a little sad to say goodbye to this patch however the soil has never been that great and it is  a struggle to keep the kikuyu at bay.

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A braebaurn apple tree (next to the bamboo trellis) that I grafted is the first to go in to my soon to be backyard orchard

I will you keep you updated on my new garden and fruit forest. As always waste reduction continues to underpin my day to day life and I try best to share my experiences on this blog. However I am much more active on my instagram account so you may want to check it out and hit the follow button.

Happy new year everyone!

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3 gift-y things

Here are three things that you can easily make yourself to give away as gifts that will make you look a bit awesome.

Skin Balm

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Here’s a post I wrote a while back that has step by step instructions.

I have friends and family who save small jars for me that I use for my balms, I also keep a look out for them at op shops. Recently I have been drying flowers and using them to seep in the carrier oil- an extra step but I like to make use of the calendula flowers at the community garden.

Rosemary Hair Rinse

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Super duper easy. You’ll need a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary. Take off the leaves and put them into a plunger, teapot or jug, pour over boiling water. Leave overnight, or until  water is cool. Pour and strain into bottles.

Garden Hand Scrub

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This is a nice gift to give to your garden friends.

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 sprigs of rosemary chopped

zest of 1 lemon / (or grapefruit/lime)

juice of 1/2 lemon (or grapefruit/lime)

Put all ingredients into bowl and mix together. Put in jars/containers.

Happy DIY gifting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tide is turning

I have been a bit neglectful of my blog due to life however something quite radical has occurred recently that I felt I had to share. My mum started composting! At her request! She has gone for the bokashi method which is really simple to do and easy to DIY your own. I am excited for my mum as bokashi composting was my family’s first step in significantly reducing our waste.

You can buy bokashi buckets systems from hardware stores or you can make your own. To make bokashi bins you will need two buckets the same size and one will require an airtight lid. Drill holes evenly dispersed at the base of one bucket. The bucket with holes will sit inside the other bucket with the airtight lid. For instructions on how to use here is a good link. Or if you live in Auckland The Compost Collective have great workshops that are free to attend and offer a discount upon attending a workshop to purchase a commercially available compost system.

Whether you choose traditional composting / worm farm / bokashi you have made the first step in reducing landfill and use of resources, as well as creating your own eco-system – your garden will love the benefits of composting.

Update on mum – she is now composting all her food waste! I help her out by taking her full bucket to the community garden where I either bury it in the soil or add it to the compost bins. And as you can see from the picture below her many pot plants are reaping the rewards from the bokashi juice that is collected.

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A small portion of her pot plants on the deck aka ‘the jungle’

Composting is the right thing to do with organic waste and even ladies who like to grow flowers and enjoy a bit of retail therapy every now and then are getting on board.

 

Wood Spirits Are Calling

Hand me downs in the form of clothes, toys and books is common in our household with three small children, and recently there has been a re-hashing of movies from the now nine year old’s collection. One in particular has taken the toddler’s fancy and also mine.

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My Neighbour Totoro is a Japanese animation from 1988 created by Studio Ghibli that tells the story of two sisters who have friendly interactions with wood spirits upon their move to rural Japan. It’s a sweet story that shows the bond between two sisters and childhood imagination that is enchanted and enriched by the natural world.

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Mei chasing the wood spirits

 

 

 

The simplicity of the home and lifestyle in the film is very appealing to me at a time when I am questioning all the ‘stuff’ in my own home and life. The endless washing, cleaning, driving, working and entertaining of modern family life is constant and draining. In the film the family’s possessions are sparse and their home life is fairly subdued. Aside from the practical appeal of this (less stuff = less mess = more time) the aesthetic is also appealing.

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Another aspect of the film I like is the village community that is multi-generational and has a garden at the heart. Belonging to a community garden somewhat full fills this role for me but I would love to live closer and for it to be a hub for the community to share and look after eachother (work in progress!).

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Mei and Satsuki eating some cooking made by a neighbour they call ‘granny’

The film is also a reminder of a child’s prerogative to be amongst nature and learn and grow alongside it and for me as a parent to encourage and provide the opportunity. I hope my children encounter their own wood spirits whilst out in nature.

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Marcy found a baby hedgehog at the community garden

 

 

Waste comes to life

Since my journey into waste reduction began in 2014 there have been some uncanny instances where bits and pieces from my past experiences and memories have surfaced in relation to waste. Here are three examples:

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Te Rau Puriri Regional Park

1.

One of the beaches that I spent some time at during my childhood was Karekare. I have a clear recollection of looking out of the car window on the way to the beach at the trees alongside the windy roads. I remember being fascinated when someone told me that you can use the leaves to make tea. During the summer of  2014/2015 we walked the track at Te Rau Puriri Regional Park. We stopped and swam at the beach and marvelled at how lucky we are in New Zealand to have such a beautiful landscape. I also noticed the trees near the beach that had fascinated me as a child. I took a few leaves home and found out that they are Kanuka, from here I began making my own creams and balms as a waste reduction measure as well as a renewed fascination with nature’s ability to provide.

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Jacques-Louis David. The Death of Marat 1793 Oil on canvas. Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium

Image from Google Art Project

2.

In high school one subject I was particularly fond of was art history. When studying the Neo-Classical period we of course looked at the work of Jacques-Louis David. The above painting was shown on a slide and I remember looking at it for a long time and it having an impact on me. I went on to study art history at university, and throughout my studies I didn’t come across this painting and to be honest had forgotten about it. Last year during a waste documentary watching-athon we watched Waste Land. I watched it without any prior knowledge, (yep didn’t even look closely at the poster). The painting that moved me over 15 years ago features in the documentary and plays an important role in the film literally and symbolically. Not only did the imagery move me again, but equally moving was how waste was infiltrating into my forgotten joys.

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3.

Recently I made a display at my local library to promote a waste free parenting workshop that the waste reduction group I belong to was hosting. Whilst I was putting up the display I saw my science teacher from high school. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best student and didn’t and still don’t have a science-y bone in my body. She commented to say that it was good to see I was putting science towards something worth while. It felt good to redeem my lack of enthusiasm for science class with the work I am now involved with.

People often ask how did I come into waste. I tend to say it was and continues to be a gradual process of education and experience. However, it’s hard to ignore these signs. I think the waste reduction ethos has always been in my veins and connecting past experiences is one way to know I’m on the right path and to listen to what the world is telling me.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Olive-y things

It’s olive season here in NZ and trees are laden with olives! Since becoming a zero waster it’s hard to walk away from anything that may go to waste. There are many olive trees near where I live, I also have one in my garden. Here are three olivey things I’m doing right now.

Preserved Olives

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I followed the method found on this blog and have had good results :

Tips:

  • You will have to soak them for up to three weeks and change the water each day. When you drain off the water use it to water your pot plants.
  • Smaller olives are mainly all pip so find an olive tree that has big fat olives.
  • Preserving olives requires you to slit or prick each one, so getting the bigger olives is a lot easier to do this.
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I found a tree up the road that has nice fat olives. I asked before picking of course.

Olive Leaf Tea

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Excuse the beetroot juice in the background.

Really simple! Pick some leaves, leave to dry out of the sunlight, this could take a couple of weeks. You then put into a processor or a bullet thingee to blend to a tea like consistency.

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The leaves will curl and become crispy when dried completely.

Composting the leaves

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My neighbour must love that I sweep up leaves from their driveway.

The leaves from olive trees can make a bit of a mess on the ground but are great to use for the brown layer for your compost.

I was invited recently to join a group of people who were given permission to pick olives from an olive orchard and then use their olive press to make oil. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it but it’s good to know that these opportunities exist.

Happy olive season!

 

Sewing for less waste

I must confess I have way too many hobbies, and sewing is one of them. I am an amateur sewer, and can pretty much only sew a straight(ish) line. But that seems to be all I need to whip up a few zero waste essentials such as bags and well, more bags, actually mainly bags.

Sewing supplies are nearly always at op shops, and sometimes they are not necessarily ‘sewing supplies’. I have used shoe laces, mosquito netting, sheets and pillow cases to make bags.

Pillow cases can be turned into bags easily by cutting through the middle and sewing the edges together and if you can manage, sew a casing at the top to pull a drawstring through.

Here’s my how to tutorial:

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The pillow case, scissors and braided string were bought from an op shop.

Depending how many bags you want, cut through the middle as shown in the picture below. I have chosen to make three bags in this instance, two smaller and one large.

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For the smaller bags made from the bottom end of the pillow case it’s a matter of sewing one side together and leaving 2-3 centimetres at the open end (this is if you intend to put drawstring in).

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Turn the fabric inside out before you start sewing.

Use an iron or pins to fold a casing along the top and stitch around the edge. Using a safety pin thread your string through the casing.

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A close up showing the stitching of one side and casing with an opening for the drawsrting.

For the bags or bag you will make from the top section of the pillow case you will need to do a bit of unpicking and cutting to remove the flap. You will be left with two open ends and partially sewn sides. Sew across the bottom, sew one of the sides to the top, and on the other side as above leave 2-3 centimetres open to leave an opening for a drawstring if needed. Fold the top to create a casing and stitch around the edge. Thread through string.

These bags have endless uses!

  • produce bag
  • bread bag
  • lunch bag
  • nappy bag
  • toy bag
  • toiletry bag
  • gift bag

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And that flap of fabric you removed – don’t throw it away, it can be used to make a headband! Or keep it in a bag of scrap material to one day make a rag rug or string made from scrap fabric twisted together.

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Sew in a piece of elastic

 

I believe there is enough stuff in this world. Let’s reuse, redistribute and make do.

I write this post upon seeing the documentary True Cost a revealing documentary about the fashion industry. If you haven’t seen this I urge you to do so.