Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Another idea!

Just quickly while I am at work, my Aunt has shared with me another cool bottle reusing idea! I wonder how comfortable it would be...?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Conference and plastic :S

Well I have completed the conference that I was worried about with the plastic use. Holy was there a lot of waste. Not just plastic but paper and bottles. Only a handful of people at the conference seemed to care about recycling. I was watching people throw glass bottles and huge amounts of clean paper. It was really awful. I did my best to push for recycling and I ended up picking up after a lot of people. Gah.

I resisted as much plastic as I could. There were cup noodles all over the place and I couldn't have any :(. I did have some if someone offered me a bite though. There was no choice at breakfast time. The milk came in plastic as did any toast toppings. I couldn't not eat so I shared with other people as well. Then someone bought me dinner that was take away in plastic :(. Booooo.

But the conference is over and I am back on the band wagon. Things are back in my control and I am going to rock it! Hurrah. I will get back to Melbourne tomorrow and then start planning the next adventure. Three weeks of travel, here I come!

More later!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Some more interesting bottle uses :)

Here are some interesting uses for bottles! These were shared on my facebook wall and I thought I would share them here.

I don't have too much to report. I have made it to Adelaide and I am busy preparing for this conference. It should be really good and I am pretty excited. We will still have to see about the plastic use....

Monday, 14 January 2013

A good reminder...

My Aunt posted this photo on my facebook wall. It serves as a good reminder as to why I have decided to take on this challenge. 

I am not sure who's photo it is, nor where it is taken, or even if it is an original or been touched up. What I do know is that this is not okay. We need to start taking ....pride? ownership? ....of our world. Neither of those words convey quite the concept that I want. Ah yes, we need to start treating the world as if it was our own yard. Not many people throw their trash onto their own lawn. Yet people just throw or leave trash lying around public property all the time. Just this afternoon I picked up someone's juice bottle and recycled it for them. Now perhaps it was dropped accidentally on a mad rush to get on the train. I'd like to give'em the benefit of the doubt. I have a hard time believing that every piece of garbage I see lying around on a daily basis has a history like that though...

It is so interesting, this concept of public property. On one hand there is this diffusion of responsibilty / "someone gets paid to clean this" attitude. (This pisses me off to no end, gah pick up your crap!). But then on the other hand there is this "I'm using this space, it is mine" phenomenon (do do bah dobah). So if it is "your" space to use....why is it up to someone else to clean? I am not sure how those things work together but both have been studied and shown to be legitimate. Hmmm. It is worth investigating. Sometimes these things just come to me.

I am off to a new city tomorrow (Adelaide). I am excited to see the differences (if there are any) to the use of plastic in every day life. We shall see...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Weekly Review

This week was a bit more challenging than last week. Good news: I remembered that butter is wrapped in paper. Oh man, could that have been a disaster. Sad news: I can't get batteries without plastic and I only have 5 left. Not a huge deal, but now that I have noticed I am quite distraught.

I had a hair appointment which was good. The colour sucked which was bad. But the cut was ok. The main thing though, she didn't use gloves! Wahoo. Granted it wouldn't have been my waste but it is still nice to know I wasn't contributing to excess plastic use. Course there was a lot of foil used....Gah you just can't win.

Grocery wise, I am pretty limited on the sauces that I can buy. Thank goodness I am not Australian. For those of you who also are not Australian, Australian's like sauces on things. A lot. Most come with that safety wrapper to ensure the product hasn't been tampered with. Even though the bottle is glass and the lid is metal, there is that tiny bit of wasted plastic wrap.

I took a friend grocery shopping today and it was a bit of an eye opener for her. She kept saying "Oh, you can't have this!" and "That means you can't buy this." Hahaha yup. Hopefully it will make me eat healthier because it cuts out just about all processed foods.

I haven't really craved anything that is only in plastic either. Probably because the challenge is still too new and exciting for me. I have a feeling that it might get old pretty quickly.

It will be really interesting when I run out of tooth paste....

Next week's goal:
Prepare for the conference. Figure out how to eat the food and have the snacks with out the plastic. I think I will have to make some cookies or something once I arrive in Adelaide. All the snacks will be in wrapping :(

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Missing bulk food :(

Homesickness finally hit me, and it was bulk food that triggered it. Of all things. My birthday, no problem, Canada day, easy, even Christmas wasn't too bad. But then I take away plastic, realize Australia doesn't do bulk food and suddenly I am missing Canada like crazy!

I have just found this photo on the internet, showing what I think of when I imagine a bulk foods section. I give credit of the photo to this website.

Ah the supermarkets and groceries stores with the bulk aisle. And you can get sugar and flour and grains and nuts... Even sprinkles! *big sigh* And then there are the stores that are completely devoted to bulk foods. Oh Bulk Barn, I never fully appreciated you until you were out of my reach. 

Not only are there very little bulk food places, Australians don't even know what I am talking about when I ask about them. People think I am meaning Costco. And fair enough, Costco does have big quantities of stuff, or "bulk." But no, there is a-whole-other way of grocery shopping out there! Let's get on it Melbourne. 

It is interesting as well because Melbourne is a very "with it" city. Very posh and trendy. And I was getting the impression that sustainable living was becoming a very trendy thing to do. It hasn't branched into the "accessible" market yet and is seen more as a snobbish thing to do. Snobbish isn't quite the right word...Regardless, I would think that Melbourne of all places would be jumping on board.

There are a few places who are getting on it. But it isn't just packaging free, it is everything. Ethical, fair trade, organic, natural etc. Granted these are all admirable qualities to strive for in products, I am just not sure I am there financially. And really, if it is organic but is from North America, is that really better than something not organic but grown locally? It's a tough call. And agonizing over it gives me a headache. This year I will stick with the plastic issue. See how much I can live with out or if it drives me batty. Then I can take on a new challenge. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Interesting idea...

A friend posted this on my facebook page today. It is an interesting idea on how to turn old pop bottles into solar lights. From a quick search it looks like it started in the Philippines. I think that it is innovative and uses stuff that we already have so good on them. I am not sure it is a long term solution to anything (uses bleach and plastic...) but it makes for an interesting discussion and it uses solar power! Certainly worth a read :) 

And how is my plastic quest going you ask? Still so far so good, although an interesting thing has happened. Not only am I becoming increasingly more aware of the use of plastic in the world around me, I am becoming much more aware of all other kinds of causes. Even more so than usual. I predict that before the year is up I will have jumped on every band wagon and driven myself crazy by trying to do too much.I will try and stick with just plastic for now...

Monday, 7 January 2013

Exciting news from work!

We received some exciting news at work about one of the programs. To clarify, I am currently doing an internship at Earthwatch Australia and I am part of the team delivering TeachWild. To summarize TeachWild:

“Marine debris affects more than 270 species of marine animals worldwide, however little is known about the impact on Australia’s wildlife. TeachWild is a national program that tackles this global issue and brings scientists together with teachers, students and employees to carry out hands-on field work.”

Basically the program is a chance to get school kids excited about science and the environment by giving them the opportunity to work with a scientist and contribute to real research. Awesome right? Especially since it is free for students to participate. And I like things that are free J.

One of the schools that went out with us was Emerald Primary in the “fall” this year (aka spring :P). After the day in the field the kids (grade 6) went back to the school and noticed all the trash from candy wrappers lying around. Fresh with new ideas about marine debris and the impact plastic has on the environment, they decided there needed to be a change.

Now, at the school store, there is a deposit recycling program. The kids voted to increase the cost of everything by 10 cents, and that 10 cents is returned once the wrapper is brought back to the shop!! Wow! Such a great idea, so inspiring that the grade 6 class came up with it, and awesome feedback for the TeachWild program!

Feedback like this really makes me feel like we are making an impact. Even that I personally am.  Today feels like it is going to be a good day.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Weekly update

Well my first week of this plastic adventure is up. It has been quite easy so far actually. I had to get take away for a couple of days because I hadn't gone grocery shopping. The places I went to either used paper (Baker's Delight) or allowed me to use my own container (Tower Sushi, N2). 

At Noodles by Noodles getting take away in my own container!

One question that came up this week - what about gloves? I have decided that because of food safe and health regulations I will have to have people wear gloves to help me. I will avoid it when I can and tolerate it when I can't. This year is about my personal plastic use, and I don't think that can count against me.

Another question I was asked - what about money? Ok well I am not sure how I can possibly go a year without having a debit card...again, its about reducing plastic waste.

I went shopping at Savers (aka Value Village) which was fun, but I realized I couldn't buy anything! All the clothing had plastic tags telling me the price. Its a good thing I don't actually need any new clothes :P. I will keep my eyes pealed for stores that have racks labeled or use ribbon or something for prices.

Something cool happened while I was at Savers though. I was tired of browsing so I decided to go look at a magazine. I picked up Australian Geographic because it had a frog on the front and I am still fresh off my frog trip. As I was flipping through an article caught my eye: 20 pages on waste management and plastic recycling. Hahaha! What are the chances? Obviously this year is meant to be :) I will post some of my findings from the article another time.

I just realized I have a challenge coming up - a conference I am going to in the middle of January. The conference is catered (including snacks) and I don't have any control over it. I will bring my own water bottle and coffee mug. I am not sure what else I can do. I will give it some thought over the next week.

Ok, bring it on week 2.

First Shopping Adventure

I have successfully completed my first grocery shopping adventure including laundry soap!!! Hurrah :). I went to the Queen Victoria Market for veggies and then Coles ( :( ) but found pasta in card board ( :) )! I also went to a store called "Friends of the Earth" ( It is pretty cool (very hippy esk, my upstairs neighbours in Victoria would approve). It focuses on organic, fair trade, ethical and reduced packaging. I was mostly on a reconnaissance trip this time but found laundry soap. The way it works is most of the food is in bulk and you are encouraged to bring your own containers. So I brought my old laundry soap container. I filled it up half way and it cost me $9. Quite a bit more expensive than my usual full container at $2 (from the NQR) but my soul feels good and now I can have clean clothes this year!

Here are the bags I used.
Re-using an old container and plastic free TP!!!

My purchases!
 So far so good...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Day 2 of the plastic challenge

Two notable things occurred to me today. One: my housemates (and by default I) use plastic bags for the garbage... the question is, how do I deal with that. I think what will happen is I will use paper bags for my own personal waste. I will avoid using the kitchen garbage.

The other thing: the tea at work comes wrapped in plastic. Does this mean that I cannot have any? For a few days it is ok (because of my already owned clause) but soon we will have to replace it...I think when that happens I will try and convince the office to buy a plastic free variety. Perhaps loose leaf or paper wrapped. I will have to do some digging.

It also occurred to me today that I should set some goals for what I want to accomplish (or get out of) this year. I will have to think about it.

I should also note that I probably will not update on a daily basis. Only if something particularly note worthy happens. Or I learn something.

Either way: two days in and it is a success!!!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

January 1 2013, and so it begins....

There are a lot of issues in the world and as anyone who knows me knows, I have trouble focusing my energies on just one. Well, for at least the year 2013 I have decided to tackle one: plastic. I have enough knowledge about the subject to know that we need to make a change. How easy is it going to be? Well for the next year I shall learn and (hopefully) discover exactly that. 

I haven't done a lot of research as to how I will do this. The little bit that I have done (tips and things) are behaviours I already exhibit. But am I doing enough? No. So its time to make a change. I think it will be more of a learn as I go project. Day 1, so far so good. No plastic! What I really need to do is define the rules. So here they are:

1. Absolutely no unnecessary plastic. This includes plastic grocery bags, foods wrapped in plastic, plastic wrap, excess packaging, etc.

2. Avoid things made out of recyclable plastic. Even though it is recyclable, and I believe in recycling, I am going to try to avoid using things if I can.

3. Minimize the plastic usage when it is unavoidable. I am sure there will be somethings that will be unavoidable over the next year (deodorant comes to mind....). Try to use as little as possible and go for an alternative when available.

These are pretty broad rules and I am sure they will evolve and be amended over the next year.

*Clause 1 - ICE any and all plastic will be accepted. 

A couple other things might come up through out the year (gifts, going out with other people, plastic I already have...). Well, stuff I already own is usable. No point in throwing it away for nothing.

Day 1, as it stands right now, the extreme. Plastic Free!!!