How can we be the masters of our own environment?
So for the past month (yes you January 2020) I have been feeling like I have fallen into a hopeless hole… the air has been thick with smoke, it’s been raining mud, one day it’s 44 and the next 14 – and Facebook has exploded with the most heart-wrenching stories of suffering (#alltheanimals). I have sat frozen with dispair and heartbroken. I have made all the donations and then sat here wondering “what can I possibly do to help” and “is it too late”??
Chatting with a friend over this very conundrum, she reminded me that all the small things do add up – not to feel despondent about things I can’t control, but focus on all the little things I can totally own. Which got me thinking. Last year I embraced my Keep-Cup and got my disposable coffee cup footprint down to a total of 10 for the year, as opposed to 360+ (#mynameiskateandIamacoffeeaddict). There are so many other small steps like this that I should be integrating into my everyday life, but I can’t possibly wait for a new years resolution to make one change a year…
I need to DIAL IT UP!
So I have decided for the next 11 months I am going to set myself the challenge of making an environmental change every month. Some changes might be small.. others bigger.
FEBRUARY – clingy but not glad
For Christmas, I gifted myself some beeswax wraps and silicone food covers, with the aim to phase out gladwrap this year. I do still have about half a roll left and plan to not use it unless it’s something like a watermelon that needs covering (if you have any tips on how to store a big piece of watermelon please share below!). So far this challenge has been easy – we adopted using containers with lids some years ago so already I don’t use gladwrap that often… I am feeling this new years resolution was a bit of a cop-out. Have you ditched gladwrap?
I also came across a reusable alternative to baking paper – now it really only works as a tray liner (you wouldn’t cut it up to line a cake tin for example – unless you make the same sized cake a lot – then totally go for it!). I can report back that it works really well and is easy to clean! This investment is definitely worthwhile if you bake fish, biscuits, roasts etc or grill toasties. The only thing to be mindful of is when you have a helpful guest who helps clear up after dinner and tosses it in the bin (#yesiwentbindiving).
End of month report: I am very glad to report that this challenge was pretty easy to meet. Once I was organised with the right tools (aka wraps, covers etc) I just needed to retrain myself to reach for them instead. And to be honest, I rarely used gladwrap before (covered microwave food with a plate, or put leftovers in a container) so it hasn’t been too hard to retrain my brain! Longterm this is my new norm. Now if anyone has any tips on how to store the silicone covers without them all sticking to each other in some sort of octopus cluster in my drawer I would be most grateful 🤣
MARCH – packing more
While everyone has ditched single-use shopping bags, there are also the containers at the deli and the plastic bags at the grocer that are still being handed out. My next challenge is to pack my own reusable versions of these items. This is a bigger challenge for me as it’s rewiring old habits and getting better and putting containers and reusable bags with my shopping bags, Every. Single. Time.
I have invested in a set of mesh-like bags to use when purchasing my veggies and fruit… but I have found that they are no good for storing most things (eg rocket leaves) as they aren’t airtight… and so my food didn’t keep so well. So I need to find a better storage solution – but they are fine for things like apples and potatoes.
I’ve also taken containers to the local Indian takeaway and they didn’t bat an eyelid when I presented them, so now I will try and be more prepared where it works.
Annoyingly my local Woolworths has just gone through a renovation and the deli section has been removed… so everything is now prepackaged if you want deli goods. Which means I need to travel further afield or shop at the expensive local deli. It seems more and more (rather than less, which is disappointing) supermarkets make “nude” shopping difficult – lucky for me my local grocer and butcher are much better options than the supermarket and also the Prahran Market is down the road… it seems if you want to shop without the packaging you need to get closer to the source.
APRIL – hot compost
I have been doing some light research around worm farms vs composting… but both options for me just didn’t really scream LONG TERM SOLUTION as they require maintenance and they also produce “products” that I don’t necessarily need (worm juice anyone??).
But it seems my prayers have been answered. My local council (and hopefully yours too) has just launched an updated service for garden waste bins – now you can add in your composting items (and you can even collect a free composting caddy for your kitchen if you visit the council offices). I am really excited about this super easy WIN – and I feel that I won’t have too much to report back on as it is going to be so easy (and something I have been wanting to do for so long).
If anyone has some simple tips on managing the funky bin juice please share in the comments section below, phew!
Okay. I totally dropped the ball on reporting in and quite frankly being accountable. I have been researching solar energy for my house and trying to understand the current set of rebates on offer – but a global pandemic hit, my job was a no starter (and then I got more freelance work than I could poke a stick at #grateful). It’s been a weird time. I’ve also not felt great about drinking coffee in takeaway cups, but not bad enough to give up on coffee (I mean it’s all I have left at the moment, maybe all that got me through homeschooling). But I have felt happy about not using my car! How clear was the sky.
That all said, I did review my bathroom habits and begin to make some adjustments. I discovered that for a slightly higher cost (maybe $1-2 more) you can purchase cotton-buds that are made from paper rather than plastic. Since December I have been in the process of finishing off random shampoo bottles – and now am full time switched to a shampoo bar, so no more bottles to recycle! I also ditched cotton pads to remove my makeup and now have a set of reusable pads from Bambu Face. And we’ve got a collection of Modibodi that mean no more pads or tampons heading off to landfill every month 🙌🏽. I’ve been using face-washers for years… (and no, I’m not giving up tissues and toilet paper!). Do you have any bathroom tips?
So just before the second lockdown I bit the bullet and invested in my own coffee machine… I am now composting my coffee grinds (in my council compost bin) and experimenting with different kinds of milk. I also signed off on a solar plan, so when level 4 restrictions are lifted they will be assessing my house and installation should happen a few weeks later! Until the assessment is completed I don’t know exactly what the final outcome will be – but tentatively it’s an upfront cost of about $70, and I qualified for some interest-free loans from both Origin and the government which I can pay off straight away or over 24 months – and the combined repayments are about the same as my monthly power costs have been, so I haven’t had to alter my monthly budget. And in 24 months time – my annual power bill should be less than $100, give or take. It’s been a process completing the paperwork and making sense of the different options – but assuming there is no hitch with my roof when they come to check pre-installation – I am considering this a win for the environment and a win for my budget! Do you have solar? Has it been worth it? Share in the comments below!
What environmental challenges have you made for yourself? What challenges should I investigate next? I have lots of ideas, but would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below x