8 January 2019

How not to feel like a weirdo at the Bin Inn

Soft plastic recycling bins have disappeared! These bins had been present at many towns and cities in certain shops and supermarkets, and many of us saved up our plastic bags and packaging and stuffed them into these often-full bins.

It felt virtuous, and it was very popular. So popular, in fact, that the recyclers got too much plastic and couldn't find enough customers to buy the end product of their recycling!

The scheme is just on hold for now and is expected to start up again. In the meantime, we have to either landfill our soft plastics or watch it pile up horrifyingly.

Or, perhaps, bring less of them into our lives.


Waste-free Bin Inn shopping trips

One answer is to use your own bags and containers to shop at the Bin Inn. If you do so, they'll give you a 5% discount! Here's how to do it like a pro, with maximum efficiency and ease.

It takes a bit more thought and organisation than a supermarket shopping trip - but not much.

Step 1. Compile a list

I have a separate Bin Inn shopping list, and when something in the pantry runs out that can be bought there, I add it to that list. My shopping lists are old envelopes or the back of used paper.


Step 2. Gather your containers and bags.

Gather enough bags and/or containers to hold everything on your list.

You do not have to have special versions of anything for this. You can use old bread bags and whatever containers you already have. For easy pantry restocking, it's easiest to take the containers you already store the item in. This only works if they are empty or have just a little bit left in the bottom.

Yes! You can even take in a container with the dregs of rice or cinnamon or whatever you're buying in there! More on that soon.

When it comes to bags, remember to take something to fasten them shut (if they're not resealable). I sometimes use clean, used plastic bags (I wash them and line-dry them) and some pegs to fasten them shut. I also use my Pouch Products produce bags. The produce bags are fairly tightly-woven, but finely-ground things like desiccated coconut tend to escape and leave a sifted sprinkling of powder-like coconut around the shop! They are best for chunkier items like nuts and beans.

Loosely-woven produce bags will quite useless here, I fear.

If you're buying ingredients that might be hard to identify, like sugar and salt, or different types of flour, take a pen to write on the bag or container so you know exactly what it is both at the checkout and when you get home. A piece of masking tape placed on the bag or container in advance makes an easy label to write on.

Unlike supermarket bulk bin shopping, you don't have to write a code (or anything else) on bags to show the cashier what you've bought.

Step 3. Choose a basket or carry-bag

Obviously you will not be putting your items in a Bin Inn plastic bag! So, what do you use instead?

A reusable shopping bag is one option. But if you're taking containers, rather than bags, the resulting load can be very heavy, particularly if you're using glass jars. I use a sturdy basket for heavy loads, and I try to park reasonably close to the shop.

But if you don't have a basket, you'll manage with tough recyclable bags.

If you are biking to the shop, I admire you. You'll puff on the way home, and a bike trailer would be perfect for a big shopping mission.

Step 4. Get your containers weighed

When you get to the shop - having remembered your list, bags and containers, and a basket or shopping bag, of course - head to the counter to get any containers weighed. It may feel strange, but the staff are very used to this! Put them on the counter and they will weigh them and write the weight on the bottom with a marker.

If there's a weight already written there from a previous trip, they'll probably just leave it there for this time. Point out to them if there are dregs of ingredients left in the container, so they can re-weigh it - otherwise you'll pay for the dregs again!




Step 4. Fill your bags and containers

Here's where I get crafty if there are dregs left in my container. Because who runs out of cumin, coriander and cinnamon simultaneously just as they're about to to to the Bin Inn? Most likely you're getting low on it and know you'll need more. In this case I either take a different container, or I take my "real" one with dregs in it. But I don't want to put the new item on top of the old one - I want the old stuff to end up on top so I can keep using the freshest ingredients.

Therefore, I just tip the dregs into the container's lid, mostly fill the container, and then tip the contents of the lid back on top of the new stuff. It works a charm.

Label things if you need to.



And try the peanut butter. Oh, the peanut butter - it is the best! We used to buy Pic's peanut butter, but this is much better. Their almond butter is also delicious.


Step 5. Pay

You know how to do this part. They weigh it, you pack it, you pay. They subtract the weight of your containers (and any dregs) from the purchase price.

Bin Inn gives a 5% discount for each item you pack in your own packaging, and it also supplies Bin Inn loyalty cards, and you get a stamp for each $20 you spend. When the card's full you get $5 off your next purchase. Granted, you do have to get 15 stamps, so it's not a huge bonus, but I enjoy the little $5 thrill anyway.

Compared to Pak'n Save prices, I find the Bin Inn to be cheaper for loose items, which is mostly what I'm there for. They also sell plenty of normally-packaged goods (jars, tins, etc), which don't seem to be cheaper. They do, however, sell some packaged items that I can't get anywhere else.

Step 6. Restock your pantry

Here's the best bit. When you get home, it is SO easy to put the groceries away when they're already in the correct containers!



For bagged items than I intend to leave in bags, I have a huge plastic container I store them in to keep out pantry moths.

Notes on the greenfulness, freshness and hygiene of Bin Inn shopping

1. Biodegradable and paper bags. The Bin Inn has always supplied plastic bags to put your purchases in. These days they're biodegradable plastic, which doesn't mean much, because most such bags don't biodegrade completely but simply break down into microplastics. The shops now make paper bags available, too, but given that paper takes more energy to produce than plastic, they're not an ideal alternative. Just use what you already have, instead.
2. Less packaging, not no packaging. Of course there is some packaging involved in this process, because the shop itself has received the items in a packaged form. But because they receive it in bulk, there is much less packaging over all compared to packaging each little half-kilo of sugar, for example.
3. Quality. The food at my local Bin Inn, at least, is always good and fresh. No rancid nuts (although to be honest, I haven't tried their walnuts - rancidity is very hard to avoid in walnuts).
4. Germ exchange. It is entirely possible that there are germs exchanged at the Bin Inn. I pick up the scoop of a bin with my unwashed hands, fill my container or bag, and put the scoop back in the bin, resting on the food. The scoop handle probably touches the food. Every customer does this. Maybe this would concern me if I had a suppressed immune system. But at present I'm fine with the human-to-human exchange of microbes. We were never meant to live in sterile environments.
5. Ecostore refills. Some Bin Inns, at least, do refills for Ecostore products. This got me excited until I saw the prices. The refill prices are much higher than for either their packaged Ecostore products or the supermarket equivalents. When I queried this, they explained that it is due to the huge amount of wastage they have to subsidize. People are messy and spill the stuff. Once, a person let a five-litre container of dishwashing liquid drain out on the ground, they told me! Sad.

19 December 2018

Green gift ideas

The green thing to do is NOT to buy stuff, right - but many of us still want and need to buy gifts for our friends and family. So, what to buy? I have a few ideas that might help with this conundrum, some of which are inspired by lovely gifts I've been given recently.

Cork yoga mat

This was a particularly yummy birthday gift I got this year. I have even used it quite a few times! I reckon keeping your body healthy is one of the most environmentally considerate things you can do. I spotted a lightweight version of this on sale in Kathmandu - a company which I've noticed has really pulled up its environmental socks recently.



Home made bag

Until recently I was of the opinion that you can have too many reusable bags. That's still possible, but I've since realised that these are brilliant for organising your stuff. Rags for cleaning. winter hats you don't want to clog up your drawers with, fabric you'll certainly sew something with one day ... surely ...



Handmade soap

I don't use a lot of cosmetics, but I absolutely love the treat of a handmade soap. I've found these at markets at very reasonable prices, and they aren't scented so strongly as to blow out my nasal passages like some of the pharmacy ones. They smell deliciously right, and I think they're a great way to inject a little bit of luxury into every day.


Little plants

I think I've mentioned I have a slight houseplant obsession, and I particularly love succulents. Any house plant - or a garden centre voucher so your recipient can choose their own - is a special gift for people inclined that way! Palmers have a great selection of pots. I have set myself the challenging of only sourcing mind second hand - but it's a challenge, all right. Good ones don't turn up very often from what I've seen. This one was an old op-shop find.


Seeds

I planted these Mother of Pearl poppy seeds this year, attracted by the fact that they were selected by an artist. They are indeed little works of art in our garden! I'm fascinated by their delicate colours and designs. They are also popping up in unusual dusky shades of pink and purple.



I also particularly value vegetables that give us food again and again without needing replanting. These things are great for lazy gardeners - and we all have a decent streak of lazy in us.

Garlic chives last for years with no care at all; these red bunching onions look, taste and behave like spring onions except that keep producing more of themselves (we have had the same two patches for about three years, and they just keep on giving); and cavolo nero kale is like a semi-permanent micronutrient tree! We pick and eat its leaves from about May to January (the hot weather ruins it because it gets insects like white fly and white cabbage butterflies). I slice it finely and stir fry it with olive oil, salt and pepper. I'll be sowing fresh seeds in February and covering them carefully with mesh so the first leaves aren't instantly devoured by insect jaws.

I eat these garlic chives nearly every day! In late summer they get aphids, but survive them just fine.

Cavolo nero "trees". The one on the left has some brown spots on its leaves - its last days are upon us.
Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds have voucher options on their website that could be a good gift. Hopefully they can email them rather than having to post - I'm aware it's too late for that!

Plants

A hot New Zealand summer is not the right time to be planting plants. But a garden voucher lets people choose goodies to plant later on. Or you could even give the right recipients a handmade voucher letting them know what plants you'll be passing to them in autumn, when planting time begins.

Last winter a friend gave us some raspberry canes with a bit of root attached. Here's the first of their edible gifts to us. These are mightily delicious.



Years ago I planted a tiny bunch of red alstroemerias bought from a church fair for $2. Shortly afterwards my chickens ate the lot and I thought I'd lost them. But decent chicken fencing meant they sprang back to life, and now I have this semi-permanent display of red South American lilies that look amazing in the vase and last for ages. Every now and then I dig a bit up to give to a friend and spread the love.



I'm also a bit in love with white hydrangeas, especially if they have a tinge of green. I get the feeling they're quite fashionable at the moment. I don't have one, but our local bush has some hydrangeas growing as weeds, which I'm happy to forage to voluptuously fill a vase. I see flowering white hydrangea plants for sale in garden centres and florist displays outside supermarkets.

Ahem - this is not my garden.

Commercial bunches of flowers aren't generally very environmentally friendly - although I'm sure some are - so it's much better (and cheaper) to have your own source, particularly if they involve almost no work!

Just to finish off, here's some gorgeous flowers currently growing in Hamilton's main street - a gorgeous visual gift for anyone walking past. Right next to these flowers will be a market of handmade goodies tomorrow night - I will pop in and just might buy a few more soaps.






8 November 2018

What a Zero Waste Home tour changed for me

A couple of months ago I was fretting over whether I should do a Zero Waste Home tour. It was to cost $40, and I've had a very spendy year. I'd already read and been inspired by Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home book, and I felt I was already living a low-waste life. What if I learnt nothing?

In the end I went, and I learnt heaps! I emerged inspired and informed. This post describes what I've changed as a result.

The tour was by Nic at Mainstream Green in Cambridge. She opened up her minimalist, stylish and inspiring home. I highly recommend it.

Nic reveals all as she opens her fridge.


House plants

The ornaments in Nic's house are almost all plants. They look fantastic! I've been reinvigorated to care more for my own, and have been given a couple of new ones by a friend who propagated them.

Anthurium rescued from near-death at Countdown about a year ago.

String of pearls propagated by a friend.

Birds nest fern that my daughter bought me for $2 last Christmas at the Warehouse. It was tiny back then!

Freezer organisation

Nic is very into time efficiency, and swears that since undergoing her zero waste revolution she's saved time and money. One of the keys to that is her chest freezer. I've been using ours more by making double quantities of meals and freezing half, and also freezing things I hadn't thought of before, like milk, to save dashing to the shops as often.

Our freezer is now fuller than this but better organised.

Shortly after the tour as I was queuing at the Hamilton Farmer's Market for my favourite milk (which is also Nic's), I spotted people filling their own glass bottles with the milk! Turns out it's even cheaper to fill your own! My neighbour gave me some one-litre bottles she didn't need and I've started my refilling habit. I wash the bottles very well and dry them thoroughly.

I recently froze the first one without tipping out a bit of milk first, and even though the lid was on loosely, the bottle broke as the milk expanded. Bummer. Lesson learned.

I've also snaffled small cardboard boxes from Pak'n Save to help organise our small chest freezer. Previously it was pretty chaotic, which made it hard to find things.

Bathroom

There is so much space to reno your routine in the bathroom! Firstly, I instigated a new bathroom rubbish system. The old one consisted of an ice cream container in a drawer, and the new one consists of two ice cream containers in the drawer. The second one takes biodegradable waste for the worms.

Here are the other changes I've made:
1. Nic uses sweet almond oil as a moisturiser. I went to buy some, and the herbalist at the shop recommended jojoba oil instead because it's lighter. I love it! It goes on like an oil but a minute later it's absorbed. In future I hope be able to refill the bottle I bought originally because I noticed that the herbal shop gets it in big bottles.


Previous experience has taught me that because homemade moisturisers don't have preservatives, they are prone to growing germs. Therefore, you don't want to add bacteria by dipping your fingers into them. I don't know if that's an issue with oil, but in case it is I poured a portion of the oil into a glass eye dropper bottle. The rest went in the fridge to keep it fresh (oil tends to go rancid). To apply the oil I drip some on the back of my hand and smooth it on my face from there.

2. Silk dental floss. It's bothered me for years that dental floss and its packaging goes to landfill. However, I strongly believe in taking personal responsibility for my own health to prevent pain, expense and further consumption in future years, and that includes keeping my teeth shipshape. Now I have a solution!



Like Nic, I use Do Gooder silk floss. The glass and metal container (which is far more attractive than any other floss I've seen) gets refilled with paper-wrapped refills. The cardboard packaging and the floss itself is compostable. My first lot went into our worm farm and has disappeared!

As a bonus, it's about the best floss I've ever used - it has more grip than most and doesn't break.

I'm keen to use Do Gooder's toothbrushes too, but the head shape's not quite right for my tooth needs at present - although they tell me they're working on smaller, pointier heads. In the meantime, I use one from Grin.

3. I noticed Nic had some Underbalm deodorant in her bathroom drawer (there was no clutter in there so we could see everything!). I've since experimented with Underbalm's magnesium version, and I am delighted that it actually works to cut out the stink! I have tried many natural deodorants over the years; they've all let me down. This one's packaged in glass (recyclable) with a plastic lid (which appears not to be recyclable).


4. My old plastic razor has been going for years, but I was keen to move to a safety razor because they're all metal and therefore recyclable. Nic had one and seemed to be happy with it. I was put off by the price tags of the new ones, and then remembered my mother used to have one. She produced it for me and now I have a vintage Gillette safety razor! We reckon it's probably from the 1950s or 60s, and it's still perfect. I am amazed at how much more closely it shaves. I haven't cut myself.


5. Encouraged by the success of all these changes, I went a bit wild. I decided to try cutting my own hair, mainly because it was getting shaggy and my next appointment wasn't due for a while. As a curly-top I had successfully cut it when I was a student - curly hair is forgiving. Turns out I enjoyed the snipping so much that I went a bit far and now have shorter hair than I've had for years! I don't mind it, though, and I generated a whole lot of curls to feed our worms. The downside is that I missed my quarterly chat with my lovely hairdresser.


Decluttering

Decluttering is a crazily popular zeitgeist at the moment. Nic appears to be a queen of it while I am a mere underling. Nevertheless, her house inspired me madly and I am determined to achieve a tidy, clear house. Progress has been brilliant so far. There is now so much space on my desk that my cat has room to pose as a fluffy grey cushion next to me as I work.

The most telling reason to declutter came when I tackled the laundry cupboard. There were several products there that I'd recently bought more of, not realising we already had them. That is a maximal waste way of living!

Nic's wardrobe

As for so many women, my wardrobe needed tackling. Although almost all my clothes are second-hand, there was still so much I rarely wore. Nic mentioned the documentary The True Cost, which I duly watched and found fascinating and horrifyng. Once you've watched it, you'll NEVER buy cheap imported clothes unless they're second hand. (I am forced to do so occasionally for my daughter's dance costumes - at times all the dancers must be dressed identically. The mothers are thrilled not to have to sew.)

A particular statement of Nic's has stuck in my mind and is helping me clear out the house: If you have something you're not using, and someone else could be using it, that's a form of waste, too.


Worm farm envy

I dislike buying more stuff to be zero waste! That approach seems twisted to me because buying less is central to zero waste living. So when the zero waste home tour led to me buying a $330 hunk of virgin plastic, I was shocked.


My desire was launched by final stop on the tour, Nic's backyard. It had a flowering kowhai with numerous singing tui - divine. It also featured a Hungry Bin worm farm to gobble up her family's food scraps and other biodegradable waste. Several people had already told me how much they love their Hungry Bins, and when I spied Nic's one I could see the brilliance of the design. A serious case of worm farm envy washed over me.

Our new worm farm: a Hungry Bin
I already had a worm farm, but it was inconvenient and messy to feed and empty, and I repeatedly neglected my worms. This was in spite of being inspired years ago by this TedX talk given by a large-scale New Zealand worm farmer who talks about the magic that occurs when food scraps pass through a worm's digestive system.



My envy spread when, that evening, I watched the video on the Hungry Bin website. My husband happened to be in the room and his eyes lit up. "We should get one!" he said. Such rash expenditure is unlike us.

We managed to delay for all of two weeks before he bought one. My worms are loving their new home and for the first time ever they are getting fed regularly.

Other people buy takeaways for dinner; we eat home grown vege-and-egg omelettes and buy a worm farm.

My old worm farm, which I nearly managed to turn into a worm coffin. It has now been sold for $20.

The deets

Nic runs her home tours quite regularly: check her events page. I'm sure everyone comes away with different tips; I've just talked about what resonated with me, but there was so much more!

A zero-waste gift I received earlier this week.

31 October 2018

The enormous satisfaction of making stuff

At this start of this month, I made a small pot plant cover. It was for Anna's friend, and while we loved the plant we'd bought her, we didn't like the pot colour so much.

The plant is a zebra plant.

Knitting

So, inspired by a knitted pot cover I'd seen on Etsy, I gave it a crack, although I hadn't done any knitting for thirty years. After the first ninety minutes, I unraveled everything I'd done and started again. An hour later I'd finished.

The wool was old balls I had stashed away.
The finished product

Sounds painful, doesn't it? In fact it was BLISSFUL. I loved the challenge and the creativity and the dredging up of long-forgotten skills and memories. I remembered how my mother knit fast and how she held her needles, and how I'd always wanted to hold the needles like that but couldn't do it. So I mimicked her in my memory - and lo and behold, I can now hold my needles like that, too!

I was absorbed in what I was doing and energised by it.

I was channeling my inner Laura Ingalls.

Sewing

I sew, too - mostly to mend or make children's dance costumes, and I'm very basic about it - my old machine can't even do a zigzag stitch, but it marches forward or backward very powerfully. I'm always thrilled at my achievement. I have saved many garments from the dump and saved a lot of money on having to buy new things.

The old girl keeps going - my mother bought this second hand from a church fair about forty years ago.

A pair of school uniform shorts that no longer has a hole in the pocket.

What have we lost?

It was so recently in human history that a family had the capacity to make most things they needed. People were resourceful and skilled. My knitting experience made me think that all that work wasn't just drudgery - I think that deep energy and pride I felt was what they must have felt, too, at least sometimes.

I was stunned in June this year by the craftsmanship on display at the Pitts Rivers Museum in Oxford. Sidenote: if you are interested in ethnolographic treasures, go there. Definitely go there.

The Inuit clothing captivated me the most - possibly because my cold tolerance is so pathetic. They made needles from bone. They sewed this gorgeous, life-protecting clothing with the tiniest stitches.  Such skill! The bottom photo is of a parka cape made from seal intestines. It is exquisite.

A cosy outfit on display at the Pitts Rivers Museum.

A waterproof cape made of seal intestine, Pitts Rivers Museum.

It's sad, then, that we now spend our evenings in front of a screen instead of creating with our hands and minds. The skills will be lost in a few generations. Not long ago every girl learnt how to sew and knit when she was small - those years when the brain picks things up so very easily. Now I know mothers who cannot sew on a button.

It's sexist, isn't it? Girls learned to sew, boys learned to build stuff. I would LOVE to know how to build things and may yet do a woodworking course. But the old process was efficient - each gender concentrated on one set of skills.

I should point out that my husband can sew and knit (not that he does). He told me how to cast off the knitting when I was finished because I'd forgotten that bit. I ignored him and made a hash of it. Next time around I watched a YouTube video - and he was right.

In my further defense, the top photo of this blog shows the plant in a hexagonal shelf beautifully made by my daughter at school and now on her bedroom wall. I should do a woodworking class with her, because that girl is full of ideas of things she wants to make.

YouTube

The wonderful thing is that we have it all: we have all the information we need to make anything on YouTube! Let's use it!

4 October 2018

Carbon capture: Keep doing these easy things!

So often we hear about what we should be doing to heal the planet, and it's hard to know what makes the most difference. So I was delighted to read recently that a few things many of us are already doing really do make a difference.

The Drawdown project drew together experts from around the globe to quantify what behaviours and technologies have the potential to actually draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, essentially leading to reversed global warming. Some of the things they rank as important are already part of daily life for many of us. So pat yourself on the back and read on!

You can also check out their website here, which contains a lot of the information in the Drawdown book.

1. Plants: grow and let grow

"No other mechanism known to humankind is as effective in addressing global warming as capturing carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis." Drawdown, page 54.

Taken by my 12-year-old (she has started a photography blog here and an Instagram one here). Thanks to Hamilton Gardens for this spectacular spring display in their Indian Char Bagh Garden!

Tending your garden or pasture, growing plants or letting them continue to grow is a huge help. It needs to be done a way that adds carbon to the soil and nurtures soil microorganisms. Forests do this naturally, but as gardeners we need to add compost and mulch to the soil, and avoid much digging or tilling. Instead, just pile stuff on top like nature does.

"When soil is tilled and exposed to the air, the life within it decays quickly and carbon is emitted. Professor Rattan Lal estimates that at least 50 percent of the carbon in the earth's soils has been released into the atmosphere over the past centuries." Drawdown, page 55.

Cover crops are brilliant for this, too - see here for what Kings Seeds has to offer. These are extremely easy-sprout seeds that you scatter onto the soil after you've yanked out your crops. They grow fast, out-compete weeds, and add goodness to the soil. It's better than the weeds that will otherwise invade bare soil!



Our soils are massive carbon stores, so we really need to look after them. It's useful to remember that carbon-rich soil grows much healthier plants that also extract carbon from the atmosphere. It's a win-win!

You can read more about the carbon-locking magic of plants and soil in the regenerative agriculture section of Drawdown. The principles of fixing more carbon in soils and crops also appear in many of the books other suggested approaches.

Many of us approve of a mulched garden.


2. Love, restore and protect the NZ bush (or forest wherever you are)

Out of all the solutions to reverse global warming, Drawdown ranks temperate forests such as ours as number 12.

I often walk past this tree and think about how it hosts an entire city of life.

Protect and restore them; they are a massive carbon sink.

"Protecting loss of forest is always better than trying to bring forest back and cure razed land. Because a restored forest never fully recovers its original biodiversity, structure, and complexity, and because it takes decades to sequester the amount of carbon lost in one fell swoop of deforestation, restoration is no replacement for protection." Drawdown, page 129.

Gosh, all that PLUS the beauty, birds, bats and everything else that's good about our bush!



3. Cut food waste

I know we hear a lot these days about how important it is not to waste food for environmental reasons. But stunningly, Drawdown rates this as the number THREE way to reverse global warming. That's one heck of a recommendation!

The reasons to do it are:
1. Rotting food releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas (not if it's properly composted, though).
2. Food uses up greenhouse gases in its production, transport and packaging. If you waste it, you waste all those emissions, and need to generate more to replace it.

Some cities have fantastic schemes to reduce food waste. Hamilton's is Kaivolution. Support these places! Donate! And be grateful you have a fridge and freezer, and know how to make soups and stews with your odd bits of this and that.


The Love Food, Hate Waste website has great tips and recipes.

Icky fact: My chickens think that if I flush a cockroach down the toilet, it's a great waste of their favourite food. Their love for them has made me hate cockroaches just a little bit less.

4. Recycling

I have been recycling paper for about 25 years! Hardly anyone bothered back then, but it may not surprise you to learn that I am an early adopter of environmentally friendly behaviours. Now, of course, recycling is available to almost all of us, so it was reassuring to read that Drawdown rated it in its top 80.

Around of half of all the paper use in the world gets recycled, says the book (page 167)*. It can be recycled five to seven times! Compared to making paper from virgin materials, recycled paper uses less water, spares forests, uses fewer bleaches and chemicals, and produces far fewer greenhouse gases.

The only paper I ever buy is for our printer, which we use sparingly. As a result of the book, I've started to buy recycled paper for it. It's $15 a ream instead of $10. I can cope with that.

Other household recycling gets an energy tick, too. Forging recycled aluminium products uses 95% less energy than creating them from virgin materials. Recycling also means that the virgin ingredients don't need to be extracted from the earth.

Paper recycling box in the bottom of our pantry.


Clearly, recycling is a very poor cousin to not using the stuff in the first place. Recycling produces greenhouse gases of its own (but less than creating virgin products). It's good to know, though, that if you generate waste, recycling is really worth doing.

I used to compost as much of our paper as possible, and it is good for the compost heap (although we never put anything glossy or too colourful in there). Since reading Drawdown, though, I put more of it in the recycling bin and less in the compost.

*South Korea recycled 90% of its paper in 2009! That country popped up repeatedly on the all-star list of countries carrying out good environmental practice.

5. Eat lower on the food chain

Eat less meat. Sigh ... I am eating more meat, recently, for migraine control reasons. Eating less meat is ranked as the number four way to reverse global warming.

The case is compelling: "A groundbreaking 2016 study ... [showed that] ... business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70% through adopting a vegan diet and 63% for a vegetarian diet." Drawdown, page 39.

It's also worth noting that another way to reduce emissions is simply to eat less! Eating too much essentially wastes all the emissions that went into making the food and, quite frankly, makes us fat and unhealthy, neither of which are planet-healthy ways of being.



6. Turn off the tap at home

Water waste turns out to be surprisingly energy-hungry.

"Using water at home - to shower, do laundry, soak plants - consumes energy. It takes energy to clean and transport water, to heat it if need be, and to handle wastewater after use."

The big two fixes are low-flush toilets and water-efficient washing machines. (I think I have mentioned before how much I want a composting toilet - no water use! I like the look of this bambooloo.)




Old-fashioned actions work after all

There's nothing mind-blowing here - these approaches are all fairly ho-hum these days. But they matter, and that encourages me. I hope you feel as pleased as I do to make a difference!

Soon I'll be writing about what totally surprised me in Drawdown. I couldn't believe the things that will make a huge difference! One involves mammoths, kind of. Count me in ...

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