My husband and I were having a chat the other day about stocking stuffers and Christmas. He was a bit stumped for ideas because he never grew up with stockings as a Christmas tradition.
In America, stockings are A THING. Sometimes they even house the best presents. My family, Mom in particular, always finds the best, most thoughtful stocking stuffers.
I've decided to help you guys out and share a few of my favourite, eco-friendly stocking stuffers, for you, or to gift our loved ones.
HOT TIP: There are lots of things on this list that would work for your mates, work colleagues, or anyone else you might be needing a gift for.
3. Ever Eco Bamboo Cutlery
A great idea for the guy or gal who is always on the go, loves camping, or wants to be more thoughtful about how they eat their take away lunches at work.
4. Grant's Bamboo Toothbrush
I love their ergonomic design and they last so long! They are under $5, made of environmentally sustainable bamboo and are 100% biodegradable. So, when you are done with it, just bury it in your backyard, or use it as a labeled stick in your veggie patch after removing the bristles (like this).
The have kid's options, adult soft and adult medium bristles as well.
5. Ever Eco's stainless steel straws
I love these stainless steel straws for everything from drinking water to devouring smoothies on the go. They are super easy to clean and are reusable, keeping single use plastic straws out of landfill and sea creature's precious bodies!
There are tons of options to check out:
Well, that's it! What are you hoping to have in your stocking?
1. RECYCLE (duh):
This seems like a no brainer, but it's one of the easiest steps you can take by simply putting your rubbish in the correct receptacle. Do you ever feel overwhelmed or confused about what can and cannot be recycled? I found this article super helpful on what the 8 most common recycling mistakes are.
---> DID YOU KNOW: In Australia, 51% of household waste is recycled. If you want to see how we compare to other parts of the world, see this.
2. Have a waste list:
I got this idea from Alex Stuart, author of Low Tox Life. Write down everything you had to throw away at the end of the week. It's similar to having a food journal where you write down everything that passes through your lips. Writing down what you throw in the trash will make you more accountable, and hopefully inspire some creative dishes (soups or curries are always great for "tired" veg). Just be sure the whole family is on board so that your list is accurate and hopefully, together, you can increase your chances of success.
3. Shop seasonally:
This will help you to save money as well and create less waste. When I by things that are not in season, I tend to wait ages for them to ripen, and then sure enough, I've waited too long and it's gone off.
Not sure where to start? Have a look at what fruit and veggies are in season here in Australia.
4. Compost your cut offs:
Composting your food waste will significantly reduce what you're putting out for your curbside pick up.
Not sure what can be composted? I've listed a few obvious things as well as a few surprises:
5. Eliminate single use plastic bags:
Plain and simple. You don't need to put that head of broccoli in a plastic bag to then put it in another bag for it's short journey to your house. The average life span of a single use plastic is a mere 12 minutes. Nowadays you can find awesome, trendy reusable bags. My favourite brand so far is Ever Eco. I love their produce bags which are made from recycled plastic bottles and super easy to clean. They also have some pretty sweet stainless steel straws that we use daily in our home.
Love cling wrap? Well, have you tried beeswax wraps? I love Sustomi and the Source Bulk Foods have good ones as well!
6. Recycle soft plastics:
According to Planet Ark, 22% of the population know about recycling soft plastics. I would personally venture to say that the number is quite lower.
Until recently, I never knew you could recycle soft plastics! What are soft plastics exactly?
These plastics are "scrunchable" meaning you could scrunch them into a ball.
Here are a few examples:
Soft plastics are the number one source of contamination in our recycling system, so please do not put them in your recycling bin at home! You can recycle your soft plastics at your local REDCYCLE.
---> DID YOU KNOW: You can even recycle toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss containers at TerraCycle? Well, you can.
7. Meal plan BEFORE or AFTER you shop:
I don't like meal planning at the beginning of the week. I prefer to head to the market and see what is fresh and allow myself to get inspired. Regardless of whether you plan before or after shopping, have a plan, buy what you need and use it.
8. Say no to junk mail:
When is the last time you actually looked at or read the junk mail? If you head to your local $2 shop, you can purchase a small plastic or metal sign that reads "No Junk Mail," and eliminate a bunch of wasted paper from even entering your recycling bin.
9. Find a community:
Join a local co op or a Facebook forum to help get new ideas, tip and tricks about waste management. Bea Johnson started the Zero Waste movement, and she has a fantastic blog.
You can also connect with her community on Facebook and Instagram.
10. Donate your scraps:
When my compost bin was too full to use anymore, I got in touch with Share Waste and wrote all about that experience here. You can also donate your food scraps and off cuts to your local community garden.
Hope this helped you guys out! I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments!
Looking for more information?
Head to The War On Waste here to see some excellent clips and tips from the show.
Here is clip on how you can fight food waste at home
Good for the Hood (as seen on the War on Waste and Q&A) are based in Sydney and they, "Fight the war on waste in your hood." Download their tool kit here for free!
Like Good for the Hood on Facebook. They also started the 5 for Ryde and share how to make 5 easy changes to reduce what goes to landfill
Thanks to TerraCycle (Colgate and Chemist Warehouse) you can win a community garden for your school
Low Tox Life is now available for purchase in the USA!!! Highly recommend this book!
I am new to this war.
I’m learning every single day.
I have a longgggg way to go, and I’m building awareness constantly.
That’s the thing about this learning curve and mindfulness on lessening your waste . . . you can’t forget what you've learned, and the only way is forward.
That means there are days when I get frustrated or feel like a failure. Last week, I bought a quarter of a watermelon wrapped in GLAD wrap out of habit. I could have bought an entire watermelon, eating some and making popsicles or watermelon margaritas with the left overs. I was only thinking about the immediate scenario in front of me, and that was a simple snack for my daughter for the next three days.
Is it the end of the world? No.
Is that piece of cling wrap going to exist forever? Yes.
Sometimes we need to allow ourselves some grace, especially when making changes to a lifestyle you've led your entire adult entire life! Like Alexx Stuart said in her book, Low Tox Life, “At the end of the day this is a bit like learning a new language. You're not going to be fluent in a week."
Ridding yourself of the disassociation with your waste takes time. Changing your shopping habits takes time.
If you’ve been following along, you’d know that our family recently moved to Sydney, Australia. We are living in council parameters of Canada Bay, and it’s so lovely here. It’s right on the water, super clean and pristine. I was really impressed with the caliber of our neighbors and our surroundings.
Within a few days of arriving I bought a Maze compost bin (smaller version of mine, here). I had recently watched The War On Waste, and learned that food scraps that are placed into landfill emit crazy amounts of methane, which is 28 times more potent that carbon dioxide. Eek. In Australia alone, 4 million tons of food ends up in landfill, which is enough to fill 8,400 olympic size swimming pools. That would be a methane powerhouse!
Anyhow, I couldn't believe how quickly we cut our waste down by about 60%. Every night we would add our scraps to the bin, spray them with friendly microbes and use the fermented juices to fertilise our veggie patch and garden. An added bonus is that you can also use the juice to clean the toilets in your home!
Once my bin was completely chockablock (full) I decided to contact the Canada Bay council because we are not in a position to turn it into mulch or bury it where we are living. I asked them what could be done with my compost and why the green bin wasn't for garden waste AND food scraps (as it is in America and other parts of Australia).
This was their response to my email:
Thank you for your email regarding collection of food waste in the garden organics bin. Council supports the recovery and composting of food waste, and previously funded a major trial of food waste collection in the green lidded garden organics bin. Unfortunately, we’ve found that there is currently limited infrastructure for composting food waste in and around Inner Sydney.
(Not going to chat about the email now, too much to say, hah). However, I was pleased to read further and see that the gentleman recommend a website called Share Waste, and also added that I should get in touch with my local community garden because they are always eager for compost.
If you head to Sharewaste.com you'll see their clever tagline, "Give your waste a second chance." It's free to join, and then you simply choose if you're receiving scraps or looking or seeking a compost location.
I found a "host" in less than ten minutes and she lived eight minutes from our house. I got my daughter loaded her in the carseat, and then loaded the compost bin in the front seat with an extra baking sheet loaded with fruit and veg cut offs. (No, I did not buckle them in)!
My lovely host (Let's call her Mrs R) mentioned that she was typically home, but that I could leave the scraps in the compost bin at the side gate if no one answered the door. How handy is that?
When we arrived, I almost didn't knock, but I'm SO GLAD that I did. Mrs R answered the door with a big smile and popped her hearing aids in. I pegged her to be in her 70's and I could tell she had a heart of gold. She took an immediately liking to my daughter and said that we should take her over to see the pet quails in her front yard! After that we each took a hand and helped my daughter walk to our car to grab all the food scraps. We slowly, and patiently, made our way around the backyard where we were greeted by a huge pen of hungry chooks (chickens). My daughter was so excited and started pointing and giggling, "Ducks! Ducks!" Not quite right, but it was pretty darn cute.
Mrs R grabbed the compost and the baking tray and heaved it all into a pile for chooks who proceeded to go nuts, pecking with joy. "They will eat most of that by tomorrow morning, but they won't touch the citrus. Whatever is left will just go into my garden compost."
I said how cool it was so see my scraps going to a good cause and not into landfill, and I explained to Mrs R that I was new to Share Waste. "I've always cared about the planet, but now I'm learning about how I can actually look after it a bit better." Mrs R smiled and said that was normal and that each season of life will teach us different things. I added that I also wanted a green thumb and dreamed of having my own chooks one day, to which is added, "Yes dear, another season, you'll get there." Ok fairy godmother... whatever you say.
As we were watching the chooks chow down, Mr R came outside to say g'day and he offered that we stay for a cuppa in the sunshine on the balcony. I thought that sounded glorious, so we all had a seat and soaked up the sunshine. I had a delicious cuppa and they also gave my daughter a snack too which she had while playing in the garden.
I was deliriously happy sitting there in silence at times, chatting away in others. We talked about their life in Germany, where I lived in Poland, how many kids they had and what life was like in Sydney (we both had recently moved).
To think that waste brought us together is a funny thing. As I drove away from their house I couldn't help but think that I had made two new friends and made some chooks quite happy too.
P.S. After sharing the company with all my Instagram followers, I got a ton of messages from people about their good Share Waste experiences as well. So many of you had found hosts to take your scraps to, and that means, little by little, we are making a small difference.
Last month I received a sweet Facebook message from a follower that told me Bea Johnson was coming to Australia. I thought, "Oh yay!" Who is Bea Johnson...
Google Search... bam! Oh... neat, she is all about the War on Waste. She had started a Zero Waste movement that was growing fast. That's cool. I'm trying to learn more about that at the moment. I just so happened to get an email from my local Source Bulk Foods in Bulimba the following day announcing the early bird ticket sales. The event happened to be in Sydney at the Concourse in Chatswood. Hey I'm moving there, I think. It was going to a 2hr seminar, $15 and a 30 minute drive from our new home. I was keen as mustard.
* (I didn't know it when I booked, but The Source Bulk Foods gave everyone a reusable bag as well as a $20 voucher to use at their shop....so impressed).
I knew I would have only lived in Sydney for a few days by the time the event rolled around, so I booked immediately, hoping to go and make some friends, network and learn a bit.
Paul Medeiros the co-founder and owner of The Source Bulk Foods opened up the conversation before handing over the mic to Bea.
Let me be completely candid.
First thing that stuck out to me about her was how she looked.
I caught myself being superficial as I was looking at her thinking; great bod, fab outfit, nice hair ... she looks completely normal. Her clothes in particular stood out right away. "This woman is killing it. Her book has been published in 25 languages. Cha-ching! I bet that outfit cost a mint, she looks fabulous and professional," I thought.
Not long into her powerpoint Bea pointed out that she only shops second hand. Um, what? She added that her chambray top and crisp white skirt were both second hand and her designer (looking) black boots were a whopping $5. Gobsmacked.
Bea and her family moved into an apartment in California and needed to place about 80% of their belongings into storage. After the one year was up on their apartment, they visited their storage unit and quickly realized they had not missed much of anything stored there. They ended up selling most of their possessions and donated the rest. Her family of four (plus one adorable chihuahua), found that they were clutter free, a lot happier and more active. Something had switched, and Bea wanted more.
From there they started to be more aware of their water consumption, and then she proceeded to eliminate harmful toxins in their house, such as cleaning products and plastics. One thing Bea said which really stuck out in my mind was about household cleaning products. She said that these companies have tricked us all into believing that we need different cleaning products for different parts of the house. For example: a certain product to clean glass, another for grout, yet another for mould, another for the showers, bench tops etc. Bea simply uses vinegar and castle soap for all her home cleaning, and her space is spotless!
"Zero Waste helps me to invest in voluntary simplicity, so that my family can have a life based on experiences instead of things. A life based on being instead of having."
But, back to her story! Bea and her family moved again, but this time it was to a place that was more conducive to walking and riding their bikes around. Once again Bea felt inspired to live with even less.
She focused specifically on her family’s waste and here are her 5 R’s:
So to keep it simple, Bea and her family only put into the recycling bin what they cannot refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle or rot. Since plastic can't be reused more than once, (example plastic bottles converted into a park bench), Bea switched to items such as glass, metal, cardboard and wood. Her family of 4 fills ONE glass jar of trash a YEAR. Yes, you read that correctly, a year (see photo at the bottom of this article).
Bea became vigilant when it came to detail. A few things that stand out in my mind are:
All I could think of was:
How satisfying it must be to lead such a rewarding, low-tox, waste free life.
How I personally would find it hard not to buy brand new materialistic temptations.
How liberating it would be to live in a home without papers, clutter and unnecessary items.
And she must have known that most of us were thinking somewhat along these lines because she clued with this:
"Zero Waste helps me to invest in voluntary simplicity, so that my family can have a life based on experiences instead of things. A life based on being instead of having."
Cheers to that Bea!
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