Browsing Tag

low waste

Ketogenic Unknown

Another long weekend has rolled around and I’m using my Monday day off to continue with the binge watch of Anthony Bourdain’s, Parts Unknown.

While I’ve been watching it to reignite me going into the kitchen and cook, instead of hating the space. It’s also made me think a little more about the food we eat, and that’s besides that I’m trying ketogenic again.

There are a lot of other cultures that make everything from scratch, mostly with natural fresh ingredients. Cuba is essentially an organic country because they don’t have the economy to support pesticides and what not to keep bugs away. So they grow and use everything that’s seasonal. And not much is preserved either.

Some countries and cultures have a lot more time to cook and prepare food, and by having a simpler, slower way of life. They live longer and healthier. Their diets aren’t carbohydrate based like most of the western world.

First came 30 minute meals by Jamie Oliver, then 15 minute meals. Designed so people who wanted to cook still could around their busy schedule. But does any of these people slow down and spend hours cooking something from scratch? Do they grab a can or a jar for the convenience? And has it just become a reflex to do so? And I don’t think anyone ever really stops to think about what’s in that jar of sauce. It’s not hard to boil, peel and turn tomatoes into pasta sauce, add in some salt and pepper, basil and other stuff and you’ll have something that’s not filled with a whole bunch of names you can’t pronounce.

The same goes for that jar of honey soy sauce, have you thought of adding soy sauce and honey to your stir fry? It’s not hard and it’s probably quicker to do when you spend 5 minutes trying to open that jar.

I’m making more of an effort to give myself more free time and dedicate it to cooking better. Lets see how long that lasts though.

Want not, waste not

As I’ve progressed to minimalise through my lifestyle, not just my possessions. I’ve seen a lot of waste. I’ve always seen waste and I try my best to reduce it where I can.

Originally my job of I.T. technician by day (and Batman by night), I’d see so many computers that would get tossed, and a lot of them still in working condition of some sort. While they still go to e-recycling, there is still some use for other computers that might be old. But, for every old computer I see go to recycling, I also see a new PC installed. They come in a box, wrapped in plastic, padded with foam which doesn’t degrade, and in Australia can’t go into recycling either.

Back around 2008, Hewlett-Packard released a laptop that came with 97% less packaging as a challenge from Wal-mart and Dell has a half decent recycling program with their packaging before it even makes it to your home. HP’s packaging never really took off, which is a bit of a shame. I’ve noticed every cable at work for a monitor is excessively packaged, even the old analogue style cables which we no longer use and toss into recycling. Plastic cables on each end with foam padding, rubber bands and cable ties to hold it all together neatly. Given the cables cost no more than a dollar it’s not going to break the bank if they send another every now and then.

Many Australians would have seen a tv show recently called the War on Waste. While a lot of this I already had good knowledge of, it was still opening my eyes to better ways to handle my waste, but also limit it by being more thoughtful with my consumption and purchases. If I buy something now I think about where it’s going to end up.

There’s also a lot of supermarkets pushing the perfect looking product. Your fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Leading to a lot of waste at the farmer’s end, when it should be on our shelves or in the hands of charities like Food Bank who make use of it for the needy.
I hadn’t finished watching the three-part series yet. But I’m sure it will bring more to the front of my mind.

I already try to eliminate what goes into my general waste, anything that’s biodegradable was going in will now go into recycling or composting (pending my purchase for a compost bin and worms).

In the past, I’ve read articles which have given me more thought into my waste but hadn’t actioned them so much. But like I’ve said before “It’s a process”. The inventor of the coffee capsule (K-Cups), noted for its convenience, consistency and cleanliness. But makes shitty coffee. Went on to say later in life he regretted the invention because of the landfill with plastic it created, billions of plastic pods that aren’t biodegradable and are killing our planet.

Another article I read was about a woman who lived a zero-waste lifestyle and was able to fit a year of her general waste into a mason jar. Recycled materials were low, food scraps were composted. It takes some serious thought and commitment, and I can bet it was a long process to get to that point too.

It’s one process to sort your recycling and compost your food scraps, but have you thought as to where your general waste is going? If it’s going to the right places?

At the moment, this is just a solution to an already existing problem. But I think we also need prevention, but fewer things in plastic, or is there an alternative to using plastic like recycled paper bags or no plastic at all?

My brain kept ticking over with these thoughts, which is funny as it rarely doesn’t tick over at all. But I had more after watching Mission Blue on Netflix. The Coral Sea is dying due to “bleaching” caused by global warming, and recently the Great Barrier Reef was declared irreparable. In the 1970’s there was one oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico. There are now over 30,000, our need for oil to make fuel and other by-products are seeing us suck the planet dry of every resource we can get, and resources are limited. We all saw what happened with that big oil leak didn’t week? A nice big ol’ clusterfuck that was. Big enough to get Mark Wahlberg in on it.

Most of the plastic found in the ocean would break down over time, but never degrade and become natural matter again. It will end up at the bottom of the ocean, floating in the water, or ingested by our marine life. Including the many fish we consume every year, that’s right. You’re eating that coke bottle you tossed out the car window in 1998. You wouldn’t eat plastic, so why leave it around to go into our waters and harm marine life?

Having seen all this, I’m looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes into my house, but also the amount that comes in as well. I’m intending to be more thoughtful at the source. Fewer plastics and waste in my kitchen, and my bathroom. But also fewer chemicals used to clean kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, and fewer processed foods and packaging into my refrigerator and my body.

I now have a commitment to look at ways of reducing waste, both in and out of the house. Using or buying less that will end up as waste, to be more sustainable and nicer on the environment. I don’t see this as a hard task, just committing, researching and staying focused.

I guess towards the end of the year I’ll update on the progress and see if I got anywhere with my findings. Right, I’m off to Bunnings for a snag and a compost bin.

Junk Drunk Minimalist

I hate IKEA. There I said it. Well, maybe I have a weak spot for the dollar hot dogs.

But I hate IKEA, hate is probably a strong word. Ikea is a heaven for those who like a well organised and decluttered home (Sorry Rebecca!). But I dislike IKEA along with a lot of other retailers.

Each time a catalogue comes out it will contain the latest in fashion and home décor trends. Destined to be donated, sold, given away and become landfill before you’ve even got it out of the packaging. It is marketing driven consumerism at its finest, exploiting a person’s needs to feel accepted by others.

I wonder just how much of the glorified paper mache made at IKEA goes into landfill each year? Either broken or just out of fashion for the years or seasons trends. The same for clothing, did you know the average American throws out 30 kilograms of clothing into landfill each year? That pans out to 14 million tonnes of clothing waste.

As I look around my house, I can see the ethical choices I’ve made. I don’t “buy” things anymore. I “rescue” them, those that were destined to be landfill. As I pen this article to paper, on a bureau desk I bought off eBay for 30 dollars. Dry, brittle and out of shape. It was a process, I slowly brought it back to life as a functional piece of furniture. But also something nice to look at and value its journey, to know it didn’t become landfill, scrapped timber or burnt because it’s old. My three-seater and two recliner couch, Gumtree, and the same for my bookcase and much more other things around my house.

Last year my IKEA tallboy bit the dust, the bottoms fell through, the drawers wouldn’t come out. A few hundred dollars spent on something with a limited lifespan. Destined to become a freebie on the curb. I spent a bit of time looking around on Gumtree for solid timber tallboys, they were all close to what I wanted but still didn’t appeal to me. A little bit impractical here and there or a bit over the budget.

Luckily, a long time mate from high school was firing up a new business making furniture again. We both had the same set of morals on waste, especially when it came to timber. So I set him to work with a short design brief, replicate my great grandmother’s tallboy. The now 110-year-old French polish solid timber tallboy had outseen two world wars, multiple countries and countless moves. A few weeks later, a tallboy made from Oregon was ready for me. The timber sourced from an 80-year-old house demolished in the Adelaide Hills, with exposed dovetail joints and handcrafted handles from recycled steel. His signature finish, and a stunning piece of furniture.

Why am I a junk drunk minimalist though? I just don’t like waste. Why send an old computer to landfill or e-recycling because it doesn’t do what you want to anymore? I’m sure that old clunker can be a great learning tool for a child, or for grandparents wanting to get on the internet.
Old clothes or furniture, anything can be sold or donated, given away or re-purposed. It doesn’t have to end up in landfill. Getting rid of stuff is easy, it’s making a conscious choice about the next purchase is where the hard stuff starts. Buy something that won’t break, buy something that won’t become landfill or out of fashion.

Have you ever seen American Pickers? A couple of guys going through the back roads of America. Saving things before they rust or become landfill. I love old stuff, it’s got a story, it’s had an adventure. It’s been loved, appreciated and admired. Save something like that and it can have that adventure all over again. American Pickers coined the phrase “junk drunk”, getting drunk over all the fantastic stuff you can find.

Nothing in my house really matches, it’s not a bright white, clean “minimalist interior design” environment. It is lived in, about the only bright white things are my washer and dryer. But I only have the necessities so that I can live comfortably. My house is not a minimalist design, but of minimalist intentions. To live comfortably, with enough.