Marry me at McIvers Tea

Yeahhhh this place is basically heaven. Went into the Brunswick shop and it’s the cutest little tea house. They have spice shakers full of their blends so you can have a sniff and lots of nice trinkets to look at. Plus, they have coffee too and you can buy a piece of cake and have a sit and enjoy in the space. It was really lovely.

The tea blends themselves all smelt really interesting. I couldn’t find a green tea to my liking (I like blends with lemon or rose in them), but I did find a great black tea called Bushfire Lemon Myrtle. Australian Lemon Myrtle is sweeter and softer than straight lemon and this doesn’t smell over powering at all. A wonderful blend and delicious to boot.

The best part? They filled up my tin for me that I brought in and it cost $7. I’d spend loads more on tea bags or buying loose leaf at T2. Bloody awesome value.

Again – not paid to support them. Just really psyched at how well this plastic free tea transfer is going.

 

Consumable products – bathroom

These are 2 products I’ve bought today flouting my ‘no buy new’ rule. I’ll be running out of conditioner for my hair and other hair products soon and so I’m preparing for that in advance. Consumables aren’t really counted in my no buy plans, so I don’t mind as it’s continuing to change my habits away from petro chemicals and plastics.

This hair balm is to use on the ends and to control fly aways and the container has no plastic so I can reuse when it’s empty for other products. It also smells absolutely divine and am planning on giving my hair and good brush and applying some through the ends as soon as I finish writing this!

The Agave wash cloth can be used in the bathroom, kitchen or laundry and I know people that use it in all of those places and have a different cloth for each room. When you’re finished with it you just pop it in your compost bin. I’ll be wrapping my soap around it and using it in the shower to see how I go and then from there possibly getting one for in the kitchen too. I bought it for $11, so a bit pricey, but I love that I can compost when it’s life is done.

I have one of those shower puffs at the moment, but it’s made of nylon. Once that dies, I’ll replace it with the agave cloth. Again, I’ve already bought it, so I may as well use it until it doesn’t work anymore.

I bought both from perfect potion on Brunswick St, which smells delicious and sells lots of essential oils and things. I’ll probably be going in there in a couple of weeks to buy oils for tooth powders and tooth paste recipes that I’m going to make. I’ve found a couple that have been approved by dentists, so I’ll give it a bash!

Bike riding scares me

Look I know it shouldn’t, but it does. My city wasn’t designed with bicycle infrastructure in place and accordingly, bike lanes go in and out and disappear for stretches of road – leaving you exposed with cars cutting you off and driving closely.

If I lived in a magical utopian society with cars and bikes existing in equally separate but happy lives, I’d probably be ok – but that’s not Melbourne.

About 3 years ago I was riding my bike near a primary school and I had someone throw a half full bottle of coca cola at my head from a car passenger window and scream that I was a ‘fat cunt’ out the window. The bottle hit me in the back of the head, I fell off my bike and I later had to to go to the hospital with a mild concussion.

I had had no previous interaction with this car and was quietly riding along with no issues on a Saturday morning.

When I went to the police I found out that some other cyclist had been attacked the same day whilst riding down a road which had a speed limit of 80 km/h out of the bicycle lane. We never caught the person doing it. The police were warm, comforting and helpful though and were listing all the possible offences they’d arrest the suspect for (including ‘littering’ which I particularly enjoyed)

I have gotten back on the bike, but the fear has never truly left me.

I do plan on tackling my reliance on cars as I do use my car pretty regularly, but it will most likely be one of the last things I tackle this year. I still regularly commute by train, tram, bus and walk a lot as well, but bike will be lower on my priority list for now.

Compost Adventures

Luckily I already had 2 compost bins – my Dad weirdly bought them from the council when I was a kid and those big black plastic bins have been hanging around for 20 years or so without being used… So cheers, Dad! You used to tip old oil into the ground to avoid having to dispose of it properly but a random adventure to the council now means I’m benefitting off not having to buy new ones!

The lids haven’t been opened in at least 8 years minimum. I was freaking out at the thought of rats and giant spiders living in there, but I put on my grown up pants and got to work with my Mum laughing and watching from a safe distance.

I worked both the lids off with the prongs of the garden fork and found the following: 1 spider, 7 cockroaches and 1 super cute skink! No rats! Maybe this was going to be easier than I thought!

With my rough memory from my grandpa’s lessons going through my head I stuck the fork in gingerly and had a poke: it was dry, still had egg shells in it, but otherwise looked ok. I turned it thoroughly, added water and turned it some more. Then I added a layer of grass clippings, more water and gave it another turn through. Then on top I added a layer of old egg cartons from the recycling bin and all the paper from the paper shredder bin as like a ‘blanket’. I could remember that they needed layers of things, but not why. I probably should’ve read up on it first, but meh. This was kinda fun!

I decided if I was going to be doing this properly I would’ve read the research and then did the digging, but then I wouldn’t have been me.

You’re supposed to start with a layer of twigs and sticks – they break down slowly and help drainage. On top of that you add a layer of green stuff:  that’s for the nitrogen. Then a layer of brown: that’s for carbon. So I just missed the twig memo, but green is grass clippings and brown is paper, so really I’m going ok. After that you add oxygen (with the turning) and water. So thanks Grandpa – you died almost 10 years ago but I’m still using the stuff you taught me even if you wouldn’t approve of my half assery approach. Based on what I’ve read, my compost will have shit drainage, but I’m making dirt, so who really cares, eh?

Once I fill one I can then begin to fill the other whilst still turning the first. By the time it’s full the bits down the bottom will be good soil, so by having 2 bins it hopefully means I can always be composting something and eventually always have some form of compost to chuck around.

So now I’m going to divert all my plant waste from the land fill bin. Things like egg shells (based on this I totally need to break them up before putting them in), food scraps, leaves from sweeping, paper shreddings, cardboard (toilet rolls and egg cartons are regular sources that come to mind) and some grass clippings. No meat or dairy can go in, but everything else is fair game. I’m not much of a gardener, so I might give the products to my Mum, share it around with the neighbours or offer it to the community garden down the road.

The other thing I realised is how bad landfill is. I mean, I know it’s bad (clearly), but seeing the visual representation was pretty full on. I found in one of the bins a kiwi skin with the sticker still totally legible on it, along with egg shells still broken in half from cooking, but no further break down. Sticking your food waste into landfill and then doing nothing with it doesn’t mean it’ll break down properly: composting seems pretty easy, but it does take regular work. So all those times I put my food waste into the bin thinking it was like composting and wouldn’t matter: well I’m shit out of luck cause what I realised this morning is that’s not a thing. I need to compost all my waste from now on as even without plastic in my landfill waste I’m still contributing to the problem of global landfill.

But what about…

In the 6 weeks or so that I’ve been talking about zero waste, no buy new and no plastics those 3 words are the most common thing I’ve heard. And my answer is usually (in my broad aussie accent) “I dunno”.

I drive a car, own more than 1 bicycle and have an 18 month old Iphone. I’m not a monk. Chances are the thing that you’re asking me about I don’t have a solution to yet. I may never have a solution to it and you have your gotcha moment.

I don’t mind people being inquisitive as that’s a normal part of life, but the specific questions about specific items feels like people trying to catch me out. How am I going to fail, not realising that there is no perfect moment and it’s all just reduction and will never be everything perfectly sorted out. I’m not doing this to be the best at anything, I just want to see if I can. Where are my limits? What can I learn?

‘You do you’ is what my partner always tells me. You do you, Fi. So I’ll do me and you can ask questions, but lets all just be chill about it.

Tooth care – toothbrush edition

I am tooth paranoid. The only time I saw my vietnam veteran father cry in my childhood was after visiting the dentist. He had been hit in the face with shrapnel and it messed up loads of his teeth, but before that he also had terrible teeth and loads of fillings.

I can remember him pacing the backyard, smoking and weeping while on pain meds while the dentist would call at 9pm on a Saturday night just to check in and see how he was going.

I was petrified of the dentist and I still am.

I’m turning 32 in less than 2 months and I’ve never had a filling. I’ve had my wisdom teeth out, but that’s it. I’m pretty meticulous with them and dealing with tooth paste and floss are 2 of the things really stressing me out the most about this challenge. ‘You only floss the teeth you want to keep’ is an anxiety thought process that goes around and around in my head if I get into bed without having done it. I clean my teeth 2 to 3 times a day and floss at least 5 times a week before bed.

A little while ago I purchased a bamboo toothbrush from Friends of the Earth to try it out. I found it easy to use, and it did the job. I liked the brand and while there’s still no good plastic free bristles, they’ve done the best they can and it’s better than a whole toothbrush made of plastic.

I just ordered a box of 12 off their website for $36 which is also cheaper than what I would spend on tooth brushes anyway. I simply use and then when I’m done, I pull out the bristles, place those in my rubbish and place the handle in my compost pile (which I’m pulling the lid off of tomorrow morning to investigate eeek!).

Here is where I bought the toothbrushes. I am not paid to advertise them FYI – I just like their product.

Again, my choices to try and go plastic free are not about living in a hut in the wilderness. It’s about trying to find a way that works with my lifestyle. This product isn’t plastic free, it’s sensibly plastic reduced and I think it’s an easy way to make some changes that don’t involve totally changing your life.

The bushfire

Someone asked me the other day when did all of my attitudes change… And I realise it was with the bushfire.

A few years ago I was living in the outer suburban ring of Melbourne. There was a run of hot days and someone started some grassfires near my house.

My partner at the time was at work, so I grabbed some of our clothes, toiletries, any mementos, and our cat and jumped into the car and drove to his Mother’s house. And it was the weirdest feeling: I was leaving a house full of stuff and I really didn’t care.

The mementos I grabbed for me were not what I was expecting: some photos (sure), but an old copy of an HG Wells book of my Dads and a piece of wood that was the end of a Tigermoth plane propeller. And my Grandmother’s ring which she gave to me when she died. That was it.

In the weeks after that incident when we were lucky and our house didn’t burn down, I began to reevaluate my belongings: I gave away or sold over 18 boxes of books, I had a collection of 3000 cds which is now less than 100 and I’ve repeatedly cleaned out my clothing and gotten rid of  90% of my DVDs as well.

By the end of that year my partner at the time and I had broken up, I’d returned to study and had reevaluated many many things in my life. There’s only one thing I regret: he kept the cat. Everything else was the right choice and even that was too as the cat was happier there.

But since that moment, the sense of driving away without fear of what would happen to the house I have begun to think differently about what I buy and why I buy it. It has been a slow transition. Last year I didn’t buy any clothes or shoes besides a couple of band t shirts: that’s new or second hand actually. I bought a few books, but have enjoyed sharing them around to friends and family. And I bought some records which resulted in a couple of great afternoons at my friends house listening to them together. Really pretty restrained and has resulted in sharing experiences with friends and family.

My ex used to love going to the local shopping centre and walking around as an outing and we never went on any holidays together. I never really cared for the shopping centre outings, although I enjoyed looking at CDs and DVDs and books. Now I rarely go to shopping centres. That’s not to say that shopping in and of itself is bad, but just all the waste of consumable goods probably isn’t good. Everyone has different interests and it’s funny how much happier I am now that I am living more in line with my values and passions.