Showing posts with label Eco Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eco Challenge. Show all posts


Garden Update: Compost Bin Changeover

The time had arrived to empty the compost bin. We have a pretty plain compost bin. I won it in a radio trivia competition. That was about ten years ago and it still seems to be going strong.

I don't know whether we do it the 'right' way or not, but for years we have been using the same system with great success. We simply fill the bin with scraps from the kitchen, the garden and the some paper and try to keep the balance right between wet and dry materials.

The bin is made of two halves that are wired together in the middle on both sides. When the bin is full I simply undo the wire twists and am left with a perfect pile. You can see in the picture above that the material on the top hasn't broken down yet but as you look down the pile - it is perfect.

By this stage the girls get a whiff of what is happening and they start hanging around - begging to be let into the garden area.

I then move the compost to a new location (this time it is right next to where it was) and wire it back together. I sit the bin up on a couple of bricks and put some twigs in the bottom for air circulation. I then lift the top centimetres off the old pile and put it back in the bottom of the compost bin in the new location.

We then fenced off a small area and let the girls come in and have a good dig through everything for a couple of hours before we scraped it all up and put it on the garden. The girls went absolutely mad! They scratched and pecked and jumped on bugs. It really was a joy to watch!
We also cleaned out the chook house and added the manure to the compost.
It is amazing to think that we put the soil compost on the garden and grow things and then mulch up the plants and put them in the compost which in turn becomes the dirt that we grow things in again. It is a complete circle....... the circle of {life} !


Nothing To Leave The Block

I often think of the ideal of nothing leaving our block. I have written before about thinking ' what if everything we bought onto our suburban block was to stay here'. Imagine if we had to use, re-use, recycle or dispose of every little thing that came onto the block. I could go to the shop and buy what I needed - flour, sugar etc. That wold be fine because I can tear up the paper packaging and put it in the compost to break down. But when it comes to other forms of packaging I am totally lost. Where would I put the plastic wrap from the inside of a packet ? What about the bag that the oranges came in or the plastic tray in the rice cracker packet ?

If nothing was to leave the block I would have to start a little pile behind the shed, then maybe in the roof, then under the house....... how much would I use in a month... a year ??

:: I often think like this::

Of late I have even been suspicious of recycling systems. We put all our recycling into a different coloured wheelie bin and it is taken "away" wherever that may be. I have read quite a bit recently about how the price of recycled materials has dropped to the point where it is not financially viable to process the materials. Will companies still process recycled goods without a profit ? Out of the goodness of their hearts or their love of the environment ? ( that's for you to answer, but I know what my gut tells me)

So in keeping with my gut, I am still attempting to not have things leave the block, even if they are 'recycle' worthy.

The picture above is of my compost bin in the kitchen. I tear up any packaging or paper that will breakdown as well.

Living with the ideal of nothing leaving the block means you have to be really mindful when you are shopping. Believe me, this is EXTREMELY difficult. I can't ask the girl at the checkout whether waxed milk cartons breakdown in the compost and how long they take !

Yesterday one of the boys opened the last packet of water crackers that was in the cupboard and I tore up the cardboard packaging and ::gulp:: placed the plastic into the bin. Today I made a huge batch of lavash crackers to make me feel better.


Earth Hour - A Step Back In Time

Last night we had dinner with some friends to celebrate a birthday. It co-incided with Earth Hour, a now annual event where participants are encouraged to turn off their lights for one hour from 8.30pm as in indication of support and to raise awareness of global climatic concerns.

Our boys knew all about Earth Hour because they had been discussing it at school. They packed torches to take with them and I packed a few extra candles, not sure what our hosts would have.
The kids ( there were nine of them) were watching a movie, playing the playstation and generally doing modern day kid things! When it was time to turn the lights out, however, out came the torches and games of spotlight and spooks started, as well as going out to look for flying foxes ( bats) and jumping on the trampoline with torches ( to the tune of squeals of delight). After that they came in and played the piano and we all commented on how lovely it was. Two of the boys in particular play really well and we enjoyed their Pachobel's Canon duet.

The grown ups continued their dinner party by candlelight and it was all very lovely. When the birthday cake came out we joked about not blowing the candles out because we needed the extra light until 9.30pm.

It always surprises me that as soon as our modern convenience is removed it doesn't take long before we revert back to our natural ways. We adjust very quickly to the inconvenience. The kids suddenly rely on their imaginations and have the greatest fun, the grown ups have a lovely night because of the change in mood or ambiance brought about by the softer lighting.

....and of course, as Pachabel's Cannon was playing in the background, it was a moment of joy when someone said ' you know, this is what it would have been like in the olden days'......... joy of joys!


Garbage Auto Pilot

Here is the under sink system I worked out yesterday.

Very Simple.

 Bin with no liner for rubbish that I just can't do anything with.

Compost for food scraps and paper and a tub for recycling.

When I was cleaning out drawers in the bathroom today I was thinking about the proper place for plastic. I am not a person that will reject plastic as total evil and weigh every ounce that comes in/ heads out the door.

 I am not that disciplined.

 I thought today that the idea is to KEEP plastic things ( that aren't rubbish as such). After all, it was designed to be a durable, non breakable, long lasting replacement for a lot of things.

Therefore I will KEEP all the plastic no rubbish things I have.

This includes tubs, containers, Tupperware and the like. The theme for me will be to simply not acquire anymore and not dispose of any more. I am not going to go through the house and replace everything with an 'eco' product, after all, it is the disposing of these items that is half the problem! If I do need to downsize I will donate not dispose.

Thanks to all the people who commented on the previous post. It seems to be an issue that lots of us are thinking about. I think for me success will come when I can break habits - things that we do without thinking. One way I thought to break the habit of using particular items is just not to have them in the house! It often amazes me when we go camping or away on holidays just how little we get by on because we become RESOURCEFUL with what we have.

Habits which immediately come to mind are things like reaching for the Glad Wrap to cover leftovers, half an onion, to wrap the cheese etc. I will now simply reach for a Tupperware container. The bin liner was an automatic thing, but really, there should be no wet rubbish in the bin. Food scraps should go in the compost and leftovers to the chooks.

Today we made our own bread which is always a good thing because it does away with the plastic bread bag but I still had to buy some things that had plastic packaging. Milk, which I bought in a three litre bottle, Sao biscuits as a back up for when home baked supplies are low or for times when I am totally disorganised and brown rice - for which there was no alternative. Basmati rice comes in a 5kg cloth bag and I often go halves with a friend in this, but brown rice? I have never seen it packaged in anything but plastic.

 I dream of a large store where I can go in with my own containers and scoop out flour, sugar, rice, then pour out my shampoo, honey etc. I know this happens in some health food stores but we don't have anything like that around here. Maybe I should approach the local store and tell them of my interest. Perhaps there would be other people that would shop in this way as well.

But for now..... small baby steps. Auto pilot habits. The goal is once a month for the rubbish bin. I wonder when/how/if we will get there.

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...