Friday, September 30, 2016

Waste Deep


WASTE DEEP from SustainTable on Vimeo.

The title says it all. Made in Melbourne - I'm soproud of my city, we're awesome, we do awesome things!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Everyone is here and ready to roll!

Keeping these hard waste finds together to take to my parents' house for my nieces to play with, was best done like this:

Spring


Friday, September 16, 2016

Make a laundry filter for microfibres

After reading about synthetic microfibres becoming marine microplastics I was inspired by Blair Jollimore to improvise a filter I sit in my laundry tub.

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Each wash catches about a pea sized amount - when compressed into a ball between my fingers - of wet fibres. We are running a front loading washing machine with the hose running into the laundry tub rather than straight down into a pipe. If you are doing the same then this set up should work for you.

I recommend checking occasionally to see how the water is draining throughout the first wash to ensure there is no risk of overflow. It is possible to collect the fibres as they clump while there is water in the tub. Scrape your fingernails across the strainer then pinch and you should be able to clear it enough to improve the drainage. Top loader users should exercise greater caution as they do use more water, and this system will slow down the draining of water from the laundry tub.

To make this simple, microfibre laundry filter I used an off the shelf sink strainer, an oversized press button and a cut up fry splatter guard* to make a rigid filter.

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The press button allows me to detach the filter to clean it out between washes. You can find oversized press buttons at a haberdashery store. A regular sized press button may still work depending on the strainer's holes, but could be fiddly to use.

I got the stainless steel sink strainer and splatter guard from an independent kitchenware store. The fine aluminium mesh of the splatter guard is easily cut with a box cutter style, snap blade, utility knife leaving an edge that is safe to handle. The gauge of the holes is approximately 1mm. I had previously tried cutting up an old stainless steel sieve but it proved difficult to do neatly, without injury and it was tricky to clean out as a result. A scrap of flyscreen mesh while not as fine at about 2mm gauge, should still catch some fibres. When cutting the circle of the filter, it's better to cut it slightly too big in diameter than too small, because you will ensure the strainer holes are completely covered.
Confession: mine is a fraction undersized but I haven't gotten around to cutting a bigger one yet.
Attach the filter behind/under the strainer. It will filter better and be easier to clean than if you put it on top.

 photo FilterAssembled_zpsbvsc5ehp.jpg

Alternately, you can make the filter and strainer in one - ie sans button and premade manufactured strainer, basically a super fine DIY sink strainer - but I find this doesn't sit as well in the drain hole, and is prone to distortion, requiring adjustment to ensure a good fit for each use.

Clear your filter while wet after each use, by rubbing your finger over the surface.
Always remember to lift the whole assembly out of the drain hole before carefully removing the press button halves.
Avoid removing mid wash if you want to catch the most fibres.
Due to its buoyancy, there are a lot of fibres in the suds which won't drain away the way they usually do. Allow all water and frothy suds to drain and dissipate away before retrieving filter.

On the left, an entire wash's fibres, scale in millimetres. 
On the right top down from another singular wash the fibres: in the suds left in the tub post wash; cleaned from the filter only post wash; scraped from the top of the filter during the wash.

*super fine mesh, aluminium screen used when frying food that spatters. The one I used was by Metaltex.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spell broccoli correctly!

Brocoli?
Broccolli?
Brocolli?
Broccoli?

Never mind that English is my first language - I have trouble remembering how many Cs versus how many Ls there are in the word broccoli. Sure, in this age of autocorrect and spellcheck it's less critical than it used to be, but what about your hand written shopping list, or wrapped up, plastic free produce you have labelled in your crisper?

Here is a handy typographic I have just come up with to help me spell broccoli correctly everytime. Remember :
You only need one L to make the stalk
The choicest broccoli has a nice big head in proportion to the stalk, so extra Cs!


Friday, September 02, 2016

Pasta Porn

On a pack of Italian pasta, this lovely, retro illustrated seal is disturbing in at least three ways.


Firstly there is a bit of Pasta Inception happening because she is holding another packet of pasta. The actual seal is on the back of the pack so it isn't visible in the illustration. I'm as disappointed as you are about that.


Secondly the act of unsealing the pack is a bit like ripping off her skirt due to the alignment of it and the pull tab. Weird is one word for it. A bit wrong might be another way of putting it. I wonder how a rape survivor would feel about it... 

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to the blue triangle under her knee - and the main reason why I'm writing 
ie. Where is her other leg and the rest of her skirt?!

Don't worry I have worked it out for you:


You're welcome.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Rejecting Plastic Bags

I don't claim to be living a plastic free life but I have made significant changes since participating in Plastic Free July last year. Do visit the site to learn more.

Here are my own top tips for rejecting single use plastic bags.

Take the plastic/rigid floor out of your reusable bags so you can fold them up smaller. 
Here is my folding technique as used on a cotton bag but it also works for any tote style reusable shopping bag.


  1. Lay it out flat.
  2. Fold the sides into line with the handles.
  3. Roll firmly into a cyclindrical shape from the base up to the handles.
  4. Take one handle in the opposite direction to the other, around the cylinder.
  5. Tie in a single, firm knot to secure.
  6. Done!
Keep at least one reusable bag in your car at all times.
Only buy what fits in that bag/s.

Be prepared but also be prepared for when you're not prepared. 

How?  
Keep a folded up reusable bag in your work bag/hand bag.
It could be one you have folded as above or a ready made, extra compact bag eg. I love my Envirosax retro robot print bag because it's compact, easy to fold, looks good (different prints brought out every year!), strong, holds a lot and can be carried on my shoulder like a tote bag. Another cool, totally plastic free option are old fashioned, cotton string bags.
When you don't have a bag, don't buy anything. You will save money if you can get by without it. If it turns out to be inconvenient because you have to carry it in your hands, or go out again, this will motivate you to get into the habit of having a bag.

Most fresh produce doesn't need to be stored in plastic bags let alone bought in them. 
You can go completely without any form of bag for things like apples, carrots etc. There are some items that are easier to manage - eg salad greens, cherries, beans, nuts - that you will need a bag of some sort for.

Re-use plastic net bags from previously bought oranges, onions and discount green groceries for all of your new purchases. Or buy/make some lightweight mesh bags which are necessary loose leaf greens and beans in particular. Keep some of these with the bag in your car, or the bag in your work bag/hand bag.
Re-use your existing plastic bags to store produce in fridge. Once you have exhausted those - if that is possible - here is a plastic free produce storage guide.

My own findings:
Broccoli will keep really well if the cut end of the stalk is kept in water - like a cut flower because that is what it is - and the whole thing is wrapped in a cotton cloth.
Celery can be temporarily stored in a tall jug or bucket of water outside of the fridge. For long term storage of cut up celery stalks, keep immersed in water in a sealed container  - thank you to my housemate S for that one!

Here is a guide to plastic free bin lining for those of us who want bin liners.
In smaller bins I arrange 3 or 4 sheets in a cross and push in to fill. To dispose of, I gather up the sides and twist firmly closed. Then I add another sheet if it looks like it won't make it intact into the garbage truck. I use this for (bagless Dyson) vaccuum cleaner contents and it's very effective.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Edible Weeds, Chickweed.

I got into edible weeds, and foraging in my garden via a book from CERES called Edible Weeds of Melbourne. You can find out more about it here.

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Chickweed growing in my garden. A seasonal weed, it is abundant during Winter coming into flower in late Winter, before dying off in Spring.

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Clockwise from top left: typical growth - note the pointed leaf tips and alternating leaf pairs along the stem, in bud, section of plant with some roots, in flower like a tiny daisy.

Forage harvesting can be done in one of two ways. If you have the time and have an abundance of chickweed, you could weed  it out of the places you don't want it and snip off the best tendrils from the root hub. Or, if you can't be bothered with that, just snip off what you need from the plant. The snipping method is also cleaner because you aren't disturbing any soil.

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Roughly chopped chickweed. While edible in lengths it's more palatable roughly chopped, and easier to stir through food.

After washing and draining, tip harvest into a pile on chopping board.
Make a some cuts across the pile in two directions to roughly chop it. You're are aiming to reduce the tendril lengths rather than end up with something finely chopped. It isn't necessary to be precise. That said, you might prefer a fine chop for your dish.

Use as you would spinach or any other greenery in its cooked form. I have it sautéed with garlic chives or garlic, wilted as an accompaniment to poached eggs, mixed into scrambled egg mixture, in curry, stir fried, wilted with pasta and pesto and a baked potato. The entire plant stems, flowers, and buds is fine to eat, but raw, only the fingernail-sized leaves are recommended and that is waaay too much mucking about for me!