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. 

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.

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

 photo chickweedPLANT_zpss9va4tb3.jpg
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.

 photo chickweedCHOPPED_zpsgsu5rw6f.jpg
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!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Flipping gymnastics

A local gym recently shut abruptly. They paper blacked out their windows and placed small notices saying 'end of lease' - but these 'Bad Moms' movie posters suggest a more complex narrative.