Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta 2012

The annual Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta is clearly becoming a beautiful tradition for many West Aussie families! Held every September it is a massive celebration of those that have chosen to tread lighter on the planet. Whether you are looking for ideas on how to make your home a bit greener, tools that can make ‘eco choices’ a bit more accessible or you just want to get down and celebrate with good company, food and music – Hulbert Street has you covered. Here are some of my highlights from the day.

For a gold coin donation you are permitted entry into the festival and we were met with a sustainable red carpet! Anyone who chose to ride to the festival received the star treatment… a valeted bike parking service, complete with people cheering them down the red runway. I spoke to Rebecca from Freo Cycle Chic (she is also a professional Earthcarer!) and on their first day they parked a massive 150 bikes and judging by the growing queue they would be surpassing that record for the Sunday. 

There was loads of music and entertainment throughout the day including belly-dancing, singing, ukulele players as well as… well, I don’t know what you call this particular type of music so I will just call it ‘Plinky Plonky’ Music! Awesome atmosphere.

We then stumbled upon the Sustainabilitree (my favorite bit of the day). On recycled card love hearts people were asked to write down their green hopes and dreams and then tie them onto the branches of the tree. Not only did the tree look absolutely fabulous but it gave your heart that nice fuzzy feeling just reading all the comments. I get to meet my daughter in 9 weeks and I have always wanted to make a tradition where every morning she writes down something that she is grateful for! After seeing the Sustainabilitree I have decided that this will be how we do it and we will have our own magic tree in the home which we can use to cheer us up and remind us of how lucky we are.

Mine and my dear friend Kat’s ‘heart leaves’

There were also loads of yummy places and things to eat. There was a small fruit juice stand manned completely by under 12’s and they were making an absolute packet. For 50cents you good get a freshly squeezed, homegrown juice (Limeade was amazing) in a reusable plastic cup. After you finished your drink the little greenies washed up the cups and the cycle continued on. A traditional lemonade stand without those nasty single-use plastic cups.

Gorgeous hubby supping away on his Blood Orange and Tangello Juice in a reusable cup!

There were all sorts of amazing cuisines from El Salvadorian food (Tamales and Pupusa’s) to Spanish Quesadilla’s full of spinach and kidney beans and covered in herbs AKA yummy flat things with yummy things on top. But my fave of the day was the all natural icy poles. They had the most amazing flavours from Raspberry and Hibiscus, Salted Caramel and (the absolute winner in my books!) Cucumber, Lime and Chilli. Flavour explosion!

Orange and Rose vs. Cucumber Lime and Chilli… I WIN!

All along the street were educational stalls which not only had the adults looking but seemed to have so many kids interested as well! I feel like I am officially getting old when I start commenting on how great it is to see young kids getting so interested in living sustainably. But hell – get me my walking cane and tea cosy…. if that makes me old I am cool with it. Taking of awesome older folk, I also spied the cutest Sunday Best hats ever…

A young chap pondering the importance of renewable energy!

And of course there were also the Hulbert Street House Tours. Homes literally opened up their doors allowing anyone and everyone inside to inspect how they live and provide inspiration for people to draw upon for their own homes. From edible landscapes to underground water tanks (for particularly squishy urban blocks) these homes really demonstrate that you don’t need to live on a massive plot of land to become largely self-sustaining!

An idea that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED and hope to be able to implement on my own street one day was the book exchange. What a great way to bring a community together and instill a feeling of trust amongst it! Just a simple tin shed, full of books that anyone can borrow at any time. Functioning off a self monitored Honesty Policy I think it may just be the cutest library I have ever visited.

And on top of all that it was just a lovely place to be with family and friends. We were lucky enough to spend with day with a super gorgeous family comprised of my very dear friend Kat (from Eco Empire), her fusband and her mischievous little 4-month Fox. We were able to roam the streets and I even managed to get a roadside tutorial from her about Cloth Nappies – yep, I had never seen (let alone changed) a real life nappy before! I am about to get a baptism of fire. All in all it was a fabulous day. If you haven’t gotten down there before I sincerely recommend you block out some time for next year. It is a wonderful event that really renews your passion and hope in community togetherness.

Me and Kat

A very cute fam!

Oh… neck tickles are just the best!

With my lovebug.

Oh and word to the wise… do not leave anything unattended or you run the risk of … YARN BOMBING.

Plastic Free July – Take the Challenge!

Plastic is literally taking over the planet. Wherever you are right now stop and have a look around. How much plastic can you see near you? Then take into account the plastic that you can’t see – plastic in cosmetics, clothing material and in your chewing gum (yep, it is made of plastic!). Then there is landfill. Now go further – think about our oceans. We have basically created a thin soup of plastic that touches every corner of the globe. It doesn’t have to be this way though – it is easy enough to change habits and shift demand towards better, kinder alternatives. As always it starts with the individual – so here is an encouraging kick-in-the-butt to get started! One of my favourite Perth organisations Western Earth Carers have started Plastic Free July; a challenge that anyone can partake in to try and reduce their dependency on plastic.

Why Give Up Plastic?

What resonates most to me when I think about why we should all try to eliminate plastic from our lives is this; we are using a material that is designed to last forever to create items that are designed to be thrown away. That just doesn’t make sense. Think about the lifespan of a lollipop wrapper for example, the plastic is made using precious oils and gases (both non-renewable resources) it is ripped off without a thought and is thrown away. But where is ‘away’? Away is landfill or our waterways where it then kills animals, pollutes the ecosystem and eventually breaks down into microscopic particles that are ingested into the food chain (which ends with us).

And, more directly, there are also all the links between plastics and serious disease such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical that is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics. Our use of BPA is so prolific that a study detected it in the urine of 93% of the population over 6 years of age. The convenience and ‘economical’ nature of this material is literally killing us (and the planet) and the real tragedy is that it is completely unnecessary. There are so many opportunities to recycle, reuse and – best yet – reduce by using biodegradable alternatives. But while we continue to accept the status quo, nobody is going to change anything.

(If you want to learn more about plastic pollution then check out this quick and bloody interesting You Tube video featuring Charles Moore – the man that discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1997).

The Challenge

Here are the rules;

  • For the entire month of July attempt to buy no plastic packaging.
  • Choose your commitment level – either 1 shopping trip, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.
  • Create a ‘Dilemma Bag’. This will be your sin bin, used to collect any plastics that you accidentally accumulate or couldn’t avoid. At the end of the challenge Earth Carers have requested that everyone sends in a picture of your dilemma bag.

I will be committing to the entire month and I really hope that if you decide to give it a go that you push yourselves! It is not a competition, it is a challenge. If you accidentally consume plastic that is okay – just stick  it in that bag.

When I first found out that I was pregnant I was at a loss at how on earth I was going to get through nine months without my customary Saturday night champagne (not to mention my equally important Sunday through to Friday red wines?) but now that I am used to it, it is actually really easy. I am confident it will be the same with this challenge. Who knows… it might stick?

Take the leap!

Come on… Be brave! Make a concerted effort to do what is best for the planet and your health and register with tfor the challenge here. They also have a Facebook page with all sorts of updates and encouragement.

But don’t stop there – get your family involved, put some information on the fridge in your workplace, form a pact with your partner. The more people that are involved the pool of creative minds to bounce idea’s and tips off.

I wanted to include this gorgeous TedX by Beth Terry who founded My Plastic Free Life (a fabulous resource). In it she explains the moment that made her stop and change direction, her experience so far and her tips and tricks on reducing her plastic consumption. She is so inspirational because she is so normal. Absolutely gorgeous.

Start Planning

This is not the sort of thing that you can just jump into without at least a little bit of preparation. I am going to make sure that I provide plenty of resources and recipes to help you out.  Stay tuned for my next post which will contain instruction on exactly how to prepare yourself and your household for the challenge. In the meantime here is an old post with tips and tricks on reducing consumption or you could take a deeper look at the effects of plastic to really get you motivated.

If you are in Perth the Western Earth Carers also have a whole heap of events to provide inspiration and information like an introductory workshop before the challenge starts,  a screening of Bag It, a wholefood cooking class with Jude Blereau and a finale party to celebrate your efforts!

For Em’s follow up post 5 Steps To Being Plastic Free click here

Free Outdoor Movie: End of the Line (7th March 2012)

Imagine a world without fish.

That is the tagline of The End Of The Line – a movie that changed the way the world looked at seafood. The Economist describes it (accurately) as “The Inconvenient Truth about the oceans”. I have described the effects of over-fishing in my blog post today but for a short-track option watch the trailer below to see for yourself…

Tomorrow this incredibly powerful movie will be screened by the Western Earth Carers – that fabulous organisation that brought us the Less Is More Festival. Bring your own picnic (set yourself a challenge to go plastic free) and have a look into what you can do to minimise your contribution to our badly damaged oceans.

This is not a doomsday movie. It is an important resource that we all should see to understand how we can move forward and away from the looming disaster. This is not a film telling you to never eat fish again. Charles Clover who wrote the film still eats fish himself but is selective. Knowledge is power.

Sustainable Fishing expert Associate Professor Dr Jeremy Prince will present and  provide some credible insight to Australian fisheries which will be extremely interesting. Bring your family and friends and get informed.

Date:   Wednesday 7 March, 2012
Time:   6.00pm Picnic
7.00pm Screening and presentation

Place:  WMRC Administration Building outside on the lawn (For building map click here)

Cnr Marine Pde and Warton St, Cottesloe (For street map click here)
BYO:    Picnic and rug/beach chair etc

 

The Less Is More Write-Up

Earth Carers run yet another gorgeous community event.

Anyone that follows this blog, my Facebook or my Twitter would know that I was pretty damn excited about the Less Is More Festival that happened on Saturday. It has now been and gone and I can tell you all – I was not disappointed. It was a glorious day full of great people, ideas, food and workshops.

Festival organiser, Claire Litton, chats with arrivals

The festival organiser (hot-pink haired sensation, Claire Litton) should feel very proud to have fulfilled her objective; to show people how to consume less but enjoy more. I sat through a few workshops (and  poked my head into some too) and learnt something from each one. The classes were all buzzing with conversation with the presenter providing a framework but the crowd sharing their stories and tips. There was such a feeling of community.

Shani explains that you need to check your essential oil is food grade!

My fave class was definitely Shani Graham’s (from Ecoburbia and The Painted Fish) tutorial on DIY toothpaste and deodorant. Shani did a quick survey on why we were all there and it was lovely to hear so many people taking a stand against some of the unnecessary and downright unhealthy elements of modern day consumption. Too much packaging, animal testing, concerns for human health or a commitment to living organically.

"Is is meant to be this gooey?"

After the introductions Shani (like a mad scientist in her lab) started showing off the DIY ingredients. Bicarb soda, essential oils, corn flour, sea salt… no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate here! With recipe sheets in hand we all started shovelling salt and bicarb into our jars and dripping in coconut oils and glycerine. It was almost like year 8 science class and we were all testing out different concoctions and questioning whether we had the right consistency. Walking away from the class I realised something really nice – I now never have to give Colgate a cent of my money every again! (**I have been using my DIY cosmetics since the festival and I am absolutely loving it! For a recipe to make you own toothpaste click here).

My finished product! Peppermint Toothpaste.

After that I went for a bit of a wander and saw people making their own ginger beer, mango ketchup (Wow – delicious!) and even sanitary pads. I ended up in a workshop that is close to my heart… how to live plastic free. Fremantle couple Nathan and Jess (find them at Plastic Freo) have decided to go one whole year without plastic and they spoke about the challenges that they had already encountered and gave tips on how to go about reducing your plastic intake. As a dairy addict, Jess now has to order her milk ahead of time from Perth Organics as it comes in a glass bottle. As yoghurt only seems to come in plastic they have also learnt how to make yoghurt from it. They were a bloody inspiring young couple and have certainly given me some ideas on how to eliminate plastic completely from the Ehlers household. All in all I know that it is going to take effort, discipline and some organisation but I feel confident that I am up for the challenge. (Apparently the Fremantle Council is too – check out the Plastic Free Freo campaign).

Jess from Plastic Free gives a presentation

There were loads more classes that I didn’t manage to get to. If you went to one that I didn’t and want to share it please leave a comment. All in all it was an absolutely fabulous festival that really showed creative ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Personally I have taken a lovely lesson from it – I have realised that I need to slow down a bit and get back to basics. So on that note, I had friends over for afternoon tea and they sat down to vegetables with two homemade dips (beetroot and capsicum & walnut) followed by a warm slice of banana and cranberry bread. It tasted all the better knowing that I made it myself.

Less packaging = More homemade

Scroll down for more pics of the festival.

Cute kids game - Instead of Snakes and Ladders it was "Worms and Shute's"

Making concoctions

My finished toothpaste... mmm Peppermint!

My deodorant and the ingredients

Cooking lessons to make...

... Mango Ketchup. Nom Nom Nom

Ginger Beer making class.

Less Is More Festival – Saturday 18th February

Illustration by Clare Long

I am absolutely loving how many amazing eco events are popping up around Perth nowadays. We have turned into a city of ‘doers’; people have stopped waiting for the action to come to them and are instead creating it for themselves. The community has become so proactive and so supportive of anyone that has a desire to do more; more recycling, more learning, more teaching, more green get-togethers! In accordance with this new movement (a revolution where knowledge is power), an amazing green actionist from Perth has addressed one of the weird paradoxes of sustainability: Sometimes to do a hell of a lot more you need to focus your attention on doing a hell of a lot less. Enter the ‘Less is More Festival’.

The hero of our story is Claire Litton who has organised this fabulous festival with an amazing point of difference… NO MONEY ALLOWED. Have you ever heard of an event organiser stipulating such a ridiculous caveat? But as Claire sums up beautifully on her blog;

“You can’t buy the things that are really important!”

This wonderful anti-consumerist festival is about teaching ways that we can all consume less and reuse more.  There will be a number of workshops from various inspirational Perth greenies showing practical ways to apply the three R’s to your daily life – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and yes, that is in order of importance).

You can find the full list of workshops here but here are a few of my favourites;

Living Plastic Free

A young couple (Jess and Nathan)  discuss how they went plastic free for a whole year. This is particularly pertinent to me as I have (today in fact) started my own 365 days of going completely plastic free *gulp*. I am also the Online Campaigner for Plastic Free Freo campaign so it will be great to meet some inspirational people that are leading a plastic free life.

Upcycling

We are a culture obsessed with throw-away fashion. A 2005 study found that Australians spent $10.5billion on clothes that are disposed of after a short amount of time because of passing fads or poor quality.  Learn how to create a completely new and fashionable wardrobe from your old clothes or op-shop finds. Agnes will have hands-on activities and an informal presentation. People can watch but are also encourage to bring something to upcycle. Look through your cupboard… be brutal.

MYO Toothpaste and Deodorant

One of Perth’s loudest voices for living sustainably (and a favourite of mine) Shani Graham from Ecoburbia will be showing everyone how to make your own toothpaste and deodorant with standard ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry! You must bring two small jars for this so you can take your DIY products home with you.

Homemade Ginger Beer

NOM! Learn how to make your own Ginger Beer with Ronan and Rebecca. Not only will this recipe save you the empty calories of your standard soda’s but will also save hundreds of plastic bottles every year.

Those are just a few of my faves but there are plenty more. To get the most out of the day see the timetable here and plan ahead.

Kids

This is a family friendly event but there will still be some workshops that are for the adults only – so best to check with Claire beforehand if you are curious. This being said there are also events specifically for the littlies. The fabulous Eco Faeries (possibly the cutest organisation in the world) will be wandering round provide fun for the kids and getting them involved in sustainable games, interactive art and even a sustainable children’s story time at 10:30am.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;

we borrow it from our children”

~ Chief Seattle

Summary

I am so excited about this festival. I hope you are too. Here are the details;

10am – 4pm
Saturday 18 February 2012
The Grove Community Centre
1 Leake Street, Peppermint Grove

“Plasticized” Movie Premiere

The crowd gathering before the movie

On Friday night (13th Jan) the amazing crew at Hulbert Street managed to add another gorgeous green get-together to their list of achievements. As arguably one of the greenest streets in Australia, Hulbert is often a central meeting place for community events that are focused on creating awareness about environmental issues and living sustainably. With the zany Tim and Shani Graham at the helm, Hulbert is fast becoming a Mecca for environmental education in Perth.

Shani Graham (The Painted Fish)

Even with all this eco street cred though, the greater Hulbert community managed to outdo itself last week by not only premiering an eye-opening and inspirational documentary but also reeling in the Director for a mingle and some questions. Special mention goes to absolute eco-babe Lisa (Head Campaigner for Plastic Free Freo) who recognised the powerful message in Plasticized after seeing it in Melbourne and set about organising its Western Australian premiere. The unexpectedly young and unduly anxious Director, Michael Lutman, flew over from his adopted home of Melbourne (a San Fran native) to personally introduce the documentary and then answer questions after the screening. Judging by the rip-roaring applause at the end of the movie he can stop feeling so nervous about how his debut film will be received…

High-tech Cinema Screen doubles as Bed Sheet!

The Documentary

Plasticized is a documentary that shows the insidious reality that is plastic pollution in our oceans. Braving almost 31 days of sea-sickness and some fairly gnarly weather Lutman set off with a team of researchers from the 5 Gyres Institute aboard the Seadragon to examine the reach and effect of plastic in our oceans – the global impact of our plastic addiction!

I expected lots of shocking images of marine animals with bags in their bellies or round their throats and while there was an element of that what I was met with instead was a much more scientific and – surprisingly – much more shocking body of work. What Lutman does a fantastic job of explaining is that it is not just the visible scars bobbing on our horizons that we need to worry about but what they breakdown into. Our plastic rubbish is breaking down into ‘nurdles’ and creating (in Lutman’s own words);

“a plastic soup of confetti”

But instead of me yabbering on about it I’ll just embed the trailer so you can see for yourself –

The Scene

The dress code was “Recycled Black Tie” so my hubby and I had hit the op-shops earlier in the week to find some suitable attire. For $6 I managed to snag a gorgeous little black cocktail dress and Mark was equally successful with his $15 dress jacket. On arrival we realised we may have taken the brief a bit seriously as there were an awful lot of boardies and singlets – but we did get props from Shani who asked me to stand up in front of the crowd and do a twirl for my effort. Tim was the one that really brought the goods though, looking dashing in shorts, a singlet and a tie.

Friendly old fella – wandering around the crowds

At the very end of the cul-de sac (right outside The Painted Fish) sat a group of around 200 people on picnic rugs, deck chairs or just their bums. Loads and loads of bikes scattered around the street. Dogs were roaming around politely introducing themselves and it was a very chilled out vibe. We laid out our picnic rug, I took off my shoes and poured some champagne into some recycled jars – no plastic picnic cups for us thanks!

Who needs a flute when you have a jar?

The Event

Amazingly the first people that approached us were Mike and Lisa. It is so lovely to meet people who are unabashedly enthusiastic and passionate about their work. There was nothing nonchalant about it – just massive smiles and some nerves at the ever-growing crowd. I started speaking to another fellow who was absolutely lovely and halfway through the conversation (when the tipsy little stone dropped) I realised that it was in fact Brad Pettitt – the Mayor of Fremantle. After I stopped jumping up and down with excitement – cool as a cucumber I know! – we had a good chat about how progressive Fremantle is and he seemed very proud to be part of it and very modest about how vital his part has been (and continues to be).

Me and Michael Lutman (Director)

There were loads of familiar faces from all sorts of great organisations such as Sea Shepherd (the gorgeous Britta) and Animal Rights Advocates (the amazing Kim). If you want to immerse yourself in the grassroots of green campaigning these events are such a great place to meet with, chat to, bounce ideas off or just absorb some hippy vibes at.

Lisa (Plastic Free Freo), Brad Pettitt (Mayor of Freo), Mark (Spunky Husband) and Mike (Director)

Britta (Sea Shepherd)

My Overview

This documentary changed the way that I thought about plastic pollution in our oceans. In my simple mind there was a simple solution. We just needed to go out to these plastic islands and remove them from our oceans right? Not the case. Those nurdles that I mentioned earlier are breaking down into smaller pieces – I’m talking microscopic – and are floating through every part of our ocean. Being ingested by marine animals large and small. And then being caught and ending up as dinner around the world. As Michael says on the Plasticized website;

“With every nation, rich or poor, reaching further for dwindling resources at any cost, it is perplexing to see how we neglect one of our most precious and vital assets, the Ocean” – Michael Lutman

The whole point of the movie is that prevention is better than a cure. This documentary has motivated me to completely eradicate plastic from my life. I was not the only one – I bumped into Britta the next day searching for shampoo that didn’t come in a plastic bottle – she found a shampoo bar! Plastic bags and cling-wrap left my life long ago but I am now looking for bigger better ways. This whole week I will be dedicating my blog to articles about plastic and how we can avoid it. If you have any great ideas, let me know (via comments or at oliveonblonde@gmail.com) and I will research them further!

If you see Plasticized being advertised near you I highly recommend you go and see it! I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to start getting a lot of amazing press the more people that see it, talk about it or hear about it.

You could go one better and request a screening for your community! Here are some more pics from the movie…

Sustainable transport – bikes everywhere!

Happiest dog in the world!

Shani and the Freo Red Carpet!

Mike (Director), Me (Me) and Brad Pettitt (Freo Mayor)

Happy chappys!

Lisa taking to the stage!

Mike fielding questions from the audience