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.

Free Screening: “Bag It – Is Your Life Too Plastic?”

This is a documentary about an ordinary guy who looked around one day and realised – ‘Wow. I have a lot of plastic in my life’. So he set himself a simple goal – to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. This simple goal turned into an inspiring documentary that proves that you don’t need to be a scientist, politician or lawyer to use a little bit of knowledge to make a whole lot of difference. Take a look around. Is your life too plastic? How much are you wearing, touching, sitting on or at, typing on, chewing…

A quick lunchtime illustration on some old office paper

“Think about it, why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away. What’s up with that?”

– Jeb Berrier

The great thing about this documentary (directed by Suzan Beraza) is that it is inspiring and simple and sometimes downright funny. The ordinary guy – Jeb Berrier – is so accessible. He is easy to like and easier to relate too. Check out the trailer…

Tonight (Tuesday 7th February) there will be a free screening of the multi-award winning Bag it at the City of Fremantle Town Hall from 6pm to 8pm (doors open at 5:30pm). There will be light refreshments and a relaxed positive vibe – as there always is at these amazing Freo community gatherings. It is a great place for all ages – my mum will be my date tonight – and it is a great place to meet likeminded people and learn a little at the same time.

Plastic Free Freo (along with City of Fremantle and Ecoburbia) have been huge supporters of this screening of Bag It. Plastic Free Freo is an amazing campaign that is currently working with the Fremantle community (both the retailers and consumers) towards a more sustainable town with a lower carbon footprint. If the campaign is successful Fremantle will hopefully resume the role of ecological trendsetters and become the first town in Western Australia to impose a ban on single-use plastic bags. If you want to get involved with the campaign contact Plastic Free Freo here.

This doco is equally important whether you are informed about the plastic problem or just starting out on your journey towards a plastic free life. I look forward to seeing you down there.

Bag It Flyer

Here is a map of how to get there –

“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