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.

We Did It!!! Plastic Free July Is Over.

Sorry about the illustration quality… a quick lunchtime squiggle then rendered with a very outdated Paint program! :)

Well, we made it! Today is 1st August which officially draws to a close the Ehlers household’s Plastic Free July Challenge. What an unbelievable month it has been; challenging, eye-opening, exciting, comical and – at times – infuriating! If I tried to get down everything that happened to me this month then we’d need a virtual Falcor to ride through the Never Ending Blog-Story so instead I am going to try get this down to some fairly succint (for me anyway) points. Here is my list of moments and lessons…

Wins

The health kick! Pre-July I was convinced that I only ate wholefoods. Really, there were quite a few things that were slipping through – the sort of things that had numbers in their ingredients list. I have now learnt to make so many things from scratch (I have listed and provided links for some of them below!).

Chips and Gravy (or as I like to call it Yay-vy). My work friend and I like to have chips and gravy to celebrate Friday. We get it from a small deli that is always busy and sells many deep fried food-like substances. I did not think that they would be overly supportive of my challenge but they were amazing. They even started teasing my friend about the fact that he did not bring his own container. Win. Hot saucy win.

Fails

  • Berries. I have not been able to find any breed of berry (unless you count cherries) that is not somewhat plastic wrapped. Trying to recreate some awesome childhood memories, I researched ‘pick your own’ farms but there aren’t any in Perth – boo! I even visited three seperate farmers markets and called two organic delivery services to ask if I could have my berries sans plastic and have them reuse the container. Sadly they all said they would probably just throw away the container. Yeah I’d get them plastic free but that’s hardly the point is it? My only solution here is to grow my own… which I have been wanting to do for years now anyway so I guess I should count it as a win?
  • Straws. Those sneaky buggers got me every single time! When my lust for berries became too much I would head to our pub and get myself a berry mocktail. Maybe it was karma for cheating because every time I forgot to mention “No Straws” and not one but TWO would arrive with the drink. So pointless. I have now ordered some stainless steel straws to add to my plastic free kit.
  • Rice and/or Oat Milk. See below.

Funniest

For context it is important to note that I am pregnant. So imagine the face of my coworker when he asked me what I would do for plastic free milk and I cheerfully replied;

“I am just going to make my own and drink that”

His face was the most perfect mix of shock and disgust that I am giggling while I type. I was of course referring to trying out nut milk (like this recipe here). I didn’t have success with my cashew milk but I will continue to try other recipes.

Worst

Day 3. I spoke about it in this post summing up Week 1 but to recap; the true scale of the plastic dilemma we are in hit me. Hard. Sifting through the aisles and finding perfectly good glass jars shrink-wrapped in plastic, seeing plastic straws wrapped in plastic and not being able to see one trolley (bar mine) with reusable shopping bags in it. Too much for this hormonal little beast. But my mum (counselor/hypnotherapist/all-round awesome lady) has always told me that the 3rd of anything is always the biggest hurdle. For example it is very common for smokers or dieters to relapse on the third day, week, month or year. So maybe this was just that first hurdle?

Apples belong in tummies and trees NOT plastic

Frustrating

Week 2 brought us Ehlers’s a real challenge. Hubby’s birthday meant we had to host 3 seperate dinner parties for the 3 sets of parents. First lunch, Parent “A” asked what they could bring. Feeling awkward about it anyway my hubby explained the challenge and then suggested a garden salad; knowing that was Level 1 in terms of plastic free ease. A plastic wrapped lettuce, a punnet of mushrooms, two polystyrene trays of tomatoes and mandarins all carried in a plastic bag. Jaws literally hit floor. Not one of those items needed to be in plastic… in fact they are the easiest items to get without!

“All great changes are preceded by chaos”

                                                             -Deepak Chopra

Parent “B” is equally well-intentioned and will never leave my house without lamenting that my fridge looks scarce and then proceeding to fill it with whatever goodies she can find (read; packaged nom noms). First world problems? Entirely. In no way am I anything but grateful for the fact that we have such generous, beautiful parents looking out for us! What I am frustated about is that for Parent A and B (who don’t have the word PLASTIC running through their mind 24/7 x 365) these choices were the easiest and most acceptable choices. This perceived convenience is a farce – having more rubbish in your home that has taken time and energy to create and ship is not more convenient than handling only loose produce and putting the peel in your compost. We need a massive paradigm shift!

Innovations

I have concocted and experimented and facilitated and implemented so many little innovations in my life and home that I have decided to dedicate part of my blog to it. When I get a spare minute I will be changing the menu’s and have a designated plastic category that will be chock-a-block full of resources, recipes and ideas. Here are some of the changes I have made – they won’t be the last!;

  • DIY Toothpaste – this is a winner. See the recipe here.
  • Make Your Own Cleaning Products. Good for you, good for the environment! Recipes here.
  • DIY Deodorant – easy and so much healthier than the chemical alternatives! Recipe coming very soon.
  • Lots of beauty products like this Facial Cleanser (made from cucumber!) or this simple herbal toner!
  • Get yourself a wrapping pile! I managed to wrap this present using only waste paper that I have save from previous occassions.

  • Or you can make pretty wrapping out of old magazines like this one!
  • Paleo (grain and dairy free) Pizza Crust. Recipe coming very soon.
  • We very rarely put any rubbish into our green bin now and we reuse so much more – whether it is plastic or not! We have a bucket plus a Bokashi Bin for our green waste so we can compost it and use it to enrich our soils. We have a bucket for recyclables. We have storage space for reusables. You would be amazed at the things you can make from old aluminium cans or toilet rolls. Will share the photo’s soon.

Getting a small green waste bin makes it easy to put on your kitchen bench while you cook. Just put the scraps in there and then ferry out to your compost bin! Simple.

Habits

The best new habit I have adopted is certainly “Take 3”. Readers of this blog will be aware of my long standing admiration for environmentalist Tim Silverwood (follow his blog here) and his organisation, Take 3. Quoting directly from their website

“the Take 3 message is simple: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference”

Rubbish from a 30 minute beach walk. TAKE 3!!!

How simple. I always used to take whatever plastic I could hold from the beaches but not I take down a reusable bag and fill it while I walk (whether I am on the beach or not). It only takes one plastic bag to kill a dolphin so I know I am making a difference. I love this campaign by Take 3;

(Here is one my favorite posts from Tim. This post really inspired me to be a bit brave and approach people that I see doing the wrong thing. Be strong and try to educate. Some people may just be oblivious… others may just be old dogs).

Advice

Assemble a Plastic-Free Survival Kit

Make sure you always have on hand whatever plastic free alternatives you may need – a BYO coffee cup, your own knife and fork, your own food container (for chips and yay-vy), a water bottle and/or reusable bags. If you don’t want to lug them around leave the pack where you need it ie; your car or work desk.

Find Great Suppliers and Support Them.

Once you find those stores/suppliers that help you live plastic-free support them! Firstly, it makes it easier on yourself. Secondly, it sets the example of voting with your dollar. It also makes me feel like my grandma must’ve – you know, where they knew suppliers by their first names and actually conversed with them about the produce. My husband will always support our local butcher because they were so supportive of his challenge… one of them went absolutely gang-busters and threw his plastic gloves to the wind and was in there with his hands. A madman – but funny nonetheless. I will but a list up in the coming weeks of the best places to shop plastic free in WA. I will always patronize Planet Ark in Fremantle and Kakula’s  Brothers and Sisters (Perth and Freo stores, respectively). This being said while your ol faithful’s should be supported it is also vital that we…

Speak Up. 

Being interviewed for Western Earth Carers, reflecting on my journey.

I was SO inspired by the Western Earth Carers regular ‘Plastic-Free’ weekly newsletter that was circulated to keep our spirits high. Within one of those newsletters (which for the life of me I cannot find in my inbox) were stories about people who had seen unnecessary plastic being used and had written to the companies to explain why this was a problem and suggest alternative solutions.  If companies do not know there is a demand for something they will not change it so make sure you let them know. This inspired my husband to write to the brand he uses for his Ventalin (and unavoidable plastic casing). He wanted to know why it was that they cannot just provide the canister new to be inserted into the plastic shell rather than having to throw it all away each time. I will update you as soon as we hear back.

Future

Now that it is August I guess I could lock all these experiences away in a dark dark memory box and pretend it never happened but the reality is I am forever changed. I have had a plastic wake up call and I don’t want to go back now. In fact I think that a month is actually the perfect transition time. It takes a month for all your little changes to really settle into an effortless routine.

The big change I have taken from this is a serious interest in ‘growing my own’. My husband and I are planning an entire week off this month to turn our garden into an edible sanctuary. Before I was formulating so many different ideas and options for the layout that really I was just procrastinating the whole plan into oblivion. What a great kick in the butt.

SO… I’d love to hear from you. How did you go? Challenges? Best changes to your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments…

If you liked this article you may like some of my other plastic related posts…

Big News, Little Facelift and A Whole New View

Well it has been quite a while since I got my blogging clogs on… two whole months in fact. And my, my how much can change in such a short time! Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to all the little emails and messages that I got, checking I was still alive and greening. I am! And after a two month interlude I feel that not only should I give a bit of an explanation on where the hell I’ve been but also a re-launch of sorts. I am taking the blog in a slightly different direction and wanted to explain how I got there and the little journey I have been on.

The Big News

Back in March I started feeling really sick and really tired. There are some fairly obvious deductions a young lady can make about those symptoms and after a quick dash to the chemist it was confirmed – we are expecting a little bundle of joy! My gorgeous husband and I are ridiculously excited about the bub but I have encountered one not-so-tiny drawback… morning sickness. Except it was actually all-day-all-night sickness! This is not the type of green I like to promote on my blog! So even though I have been dying to update my blog I have been completely incapacitated. My amazing husband has seriously picked up the slack and has basically spent the past few weeks carting in buckets and buckets of raspberries – Hero! Slowly, slowly it is starting to get better though so it is onwards and outwards from here my friends!

Nicknamed Yertle.

The Move

In some weird collision of fate my little family has made the move back into the home we own rather than our gorgeous shabby rental in Freo. The timing was partly perfect (due to the impending expansion of our brood) but also a tad upsetting as Secret Harbour is a decidedly less eco suburb. I have moved past the devastation though and I am now actually really excited about this new challenge! In Fremantle it is expected and oh, so easy to be environmentally friendly. Don’t get me wrong, that is fab, but my blog is about encouraging people to be sustainable which includes a large amount of people who may not have all the resources conveniently at their fingertips! I am now one of those people. I will be constantly reminded about how hard choosing the more sustainable, ethical option can be for some people and therefore will make sure I give as many options, ideas and resources as possible.

We have set sail for the coast.

What does this all mean for the blog?

Even though I have been splitting my time between moving house and vomiting (charming beast aren’t it?) it has, in a way, been great having a bit of time away from the blog. It has given me time to look from afar, think about what I enjoy writing about most, seeing which posts you guys like reading the most and just pondering how I want to approach life in general. Here is what I came up with…

More Positive Posts

In the past I have undertaken massive and draining articles about huge issues like the other GFC (the Global Fish Crisis) or Palm Oil. The main reason I wrote these was because before looking at how to change bad habits, I like to ensure I am absolutely the full bottle on the issue myself. I used it almost as a self-education process. But one thing I have noticed is that even though the posts are important, reading about catastrophe after catastrophe can be, well, bloody depressing. I also found it made me narrow-minded and a bit cockeyed really – a Green Nazi if you will.

We definitely all need to make sure we know exactly what is happening in the world – knowledge is power – but I think it is also SO important to focus on what we can do as well as acknowledging the good that is being done already. Use success stories as your cheer squad – prevent that completely unconstructive feeling of hopelessness. So while I will touch on the nitty gritty I will mainly focus on what we can all do to avoid contributing negatively to the planet. This being said… there will be the occasional issue that I won’t be able to pass on – Monsanto, I’m looking at you punks!

There’s still a whole lotta beauty in the world!

Health Focus (With Occasional Baby Bits)

I want to make my house the perfect healthy environment for a little munchkin to grow up in which for me equates to no chemicals, organic food and a happy lifestyle. And – according to Mrs Obama – that means being selfish and looking after myself! This is a new concept to me. So I am looking forward to exploring and experimenting with natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, possibly throwing away the TV and cooking foods from scratch. And updating my blog with the progress of course.

More DIY and Upcycling

Now that I am in my own home I am able to renovate, retrofit and plant! I have so many projects that I just didn’t have space for in the last place so I am really excited to now have the ability. Hopefully I can give ideas on simple DIY ways to be more sustainable (eg; growing your own food) as well as fun ways to reduce your impact (like making your own products, furniture and art). I will also commit to using as many (if not all) recycled and reclaimed materials rather than just being one of those craft blogs that just goes out and buys everything new!

Bunting… or “Funting” if you will?

And Finally…

In keeping with the selfish theme I am just going to start enjoying life a bit more. Get out there exploring (with my camera always in tow so that I can share my virtual picture album). Be happy. Read some books. Draw.  Smooch my husband a bit more. Take the scenic route. Marvel at simple beautiful things… like strawberries! Choose some crazy wallpaper just because it makes me laugh. Read Dr Seuss every day. Judge less. Do more for animals. Finally, hug that Boab in Kings Park (his name is George). Celebrate the good that is being done rather than mourning all the bad. I have come to the conclusion that a smile will change a lot more minds than a big, ranting frown will! So here goes.

Barefoot and without a care in the world.

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what the inspiration is behind this sudden perspective change then please take some time out and watch the video below. Alice Herz Sommer provided me with a virtual kick in the arse. When I’m 108 I want to be just like her…

“I look where it is good. I know about the bad, but I look at the good thing” 

– Alice Herz Sommer, Happiest Woman In The World! 

Carrotmob – Rewarding Local Green Businesses!

Have you been seeing all the posters around town or all the Facebook posts? It seems Perth is being over-run by… carrots. But what is a Carrotmob and why should I even care? I managed to get to the bottom of it after chatting with the amazing Dom Berry – a campaigner for Carrotmob Perth

From the Carrotmob Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/CarrotmobPerth

So, what the hell is a Carrotmob?

In a Carrotmob campaign, a group of people offer to spend their money to support a business, and in return the business agrees to take an action that the people care about. Instead of organizing boycotts, we offer to spend money as a group if a business agrees to make a socially responsible change.

We are called Carrotmob because we use the “carrot” instead of the “stick” method of encouraging behavior. Traditionally, people who wanted to influence businesses would threaten or attack them. We believe people can have more influence on businesses by giving them a positive incentive to change: our money.

The crazy part is that it actually works! Carrotmob organizers have already created a growing movement, with over 175 campaigns all over the world! Join us.

Here is a great little animation that shows exactly how organised consumer purchasing can change business…

Why should we take the time to vote?

Carrotmob is the perfect project for the ‘slacktivist’, people who care about an issue but are only willing to put in a minimum amount of effort. Voting online and then going out to eat and drink at the winning venue on mob day, requires minimum effort and will directly result in positive change. We tend to forget how much power and influence we have as consumers. As a community we can choose to reward those business’ that are doing the right thing and avoid the ones that are not doing their part to minimise their carbon footprint.

When will the mob take place?

Voting closes this Sunday the 18th March so there are only a few days remaining! So watch the videos and vote here! Then we will be working with the winning venue to determine which date works best for them. We are aiming for the first week of April.

How did the businesses react when you approached them about the Carrotmob?

It was very mixed, some saw the potential of the project straight away; lots of free marketing and then the possibility of additional revenue, and immediately said ‘where do I sign up?’. Others showed an alarming lack of concern or interest for anything related to sustainability… Although I’d love to name and shame them, I’ll just say that many of the high profile bars and restaurants in Perth that are charging top dollar, don’t even recycle their glass bottles and literally throw hundreds into landfill ever day! Most people wanted to do the right thing but didn’t really know how so there seems to be a major lack of information and education out there.

I have noticed that all these restaurants are in the Perth City area. Will there be more mobs in more suburbs once this round one has finished?

For this particular project we submitted an application for an environmental grant to the City of Perth. We were awarded the grant and therefore the competition needed to be run in the City of Perth boundaries. We have a lot of feedback from people that have voted that have requested more information on holding their own Carrotmob, which is exactly what we were hoping for! It is designed so that anyone can do it, even if you don’t have a budget. We certainly hope that people like what we are doing and would like to carry it on in their local area!

So why do you think it is so important that consumers choose to buycott rather than boycott?

I think anything that has a positive reinforcement is going to work better than something which is negative. It just feels nicer when everybody wins. Lets face it consumers can’t live with out providers and visa versa, so we should work together for the greater good of all.

“Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites”  

~ William Ruckelshaus, Business Week, 18 June 1990

Something I have noticed is that consumers complain that businesses use unsustainable practices so they have no choice but to buy ‘bad’ products yet businesses complain that consumers don’t want to pay the extra cost that is sometimes associated with choosing ethically. Seems to be a chicken or the egg situation. Who do you think needs to take the first step?

I really commend businesses that pave the way to change, it can mean isolating yourself in the beginning and perhaps having a niche market for a period of time, but as the demand for sustainable products and services grows, so will the supply and in turn they will become more available at a more affordable price. As for consumers, I understand what it is like to be on a budget and if you can just get a few items or services when you shop that are sustainable it all helps towards the shift we are aiming for. In the documentary Food Inc, they mention that when you go to the check out, you are voting for what you want to see on the shelf, that really resonated with me.

What are your top tips for becoming an ethical consumer?

  • Start local! Support local business – it’s great for the community and it cuts down on that carbon footprint.
  • STOP using plastic bags! Plan ahead, take your own bag, or ask for a box at the shop.
  • Don’t buy bottled water, get a reusable non-plastic vessel. Same goes for take away coffee, get a keep cup.
  • Ask at your local restaurants, bars, cafes what they are doing, do they have a ‘Green mission statement’. The more people that ask about these things, the more owners will realise it is of importance and will get in the market for your ethically, sustainably conscious business.
  • REDUCE, Reuse, Recycle – In that order of importance.

A big thank-you for Dom and all the other dedicated Carrot Campaigners for all your hard work in making Perth a greener city. Now get involved! Follow the Carrotmob on Facebook or via their website. Share it with friends and family. 

Nicole Foss – How To Prepare For The Upcoming Financial Crisis

Fremantle Town Hall

So, last Friday night at around 7:46pm my brain exploded. It happened without warning and hurt quite a lot. When I decided to attend a seminar starring world renowned Peak Oil and Finance Analyst Nicole Foss I, somewhat stupidly,  thought I was going to be delivered with a bit of hope! Instead I was handed the dirty, stinking truth. We are in big economic, social and environmental trouble – at both an individual and global scale.

The crowd... about to get their minds blown

I intended for this post to provide a really succinct summary of the presentation in my own voice. Unfortunately, due to the size of the issue it could not be whittled down any more than Nicole already did – it is incredible that she managed to explain such a gigantic problem and possible solutions within an hour! Either way – I have employed her skills again and embedded youtube videos of her explaining. They are somewhat lengthy but really are worth watching. I just wanted to explain that it wasn’t laziness… just inability.

Who Is Nicole Foss?

Sweet looking... but don't be fooled. She will give you nightmares.

Nicole (who also goes by the moniker Stoneleigh) is virtually a giant brain with legs. She has degrees in biology, neuroscience, psychology, international law and air & water pollution. Like I said… GIANT BRAIN. She was also the Editor of The Oil Drum Canada where she wrote about peak oil and finance and now spends her days as co-editor of The Automatic Earth. I hate to say it but with all those achievements under her belt I expected to be fronted with the stereotypical academic -pompous, stuffy and possibly a little bit detached. Nicole shattered any expectations. Despite her formidable intelligence Nicole managed to communicate complex problems in a fairly easy to understand way.

What Is The Problem?

Nicole started by explaining that we need to focus on the financial aspect of this global problem not because it was the most important aspect of the crisis but instead because it has the shortest timeframe to work with. In other words – the financial ‘bubble’ is going to burst very soon. She spoke a lot about ‘bubbles’ and it was the part of her talk that resonated with me the most – perhaps because it was the simplest concept to grasp. (*ten minutes passes). Maybe it is still not simple enough for me to explain but when Nicole says it, it at least sounds simple. So here she is to do exactly that…

How do we prepare ourselves?

Well, she didn’t mince words. I kept checking myself because I couldn’t believe this little lady in the flowy sleeves with the sweet Canadian accent was saying all these mean things. She broke the news that the only ‘solution’ to this problem was adequate preparation of our homes, our communities and ourselves. She asked everyone to consider how they fulfil the big needs of their lives i.e. how do you get your heat, power, water, transport and nutrition? For example do you have a water filter? Nicole said that she wasn’t saying that water was about to run out but that the quality may degrade – it takes a lot of systems all running smoothly to produce potable water! Do you have practical skills? It left me looking at my home and thinking “Wow! If I didn’t have a car, power supply or communication… I would really be stuffed”. Below Nicole explains what she has done to prepare and what she suggests that you could do also. Well worth a watch.

If You Want To See Her…

Even though I have painted the whole thing as a negative experience it really wasn’t. It was eye-opening that is for sure but you need to have the information (no matter how scary) to pick yourself up and get ready for action. Nicole will be presenting on Sunday, March 11th 10am – 4pm at an All Day Ecoburbia Conference and the Fremantle Town Hall. It will cost $20 and is well worth it.

If you would like to see Nicole Foss please RSVP to Shani Graham on stay@thepaintedfish.com.au or 0417 941 991

Shani rallying the crowd

Loved all the sustainable transport outside the Town Hall!

Toothpaste – Not So Squeaky Clean

How can something so minty fresh be so sinister? Whenever I picture the great villains of this world they never smell nice. Freddie Kruger, Gollum, Colin Barnett… I just don’t get a peppermint-y vibe from them. Maybe this is how toothpaste snuck into our bathrooms, seemingly unnoticed? It seems so non-threatening. However toothpaste has earned the title of Head Villain in our bathrooms. Why?

Image by Em Ehlers – Old Envelope

Packaging

I have never found toothpaste that has been wrapped without the use of plastic. Whether it is polyethylene coated aluminium or an upright container, whatever way you look at it is an item designed to be thrown away made from a material that is designed to last forever.

About 1 billion toothpaste tubes and dispensers are sent to landfills every year, many of which are recyclable. Though both typically end up in landfills, the average tube of toothpaste produces about 70 percent less waste than a pump dispenser, so is the preferable packaging option.

– Green Your.com

Animal Testing

I am not for shock tactics. I think conning someone into reading an article about DIY toothpaste and then punching them in the face with pictures of rabbits and puppies having chemicals poured into their eyes is not the way to go. But, if you in anyway doubt that this is the reality of the situation – google it. It is happening in cosmetic labs across the world every day and approximately 100 million animals suffer or die from testing and experiments every year. As hard as it is to look at, I think the alternative of looking away is harder.

Image by Emily Ehlers

Health

It is pretty hard to find a scientific study that categorically proves that toothpaste is unhealthy for you. Then again, I trust my common sense far more than a piece of paper handed to me by a scientist being commissioned by a cosmeceautical company. Here are some ingredients you may find written on your standard tube, and some side-effects that I am sure you won’t…

  • Triclosan – registered pesticide
  • Aspartame – Street talk for sweetener. AKA a neurotoxin linked to lupus, Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): Suspected carcinogen.
  • Methylparaben, Ethylparaben (Parabens) – linked to fertility problems (and hell for the environment)
  • Potassium Nitrate – a water soluble mineral that is toxic to the environment
  • Polyethylene glycol (or PEG) – Suspected carcinogen (especially linked to breast cancer)

And what about the highly contentious Fluoride? Here are some quotes I found…

“A 14oz tube of toothpaste, theoretically at least, contains enough fluoride to kill a small child”

– Proctor and Gamble, “Fluoride the Aging Factor”, Page 14

“In point of fact, fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical”

– Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Dean Burk, Congressional record 21 July 1976

(also a reason you may want to look into a water filter for the home).

Environment

All the aformentioned chemicals are the reasons that it is unhealthy to swallow toothpaste. It is the reason we spit them out and wash them away. But where is away?

wAterWAY

Parabens reak absolute havoc on animal hormones, triclosan (a toxic antibacterial) kills off good bacteria in ecosystems and sodium pyrophosphate contributes to the growth of algae in water which leads to lower oxygen levels that kills marine life and creates deadzones.

Even though you only use a little toothpaste imagine every person in every household sending all those chemicals into our delicate ecosystems with our birds, froggies and fish. Not good.

Image by Emily Ehlers

So what are the options?

There are eco brands around that cancel out some of the issues associated with your standard tube of whitening goo – but rarely all. You will never avoid the packaging but you can at least cancel out animal testing and chemicals.

If you are shopping in an Aussie supermarket the best you will probably find will be Naytura (Woolworth’s brand). It still has loads of nasties in it but is guaranteed cruelty-free at least. Otherwise health stores can provide organic alternatives. While these are better you could always go one further…

Make Your Own!

I learnt how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday at the Less Is More Festival. I am not going back. It is all natural, leaves my teeth feeling and looking amazing, isn’t tested on animals and has virtually no packaging associated with it. And an added benefit… you food doesn’t taste gross after you use it!

Come with me and learn how to make your own toothpaste here!