Friday, 26 December 2014

New Year's Resolutioning

I am the kind of person who loves setting New Year's resolutions. I am also the kind of person who loves looking back on what happened in the last year and marvelling at what life brought. I love reading the stories in Christmas cards about what other people got up to, so if you are one of those people too, here's my story for 2014:

I had three resolutions this year, and I fulfilled them all to varying degrees of success:

1) See more of Australia

  • January -I started the year camping in Girraween national park. I managed some sketching and hiked a few of the tracks. Just gorgeous.

  • March - I loaded my bike with panniers and camping gear and flew to Adelaide. I then made my way to the Eyre Peninsular where I rode along the coast down to Port Lincoln.


  • May - Melbourne for an inspiring weekend of learning
  • June - Flew to Rockhampton to work for a week. Saw the inside of a shopping centre. Still counts.
  • August - Drove to Hervey Bay for work for two days. Saw the inside of a shopping centre. Still counts.
  • December - Decided I had time left to squeeze in another trip, this time to Hobart. Hired an electric bicycle, went to art gallery openings, had organic pizza at a sustainable garden project party, and went to MONA! All in a three day weekend. Super way to finish 2014.

2) Save x amount of money

Happy to report that I not only made my savings goal, but exceeded it by almost 30%.

3) Live more simply

This started out with me taking the 33 things wardrobe challenge, which I have since continued in a not so strict way. This goal helped me do a few purges of unnecessary crap throughout the year, but I will be working on this more specifically in 2015 as living more simply is a fairly vague notion...First up, garage sale!

It feels great to sit back now that it is December and say I reached my goals, but there were definitely a few hiccups. Tearing my ACL ligament and needing knee surgery in March (and then missing my favourite band play because my surgery was on the same day!). The whole going/not going to Mackay thing. The Meet My Boyfriend/nevermind-not-boyfriend thing. 

Of course, you just never know what's going to happen to you. Luckily, most of my surprises this year were good ones: I got a cat. He showed up on my doorstep in November riddled with fleas and his eyes all stuck together with gunk. I cleaned him up and voila! Instant pet!

Other good things that kinda just happened...

I started studying again and passed my first subjects. 

I started this blog to keep me occupied while I recovered from knee surgery in April and then I  started a sustainability meet-up in November because I couldn't find anyone to talk to about sustainability issues on a regular basis. 

My brother got engaged, then married, all in the same year.

What next?

Oh yes, this is the best part. Setting goals for next year. Some of them are pretty boring but they will be challenging in their own way I'm sure. Living simply is something I am trying to embrace layer by layer, so I'm not going to go back to buying heaps of unnecessary stuff just because it's not on my list for 2015.

1) Order all my groceries online - for a year.

I want to strip away another layer of waste and excess this year, and it's going to focus on food. I really really detest throwing out food that has gone off. I particularly hate it when it's still wrapped and I haven't got around to eating it at all. So, I am going to simplify and stick to a really basic diet, and order only what I need from the supermarket to be delivered to me. If anyone has any more smart ways not to waste food that fall in to the category of Life Hack as opposed to "cook this, freeze that" I welcome your suggestions.

2) Attempt a really big bike ride

This is not just an excuse to upgrade my bike. I want to push my limits a bit more. See what I'm capable of. I enjoyed my cycling trip down the coast in South Australia, and now I want more. It's also a very eco-friendly way to holiday and I will be super fit by the end of it - probably super burnt too...

3) Get a job in the area of sustainability

Finally, I hope to move in to the area I am passionate about, rather than keeping a day job to fuel my study and extracurricular activities. Again, anyone with contacts are very welcome to help me out with this goal.

Now that I'm ready for 2015, I've got  5 whole days left in 2014 to play with.

I'm gonna go clean out my cupboards for that garage sale...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Plastic Fantastic


How many gold stars would you give yourself for your recycling skills?
One for having a recycling bin, two for separating different types of waste?

If anyone should get gold stars for recycling, it really should be Andrew at EcoPolymers. He should also get a gold star for being a really nice patient man and taking the time to show me his plastic recycling factory last week.

I found EcoPolymers while shopping for a plastic recycling service on the Googles. While not a waste collection service, these guys actually turn old plastic in to shiny (and not shiny) new raw plastic material. Happily, EcoPolymers turned out to be just across the highway from my house, so I dutifully called and asked if I could come over and have a look. My workplace sells a lot of items made from polyester and polypropylene, so the possibility of seeing the end material being remade into raw material again had me all tingly with excitement.

After a few goes at arranging a suitable date, I cycled on over to the factory and signed in for my personal tour.

Andrew is a friendly, straight down the line guy who really knows his stuff. I was invited in to his office to have a bit of a chat about the theory of plastic recycling first. Here is my attempt to impart some of his wisdom to you dear reader:

Did you know...

  • It is easier and cheaper to recycle big plastic things like wheelie bins than thin plastic like glad wrap because of the surface area involved.
  • About 4000 wheelie bins are recycled every month in Brisbane. People - treat yo wheelie bins nice.
  • China buys heaps of our old plastic. Anything we can't recycle here, like gladwrap, goes over there.
  • There are only 2 plastic recycling plants in the whole of SE QLD. The other one mainly does pipes from the mine. So all your empty plastic sauce bottles either meet Andrew or go to China.
So now we all know a little bit more about plastic recycling, here are some interesting photos to prove I went:

Big plastic is more profitable to recycle - once it's clean. This is the pond lining from a CSG operation near Toowoomba

Pipe from the mines

Dirty plastic goes in the top, clean plastic comes out the bottom

Chopped up plastic that has been cleaned. The dirty brown stuff is all the paper labels and what not that is still stuck to the plastic containers. The paper and gunk has to be separated out from the plastic via a float tank and then dried before it can be melted down.

Wheelie bins about to meet their maker and then be reborn - I guess this is kind of like purgatory for them

Cool molten plastic is randomly strewn about the place. I think it adds an artistic edge to the yard personally.

The blue stuff is an anti-oxidant so the plastic doesn't get bubbles in it when it's melted

Old chemical bottles collected from farmers by EcoPolymers in a program called Drum Muster. 

Andrew's hand holding powdered plastic - one of the many finished products they can make.

 Oh, and another very cool thing happened since my last post - my Brisbane Sustainability Meetup group grew legs! There are about 11 members at the moment, and they all seem so awesome and informed about sustainability. Can't wait to meet them next week. I will of course be blogging my little heart out afterwards, so stay tuned.