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Vented Kitchen Kaddy

Autumn Update

Autumn is my favourite time of year.

Afternoons are still warm and long, yet there is a refreshing breeze. It’s the time of year when we tend to take our dinner and eat on the deck enjoying the gorgeous fresh air and late sunsets.

Our current family favourite is Pesto Pasta, inspired by our basil which has thrived with the consistent rain. My gorgeous daughter and I attempted to make a batch the old-fashioned way with a mortar and pestle. It was certainly a nicer texture, however we moved quite quickly to the less traditional food processor, which makes the process fast enough for quick school night dinners.

 

It has been such a lovely summer season in our vegie garden with rocket, carrots and lettuce fighting for room. I should admit that I do have a bad habit of planting as if I live on a farm, rather Autumn Gardeningthan being conscious of the reality of my few raised garden beds squashed in the backyard. As a result, we have decided to go up! We have cherry tomatoes, climbing cucumber and beans all being woven between our new mesh grid panels. It’s a great way to expand the garden when space is limited.

Our autumn planting has added spinach, which is a favourite, and as the temperature starts to drop, we are adding our Coriander and Dill seeds. These herbs are my favourites, even though they seem to dislike me, refusing to flourish as I imagine! Hopefully, this will be the year we become friends! I’m also aiming to add a few fruit trees to our garden this season, although I do have some research to do to select the right trees, given our space is limited and so precious. I’d love to hear any suggestions.

 

We have also been busy refreshing a few of our products at Compost-A-Pak. All our larger Bin Liners will soon be available in rolls, rather than folds. We work with numerous businesses, councilsVented Caddy and schools who are focused on reducing their use of single-use plastics, and we hope this new approach to packaging will make our commercial rolls even more convenient to use.

This month we are also launching a new Vented Caddy. The idea of storing food scraps in a caddy with holes can seem counter-intuitive… my mind rushes to the idea of spills on my new kitchen benchtop 😊However, research shows that if you let food waste breathe for the 2-3 days it is on your kitchen bench, moisture evaporates and so any smells are actually reduced. Given Compost-A-Pak bags are completely organic, they also breathe, assisting this process. As usual we have worked to make this product as sustainable as possible. The unit is proudly manufactured with almost 80% Post-Consumer Recycled content, so it’s made of discarded drink bottles and food packaging.

As we continue to work with local councils to roll out Food Organic Recycling, this Vented Caddy will be another option, particularly in the warmer regions of our beautiful country.

 

FOGO Liner Delivery

 

Speaking of working with councils, the Federal Government has committed to making FOGO (Food Organics, Garden Organics) collection available to all  households over the next few years.

Providing FOGO facilities so all families can compost their food waste is a really powerful change. Through such initiatives, if we can lift our national food and garden composting rate from the current trends of around half, to an average of 80%, it would be equivalent to planting 314,006 trees or taking 486,021 cars off the road each year.

With Australia already experiencing such volatile weather, let’s hope climate change initiatives like these continue to be a priority for government. We need real change! In the meantime, like so many other families, we continue to make the changes we can, to ensure we live as sustainably as possible.

Enjoy my favourite season.

Mel


 

How our family minimise waste when out

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As you would probably expect, our family are passionate recyclers with an entire four stream recycling setup!

However, we believe the key to living more sustainably is actually reducing the amount of recyclables and landfill we purchase. Here are our three top family’s tips.

 

OUR PRECIOUS CANE BASKET

We never leave the house without my favourite cane basket. It sits near the front door, waiting for adventure. The basket is always packed with my reusable bags, a fold of Compost-A-Pak Singlet Bags and a number of Fruit and Veggie Bags (or 8 litre bags) which I pull off the roll as needed. Always having this when we are out of the house means we never have to use plastic carry bags, even for our fruit and vegetable selections at the markets or for meat at the butchers. Whilst I love my reusable bags, I don’t like to use them for any meat and fresh produce. Instead I pack this fresh food straight into my plant based Compost-A-Pak bags, and then throw them straight into the fridge or freezer as needed.

OUR PICNIC STASH

We also have a picnic stash in the car with a blanket, reusable cups and cutlery, which means we are always prepared to eat out, even if it’s unplanned. Whilst obviously we still generate some waste, eating in or choosing carefully and eliminating drink containers, straws and cutlery does make a difference. The kids are also in the habit of grabbing their water bottles every time we leave the house. It’s a great way to reduce single use bottles, and of course that we don’t hear “I’m thirsty!” as soon as we leave the house.

 

THOUGHTFUL PURCHASES

This is where I would love to tell you we purchase all our fruit and vegies direct from the farmers with no packaging, and make all our own snacks from scratch. We don’t! We are a very busy family, and as is the case with so many modern families, as parents we both work very long hours. We do however have sustainability as one of the driving forces of all our purchasing decisions.

  • We consistently aim to buy quality rather than quantity, and particularly with our clothes, we try to choose natural fabrics to minimise the microfibres released when we wash. This doesn’t always mean you have to spend more. It’s just about spending time researching and buying at the right time.

 

  • We eat lots of fresh food, and try to purchase them plastic or packaging free, either at the markets when we can make it or instore. We place loose items in our plant based Fruit and Vegie bags or 8 litre bags.  We will sometimes even pay extra for the loose items, however if not unreasonable, we think it’s worth it to make a stand against the unnecessary packaging. Often these loose items are also fresher, without the protection of bags and the ‘modified atmosphere’ used to make them look fresh.
    • With all this fresh food, we rely on some really easy and quick recipes that ensure dinner can be prepared quickly. Food marketing is designed to convince us that we need to buy extra packets and jars of flavour for speed and convenience. In my experience they are not necessary.
    • We also pack the kids lunches without packaging. This can be achieved with simple changes like purchasing a large block of cheese to cut rather then buying precut packaged cheese.
    • We also avoid store promotions and giveaways. I’m actually amazed how well our kids embrace this when you sit down and explain why our family chooses to say no.
  • Presents, particularly with kids can be challenging, however we try to avoid plastics when possible. For our own kids, we try to focus on experiences and the kids just love it.

 

We would love to hear more about your family’s sustainability tips. It’s certainly a journey, and we find we get a little bit better each year.

 

Compost-A-Pak® Fruit and Vegie Bags

Everyday Sustainable Practices!

We love reading stories about the small everyday actions Australian families are making to help reduce their waste. Local heroes like Karen Murphy really do inspire others to live more sustainable lives!

 

First published by the ABC on 10/01/2019

Would you bring your own container to the grocery store to help reduce plastic waste?

By Samantha Jonscher

Updated 10 Jan 2019, 2:07pm

A selection of reusable straws and cups available at an Adelaide shop

Reusable coffee cups have become a household staple for many Australians, now some people are stepping up their game in the supermarket.

Key points:

  • Reusable cups, straws and containers are becoming popular among shoppers
  • There are no requirements in the Food Standards Code on people bringing their own containers
  • More people are buying items like cups and lunch boxes to reduce waste

Bring your own containers are growing in popularity as people continue to look for new ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste they create.

Adelaide resident Karen Murphy is one of them.

She brings reusable containers and biodegradable, compostable bags with her whenever she goes to the shops.

Instead of using the typical plastic bags and plastic containers most shops rely on, she hands over her own and asks that they fill them up.

“The first series of the War on Waste, it kind of wakes you up to how much waste we are putting in our landfill bins, recycle bins,” Ms Murphy said.

“So I guess even though we have always been good at using those things, it really inspired me to get down and really reduce it even more.”

A woman stands in her kitchen showcasing food kept in reusable containers

Ms Murphy said at first it was tricky because some shops were unsure about the safety and logistics involved in her request.

But over time, she has developed strong, ongoing relationships with butchers, delicatessens, grocers, fish mongers and bakeries that were willing to let her use her own containers.

“It’s about going to those smaller retailers, because they have a lot more flexibility than the larger stores,” she said.

“You create that relationship with people, they know I come in every week.”

Food safety concerns often cited

Ms Murphy said in her experience, butchers and fish mongers were the most resistant.

“Food and safety is one of the main reasons they say no, they are working with food that has a high risk of contamination from bacteria,” she said.

A piece of meat in a reusable plastic container at an Adelaide butcher

She said she typically used compostable bags for fresh meat that would go into the freezer.

Once they were used, they could be broken down in her green bin or compost.

The mother-of-two was the first to admit it required planning, but remained adamant that it was achievable.

“It does seem inefficient and takes a little bit of practice, but you do get the hang of it,” she said.

Inspiring businesses to get on board

Damian Holmes, who has been a butcher for 33 years, said he was surprised by Ms Murphy’s request when she first asked to be served in her own container, but said he was happy to help.

“The customer is the customer, and you do what the customer wants. You look after their needs and requirements,” he said.

Ms Murphy said she favoured his business because the shop also used tongs, instead of plastic gloves or plastic bags to handle meat, which meant no plastic waste was involved in her purchase.

A butcher looks at the camera while standing above his selection of meat

Mr Holmes said he weighed containers before they were filled, to make sure that customers were only charged for what they purchased.

He said Ms Murphy had even inspired him to reduce the plastic his business relied on.

“In the old days we didn’t have this much plastic, I remember when I was wrapping meat in paper, I’m 55… that’s what we always used to do, so why not get back to what we used to be?” he said.

“It’s an art, it’s a tradition and I’m a traditional butcher.”

What do the regulators say?

Mr Holmes said hygiene was a concern, but if he was concerned about the cleanliness of a container, he would wash it for customers before he used it.

“If the lady wants to use her container and we don’t think it’s clean enough, we will wipe it, we will wash it, and show her that we did the right thing by her,” he said.

Despite concerns from some businesses, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) said there were no requirements in the Food Standards Code regarding people bringing their own containers to purchase food.

“It is up to the retailer to determine the measures they put in place to ensure food is safe and suitable,” FSANZ told the ABC.

“Use food-safe containers, covers and packaging to protect food. Only re-use packaging or other materials if safe for food… don’t repeatedly use packaging designed for single use.

“Ensure containers are clean. Wash them in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly.”

Committed to reducing plastic

Another of Ms Murphy’s favourite shops is Fabian Muller’s Adelaide grocery store and she said she shopped with him because he was committed to reducing the amount of waste his shop generated.

A man working in a grocery store standing in front of some fruit

“We work closely with our farmers to try and reduce a lot of our waste,” Mr Muller said.

“With our greens we are able to return the crates that they come in, or we give boxes back to our farmers, so they can be re-used.

“We have a little garden out the back that all of our compost goes into as well.

“We are lucky because we are in the organic space, and 80 per cent of it comes from South Australia and we have direct relationships with [producers].”

Kate Pardey, who owns a gift shop in Adelaide’s CBD, said she had seen a noticeable increase in people purchasing items to help them reduce waste.

“Lunch boxes, beeswax wraps, reusable straws and reusable water bottles are really taking off,” she said.

“KeepCups are still selling like crazy though, ever since last Christmas.

“We haven’t been able to keep [them] in stock — we’ve run out of them 12 times in the last year.”