Furoshiki – waste free wrapping/carrying

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Learning and drooling at the beautiful fabrics, all at the same time

Recently, I went to a free class run in Bern by Live Green, to learn the Japanese art of Furoshiki. I love a good course/class and jumped at the chance to learn about this versatile technique/skill.

Furoshiki is a brilliant, no waste option for wrapping and carrying things. The fabrics come in different sizes, to be used for different purposes. Our teacher, Ye, said most Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Koren) households used to have one or more and they were used for everything. But her husband Mike noted that, unfortunately, this is a tradition of the past and plastic products have taken over. He said in Japan it is currently experiencing a revival with the Zero Waste movement, which is great to hear. Continue reading

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Charcoal water filter

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Charcoal is not just for chicken!

While in Australia over the 2016-2017 festive season, we found a store with all sorts of goodies I like, especially this one. A charcoal water filter.

In Switzerland, our water is of a very high quality, but it has a lot of lime/calcium in it and often I’ve noticed a strange smell.

Voila! Slip one of these little babies into the jug and after five hours the water is purified. No smell, no taste – just that clean water sensation. Delicious!

Here’s the one we found, but I’m sure there are plenty of other brands selling them. I like that this comes in cardboard with minimal packaging. The sticks are fragile though, so you need to be careful they don’t splinter when putting them in the jug and pouring from it. By pure luck, the first one I used sits nicely under the rim and doesn’t move.

Here’s a short version of the blurb: “This package contains several sticks of kishu binchotan … it absorbs chlorine and heavy metals. It also alkalises water.”

Each one lasts about two months (I’m going to stretch mine for longer and see if I notice a change). For me, this is way better than a plastic set up where you have to buy the plastic-coated filters. And once it’s done it’s job, the stick goes into the compost. Or the packaging says you can put it in the fridge to soak up smells.

Do you use charcoal sticks? Or do you have a different water filter system?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Reusing coffee grounds

Today, it feels like spring. Check out this beautiful sight outside our home!refusetherefuserefusetherefuse

And with this spring feeling, I felt like cleaning! My face!

I use Aleppo soap for my hair, body and face. I still feel strange writing the word Aleppo, because the Syrian city has gone through so much. I doubt there will be much soap for sale in the foreseeable future, which is the least of our worries.

After summer holidays in Australia, wearing sunscreen every day, my skin felt really clogged, so after reading about it many times, I thought I’d give the used grounds from this morning’s coffee another job.

This is one of those easy and effective treatments where you think ‘why have I never done this before?’ Zero waste face scrub! I just put a dollop of coconut oil and a small amount of coffee grounds in my hands, rubbed them together, then scrubbed my face.

Totally sold on how effective and simple this is! Clogged pores are clear, the bumpy skin around my chin is now soft and my whole face feels fresh. Two ingredients, minimal packaging, no nasty ingredients.

And the leftover grounds went in the compost.

Will be doing this again, for sure. I liked the feeling the coconut oil left on my face (I normally just use it on my body). Here’s a recipe from PETA which uses olive oil, if you fancy trying that.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

No more throwaway utensils

At the end of 2016, I bought a sewing machine – something I’ve been wanting for ages. When the mood to sew strikes, I now have no excuses! (Before, I borrowed a friend’s.)

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Leo and I are now set for zero waste foodie adventures

For Christmas, I made my family zippered cutlery pouches (men) and wraps (women) to eliminate using plastic utensils when on the go.

The bamboo cutlery, chopsticks, stainless steel straws (the bigger one is for smoothies) and napkins are light enough to keep in your bag all the time.

I really enjoyed doing this! Here’s what some of the others looked like. Mine, above, was the prototype, using The Rogue Ginger’s pattern, here.

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Waiting to be filled with the cutlery and straws

For me this is a really sensible, practical and easy step in reducing waste.

I’m sure they would be available to buy on sites like etsy, by searching “cutlery wrap”. Maybe one day I’ll make them to sell too?!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

A Tale of Two Sicilys … Part 2

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The lunch view in Cefalu … and yes, I know that rhymes!

Gosh, has it really been a month since I last posted? Oops. It was a great month, enjoying the last of the summer sun, with a trip to Lyon, France, thrown in for good measure!

But back to Sicily. The glorious side of Sicily. I’m ready to show you it’s not all refuse and garbage, but gobsmackingly beautiful too.

We spent time on the east coast, where Mt Etna seems to always be looming, then the north west and south east corners. We covered some miles! We visited Passopisciaro, Fiumefreddo, Cefalu, Castellammare del Golfo, Punta Secca, Scicli, Noto, Syracuse, Mt Etna (was 15 degrees Celsius, we didn’t stay long!) and Taormina.

Favourite places?

Continue reading

A Tale of Two Sicilys … Part 1

IMG_7487Sicily … oh, Sicily … the name conjures up all sorts of images – blue seas, blue skies, scarf-wearing nonnas, ancient villages, the mafia, sun-ripened tomatoes, vineyards, fresh seafood, and if you like detective stories, you’ll be thinking Inspector Montalbano too.

We’ve just come home from another fantastic two-week holiday, but it isn’t all of the above. There’s another side to Sicily that is never promoted. And why would it be? I feel torn about writing this post, because I couldn’t wait to go back after last year’s initiation, but it needs to be said.

Sicily is trashed. Majorly trashed.

This is what we are led to believe it looks like …

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Waves and sunshine and boats and ruins … what’s not to love?

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Doing better in the bathroom

Over the past few months, I’ve been using up all the plastic containers of lotions, potions and promises floating around the bathroom cupboard. I was reusing the ones with spray nozzles to hold homemade alternatives, then impatience and a chance conversation at the local chemist led me to better alternatives.

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Who knew brown could be so pretty? New brown bottles, old clear jar.

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Asking can’t hurt …

I’ve been going to an awesome Turkish kebab restaurant near work (in Bern, Switzerland) for a falafel roll or mezze plate at least once a week for almost a year.

It’s cheap, it’s pretty healthy and the people are nice. Sometimes I eat in, sometimes it’s to go.

Last week, I thought I’d try something different.

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How much does it cost? Week 2

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That’s not a zucchini … THIS is a zucchini 😉 Homegrown goodness!

Finally I have time to write about week 2 of the “as organic as possible, waste-free grocery shopping” experiment.

As mentioned in week 1, some people are concerned that waste free = expensive. Buying organic also costs more than normal produce, so I’m going to do a little experiment to see how much I spend each week on groceries. This unfortunately not unfortunately will be hindered by the fact we’re on holidays from 21 August, but hey, it’s still worth doing the sums.

Continue reading

How much does it cost? Week 1

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First haul of the month

Some people have concerns that waste free is expensive. Buying organic also costs more than normal produce, so I’m going to do a little experiment to see how much I spend in August on all groceries. This unfortunately not unfortunately will be hindered by the fact we’re on holidays from the 21st, but hey, it’s still worth doing the sums.

The cost of living in Switzerland is the highest in the world. Isn’t that just peachy?! Although we don’t live in one of the top 10 most expensive cities in the world (Zürich and Geneva make that list), it still costs a pretty penny to enjoy the spoils of the country’s capital, Bern. Continue reading