The Eco Audit: Making good (small) choices

book and cup of tea

When it comes to reducing our environmental impact and creating a sustainable society, I firmly believe that true change will only happen when we work together, en-masse, to slowly but surely alter the way we do things. The way we produce things, buy things, and dispose of things. The way business is run. The way we think about consumption, satisfaction, and achievement and their relationship to each other. Basically, we need a radical shift in social and economic ways of thinking.

Certain eco-peeps argue that the small choices we make individually (like not using plastic bags) aren’t really going to change anything, and that we need to ditch this ‘what can I do?’ rugged-individualism mindset and replace it with ‘what can we do?’. We need to think and work as a group – a community and an organisation and a country, even, to get this shift happening. I agree 100%. Yep. Great idea. Unfortunately, we’re kind of unlikely to reach this ideal state of unity overnight – which is why I still think it’s important to make your small choices positive ones as well. Maybe bringing your KeepCup to the cafe everyday isn’t going to immediately resolve the plastic wastage problem, but it’s not going to hurt, is it?

flowers in a vase

With that in mind, I’ve made a checklist of small actions that can make a small change and applied it to my own life. A little eco-audit, if you will. Feel free to use this list yourself to see how you’re travelling and where you can make changes. I’ve focused on physical waste around the use of disposable items here, but obviously there’s a lot more to consider.

Plastic bags: EXCELLENT. I avoid plastic bags at all costs. I’m pretty good at remembering to bring my fabric totes (and if I forget I just have to carry my shopping as penance). I get my fruit’n’veg loose and try to avoid products with plastic packaging in general.

Coffee cups: AVERAGE. I would say I remember my KeepCup about 50% of the time. Must try harder.

Tea: POOR. Ideally I’d like to make a permanent shift over to tea leaves to reduce my waste in this area – and don’t you think there’s something so nice and traditional about brewing a big pot of tea with tea leaves? Alternatively, I could use teabags from a brand like Madame Flavour, which are made from corn and break down in ‘a year to five, depending on heat and humidity’ (as opposed to the hundreds of years that nylon bags take).

Food waste: GOOD. We are avid composters. Need to work on not letting things go off in the fridge though.

Disposable food containers/utensils: AVERAGE. I’ve been trying to put a knife and fork in my bag in the morning, but eating at food courts or whatever isn’t something I actually plan to do. It just happens. Potential solutions: carry knife, fork, and plastic take away container with me at all times, or choose food that doesn’t require a container (like a wrap). (The simple solution here is to just PACK YA LUNCH! Why can’t I remember to do this? Oh, that’s right, it’s because I get up 5 minutes before I need to leave the house.)

Disposable beauty products (face wipes, cotton buds, etc): POOR. I’m still trying to think of a solution to this one. Small cloth or crocheted face wipes? I could make something like that (and it looks like there’s plenty on Etsy too).

Tissues: POOR. Are handkerchiefs really the answer? I don’t want to carry my snot around with me all day, thanks.

Period supplies: AVERAGE. I’ve recently got onto Thinx period-proof undies which I am LOVING (review/explanation here). They’re definitely an investment but they’re a wonder for a worry-free, forget-that-it’s-happening period (and the company itself is very socially-conscious as well). Still not brave enough to try a cup. One day.

Clothes: An update on my year of ethical fashion is a post for another day, but I’ll have you know I’m doing well at resisting the urge to shop.

So now that I know what I need to work on, I’ll see what I can do and check back in in a couple of months. What do you think you could change to reduce waste in your everyday life?


Don’t forget it’s Earth Hour today! Turn off those globes and light those scented candles at 8.30pm local time! (It’s a good excuse for a relaxing, candlelit bath, right? I think so!)

Chin-up Tuesday #3

graphic of the words 'only for now' under an umbrella

 

Wow. What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Today as my inspirational (sort of) quote, I’ve chosen the name of a song that I love from the musical Avenue Q, as a reminder that everything will pass. The song itself brings me a lot of comfort: it’s about appreciating what you have and not stressing the small stuff, because both will soon be gone. Kind of positive motivation and kind of comforting nihilism. I’m including a link here because I want everyone to appreciate its wisdom (and if you’re wondering why some of the voices are weird it’s because Avenue Q is a musical about puppets – a sort of grown-up Sesame Street) (and it’s also really really good!).

Here’s my rather short look-forward-to list:

  1. One of my intensive classes finishes this week, which aside from being a massive relief will also free up an extra day for me during the week. Phew! As of next week I’ll have spare day to play with (ie to catch up on work with). So keen for that! An extra bit of time opens up so many possibilities.
  2. I’m really into enamel pins right now. I bought this lovely lady the other day and I’m a bit excited for her to arrive (it’s the little things, right?)

The whole point this exercise was to make sure I have exciting/fun things coming up to keep me going (no matter how big or small). As I’ve now run out of things at a measly 2, I’ve got to try and make some good things to help me through the next few weeks. Time to plan some movie dates/catch-ups/beach excursions…

Hope you’re doing well! Keep on getting excited about things!

Wednesday links: ‘making it’ as an artist & your creative self

When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to be, I always said ‘artist’ or ‘writer’. I was going to travel and paint beautiful landscape paintings. I was going to write a series of novels that was at least as successful as Harry Potter. My parents encouraged creative pursuits as a form of relaxation and fun, but gently nudged me away from the idea of the arts as a career. (“Painters only get famous once they’re dead,” my mother told me once, only half joking.) I’ve since done the conventional uni-degree-as-a-backup-plan thing, and while I enjoy learning about my field, the desire to be an artist of some kind has always fizzed away in the back of my mind. As my forcible ejection from the cocoon of higher education and entry into the ‘real world’ of work draws ever closer, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an artist.

I thought I’d share some articles, books and videos that I’ve been saving up: things that have helped me think more deeply about inspiration, the creative process, overcoming your own roadblocks, art as a business and all that good stuff. Whether or not you’re thinking about getting serious with your art, I hope these ideas will benefit you in some way.

  • An ace motivational pep talk from Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator) on ignoring your inner critic and getting motivated:: here
  • Ira Glass explains ‘the gap’ and why you feel like your art isn’t good enough:: here
  • Illustrator Holly Exley responds to that age old question: should I work for free? :: here (check out the rest of Holly’s videos too – she is lovely and full of good advice)
  • Fran Meneses is another good egg with good advice. I like her video about creativity and motivation:: here (have a poke around her other videos too!)
  • 50 things every creative should know:: here
  • Some young artists at Rookie have an eye-opening conversation about digital promotion, money vs passion, and more:: here
  • Justin Heazlewood’s book Funemployed is the ultimate resource if you’re an Australian creative-type looking to go pro. It covers all sorts of things like getting a manager, promoting yourself, dealing with setbacks, and all the highs and lows you might experience in your career. It’s also very, very funny in a self-deprecating kind of way.
  • And finally – I really love Brodie Lancaster‘s Rule of Three for taking on freelance work:: here (near the bottom, but read the whole thing!)

What do you reckon? Good advice, no?

If you’ve read or watched anything cool/useful on a similar topic I’d love to see it! Let me know!

Dear Yen,

Yen magazine issue #64

Thank you for being there.

Thank you for being a voice of reason in the crowd of vapid, patronising publications on the newsagent’s shelf. Thank you for introducing us to women who are smart, creative, ambitious and hard-working.  Women who are actresses and musicians but also illustrators, ballerinas, journalists, designers and game-changers.

Thank you for championing the arts and inspiring creativity in your readers. Thank you for sharing bright photography, books and art of all kinds.

If frankie is the artsy, quirky, awkward teenager then you are the cool older sister, worldly-wise and completely in control, with the good advice and the enviable wardrobe. Thank you for sharing your wisdom honestly and respectfully. Thank you for treating us like intelligent people who can make up our own minds.

Yen magazine issue #88

And most importantly, thank you for your genuine voice full of warmth, compassion, and humour. I never expected a magazine to feel so much like a good pal.

You will be missed.

February tunes

I’m waist-deep in preliminary research for my dissertation at the moment (I need to have my topic defined by like… last week) so it’s going to be a quick one from me today. I recently discovered Erin’s blog and I really enjoy her monthly mixtape feature, so I thought I’d do something similar (although probably not on a monthly basis, let’s be real).

As a worshipper at the altar of the Jays, most of my favourites are Australian and mildly alternative. During February I absolutely fell for Alex the Astronaut and her song ‘Rockstar City’ – Alex’s lyrics just strike me as being so genuine and full of a kind of innocence and naive excitement. I also discovered the soothing indie pop of OKBADLANDS, and came back to some old(ish) femme faves like Ali Barter and Lana Del Rey. I continued to appreciate the suburban Perth relatableness of Verge Collection (“I found love… at my IGA”) and the glorious, meaningful vocals of Gordi. And let’s not forget the awesome 80s pop throwback vibes of my all-time faves The Preatures.

This playlist is a bit eclectic and not particularly curated, because I wanted to keep it as real as possible… but let me know what you think! What music have you been loving lately?

The politics of princesses

princess_castle

I finally got around to seeing Moana a few weeks ago, and I have to say I really enjoyed it (how good was that David Bowie disco crab?). I’ll always love a good Disney princess film – not for the humour or the songs or the magic, but for the politics.

In my mind, Disney princess movies are the perfect tool for measuring our progress in areas like representation and feminism. Because they’re mainstream, commercial and child-friendly, they provide a kind of overview of what’s considered acceptable in wider Western society at their particular time of production. We know that Disney doesn’t take risks. They’re not an indie film company looking to challenge our perceptions or tell the stories of those on the margins. They’re not going to make a film that might risk offending even the whitest of white bread families. What people let their children see is a pretty good indicator of what they think is ‘normal’ and ‘ok’ – so we can use this as a sort of yardstick to measure mainstream social progress.

If you look back at all the Disney princesses over the past few years (let’s say since 2009), you can really see the changing attitudes slowly, painstakingly coming into view (usually about 30 years after they were accepted by ‘alternative’ literature and cinema – as I mentioned in my post about reading women, Hollywood is possibly the most resistant industry to any kind of change). We start getting princesses of colour (Tiana from The Princess and the Frog),  heroines with agency (TangledBrave), female-centric narratives (also Brave), sensitive representation of different cultures (Moana), and a shift away from the focus on idealised romantic love and towards friendship and familial love (Maleficent, Frozen, Moana).

This brings me back to why I enjoyed Moana so much (spoilers, obviously): the heroine was played by an actual Polynesian woman and was three-dimensional, brave, and active in seeking out her own destiny; there was no love story whatsoever; and historians, linguists and leaders from a number of Islander nations were heavily involved in the film’s production. And let’s not forget that disco crab.

It isn’t perfect, but it shows that we’re (slowly) getting somewhere. And if nothing else, at least this generation of girls has more than a princess who does nothing but sleep for 100 years to admire.

My weekend went a bit like this

montage_clay

I started making a hand out of clay. I don’t know why. I just saw this pin and thought they looked cool.

I enjoyed the blue blue blue sky and the (finally) warm summer days.

I started a beanie for the boy. I am using this pattern, which is nice and simple (although I still messed up and had to unravel about half of it when I realised I had dropped a stitch somewhere and my rows had magically gotten shorter. Sniff.)

I went for a walk with an old friend. We went to our favourite bushland reserve, which has beautiful views of the sea in one direction and the city in the other. It was hot in the valleys but every time we reached the top of a hill we were rewarded with the most delicious breeze. I would also like to note down for posterity that I  felt very happy in the simplest way as I drove towards the reserve with the windows down and the radio on and the car full of that sunscreen-summer smell.

montage_view

I also: went to a cute cafe for lunch / had a nap / did my weekly volunteering / chatted with my cousins / made plans to see La La Land / read a magazine / went to the library / put on a face mask / watched Youtube videos & somehow all of these things combined to make me feel very content and refreshed and ready for the week ahead.

Which is just how a weekend is supposed to make you feel, isn’t it?