Dec 29, 2007

Zero Waste - can we do it?

Merl gave me this book for Christmas (Teach yourself Green Parenting by Lynoa Cattanach and BabyGROE). On the whole it's a very good, pragmatic book. It's British, which makes it that fraction more culturally accessible to me than US books, and I agreed with almost everything.

Almost. I have some hesitation about the advice given about birthing choices - a first time Mum could definitely come away from a hospital caesarian feeling like a failure if she took that chapter too much to heart - OK, sure, giving birth in your own home and cleaning up afterwards is more 'natural', but then so is dying in childbirth (which people still occasionally do - even in the superduper West). So personally, give me an Independent Midwife-managed hospital birth any day. But each to her own.

Enough of birth politics, however, because the real reason I'm writing about this book is that it has sparked me off on another journey of discovery. What might Zero Waste look like on a family scale? How low can we go?

So, having assimilated the truth that I can bite off more than I can chew, this will not be a 6 week crash landing into the world of fully biodegradable everythings, this is a slow and steady evaluation of our personal waste stream and a sustained and sustainable effort to reduce it. (not very exciting, but there you go - hopefully interesting, if only to myself!).

What do we currently throw out you ask? How big is our waste problem? The broad brush stroke estimate is that if we buy the small City Council rubbish bags (45L) we use one a week, plus our recycling bin, but if we buy the big ones (65L) we use one every second week (or possibly 3 out of 5 weeks). My half-thought-about mostly pulled out of the air goal is maybe a 45L bag every second week? Can we halve our rubbish output?

Already I've identified some things that will need to go (disposable nappies, synthetic nappy wipes) and some things that bear further investigation (how expensive is a hand-cranked paper shredder and does our Council recycle yoghurt pottles or polystyrene meat trays?). The nappies shouldn't be too big an ask - we already use cloth for most of the time, but I put the baby into a disposable at night to keep her drier, and I generally use one if we're going to be out and about for a while for the same reason.

So. Goal for this week - cloth nappies only during the day. No more trusting to petrochemicals and bizarre absorbant gels to keep her dry while I actually leave the house. No more tripping out the door encumbered only with small-bottomed child, one spare nappy, wipes, toys, food, bib, and all MY essential items. Oh no, from now on it is large-bottomed child, wipes, two spare cloth nappies, one spare overnap, one change of clothes, two plastic bags, toys, food, bib etc etc.

Cloth is good, but the poo can be messier.

Oh, and a change-mat for changing pooey pants on other peoples' floors.

It's not as cumbersome as it sounds. Honest. Most of that stuff can just live in the car in case I need it anyway - i do not need to bring the whole lot inside with me everywhere I go. And I did this all the time with Miss3 - it's only with the baby that I've taken up the cheater's option of disposables while out. But I did so enjoy the freedom :-)

But a little footloose environmentally irresponsible freedom is a small sacrifice. And it will be cheaper too - always a good thing in a one-income family!

Now that's looking on the bright side :-)

Where has our baby gone?

We've just come back from a lovely couple of weeks visiting grandma and grandpa. When we went up, we took a Miss3 and a wee baby (Miss0) who sat on the floor and played with her toys while smiling at everybody.

Now she can take herself up to standing against a blank wall, and is just learning how to edge her way around the coffee table. Which has made us realise how un-toddler safe our house is, given that her hazard assessment abilities are currently nil. The bottom three rows of books in the bookcases will need to be held in with bungys, and the kitchen becomes a no-go zone.

And so the wheel turns.

Dec 19, 2007

A Miss3 story from Petone

As she was going to bed tonight, Miss3 shared this with me:

When I was five, I lived by myself and didn't have any parents. So, I had to get some parents. The first set of parents weren't very nice to me, so they had to go away. The second set of parents seemed really nice, but they were really forgetful.... But I kept them anyway.


Dec 13, 2007

pilates aftermath

I was so sore yesterday that I needed painkillers to sleep last night.

Still, I soldiered on today and repeated the experience. I feel much less sore now - 15 minutes after a wee Pilates session.

I figure if just lying on the floor waving my limbs around made me that sore I really need the exercise. In the meantime, viva la Panadol. Read more...

Dec 11, 2007

sweat-free exercise

Exercise without sweating has long been my aim.

No, wait, that's not true. Not sweating has long been my aim - usually achieved by not exercising. But on the odd occasion that I feel the urge to jiggle the kinks out of my limbs and perhaps get some mobility back to my neck and shoulders, I have searched for forms of exercise that do not involve sweat. Or pain, as merl points out - no sweat and no pain.

Which reminds me of a crap joke: The maid of all work was scrubbing the floors one day and remarked to the housekeeper that she was so hot she'd worked up a sweat. To which the housekeeper replied that we didn't use the word 'sweat', that the word in this house was 'perspiration'. So the next day the maid remarked that she was "a-presbyterian all over".

My brief flirtation with Powerlifting fulfilled one of the criteria - no sweat (or not much). It was pretty cool, walking into the free-weights room at the university gym with all these big sweaty grunting guys and actually using the equipment. At last I was one of the cool kids, doing real weights while all the pussy girls scurried past the free weights door and into the circuit room. Of course, I'd never have had the courage to go in there myself if I hadn't had my great big powerlifting flatmate to protect me, but that is beside the point. That was very cool, and for about a year a girl friend and I partnered each other at the bench, squat and deadlift. But people with long long limbs are not really cut out for powerlifting. And it hurt...

Enter Tai-Chi. Once I'd had our first baby, the ability to just flounce out to the gym vanished (it has never taken much for me to avoid going to the gym, and a new baby is an absolutely rock-solid alibi). I liked the sound of Tai-Chi, but couldn't see my way clear to actually getting to a class (why are all the beginners classes right at the mad hour of 5.30? Children need feeding then!) so I got a book out of the library. I used it quite often, but then it had to go back to the library... Occasionally I'll still do a bit from memory, but I'm not convinced I'm doing it right. But I did really really like this form of exercise. Like slow dancing. Merl even bought me some cheesy Chinese music to play in the background, which actually turned out to be very peaceful. I keep thinking I should get another book out of the library...

A friend and I have weekly "aqua bobbling" sessions, but they're not quite as weekly as they perhaps could be...

Today's experiment was with Pilates. Before Mum died she got me to choose my christmas gift out of a catalogue, so I chose a Pilates DVD and kit. We had our family gift-giving celebration on Sunday, so today I tried out my new present. It was good. No sweat. A little pain, but because the lady on the DVD can't see me I just stopped when it hurt too much - I figure that it will hurt less next time perhaps. It suited me very well. It was a half hour session, which was long enough to work but not so long that it put me off repeating it.

A cautious thumbs up.

By the way, I chose this somewhat bizarre (for me) gift because even though the baby is nearly 11 months old, my abdominal muscles have still not healed back together, and I'd really like to remedy this situation before it turns into permanent back pain. So it still fits with my pain-avoidance strategy... Read more...

Dec 8, 2007

Dinosaur found - still with its skin on

This is too cool.

"Scientists today announced the discovery of an extraordinarily preserved "dinosaur mummy" with much of its tissues and bones still encased in an uncollapsed envelope of skin."
From National Geographic.

Do we ever get over our childhood fascination for dinosaurs? Read more...

Dec 7, 2007

Vote for Mr Splashy Pants!!

Greenpeace have a digipoll going in which you can vote to name a Humpback whale.

Now, Mr Splashy Pants may not be the most dignified and majestic of things to name a whale, but it is the most likely to get 5 seconds of news time, and be turned into T shirts and bumper stickers. And that is what it is all about. Especially when the goal is to raise American outrage at the slaughtering of whales by the Japanese.

Of course, we kiwis are already outraged by this as a nation. I'm keen to do anything (even name a gracious singer of the deep Mr Splashy Pants) to let the outrage spread.

But hurry, today is the last day to vote! (sorry, I only found out about it here 10 minutes ago) Read more...

Dec 6, 2007

your money or your life

Brilliant brilliant book.

I cannot emphasise enough how good this book was for helping us put money and work into the proper perspective.

Your Money or Your Life - by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin Read more...

Dec 4, 2007

John Key Song

From the Facelift program.

Dec 3, 2007

Curtain-linings - to promote sleeping in. We hope.

I sewed linings onto the curtains in the girls' bedroom this morning.

The sun is rising about 5.30am these days and I for one am heartily sick of being up well before the alarm clock starts talking at 6.30am. It is not our curtains that are the problem, of course, but the curtains in the room of the small ones.

So today I sacrificed an old brown flat sheet (Queen sized and hardly ever used), tore it in half, hemmed it and sewed it to the back of the curtains. The curtains themselves are a lovely dark royal blue indian cotton, but the weave is quite open and they're not good light-blockers. I have already lined one set of these curtains with the remains of a white sheet, but that is not a great light blocker either. I am hoping for better results with the brown sheet. It's a slightly thicker weave sheet too, by the feel of it.

Big sheets are great for when you want large expanses of fabric - they're already hemmed and selvedged, and they're usually wider than you can reasonably buy per metre at the fabric shop. Best of all, they can usually be picked up for practically nothing at second hand stores, making them green and affordable. Read more...

Dec 1, 2007

kids book recommendation

We like Ella the Elegant Elephant. She's cute and funny and nice and learns neat little life lessons. But the coolest things are the illustrations - like Babar the Elephant and Madeline and Curious George all rolled into one. Timeless elegance. The Ella books are great. Read more...
Newer Posts Older Posts Home