Christmas decorations can be costly and often lacking in personality and pizazz. How about making this year a recycled Christmas? Create some dangling festive orbs that reflect your inner eco warrior! Personalise your decor and dazzle folks with your crafty skills. Your tree will be the jazziest in town AND you’ll be saving the environment too!

 
HOW TO MAKE MILK BOTTLE TOP BAUBLES

You will need:

  • Plastic milk bottle lids (preferably green)
  • Gold spray paint
  • Stencil
  • Craft string (red)
  • Newspaper
  • Scissors

How to:

  • Clean and dry your lids. Stinky milk is hardly the festive aroma we’re looking for.
  • Lay down a sheet of newspaper. You don’t want to end up with paint all over the joint!
  • Open the windows to avoid fumigating yourself.
  • Place your stencil in the center of the lid, press it down firmly for a crisp line.

  • Carefully spray an even layer of paint and leave to dry. I bought a few stencils so was able to get a little production line going. If you are a crafting pro you could make your own and get crazy with the designs. I am somewhat lazy and happened to find these tiny snowflakes which did the job perfectly.

  • They should be touch dry in about 10 minutes (check on the back of the can for drying times) if it looks blotchy give it another layer. Once this side is dry turn it over and spray the back.
  • This next step Is VERY effective although I don’t recommend it! I heated up the end of a screw driver on the cooker top and then pushed it through the side of the lid to make a hole. It worked well but half way through I noticed the smell and realised I was probably inhaling poisonous plastic fumes! You could use a hole punch, or a knife or even maybe a corkscrew.

  • When the lid is dry carefully peel off the stencil. Once I had stenciled all my lids I left them to dry completely over night.

For the hanger;

  •  Cut off a length of craft string, about 3 inches long. I chose red because combined with gold and green they are the ULTIMATE Christmas combo.

  • Poke the string through in a loop and tie the end inside the lid into a knot. Trim off the ends.

VOILA! There you have it, a use for bottle tops. Unrecyclable, single use nasties transformed into BEAUTIFUL Christmas decorations. Who’d have thought it?!

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SOOOO…shampoo’s and conditioners come in plastic bottles and seeing as I recently took the vow, under oath: Thou shalt not buy any new plastics...I’ve been searching for an alternative like a demon! I mean, I’m all for the cause and I could suffer for my art, if I wanted to, and I’m definitely feeling the environmentalist vibes but I’m not sure that I’m ready to stop washing altogether!
I wondered to myself “what did folks do before the days of Vidal Sassoon and Herbal Essences”? We take it for granted nowadays, the market is saturated with ridiculous concoctions and we are constantly reminded through TV commercials how bloody important it is to keep those tresses primped and preened!! So, feeling curious I gave myself a quick history lesson in shampoos through the ages! (in no particular order)

DANG! My hairs like wire bloody wool!

GLADIATORS READY?!

Apparently Ancient Romans viewed shampooing as a bit of chore so very rarely did it. They had far more important things to be doing such as watching Gladiators kill each other in grizzly fashion, or re-writing history to suit their own political needs, or engaging in illicit sexy times with family members. However, when/if they did wash their hair they would use an attractive mixture of animal fats and ashes. This heady mix was so harsh that many would have been walking around with hair do’s resembling a used Brillo pad! Because of this most people would simply shave their heads.  The elite and privileged would then don elaborate wigs and headdresses.

GAME OF THRONES

If you were unlucky enough to be born a peasant during medieval times chances were you would probably NEVER wash your hair. This would be the last thing on your mind seeing as you were living a slave existence and spent your whole life working your filthy fingers to the bone JUST to pay your wages to the church and lords in taxes. The fear of hell-for-your-sins was so deeply terrorized into them by the church that they just got on with it, filthy hair and all without so much as a murmur! In fact during these grim times you would probably experience only two baths in your entire existence, one at birth and one when you carked it!

WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

The Egyptians on the other hand were incredibly vain, they would style their hair with animal fat based products to enhance appearance and really show off their individuality, not really washing as such, but damn they would have looked good! Even after death their loved ones would maintain their ‘do’…because who wants to walk into the afterlife with a bad hair day?! Mummified remains have been found with impeccably preserved hair in a whole range of trendy styles.

OOOOOH, your hairs dead shiny!

Back to the mission in hand…after months of brewing in my dungeon and testing on my own poor tresses I think I may have found the solution! Its plastic free and entirely devoid of any harsh chemicals, double win! This is a recipe that even the Romans might have used it’s so EASY!

SHAMPOO RECIPE

Now listen carefully, this is the scientific bit, just one magical ingredient…Bicarbonate of Soda. That’s it. WOAH MAMMA, stone the crows, it’s a miracle!

METHOD

Stir 1 heaped tsp of bicarb into a mug of warm water, take to the shower/bath with you. Wet your hair, pour the mixture over your hair and massage in to your scalp as usual. Don’t be alarmed by the lack of suds, contrary to popular belief bubbles DON’T make things cleaner!

CONDITIONER RECIPE

2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a large mug of warm water

METHOD

Pour the mixture slowly over your hair, it works like a rinse. Avoid eye contact!! I leave it in for a few minutes before rinsing. This shit is the BOMBDIGGITY!

Shiny disco ball…

Your hair will be more shiny than a teenagers t zone and more dazzling than John Travolta’s false teeth.  People will literally have their minds blown out of their skulls in sheer wonderment, be careful where you point it!

Tip #1 – use luke warm water to rinse, this helps with shine and doesn’t frazzle your hair.

Tip#2 –  it takes about a week for your hair to rid itself of the previous products and chemicals found in conventional shampoos.  Whilst you go through this transition your hair may feel heavy and greasy,  give it a chance to settle before you give up hope! Healthy, shiny and chemical free hair is worth the wait, I promise!

Fact; most modern shampoos are made with synthetic components, whilst your hair appears to be healthy and sleek, it is actually more of a man-made shine. These chemicals aren’t particularly good for you or the environment.

EGGSTRA-ORDINARY DEEP CONDITIONING RECIPE

1 egg, beaten (more depending on your hair length or the amount of heads you plan to smother)
2 TBS of extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  • Mix the egg and olive oil together in a bowl
  • Wet you hair
  • Smooth on the mixture
  • Wrap your head in a towel and leave for 20 minutes
  • Wash off under luke warm water, any hotter could result in scrambled eggs…in your hair. NOT, I repeat NOT the desired effect!

* I use the egg conditioner a couple of times a month just to give my tresses a little eggy treat. Any more shine and I could be considered a public liability, people would literally be dazzled blind!

My new razor is a beast, a machine and a thing of beauty! It exudes cool elegance and holding the weight of it in my hand I have to admit, I feel like a real man! This is the kind of weapon my grandpa would have used, the kind that Gatsby and Gene Kelly  would have been smoothing their chiseled faces with, this is next level grooming.

Shaving my legs is now an event, gone are the days of the shoddy, flimsy plastic Bic razor and never before have I put so much thought into the process.
I prepare my pins with a good lather of olive oil soap before reaching for it.
It glints menacingly as the stainless steel catches a sliver of sunshine. It feels powerful and dare I say, even a little dangerous! Ooh! I shave tentatively and in the direction of the hairs growth, I hold the end of the handle as this seems to work well with the weight distribution. I am EXTRA careful around my ankles, knees and sacred lady parts, after all, this baby could slice me up quicker than Sweeney Todd!
After the shave I smooth olive oil over my skin whilst it’s still damp, things can get a little dry without the added moisturising strip which comes with most modern plastic razors.

The results are outstanding, my legs are smoother than a Barry White compilation tape  and after a week or so I noticed that redness and irritation are things of the past.
The razor itself set me back a sweet $70,  I could have probably found it cheaper on eBay, or maybe even scoured the antique shops but when I saw it glinting at me from its glass cabinet, it was love at first sight. I’m thinking that within the year it will have paid for itself anyway, a pack of new blades will set you back a mere couple of dollars which compared to modern cartridges is PEANUTS! Plus,  if looked after lovingly the razor will last forever.


This lost art is making a comeback with men and I think us ladies should join the revival too, everything about it screams badass and not only that but its better for the environment and easier on your purse. Its a well worthy investment and once again a win in the war against throwaway plastic!

My plastic collection so far is modest, not bad at all I’d say. But every now and again I will admit I do fall upon the odd failure.
My biggest fail to date occurred at an impromptu feasting session. Myself and a friend were invited to fill spaces at a food tasting event…on a boat…on Sydney harbor…with free wine! How could we refuse?!

Unfortunately the food cruise dream quickly descended into a plastic nightmare! Most samples came served in tiny plastic cups and as friendly sales people loomed over me , long arms stretching towards me brandishing plastic spoons and bowls and cups of delicious looking fayre, I shied away as if they had offered me baby vomit or nuclear waste. The sales people were visibly confused by my reaction and dejectedly sniffed at their offerings checking for off meat or hairs dangling out.

(This is a slightly dramatised version of reality, in truth I ate everything I could get my greedy paws on as long as it wasn’t served in plastic. I caved in to a free sample of exotic spices on the way out. It tasted great and I was dazzled by the marketing, what can I say? I’m weak, sometimes!)

 

THE OFFENDING ITEMS;

Not so bad, most of it is merely the remnant of a former life; old razor cartridges, cleaning product bottles which broke before I could reuse and the wrappers from dishwasher tablets which we are STILL getting through!
New items include the packet which contained 50 envelopes, I had to post wedding invitations home and couldn’t find then loose. The wrapper from a jar of Jalepenos, wrapper on a jar?! What madness! The offending spice packaging which was actually bags within bags…NAUGHTY.

This week I ran out of body scrub AND shower gel, damn it! I LOVE a good scrub and obviously I need to stay clean but like most other beauty products they both come packaged in plastic. But were you also aware that the friendly scrubby ‘Micro Beads’ in exfoliator are plastic too?! Inside and out, throwaway plastics have infiltrated our lives in such epic style that it seems hard to avoid.

Micro beads have been around for years, they are present in exfoliators and used as abrasives in cleaning products. For the entirety of their existence we have been pouring them down the drain without a thought. Because they are so minuscule it is virtually impossible to filter them through our drainage systems and this means that most will sadly end up in our oceans.
This is terribly bad news for the Zooplankton, the fishes who dine on them and in turn humans as our fishy food fascination continues unabated. In light of this, today’s mission is all about scrubbing, naturally!

HONEY, SUGAR & OLIVE OIL SCRUB

Ingredients;

  • Honey 2 tbsp
  • Raw sugar 1/2 jar
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil 3 tbsp
  • 1 Glass Jar

The method is simple; first add the olive oil to the jar, this will stop everything else from sticking. Next add the sugar and honey. Mix well.

I use this a couple of times a week, the sugar is just hard enough for a good scrub but then dissolves in the hot water nicely, the olive oil leaves your skin SO soft. No need to moisturise afterwards.

( Extra virgin olive oil, all by itself, is one of natures best beauty secrets. In addition to being a natural, hypoallergenic way to moisturize skin, extra virgin olive oil has the added advantage of providing strong antioxidants, like Vitamins A and E that help repair and renew skin that has been damaged from overexposure to sun, air pollution, and other modern-day environmental hazards – like cigarette smoke and fast food. These antioxidants have the natural ability to stimulate cells and return skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state…it is AMAZING!)

COFFEE GRIND YOUR BODY!

Recently I have been popping into the cafe and asking for the left over coffee grinds, once again I look like a lunatic BUT they do make for an amazing, invigorating AND plastic free scrub! The caffeine is great for your skins circulation and some even say that if used regularly it can greatly reduce cellulite. As soon as I mentioned this at work everyone was off home with paper bags full of the stuff! Even my boy loves it!

These two are the only ones I’ve tried so far and I highly recommend both but if you are looking for something a little different here’s a link to Tip Junkie, they have a huge list of simple, cheap and good-enough-to-eat recipes.

And before you go…here’s a little song about micro beads!

BEAT THE MICRO BEAD – Plastic Soup Foundation & The North Sea Foundation from PlasticSoupFoundation on Vimeo.

Have you ever wondered what toothpaste really is? What’s the secret ingredient that makes your gnashers shine like stars? What makes that sweet foaming action? And how your breath stays so minty fresh? As my project continues I am discovering more and more about what goes into the products which I use every day and this week my challenge came in plastic tube form; TOOTHPASTE!


Looking at the list of ingredients my mind boggles; what the hell is titanium dioxide?! Or PVM/MA copolymer?! Doing the only thing I know  in these situations, I Googled it!  It turns out that most of these unprenouncables are pretty undesirable too, and most definitely NOT what I want in my gob! The list ranges from white paint to washing detergent (to get that good old frothy feeling) and a gluey type substance to stick it all on your teeth. Yum! Suddenly the good old friendly toothpaste starts to look rather ominous.


In light of these discoveries this week my housemates became (willing) human guinnea pigs! Our bathroom is slowly filling up with an assortment of jars full of curious looking powders, pastes and scrubs and I found a simple recipe for a homemade and natural toothpaste…


HOW TO MAKE COCONUT OIL TOOTHPASTE (enough for a week)

  • 3 table spoons of pure cold pressed coconut oil
  • 3 table spoons of ordinary Bicarb of soda
  • 3/4 drops of essential oil (I chose peppermint for its minty freshness!)

That’s it! It’s so easy!  Just mix the equal parts coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl with the essential oil. I then transferred mine into a old jar (sterilised) and have been using a mini butter knife to scoop it onto my toothbrush.

In all honesty the flavour takes a bit of getting used to, without the froth and the sweetener the vibe is totally different but just knowing that the ingredients are natural and that I beat the plastic tube makes the victory all the sweet that I need! What’s more our teeth are clean and after a week most of the house are converted! No more painty teeth, no more plastic!

So my first week of plastic free living has proved a lot easier than expected. Having perused my own cupboards and witnessed the overwhelming amount of packaging in the supermarkets I was feeling a looming sense of trepidation, I realised that I had fully committed to this cause and had very little idea what I was getting myself into! But then what is life without a good adventure? I feel alive! I’m on fire! A raging ball of environmental activism is burning within me! I’m ready for action and armed to the teeth with my reusable items and as I set out on my shopping trip I am filled with a real sense of purpose; its not just about choosing dinner now…this means BUSINESS!

My first challenge of the day was the butchers shop, and when I say challenge, this is a wild dramatisation! The staff in the shop were more than happy to help me on my quest; they put my meat into my own reusable tub and even sold me their own stash of grated Parmesan because the regular stuff was vacuum sealed in plastic. It almost seemed too easy! As I babbled my story like a crazed lunatic they listened with friendly intrigue, the fact that I was doing something different was a great conversation starter and I felt like I had passed on my message without even trying. I left the butchers with a deep sense of satisfaction…

Amy 1 – Plastic 0!

The trickiest challenge actually came when I went shopping at the supermarket on the hunt for a pasta dinner. Have you ever tried to find a bag of pasta which isn’t made of plastic? It’s virtually impossible! In the end I decided to bite the bullet and make my own, like momma used to make! So here’s my incredibly complex recipe;
2 cups of flour and 2 eggs. Boom.
Method; Mix the flour and eggs together until doughy…

Knead the dough until it feels elastic, leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes wrapped in a damp cloth, roll out the dough and slice into something which resembles Linguini! Some people like to use a rolling pin or pasta maker,  call me crazy but I used a wine bottle.

The fact that I was making my own pasta had inspired me so much that I also made my own pesto and the fact that I was doing all this creating compelled my house mate Deb to purchase a beautiful bottle of wine! It was like a circle of tasty joy was forming! The final product may have looked a little lumpy but it tasted delicious, and as we sat stuffed and rosy cheeked from the wine I felt that happy feeling of satisfaction creeping back in. Another sweet (and tasty) victory for Amy.
As I slowly use up the plastic products which were purchased prior to my mission, I will find new ways to live, minus the plastic wrapping.  I feel like my eyes are open and there’s no turning back. This new challenge has my blood pumping and it feels great!
*Last weeks plastic waste; 1 x plastic bag!! I KNOW! EPIC FAIL! was so busy feeling amazed at a sale price that I momentarily forgot my mission! 1 Blueberry box, 2 x cosmetic containers (purchased prior to mission) 2 x dishwasher tablet packets, 1 juice lid (Tommie) 1 x Chai tea packet. Not bad for the first week! There is hope yet!