Mrs Morley’s Cash Mob

Mrs Morley is a 99 year old, six days a week, haberdashery shop owner and she’s worked in her tiny shop in Manly since 1989.

In a gesture of good will and community spirit, Mrs Morley’s retail neighbour, Desire Books organised a ‘cash mob’ calling on folks to come down to the store on Saturday morning to spend $5 in the shop.

It was really heartwarming to join the queue in a show of support for local, independent business and to meet others happy to take time out from busy schedules to chat and have a cup of tea and pick up some cotton or a metre or two of ribbon.  There is something very special in that.

Oh, and Mrs Morley still tallies up all your sewing notions without a calculator.

To watch a very lovely video of the day, visit here.

Shampoo-free hair care

I’ve ditched commercial shampoo and conditioner and jumped on the bicarb and vinegar bandwagon.

It’s been about three months now and I can’t see a reason to change: it’s cheap, effective, reduces plastic waste, and most importantly it doesn’t contain all the heavy chemicals in regular shampoos and conditioners, so it’s better for you and the environment.

Lots of people are writing about it, like this one, this one and this one, with different ratios and formulas, but you can be quite relaxed about it.  This is roughly what I do:

In one clean, used bottle mix about 1 part bicarb with 4 parts water.  This is your “shampoo”.

Then in another bottle, mix the same ratio of vinegar and water.  This is your conditioning rinse.

Shake well before use and apply them as you would shampoo and conditioner.

Et voila!

Greener Transport

Travel is a wonderful thing.  It’s a chance to learn and see and do new things, to meet new people and open our minds and be challenged, and this latest trip was such a wonderful time I’m dreaming up my next holiday abroad!

I majored in International Social Development at university and have always been interested in other cultures so it follows that much of my early travels had been in developing countries.  Despite all those incredible experiences, I often felt uncomfortable about the impact of tourism on local communities, conscious that no matter how culturally sensitive I try to be, I am fuelling change both good and bad, along with the many thousands of people who have trod that very same path.  This is a highly debatable topic and Wild Wilderness throws some heavy punches in the direction of tourism, but with the evening news filled with stories about racism and intolerance around the globe I don’t think this is a time to be parochial.

Now however, thanks to a UK born husband, my holidays have been in Europe and I suppose responsible tourism here is more about greener modes of transport since the aviation industry is one of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions.

I’m going to say upfront that I am not a supporter of carbon off-setting.  It’s not a long term solution and along with all the other quick fixes, it doesn’t create change but allows people to feel good about themselves without actually doing anything different.  Rather, we should reconsider travel altogether and think about alternatives.

So this time, rather than jet set across Europe, we packed light and boarded the train.  I loved that you could board the train in, say, Vienna and a few hours later hop off in Hungary – a totally foreign concept in Australia!

Seat 61 has done the maths and train travel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.  It’s also cheaper, sometimes faster when you consider check-in times, and leaves you to relax and enjoy the ride.

But sustainable transport is not just for holidays.  When my old car broke down for the last time (may she rest in peace) James and I decided to look into car sharing rather than buy a new one.  We are lucky that a commercial scheme operates in our neighbourhood and in the two years we’ve been car sharing, the fleet has tripled which means it’s rising in popularity.  It’s pretty convenient and I haven’t really felt the need to own a car at all.  Certainly it’s not always the cheapest way to get from A to B, but then I just jump on a bus or a ferry and I’m there.

Waste Not

While I was writing an earlier post I found myself on tangent about waste in general and decided I’d make a separate post about it.

It’s something to consider that the junk that washes up on the beach or is discarded in bushland is just a fraction of waste the modern world produces.  I for one am very conscious of the rubbish I generate and I try to make sustainable choices, but sometimes there are no alternatives.  Many times food can only be purchased in disposable, non-recyclable packaging.  If you’re lucky to have a food cooperative in the neighbourhood, your waste would be considerably reduced, but it comes at a higher price and for some this in not an economical option, especially when the large supermarket chains can offer significant savings for everyday necessities.

What is positive, if not perfect, is that eco has become chic in the West and big brands are falling over themselves to manufacture organic and sustainable products in recyclable packaging.  This is still profit driven, but is a sign of change, however small that may be.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed, particularly when I am travelling in countries that haven’t been conditioned since childhood to put rubbish in the bin, and lack the infrastructure to support waste and recycling programs.  But I remember that ozone destroying CFCs were widely used until effective campaigning saw them banned from production.  So perhaps there is hope.

Two Hands

I took Rosemary and Yumi to Collins beach some weeks ago.  I probably talked it up, but it’s remarkable this secluded beach is just minutes from the bustle of Manly’s Corso.  When we arrived though, I was shocked by the amount of rubbish that had been washed up in the high tide.  Plastic bags, wrappers and bottles were strewn across the beach, looking more like a tip than one of Sydney’s fine harbour beaches.

It’s easy to lay blame on tourists or the local council but the sad reality is rubbish, particularly plastic waste that finds its way into the ocean, is not only an eyesore but a threat to marine life as they become entangled or ingest it, causing injury or death. So it really becomes everyone’s responsibility.

There are numerous grassroots campaigns that are making positive change in this area because they are accessible and localise action.  In the case of the Two Hands Project, all you need is “30 minutes, Two hands, Anywhere, Anytime” to make change, while Take 3’s message is “take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference”.

It’s also inspiring to see how people are turning rubbish into art.  I took the following picture at Confest a few years ago.  I’m afraid I don’t have a name to credit, but this artist collected hundreds of discarded cigarette lighters, washed up along waterways, to create striking mandalas.