Thursday, 11 December 2014

Reducing my waste footprint

I've been meaning to write this post for months but haven't gotten around to it, but this article in The Age today about the plastic count in the ocean has reminded me to get on to it. It estimates there is 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic floating on the ocean's surface. That doesn't include plastics further down in the water column, on the bottom of the ocean floor, or washed up on beaches.


The amount of rubbish that ends up in the oceans really saddens me. Although in places like Australia we attempt to prevent rubbish from entering the oceans to a certain degree, in other places around the world I've traveled to, they have amazing beaches but they're completely ruined by all the rubbish.  I know that a lot of these places don't have the technology or money to spend on preventing rubbish from entering waterways, but just the sheer lack of understanding or concern by so many people around the world about where rubbish ends up really bothers me.  I still see people here throwing rubbish out of cars or dropping cigarette butts on the ground, despite all the education campaigns and money we have to spend on preventing actions like that. I guess no amount of education will change the behavior of selfish assholes who think about nothing else but themselves.

If you really want to be depressed, Google 'The Great Pacific Garbage Patch'. It is so fucked up what we're doing to this planet, fundamentally I think we've screwed it up beyond the point of repair, not just in relation to rubbish but in relation to climate change as well. I've been studying Masters of Environmental Science for a couple of years now and it really doesn't give you much hope for the future when ALL of your lecturers express the opinion that we're well beyond the tipping point and, barring some kind of cull of the human population, we're all doomed.

But, instead of being completely depressed about it, I have been trying to do what I can to reduce my own waste footprint so that less of what I consume ends up in the oceans or stuck in landfill for many many years to come.

Warning:  In the next section I'm going to mention periods, if you don't wanna hear about that then maybe look away now, go look at memes of grumpy cat or something. 

The first thing I've done in the past few months to reduce my waste footprint is to switch from tampons and normal pads to using a cup and cloth pads. What is a cup you may ask? It is a re-useable silicon or rubber cup that you use as you would a tampon, however, the beauty of it is that you just need one of them which will last for years, so you don't have to be constantly buying and disposing of tampons. If you think about how many tampons and pads you will use in your lifetime it's quite scary. I started my period at 11 and will probably have it until I'm 45 or so, that's 30 odd years worth of using approx 15 tampons a month, that's a LOT of tampons and wrappers that end up in landfill, not to mention all the raw materials that are used to make them. There are other types of cup that are made of rubber or other materials but the cup I went with is the Lunette, it looks like this (I have the blue one):

It was actually quite random that I ended up trying one, I remember at a party earlier this year someone had mentioned that someone they knew had received one as a gift from a relative and we all thought it was totally weird and gross and who would want to tip blood out of a cup every month? But one afternoon when I was supposed to be studying I got all crazy about reducing my waste footprint and for some reason it was the first thing I googled and now I would have to say that switching to a cup is hands down the best decision I've made for my health in forever. I love it.

It's so easy, you don't have to think about it all day because they can stay in for 12 hours (depending on your flow). I only have to change it once a day and you can even use it overnight, although I haven't done that yet.  Yes, you do have to deal with blood if you want to use one, but I actually find it cool because you get to see what's going on down there. That might sound hippy dippy, but I had no idea it was so varied and that there was actually so little of it! The other thing is that because you only have to deal with it about once a day, you can just do it when you're home, so you never have to worry about emptying it when you're in public. That said, it's really not that hard.

I've only had a minor leakage issue once, but it's just a matter of re-positioning it and you're good to go. I've had way worse issues with tampons. The other thing is that because they're not absorbent, they don't dry everything up. They're fine for using when swimming, during crazy crossfit workouts, basically everywhere. They're also great for travelling because you only need to bring it, not an entire bag full of tampons.

I could go on about them for days, but if you're keen on trying one then I highly recommend watching these two videos, there are others out there but these two in particular I found really helpful:

Cups are not for everyone, if you're squeamish you might struggle, if you're not cool with sticking your fingers up there you might struggle and some people might just struggle for anatomical reasons, but, for me, I think they're fantastic and I encourage everyone who is curious to give it a try.
I'm not so sold on cloth pads yet, they're kind of like wearing a nappy because they tend to be really thick, I think I'll just start using the cup overnight instead.

End Period talk! 

The other thing I've done is to switch away from liquid soaps and body washes which come in a plastic container and back into using bar soaps that come in paper slips. I've also switched from using facewash that comes in a plastic bottle to using a bar of tea-tree castile soap and I'm about to switch from using shampoo and conditioner from plastic bottles into using bar shampoo and conditioner, ie. like the ones from Beauty and the Bees:


The only reason I haven't switched yet is because I still have some left that I'm using up.
I'm also trying to buy grocery items that are in glass, cardboard etc. rather than plastic, although for some things it seems impossible. I also try to buy in bulk rather than buying heaps of little containers of things.

So those are some of the ways I'm trying to reduce my own waste footprint. I also pick up rubbish in my street when I see it and I'm trying to find a group to join that cleans up along the beaches, but I haven't had much luck with that. Really I should just go and grab a rubbish bag and some gloves and do it myself.

Although I think we're screwed in the long run, I do think there are things all of us can do every day to reduce our impact on the planet.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


I survived the Uni field trip! It was a LOT of work, basically from 8:30 in the morning until 9pm at night with specific activities/lectures/field work and then, because we had to write a 2000 word essay by the end of the 5 days, working on that during the evening, until 2:30 or so one of the nights. I really didn't get much sleep and am exhausted this week as a result.

Apart from the crazy amount of work, it was fun. The people in the class were all really nice and some of them were very funny. Our little project went okay, although we got totally different results from another group who was looking at the same thing (nitrate levels in farm dams), so I don't know how accurate they are.

We got our 2000 word essay done and handed in though, so now we just have to write individual essays on the data we collected at the camp. That will not be fun, I haven't done that kind of data analysis since I did my honours project back in 2003! I am going to have to drag out the stats text book I think, or just look up "Stats for Dummies".

Here is a picture of my group. We made a selfie stick out of part of our quadrat, works quite well! Our group was a complete mix of backgrounds, everyone was from a different country. It was good, I learnt a lot about Egypt, China, Indonesia and Malaysia and also a bit about Muslims, which was great, given all the rubbish in the news at the moment. One thing I learnt, which myself and the Chinese guy (neither of us are in the least bit religious) thought was crazy, was that they are supposed to pray 5 times a day. 5! Such a time commitment, they deserve props just for that I think.

The camp was at the Melbourne Uni agricultural college, which was quite cool. I spoke with one of the farm hands at lunch and he said that they used to have hundreds of students all the time but now they barely get anyone through at all, so lots of things are a bit run down. There are a lot of facilities up there though, it would be great to work out of. We even got our own little rooms which was cool, I was dreading having to be in a dorm. The rooms had desks too, which is lucky, given the amount of work we had to do.

I'm going to do a separate post about my current weight issues, but the food up there really wasn't diet friendly at all. Breakfast was cereal, toast, yogurt and fruit. Lunch was a bread roll, cake, a biscuit and fruit. Dinner was a choice of something like roast beef, chicken kiev or fried fish and then dessert.  We were starving though so we ate it all.

It was a good experience all up. The highlight was a guest lecture from someone who worked at the local Catchment Management Authority, it really made me want to work in the environmental field.  I really wish I hadn't got myself stuck in my current job rut and had tried harder to get a relevant job after I finished honours, but realistically that was a horrible time in my life, so I don't think it would have happened much differently. Honestly, if my current job was just in Department of Environment or something like that instead of Dep of Education, it would be bloody perfect.

So anyway, I just have this individual essay due at the end of October and then I'm done with Uni again til March, woot! The subject next year should be my final subject for the course too I think, exciting, although I have to get the right average to actually get Masters, otherwise I think I just get a Graduate Diploma or something like that. Anyway, I guess I should spend less time on the internet and more time reading "Stats for Dummies".

Saturday, 20 September 2014


Wow, looks like I haven't blogged in over year and I'm still struggling with the same crap I was in my last post! That's a bit lame really.

I guess lots and not much has happened since then. Work is the same old, I've been temporarily promoted to a manager role so I'm now just better paid and more stressed. I'm definitely looking to get out of there though, I've wasted far too much of my life doing something I really don't have that much interest in and not doing what I am really passionate about. As ever though, there's a lack of jobs in that field, but I'll just keep looking. I will have to take a significant pay cut to move jobs into the environmental field though, so it's tempting to just try and stick it out until my higher duties ends next year, which will also be around the time that I finish uni, so that might make it easier to get a job too.  We shall see.

So I'm still studying, 4 years so far I think. I've only got two more subjects to go though, so the end is in sight (half way through 2015). The subject I'm doing at the moment is good, it's environmental impact monitoring and we're off on a 5 day field trip next week to Melbourne Uni's Dookie campus, which is an agricultural campus near Shepparton. We get to do monitoring projects on a farm, so it should be fun, although there's a 2000 word essay due at the end of the 5 days which will be less fun. Either way it's got to be better at being at work.

My life lately has pretty much just been work and uni. I've really been struggling to make it to Crossfit, I have been working late and then getting home late so I stay up late to try and get some study in and then I can't get up early enough to get there, or there's meeting at 9am which means I can't go etc. etc. I'm trying to turn it around now though, I'm hoping now it's lighter in the mornings it will be easier to make myself get up and go before work and I'm also trying not to stay at work too long too as well. Plus I'll be on Uni holidays after the end of October too, so that'll be a huge help. I went on Thursday this week and my abs are still too sore to cough now! That's the price you pay for non-attendance.

I guess one thing I did this year was going overseas, that was fun. Glenn and I went to the UK for a wedding, then Amsterdam, Germany and the Czech Republic. I highly recommend the Czech Republic, it's gorgeous and has delicious and cheap food and beer. The wedding was heaps of fun, at Kew Gardens in London.

One thing that happened last year that's still affecting me this year was the breakdown of a significant friendship. Lots of things had happened over the years and it had probably been a long time coming but it just fell apart quite suddenly, mostly through my own doing I'm sad to say.  It felt kind of like a breakup and really the only way I've been able to deal with it is by avoiding that person as much as possible until I get over it, which is quite difficult when they seem to go everywhere and hang out with everyone. I guess I'd like us to be okay with each other, or at the very least I'd like it to not be difficult and stressful and awkward to see them, but it's certainly not there yet and it's meant missing out on quite a few events.

So instead of hanging out with friends, this year I've been spending more time at the farm with my dad, which has been really nice. It's also a good time of year up there at the moment, not too hot and all the cows are calving, so there's cute calves running around everywhere. Another good thing that's happening is that my brother's wife is about to have a baby, so that's something exciting to look forward to. She's due on Tuesday actually, so it will probably happen while I'm up at Dookie.

Another thing that's happening is that Glenn and I are vaguely talking about moving in together, mostly to see if we can do it, cuz if we can't then we should probably break up!I think the biggest issues will be hours (he's a night owl and I'm in bed by 11) and cleanliness, I'm not super clean but he's grotty! I think we might get a cleaner. My lease doesn't run out until March or April, so there's still quite a bit of time before we really decide what we're doing.

So there, that's what's been going on. Lots and nothing all at once! I'm going to try and keep posting on here, mostly to keep sane, but we'll see how that goes after the last couple of tries!

Oh and I totally failed that 90 day food challenge from my last post btw! (and probably another couple of challenges after that too).