Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Archive for the ‘Minimalism’ Category

Earth Day – an alternative to the plastic bag that lines your rubbish bin

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Happy Earth Day everyone!  Over the past number of years (a decade perhaps?) we have been steadily reducing our plastic consumption / use.  Happily, Western Australia will FINALLY be implementing a ban on single use plastic bags from 1 July 2018.

One of the discussions that seems to come up a LOT is “I NEED my plastic bags to line my rubbish bin!”   OMG!!! WHAT WILL I DO WITHOUT PLASTIC BAGS!???   (Seriously people.   Chill!).   It’s all good.  What I have been doing for the past year or so has been lining my bin with newspapers.  I still have those “produce plastic bags” (from the archive), so this pic shows it being used as a liner – which I then put the newspaper liner in.  (NB:  not anymore!  But it was there when the photo was taken).  

It is an easy, origami type thing that takes me about ten minutes a week, which I do with some of the weekend paper (the only day of the week we buy the newspaper).  You can look on You Tube for “bin liner replacement” or similar, and find a whole lot of videos on how to do this.  It is definitely not difficult, but I found I had to watch the video for the first few weeks.   But now it is like any habit;  ingrained in the grey cells!

But what about WET things, I hear your ask?  Ah yes… “wet things”.  Well, newspapers aren’t the greatest for these things of the non-dry world.  I keep a small container that I use for non-compostable items.  Then each week I wrap that small amount in newspaper before popping it in the bin.   It has never been a problem.

As with any change, (and people seems to hate change!) it just takes getting used to.   It is a normal part of my weekly routine, and I love the smaller impact we are having on landfill.   Every little bit helps, right?   Would love to hear about your successes in this!


Five Tips for a Simple Thrift-mas

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How did the silly season arrive with such rapidity this year? Egads, I was in the CBD earlier this week, and ALREADY there were Christmas shoppers out there, running around like headless chooks! With that in mind, I thought I would try and do my bit for a simpler, greener, less stressful holiday season. In no particular order, here are five things that you can employ that will make your holidays more enjoyable, less stressful and easier on the pocketbook! (“Thrift-mas” – you’re welcome).

  1. Learn the Art of “No”.   You simply don’t have to do it all!  Yes, there will be invites to things – but think of the amount of times that you have said “Gosh, I’d really rather not go to XXXX (insert boring social event of your choice)”.   Well, don’t!   I know you can come up with a lot of excuses as to why you CAN’T say no…. but try and challenge yourself!   And by doing that, you can be honouring yourself.  Saying no can be done graciously.  Here are a few ways to say no politely:
    • Thanks so much for the invite!  Unfortunately I/we won’t be able to make it.  But have a drink for us!
    • I would really love to come to X, but I have already made plans for that morning / afternoon / evening (NB:  even if your plans mean curling up with a book and listening to music!)
    • I am feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment with all the holiday planning, and I really need to take a step back from all these social engagements.  Have a great time and send me a photo!   (and thanks for thinking of me).
  2. Remember the motto “It is better to DO, than to HAVE”.   If you still have present obligations, remember that the gift of TIME is always an appreciated one!   You can prepare little “gift certificates” that provide your friends and family with quality time with you (big night in, complete with movie of choice and popcorn, anyone?), or assistance for people who may need it (“this voucher good for one hour gardening time”).   This can also be extended to providing gifts of experiences, rather than buying more “things”.   Examples are movie vouchers, dinner vouchers, or even sporting experiences that you can share together (trips to the local swimming pool, or an indoor skydive?).
  3. Wrap with the REUSE in mind.   I always save wrapping or tissue paper when I can.  If you ARE wrapping up a gift, try to use wrapping paper that has already had a good life.   So much waste is generated during the holiday period, it is good if we can minimise where we can.  And no-one is going to care if their gift is wrapped in paper that is on its second life.   Trust me.  And if YOU get given a gift that has beautiful wrapping paper surrounding it, keep it and reuse it yourself next time!  Ditto for the ribbons.
  4. Remember those less fortunate.  This is a tough time of year for a lot of people.  Instead of buying “things”, think about making a donation to a charity in a friend’s / family member’s name.   Or get the family involved in making a “reverse Advent calendar” (where you put a new item in every day up until Christmas, then gift that to a worthy charity.  One very worthy charity in Perth can be found here).
  5. Get all old school and give home made gifts.  Spending some time baking yummy treats and then packaging them up in festive (recycled) ways are always a hit.  Made with love, the old-fashioned home baked goodies are definitely appreciated.  This year I am doing gingerbread muffins, festive shortbread, and fruit drops.  (my first Xmas batch of protein rich bliss balls shown below are already out the door!)

Remember to take the time to relax during this festive period.  Happy holidays everyone!

Pictured: Home made bliss balls. Always a hit! Heck, they even kinda look like snowballs (and these are about as close to a snowball as we are going to get in Australia in the middle of summer!)

Written by Mar(k)

December 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

The season of giving – and some thoughts about the NFP sector “being more like business”

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It is that time of year when people often are looking for gifts for that “hard to buy for” person in their life.  We are big advocates of buying “experiences”, rather than “things”.  In a similar vein, making donations to charities is also a great way of giving back – and you can make donations in someone else’s name, as a gift to them!   With so many wonderful causes out there, it is hard to know where to donate.  But one way (assuming you are giving a donation as a “gift” for someone on your Christmas List), is to think about what they love to do, and match your donation to a charity that works in that area.

  • Does the person love music?   How about your local orchestra, opera company or young musicians group?  (Hint:  We love WAYJO – the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra)
  • Does the person love the great outdoors?   How about a local bushwalking group?  or a “friends of…. (pick a park, wilderness area, or nature reserve) (Hint:  We love the Bibbulmun Track Foundation
  • Is the person a passionate surfer or love the beach?  What about a donation to Surf Lifesavers, or Sea Shepherd?
  • You get the idea.   The sky is the limit!   (Hint:  We love the Royal Flying Doctor Service – ha ha ha)

Whatever you do, your donation is always greatly appreciated by not-for-profit groups (and if nothing jumps out at you – there is the always popular Oxfam Unwrapped option).

And for some food for thought, because we know some of our readers are also philanthropists in the corporate sector (who give much needed funding to NFPs), Why the NFP sector should (or should NOT be) “more like business”.   Always interested in reading what people think about this area, and it may provide good food for thought as you think about your corporate donations into the next calendar year.  Would love to know what you think.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  We will catch you in 2016.

Written by Mar(k)

December 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Waste not, want not! Why I decided to dumpster dive

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This past weekend, Mark and I were helping to clean up after another successful Perth Relay for Life event (a fundraising event for the Cancer Council of WA).   It is an organisation that we have both been involved with for years.  It was interesting to help out as virtual strangers:   we had both been on the organising committee for this event for five years each (with some overlap).   Mar had been the Volunteer Coordinator, and Deputy Chairperson;  Mark had learnt the ropes while being on the committee, and then chaired the event itself over a number of years.  But now, time has marched on, and no longer do we get an invite to the “VIP” event!   Ha ha – this is actually really fine by us!   We are just happy to help out behind the scenes, and let the new guard take over.

Anyhow, while we were helping to clean up yesterday, I had noticed that in the rubbish bin were a whole lot of cut up fruit!   I am talking seriously good, nothing wrong with it, why are we throwing it away –  kind of fruit!   I asked why, and was told that (blank blank – I will not name the organisation here) was getting a donation of all the left over food, but they would not accept food that had already been cut up.  Well, I decided to do a wee bit of dumpster diving, and in I went…. and out came the ten bags of perfectly good fruit!

Perfectly good fruit!  Glad it is not going to waste....

Perfectly good fruit! Glad it is not going to waste….

Let me tell you – these fruit pieces were BIG.  There were juicy oranges, crispy apples, and ripe pears – all of them, that had just been halved.   Nothing wrong with them at all!   I hate seeing food go to waste, so I grabbed the lot of them (well, I didn’t grab the watermelon, because it DID look a bit sad, and knew it wouldn’t make it through the night).   So this morning I gave Oz Harvest a call – a great organisation that I am involved with.  They were more than happy to pick up our ten bags of fruit (see photo).   So less than two hours later, the delivery van had arrived, picked up our donation, and was then off to deliver it to a deserving organisation later today!   (NB:  You can also check out their facebook page here – give them a like!)   At the time of writing this post, they have helped rescue over 10,000 TONNES of food – helping to provide over 32 MILLION meals.   THAT is impressive!

I have passed on the contact details of Oz Harvest to the person who is responsible for donating the left over food at the Relay for Life event.  Who knows?  Maybe next year Oz Harvest will get ALL of the leftovers!

Written by Mar(k)

May 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm

The Spirit of Generosity – alive and well!

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Hello everyone!  I am just so thrilled to share a good news story with you all, to kick off 2015.  I am entering into my second year of minimalism, which is an ongoing, dedicated journey.   To simplify my life, and allow space for the things that really matter, slowly but surely, I am getting rid of clutter, and re-homing things where possible.  One way that I do that, is through the use of ‘The Freecycle Network”.   As their home page states:

“The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,194 groups with 8,555,524 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free.”

I love it.   I have used it to both get things I need (uncommonly), as well as re-distribute things to others (commonly).  Today was such a day.  I had posted a number of items that I was getting rid of on their Facebook Page.  In very short order, I had a number of people interested in everything I had.  Great.  Then hubby came into the room, and asked if I could somehow use Freecycle to help out an asylum seeker who had recently been released from a detention centre, into the community.  This man has nothing, and one of his most pressing needs was to find a single bed to sleep on.  So I posted my request on the Facebook Freecycle Page, outlining pretty much what I have just said in this paragraph.  The response just made me so happy!   People who weren’t able to assist were “liking” my post.   And within 15 minutes, I had two offers of a bed for him, plus a kind soul who also offered a wardrobe and bedside table!   What amazingly generous people are out there!   And isn’t it great to be able to use the internet to help others!?  (NB:  Since then, there have been additional offers of beds and other goods.  Wow.)

This mattress has come to represent much more to me than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day

This mattress has come to represent much more to me than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day

Hubby had some concerns about me putting my request out there so “blatantly”  (read: honestly) as it was for an asylum seeker.   In Australia right now, the whole refugee and asylum seeker issue is such a hot topic, and has polarised many people in the community.  But I was so heartened that what I experienced was genuine concern for others, and particularly the most vulnerable people in our society.  People who have nothing, and are traumatised.   So I just had to share this good news story with you all!    Happy New Year, and may 2015 be a marvelous year for everyone.  And if you feel like you are in a position to somehow help asylum seekers and detainees in Perth, you can check out what CARAD does here.

A Simpler Life – and what that means for this blog!

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As we are rapidly approaching the end of another year, I thought I would send us off into the New Year with some thoughts around living (more) simply.  After just having celebrated some holidays with loved ones, I noticed that many people seem exhausted from the effort, rather than rejuvenated.  Whilst I won’t go into the whole “expectation, tradition, pleasing others” experience, suffice it to say that everyone seems to breathe a collective sigh of relief in the days after Christmas, when the relatives have (largely) left, the leftovers are (largely) consumed, and day to day living can get back to normal.


Then a mere week later, things gear up again for people to don the “resolution” hat, and doggedly dig out the trainers, dust off the bicycle, or find that gym membership card.  Lose weight, stop smoking, drink less, blah blah blah.  Most resolutions have fallen by the wayside before the end of January!   Speaking from personal experience, I generally try to avoid the gym during January, because it is just far too busy with the “New Year’s Resolved”.   Things settle down nicely, back into the groove by early February.  Which is when I return to the fold.

But what has all this got to do with a Simpler Life?  Simply this.  Doing less, wanting less, and consuming less are all good things.   And if we live more simply, we simply have more time to do, enjoy, and experience the things that really matter.   For us, this means that 2015 will bring a renewed focus on volunteering locally, and spending more time on minimalist pursuits (gardening, reading, and even keeping more regular posts coming on this blog!).

If you have some time, I’d recommend this article, which talks about the Simple Life in terms of community, and what we can be doing in our own neighbourhoods.  It is a bit Walden / Utopia idealist, but I like the concept.  I hope you enjoy!  And may 2015 bring you more time, more joy, and more LESS!   ; )

Written by Mar(k)

December 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm

All I want for Christmas is…. Less Stuff

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santaThe holidays are rapidly approaching, and people all around seem to be getting increasingly frazzled.  Parties to go to, groceries to buy, presents to buy.  It is all very interesting to watch, but I can honestly say that I am glad that I am not getting hooked into all the hustle and bustle this holiday season.   I had declared 2014 to be my “Year of Minimalism”, which can mean lots of different things to different people.  For me, it was about buying less, needing less, and simplifying our life at home.  I have enjoyed it, and knowing I had the whole year to work at it, I have chipped away.  But I still have a long way to go, so I am looking forward to 2015 to being my “2nd Year of Minimalism”.  I can see a trend here.   One I like very much.  In fact, I might even start blogging a bit more about living with less in the New Year.  Stay tuned.

I really do love the holiday season.  It is a great time to catch up with friends and family, and is also a time of reflection, as we look back on a year well lived, and give thanks for our health, relationships, and lifestyle.  I also enjoy gift giving (and receiving!), when it is done with intention (ie: not out of obligation).  But for me, one of the best gifts we can give others is our time;  time to spend with friends and family, enjoying each others company, catching up on recent events, and generally having a laugh.   That is the best gift of all.   But here are a few more suggestions on ways we can reduce our impact on Mother Earth, while still enjoying the festive season:

1.  Spend time with people, rather than money.  Put relationships ahead of the latest gadget.  Go for a walk with a loved one, have a picnic, just hang out.  Time is precious, and this is a very GIVING gift.

2.  Instead of buying THINGS, consider buying EXPERIENCES.   Follow the motto “it is better to DO, than to HAVE”.  Look for experiences for that special someone – movie tickets, theatre tickets, sporting events, spa treatments, travel vouchers.  It reduces STUFF, but still enables people to enjoy that experience (courtesy of you!)

2.  If you are going to buy a present, consider a gift certificate.    Less wrapping involved, so less waste.  Over the years, I am sure we all have had those gifts that just never get used / worn / consumed – not because they aren’t nice, or aren’t appreciated.  They just aren’t US.  So take away the guessing game when buying for others, and be guaranteed the person will end up with what they want.

3.  Consider donating to a worthy cause in the name of the person who is being “gifted”.  There are so many fantastic organisations out there e.g. Oxfam Unwrapped.  Pick a charity close to the person’s heart, or related to their interests.

4.  If you have already bought the perfect gift for that special someone, consider recycled wrapping paper.  This year, for the (few) gifts I AM giving, I am using wrapping paper that has already had one life – and is now having its second incarnation!   I usually keep wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, etc… and can get creative in giving them a second life.

Before you go, if you want a few more ideas on minimising Christmas indulgences, check out this post.  There are some additional links at the bottom of that post that you may also find good to read.

Happy holidays, everyone!