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

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Archive for the ‘Simplicity’ 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!

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Long Distance Thru Hiking – my top 3 gear picks

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One of the great long distance hiking trails in Australia is fortuitously located right here in Western Australia.  The wonderful Bibbulmun Track is a 1000 km long track that starts in Perth and finishes in Albany.   I have completed thru-hikes of this wonderful trail twice now.  End to end in around 50 days.  It’s a long way!

For both of these epic trips I carried everything I needed.   Food (generally restocking every 5 to 7 days), shelter (tent) and clothing.  It is a very liberating experience being completely self contained, and having everything you need on your back.

Can’t do without these three faves!

One of the things that these long distance walks teaches you is the kind of gear that works best for you.  I thought I would share my “Top 3” picks from this last 1000 km hike.

  1.  Thermarest – Neo Air:  Getting a good nights sleep on the trail is pretty important.  For me, the investment in a quality sleeping mattress is paramount.   The Neo-Air is lightweight and packs down to the size of a 1 litre water bottle.  This is my go to mattress for all my overnight hiking adventures.  I have had a number of Thermarest mattresses over the years, and I have always been impressed with how well made they are.
  2. Sea to Summit – Inflatable Pillow: Just as a great mattress makes for a good night’s sleep, so too does a pillow for me.  I am a notoriously light sleeper, and if I don’t have a comfy neck supported pillow, I don’t get a wink.  Love this pillow.  Not only does it come with me on all my overnight hikes, it is lightweight, packs down to the size of my fist, and also serves as a back cushion on long haul plane rides.
  3. Icebreaker soft shell:  Staying warm when I am at camp is one of the surest ways of making sure I stay a “happy camper” week after week.  I wear a lot of Icebreaker clothing;  I love the durability, warmth to weight ratio, the fact it doesn’t stink like synthetics, etc…  there is a lot I love about Icebreaker, but my “Merino Loft” soft shell really is the bee’s knees.  Packs down well, has great warmth, will withstand a rain shower, and has a hood which I love.

Obviously there is heaps more gear that I use that is absolutely necessary.  But these Top 3 picks are the ones that really stood out for me on this hike.  I’d love to hear what kind of gear you can’t do without when you are out on the trail!

Written by Mar(k)

April 10, 2018 at 10:38 pm

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