What the Wooroloo Bushfires Taught Me

I live in the Perth Hills and have done so for well over 20 years. Bushfire preparedness has always been something that we were supposed to get to. Every year we maintain the fire breaks and clean out the gutters and up until a several years ago, that was pretty much it. When the Parkerville fires came through 7 or so years ago we evacuated for a day or two with our small children and pets and that was about it. It wasn’t even that close to our home but we could see the smoke and didn’t want to risk it.

Just 2 weeks ago the Wooroloo fires came through on the other side of us and we could see the glow through the trees that first night. With the wind whipping around, we packed up again and headed out.

We were very lucky. Many were not.

The Lessons

Prepare.

Bushfires have always been a reality but they are becoming more frequent and more intense with climate change. Fortunately, we watched Big Weather on ABC iview late last year and that really gave us the motivation to get our preparations in order. We now have an emergency pack with all the essentials and the really important bits that lives permanently packed in a central location in our home. If we were home, it would take us only a minute to grab and go. If we weren’t home, it would be easy for our neighbour to grab it for us.

We also have a written plan and have discussed when to go and where to go if bushfire comes through. Our kids know what we will take and what we will leave behind should we need to evacuate.

We are continuing to do what we can about reducing the fuel load in our gardens, and make it as easy as possible for our home to be defended against fire.

Given how close the fires came to the suburbs this year, it doesn’t matter where you live, it is worth knowing your plan. It is quick to do and then you have peace of mind when a crisis occurs. Check out for https://mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au/ more details.

Address.

Whilst we have to prepare for the likelihood of ongoing fire threats, we can also be doing whatever we can to tackle climate change. There are actions we can take that can slow down and start to reverse the trends.

For starters, reduce your waste.

The less waste we create that has to be landfilled, converted to energy or recycled, the less burden there is on the earth. The less stuff that has to be produced new the better. Instead, go secondhand, borrow, share, repair and look for better alternatives. Use up your stuff or find someone else who will give it a meaningful use. Eat all your food or feed it to the chickens or worms. Avoid your bins wherever you can.

Then help rehabilitate through things like tree planting and clean-ups.

During February 2021, Wasteless Pantry is helping to do that by fundraising for Carbon Positive Australia’s good works! Carbon Positive Australia uses the funds raised through donations and carbon offsets to plant native trees on degraded land in Australia. Over almost two decades they have planted 5,992,261 trees, restored 4,757 hectares of land and captured 632,681 tonnes of carbon. Impressive huh?!

The recent bushfires have reinforced just how important it is for us to do what we can to slow down and even reverse climate change. More trees and less waste will help!

So this February help us with our fundraising! All you need to do is make a purchase over $25 at your local WP store during February to qualify for a $1 donation. So, come refill your jars and do even more good.

Connect.

The last big lesson for me was the amazing support from our community. There were so many offers of help and others just reaching out to make sure we were okay. In speaking with others that were affected, the overwhelming message was that in times like these people do band together and make it work. They lean on each other and offer what they can.

Please get to know your neighbours, be empathetic when someone is having a bad day, and just smile at people when you are walking by. These little gestures cost nothing but mean the world some days.


‘Go Wasteless’ Starter Guide

It’s a New Year and another opportunity to get cracking on reducing your waste. I love the enthusiasm that is generated from the calendar ticking over to January 1st, and all the new habits and resolutions that are inspired!

Step 1: Bin Audit

Starting with some ideas about what goes into your bin is the best first step. So as gross as it sounds, you are going to need to pay attention to what is going into your bin. If it’s a shared bin then it gets trickier and so picking a not too hot day/week to pull it all out on a tarp or the lawn is a confronting and informative way to find out exactly what has been hiding in there.

Group all the bits and bobs into as many categories as is useful to you:

Landfill – stuff that has no other place to go like disposable nappies and random little bits of plastic.

Compostable – think food waste, tissues, paper towels, hair from your hairbrush and dust out of the vacuum.

Recyclable – all the things that go in your yellow top bin.

Specialist recyclable – things like batteries, ink cartridges, toothbrushes, globes, spectacles, razors, mobile phones, e-waste and paint.

Step 2: Collection Bins

Now that you have figured out what you are dealing with, it’s time to make sure that you have all your collection bins sorted. Maybe you have only had a landfill bin in the house and so that is where everything has been going. Or maybe you figured out that you don’t actually know what goes in your yellow top recycling bin. Perhaps, your compost bin wasn’t cutting it as it was too big or too small and so nobody wanted to use it. Whatever you learnt, what is your solution?

In our house, we have a landfill bin, compost bucket and recycling bin in the Kitchen, Bathroom and Study/Office. We have a little battery collection bin in the draw with the new batteries. I pop bread tags, ink cartridges, used pens and toothbrushes into the shopping bag I take to Wasteless Pantry so that I can remember to drop them off each week. I put globes in my car for dropping off at the Sports Centre I go to. We have a box in the shed to collect any e-waste as that only gets dropped off about once a year.

Make it easy to collect your specialist recycling!

Think about putting all the information about what goes in each Collection Bin on it so that everyone can make good choices. And make sure to let the whole household know where they all are!

Step 3: Use What You Have

At this point, you might be rearing to go get all the cool zero waste gear so that you can tick the box of feeling wasteless. Hold your horses!

We would love you to instead use up all the products and food you have first before you think about getting anything new. With the exception of expired products and food which needs to be disposed of, it is usually best to just swap things out as you finish them up. Good reasons for this are that:

  • Saves money
  • Prevents waste
  • Reduces clutter
  • More gradual change is usually easier to keep up long term

So instead of going out and getting new containers, reuse jars and takeaway containers. Instead of getting shampoo bars, use up the last of all your shampoo samples and leftovers first. Instead of buying a fancy BYO coffee cup, take one from home. And yes, we want you to use up all the food in packets in your pantry, fridge and freezer too.

Anything that has passed it’s used by date could be a risk to your safety, but anything past it’s best before you can use your common sense as most likely it is just not quite as flavoursome and delicious as it was before.

Step 4: Gently Make a Change

Find one thing at a time to change.

Pick one area you’d like to wasteless and just start there.

When that is easy and hard for you not to do, then do the next thing.

Slow and steady, you’ll get there!


Food Bank: Making the best of Food Waste

Last week, Jeannie was given the opportunity to tour Foodbank for a behind-the-scenes peek at the amazing facilities and the team hard at work. She even got to enjoy a lunch prepared in the kitchens from rescued food.

That’s Jeannie on the far right!

Most of us know that we have a big problem with food waste in Australia. But did you know that over 300,000 people in WA live below the poverty line and struggle to access regular nutritious food? And thanks to Covid19, many people are now experiencing food insecurity for the first time.

Such a mammoth effort being made every day

Foodbank is an organisation that tackles both these issues, rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste, often on a huge scale and turning it into delicious, nutritious meals for those who need it most. And on top of all that, they now package the meals in compostable packaging!!

In the 25 years since its inception, the organisation has saved 50 million kilograms of food from landfill and provided 100 million meals.

You can read more about it here https://www.foodbank.org.au/?state=wa

Maybe you’d like to consider making a less fortunate persons Christmas a little bit brighter this year, with a donation to Foodbank’s Uncancel Christmas appeal?https://www.foodbank.org.au/WA/uncancel-christmas/?state=wa


Travel Waste Free

These are all my favourite things to pack when I’m travelling 🌴🏖️👙

  • Insulated water bottle: great for keeping water super cool and hot beverages, well, hot! I find that having this is means I don’t need a separate reusable coffee cup, so I can travel light. If you have more room in your bag then you could easily take both.
  • Cutlery set: I’ve been caught out without it and regretted not having it. Either I end up feeling bad for using plastic single-use cutlery or I don’t get to enjoy my meal fully by eating with my hands. This way I always feel good chowing down.
  • Reusable container: I love having a 2 tier variety since I can separate out meals or tailor to the quantity of leftovers I have better. Plus, I can also use it to store small items in my bag between destinations so they are easy to find on arrival.
  • Handkerchief: Multipurpose goodness! Use it as a tissue, napkin, wet wipe, flannel, sweatband on your wrist, wrap for your sandwich, tie for a water bottle to your belt for hands-free hydration, and more. As they are so lightweight easily handwash in a sink at the end of the day and it will be dry by morning to go again.
  • Shampoo bar, conditioner bar and stain remover bar in a travel tin: Shampoo bars double as body wash, conditioner bars double as body lotion and stain remover bars triple as laundry, dishwashing and handwashing products. The travel tin isn’t airtight which means that my bars can dry out a little even in transit.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste: Taking my own bamboo toothbrush and refilled toothpaste means that I can give the hotel samples a miss.
  • Refillable deodorant: I love my natural deodorant and my own little sprayer is just the right size. So handy to be able to access liquid or paste varieties at WP now.
  • Lip balm refillable tin: My handy little tin fits plenty of lip saving wonder, this one is tinted to give me a little colour and I know that the ingredients are just right for me.
  • Moisturiser: I want to look after my skin for the happy snaps so refilling my container before I travel is a must.
  • Bamboo comb: It’s lightweight, it does the job and it is a great shape to pack easily into my bag.
  • Plastic-free hair tie: I’d be lost without a hair tie and if I do lose one then I want to be sure that it will biodegrade back into the earth rather than sticking around forever harassing wildlife.
  • Reusable bags: Having a stash of cloth and mesh produce bags plus at least one shopping bag that folds down to practically nothing means that I can avoid ever taking a plastic single-use bag. Cloth produce bags are great for buying bread, rolls and sandwiches. Mesh produce bags are great for fresh fruits and vegetables, bulk foods, as well as keeping your small laundry items together at the end of your trip. Shopping bags also double as a handbag for takeaway meals or laundry bags or any time you want your hands free.

What about you? What is your must-haves for zero waste travelling?


EnsoPet How-To Guide

No need for single-use ‘doggy’ bags when you can install your own EnsoPet waste composter and improve your soil too!

Quick overview

Bury the EnsoPet composter in the garden so just the lid is visible and the inside is free of soil. Use the tongs provided to drop your pets waste into the composter then sprinkle over the starter bran. The micro-organisms do their magic breading down the waste quickly so that it should take months or years to completely fill (depends on the amount of waste your animals produce). If it does fill, cover over with soil and start again in a new location. Easy

The Full Details

  1. Clip together the four sides to create a cylinder with no bottom.
  2. Dig a hole 40cm wide and 40cm deep away from edible plants.
  3. Place the EnsoPet composter in the hole and backfill with soil around the outside.
  4. Use the tongs to drop in your pet waste as needed and lightly sprinkle around 20g of starter bran per 100g waste (this is a rough guide, no need to weigh out your pets waste).
  5. Seal with the lid until you need to add more. Best if you are able to do this in small batches rather than a big load all in one go.
  6. The system needs to be kept moist so if it starts to dry out then add a little water when you are caring for your garden.

The micro-organisms remediate any pathogens in your pet waste as well as improving your soil. If you have large pets or particularly poor soil you may benefit from setting up two systems simultaneously. You can also add dry leaves, fine bark, spent potting mix to your composter if desired.


8 Food Waste Hacks

It turns out that we,
in Australia, throw out vast amounts of food every week. Some estimates indicate
that over a year, the average household discards $2200 worth of food!

We do it because we
overestimate how much we need, underestimate how much we already have, serve
more than our families will eat, and forget about all those leftovers we have
hiding away somewhere.

There are easy
solutions that can help you reduce your waste and they only take a moment…

  1. Take a moment to clear out your fridge, freezer and pantry. If you haven’t done it in a while, challenge yourself to stay away from the shops until they are at least ¼ empty. Why? If your storage is too full of food, you won’t know what is in there and will likely double up when you hit the shops.
  2. Set up a compost bin system. It’s just a bucket or a container that you put your scraps in. All of them. Yes, even the stinky stuff you found in the back of the fridge yesterday. You store it in the kitchen that you then take outside to a compost bin (plenty available secondhand on Gum Tree) or bury in your garden later. Why? Getting up close and personal with your waste helps you to get to know WHAT you are wasting and HOW MUCH. Maybe you find out that the kids are throwing away whole sandwiches – so maybe you can stop feeding them for a while (I’m joking, of course). Or maybe you find out that it is always leftovers – so maybe you dedicate space at the front of the fridge, so they are easier to find or pop them straight into the freezer next time.
  3. Get your head clear on Used By vs Best Before. Things that you buy at Wasteless Pantry have a best before – such as rice, pasta, spices – which means that even after this date if they have been stored properly, they will not harm your health to eat. They just might not be as flavoursome as they used to be. Whereas things that are past their Used By date can be a health hazard and should be composted to be safe.
  4. Develop an autopilot response ‘No, thanks’ to “Specials”. Unless you are 100% certain that you will use the item before it goes bad, then take a deep breath and walk away.
  5. Label your leftovers. Permanent markers wash off most containers so just write the date and name straight on there before it goes in the fridge or freezer. If you know what it is and how old it is, you’ll have a better chance of making sure they get eaten.
  6. Think about the leftovers before you start cooking the meal. Does this meal freeze well? If it doesn’t, how long will we have to get through any leftovers before they go off because almost always there are leftovers! If it’s likely to go to waste, then be more thoughtful about portion control upfront.
  7. Speaking of portion control – serve less and encourage going back for seconds, especially with kids. Even if it is uneaten on the plate, most families are unlikely to save excess food that gets served so don’t serve it. Your kids won’t starve, most likely.
  8. Shop weekly, instead of daily. We all know the feeling of popping to the shops for one thing and coming home with at least a bag full. So instead, plan your shopping for once a week and challenge yourself not to go back until next week. We’ve even put together a handy tool to help you with this one. This way you can remember what you already have, what you’re planning to make as well as what you need to get. Easy!

 

A little planning can save a bunch!


Shop for You Made Easy

We’ve been providing a free Shop for You service since we opened oh so long ago, but with recent times this has become more of a necessity than before. To help you understand what we offer and to streamline the process as much as possible we thought we should make it a nice clear process for you.
Below you will see a ’Shop for You Order Form’ which gives us all the info we need to get your goods together as quickly as possible.  Email it through and we’ll confirm we got it within 24 hours, then we aim to have your order ready within 3 days but will call you if it is ready sooner and to take payment.  That way when it gets picked up you can just grab and go rather than having to queue up waiting to pay. You don’t have to bring your own containers but if you are dropping off containers for refilling, we will have a spot in the store to drop them so you don’t have to hang around then too.

Shop for You Order Form – click on red text for PDF which can be typed on or printed

Bassendean now have delivery until May 31st – click here for the special form

Shop for You Order Form (Word Version)


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So that we don’t miss your order please send it directly to the dedicated orders email address for your local store:
 
Since clarity is key:

Our Returns Policy is available online:  https://www.wastelesspantry.com.au/returns-policy/

Our Product List is available online: https://www.wastelesspantry.com.au/bulk-foods/

Our prices change frequently depending on supply conditions.

We cannot guarantee that all products will be in stock.

There are purchase limits on some products depending on demand and supply.

Please be as clear as possible – this helps staff to fulfill your order more quickly.

Some products which have multiple options (varies depending on your local store), please be clear. For example:

Chia – black or white?

Chocolate –  bits or buttons? milk white or dark (or carob)?

Coffee – Imported or Australian; single origin or blend; decaf; strong, medium or mild

Flour – plain, SR, 00, rye, wholemeal, spelt (white or wholemeal), bakers, gluten, sustainable (stoneground or normal), gluten free?

Laundry Liquid – top or front loader?

Muesli – fruity, tropical, toasted, 98% fat free, organic or sugar free?

Nuts (esp cashews, almonds and peanuts) – raw or roasted/ salted or unsalted?

Oats – organic, rolled or quick?

Paprika – sweet or smoky

Quinoa – tri colour, white or red

Pepper – peppercorns black or blended, Szechuan, white ground 

Rice – basmati, jasmine, arborio, short or long grain

Salt– Fine or Rock, Regular or Pink Lake Salt or flavoured (chicken, garlic, celery, onion, vegetable)

Spices – seeds or ground?

Tea – so many options!

Turmeric – 3% or 5%

We hope this makes it easy to understand and clear what to expect. Thanks for supporting us!


Bokashi Low Down

Belinda has been using the Bokashi system for years so we asked her to give us the low down as we now stock Bokashi buckets, Bokashi bran (loose), Ensopet systems and Ensopet bran (loose) across all our stores.

SUMMARY

Bokashi may be called a “composting system” but it doesn’t actually work like a compost heap. Bran or liquid infused with microbes are added to the organic matter and work in an anaerobic environment to ferment the material. This means it does not break down in the bucket, but it will discolour and soften and take on a pickled smell. The liquid drained off can be diluted and used as soil conditioner and the fermented material is buried in the garden where it continues to rapidly break down into the soil. Any organic matter can be added to a bokashi bucket (chop up large items before adding them in) – this includes many things that can’t be added to regular compost like citrus, onions, meat, fish, bones, eggs and cheese. You can even add the dust from sweeping and vacuuming and hair.

The material in the bucket should grow white mold and take on a pickled smell, which is not necessarily pleasant but shouldn’t be offensive. If the bucket smells rotten or blue/green mold is growing, bury the contents, rinse the bucket out and start again. The bucket should only be rinsed out with plain water, as cleaning products can disturb the microbial environment developing inside the bucket.

It’s ideal to have a two bucket system, so when one bucket is full, you can leave it to ferment for about 2 weeks before burying it in the garden, meanwhile you can fill up the other bucket.

DIRECTIONS

Directions –
1. Make sure the drainage tap is closed and the drain grille is in place.
2. Add any organic matter to the bin – you can add citrus, onions, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, dust from sweeping or vacuuming – anything that was once alive. It’s best to chop up large pieces. Large bones won’t break down properly at all. Make sure the lid is sealed tightly after adding material – bokashi microbes work in an anaerobic environment.
3. Once an inch or two of matter is in the bucket, squish it down with the tool and add a thin layer of bokashi bran.
4. Continue layering organic matter and bokashi bran until the bucket is full. Drain the bucket every few days – this liquid can be diluted with water and used as plant food, or just poured down the sink.
5. Once the bucket is full it will need to sit for about two weeks. Having a system of two buckets – so you can fill one while the other “cooks” is a good idea.
6. Bury the contents in a hole in the garden. You will notice that things in the bucket are still recognisable, but they may have gone soft or discoloured – this is because bokashi works by fermenting the material instead of rotting it. The material will continue to quickly break down in the soil.
7. Rinse the bucket with plain water and start again.

 

Winter Warmers without Waste

It’s not as cold as it should be but I’m still feeling the winter chill!

There is nothing like the comfort of a hot beverage to sooth the soul on wintery days.  At Wasteless Pantry we have quite a range of goodies for making:

  • Hot Chocolate
  • Loose Leaf Black Teas
  • Herbal Teas
  • Coffee Beans
  • Turmeric Latte 
  • Chai Latte
  • Beetroot Chocolate Latte (just add beetroot powder with cacao powder and your sweetener of choice to milk)

We have a range of tea and coffee making accessories if you need them too!

Did you know that you can make bath teas using our herbs and teas in one of our strainers or soap nut bags to add a bit of aromatherapy to your soak.  If you add a small amount of bicarb soda and epsom salts (which we also have available) to your bath it will soften skin and relieve tension in muscles.

 

Warming foods can be comforting and healthy too!

How about trying out porridge made with oats, muesli (for added flavour), buckwheat, millet or quinoa?  Top with our honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, dried fruit or sugars if you like something sweeter.

Or dahl, casseroles, stews, curries and soups made with our wide range of beans, lentils, split peas, powdered stocks (vegan friendly), herbs and spices?

Although, not everything has to be super healthy – maybe you’d like our custard powder and warmed brownie mix for a bit of an easy treat.  The beauty of going package free is that you could just buy enough for to make one mug of custard or a mug chocolate cake if you wanted.  You could, it is possible.

We have a bunch of recipes at the store to guide you and of course, you can buy just enough for the recipe to try it out waste free!

In case you want any of these recipes to go, we have insulated food flasks, travel coffee mugs and insulated beverage bottles that will keep your goodies warm for hours.

I tend to get into baking more in the cooler weather, the oven acting as a heater for the kitchen is an added bonus.  If you do too, you might want to consider reusable silicone baking sheets or muffin cups to reduce the need for baking paper or pattie pans.  We have them available for you to check out at our stores too.

There are lots of ways to keep warm on cool days without creating waste with Wasteless Pantry!

Top picture credit: Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash


Low Waste Gifts for Dad’s

Father’s Day is nearly upon us (it’s on Sunday, 1st September 2019) and you might be thinking to yourself, “What should I get Dad this year?”

You want to get him something that is thoughtful, environmentally friendly (the search terms green gifts, eco gifts, zero waste gifts, gifts for waste-free Dad come to mind), and something that he might actually use.

We are here for you at Wasteless Pantry!

Firstly, let us remind you that Dad probably just wants to know that you love and appreciate him, which requires very little to express. Maybe you could cook him a meal, go out with him on an adventure, or just head out for a drink together? None of these things is hard to do but might mean the world to your Dad.

Secondly, if you feel weird rocking up empty-handed and you really want to give a gift, maybe consider something consumable like Dad’s favourite snacks or coffee (brought in a reusable container at Wasteless Pantry of course). Or you could find something secondhand that has sentimental value, like that book you used to read together as a kid or a beer mug from his favourite tavern when he was growing up. Or you could make something out of reused materials, like all those pallet frames and furniture that pop on Pinterest every year and show off all the carpentry skills he spent hours teaching you.

And if that’s just not going to work for you then we are happy to help you out with a few other ideas too:

If it’s just too hard to pick, then don’t! We have gift vouchers too so your Dad can choose for himself (and we can email them if you prefer too).

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there!

Top picture credit: Photo by Szilvia Basso on Unsplash