Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An addendum

My favourite cousin made a comment on my Facebook page in relation to yesterday's post. She wrote that all the presents she is giving this year share the theme of "warmth". She is making various gifts for people to wear, wrap themselves in, eat or drink.

I thought that was a cool and clever idea and was keen to share it.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Final Word on Christmas. Maybe ...

One of the great things about writing a blog is receiving links to interesting websites and articles, being forwarded emails of interest and people generally bringing up what we're doing in conversation. A couple of weeks ago a friend forwarded this email to me.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

 Christmas quickly approaches, the giant Asian factories are
 kicking into high gear to provide Australians with monstrous piles of
 cheaply produced goods and merchandise, produced at the expense of
 Australian labour.

This year will be different.

This year Australians will give the gift of genuine concern for other
 Australians. Christmas 2011

There is no longer an excuse that, at gift-giving time, nothing can be
 found that is produced by Australian hands. Yes there is.  It's time
 to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a
 shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut, so how about gift
certificates from your local hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about
 some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Australian-owned
Detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book
of gift certificates.

 Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking
 down the dollars on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful
 gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the
 summer, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift
certificates. And if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half-dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember folks, this isn't about big National chains -- this is about
supporting your home town Australians with their financial lives on
the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by an Australian worker?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mum? Mum would LOVE the services
 of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy
who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, maybe you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts
people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make
jewellery, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner-operated restaurants and
leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play
or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.>
Honestly folks, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights,
about fifty cents stays in the community. If you do have those kinds
of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, garbage man or babysitter a nice
BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining Australian pockets so
that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about
caring about us Aussies, encouraging Australian small businesses to
keep plugging away, to follow their dreams. And when we care about
other Australians, we care about our communities, and the benefits
come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

THIS is the new Australian Christmas tradition.

I don't agree with everything in it; the feel of it is a little too jingoistic for my liking. For us, it isn't so much WHERE something is made but HOW. By using some of the ideas suggested in the email, however, we can give gifts that have not been made in an eco-unfriendly or unethical way. I've already spoken to both my sister and sister-in-law about it and we've come up with some good ideas. My sister suggested we get her family baseball tickets. I never would have thought of that. Over the past few years, with all branches of the family being so busy, I've lost touch with who my nieces and nephews are so I've just given them cash or vouchers. I know these gifts have been appreciated but, by actually making the effort to get more information, I'm relearning what they like and what kind of people they have grown into. These aren't the kinds of gifts for everyone but, even if I do it for a couple of people, it's better than nothing.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas cards

The trees must really cry out in despair at this time of the year. There is such a high volume of Christmas cards moving across the country and around the world. Furthermore, all the presents are wrapped in paper.

I really love sending and receiving cards. I especially love doing so for people's birthdays. We all share Christmas but each birthday is someone's special day and I like to acknowledge that. I like to send Christmas letters to people I don't keep in regular contact with to bring them up to date on our family's activities over the past year and I like to send Christmas cards to people I interact with regularly to wish them a special day.

This year, however, I'm changing that. In keeping with the spirit of the project I'm planning to drastically reduce the number of cards/letters I send out, as well as send out a call to my family and friends in both real life and cyber space to not send us one. I'm only going to send them to people I don't interact with regularly. I'm going to wish the others a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chanukah in person or via our social network.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

A word on Thanksgiving

I don't celebrate Thanksgiving because I don't live in the U.S. I suppose if my parents had continued to celebrate it after their move to Australia I may have continued the tradition. Nevertheless, many of my loved ones celebrate and have posted some lovely comments of thankfulness on Facebook today.

Inspired by their comments I'd like to add some of my own. In a sense, it is because of all the blessings in our life that we have been inspired and able to do the Footprints Project. So, here are mine, in no particular order. I'm thankful for:

  • life
  • loved ones
  • by an accident of birth having lived in countries of affluence
  • the world we live in
  • sun and rain to help our food grow
  • enough money to cover all of our needs and a good deal of our wants
  • safety
  • freedom
  • our health
  • hot and cold clean running water
  • gas & electricity
  • a home 
  • the fact that my children go to school instead of having to work under intolerable conditions
  • fresh and abundant food and food choices
  • good roads
  • technology and the fact that we have access to it, time for it and can afford it
  • ditto for entertainment
  • a reliable car 
  • public transport
  • warm clothing
  • a garden (which even though I hate working in is still a  luxury that many don't have)
  • reasonable public health
  • good public education
  • the choice to go private with both of the above should I wish 
I could go on but I think you get the picture.

Cheers and I hope you have as much in your life to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving whether you're in the US or not.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ho, ho, ho or bah humbug?

I really don't like Christmas. I first began to dislike it when my parents separated and it just didn't feel the same anymore. After that, my blossoming social conscious simply couldn't deal with the fact that some people were lonely on Christmas, many families had fights at Christmas lunch, children in Africa were starving while we gorged ourselves and presents seemed to be the major - and only - focus.

Let me say right at the outset that I'm not Christian but I have enormous respect for all religions. For that reason, the focus on Christmas presents and overeating and drinking really bothers me. Isn't Christmas meant to be for Christians worldwide to celebrate the birth of Jesus? It sits uneasily with me that it's become so commercialised. I'm not against the giving of gifts, I think it's a lovely idea; I'm against it being the only focus of Christmas.

I know people who say that they really like Christmas because they get to spend time with the people they love and cherish. I've slowly come around to that idea. Over the years our Christmas days have morphed and changed. After my parents' separation my mother, sister and I began to celebrate the day with a brunch my father and then a trip to the beach. Later, I met my husband and his family not only invited me to spend every Christmas with them but also included my mother and sister. These days, my sister and I make sure we have lunch together at one of our houses. The day begins with a brunch with dear friends. We all exchange gifts but the day is really about friendship and fellowship. It's always relaxing and a lot of fun. Yes, we do eat and drink too much while there are people starving overseas and lonely people and broken families, and that all sits uneasily with me. However, these days I tend to look at it in terms of counting my blessings and being grateful for the family, friendship and food, knowing that other people lack those blessings.

Maybe one day when all the children in the family are grown we can agree to give what we would have spent on gifts for each other to help people who lack those blessings. I think then I'll actually be able to say that I like Christmas. Until then, although I like the day itself, I don't like what surrounds it.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Books, glorious books

As I sit and look around the room, I can see two bookshelves absolutely overflowing with books. That's not counting the five I cannot currently see! That's a lot of books and a lot of bookshelves. We LOVE books in this house! However, do we need to keep buying them???

Whenever we buy a new book, we're contributing not only to mass consumerism but to environmental destruction. I don't think I'll ever stop buying them or move to ebooks or a kindle. However, I think there's a way to be smarter about it. Several years ago, inspired by Oprah Winfrey I bought Eckhard Tolle's A New Earth. I'm sure it was a good and useful book but, for me who'd already done a lot of reading many years prior about Zen Buddhism, it was nothing new. I was annoyed with myself for having bought it and decided that I would try, where possible, to borrow the book I wanted to read before buying it, to see if I actually wanted to buy it.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a book by Alison Weir entitled, The Lady in the Tower. I knew nothing about it and haven't read it yet. However, in this case, I'm happy to own it because it's research into Anne Boleyn's last days. I've been fascinated by her since before I could talk. I will read it one day but, in the meantime, it reflects who I am and gives me a sense of anticipation when I see it sitting there. I don't want to stop buying books. I just want to stop and think before I buy. I also want to check out second-hand book stores first. We managed to buy all of John Marsden's Tomorrow Series at Maisie's in Brighton a few years ago.

I'm also thinking that it might to be time to donate some of our books to Oxfam or Rotary who have fantastic second-hand book shops, the proceeds from which fund wonderful humanitarian projects. Problem is, once I'm in there, I may just walk out with more books than I donated!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This and that

I cannot believe it's been a month since I last blogged. I really love doing it but life has been crazy and I've let it slide. I apologise, dear readers.

The two parts to the Footprints project are trying to live as eco-friendly and ethically as possible. I realise, as time progresses, that I'm far more passionate about the latter. Unfortunately, it's the latter that is a can of worms! I thought I was doing pretty well until I took the following quiz and learnt that I have 40 "slaves". WTF!!!
We try to be conscientious about what we buy but what we hadn't taken into consideration were issues like where the raw material is sourced. Apparently that's a big ethical issue, too. Cotton farming in some countries uses children, as does the farming of one of the raw materials used to manufacture smart phones. I'm glad my phone's dumb.

One store that seems to be doing okay is American Apparel. They've had some complaints made against them by past employees but, on the whole, they seem like they're trying to make a difference. I don't know if that difference extends to the cotton etc used in their products but their clothes are made in the US (it's a US company) at factories which are safe and where employees are paid at least the minimum wage. My husband and I checked out their Adelaide store recently and decided that we might try some of their clothes. The best thing is second-hand, however, so this would be more for underwear etc.

The water bill came in the other day. All I can say is, "Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh". The bar graph showed an increase in water output. I'm at a loss to explain this. I only hope it's because of watering our fledgeling veggie patch. We've been trying to cut back on all use of resources so I'll have to get back to you when I've figured this one out.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Those dreaded car emissions

One of the things I always say to the children is that if they've tried their best the outcome is fine. They can be pretty hard on themselves so I try to lighten their load a little. The thing is they come by it honestly but I don't apply the same philosophy myself; self flagellation is my style. So it has been with Footprints. The problem is if I'm not happy with what I've done and it becomes an on-going struggle with myself I'm inclined to give up. I definitely don't want that to happen.

We do a fair amount in the city; things which are part of our lives that we would not want to change. However, it is a 40km round trip from our house into the city. Furthermore, moving closer is not on the plan in the short-term. My husband and I will have to do at least three round trips into the city this weekend for various activities. That kind of thing really bothers me these days - causing all those emissions. Eeww. Unfortunately, public transport isn't an option because of time of day and/or location.

I could get really down about this and annoyed with myself. However, I think it would be more productive now and in the long-term just to focus on the things that I am able to change in the present and be proud of what we're achieving. We both drive four cylinder cars. I try to batch my errands and walk when and where I can. It may not offset what we're emitting but at least we're trying. That's got to be good enough for now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Smells like salad dressing

The one area where we haven't had to make any changes is cleaning the house. Several years ago, worried about what nasties there may be in cleaning products, I began to clean with bicarb and vinegar. I noticed no difference in the quality of the cleaning the house was getting so I've been using it ever since.

The children know when I've cleaned the house because they get home from school, take a deep breath and smell the vinegar. Not that pleasant but it doesn't linger long. Recently, I read that lavender oil was a good anti-bacterial and antiseptic so I mixed up a batch of water and lavender oil in a spray bottle. I used that today instead of wiping the bicarb/vinegar with a plain damp cloth. I also used it on the floors. As a result, the house smells very fresh.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Dreaded Electricity Bill

It was never an aim of Footprints to save money. It would be great if we could but our two aims have always been to try to reduce our impact on the environment and increase our impact on humanity - in a positive way, of course. Our expectation was that financially the net effect would be zero. We would reduce expenses in some areas and increase them in others.

Having said that I was pleased with our most recent electricity bill. There was a reduction in the cost but what pleased me more was the graph comparing our emission output from the same time last year to this year. I don't remember all the whys and wherefores but the bar from this year was significantly lower than it was for the same period last year. For that to occur at the end of winter means that all the seemingly small things we began early in the billing period paid off.

We don't know how we're doing with all this. As far as I can tell, my rubbish and recycling bins are as full as they've ever been and I seem to be driving as much as before. Furthermore, it's difficult to learn which companies actually source their goods ethically. It's easier with groceries and I love getting to the supermarket check out with a basket mostly full of goods produced by ethical and/or eco-friendly companies. So, to receive a bill that can chart our progress was very gratifying and another indicator that we may be reducing our Footprint.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My son's new European cushion

My son turned 13 in July but he was still using a Bananas in Pyjamas U-pillow. It was third hand when he got it in his toddler years and the cover was ripping and the stuffing falling out. In addition to that, it simply wasn't cool for a boy of his age to have it propped up on his bed.

I realized around this time that I also was storing two Queen size flat sheets that were probably never going to be used. Rather than give the sheets to the Salvos and then go and buy my son a new U-pillow, about which I'd inevitably do research first to find an ethical manufacturer/supplier, I decided to used the sheets to make him a European pillow.

We have three European pillows in the lounge room which I set out to reproduce.

For me it was a major project because I'm an unskilled and inexperienced sewer. I drafted a pattern, sewed a pillow, stuffed that pillow with the stuffing from the old B.I.P. U-pillow and made a cover. At one stage I got a little over-confident and cocky and was forced to unpick some of what I'd sewn. That glitch was caused purely by not checking the existing cover before launching into the new one.

Anyway, ultimately, I completed the pillow and now my son has a new and much more age appropriate one.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad News about The Body Shop

The biggest change I've noticed since we began this project is our shopping trolley. The brands filling it are eco-friendly and ethical which gives me alot of satisfaction as I unload it at the check-out.

With myself, I've also noticed a reluctance to impulse buy either at the supermarket and in general. Before I buy anything I want to research the brand. I'm not entirely sure the rest of the family quite "get" this. I've noticed new Bonds underwear appearing in the house. Oh well.

I ordered the Ethical Consumer Guide and was reading it, only to learn something that greatly disappointed me in terms of branding and ownership. One of the "no-no" companies is L'Oreal because of nanoparticles and animal testing. Naturewatch has called for a boycott of their products, obviously feeling they're not worth it. I don't use L'Oreal anyway but what disappointed me was the fact the The Body Shop is actually owned by L'Oreal and has been for the past five years. Grrr. The principles of The Body Shop haven't changed. It still supports Fair Trade and doesn't test on animals. However, profits made from The Body Shop would, ultimately, go to L'Oreal, I suspect. Consequently, I won't be buying from The Body Shop anymore :(

Monday, September 12, 2011

Can the Royal Show be done in an ethical and eco-friendly way?

On Friday we braved the rain and the crowds and hit the Royal Show. I decided to use it as an opportunity to research the following question: can the Show be done in an ethical and eco-friendly way?

The answer is that it can be approached in ethical and eco-friendly ways, at least.

Here are some of the ways:
  • take public transport
  • bring packed food in reusable containers
  • avoid the sideshows, rides and showbags
  • spend time at the exhibitions and tastings

Of course, that makes for a very boring Show! I went with my husband and 13 year old son. We struck a balance. We brought our own food and went to the exhibitions and tastings. Although we walked through the sideshows and rides my son opted to use his money for showbags instead. He bought about three showbags. My husband and I also bought some things but our stuff mostly came in reusable or recyclable containers.

All three of us enjoyed walking around and looking at various things. My muso son loved that we happened to be in the Goyder Pavillion when the Police Band was performing so we watched them for awhile. I loved seeing Fair Coffee - a stall selling organic Fair Trade coffee. There are alot of big companies that promote at the Show. However, I really like it that small local companies can, too. I sampled some Australian made skin products that I hadn't heard of before.

In the general scheme of things, I'd prefer to do something else with the money than go to the Show but I didn't feel like I spent all that time making a mockery of the Footprints Project.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shopping Day

Shopping day again and new habits have replaced old ones.

I now go to the locally owned supermarket instead of to one of the duopolies. It still saddens me to forego all those frequent flyer points but "it's a far far better thing I do ... " You get the idea! For the most part I buy humanely and/or eco-friendly products. Sometimes, it's not possible and when that happens I break into a cold sweat and hope noone is watching me.

Today I wasn't able to get a couple of things I needed at the locally owned supermarket and had to go to the duopoly. I made sure I was wearing a scarf and dark glasses so people wouldn't recognize me as I went in ...

The pleasant surprise has been that there has been no noticable increase in my shopping bills :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Non-packaged Treats

We're very lucky that our children aren't particularly picky eaters. However, both of them are vegetarian and it's very important for me to make sure all their iron and protein needs are being met. I have never been a fan of buying packaged lunch box foods for them but all that unnecessary packaging does not fit in to The Footprints Project at all so they're banned now.

I nearly succumbed to buying individual yogurts last week when I shopped and mentioned this to my son. He informed me that it would be more convenient for him to bring a Tupperware container anyway and to please buy one large tub of yogurt instead of six small ones. Yay. We decided that, as the weather heats up, we can freeze the yogurt the night before and it will be a cold, half-frozen treat by recess or lunch.

We had some split peas in the pantry which my husband fried up and added spices to. They're also in a container at home and the amount is rapidly depleting. Whilst frying isn't healthy, the peas are packed with goodness and we haven't used any extra packaging.

My daughter works in a Chinese restaurant and they always give her a container of food to bring home after work. She rarely finishes it and brings the left-overs to school the next day in the same container. She brings the container home and we wash it up to use to bring food to my father-in-law. We now have a small collection of take-away containers and they've come in very handy.

Finally, both the children like fruit so there is always plenty in the house. It can be sent to school with no packaging involved and then cores and peels thrown away to decompose.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Lull in Enthusiasm

Footprints  was essentially my idea and my family very kindly agreed to come along for the journey. Our values are all similar so they were keen to join in. I remain the driving force behind it and being the driving force can sometimes be a lonely position to be in.

This is our seventh week into it and I can feel old habits beginning to creep back or is it that the new ones just haven't had time to fully replace the old ones. There seem to be many reasons why the old ways seems better. They are NOT better, however. They're based on the wrong belief that the Earth's resources are unlimited and that if we don't see or know how the labourers who make our clothes and other things are treated then it's not our problem. It's my problem because I've chosen to make it so.

So, I will continue to try my best to do what I can and make changes rather than excuses. Furthermore, I'll be on the watch for those insidious bad habits which seem to be determined to creep back into my life.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The definitive ethical shopping guide

I've found it!!! The definitive ethical shopping guide - almost. The Ethical Consumers Guide http://www.ethical.org.au/guide/browse/product-types/ gives a listing of products, brands and companies, and ranks the companies in order in relation to their environmental and human rights record. It's very eye opening. There are many companies out there that the guide is calling for a boycott on. My only problem is that it doesn't go far enough. It primarily deals with groceries; I want a guide to ALL brands so I know what to buy. Maybe I should write one ...

In other news, the present buying dilemma has been temporarily solved. I've predominantly bought from The Body Shop, a huge supporter of Fair Trade, human rights and the environment. http://www.thebodyshop.com.au/Content.aspx?Id=6 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Australian companies may be using sweat shops off-shore

I went on the Pacific Brands website recently. Pacific Brands is the parent company to many much loved Australian brands. There are too many to list here so here's the link to their website. http://www.pacificbrands.com.au/our-brands.html

I wanted to check them out because I had noticed that they had been part of something called the Ethical Trading Initiative. Under this initiative companies are responsible for reporting on and making public what goes on in their factories. Sadly, Pacific Brands stopped being transparent back in 2008. I sent them an email to ask them if they could vouch for their factories and, as of a week, have had no reply. I guess I won't be buying Bonds undies or Berlei bras anymore.

On a more positive note, there are loads and loads of on-line ethical businesses and some of them have shops or outlets in Adelaide. My husband found a factory/shop today which makes clothing. It's located in Kilkenny. I know it's possible for workers to be badly treated here, however, we have laws against it and companies can get into strife if they do so. Here's the link to the shop my husband found. He ended up buying two jumpers and a polo shirt for $45. Not bad.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Short Footnote on Present Buying

Student free day at Teenage Daughter's school so, as I write, I'm listening to the guitar strums of The Boyfriend.

Teenage Daughter has redeemed herself without even realizing it. She announced out of the blue, after I'd written my last blog, that for her upcoming birthday she only wanted second-hand or homemade gifts. It was a bit spooky coming on the heels of what I'd just written but very cool nonetheless. Now to convince the extended family that she really does only want second-hand or handmade gifts ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Present buying without dirty footprints.

Once again the weather is smiling down on us, making it very easy to walk, hang washing and keep the heater off. I heard this morning that it's going to be cold, wet and rainy on Friday. :(

Both Fathers' Day and my sister's birthday are approaching very quickly. That's just the beginning. September brings a whole spate of birthdays of various family members. I know that most of my extended family are probably well aware and used to my eccentricities by now. However, that's when it doesn't effect them. I'd really love to say, "This year for your birthday/Fathers' Day/etc you'll be getting a gift that's eco friendly, ethically made or second-hand." Hmmm. I don't think they'd like it. Or maybe they wouldn't really mind but I'm just scared. Because I'm taking a less mainstream path through life these days, I feel the need to apologize for it in some way. Perhaps I need to outgrow that kind of thinking.

Anyway, I'm trying to the best of my ability to give experiential gifts instead. Things such as movie tickets etc.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Young love, the environment, independent cinema and carbon emissions!

When we began Footprints, my teenage daughter was probably the most excited in the house. She participated avidly in the discussions and threw in many great ideas. Teenage Daughter is a passionate greenie and leftie. Or is she???

Teenage Daughter likes to spend every Saturday with her boyfriend. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had to go into the city for a few hours so she could spend that time with him. I'd drop her on the way and pick her up on the way home. She was upset that it couldn't be longer. I explained that, with our change in lifestyle, it didn't make sense to run the car unnecessarily. Before I knew it, The Boyfriend's mother, had offered to pick up Teenage Daughter. It was a sweet gesture and I relented. Just because it wasn't my car, however, doesn't mean there was less impact on the environment. I mentioned to Teenage Daughter that perhaps she was less interested in the environment than she thought. She insisted that she cared very much for the environment and the planet - just not when it interfered with her plans!!! And need I even write about how much more often the cordless phone and her mobile phone are being charged these days after long romantic phone call? Yes, we were all that way once, I guess ...

While I'm on the subject of carbon emissions, I had an interesting decision to make yesterday. Teenage Daughter and I went to see Jane Eyre. I could have gotten us very cheap tickets at an independent cinema in the city - about 20km's from home. I opted, however, to pay more and go locally to a big national multiplex cinema in order to use less petrol. It was difficult because I really would have prefered to have used the independent cinema (and gotten cheaper tickets). However, the environmental Footprint is a big part of what this is all about while the use of independent providers is more of a bugbear.

Each day presents me with a new challenge, dilemma or question. I find it much less straight forward than I thought I would and that holds a charm I wasn't expecting. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Australian owned versus ethically produced

I bought the Ausbuy guide yesterday. It's a brochure that gets upgraded every few months and sells for a couple of dollars at the grocery store. It's a guide to which companies are Australian owned and which are now or always have been foreign owned. Upon looking through it I was pleasantly surprised. There are still alot of everyday brands owned here.

Here's a dilemma, however. Many of the non-grocery producing companies have moved their operations off-shore. If I buy a Bonds t-shirt, for example, which are made in China, how can I be sure it hasn't been made in a sweatshop? If I buy an ethically made t-shirt, I CAN be sure BUT the parent company may not be Australian.

That made me return to the original goals of this Footprints project. One of them was to have as big a footprint as possible on humanity in a positive way. It's great that profits stay here if companies are Australian owned. However, it's not great if items are being produced in sweatshops in order to ensure those profits. I simply don't want any part in that - if I can possibly help it.Therefore, my choice is clear. I will always try in the first instance to find a product that's made here, Failing that, however, I will try to find an ethically produced one or one made in a country that has similar labour laws to here. Not always possible, I know, but each time it is possible I'm making a big footprint. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Getting the shopping right

I went grocery shopping again last Friday. I went to the Central Market this time. Surprisingly, I didn't buy any fruit or veg. I have an on-line supplier who always delivers really fresh, mostly locally sourced produce. I'm way too happy with the quality of the produce to change. http://www.firstfroots.com.au/ If you decide to use them, let them know I sent you! What did I do at the Market? First, I went to Grains and Goodies. I bought four items in bulk there, three of which were Australian. 75% - not bad at all. The couscous was from France and I would hope there wouldn't be any human rights issues regarding workers there. Most of the containers at Grains and Goodies are clearly labelled as to the country of origin of the product. The great thing, too, is that I can bring my own containers, thus reducing the environmental costs of landfill, recycling and container manufacturing. I also went to Skala bakery. The bakery, itself, is in Port Adelaide and they have a stall at the Market where I bought bread.

On the way home I went to Pasadena Foodland. It has more variety than my local Foodland but not necessarily more Australian owned brands.

And in other news: one of my cousins gave me some food for thought in relation to dishwashing habits. I'm now trying to ascertain the lowest setting I can use on my dishwasher that will still be effective. (No, I'm not giving up the dishwasher!) I'm also now rinsing in cold water. I can't bring myself to hand wash the dishes in cold water ... yet. I'm too much of a germ-phobe.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This and That

There's a blog I've been following for quite some time by Katy Wolk-Stanley entitled, "The Non-Consumer Advocate". Katy and her family try not to be mass consumers and to think about how and where to spend their money wisely. They try not to buy into conspicuous consumerism. Her motto is “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”. I'm mentioning it today because one of the things Katy tries to do is "batch her errands". I've been trying to do the same for awhile but I'm trying harder now. For example, I realized in the late afternoon yesterday that I needed bread so instead of rushing out then and there I waited until I had to drive my daughter to work and bought it at the nearby IGA then. I always buy Thursday's paper for the TV guide. Today I'm going to buy it when I go to pick up my son from school. This morning I had to bring the cat to the vet and scheduled the appointment to coincide with the morning school run.

Sadly, our run of early spring ended last night and winter has returned with a vengeance :( I spent some of today trying to dry my clothes, keep warm and get places without using too many resources. I did use the clothes dryer but I made sure to shut off all the bedrooms and use the heat to warm the lounge instead of turning on the heater. When it was finished I didn't turn on the heater while I was doing the housework but waited until I was seated in front of the computer and getting cold.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More about grocery shopping

After shopping and writing last week I went trawling through some more websites and found the following: http://www.onlyoz.com.au/index.php It's an on-line grocery shopping business. I doubt I'd actually use it for shopping because of the environmental impact of sending an order from Queensland to South Australia. However, I will certainly be using it as a resource. They have a grading system that works like this:

AAAA = Australian owned, Australian made from Australian materials or ingredients.
AAA = Australian owned, Australian made from local and imported ingredients.
AA = Australian owned, imported product, packaged in Australia.
A = Australian owned, imported product.

I'd add an ethical, fair trade tier to that but I'm not entirely sure where I'd put it yet.

So, I'm quite optimistic about the groceries for now. Other shopping may be more of a hardship.It became evident when we realized that my husband needs a new suitcase that there are going to be some items that just may not fit into any of those tiers. We're wondering, in those cases, if it might be preferable to buy very good quality items so we would be buying them as infrequently as possible thus using fewer resources and exploiting fewer people. Furthermore, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, secondhand is an option which also reduces both use of resources and exploitation of people. It also often raises money for worthwhile causes.

The weather may be changing now but it's been so temperate that I've not had to use the heater, the clothes dryer or the car much at all in the past week.

FA = Foreign owned Australian made.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Grocery shopping

Today I went grocery shopping. I thought I was well prepared. I had been on the internet to the Fightback website and written which brands to buy next to each item on my list. http://www.fightbacknews.com.au/ My husband and I discussed whether it would be preferable to buy local with more packaging or imported with less should that choice need to be made and decided on the former.

I decided to shop at Foodland because it's a South Australian company and seems to support local companies. Things aren't as they seem, however, and my outing soon opened a can of worms. It became apparent almost immediately that many of the brands I'd written down aren't being carried by my local Foodland. That got me wondering whether it was preferable to buy either imported items or locally made items owned by a foreign company at Foodland or to try to buy those items at Woolies, a multinational company. I stuck with Foodland, only popping into Woolies to buy Madura loose leaf tea which was not stocked at Foodland.

And then there was the dog food ... I ended up buying a local brand but could only get small tins. I usually buy big tins of an Australian produced, overseas owned brand. Each tin I put in my trolley made me shudder. So much energy used to produce/recycle those tins. My inner greenie died a small death.

And all of that raises the question of whether it is preferable to use the necessary petrol to travel further afield to find more local products. Irony.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It All Begins

I'm still trying to navigate this blogsite so there's no telling how this - my first blog - is going to turn out. Sometimes you've just got to take a deep breath and dive into the unknown.

I decided to start a blog to track some lifestyle changes we've decided to make, in case anyone else was of like mind. I guess it's been building for quite some time. There are many issues I feel strongly about and two of them are how quickly we, as humans, are consuming the finite resources of the world and how the need to consume often outweighs the need to think about where our products have some from.

After talks with the family, it was clear that they felt the same way. Our goals are to reduce our impact on the world's resources and to try to buy - where possible - goods produced as locally as possibly by Australian owned companies, second hand or ethically produced items. Hence the name of the blog. We want to leave both large and small footprints.

We decided to start small. Our reasoning was that if we have success and find it easy it will be easier to stick with it and we can up the ante later if we wish.

Monday was the first day and I hadn't realized until we'd started what gratuitous consumers of energy we were. When I list what we've done so far, some of you will wonder what all the fuss is about because you've already been doing it for ages. Others, I suspect, will think we're leftist, tree hugging bleeding hearts. Those are labels I can live with!

So far this week the weather has smiled on us. Maybe the earth is trying to make it easier for us. The weather has given me no excuse to use my clothes dryer or drive Louis to and from school. Those are two of my biggest vices and I'm proud to write that this week the dryer has not been used once and that Louis has been walked home every day and walked to school today.

Other changes we've made so far are to make sure all lights, appliances and heating vents not in use are off. Instead of heating the entire house we're only heating the rooms we're in and closing off the others. It embarrasses me to think we haven't been doing this all along. When I change the pets' water each day I now pour the old water into a bucket with my used tea leaves and water a lucky pot plant. I hope they're enjoying their caffeine fix. On Tuesday, I needed to run some errands so I took the bus to Marion instead of driving. I needed to buy some cards and wrapping paper so I bought the latter and used it to make matching cards remembering that I had some card left over from a recent project. Someone I know just had a baby and I bought the baby a gift pack of baby products from a local company that uses organic ingredients and doesn't test on animals. I've even been washing my hands in cold water instead of waiting for it to heat up. Brrrr.

On Monday evening there was nothing on TV and instead of channel surfing, Callum joined me in bed with our respective books. The next thing we knew, Louis had climbed in between us with his own book.

Tomorrow I plan to shop. I'll let you know how that goes.