I wasn’t always big on recycling. Not because I didn’t think it was a great idea and essential to our growing waste problem, but it seemed a bit of a shlep and my life was all over the place. Only in the last 10 years have I actively recycled our household waste and now the last year more than ever. It’s actually not a shlep at all, you just need to prep. I’ve now got 4 bins. One inside for unrecyclable waste and 3 outside for paper/plastic/glass & tin.

We are a big family and during the first few weeks of lockdown we were 7 in the house. It was a nightmare in terms of dishes and washing, but I noticed that we only produced 1 (and sometimes less) bag per week of waste. I thought that was pretty impressive! Some weeks, we didn’t even put out the rubbish, because the bag was only half full! I was pretty chuffed. I hate waste, but we do produce it, so knowing that my weekly bag is much smaller makes me feel like I’m helping somewhat. Thank god wine comes in glass, right?!?

Sometimes I do have this fantasy of being an extreme zero-waster. LOL for those who know me! We’ve all seen them on the gram and you tube. They live in a minimalist apartment with lots of indoor plants and they have a small (glass) peanut butter jar filled with little bits of plastic and rubber bands that represents their collective waste over the past 2 years. I admire and commend their serious dedication and efforts, BUT realistically, I don’t see them doing this with 4 kids, a husband and a ménage of 14 animals in that little apartment. It’s never gonna happen here! Don’t fall for that kind of pressure. We all want to lighten our footprint and load on our planet and it’s always really inspiring to see people go to such extremes to achieve it, but don’t think that your small effort isn’t making a difference. It is! And it’s teaching your kids and neighbours and friends to do the same.

I love buying vintage and second-hand clothes. Mostly because clothes sold in chain stores are the shittiest quality. They never fit properly and cost way more than what they’re worth. AND worse still, they are “made in china”. It’s like a really bad habit that has become way too convenient for us. Cheap and quick, shipped over and sold at half the local prices. But this kind of fashion comes at a HUGE environmental cost. Fashion waste is bigger than any of us realise. We are so fixated on the plastic problem, we missed that nearly 20% of all global waste water is produced by the fashion industry.


Cotton farming (yes, we think of cotton as sustainable and quality) is responsible for 24% of insecticides and 11% of pesticides. 20,000 litres of water is needed to produce one kilogram of cotton which is equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans. Just go back and think about this for a minute…..The amount of textile waste in China is not known, but in Hong Kong alone, there are 253 tons of textiles sent to landfills DAILY.

Obviously there are some non-negotiable items that need to be bought new (unterwäsche!) and now and then I will buy a new item from a  chain store, because I’m weak and it’s sometimes hard work avoiding these conveniences and sometimes I’m in need of some retail therapy that only the smell of new clothes can satisfy. 

However, I am super conscious about what I buy and where. Firstly, I wear my clothes to the point of hobo-ness. An embarrassing fact that I’m rather proud of. It’s probably quite unacceptable to some, but after so many years of managing without and with so little, it’s totally normal for me to wear clothes till they practically fall off. I go out of my way to buy second hand and vintage clothes or make my own. All thrift stores are small local businesses or charities, so the money goes to where it should. And supporting these places gives one a sense of community. Seriously, it does! If the ‘hobo’ look isn’t quite your scene, then choose to buy new clothes from small businesses that produce their clothes locally. There are plenty to choose from.

My sanctuary is my garden and it’s made entirely of re-purposed items. All the wooden boxes were once shelving, the corrugated iron plates are old, the bricks were left over from building our house, the shade cloth is used and stitched together, the furniture was bought second hand from a friend and the whole garden is fenced off with poles that were taken out of an old vineyard. The only thing we bought was a huge pile of compost. I love my garden. It gives me great pride in knowing that I’ve re-purposed so many things that would have otherwise been dumped.

Ok, so what has this all got to do with fermentation? Everything! The whole concept of fermentation has to do with reducing waste. Fermentation developed thousands of years ago to extend the lifespan of the harvested crop, so that it doesn’t go to waste. The whole crop could be preserved in crocks and feed the family throughout the whole winter until the spring when the next crop could be grown. Most parts of the vegetables can be fermented as well. Skins, outer leaves, cores, roots. The waste is minimal. It’s the perfect way to clean out the bottom of your fridge. Then throw what is left after that into your compost. You see that? It is a perfect self-sustaining circle created in your own home. Not hard but makes such a huge impact when many of us do it together.











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