Plastic Free Living: Ecoburbia Workshop

On Sunday 29th March 2015, I had the pleasure of heading along to Ecoburbia’s Plastic Free Workshop at Whiteman Park’s own EnviroFest.

Craving the knowledge and guidance of living a less wasteful, more plastic free lifestyle… I knew as soon as I saw this on this timetable for EnviroFest, I had to go! So with my friend Jordan, as well a small group of other eager greenies, we were greeted by the wonderful Shani from Ecoburbia.

Right away we were set a challenge to write down on a big sheet of paper, everything we could think of with plastic in our household, mainly kitchen and bathroom. This was like a massive snowball effect as soon as you mentioned one item, eg. sandwich bags, this led you to glad wrap with led you to cleaning products and it all spiralled out of control and our paper was full.

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Shani, an inspiring expert in the field of all things sustainable, then guided us through some of her experiences and tips for living more eco-friendly and plastic free! Super excited at this point, with open eyes, ears and minds, here are some wonderful tips we learnt at the workshop:

Do It Yourself

Making your own products whether health, beauty or cleaning, can save you from using a lot of plastic! As most of these products are held in plastic containers, tubes you name it, they’re in it. Where as if you’re DIY’ing you can choose to replace that plastic with a glass jar for example. Some basic recipes for creating your own include:

Toothpaste

  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • As much glycerine as needed
  • Food grade mint essence

Deodorant

  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Coconut Oil
  • Shani used Lavender essential oil, but use whichever fragrance you prefer

Cleaning Productsonly takes two magic ingredients? YES

  • Vinegar – (white) use with microfibre cloth
  • Bicarb – use this which a scrub brush
  • Mould- for tackling mould, Shani suggested 90% vinegar, 10% water … simple as that

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Buy in Bulk

Some stores here in Perth you can buy in bulk and even better take your own container to fill… e.g Weigh’N’Pay or Kakulas. Why might you want to? Well if there are some items you do not wish to live without eg. dishwashing liquid, detergent or even cooking ingredients…to reduce continuous purchase of plastic containers in which they are held, simply buy in bulk, go halves with neighbours and recycle or up-cycle your containers afterwards.

Retrain the Brain

Living without plastic is a change in our behaviour, retraining our brain from years of conditioning and habit. Top tips from Shani on succeeding in these new, environmentally friendly actions include

  • Being Vigilant: remembering to say “no” to plastic bags, and keep your awareness high of this change
  • Finding Alternatives: somethings you love may only be accessed through plastic, see if you can recreate this chocolate bar or deodorant another way, can you make it yourself or buy it from a local deli fresh?
  • Learning New Skills: as mentioned above, to enjoy what you love or being able to package a sandwich for work, you need to learn new skills…this can be an exciting process, asking a friend or neighbour to teach you how to sew, attending cooking classes or
  • Adopting New Habits: all these small behaviours add up and will help you achieve the all round more sustainable lifestyle. These habits can be anything from taking your own cutlery, your own shopping bags, to buying in bulk, shopping at your locals farmers markets (a lot of these new habits relate to being prepared for situations you know plastic may arise, you could even write those places down to jog your memory).

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At the end of the workshop, Shani asked us if we could go back to our group worksheet (featured below) and from what we have learnt, cross off all the items you can find an alternative to using plastic for. 

Much to our excitement, we managed to cross of 95% of these items and that released an surge of inspiration in all of us…. we can really do this!

The Unavoidables

So the 5% we weren’t able to cross off? Here are a list of what Shani calls

The Five Unavoidables:

  • Medication
  • 007 Products – these are products that aren’t ever going to die/ you consider worthy of your contribution to the worlds waste….
  • Smartrider- good point, sometimes you just have to tag on and off (plus great job for catching public transport)
  • Condoms- pretty self explanatory
  • Potato Chips- this was a personal one for Shani, some of you may be able to live happily without potato chips/ have acquired a new skills to make your own!

Although we can greatly reduce our waste and use of plastic and be very proud of our individual achievments, it is okay to accept that these above items exist. If you ever get caught out, there is also a dilemma bag where you might have purchased or been gifted something with plastic. You can then put this into a desired place or bag to deal with later, however you choose (this could be a chance to get creative).

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Concluding the workshop, we each wrote down a list of things we could do to reduce plastic, live more practice free ….as featured below.

I am proud to say that I have registered for an upcoming Living Smart course in North Fremantle with my friend Jordan who attended this workshop too.

Here is a link for information and other upcoming Living Smart courses in Perth.

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Also these handy eco reusable bags were raised in the workshop, to replace those small plastic ziplock bags. A lovely clever lady at the workshop had made them herself & gifted them to friends which I thought incorporated all of Shani retrain your brain tips! 

I am so thankful to Shani & Tim from Ecoburbia for this informative, fun and practical workshop on living plastic free. I really do gather so much information from your lifestyle, organisation and projects….. my full support all the way and look forward to attending or helping out at Ecoburbia one day!

Visit Ecoburbia for more information on their adventures in the sustainable living world.

Any comments or feedback please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me!

Soph. X

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Helpful Facebook Groups and Pages:

Zero Waste WA 

Plastic Free WA

Plastic Free July

Living Smart 

Ecoburbia 

Useful websites to browse for more inspiration on living with less plastic:

Trash is for Tossers

Plastic Free July

Earth Carers 

Ecoburbia

Treading My Own Path

Jamie Van Jones 

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One thought on “Plastic Free Living: Ecoburbia Workshop

  1. Pingback: I’m going Plastic Free this July | The Conscious Spirit

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