Make do and mend

Category Archives: Recycling

Make do and mend
17th October, 2018

Repair Café Katoomba

Get set to make do and mend at the second monthly Repair Café at Junction 142, Katoomba.

The inaugural Katoomba Repair Café, held on Saturday 15th September, was a huge success according to organiser Justin Morrissey of Toolo.

“People brought 27 items along to the Repair Café and more than 80% of the items were repaired successfully,” Justin says. “That’s over 200 kg of items not destined for landfill!”

“Ten enthusiastic, skilled volunteers assisted on the day, and the fundraising sausage sizzle, tea and coffee were a real hit.”

If you’d like to volunteer your skills for this Saturday 20th October contact Toolo at Toolo.blue@gmail.com

As an incentive, volunteer repairers will receive a free year’s membership with the Co-op (valued at $35) for their first Repair Café and volunteer points for time spent at the Repair Café on subsequent dates. If volunteers are already members of the Co-op they will receive volunteer points.

 

 

Spend 10 minutes with Rosa Del Ponte of Katoomba’s Earth Recovery, Food Rescue and Mountains Soul Kitchen.

It’s mid-morning at Earth Recovery in Katoomba and Rosa Del Ponte is doing the rounds of the supermarkets rescuing food bound for landfill. It’s a challenging job feeding the poverty stricken and homeless but Rosa can’t let it get her down, there are too many people counting on her to keep on keeping on.

Q: How long have you been involved with Earth Recovery, Food Rescue and Mountains Soul Kitchen?

Rosa: I started the organisation with five friends in 2012 and Christmas of that year we launched Mountains Soul Kitchen.

Q: What prompted you to start the organisation?

Rosa: My friend Sarah and I started Soul Kitchen as a result of our final project for a TAFE course. As part of an emergency relief study we went to 27 agencies from Lithgow to Penrith to speak to them about what services they offered. We were looking for a gap to fill and found it in the Soul Kitchen. Christmas and weekends were identified as times when services were lacking so it seemed to make sense to start with a trial then.

We worked under the auspices of Blue Mountains Family Support for the first few months and then we kicked off and were able to cover our own insurance and administration. We were originally based in the Civic Centre but rent became an issue because we were only running on donations, so we did a deal with the Uniting Church and moved to Junction 142.

Q: What is your background?

Rosa: My background is in film and TV production and PR. When I moved to the mountains I got a job at Planet Ark working on the National Tree Day campaign and discovered that I really liked the not-for-profit business model. It gave me an impetus for work in community services so I did a bit of volunteering and then took up a position at Muru Mittigar [Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre] as a business development manager. After that contract ended, I volunteered in neighbourhood centres. Providing free food for those in need was a big passion of mine and a niche that needed filling in the mountains but I couldn’t get traction anywhere, so we decided to start our own service.

Q: Where do you get food for Soul Kitchen and is it enough?

Rosa: Over the years, I’ve built face-to-face relationships with managers at local supermarkets to secure donations to Blue Mountains Food Rescue. And now that we are known in the community we get calls from other businesses also to come and collect food. We pretty well run out of food on a daily basis but we’re collecting daily and also get supplemented by Second Bite who deliver up to 1000 kilos of food every week from the Coles distribution centre in western Sydney. This lasts us a few days and is topped up by what we collect from Woolies, Coles, Aldi, the Co-op and local businesses.

Q: It sounds like a lot of food – is the need really that great?

Rosa: Yes. Absolutely. We distribute over 2000 kilos of food every week and there is very little waste. We have to sort through it and there’s the odd thing we can’t use but the vast majority of food collected is used. And if there is any waste it goes to the Community Gardens to be composted.

Q: How is the food distributed?

Rosa: Volunteers sort and pack boxes ready to be collected for distribution points and we also encourage individuals to come and pick what they need. We try not to be too officious and to give people a little bit of choice. It’s really important for people to know that it’s open, and it’s free. All we need is a first name and how many people you’re collecting for just so we can keep records of how much food we are distributing. For example, on any given day we know that if we’ve had 70 individuals visit, picking up for a mixture of families, couples and single households, we can add up how many people are being fed.

Distribution points are growing too. Community groups like the Anglicare Op-shop in Wentworth Falls and North Katoomba Community Hub collect food to distribute, and that means we can operate up and down the mountain – from Catholic Care Springwood up to Blackheath. We’ve recently heard that Mount Victoria school could do with some help so it’s just a matter of finding a volunteer who is willing to take that task on.

Q: How bad is homelessness in the mountains?

Rosa: Homelessness is more of a problem in spring and summer because it’s only the really tough who survive sleeping rough up here in the colder months. The lack of affordable single persons’ accommodation will be the next hit that we see in the mountains because the rental market is already pretty unaffordable if you’re on Centrelink benefits. I’m already seeing people not being able to get into housing – they can’t get rent assistance because Centrelink say they can’t afford the rent but what do they do – stay homeless? It’s a vicious cycle that nobody seems to think about.

Q: How can the community help?

Rosa: We want to spread the word about Soul Kitchen and Earth Recovery because I’m sure there are still people out there struggling who don’t know what we do. Almost daily, we get people saying “I didn’t know this place was here” and at least once a week somebody bursts into tears because they are overwhelmed with gratitude. And we always welcome volunteers.

Q: How can local businesses help?

Rosa: Any businesses that want to be involved can freeze meals at the end of the day and we can do a weekly collection. Then the food can be given as a meal to someone who is homeless or in temporary accommodation.

Q: When does Soul Kitchen operate?

Rosa: Soul Kitchen cooks lunch every Sunday and once a week we prepare meals that are frozen so people can take them home or heat them up here. It means people are getting a nutritious home-cooked meal and not something that’s been manufactured. I think that’s really important, especially when people are coping with financial stress, are homeless, or are living in temporary accommodation.

Q: How do you raise funds for Earth Recovery and Soul Kitchen?

Rosa: We’ve received a few grants over the years and a lot of community support. All the facilities are undergoing renovation and Rotary have been amazing. We have fundraising gigs at Junction 142 and we’re hoping to raise enough money to finish the upgrade of the Food Rescue Kitchen and complete work on the homeless facility at the rear of Junction 142.

For more information or to get involved go to earthrecovery.org.au

Can we fix it?
15th August, 2018

Can we fix it? Yes we can, with your help! Toolo, the not-for-profit Katoomba Tool Library, is calling for volunteer repairers for the new Katoomba Repair Café.

Are you a Mr or Ms Fixit? Do you have mending skills you’d like to share with the community? Then we need you at Katoomba’s Repair Café.

Toolo  and the Blue Mountains Food Co-op are launching a Repair Café at Junction 142 in Katoomba on 15th September. Repair Cafés are non-monetary shopfronts for an international sustainability movement that is all about repairing damaged or broken household items that would otherwise end up in landfill. Repair Cafés offer communities the chance to learn how to mend clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, toys, computer equipment and more by providing tools, materials and volunteers with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

Just rewards

As incentive, volunteer repairers will receive a free years membership with the Co-op (valued at $35) for their first Repair Café and volunteer points for time spent at the Repair Café on subsequent dates. If volunteers are already members of the Co-op they will receive volunteer points.

To register your interest contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com

POSITION VACANT – Coordinator role

The Repair Café Mender Coordinator is a volunteer position whose main responsibility is to liaise directly with the volunteer menders from the community, provide them with rostered shifts, provide an orientation and safety induction, and collect and file volunteer paperwork. The Repair Café Mender Coordinator should be familiar with basic computer skills, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets. This volunteer position is for approximately 8 hours per month and entitles the successful candidate to free membership of the Blue Mountains Food Co-op, valued at $35 (or volunteer points if already a member) and full membership to the Blue Mountains Tool Library valued at $99. To apply contact Toolo on toolo.blue@gmail.com.

 

 

 

Waste not
11th July, 2018

Australian households generate a massive amount of waste every year, most of it going to landfill. What can we do as a community to help reduce our environmental impact? We asked local business Integrated Dental Health and Blue Mountains City Council for answers.

Brushing up on dental waste

Dr Henriette Macri-Etienne of Integrated Dental Health in Katoomba is making it easier for us to reduce our dental waste. Her practice is a collection point for Terracycle, a company that recycles old toothbrushes and other dental plastics and uses them to make things like playground equipment and park benches.

“Any dental waste like old toothbrushes, floss containers, toothpaste tubes – any waste you use in your mouth – can go in the dental waste collection bin at Integrated Dental Health,” says Henriette.

The practice is also investigating the most sustainable bamboo toothbrushes to provide free of charge with every check-up.

For more information, visit or call Integrated Dental Health 61 Parke Street Katoomba,  4708 7007 integrateddentalhealth.com.au

We’ve all bin there

Q: In Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) 2014 Draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy the key aims were to reduce the rate of waste generation per capita, increase recycling rates and divert waste from landfill – how successful has Council been in achieving each of these goals?

BMCC: Very successful.

  1. Household waste diverted from landfill up from 18% (2000) to 53% in 2016
  2. Household waste to landfill per person per year decreased from 346kgs to 227kgs.
  3. Household waste recycled per person per year up from 76kgs to 254kgs.

Q: Has there been any update to that plan, and if so what will the new targets be?

BMCC: Yes. Waste Avoidance & Resource Recovery Strategic Plan 2017-2021 is the updated plan. It can be found at this link:

www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/residents/waste-and-recycling/waste-results-how-are-we-doing

Q: Where does our (BM residents) recycling go and what happens to it?

BMCC: JJ Richards collect and transport our kerbside recycling to Visy in Smithfield.  Visy is responsible for sorting the materials and sourcing markets for their recycling.  Visy use a lot of the material themselves in their plastic and paper/cardboard manufacturing businesses.

Q: Bathurst Council is utilising Australian Native Landscapes’ facility at Blayney to recycle all organic matter, including food waste, into compost – is this an option for BMCC and if not why?

BMCC: The introduction of the new waste service was made based on over two years of research and extensive community consultation prior to any decision being made. Households were asked to indicate their preference from three options. Option A included garden vegetation and food waste collection at a cost (the processing for food scraps is more expensive), option B was just for garden vegetation and option C was for no green bin. The results were as follows:

Option A – Green Bin (Food & Garden) 18%

Option B – Green Bin (Garden only) 46.4%

Option C – No Green bin 35.6%

Council was guided by this community response when the current waste service was selected and introduced.

Finally, unlike other areas closer to the city, many of our households have garden space suitable for composting. We offer a number of different initiatives to support households to compost at home; such as the compost revolution, composting workshops, our recent compost hub trial as well as offering compost bins and worm farms for sale via our website.

Q: What programs have BMCC initiated or supported in the last year to educate the community about waste avoidance and promote plastic-free living?

BMCC:

  • EPA – Community Recycling Centre (CRC) Katoomba Waste Management Facility – grant funded free disposal of problem household waste such as paints, gas bottles, motor oils, batteries, smoke detectors and fluorescent globes and tubes.
  • Waste 2 Art – Community art project encouraging waste avoidance and correct recycling. 2017 message was specifically targeted at avoidance and reuse of plastic bags. The project also specifically addressed recycling bin contamination with soft plastics.  2018 message focused on liquid paperboard containers.
  • Compost Revolution – An online educational tool for households to use anywhere, anytime. Householders complete an online tutorial and quiz. To help them get started on recycling food and garden waste at home a discounted compost bin or worm farm is available for purchase.
  • Compost Hub – A neighbourhood composting program connecting non-composting households with those that do not compost. Compost contributors deliver their household scraps to compost champions. Diverting food waste from the red garbage bin into a household compost bin.
  • Love Food Hate Waste workshops and market stalls – This plan focussed on providing tools to reduce food waste from meal planning, shopping to a list, food storage and using leftovers.
  •  OTHER ongoing promotion and communications:
  • Website – Update of waste and recycling pages
  • Weekly gazette ads
  • Waste App – used to update information, respond to feedback and provide recycling information.
  • Press Releases, rates newsletter – tools to promote and provide relevant waste avoidance information to the community.
  • Social media

 

Fishy business
10th July, 2018

We’ve all heard the adage we are what we eat, but what about the one that goes we eat what we wear?

Blue Mountains Food Co-op supplier Import Ants recently published an alarming story about Fish, Fibres and Food.

Here is an edited version.

When fish eat fibres, the fish and the fibres end up on our dinner plate. But there is more to the story!

Fish like eating microplastic fibres

Fibres absorb chemical pollutants and pathogens

Food that we eat from the sea has significant amounts of plastic in it

But why do fish eat these fibres?   

New research has found that the “scent” of plastic appeals to foraging fish just as much as the scent of their natural food. So fish are being tricked into eating plastic because of how it smells. And with all the plastics that are entering our oceans it is not just fish that are affected by them.

At Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus, Dr. Sarah Dudas leads a team dissolving oyster guts to leave behind the microplastics they have ingested and she is finding them in almost every shellfish.

Prawns, oysters and other molluscs are filter-feeders. When these filter-feeders are eaten by larger marine life they act as a gateway into the food chain.

So where are these plastic fibres coming from?

There has been a lot of research lately that is showing that much of this plastic fibre is coming from our laundry. Every load of synthetic clothing empties an estimated 1.7 grams of microfibers into the water stream, and these are not filtered out at treatment plants.

In 2013, Dr Peter Ross director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Research Program, began sampling water off the coast of British Columbia for microplastics.  His study published in Science Direct found 9,200 particles of microplastic per cubic meter of seawater.

Using a spectrometer he found these microplastic particles originated from four main sources. Micro-beads common in toothpaste & cosmetics, polystyrene from packaging, nurdles the hard resin pellets used as the raw material for other plastic products, however the majority were from microfibers in synthetic fabrics.

Food we eat

Plastics and chemicals are finding their way into the food chain.

In a study published in the science journal Nature in 2015, marine researchers bought fish at public markets in California and Indonesia and examined their stomach contents. Around one in four fish at markets in both locations had plastic particles in their guts.

However, it is the chemical makeup of plastic that may be having a more harmful effect.

Rolf Halden, director of Arizona State University’s Center for Environmental Security suggests that the chemicals used to make plastic may migrate into the fish flesh and thus the edible parts of seafood.

We know that microplastics act as a sponge, absorbing chemicals in the water. These may sometimes be found “in accumulated concentrations that may be harmful to humans”, says Halden.

In Australia, researchers in a controlled laboratory study headed by Bradley Clarke, an environmental scientist at RMIT University, spiked microbeads from face cleaners with “environmentally relevant” concentrations of the pollutant polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and fed them to Murray River rainbow fish. They found 12.5 per cent of PBDEs from the microbeads leached into the tissue of the fish.

It is already known that PBDE levels in seafood biomagnify up the food chain. PBDEs and other similar pollutants are linked to neurological health problems, impaired immune function and fertility problems.

So what can we do?

It is easy to feel that your choices make only a small difference to what is a very large problem. But we know that corporations and governments don’t change without financial incentive or public pressure. So you have more power as a consumer than you think.

  • Woolworths and Coles have now banned single-use plastic bags in stores across Australia.

  • Starbucks in the UK have removed plastic straws and cutlery from their shelves. Customers have to ask if they want them. March 2018

  • McDonald’s shareholders are considering a proposal to remove plastic straws in May 2018

  • Australian retailers are phasing out microbeads – April 2018 – a recent federal government commissioned assessment of 4400 relevant supermarket and pharmacy products found only six per cent still contained microbeads

Australia has been slow at legislating to reduce plastics in our environment, preferring voluntary agreements with the manufacturers. We can do better. However, with the growth of people power and some wonderful groups like Boomerang Alliance and Take 3 for the Sea pushing for government and industry to improve, change is on its way.

  • Switch to a non-plastic kitchen scourer like the Eco Max Kitchen Scrubber

  • Support companies that have policies to reduce plastics

  • Use a reusable cup and drink bottle

  • Take your own carry bag and say no to the plastic bag at the checkout

  • Don’t buy things packaged in polystyrene or excessive plastic packaging

  • Do buy natural fabrics and avoid synthetic fibres

  • Use a no phosphorus Bio-compatible laundry detergent then reuse your grey water on the garden

  • Say no to straws, plastic cotton buds, cutlery and lollies on plastic sticks

  • Use your own container and fill up at a bulk food shop

So be the change you want to see in the world and remember every little step we each take together makes a giant difference.

To read the full article from Import Ants click here.

 

Refill not landfill
10th July, 2018

A worldwide love affair with bottled water is costing us dearly and not just our hip pocket.  In 2017, The Guardian revealed that almost 20,000 plastic bottles were consumed per second globally, and that figure would increase another 20% by 2021, “creating an environmental crisis … as serious as climate change.”

Australia’s bottled water consumption generates over 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year and despite most being recyclable, billions of plastic water bottles end up in landfill or as litter in our waterways and oceans. New studies have also discovered that the largest source of micro-plastics consumed by humans come from drinking bottled water.

But there is good news. Did you know you could refill your reusable water bottle at the Blue Mountains Food Co-op? The Co-op has free filtered water available on tap in-store for thirsty shoppers, locals and tourists.

“It has always been the Co-op’s remit to provide opportunities for shoppers to reduce waste wherever possible,” says Halin Nieuwenhuyse, Blue Mountains Food Co-op manager. “To that end we stock a large range of non-plastic, eco-friendly shopping and produce bags, food storage containers, stainless steel, bamboo and glass drinking straws, keep-cups, water bottles, and locally-made ceramics. And we welcome donations of label-free glass jars and bottles for re-use.

With China now refusing to accept the world’s waste, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of the products we buy and choose package-free or reusable packaging where we can.”

To support Plastic-free July the Co-op is offering non-members the opportunity to shop at member’s prices all this month when they BYO reused or recycled containers, plus go into the draw to win a Plastic-free Living prize pack. See bmfoodcoop.org.au or in-store for details.

Plastic-free July BYO competition
3rd July, 2018

BYO containers this Plastic-free July and win!

It’s a win-win situation when you ditch plastic for BYO containers and recycled produce bags at the Co-op. Not only are you helping to protect the environment, and your health, but you will go into the draw to win a fantastic Plastic-free Living prize pack.

During July, every time non-members use their own containers (reused or recycled produce bags, packaging, jars and bottles) to buy food or other unpackaged products they will:

Shop at member’s prices & go into the draw to win a fabulous selection of plastic-free living products

And, during July, every time members use their own containers (reused or recycled produce bags, packaging, jars and bottles) to buy food or other unpackaged products they will:

Go into the draw to win a fabulous selection of plastic-free living products

Don’t forget to fill in your entry ticket at the checkout!

Prize pack includes:

Coco cutlery (1 set of six)

Gingham & Wax natural reusable wraps (2 sets of 3)

Wire Pegs stainless steel clothes pegs

Earths Purities Bicarb Free Deodorant Paste

Clemence Organics Ultimate SOS balm

Ever Eco Stainless steel smoothie straws (pack of 4 plus cleaning brush)

Green Essentials Sustain-a-Stacker stainless steel lunch box

Earthlust 1 litre stainless steel water bottle

Laughing Bird linen shopping bag – locally made

Soaps by Heather – Goats, Oats & Honey 

Beauty and the Bees natural shampoo bar

Natural Value cellulose scrubber

Import Ants non-stick pan brush and palm body brush

Klean Kanteen insulated tumbler

1kg Organic Soapberries from That Red House plus wooden storage box

Organic produce bags

Nina’s bees lip balm

Mieco Bamboo toothbrushes x 2, toothbrush holder and hairbrush

 

 

 

 

 

The sharpest tool in the shed
13th June, 2018

Justin Morrissey is the weekend warrior behind Toolo, Katoomba’s tool library. He took time out to talk tools with the Co-op.

Co-op: Briefly, what is Toolo and how long has it been operating?

Justin: Toolo, is the Blue Mountains Tool Library, an artist run, not-for-profit, volunteer managed group that coordinates a resource hub of shared things for members to borrow.

Co-op: What prompted you to start a tool library?

Justin: I’d seen many similar successful projects overseas that weren’t supported by government, just run by people for people, and it seemed to just make sense to have one in the Blue Mountains.

Co-op: Who are your members and how can people join?

Justin: Members pay a small fee of about less than $2 per week, to borrow items from the library, they can join online or in person at the library, sign a form, present some ID, and then they can borrow to their hearts content.

Co-op: What projects has Toolo initiated since its inception?

Justin: We’ve had all manner of activities, like casting and modelling workshops, digital making and 3D printing demonstrations, an artist in residence program, and the Katoomba Falls Kiosk pop up art space for 9 months. Pretty good going for a library just turning two years old in July.

Co-op: What are your plans for the future of Toolo?

Justin: Toolo needs to have about 300 members to maintain viability, to pay the rent, insurance, and test and tag electrical equipment. Once we have 300 members we are a viable entity that can remain sustainable for future generations.

We plan to continue to educate the wider community about sustainability in the creative industries about innovation and entrepreneurship for creatives. The tool library offers an incredible shift in economies and we hope we can encourage people to join so that we may also be able to employ staff locally to run the programs and become tool librarians.

Click here to join Toolo online or pop into the library at 8 Froma Lane, Katoomba.

Opening hours: 3 – 6pm Thursdays and 9am -1 pm Saturdays.

Repair Cafe for Katoomba

Blue Mountains Food Co-op is joining forces with Toolo to start a Repair Cafe – a monthly pop up where the local community can learn how to fix, mend, restore and reuse broken and worse for wear household items. There are currently 1,500 Repair Cafes worldwide  keeping tonnes of ‘hard rubbish’ out of landfill and ensuring valuable skills are passed on.

If you have repair skills you would like to share please contact the Co-op or Toolo at hello@bmfoodcoop.org.au or toolo.blue@gmail.com

PLASTIC UNWRAPPED
12th December, 2017

Image: Flickr (Bo Eide)

Want to really reduce your plastic use?

Prompted by our focus on Plastic Free July this year, Co-op Research Group member Craig Linn has prepared two in-depth papers on plastic to help you understand the environmental and health risks posed by plastic, and how you can reduce the plastic in your life.

(more…)

GLASS: REUSE OR RECYCLE?
19th September, 2017

ABC TV’s recent Four Corners program ‘Trashed’ revealed that vast amounts of the glass collected for recycling in Australia is actually being stockpiled in warehouses or going into landfill.

(more…)

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