Eco-friendly Wet Weather Gear

In case you have missed it (and if you don’t live in South East Queensland, then it’s entirely likely you have), Brisbane has been experiencing some seriously wet weather. My shed has flooded for the first time ever. On Tuesday, we had the wettest day in 23 years. It’s been pretty crazy.

And I have a broken umbrella.

Fortunately, Yankee Elv had a spare unbroken umbrella, so I’ve been using that, but it did get me thinking about the broken state of my umbrella. One of the metal spines (arms? prongs? what do you call them?) is snapped in half and the nylon fabric has become detached from another metal bit. It was a pretty cheap umbrella to start with. The plastic handle was really uncomfortable and it was super flimsy. As one blogger, Sharon Russell, said:

Many people have adopted the belief that buying several cheap umbrellas is less costly than buying one umbrella of good quality that will last a few years. Instead, they simply plan to replace broken umbrellas whenever they need to.”

I must say, I have fallen prey to this attitude. What’s worse, when I stopped to think about, it occurred to me that pretty much every bit of an umbrella is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. Also, considering the cheapness, I’m pretty sure it’s not made from recycled materials. A bummer all around.

So this led me to thinking… what kind of environmentally sustainable wet weather gear might there be available? The answer: not much.

Treehugger has a nice listĀ of umbrellas, but everything is American (except one, which is British). I found a Dutch raincoat (but seriously, brown and yellow? what possessed them?), however it looks a bit thick for our climate. It mostly rains in summer here. Ecouterre has a list of raincoats but they are all so expensive! There are some good, inexpensive, Australian umbrellas made from recycled umbrellas available at Positive Impact, but they only sell them in sets of 1000 or more for corporate clients. I think that might be a couple too many. Even ebay can’t help me. šŸ˜¦

I guess I could go for the Urban Dictionary definition.

Does anyone know where I could get some eco-friendly wet weather gear?

Short of making my own raincoat out of the one Ikea bag I happen to have available and would rather like to keep?


Mulberries: An Interlude

Guess who stepped in a mulberry?

cat's paw coloured purple


Guess who left little purple paw prints all over the tiles?

woman holding a cat with a purple paw, kissing its head


Guess who was highly unimpressed I was taking her photo while she had a purple-stained foot?

unimpressed-looking cat


Yeah. Diva Princess. That’s who.

Just to show she’s not always messy and disgruntled…

tabby cat and tortoiseshell cat snuggling together on a bed

Princess is very sweet to little Fruity.


Now if only the possums would hurry up and eat all the mulberries on the ground under the tree. We were just lucky this time that we didn’t end up with purple stains on the carpet. Fortunately only the bedrooms are carpeted. Phew! Now, keep up, possums!

P.S. My eco-friendly cat toy tip of the day? A twig from a poinciana tree. I was using one to encourage Fruity to follow me back inside and she loved it. I forgot though, that I used to play with Princess in the same way… she had to come join in! They took turns to bat the twig. So cute. Pou was very confused as to what they were doing. An ex-stray, Pou doesn’t really understand the concept of playing like that. But my point is – who said cat toys have to be expensive and made of plastic? These two get more fun out of a bendy twig than they ever have out of some weird plastic ball with a bell inside. Yay nature!


Eco-Friendly Dental Hygiene

You’ll remember a while back (a long while back; I had another hiatus, sorry ’bout that) I posted about my eco-friendly toothbrush.

For what it’s worth, I’m still loving it, although right now I’m using a Preserve toothbrush (til it wears out) cos local stores sold out of the Monumental Dental kind. It’s pretty good actually, I like it – but it’s three times the price of the wooden one, and recycled plastic is still plastic. It might be a good choice for Americans, who can send it back for re-recycling pretty easily, but internationally shipping a worn-out toothbrush seems a little over-the-top to me, honestly. So I was pretty happy to find the Environmental Toothbrush stocked at The Green Edge when I dropped by about a month ago.

I bought four.

I didn’t want to run out!

Anyway, that’s not what today’s post is about. Today I wanna go beyond toothbrushes… to toothpaste or bust!

Ok, I might discuss dental floss too.

So the impetus for this post is the fact that I’ve had a toothpaste convergence recently. That is, my toothpaste ran out and I had to buy some more, which made me feel bad about buying more plastic that I’m eventually just going to throw away. Then I saw this post from Pioneer Woman. I was feeling guilty over one plastic tube, let alone two..! But I can’t say I blame them. I mean, dude, look at that tube! P-Dub’s, I mean. MM’s is perfect fantastic normal fine. No, I’m not talking about his butt. (What? Lesbians can appreciate a good butt, even if it does belong to a man. Go on and look, you’ll see. There’re lots of pictures.)

Anyway, I digress.

I looked around to try find a non-plastic toothpaste tube. None in the supermarket, duh. I’ve looked in Flannery’s and The Green Edge. All plastic there too. I’ve read about the Tom’s of Maine metal toothpaste tube that Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish uses in her very comprehensive post entitled Plastic-Free Dental Floss? Not Quite, but again, I’d have to ship it from the USA and I try not to do that. Buy local, y’know? I know some people use baking soda, but I’ve heard a lot of stories about how abrasive it is, so I’m not sure that I’m keen. (There are lots of comments on Beth’s post, so have a look if you want lots of opinions!)

macleans mild mint toothpaste

At the moment I'm using this toothpaste. I recycle the box, and try to use the toothpaste sparingly.

So right now, I’m just trying to use tiny bits of toothpaste at a time. I also brush my teeth twice a day, but I only use toothpaste one of those times. It’s mostly the brushing motion that’s important anyway… toothpaste is a bit more of a breath-freshener (as far as I know, anyway…).

You didn’t think I was going to offer any solutions, did you? These days I feel like I’m asking more questions than I am suggesting possible answers.

Which brings me to my second question: dental floss. What do you use?

Beth (of the aforementioned Fake Plastic Fish) uses Eco-Dent floss, which is available here in Brisbane from The Green Edge and The Cruelty Free Shop.

eco dent floss in cardboard box

This is the eco-dent floss that comes in the cardboard package... but cinnamon-flavoured!

It’s not perfect, but Beth explains why it’s the best of the bunch. On the upside, the packaging is recyclable cardboard and the wax coating on the floss is from vegetables, not beeswax or petroleum. On the downside, the floss is still made of nylon, and the packaging has a thin plastic wrapper, two plastic stickers and a plastic spool. On the very very downside, it costs nearly $12 a box, is shipped to local stores from America and – here’s the worst part – it’s cinnamon-flavoured. I’m sorry, but what is with that?! Cinnamon might work as a flavour in the USA (although how, I don’t really understand), but I remember that Close Up era in Australia in the 80s. My cousin used that toothpaste. It was red and hot and nasty. Just like Dr Pepper, it was fad, fortunately gone quickly. Cinnamon should only be used in food, like apple crumble. Ew ew ew, I cannot use cinnamon-flavoured floss!

So I dunno what that leaves me with.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

(I couldn’t help it; it’s been a while since I used that quote. Forgive me.)



Recycle: Asthma Puffers (Inhalers)

I’m sitting here with my leg hurting from tonight’s injection (damn legs give me more trouble than anywhere else!), and I kind of let my mind wander. It wandered to the asthma puffers (inhalers, if you’re American) sitting on my bedside table. On the very slim chance you haven’t seen one before, they are number 2 HDPE plastic devices which each contain a pressurised metal cylinder full of medication. You place the plastic mouthpiece in your mouth, press down on the canister, and breathe in the gaseous medication it emits. Ta-da. Nice and simple; I’ve been using them since I was a kid… so you can imagine how many I’ve gone through over the years.


Asthma puffers really puff! (Note: this is not my puffer, so check your own puffer to find out what kind of plastic it is before you get too excited!)

I recently had to replace an empty puffer, and as I did so, I got cranky about the waste. Not for the first time, I wondered why there’s no puffer recycling program. Folks have come up with all kinds of weird and wacky ways to reuse the little suckers, and I know how dispose of expired (not empty) medication – in my area, you take it back to the pharmacy; pretty easy. Brisbane City Council’s plastic recycling fact sheet seems to suggest they could go in the standard yellow-lidded recycling bin… but they have some broad caveats, so I think that would warrant checking.

No-one (as far as I can find) seems to have something universal, concrete and 100% fo’ shizĀ definiteĀ that will work for everyone to reduce, reuse and/or recycle these plastic and metal constructs that millions of people use to stay alive or live a normal life. Which is crappy. Sometimes I don’t want to have to research my finicky, regional niche recyclers – I just want the ubiquitous big-guy! Sometimes I’m too tired to be picky.

So I guess what I’m ultimately saying is: does anyone know of anything or have any suggestions, aside from having to mail my empty puffers halfway round the world to GlaxoSmithKline‘s North Carolina offices?

I plan to continue to research this (including emailing Brisbane City Council) and will let you know what I find out.

P.S. You know what? My leg still stings… but I think I’m sleepy enough now not to care. Silver lining!