Waste and Cleaning
When you throw something away . . . . . . just where is away?
There are really two stages to dealing with household waste. The simplest of these is figuring out how to put the right stuff in the right bin.
We are very lucky – our local Council’s recycling program means that about 70% of our waste is recycled in some way. In reality our two street bins are both recycle bins – one (green topped) for compostable material, which is made into high grade compost for gardens, and one (yellow top) for recyclables and other “dry” material. The yellow topped bin’s contents are sorted and mostly recycled, with the rest sent to land fill.
Because our council’s system is quite different to what many people are used to, we find we need good bin labels for our guests at The Painted Fish.
The smallest is labelled:
This bin goes to ourHOME COMPOST BIN Use it for – vege scraps, left over food scraps (no meat) NO PLASTIC CONTAINERS OR PLASTIC BAGS
The next biggest bin is labelled: This bin goes to our LOCAL GOVERNMENT INDUSTRIAL COMPOSTER Use it for – meat scraps and bones, used tissues, hair, used bandaids, sanitary products, nappies, fish and chip wrappers. NO PLASTIC CONTAINERS OR PLASTIC BAGS
And the biggest bin? This is labelled: This bin goes to our RECYCLING AND SORTING CENTRE Use it for – all glass (even broken), cans, tins, all plastic containers (empty and rinsed) meat trays, plastic bags, broken cups or plates, all paper and cardboard NO WET OR ORGANIC MATERIAL
We also encourage guests to check with us if they are not sure what should go where – and it leads to lots of interesting discussion!
We have found there are three ways to reduce what we throw out -
First, think about the packaging around what you buy.
Fremantle’s Sustainability Officer Alex Hyndman recently challenged a group of friends (including us) to go plastic free for a month. It is a real eye opener to realise how much plastic packaging and junk we usually buy, particularly when you realise a plastic bag will take hundreds of years to break down.
Second, think about whether you want to buy stuff regardless of its packaging. Could you borrow it, make it, fix it, buy it second hand, share it with a neighbour? And do you really need it at all?
Shani is on her second year of a “No New Clothes” pledge. She finds it very liberating to not feel the need to look in clothing shops and she is much more creative about what she makes, or buys second hand. And her wardrobe is a set size – so if she buys something, she has to give something away!
Third if you do decide to buy something can you get one that will last, be repairable, be recyclable at the end of its life? This explains Shani’s recent purchase of a Thermomix – she plans to still be using it when she is 80, unlike her blender which blew up after only five years.
Well, we are a bit like that. The cottage is 111 years old and even when it was first built the owner used mostly salvaged materials. The pressed tin was added some time later and is thought to be from a hotel.
Most of our furniture came from the op shop, our parents’ houses, the side of the road, the local auctions or Tim made it. In fact the only new furniture in the whole place is the red couches in the studio (blame Shani for them!) Shani’s favourite find is the “depression” chest of drawers in the cottage (made out of packing crates in the 1930’s) The stone rubble that made the bathroom came from roadworks in White Gum Valley . . . . (and so on)
Most of the bikes at The Painted Fish that the guests use were rescued from road side throw outs and revived with the help of Alex at Mercers Cycles.
A big part of living more sustainably is having a healthy home, and a big part of having a healthy home is being aware of the quality of the air and environment.
We use only two basic cleaning ingredients at the Painted Fish – vinegar and bicarbonate soda. Most of the cleaning is done with a spray bottle of vinegar and water (90% vinegar, 10% water) including toilets, kitchen benches, windows etc etc . If something looks a bit stubborn (eg the bathtub) Shani will use a bit of bicarb.
But the real key to cleaning here is the use of microfibre cloths – we use them for everything – windows, dishes, bathroom, even ourselves!.
If you have tried microfibre clothes and found they did not work you bought the wrong one. Shani has found that you don’t need to get the most expensive but the cheapest ones are not the best either. She doesn’t like the glove style preferring to be able to really wring out the cloth, but each to their own.
Shani also loves the microfiber floor “brush” you see here. It collects every bit of dust off the floors and is more effective than sweeping or vacuuming, and easier too. Have a try and see what you think.
The same handle is used for a microfibre mop that we use on the bathroom and other floors (just with water) What this collects up is amazing. Once you have one I guarantee you will never buy another mop again. And after a run through the washing machine it is as good as new and ready for action. (This is beginning to sound like a Tupperware party!)
The only other product we use for “cleaning” is an sort of air freshener – we use a room spray from the Tinderbox in Ballingup (but available in many shops around Perth). It is all natural etc and smells fantastic. Many guests comment on how nice things smell when they arrive.
And we had someone with severe chemical allergies who came to stay recently and commented it was the only accommodation he had ever stayed in that did not set off his allergies.
The Painted Fish has recently changed from using cotton sheets to hemp. Environmentally, hemp has many advantages over cotton. Cotton is a heavy user of water, fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides in its production. Hemp is a relatively drought resistant plant that grows well without pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides and is resistant to salt.
As a fabric hemp is apparently more abrasion resistant than any other natural fabric, the easiest natural fabric to care for and clean, breathes as well as linen, better than cotton and is stronger than both. Its long hollow fibres also give excellent insulative and moisture wicking properties which make it lovely to sleep on.
Having trialled organic cotton sheets without much success, we trialled hemp and found it an excellent product, which exceeded our expectations.
We were unable to source hemp fabric made in Australia, but we have decided that by using and promoting it we are at least helping create demand for a potential new Australian industry.