Consumerism

Many who have followed me for a while, have likely noticed that my posts are sporadic at best. It wasn’t always like this, but of late, it has been more the norm.

I love to create the things that I do, but I am also aware of how consumerism, amongst other things, is ruining the planet. My guilt that I am a part of the issue, is part of why posts on some of the social media accounts that I manage have become so seldom. We are all bombarded with messages telling us to BUY BUY BUY, so why add to it?

Everyone wants your money & most don’t care if that means that an impulse buy today, ends up in landfill or at a charity shop in a few months or even after a short time of ownership, they got your cash.



This isn’t the image that I wish to have or even the message I wish to encourage & this is why I will be sharing more posts that are focussed on things that interest me, such as the environment, travel, homeschooling & of course some of my artistic creations, including my favourite creations, my scrappie critters.

For those that don’t know what a scrappie critter is, they are my own creation, made using “scraps” of fabric that are upcycled into cute little critters. They’re all made to be uniquely imperfect just like all of us & are simply a joy to create. Art, after all, is a part of my life & also a means to earn money to cover the expenses of life. Yep, even artists have to earn a living.

Final note:
At the moment I am keeping my twoemu creations webpage, but I am considering eventually consolidating that page & having a “shop” on this site for my art. That won’t happen immediately though, as I am only one person managing it all (at least until the kidlets are a little older & I have more confidence in their abilities not to accidentally delete large sections of websites).

Posted in Art, Environment, Fibre Art, Homeschooling, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Scrappie Critters, Sustainability, Travel Adventures | Leave a comment

Change


For decades now, the planet has taken a back step to profits & the greed of many, a sad but true reality. I wish that all leaders woke up to the fact that our choices as a society are destroying our planet. The one planet that can sustain life, is being trashed & climate change is abundantly obvious to most, but those in positions of power seem to be deaf to the calls for climate action NOW.

Despite the knowledge that plastic waste is out of hand, with so little of it actually being recycled (9% of over 3 million tonnes a year in Canada), companies still like to espouse the value of it. Many point to the value of plastic in terms of food, but ignore the fact that much of the packaging will continue to pollute the planet past their lifetime & how much of that pollution affects the food that they are reportedly “protecting”.

I still can’t wrap my head around why supermarkets have to have so much produce wrapped in plastic. Even when we have had farm shares, we were shocked by the amount of plastic that was still a part of it, so it’s not a transportation issue per-say, I think it’s often just a convenience thing. Change is hard, more than necessary, but hard for many to do.

One knows that it’s possible to buy fresh produce without plastic when you go to somewhere like Farm Boy or your local farmers market, but for many to take advantage of those options requires a degree of privilege. Often buying farm fresh or loose produce is more expensive, either due to geographic location (which can also include a lack of viable transport to get to those places) & or the actual cost is increased. People are literally being forced to support the pollution of the planet because they see no other viable options for their families. We all need food to survive & corporations know that they have most of us over a barrel to just continue as it always has been for some. There needs to be more drastic changes sooner than later, because the planet has taken a back seat for far too long.

Despite this belief, we (as a family) try to appreciate all the little changes companies etc make. In the end all the little changes & actions that happen, add up & often have a snowball effect, encouraging others to do something too. One of the little changes that I have appreciated this year is watching as different places switch to cardboard bread bag tags. The other spells the end of cucumber dido’s. A company called Apeel makes an edible coating that eliminates the excuse that cucumbers “need” to be wrapped in plastic in order to curb food waste. I am sure that there are others, but these are things that stood out for us. Last year it was bags of potatoes that were all paper without the plastic mesh window (which seem to be strangely harder to find this year).

We are firm believers of supporting those that support the environment, even in small ways to encourage them & others to take it further. For example if I need to buy bread in a plastic bag ( the bag, I then reuse for rubbish, as I don’t buy bags) I will search out a brand with a cardboard tag, v’s a plastic one. I also actively avoid buying cucumbers in plastic too & of course there are the bags of potatoes as mentioned (we actually buy most of of our potatoes from a local grower in the fall, we get 3x 25kg bags, which gets us through most of the winter).

As a family we try to restrict our plastic consumption, but we are NOT hardcore zero wasters. I wouldn’t even say that we are even aspiring to be so, some of the hardcore zero wasters have hangups about solar panels & that’s definitely not us. We are simply try to live as sustainably as possible on our life’s journey. I firmly believe that more people need to share their “imperfect” journeys, as it encourages others to make changes too. Doing a little is way better than throwing your hands in the air, calling it too hard & doing nothing at all.

Posted in Environment, Plastic Waste, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Sustainability | Leave a comment

New Focus

This website has gone through a few changes over the years. Initially it started as a site that just G & I had, where I would blog about what was happening & keep track of our travels & some of my artsy stuff. Then I changed over to just the blog & more recently, I decided to consolidate some of my content & sites to the one, where we could combine a lot of our interests, sharing our travel adventures as a family, talk about homeschooling, art & how we try to make sustainable choices along our journey. Note: we are not zero waste & we certainly aren’t perfect, but we do try to do what we can do reduce our waste & are improving every day.

My goal is for readers to see posts from all of the family eventually, but for now, most will come from me (author: Emuu)

E

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Sustainability


Part of the inspiration to share more about our journey, came from the kids, who were quite despondent a few months back when they observed others not caring for the environment in the same way that we do. New York City was eye opening for the kids & a great reminder to G & I why we are on this path. There were mountains of waste with a lot of packaging & misc things that were thrown out because they were no longer needed, but still had a lot of life left in them. As much as it hit the kids hard to see how blasé some are to the environmental crisis we are in, it also made them realise why we need to continue to do what we do.

After I decided to make a post on social media asking others what they were doing to reduce their waste, so that I could share it with the kids to show that they weren’t alone in trying. From that post a friend made the comment that they always enjoyed it when we shared what we were doing, as it inspired them to do more & think about other things they could do, so here we are. We hope that this blog will inspire others.

Posted in Environment, Plastic Waste, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Sustainability, Travel Adventures | Leave a comment

Waste

Our trip to NYC in May was lovely, but I have always found the waste in NYC & surrounds confronting, so much is tossed without a care, or so it seems & we didn’t really see anything that sorted, ie cardboard separated from plastic etc.

I can’t understand how people are so blind to the issue at hand, all that rubbish has to go somewhere. According to some sources New Yorker’s apparently throw our 10,000 tonnes of rubbish every day – EVERY DAY! All of that rubbish has to be transported our of the city & it goes as far as Ohio, Pennsylvania & even South Carolina.

I can totally see how it is, we were caught out a few times, trying to avoid plastic, ordering what turned out to be craptastic fries that came with plastic forks, snow cones that were wrapped in plastic, being given straws when we didn’t want any and a few other things. Central park has bins overflowing with rubbish (& no recycling bins)

It made a lasting impression on the kids, who had never seen that much rubbish in their lives. We are a family that went from one small rubbish bag a week, years ago, to one every couple of weeks & now put out garbage every month or so. Even recycling is every couple of weeks. We honestly compost more than we throw out.

I hope that change comes to places like NYC that have been listed as some of the most wasteful cities, we can’t keep ignoring the issue. NYC should also remind other places why they need to do better too.

Nice city, but the waste issue needs to be tackled, to make the city even better.

Posted in Environment, Plastic Waste, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, Sustainability, Travel Adventures | Leave a comment

No plastic bags?!? What sorcery is this?

In between the posts on my social feeds, about the current occupation in Ottawa, there are a number of local pages with posts expressing frustration about a lack of plastic bags when shopping. Apparently, our local Walmart has decided to discontinue offering them at all.

I do appreciate that change can be hard to adjust to, but getting upset about plastic bags, when so many places have been phasing them out for years, does seem a little strange. However, I will admit that I am also the person who has been bringing my own bags for years & when I forget them, I will load it all back into the cart & transfer it by the handful into my car & then in turn into the house. I call it motivation to think ahead next time.

So, why are plastic bags being phased out? To understand that, you need to be aware of how they are made. In short, plastic bags are made from polyethylene, which includes natural gas and petroleum, both of which are fossil fuels. Understandably, when plastic bags break down they cause issues to our environment, with wildlife & ourselves impacted. Every plastic bag we use, might not seem like much, but they all add up, this link gives reasons to think twice about plastic bags (with open bias, but much of the information is still interesting).

I personally feel that the elimination of plastic bags has become a bit of a focus, because they are one of the easier things to eliminate. It’s easier the make the consumer bring their own bags, totes or baskets, than it is to make the producers change their packaging, at least in the short term. It is incredibly difficult to buy some produce that isn’t wrapped in plastic, not impossible, but definitely difficult, especially if you like certain types of vegetables. Most wrap their veggies in plastic (cucumbers are a great example) to help maintain freshness over a longer period of time. Food waste & plastic waste have become intertwined & it really needs to be addressed, but that probably deserves a post on its own.

Making the consumer think more about their plastic, even with carry bags, does have some benefit though. As with anything, when something directly impacts you, you search for other solutions. So, what starts with a reduction in plastic bags, may result in more thought as to what one buys that comes in plastic or is made with plastic (thinking beyond edible items), reducing further plastic waste.

Little changes in routine, require more planning, but after a while, it becomes normal & does get easier. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have setbacks along the way, but its important not to become bogged down by them. The long term benefits are worth way more than any short term inconvenience, especially when it comes to finding ways to reduce our waste & help the environment. In the end, if we all do a little bit, it does have an impact & is so much better than doing nothing at all.

Text over the top of an image of a globe (earth)
We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. 
Quote made by Anne Marie Bonneau
Just do something

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Sewing

I’ve been teaching my kids to sew for a while, little things & mostly on my sewing machine. Around Christmas I bought a Singer sewing machine for the kidlets (Singer Stylist 7258). It’s not too bad a machine, unfortunately, it came with a faulty sewing foot (C3 error), so I finally called to get it sorted & am now being sent a new sewing foot.

Having fun sewing

Because of the faulty foot, the kidlets now know how to sew without it, which has been a valuable lesson in itself. My youngest loves it so much, she even said “Mummy, sewing is my stress relief.”

She also made the comment that now that we have a boat, she needed to learn how to sew properly, so that she has something to do on the boat, which made me laugh because she loves sailing so much & is part of the reason we got the boat.

To see one of their projects this week, check out this blog post on my twoemu creations page.

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We bought a boat!!!

It’s official! We bought a boat!

What an upgrade! We’ve never really seen ourselves as owning a sailboat of our own, but here we are, amazing given about a year ago G had his wages cut & we were genuinely concerned about how things might go, but sometimes the stars align. Not to diminish the hard work & determination we had to make it work, but sometimes it really helps when the stars to align too.

We’ve gone from exploring the waters in a 6 metre (20 foot) sea kayak (which G & I used for over a decade doing 100-200km expeditions not that infrequently), to getting a canoe to paddle with the kids, when they were a little too big to sit in the hatches, to a 30 foot sailboat!

Clearly we aren’t water or boat virgins’, having worked up from small watercraft to a sailboat, & it might not be the manner that most take to get a sailboat, but it’s the path that we have taken. We’ve been on a few boats with family & friends, both sail & motorized & loved it, I’m sure it helps that we got to have all the fun without the reality of owning a sailboat.

Before we bought a boat though, we did do a Sail Canada, sailing course, which we highly recommend (especially to any random person who reads this, that’s on the fence), to get more of a taste for sailing on our own eventually (if we proceeded down this path). It resulted in us receiving our PCOC cards, something that you really want to have before you get a boat of your own anyhow. After getting it & proceeding down the path of boat ownership, you realise just how important that little card is, for insurance too.

Catalina30 Mk II (1991) on the hard.
(mast yet to be re-attached after winter storage)

Looking for boats in the middle of a pandemic, when it’s a safe recreational activity, is a pain in the butt though. Normally, the market would be awash with boats for sale, now, they were in short supply & demand was bumping costs up. Here in Canada, you could normally fairly easily, get a boat from the States or even Europe, but these days, with all the borders shut between countries, you really are stuck with the local market, & there aren’t that many out there.

We started looking a little at the end of the 2020 season, but nothing really grabbed us & we really didn’t have the funds to be fair. We did however workout that $10K for a boat, wasn’t what we were looking for, which was beneficial in itself.

After some searching online for a few months through the winter, we started to notice the market pickup again at the end of February (2021). By March, we had looked at a few boats seriously already & put in an offer on one boat that we liked, but fortunately didn’t get put forward to the owners (thank goodness for dodgy boat sales guys). At the time we were annoyed & disappointed, it was certainly a lesson learnt.

Fortuitously, the boat broker (not affiliated with the dodgy AF guy) that we were dealing with locally, told us about the one we ended up buying that same week & connected us with the broker who was looking after the sale directly.

Our soon to be ours boat, went up for sale on a Friday. We organised to physically see it on the Saturday, & put in an offer immediately, which was accepted (conditional on a survey & float test) & the boat purchase process was started. To say that the market is HOT is an understatement.

Official sail boat owners, no longer boat maintenance virgins, but still noobs

The boat is beautiful, it’s a Catalina 30 MkII. The previous owner, Ben, was quite unwell & had to sell it, unfortunately. You can tell he loved the boat though, it has been well cared for & we are so lucky to be it’s current owners. It came with a lot of added extra’s because of the manner in which it was being sold, which suited us perfectly too. Whilst we are going to be using some of our sea kayaking kit on the boat, not that much really crosses over, unfortunately.

After cleaning off a little growth, painting the bottom with VC 17, as per prior years (you can’t switch bottom paints from previous applications)


The sale went through officially at the start of April & we managed to get the bottom coated with VC 17 bottom paint to protect it. There are still a few more things to do, like put on a new anode on the bottom, before it’s refloated (this one really has to be done) plus there is some cleaning of the hull, work on the impeller & an oil change. Getting to where the boat is, is a little challenging given the stay at home orders (lockdown of sorts) though. So, somehow we have to sort out how to do that. It might involve asking someone else to get another anode (we took the one we bought home, as we needed some allen keys to install & wanted to make sure we have the right one to do the job, so unfortunately it’s not with the boat)

The boat was originally due to be launched the first weekend in May, but given current restrictions, it’s been pushed until the end of May. So our big celebrations will be pushed back a little longer, unfortunately. I hope that we can get there then, in theory one of us has to be, for the float test. Even though the boat is ours & we have the bill of sale, we have to make sure there aren’t any engine issues to be sorted (not that we are anticipating any issues, but you can’t be sure either).

At 30 foot it isn’t small, but it it also isn’t too huge either for a family of four, the boat actually sleeps 6. A good boat to learn & improve our skills on, because in the end, our plan is, that this will be our first sailboat, not our last one.

We didn’t get a lot of interior images of our own, but here is an image of the layout that I found online with a link to the original image here that seems to represent our boat

Catalina 30 Mk II layout

Here’s to many more water adventures to come, whenever we can do so 🙂

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