Category Archives: Living Green

Weekly Upcycling Inspiration: The Bread Clip

Welcome to your weekly serving of upcycling inspiration!  Once a week I’m going to feature an item for which I’ll endeavour to list some upcycling ideas.  They might be my own or they might just be little light bulbs of genius that I pinch from someone else.

This week’s star is the humble bread clip (or bread tag if you’d prefer).  Gosh…to think how many of these the world produces and then waves goodbye to once the little plastic things have performed their intended function!  And they can be quite harmful to animals or children who ingest them.  It makes me shudder…so I won’t think about that.  Instead lets ponder what to do with them after they’ve held our plastic bread bags closed for a little while.  Be sure to store them in a handy jar so you can easily add to the collection or reach for one when you need it.

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 1.  Use to hold short pieces of yarn or string.  You know those pieces I mean…the ones that are too long to discard but too short to be wrapped into a ball.  Keep the yarn/string-wrapped bread tags in a glass jar for easy location of that bit of string or yarn you need.  (I actually came up with this idea a few days ago when I was sorting and tidying my yarn.  I thought I was quite clever and original.  Until I searched Pinterest and discovered someone else had already thought of it. Of course!)

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2.  My husband  suggested this would be a useful way to store short sections of pre-made fishing rigs (eg, with hook, sinker, swivel and leader line) – wrap the leader line around in  a similar way to the yarn above, and secure the hook in the ‘mouth’ of the bread tag.

3. Label electrical cords when you have multiple cords in the one power point or power board.  This is particularly handy for computers and their associated paraphernalia…but I’ve labelled our kettle and toaster cords this way so I don’t get confused.  Also use to hold single thinner cords together when wrapped in a bundle.

4.  This fashion designer made her wedding dress out of 10 000 bread clips.  Very clever.  I’m not suggesting you do this…but these are the possibilities people!!

5.  Store a collection of elastic bands or hair bands.

6.  Make interesting mosaic-style artworks and use for craft – eg, bread clip figures, jewellery, and mobiles.  Here is a sweet bread tag charm necklace for kids to make.  (But please keep bread clips away from little ones who might be inclined to swallow them.)

7.  Mark the end a roll of sticky tape…you know…the end that you can’t locate until you’ve turned the roll full-circle at least three times.

8.  Clip a pair of socks together in the wash…so the sock fairy can’t run off with one.

9.  Fasten opened plastic bags containing food.  Close and label paper gift bags (perhaps after decorating with paint or marker pens).

10. Mark stitches in your knitting or crochet.

11.  Label spare keys.

12.  Fix your thong (if you live outside Australia read: ‘flip flop’!) if its splitting where the strap part comes through the sole.  Simply clip around the base of the strap, on the sole side.

13.  Use as a plectrum.

Going a bit too far with the latter?  OK I’ll stop there…but I’m sure it would work quite well.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s thought of it.

What else can you think of?

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World Book Day: Books for Kids

April 23rd is marked by UNESCO  as World Book and Copyright Day  (or just World Book Day).  If you live in Australia like me, you might not have heard of it as it falls close to ANZAC Day and isn’t widely recognised here, although this might be changing.   In the United Kingdom and Ireland World Book Day is celebrated in March.

OK.  So that’s one excuse to write a post about books and reading.  Actually, I really wanted to share my recent exciting Vinnies’ find: a forty-year-old (yes, vintage) edition of Fantastic Mr Fox, by Roald Dahl!  I was drawn to it not only by the words ‘Roald’ and ‘Dahl’ but also by the absence of the words ‘Quentin’ and ‘Blake’.  This early edition is adorned with some very quaint, detailed drawings by a fellow named Donald Chaffin, rather than the suitably rough sketches by Quentin Blake that most of us immediately associate with Roald Dahl books.  At only $3, of course I had to buy it!  My kids haven’t met Mr Dahl yet, but Roald is the author who dominates my favourite childhood books list.

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Reading a good book is one of life’s little pleasures…and luxuries (especially as a caretaker of young children)!  How I could return to my childhood in an instant…snuggled under a granny rug by the fire, completely absorbed in the pages in front of me. I think I was born loving books.  I grew up in a world where books were part of daily life.  For a long time my family didn’t have a telly.  We didn’t have computer games. But we were never short on books.

Developing a love of books is a wonderful gift that parents can give to their kids.  Miss L at age four, already lists reading as one of her favourite past-times even though she can’t properly read yet!  Through being read to since she was a newborn, observing Mummy and Daddy being absorbed by print on a page, visiting the local library for story-time and borrowing, noticing that Mummy loves buying books, being read to every night at bed-time and being surrounded by books at home, Miss L is already a passionate book lover.  Master J at one, is following suit.

17th June: Aussie books

The downside of books, from an eco-friendly perspective, is that they’re made of paper.  And paper generally comes from trees.  I’d rather enjoy the old-growth-forest as it is, than on my bookshelf.   So in order to get my book-fix, I try to follow these guidelines:

– Utilise the local library!  You will be amazed what your local library has to offer in the way of books, as well as magazines, and audiovisual material (one of our favourite things to borrow is audiobooks on CD – perfect for car trips).  Many libraries have long borrowing periods, which can usually be extended;

– Buy second-hand books.   Search your local charity stores, garage sales, second-hand book sellers, ebay and other online bookshops.

– Buy new books printed on sustainably sourced paper (via an accredited body such as the Forestry Stewardship Council or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification – look for a logo FSC, PEFC, etc ).

– If you have a tablet or e-reader, buy e-books (for kids books though, you can’t beat the real thing).  These are incredibly handy as you can carry dozens of books wherever you go.

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There are some excellent sources of information about how to read to kids, how to help kids learn to read and how to develop a love of reading.  I particularly love what Mem Fox has to say here and in her book Reading Magic. Jackie French, another Aussie favourite, provides some very sound advice here.   And in this book which I borrowed from my local library, Jo Jackson King, gives parents excellent expert advice from an occupational therapy point of view (I can highly recommend this as a general book for parents of 0-7-year-olds; it’s not just about reading).

Here are some of our favourite kids’ books:

Longer Stories

– The Magic Faraway Tree series, The Wishing Chair series, Noddy and Toyland – anything by Enid Blyton is a winner in our household…and Mummy and Daddy are entertained by her too!

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (we love listening to this brilliant audio version too).

Picture Books

Fox in Socks – Dr Seuss is oh so clever (we love them all)!

Time for Bed, Possum Magic and other Mem Fox books

Mr McGee series, Who Sank the Boat, by Pamela Allen

Miffy books, by Dick Bruna

Spot books, by Eric Hill

When I’m Feeling series, by Trace Moroney

Maisy books, by Lucy Cousins

Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell

Mr Men and Little Miss books, by Roger Hargreaves

Hairy Maclary books, by Lynley Dodd

Books Printed on Sustainable Paper

Do Dogs Dream?, Geraldine Taylor (a Ladybird  lift-the-flap book printed on 100% recycled paper)

Little Green Books – What Do You See?, My First Garden (printed on 100% recycled paper and with eco themes)

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What are your family’s favourite books?  Who was your favourite author as a child?  Did you like Roald too?

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An Australian first – Free soft plastic recycling at Coles!

I just wanted to share this fabulous news:

An Australian first – Free soft plastic recycling at Coles – RNY News.

This kind of thing gets me very excited!

I hate plastic…that it is produced from petrochemicals…that it doesn’t biodegrade completely in a reasonable time…that it is responsible for the deaths of millions of unsuspecting animals in the ocean and on land.   I would rather we didn’t have plastic in the first place, but in the world I know, it is hard to avoid.  If we have options for recycling plastic, it helps keep it out of our oceans and wilderness areas, and reduces the need to produce more from scratch.

Plastic Ocean

Plastic Ocean (Photo credit: Kevin Krejci)

Well done to the companies involved in this initiative!  If you read the link you will notice the drop-off service is currently only available at selected Coles supermarkets, however, the recycling company (Replas) is also accepting soft plastics in the mail.  I’m thinking plastic bags are very light and very squashable, so you could fit lots and lots in a post bag to send to Coolaroo, Victoria.

Trader Joes overpackaged food

Food in plastic!  Note, it’s the bag-type plastic we’re talking here; the plastic containers are mostly already recyclable.

Tomorrow I shall choose a suitably sized parcel bag from my stash of used ones, address it so it’s ready to pop in the post, and start filling it with plastics that I would otherwise be forced to throw in the bin (and feel very uncomfortable doing so).    Although I will still endeavour to minimise my purchases of plastic-clad food, I’ll feel much better knowing that this disposable packaging of mine will be transformed into non-disposable, long-lasting outdoor furniture and signage, for schools and community groups.

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