Recently I went home to NZ for a super-fast trip to see the whanau when there were some airfares on special.
Aside from connecting back in with my home soil & experiencing life in kiwi land again it has given me some amazing insights into how others are living mindfully & contributing in their own special ways to wanderlightly on the earth.
Firstly I was extra lucky to catch up with my Grandmother (who is celebrating her 86th birthday as I write this) & chat to her about how life was in her younger years & how they did things without all of the modern Plastic conveniences we have today.
Now I have to say my Grandma is a spritely young thing who stays very active & grows the most amazing tomatoes at the back of her townhouse. They are so fat & juicy & I just love that in such a space small such a bounty grows. You can see she even has a nice plump Rhubarb plant at the end of the garden & a vine, maybe passionfruit along the end fence.
I had the Toms on toast for breakfast with lashings of butter & that taste takes me right back to childhood, sitting at my grandparents dinning room table, eating them off the checked Crown Lynn dinning set. I can see the whole scene now, bliss.
My grandparents always had the most amazing bountiful garden when I was growing up with loads to share with family & neighbours.
So over these juicy fellows at breakfast, I had the most insightful conversation with Grandma about how things were down before plastic came into our lives. Life was simpler but also things took more time, but they had less “stuff” so I’m sure it all balanced out.
The butcher for example would come by your house & you selected your cut of meat, then you would store it in your meat locker, pre-refridgerator times. You see these meat lockers going for a mint on eBay now!
You would put out the billy out for the milkman & he would bring along just what you needed, right to your gate. Now as a kid I remember the putting out the glass bottles & tokens ready for the milkman to collect & bring your fresh milk. It was always a total treat if you got to the bottle first & peeled off that shiny foil lid to revel the thick cream at the top, ready to plop onto your wintery bowl of porridge. So good with lashings of brown sugar…mmmmmmm
**I love this idea of just getting what you need rather than what you think you need. We have so much choice now that i think it stops us from actually making wise decisions when purchasing….having too much choice can be a bad thing.
Grandma’s whanau had a crib (bach for those in the North Island) at Riverton right down the bottom of the South Island & when they were holidaying there they would have to get a bit crafty with food storage as they had no refrigeration. Milk was stored in water in the concrete laundry tub with a wet muslin cloth over the top so the water could drip down & keep it cool. Some food items were stored under the house so the breeze would keep them fresh. I recall spending summers down there & heading down to the beach to play. It must’ve been cold because in some of the snaps we are wearing woollies & gumboots on the beach!! Im rocking the pink woolly hat in the snap below. I thought I’d also add this great snap of my older sister enjoying some sink time. Love the Zip hot water heater in the background that we used for hot water!
The group shot is of mum holding me with my sisters & my uncle John. This I’ve added to solely for Mum as she was also rocking some headwear. The background is how I recall the yard looking, rustic & brambly in a scratchy movie like memory. I can feel the grass underfoot. Pretty sure the out-house was just to the side…that freaked me out at night!
Excuse all of the old snaps but to me they communicate as well if not more than words & I just love how they can evoke memories, feelings & senses like grass underfoot. Also being at home makes me feel nostalgic & just a touch homesick so I wanted to add lots!
The other snap is a more recent photo my Dad took on his last trip down there of the beach which looks much smaller than I recall….potentially though due to my size difference now.
Back to Grandma though. So bread was purchased unsliced by the loaf & placed in an old cotton flour sack to take home. After the war brown paper was hard to come by so they had to reuse what they had. Again this idea of using what you already ready have rather than throwing it away & getting something else….love it!
Butter came wrapped in paper & dried goods were purchased in bulk from large bins. There are more bulk stores popping up through out Sydney now but I have to say NZ is miles ahead in this game & always has been. The local supermarket in the small town my folks live in has a great range of bulk food bins selling all sorts of goodies like Chia seeds, nuts & flours & there was always large Bulk stores in most towns & cities.
Fresh organic veggies came from your backyard; not wrapped in plastic from the supermarket & they ate seasonally. If it wasn’t in season, you didn’t eat it, simple. Check out this petition that change.org has going to stop Woolworths from overwrapping their fruit & veggies, take a mo to sign it. What a big shift in thinking that could create if they got on board with it.
So this olden-day lifestyle seems really similar to the lifestyle change I’m aligning with…that is aside from the meat locker & keeping food under my house!
I just loved wandering around my parent’s garden, when I was there, but then I have always loved their garden. I love the ingenuity & up-cycling everywhere you look. Very the “Good Life” a show which I loved growing up…..did I share that titbit already?
They too have the lushiest crop of the sweetest organic cherry toms that my dad grows in a glass house he built. They companion plant basil at the bottom to keep the bugs at bay & mum makes tasty basil pesto which she pops in the freezer for the winter months.
They have built up gardens with recycled glass blocks & bricks lining the path. Strawberries grow in an old water tank from a toilet that was rescued when the town updated their public loos.
Homemade water tanks collect rainwater from the garage roof to water the plants when water restrictions are in place. It’s like a work of edible art!
They have the coolest digs for the chooks out the back, again built by Pa-pa & the cutest little fairy garden created for my niece & nephew by mum.
After hanging with the folks for a while I took a road trip with my Ma to Hawkes Bay & along the way we stopped for morning tea. When ordering a muffin we noticed they only had butter in a single-serve(use) plastic container. Well now, I couldn’t do without butter for my muffin so I asked if they could slice me some off from their block out the back; they were happy to oblige. Pays to ask a few questions if there is something your need that’s in plastic. We also checked out some antique stores & came across some interesting treasures. Firstly this old cling wrap gem…yip its been around a while so you can nay imagine we hats out there in landfill & these great old glass product bottles. Wouldn’t it be super to have products back in glass or a material that could be refilled or recycled? What a difference that would make!
For the last part of my adventure I stayed with my little sis & her family in Tauranga. They’ve recently moved from Auckland where they had a massive backyard full of aging but bountiful fruit trees & a large garden, to a small garden flat along the beach. There’s no established garden to speak off but they’ve created a nice patch that harvests some tasty veggies for dinners & a rather dapper patch of apple cucumbers! They keep it simple & make loads of their own goodies to eat. Bread, baked goods, yogurt & the best bircher. We also tried out the cracker recipe when I was there which passed the toddler test with flying colours! Check out this little dude, so full of life, energy & questions. So in the moment.
So that’s what my whanau is doing & aside from stuffing myself full of all manner of home-style morsels, like this delish Pav made my lovely 13year old niece accompanied by mums home grown & made black current ice cream. Platefuls of fresh mussels & creamy Tip Top Boysenberry ice-cream, I did have some wonderful chats with people along the way.
People were genuinely interesting to learn how they could reduce the use of plastic in their lives, which I just loved! Also curious about what I was using for various things now that I’m not using plastic, which is the reason for my ramblings to share my findings & experiences.
I think the idea of going Plastic Free seems more daunting than the act of doing it to most. Or not knowing what some Plastic free alternatives are without it being super spendy & inconvenient. Check out my last post about Kitchen storage, there are some handy tips in there for you on easy ways to get started if you feel so inclined in the kitchen area. I’m working on getting some of my other discoveries into a post for you, like cleaning & shopping & all manner of other exciting Plastic free living tips…well i find them exciting anyways. Its like reinventing my lifestyle. I’m hoping that with some tips I might just inspire you to make some changes & conscious choices around purchases which will create a better future for our marine life.
I guess what I’m really doing is trying to live life in a way in which I think can make a positive impact to the world around me. Im hoping that by demonstrating & offering ideas for how it can be done, it people may feel inspired themselves. The NZ trip really did illustrate to me that peoples thoughts & ideas around how & what we use is shifting & when everyone begins to make change the energy can only ripple out & gain momentum. I love being part of the conscious change that is happening around plastic consumption & being part of the community of folks out there everywhere doing great things that make big & small impacts everyday.
I would love to hear what you or others are doing to wander, just a little bit more lightly on the earth.
With lots of plastic free love