Thursday, 22 June 2017

Look at all of these handmade beanies!

Oh wow! I've just been putting all the beanies together that have been made with such warmth and kindness.

The courier just arrived with the stuffed-full bag of beanies crocheted by Denise and the large box of striped beanies from Cape Town, knitted by Diana Duchess and Penny West! Added to the bursting bag that arrived yesterday from Abigail and her mom Elaine, plus the bunch from Brenda and myself, the children of Mponeng are going to be the warmest and more colourful children around.

I've arranged with the school principal Rene to meet her on Monday afternoon. We're going to put beanies on each child's desk so that they have a lovely surprise waiting for them on Tuesday morning. I'll go along then too to get photos.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Zero Waste Parys - refilling bottles

Zero Waste Parys #2 for the 22 June 2017 issue of Parys Gazette

In my quest to focus on waste – what I’m buying, using, reusing, recycling and throwing away – I’m searching for zero and low-waste alternatives to items I regularly use. My aim is to refuse unnecessary packaging and to reduce the amount of waste that I put out on trash day. Items that I see regularly in my plastic recycling bag that I put out each week for the informal recycling collectors are plastic bottles. Instead of buying products in new bottles, there should be options to refill – not only water but also milk and juice. The good news is that there are.

We have an abundance of drinking-water stores in town where you can take along your own containers to fill them with clean drinking water. Prices range from R3 to R5 for five litres. Plastics are, by nature, a clean and hygienic material. Refilling your five-litre or 25-litre household containers regularly with clean drinking water will not pose a health hazard. Store water in a cool place out of the sun and keep an eye out for algae growth if you leave water in the container for a long period.

A good wash and thoroughly drying the container will solve this issue and make the container ready for reuse. What can pose a health risk are everyday drinking bottles. Contamination from hands and saliva ‘backwash’ can lead to bacterial growth, especially in bottles kept at room temperature for an extended period.

Disposable plastic bottles – the kind that you buy water and softdrinks in from the store – are not made to be reused repeatedly. They suffer from wear-and-tear, thinning, scratches and cracks (bacterial like to grow in these scratches and cracks!). Avoid buying throw-away bottles of beverages and instead invest in reusable containers that you can refill. Sports bottles and glass bottles are long-lasting alternatives. Just remember to wash them out with warm, soapy water between uses.

I’ve usually bought milk from the supermarket in plastic bottles or long-life Tetra Pak boxes, which are a recycling nightmare. With 2l milk bottles dominating my plastic recycling, I needed to do things differently.

Fortunately, we have the Farm Inn. Here they have milk on tap so you can take along your own containers to fill with fresh milk. This full-cream milk comes from Rietpoort Suiwel (Dairy), which is located only a few kilometres outside of town in the direction of Fochville. When it comes to hygiene and refilling containers, glass bottles are best for dairy.

Remember to thoroughly wash your bottles before refilling.

Farm Inn does have other dairy products – cream, yoghurt, butter, but these are in regular plastic packaging in standard volumes. Farm Inn is located on Van Coller Street, near the intersection with Luyt Str – less than 200 metres from the traffic lights.

If you’re buying milk from the supermarket, it is better value and less packaging overall to purchase Wynn-with Dairy Farm’s four-litre milk containers rather than standard one or two-litre options. These can be repurposed and upcycled for use in the garden or for crafting.

Fresh fruit juice 
Farm Inn also stocks fresh fruit juice on tap. Take along your own containers and fill them with fresh juice.

Reusing long-lasting plastic and glass bottles for water, milk and juice will already have a huge impact on the volume of plastic packaging that you throw out each week. This is an easy change to make once you know where to get your packaging-free refill.


The great beanie collection for Mponeng School

In the days before Forest Run when we were cutting and marking the trails, we saw children waiting by the roadside for the school bus. Some of those morning where really chilly and it was only mid-May. It is colder now and should be colder in July. None of these children were wearing beanies and I thought that this would make a great collective project as beanies are quick to work up and left-over yarn can be used.

I phoned the principal of Mponeng School, Rene, and asked if I could collect beanies for the school's children (there are about 87 children in the school from toddlers to matric) and also if we could go crazy with colours. She loved the idea and agreed.

I put out a note on Facebook and tagged crochet friends. And they passed on to their friends. Many regular crocheters and knitters are already involved in community projects - like Yvonne has been making scarves for a school - so they couldn't commit to beanies. Others were able to jump in.

I'm waiting for the courier to arrive this afternoon with two flyer bags stuffed full of beanies made by Abigail and her mom Elaine (24) and also from Denise (23). A box is on its way from Cape Town with beanies for the little ones (0-8), made by Di and Penny. I don't know them but they're warm and generous friends of friends. Ingrid from Australian Shepherd SA Rescue Organisation (ASSARO) is the link between us and she has arranged for the courier to bring the box up here to me. My aunt has made 13 and I'm on 13 too (more by the end of the weekend!).

Growing beanie pile
Important too are the people who contributed yarn. My friend Sylvi bought me six balls of colourful chunky yarn; Abigail's mother-in-law bought yarn for her to work into beanies.

I've just spoken to Rene. I'll meet her at the school on Monday afternoon. We're planning to put a beanie on each child's desk so that when they come to school on Tuesday morning, a colourful beanie will be waiting for them. I'll go through on Tuesday morning too, to take photos to share with the wonderful people whose hands and skills have created these beanies.

What fun!

My 41st birthday

My 41st birthday came and went on Sunday and it was a nice, quiet birthday at home. My birthday wraps up my annual 'Days of Running' birthday game. This year was a bit of a mish-mash of running, paddling and walking. I did skip a day or two - like on Forest Run day (20 May) - but I was with the programme for much of the rest of the 41 days. Having Rusty in my life is a great motivator too because I take her out everyday, whether for a short run or longer walk (she is still building fitness so I don't work her too hard on consecutive days).

My birthday morning started with breakfast in bed, made by Ruben (tea and rusk) and Kyla (toast and eggs) and a gift that Kyla made - a kind of paper-weight thing of my name, made from playdough.

We then headed out to our lovely hills of the Vredefort Dome for a hike. I haven't done the waterfall route for ages and so we chose this one. It is very overgrown and in two places I lost the trail. Fortunately I know where the trail should be and where it is headed, so I could pick it up again further along.

In about August last year we took the children on this route. They wanted to stop almost every 200m and there were tears and drama. This year, they were stars! They have done more hiking - most notably the three-day hike we did with them in October last year. They are also a little bit fitter. What a difference this made. They hiked very well. It is a 10km route with technical terrain and they did so well.

Rusty loved being out there with us. She is a magical trail dog.

Ruben and Rusty heading into the kloof below the waterfall.
Quick stop before a rocky scramble. 

Water! A trickle of water coming down the waterfall - the first time that I've seen water here. Ruben and Kyla enjoyed scrambling up here.
My doggy enjoying the view.

A girl and her dog xxx
Two monkeys
Quick stop

A sleepy doggy in her basket on Sunday night.