How to help your community eat.

Kelli from the Tron shares Hamilton news, views, events and music on a weekly FreeFm89.0 show and podcast. 

While some of us struggle with over-indulgence and send a third of a rubbish bag of wasted food to landfill each week; other Hamiltonians don’t know where their next meal is coming from; go without, and can keep kids at home due to the shame of not being able to send them to school with lunch.

Robert Moore from Anglican Action and Poverty Action Waikato and Alex Bailey from the Catholic diocese of Hamilton interviewed for and wrote a report called “Breaking Leftover Bread: Kaivolution and food insecurity in Kirikiriroa Hamilton”.  Rob joined me in the studio to share that report with us.

Kaivolution recently reached the milestone of rescuing 350 tonnes of edible food for redistribution –  reducing landfills and greenhouse gas emissions.  While environmental outcomes of food rescue have been recorded; this report was instigated due to the need to record anecdotal evidence of the social value of the role Kaivolution has.

Access to consistent nourishing food is a significant issue for many families who are recipients of Kaivolution food.  The most serious physical consequence of this shortfall is seen with child hospitalisation for malnourishment doubling in the last decade.

The reasons for deficiencies vary – quality of the food we are eating is decreasing, with more processed, convenience and take-away foods being consumed.  The cost of living has increased faster than incomes with food being the safest budget to drop, without fear of persecution from a landlord, the power being disconnected or lacking the ability to get to work.  Pride is considered a barrier to accessing food, with recipients recounting the shame and stigma attached to seeking help through WINZ, who have decreased accessibility to hardship assistance.  Many also found the governmental organisation difficult to navigate.  The food assistance provided by Kavolution and it’s recipients allows a more empowering way to support ones family – and also builds communities around the 75 charities Kaivolution support.

So, what can we do?

Support local groups like Poverty Action Waikato, Living Wage Aotearoa and Reality Check Aotearoa. Among other campaigns, they advocate to lift benefit levels and introduce a living wage.  You can help by being aware of their work; liking and sharing what they do with your friends and whanau and attending events/rallies or donating where possible.

Donate food.  If you want to collect non-perishable food at work, or from home you can donate at a local food bank.  Their shelves empty out around Christmas so now is the time to start thinking about this.  If you have food that is edible but about to go to waste please contact Kaivolution.  This includes donating produce from your garden or trees.

Support local groups – or the Council to enable groups to plant fruit trees in public places and build community gardens to improve food sovereignty.  The added benefit of giving access to food is the community it builds around the group or garden.

At a political level, we are seeing calls for GST to be removed from fruit and veges and for subsidies to be put on nourishing food.  Food prices in the land of milk and honey have increased due to the demand from overseas for our exports – addressing the free market conditions could help reduce prices.

Consider using initiatives like Eat My Lunch, who match a meal you buy for yourself with one for a child who would otherwise go without.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopes to give ideas on how you can help your community eat.

Listen to my latest podcast, which includes the interview with Rob about “Breaking leftover bread: Kaivolution and food insecurity in Hamilton”.  (About 8 minutes into the show)

 

 

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Zero-wasting is hard – but let’s do this!

I don’t always overthink every decision in a supermarket, but when I do….

Let me share a recent “quick stop” at the supermarket with you.

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Unassuming bag of dilemmas

Butter.  I’ve been procrastinating buying butter because a) it’s expensive (due to overseas demand) and b) I was doing a mini-protest at New Zealand’s unsustainable farming industry (carbon emissions, water quality etc); but since I haven’t looked into vegan baking yet, I felt resigned to make the purchase this time.

Produce.  The most ethical way to shop for fruit and veges is from a market in terms of less food miles (carbon emissions), supporting your community and less packaging.  However, the best choices today were NZ apples and Fair trade bananas.  I had to reach over the heavily packaged apples and wrapped bananas to get to the “better choices” and even then they’re not perfect… fruit has sticker labels which is annoying (not recyclable) but laser tagging is on it’s way so it won’t be an issue forever.  I’m just going to put this out here – if produce is wrapped in plastic please leave it on the shelf to send Countdown a message that we think it’s stupid and wasteful.

Actually we have a selection of produce bags in our shop to choose from, which means you’ll never need plastic again mwah ha ha haaa

 

Deli meat.  We stopped cooking meat at home over a year ago, to protest animal cruelty and the impact of farming on our environment (which makes us ‘Reduceatarians’ lol) but I was hankering for a ham toastie…  The options were (since I didn’t take my own container); in one of their plastic bags, their container or as I found out in brown paper.  If you ask them to wrap it in brown paper – make sure they don’t weigh the item in a plastic bag and then tip that onto the brown paper – defeats the purpose, which I politely pointed out.  It does mean you’ll spend an extra cent or two on paper which is heavier but small price to pay.  I can chuck the paper in our compost but those flimsy plastic bags will last hundreds of years which is ridiculous for the 10 minutes use it will have.  The next best option would be one of their containers if you can commit to reusing it – at the moment I use ours to raise seeds 🙂

So a consumer dilemma with every purchase…. the silver lining is how much power we have with those decisions. We can’t be perfect all the time and every little change or thoughtful purchase helps.

But shopping can be a nightmare when you overthink things so to help us along on the zero-waste journey are Hannah and Liam “No waste Nomads” who are travelling around New Zealand running free workshops to show you how easy it can be. We’re hosting them at Go Eco on November 2nd.  Join me to get tips, so your head doesn’t implode every time you go shopping.

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606 … not an error – a complete F**k up by those in a position to address New Zealand’s suicide rate.

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Yes we care:  29 August 2017. Photo  CHRISTINE CORNEGE/ STUFF.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/96261298/shoes-symbolise-suicides-along-waikato-river

Last month I spoke to Dave Mac (elected Waikato DHB member) about mental health services in the Waikato.  You can listen to the podcast of that Kelli from the Tron episode here.  At the time Dave kindly gave me a list of what he believes should be included in a policy on mental health and suicide.  (In summary, with my comments in brackets)

  1.  An independent review of mental health services.  (So far Minister Coleman (Health) has refused to do this).
  2. Address CAUSES of compromised mental health/suicide – consider poverty, housing, unemployment, (chronic stress).
  3. Trained staff in every school.  (Labour has pledged to see this happen).
  4. Restore mental health component to GP training.  (Opportunity to implement in our new medical school).
  5. Provide respite care, for those in transition from in-patient to community treatment.
  6. Common sense policy to treatment that puts safety first. (Our DHB voted against Dave’s recommendation to exclude mental health patients from the rule about not smoking on hospital grounds – which puts lives at risk!)
  7. Requirement to listen to whanau views for treatment plans (they know best).
  8. Consider alternatives to a drugs first policy for treatment (short term measure only).
  9. Ensure national budget set for mental health costs is suitable – and above politics.
  10. National and local (non-partisan) leadership in sector.

These are the things you need to look for any any political party policy but ultimately we need an independent enquiry into what the f**k is happening.  Make our devastating, increasing suicide toll an election issue – THE election issue this year.   Please ask candidates at any opportunity what THEY (not just their party) are doing about this.

 

 

Don’t spread your bad luck over here.

Is misfortune contagious?  If I distance myself far enough from those who experience bad luck; whether it be the loss of a loved one, redundancy or illness will I be able to continue with my privileged life and tell myself they are to blame for their circumstances?  Because it is their fault, isn’t it?  They chose to live like this, they clearly couldn’t afford to have children and their unemployment is a result of bad choices.  If I try understand the circumstances the vulnerable are in, if I attempt to help them, and if I see them as people – just like me – what will happen?  Will the gap between my life of privilege and their existence narrow?  There are two types of people in the world – those who see the bundle of blankets in a door way, recoil in disgust, judge and then think nothing of it until they next have to walk past; and those who see the people.

Which one are you?  I’m going to admit, I think I’m more of the first.  I don’t understand, and what I don’t understand – I don’t like much.  I’m certainly not alone.  Take the “Your help, may harm” campaign, rolled out in Hamilton last year.  “Your help, may harm”.  Look at that.  You are great, privileged and generous – now distance yourself.  Now, you don’t even have to fumble around in your pocket pretending to look for $2 – you can walk past – with a cursory nod to the poster on the dairy wall and go buy that takeaway coffee.  I can distance myself further.  Great.

It’s not just dirty old men in sleeping bags I’m avoiding.  What if, I found myself single, unemployed (because who can afford childcare anyway) and on a <shock horror> benefit?  I’d be smoking at the kitchen table while watching Jeremy Kyle in no time.  I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want society to judge me.  There are two types of people in the world when it comes to the fallout surrounding Green party co-leader Meteria Turei’s admission last week.  The one who thought – “OMG benefit fraud – she has no morals – she has to go!” and the one who thought – “I’m glad she chose to use this example to make welfare an election issue”.  Shouldn’t it always be one? I admit I am judgmental at times – but I’m in the second camp here, I wholeheartedly support what she did.  How can we judge a parent for wanting to make sure their kid is fed?  How can we act so shocked and disgusted when let’s be honest, it’s impossible to navigate our social welfare systems and no-one on a benefit is raking it in.  It barely covers the cost of living.  But, I understand… fraud is ripping off the tax payer – people like you and me who pay taxes.  I would never do that.

Don’t have children if you can’t afford them they say?  Jesus, I’d love to know how many of us actually planned to have kids.  Were you in a long term relationship? – did you save and plan for that kid?  I’m glad your child wasn’t born with an illness or disability, I’m glad you didn’t lose your income during that time.  Lucky our circumstances stayed the same eh?

Redundancy hurts.  Well, not for me personally – but I’ve heard it does.  I’m skilled, educated and have mediocre social skills – I’ll never have a problem getting a job.  Will I?

I have a choice now.  I can continue just “being lucky” until my time is up – and then become “one of them”… that pile in a doorway – that mother who has to lie to WINZ to survive, or that person who has to apply for 100 jobs before being successful.  I can plan on being lucky – or I can share luck, build resilience and demand better social services for the vulnerable.  I can discard the judgment, use my luck and privilege; and help in any way I can.

There are community organisations picking up where our central government misses the mark.  We can help them.  We can volunteer our time, skills or money to help improve our communities.  We can give as little or much as we like.  Everyone has something to share.  Find yours.  Get involved.  Don’t turn a blind eye.  Luck isn’t finite. While politics seems irrelevant – there’s no denying central government has the ability to respond to community momentum too.  They represent us.  The government does what we want – or it goes… that’s how it works.  Encourage the young, and poor to vote – if you know any.  And if you are privileged, if you’ve had luck – consider sharing it.   Vote for the greater good this year.  Vote for a fair and equal society.  There is no science backing the idea that misfortune spreads.

 

Bustle, a nest of ethical fashion

Bustle Hamilton
Visit Bustle for beautiful, ethical and quality clothing.

Bustle caters for women who love fashion with a conscience.  Susie’s carefully curated collections are a mix of new and recycled designer fashion.

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She also stocks NZ label Widdess who are known for simple styles with natural textiles.  No need for me to tell you that that makes it socially and environmentally ethical.

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The clothing is beautifully complemented by Hydrangea Ranger, another small New Zealand business who handcrafts whimsical gifts and accessories.

Hydrangea Ranger: Lotus hands incense or flower holder
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Acorn necklaces… aren’t these gorgeous?

In these times of fast fashion, it’s refreshing to find a business which does the opposite with small quantities of high quality fashion.  I’m extremely pleased to be able to share that Bustle is sponsoring Kelli from the Tron on FreeFM89.0.  This helps to ensure that local voices are given bigger voices.

Bustle is open from 10-4pm Thursday and Friday and 10-3pm Saturday.  Make sure you give the page a like for updates and follow @bustle_river_road on Instagram.  

We made a worm farm – part 1

*Warning – I am no expert on worm farming – We are just “giving this a go”, so there’ll be lots of trial and error involved*

Worm farms are wonderful.  1. because food waste doesn’t end up in landfill (it actually makes up 30% of all landfill which is hideously wasteful but that’s a story for another day) and 2. because the worms will reward you by providing free natures’ best fertiliser for you.  This makes you a bit like Captain Planet.

While I sell a few different worm farm set ups in the shop, we wanted to give the DIY option a go.  Here’s how we did it…

Step 1.  We drilled holes in a bucket.

Step 2.  Put the bucket in the garden.

Step 3.  Put bedding, *yes bedding* in the bucket.  I used torn up paper/cardboard but we sell coir blocks in the shop if you want to be fancy (about $3 a block).  We tipped in some coffee grounds and scraps and put our “makeshift” lid on top.  We’ll get round to getting a proper lid at some point – we’re just focussed on it being dark in there – and also no vermin getting in.

Step 4: Put your worm family in their new home.  We flicked in a few worms from around our garden, but to speed up the process we’ll be buying some more worms from the Western Community Centre… (it’s $15 for an icecream container).  We’ll keep you posted on when we bring them home.

Step 5.  We wait.  One day, the worms will be like a machine… eating our food scraps to keep them from landfill, and with the added bonus of fertilising our garden directly.  The beauty of this particular in-ground set up is that it will help the area directly around the worm farm (which is smack bang in the middle of our vege garden)- and we won’t have to do the work like you do with the layer systems.

We’ve had varying luck with growing veges in the past, but with a change in diet, we definitely need to be growing more and regular crops to feed ourselves for less.  Something that has never really worked in the garden is cauli’s and broccoli’s which I really like – so I’ll be focussed on them.  They usually get eaten by something… we don’t use slug bait, or anything nasty… I guess that means we’re organic. 🙂

*****Update.  It’s been a few days since we set the home up – we still have to get our worm family – but the ones in there seem fine – I’ve been keeping it damp – but haven’t fed them since.   I took out a few handfuls of “stuff” too – I felt there was too much in there for them *****

Did you know about 30% of the food produced in the world is sent to waste?  

Did you know that matter, biodegradable or not, which is buried in a black plastic bag does not have the conditions to break down.  It will never go anywhere.

Did you know worms not only create a by-product (pee/poo) which is rich nutrients that help garden plants grow and stay healthy?

Did you know worms create tunnels, which help get air and water to your plants.

Kitsch: Why I can’t do minimalism.

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I blame my love of kitsch for my inability to be a Minimalist.  The concept of being a Minimalist is bang on… I understand the benefit of keeping things simple, keeping the feng shui moving around the house and feeling more liberated with less stuff – but it’s just not for me.

Sometimes I call myself a vintage collector, sometimes a hunter gatherer and sometimes a hoarder.  Either way – if this beautiful stuff didn’t make me happy I  might have been  the type of person who could thrive with bare minimal possessions… I could live in a house that looked like everyone else’s and was easy to clean… but I choose to surround myself with beautiful stuff.

Beautiful might be a stretch…  You see, I have a thing for kitsch.

Kitsch is defined as “art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”.

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I should be ashamed of it – the tackiness of it.  But I’m not.  Part of me is proud of saving this stuff (that has stood the test of time) from landfill.  Part of me is proud of having a unique home that was sourced for next to no money from opshops.  Most of our decor is 1950s-1970’s so there’s stories with pretty much everything we have.  Not even just our stories but other people’s stories – passed on at garage sales; markets or through nostalgia for a common item. I should be ashamed of spending our little disposable income on stuff… but I’m not.

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As you can see – one of my kitsch collections is shell art.  Everyone seemed to make random little shell objects back in the day including most tourist shops…  My particular favourite in that image is the mermaid.

Shells aren’t the only kitsch thing I love though…

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Queen Elizabeth II; Ballerinas (Carlotta Edwards); Ducks/Swans (Vernon Ward) and Religious icons were all really popular in the 1950’s.  So there’s lots of those sprinkled around our house.  The vintage ballerina alarm clock was my Great-Grandmother ‘s so it’s extra special.  Ella’s not allowed to touch it.

There’s a religious corner – and a “bad taste” (often considered racist) shelf -with my favourite pieces of German Pottery (not kitsch – but of the era).  That’s only a smidgy part of that collection – I’m fond of Black African lady ornaments – one of my ‘prized possessions’ is a lamp that one of my Teacup customers tipped me off about after she saw it at Restore (Bryant Road).  Speaking of “racist” memorabilia.  Native Affairs shared this article earlier in the week.  “Aboriginalia and the politics of kitsch”.  It was interesting – but hasn’t made me hide the pieces I have.

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You guessed it, the kitsch spills outside.  I took these to show Ian Duggan who wrote this article about gnomes in New Zealand gardens… Well worth a read.  The one at the front (who is missing his fishing line) was James’s Grandmother’s and the one with the watering can was my Nana’s (we brought it up in our luggage from Dunedin after finding it lonely in the yard after her house was sold).  Needless to say – the dump has given us even more friends.

So – kitsch.  It’s the reason I can’t do minimalism.   I would love to see your kitschy items!! Please feel free to share your photos and stories with me.