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After living out on the Permaforest Trust farm for the last two months I find that somethings become really heightened for me. Like when I head into a large community / town / city and notice all the advertising, cars, people, and so much more. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been out in the wilderness for long periods of time but you get accustomed to hearing birds, seeing trees, and nature being the noise.

Toilet Paper

Picture these two examples…

Recently, I was in a cafe restroom when I noticed that extra toilet rolls were individually wrapped in plastic inside a larger plastic toilet bag wrapping. It made me wonder why they had actually packaged the rolls in this manner…

Another example being the small cellphone that I recently bought, which was placed inside a massive box of which half the box was actually just cardboard framing so that when I opened it my cellphone it was displayed beautifully to me. I seriously wanted to barf!

It is that type of packaging that is helping to contribute to the massive amount of waste that our culture is creating.

“Of the 3 million tons of rubbish generated in Beijing each year, 30 percent, or 830,000 tons, are disposed packaging. 600,000 tons, or 20 percent of the total annual total, is considered to be ‘excessive.’, according to a Xinhua report.

By international standards, packaging that accounts for more than 15 percent of the cost of the product is considered excessive.” GlobalAdvocacy.com: Excessive Packaging Adds to Environmental Woes

Now people probably realize that the waste created by the high population of Beijing is more than other major cities because of their massive population, but that statistics are still really telling about what’s happening to us as consumers. The statistics presented above are relevant simply in a smaller scale, and bigger packaging like cellphones in large boxes makes a person subconciously feel like they are getting a really BIG thing. What makes us need to have that big box when purchasing a cellphone or the double wrap for toilet rolls when we purchase them?

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[I’m warning you this is going to be a loooooooooooooooooong post. Lots of stuff happened this weekend that I am trying hard to deal with]

Save Lake CowalAs some of you might know (or not know) this weekend I headed to Lake Cowal to support a 5 year running protest against Barrick Gold (gold mining company from Canada tragically) who has been exploiting the land at Lake Cowal in several ways.

My time at the camp during the three days was beautiful once we finally got there as it was spent with beautiful people from all over Australia and the world! These included a few different family of fun kids, indigenous people, and others from around Australia and the world. Tragically, Maurice, Andrew, & I received a few (read: 20 I believe was the last count) flat tires on our ride out to the site and finally gave up and had to call in backup vehicle support to come get us.

“Our Aboriginal People are being denied access to our sacred ground. Protestors from around the world are here to support our claim for access to our ancient lands. Australian Aboriginal Peoples have the oldest continuing living culture in the world. We Wiradjuri People are also being denied the right of spiritual and religious freedom under s.116 of the Australian Constitution,” Mr Williams said.

“Barrick is desecrating our sacred site and Dreaming Place and denying us access to our traditional lands. The company has moved or destroyed more than 10 000 artefacts including marked trees, damaging the integrity of the area forever.”

“Despite Barrick’s assertion that we are misleading people, what we are doing is our ancient cultural duty to protect our sacred Country for the generations to come. We are also raising awareness of the dangers of cyanide leach gold mining and the mine’s excessive use of precious water in the middle of the worst drought on record. The fullest dams, in the very parched countryside between Condobolin and the mine, are the toxic tailings ponds west of the open cut pit, which extends into the lakebed.”

I went there to help represent the indigenous people of this country (read: each area that is occupied by a different indigenous country in Australia is called a country here..which I love) .

The actions of the day were quite successful in bringing awareness to the fact that this issue is still taking place. I spent my day performing native dances, doing a sit outside the gates, and supporting other protesters who were entering the mines. Oh and at one point I became the food man bringing food around to people that I had stocked up before we left our camp. It would have been nice to see more people out there but I still think we had an impact (have a look at this rad video of the Tranny Minors that performed). I saw some really fuckin brave people out there getting arrested for what they believe in. It was kinda unfortunate I couldn’t have participated more although I feel my actions were useful too.

But really folks did you realize that cyanide is waste product in the processing of gold. It’s tragic that on such a special lake we would want to introduce a poison that will threaten many different species of birds. Especially, when this lake is recognized as a special place recognized as being one of Australia’s Important Wetlands. Alright so what can I do? Write a letter (pre-made and handcrafted right here!) to these folks here and make sure that your investments are contributing to this destruction. Barricks doesn’t care that they have depleted loads of the water on this lake already even during a massive drought or that indigenous people of this area don’t agree with the settlement made.

[Warning: This bit is quite long and more about the traumatic experience that happened to me while there…I’m still trying to deal with it all actually]

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My Name TagFor those of you who don’t know I’m a dumpster diving geek. This means that I jump into dumpsters near grocery stores or other shops and search for things to eat or use. I tend to get a lot of questions about why I do this and the purpose behind it when I talk to people about the issues. I figured since a recent article that came out in Calgary’s Avenue Magazine about Dumpstering Diving featuring me I would include the article and also provide further information. I would encourage you to read the article and provide comments if you want.

Food Quality / Other Issues

One of the biggest questions and concerns that I get is that the food quality that I am recovering is quite bad and could potentially cause me harm or that there are other issues associated with these practices. I’ve tried to break down the common questions that I get from people to answer all the questions (and would encourage more from people).

  • Isn’t the food completely gross and sketchy (read: super gross and moldy) Nope. Seriously. Take a look at that picture below and the quality of that food that we recovered. Did you know that stores will throw out veggies because they don’t look like you expect them to look? Yep veggie discrimination. It kinda make sense though cause we live in a demand created culture and thus we expect high quality food.
  • What do you do with the food after you recover it? I take it home and eat it. Well that’s not entirely true. Some of the things I donate to Food Not Bombs and most things I take home, clean with bio-degradable soap, dry, and eat later. Pre-packaged things just get checked (bad parts removed) and then stored for later consumption.
  • Aren’t you taking food away from homeless people? I think this is a fair question really and I’ve had a few people ask me about this. The question I like to rebutle is the following – “Why would a homeless person deserve or want to eat food out of a dumpster? Why wouldn’t they want to head to a shelter and get some fresh warm cooked food there?” I think it’s an assumption that the food is there and that somehow I’m stealing it from someone else that needs it. But you have to realize that everyone sees this food as waste and not as food. Also, there is so much of it that I end up not taking all of it home with me anyway.

Umm what have you found

This question I get a lot and most people figure that the things that I found are far and few between. I can guarantee that most times if I head out on a dumpstering mission I’ll find a load of food whether it be a bunch of bread, fruit/veggies, or things I can use. It is a bit of a hit and miss mission because sometimes you’ll find nothing like any expedition.

  • Last nights score – Last night we hit up this fruit and vegetable shop in Newtown. They had an entire bin filled with tomatoes, avocados (still ripe), peppers, carrots, mangos (huge HUGE mangos), and plenty more. All of this goodness went into a stew to be used on cereal for many mornings to come.
  • Skates/Rollerblades/Helmets – One night I was in a dumpster near my parents place and came across a bin filled with old skates, rollerblades, and other things being thrown out. Don’t ask me why the shop nearby threw that out but I was pretty appalled. I mean we live in a society where some people don’t even have access to these things and we are throwing it out. Not to mention the resources needed to make all of this stuff. I packed all the gear up in a hockey bag (how convenient it was also in the dumpster) and carted it down to a local school in the inner city the next day. Perhaps I’m bragging perhaps not. The women working there told me that some of the parents and students had never skated on ice cause they don’t have money to buy skates. So now they had skates to wear, helmets, and all the other gear! YESS!
  • Box of Vegan Sausages (Organic) – There was like 20 packages (each worth $5 – $6) inside the box and were going to expire within the next day. We split them up and used them at a local Iron Chef put on by Food Not Bombs.
  • Unused Sleeping Bag – While in a outdoor store I scored a sweet light weight sleeping bag (unsuitable for Canada weather but perfect for OZ) that was thrown out. I also managed to snag some inflatable mattresses they had cut (to make them not self inflate) that I gave to some homeless guys sleeping on the ground that night.
  • And more …

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