Hi, I’m Tammy Logan, I’ve spent my whole life in Gippsland except for a few years in Melbourne to study. My husband has also lived his whole life in Gippsland and together we have two children aged five and seven.

I’ve always taken steps to reduce my environmental footprint, but a restless feeling began to grow inside me that it wasn’t enough anymore and that I needed to work harder to make a difference. It was important to me to be the environmentalist I hoped my children would be. After all, actions speak louder than words. I didn’t know how to satisfy this feeling because I thought I was already doing everything within my means. But then I found the Plastic Free July Challenge – to refuse all single-use plastic for one month.

The idea instantly appealed to me because it was something I could do without spending large amounts of money and it wasn’t going to take me away from my home or family. It was really just about changing the way I shop (or so I thought), yet it could make a huge difference to my family’s environmental footprint. I’d also attended a presentation six months earlier at my work on the problem of plastic in the ocean and was shocked by how bad the problem was. It felt like I was meant to be at this point in my life so I started the plastic free challenge immediately – a month early – and couldn’t stop when the challenge ended.

Completing the challenge has been one of the most positive things I’ve ever done. It has revealed to me that I do have choices and I do have power to effect change. During the challenge I also became aware that it was possible to pursue a zero waste lifestyle as I was finding many of my plastic free solutions involved no waste at all. I decided to work towards reducing all my waste. Now my family produces less than one handful of landfill and one bucket of recycling per week. I’m very proud of this given we live in a rural area and not a city with easy access to specialty stores. Anything I can’t find unpackaged or plastic free, I make or go without. Over time I have found a solution to almost all our needs and if there are things that we are going without, we’re not missing them.

Learning how to make food and personal care products from scratch has been the most time consuming aspect of pursuing a zero waste lifestyle but also very satisfying. Most things turn out to be very easy to make once I know how. I’ve come to believe that food is something we need to value and make more time for. We need to slow down and be more mindful of the impacts of our choices. If we continue to focus on convenience and the cheapest option we will continue to damage our health, animals and the environment.

I didn’t start this lifestyle because I had lots of spare time; I made specific decisions about how I wanted to lead my life and guide my family to better reflect my values. I’m so glad I’ve done it because the rewards have been more than I expected. We’ve improved our health, saved money, bought more local and ethical products and produce, learnt to make things from scratch, wasted less overall, and educated ourselves and others.

I’ve been enthused by how far my not-so-eco-conscious husband has come in this journey with me, and it’s because there is so much to be gained when you get past the fleeting feelings of deprivation whilst you change your habits. The kids have stunned me with their capacity to understand why we are doing this and to make good choices.

I think the key to our success as a family is that we allow each individual to have their own thoughts and values and encourage good decision making rather than dictating what one must think and feel. And, really, striving for plastic free and zero waste living is about careful and intentional consumption. It’s a way of protesting against a wasteful society and saying we can do better.  If we all make better choices as often as possible, we can make a huge difference with our individual actions.

Tammy Logan, Gippsland Unwrapped

In this blog I share how we significantly reduce our waste and other ways of practicing sustainability. Please take some time to look around and leave comments, as I hope our experiences give you the opportunity to learn from us and that we can learn from you too. I would love to hear about your experiences, learnings, and insights.

Gippsland Unwrapped is also about giving you choices. In Gippsland, we have challenges related to living in small geographically dispersed communities, so if this is you, I hope to help you over come those. Of course, it’s all still applicable to city folk wanting to reduce their waste too.

Why the name Gippsland Unwrapped? Well, local living and community are very important to me for envirnomental, social and health reasons. Gippsland is my place. I’m connected to the people and environment here and so my blog name represents the importance of living local to live sustainably. The Unwrapped aspect of my blog name obviously refers to avoiding packaging but also to revealing sustainable solutions.

Together I believe we can make a difference and I hope that you will see that a waste free life is about gaining fulfilment, not giving it up.

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40 thoughts

  1. I think this is the best blog I have seen yet and I dont usually read blogs but your Loo paper drew me in…The plastic is good….Not easy but is anything? You obviously have a passion and I look forward to reading more about you and your family.

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      1. I love your blog but you can’t say in one sentence ‘caring for animals’ and in the next talk of ‘going fishing’ – that is a contradiction; like reading bedtime stories to children about the wonderful animals and then putting their dead fled on a plate for them to eat. What contradictions we feed young minds!

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      2. Thanks Valerie. I respect you opinion but I disagree that it’s a contradiction.
        Being in nature as a child and participating in activities like fishing led me to think about questions like ‘Why are we fishing in this spot? What sort of fish lives here, why? Why is the river behaving like that and what is the impact? Why do small fish go back into the river? What happens if we take too many fish? What do fish eat? What eats fish? What would it be like to live under water? How is that possible? What impact does the weather have on the river? When things get added to the water what happens to the fish? When things are taken from the water what is the impact on the fish?’ This kind of thinking never ends when you are immersed in nature based activities. The answers to these seemingly simple questions are invaluable scientific learnings about how the world works and how we fit in with other species. You learn about species conservation and develop a deep respect for your food sources. Fish have immense value to me and I am emotionally connected through these experiences, this makes me want to protect the species and the environments they need to survive. I can catch and eat only what I need for a meal without over exploiting the resource.
        I think our difference of opinion might come about because I am thinking on an ecosystem/landscape level and you are thinking of the individual animal and what it feels. I know I’m making assumptions here but I agree that the circumstances in which many animals live and die to feed most humans is not ideal. This is the result of people being too far removed from their food sources and leaving it in the hands of someone else. There is no emotional connection, therefore it has no value and the animal and it’s environment are uncared for. There’s more than one way to approach environmentalism – which is appropriate given the complexities of the natural world and the many layers under which species thrive.

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  2. i luv u blog I try to live this way as well ,one thing I have noticed do u use an ordinary toilet or is it a waterless compost toilet I,m looking into using a waterless loo /compost loo there agreat idea no water u can save 35 litres in a year if not more

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    1. Hi Kath, we have a regular toilet connected to a septic tank system. The farm house we have moved to is not owned by us so we are a little limited with these sorts of things. We’re completely on tank water though so have to manage our water well – including “letting it mellow if it’s yellow”. At our old house we had a secondary treatment septic system which disperses the grey water on site. I think composting loos are a great idea! Also, I got installed at my kids kindergarten a toilet suite with an integrated hand basin and cistern – they save heaps of water.

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  3. I am so inspired by your blog Tammy. We live in the Melbourne suburbs with our three kids (2, 3 and 4), and we are about to embark on a plan to turn our tiny yard into a productive little farm and drastically reduce our waste. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I can’t wait to put more of your ideas into action!

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    1. I love this! Keep me posted with how it goes. I love growing things and spending time in the garden. I’m a bit sad that when we moved I left behind an orchard that had finally become pretty productive and all my herbs and vegetables. I’m working away at things here but fruit trees take time – it all takes time and money but it’s so worth it when it comes together. Good luck with it all.

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      1. good on u Tammy good to see ,my back yard it productive it,s good home grown produce is the best no chemicals fresh as u can get it,s good 4 the kids as well teaches them how to grow food from scratch all the best 4 2016

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Tammy,
    Would you be willing to post some information about your cutlery keeper you have in your glove box (from the post “5 key reusables you shouldn’t be leaving home without”)? I’m planning to make a similar kit to keep in my handbag, but I’d love some advice on why you constructed yours in the manner you did. It looks great and fulfills a common need for my family. Thanks and love your blog!

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  5. Can’t help but think you could reduce your waste 10 fold or more by not consuming meat and dairy. Those industries alone are far more responsible for the state of decay on this planet than any plastic industry. I love what you are doing, and think its great that you are inspiring others, but i find it almost a waste of time given how much more you could be doing for far less effort than what you go through. The water you could save, the rainforests, the list is vast. If you truly wanted to reduce your waste and impact on the planet, it is so easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the information that is coming to light about plastics could mean that this industry does in fact rival agriculture’s impact on the environment. Population growth is the biggest threat to this planet, not agriculture, but very few people do anything about this, even though that would require very little effort. Plus I do not subscribe to the idea that any effort anyone makes in regards to sustainability is a waste of time. I am sure that there are many vegans who think their job is done at being a vegan and do very little else to live sustainably – they could shop and consume like crazy, supporting capitalism which is the main driver of our problems. Having had a lifelong interest in nature and studying biology and ecology I am at peace with my omnivorous status and I do believe there are ethical ways to include animal products in our diet. There are different ways of farming and I do not agree with the industrialisation of animals, and the push to get bigger and produce more (capitalism) , so we try not to consume a lot of animal products and are working towards being responsible for this ourselves. True farmers, not business managers, have a deep connection with animals and the land and want to care for them as best they can. It’s unfortunate that so many in the world today are so disconnected from their food sources that they consume with little regard for how it is made. I also saw some popular science articles reporting on research that found a direct swap to a vegetarian or vegan diet would actually create more of an environmental impact because you have to consume more fruits and veg to get the same calories. It was the same even if you reduced the amount of calories you consumed. My point is that the answer isn’t always so straight forward and a multi-pronged approach is needed. I actually think we need to focus on developing a new economy more than anything else, and that’s why I’m working on ways of living outside of this system. I think a whole lot of things will fall into place if we do this. I never knock anyone about where they choose to start their sustainability journey. Everyone has a different ‘hook’ which can be grown upon over time.

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      1. Hit the nail on the head about the population explosion we are experiencing… over doubled in less than 50 years. That and capitalism push up the agriculture issues, making them symptoms of the bigger problem.

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      2. There is no one right way to live sustainably. The changes we are able/willing to make are dependant on our life situation, education, peronality etc. We should all support each other to make changes that conserve resources, even if their priorities/rationale differ form ours. In Gippsland meat may well be an eco choice, given low input farming and close proximity of consumer to product.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Tammy. You are an inspiration. I have been in the process of following zero waste, zero plastic principles for about six months now and just came across your blog. You are doing a really important job. Can we extend Gippsland Unwrapped to other parts of the country? I have just returned to Melbourne after five years away and am slowly finding retailers who are happy to fill my containers. How about Boroondara Unwrapped?? Maybe we could all start our own lists of retailers who are happy to support zero wasters? All the best, Rachelle

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    1. Hi Rachelle, thank you for your encouraging words. Most definitely the ideas can be extended to other areas and there are other people around Australia and the world blogging about their zero waste experiences where they live. I chose to include ‘Gippsland’ in the name of my blog to show people that it is possible to live this way in rural areas. In Melbourne you would have more access to stores and in fact Erin Rhodes has compiled a list for you on her blog called The Rogue Ginger. Check it out here http://www.therogueginger.com/2015/06/plastic-free-zero-waste-shopping-melbourne.html
      You might also want to look up the Bulk app by Zero Waste Home. I’m not sure if it will work for you, it’s under development and I can’t get it to work for me.
      Cheers Tammy

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  7. hi tammy I,ve just read u blog about DASMA recycling plant I find it hard 2 believe in this day and age that the public do not recycle properly I find it staggering frankly disgusting some people are lazy and cannot be bothered I,ve been carrying on about these plastic shopping bags 4 years the supermarkets just keep handing them out wiley niley this has to stop ,there is no need for these bags at all I,ve seen birds that have died there done autopsy on it ,fishing line plastic ,plastic lids ,that’s just the start how can u change people and educate people about the environment when they do not care ,have a good day I live in Churchill and live a very frugal and sustainable lifestyle and luv it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Kath. I feel the same a lot of the time. So many people do know the consequences but just don’t care enough to change behaviours. We must keep chipping away.

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  8. Hi! So happy to have found your website. I’m a newbie to the zero waste idea and hoping to start implementing some changes asap. I’m actually pretty wasteful at the moment so I expect to see a lot of room for improvement.

    We are in rural Victoria also, but have family on Gippsland so was happy to connect.

    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a great site packed with practical advice. Thanks so much for your ideas. I am working to reduce the amount of single use plastic in our lives, and you have inspired me!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Tammy. I love what you are doing, and am on the same path myself in Adelaide, but nowhere near as far down it as you!I read in one of your posts that BPA lined receipts can’t go in the recycling because they contaminate the stream, so does this mean they have to go to landfill? I don’t get receipts wherever I can, but sometimes there is no option… do you have any tips for avoiding them? Thanks for all your hard work 🙂

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    1. Hi Danielle, I haven’t been able to get detailed answers about BPA coated thermal receipts. Some councils say receipts are accepted in their kerbside recycling stream but when I ask specifically about them being coated in BPA, I don’t get an answer. But having looked into plastic coated paper recycling some more, since the war on waste series incorrectly declared takeaway coffee cups unrecyclable, its clear paper recycling already includes plastic coated paper like juice cartons. So BPA and other plastic related chemicals could already be in trace amounts in our recycled paper. I wonder what that means for our health more than anything. So, check with your council to see if they will accept them for recycling. Sometimes they are considered too small for sorting machines. I hope I’ve made sense. 🙂

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  11. SUPER EXCITED TO FIND YOU !! I live in Gippsland also. Not too far from you. Devon North. I am trying to change to zero waste but am finding it very hard to find unpackaged food items. I will be devouring every morsel of information I can get from you ! Have subscribed here also “following” on instagram & “liked” on facebook. Stalker much !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, Hi Andrea, great to meet someone so enthusiastic! It is very hard to find unpackaged food around Gippsland but there are places offering different things. Check out my Resources section to find the WHere to Shop in Gippsland page. Talk to you again soon. Tammy

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