This weekend I cruised up to the Bay of Islands for another visit with new friends who live on an old sugar-barge grounded in the mangroves across the water from Opua. On Saturday morning we watched the under-8s play soccer at the local school, Karetu, in warm sunshine. Karetu won 3-2 with the help of a fantail who spent much of the game swooping and fluttering close to the action, to the delight of the children.
After that we drove around to Russell on that long gravel road winding through rather lovely bush. This time the attraction in Russell was an Environmental Expo- well worth the trip too. I have never seen so many types of composting toilets in proximity before, and narry an iffy smell. I learned about small-scale water and wind generators but never got a chance to chat with the solar panel guy as he was so busy. There were biodegradable packaging materials made out of corn or potatoes including disposable dishes coloured like jellybeans. I had a great talk with Fiona who was selling the 'Keeper' an reusable rubber-cup alternative to tampons and pads.
There were not one, but two, rival companies selling special long-life cloths for cleaning with cold water only and I was so excited about this (me, who HATES housework) that I bought one (and already I've found myself enjoying cleaning the shower!). I picked up instructions for making a worm farm and information about designing your home's renewable energy system. I was tempted by the beautiful knives handmade out of salvage material and might be bartering for books soon.
There were of course various people concerned with saving various birds, plants and environments, near and far. There were governmental agencies and quangos who are doing varying degrees of good work that simply doesn't present that well at an expo and demos of assorted materials for very specific and obscure uses of interest only to those already in need.
I wish I was in a position to be considering obscure materials as I design my own eco home and permaculture garden. Since I'm not there yet there was lots about the expo that just made me more dissatisfied with my current set up and lack of control over it. But I had a really good time there, and at least I can now clean my shower without whiffing nasty chemicals.