2012 was the first year I can remember that had such a major theme for me. Towards the end of 2011 I decided to move from my somewhat quiet rural life in England, where I'd been living for 5 years, and head back home to Australia. Of course with great moving, comes great sorting. I gave myself 6 months to sift through my houseful of possessions, and decide what was making the journey over with me.

A funny thing happened; the more I sorted, and the more I sold or donated, the more I realised that there was a hell of a lot of 'stuff' in my life. Probably slightly less than the average Westerner as I don't own many gadgets, but still I'd somehow gathered what seemed like a lot of moss. This was surprising as I've always considered myself as not owning that much. There's nothing like packing it down into a few boxes to challenge that perception.

Returning home I was reunited with another collection of long neglected possessions left in parent storage. Finally consolidating everything in one space was somehow both a relief and a burden. At last I had a complete inventory of my footprint on this earth, and once again I was faced with another lot of stuff to sort out that I wasn't entirely sure why I was still hanging on to. According to many internet voices out there, the act of decluttering can make a person feel more energetic, less stressed, more motivated and effective. I certainly got a lot of that return myself, as it forces you to question why you are hanging onto certain objects, which in some cases don't even have positive associations.

As a result of that process, that will be ongoing for a while yet, I have made plans for my 2013 project (planned from the year's outset rather than something that just happened along the way). While I was going through old personal effects, I came across several things - sentimental to a degree - that were not worth either keeping or handing on to someone else. That is to say, essentially junk. If it could be upcycled I did it, if it could be recycled I did it...but some things didn't fall into either category. These things were invariably hard plastic, bric-a-brac from another era that had no collector value, no sentimental value, and no value other than as landfill in the making. At around the same time, I'd started to really sit up and pay attention to what was happening with plastic waste on a global level. Watching documentaries, videos, tuning into the voice of a no-more-plastic campaign I really saw for the first time how much dominance it has in our lives today. An on-again/off-again beach cleaner, I started incorporating regular beach cleans into my daily walks. Darwin beaches are blessed for being relatively clean, but this isn't a situation reflected the world over, and not one beach on our planet is free from plastic debris. Though I tried to avoid non-recyclable plastic and make sure to bring-a-bag, I have still been responsible for generating my fair share of soft plastic wrappers, squeezy tubes, plastic lids and other paraphenalia into landfill. Items that will live on long past my own life.

The only way out of this has been to become militant. Sometimes forgetful of my reusable bag policy, I reassured myself it was fine as I reused the bags as bin liners (which is a neat way of tricking yourself into the fact you're only delaying the inevitable), soft plastics didn't really even properly register on my radar - a necessary evil - despite my general tendency to favour glass and steel above plastic and to avoid non recyclable plastic (which in my former UK county was sadly most of them) as much as possible. So this year is the year I get serious. Little by little, over the course of the year, I am going to try and incorporate as many steps as possible to remove single-use plastic from my weekly purchases - making food from scratch and buying fresh. Where food is concerned this isn't going to be especially easy for a town like Darwin. The down sides are only one 'green' store that has a limited number of bulk food items (and many of those are purse-pinchingly expensive) a climate that doesn't lend itself way to storing food in bulk (or for long), and being a significant distance from the major growing centres down south. I suspect it's going to be a challenge!

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