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House Curious

Lifestyle and interior shop. Social workshops for the creatively curious.

Filtering by Category: blog

Week 4. Tourist Against Trash

Sommer Pyne

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This is the final blog post from our friend Jacqui Scruby. I have learnt so much and have picked up lots of useful tips on how I can do my bit. Sometimes it’s easier to bury our heads in the sand but now is the time for all of us to face our fears. The more knowledge we have the more power we have to make change. Our environmental issues are huge and I know it can seem insignificant making small changes but the more noise we make the more chance we have of governments and large corporations listening to our demands and ultimately making the significant changes needed.

Over to you Jacqui…

There's a huge, hidden, elephant in the room when it comes to your favourite Mediterranean island. Whilst you're saying 'no straw' in your Mojito ... every other bit of rubbish that's being generated on the island is literally being thrown over the island's shoulder to a landfill site in a hidden bay, possibly on a cliff precariously close to the ocean. Truck after truck taking tonne after tonne up to the island's landfill, dumping trash over a cliff, cascading down into a valley birth canal leading to the ocean.

Ios Landfill

Ios Landfill

From my research I have come to realise that the only way to end this problem is tourism. Tourists putting pressure on these destinations to change. Tourists telling these islands that they won't support them if these landfill sites aren't addressed. Tourists collaborating to make the world aware of the situation. That's the mission of Tourists Against Trash - an organisation I've set up that as a traveller - YOU have the opportunity to make a huge contribution by playing a small part. Read on to learn more!

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How I First Came to Realise This Was a Problem

If the opening paragraph sounds like I'm being dramatic - it's the reverse - it simply doesn't do it justice. I discovered my first landfill site like this 2 years ago whilst on the island of Vis - an island we'd chosen to visit as it had been frozen in time as a military base for many years and boasted one of the world's top 10 beaches. It was also the location for Mamma Mia 2 and has it's own blue cave declared by WWF to be 'one of the last remaining jewels of the Mediterranean'.

Lefkada Landfill

Lefkada Landfill

Heading around a bend near the cute fishing village of Komiza we were faced with an illegal landfill site - in plain sight, next to the glimmery ocean. I was shocked - I got out, took photos and was very distressed, my children kept asking why it would be near the ocean and I didn't have an answer for them - this was a large island with many inland locations a landfill site could have been situated. I didn't have an answer.

Only 7km from the Blue Cave, returning we could see the landfill from the water - exactly where Mamma Mia 2 was filmed. Below it a natural spring, where tourist boats previously would stop to fill water bottles (no longer due to leachate) and a beach famous for a Sophia Loren shoot which is now covered in plastic and microplastics. I couldn't understand how everyone was so proud of showing off these natural wonders yet a landfill site was allowed to be in amongst it all. Ask any questions and the only answer was shoulder shrugs.

Vis Landfill aka Mamma Mia Landfill after the film shot just below it.

Vis Landfill aka Mamma Mia Landfill after the film shot just below it.

I took footage and got in contact with many organisations, including multiple WWFs. All answers were the same - that it was common on Mediterranean islands, and there's nothing anyone can do and it isn't an area they are focusing on. Despite this information when I researched ocean side landfills, I could find next to no information on the internet - except for one article on a landfill site on the Greek island of Andros that had collapsed into the ocean sending hundreds of thousands of tonnes of trash into the sea. A huge contributor to ocean pollution - yet completely ignored. I also didn't accept that there is nothing that can be done to improve the situation.

Fast forward a few more trips and I soon discovered that landfill sites with ocean views are ubiquitous. Much to my husband's (initial) horror, the glamorous girl he thought he married became a tip chaser - seeking out landfill sites in the most stunning holiday destinations - a far cry from our Pinterest board holiday plans.

Vis Landfill aka Mamma Mia Landfill after the film shot just below it.

Vis Landfill aka Mamma Mia Landfill after the film shot just below it.

Tilos' landfill site is over capcity - facing the ocean with debris flying out from it in the wind. Los and Lefkada sites are on hills near the water, one located next to the major harbour.

Our favourite island of Kastellorizo, which continues to shock us with the amount of plastic in the water with turtles swimming through it and locals doing nothing, a few years ago had a tip on a steep incline leading to the sea. Due to pressure from returning Greek Aussies each summer it was moved inland and regenerated - an example of some changes that can be made. However, due to the small size of the island the new landfill is still within 300m of the ocean and a trip to the old site still shows waste popping through the gravel layer - including old fridges and cars - very close to the water's edge.

Hydra Landfill aka Leonard Cohen landfill

Hydra Landfill aka Leonard Cohen landfill

The most shocking perhaps was Hydra - an island known for it's glamour, frequented by Kate Moss and home to Leonard Cohen and no-car policy, giving it an image of some degree of sustainability. The landfill site I discovered here was around the bend from the Mandraki - the major swimming beach for the island. That's right, without knowing it tourists are swimming only a few hundred meters from landfill leachate. Again - a huge island with ample inland space had a landfill site on a cliff leading to the ocean.

So why isn't anything being done? The European Commission is aware of the problem, but not of the details of it. It has fined countries like Greece who pass on fines to municaplities, who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars each year but continue to operate the landfill sites. They have had feasibility studies, alternative waste management proposals and on Hydra, funding has been approved but works never commenced. The reason nothing is done is complex - from archeological issues to locals being fearful of raised taxes. One theme that is constant is that Municipalities care only about tourism and tourism isn't effected by the landfill or even copious amount of trash on the beach.

Andros Landfill aka Leonardo Di Caprio - Leonardo Di Caprio drew attention to this island recently after it collapsed and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rubbish fell into the Mediterranean.

Andros Landfill aka Leonardo Di Caprio - Leonardo Di Caprio drew attention to this island recently after it collapsed and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rubbish fell into the Mediterranean.

Tourists Against Trash

Tourists Against Trash is designed to change that. We have a number of projects to let governments know plastic pollution and illegal landfill sites impact tourism. We are working with other organisations to release viral drone footage of the site to raise awareness and support a petition to Hydra and Greek Authorities to have the illegal landfill site decommissioned.

We also have a Landfill Mapping Project - our aim is to map every landfill site within 500m of the ocean, together with photos and footage by the end of 2020. We also use our Instagram account to bridge the gap between tourists and municipalities and Ministers for Tourism - making sure tourist feedback on trash in nature is being received. Finally it supports waste reduction, empowering tourists to be eco-travellers (TAT Travellers) to help drive change in these destinations and locals to make shifts towards zero waste.

Here's how you can be a TAT Traveller

1. Sign Our Petition

Head to our website www.touristsagainsttrash.com and sign up to be informed when our viral drone footage of Hydra's illegal landfill site and it's supporting petition go live. We'll let you know just before it's released so you can be the first people to sign the petition!

Mapping of Landfill sites - this one is Hydra.

Mapping of Landfill sites - this one is Hydra.

2. Map a Landfill Site Next Summer

It's easy!!! If you are heading to a Mediterranean island next summer this will require no more than an hour or two of your time and will bring tremendous change - the cost benefit is huge. Your mapping of a landfill site via our website will provide the European Comission with information they do not currently have. All you need to do is chat to a local and find the location of the site and let us know through our website www.touristagainsttrash.com . If you can - catch a ride up there and take some pictures or footage - although this is not essential- even the rough location is invaluable as it allows us to find the site on Google Earth.

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3. Use Instagram - Tag @touristsagainsttrash

If you see trash in nature let us know by tagging us on Instagram and hashtaging your location #TAT*yourlocation* e.g. @touristsagainsttrsh #TATMykonos . We will collate all the evidence from those locations and your comments and provide these to the Municipalities. Currently locals have no idea that tourists are disgusted by the current situation. Some Mayors are farmers who don't speak English - they really have no idea about global movements to protect the environment or your beach cleaning efforts. We translate into the local language and provide them with this evidence to motivate them to better manage waste.

4. Be As Zero Waste Traveller

Actions speak louder than words - being a zero waste traveller with water filters, own bags and saying no to straws. Be the change you want to see. Check out our previous weeks' posts on how to do this.

5. Become Imperfectly Plastic Free at Home - 6 Weeks to Plastic Free

Join 6 Weeks to Plastic Free for plastic free bootcamp for your home. You'll follow a week by week process that makes shifting to zero waste easy and efficient and satisfyingly effective. This is not about switching out a couple of items but going hardcore for a 6 Week period (like a weight loss bootcamp) to see what you can achieve and create a new lifestyle. The aim is to have hardly any plastic waste in your recycling (as it rarely gets recycled) and have your landfill waste done to almost nothing. We have a whole module on zero waste travel. Check out www.6weekstoplasticfree.comand @6weekstoplasticfree.

To get daily inspiration follow Jacqui on instagram @jacqui.scruby or if you want extra help to live a plastic free luxe life check out her 6 weeks online course to going plastic free www.6weekstoplasticfree.com @6weekstoplasticfree and www.jacquiscruby.com

Also if you missed the previous blog posts in this series you can check it out here:

Week 1. Plastic Free Travel - What you need to pack

Week 2. Plastic Free Travel - Mindset and Behaviour

Week 3. Climate Change - Be Carbon Positive

Turmeric Coconut Dahl

Sommer Pyne

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Looking for #meatfreemonday inspiration that will brighten up the rainiest of days? Then look no further, we’re sharing another yummy recipe the lovely Erica from Naturally Nourished., over to you Erica.

Dahl has to be one of my go-to’s for a quick, full flavoured, protein and fibre packed meal. I’m a big fan of food that has ‘scoopability’ factor where knives are not needed in the mix! The sautéed kale adds some green goodness and texture and the acidity of the tomatoes cut through the creamy coconut, adding some freshness and bringing the dish to life. Add fresh chillis if you like a little extra fire! Ginger and turmeric are very grounding spices and add a soothing, subtle warmth to your belly. 

Dahl freezes well so you can make a big batch and have some ready for those nights you don’t feel like getting your cook on!

Prep time: 15 minutes   cook time: 30 minutes   serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

400g red lentils

1 medium onion ~ diced

4 cloves garlic ~ minced

6 leaves of cavolo nero kale (stalks discarded) ~ sliced

1 large tomato ~ finely diced

5cm piece of fresh ginger root ~ peeled & minced/grated

1 tsp Himalayan salt

Pinch of black pepper

1 Tbsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp nigella seeds (black onion seeds)

Small bunch of fresh coriander ~ finely chopped

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1L water

400ml coconut milk

2 Tbsp natural unsweetened yogurt (or coconut yogurt if vegan)

 

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METHOD

1.    Add most of the coconut oil (save some to sauté the kale!) to a medium/large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, black pepper and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until onions becomes translucent and the spices smell fragrant. Stir regularly.

2.    Add the lentils and salt and cover with the water. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.    Then place a small frying pan over medium heat, add the remaining coconut oil and the kale. Cook for 5 minutes and stir regularly.

4.    Serve up in bowls and top with the tomato, kale, a swirl of yogurt, the fresh coriander and a sprinkle of nigella seeds. Sit back and enjoy!

Recipe and words by Erica Rodriguez - Naturally Nourished

House Destinations - South America and Mexico

Sommer Pyne

Photo by  Ayesha Parikh

Photo by Ayesha Parikh

We’re exploring Central and South America next on our House Destinations around the world. There are some amazing countries to visit in this part of the world plus real variation from the jungle to mountains and stunning coastlines. We can’t wait to go back and visit.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Tropical Holiday House in Trancoso, Brazil

First up is the tropical hideaway in Brazil that is owned by US news anchor Anderson Cooper. Situated in the lesser know Brazilian town of Trancoso, on the Atlantic coast it’s quite tucked away. Cooper enlisted fashion designer turned hotelier Wilbert Das to build him a vacation home in Trancoso, Brazil. The estate comprises of four buildings set amongst lush vegetation including mango, cacao, jackfruit, banana, and açaí trees.

The image above shows the master suite that sits on timber stilts to create shelter for an outdoor seating area beneath it. It feels like grown ups treehouse.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

The treehouse theme continues with wooden cladding throughout. Crisp white muslin drapes over the four poster bed and adds drama to the room.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

In the main structure of the house is the living/dining room, kitchen area and veranda for outside entertaining. Handmade local craft and vintage pieces like the Bahian cocktail table that sits with pequi-wood stools perfectly blend into the structure of the home. Das’s Uxua Casa home collection, which include the indigo-dyed throw pillows, woven-reed rug, and sectional sofa finish the room of nicely. Mostly the colour pallet is neutral, however feature wall brighter up room in true South American style.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

In the kitchen there is a real juxtaposition of old and new, concrete countertops and shelving complements the reclaimed-wood cabinets. The black earthenware is beautifully displayed on open shelves and the large vintage glass and brass pendant is a great feature.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

We love this assortment of terracotta pendants lights hanging over the rustic style family dining table and benches. This is something that could easily be replicated inside your home over your family table. If only we had the same climate as Brazil and could eat outside every night.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

The pool area has an organic shape that flows around the lush jungle surroundings making it feel lagoon like. Tatajuba wooden planks form the decking area which houses the lounge furniture and outdoor bar area.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

This nook is in one of the guest bungalows and features a lampshade made from reclaimed sail. What I love most about this nook is that most of the things are vintage or reclaimed, making it unique and original.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a coffee and good book on this terrace. The terracotta tiles are a gorgeous contrast to the lush green lawn. Reclaimed wooden furniture fill the space and the macrame inspired chair looks sooo comfy.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

The reclaimed wood and mix of vintage continues throughout the property in the bathroom. Door frames and window frames also feature reclaimed wood. We love the contrast of the white walls. Finding vintage pieces and repurposing them in your home is a great way to upcycle and add character to your home.

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

Photos by  Simon Upton  for Architectural Digest

Photos by Simon Upton for Architectural Digest

To finish it off this little slice of jungle heaven comes complete with an outdoor shower in a carved out tree trunk. Plus a huddle of hammocks to lounge in.

Key features we love :

  • Boho Hammocks

  • Outdoor shower in carved out tree trunk

  • Tree house inspired master suite

  • Muslin covered 4 poster beds

  • Reclaimed wooden furniture

Source - Architectural Digest

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Joya Villas - Costa Rica

These two modern villas sit in the rainforest of Santa Teresa surprisingly well thanks to the use of predominantly simple raw materials of steel, wood and concrete. The wooden screens and floors ensure that the property is rooted in local traditions and building techniques.

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Designed by Studio Saxe, a sustainable organisation that prides itself on maintaining a balance between the natural environment and modern architecture.

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

This floating staircase is a beautiful example of good architecture. Clean lines are a strong feature throughout this home. In any home with so many hard surfaces it’s important to soften the look with soft accessories.

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

As this property sits in the jungle/rainforest plants are hugely important and we love this indoor/outdoor planted area in the bathroom. Plants breathe life into any room and this living indoor garden is a great way to bring the outdoors in. We were considering something very similar in our house but it proved to be quite expensive due to extra drainage and excavation.

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Bi fold door open up the entire property, creating a smooth transition between indoors and outdoors.

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner for Wallpaper

The kitchen has an industrial feel to it with the steel columns and exposed beams, mixed with cool concrete surfaces. The Marble countertops add a touch of luxe. We love the open plan of the kitchen and design is perfect for entertaining.

Key features we love:

  • Simple lines

  • Floating staircase

  • Mix of industrial material like steel, concrete and natural wood.

  • Bi-fold doors

Source : Wallpaper

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

Mayan Minimalism - Tulum, Mexico

Last up in our around the world tour is Mexico. This minimalist home in Tulum feels more like a boutique hotel. Set in a rich green Mayan jungle on the outskirts of the town with white sandy beaches, this property is hidden away and feels like a place to leave your troubles at the door and relax.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

Photo from  16Tulum - Instagram

The property is designed around the spectacular swimming pool and interior gardens with a fire pit and lounge overlooking the jungle from sunrise to sunset. The open lounge area is simply furnished with wooden furniture and oversized cushions.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

Constructed entirely of monolithic concrete forms, the tree line of the jungle adds a sense of calm and cool central living areas. Almost completely unadorned, the design allows the architecture and jungle center stage.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

This corner plunge pool with hammock above it is the perfect place to cool off and relax. Three of the bedrooms have their own plunge pool, now that’s what a I call luxury! This is a great feature if you are thinking about renting a property out as a side income.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

What we love about this property is the simplicity of the design and complimentary furniture. The bamboo ladder is not only practical but a great feature in any room. You can hang towels or accessorise with eucalyptus or dried flowers for a more decorative effect.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

The bedrooms are small and have been kept simple and sparse with built in beds that blend in with the floors and walls. We love the architectural window design. The outdoor bathroom area in the above right image has a statement wall made of local stone that is used as the backdrop to the shower.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

The open air bathroom is gorgeous and feels very luxurious with the marble vanity area. Who doesn’t love an outside shower?! Perhaps not in the UK but definitely when we’re on holiday. I love the luxe but simple design of this bespoke sink. It’s always a good idea, if you have the luxury to commission a local stone maker or your builder to create something that is unique.

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

Photos from  Boutique Homes

Photos from Boutique Homes

This bathroom above is beautiful, the soft stone colour adds so much warmth and is effortlessly stylish.

Key features we love:

  • Private plunge pools

  • Hammocks

  • Jungle location

  • Outside bathroom

If you’ve missed any of the previous blog posts in this series don’t worry you can catch up below:

House Destinations - Australia

House Destinations - America

House Destinations - Scandinavia

House Destinations - Balearic Islands