One of the things that has been a real challenge is dairy and I’m sorry to say that we still haven’t worked it out. In my increasing role with Transition Darebin one of the things that I plan on doing is thinking about how we can engage with the local business community. In my mind we sometimes cut people out of our plans because we assume (rightly or wrongly) that they will not be interested. I think this is a mistake not only because we’re going to need local vendors stocking local produce in the end but also because sometimes a new market can actually drive people to change.
Dairy has been one of these that’s been interesting and maybe disappointing in our year. When we first started trying to source local milk in glass we found that there was one supplier who could tick most of the boxes. Sadly they didn’t re-use their bottles and actually getting to their only outlet was not gong to work. In fact the only group who clean and re-use their bottles turn out to be from Tasmania (about 500 km over Bass Strait). This is where my definitely non-business brain starts to struggle but maybe it’s just me because no one else seems to find it weird. How can it be economically feasible to bring milk 500 km from a state with fewer dairy cows to a state with more? Further to this how can this be the only milk that returns the bottles to re-use? I don’t get it! There’s clearly a market for this stuff as the milk is sold out every week.
Anyway rant over. We can’t get Victorian Milk in bottles and buying Tasmanian milk just seems wrong so we have stayed with our plastic packaged milk bought from a farmers co-op. We have placated ourselves that this is the best we can do right now by making use of the bottles. The bases become seedling holders and the sides become labels for seedlings. I’ve been tossing up about using the lids in some sort of musical instrument but that is yet to take shape.
We’ve had more luck with cheese recently finding locally made cheese packaged in wax. The cheese is pretty good and we buy the whole wheel (1Kg). This left us fairly quickly with a fair amount of wax. Being quite into candles, and keen to ‘upcycle’ as much as we can we have now entered the candle building game (just the ones on the second level, the others are local beeswax)
After learning a fair amount about ‘wicks’ from a very friendly candle maker (which cost us exactly three beeswax candles) down the road we have now produced our own candles which, given the fact that we’ve had two blackouts in the last two months (both due to weather events) may come in handy for light if not mood.
So would I trade the candles for re-usable glass bottles of milk, absolutely. But in the absence of options and until we can get local business owners and producers selling locally produced milk this will have to do for now.