The Buzz Blog

Welcome to our blog 'The Buzz'.  Here we will keep you updated on what is happening in the world of bees and honey and anything else that we think you would be interested in.  If there is a topic you would like to hear about drop us an email and I'll see what we can do.


Sustainable Me Challenge - December

Written by Stephanie on December 3rd, 2017.      0 comments

You might have guessed but this month's 'Sustainable Me Challenge' is a waste free holiday.  Can you believe the average household waste increases by 25% over the Christmas holiday period! Here's some ideas for reducing our gift-giving footprint this Christmas:

  • Furoshiki-586Buy second hand.  Our son wanted an expensive lego kit this year, so instead of spending mega bucks we've bought him a 2nd hand kit that looks as good and new for half the price.
  • Use alternative wrapping.  Fabric is great because it can be used over and over, not like paper that usually gets used once and thrown out.  Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping with cloth, check out some great ideas, I'm definitely keen on trying this!
  • Don't buy over packaged products.  It really bugs me how over packaged toys and other items are these days.  It pays to think about the waste the gift may create and reduce where you can.
  • Make it yourself.   If you've got a little bit of spare time it's worth making something from the heart. Check out some ideas online, we've got some recipes for lip balm, perfume, etc.
  • Give experiences.   These are great, we do this with our parents now. It can be as simple as a movie ticket, theatre performance, concert or sporting event.  How about a voucher to go fishing, tramping, a picnic or even a service you could provide like to clean someones house!
  • Give consumables.  Everyone has to eat so give food, maybe something they wouldn't normally buy for themselves or you could bake them something special.
  • Give the gift of charity.  Make a donation to a charity in the name of your gift recipient, one that they would be happy with.
  • Ask before you buy.  It's important we buy something the person would like or will use, it's a shame when they just sit in a cupboard unused or thrown out because it was the wrong gift for them.


See the OSOF website to read more tips


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Sustainable Me Challenge - November

Written by Stephanie on November 11th, 2017.      0 comments

Vegetable-Growing-228-91This month's 'Sustainable Me Challenge' is to grow something.  Most of our produce is trucked, shipped or flown and it accumulates greenhouse gas emissions with every kilometre travelled.  To help our environment we should at least buy local, where we can, and grow some of our own food.  
 

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Buy local.  Look for NZ grown produce at the supermarket or visit your local farmer's market or farm shop.

Step it up: Plant something.  Start with strawberries, lettuce, spinach, herbs, etc

Want more? Grow more!  Challenge yourself t grow something new or grow everything you need for an entire meal.  Or if you're already a keen gardener help someone else set up a garden.

Every little bit helps!

See the OSOF website to read more tips


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Sustainable Me Challenge - October

Written by Stephanie on November 10th, 2017.      0 comments

red meat Wow, time is flying and I've just realised I haven't blogged about the 'Sustainable Me Challenge' for a while!

October's challenge was to eat less meat!  Kiwi's love meat, we are ranked 11th per capita for meat consumption.  We eat on average 106kgs per year.  And the problem?  The problem is that high levels of meat consumption impacts both our environment and our health.

 

Large-scale farming produces a huge amount of emissions, contributing significantly to global warming.  Runoff from animal waste enters soils, groundwater and rivers. Farming requires a lot of water use, apparently it takes 15,500 litres of water to produce just 1kg of beef!  Wow!  There is also an association between meat consumption and health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.
 

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Join the Meat Free Monday campaign by eating vegetarian one day per week.

Step it up: Give up meat 3 or 4 days per week.

Want more? Try going fully vegetarian, mmm not sure how well that will go down in our house!

I think that if we can just be more conscious about how much meat we are eating, cut down on its consumption each meal and have at least 1 meatless meal a week it will make a different! 

See the OSOF website to read more tips


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Sustainable Me Challenge - September

Written by Stephanie on September 11th, 2017.      0 comments

This month's 'Sustainable Me' challenge is to reduce the harsh chemical cleaners in our homes with natural alternatives.

It's the time of year we give our houses a spring clean from top to bottom.  It's a good opportunity to use more natural cleaners that are better for our houses, our families and the aquatic life that are exposed to it once it's washed down the drain.  There are lots of natural alternatives out there now and available in the supermarkets or you might like to try baking soda and white vinegar!
 

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: If you’re wary of baking ingredients as household cleaners, maybe the best way to begin is with commercially available eco-friendly cleaning products such as those available through the Earthwise or Ecostore brands.

Step it up: Start simple and find one or two cleaning product to change over. Baking soda as a scrub for your sinks, counters and tubs is a great way to begin.

Want more? Ditch your chemical cleaners and go all natural. There are lots of internet resources available for someone who wants chemical free cleaners – see the resources section below for suggestions of where to begin.
Every little bit (or drop) helps!

See the OSOF website to read more tips


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Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 

Sustainable Me Challenge - August

Written by Stephanie on August 2nd, 2017.      0 comments

This month's 'Sustainable Me' challenge is to reduce our water use. 

You would think in clean, green New Zealand that we wouldn't need to worry about this but our fresh water resources are becoming more and more under pressure.  OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) says that p
ollution from agriculture, runoff from increasing urbanization and antiquated sewer systems has created un-swimmable rivers. And the looming uncertainties of climate change bring further concern for this vital resource.

The average Auckland household uses 174 litres of water per day in winter and slightly more in summer, it's been broken down by:
31% showers and baths
24% laundry
19% toilets

With just a little bit of thought we can make a big difference to reducing our water use.  Reduce, Ruse and Recycle applies to water too!

Water Every drop counts badge-275

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Find one or two basic water-reducing behaviours such as shorter showers, turning the tap off when brushing teeth and washing hands, etc.

Step it up: Find a bigger way to reduce your household water such as checking for plumbing leaks, installing low-flow taps and shower heads, etc.

Want more?  Get involved in a local advocacy group or join a group planting plants around water ways.  

Every little bit (or drop) helps!

See the OSOF website to read more tips


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Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 

Plastic Free Life?

Written by Stephanie on July 31st, 2017.      1 comments

Did anyone try the 'Plastic Free July' Challenge?  How did you go?  It can be hard to get your head around to start with but as time goes on it does get easier.  The trick it to keep it going beyond July and use those new strategies in our every day life.  The less plastic we use the better off our world will be!

 

Remember instead of using these:


plastic-free-july-line-single-use-products orig-555
 


Try to use these instead:


plastic-free-july-reusables-banner orig-463
 

Check out eco-friendly products on our website

 

Sustainable Me Challenge - July

Written by Stephanie on July 7th, 2017.      0 comments

This month's 'Sustainable Me' challenge is to participate in 'Plastic-free July' by cutting back on overall plastic use. We have more information on Plastic Free July on another blog post and 'Our Seas our Future (OSOF)' have lots of information on their website.

Did you know that every piece of plastic ever made is still around? It might look a bit different than it did in its original form – discoloured, warped, or in smaller pieces perhaps.  Plastic is found nearly everywhere in our lives, too. Our food comes wrapped in it, our clothing is spun from it and our hospitals use it to save lives. Plastic is found in our wallets, our toys, our cars and our electronics.


It can be overwhelming to think about all that plastic, and to see a path forward to a reduced-plastic life, much less a plastic-free one. Removing all plastic from your life is extremely difficult –prohibitively so for most of us. But every tiny step in the right direction helps, and this month you are encouraged to take one.

Focus on ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ rather than recycle – buying and using less plastic means less of it enters the waste stream. Simply find ways to use less and dispose of less. plastic free july choose to refuse-647

Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Start with something simple – pledge to go plastic free for a day or a week. Choose a new behaviour and practice it. It’s that simple.

Step it up: Remove all single-use plastics from your life for one full month.

Want more? Can you go one full month without adding any plastic to the waste stream – single use or otherwise? Challenge yourself to give it a try! Even if it doesn’t work, you will probably learn something along the way that you can incorporate into your regular plastic-reduction routine.

See the OSOF website to read more tips


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Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 

Sweetree Endeavours to be Sustainable

Written by Stephanie on June 11th, 2017.      0 comments

Here at Sweetree we are endeavouring to become more sustainable to help the environment.  All Sweetree honeys are packaged in glass jars, our propolis in glass bottles, we use paper bags instead of plastic at the markets and we are currently investigating compostable pouches for our bee pollen. We believe storing food in glass, as opposed to plastic, is much healthier for the end consumer and certainly the environment.  It also allows them to reuse or recycle the packaging after the honey has been eaten.

capping-618But it goes further than just the end product, we want the honey to be healthy all the way through the process. We ensure the honey in not stored in plastic the whole way through the process. A high percentage of beekeepers use plastic frames and foundations on the hive for honey collection, these are more economic and robust than the wooden frames and natural beeswax foundation. We have continued to use the traditional wooden frames and beeswax comb foundation wired into the frame. We believe this is not only healthier for us humans but also for the bees, let alone less plastic going to the landfill.

When harvesting our honeys we always make sure we leave enough food stores on the hives for the bees to keep them healthy over the winter and to avoid supplement feeding as much as possible in spring.  Once the honey is harvested from the hives we ensure it is not damaged by heat and pollen grains are not stripped out, therefore retaining the natural goodness of our honeys.

In both our home and business we have substantially reduced what we send to landfill, we avoid over packaging, avoid one use plastic, buy bulk, reuse or recycle as much as we can and purchase locally as much as possible.

We like to offer our customers variety on our website and sell earth friendly products that relate to bees and honey such as bee friendly seeds, HoneyWrap reusable food wraps, HoneySticks non-toxic beeswax crayons, etc. All proceeds from the bee friendly wildflower seeds go back into research to help the NZ bees; we have raised a total of $2013.

The local Rural Women of NZ group I am involved in, has a 'Share the Surplus' project. We often see fruit trees laden with fruit and not picked and it seems such a shame when there are so many people struggling to put food on the table. Our project turns that surplus into preserves. We collect fruit from people who have surplus fruit on their trees, make preserves in recycled Sweetree honey jars that customers have returned, and give it to those in need.

We have a lot to still work on but we are trying to do a little bit at a time, every little bit helps.  We believe that if everyone did a little bit towards the environment it would make a huge difference and we encourage you to make some little changes in your everyday routines to help our beautiful earth!  Thanks!
 
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Our lovely Rural Women group making jam for the food bank
 

World Environment & Arbor Day - 5th June

Written by Stephanie on June 5th, 2017.      0 comments

Today is 'World Environment Day' and 'Arbor Day'!  It's a great reason to get out there and do something to help our environment, whether it's planting trees, tidying up trees, picking up rubbish on a bush track, beach, park or along the road; every little bit helps!  We've just spent last weekend planting over 250 trees around our wetland but it's an ongoing effort to think about the impact our every day activities have on the environment and lessening that impact.  

 

World Environment Day

world environment day wallpapers environmental awareness nature green savelife pollution clean 12-648World Environment Day is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.  It is an t is an opportunity to raise awareness and promote action on national environmental issues. 

World Environment day is a day for people to do 'something' to take care of the Earth or become an agent for change.  We can act locally, national or globally; as in individual or as a group.

This year's theme is ‘Connecting People to Nature’, which implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance and commit to being involved in protecting the Earth that we share.



Arbor Day


Matt-Planting-TreesArbor day is the day of the year when people are encouraged to plant and care for trees.  The first arbor day was in USA in 1872 when a Julius Morton began a large scale planting of trees to beautify his town and encouraged others to do the same.  It took off and now many countries observe this day as a special day to plant and tend to trees.

Arbor Day is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the trees on your property and plan for the future. Inspect your trees, note any broken branches or evidence of disease or insect infestation. Think about how planting new trees might improve the look of your property or provide wind or heat protection.

Even better get into involved in a local reserve native tree planting initiative!  There are plenty of events happening around the country you could take part in, search online.  This photo is of our son planting trees at the Waiwhakareke Reserve by the Hamilton Zoo last weekend, a crew of people meet on the last Saturday morning of every month.  If you want to join the team or for more information call Stephanie on 0272447759 or email tui2000inc@gmail.com

New Zealanders are being challenged to plant a native tree on Arbor Day this year to set a record for the most trees ever planted on one day in New Zealand.  You can log the trees you plant here


Read more about Sweetree's native tree plantings


 
 

Sweetree HaBEEtat - More Tree Plantings

Written by Stephanie on May 18th, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall that in 2013 we dug out a swampy area at the back of our property into a pond to create habitat for native birds and for our bees, it's our Sweetree HaBEEtat.  Over the last few years my stepfather has been growing and tending to native plant seeds and together we have planted hundreds of native flax, grasses and trees around the pond.  The pond is now looking fantastic and is the home to quite a few ducks, frogs, pheasants and the occasional visit from Tui.  As the trees grow we hope to see more native birds down there and that it will provide food for our bees throughout the year.

This weekend we had a working bee where friends and family joined us to plant over 250 plants.  Here's some photos of the day, it's coming along nicely!

IMG 1889  IMG 1896
pond3  pond2
    IMG 1901


 

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OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge for May

Written by Stephanie on May 3rd, 2017.      0 comments

Wow April went fast, on to another challenge in the 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'. Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives. January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out, February was to drive less, March was to avoid microplastic and other chemicals in personal products and April was to preserve some fresh produce.

This month's challenge is to
 reduce our overall energy use by taking an energy break.  Did you know that our collective household energy consumption contributes 585 kilotons of carbon to the Earth's atmosphere each year?  You can just imagine the impact if we don't use energy for one day (or even half a day) each month.  We would make a small but significant impact on our collective carbon footprint. 

There's lots of ways we can unplug and take a day off from superfluous energy use, for example: turn off the TV for a night and go for a walk instead, have a candlelit dinner or bath, read a book, do a puzzle, or play a board game instead of spending time online.
 

Save Energy-484Here's What The Challenge Suggests:

Beginner: Pick one day this month to test out an energy break. Power down for 1 hour or more to start, and if that works, then try it a bit longer the next time. Find ways to make it fun for your entire household to give this the best shot at working.

Step it up: Commit to a full- or half-day energy break once a week.

Want more? On top of a weekly energy break, look around your house to find out how to make more impactful, longer-term changes to your home or your lifestyle. 

See the OSOF website to read how saving energy is good for the environment and the different things you can do to reduce your energy output.
 

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Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 

OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge for April

Written by Stephanie on April 1st, 2017.      0 comments

A new month, a new challenge with 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'. Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives. January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out, February was to drive less and March was to avoid microplastic and other chemicals in personal products.

This month's challenge takes place in our kitchens, to preserve some fresh, local produce for the depths of winter.  What a great idea!

preservesHere's What They Suggest:

Beginner: Just freeze something. This is the easiest way to preserve fresh foods. Make a basic freezer jam, or simply slice up some plums and pears and stash them away for a winter’s morning.

Step it up: Get preserving! Try out some pickles or jam through the links provided above and below.

Want more? Go crazy in the kitchen with jams, chutneys, sauces, kimchi and soups. How much can you preserve?

See the OSOF website to read how preserving is good for the environment, and find great recipes and ideas.

I recently froze some blueberries and raspberries ready for baking and smoothies and have been planning on making some kimchi and sauerkraut, so this will be a good excuse for me to get my act together!  If you have too much produce you can always swap with your friends. My dad has been giving some of he's bottled beetroot from his garden.  There's nothing like home preserves!  It taste so much better than canned food and it's better for the environment!


This challenge works in perfectly with Sweetree's photo competition!  Email us a photo you have taken of reused glass jars (not just Sweetree jars) being used creatively and you could be in to win $108 worth of goodies!  Show us your storage ideas, preserves, anything!
 

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Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 

'Bee Sweet and Reuse' Photo Competition!

Written by Stephanie on March 12th, 2017.      0 comments

When we were deciding how to package our honey it had to be glass.  It is so much more healthier, attractive and environmental friendly.  I came across this on Glass for Life facebook page which sums it up quite well - "People trust glass more than any other packaging material to protect the flavor and freshness of their food and drink. And for good reason. Glass is safe and healthy, pure and virtually inert. It’s made of natural ingredients—sand, limestone and soda ash. Glass is 100% recyclable and highly sustainable— unlike most other packaging materials, it can be recycled over and over. And glass says quality without even trying. Glass is life, for all the right reasons."

Lots of our customers reuse our honey jars for jams, chutneys, sauces and for storing items.  Any jars we get back I get together with the local Rural Women group and we make jam to give to the local food bank.  My pantry is full of them for nuts, seeds, etc.  What do you use empty glass jars for?
 

Competition Time!


We would love to see what people do with used glass jars so we have decided to run our photo competition again.  Email us a photo of glass jars (not just Sweetree jars) being used creatively and you could be in to win!  Show us your storage ideas, preserves, anything!

Please note the photos are not being judged on photographic ability but rather the original use of one of our empty honey jars!  You have plenty of time to be creative, the competition will close on 30th June!!

The best photo wins $108 worth of goodies - 500g Sweetree Kirikiriroa honey, the latest Good Magazine (will be Jul/Aug edition by then), Tui Sports massage & body balm & World Organic Luminous Rosehip & Orange Moisturiser.

Second best photos wins - World Organic Luminous Rosehip & Orange Moisturiser worth $48!

The first entry wins the latest Good Magazine!

 
Bee-Sweet-Reuse
 
Here's some ideas from our photographer, Claudia Aalderink who owns The Mandarin Tree art and concept store in Gordonton. There are more ideas on our Pinterest page and some coming on our Facebook page over the the next month or so.
 
bead-in-jar                pumice-in-jar
 
Bee-Sweetree-Reuse-Keepsakes  Bee-Sweetree-Reuse-Pencils

 
 

OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge for March

Written by Stephanie on March 1st, 2017.      0 comments

You may recall from a recent post that I'm trying a new challenge - 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'. Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health. It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives. January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out.  February's challenge was to drive less.  This month's challenge takes place in our bathrooms, to reduce our personal care product footprint.  The idea it to avoid microplastic and other chemicals in personal products.

microbeads-43

Here's What They Suggest:

Beginner:  Become an informed consumer. Read the back of your shampoo bottle and other personal care projects. Look for and learn about the chemicals listed above in their various forms. When it’s time to purchase more, choose a brand that is microplastic, paraben, phthalate, formaldehyde and palm oil free.

Check out the local natural skin care businesses I buy from - World Organics & Oasis Beauty , and of course other personal care products from EcoStore, EarthWise and Only Good.  Be aware of any over packaging, make sure they are recyclable.  I like that some Bin Inn stores sell EcoStore products in bulk to save on packaging!


Step it up:  Extend your scrutiny to other bathroom products including ensuring that all your cleaning products are microbead-free. You might also take a look at your choice of toilet paper and choose a 100% recycled brand such as Earthcare or recycled sugarcane fiber Greencane paper.

Want more?  Go cosmetics free! There are lots of ways to eliminate commercial personal care products from your life. Try washing hair with baking soda and conditioning with vinegar. Olive or coconut oil can be used as a face wash alternative. Do some research, get creative, and let us know what you find!  

Check out inspirational local websites such as Mrs Goodness and Wendyl's


 

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Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 

OSOF Sustainable Me Challenge!

Written by Stephanie on February 12th, 2017.      2 comments

You will have probably guessed by now, by reading previous posts, that we are passionate about sustaining our earth for future generations.  Martin's full time job is actually in energy management, helping large businesses reduce their energy consumption and look at alternative energy uses.  At home and in our honey business we have substantially reduced what we send to the landfill, we avoid over packaging, try to avoid one use plastic, buy bulk, reuse or recycle as much as we can and purchase locally as much as possible.  

All Sweetree honeys are packaged in glass jars, our propolis in glass bottles, we use paper bags instead of plastic at the markets and we are currently investigating compostable pouches for our bee pollen.  We still have lots of work to do but we are getting better!

I believe that if everyone just starts somewhere and does a little bit (e.g. saying no to supermarket plastic bags) it will make a big difference to the future of our earth.  It can be really hard to take on new behaviours and even harder with our busy lifestyles these days. I found it easier to start by following a few organised challenges like 'Plastic Free July' and 'Recycle Week', I just stared out small and now many of those behaviours that I found hard are now automatic.
 

New Challenge!

I've recently come across a new challenge which I'm keen to try.  It's called the 'OSOF (Our Seas Our Future) Sustainable Me Challenge'.  Each month this year we will be challenged to test out an environmentally friendly behaviour that in some way impacts ocean health.  It gives us the challenge to try something new for the month and decide if we want to adopt it more in our lives.  January's challenge was to stay away from one use plastic and styrofoam when eating out. The current February challenge is to drive less, this also coincides with Aotearoa Bike Challenge.  Driving less could be interesting for us considering we live on a busy rural road!  But I'm keen to think outside the square, one way I could drive less is to share with the neighbours in getting our kids to and from school.

OSOF say "Give it a go for one month and see if you like it.  If it’s something you can get on board with, great! Adopt it as part of your regular routine.  If it’s a behavior that doesn’t work for you, that’s ok.  After 12 months and 12 activities, you just might have a few new actions to add to your sustainability portfolio.  If possible, rope a couple of friends or family members into participating with you.  The more support you have, the more likely you are to keep up with the behaviours for a full month – enough time to decide whether or not it’s something you can take up for the long term."


Good luck and have fun!  Let us know how you get on!


Read more about the Sustainable Me Challenge
Find out about the January Challenge
Find out about the February Challenge
 

Check out the eco friendly items in our online store!
 
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