10 Easy Ways to Green Your Home

Keeping warm without the cost!

Keeping warm without the cost!

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the environmental challenges facing us. After all, things like climate change, global deforestation and the growing toxicity of our environment are daunting challenges. But, as Al Gore so eloquently puts it; ‘despair is another form of denial’. So, instead of despairingly sticking our heads in the sand, here are a few easy ways to make a big environmental difference

  1. Investigate your household energy options. Can you make the switch to renewables personally? Or can you negotiate with your energy provider to source a percentage of your electricity from green sources?
  2. Reduce your energy needs. Turn off the second fridge, make sure all appliances are working efficiently and turn off the dreaded standby!
  3. Change over to LED lightbulbs. Check out my post here on why changing lightbulbs may be one of the biggest things we can do to save the planet.
  4. Cold in winter? Don’t reach for the heater remote. Rug up with a jumper (or ski jacket as the occasion demands), and invite some friends over for dinner. The additional body heat will warm your house and lift your spirits!
  5. Leave shoes at the door. Let’s be clear, your shoes will accumulate toxins as you are out exploring the world. If you don’t want to be bringing nasties onto the carpets that your children crawl on, simply kick your shoes off at the exit.
  6. While on the subject of toxins, take a look at your cleaning regime. If the thought of your toddler accessing your cleaning chemicals fills you with dread, perhaps its time to switch to natural alternatives. Lemon, white vinegar, bi-carb soda and essential oils are sufficient to combat most household mess. Easier on the hip pocket, and it may just save you a few phone calls to the poison information centre! Check out the wonderful Laura over at Sustainababy for advice on how to make your cleaning regime better for your family and the environment.
  7. Hit the footpath. Next time you need to head to the shops, leave the car at home and walk or cycle. You’ll get a rush of endorphins and your car won’t be chewing up non-renewable resources or emitting carbon dioxide.
  8. Take part in an environmental challenge. If you’re in need of a bit more inspiration and motivation, try participating in Plastic Free July, or Buy Nothing New October. If you’re in need of an even bigger challenge, try buying nothing new for a YEAR, like the amazing Fearse Family.
  9. Source fresh produce locally. Visit your local farmers markets or investigate a grocery box scheme. You’ll save money and save the environment through the reduction of food miles.
  10. Checkmate! Instead of snuggling up to watch TV with your partner, why not break out the chessboard or even a deck of cards. You’ll reduce your energy use, not be bombarded with advertising and may even discover a whole new side to each other!
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Survive & Thrive with 2 under 2

Yay! It’s great to be back, and I’m so sorry to anyone who has missed me. A new baby, massive computer meltdown and university assessments put the stoppers on blogging for a few weeks!

There are lots of tips out there for new parents, most starting with ‘enlist support’. Great advice, and I’m sure having a supportive network around is wonderful, but what if it’s not an option?

I’m the proud Mumma of two beautiful girls (aged 21months and 5 weeks), living in an isolated area in outback Western Australia. Our nearest family is over 600km away, we have very few friends in the area and my husband works 14hr days, including a week of nights every month. As a result, I’ve learnt a few little lessons in how to not only survive, but thrive with two children under the age of two.

Get Dressed
I’m going to buck with the prevailing theory on this one and argue that it is absolutely vital for you to get out of your pyjamas (and make the bed) each and every morning. Sure, you may have had a rotten sleep, have no plans to leave the house and let’s face it, anyone who judges a new Mum for being in their jarmies is not worthy of your time anyway, but getting dressed is the single best thing you can do to start your day on a positive note. No-one feels great being in their PJs at 1pm!

Take care of you
(Did I just quote Pretty Woman? Shame!)
Unwashed hair? Dodgy toenails? Haven’t shaved your legs in six weeks? I get it, you’re exhausted (as someone who accidently wore their underwear inside out all day today, I understand exhaustion). However, rather than slumping on the couch when you finally get munchkins to bed, try to spend 5-10 minutes taking care of you. Relax in the shower and tidy up those toenails. You’ll feel so much better!

Take care of you (part two)
Return to gentle exercise as soon as you are physically able. Now is not the time to start training for a marathon, but a gentle yoga workout or a walk with the pram will do wonders for your mental and physical health. *Always check with your doctor before returning to exercise after childbirth.

Reset to zero
Each and every night, reset your house to zero. Toys away, dishes away, sinks and benches wiped, clean washing away and (if you have the energy) floors swept. It’s not always easy, particularly when one child is refusing to go to sleep and the other is experiencing the dreaded witching hour, but it’s SO worth it in the morning.

Embrace the Nanna Nap
Hopefully you mastered the art of a good Nanna Nap when your first child was born. If not, now is the time to start. If your eldest still has an afternoon nap, forget the housework and put those feet up.

Invest in a sling
A good quality, comfortable sling is an absolute godsend when your hands are full with a toddler. Your baby can snuggle in comfort (and even breastfeed if you’re really clever), while you play outside, go for a walk or even do housework.

Have less
It’s a really simple equation. The less stuff that you own, the less time you have to spend taking care of it, leaving you with more time to enjoy your cheeky toddler and beautiful new bundle of joy.

Enjoy
Your children will not always be this small. Take the time to cherish your toddler’s quirks and just sit and marvel at your baby.

Nesting – The Ultimate Excuse for a Good Declutter

Let’s face it; pregnancy can at times feel like a period of temporary insanity. Rioting hormones, a rapidly changing body and bizarre cravings can all contribute to making you feel slightly insane.

Weirdly, even if you are generally not a neat freak, those marvellous hormones and the sense of impending motherhood may result in the urge to clean, paint, tidy and otherwise prepare your nest.

If this sounds like you, fantastic! Take advantage of your natural instincts to give you a great head start on decluttering the nest in anticipation of your new arrival.

• Work in short bursts. This is particularly important during the first and third trimesters when you are more likely to tire easily. Tackle only one small area at a time to prevent yourself getting exhausted.

• Enlist support. Moving furniture and lifting heavy items are not something that a pregnant woman should be doing. Enlist the help of your partner to deal with anything heavy.

• Don’t fall for the ‘just in case’ trap. Babies need less than most new parents think. Check out this list of Essential Items for a Happy Mum and Baby

• Dispose of excess wisely. Nesting is an excuse for decluttering, NOT for overfilling your rubbish bins. Be thoughtful about where your excess goes; can it be donated, given to friends / family or even sold?

• When in doubt – box away. If you are indecisive about an item, box it up and mark it for 6 weeks after your due date. Put the box out of sight and if unopened by the marked date, give it away. (Obviously this doesn’t apply for clothes that your baby will grow into – they can stay!)

• Simple question, simple answer. If you find yourself struggling to declutter ‘stuff’, ask yourself one very simple question. Would you rather clean / tidy / organise this item or cuddle your newborn? Time is finite, use it wisely!

Welcoming a new baby into your home can be a joyous and momentous occasion. It can also be blo*dy exhausting (hello sleep deprivation). Housework will often take a back seat for at least a few weeks. Make your own life as simple as possible by getting stuck into some decluttering now. You’ll thank yourself later!

P.S – Congratulations!

Hosting a green baby shower!

So, there’s a new baby coming into your life soon? Congratulations, this is such an exciting time for everyone involved! Regardless of whether you are throwing a baby shower for yourself or a friend, here are some great ideas to a simpler, greener and more sustainable baby shower.

Planning

• Reduce paper waste by using recycled paper for the invitations, or better yet – get creative on the computer and send via email. (You could even create a Facebook event, but I’d prefer to be a little more personal!)

• If the weather is suitable, opt for an outside venue such as a park or garden. No electricity required!

• Ditch the balloons, streamers and cheap plastic banners. Either make decorations yourself out of recycled materials or take the simpler option with some gorgeous plants and native flowers.

• Consider the environment when making catering choices. If on a budget, ask everyone to bring a plate of homemade treats, or if there is a little more cash to spend – opt for delicious local produce.

What to Buy
• If you’re throwing a shower for a friend, chat to the expectant Mummy about what they actually need.

• If you’re the one expecting, don’t be shy about letting people know what you need. Baby gifts are given with the intent of being helpful so your friends won’t be offended!

• Challenge people to come up with homemade or recycled gifts (check out this list of green baby shower gift ideas)

Green Baby Shower Gifts

• Service Vouchers – treat the expectant Mummy to a facial, massage or other beauty treatment.

• Homemade coupons – These are some of the most useful and underrated gifts around! Offer to prepare dinner once a week for a month after baby arrives, design a coupon for a freezer full of baked goodies, or line yourself up as the new dog walker! If there are already other children in the family, offer your services as a baby sitter.

• Weekend away for the expectant couple

• A treasured book from your own childhood

• A gift membership – La Leche League, the Australian Breastfeeding Association or even the local toy library

• Charity Pledges – Something as simple as the gift of ‘Maternal Health Care’ (offered by World Vision) may be perfect for the expectant Mum that already has everything. Alternatively, make a pledge to the expectant parent’s preferred charity in the name of their new baby.

• If you simply must buy something new, check out the Australian made Nurture sling. It’s made from organic cotton, without the aid of sweatshops and is absolutely beautiful. (This is not an affiliate link, I just really love the product)

Baby showers can be lots of fun for all involved. Hopefully the above examples show that with just a little bit of planning, they can also be environmentally friendly!

The Green Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is a truly miraculous time. It can be sickening, joyous, frightening, exhilarating, exhausting and confronting – sometimes all at once.

There is a lot to organise, particularly if this is your first pregnancy. Maternity leave, paid parental leave / baby bonus, setting up the nursery, planning a single income budget and preparing for birth (and beyond) can all take up your time and limited energy. There are few things that compare to the soul destroying, bone crunching levels of exhaustion that a busy pregnant woman may encounter, particularly in the first and third trimesters.

However, in addition to the delights of folding tiny socks and painting the nursery, pregnancy also offers a unique opportunity for reflection and deep rooted change. Let’s face it, you’re about to bring a little person into this world! (Sorry, I know that it’s a scary realisation) From now on, every decision that you make will have some degree of impact on their lives, so why not try to give them the greenest and healthiest start possible?

Expectant parents (particularly first time round) are easy prey for the advertising machine. After all, we all want our children to ‘have the best’ and somehow this has come to mean loads of plastic toys, designer prams and mountains of dummies.

What if we could turn this around? What if we were to recognise that giving our children ‘the best’ may mean giving them less and instead reducing their exposure to toxins, supporting a world without sweatshops and reducing waste?

It’s a radical and challenging thought, particularly for those of us that have been led to believe that more is always better.

Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond – The simple, sustainable way!
• Ignore the commercial must buy lists – Ask a trusted friend or family member what their essential baby items were and make sure that you check out my ‘Essential Lists for a Happy Mum and Baby’.

• Stay fit and healthy with regular gentle exercise such as pregnancy yoga, walking and swimming. As a general rule of thumb, the more positive and healthy you feel, the less inclined you will be to overindulge in unhealthy foods and excessive shopping. As an added bonus, staying fit will reduce the amount of maternity clothes that you need to buy!

• Source baby and maternity wear second hand – Check out Freecycle, Craigslist, Gumtree or your local Buy, Swap and Sell Facebook page for barely used baby goods and maternity wear. Remember that babies grow incredibly quickly and maternity is fleeting so items purchased second hand are unlikely to have experienced a lot of wear.

• Refresh your beauty routine – Take 15 minutes to do a stocktake of your beauty and make-up cabinets. Read the ingredients on your shampoos, body scrubs and makeup. Remember that your skin is your largest organ and everything that you put on it will be absorbed into your body. Are you happy for to be exposing your baby to ingredients that you can’t pronounce?

• Declutter the house – Many pregnant women experience a ‘nesting’ type instinct before the arrival of a new baby. Take advantage of it to do some serious decluttering of your house and reduce your work load before the new baby arrives. (Nesting – the ultimate excuse for a good clean out)

• Reduce your toxins – A 2012 study by Edith Cowan University in Western Australia found that 84% of pregnant women have detectable amounts of BPA in their urine. Bisphenol A is commonly found in plastic and cans and research has shown that prenatal exposure can lead to adverse behavioural outcomes, has potential links to miscarriage (yet to be peer reviewed) and may interfere with hormonal development. Scary stuff and this is just ONE of the thousands of toxins that we regularly expose ourselves to. Take your own (BPA free) water bottle and opt for glass over plastic or tins wherever possible.

• Opt for services to make yourself feel good – When it comes to the ecological impact of our actions, few things make a bigger difference than opting for services over products. Rather than a shopping spree, indulge in a massage (ensure your practitioner is qualified for pregnancy massage), a new hair-cut, a facial or even a pedicure.

• Get in the habit of opting for fresh, organic and healthy food – Use pregnancy as an opportunity to take a good look at your diet, not as an excuse to eat anything and everything! Grilling an organic free range chicken breast and throwing together a quick garden salad is almost as quick as picking up take-away and SO much tastier!

• Baby shower – I tend to think that Baby Showers are a bit unnecessary, but if you and your friends are keen on having one, check out these tips on making your baby shower more sustainable and preventing a mountain of wrapping paper, soft toys and excess plastic!

 

Why this farm girl is voting Green…

Apologies to any of my lovely followers that are based overseas, but today’s post has a local flavour. There is a bee in my bonnet and I simply have to get it out…

It is time for a confession that may well get me shot by my family or at the very least disinherited.

*Deep breath. Last will and testament in order… Check*

At the last Australian Federal Election, I voted for the Australian Greens. To make matters worse, upon hearing that Western Australia will in all likelihood going back to the polls owing to some ‘lost’ ballot papers leading to confusion over who was victorious in the Senate (don’t ask), I contacted the Greens and volunteered my time to help get them over the line in this election.

Forget money, forget managed funds or property portfolios – I personally believe that TIME is the most precious asset that we have. So why on earth would I be volunteering to support a party that I’m not 100% convinced by with the most precious asset that I have?

The answer is simple. I agree with The Greens on the issues that matter most.

As an Australian I’m angry that the Abbott Government has cut foreign aid and removed poverty alleviation from the list of international aid objectives. Despite appearances, we are not a purely self-interested nation, willing to help others only if there is a measurable benefit to our trade balance.

As a Mum, I’m horrified that my children’s future is being jeopardised by politicians sticking their heads in the sand over climate change. (For an unbiased and purely factual view of Australia’s changing climate, check out this video from the Bureau of Meteorology).

And finally, as a human being, I am appalled and disgraced by the attempts of the current Australian Government to portray asylum seekers as criminals, despite their legal rights to seek asylum.

Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with The Greens on some issues in the agricultural sector, but it has come down to a simple choice of choosing policies that support people’s lives, or choosing policies that support livelihoods. At the end of the day, which is more important?

In Australia we are blessed. Despite my joking at the outset of this post, our political views are unlikely to get us shot (just don’t tell my family). We each have the power, and the right to make our voices heard, and most importantly we have the freedom to choose who we vote for at each and every election.

So, if you are Western Australian like me and are heading back to the polls soon, ask yourself one very simple question. Where does this party stand on the issues that matter to me?

As a former rusted on Nationals / Liberals voter (I’m a farm girl ok, forgive me), I can guarantee that this one simple question may change your mind AND your vote.

P.S – Congratulations and thank you if you made it to the end!

xoxo