It’s Easy Being Green

I have been asked to write a newsletter article on sustainability for a childcare group- Little Peoples – that have facilities all around NSW. Great to see organisations interested in incorporating green and sustainable ideas into their policies and resources. Nice work Little Peoples! Thought I’d share the short article here as well.

It’s Easy Being Green

Daydreaming about our children’s future is a treasured pastime of all parents. What kind of adult will they be? What role in society will they play? What will make them happy? And will they come and visit me?!  I also wonder about the type of world that they’ll be living in when they’re adults. For me, being ‘sustainable’ is all about the kind of planet we are leaving for our children and grandchildren…. And I’m excited!

As I read books to my children about the importance of recycling, endangered species or explain to them why we aren’t going to buy the coolest Ben 10 plastic toothbrush they’ve ever seen, I look forward to the day when all the toothbrush options are compostable, when all the cleaning products are eco-friendly and when the concept of landfill and non-renewable energy will be in my grandchildren’s storybooks – reminding them of our wayward past.

Why am I excited?  Because I no longer need to daydream. Our society has all the answers and options for living sustainably for our planet and we can do it affordably and without giving up life’s luxuries.

 

If you are interested in making your environmental footprint, and those of your children, smaller – then here are a few easy steps to get you going in the right direction.

*Follow the 3Rs. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce the amount of ‘things’ you buy. Reuse things you do buy – eg. Food jars into storage containers or vases, used pallets into tables, beds, fences, compost bins etc, etc. And anything you can’t find a new use for, recycle it.

*When you buy, look for eco-friendly options. Eg. Cleaning products, clothing, sustainable timbers, eco-paint, second-hand goods.

*Compost

*Grow your own ORGANIC fruit and vegetables.

*Energy use – try and minimise consumption as much as possible. Turn the heater down, use fans not air-con, hang out your washing to dry rather than using a dryer, turn off the lights. Opt to buy ‘green power’, put up solar panels or solar hot water. Or, do as my husband is doing, build your own solar heater to warm up your house for free!

*Offset some of the ‘footprint’ you are leaving by planting trees. Trees soak up lots of carbon dioxide – great in the battle against global warming.

*Buying for kids. Yep, kids are expensive, but let’s not make them cost the earth as well. Buy biodegradable disposable nappies and wipes (normal disposables take 500 – 600 years to break down), buy compostable toothbrushes. And I know it’s hard, buy TRY and avoid plastic!! There are many beautiful and educational toys out there made of wood or recycled materials!

 

There are so many ways that we can all make a positive impact on the future of this planet, and with so many people wanting the best possible future for their children, I have no doubt the future is clean and green!

 

 

Beauty Products

I find beauty product advertising totally bamboozling! I’d like to think I’m bright enough not to be duped by the promises of winding clocks back or that a simple wipe of a cream will have me looking 20 again… but really… why would they need to advertise if they could do that???!!!  I’d love to say that as I wouldn’t take back a second of my life, then I love all the lines my life has worked hard at… but I’m human… so I can’t! What I can do is start to educate myself on what I choose to put on my skin and on that of my children. Realistically you’d have to be a chemist to work out those ingredients lists, so I’ve resorted to reading studies (that I hope HAVE been done by chemists!!). It seems there are some really nasty chemicals being mixed into products we slather all over our bodies on a daily basis. According to the Environmental Working Group (a nonprofit group – www.ewg.org) only 11% of 10,500 ingredients in beauty products have been tested for safety.  So it seems we should be wary of many ingredients, but a few that you may have  been made aware of through labels often claiming they are FREE of these chemicals are: Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Lauryl Ethen Sulfate (SLES)… so, what are they? Well… here is a little background…

 

Parabens are chemical preservatives that have been identified as estrogenic and disruptive of normal hormone function. Estrogenic chemicals mimic the function of the naturally occurring hormone estrogen, and exposure to external estrogens has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.

Pthalates are synthetic chemicals known to cause birth defects and lifelong reproductive impairment in lab animals exposed during pregnancy and after birth. They are also hormone mimicking chemcials, many of which disrupt normal hormone processes, raising concerns about implications for increased breast cancer risk.

SLS and SLES – a foaming agent derived from coconut oil. Used in toothpasted, shampoo, bubble bath and soap. Proven skin irritant but could also be carcinogenic.  (Sophie Uliano – Gorgeously Green).

 

So…. I’m doing my best to buy products that are healthier for me, and the environment…. cause all these toxins head down our sinks. And guess what…. a lot of the time these products are CHEAPER than what I was buying before!!

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How to give, without giving the earth.

I love giving gifts, but it is easy to get caught up in the commercial world of spending without thinking. Not only do I think it important that I think about what the person might actually want, but also what impact that gift will have on the environment.
I try, I don’t always succeed, sometimes lured by something gorgeous or something easily accessible…. but I’m getting stronger because I know there are so many wonderful GREEN options out there.

Here are some gifts I wrapped up this week for two special people in my life. For one gift  I purchased a $1 frame from a secondhand shop and created my own bit of art on recycled paper…  a 100% recycled notebook … an eco cloth bag.  I usually make my own cards, but have a stash of recycled / eco friendly bought cards if I run out of time and a birthday is looming. I then get to the really exciting bit, wrapping. I love making gifts look beautiful, and through using recycled paper, natural hemp and cotton twines and scrap paper etc, I hope I show my recipient that I care about them, but I also care that their gift will be kind to the planet too.

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As for kids toys / gifts, there are SO many educational, beautiful, earth friendly and child friendly products out there.

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DIY herb tags

A little craftiness of the “three R” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) variety.

This project is a cheap/free way of beautifying your veggie patch or herb pots, and also saves some plastic from the recycling bin!

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Chop up some plastic containers into flat sections  – whatever size /shape takes your fancy.

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Give one side of the flat section two coats of blackboard paint (wear gloves… it’s is REALLY hard to get off your hands!!!)

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Once paint is dry you can glue (use a wood glue or the like) sticks (I used old ice-block sticks) to the back.

Now you can write / draw on your mini signs…. you can use normal chalk, or a chalkboard pen if you’re wanting it to be a bit more permanent.

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You’ll see these little gems pop up in a project I’m working on at the moment – post to come soon. You could also use these as name tags for dinner parties (perhaps without the sticks), for labeling gifts…. LOTS of possibilities.

BEE Beautiful!

Aren’t these sandals gorgeous… and they come in all sorts of delicious shades. But there is more… these are GORGEOUSLY GREEN! Not only are they made from recycled rubber by an Australian company (My Honeybees www.myhoneybees.com.au), but the company donates $2 from every pair sold to CSIRO scientist Dr Denis Anderson’s Bees Downunder Foundation (www.beesdownunder.com). There is a reported global decline in honeybees and the thinking is that without honeybees we would all starve within 5 years. So, Dr Anderson’s mission is to ensure sustainable health for Australian honeybees. A worthwhile cause I thought AND I get to wear one pair of these stunning sandals. The other lucky recipient is… well that’s a secret for now!

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