Like many people in their 20s music festivals and gigs made up a big part of my social life. Music festivals and gigs is unquestionably an area where waste is at a peak. I've danced in front of stages on top of forgotten plastic cups, each bounce breaking the material into smaller and smaller pieces. I've stood next to bins trying to find my friends, paying no attention to the fact the bin is actually so full its now spilling out and being blown around the site. Tents have been purchased for music festivals with no intention of taking them home because I assumed someone would collect the tent for someone in need and I could buy another one for at low discounted price. In reality the tent went to landfill. Enticing people into making sustainable choices requires not just education but also providing the means to do so right under their noses until it becomes normal. I remember being at the Australian music festival Homebake in 2007 where festival goers were given 50c off each drink they purchased in exchange for an empty aluminium can they brought back with them to the bar. Needless to say everyone was pouncing on cans wherever you could find them, with people going through the bins to get that discount off their next drink. Providing a cash for container scheme resulted in the festival space staying relatively clean compared to others I've attended. Had this incentive not been provided I doubt any of us would have paid much attention to the cans littering the grass, shoved between tents, piling next to bins.
Last year I read an article on Rolling Stone's website about plastic and waste at music festivals. The story opened with the not so shocking statistic of waste created by each festival attendee attending Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival hovered at 15 pounds (6.8kg per person for those of us from a metric measuring country). Here is a link if you'd like to read the original story. This 15 pounds is almost double that of the daily US average.
Artists have the power to use their talents and platforms to help shift change. A singer standing up on stage telling us to use less plastic and save the oceans is great, but really the idea doesn't float well if the event itself sells plastic water bottles and doesn't encourage the audience to bring your own for refills. This is where Green Music Australia come in, by helping musicians turn their events into more sustainable experiences.
As part of my Changemakers series I invited Tim Hollo founder of Green Music Australia to talk about the need to green up the music industry and how they are helping to do this.
What is Green Music Australia about? Green Music Australia is about harnessing the cultural power of musicians to lead the way to a greener world. We believe that we musicians have a hugely important role to play in influencing people - from the clothes we wear to the food we eat to the words we use, people follow our lead. And we have a responsibility to use that for good, and lead the way out of environmental crises towards a better way of living, in harmony with nature. We run campaigns on issues such as climate change and plastic waste; we work with musicians, festivals and others to help them reduce their impact; and we support musicians to be advocates for change.
What inspired you to create tools to help musicians and the music industry reduce their environmental impact? As a musician and an environmentalist, I was getting increasingly frustrated that our music scene, even though it's full of forward thinking, thoughtful people, has this outsized environmental footprint. A few individuals have been doing great things for a long time, but the bulk of the scene wasn't moving. It was time for someone to do something to get that action out across the industry.
Do you think the music scene in Australia is wasteful? How do you think this could change? Absolutely. You only have to turn up at a music festival in the evening and see the sea of rubbish to realise how much waste we're responsible for. Or look on the road outside an inner city venue. We go through a huge amount of single use plastic, which is so easy to stop, with a bit of forethought and planning. Disposable stuff is such a new invention! There's really no reason why we can't go back to reusable cups, plates, cutlery and bottles, like everyone used to! Yes, it takes a bit of thought, but that's why Green Music is here to help!
Have there been many challenges engaging with musicians or other parts of the music business? The biggest challenge is people thinking it's too difficult. Everyone we talk to wants to do it! But everyone is also so busy, and so close to the edge financially, that they don't want other things to think about. Our challenge is to get them to see how important it is, and to provide solutions to make it easy.
I've been to festivals in the past and seen (...and probably contributed) to the plastic bottle waste left behind at the end. Tell us about your BYO bottle campaign and where this is at. BYOBottle is working to get the music scene to ditch disposables, move to reusables, and stop the enormous stream of plastic waste coming from the music scene. We work with musicians as ambassadors - committing to not using single use plastic bottles themselves and telling venues and festivals they play at that they want jugs or refilling stations made available. And we also work directly with festivals and venues, supporting them to make the change. We've worked with festivals across the country, from Illawarra to Cygnet, from Woodford to WOMADelaide, and the list is growing!
We musicians have a hugely important role to play in influencing people - from the clothes we wear to the food we eat to the words we use, people follow our lead. And we have a responsibility to use that for good, and lead the way out of environmental crises towards a better way of living, in harmony with nature.
What would be your advice on reducing environmental impact for people attending gigs and festivals? Two simple steps - bring your own bottle (check if metal is allowed and, if not, make sure you bring a reusable plastic one), and either ride your bike, take public transport or at least car pool! Those are by far the best things you can do. If you want to take it a step further, get in touch with the festival and ask them what they're doing to reduce their environmental impact - it's pressure from the punters, more than anything else, that will make them move! And, if you're super keen, get in touch with us to see if there's an opportunity to volunteer at the festival!
Describe your ideal sustainable music festival? How would it work? A truly green music festival (and there are a few around the world), would be 100% powered by clean, renewable energy. Ideally some of that would be on site, like solar panels on stages, and dance floors which use the energy of crowds jumping up and down to power the lights! It would also use no single use plastics at all, making sure that all drinks are served in reusable cups or bottles, and food on reusable plates with reusable cutlery. These can easily be collected, washed, and returned to use quickly, with on site dishwashing. It would, of course, have plenty of water refilling stations around the site, well-sign-posted, because it wouldn't sell any bottled water. And it would encourage all punters and artists to bring their own bottles. And it would make sure that public transport is freely available to punters to use, and provide a cycle valet service to encourage people to ride there, if possible. It would also use green composting toilets, compost all food waste, and separate any rubbish that remains from recycling.
What plans does Green Music Australia have for the future? There are a few ideas in the pipeline, but we need more resources before we can think about expanding! At this stage, we are planning on pumping along with the waste campaign! If you had a moment in an elevator and could tell people just one thing, what would it be? Every single one of us is a citizen of this planet. Every single one of us has a responsibility to act to protect the natural world we are part of. And we musicians have an especially important role. It's time we took that seriously, and led the way to a greener world.
I've gone back and fourth on writing this blog post. In the space of six months I received over 200 emails asking the question how to “do” a zero waste and plastic-free pregnancy. Gosh, what a loaded question! And one I was unsure how to answer properly.
With pregnancy well and truly over, I can now identify the three possible areas where plastic is used and how waste could be made and avoided. The areas are:
Making the choice to say no to plastic and waste in any scenario comes down to two main factors; circumstance and knowledge. Our circumstances involve things like health, location, financial, support. A lack of knowledge will inhibit awareness around options available. If we don't know how to do something differently, it can be harder to make a change. For example, my health and my unborn child's health during pregnancy made it difficult to allow for a waste free birth. Since I did not have enough knowledge of pregnancy or birth without modern intervention, I felt limited and slightly overwhelmed also.
So if you were unbound by the limitations of circumstance and had comfortable knowledge, plus time to gain it, avoid waste in these three areas is achieveable.
Continue to shop in the same zero waste style you already are. Reuse containers, bags and bottles at bulk stores or co-ops, delis, bakeries, fruit and veg markets.
Instead of a plastic pregnancy test trust your body to follow these pregnancy signs
Refuse or reduce the amount tests needed during the pregnancy (blood tests and ultrasounds)
Refuse pregnancy multivitamins
Refuse or limit medical intervention through home birth, consulting with a midwife, doula or obstetrician
Borrow or buy second hand maternity wear
Hold onto clothes already in the wardrobe until to uncomfortable for wear
Look for secondhand or borrow maternity bras (if needed early)
All of the above are possible. So why did I, this so called zero waste expert, not have a zero waste pregnancy? A lack of knowledge in alternatives an awareness to the amount of waste, lack of preparedness as I had not expected to become pregnant so quickly, and lastly the circumstance of my health and baby's made some choices harder. So if you came here to read about my zero waste pregnancy, sorry wrong blog. But if you'd like to read about where waste was created and the plastic used in my own pregnancy to better prepare you, then please keep reading.
The day before our honeymoon began I had spotting (bleeding), one of our bodies many ways of announcing “you're pregnant.” We had only started trying a month prior, the possibility of being pregnant didn't seem possible. Plus, we were about to leave for our three week romantic honeymoon visiting London, Norway, South-West France for a friends wedding, hiking in Corsica and relaxing in Sardinia.
I could have trusted my intuition, waiting until we returned to Australia for the standard blood tests which would confirm my pregnancy, but excitement got the better of me. We arrived in London early in the morning and all I could think of was getting to Aldgate East tube station and finding a Boots or Superdrug to buy a pregnancy test before we thought of checking into the hotel.
The little plastic test was positive. We were having a baby. The Builder jokingly asked if i'd take the pregnancy tests home for my waste jar. I decided against carrying a stick covered in pee home. C'mon...
I did recycle the box.
The first two weeks following the pregnancy test were normal. We continued on our honeymoon, incorporating the usual zero waste and plastic-free habits that we have at home and on all our other holidays abroad. Travelling zero waste in Europe is easy, especially France.
By the final week of our honeymoon everything changed. Morning sickness announced itself rudely. With nothing staying down I dreaded breakfast, lunch and dinner. Water came back up. We scrolled lists of morning sickness blog posts reading cures upon cures. Many of them unappealing and often made me dry retch.
At home we would have been able to collect some of the more palatable options zero waste and plastic-free. But we were not at home. We were in a small town on the island of Sardinia, our grasp of the local language hovering between OK and pathetic. The only way of buying ginger was to choose the stuff covered in sugar, wrapped in plastic packaging. Seriously no fresh ginger. Anywhere. So we gave in. The plastic bag came home for us to drop at RedCycle, with most of the sweet ginger inside. It did nothing for my morning sickness.
Tap water in my reusable bottle was begrudgingly swapped for soda water in plastic bottles. The fizz for some reason helped keep fluid down. With temperatures hovering around 35 degrees, I needed to stay hydrated. I became the person we so often scoff at for carrying an armful of plastic bottles out of the store.
We recycled the bottles (sooo many bottles).
As for food, well lucky the Sardinians love their bread or I don't know what I would have eaten. While the Builder enjoyed his Mediterranean feasts, I ate the bread basket. In a panic the Builder bought pregnancy multivitamins thinking the baby was getting no nutrients from all the pane carasau (a wafer thin flat bread popular in Sardinia, resembling a giant water cracker). Another plastic bottle to recycle. The first three months, typically the time a woman suffers morning sickness, is when eating only bread is acceptable. The body will suck any stored nutrients and feed to baby. Something we did not find out until returning home. If we knew this we would have said no to the multivitamins. When we have the right information, we can make smarter decisions, but if we don't then the decisions can be skewed.
By this stage I wanted desperately to be home
You may or may not have seen a little video posted via social media on how easy flying zero waste is. Well, it was easy going to Europe. The flight back to Melbourne was hell. All the food we had bought with us made me sick. I even told the Builder to leave me in Dubai. I'd rent a hotel room for nine months, have the baby and fly home. It took a visit to the Dubai Airport Medical Centre and some medication to get me onto the final leg home.
You know those little biscuit packs often found on planes or at work conferences, the ones with two inside...I ate those from Rome to Dubai, Dubai to Melbourne. Plus those cardboardy bread rolls wrapped in plastic. Oh, and more fizzy water. Every bit of plastic packaging was hoarded and dropped at RedCycle. If I had been stopped at immigration there is not doubt they wold have asked why I had bags of plastic.
I arrived home feeling crumbled. How could something so small be doing this? I closed the blinds and crawled into bed for two weeks, the plastic packaged bread and biscuits were swapped for our usual unpackaged sourdough, covered in lashing of honey or peanut butter or Aussiemite. I tried fresh ginger tea with no avail. The magic of fizzy water stopped working, instead swapped for cans of coconut water.
We recycled the cans (sooo many cans).
Eventually my hormones settled enough for me to function and I was able to visit the doctor to have the usual blood tests to make sure my body was doing OK. I was advised to take a mutlivitamin, B6 to help with nausea and then later found out my thyroid was not functioning meaning I had to take a tablet for this also.
I started to feel a bit helpless - I had used a fair amount of plastic in such a short period of time. I got use to the constant nausea which stuck with me until I gave birth. Bread was replaced with normal food, my cans of coconut water swapped for a pregnancy tea brewed cold. I could not stand hot drinks. This magnesium oil got me through the last three months.
I've never been anti-plastic, simply anti it's misuse. The plastic I used during the first three months was mostly food related and the rest thereafter was for blood tests, ultrasounds and CTGs. In Australia women have two-three routine ultrasounds and two blood tests. If the situation requires monitoring, doctors and midwives recommend more. As the patient we are always in charge and can refuse. I however didn't. My obstetrician recommended further monitoring cautious our baby had IGUR. My uterus was never growing the size it should. All was well in the end, I was carrying 'neat' (neat means the baby was growing more inside my body than outside). I chose to trust my doctor and follow his lead. I knew in my heart he would not have sent me for extra tests if they were not needed as they were stressful and scary. Also, this was my first pregnancy. I didn't know what to expect and I don't think anyone expects the possibility of complications or suffering nausea for nine months. My motto for this lifestyle is 'do the best you can, with what you've got, where you are.'
I guess the point of this blog post is to emphasise there may be moments in life where we will make choices requiring plastic or where we'll make rubbish. I would have loved to have used less plastic and made less waste. A home birth sounded like magic but I was not confident enough to commit. It can be hard to make decisions when some of us have never tried something momentous like birth. With the knowledge I have gained my next pregnancy could be zero waste as I'll have the experience and knowledge to be prepared.
The main reason I struggled to write something about my pregnancy was a fear i'd make anyone feel they had failed living zero waste had they created rubbish. This is not a “10 ways to reduce your rubbish etc” post. It's a story about my pregnancy. Is it possible to have a zero waste and plastic-free pregnancy? Absolutely! There are many MANY women who do. I didn't. But I tried where I could.
Another reason I hesitated writing this was because I suffered feelings of inadequacy from reading posts on “how to do pregnancy” or “what to eat for pregnancy” etc. I didn't ever want to make anyone feel this way when reading my blog. I can imagine the authors of those blog posts never intended to make a reader feel like they were not measuring up, they were simply sharing their own thoughts, hoping to help another woman. Pregnancy has the potential to create so much rubbish, the last thing I wanted to do was make anyone feel bad if they did. It took me a while to listen to the advice I give others when reading about living zero waste and this is to take the tips and apply them in your own way, and never compare yourself. Be flexible, stay patient and try your best. Not one pregnancy is the same as another. And always be kind to yourself and bub.
Late last year I was asked by a blog reader to share the Builder's journey to plastic-free and zero waste living. While I tried to give my best response on his behalf it did not feel right to tell his own story for him. I floated the idea for a interview style blog post on Instagram. It was met with a lot of enthusiasm and eager questions from you all. He said yes. Each of the questions below came from you, the readers. I was surprised to hear some of the responses from him.
For new readers, my husband is referred to as the Builder throughout the blog. This is his trade. He ticks some of the stereotypes us Aussies associate with tradies; drives a ute, wears flannel and loves the footy. Living a plastic-free and zero waste life is not something one would apply to a man working in the construction industry. Hopefully his story will prove there is no eco greenie stereotype. Because you would not catch my husband in the bush hugging some tree. At least not sober...
I'll pass it over to the Builder to answer your plastic-free and zero waste questions... I completed my first Plastic-Free July in 2013. Two months later we moved in together. By this stage, I had decided to live plastic-free but had been doing it in my own home. What was it like at the start for you? Was my lifestyle change difficult for you to accept when I was living it under the same roof as you? Do you want to know the truth? I thought this woman is crazy! Kidding. I thought it was OK, but it was a bit too much for me at the start. It felt like everything took so long. There was a bit of work involved, especially for someone who was not eco mined I suppose. It was a struggle. But once I had the habits and new systems in place it became much easier.
What was the catalyst that made you want to follow along? What clicked?
Like you, it was also a movie. You were settling in to watch the film 'Bag It' and asked if I’d like to watch it as the movie might give some perspective on why you became this crazy plastic-free person. I was alarmed by all the health concerns like BPA and what they could do. I had no idea these existed! A movie is a good way to help explain a big issue like how harmful plastic is.
Have you ever felt like I've forced any of my own changes on you? Does it feel like you've made decisions to reduce waste on your own or are you following what I do?
I don't feel like you have ever forced it on me. I've always had an option to say no and you made this clear from day one. At the start I followed your lead, but only because you were doing the research and could answer any questions I had. Now I have my own systems in place to suit me at home and on my worksite. When I got to the football, beer is served in a plastic cup and not once have you made me feel bad or guilty for purchasing them. They recycle the cup! But a beer at the footy is a vice and I choose it. I think you need to give each person their space and allow them to decide what they'll give up because it can be hard for some and easier for others.
What did you think of plastic-free living before you jumped on board?
I thought it would bottle-neck my life and slow it down, stopping me from getting stuff done. This might have been because you were still trying to figure out the whole plastic-free thing out too.
And now how do you feel about it?
The opposite. There has been a nice knock-on effect of positive benefits adding much more value to my life.
Learning to question what I've been told I need, which has helped me step off the hamster wheel of mindless consumption. I feel I have more control. I learned to appreciate the finer things in life. These days I'd much rather be making memories than buying something. I also enjoy the connection to my community. Getting creative fixing things. All the same things as you.
What's the one plastic item you've given up you miss the most?
I do miss a Powerade. It's kind of hard to substitute that. I'd have a lot of Powerade during the week. Twix, chips. You know the same kind of junk food you sometimes miss. But then the whole palm oil stuff turns me off as well.
Would you continue to pursue a zero waste lifestyle if I was not around?
Yes, I would. But I will admit that you set up many of the processes in the beginning. I enjoy this lifestyle so it would be hard to want to go back, especially now I'm a dad.
You and I both loved second hand shopping years before we met. Buying second hand is part of the zero waste movement. Do you think your love for second hand shopping made it accessible?
Yes, I was a vintage shopper from way back. I didn't have any phobias buying second-hand. Some people do have and will look down on you. Second-hand shopping can be a challenge. You go in there and have to think outside the box. Sometimes you go into a second-hand store wanting to find something and you can't. But then an item surprises you. It kind of forces you to be creative which is something I like. I think that's why I like this lifestyle, it kind of makes you stop and think and get creative.
Quality of life is not measured by the things you buy, it’s measured by the moments you live.
What has been the hardest adjustment for you? Probably my mates, who always have something to say about the way I live now. Their happy to provide their expertise in the area. They just think you have become this totally different person, but really I'm the same person only thinking somewhat differently now.
We have people in our lives that 'don't get it.' How do you deal with this? What are your tips for others?
Just don't bother getting into debates or force stuff onto other people. Some of my mates have come to respect that. They leave me to it and I leave them to their lifestyle but I’m not afraid to banter them when I see a disposable coffee cup in their hand. I'm not out to change anyone’s lives. Just because you don't live the same lifestyle, does not mean you can't still get along. Also don't waste your energy on the naysayers. It's easier for others to drain your energy, so you must step away and stop worrying about what they think of picking up rubbish or saying no to plastic bags.
You work in a very masculine industry, with its share of stereotypes. How do you deal with these and being a “greenie”? Do the people on site make fun of your choices. If so, how do you cope? Yeah for sure they make fun of it. But I don't let it get to me. It's generally the people who are like that are the ones I find hard to manage. It's not their attitude about the environment, it's just their attitude in general. The industry does not encourage you to be eco on the job site, beyond energy ratings in the final build.
Do you have any advice for other people in similar positions? Do what you feel you can do at your job no matter where you work. Over time the majority of people will respect it. Sometimes you do feel like people are making fun of it but then you realise people will like you for who you are. People will make so many assumptions about the plastic-free or zero waste lifestyle, and sometimes it’s easier to let people just enjoy those assumptions. I find it simpler to just lead by example. Quality of life is not measured by the things you buy, it’s measured by the moments you live. When you change this focus you begin to enjoy the interaction life has to offer. Then you never fall victim to your previous lifestyle.
What advice would you give a couple who have different views? Run in the opposite direction! Kidding!! That's a tough one. I think you need to be in a completely supportive relationship that allows each person the freedom to try stuff even if it's different. If you don't have a common ground then it’s going to be a struggle. I didn't give plastic-free a go for a couple months, but I supported you and I know you would have done the same if the tables were turned.
Lastly, what do you like most about living plastic-free and zero waste? I like not having to go to Woolworths and Coles. Major supermarkets make me frustrated. They seem unethical, a contradiction and full of waste. It's nice spending my money somewhere that is more aligned with my values and supporting my community. Life is simple, happier. A healthy, kind lifestyle that makes you feel good.
If you have anymore questions, feel free to put them below and he'll answer them for you.
Don't have rope? Heavily pregnant with a pile of cloth scraps and nothing to do? Make rope! Or stuff pillows! It's that easy. Remember in March when I shared my homemade twine? I had envisioned weaving the end product into a basket. This did not happen and the rope made its way to the Zero Waste Victoria’s stall the past two weekends where it was used to hang their information boards. I am still proud of my efforts to upcycled material despite not having the basket I had planned to make. The end product fits the stall perfectly.
A little background on the Zero Waste Victoria info stall. It grew from Zero Waste Victoria's Facebook group I'm part of. I didn't start the group originally but was asked to help out with admin as their numbers grew. I've enjoyed watching this Facebook community and many others expand and multiply across the country. In January I posted an idea to the Facebook group about running an info stall at Australia's Sustainable Living Festival as a means to educate others. The idea was met with a passionate response and soon enough we had not only put together our education stall, a website was born too. These past few weeks the stall has featured at Spring Into Gardening and Practically Green festivals, which have a focus on sustainable living. Below is a photo of us at Spring into Gardening.
How pretty are the flowers? These beauties were presented to me by Wendy, owner of The Source Bulk Foods Bowral after a talk I gave at her event. The handkerchief to the left was carefully wrapped around them, a thoughtful nod to my love of hankies. While it was lovely to receive these I felt like I should've passed them back to Wendy and her team! Truthfully my ability to reduce rubbish is made easier by people like Wendy. Running a small business is not easy, especially one that is in competition with the big supermarkets. I can only imagine it would take guts, passion and self belief to set store up against Coles and Woolworths, or whatever big supermarket chain it is in your country.
It's not just the Wendy's I'm grateful for. There are other small business owners, in brick and mortar stores and online, working their butts off making the reusable revolution accessible. There are so many of you out there. I was chatting with Zero Waste Victoria's awesome volunteers on accessibility and zero waste living. If there is no accessibility people won't be move towards it. I know there is a long way to go yet for making this lifestyle anywhere close to normal, but aren't we lucky to have pioneers willing to stick there necks out, setting up systems that will have a lasting positive impact on the environment and generations to come.
This is a just a little reminder for myself to thank the people opening these type of businesses that make it easier to choose and live sustainable, keeping it unpackaged and low waste. I really do appreciate it.
Well the blog has been a little quite lately. Due in part to Tifl becoming more active and wanting to play. He's sitting, rolling, dragging himself around the house, each development exciting and terrifying to witness. I've also spent the last few weeks working on secret projects while preparing for and running zero waste workshops. Anyway, a happy little email from Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home bounced into my inbox last week about one of the secret projects, giving me the green light to share it with you. If you know the Slow Home Podcast then you can hedge a bet the project i'm about to talk about will be awesome. And yet somehow I was asked to be part of it.
Brooke and her partner Ben have put together Live Life Simply a six-week slow living retreat, and if you click through (which I hope you do) you'll see my face as one of the facilitators along with a host of talented people sharing wisdom on slow and simple living. The online course is for anyone wanting to realign their priorities in a fast paced world.
A six-week, all-access pass to more than 15 seminars by some of the leading experts in slow and simple living, where we focus on learning the essentials of meditation, mindfulness, simple productivity, low-waste living, easy whole foods, mindful money, slow yoga, low tox living, slow technology, bringing family members along for the journey, and how to create slow rituals on even the busiest of days.
You will also have access to videos, audio files, workbooks, playlists and questionnaires, all designed to help you slow down and simplify life not only over the six weeks of the retreat, but for the months and years that follow.
The retreat opens on October 23, 2017 and you will gain immediate access to everything and are free to work through each session at your own pace. Plus a private Facebook group to ask any questions and connect with like minded folk wanting to set the foundations to create a life lived simply.
Waaaay back in 2015, I wrote a little blog post on my desire to find, try and review ready made zero waste plastic-free make up options. So far, I've located this brilliant cheek and lip tint packaged in compostable cardboard. My next quest was for mascara. I've tried MANY different mascaras over the past year and a half. Finally I have one that I'd happily recommend.
Apart from scrutinising the packaging, other considerations include ingredients, consistency, ease of use, drying time and how my lashes look. KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara ticked all the boxes.
KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara comes in a metal tin, with a sliding lid. You can see from my pictures the mascara has been used quite a bit – a good sign that I LOVE it. The consistency is smooth making application easy and does not clump on my lashes. I like that it is not heavy and can be layered to a desired intensity. Some mascaras don't allow that. I find that my lashes need two layers of KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara. I never used to put store bought mascara on my bottom lashes as it always looked overdone on me. I like that KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara is light enough for me to put onto my lower lashes without it being to dark. But if you like a more dramatic look then it can be layered to suit you.
Mascara that dries is crucial for my eye long lashes. When I look up, my lashes hit my eyelids. If the mascara is not dry it will leave dots and lines on the skin. This mascara dried quickly. Perfect.
I've been using cake mascara for a while now, so I was familiar with the process. For those that have no idea, it's very easy. Take a mascara wand, wet with water, run wand over cake mascara coating the brush and apply to lashes. You can see how it looks wet in the photo below. I had no trouble applying the mascara or removing it from my lashes with water. This cake mascara will come with a mascara wand, but you can request for no wand to be sent. The lightweight container is compact measuring just 5cm by 2cm.
KeepingItNatural encourages customers to return the packaging for reuse. The tin can also be kept for reuse to make lip balm, cuticle cream, hold bobby pins, sewing pins and no doubt many other things that my mama brain can't think of right now. Metal has a high recycling rate as it's a sought after material. Unlike other recyclable materials, metal can be recycled almost continuously. While recycling is a last step on the zero waste ladder, sometimes it's the best option for a certain situation. If you are like me who is not wanting to give up something like mascara and don't want or have time to make your own, then it's important to consider the longevity of the packaging material and if and how it will be recycled. Plastic mascara tubes and wands can be recycled through TerraCycle, however they are more likely to be down-cycled. I'd rather pick a material that had a longer life, allows ease of reuse or refill like this metal tin. If you live in Australia and decide to buy this mascara, perhaps we can collect all the empty tins together to post back for reuse in bulk.
I have been using the same wand for my mascara the past few years now. I wash it after each use before transferring to a small cloth pouch. If you have an eagle eye, you'll notice the wand I'm reusing is not the same as the one in my homemade cake mascara recipe. That's because a certain someone knocked my old one down the drain. Lucky a friend gave me her old mascara wand from a mascara tube she was sending off to TerraCycle.
Now to the ingredients. I prefer any ready made makeup products to have a small number of ingredients and to also have a low ranking on the EWG Skin Deep website. So I was happy that this mascara had less than ten ingredients and no nasty chemicals. KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara is vegan, free of parabens (synthetic hormone disrupting preservatives), fragrance and not tested on animals.
KeepingItNatural will happily ship with no plastic in a plain envelope.
Just a quick note, I purchased this product myself and was not asked to review it by the owner.
If you're hosting a baby shower, mother blessing, push party or babyq to celebrate the arrival of a baby, there is high chance someone will bring along a present. Rather than say no gifts to avoid the waste and plastic, I generally find it easier to offer family and friends options, because there are people that want to give. It's in their nature. I say work with them, not against. Not only does it stop me from receiving something I don't want, it's also another way to share the zero waste and plastic-free lifestyle too ;)
My pregnancy nausea prevented us from hosting a babyq (bbq for the baby...get it? Very popular atm). We did begin the planning of a special day. The Builder saw sense pointing out that it would not be overly joyful if I'm laying on the couch for most of the party or randomly vomiting because someone smelt weird. This happened more than I like to remember. Had we ended up hosting our baby shindig, we would have kept it zero waste by choosing food in bulk, making things from scratch where needed or purchasing in our usual reusable containers, borrow decorations, use real plates and glasses, no plastic straws and compost our food scraps. It would not have been too different from any other event we had hosted.
This list of zero waste baby gift idea was carefully chosen to help ease parents, like us, as we stumbled into the new role. Since we were able to acquire most of our baby's needs like clothes, wraps, blankets, prams and furniture from family and friends, we did not need anything specifically for the baby. This list revolves more around the parents. Perhaps I should have given this a different title... anyway, let's begin before said baby wakes up from his nap ;)
Cooked food that can be heated up in a pinch is a new parents ultimate gift. It's so important a breastfeeding woman eats and not skip meals. They are required to up their calorie intake even more than pregnancy. A fun gift would be to put together a menu option or food tickets so the parents can call them in. Like an UberEats, but by family and friends. Think simple dishes full of roasted root vegetables, slow cooked meals, soups, rice, fruit and desserts. I'd advise against anything that could cause colic (gas) if mum is breastfeeding. For inspiration, look up anti-colic diets. Food can be divided up in glass jars as individual meals, ready for the freezer.
Nappy cleaning servicesIf you know parents that are doing reusable nappies, also known as MCN's (modern cloth nappies), this gift would be AMAZING. Dirty nappies are picked up, washed, dried and dropped back to the tired parents. This is the kind of gift that could woo parents into trying cloth nappies too. Many of the services offer gift vouchers. If this is a gift that you think would be a hit (I can guarantee it would!), do double check what detergent the nappies are washed in. Us eco mama's don't want anything too harsh that will end up close to our baby's bottoms.
Cleaning essential wipesIf they are using cloth nappies, chances are cloth wipes will be on the agenda too. Cleaning Essentials have put together a glass jar for making zero waste, safe and effective eco-conscious DIY reusable wipes. I love that the instructions are on the jar, meaning there is no risk of ever losing them. The jar has three sets of instructions ranging from gentle, all purpose and heavy duty. Once the jar is not needed to make the baby wipes (gentle), it can be transformed for use in the home (all purpose or heavy duty). It's easy and compact, making the jar ideal for parents to take out of the house with them.
The gift of toilet paper? Am I that sleep deprived to make a crazy statement? Maybe, but hear me out. Toilet paper is right up there with food as an essential item for new parents. The focus for the first year is on a new tiny human, not keeping the toilet holder stocked. Day to day chores like buying toilet paper is going to be far down the list of things to remember. And if a parent can save some extra time not shopping for an essential item like toilet paper, that is a gift in itself. Now i'm not suggesting you run off to the supermarket to buy a trolley full of loo rolls. There is a far smarter and discreet option called toilet paper delivery.
Who Gives A Crap sell a box of 48 rolls for $48 made of either recycled paper (post-consumer waste, like texts books) or bamboo (tree free!). Each rolls is individually wrapped in fun, reusable paper (a law requirement they are individually wrapped). 50% of all profits are donated to Wateraid to build toilets and improve sanitation in developing countries. Who Gives a Crap are one of only a small handful of companies (another one is Pure Planet) that sell toilet paper plastic-free. Those paper wrapped toilet rolls by Safe found at the supermarket has a thin layer of plastic. Gift vouchers are also available.
Hand creamIf the parents have committed to cloth nappies, they will be rinsing and washing often, potentially resulting in dry hands. I love to take five minutes once bub has goes down for his evening sleep, to rub a decadent smelling moisturiser over my hands to keep them soft. It's a nice ritual and helps me relax. Etsy offers beautiful ready made options, like this lemon myrtle cream. Get more personal by creating a DIY blend using ingredients from Biome. In each Biome store, or via their online store, you can buy the ingredients in handy reusable glass jars. If you are lucky to live close to their Balmoral store, all ingredients can be picked up in bulk from the naked beauty bar. All of Biome's products are 100% palm oil free too.
MassageI have yet to meet a mum that does not have a crick in their neck and ache on the body either left over from pregnancy or bending over and picking up baby all day. While those babies start off small in weight, they grow quickly and pretty soon you're carrying around 8kg. Taking a break for an hour to relieve the aches and pains will not only be good for the body but also for the mind.
Photo frameI didn't think we'd be taking as many photos as we have been. I plan to be in the moment but then part of me wants to record everything because they grow so quickly. Sometimes I wonder if we even took enough photos in the first week! Lucky, second hand stores have plenty of photo frames to put the memories into.
Offer your timeOffering services like cleaning dishes, vacuuming, going for a walk with the new parents or just visiting to watch baby while either mum or dad can have a shower, meal or nap is a thoughtful gift. The parents will also appreciate the chance to have an adult conversation. I know it helps me.
Put together a hamperPick up a secondhand basket from the local charity store and begin filling up with items from the list above. Before leaving the charity store choose some children's books and clothes that the new parents might like too. You could even tuck a list of baby friendly cafes in their neighbourhood into the hamper. Baby friendly = space for prams and comfortable seating to feed in (ie, seats with a back on them). Cafes won't actually turn a parent away! Don't forget to add in some hankies for the new parents too. You can read why I think they are a wonderful zero waste gift to pass along here.
Looking after the wellbeing of a new parent is important. It might feel more traditional to lavish the baby with gifts, but honestly their needs are primarily the parents. If the parents are doing well physically and mentally, the baby will be well looked after. I look forward to reading other gift ideas you may have in the comments below. Tifl has not woken yet from his nap, so i'm going to tempt fate by making a cup of tea...
Last Monday night Four Corners reported on Australia's supposedly unravelling recycling and waste sector in their episode aptly named 'Trashed.' It left many people wondering if we should bother recycling.
This is last weeks recycling. I was inspired by fellow zero waste blogger Lindsay who back in April let us peek into her recycling. While she provided a month's worth, I thought it best to stick to a week. If I committed to a month, I'm not sure i'd remember to photograph it! I walked out of a cafe the other week without our babies pram, only the baby. Just an example of where my brain is at for you all. I had intended this post to follow the format of Lindsay's, but with the recent recycling industry scandals it's morphed into something different. But first, let's have a look at what I added to the yellow bin:
Two pizza boxes – We rarely ate takeaway before baby arrived. Oh how sleep deprivation changed that. They make the BEST vegan pizza.
Postal satchel – I bought my son extra nappies from a Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell. I had asked for a paper satchel...
Foil – My mother-in-law dropped off cabbage rolls on a plate, wrapped in foil.
Scraps of paper – I write shopping lists and dinner schedules on the back of envelopes my husband’s work receives.
Toilet roll and packaging – WGAC and Pure Planet toilet paper.
The story ran by Four Corners has been one of many exposes into the recycling industry over the last few months. In July a fire broke out at a recycling facility in North Melbourne. Cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and aluminium that had been stockpiling went up in flames, sending debris from the fire across the metropolitan region. City residents, especially those with children, were advised to stay inside. Homes close to the fire were evacuated, with some residents ending up in hospital due to repository issues. My husband told me that it smelt horrible and could taste chemicals at the back of his throat. This was the fourth fire at the facility in the past year, with many questioning if the blaze was an accident or a way to deal with the stockpiled recycling. Prior to the fire I had heard rumours of companies stockpiling recycling here in Victoria, but not at the amount Four Corners uncovered.
The zero waste philosophy puts recycling as a last resort. It's not a system that works well enough for us to rely on it. It has become a bandaid, masking a rather horrible reality. It's also a business, the value of materials dropped into those yellow bins each fortnight is driven by market prices. If the value is low, it won't be recycled right away like most Australians think.
Let's take a look at the most common materials recycled. Recycling aluminium is 95% more efficient than using virgin aluminium. Metals have always had high market value. Recycling plastic is 85% more efficient, but China who have previously taken most of it, is no longer wanting to buy our plastic to recycle. This is mix of low oil prices and the plastic we recycle is not to a high enough standard or sorted properly. Paper is 50% more efficient, but can only be recycled up to seven-eight times. Lastly, recycling glass is 40% more efficient.
Four Corners obtained a report suggesting that in NSW glass recycling might need to stop. Too much of it is being stockpiled, obviously waiting for its market value to increase. This may have sounded alarming, but they did not explain how it could be fixed. The obvious would be to cut back on our glass consumption by encouraging reusing and refilling by businesses. Another option is changing how glass is collected for recycling. Preferably glass should be sorted by colour and intact. It's easier to recycle glass this way. Our glass is mostly commingled and broken. If done right, recycling can work well enough to recover resources. Due to the low prices for recycled materials vs raw materials, waste recovery businesses don't want to invest in the infrastructure to set these systems up.
Recycling is not the solution, yet we can't abandon it. If we removed it or halted materials like glass from the recycling process, there would be HUGE leap in valuable resources dumped into landfill. I could only foresee a domino effect happening. Any confidence in waste recovery would be lost and people might stop trying to keep resources out of landfill by any means. Recycling is not perfect, but it's much smarter option than landfill.
So back to the issue; should we continue recycling if the industry is in such disarray? My answer is a loud YES! Please keep recycling, but continue to use it as a last resort. To me, I see recycling as a necessary bridge we have to use until a new direction is built. Learn the correct way to recycle in your council area. Each council and State deal with their recycling differently. Last nights episode only focused on a small part of the recycling industry. There are places in Australia that are doing it right. There are good people in the recycling industry. Truly!
When I'm invited to give talks on reducing waste, part of the discussion covers recycling. I encourage people to look at their recycling bin as much as I do for their landfill rubbish. Understanding how a system works, especially a flawed system, will give the extra boost to make changes. Part of recycling smarter is using less resources at the start that require recycling. Less new packaging, more reusing.
But until reusing is the social normal everywhere, there are other ways we can improve the recycling system. Below are a couple of ideas, but i'd love to hear yours too.
Write, email and call State and Federal Members of ParliamentThe recycling industry clearly needs regulation. Tell them we want to make it mandatory that a certain percentage of our packaging requires Australian recycled materials. Businesses could be given financial incentives from the government for choosing recycled products over non recycled. If you have more ideas, tell them! Don't think your voice does not matter, it does.
Try to refuse, reduce and reuse
We are recycling more and more, yet our buying habits have not decreased. What we need is more focus on refusing, reducing and reusing. Less consumption = less recycling. Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cutlery, plastic takeaway containers can all be replaced with reusables.
As you can see from the contents of our recycling, we can improve on the refuse, reduce and reuse. We'll admit to buying items in glass as well, especially beer and the odd stir fry sauce (more so now with a baby...). The Builder is going to save up a keg of beer from Kegs on Legs and we'll make more of an effort to cook sauces from scratch and freeze. Instead of getting takeaway, we have decided to try planning dinner a little earlier, and walk to the pizza store on days that neither of us feel like cooking. The emphasis is on try. I'm well aware life happens, some choices are easier than others and everyones lives are different. Refuse plastic packaging, buy in bulk where you can and don't forget the reusables. We can all look in our recycling bins and see what we can all try to do differently.
Support companies that reuse and refillThere is a growing number of companies that champion the refill revolution! Responsible Cafes will help you find venues that encourage the reuse of coffee cups. TAP. Wines in Melbourne are installing wine on tap in restaurants, saving MANY glass bottles from going to recycling. St. David's Dairy is now offering drive through milk refills. The Vegan Dairy will take back glass jars for reuse. Zero Waste Beauty is also offering a glass return program.
Speak upIf you want more of these types of service, speak up. Plant a seed. Drop an email to a company that you think could offer a refill and reuse service. We need more places to offer refill and reuse options if we want to break free from our reliance on recycling.
Support bans on single use plastics (eg. bags, straws, single-use plastic takeaway) and cash for container schemesSearch for groups in your area that are working on these campaigns or start one up. Jump into a zero waste Facebook community to find one or ask your local council.
While the show did not offer any advice on what we can do as citizens, I did appreciate that it shifted responsibility to those at fault. Consumers shoulder too much responsibility when it comes to doing the right thing. We can't blame ourselves for this if we've been led to believe that everything going into our recycling bins is taken care of responsibly. We can control what goes into our bins, but we have no control once the contents is picked up by the trucks. But that doesn't mean we don't have a role to play. With knowledge comes caring, from caring comes change.
How did you feel after watching Four Corners 'Trashed' program? Were you angry? Disappointed? What other ways can we as citizens help create change? I'd love to know of other businesses that refill in your area too. Share away :)
To prepare for our role as parents, we decided to attend the hospital's parenting class. Before the lesson began our facilitator asked if anyone had experience looking after small children, infants or babies. Neither of us could raise our hands.
My experience with babies prior to the birth of my son was limited. Time spent with the offspring of family and friends mainly consisted of cuddles, usually under supervision of mum and dad. I knew next to nothing about what a baby needs. To say I felt unprepared going into parenthood would be a gross understatement. Turns out parenting didn't solely consist of changing nappies, washing clothes and cuddles...there was this whole development thing, making choices that will shape his whole life. And it starts from the beginning.
Within minutes of leaving the parenting class, we begun asking each other questions on how are we going to respond to certain scenarios when they arise. One particular area we circled back to a few times was our lifestyle; how would we deal with this as parents? How can we get prepared? Will living zero waste turn him into a barry no friends at school? What will other parents think of us?
I decided to dedicate a blog post on the subject of raising waste wise children. I need a year of being a parent before I'll feel close to confident writing on the subject myself. So I invited three mothers living zero waste, Lauren, Tammy and Meredith, to share how they do it and pass on advice. Grab a biscuit and a cup of tea, it's a good long post packed with sageness.
Lauren - Hobart, Australia. Mum to three; primary school and high school age.
Our children have been totally on board from the very start of our move towards zero waste living. We’ve always been honest with them about the state of our environment, and human impact on it, but we balance this with a good dose of nature appreciation. We feel that encouraging a love of the natural environment can result in a passion for protecting it, and so far this has worked well. They’ve gone on to become advocates in their own right, approaching businesses and community groups to ask them to reduce their waste output, and engaging their peers and family members in discussions around waste and environmental concepts. They’re informed and, for them, zero waste living has become normalised.
A key for us in finding a good balance for our family is discussing issues in partnership and giving our children the space to voice their opinions, and make their own decisions. We take them shopping with us and involve them in the process. We encourage them to explore and find out more about things are produced and transported, to ask questions and learn more before making a decision. This means our children are responsible for the choices they make, rather than feeling like we won’t allow them to do or have something they want. We also encourage them to find other ways to make, replace or acquire the things they want. They’re amazing second hand shoppers! And they make their own toys, or we find compostable versions of the things they really want. We’ve learnt alongside them much of the time, and engaged them in processes around the home, like composting, animal care, cooking and preserving. Our children have found our solutions-based approach to living without waste to be encouraging. Often children (and adults, too), can feel the problems of the world are just too overwhelming, but by encouraging our children to become change-makers in their own right, they’ve found strength and positivity and an enthusiasm for zero waste living.
Tammy - Gippsland, Australia. Mother to two, both in primary school. Writer, speaker and sustainability consultant at Gippslandunwrapped.com
What I’ve learnt along the way, about parenting, is that children will do what you do, not do what you say to do. Any parenting expert will tell you that and I see it happen in my family, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes in ways I don’t want to admit too (anyone else notice their children acting like mini-mes?). Research also shows that leading by example is an important part of creating change because it establishes new social norms, that is, it helps make desired practices commonplace. So, to raise mindful and intentional consumers, I concentrate on being a mindful and intentional consumer myself. Obviously, I also guide my children by discussing my values with them as opportunities arise and this is how long term values are developed in children.
It’s long term, sustainable results that I am after, so I don’t get caught up in achieving some idea of perfection for every situation we encounter. Perfection isn’t sustainable and such expectations create a lot of anxiety and often a sense of failure. Anxiety is crippling many children today so another value that I try to model and instil in my children is that we can strive for awesomeness but still be imperfect. The focus becomes more about the journey rather than the destination and we celebrate achievements. Besides this, kids go through different stages as they develop into adults and that involves testing boundaries, taking risks, understanding the consequences of their own decisions, finding their own path and working out what is meaningful to them. I give my children some space to do this. It will make them more independent, resilient, confident and wise in the long term.
When it comes to influencing others, who can influence my children, I do much of the same. For example, I volunteer at kindergarten, school, and extracurricular activities so that I can have natural conversations, lead by example, and help implement changes. Again, my kids see me take action on things I believe in and sometimes have the opportunity to join in.
Adjusting my mindset to be about the bigger picture of zero waste and plastic free living, rather than the everyday detail is working for us. Prior to this it was becoming clear that I was turning my family off environmentalism. Obviously, there can be more household waste than I would prefer but there is less stress and arguments and I do see my kids developing skills and making decisions that show they are becoming more and more mindful consumers.
Meredith - Vermont, USA. Mother to two; toddler and baby.
Hi! I’m Meredith from www.MeredithTested.com, mom of two little girls. We currently live in Vermont, USA. I’ll give away the ending right away: Being a parent presents some of my biggest zero waste challenges, but also my greatest inspiration and motivation. I considered myself eco-friendly and a mindful person before my oldest daughter was born, but she turned my earth-loving world upside-down. My motivation was locked in more intensely than it ever had before. I needed to provide a healthy, safe and non-toxic environment for her both within my home and out in the world. We used cloth diapers from the day she was born and were frankly shocked at how easy they were to use and maintain. We realized that diverting that much waste from landfills was awesome, and having a significant impact on our home environment too.
We didn’t have to take out the trash as much. We weren’t required to buy a special plastic contraption to hide the smells of dirty diapers. And we never had to take an emergency trip to the store at 11pm to buy a new box of paper disposable diapers when we ran out.
Similarly, I find that for a lot of things from diaper balm to crackers, once you have a simple recipe down pat and the basic ingredients on hand, making things from scratch can be easier than having to run out to the store or worry about finding the right brand. I can and do make a lot of things from scratch, but to avoid burn out I purchase certain items (hopefully in plastic-free packaging) if needed.
Reducing waste while caring for babies and kids is different than when you’re a single person or couple. It’s true that we all have busier seasons and days or weeks that are more stressful than others, but kids add an additional layer of the unknown. Whether its medical needs or schooling, trash-filled situations are sometimes harder to avoid and daily control can go out the window fast.
While I’ve been quite vocal on my blog and social media about how you can stick with your zero waste goals even while doing tricky things like traveling with kids, the truth is that they seem to positively attract trash. From plastic packaging on well-meaning gifts from family and friends to stickers and balloons foisted on them by strangers at the market. We appreciate the generosity and while we definitely prefer plastic-free, secondhand presents or experiential gifts (or, frankly, none at all!) we haven’t turned anything down. Except that pack of stickers from the grocery store that I was able to quickly say “no” to before my daughter noticed they were on offer.
My top 3 tips for living zero waste with kids are:
Bring wipes everywhere. A pile of cloth wipes and a little spray bottle with water or a mix of water with a touch of Castile soap is a must. Avoid disposable paper napkins and tissues (that don’t really work that well anyway), and packs upon packs of disposable wet wipes.
Live by quiet example. This advice is really a reminder for myself. I love chatting but I can sometimes go overboard sharing why I love having a plastic free and low-waste home. Family, friends, and acquaintances you meet through your kid’s school, playgroups and other activities might not be familiar or understand your lifestyle. Lead by quiet example instead of giving a mini-presentation when someone asks about your stainless steel bento box. And of course do your best to answer questions or share your experiences and reasoning if asked.
Go with the flow and let some things go. Having kids is taxing enough without putting extra unrealistic expectations on ourselves. I challenge myself and I try hard to stick to my zero waste goals, but at a certain point it’s okay to throw in the towel. Your mental and physical health and the health of your family comes first. Staying up until all hours of the night making DIY diaper balm or bread or … whatever when you really need sleep isn’t going to help your family in the end. If you’re a new mom who needs to give your baby formula, don’t let the packaging or any part of it make you feel guilty. Just feed your baby. If your child needs medicine but the packaging is plastic, definitely go for it anyway. If you need to buy certain foods for your family in packaging on occasion, that’s fine. In the end “going zero waste” is about an overall commitment and mindfulness, and I truly don’t believe there are “fails.” If you’re trying to make this lifestyle work in the long term, you’ll have to compromise a little. Or sometimes, a lot. Forgive yourself, re-focus and move on.
When I read each of their responses, I immediately saw the theme of leading by example. From day one, children are watching, processing what they have seen and wanting to mimic in their own way. From bringing this post together I learnt many helpful hints on raising zero waste children and I hope you have too, parent or not. What tips would you share to a new parent?
Today, I thought i'd tour our baby's bedroom. Truth is, the whole house is his bedroom, happily falling asleep anywhere. Please don't assume he's a perfect sleeper. During the day he has cat napping down to a fine art, and midnight through to dawn, I'm up every two hours. Luckily, I get one solid four hour block from him in the evening...at the moment. I say at the moment, because last month the four hour block of sleep started around three in the afternoon.
Anyway, I'm not here to talk about his sleep patterns. I'm here to explore the baby room with you, sharing how and where we sourced everything. Before you begin scrolling, I want to put out a disclaimer about the tidiness of his room. The space rarely looks this ordered. Maybe once a fortnight I'll clean it, fold clothes, put items away. This was one of those rare events.
Borrowing, sharing and choosing secondhand are three easy to action steps of the zero waste lifestyle and will help anyone avoid needing to buy new plastic too. It's easy to source most items for a baby this way. Why? Because baby stuff is not bought for long term use. Babies grow fast and their needs change month to month.
Had we not lived this lifestyle, I would have made the choice to 'shop' for our baby room by borrowing, sharing and choosing secondhand. It makes financial sense to borrow, share and shop secondhand for items that will only be used for a short period of time. Thousands of parents seem to agree, and that's why secondhand baby items are abundant. The world truly does not need more new baby things made.
Of course, there are many more benefits and reasons to borrow, share and choose secondhand, beyond saving money. These are some:
Keeping items out of landfill
Putting value on the resources needed to make each item
Recognising the effort that went into making the item
Investing in a circular economy
It was not hard to find all we needed. The moment I alerted the world to my pregnancy, there was a flux of communication from parents happy to pass on, lend and sell their used baby goods without me even having to ask.
What was not borrowed or shared, was found on Facebook Buy Swap Sell, Ebay and Gumtree. Out of all three, I'd say Facebook Buy Swap Sell groups to be the most efficient place to gather baby goods. There were niche groups for most items on Facebook. I found sellers provided more information, were easier to communicate with, offering more room to negotiate a fair price. Op Shops were the hardest place to find anything other than clothes, blankets and toys.
The cot and bookcase were bought from our local Facebook Buy Swap Sell.
He's not sleeping in the cot full time, yet. The day time naps and evening sleep are in the cot. For the rest of the night, he's in this bassinet next to our bed. My siblings and I, all slept in this bassinet as babies. I'm in negotiations on when the cot will come into the bedroom...I get this strong feeling the Builder is hoping the cot will relocate to the spare room with me. I don't know if it's because of the baby waking him up or my snoring.
Some of my old teddy bears, lined up waiting to be played with, sit upon the bookshelf. Old books, sitting alongside new books. A mix of old and new toys, plus a secondhand lamp.
I chose not to style the room. Since most of what makes up the room would be passed on eventually, I didn't see the point. Having said that, if creating a special theme is something you'd love to do, it can be achieved just as easily buying secondhand.
The chair was bought in haste, by my mum and sister from the local secondhand charity store. I had not planned on having a breastfeeding chair. But it was the best $25 spent and i'm glad they talked me into it. It's in really great condition too. We think the chair spent a majority of it's life wrapped in a plastic cover, reserved for special visitors only. I keep meaning to have a closer look at the chair for money hidden inside. You hear these stories of buyers finding cash in old furniture. You never know! Until then, an old bed sheet will stay draped on top, catching any vomit/spit from bub.
Our change table came from one of my readers. Hi Lori! She had no need of it, so passed it on. Like the bookcase and cot, there were marks on it. They are used items. The chances of wear on secondhand items is a high possibility. That's something to get comfortable with if new to buying goods secondhand. The Builder offered to paint it, and i'm still waiting.
Sheets, wraps, muslins, clothes, shoes, socks, bibs, blankets were all donated by family and friends. Nappies sourced from a Facebook group and Gumtree. Baby carrier (behind the door) found for a bargain on Gumtree. We bought a bundle of towels from the same local secondhand charity for nappy free time.
My tips for borrowing, sharing and buying secondhand baby items:
Ask for the serial number or product name to check safety standards and product recalls at www.productsafety.gov.au before buying or borrowing furniture, prams and car seats.
Don't be afraid to ask ALOT questions about the items before committing.
If you can, view the item first before purchasing. I'd advise this for furniture, prams, highchair, change tables, to make sure they are sturdy and stable. Look for missing or broken parts.
Buddy up with a friend or family member when going to view or pick up items from strangers, just to be safe.
I would suggest asking family and friends that are offering to pass on free stuff, to detail what they are intending to give. It might be free, but make sure it's useful too.
Look out for second hand baby markets or swap parties in your area.
When it comes to rehoming the items, they will either be sold or given back to the person we borrowed it from. Another option is donating to charity organisations like St. Kilda Mums. They take items for families suffering hardship. If you would like to find something similar, contact the local council, ask a maternal health nurse or child health services in your area.
And here is the newish Mum. In need of a shower. Pyjamas all day. Four hours of sleep. Thanks for letting me show off the baby room. Enjoy your weekend.
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