A simple guide to reusable nappies

A few years ago, back when I was single, I rented a house in Richmond with a girlfriend and convinced her that if we put a door on the formal lounge room we could get a 3rd housemate in to reduce our rent.

As fate would have it a gorgeous vivacious girl named Meredith came to rent that room.

Back then I wasn’t that eco-aware, beyond doing my bit to recycle and turn the lights off, but Mez always had the big Sukin bottles in the shower, and was always a little bit earthy.

Fast forward a decade and it was Mez who I turned to when trying to navigate the possibility of cloth nappies. Here’s the advice that she gave me after years of trial and error:

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Slow living

Downsizing to a smaller place for a bigger life

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy – Graeme Hill, LifeEdited

Six months ago we started living closer to our values by moving from a big house in the suburbs to a narrow 75 square metre workers cottage just a few streets back from the beach that shared a wall with our neighbours on both sides.

Our families thought we were mad to downsize just as we were expecting the pitter patter of more little feet, but the way we saw it we were gaining so much with a more walkable bayside suburb, a tighter community and a smaller cost of living and environmental foot print.

In a lot of ways the move had been inspired by Canadian environmentalist Graeme Hill who I had been following for years, and today our lives are completely different… all the better for knowing Graeme.

We walk and cycle more often, we’re tighter with our neighbours – given that their front door is literally 5 metres away from ours, and Ol can now scoot with reckless abandon as there are few driveways to worry about and there is little traffic around.

On weekends, rather than mowing the lawns and cleaning the house we might take Ol to the beach, or to the park to kick the soccer ball, or down to the pub for an early dinner, where it’s likely we will run into another local family that we know from Ols kindergarten or who we might have met out the front of our tiny house whilst drawing trains on the pavement in chalk.

We have truly traded ‘stuff’ for community and by living in a smaller house we’re out more often, choosing experiences over ownership, and memories over things.

Simple thoughts on usage over ownership

Minimalist inspirationIt’s rare that I get the chance to sit and have a coffee alone, but the other day Sam fell asleep just before I was about to drop into the green grocers and I took the chance to sit for a few moments at the back of Husk in Hawkesburn Village.

I sat there admiring the newly-tiled courtyard, after having walked though the shop listening to the creak of the big wooden floorboards, in awe of the open fireplaces and white washed walls and thought… ‘one day I would love to have a house and a courtyard just like this.’

Why is it though that in order to enjoy something, our first thought is to ‘own’ it? For the cost of a four dollar coffee, I can enjoy it now, and every Saturday for the rest of the year if I wanted to.

I hope that one day we start enjoying things in that moment; appreciating that we already have it to enjoy, because really, isn’t that the key to having it all? Realising that you already do…

A simple guide to baby gear

It’s funny how you can know someone for years and never really connect, yet with others you meet once and become friends for life from that moment on.

My friend Gemma is one of those ones that I got chatting to one night at a party in my mid 20s and before long we were spending every weekend together; gossiping around The Tan on a Saturday morning, heading out together later that night and meeting up again for a roast of a Sunday afternoon.

I had always admired Gemma from afar; she was one of those girls who seemed to have it all figured out. She was beautifully spoken – a trait she gained from her mother and later honed as a journalist, and always seemed to be so well put together wearing ‘outfits’ rather than just clothes.

Anyway, Gem recently confined in me that she and her hubby were expecting later in the year, and asked about what baby gear she would need, which got me thinking about the true essentials.

You can actually get away with one tenth of the baby kit that so many of the parenting websites would have you believe you need. Here’s a quick list that I put together for Gem. Every baby is different, so if you find that you need extra kit beyond this list, you can always buy it once the bub arrives. Continue reading “A simple guide to baby gear”

A simple weekly shop

Zero Waste Shopping Tips.jpgMy nan used to say that what you spend at the greengrocer, you save at the doctor’s. I have been going to the same greengrocer every week for the past six years – he has seen me single, pregnant, with a baby and now a son who tottles around the store with his little trolley opening blueberry packs and stealing nuts that fall in the dispenser tray.  I think Bob is about 70 odd and he’s told me before about watching kids grow up in his store, in fact I’m pretty sure that some of the boys who help carry my shopping back to the car are probably customer’s sons who were offered a job when they turned 15.

Shopping this way is good for everyone; the fruit & veg isn’t plastic wrapped like the supermarket’s and I know that the person who buys the fruit at the wholesale market has actually tasted it and had a conversation with the grower. I can do almost my entire shop here waste-free, save for the odd milk carton or yoghurt tub, and it’s cheaper overall when you consider that I’m not buying much packaged food and instead making most meals from scratch. A quick stop to the butcher and the bakery next door and I’m done.

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Making do with what you have on hand

Making do

“What’s on hand may be even better: Rather than buying something new, look for things you already have in the house. Using things for unintended purposes, like a carafe as a vase or a white porcelain dish to hold small objects – can give your room an unusual and interesting touch” Muji Global Tip 07 for Living a New Way

This tip from Muji pretty much sums it up perfectly. Every time I have a problem where the obvious solution is to rush out and thoughtlessly buy a quick fix I always take a few days to think over what the solution might be and to go through what I have on hand to see if I can come up with a solution. Continue reading “Making do with what you have on hand”

Simple ways to reduce your footprint

Zero Waste Grocery shoppingSince having children I have become a lot more aware of the environment and making sure that we leave this earth in good condition for generations to come.

At first, working towards Zero Waste might seem overwhelming, however every little effort collectively makes an enormous difference. Even if you do just one thing, start shopping with a reusable bag or using a Keep Cup rather than a disposable coffee cup – every little plastic bag and coffee cup saved really does add up when change happens across millions of people.

Here’s a few relatively effortless ways to reduce your environmental footprint:

Continue reading “Simple ways to reduce your footprint”