25 January 2014
If your social life resembles mine, chances are your weekends are spent cruising your local toddler and pre-schooler's party scene. You're also probably getting pretty nifty at wrapping gifts and writing verses on birthday cards.
Giving presents and cards is such an embedded practice in our culture that most people don't think twice before buying a greeting card for a special occasion. Fewer still have thought about the waste that this practice creates, let alone the resources used to make gift wrap and cards!
Every day, the major Australian greeting card manufacturers produce around 100,000 greeting cards, most which are not printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Add wrapping paper into the mix and you get a fair idea of the amount of waste Australians produce daily just through the simple act of wrapping a present and writing a greeting to a friend.
This month we're empowering you to do something about it!
For the month of February, Sustainababy is eco challenging you to RE-WRAP IT for your chance to WIN an Earth Greetings Gift Voucher valued at $100!
RE-WRAP IT simply means for you to use recycled materials when wrapping a gift or sending a greeting card. How you RE-WRAP IT is entirely up to you but may include:
- using your child's paintings as gift wrap
- reusing gift wrap from presents you have received
- choosing 100% post-consumer recycled gift wrap or greeting cards
- making your own cards from recycled materials
- gifting experiences that don't need wrapping!
In an ideal world, we would all have time to sit down and make greeting cards for our friends and family. After all, it’s so much more personal to receive a hand-made card with all the time and thought that goes into it. Of course it's also much more environmentally friendly to make something from upcycled materials. But many of us are just far too busy to find the time to sit down and craft for hours and to be honest, some of us just don't like craft.
Earth Greetings founder Heide started her business to provide a convenient and earth-friendly alternative to the usual store-bought cards and wrapping paper. All of Earth Greetings products are made from 100% post-consumer waste, which means the paper and cardboard is recycled using paper that has been used at least once already. The printing is done with non-toxic vegetable based ink and all of Earth Greetings products are Certified Carbon Neutral which means that 100% of the greenhouse gases associated with making them have been offset.
So, even if you're hopeless at craft or simply are too busy to make your own wrap and cards, there is an eco-friendly option for you!
Keen to do the Eco Challenge? This is what you’ll need to do:
- Request to join our closed Sustainababy Monthly Eco Challenge Facebook Group here. In this group you'll meet heaps of other like-minded eco mums doing the eco challenges who can help you along the way.
- For the month of February make an effort to send greeting cards and wrap gifts from upcycled materials only.
- If you'd like to be in the running for the prize, email a short summary of your journey (500 words maximum) and supporting photographs with subject line “February Eco Challenge” to email@example.com before midday AEDST Monday 10th March 2014. Please ensure your summary is grammatically correct as the winning summary will be published word for word on the Sustainababy Blog.
The winner will be contacted by email and their summary will be published on our blog no later than 5pm AEDST Wednesday 12th March 2014.
So what are you waiting for? Get creative and RE-WRAP IT!
22 January 2014
I was recently asked by a stranger, admiring my beautifully healthy baby boy, ‘Are you breastfeeding?’ My straight answer, ‘Yes, both of them’ produced a response of mild shock as she turned to look at my toddler running ahead.
Tandem feeding, the practice of breastfeeding two children of different ages, is not common in our culture. It is however perfectly healthy and works well for some families, like mine.
My boys were born two years and seven months apart. When his brother was conceived, our eldest was still very reliant on receiving comfort at the breast. My husband and I had agreed that it would be best to allow him to outgrow breastfeeding at his own pace, especially considering that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding along with family foods for two years or beyond.
My greatest concern entering a new pregnancy while still breastfeeding, was how I would cope with breastfeeding if I again experienced intensely tender nipples as I had during my first pregnancy. I didn’t intend on prompting my toddler to wean, but knew there was a chance that we would have to go down that route.
I know some mums who had weaned a toddler during pregnancy for a range of reasons, on the initiative of either the mum or the child. I know others who have tandem fed after the arrival of a new baby. I saw both of these as realistic possibilities in our case.
Before planning my second pregnancy, I did some research to confirm the safety and feasibility of continuing to breastfeed. I learned that in most cases, it is perfectly safe for a well-nourished mother to continue breastfeeding throughout a normal, low-risk pregnancy and to continue feeding both children after the baby is born. It is however a very personal decision and there are many factors to weigh up including the needs of the mother, the child and the foetus.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is supportive of mums who wish to tandem feed. ABA’s Position Statement on Breastfeeding includes the statement ‘A mother can continue to breastfeed when she is pregnant. A mother may also simultaneously breastfeed two children of different ages — this is called tandem feeding.’
I found the ABA a huge source of support. Through regular attendance at group meetings I met other mums breastfeeding toddlers or tandem feeding. I also talked through personal concerns at various times with breastfeeding counsellors both locally and on the Breastfeeding Helpline.
Unfortunately health professionals are not always so supportive. The various midwives I had contact with during my pregnancy were supportive, some even delighted that I was still breastfeeding my son and planned to continue. However when our very blunt obstetrician became aware that I was still breastfeeding, his first response was a steely stare and the comment ‘well that will have to stop’. This floored me as I had expected him to be supportive. However I quickly pulled myself together and informed him that this was contrary to information I had received from ABA. I asked whether he had any particular concerns for me with this pregnancy, or just not like the idea of breastfeeding through pregnancy in general. It turned out to be the latter. I can understand his position, his job is to minimise every possible risk to mother and foetus. However my job as a mum is to consider the needs of my child as well as any small risk to my foetus.
After this encounter I felt extremely shaken and started to question if I was actually doing the best thing for my children.
Prior to pregnancy, I had not chosen to set limits around my son’s breastfeeding. He still breastfed regularly, although of course as a toddler he was also tucking into family foods. During pregnancy this changed. I started refusing him some feeds and limiting others due to physical discomfort. With the encouragement of my ever supportive husband, I also made the difficult decision to night wean a week before our second baby was due. At two and a half my big boy managed this admirably. We were stunned how easily he transitioned from frequent night feeds to ‘just cuddles until the sun wakes up’.
In the days following the birth of the new baby, my toddler visited us in hospital and had a few feeds but there was plenty of colostrum and milk for the baby. Once we came home I continued breastfeeding both boys, although chose to further limit feed frequency and duration for my big boy.
This pattern has continued for four months so far. Generally I feed them separately for ease and individual ‘Mummy time’, but there have been times with a tired or slow waking toddler when ‘milkies together’ has been requested and granted. This is generally brief and logistically awkward for me, but undeniably worth it to be able to comfort both boys at once. They even hold hands sometimes, and I think the tender moments outnumber the times little brother gets ‘poked’ – just!
My top tips for other mums considering tandem feeding:
- Do your research. A good place to start is ABA’s article on tandem feeding.
- Find other mums who have continued breastfeeding throughout pregnancy or beyond. They can be a great source of encouragement and practical suggestions.
- Surround yourself as much as possible with people who support your decisions – your partner, close friends and family, supportive health professionals or ABA
- Be flexible in your expectations –probably not everything will pan out as you expect, but that’s ok.
There is not much about my breastfeeding journey so far that I would want to change, and I am happy for both of my babies to continue breastfeeding until they are ready to move on. I am sure it will happen eventually!
Have you tandem breastfed your children or are you contemplating trying? I'd love you to share your thoughts and experiences below.
About the Author: Tanya Fyfe is an eco mum and environmental engineer and lives in the WA Goldfields with her husband and two young sons. The family's aim is to live sustainably and for their children to grow up understanding where food comes from and how it is produced. They generate solar electricity and have an organic vegetable garden and modest fruit orchard irrigated entirely with grey water.
15 January 2014
I must admit that I'm uninitiated in Back to School circles. With two sons of pre-school age, I am yet to experience the madness of the last two weeks of January. However, this year will be different with my very own kindergarten starter. How exciting!
Like most mums with kindy or school-age children, I'm anticipating my main area of focus while getting my child ready each day will be preparing a healthy lunch.
I love the Lunchbots stainless steel bethos-style lunch boxes which make it easy to provide a lunch packed with variety and no plastic wrap. In our warm climate, an ice pack is essential to keep food cool and safe. For colder months however, you just can't go past the Lunchbots Thermals for keeping hearty soups warm.
What lunch is complete without a stylish eco-friendly cooler bag to house the goodies? Sustainababy stock both the apple & bee and SoYoung organic lunch boxes and cooler bags.
Reusable food pouches, initially so popular in baby weaning have become just as useful in the school ground for foods such as yoghurts and fruit purées. Sinchies reusable food pouches come in larger sizes for larger tummies and are always a popular lunch box item.
To make your Back To School (or starting kindergarten) period a little friendlier on the wallet, orders containing at least one lunch box or cooler bag will receive one FREE five-pack of Sinchies (140ml or 200ml). Hurry though as this offer is only until Friday 24 January. Limit of one pack per customer.
Back To School Guide:
a. apple & bee organic cotton kids lunch boxes - $34.95
b. Sustain-a-stacker 3 in 1 stainless steel lunchbox - $42
c. Lunchbots Thermals - $32
d. Sinchies Reusable Food Pouches - from $7 for a pack of 5
e. Kids Konserve Ice Pack and Cover - $13.95
f. Lunchbots Stainless Steel Lunch boxes and Dips Condiment Containers - from $20.95
13 January 2014
Raelene Sutton completed the December Sustainababy Eco Challenge to NUDE UP and go an entire month without plastic wrap, aluminium foil or plastic snap lock bags. This is the story of her journey......
The Sustainababy Nude Up December Eco Challenge was fantastic. I have wanted to reduce excess plastic waste that I have been contributing to the environment for quite some time now, so this was definitely the incentive I needed.
Throughout December, I realised that I don’t use foil wrap at all. I only use plastic wrap to cover leftover food I store in the fridge. Plastic bags on the other hand are a different story..…
The solution: Glass containers with lids, in various sizes and shapes. They most often come in rectangle, square and round shapes. I love Pyrex containers as I can use them to bake things (like lasagne) in the oven, store leftover foods in the fridge or freezer and I can reheat those foods back in the oven or microwave (when I’m pressed for time). They can be costly, but I make sure I buy them when on sale.
My husband’s and my packed lunches are often dinner leftovers that we take in the 500mls round glass containers. Our preschool has a no plastic bag policy, and don’t allow glass containers, so I pack my children’s lunches in stainless steel containers and water in stainless steel drink bottles. I love lunch boxes that have different compartments so I can pack a variety of foods for my often fussy eating children.
I’ll certainly continue with my quest to not use plastic wrap and foil and to reduce my plastic bag usage. I need to remind my husband to use the Pyrex containers instead of the plastic wrap though. Perhaps I just won’t buy any more plastic wraps once the current roll runs out!
Congratulations Raelene! For your efforts in our NUDE UP eco challenge you have won a Nude Food Pack valued at $93. This pack includes the following essentials to continue your nude food journey: one Sustain-a-Stacker 3 in 1 Stainless Steel Lunchbox, a packet of three Wrap It Green Reusable Food Wraps and three Lunchbots Dips Condiment Containers.
If you would like to sponsor future Sustainababy Eco Challenges and introduce your product or brand to our large following of eco parents, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
8 January 2014
I remember my first visit to a cemetery.
I was 14 years old when my school class visited the local cemetery for a religious excursion. I remember coming home with very clear ideas of what I didn’t want if I were to die and shared these with my family that evening, over dinner of course.
I didn’t want a large gravestone that could crack, a gate that would rust or statues of any kind. I quite liked the manicured lawn section of the cemetery, but donating my organs and being cremated was more appealing. My father, visibly uncomfortable with the topic, quickly put a stop to the conversation and that was the end of the story at the time.
Since then, I haven’t given much more thought to my final resting place, with the exception of deciding that cremation was my preferred option. Only recently, after visiting the graves of my husband's grandparents while on holiday in Victoria have I again considered options for my body after my departure.
As an environmentalist, I find the notion of everyone having their own permanent shrine outdated, particularly as the worldwide human population soars. While it’s lovely for relatives to have a location where they can pay their respects to deceased loved ones, the sheer number of neglected headstones in our cemeteries shows that this is only relevant for a generation or two.
The emergence of green or eco-cemeteries in recent years indicates there are growing numbers of people who wish to have minimal impact on this earth while alive AND after they depart.
Environmentally friendly burial services, termed “natural burials”, have grown in popularity since their inception in the UK in 1993 (the year after my school class visited our local cemetery). In a natural burial, the deceased is prepared without the use of embalming fluids or chemical preservatives, which are used to slow the process of degradation. The body is placed in a biodegradable coffin or body bag and is buried in a shallow grave, where microbe-rich soil can efficiently break down the body and return nutrients to the soil.
This contrasts to conventional graves where the body of the deceased is embalmed to preserve against decay and is wrapped in a shroud or placed in a coffin. Coffins are usually covered by a grave liner or a burial vault (typically made of concrete), which prevents the coffin from collapsing under the weight of the earth. The coffin is placed several metres below the soil surface where decomposition is less likely to occur.
The goal of a green cemetery is for the land to remain in as natural state as possible. Rather than a headstone, each body is buried with its own GPS transmitting device so relatives can located their loved ones. Some green cemeteries even mark each grave with a natural object, such as native trees, wildflowers or a boulder. Natural burials therefore have the “dust to dust” appeal of cremation (through beneficial biodegradation rather than ash) while still providing a visitable place for mourners – win win!
Most states in Australia now have at least one natural burial ground. Many conventional cemeteries are also offering “greener” options for burial including the opportunity to decline the concrete grave liner or use local, rather than imported stone for the burial monument.
With any luck by the time I pass away (I’m hoping that won’t be for another 50 years at least!) natural burials will be common place and our burial grounds will closely resemble natural bushland rather than manicured lawns or derelict graveyards. In the meantime, I’ll let my husband and other close relatives know my green burial wish and choice of eco-cemetery.
I find the idea of having my body decomposing under my own native tree strangely comforting and much more appealing than being enclosed within a rusted gate, beneath a cracking headstone or even having my ashes placed in a concrete wall.
Have you given much thought to your final resting place? I’d love for you to share below.
About the Author: Laura Trotta is an eco mum, environmental engineer and founder of Sustainababy. She is passionate about helping parents lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Laura lives in regional South Australia with her husband and two young sons.