29 June 2014

Live with Less this July and WIN with Clutter Rescue

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My New Year’s Resolution many years ago was to get rid of the piles of ‘stuff’ in my home.   There were piles of paperwork ‘stuff’, projects-I’d-been-meaning-to-do ‘stuff’, last week’s lunchbox ‘stuff’, even piles of never-used get fit ‘stuff’. 

‘Stuff’ that I had been meaning to use, or do something with, or make a home for – and, if I’m honest, a lot of redundant ‘stuff’ that I’d purchased on a whim.

I knew that if I could just sort my ‘stuff’, put some good organising systems in place, and learn to live with less; I would have more time for the stuff that’s important.  After all, the stuff that’s important in life is not ‘stuff’, right?

It’s not just ‘time’ that my stuff was costing me.  The environmental cost of my ‘stuff’ could be measured directly by the number of hardly-used items that were headed for landfill, not to mention the waste of resources used to create idle products, unless I acted immediately!

Does this sound like you?

This month Sustainababy is teaming up with Helen Butler, Founder and Director of Clutter Rescue, to talk on the blog about getting organised and ‘Living with Less’. In the meantime, we’re inviting you to join the "Living with Less" July Sustainababy Eco Challenge for your chance to WIN a place on the Clutter Rescue 28 Day Organising Boot Camp.

Clutter Rescue helps busy Mums, just like you and I, obtain more balance in their lives. Clutter Rescue Founder and Director, Helen is renowned for sharing her real and honest advice on the best ways to get organised, to create a decluttered space and schedule, and to develop helpful kids.

If you are keen to take part in the “Living with Less” July 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 ecoceptionalTM people taking part in the eco challenge who can support you along the way;
  • For the month of July, make a concerted effort to declutter your life and live with less. Maybe you will deal with your ‘stuff’, downsize, develop some organising systems or simplify your weekly routine;
  • If you’d like to be in the running to WIN a place on the Clutter Rescue 28 Day Organising Boot Camp, you will need to tell us how you lived with less throughout the month of July.

     You can either do this by: 

  1. Creating a video and posting the link on our Facebook page;
  2. Blogging about the Sustainababy July “Living with Less” Eco Challenge on your personal or business blog (and posting the link to our Facebook page); OR
  3. Emailing a short summary of your journey (500 words maximum) and supporting photographs with subject line “July Eco Challenge” to info@sustainababy.com.au before 5pm AEST Tuesday 5th August.  Please ensure that 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 AEST on Wednesday, 6th August 2014.  Our July Eco Challenge is open to Australian and international residents.  

CATEGORY: eco challenge, live with less, minimalist, organise, clutter rescue | POSTED BY: Belinda Doyle |

25 June 2014

Ecotain with a Generous Party

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This is a sponsored post.

If you’re reading this, then chances are that you are among the thousands of other eco-parents in the Sustainababy e-Community who are actively concerned about reducing waste to create a sustainable future for their children.   
 
This month at Sustainababy, we are talking about ‘Ecotaining’ – the art of showing hospitality to your guests without having long-term impacts on the environment. We have already shared our top tips for hosting a memorable birthday party that is kinder to the environment, but there is no question that the topic of ‘presents’ sends a wave of dread through even the most experienced EcoceptionalTM parent.
 
As a party host, many parents choose to include the request for ‘no gifts’ on their invitations. In the context of a birthday celebration though, our modern culture often leaves guests feeling uncomfortable arriving empty-handed (particularly to a child’s birthday party). Requesting a donation to charity in lieu of gifts is noble, but how do you explain the lack of gifts to a small child? This is particularly true if your child has recently been to another birthday party where the pile of presents was large.
 
If you can relate to this dilemma, then the team at Generous Party have come up with a solution that may suit you – the ability for your guests to donate to charity, pool their resources for a gift for the birthday child, while reducing the long-term impact on the environment. Clever!
 
With three children of their own, the creators of Generous Party know first-hand that gifts from birthdays and other occasions can accumulate quickly, regardless of the good intentions from kind family and friends.
 
Based in Australia, Generous Party is an online birthday party planner that gives parents an opportunity to teach their children to be grateful for the things they have, to learn to give back to those in need, and to choose one meaningful and lasting gift to celebrate their birthday.
 
This is how it works:
  •  Parents and the birthday child (the ‘party hosts’) can plan their party by choosing from a variety of online invitations available on the Generous Party website;
  • The parent and child then choose one charity to support;
  • Party invitations are sent to guests via email (better for the environment) and instead of bringing a wrapped gift purchased in a shop, guests are asked to make a secure online gift contribution on the Generous Party website;
  • All gift contributions from guests are then pooled. After deducting an administration fee, Generous Party sends half the party proceeds to the Party Host to purchase a gift for their child, and the remaining half to their charity or charities of choice.
 
There is an RSVP management function for both the party planners and attendees, where details such as allergies or other special requirements can be conveyed.  Following the party, the host can select thank you e-cards to email to their guests.
 
Benefits of hosting a Generous Party:
  • Easy for busy parents (both host and guests);
  • The celebration becomes more about making a difference to the lives of others, eliminating waste and teaching children the value of quality versus quantity;
  • Eco-friendly by cutting back on unnecessary use of paper used in cards, invites, gift wrapping and unwanted gifts;
  • Instead of receiving lots of small gifts that children may not want or need, the birthday child will receive one special gift from all of their guests.
 
Take the hassle out of ecotaining and consider Generous Party as a solution for your next special event.
 
 

CATEGORY: Environmentally Friendly Party, Generous Party, Ecotaining, Eco Party | POSTED BY: Belinda Doyle |

20 June 2014

Eco-Friendly Party Games

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June is all about Ecotaining with Sustainababy - providing hospitality to guests whilst minimising long-term impact on the environment.  This month Tina Hart, owner of Eco Party Box, our friend and sponsor of the June Eco Challenge, shares her tips for eco-friendly party games. 

When it comes to organising a party, it most often requires a bit of extra effort to make it eco friendly.
 
However, when it comes to the games - its easy!
 
You know the ones I mean? Musical Chairs, Musical Statues, Simon Says, Red Rover, What's the time Mr Wolf, Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Pass the Parcel.
 
The main detail for making games eco-friendly is ensuring that the prizes are healthy for the planet and ensuring the activities have a natural and eco-friendly feel to them.
 
For children's parties, activities can work just as well as games and are maybe a better choice, especially for the children under the age of five.
 
Activities like craft or painting keep children occupied for longer, they can go at their own pace and they feel less overwhelmed being in a group setting if that is something that is new to them.  
 
It does take a bit of planning for more eco-friendly activities but  parties involving craft, which give the partygoers a self-made gift to take home, always make the party extra special and unique.
 
Here are some suggested games/activities for different ages to add to the eco-friendly theme at parties.
 

0-2 year olds

Children of this age group are generally too young for organised games, but there are some awesome activities that they just love. For instance rolling balls around, using building blocks or soft toys, telling a story and singing simple songs. For the outdoors there's water and sand play.
 

3-5 year olds

Simple games and activites that are hands on and keep them busy are best for this age group. Ideas include dress ups, natural play dough, colouring in, painting with water paints (see Eco Party Box's range here) and simple craft such as ribbon stick making.
 
A planting party is great for this age group. Have an area set up outsides with jiffy pots, dirt and seeds for the children (see Eco Party Box's range here). Not only is this an entertaining activity but the party goers will get to take their gift home.
 
You can also paint their faces with eco friendly face paint.
 
If you can't resist a game, then Simon says, Musical Statues, Pass the Parcel and Pin the Tail On the Donkey, Ring Toss or something similar (Pin the Spider On the Web, Pin the Eye-Patch on the Pirate, Pin the Tiara on the Princess, etc).
 
 
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Prizes could include organic cotton finger puppets or rainbow crayons.

6-8 year olds

This is the perfect age group for games that require running, dancing and more physical activity. Suggested games include Treasure/Scavenger Hunts, Apple Bobbing, Doggy Doggy Where Is Your Bone? Musical Chairs or Egg and Spoon Race.
 
Having a themed party with a chosen activity is great for this age group too. Some suggestions include a baking/cooking party where everyone is given an apron and can decorate pre-made cookies, cupcakes or make bread, pizza or maybe jam-making. 
 
For a creative child, an art party is ideal. Supply secondhand bits and pieces such as fabric, buttons, corks, wooden beads and wood for the guests to create something fabulous. You could be more specific and make candles or salted dough ornaments.  Pressing flowers or have pre-pressed flowers for children to use for special bookmarks and/or cards is another fun and simple activity.
 
 

8 -12 year old

This age group calls for more entertainment and creativity especially if you are having a home party.
 
You can build on the art party idea by having children make recycled rainbow crayons or decorate a T-shirt, cushion, or a plain calico bag. For girls, have a pamper party and make all natural products. Some ideas include a Banana and Avocado Face Mask, Rosemary and Mint Sea Salt Bath Mix to soak feet in. 
 
For boys, a mini adventure party where you can set up walking beams, make simple bow and arrows for children to shoot at a target, rock climbing, climbing trees, a flying fox. Some of these ideas take planning but you can do them simply at home with old tyres and some rope. Other activites for this age group include kite-making, wood making (buy bag of wood from local hardware store) and supply nails and hammer. Of course supervision is required for some of these activities.
 
Games that appeal to this age-group include Musical Chairs, Red Rover, Donuts on a String, Apple Bobbing, What's in the Bag (Put interesting items in bags, blindfold person and have them guess. Do not reveal what's in the bag until all people have had a turn). A detailed Treasure/Scavenger hunt with written clues, Potato Sack Races and Three-Legged Races can also be well received.
 
Prizes for this age group could include hacky sacks, gem chip bracelets, hemp bracelets, wooden pencils with a notebook, second-hand books, jiffy pots, organic chocolates or lollies.
 
References: "Enchanted Birthday" by Collette Leenman, "Naturally Fun Parties for kids" by Anni Daulter with Heather fontenot, "Kids in the Garden" by Women's Weekly, "Eco Party Box" blog on party games. 
 
About the Author: Tina Hart is an ecoceptionalTM mum, qualified naturopath and founder of Eco Party Box. She lives in Port Willunga with her husband Jonathan and four children.
 

CATEGORY: Eco Party Box, ecotain, Eco Friendly party ideas | POSTED BY: Belinda Doyle |

16 June 2014

May Eco Challenge Winners

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For the month of May we asked our Eco Challenge community to 'Choose Life, Choose Organic' by purchasing organic items where possible for the month. In doing so, our Eco Challengers told producers not to use chemicals, to care for our soils, animals and indeed workers involved in producing the product.
 
Raelene Sutton and Kyra Corbyn are our joint winners of the May 'Choose Life, Choose Organic' Eco Challenge. Their winning blog entries are published below.
 
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By: Raelene Sutton

There are a few reasons I choose to buy organic foods for my family, the main one is to reduce the amount of pesticides that we inadvertently eat. I also want to support farmers who practice the organic way of growing food. I realise that when foods are grown without pesticides and chemical fertilisers, the produce yielded is reduced and I want to pay the farmers accordingly.

So yes, I pay a premium price for my organic fruit, veg, nuts, grains and meat. There are ways to reduce this cost though. Shop around.

I buy my organic dried fruits, nuts, cereal and flours from a co-op I run with a couple of friends. Provided we reach a minimum order of $500, we pay the wholesale price instead of retail, which ends up being similar if not just slightly more than conventional prices of these foods from the supermarket. When possible, I would buy Australian grown. I specifically choose to buy organic quinoa and chia seeds that are grown in Australia, even if they are more expensive than their overseas equivalent. I had actually done an order in May as I was running out of some pantry supply, so my pantry is now overflowing with dried fruits, cereal and flour. With organic flour, it is best to put it in the freezer for at least 72 hours to kill off any weevil eggs.

We make a weekly trip to buy our organic beef from a butcher a few suburbs away. The butcher actually owns a cattle ranch in Mudgee and he mainly exports his meat, so the price he charges at his butcher shop is quite low for organic meat.

I’m lucky to live in Sydney and have access to a number of online organic fruit and veg delivery service. I find the price and variety of fresh food they offer is much better than what Coles and Woolworths offer. There are times when I do buy organic foods from Coles and Woolworths, especially when the price they offer is significantly cheaper than at the health store. At my local Woolworth’s they are currently selling organic bananas for $1.49/kilo. It was even cheaper than the non-organic bananas!

We have 2 small vegie gardens to supplement our foods and after failing to grow a reasonable broccoli, capsicum, corn and carrot crops, I would happily pay top dollar to the farmers who grow them organically.

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By: Kyra Corbyn

Choosing organic is such a wonderful challenge and, until you get in the swing of it after completing a degree in label reading and having found a few reliable suppliers, a challenge it may seem.

My organic journey began when we fell pregnant with our awesome little man, Reef, now 22 months old. I had some knowledge of the effects of chemical use due to my fetish for natural health mags, but it was the consideration that our choices were going to affect the little person we created, that prompted my husband and I to start taking little steps towards an organic lifestyle.

We started with basics - first was baby stuff. Because little folks are an expensive venture (no matter how tight you attempt to keep the budget), we decided that nappies, singlets, pjs and linen would be an organic must as babies spend soooooo much time in these.

When it came time for solids we found a local supplier who, every fortnight, delivers an awesome mixed box of fresh organic produce as well as most pantry staples. We find anything else we need from the supermarket - they have a great organic range ... even in a small community.

As body care products, make up, laundry detergent and other cleaning products ran out they were replaced by as much organic (or natural, non-toxic) as possible.

As I am now confident that our home and lifestyle is a pure and safe little world, I used this challenge to share the love and knowledge. Not to push too hard, I sent a subtle little package to my amazing sister and niece. I included two sunning little organic cotton outfits as well as my much loved copy of 'Raising chemical fee kids in a toxic world'. I now pray that they are put to 'some' use as my sister (as awesome as she is), believes that we who 'Eco-care' are just a bunch of tree huggin hippies. ;)

Thanks so much the perfect excuse to pass on an awesome gift.

Congratulations Raelene and Kyra. By choosing organic, you have told the world just what an ecoceptionalTM world you want. For your efforts, you have both won a $100 Gaia Organic Cotton gift voucher to spend on products of your choice in their online store. Enjoy!

Thank you to Gaia Organic Cotton for sponsoring the May Eco Challenge.  If you would like to sponsor future Eco Challenges and introduce your brand to our large following of eco parents, please email info@sustainababy.com.au.

CATEGORY: Gaia Organic Cotton, Eco Challenge | POSTED BY: Belinda Doyle |

15 June 2014

2014 Essential Winter Nursery Guide

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1. ergoPouch Organic Cotton Quilt Sleepbag 3.5 TOG - Blue stars and stripes; 2. Coq en Pate Mibo Backpack - Red rabbit; 3. Uimi Kids Beci Mitten; 4. Maya Organic Ma Me Pa; 5. Baobab Baby Hoodie Grey; 6. Petite Collage Bamboo Mobile; 7. Baobab Baby Red Jean; 8. Uimi Baby Mimi Mitten; 9. milk & masuki Blanket - Penguins; 10. Merino Kids GO GO Bag - Mint; 11. Uimi Sophia Merino Blanket - Azalea; 12. Keptin Jr Blankiez Music Box Flower - Red; 13. Purebaby Growsuit - Grey multi stripe; 14. Merino Kids Pyjama - Mint

CATEGORY: clothes, nursery, winter, baby | POSTED BY: Belinda Doyle |

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