27 October 2011
By: Laura Trotta (BEng(Enviro), MSc (Enviro Chemistry))
The welcome of a new addition to the family is typically accompanied by an influx of items into the household. Fuelled with the excitement of becoming parents and information from advertisers who outline all the ‘must have’ baby products, it’s understandable why many first time parents go a little overboard when shopping for baby.
Add the inundation of presents from a baby shower and again after bub arrives, it’s not surprising many families move to a larger house to accommodate baby, or more accurately, all the stuff that accompanies their arrival.
The truth that marketers and retailers don’t want you to know is that babies don’t need
all this stuff. Here are some common items that you can easily do without and alternatives that will take some pressure off our environment and your family budget and prevent your home being taken over by baby clutter:
1. Baby Bath – the kitchen or laundry sink works just fine
– place baby into a cot from birth to minimise risk of SIDS
3. Baby Monitor – unless you live in a mansion you will hear your baby cry
4. Disposable Nappies and Wipes
– switch to cloth nappies
and reusable wipes
to save over 5300 disposable nappies and 15,900 disposable wipes per child going to landfill and save yourself over $3600 in the process
5. Nappy Bags and Nappy Disposal Systems – if you do use disposables, reuse freezer bags from your supermarket shop for soiled nappies only
6. Commercial Baby Food
– vegetables, fruits and soon afterwards, family food (and a stick blender) are easy to prepare and are healthier for your baby or try Baby Led Weaning
7. Bottles, Infant Formula and Steriliser – breast feed if mother has successfully been able to establish feeding
8. Sippy Cups – babies from six months can easily been taught to drink from a regular cup
9. Baby Play Centre and toys, toys and more toys – read and sing to your baby or wear your baby instead if you need to get other things done. Supervised, daily tummy time when awake is beneficial for your baby’s development.
10. Baby Exercise Jumper
and Baby Walker
– not recommended due to developmental and safety concerns.[iv],[v]
You are your baby’s best toy.
11. Baby DVDs – ditch the TV until your baby is well past two years and your child’s brain and language development will thank you for it. Read books to your child instead and encourage free play.
12. Baby Shoes
– until your baby is up and walking opt for growsuits with feet enclosed or socks to keep feet warm. Hard soled shoes can impair baby’s foot development.[vi]
13. Baby Body Products – newborn skin is super sensitive and doesn’t need to be bathed in lotions and potions. To minimise eczema and other skin conditions, use water or unscented certified organic bath and body products suitable for newborns and don’t bath your baby every day (top to toe washes are fine).
So, if you are expecting a baby in the near future, reconsider the purchase of the above items and save yourself thousands of dollars, a home cluttered with items you’ll soon want to offload and unnecessary environmental impact. If you discover you do want or need some of these items, ask your friends whose children are past the infant stage if they have any baby items they want to pass on. You may just find your friends are more than happy for you to take these objects off their hands for free!
About the author:
Laura Trotta (BEng (Enviro), MSc (Enviro Chem)) is an eco mum, environmental engineer and founder of Sustainababy
. She lives in regional South Australia with her husband Paul and son Matthew.
24 October 2011
By: Tanya Fyfe (B.Eng(Environmental))
After reading that sitting babies like to play in boxes, I thought I’d try putting my then 9 month old son in an empty fruit box. Success! He seemed to like is own space and would play happily on his own for... well...minutes. But then I left my husband unsupervised for a day and the box was transformed into a personalised sailing boat!
Boxes are hugely diverse toys that have the added bonus of being reused, reusable and free. If you don’t have any around the house, see if your local shops have some to give away. As Billy grows I look forward to turning this and progressively larger boxes into cars, buses, aeroplanes, cubbies and perhaps a Cinderella carriage? Or maybe that last one should wait for a daughter.
This sailing boat is made entirely of things we had around the house, which will later be reused or recycled. The sail is a cotton wrap secured with nappy pins, the masts are pieces of dowel and the bow (front of the boat) is made from an empty cat food box. Having small children is definitely an opportunity to let your imagination run wild and make the most of things you have around the house.
About the author: Tanya Fyfe is an eco mum and environmental engineer and lives in the WA goldfields with her husband Andy and son Billy. The family’s aim is to live sustainably and for Billy to grow up understanding where food comes from and how it is produced. They generate solar electricity and have an organic vegie garden and modest orchard irrigated entirely with grey water.
21 October 2011
By: Laura Trotta
I don't know if it has been the recent change in season or parenting an increasingly inquisitive little boy that gets into anything that's lying around, but I have been reducing clutter with a vengence in my home of late. Last weekend my wardrobe was attacked and the spare room now has three extra boxes to hopefully find new owners at our garage sale in a few weeks time.
I'm a firm believer that clutter free living (mainly living with less stuff) is one of the first steps to living more sustainably, however, it is not a skill that comes naturally to me. I'm one of those annoying people that move onto the next activity as soon as they finish the one they were doing, often without packing up the first activity properly. Unpacking suitcases from trips away (or should I say not promptly unpacking them) is a case in point.
The drive to learn how to live more clutter-free was behind my choice to attend a presentation by Helen Butler of Clutter Rescue at the recent AusMumpreneur's Conference. Exuding calm and organisation, Helen talked us through the benefits of living clutter-free and steps we could take to remove unneccessary stuff from our lives and prevent it from entering our homes in the first place! I was so inspired by Helen that I've asked her a few questions so you can perhaps live a little more clutter free too.
Have you always been an organised person?
I'd like to say that I was born with the organising gene but I also know that my organising skills have been learnt over time – and definitely developed growing up as a child. I grew up in a household of six and we had to take on our share of responsibility. From a very early age we were doing jobs, organising our own school resources (including sewing our own school uniforms) and helping Mum and Dad around the house. My Mum was always very organised (she had no other choice with such a busy family!) and I definitely learnt a lot from her.
What are your top five tips for how people can live clutter-free?
- Focus on what kind of life you want. Work with your vision in mind to clear the clutter in your space, time and life.
- Only have items in your home that are useful or beautiful. The rest can go. Surround yourself with the things you love and you can’t go wrong.
- Every item has to have a home. As soon as you bring something into your home find the perfect place for it to live – and return it there if it’s ever moved.
- Create routines around clearing the clutter. Enlist the help of all members of your home to follow the “one in one out” rule. Routines will bring clarity to your life, time and space.
- Think twice when shopping. Do you have something similar at home that is just as good? Only buy what your need (not what you want).
How do you believe living with less clutter is beneficial for our environment?
We live is such a disposable environment. Regardless of whether we are buying disposable plates or new electronic equipment, a lot of people tend to throw out the old and replace it with something new (even if the old item is not that old!). If only one person decided to buy less – less toys for the kids at Christmas, less clothes that look nearly identical to everything else in the wardrobe, less 'new' items because the other one is 'old' - our environment would thank us for it. I firmly believe that if each and every one of us was to focus on our life experiences instead of our life possessions we would live a much more fulling life – and the environment would thank us for it.
In your business, where do you find people need the most help?
Initially my clients contact me to help with a specific area of their home – quite often the office space or kid-related clutter – but then we usually end up moving through every area of the home to organise and declutter. Quite often once the bigger decluttering problem is solved the client sees the benefit of the process and asks us to continue in other problem areas of their home. After we've sorted the physical space we usually then move onto organising their time through time management coaching. As I work with busy mums there are a lot of things to juggle – and we help them find time for themselves in their schedule.
Are there any other benefits to de-cluttering that you'd like to add?
Making the decision to get on top of your clutter – whether the clutter problem is Space or Time-related – really gives you a sense of control and clarity. With a sense of control and clarity you are able to make more effective decisions relating to your life and what you want to achieve. Our time on this planet is so short – I don't want clutter to weigh you down and stop you from living your best life!
Below is a before and after example of a cupboard where Helen has worked her magic. We need to tackle those old photo albums in our home too!
To receive ongoing inspiration on leading a more organised and clutter free life, follow Helen on Twitter or Facebook and/or subscribe to her newsletter to receive her FREE E-Book "The Insider's Guide to a Clutter Free Life."
18 October 2011
A child's first teeth are important, as speech and the child's appearance are strongly influenced by emerging teeth. According to Dr Agim Hymer of First Bite Dental, dentistry for children is all about education and prevention. Increase the likelihood of your children having strong cavity free teeth by including the following tips in your child’s routine:
- Even before they have teeth, infants should have their gums cleaned. Use a gauze pad or infant washcloth after feedings and before bedtime.
- Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle.
- Brush your children’s teeth until they are three years old, then start encouraging them to join in. Children under four should use a simple brushing technique such as a small circular brushing motion.
- Take your children to the dentist with you for a quick check up and to familiarise them with the process. Even if they just have a ride in the chair for now!
- Make teeth brushing fun by brushing your teeth together. You can set a good example and your child can learn by watching and imitating you.
From six months of age, Jack n' Jill Natural Toothpaste can help make teeth brushing fun with their tasty range of children's toothpaste. With xylitol to fight tooth decay and organic calendula to soothe gums, children will be enthusiastic to learn about oral hygiene with the delicious certified organic flavours on offer (think blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, banana and blackcurrant). Combine by brushing with the BPA-free Jack n' Jill Toothbrushes or silicone finger brushes and your child's first teeth will be off to a great start!
16 October 2011
By: Laura Trotta
Some days, despite my love for cooking, keeping up the stream of healthy and tasty meals and snacks for my family can seem neverending. Add an energetic almost-two year old into the mix and and I can understand why some parents opt for convenience food.
Lately I've been involving my son Matthew in the food preparation process to provide a stimulating activity for him as well as get that healthy treat on the table. This process has the added benefit of feeding Matthew's desire to imitate me and teach him about healthy eating habits and food preparation from a young age.
So, last week we made the savoury scone recipe below together for afternoon tea and they were a bigger hit than usual given that Matthew was involved in the process. The ten minutes they took to cook wasn't too long for him either - he simply would peer through the glass oven door to see how they were going!
Recipe: Savoury Scones
- 2 cups SR Flour (I use Four Leaf Milling Organic Wholemeal SR Flour)
- 60g butter
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 1/2 carrot, grated
- 1/2 sml zucchini, grated
- 2 tbl tasty cheese, grated
- 2 rashes short cut bacon, chopped
- Milk to combine
- Sift flour and rub in butter.
- Add other ingredients and combine with milk to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto lightly floured board and knead as lightly as possible (don't over knead as your scones will turn out very tough).
- Roll out and stamp out with a round cutter. Place on tray lined with baking paper.
- Glaze with egg yolk or milk.
- Bake in hot oven (200°C gas, 230°C electricty) for 7-10 minutes until brown on top and underneath.
Wrap in clean tea towel when cooked and serve!
Note: For a vegetarian alternative, omit the bacon.
About the author: Laura Trotta is an eco mum, environmental engineer and founder of Sustainababy. With a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering, a Masters of Science in Environmental Chemistry, and over ten years working as an environmental engineer for large corporations, 'eco' has always been a way of life for Laura, rather than the latest trend. She lives in Roxby Downs with her husband Paul and son Matthew.