26 October 2013
This November Sustainababy is eco challenging you to GET YOUR KIDS GRUBBY for your chance to WIN a Gardening 4 Kids Gardening Pack valued at $94.
If your garden is looking a little overgrown and tired after winter, November is the month to turn off your TV, dress your kids in old clothing, slap on a hat and sunscreen and give your yard some love.
Gardening is great for kids. It connects children with nature, encourages healthy eating habits, teaches children about responsibility, stimulates all five senses and relaxes children just to name a few! To learn just how gardening is great for kids click here.
You don't need to live on a quarter acre block in suburbia to excel in this challenge either. Some large pots, a windowsill and a good dose of creativity can see you reaping the benefits of gardening even if you live in a unit or townhouse.
How you get your kids grubby is up to you but may include some of the following:
- Starting a vegie patch
- Growing your own mushrooms
- Installing a compost bin or worm farm to take all your food scraps
- Adopting some chickens
- Joining your local community garden
- or simply, making mud pies!
Document your journey of discovery through the month for your chance to WIN a Gardening 4 Kids Gardening Pack valued at $94. This pack includes everything you need to give your kids a green thumb: a Twigz My First Gardening Tools Set, one Twigz Watering Can (choice of colour), one dirtgirlworld Go Get Grubby DVD and a planetecoVegie Patch Kit.
Keen to do the Eco Challenge? This is what you’ll need to do:
- Request to join our closed Sustainababy Monthly Eco Challenge Group here
- For the month of November endeavour to Get Your Kids Grubby in your garden in as many different ways you can.
- Write a short summary of your journey (500 words maximum) and email your summary and photographs with subject line “November Eco Challenge” to firstname.lastname@example.org before midday AEDST Monday 9th December. Please ensure your summary is grammatically correct as the winning summary will be published word for word.
- The winner will be contacted by email and their summary will be published on our blog no later than 5pm AEDST Wednesday 11th December 2013.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get your kids grubby!
11 October 2013
Little Innoscents, Australia's leading organic and natural baby skin care range, have just released their long-awaited sunscreen and Sustainababy is celebrating by offering THREE 100ml TUBES to one lucky follower. Pop one in your nappy bag, leave one at home and keep one in your pram or car - wherever you're mostly likely to need it for quick applications.
Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and we simply can't afford not to follow the slip, slop, slap and shade message...... especially for our precious bub's skin.
Little Innoscents Sun Lotion is a physical sunscreen and is comprised of a zinc oxide base with soothing Aloe Vera and Calendula. Free from Nano-particles and chemical absorbers it is a perfect choice of sun protection for babies and young children. It offer broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays and is not as thick as other zinc-based sun lotions on the market.
To WIN three tubes of this fantastic sun lotion, simply comment below in 25 words or less why you need Little Innoscents Sun Lotion. This promotion is now closed. Congratulations to Jane for her winning entry below.
To read how else you can protect your baby's precious skin from sun damage click here.
To shop the range of Little Innoscents natural and organic baby skin and body care click here.
10 October 2013
By: Laura Trotta
I've been thinking about today for months.
Ever since my friend Leah invited me to her Thermomix demonstration earlier this year not a day has passed without me dreaming of this machine. As a self-confessed foodie and keen "make it from scratch" home chef, I really had to stop myself from drooling when I first saw the Thermomix in action.
Short of stacking and unstacking your dishwasher, this baby claims to do just about anything in the kitchen. It can chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and weigh food and will even wash itself when done.
The catch is the price. It is a slightly-scary $1939. Yup. That's why I've been thinking about it for months and only after going to several demos, and having my own recently where I really grilled the demonstrator, did I take the plunge.
You see, my youngest son is wheat intolerant and I'm a bit over paying $6.50 for a small loaf of gluten free bread that if left on the bench, will stay "fresh" for days. Our family also slurps down over 5 kilos of yoghurt a week and while I buy this in bulk containers, I'd really like to make my own. Based on yoghurt and bread making alone, I figured I'd save enough cash to pay off the Thermomix in no time.
Which leads me to today.
I was like a little girl at Christmas time. I couldn't get the machine out of the box fast enough. After carefully washing each component and skimming over the instruction booklet, I put it into action as fast as I could and made my first loaf of gluten free bread. Oh, and a batch of chocolate almond cupcakes for good measure!
I decided to share my first impressions of the machine with you today, as you'll no doubt hear me ramble on about it in future posts.
- All the things it can do.
- The ability to make food from scratch in a fraction of the time compared to conventional methods.
- Without a doubt, cost. The upfront cost is a big deterrent but if used regularly it appears it can be saved back pretty quickly.
- Noise. I milled my own rice flour and almond meal today and the noise was too loud for me and had Mr 16 months in major tears. I will need to re-think how and when I do my milling and grinding. Ear protection will be a must!
On the whole I was thrilled with my first two dishes and the rest of the family lapped them up in no time. I truly can't wait to further experiment with my new toy.
Do you own a Thermomix? I'd love to hear what you think of the machine and your favourite dishes. Feel free to share below.
Please note: All opinions in this article are that of the author. No payment was received by Thermomix for this article.
About the Author: Laura Trotta is an environmental engineer, eco mum and founder of Sustainababy. She is passionate about organic gardening and clean eating and ensuring her family eat a healthy and varied diet free from preservatives. Laura lives in regional South Australia with her husband and two young sons.
9 October 2013
By: Penny Worland
Penny Worland signed up to the Sustainababy September Eco Challenge to rid her home of chemicals over an entire month. This is the story of her journey...........
This month Laura challenged us to 'Rid our home of chemicals.' I was a tad overwhelmed when reading this as I use chemicals to clean my clothes, floors, walls and even my face!
I started by researching chemical free living online but that was a mistake as it just made me aware of things I didn't need to worry about. In previous Sustainababy Eco Challenges I have focused on the topic in a small way rather than trying to achieve everything. For example, in August’s Buy Australian Made challenge I ensured I bought Australian fruits and veggies. So, this month I set out to revisit my floor cleaning, personal hygiene, and as it turns out, how to clean a whiteboard!
I read on the Sustainababy Eco Challenge Facebook group that Eucalyptus oil is a great chemical free cleaning product and I now 100% agree. Thank you Laura - I am now converted!
Eucalyptus oil can come in solution and also pure oil. I tried out both forms and they seemed to give me the results I wanted. I tackled the floors first! As shown in the photo of the mop bucket it looks just like I am cleaning the floors with water. I had to think twice if I had actually put anything into the water! But no, it contains the floor shining secret ingredient- eucalyptus! Not only does it smell fantastic, there are no 'chemical bubbles.' I used to think the bubblier the better the clean. Not anymore! Another bonus of cleaning the floor with eucalyptus oil is that it is toddler friendly - no skin burns from the nasty bleach hidden in the cleaner! So after a mop I now have shiny floors and a toddler willing to help with the mopping! A WIN and a WIN! Never too early to harness their love for cleaning, right?
Another use for eucalyptus oil and solution (yes I tried it with both) is cleaning a whiteboard! We have two whiteboards in the house - one for weekly schedules and the other for our toddler and me to draw on! For this I mixed a little eucalyptus oil with vinegar and a tad of water! Have a look at the picture, it worked!!! This whiteboard has been like this for a few weeks now, and I was about to give in to the fact that the markings would be there for good and that permanent marker was indeed permanent. After a quick scrub down with my mixture my toddler literally has a clean canvas to work with! Magic!!!
Lastly, I came across the TOM organic range of personal hygiene products! They are organic and chemical-free and are much better for our bodies! Although menstrual cups (another product I had never heard of) were discussed on the Sustainababy Eco Challenge Facebook Group I don't think they are suited to me. I am happy that the TOM personal hygiene products tick the boxes in my book and honestly for a few extra cents I think my body is worth it!
So that’s my journey for September. Not too exciting but I had fun falling in love with eucalyptus oil as a cleaning agent, and I am a little excited to work out what else I can do with it! Do you think it would clean the walls, I haven't decided whether or not to try it yet?!!?!?!
Congratulations Penny! You have won yourself a 1kg bag of Pure Revolution Soap Nuts. Soap nuts are small outer shells of a berry grown on trees in the Himalayas. They contain saponin, a naturally foaming surfactant which acts like detergent when immersed in water, This creates a 100% safe, natural and chemical-free substitute for commercial detergents.
Thank you to Pure Revolution for sponsoring the Sustainababy September Eco Challenge. If you would like to sponsor future Sustainababy Eco Challenges and introduce your product to our large following of eco parents, please contact email@example.com.
3 October 2013
By: Tanya Fyfe (BEng(Environmental))
Since the birth of our eldest son in 2010, my husband has been the primary breadwinner for our family. A few weeks ago, and shortly after the arrival of our second son, his position was made redundant and we suddenly found ourselves in the daunting position that has faced many families in recent times of having no regular income for an unknown period of time.
We have two small children, live in a stock-standard 1970s style house on a normal suburban block and like most Australian families, have a mortgage to service.
I consider ourselves fortunate that our living expenses are much lower than those of many families, partly due to decisions we have made to lower our environmental footprint. It is this sustainable lifestyle that has helped give us a little “breathing space” while my husband and I search for regular paid employment.
Here are some of the ways we live sustainably and make our saved dollar stretch as far as possible:
We have a good stash of cloth nappies, a combination of modern cloth nappies and old-fashioned flats. Most of these were bought three years ago before our eldest was born, and are now serving their second tour of duty. We only use disposable wipes when we are out. At home we use a combination of face washers and squares of an old towel.
(2) Clothes and toys
We never say no to hand-me-downs and in turn, pass them on when we are finished. Op shops are also great when we need to buy extras, and our local rubbish tip has a recycling shed that is a source of free toys. We have been lucky enough to borrow some items that we only need for a short time, such as a baby capsule. Other baby items that we did buy have been lent to others between children – what goes around comes around! When our boys are given toys as gifts, our family are well practiced at giving less, good quality toys that last the test of time. Daddy’s 30-year-old Lego is still going strong, and hopefully our boys’ wooden toys will last just as long.
(3) Baby food
Our youngest is exclusively breastfed, so we’re lucky to have no monetary costs there. Once he starts on solids at around six months, it will not be packaged baby food. Like his big brother, the plan is for his first meal to be mashed spuds that he will ‘help’ harvest from the garden. Thereafter he will eat a combination of homemade purees and mashes, and finger feeds from the family meals.
(4) Fast food
We very rarely buy takeaway food and not just because we live in a small town where takeaway options are limited! We make our own pizza, fried rice or fish and chips sometimes (those home grown spuds again) and they taste so much better our way. On those days when cooking just seems too hard, we have frozen home-cooked meals in the freezer. These are easily topped up when they run low by cooking extra-large batches on days we do cook.
(5) From the garden
We have eggs from the chooks and ducks, some fruit from our own trees and a selection of vegies from the garden. Our vegie garden might not get as much love as it did pre-kids, but we manage to keep the staples going.
(6) Preserved food
Although not on the scale my Mum manages it, we do preserve our surplus harvest for use during the year. I make cordial when the grapefruit are in season, bottle bulk fruit that spice up breakfast all year and freeze lemon juice into iceblocks. I have sun dried apricots too, the Australian summer is perfect for this but they don’t last because they are too yummy!
We installed solar cells on our roof and actually look forward to our power bills as our account is always in credit!
Although our house has reverse cycle air conditioning, it has been rarely used since we installed roof insulation. We also open and shut up the house to take advantage of the daily warmer and cooler periods and dress according to the weather.
Our family has one car and we strive to walk everywhere we need to go in town. If done briskly this is good exercise. At toddler pace it makes for a pleasant morning outing!
Our family does not go without. We just meet our wants and needs in cost effective and environmentally friendly ways. In the good times this means we have more disposable income for luxuries, getting ahead on the mortgage or completing capital works (like the solar cells), but in lean times like the present, it simply means that our basic needs are more easily met.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation after unexpected job loss? Please share how your family got through the challenging period by living greener in the comments below.
About the Author: Tanya Fyfe is an eco mum and environmental engineer and lives in the WA Goldfields with her husband Andy (an experienced exploration geologist) and two young sons Billy and Thomas.