It’s hard when you want to go the whole way, when you want to be so eco-friendly that trees come past and thank you. It’s also exciting, occasionally expensive, extremely educational and rewarding. Its a very difficult balancing game with a new family.
We live in inner Melbourne next to a major freeway but we’re lucky enough to have a good sized house and enough garden space to truly play when we get the time. See, this 3rd baby will mean we have 3 children under 3. DS is just about 3, DD is 2 in December and the baby is due before DS’s birthday. Yes, I will have my hands full. I already do!
Our green journey has been a gradual awakening. DH is mostly happy enough with what I decide if it’s financially viable. This isn’t his pet project, it’s mine and although he agrees with what I’m doing and is all for it, I don’t think he’d bother if not for me.
Me? Well, I never wanted to be one of those hippies, urban or otherwise and was adept at turning a blind eye to non-vaccinators, organic eaters and the non-chemical preachers. I mean, the government wouldn’t sell us poisons will they? It’s been a slow process of realising that they may not sell us poisons but they will turn a blind eye to those that do and they will make it easy for companies to hoodwink us. Some of it is semantics, some is downright bullshit but I am slowly learning how to spot the slightly misrepresented to the totally dodgey.
I think one of the first things we changed when we moved in to our house (I was then 6 months pregnant with DS) was deciding to use cloth nappies. I did a little research, bought some that looked pretty and were cheap and we went from there. Being lazy I immensely disliked the more frequent changes and the washing required and we soon converted to eco disposables which I’m sorry to say soon gave way to non-eco disposables.
By this time I was using a natural SLS free shampoo and conditioner and loving my super soft and silky hair. I was also drinking organic fair trade coffee (more for the taste than any altruistic motives). Feeling quite green I patted myself on the back. When our DD came along and due to rising expenses we tried cloth nappies again with somewhat more success.
We love the range from Eenee (eenee.com.au) and although microfibre is man made it does dry super quickly and it was one of the first times I had to sit down and make a conscious compromise. We now use their cloth nappy range, occasionally with the pad inserts and we have their 100% compostable nappies on standby for back-up. We are using environmentally unfriendly disposables right at the moment though but every day the guilt eats me. I just can’t physically handle the washing at the moment with this huge uncomfortable pretty much full-term bump sticking out in front of me but once the baby is here, we will be back on our cloth bum bandwagon as soon as we can be.
We have decided to de-plasticise our house. This has been a tough compromise in some ways. We had to throw out a LOT of toys and replace them. We scour 2nd hand shops, markets and eBay for wooden or metal toys. And we have found them a metal shopping trolley, wooden trains, my old dolls bed which my dad made for me 30-something years ago, metal cars, etc. It also means that they outlast the 1-2 weeks lifespan of plastic toys. There are some things we have allowed though. Duplo, dolls, and later on, Lego, Barbie (eek) and other such toys. Plastic, I know, and it makes me cringe, but I feel there are some things that are just necessary in childhood and I don’t want my kids to be the nerds at school who don’t have anything “cool”. Like I say, its hard striking the balance sometimes.
We’ve also cleared out the pantry and storage container cupboard of plastic including original and vintage Tupperware which I got from my grandmother, (some contain BPA - tupperware.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/aus/website/FAQ/ 2nd last question), other plastic containers, and other sundry plastics. Some are special but to me, not as special as the safety of my family. They went to my mum who was warned what contained BPA, and what she didn’t want she passed on to a friend of mine who was also subsequently warned.
The other non-BPA plastic food storage containers (recycle code 5 etc) have also been passed on to a friend who is in the know so I know she is also safe. In their stead I have spent quite a bit and bought glass containers. They do have plastic lids but all are confirmed to be BPA-free. The lids aren’t heated either which reduces the amount of plastic toxins released to what I consider acceptable levels. My pantry is full of glass jars with stainless steel lids, home preserved pasta sauce and tomato puree and I am slowly getting rid of the cans in there. I am constantly looking for ways to replace canned food. I even bought a vintage stovetop Fowlers Vacola preserver and jars.
I still feel guilty not using certified organic all the time but at the moment my goal is to work out just how much we are actually saving in the kitchen and then we can consider organics. I do buy organic where I can – herbs and teas are a great place to start. If you drink herbal teas, check out herbcottage.com.au/. I’ve just had my 1st delivery this morning and really enjoyed my chamomile tea. It is dearer than non-organic teabags from the supermarket but if you were to work it out cost per serving the difference is probably in cents and the extra taste is well worth it.
We also live near a market where we go probably every 2 weeks and buy up dried fruits and nuts in cotton and calico bags so we can even get our walnuts and sultanas etc without any plastic wrapping. Gladwrap and foil sit in my draw and grow dusty and I will soon have some reusable tin liners to replace using baking paper (simplydelightful.com.au/), and we make our own yoghurt and ice-cream (goldenglow.com.au/search.asp?s=easiyo).
Our local farmers market is a big deal for us too - one of the few outings I can manage & look forward too! I’m hoping this baby comes a few days early so I don’t miss out going.
My next task then is to work out how to dry my own fruit and veggies as I just bought a food dehydrator from eBay. Homemade fruit roll ups, home dried banana, apple, apricots, peas, the list really is endless as to what I can do. I’m so excited!
If I sit and look around my house I see so many things I still want to change. I’d love to wear organic and natural fibre clothing, avoiding cotton for its water-hungry properties, buy local produce only and keep our carbon miles low, reduce our rubbish low (this has improved but not enough for my liking), lower our power reliance and bills, get our veggie gardens going, fruit trees producing and so many other things...
It’s overwhelming and it’s constant. But, I’m learning that compromise is ok. I’m learning that it’s a step by step thing and that if you try to do it all at once it’s not sustainable to mind or wallet or lifestyle. I’ve learned that sometimes it is ok to fall off the wagon (like our current disposables phase) and that you need to forgive your lapses and sometimes necessary choices. The environment understands that in today’s society, it’s not easy being green and she is grateful for what you ARE doing to help.
Written By Jess Twinn, Super Eco Mum & Green Dictator ;)