I’m taking a (long…) break

I’m taking a (long…) break

After almost 8 years, first as The Inspired Little Pot, then as me (quite simply: KB), I’ve decided it’s time for a little pivot.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’m planning on taking 6-12 months ‘off’, away from the beautiful little space I have spent so much time in – creating, sharing, connecting, guiding. Recent personal events have led me to consider my gut feels, and I need some downtime to really assess what it is I am being called to do in this lifetime.

The natural DIY/sustainable/eco cause will always be one I advocate for, ALWAYS, but not in a public sense – just for a while. I may return with fire in my belly or I may not. One way to find out…

It’s a huge leap for me; who am I if I’m not the ‘girl with the natural DIY recipes’? I thought that when the time came to officially share this news I would feel sadness, but the weight has instantly lifted and it feels sooooooo right. My legacy will live on – on thousands of countertops, bookshelves, computer screens, and (hopefully) hearts.

I plan on keeping this website and my social platforms (Instagram & Facebook chat group) live – the community and content, and the value they will offer to oldies and newbies alike, is priceless. I’ll just be mostly MIA.

I’m embracing this pivot and all it will offer me and my family (and I’ll finally have the time and headspace to ‘water the seeds’ I’ve been planting – watch this space 🙌😉).

‘Thank you’ doesn’t sound like enough, but thank you. To those of you I met in person (at the warehouse and at events), those of you I feel like I know through the computer screen, those who have supported me (hands-on and virtually – friends, family, colleagues, staff), the wider community of humans whose paths crossed with mine – thank you.

The opportunities have been out of this world – 5 published books, TV segments, podcasts and radio, guest speaking, book weeks … Wowee – that has all been character building and I didn’t take a second of it for granted. The memories will last a lifetime.

Peace out for now beautiful people ✌️💚

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 80,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids.

What is a circular economy?

What is a circular economy?

What is a circular economy?

First, let’s identify the opposite of a circular economy. A linear economy is explained by the terms – convenience, single-use or purpose, disposable, discard, throwaway and replace. A linear economy assumes an unlimited supply of resources. Items are disposed of without another thought as to what happens next. The focus is meeting the needs of the individual.

Generally speaking, marketers LOVE single-purpose, speciality items that are not repairable and superseded quickly. It promotes more sales when we continually desire more and replace items. There’s no wonder our communities propel along the linear economy route at a fast pace. Does this explain why landfills are overflowing with items that can’t biodegrade and biodegradable items are not recovered?

A circular economy is explained through actions like – reduce, reuse, retain, reshare, repair, repurpose, refurbish, return, recover, remanufacture, regenerate, and renew. If we look at the prefix “RE” it means again, anew, and back.

A circular economy assumes a finite number of resources to be used wisely. We share responsibility for caring for the earth and need everyone to work together. The cyclical nature emphasises that we are not passing on, we are passing around.

How can we apply the concepts of circular economy to make edits in our day-to-day lives? Guess what, we probably already are without realising.

Like washing the passata jar from last night’s dinner and reusing it to hold Citrus Cleaning Spray made from the orange peels left over from the kids’ morning tea, purchasing second hand uniforms, borrowing a book from the library, or taking reusable bags to the supermarket. Arranging a carpool to head out to dinner, rather than taking five cars, or repurposing a curtain and an old belt to make a king’s robe for a school play.

What a waste, to put it straight into waste.

It’s as simple as asking ourselves, what else can that be used for? How can I keep this item in circulation for as long as possible? Can I give it to a friend, sell it, or donate it?

Let’s use an old towel as an example. When it gets old and ratty, turn it into rags, or look to donate it to an animal shelter (they’re always looking for old towels and blankets).

Rather than having to deal with waste, the best option will always be to buy less in the first place, rethinking what we need. Perhaps our need is actually a want …? We can choose to bring less into our houses in the first place. Hands up who chose the jam at the local markets packaged in the pretty jar, that you had your eye on to reuse for your next batch of DIY Whipped Body Cream.  That’s an example of choosing packaging that can be reused or repurposed. Better still, we take our own container or choose items that come without packaging.

Don’t carry guilt when there are no other options but to purchase (or receive) items that are not ideal. It’s better to commit to do the best we can, when we can, than no action at all.

Another way is to avoid buying single-use items and look for multipurpose items. Better yet, before we head to the shop, let’s ask, what do I already own that I could use or repurpose to do the same job? Don’t forget the options of second-hand, borrowing, sharing or renting an item.

Assess value by how long an item will last. I love the idea of choosing the best value we can afford, for items that are the workers in our home. Workers are the items like a humble saucepan that is in regular use and serves many purposes. The aim is to own workers, who are in constant use, rather than rarely used speciality items.

Before we rush out to buy a new vacuum for example, ask ourselves if it’s possible to maintain or fix our current vacuum so it lasts longer? The vacuum engine might be struggling to pick up dirt, due to the filters not being cleaned.

Personally, what I love about a circular economy is the move to make manufacturers share responsibility for the life of a product. This means a push to design products to be reusable, easily repaired, and made from regenerative materials. The EU have regulated the Right to repair. Even without laws, our purchasing decisions can influence the manufacturers to change.

We don’t need to be across the big picture, in relation to circular economy, to take small actions in our own lives, to pass on good to others and the earth, with the knowledge that by our actions good will be returned.

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 80,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids.

Nappies, nappies, nappies

Nappies, nappies, nappies

Single-use nappies are so easy to use, but convenience comes with a trade-off. They are generally not made with sustainability in mind, often produced from petroleum-based plastics and wood pulp (think deforestation). There are also concerns relating to chemicals, fragrances and other indirect contaminants in single-use nappies. In 2019 ANSES (France’s national health agency) reported on the Safety of Baby Diapers in relation to this chemical exposure.

Most disposable nappies are not able to be disposed of sustainably with some taking up to 150 years to break down. We need a better large-scale approach to one of our greatest necessities.

Here’s a little bonus piece of info for you: whichever nappy option you choose, please scrape the poop into your toilet. Sewerage systems are made to safely deal with human waste to avoid contaminating landfill, ground water and/or causing illness.

Modern Cloth Nappies

The biggest problems generate the most solutions, particularly when a collective of mums’ brains, and the buzz of home sewing machines, are working on it.

Modern cloth nappies are washable and reusable. That’s where the choices begin, with numerous attractive designs and several styles:

All-in-ones (layers are all sewn in)

Two-in-ones (liners and cover can be separated)

Pocket (liners are removable and placed in a pocket)

Pre-flat, pre-fold nappies (a shape upgrade of traditional styles)

Then there are the fabric differences. Cloth nappies are made from cotton, polyester, viscose rayon, bamboo, microfibre, hemp, suede cloth, terry or fabric blends. Many styles are made from a combination of fabrics and have outer and inner layers.

The outer layers, shells, or covers (whether inbuilt or separate) are made from waterproof materials like Polyurethane laminate (PUL) or Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), or water-resistant materials like wool, minky or fleece.

Nappies are fitted with adjustable press studs, snaps, velcro fasteners and/or have elastic (gussets) around legs and waist.

Removable liners (also called inserts or boosters) give added absorbency. Multiple liners are often needed. Up to 4 liners can be used for night-time.

With many brand, style and fabric options, to help choose the option best suited to your family, I recommend connecting with the Australian Nappy Association members and Local Government Areas who offer local workshops, purchase rebates and demonstration kits.

It is also possible to try before you buy through nappy hire. Companies like The Nappy Guru have nappy libraries.

While all reusables are better than big brand single-use nappies, it’s worth keeping your eye on some questionable (and not sustainably made) materials that are sneaking into the layers of cloth nappies. I am not convinced that we need fabrics treated with antibacterial coatings. Synthetic fabrics, particularly those that shed, are on my watchlist (recent research detected microplastics in human blood).

Washing Modern Cloth Nappies

A 2021 UNEP report summarises current knowledge about the environmental performance of both single-use and reusable nappies through a meta-analysis of Life Cycle Assessment studies. We can reduce environmental impacts of reusable nappies through attention to how we wash and dry the nappies.

The process of washing nappies has evolved:

1. Scrape solids into the toilet

2. Dry pailing – Store used nappies between loads in a container that allows air circulation, for no more than 2 days. (Key points – NO water, NO pre-soaking, NO sterilising product)

3. Wash twice – First – use your machine’s short cycle. You need a complete wash cycle (including spin) so all water from the load is drained and in the process what some brands call the “wee and poo soup” is totally removed. Second – wash a full load normally. Depending on the nappy style, some covers may not need two washes. (Key point – wash below 60°C, NO fabric softener)

4. Sun (and air) dry

Make a simple plan for storing and washing used nappies (and stuffing nappy liners back into your nappies for pocket nappies). So simple that you can do it sleepwalking, otherwise it may become really hard, really quickly. Don’t underestimate the role of hot water (not above 60°C) and sunshine when cleaning nappies.

Why are washing instructions so complicated?

Some brands of nappies come with washing instructions and a long list of “DON’Ts”, particularly relating to washing products, that can be daunting.

The difficulties are that nappies are made from multiple fabrics, and each fabric has a different laundering requirement. Some fabrics, like the waterproof outer layers, elastics and fasteners, start breaking down when exposed to harsh washing products and heat (water and sun). Other layers need hot water to clean properly and fully release soilage from the fibres. This is why one company gives one instruction, and another company appears to give contradictory advice.

Many brands of reusable nappies list specific approved products for washing their nappies.

A quick check of the ingredient lists of these products further complicates the issue. Guess what, some of the recommended products contain the ingredients that the same sources advise us to avoid. Some also contain potential irritants and nasties that are probably best kept away from our bubs’ bottoms. If you need some pointers to help identify undesirables have a read of this blog.

The ingredient information is not available for all products. Cleaning companies are not required by law to list ingredients on the packaging, online or anywhere. (Please consider signing my petition to change this!)

It is encouraging to see brands who include “eco” washing product options. From these lists of recommended products Eco Store and Kin Kin stand out as being the best of the bunch, even if a few compromises need to be made.

Many companies explain that if you don’t follow their washing instructions, it will void their warranty. Are we placing unnecessary stress on ourselves by worrying about warranties?

Even if you follow the strict instructions, I wonder how often nappy companies do offer refunds, repair or replacements beyond the statutory cover for defects in materials and manufacturing faults. Wear and tear on a frequently used item, like nappies, are not usually covered by any warranty. Nappy warranties don’t seem to go beyond around 6 months from purchase anyway. If you are concerned, ask lots of questions before you buy.

Of course, if you are hiring nappies you need to follow all instructions closely, but otherwise I encourage you to remain curious, ask lots of questions and apply your own common sense.

Should I use DIY washing products?

I am not a fan of bleach, brighteners, and commercial fabric softeners, so the instructions to avoid these get a tick from me. Regarding DIY washing products, my advice is to use your own discretion. Personally, I say – go for it.

The natural ingredients in my DIY Washing Powder recipe are superstars in the land of cleaning and washing, with grime-fighting, water-softening, and stain-removing capabilities. They work for me for my washing. If it’s all new, this guide to doing the laundry, the natural way will help. Sometimes it takes time to adjust. Jump onto my friendly Facebook group for inspiration and troubleshooting advice.

The reasoning behind why brands tell us not to use DIY washing powder to wash our nappies are the same reasons why DIY doesn’t suit everyone for their everyday household washing. Nappy hygiene and baby comfort are my priority, and so is a desire to minimise our babies’ exposure to red flag chemicals, fillers and fragrances contained in many washing products. If that means I end up with a few stains, or risk voiding the warranty on my nappies, or might need to purchase a new liner because it loses its absorbency over time, I am OK with that.

We all want the best for our babies and parents certainly don’t need more guilt upon them. Even if you only use the nappy brand’s recommended washing products, for multiple reasons, there will be times when the nappies appear to lose absorbency, or smell funky, or cause minor irritation. Tweaks to your washing process is a given, as babies get sick, grow, develop, and their diet changes. Often, it’s nothing to do with the washing product.

I am not one for absolutes, so if it helps to ease worries, have an alternative washing product on hand and ready to go if you feel it’s needed. Your first change towards better may be choosing a washing product that is fragrance-free. You may decide to use a commercial product when your cherub is sick, or alternate and use DIY for some loads, or a mix of half-and-half commercial and DIY. You decide your rules.

Have back-up nappy plans. Let go of what you “should” do. It’s better to start with an acceptance that there will be hurdles and be ready to adapt and look at other options. You’ll have dirty nappies to change for a long while (years), so if it doesn’t work to begin with, ride it out and give it another go. All babies are different. All families are different. Sometimes day cares and other carers are not accepting of reusable nappies. It may suit you to use reusable nappies part time, or casually. Sometimes you’ll just be too tired to care.

Other nappy options

〉Single-use, throw away nappy liners are designed to catch nappy deposits to make the washing process easier for cloth nappies. Once you have tipped the poo into the toilet, the liner is binned (or composted, depending on what it is made from). Options available are bamboo, or paper liners made from cellulose wood pulp or corn-starch (Polylactide PLA).

〉Laundry services (BYO or Nappy Lease) like Conder House or Little Eco Baby.

〉Single-use disposable nappies – There are times when you may need to use disposables. When you do, be curious and compare products. Work within your budget to look for products that are better than others. Keep in mind that, as far as I can see, it is not yet possible to purchase a fully sustainable single-use nappy that is made, used and able to be disposed of sustainably.

The brand Thankyou, summed this up when they withdrew their nappies from the market in 2021 – The sustainability side of things is super tricky. You can nail it by creating a ‘too expensive’ product that no one buys or simply greenwash a cheaper product.

Double check that marketing claims relate to the nappies. Remember that babies are BIG business. I was startled to read of used nappies being placed in recycling bins (A definite NO). Then I ventured down the supermarket baby aisle. After the initial surprise over the abundance of muted “natural” look packaging (when did this happen?), I noticed the standout words “recyclable”. On closer inspection this refers to the packaging, not the nappies. Some of the claims also only relate to components of the nappy and not the whole nappy.

The publicity the ANSES report stirred up, shifting public sentiment, and plans to reduce single-use plastics, are driving big brands to make changes. Better options are hitting the market, particularly in Europe, that are designed and made in a more sustainable way. In Australia companies have committed to change but are still lagging.

The term biodegradable is often used when marketing nappies. A key point is that “compostable”, “home compostable” or “biodegradable” are not interchangeable. Compostable products do not have any toxic element to the environment after degradation. So, while all compostable material is biodegradable, not all biodegradable material is compostable. The sticking point in Australia, are the limited options for keeping used nappies out of landfill. Even fully compostable materials will not easily biodegrade in a general waste site.

It is my understanding that the elastic, gussets and fastening tabs are the most difficult to replicate with sustainably made materials that are compostable.

〉Single-use compostable nappies – In Australia, Eenee offers a hybrid nappy option designed to fully biodegrade in commercial composting facilities. Eenee’s uPads are held in place with a reusable nappy wrap or pull up reusable cover. Before you try composting these nappies at home, please note that they only breakdown under special conditions. Eenee nappies offer collection services in some areas, and can be placed in FOGO bins, but ONLY in these shires. After a successful trial in NSW’s Bega Valley the number of participating councils will hopefully increase.

My kids are well past the nappy stage, so I can’t pass on personal tried and tested advice. Chatting to mums who are still in the swing of nappy changing years, a common tip of what works for them, relates to the liners. If you choose nappy style options where the liners can be separated, not only can this speed up the drying process, but liners are also more easily washed than the outer layers and generally made from more durable fabrics. The non-absorbent outer layers often only need one wash. You are also able to choose natural fibres more easily, for layers that are in direct contact with bub. While All-in-Ones seem the easiest to use, more care may be needed to wash them.

Start with a workable BETTER solution, rather than struggling for ‘best’. The imminent arrival of a baby and the need to protect them, often drives us to search for more natural and environmentally friendly lifestyle options. Motivated by wanting the best for our children, there is the risk that we try to overhaul all areas of our lives, all at once, with the baby’s due date set as the deadline. For help to get you started, take a look at this blog. Too much, too soon, can be overwhelming for any of us, let alone when you are also adjusting to caring for a newborn at the same time. Life with babies, particularly in the first months, can be hectic and draining and as a result parents suffer from limited time and energy. Add to that the parent guilt which launches at us from all angles. Be kind to yourself. Try and keep it simple. Consider compromises, rather than an all-or-nothing situation. You can’t go wrong if you remain curious and open to substitutions. When there are choices, choose the options that are BETTER for you and your family.

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 80,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids.

Clothing waste

Clothing waste

Fast fashion, a relatively new term for many of us. It’s when we buy clothes with the vision that we will just replace them when they wear out, or we get tired of them. Often the items are cheap in quality and not designed to last. So many of accumulate clothes we don’t wear, leading to ‘spring cleaning’ days where we proudly go through out wardrobes and discard the items we no longer want, many unworn. I‘m being pretty general here, but I’ve seen it so many times and I’d bet many reading this have been guilt of it once or twice at the very least!

Australians acquire an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing per person, and discard around 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill each year. That’s a staggering 800,000 tonnes heading to landfill per year. What’s more there is a lot of clothing in the world that is not worn, worn only once, and is disposed of too soon. (source)

Today is the day to create change, right? Yay! If you’re committing to reducing your clothing waste the first step is to buy less – this is always the first step. Use when you have for as long as you can. If you find yourself with piles of clothes that you need to offload, keep reading and I’ll give you some pointers on what to do with them.

PAUSE, BEFORE DONATING TO CHARITY BINS. Ask yourself…

How can I best help the charities?

The convenient option is to dump your castoffs into a charity bin. Yes, these shops rely on donations. Items are sold to raise funds for the social services that support vulnerable members of our community. Have you considered the time and money charities waste sorting through and paying to dump unsaleable items into landfill? Did you know that Charities are overwhelmed; only 1% of total collected disposed garments are recycled?

So, what should we do?

First, we need to sort our unwanted clothes into two piles – be picky!

Saleable Good as new condition. Clothes that are lightly worn or never worn (and clean). If you’d be proud to give them to your fussy friend, then they make this pile.

Unsaleable – Clothes that show wear and tear OR cannot be easily sold in their current state (this includes extreme trends or well out of date items).

Ask your local charity shops what items sell well, and what items they need. Your size 12, black t-shirt may be in perfect condition, but if they are already overstocked and already have ten similar, it’s unlikely to sell.

For charity locations near you see – Charitable Recycling Australia, Australian OpShop ListingWA’s ultimate op shop guideClothing Recycling – Planet Ark Recycling Near YouGiveNow – Give Clothes.

How can I get clothes directly into the hands of someone who needs it, or will love it?

Ask around and hand down items to people you know.

Ask your local advocacy groups if they take direct donations. Consider churches, schools, soup vans, women’s refuges and others who work directly with local community members in need.

You may have an organisation like ReInspired Threads in your community.

List your items on Buy Nothing New, Freecycle or Facebook freebies groups. Check for a local “Really, Really Free Market”.

How can I sell my preloved clothes?

Re-commerce is the fancy name for selling second hand items. It’s never been easier for buyers and sellers to connect. If you have speciality items, look for speciality sellers who will appreciate their value.

Host a garage sale or attend an event such as designer clothing swap expo, preloved clothing market, fashion style swap, The Clothing Exchange, or trash & treasure market.

Try online platforms such as Facebook Buy and Sell groups, Marketplace, Trading Post, Gumtree, Ebay, Etsy, Depop, AirRobe, Poshmark, RealReal, and Reluv.

Consignment shops – they accept your items to sell on your behalf and offer you a percentage of the sale price when the items sell.

PAUSE BEFORE THROWING UNSALEABLE ITEMS INTO THE BIN. Ask yourself…

How can I give this item some attention (repair or refurbish) to make it wearable again?

The saying “prevention is better than cure” applies here and reminds us to look after and wash our clothes carefully to extend their life.

Try adopting the habits of your granny – her apron was put on as a ritual before cooking, she changed out of her “going out” clothes into her “house” clothes upon arriving home. Items were aired out and sponged off, rather than automatically thrown in the washing machine after a single wear. You’ll also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by doing this.

To get rid of clothing moths whose larvae eat holes in your natural fibres, try putting items in the freezer for a couple of weeks to kill them (ok, this may not be practical for a whole wardrobe!). To deter moths moving in, try essential oils like lavender, rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, clove, lemongrass or cedarwood, in a bag with dried lavender or bicarb, or both. Experiment and top up often.

How can I get the stain out?

For those pesky stains try my Simple Stain Treatment Paste DIY. The quicker we deal with a stain, the better the outcome. It’s a good habit to check clothes for stains before they go into the machine. Check out Your essential guide to doing the laundry, the natural way for more remedies.

How can I mend a rip, hole? Replace elastic? Cover a stain? Sew on a button?

Learn to sew. Sewing can be meditative! Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald, author of the book Modern Mending has a friendly Facebook group Modern Mending Club.

Visit a Repair cafe, Repair Café Australia, Repair Lab, Repair Hubs, or pop-up Fix-It stalls at markets and events.

Seek out a local alterations shop, or social enterprises like Second Stitch who offer an alteration business as part of broader training for women from diverse backgrounds.

Watch this space – Fashion on Climate identifies greater scope for “brands and retailers to introduce professional repair services”.

How can I reuse the fabric for another purpose and upcycle or remake the item (for unsaleable clothes well past their use-by date with no possibility for revitalisation)?

Repurposed fabric can be turned into reusable beeswax covers. I like using fabric to wrap presents and as decorative fabric jar toppers. Cotton t-shirts make great dusting cloths. Cut up tights are my go-to garden ties.

Get crafty! Clothing items of sentimental value can be remade into pillows (Grandad’s flannel shirt?), patchwork, or the no-sew wall decoration made by mounting a favourite piece of fabric (band t-shirt?) in an embroidery hoop. Try remaking jeans into skirts. Type “Upcycled Fashion” into a search engine for ideas. Consider making a braided rug, or a dog snuffle mat. Fabric can also be remade into reusable shopping bags or decorative bunting. Some Boomerang Bag groups accept fabrics from clothes.

What other options are available for unsaleable items?

Items can be cut up for rags. Ask your local mechanic what they need. Some charity centres have scaled up rag recycling projects. Check if your local charity accepts items for rags. If they do, package them separately and clearly label – suitable for rags only (denim and polar fleece are unsuitable).

Call your local government to ask if they have a textile recycling plan. If they don’t, campaign for the council to implement one. Why – Ratepayers pay for residential waste and many landfills are running out of space.

Here are some companies to contact to see if they accept old clothes in your area. Sadly, some offer services for businesses and not individuals. Ask if there is a local business drop off point nearby. Some only take wearable items. If you want to give back to the community, choose the not-for-profits or social enterprises.

Let’s be upfront. I urge you start conversations with these companies directly. Ask about the end-use of clothing items. If there is no clear transparency in the responses, question whether you are passing on the problem to someone else. Some companies sell unsaleable clothing lots to overseas markets. ABC’s program Dead white man’s clothes reveals the unsavoury impact of this.

UPPAREL – You pay postage and in return you receive a store voucher.

H&M accept clothing in store. Is this a marketing initiative in disguise? H&M are leaders in the industry by volume of sales (major fast fashion culprits!).

Australian Clothing Recyclers collect, then distribute wearable items to overseas agencies.

After – scheduled collections in Melbourne for a fee.

WORN UP collect uniforms for a cost from schools or businesses.

SCR Group enables drop offs to Hubs.

King Cotton distribute clothing bins and collect wearable clothing items.

Textile Recyclers Australia collect clothing for a small fee.

Circular Centre Australia generally only service councils and businesses. In conjunction with Clean up Australia Day, they recently conducted “community clothing collections”.

Watch this space – grassroots activism and non-Governmental organisations, have managed to get world leaders, governments, and industry to sit around the table to discuss the campaign for change in the fashion industry.

Your actions can make a difference. The Fashion on Climate report proposes that “encouraging sustainable consumer behaviours” accounts for 18% of potential emission cuts of around 143 million tonnes of GHG emissions in 2030.

Why not try imposing a little buying ban on yourself/the family? For some tips, read my experience in #100inmywardrobe Challenge & 2019 Buying Ban. Let’s get serious about clothing waste and actually do something about it!

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 80,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids.

Put those coffee grounds to good use

Put those coffee grounds to good use

I love coffee! One of the best investments we made was buying a coffee machine – not only am I able to make a perfect (cheap) cup of coffee from the comfort of my kitchen, I now have a consistent supply of coffee grounds, and there is so much that can be done with them other than send them to landfill. What’s the problem with sending coffee grounds to the tip? Well, food and green waste in landfill (which is an anaerobic environment) = methane and increased carbon emissions (25x more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide) = global warming.

If you’re also producing coffee grounds at home and you’re keen on learning how to keep them out of landfill, keep reading and I’ll give you a few ideas on how to put them to good use.

Sprinkled on gardens

Firstly, guess what thrives off coffee grounds? Our gardens! You can sprinkle a small amount of coffee grounds directly onto established garden beds. This works if grounds are mixed in with soil, leaf matter and bark to kickstart a composting process. While it’s tempting to dump grounds directly on the garden daily, it’s best not to. Think about your garden as a living, breathing ecosystem – it needs balance, so take it easy.

Studies (1,2) show dumping too many grounds, too often, on your garden will hinder plant growth and development likely due to chlorogenic acid (phytotoxic), tannins and caffeine (toxic to organisms). For an existing garden bed, nitrogen reserves already present in the soil can be drawn away from existing plants and depleted during the process of the grounds breaking down. So as a mulch, coffee grounds are suitable to suppress weed growth (and all growth) if you don’t intend on planting in that area for months (around 6 months until it breaks down). 

Coffee grounds contain nitrogen (around 2%), potassium, magnesium and other trace elements that plants need for healthy growth.  We therefore assume that grounds can act as a fertiliser.  Yes, these components are present, yet not readily available to feed, or be absorbed by, the plants in the form that they need. That’s where composting comes in …

Composting

Coffee grounds are valuable to your garden when used as organic matter in a composting process or worm farming. When you feed your spent grounds to a composting system (combined with other kitchen and garden waste) it transforms into rich compost, or worm castings and worm tea. Compost is a valuable addition to your garden as a nutrient rich fertiliser. Healthy soil equals thriving plants that are more resistant to pests and disease.

Coffee grounds are a ‘green’ composting ingredient – the nitrogen present feeds bacteria (microbes, fungi, micro and macro-organisms including worms) which in turn transform organic matter over time into compost.  Amazingly, the chlorogenic acid, tannins and caffeine are also broken down and detoxified through this composting microbial degradation.

Recommended ratios on the quantity of grounds to add to composting vary.  If you are adding ingredients following the ratio of one-part green to three-parts brown, around 20% of the green component is a good start, although some composters use up to 50%.

Love the idea of composting but don’t have one set up (or the desire to set one up!)? Here are some other ideas along the same vein:

Check out ShareWaste. I send most of my grounds (and all of my food scraps) to Jane’s compost and worm farms. Read more here.

Connect with your local Community Garden. You may even have a Community Compost Bin located in your neighbourhood.

Does your local government provide a FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) regular kerbside bin collection service for compostable waste?

Companies are collecting coffee grounds from cafes and distributing to local communities for composting.

donutwaste in Perth

Reground in Melbourne and Geelong

On a large-scale basis Coffee 4 Planet Ark are working with industry partners toadvance a circular economy’ and investing in research into broader commercial applications for used coffee grounds.

Pest control

It’s debatable whether grounds are, as reported, an effective physical barrier to deter snails, slugs or ants.  Personally, the itty-bitty ants in my backyard go about their normal business and are not fussed by coffee grounds, but there is no harm in trying. An added bonus of using grounds in your compost is that the strong coffee odour might deter pests by making the smell of your compost less attractive.

DIY skincare

Why not use your grounds to exfoliate your skin? Simply combine some fresh grounds with a little olive oil and massage over wet skin, then rinse. Boom – cheapest way to freshen up your skin, and it’s practically waste free! If you want to get a little more creative, check out this Coffee Body Scrub and this Espresso Soap Bar recipe.

One Last Tip

Are you a seafood lover? It isn’t recommended to compost seafood but adding some coffee grounds before throwing out the scraps will help to offset the stench. Your bin (and neighbours) will thank you!

There you have it. No excuse not to do something productive with your coffee grounds. And if you’re eager to take it one step further, have a chat to your local cafe about some of the options available to them to help reduce the amount of grounds they send to landfill (which is often in plastic bags!).

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 80,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids.

Ahhh, there is scent hiding where?

Ahhh, there is scent hiding where?

It’s pretty clear that synthetic fragrance is not as innocent (nor as desired) as it may have been, once upon a time. Research from the University of Melbourne shows that one in three Australians report health problems, including migraine headaches and asthma attacks, when they are exposed to common fragranced consumer products such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products. Professor Anne Steinemann, world expert on environmental pollutants, air quality, and health effects, says: ‘This is an epidemic. Fragranced products are creating health problems and the effects can be immediate, severe and potentially disabling.

Does this resonate with you? Do you struggle with headaches, nausea or itchy eyes when you’re in the vicinity of artificial fragrance? Maybe when in an Uber ride with one of those dangly, smelly trees, in a public loo with an automatic ‘air freshener’, or stuck in a lift with someone wearing perfume?

Perhaps you’re not yet aware of the potential impact that articifical fragrance is having on your health? You might like to read this blog for a little more insight. However, for many of you reading this, having already had that gorgeous a-ha moment when you finally realised that scented products are messing with your well-being, you probably feel a world away from the days where you were scratching at stickers to release the scent (gotta love the good ol’ 90s hey?!). Back then, synthetic fragrance was around, yes, but it seems it is now making its way into all sorts of products and places you might least expect.

I recently saw a lavender scented jigsaw puzzle at a book store, I couldn’t believe it – is it really necessary? In a puzzle? But it got me thinking, where else have I seen fragrance hiding in day-to-day consumer products? I got to searching and found a handful to share with you.

Some of these items may suprise you, I know they suprised me!

A few stand-outs:

Scented panty liners and toilet paper – artificial fragrance that close to such a sensitive part of the body seems a little crazy to me.

Scented scissors – wouldn’t this encourage children to put scissors near their faces? This is potentially hazardous (and completely unnecessary).

Scented hair brush and pool ring – these feel gimmicky; I’m not sure how scenting either of these items serves any purpose.

Consider your stance on artificial fragrance, and if you’re choosing to avoid it, stay alert when shopping because it is clearly creeping into so many random products.

Krissy Ballinger

Krissy Ballinger

AUTHOR & ADVOCATE FOR NATURAL LIVING

Krissy wants to see a world where people make conscious choices that honour both humans and habitat. It is her mission to gently guide people towards this beautiful way of life. With a background in education and health promotion, she devotes her time to increasing awareness on common and avoidable toxins, as well as educating individuals on simple ways they can adjust their lifestyles to better serve themselves, and the planet. Natural DIY is Krissy’s speciality, and she has sold over 80,000 copies of her recipe books, including her latest book, The Lifestyle Edit, the award-winning, Naturally Inspired - Simple DIY Recipes for Body Care and Cleaning, and her kids book, Make & Play - Natural DIY Recipes for Kids.

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