Encouraging green habits in kids

green habits for kids

This is my latest post over on Childhood 101 for the Easy Green Series.

Encouraging children to put the environment first develops skills in resilience and empathy. By gently teaching them to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, protect wildlife and consume less stuff, we set them up for a lifetime of connection to our natural world and prepare them for future challenges.

There are any number of easy green habits kids can develop from a young age, here are ten examples:

  1. Turning off the lights when leaving a room.
  2. Putting reusable shopping bags back in their place by the front door.
  3. Bringing toys in from the garden so they don’t get ruined.
  4. Fixing broken things (with the help of an adult).
  5. Checking all packaging for the recycling symbol.

Keep reading here

Join me for a day of global action

People's climate March Australia

This weekend, world leaders are converging in New York for an emergency summit on climate change hosted by Bahn Ki Moon. Needless to say, Tony Abbott will not be attending.

While the climate summit is an exciting step in the right direction, what’s got me more hyped up is the enormous grassroots movement happening around the summit. Across the globe, hundreds of marches and protests have been organised for real people like you and me to demonstrate that we want action on climate change NOW.

I will be marching in Brisbane with my kids on Sunday, join us as we walk through the streets!

Wherever you are in the world, you can find a march near you on the People’s Climate Mobilisation website (click on global mobilisation).

Learn how to green your spring clean

green cleaning

Some of you many remember my recent post  Three reasons to kick harsh chemicals out of your home. Well, I am thrilled to announce that our friend Laura has opened up the Sustainababy Home Detox Boot Camp one more time for 2014.

I’m really happy to promote this course for Laura for a number of reasons. For one, she really knows her stuff. With a masters in environmental chemistry, Laura not only understands chemical processes and their effects, but can explain them to regular ole people.

The second reason is that it took me years to accrue the knowledge and skills to create a home free from toxic chemicals and it was often a confusing and frightening journey. I didn’t feel empowered or like I was doing this amazing thing to protect my family and the environment. I felt like I was awake in a crazy dream world. I felt like I was being lied to. I spent a lot of time emailing companies about their ingredients, researching unpronounceable things on the internet and squinting in supermarket aisles as I tried to work out the safest option (here’s a tip: I was in the wrong place to start with!).

How to make baked beans from scratch

How to make baked beans from scratch

Homemade baked beans recipe

Disclaimer 1: Long before I started on the toxin-free, green-living path, I thought baked beans were the work of the devil. My baked beans recipe is not designed to replicate those frightening white things floating in tomato sauce but to provide a healthy, cheap, bulk dish that can be served any time of the day.

My kids aren’t that keen on meat, but they LOVE beans, lentils and chickpeas, including baked beans. Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen my two-year-old eat a whole bowl of baked beans with her chubby fingers in 2.5 minutes flat. I would YouTube it if I didn’t think it would come back to haunt her one day.

Anyway.

Like most mums, I call baked beans “dinner” sometimes because I’m super busy, under the weather, late or just don’t want a battle. It’s something I know my kids will eat and baked beans are a vegetable right?

Which is the best reusable coffee cup?

Which is the best reusable coffee cup?

It’s the age-old question… Okay, so actually a very new-age question. But it’s a big one. Important. Which is the best reusable coffee cup? Plastic? Glass? Ceramic? Or stainless steel? Before we go any further, let it be known that I have done extensive research into this topic and drunk A LOT of coffee to bring this post together.

Below I’m going to write about the four coffee cups in my life. Truth be told, I love them all. They meet a need for me, which is to avoid single-use anything (except for toilet paper). In Australia alone, more than a billion coffee cups are produced each year, generating an uncool seven tonnes of waste. Some takaway coffee cups are paper and can be recycled, but not all of these end up in the right bin. Some are lined with very thin plastic and can’t be recycled so end up in landfill where they release methane, which is 25 times worse that CO2. Some are mistakenly put into recycling bins and contaminate a whole lot of otherwise recycleable stuff. Boohoo.

Today, reusable coffee cups are widely accepted by cafes, well designed and readily available. Here is more info on the different styles… and I’ll let you know my favourite at the end of the post.

How to grow kale at home

How to grow your own kale

Due to its enormous popularity in recent years, kale is becoming hard to find. The cruciferous vegetable is revered by  green-smoothie lovers and single-handedly reinvented the humble chip, but growers have warned of a worldwide seed shortage.

To protect yourself against a world with no kale, I suggest you grab a pot or a bit of ground plus some vibrant soil and get planting. In Australia, you can buy curly kale seeds here, this variety is best planted in late summer or early autumn and will come to maturity over winter, ready to fight off colds and flu.

Kale is a kind of cabbage and it can grow up to 60cm tall, spreading out around the same width. Grow it in either a big pot or in rich soil in a full sun to partial shade position.  Be sure to keep it well hydrated and remember that pots dry out quickly. Remember the watering system I reviewed recently? It’s great for both pots and in veggie patches and there are various kits available.

You can raise kale seeds in seedling trays or egg cartons, but you will need to remember to water them very regularly. I prefer to put seeds straight into a larger pot or patch of soil, along with some seed-raising mix, then see which ones look like survivors and thin the seedlings out, replanting them here, there and everywhere to see which position works best. You should be harvesting leaves in around eight weeks.

Sign the Monster Climate Petition (with a pen!)

monster petition

Here’s a cool thing you can do to protect the future for our children… A group of distinguished women is coordinating what’s known as a “monster petition”, which is basically a humungous collection of signatures (yes, actual signatures) showing support for a cause. The idea comes from the original monster petition of 1891 that made a big difference you and I take for granted: it helped women gain the vote.

Today’s monster petition focuses on climate change, and the organisers are aiming for hundreds of thousands of pen-to-paper signatures to take to the G20 summit in Brisbane (yep, the one in which our government has taken climate change OFF the agenda) then present it to our national Parliament in late November.

Celebrate National Op Shop Week with a spring clean!

national op shop weel

Hands up if you just love to op shop? Me too! Having just picked up a complete outfit for a natutical-themed party  for less than $15, I’m even more hooked on thrift shopping than ever. And I’m not alone – a recent survey found that nine out of ten Aussie women have bought something from a charity op shop in recent years.

Op shops (for overseas readers – charity, goodwill or thrift shops) make sense for your budget, for the environment and for the countless people who benefit from the programs funded by the stores.

Think of every loved t-shirt, outrageous find and fancy-dress costume you’ve ever bought from a charity shop and feel the satisfaction…

Now, it’s time to give back.

This week is National Op Shop Week and, this year, organisers want us to focus on giving. They’re asking us to dig deep into our wardrobes (and kitchen cupboards, garages and storage units) and come up with some top-quality donations.

Observations on the UK

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Hello friends, I’m back from my holiday in the UK. We spent a week in Wales, one in Dorset and another in Essex visiting family and catching up with friends. It’s five years since I’ve been back to England and global warming appears to be working in favour of the British Isles. The poms were sweltering in what us Queenslanders consider mild weather, aside from the day we went to Legoland, of course, when we experienced some of the torrential rain predicted to be the norm for UK summers in our warmer climate. It’s incredible how accepting people are of the change, but I guess warmer summers are worth a bit of flash flooding here and there, right?

We really noticed a difference on the motorways as people seem to be driving more slowly and less aggressively. This could be due to increased awareness about fuel efficiency now petrol prices hover around 1.34 quid. Interestingly, the M25 is now a low-emissions zone, meaning cars over a certain age (and with lower efficiency)  aren’t allowed to use it. Imagine if we applied that to the Brice Highway!

19 ways to green your groceries

19 ways to green your groceries

This is the fifth instalment of my Easy Green series over on Childhood 101.

Every time we spend money on food and other essentials, we make a choice about the world we want to live in. We can choose to reduce waste and to support resourcefulness, we can choose people over corporations and long-term health over short-term gain. Here are some ideas on how to turn boring old grocery shopping into something that supports a healthy planet, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for our children.

1. Shop in independent stores. Visit the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer.

2. Source fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs from local suppliers to reduce food miles and ensure a better deal for farmers. Visit markets, buy from the farm gate or look online for suppliers.

3. Check all boxed or packaged foods and buy those made in your country or, better still, your state!

4. Find a veggie box-delivery scheme or search for “community supported agriculture” in your area.

5. Keep an eye out for locally produced jams, sauces, curry pastes, sweet treats, cleaning products and more.

Keep reading here.

 

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