Posts filed under ‘eco stuff’

Cheap at what cost

 

Its so easy to buy toddler clothes these days isn’t it? Just pop down to your local deparment store and you’ll find a ‘childrenswear’ section jammed packed with the latest fashion for tots.

The prices will be extremely reasonable, the colours will be exceptionally bright, and you’ll have the added bonus of a Barbie, Wiggle, or SpongeBob on every second item.

 Yuck yuck yuck.

I found myself wandering through a few large department stores at a mall the other day,  and came out extremely depressed.

To be fair, I’m a difficult customer to please. I have an obsession with natural fibres. I try to avoid anything made in China. I wont buy clothes with ‘logos’ ‘characters’ or ‘slogans’ – as Anthromama says “If I wanted to look at ads, I’d watch TV”.

So, that means that, with few exceptions, I can’t buy anything at the mall. The only thing I found that was made in New Zealand were some socks and tights made by Columbine – hooray for that.

I know I tend to preach, and I am sorry about that, but the abundance of poorly made, cheap as chips clothing breaks my tree-hugging-heart

 

 

Producing new clothing is incredibly wasteful of natural resources (do you know that it takes at least 2000 litres of water to produce a single cotton tee-shirt), and the sweatshop conditions in clothes factories are something none of us should be comfortable supporting.

As consumers, the power is in our wallets to create change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 19, 2008 at 9:44 am 5 comments

Fair Enough

 Fair Trade

 

 

On National Radio this week I heard an interview about human trafficking and the growth in human slavery across the world. Disturbing, appalling, sobering stuff. It has stuck with me all week and I felt I had to make some comment on it.

 

So many everyday products may well have been produced with some elements of slave labour. Without Fair Trade certification, any product from the developing world is suspect – even our cell phones and lap tops.

 

However, the interviewee specifically mentioned that the tea, coffee, chocolate, and to some extent sugar industries are rife with human slavery. One of the most important things we can do is buy fair trade brands like Scarborough Fair and Trade Aid. 

 

We are all very price driven, and its certainly no different here at Domestically Blissed where I talk regularly about our ‘budget of doom’. But if saving a few cents means that your coffee could be made by slave labour, then we are hardly any better than the human traffickers themselves.

 

To learn more about Fair Trade visit the international fair trade labeling organisation .You can also listen to the interview that I heard by following this link and selecting the interview marked “World’s Fasted Growing Crime”

April 11, 2008 at 7:23 am 2 comments

Buy Nothing Challenge

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

A buy nothing challenge for the whole month is exactly what I need. My inner material girl has been sneaking out of late, and over the weekend I did a little too much splurging.

So when Crunchy Chicken announced that April would be the month of the buy nothing challenge I knew this was cosmic karma trying to tell me something. 

I am what you might call a ‘fritterer’ when it comes to money. I very rarely spend more than $20-$30 on anything, but I regularly spend less that than. TradeMe (New Zealand’s answer to Ebay) is particularly viscious for the budget, I seem to have an itchy bidding finger.

I kid myself that what I buy is OK – because its second hand or fair trade or made in New Zealand or out of natural materials. But its all still stuff, and its cluttering up my very small house all the same.

So for the month of April its a consumer freeze-out, except for food, petrol, utilities etc. And my daily cup of coffee – I’m sure that isn’t in the spirit of the challeng but a girls gotta function in the morning right? So, its only 30 days. It should be easy right – well lets see!

I plan to keep a note on what I WANT to buy, and then see come May what I still think I need. Already I have this divive pair of made-in-NZ-ttrousers for Munchkin on the list. http://www.littlemissandlittlemister.co.nz/show_item_detail.php?id=587

Aren’t they gorgeous? Lets see if I can get through the month – I’ll keep you posted.  

April 1, 2008 at 11:39 pm 1 comment

WFMW – Natural cleaning made easy

bottles.jpg 

Its all very well to buy your cleaning products from places like BEE and Ecostore, but its even better to make your own. Now, I’m not hardcore on this by anymeans, but there are some situations where DIY is so easy and effective, you’d be daft not to.

 I know there are lots of flash recipes out there involving exotic ingredients like liquid soap, borax and essential oils, but quite frankly if the recipe has more than 2 ingredients I turn off pretty fast. People like the Worsted Witch make pretty labels for their natural home made cleaners which look pretty darn funky (see above)- but in my house its a bit more basic than that.

In my ‘natural cleaning’ cupboard there is just baking soda, white vinegar and washing soda crystals – which can all be bought easily at the supermarket. But you can do a lot with these 3!

Window cleaner and Stainless steel shiner

Very approximately 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. Pop it in an old window cleaner container. Sadly, you can’t use newsprint these days because of the new inks, they don’t polish windows like they used to. But I find a teatowel works fine. 

Oven Cleaner

I don’t need to tell you how revolting commercial oven cleaner is. Even the ‘low odour’ ones seem to make the oven stink for a good week afterwards. But this method, with a good measure of elbow grease, works a treat. Dissolve about ¼ cup of washing soda in 1 litre of hot water, in an old spray bottle. Spray on to the oven walls, wait 20 minutes and clean with a dishcloth or a scourer for stubborn stains. 

Drain cleaner

Drain-O and other commercial drain cleaners are seriously hazardous to the planet. The first thing to do is always using a plunger first – its not entirely pleasant but better than getting a whiff of Drain-O. Then, and this is actually fun – pop approx ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of ordinary salt down the drain. Then pour into approximately ½ cup of white vinegar. It will make a big fizzy explosion, and the acid it creates will clear the drain. Maybe you should wear a face mask!  

Deoderiser

We all know this but its worth repeating – baking soda is the best deoderiser. In smelly shoes, in the fridge, in drains, in the nappy bucket … anywhere that is smelling, try some baking soda. Apparently some people even rub it into their underarms instead of deodorant.  

 If anyone has any other great ideas I’d love to hear them. And to find out what is working for other blog-ladies head over to rocksinmydryer.com

March 26, 2008 at 6:52 am 7 comments

Why I choose ‘real’ toys

Earlier this week I was with my friend the Yummy Mummy. We were talking, as we usually do, about mothering and children. She commented that the common thread in all parenting books is to treat your child with love and kindness, and provide them with a stable, secure environment. She also commented that she personally couldn’t get that excited about things like wooden toys and not using playpens, and that surely children wouldn’t be any worse off for playing with lots of cheap plastic toys. 

 I have to say I’d never really looked at it that way. I was so convinced of the inherent superiority of what I think of as ‘real’ toys – wooden, open-ended, natural, old-fashioned toys that I had never challenged myself as to why. 

 On reflection, I don’t necessarily believe that Munchkin will somehow be ‘advantaged’ by having wooden toys, or spending as much time as possible outside, or going to a Steiner playgroup. I don’t think that she will be smarter or happier than other children who play with Barbies (urggh) or Fisher Price toys with lots of batteries and whizzy bits.  

But yet, I am very passionate about what Munchkin plays with, as those of you who read often will know. I believe that simple toys encourage Munchkin to use her imagination. I believe that avoiding ‘licensed’ toys will keep some of our pervasive consumer culture out of her childhood. I believe that natural materials means the toys are a bit safer for her to chew on. I know that natural toys, made either in a fair-trade situation or by independent crafts-people in first world nations, are better for the environment and better for the world.  

So I choose real toys, not because I think it makes me a better parent, but because of my personal values. Some of the values that I hold very dear are walking gently on the earth, respecting all human beings, and a belief in the infinite nature of human potential.  These values are expressed in everything I do, and in particular they are expressed every time I spend, or don’t spend, money. For me principles of fair trade, environmental sustainability and honouring craftsmanship are important considerations in every purchase I make.

 This isn’t to say that I only buy fair trade, organic, eco-friendly products – I don’t. Financial realities and day to day efficiency often come first … but I try to strike a balance.  I certainly hope that Munchkin’s childhood will teach her these values. I do hope that she will have a wonderful childhood – but it’s a reflection of my ‘ideal’ of a wonderful childhood.  

But I have to say, I’ve realized that as much as I care about this I would hate to be a zealot. I don’t want to ‘take a stand’ when Grandparents buy her plastic battery powered rubbish – I want to teach her gratitude and respect too. I know some parents who have had major family falling outs over the ‘toy’ issue, and I would feel so sad if I became so obsessed with this issue that I let my relationships suffer for it.

 Its easy in natural parenting circles to get caught up in the dogma. Its easy to feel that our way is somehow superior, and that all parents should be like us. By making the personal political we can become very judgmental of others. Its one of the reasons that I am so glad to have friends whose values are a bit different to mine, and who aren’t afraid to say so. The moral high-ground is, after all, a very lonely place to be.  

March 25, 2008 at 4:52 am 6 comments

Supermarket Confessions

If our paths ever cross at the supermarket, you might recognize me by what’s in my trolley. Or rather, what’s not in my trolley. This week my trolley seemed particularly sparse, particularly as the woman in front of me seemed to pull out treat after treat … all in what seemed to be her typical week’s grocery shopping. 5 lots of meat, all in plastic trays, processed sausages, salami, biscuits, chippies, little pottles of yoghurt, snack bars, fruit juice containers, disposable nappies, wipes, formula, baby food, bakery goodies, two types of breakfast cereal, a couple of frozen pizzas, ice-cream ….  I bet you could open her pantry and always find something ‘ready to eat’. Oh, and a couple of bottle of cleaning products – jif and sunlight I think. 

 My trolley by comparison was just a bunch of ingredients. A large bag of rolled oats to make muesli. 2 bags of flour. Yeast, cocoa and baking soda, and some spices. A kilo of mince, which was on special.  Oil, butter, milk, sour cream and a large tub of plain yoghurt. Chickpeas, couscous and dried fruit from the bulk bins. The treats were few and far between – a pottle of organic hummus and 2 bottles of sparking water.  Oh and the meat pies my hubby insists on eating for lunch – but that’s another story.  

Looking at the two trolleys I found myself thinking –  I’m possibly not as ‘mainstream’ as I think.  You see, I make my own bread, and cook from scratch. I make our muesli. I buy my cleaning products in bulk at ecostore. I use cloth nappies and wipes and make my own baby food. I’ve even started using mama-pads so sanitary protection products don’t even get a look in these days. I do use some baking paper and plastic wrap, although I try to minimise – and I buy them in catering size packs. The supermarket is really where I buy ‘ingredients’ not where I buy ‘food’ – if that makes sense.  

 I felt quite envious of this other mum for a while. I bet when she got home she didn’t set about turning a kilo of mince into 5 meals for the freezer, soaking chickpeas for falafel mix, or popping a cake in the oven. I bet she never had to stay up late on a Sunday night to make muesli for the week. And I bet she has never ended up with baby poo on the laundry floor from a cloth nappy disaster.

 But then I saw the cost of her shopping $280 as opposed to my $106! And I thought of the cost to the environment of all that packaging, destined for landfill. And I thought of the cost to her family’s health of all that processed food. And you know what … my way might not be as ‘convenient’ or as ‘efficient’ .. but I know which trolley I’d rather have.  

March 16, 2008 at 5:48 am 2 comments


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