Having another baby!

Posted: March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


How is this relevant to the photo of a toilet you ask? well.. I will get to it 🙂

Firstly, the lack of writing is because I am pregnant with my second child and having suffered through the first trimester, I have emerged to feel a bit more myself. I will also have to guiltily admit that being pregnant and starting back at university has reduced my energy to be as waste free as I used to be. Enough is enough so I am back. 

I am not going to farmers markets instead back using my local organic delivery site. They use more packaging than me going to a market but energy to wake up at 6am has greatly diminished. Having said all that here are some tips to be waste free/environmentally friendly. 

+ I discovered this toilet attachment mechanism . I have never seen it or used it before but it is so intriguing. It would reduce toilet paper and it seems less weird to me than probably to most people given I grew up partly in the middle east where Bidets are common place. I would also argue it is more hygienic. 

+ A better toothbrush : Biodegradable toothbrush! $36 for pack of 12? sign me up. Enough said, I hate plastic toothbrushes.

+ Reuse your glass jars: Next time you buy something, see if you can get it in a glass jar instead of plastic. We reuse our jars for storing home made jam, bulk items, leftovers, chocolate etc. We also reuse yogurt containers to store crayons, pencils and pens.

+ Spend your money on services: This is a fundamental shift and less a tip than a philosophy perhaps. But I have decided consciously to try stop buying things new because I think I ‘need it’ Instead I try to get it second hand which is harder work. This saves money ofcourse but it is not a good enough reason for me so I figure how can I get the satisfaction of a beautiful new thing? Well pamper on services!! I get my nails done regularly. I love looking at them, much happier than an extra dress or pair of shoes i might wear once in a while. Instead of getting more new toys for my child, I have signed her up for various classes that she really enjoys. Expensive but probably cheaper than plastic toys in the long run given we are never paying for the real environmental cost. 

That’s all for today folks! since I am not using facebook anymore (I was wasting too much time on it) I am not too sure how I will spread the word of this article but more importantly being back and writing has motivated me to jump back on the waste free lifestyle again. 


Part 2: Make your own: Bread

Posted: November 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


This one has baffled me for years. Let me tell you, it is totally worth making bread at home if you go through a loaf bread a week or once every two weeks. Dont kid yourself by thinking you can make bread without a bread maker, invest in a breadmaker. It is totally worth it – IF you follow my instructions below 😉

You see we had a breadmaker in San Francisco, we never made bread successfully. I hear this from friends all the time. It is because we never knew about the magical ‘pre-mix bread flour’. Keep reading.


Here is the ABCs all the way to Z about how you can make your own bread at home.

1. Invest in breadmaker. Honestly, i was getting sick of going out to get bread all the time that didn’t taste that great and cost more than $5 a loaf. So I went to my local David Jones store (a bit like Macys in the U.S) – went through their three breadmakers and picked one. I bought the Sunbeam Quantum.

2. Set up your bread station. This is important because the easier it is to do something, the more likely you are going to do it. Example, preparing your gym clothes the night before making it that much easier to get to the gym in the morning (if only this was enough to motivate me). SO my station shown above is basically a repurposed bed side table with our microwave on top and the breadmaker sitting on top of it. Next to it you can see a scale (really really really important for making good bread). I have a plastic container that is tarred on the scale ready to measure flour. The scale I got is just one I picked up from my local Kmart. It doesn’t have to be fancy.


3. The above picture shows the flour tucked behind the breadmaker with measuring cups. The flour is in large containers so i dont have to keep refilling it every day.

4. Now you have the station, lets talk about ingredients.


My breadmaker’s recipe book showed recipes for how to make bread with the pre-mixed flour. You can get pre-mixed bread flour from any supermarket in the baking isle. You may have to look hard. I got the Laucke brand because it has the biggest quantity available – it was a 5 Kg paper sack. It also met my waste requirements.

Breadflour (preferably one that is listed in your breadmaker’s recipe book ) I use a 50% combination of  Laucke multigrain flour and Laucke wholemeal flour. 



Yeast (provided in most pre-mixes)

That’s it!! That is all you need for making basic bread.

5. I will provide the recipe that I use but it does change based on your breadmaker and flour so FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS VERY VERY CAREFULLY.  I can’t emphasise this enough. The less instructions you have to follow the better, hence the advantage of using a pre-mixed flour.

Recipe (makes a 1 Kg loaf)

400 ml water – tap water, cold water is fine.

610 g flour – I used 50% multigrain, 50% wholemeal.

1.5 tsp yeast

Measure very very accurately all the ingredients. Place in the breadmaker tin in the order specified ONLY.  Do not mix, do not stir, just pour the water in, then pour the flour in, then pour the yeast in 🙂 Turn the machine on to the right settings, set a delay timer if you want your bread to be ready when you wake up first thing in the morning. Simple.

As a side note : I always select the lightest crust as I find that is more than enough.

6. I think it’s worth investing a electronic bread knife. I hated struggling with cutting bread with a traditional knife even with a slice guide. This is the knife we own. It is also handy for carving meat. We also have a breakfast station in the kitchen where the toaster, kettle, tea, jam etc is kept. The knife is permanently plugged in with the rest of the electrical things with a wooden chopping board. So we store the bread in a bread tin purchased from Kmart and cut slices when we want it as we find it goes dry otherwise.

There is nothing in life like waking up to the smell of freshly made hot bread. Trust me you will never go back.

Have you tried to make bread? or do you make it on a regular basis? Share your tips and stories!


Hello everyone!

We can reduce the amount of waste we generate by just thinking about it. That’s right, it is that simple. All you have to do is think about how much waste you generate and this process will automatically affect your decision making process. That’s about all I do these days. I tell people I am waste conscious if they ask about some of my strange decisions. Here are some funny examples (or you can scroll down to the peanut butter bit 😉

+ My colleagues thought it was funny that I didn’t go with them to get takeaway lunch because I preferred to eat in at the cafe so I could avoid the takeaway boxes.

+ It took some convincing of the fruit guy at the farmers market to take his strawberries out of his box and put it in my container. I sincerely hope he reuses those boxes. He tells me he will do it just for me !

Something I have been doing recently is discovering the joy of making from scratch the products I typically buy from a supermarket. Many good reasons to do this with the obvious being less waste. I aim for zero waste but that’s not always possible. The other day I made peanut butter. A great recipe with pictures is shown on this site –

What I did is to get roasted peanuts from my favorite bulk grocer – Flanneries and literally put it through my food processor (that we brought over from the U.S to avoid waste and plugged it into a transformer). I put a little bit of oil in to get it to mix properly and I used honey to sweeten. I had to do it in batches to make sure it ground properly but it taste SO much better that bought peanut butter.

Try it out next time you run out of peanut butter. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

The song to motivate you!

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

My friend recently got an awesome job in California and he wrote an awesome song for his interview. Here is the email and the song at the end. Also check out his blog, he has done some fantastic stuff in Permaculture since leaving his corporate public relations job at Google.

I wanted to reach out to let you know that, very much in line with your new lifestyle of reducing your waste and reliance on natural resources, I’ve just been offered a job as an educator going into schools around Alameda county (i.e. Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, etc.) to teach kids about the “4Rs” – reduce, reuse, recycle and rot!

As part of my interview process, I had to do a ten minute mock lesson, and I decided that I had to pull out all the stops and write a 4Rs song, which I thought you might get a kick out of. It’s attached to this email.
SONG – click on the download button on the right once you get to the page.

More stuff = less time

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Unstuff – photo credit – hoklife.com/


My waste free efforts have been slipping recently and I realized it came down to the domino effect of having more stuff. You see, two weeks ago, we got our shipment of furniture and goods all the way from San Francisco. I was ecstatic! I finally have all my clothes and a nice couch to sit on. The couch is definitely nice but the clothes just stress me out.

So back to how my garbage can is starting to pile up again. I am getting lazier and buying convenience things which often just come with more packaging. Especially as we have had a few special occasions to celebrate. I am finding that I have less time to think of creative ways to achieve my goal with less waste. I have less patience with fighting the organizations that provide excessive waste. I wondered why I suddenly had less time and less energy to devote to this? One answer. More Stuff.

I seem to be doing more dishes because we just seemed to have more dishes so we just use more of them. I take more time to make a decision about what to wear. I take too long deciding what to cook after getting distract by the pile of recipe books.  I seem to constantly be taking stuff out of shelves and putting stuff back on shelves. I wont even mention the boxes of children’s toys that manage to distribute themselves evenly over our floor.

Then there is the TV. Even though we have consciously not connected the TV, we did get a lot of DVDs from our friend and Modern Family has been an addiction. I digress. All this adds up to a lot of time that I spend doing and not thinking, especially outside as we now have indoor furniture.

I always foolishly believed that purchases we made were solely designed to make our lives more efficient. However any efficiency gained here is consumed by organizing, sorting, washing or simply dealing with the extra stuff. The solution I have decided is to UN- STUFF my life. I will reclassify what is essential and once I have done that, I will do it again.

Wish me luck….Inspire me with your stories of un-stuffing…

Hi folks,

Here are some things that have worked and some that have failed while I have been trying to reduce waste in my life… There are just a few, I will post more later so you are not utterly bored 🙂


1. Buying dry food bulk saves packaging. I found the awesome – Flannerys in Brisbane – I take their brown paper bags and reuse them. I should take my own jars etc, I will work up to that. For San Francisco folks, you guys have the incredibly awesome Rainbow Grocery store

2. Composting: seriously, really really easy. Find a any old large container in your house and put it in the corner next to your sink. I found a pretty looking bright red one which makes it all the better. When it gets full, I scoop up my toddler and we go for a walk outside and dump it in our community garden’s compost. You can easily buy a compost bin at your local Bunnings or local hardware store. If you live in an apartment with no balcony. That’s tough. I will investigate more and write a post on composting.

3. Making bread: We go through two loaves of bread a week. We bought a breadmaker – and the key to making your life easier here is that we also bought a large paper bag of bread maker pre-mixed flour. The brand I got is Lautke, available in your supermarket’s baking isle. Easy peasy.. delicious fresh bread. The alternative is to buy bread from your baker and avoid any plastic packaging which I did for a while but I hate going to our local mall.

4. Living without some things: If I need to buy something new, I think carefully about if I can make it. If not, I actively look for whether I can get it in paper or glass. Paper is compostable and Glass is reusable. If not, I see if I can live with out it and instead come up with a creative alternative. Most of the time we can.

5. Making liquid soap and cleaners: HUGE success. Not sure why this is number 5, oh well. I used castille soap paste which I bought from www.aussiesoapsupplies.com.au/  and mixed with a few drop of various types of essential oils found in my cupboard to create different liquid soaps for handwashing, shower and dishwashing. The delivery did come with a bit of packaging which was not impressive but I managed to re use most of it and recycle the rest. I also made household cleaner using 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and have it in a spray bottle. I also have a little shaker with bicarbonate soda for cleaning needs.


1. Using cotton thread instead of floss did not work. It kept breaking and was just plain uncomfortable. I might have to look into get a Waterpik. For now, I have a tonne of little floss packs that arrived from SF as leftovers of my consumer binge I went on while living in the U.S. umm..Thanks Amazon?!

2. Trying to reduce grocery packaging waste. I have been in this huge conundrum about getting groceries delivered. Home fresh organics is a lot more expensive but more importantly uses a lot of unnecessary packaging and makes lame excuses when asked about it. Aussie farmers direct is great in terms of not using much packaging, but the website sucks, their delivery service is a bit lacking, few organic options for dairy and no flexibility in their family boxes. I will try farmers market when we get a car.

3. Olive oil and coconut oil. This is a tale of failure and success. I can’t use those oils on my face as my eyes after laser surgery are sensitive but you should try it! However, coconut oil has become my body moisturizer and I will NEVER go back. It feels amazing. Also, I feel like I am permanently floating in a cloud in Hawaii.

4. Travelling:  I was away for a few weeks visiting my parents. I forgot to take my coffee cup and stupidly thought I wont be getting take away coffee. Wrong. I should always take my coffee cup. I found that it was just harder to look for bulk things and try avoid packaging in general when you are in a new place especially with no access to a car. Virtually nothing seems to come in bulk in supermarkets except fruit and veges but even those seem to be packaged these days.

5. Nappy/Diaper waste: 50% of our waste comes from nappies/diapers and the other 50% from food packaging (+/-10%) I used a cloth diaper service in the U.S and felt great about it. It seems the service in Brisbane is twice as expensive.  I might have to start doing some laundering myself or start toilet training my toddler. Perhaps I will focus on the 50% food packaging before entertaining the laundering idea 😉 😉

OK, if you got this far, do tell… what are you waste-free living/green living success/failures?

















The Reuse mantra

Posted: August 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have thinking about what ‘reuse’ really means. In the spirit of re-organizing my life to become more waste free, I realized I was buying things new to help me in this mission. I bought storage jars etc. I realized this is just creating a new type of waste. I should really be going to garage sales or looking online to find used goods.

My nature has always been the find a solution and then implement quickly. Quickly being the key word. I am obsessed with efficiency and it seemed inefficient to me to go hunting around for a second hand item when I could pick it up at Target.

Being waste free is actually a way of life more than I realized. It is so utterly unglamorous and this takes some getting used to. In essence is it is about embracing living a simpler life. This means actually NOT buying things and thinking of creative ways to get around buying something. I now ask myself ‘can I make it?’ it usually leads me down an adventurous path of looking up recipes and creative ways to store things.

My inspiration to go more second hand/used has been mostly fed by my fantastic neighbors. They go to garage sales every weekend and do such a great job of re-use. They also have a great business selling kids clothing (a huge form of waste in my household though happy to say I have bought less than 5 new pieces of clothing for my daughter ever).

So I am turning this up a notch. Wish me luck in buying things second hand!

What items have you had luck sourcing used/second-hand?