My newborn zero waste essentials list (0 – 3 months)

16 March 2018
A rare photo of the Builder. Enjoying his post work walk around the neighbourhood with our son age one month.

A year has almost passed since our baby was born. How did the time go so quickly? I'm looking back through photos amazed at how different he looks. The dark hair he was born with has now been replaced with a golden rose blonde. I'm not yet ready to give up on his hair turning ginger! He inherited his fathers Lebanese skin tone, which is getting darker by the day. The eye colour has yet to be determined, right now they are hazel but I wonder if they will turn caramel like his fathers. He knows when Dad's at the door before seeing him and starts clapping his hands in excitement. I was going to add he's a great eater but this last month the interest in food has disappeared. He loves to make me laugh all the time and I really can't wait for him to start talking so we can have fun little chats. But then part of me doesn't want him to grow anymore.

We are celebrating his first birthday at the end of this month with family and friends. I think the party is more for me and the Builder to celebrate surviving the first year! I haven't shared a whole lot on our first year of parenting yet. In fact there is a folder on my desktop of half written blog posts with varying baby related stuff – and with the book now out of my hands I have more time to get those blog posts up. And I will have a detailed blog post on nappies in the mix. Ok, let us get onto the zero waste items we used to help reduce waste and plastic during those first three months.


I'm kicking the list off with nappies since these little people poo so freakin' much. Goodness me. No matter what people tell you, there is no amount of mental preparedness for how many nappies you will change in the first three months. It begins at around twelve per day. TWELVE. We started with cloth nappies from the beginning. Actually that is not completely true. While I was in a sleepy haze hours after the birth, a disposable nappy found its way onto my baby’s bottom. My advice is to take a cloth nappy into your birthing suite if this is what you are preferring to use straight away. But if you forget to tell the midwife, I completely understand :) I think the only two things I was concerned about post birth was staring at my baby and getting a vegemite sandwich into my mouth. Haha.

The Builder and I agreed that if our baby went to NICU or there was an issue and disposables were an option to reduce some of the stress on us, we'd use them. We wanted to be flexible in case it did happen because there was that possibility and really no one should feel bad about that. Pushing a baby out of your body or having caesarean for the first time is...well, a whole new experience like no other! You don't know how your baby or you will react to it the event. My advice is to be flexible and kind to yourself.

We purchased secondhand birdseye cloth nappies commonly known as flats, later changing to MCN (modern cloth nappies) when he was three months. I chose flats for two reasons. The first being ease of cleaning and drying time. Since we were heading into winter I wanted nappies that would dry quickly. Standard birdseye cloth nappies are a 70cm x 70cm piece of birdeye cotton. We followed this origami fold tutorial. In the first two weeks the fold was a little cumbersome but before the end of the first month I could do it in the dark (which I did!).

The second reason we chose flats was his size. Cloth flats can be folded to fit a baby of any size by changing the folding technique (there are over 10). His growth appeared to slow down during the last trimester leaving all of us, including the doctor, a little worried. Since we were unsure what his size would be once out and the tests leaning towards him being on the smaller size, flats seemed like the most cost effective choice for us rather than buy MCNs specifically for a smaller newborn that might not get much use after a growth spurt. Since cloth flats are not water poof we used second hand nappy covers. We loved using flats and are about to switch back to them soon. What we thought was a underweight baby is now on the other end of the spectrum!

Instead of buying a new nappy pail we collected three used buckets from one of our local bulk food stores. They were free, perfect size, with secure lids.

Another secondhand item we found easily were cloth flannel wipes which we used with water only. They are so soft on their skin and were easy to clean too. I learnt quickly to drape one of his penis while changing to catch any surprises. If you can't buy them secondhand most of the large baby stores sell them or try an online baby store or even Etsy.

A handy tip from one of my readers: Extra flats or nappy boosters work great as additional padding to soak up the constant bleeding post birth. I didn't bother with post-partum pads, with the flats and boosters being enough along with my regular menstrual pads until the bleeding decreased. For any women or men wondering if you could use a menstrual cup for the bleeding – forget about it! Ha! Apart from a cloth pad and an ice pack, you won't want anything else going near that area for a while. If you don't have an ice pack at home, ask family/friends or invest in a reusable one. Trust me.

I didn't look into any “eco” disposable nappies and wipes and we should have, just in case. There are brands out there but I don't have any recommendations, sorry.


I had a breastfeeding pillow from my sister who had shared it with another friend before being passed along to me. I've seen many secondhand ones available too. Most come with a removable cover for washing. My sister declined to take it back for her second and truthfully, i'm not sure i'd use it again if we decide to have another child. That's my personal experience. I know others who swear by them. My advice would be to seek extra pillows regardless, one to hold baby until you're comfortable enough and one to prop behind mums back.

I used my own breastmilk instead of nipple cream when I had a bout of cracked nipples and it soothed well. Friends of mine did recommend this Nipple Salve and there were a few local brands at health food stores with similar ingredients.

We bought silicone nipples from Mason Bottle that convert any mason jar into a baby bottle. Since we already had three mason jars it sounded like a simple, low waste option. I planned to only express and feed from the bottle on occasion when I was not home or if I was having any issues, which I did have a couple of feeding issues that were sorted with a lactation consultant. Sometimes he loved the mason bottle without a fuss, other times were a struggle. I don't know if it was the nipple and his mouth not being the right fit or that he preferred the breast. He also never took to the soothers (dummy) or any chew toys when he began teething. We tried two natural rubber soothers, Natursutten and Hevea. At around nine months I stopped expressing for bottle feeding since he was eating more food and now the jars are back in the cupboard full of homemade jam. Had I not gone with the mason bottle I would have invested in Baby Quoddle Nursing Bottle. I have read parents using Pura Stainless baby bottles early on too but wasn't sure about heating up milk in stainless steel.

Since we were using the mason bottle, I froze my milk directly into the glass jars. Sterilising was easy by putting the washed jars into the oven. I washed them using a simple bottle brush similar to this one. To dry, we placed them onto a tea towel away from the other dishes so certain people (ahem my husband) wouldn't mix them up.

Obviously breastfeeding is the least wasteful option. I set myself up with a nursing bottle just in case there were issues with breastfeeding and there were struggles (plus tears of pain!). I would suggest buying one or ask any friends/family if they have a bottle no longer in use. Breastfeeding is not a walk in the park for every woman. If I was unable to breastfeed or chose not to, I would never have felt guilty about buying packaged formula tins. As long as my baby was healthy, that's all that mattered. For anyone who might be interested I was told about the Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) community.

I love my Hakka breast pump. It's easy to use, comfortable, compact, silent and made from silicone. There were no fiddly extra parts or need to plug in. You just suction it on and let it go to work. I bought my sister one for her second baby. It's something I know we could sell on or find some kind of use for it. I just asked the Builder randomly what we could use it for, his response is watering house plants. Haha.

Soother, mason bottle and hakka breast pump. Basket to the left was used by my Mum when we were babies.

I have had moments where my breastmilk suddenly decreased, something I noticed when stressed or tired. To boost my milk supply during these periods, I would stir some fenugreek powder with warm water and sip throughout the day. Or I would add fenugreek seeds to my meals. Of course, talk with your doctor or maternal health nurse before taking something like fenugreek to help boost milk supply. I just thought i'd share it since fenugreek is an ingredient found at most mainstream bulk stores or could be in your spice cabinet already.

Burp cloths

Flannel wipes were set up as burp cloths though he didn't need them until he was past newborn stage. He had colic and we could never ever get him to burp for months. The gas would just stay in there causing so much pain. But once he started burping the cloths were handy to catch those dribbly milk surprises.


Small babies don't really get dirty so we kept bath time to two times a week, using only water, no soap products. Since we were wiping around his bottom frequently throughout the day during nappy changes we decided frequent full body washing in a bath was not necessary for our baby as we wanted to promote and protect healthy skin bacteria rather than wash it off (read more here).

We used a secondhand bath from the Builder's brother and set it up in the laundry and bought secondhand towels from the op shop. We used a mixture of washcloths we already had and flannel cloths to wash with. 

Bath time with Daddy


I detailed here what Tifl slept in and where we sourced it all from. The world is full of enough wraps and swaddles, buying these brand new would make no sense. We accumulated over 20 from family and friends but found we gravitated towards only needing ten and barely touched the rest. For some reason Tifl didn't like being swaddled! He'd Houdini himself out immediately. Put a call out and no doubt a parent somewhere will have a stash of wraps, blankets and sheets ready to lend.

After some thought, we decided against a monitor since he was sleeping with us in our room or near me most of the time. We did come across a selection of secondhand baby monitors on Ebay and Gumtree, plus friends were happy to pass on ones they didn't use either if we had wanted one.

Pram, carrier and bouncer

We picked up a pram from my the Builders sister and have loved it. Before saying yes we took it for a spin and liked how it handled. It's a Velcobaby, about five years old and has another 10 years in it. I organised for a professional clean by Lilies in Melbourne. There are dedicated Facebook buy/swap/sell groups for prams. Also check out Gumtree where many of my friends got their prams from.

I picked up an Ergo Baby 360 carrier with the newborn insert on Gumtree. We used it for the first three months. If you are in Australia look up to locate baby wearing support groups near you. They sometimes have meetups to try different carry styles.

We didn't think a bouncer was necessary so we borrowed one from the Builder's sister. Well, we were proved wrong! He looooved the bouncer. Ours was a manual non electric one.


Onsies, singlets, beanies and socks/booties were so easy to find secondhand. Family and friends were quick to offload there old stuff to us. Secondhand stores had a plethora of items too. We did find that most of the onseies at secondhand stores were usually press studs and not the zips. Trying to press studs while a baby is flailing their arms about at 3am was not always easy. Again, look at online options like Gumtree and Facebook buy/swap/sell or secondhand baby markets for clothes.

Carseat capsule

The Builder's brother also lent us their baby capsule for the first six months. We upgraded to a car seat when we outgrew it. While we could pull out the capsule we never did, but then we didn't use the car much unless going on a long distance drive which was rare.


We didn't use many toys during those first three months, though we had been gifted a secondhand assortment from family and friends. I sang songs and read books to him, which he seemed to love enough. Babies kinda just lay there for the first three months and sleep so much more than when they are older. My sister loaned us a wooden play gym but he didn't begin interacting with it until closer to three months.


There were three handy apps I downloaded. One was Baby Tracker I used to note when I had breastfed and from what side. It has a variety of functions like keeping track of sleeping schedules, nappy changes, milestones and growth records with places to write notes. I think by month four I knew his schedule pretty well and deleted it. I also used Sleep Genius for white noise and of course, The Wonder Weeks. The Wonder Weeks app tells you exactly when to expect certain behaviour changes and the weeks or months he'll be going through a developmental leap resulting in unsettled moods. I think every parent we spoke to pre arrival raved about this app for a good reason. Our library had copies of The Wonder Weeks book and I reckon you'd find one secondhand as it's fairly popular.

Nappy bag

One of our old housemates left an unused backpack when they moved out and it has been sitting in our closet for years. I rediscovered it when I was nesting, declaring the bag to be more than suitable as a nappy bag. It's roomy, has different compartments and fits under our pram. I don't think I could do a heavy shoulder bag with my son, preferring the weight of the bag being distributed along my back. I'd come across a couple at a secondhand nappy bags at a baby market looking a bit more stylish than a Fitness First Gym Bag. But hey, it's working for us and is not forever.

In our nappy bag we pack nappies, cloth wipes in an cloth bag, a glass spray bottle (used to be an old deodorant bottle) with water, change of clothes and a wash bag. The wash bag was secondhand too passed on from someone who sold us her MCNs but a cloth bag or even old pillow case would function just as well. For a portable change mat, we bought hand towels from an op shop and use those.

Random items we didn't think of, but needed...

Baby nail clippers is something I could have sourced secondhand from another parent but had not even thought about. By the way, why do babies need long fingernails? They are like weapons! A thermometer was also another investment we didn't think to buy and needed soon enough. Another item to think about are thicker curtains, which could be picked up from a secondhand store. Little Tifl could fall asleep anywhere so we were OK without extra dark block out curtains.

Phew! It looks like a long list, right? You'll see we were able to source pretty much everything secondhand, it just takes a little more planning. But as i've mentioned before, other parents (or at least the ones we know) were always keen to help out and lend us everything we needed. Then there was Ebay, Gumtree, local secondhand baby markets, Facebook buy/swap/sell groups and Op shops to fill in the gaps.

Review: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Mineral Cream Concealer

23 February 2018
Review: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Mineral Cream Concealer

Can I let you in on a secret? I love makeup tutorials on Instagram. Do you know the ones I'm talking about? They use what feels like a bajillion products to contour, sculpt and transform faces. I can't put it down to why because there is a lot of packaging involved; maybe it's the artist in me enjoying the process. Makeup is a fun medium for self expression. I liken it to putting on a costume. Similar to slipping on a costume, makeup can be help to trick you into behaving differently. For instance, when I put concealer over the dark circles under my tired eyes and mascara on my lashes after a long night with my teething baby, I don't feel as sleep deprived. Is that just me?

Humans love affair with makeup has been going strong for thousands of years. But over the last four-five decades the packaging has become more and more wasteful. Looking for zero-waste and plastic-free makeup has been an intentionally slow journey as I wanted to make sure the businesses I circulated my money with ticked the right boxes. This concealer is one of the last items i've been searching for.

Apart from my sisters foundation I borrowed for my wedding, I hadn't used anything on my face except tapioca powder since 2014. It's what helps control the shine my oily skin creates. It wasn't until my son came along and some very long nights as a result that I wanted to use concealer. I feel comfortable and confident with and without makeup. However, I'm a working mother and some days I would like to fool my brain into thinking I am more awake than tired.

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Mineral Cream Concealer is made here in Australia, in Bywong to be precise. Most of the low waste beauty products I've purchased have been from the US but if I can i'd prefer to support the local zero waste market and of course, reduce those air miles needed to send items from overseas.

Review: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Mineral Cream Concealer

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics use newspaper and recycled paper packages to ship their products along with a little note also on recycled paper. Both of the newspaper and packaging have been reused. Labels are made of recycled paper printed in-house with vegetable ink. The handmade Mineral Cream Concealer is housed in a secondary aluminium tin, meaning the aluminium is recycled. I prefer to buy ready-made beauty products in either in cardboard or metal, as these two materials have a higher chance of being recycled in Australia. Cardboard can be composted too. While glass has the potential to be recycled continuously (ie glass jar recycled into a glass jar), here in Australia our booming construction and infrastructure industries require a fair amount of sand which they can obtain from glass. The Australian recycling industry is going through a transition since China has reduced what they accept for recycling from us, so hopefully one day in the not so distant future we'll see more true glass jars to glass jars recycling right here in Australia.

While recycling is great (when done correctly), saving on resources, materials and energy by offering refills is a better choice. Dirty Hippie Cosmetics accept tins and bottles back for reuse and refills on all full sized products to residents of Australia. Imagine if every company offered this! We certainly wouldn't be experiencing the panic our recycling industry is facing right now.

Let's talk about the actual concealer; does it work? I took before and after photos last year in September and I'm still using the Mineral Cream Concealer in shade moonlight. It's not heavy enough to hide my freckles which i don't ever want to cover up (love my sun kisses) but provides enough coverage to disguise the dark circles. I also apply it to t-zone. I use my fingers to apply but if you have a foundation brush it would work too. Once applied to my skin I brush over with tapioca face powder to combat any shine. It's a product i'd definitely repurchase from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics. The added SPF 15 makes my pale skin happy, even though I wear a sunscreen and hat most days. I'm happy with the ingredients, there are no synthetic chemicals, preservatives and additives. Since my purchase last year the formula has been updated slightly to be a little thicker and less oily.

Review: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Mineral Cream Concealer

Review: Dirty Hippie Cosmetics Mineral Cream Concealer

The business is quick to respond with any queries too, which is what a customer wants. They also allow for custom orders. Dirty Hippie Cosmetics products are vegan, cruelty free, organic, free of harmful toxins, with ethically sourced and fairtrade ingredients.

I did notice a low waste mascara available on their Etsy store – let me know if you have tried it. I'd be keen to test the BB cream as I've never used this type of produce before. I'm still not sure what BB cream does. Is it like foundation?

Dirty Hippie Cosmetics were kind enough to include a Nourishing Lip and Cheek for me to try. I'm  wearing it in the last photo. If you have followed my journey to finding as close to zero waste beauty products you'll know I had bought (and love!) a similar product from the US. It's great to have a version of this available in Australia now. The texture has more shine compared to the matte finish of UrbApothecary Tint Stick but i'm still very happy and use it most days.

I recently came across lunazerowaste for those based in the UK looking for low-waste mascara. If you have an awesome low-waste beauty product you love, leave a link in the comments for others to find.

In case you are wondering I was never asked to review this product by the business, it was purchased myself. 

Interview with Green Music Australia

7 February 2018
Like many people in their 20s music festivals and gigs made up a big part of my social life. Music festivals and gigs is unquestionably an area where waste is at a peak. I've danced in front of stages on top of forgotten plastic cups, each bounce breaking the material into smaller and smaller pieces. I've stood next to bins trying to find my friends, paying no attention to the fact the bin is actually so full its now spilling out and being blown around the site. Tents have been purchased for music festivals with no intention of taking them home because I assumed someone would collect the tent for someone in need and I could buy another one for at low discounted price. In reality the tent went to landfill.
Enticing people into making sustainable choices requires not just education but also providing the means to do so right under their noses until it becomes normal. I remember being at the Australian music festival Homebake in 2007 where festival goers were given 50c off each drink they purchased in exchange for an empty aluminium can they brought back with them to the bar. Needless to say everyone was pouncing on cans wherever you could find them, with people going through the bins to get that discount off their next drink. Providing a cash for container scheme resulted in the festival space staying relatively clean compared to others I've attended. Had this incentive not been provided I doubt any of us would have paid much attention to the cans littering the grass, shoved between tents, piling next to bins.

Interview with Green Music Australia
Photo Green Music Australia

Last year I read an article on Rolling Stone's website about plastic and waste at music festivals. The story opened with the not so shocking statistic of waste created by each festival attendee attending Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival hovered at 15 pounds (6.8kg per person for those of us from a metric measuring country). Here is a link if you'd like to read the original story. This 15 pounds is almost double that of the daily US average.

Artists have the power to use their talents and platforms to help shift change. A singer standing up on stage telling us to use less plastic and save the oceans is great, but really the idea doesn't float well if the event itself sells plastic water bottles and doesn't encourage the audience to bring your own for refills. This is where Green Music Australia come in, by helping musicians turn their events into more sustainable experiences.

As part of my Changemakers series I invited Tim Hollo founder of Green Music Australia to talk about the need to green up the music industry and how they are helping to do this.

Interview with Green Music Australia
Photo Green Music Australia

What is Green Music Australia about?
Green Music Australia is about harnessing the cultural power of musicians to lead the way to a greener world. We believe that we musicians have a hugely important role to play in influencing people - from the clothes we wear to the food we eat to the words we use, people follow our lead. And we have a responsibility to use that for good, and lead the way out of environmental crises towards a better way of living, in harmony with nature. We run campaigns on issues such as climate change and plastic waste; we work with musicians, festivals and others to help them reduce their impact; and we support musicians to be advocates for change.

What inspired you to create tools to help musicians and the music industry reduce their environmental impact?
As a musician and an environmentalist, I was getting increasingly frustrated that our music scene, even though it's full of forward thinking, thoughtful people, has this outsized environmental footprint. A few individuals have been doing great things for a long time, but the bulk of the scene wasn't moving. It was time for someone to do something to get that action out across the industry.

Do you think the music scene in Australia is wasteful? How do you think this could change?
Absolutely. You only have to turn up at a music festival in the evening and see the sea of rubbish to realise how much waste we're responsible for. Or look on the road outside an inner city venue. We go through a huge amount of single use plastic, which is so easy to stop, with a bit of forethought and planning. Disposable stuff is such a new invention! There's really no reason why we can't go back to reusable cups, plates, cutlery and bottles, like everyone used to! Yes, it takes a bit of thought, but that's why Green Music is here to help!

Have there been many challenges engaging with musicians or other parts of the music business?
The biggest challenge is people thinking it's too difficult. Everyone we talk to wants to do it! But everyone is also so busy, and so close to the edge financially, that they don't want other things to think about. Our challenge is to get them to see how important it is, and to provide solutions to make it easy.

Interview with Green Music Australia
Photo Green Music Australia
Interview with Green Music Australia
Photo Green Music Australia

I've been to festivals in the past and seen (...and probably contributed) to the plastic bottle waste left behind at the end. Tell us about your BYO bottle campaign and where this is at.
BYOBottle is working to get the music scene to ditch disposables, move to reusables, and stop the enormous stream of plastic waste coming from the music scene. We work with musicians as ambassadors - committing to not using single use plastic bottles themselves and telling venues and festivals they play at that they want jugs or refilling stations made available. And we also work directly with festivals and venues, supporting them to make the change. We've worked with festivals across the country, from Illawarra to Cygnet, from Woodford to WOMADelaide, and the list is growing!

We musicians have a hugely important role to play in influencing people - from the clothes we wear to the food we eat to the words we use, people follow our lead. And we have a responsibility to use that for good, and lead the way out of environmental crises towards a better way of living, in harmony with nature. 

What would be your advice on reducing environmental impact for people attending gigs and festivals?
Two simple steps - bring your own bottle (check if metal is allowed and, if not, make sure you bring a reusable plastic one), and either ride your bike, take public transport or at least car pool! Those are by far the best things you can do. If you want to take it a step further, get in touch with the festival and ask them what they're doing to reduce their environmental impact - it's pressure from the punters, more than anything else, that will make them move! And, if you're super keen, get in touch with us to see if there's an opportunity to volunteer at the festival!

Interview with Green Music Australia
Photo Green Music Australia

Describe your ideal sustainable music festival? How would it work?

A truly green music festival (and there are a few around the world), would be 100% powered by clean, renewable energy. Ideally some of that would be on site, like solar panels on stages, and dance floors which use the energy of crowds jumping up and down to power the lights! It would also use no single use plastics at all, making sure that all drinks are served in reusable cups or bottles, and food on reusable plates with reusable cutlery. These can easily be collected, washed, and returned to use quickly, with on site dishwashing. It would, of course, have plenty of water refilling stations around the site, well-sign-posted, because it wouldn't sell any bottled water. And it would encourage all punters and artists to bring their own bottles. And it would make sure that public transport is freely available to punters to use, and provide a cycle valet service to encourage people to ride there, if possible. It would also use green composting toilets, compost all food waste, and separate any rubbish that remains from recycling.

What plans does Green Music Australia have for the future?
There are a few ideas in the pipeline, but we need more resources before we can think about expanding! At this stage, we are planning on pumping along with the waste campaign!

If you had a moment in an elevator and could tell people just one thing, what would it be?

Every single one of us is a citizen of this planet. Every single one of us has a responsibility to act to protect the natural world we are part of. And we musicians have an especially important role. It's time we took that seriously, and led the way to a greener world.
instagram @greenmusicau
facebook @GreenMusicAustralia
twitter @GreenMusicAU

Zero waste and plastic-free pregnancy? Nope, not this one.

21 November 2017
Zero waste and plastic-free pregnancy? Nope, not this one.
35 weeks

I've gone back and fourth on writing this blog post. In the space of six months I received over 200 emails asking the question how to “do” a zero waste and plastic-free pregnancy. Gosh, what a loaded question! And one I was unsure how to answer properly because i didn't try for one. While we tried to limit some waste, it was never a goal for us and believe it shouldn't be for anyone unless it's their choice. If this is something you'd like to do with your pregnancy, please consult a medical professional to help you. I'm not a medical professional and this blog post is not intended to provide medical advice. 

With pregnancy well and truly over, I can now identify the three possible areas where plastic is used and how waste could be reduced if that is the route you would like to take. I didn't. The areas are:
  • Food
  • Medical
  • Clothing
Being able to reduce plastic and waste easily in any scenario comes down to two main factors; circumstance and knowledge. Our circumstances involve things like health, location, financial, support, time. The knowledge is being aware about the issue of plastic and waste and understanding your options.

You could know everything about reducing plastic but something like money or location could inhibit you from being able to commit completely to reducing plastic and waste. Similarly, a lack of knowledge limits the awareness on options available. If we don't know how to do something differently, it's harder to make a change because we don't know we can. For example, mine and my unborn child's health during pregnancy made it difficult to allow for a low waste pregnancy and birth. Then there was my lack of knowledge of general pregnancy and all the possible complications plus little knowledge of birth without modern intervention.

So if you were unbound by the limitations of circumstance and were comfortable and confident in your knowledge, reducing waste in these three areas is achievable. Here are some ways waste could be reduced in pregnancy if this is what you would like to talk to a health professional about.

  • Continue to shop in the same zero waste style you already are. Reuse containers, bags and bottles at bulk stores or co-ops, delis, bakeries, fruit and veg markets.
  • Instead of a plastic pregnancy test trust your body to follow these pregnancy signs or wait for the standard blood test which is used to test iron, thyroid function etc. 
  • Reduce the tests needed during the pregnancy (blood tests and ultrasounds) after talking with a health professional
  • Reduce pregnancy multivitamins after talking with a health professional
  • Reduce or limit medical intervention on guidance from a health professional
  • Borrow or buy second hand maternity wear
  • Hold onto clothes already in the wardrobe until to uncomfortable for wear
  • Look for secondhand or borrow maternity bras (if needed early)

All of the above are possible if that is the pregnancy you want to have. So why did I, this so called zero waste expert, not have a zero waste pregnancy? A lack of knowledge and awareness in alternatives, little preparedness for what to expect during pregnancy as I had not expected to become pregnant so quickly, and lastly the circumstance of my health and baby's made some choices harder. So if you came here to read about a zero waste pregnancy, sorry wrong blog. And i don't advocate prioritising for low waste pregnancy. On the scale of issue relating to packaging or waste i personally believe medicine is that high of an issue. Yes, i think Elevit could repackage their multivitmains differently but medical tests and other related items needed to look after mum and bubs health shouldn't be scrutinised over. 

The day before our honeymoon I had spotting (bleeding), one of our bodies many ways of announcing “you're pregnant.” We had only started trying a month prior, the possibility of being pregnant didn't seem possible. Plus, we were about to leave for our three week romantic honeymoon visiting London, Norway, South-West France for a friends wedding, hiking in Corsica and relaxing in Sardinia.

I could have trusted my intuition, waiting until we returned to Australia for the standard blood tests which would confirm my pregnancy, but excitement got the better of me. We arrived in London early in the morning and all I could think of was getting to Aldgate East tube station and finding a Boots or Superdrug to buy a pregnancy test before we thought of checking into the hotel.

The little plastic test was positive. We were having a baby. The Builder jokingly asked if i'd take the pregnancy tests home for my waste jar. I decided against carrying a stick covered in pee with me. C'mon...

I did recycle the box.

The first two weeks following the pregnancy test were normal. We continued on our honeymoon, incorporating the usual zero waste and plastic-free habits that we have at home and on all our other holidays abroad. Travelling zero waste in Europe is easy, especially France.

By the final week of our honeymoon everything changed. Morning sickness announced itself rudely. Nausea engulfed my body and I began vomiting regularly. With nothing staying down I dreaded breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even water came back up. We scrolled lists of morning sickness blog posts reading cures upon cures. Many of them unappealing and often made me dry retch.

At home we would have been able to collect some of the more palatable options zero waste and plastic-free. But we were not at home. We were in a small town on the island of Sardinia, our grasp of the local language hovering between OK and pathetic. The only way of buying ginger was to choose the stuff covered in sugar, wrapped in plastic packaging. Seriously no fresh ginger. Anywhere. So we gave in. The plastic bag came home for us to drop at RedCycle, with most of the sweet ginger inside. It did nothing for my morning sickness.

Tap water in my reusable bottle was swapped for soda water in plastic bottles. The fizz for some reason helped keep fluid down. With temperatures hovering around 35 degrees, I needed to stay hydrated and didn't think twice about the plastic. Mine and the babies health was more important.  

We recycled the bottles (sooo many bottles).

Lucky the Sardinians love their bread or I don't know what I would have eaten. While the Builder enjoyed his Mediterranean feasts, I ate the bread basket. In a panic the Builder bought pregnancy multivitamins thinking the baby was getting no nutrients from all the pane carasau (a wafer thin flat bread popular in Sardinia, resembling a giant water cracker). Another plastic bottle to recycle. 

By this stage I wanted desperately to be home

You may or may not have seen a little video posted via social media on how easy flying zero waste is. Well, it was easy going to Europe. The flight back to Melbourne was hell. All the food we had bought with us made me sick. I even told the Builder to leave me in Dubai. I'd rent a hotel room for nine months, have the baby and fly home. It took a visit to the Dubai Airport Medical Centre and some medication to get me onto the final leg home.

You know the little biscuit packs often found on planes or at work conferences, the ones with two inside...I ate them from Rome to Dubai, Dubai to Melbourne. Plus those cardboardy bread rolls wrapped in plastic. Oh, and more fizzy water. Every bit of plastic packaging was hoarded and dropped at RedCycle. If I had been stopped at immigration there is not doubt they wold have asked why I had bags of plastic.

I arrived home feeling crumbled. How could something so small be doing this? I closed the blinds and crawled into bed for two weeks, the plastic packaged bread and biscuits were swapped for our usual unpackaged sourdough, covered in lashing of honey or peanut butter or Aussiemite. I tried fresh ginger tea with no avail. The magic of fizzy water stopped working, instead swapped for cans of coconut water. The smell of meat, wine and even people, including my husband, would smell so putrid I'd vomit.

We recycled the cans (sooo many cans).

Eventually my hormones settled enough for me to function and I was able to visit the doctor to have the usual blood tests to make sure my body was doing OK. I was advised to take a mutlivitamin, B6 to help with nausea and then later found out my thyroid was not functioning meaning I had to take a tablet for this also.

I got use to the constant nausea which stuck with me until I gave birth. Bread was replaced with normal food, my cans of coconut water swapped for a pregnancy tea brewed cold. I could not stand hot drinks. This magnesium oil got me through the last three months.

I've never been anti-plastic, simply anti it's misuse. It's worth noting there are alot of women around the world who have low waste pregnancies with no plastic as they don't have any choice, but then they might face health issues and all the plastic used in modern medicine could save their lives. I personally don't see plastic in medicine a waste. If anything plastic has done so much for medicine.

The plastic I used during the first three months was mostly food related and the rest thereafter was for blood tests, ultrasounds and CTGs. In Australia women have two-three routine ultrasounds and two blood tests. If the situation requires monitoring, doctors and midwives recommend more. My obstetrician recommended further monitoring cautious our baby had IGUR. My uterus was never growing the size it should. All was well in the end, I was carrying 'neat' (neat means the baby was growing more inside my body than outside). I chose to trust my doctor and follow his lead. I knew in my heart he would not have sent me for extra tests if they were not needed as they were stressful and scary. Also, this was my first pregnancy. I didn't know what to expect and I don't think anyone expects the possibility of complications or suffering nausea for nine months. My motto for this lifestyle is 'do the best you can, with what you've got, where you are.'

I guess the point of this blog post is to emphasise there may be moments in life where we will make choices requiring plastic or where we'll make rubbish. It's OK. Our world is currently based on a linear system not a circular. And not one pregnancy is the same as another. And always be kind to yourself and bub.

The main reason I struggled to write something about my pregnancy was a fear i'd make anyone feel they had failed living zero waste had they created rubbish. This is not a “10 ways to reduce your rubbish etc” post. It's a story about MY pregnancy. Is it possible to have a zero waste and plastic-free pregnancy? Absolutely! There are many MANY women who do. I didn't and i don't regret it.  

Another reason I hesitated writing this was because I suffered feelings of inadequacy from reading posts on “how to do pregnancy” or “what to eat for pregnancy” etc. I didn't ever want to make anyone feel this way when reading my blog. I can imagine the authors of those blog posts never intended to make a reader feel like they were not measuring up, they were simply sharing their own thoughts, hoping to help another woman. 

If you are presently going through a rough pregnancy and are experiencing anxiety and/or depression I encourage you to reach out to PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) or a similar program in your country. 

The Builder shares his plastic-free and zero waste journey

27 October 2017
The Builder shares his plastic-free and zero waste journey

Late last year I was asked by a blog reader to share the Builder's journey to plastic-free and zero waste living. While I tried to give my best response on his behalf it did not feel right to tell his own story for him. I floated the idea for a interview style blog post on Instagram. It was met with a lot of enthusiasm and eager questions from you all. He said yes. We finished this blog post a day before our baby was due to arrive and has languished in my drafts folder ever since. Each of the questions below came from you, the readers. I was surprised to hear some of the responses from him.

For new readers, my husband is referred to as the Builder throughout the blog. This is his trade. He ticks some of the stereotypes us Aussies associate with tradies; drives a ute, wears flannel and loves the footy. Living a plastic-free and zero waste life is not something one would apply to a man working in the construction industry. Hopefully his story will prove there is no eco greenie stereotype. Because you would not catch my husband in the bush hugging some tree. At least not sober...

I'll pass it over to the Builder to answer your plastic-free and zero waste questions...

I completed my first Plastic-Free July in 2013. Two months later we moved in together. By this stage, I had decided to live plastic-free but had been doing it in my own home. What was it like at the start for you? Was my lifestyle change difficult for you to accept when I was living it under the same roof as you?

Do you want to know the truth? I thought this woman is crazy! Kidding. I thought it was OK, but it was a bit too much for me at the start. It felt like everything took so long. There was a bit of work involved, especially for someone who was not eco mined I suppose. It was a struggle. But once I had the habits and new systems in place it became much easier.

What was the catalyst that made you want to follow along? What clicked?
Like you, it was also a movie. You were settling in to watch the film 'Bag It' and asked if I’d like to watch it as the movie might give some perspective on why you became this crazy plastic-free person. I was alarmed by all the health concerns like BPA and what they could do. I had no idea these existed! A movie is a good way to help explain a big issue like how harmful plastic is.

Have you ever felt like I've forced any of my own changes on you? Does it feel like you've made decisions to reduce waste on your own or are you following what I do?
I don't feel like you have ever forced it on me. I've always had an option to say no and you made this clear from day one. At the start I followed your lead, but only because you were doing the research and could answer any questions I had. Now I have my own systems in place to suit me at home and on my worksite. When I got to the football, beer is served in a plastic cup and not once have you made me feel bad or guilty for purchasing them. They recycle the cup! But a beer at the footy is a vice and I choose it. I think you need to give each person their space and allow them to decide what they'll give up because it can be hard for some and easier for others.

What did you think of plastic-free living before you jumped on board?
I thought it would bottle-neck my life and slow it down, stopping me from getting stuff done. This might have been because you were still trying to figure out the whole plastic-free thing out too.

And now how do you feel about it?
The opposite. There has been a nice knock-on effect of positive benefits adding much more value to my life.

Like what?
Learning to question what I've been told I need, which has helped me step off the hamster wheel of mindless consumption. I feel I have more control. I learned to appreciate the finer things in life. These days I'd much rather be making memories than buying something. I also enjoy the connection to my community. Getting creative fixing things. All the same things as you.

What's the one plastic item you've given up you miss the most?
I do miss a Powerade. It's kind of hard to substitute that. I'd have a lot of Powerade during the week. Twix, chips. You know the same kind of junk food you sometimes miss. But then the whole palm oil stuff turns me off as well.

Would you continue to pursue a zero waste lifestyle if I was not around?
Yes, I would. But I will admit that you set up many of the processes in the beginning. I enjoy this lifestyle so it would be hard to want to go back, especially now I'm a dad.

You and I both loved second hand shopping years before we met. Buying second hand is part of the zero waste movement. Do you think your love for second hand shopping made it accessible?
Yes, I was a vintage shopper from way back. I didn't have any phobias buying second-hand. Some people do have and will look down on you. Second-hand shopping can be a challenge. You go in there and have to think outside the box. Sometimes you go into a second-hand store wanting to find something and you can't. But then an item surprises you. It kind of forces you to be creative which is something I like. I think that's why I like this lifestyle, it kind of makes you stop and think and get creative.

Quality of life is not measured by the things you buy, it’s measured by the moments you live.

What has been the hardest adjustment for you?
Probably my mates, who always have something to say about the way I live now. Their happy to provide their expertise in the area. They just think you have become this totally different person, but really I'm the same person only thinking somewhat differently now.

We have people in our lives that 'don't get it.' How do you deal with this? What are your tips for others?
Just don't bother getting into debates or force stuff onto other people. Some of my mates have come to respect that. They leave me to it and I leave them to their lifestyle but I’m not afraid to banter them when I see a disposable coffee cup in their hand. I'm not out to change anyone’s lives. Just because you don't live the same lifestyle, does not mean you can't still get along. Also don't waste your energy on the naysayers. It's easier for others to drain your energy, so you must step away and stop worrying about what they think of picking up rubbish or saying no to plastic bags.

You work in a very masculine industry, with its share of stereotypes. How do you deal with these and being a “greenie”? Do the people on site make fun of your choices. If so, how do you cope?
Yeah for sure they make fun of it. But I don't let it get to me. It's generally the people who are like that are the ones I find hard to manage. It's not their attitude about the environment, it's just their attitude in general. The industry does not encourage you to be eco on the job site, beyond energy ratings in the final build.

Do you have any advice for other people in similar positions? 
Do what you feel you can do at your job no matter where you work. Over time the majority of people will respect it. Sometimes you do feel like people are making fun of it but then you realise people will like you for who you are. People will make so many assumptions about the plastic-free or zero waste lifestyle, and sometimes it’s easier to let people just enjoy those assumptions. I find it simpler to just lead by example. Quality of life is not measured by the things you buy, it’s measured by the moments you live. When you change this focus you begin to enjoy the interaction life has to offer. Then you never fall victim to your previous lifestyle.

What advice would you give a couple who have different views?
Run in the opposite direction! Kidding!! That's a tough one. I think you need to be in a completely supportive relationship that allows each person the freedom to try stuff even if it's different. If you don't have a common ground then it’s going to be a struggle. I didn't give plastic-free a go for a couple months, but I supported you and I know you would have done the same if the tables were turned.

Lastly, what do you like most about living plastic-free and zero waste?
I like not having to go to Woolworths and Coles. Major supermarkets make me frustrated. They seem unethical, a contradiction and full of waste. It's nice spending my money somewhere that is more aligned with my values and supporting my community. Life is simple, happier. A healthy, kind lifestyle that makes you feel good.

If you have anymore questions, feel free to put them below and he'll answer them for you.
Powered by Blogger.