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Review: KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara

Review: KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara
Waaaay back in 2015, I wrote a little blog post on my desire to find, try and review ready made zero waste plastic-free make up options. So far, I've located this brilliant cheek and lip tint packaged in compostable cardboard. My next quest was for mascara. I've tried MANY different mascaras over the past year and a half. Finally I have one that I'd happily recommend. 

Apart from scrutinising the packaging, other considerations include ingredients, consistency, ease of use, drying time and how my lashes look. KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara ticked all the boxes.

Review: KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara

KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara comes in a metal tin. You can see from my photos the mascara has been used quite a bit – a good sign that I LOVE it. The consistency is smooth making application easy and does not clump on my lashes. I like that it is not heavy and can be layered to a desired intensity. Some mascaras don't allow that. I find that my lashes need two layers of KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara. I never used to put store bought mascara on my bottom lashes as it always looked overdone on me. KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara is light enough to put onto my lower lashes without it being to dark. But if you like a more dramatic look then it can be layered to suit you.

Mascara that dries is crucial for my long eye lashes. When I look up, my lashes hit my eyelids. If the mascara is not dry it will leave dots and lines on the skin. This mascara dried quickly. Perfect.

I've been using cake mascara for a while now, so I was familiar with the process. For those with no idea how it works, I can assure you the process is easy. Take a mascara wand, wet with water, run wand over cake mascara coating the brush and apply to lashes. You can see how it looks wet in the photo below. I had no trouble applying the mascara or removing it from my lashes with water. This cake mascara comes with a mascara wand, but you can request for no wand to be sent. The lightweight container is compact measuring just 5cm by 2cm.

Review: KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara

KeepingItNatural encourages customers to return the packaging for refill. The tin can also be kept for reuse to make lip balm, cuticle cream, hold bobby pins, sewing pins and no doubt many other things that my mama brain can't think of right now. Metal has a high recycling rate as it's a sought after material. Unlike other recyclable materials, metal can be recycled almost continuously. While recycling is a last step on the zero waste ladder, sometimes it's the best option for a certain situation. If you are like me who is not wanting to give up something like mascara and don't want or have time to make your own, then it's important to consider the longevity of the packaging material and if and how it will be recycled. Plastic mascara tubes and wands can be recycled through TerraCycle, however they are more likely to be down-cycled. I'd rather pick a material that had a longer life, allows ease for refill and reuse like this metal tin. If you live in Australia and decide to buy this mascara, perhaps we can collect all the empty tins together to post back for reuse in bulk.

I have been using the same wand for my mascara the past few years now. I wash it after each use before transferring to a small cloth pouch. If you have an eagle eye, you'll notice the wand I'm reusing is not the same as the one in my homemade cake mascara recipe. That's because a certain someone knocked my old one down the drain. Lucky a friend gave me her old mascara wand from a mascara tube she was sending off to TerraCycle.

Review: KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara

Now to the ingredients. I prefer any ready made makeup products to have a small number of ingredients and to also have a low ranking on the EWG Skin Deep website. So I was happy this mascara had less than ten ingredients and no nasty chemicals. KeepingItNatural Zero Waste Cake Mascara is vegan, free of parabens (synthetic hormone disrupting preservatives), fragrance and not tested on animals.

KeepingItNatural will happily ship with no plastic in a plain envelope.

Just a quick note, I purchased this product myself and was not asked to review it by the owner. 

Baby shower gift ideas

If you're hosting a baby shower, mother blessing, push party or babyq to celebrate the arrival of a baby, there is high chance someone will bring along a present. Rather than say no gifts to avoid the waste and plastic, I generally find it easier to offer family and friends options, because there are people that want to give. It's in their nature. I say work with them, not against. Not only does it stop me from receiving something I don't want, it's also another way to share the zero waste and plastic-free lifestyle too ;)

My pregnancy nausea prevented us from hosting a babyq (bbq for the baby...get it? Very popular atm). We did begin the planning of a special day. The Builder saw sense pointing out that it would not be overly joyful if I'm laying on the couch for most of the party or randomly vomiting because someone smelt weird. This happened more than I like to remember. Had we ended up hosting our baby shindig, we would have kept it zero waste by choosing food in bulk, making things from scratch where needed or purchasing in our usual reusable containers, borrow decorations, use real plates and glasses, no plastic straws and compost our food scraps. It would not have been too different from any other event we had hosted.

This list of zero waste baby gift ideas was carefully picked to help ease parents, like us, as we stumbled into the new role. Since we were able to acquire most of our baby's needs like clothes, wraps, blankets, prams and furniture from family and friends, we did not need anything specifically for the baby. This list revolves more around the parents. Perhaps I should have given the blog post a different title... anyway, let's begin before said baby wakes up from his nap ;)


Cooked food that can be heated up in a pinch is a new parents ultimate gift. It's so important a breastfeeding woman eats and not skip meals. They are required to up their calorie intake even more than pregnancy. A fun gift would be to put together a menu option or food tickets so the parents can call them in. Like an UberEats, but by family and friends. Think simple dishes full of roasted root vegetables, slow cooked meals, soups, rice, fruit and desserts. I'd advise against anything that could cause colic (gas) if mum is breastfeeding. For inspiration, look up anti-colic diets. Food can be divided up in glass jars as individual meals, ready for the freezer.

Nappy cleaning services

If you know parents that are doing reusable nappies, also known as MCN's (modern cloth nappies), this gift would be AMAZING. Dirty nappies are picked up, washed, dried and dropped back to the tired parents. This is the kind of gift that could woo parents into trying cloth nappies too. Many of the services offer gift vouchers. If this is a gift that you think would be a hit (I can guarantee it would!), do double check what detergent the nappies are washed in. Us eco mama's don't want anything too harsh that will end up close to our baby's bottoms.

Cleaning essential wipes

If they are using cloth nappies, chances are cloth wipes will be on the agenda too. Cleaning Essentials have put together a glass jar for making zero waste, safe and effective eco-conscious DIY reusable wipes. I love that the instructions are on the jar, meaning there is no risk of ever losing them. The jar has three sets of instructions ranging from gentle, all purpose and heavy duty. Once the jar is not needed to make the baby wipes (gentle), it can be transformed for use in the home (all purpose or heavy duty). It's easy and compact, making the jar ideal for parents to take out of the house with them.

Toilet Paper

The gift of toilet paper? Am I that sleep deprived to make a crazy statement? Maybe, but hear me out. Toilet paper is right up there with food as an essential item for new parents. The focus for the first year is on a new tiny human, not keeping the toilet holder stocked. Day to day chores like buying toilet paper is going to be far down the list of things to remember. And if a parent can save some extra time not shopping for an essential item like toilet paper, that is a gift in itself. Now i'm not suggesting you run off to the supermarket to buy a trolley full of loo rolls. There is a far smarter and discreet option called toilet paper delivery.

Who Gives A Crap sell a box of 48 rolls for $48 made of either recycled paper (post-consumer waste, like texts books) or bamboo (tree free!). Each rolls is individually wrapped in fun, reusable paper (a law requirement they are individually wrapped). 50% of all profits are donated to Wateraid to build toilets and improve sanitation in developing countries. Who Gives a Crap are one of only a small handful of companies (another one is Pure Planet) that sell toilet paper plastic-free. Those paper wrapped toilet rolls by Safe found at the supermarket has a thin layer of plastic. Gift vouchers are also available.

Use this link to receive $10 off your first order.

Hand cream

If the parents have committed to cloth nappies, they will be rinsing and washing often, potentially resulting in dry hands. I love to take five minutes once bub has goes down for his evening sleep, to rub a decadent smelling moisturiser over my hands to keep them soft. It's a nice ritual and helps me relax. Etsy offers beautiful ready made options, like this lemon myrtle cream. Get more personal by creating a DIY blend using ingredients from Biome. In each Biome store, or via their online store, you can buy the ingredients in handy reusable glass jars. If you are lucky to live close to their Balmoral store, all ingredients can be picked up in bulk from the naked beauty bar. All of Biome's products are 100% palm oil free too.


I have yet to meet a mum that does not have a crick in their neck and ache on the body either left over from pregnancy or bending over and picking up baby all day. While those babies start off small in weight, they grow quickly and pretty soon you're carrying around 8kg. Taking a break for an hour to relieve the aches and pains will not only be good for the body but also for the mind.

Photo frame

I didn't think we'd be taking as many photos as we have been. I plan to be in the moment but then part of me wants to record everything because they grow so quickly. Sometimes I wonder if we even took enough photos in the first week! Lucky, second hand stores have plenty of photo frames to put the memories into. 

Offer your time

Offering services like cleaning dishes, vacuuming, going for a walk with the new parents or just visiting to watch baby while either mum or dad can have a shower, meal or nap is a thoughtful gift. The parents will also appreciate the chance to have an adult conversation. I know it helps me.

Put together a hamper

Pick up a secondhand basket from the local charity store and begin filling up with items from the list above. Before leaving the charity store choose some children's books and clothes that the new parents might like too. You could even tuck a list of baby friendly cafes in their neighbourhood into the hamper. Baby friendly = space for prams and comfortable seating to feed in (ie, seats with a back on them). Cafes won't actually turn a parent away! Don't forget to add in some hankies for the new parents too. You can read why I think they are a wonderful zero waste gift to pass along here.

Looking after the wellbeing of a new parent is important. It might feel more traditional to lavish the baby with gifts, but honestly their needs are primarily the parents. If the parents are doing well physically and mentally, the baby will be well looked after. I look forward to reading other gift ideas you may have in the comments below. Tifl has not woken yet from his nap, so i'm going to tempt fate by making a cup of tea...

Recycling is not the solution, but we can't abandon it yet

Last Monday night Four Corners reported on Australia's supposedly unravelling recycling and waste sector in their episode aptly named 'Trashed.' It left many people wondering if we should bother recycling.

Recycling is not the solution, but we can't abandon it yet

This is last weeks recycling. I was inspired by fellow zero waste blogger Lindsay who back in April let us peek into her recycling. While she provided a month's worth, I thought it best to stick to a week. If I committed to a month, I'm not sure i'd remember to photograph it! I walked out of a cafe the other week without our babies pram, only the baby. Just an example of where my brain is at for you all. I had intended this post to follow the format of Lindsay's, but with the recent recycling industry scandals it's morphed into something different. But first, let's have a look at what I added to the yellow bin:

  • Two pizza boxes – We rarely ate takeaway before baby arrived. Oh how sleep deprivation changed that. They make the BEST vegan pizza. 
  • Postal satchel – I bought my son extra nappies from a Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell. I had asked for a paper satchel...
  • Foil – My mother-in-law dropped off cabbage rolls on a plate, wrapped in foil. 
  • Scraps of paper – I write shopping lists and dinner schedules on the back of envelopes my husband’s work receives. 
  • Toilet roll and packaging – WGAC and Pure Planet toilet paper.

The story ran by Four Corners has been one of many exposes into the recycling industry over the last few months. In July a fire broke out at a recycling facility in North Melbourne. Cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and aluminium that had been stockpiling went up in flames, sending debris from the fire across the metropolitan region. City residents, especially those with children, were advised to stay inside. Homes close to the fire were evacuated, with some residents ending up in hospital due to respiratory issues. My husband told me that it smelt horrible and could taste chemicals at the back of his throat. This was the fourth fire at the facility in the past year, with many questioning if the blaze was an accident or a way to deal with the stockpiled recycling. Prior to the fire I had heard rumours of companies stockpiling recycling here in Victoria, but not at the amount Four Corners uncovered.

The zero waste philosophy puts recycling as a last resort. It's not a system that works well enough for us to rely on it. It has become a bandaid, masking a rather horrible reality. It's also a business, the value of materials dropped into those yellow bins each fortnight is driven by market prices. If the value is low, it won't be recycled right away like most Australians think.

Let's take a look at the most common materials recycled. Recycling aluminium is 95% more efficient than using virgin aluminium. Metals have always had high market value. Recycling plastic is 85% more efficient, but China who have previously taken most of it, is no longer wanting to buy our plastic to recycle. This is mix of low oil prices and the plastic we recycle is not to a high enough standard or sorted properly. Paper is 50% more efficient, but can only be recycled up to seven-eight times. Lastly, recycling glass is 40% more efficient.

Four Corners obtained a report suggesting that in NSW glass recycling might need to stop. Too much of it is being stockpiled, obviously waiting for its market value to increase. This may have sounded alarming, but they did not explain how it could be fixed. The obvious would be to cut back on our glass consumption by encouraging reusing and refilling by businesses. Another option is changing how glass is collected for recycling. Preferably glass should be sorted by colour and intact. It's easier to recycle glass this way. Our glass is mostly commingled and broken. If done right, recycling can work well enough to recover resources. Due to the low prices for recycled materials vs raw materials, waste recovery businesses don't want to invest in the infrastructure to set these systems up. 

Recycling is not the solution, yet we can't abandon it. If we removed it or halted materials like glass from the recycling process, there would be HUGE leap in valuable resources dumped into landfill. I could only foresee a domino effect happening. Any confidence in waste recovery would be lost and people might stop trying to keep resources out of landfill by any means. Recycling is not perfect, but it's much smarter option than landfill.

So back to the issue; should we continue recycling if the industry is in such disarray? My answer is a loud YES! Please keep recycling, but continue to use it as a last resort. To me, I see recycling as a necessary bridge we have to use until a new direction is built. Learn the correct way to recycle in your council area. Each council and State deal with their recycling differently. Last nights episode only focused on a small part of the recycling industry. There are places in Australia that are doing it right. There are good people in the recycling industry. Truly!

When I'm invited to give talks on reducing waste, part of the discussion covers recycling. I encourage people to look at their recycling bin as much as I do for their landfill rubbish. Understanding how a system works, especially a flawed system, will give the extra boost to make changes. Part of recycling smarter is using less resources at the start that require recycling. Less new packaging, more reusing.

But until reusing is the social normal everywhere, there are other ways we can improve the recycling system. Below are a couple of ideas, but i'd love to hear yours too.

Write, email and call State and Federal Members of Parliament

The recycling industry clearly needs regulation. Tell them we want to make it mandatory that a certain percentage of our packaging requires Australian recycled materials. Businesses could be given financial incentives from the government for choosing recycled products over non recycled. If you have more ideas, tell them! Don't think your voice does not matter, it does.

Try to refuse, reduce and reuse

We are recycling more and more, yet our buying habits have not decreased. What we need is more focus on refusing, reducing and reusing. Less consumption = less recycling. Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic cutlery, plastic takeaway containers can all be replaced with reusables.

As you can see from the contents of our recycling, we can improve on the refuse, reduce and reuse. We'll admit to buying items in glass as well, especially beer and the odd stir fry sauce (more so now with a baby...). The Builder is going to save up a keg of beer from Kegs on Legs and we'll make more of an effort to cook sauces from scratch and freeze. Instead of getting takeaway, we have decided to try planning dinner a little earlier, and walk to the pizza store on days that neither of us feel like cooking. The emphasis is on try. I'm well aware life happens, some choices are easier than others and everyones lives are different. Refuse plastic packaging, buy in bulk where you can and don't forget the reusables. We can all look in our recycling bins and see what we can all try to do differently.

Support companies that reuse and refill

There is a growing number of companies that champion the refill revolution! Responsible Cafes will help you find venues that encourage the reuse of coffee cups. TAP. Wines in Melbourne are installing wine on tap in restaurants, saving MANY glass bottles from going to recycling. St. David's Dairy is now offering drive through milk refills. The Vegan Dairy will take back glass jars for reuse. Zero Waste Beauty is also offering a glass return program.

Speak up

If you want more of these types of service, speak up. Plant a seed. Drop an email to a company that you think could offer a refill and reuse service. We need more places to offer refill and reuse options if we want to break free from our reliance on recycling.

Support bans on single use plastics (eg. bags, straws, single-use plastic takeaway) and cash for container schemes

Search for groups in your area that are working on these campaigns or start one up. Jump into a zero waste Facebook community to find one or ask your local council.

While the show did not offer any advice on what we can do as citizens, I did appreciate that it shifted responsibility to those at fault. Consumers shoulder too much responsibility when it comes to doing the right thing. We can't blame ourselves for this if we've been led to believe that everything going into our recycling bins is taken care of responsibly. We can control what goes into our bins, but we have no control once the contents is picked up by the trucks. But that doesn't mean we don't have a role to play. With knowledge comes caring, from caring comes change.

How did you feel after watching Four Corners 'Trashed' program? Were you angry? Disappointed? What other ways can we as citizens help create change? I'd love to know of other businesses that refill in your area too. Share away :)

Raising zero waste children

Raising zero waste children

To prepare for our role as parents, we decided to attend the hospital's parenting class. Before the lesson began our facilitator asked if anyone had experience looking after small children, infants or babies. Neither of us could raise our hands.

My experience with babies prior to the birth of my son was limited. Time spent with the offspring of family and friends mainly consisted of cuddles, usually under supervision of mum and dad. I knew next to nothing about what a baby needs. To say I felt unprepared going into parenthood would be a gross understatement. Turns out parenting didn't solely consist of changing nappies, washing clothes and cuddles...there was this whole development thing, making choices that will shape his whole life. And it starts from the beginning.

Within minutes of leaving the parenting class, we begun asking each other questions on how are we going to respond to certain scenarios when they arise. One particular area we circled back to a few times was our lifestyle; how would we deal with this as parents? How can we get prepared? Will living zero waste turn him into a barry no friends at school? What will other parents think of us?

I decided to dedicate a blog post on the subject of raising waste wise children. I need a year of being a parent before I'll feel close to confident writing on the subject myself. So I invited three mothers living zero waste, Lauren, Tammy and Meredith, to share how they do it and pass on advice. Grab a biscuit and a cup of tea, it's a good long post packed with sageness.

Lauren - Hobart, Australia. Mum to three; primary school and high school age.
Blogs at Owlet.com, runs online store Spiral Garden, co-founder Zero Waste Tasmania

Our children have been totally on board from the very start of our move towards zero waste living. We’ve always been honest with them about the state of our environment, and human impact on it, but we balance this with a good dose of nature appreciation. We feel that encouraging a love of the natural environment can result in a passion for protecting it, and so far this has worked well. They’ve gone on to become advocates in their own right, approaching businesses and community groups to ask them to reduce their waste output, and engaging their peers and family members in discussions around waste and environmental concepts. They’re informed and, for them, zero waste living has become normalised.

A post shared by owletmama (@owletmama) on

A key for us in finding a good balance for our family is discussing issues in partnership and giving our children the space to voice their opinions, and make their own decisions. We take them shopping with us and involve them in the process. We encourage them to explore and find out more about things are produced and transported, to ask questions and learn more before making a decision. This means our children are responsible for the choices they make, rather than feeling like we won’t allow them to do or have something they want. We also encourage them to find other ways to make, replace or acquire the things they want. They’re amazing second hand shoppers! And they make their own toys, or we find compostable versions of the things they really want. We’ve learnt alongside them much of the time, and engaged them in processes around the home, like composting, animal care, cooking and preserving. Our children have found our solutions-based approach to living without waste to be encouraging. Often children (and adults, too), can feel the problems of the world are just too overwhelming, but by encouraging our children to become change-makers in their own right, they’ve found strength and positivity and an enthusiasm for zero waste living.

Tammy - Gippsland, Australia. Mother to two, both in primary school.
Writer, speaker and sustainability consultant at Gippslandunwrapped.com

What I’ve learnt along the way, about parenting, is that children will do what you do, not do what you say to do. Any parenting expert will tell you that and I see it happen in my family, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes in ways I don’t want to admit too (anyone else notice their children acting like mini-mes?). Research also shows that leading by example is an important part of creating change because it establishes new social norms, that is, it helps make desired practices commonplace. So, to raise mindful and intentional consumers, I concentrate on being a mindful and intentional consumer myself. Obviously, I also guide my children by discussing my values with them as opportunities arise and this is how long term values are developed in children.

It’s long term, sustainable results that I am after, so I don’t get caught up in achieving some idea of perfection for every situation we encounter. Perfection isn’t sustainable and such expectations create a lot of anxiety and often a sense of failure. Anxiety is crippling many children today so another value that I try to model and instil in my children is that we can strive for awesomeness but still be imperfect. The focus becomes more about the journey rather than the destination and we celebrate achievements. Besides this, kids go through different stages as they develop into adults and that involves testing boundaries, taking risks, understanding the consequences of their own decisions, finding their own path and working out what is meaningful to them. I give my children some space to do this. It will make them more independent, resilient, confident and wise in the long term.

When it comes to influencing others, who can influence my children, I do much of the same. For example, I volunteer at kindergarten, school, and extracurricular activities so that I can have natural conversations, lead by example, and help implement changes. Again, my kids see me take action on things I believe in and sometimes have the opportunity to join in.

Adjusting my mindset to be about the bigger picture of zero waste and plastic free living, rather than the everyday detail is working for us. Prior to this it was becoming clear that I was turning my family off environmentalism. Obviously, there can be more household waste than I would prefer but there is less stress and arguments and I do see my kids developing skills and making decisions that show they are becoming more and more mindful consumers.

Meredith - Vermont, USA. Mother to two; toddler and baby. 
Writer and speaker at meredithtested.com

Hi! I’m Meredith from www.MeredithTested.com, mom of two little girls. We currently live in Vermont, USA. I’ll give away the ending right away: Being a parent presents some of my biggest zero waste challenges, but also my greatest inspiration and motivation. I considered myself eco-friendly and a mindful person before my oldest daughter was born, but she turned my earth-loving world upside-down. My motivation was locked in more intensely than it ever had before. I needed to provide a healthy, safe and non-toxic environment for her both within my home and out in the world. We used cloth diapers from the day she was born and were frankly shocked at how easy they were to use and maintain. We realized that diverting that much waste from landfills was awesome, and having a significant impact on our home environment too.

We didn’t have to take out the trash as much. We weren’t required to buy a special plastic contraption to hide the smells of dirty diapers. And we never had to take an emergency trip to the store at 11pm to buy a new box of paper disposable diapers when we ran out.

Similarly, I find that for a lot of things from diaper balm to crackers, once you have a simple recipe down pat and the basic ingredients on hand, making things from scratch can be easier than having to run out to the store or worry about finding the right brand. I can and do make a lot of things from scratch, but to avoid burn out I purchase certain items (hopefully in plastic-free packaging) if needed.

Reducing waste while caring for babies and kids is different than when you’re a single person or couple. It’s true that we all have busier seasons and days or weeks that are more stressful than others, but kids add an additional layer of the unknown. Whether its medical needs or schooling, trash-filled situations are sometimes harder to avoid and daily control can go out the window fast.

While I’ve been quite vocal on my blog and social media about how you can stick with your zero waste goals even while doing tricky things like traveling with kids, the truth is that they seem to positively attract trash. From plastic packaging on well-meaning gifts from family and friends to stickers and balloons foisted on them by strangers at the market. We appreciate the generosity and while we definitely prefer plastic-free, secondhand presents or experiential gifts (or, frankly, none at all!) we haven’t turned anything down. Except that pack of stickers from the grocery store that I was able to quickly say “no” to before my daughter noticed they were on offer.

My top 3 tips for living zero waste with kids are:

  • Bring wipes everywhere. A pile of cloth wipes and a little spray bottle with water or a mix of water with a touch of Castile soap is a must. Avoid disposable paper napkins and tissues (that don’t really work that well anyway), and packs upon packs of disposable wet wipes.
  • Live by quiet example. This advice is really a reminder for myself. I love chatting but I can sometimes go overboard sharing why I love having a plastic free and low-waste home. Family, friends, and acquaintances you meet through your kid’s school, playgroups and other activities might not be familiar or understand your lifestyle. Lead by quiet example instead of giving a mini-presentation when someone asks about your stainless steel bento box. And of course do your best to answer questions or share your experiences and reasoning if asked.
  • Go with the flow and let some things go. Having kids is taxing enough without putting extra unrealistic expectations on ourselves. I challenge myself and I try hard to stick to my zero waste goals, but at a certain point it’s okay to throw in the towel. Your mental and physical health and the health of your family comes first. Staying up until all hours of the night making DIY diaper balm or bread or … whatever when you really need sleep isn’t going to help your family in the end. If you’re a new mom who needs to give your baby formula, don’t let the packaging or any part of it make you feel guilty. Just feed your baby. If your child needs medicine but the packaging is plastic, definitely go for it anyway. If you need to buy certain foods for your family in packaging on occasion, that’s fine. In the end “going zero waste” is about an overall commitment and mindfulness, and I truly don’t believe there are “fails.” If you’re trying to make this lifestyle work in the long term, you’ll have to compromise a little. Or sometimes, a lot. Forgive yourself, re-focus and move on.

When I read each of their responses, I immediately saw the theme of leading by example. From day one, children are watching, processing what they have seen and wanting to mimic in their own way. From bringing this post together I learnt many helpful hints on raising zero waste children and I hope you have too, parent or not. What tips would you share to a new parent?

The baby room

The baby room zero waste mum

Today, I thought i'd tour our baby's bedroom. Truth is, the whole house is his bedroom, happily falling asleep anywhere. Please don't assume he's a perfect sleeper. During the day he has cat napping down to a fine art, and midnight through to dawn, I'm up every two hours. Luckily, I get one solid four hour block from him in the evening...at the moment. I say at the moment, because last month the four hour block of sleep started around three in the afternoon.

Anyway, I'm not here to talk about his sleep patterns. I'm here to explore the baby room with you, sharing how and where we sourced everything. Before you begin scrolling, I want to put out a disclaimer about the tidiness of his room. The space rarely looks this ordered. Maybe once a fortnight I'll clean it, fold clothes, put items away. This was one of those rare events.

Borrowing, sharing and choosing secondhand are three easy to action steps of the zero waste lifestyle and will help anyone avoid needing to buy new plastic too. It's easy to source most items for a baby this way. Why? Because baby stuff is not bought for long term use. Babies grow fast and their needs change month to month.

Had we not lived this lifestyle, I would have made the choice to 'shop' for our baby room by borrowing, sharing and choosing secondhand. It makes financial sense to borrow, share and shop secondhand for items that will only be used for a short period of time. Thousands of parents seem to agree, and that's why secondhand baby items are abundant. The world truly does not need more new baby things made.

Of course, there are many more benefits and reasons to borrow, share and choose secondhand, beyond saving money. These are some:
  • Keeping items out of landfill
  • Putting value on the resources needed to make each item
  • Recognising the effort that went into making the item
  • Investing in a circular economy

It was not hard to find all we needed. The moment I alerted the world to my pregnancy, there was a flux of communication from parents happy to pass on, lend and sell their used baby goods without me even having to ask.

What was not borrowed or shared, was found on Facebook Buy Swap Sell, Ebay and Gumtree. Out of all three, I'd say Facebook Buy Swap Sell groups to be the most efficient place to gather baby goods. There were niche groups for most items on Facebook. I found sellers provided more information, were easier to communicate with, offering more room to negotiate a fair price. Op Shops were the hardest place to find anything other than clothes, blankets and toys.

The cot and bookcase were bought from our local Facebook Buy Swap Sell.

The baby room zero waste mum

He's not sleeping in the cot full time, yet. The day time naps and evening sleep are in the cot. For the rest of the night, he's in this bassinet next to our bed. My siblings and I, all slept in this bassinet as babies. I'm in negotiations on when the cot will come into the bedroom...I get this strong feeling the Builder is hoping the cot will relocate to the spare room with me. I don't know if it's because of the baby waking him up or my snoring. 

The baby room zero waste mum

Some of my old teddy bears, lined up waiting to be played with, sit upon the bookshelf. Old books, sitting alongside new books. A mix of old and new toys, plus a secondhand lamp.

I chose not to style the room. Since most of what makes up the room would be passed on eventually, I didn't see the point. Having said that, if creating a special theme is something you'd love to do, it can be achieved just as easily buying secondhand. 

The baby room zero waste mum
The baby room zero waste mum

The chair was bought in haste, by my mum and sister from the local secondhand charity store. I had not planned on having a breastfeeding chair. But it was the best $25 spent and i'm glad they talked me into it. It's in really great condition too. We think the chair spent a majority of it's life wrapped in a plastic cover, reserved for special visitors only. I keep meaning to have a closer look at the chair for money hidden inside. You hear these stories of buyers finding cash in old furniture. You never know! Until then, an old bed sheet will stay draped on top, catching any vomit/spit from bub.

The baby room zero waste mum

Our change table came from one of my readers. Hi Lori! She had no need of it, so passed it on. Like the bookcase and cot, there were marks on it. They are used items. The chances of wear on secondhand items is a high possibility. That's something to get comfortable with if new to buying goods secondhand. The Builder offered to paint it, and i'm still waiting.  

The baby room zero waste mum
The baby room zero waste mum

Sheets, wraps, muslins, clothes, shoes, socks, bibs, blankets were all donated by family and friends. Nappies sourced from a Facebook group and Gumtree. Baby carrier (behind the door) found for a bargain on Gumtree. We bought a bundle of towels from the same local secondhand charity for nappy free time.

The baby room zero waste mum

My tips for borrowing, sharing and buying secondhand baby items:
  • Ask for the serial number or product name to check safety standards and product recalls at www.productsafety.gov.au before buying or borrowing furniture, prams and car seats. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask ALOT questions about the items before committing.
  • If you can, view the item first before purchasing. I'd advise this for furniture, prams, highchair, change tables, to make sure they are sturdy and stable. Look for missing or broken parts.
  • Buddy up with a friend or family member when going to view or pick up items from strangers, just to be safe.
  • I would suggest asking family and friends that are offering to pass on free stuff, to detail what they are intending to give. It might be free, but make sure it's useful too. 
  • Look out for second hand baby markets or swap parties in your area. 

When it comes to rehoming the items, they will either be sold or given back to the person we borrowed it from. Another option is donating to charity organisations like St. Kilda Mums. They take items for families suffering hardship. If you would like to find something similar, contact the local council, ask a maternal health nurse or child health services in your area.

And here is the newish Mum. Dressed in pyjamas. Needing a shower. Thanks for letting me show off the baby room. Enjoy your weekend.


Why hankies make a handy gift for a new mum

Why hankies make a handy gift for a new mum
This is my collection of handkerchiefs.

I never used to love hankies or have a collection of them. Prior to going plastic-free, my purse always contained the tissue pocket pack. You know the ones I mean; the small collection of disposable tissues, wrapped up in plastic, that too would be disposed of in a bin.

When I decided to swap my throw away plastic packaged tissues in favour of hankies, I was a little lost as to where I'd purchase them from. Did people still use hankies? The last time I used a hanky, wold have been in primary school.
Yes, that's a hanky tucked into my school uniform. Most of my classmates had the plastic packaged tissue packets. I was jealous. Not many of the other kids had hankies. After a time, I wore my Mum down, swapping the hanky for disposable tissues.

When I confessed to my Mum that I did not know where to buy hankies, she disclosed to having held onto the handkerchiefs her children rebelled against, and sent them my way. Plastic-free of course.

Using hankies over tissues saves on not only plastic packaging, but also landfill waste. The thought of disposable tissues, full of illness laden bacteria hanging out in landfill makes me nervous. At least with hankies, the bacteria is killed when washed in hot water. It sometimes makes me wonder if there are superbugs, growing in our landfill...after all, nothing truly breaks down in landfill, especially when wrapped in plastic rubbish bags.

Conspiracy theories aside, tissue boxes and plastic packaged tissue packets comprise of waste beyond just the tissue. The paper tissues are shipped to stores in boxes, with plastic tape, unloaded from pallets that were wrapped in plastic. For how many tissue boxes we go through, our stores would be disposing of bundles of plastic that we don't even see.

Hankies are designed to be used over and over. Any holes can be repaired. At the end of their life, a hanky can be disposed of in a compost, breaking down between 3-6 months. A packet of hankies is a one time purchase, unlike tissues.

As a new mum, I have found hankies to be one of the handiest and most versatile items to have on hand. If you are thinking of something useful for a parent to be, whether they are plastic-free, zero waste or neither of the two, put hankies on the gift idea list.

5 ways I found hankies to be handy as a new mum

1. For tears

I have yet to meet a parent that has not cried a tear, here and there. There are tears that come with a change of hormones following the birth. The tears from exhaustion. Happy tears. My baby is crying and it makes me cry, tears. My baby is growing too quickly tears. Having a hanky close by to mop up those tears is essential.

2. A temporary breast pad

Ah, leaking breasts. It could be a light leak or a heavy surge, either way most breastfeeding mums will need breast pads. On the odd occasion I've found myself out of my reusable cloth breast pads. They might be damp on the clothes line. I might find them unexpectedly soaked through, because Bub slept a little longer and I forgot to express. Rather than wear damp breast pads or risk going without, the humble hanky serves well as a functional temporary breast pad.

3. Moping up dribbles and posits

We have cloths for our baby's dribbles and posits. Sometimes they are not always within reach. You can never predict when a baby is going to do a sneaky posit. It could be directly after a feed or thirty minutes later. With a hanky in my pocket, I can clean up the dribble and posits quickly.

4. Wrapping up food

I ventured to a cafe on my own with Tifl for the first time. We settled in. I ordered a cup of herbal tea and my fave vegan donut. Just as I was half way through my sweet donut, ole' mate decided that the cafe was not his vibe, showing it loudly. I wrapped up my half eaten donut in a clean hanky and we headed home. Who knew hankies would be handy for food transportation and saving food from going to waste. Win!

5. Playing peek a boo with baby

Interacting with my baby is important for his growth and development. Plus, it's fun for me. I like to grab a hanky, especially one with shapes, and play peak-a-boo or let him stare at the patterns. Who needs fancy black and white books. My old mickey mouse hankies keep him amused.

I'm imagine there are many other ways hankies are useful to new parents, beyond their intended use. If you know of any more, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

A reply from Elevit

I forgot to mention in my last blog post, the reply received from Elevit.

Er, whose Elevit? Isn't that a pregnancy multivitamin?

Remember last year when I questioned who was responsible for making and reducing rubbish? Here is the blog post. For those who don't want to click through, in a nutshell, I was challenging why zero wasters kept all their rubbish in a jar, when instead we should push the responsibility back onto the businesses making the packaging, we spend so much of our time avoiding. Basically, I felt like so much obligation for avoiding waste fell onto the consumers shoulders, when really it should be both.

Consumers can only avoid so much, and if we are not speaking up, how can these big corporations know that we want change? So I decided to start speaking up, sending back rubbish that I can't avoid and ask for smarter decisions on product design. Tagging these companies in a hashtag won't always work. In the blog post, Rubbish - Who Is Responsible For Making It And Reducing It? I took aim at Elevit and their packaging. During my pregnancy, I chose to take a multivitamin that came with extra packaging. Packaging that I know could be smarter. So I sent it back, with a letter and a suggestion.

Here is what I wrote to Elevit (it was a hand written letter):

Dear product managers at Elevit,
I am sending part of your packaging back, as I could not find a way to dispose of it, other than to landfill. As a consumer, this should not be my full responsibility to figure out if packaging like your blister packs can be recycled. I believe you could do better with your packaging. It is a tad ironic that your product is to help mothers grow a healthy baby, yet your packaging is not healthy for the planet. I have included a sample of how you could make a simple swap from the plastic and aluminium blister pack to full aluminium. This would make your pill packets 100% recyclable. The swap would keep all the blister packs out of landfill, reduce resources, ensuring the next generation you are helping grow will not have to deal with our rubbish. Plastic production and its use can be harmful, not to mention landfills are expanding across the world due to poor packaging designs like this. I hope you will consider switching to full aluminium blister packs.

Erin Rhoads

The below is the reply that came from Bayer, Elevits' parent company:

Dear Erin,
Thank you for taking the time to contact Bayer regarding Elevit. Your feedback is important to us and this has been forwarded to the Elevit team. Should you like to discuss this further, please call 1800 023 884 (Mon-Fri: 9am-4pm. Sydney time. Please choose option 1, then option 2). Please quote reference #AU170021xx. Alternatively, we are able to contact you if you could provide us with your telephone number. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,
Bayer Australia Limited

Shortly after my original letter was sent, I found myself in a conversation with a someone who used to be involved with large corporations like Bayer. Not knowing my life, that I wrote a blog on reducing waste or had sent my rubbish with a letter back to a multinational company, did he tell me that if a handful of written letters are sent on a particular issue, that they have to be presented at the board of director meetings. So who knows, my letter could have made it to a director. Either way, the effort was not done in vain. A seed has been planted somewhere at Bayer.

I'm planning to delve into the subject of speaking up and activism this year, so look out for more on this subject. It seems to be a subject largely ignored. And I plan to research the legitimacy on consumer based issues making it to board of director meetings.

In the meantime, I'd would be interested to hear of stories on when you have spoken up about an issue. Was it met with any reply? How did it make you feel?

Hello from the other side

Don't worry, this is not a post about Adele. Not that an Adele themed blogpost wouldn't be awesome. I'm simply stealing the words for the title, as they are the most accurate description on how I feel right now. It's been six weeks since the birth my son, yet I feel like it's been six billion light years. Life before his birth feels far, far away.

But while I'm navigating the haze of being a new parent, much has been happening on the plastic bag campaign here in Australia. Popular news TV show The Project have joined forces with Clean Up Australia, calling on the final three states without plastic ban policies, NSW, Victoria and WA, to #banthebag. An online petition was set up and sent out, amassing over 100,000 signatures in under a week. Technically, State governments don't view online petitions like these with much legitimacy. Even though it's not a legit petition, the call to arms has helped keep the conversation on plastic pollution afloat. The Project and Clean Up Australia also stressed the importance of contacting local MPs and the three State Premiers via phone, letter and email. This has been particularly essential, with the upcoming report from the inquiry into banning plastic bags in Victoria being released on the 25th of May. Fingers crossed that The Project and Clean Up Australia's campaign is the final push needed to get my state to act.

Back at home, there is other news. The Builder bought a house. I wrote a post back at the end of last year, about how we would be staying in our present home and not moving. We even ripped up the old garden to grow vegetables. The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry, right? It's an old house, built at the turn of the century, and it requires a lot of work. I'm not sure what possessed my husband to decided the move. I did have a rather nasty fall down our stairs while five months pregnant (baby was fine, I was bruised black and blue) and I wonder if that was the catalyst to look for a single story home. Our aim with the renovation, is to reduce the need for any heating and cooling. And the Builder is already salvaging materials to build with. The grand vegetable garden we were to plant this autumn is now being taken over with weeds. We figured there would be no point putting effort into growing vegetables, if we are going to sell the house half way through the winter season.

I also wrote in that same blog post that we would be a one car family. That also went out the window and we are now the proud owners of a secondhand Camry Hybrid. Turns out the Builder's ute did not have the needed contraptions to fit a baby capsule. Getting around the city without a car is fine, and i've been doing it for the past six weeks. However, if we wanted to drive up to see my parents or go on any family adventures outside the city, then we would have been stuck.

Australia's versions of The War on Waste TV show is debuting May 16th on the ABC. I worked behind the scenes on the show with the producers. I am super excited to watch it and see where conversations go on the topic of waste in this country. I'm SO excited that I decided to do a giveaway the week it airs. If you live in Australia, watch out for the giveaway on my Instagram and Facebook.

By the way, our bub will be referred to as Tif/Tifl on the blog. This is his actual nickname. During pregnancy we called the bump Tifl, an Arabic word for baby. The Builder is Aussie Lebanese, hence the Arabic. Anyway, the nickname stuck and we continue to call him Tif or Tifl.

Finally, thank you for all the well wishes over the last six weeks. My inbox, instagram, facebook and even mailbox was inundated with sweet words. Your messages made me smile. It's nice to be back here, from the other side.

Welcome to the world, little one

Early last week, I got to birth this human being into the world. 

Weight, perfect. Length, long enough. Name, still deciding. Even though he does not have ginger hair, I decided to keep him. This is of much relief to the Builder, as he is very smitten with the squishy and snuggly bundle of joy. We are happy and healthy, swimming in a sea of love neither of us have experienced before and feeling grateful this little person chose us to be his parents.

This is the fourth trimester, a time to bond with my baby and learn how to be his mother. While I navigate the sleepless nights and days, endless nappies and his feeding schedule, my body is busy healing too; the next forty days will be intentionally slow, as I take time adjusting to all the changes. Dear readers, this means no posts for a little while. When I return, I will have many words to share, on my pregnancy, birth, and trying to raise a human, plastic-free and zero waste.


Upcycling material scraps into twine

Upcycling material scraps into twine
To say I enjoy up-cycling is an understatement. I'm not sure what it is about the activity, that draws me to it. Perhaps it's the problem solving aspect; nutting out a solution to a dilemma, pushing the cogs in my brain to creative overdrive. I love reading about other peoples solutions to practical problems too, and I know that is why I am drawn to blogs, both reading and writing one. Most blogs are infinite resources of solutions. If I have found a good solution or idea, either by myself or read someone else's, I feel compelled to share it, whether one hundred people find it useful or only one. I'm not sure what category this blog post falls into, but I'm going to share it anyway.

The Builder had a couple t-shirts he was not wearing, half synthetic and half cotton. The thread itself was not a blend, rather the graphics on the shirts were clearly a synthetic raised print, not a simple screen print. I have written previously about my dislike of synthetic clothing, due to the micro fibres entering our waterways when they are washed. This week, Story of Stuff shared their campaign on microfibres. Rather than pass the synthetic clothing I had on to charity (for someone else to deal with and to continue polluting water ways), I came up with the idea of turning all of my old synthetic clothing into pillow stuffing. And those pillows I mentioned above, are full!

The t-shirts were all cotton (except the weird plastic print graphic) making great rags for when the baby arrives, to help mop up spills, vomit etc. I feel like rags will be our best friend very soon. The graphic part of the t-shirt could not be used as a rag. I cut up the t-shirts for our rag pile and put the plastic print graphic squares with other odd scrap material, left over from shirts I had turned into cleaning cloths previously. I knew I could turn this pile of scrap fabric into something, but was unsure what.

I then came across a tutorial on turning scraps of fabric into twine. I had found my solution, turning the cloth into strips and began turning it into twine.
Upcycling material scraps into twineUpcycling material scraps into twine
It's not as colourful as Cinita's tutorial and I had to plait it, as it would not twist. But it worked and I am now figuring out what I will turn the twine into from here. I am tempted to replicate the weaving skills, learnt at a class last year with Put Your Heart Into It.

I have had my share of upcycling projects not go 100% to plan, yet I never see them as fails. More like learning curves, the object morphing into something else or more than I imagined. Taking old items, deemed as useless and turning them into something useful, was a common occurrence last century and beyond. I wonder if our ancestors did it purely out of necessity OR was reimagining and rethinking simply an integrated part of our mindset that we as a modern society have lost? Many of the upcycling ideas I find are not new ideas, they are old. Making fabric twine from scraps of is not a new concept.

I feel like this post could start rambling on and on. So I best leave it here and think about what object I will turn my new found fabric twine into.

Are you a fanatical upcycler? Do you like purchasing up-cycled treasures? What is a favourite up-ycled piece you have seen someone create? If you don't like upcycling, what is it about the process that turns you off it? What else could I have done with the scraps of fabric?

Zero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?

I usually wax lyrical, as do many other zero waste bloggers, on the virtues of zero waste food shopping. Those photos of us, filling up our jars or bags with bulk binned food, is one of the more popular visual associations people have with the zero waste lifestyle. See below.
Zero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?
But when the curtain is pulled back on the store room of these bulk food shops, you would find there is no such thing as zero waste shopping.

Yes, zero waste shopping does not exist! Hear me out, because I am going to talk about a solution further down. Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest we all start growing everything from scratch in our backyards either. 

Bulk food shopping allows the consumer (you and me) to buy food without packaging. We go in, collect our food, shampoo, cleaning products, honey, soy sauce etc from bulk bins. It's usually purchased in jars, plastic containers and cloth bags that are used each time we all shop. Bulk shopping is about the reuse of packaging by the consumer.

It's also about freeing up the responsibility of disposing the packaging. When I take my newly filled jars and bags home, I don't have any packaging to throw away. This type of shopping model is challenging the present supermarket individually wrapped system and I applaud it. Bulk food shopping puts the responsibility back onto the store where I bought it – it's up to them to find a way to deal with the packaging.

When I shopped at the supermarket or corner store, the food came individually packaged for us. Once I emptied the package of food, we disposed of it in our rubbish bin or recycling bins at the supermarket. I was making the rubbish and it filled up the bin each week.

Zero Waste shopping does not exist, because those bins of food we collect it from, is originally filled with food that is packaged, just on a larger scale. Large plastic sacks and tubs, that can not all be recycled or reused is what you would find in the back room of a bulk food shop. If that packaging is recycled, it would be down-cycled, meaning the plastic become another item of plastic and thats it. Down-cycling is the end of the road. Some items do come in paper, but not many. So while we the consumer are not making rubbish, our bulk stores are and that is why there is no such thing as zero waste shopping. It does not exist, yet.
Zero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?
At my wedding, we hired TAP. Wines to serve wine. We chose them because we loved their business model; to challenge the wastefulness of wine bottles in restaurants. In a nutshell, TAP. have stainless steel kegs, filled up at wineries and then fitted into restaurant/cafe/bars, providing wine on tap. Rather than a new wine bottle, that comes with a cork or metal lid, stickers, boxes etc, TAP. simply fill up a stainless steel barrel, drop it off at the venue and replace it when needed. The stainless steel barrels are cleaned between refills and will last for over twenty years. At the end of their life, they can be recycled completely, not down-cycled like plastic. One, 20 litre stainless steel keg, is the equivalent of 26 bottles of wine. That is a lot of resources saved. 

The business model got me thinking about bulk food stores. Could a third party company do the same, but for bulk foods and make the zero waste food shopping actually zero waste?

I'll explain how the idea works using chickpeas:

  • Farmer harvests and prepares chickpeas for sale 
  • Puts chickpeas into stainless steel barrels 
  • Third party business that owns the stainless steel barrels, picks up the packaged chickpeas, transporting them to bulk food stores 
  • Bulk food store empty the chickpeas into their dispensers OR let's them sit on the floor for use straight from barrels 
  • Once barrels are empty, third party business collects barrel from bulk store, takes it to another location where it is clean/sterilised
  • The newly cleaned barrels are then dropped back at the chickpea farm
  • The circle continuesZero waste shopping does not exist – is there a solution?
That's my idea to bring zero waste food shopping a step closer to zero, and make it more circular. My intentions when writing this blog post, was not to call out bulk food stores. As mentioned before, I applaud them for challenging the system. I'm merely putting an idea out there, hoping someone, say a millionaire that would like to launch or invest in a sustainably minded business, has read this. You are free to take this idea and run with it. Truly.

Tell me, what do you think of this idea? Or is there a simpler idea on how to make zero waste shopping truly without waste? How would you do it?

Interview with Bottle for Botol

Thank you to everyone that wrote to me with suggestions for the future Changemakers interview series. For those that are new here, Changemakers is where I get to interview Australian legends, community groups, not for profits, companies and individuals that are working on great initiatives to reduce plastic and waste. I believe in sharing the work of others, because you never know how someone else's story will inspire. And I believe it uplifting to read about other peoples hard work; it's a nice reminder that we are not islands when it comes to the war on waste.

Today I'm happy to introduce you to Bottle for Botol, an Australian enterprise that works reduce plastic water bottle in Indonesia. Botol is the Bahasa Indonesian word for Bottle. A fun little fact, I learnt Indonesian at primary and high school. While I'm not as fluent as I used to be, I can still read it.

Bali is a popular tourist destination for many Australian's, and anyone who has been there will have seen the devastating effects plastic has had on the Indonesian island. Indonesia are one of our closest neighbours, and I find it heart-warming that a bunch of Aussies decided to set up a social enterprise, to help lend a hand and educate on the effects on plastic pollution. I hope you like their story as much as I do.

Students in West Bali finished their 8-lesson Environmental Education Program and receive their new stainless steel water bottles!
What is Bottle for Botol about? 
Bottle for Botol is a social enterprise that works with Australian and Indonesian schools to help prevent plastic waste entering our water streams, rivers and oceans. Our program aims to educate students on the importance of protecting our environment by leading a generational change away from single-use plastics. Australian schools are partnered with Indonesian schools, creating a cross-cultural exchange. For every stainless-steel water bottle sold, we donate the same re-usable bottle to students in Indonesia, and a water dispenser for their school. The funds from bottle sales also go toward an education program about the impacts of plastic on the environment.

What prompted you to start the program?
Bottle for Botol was founded in 2013 by a group of Australian volunteers. While on assignment in West Bali, they saw firsthand how dire the plastic waste problem was, particularly on the beaches and in the ocean around Bali, and were compelled to do something about it. Working with Pak Yasa, an Indonesian teacher and passionate environmentalist, an education program for students was developed and piloted at Pak Yasa’s school. The pilot was a huge success in educating students and building their capacity to reduce plastic waste. The program has grown since then to include 14 schools in Indonesia, and 10 schools in Australia.

One of the unique aspects of our model is rather than teach students ourselves, we train and support teachers to deliver the education program directly.

Pak Yasa Tenaya.
What has been the challenges faced so far?
One of the unique aspects of our model is rather than teach students ourselves, we train and support teachers to deliver the education program directly. Initially, we invited teachers from different schools, who were passionate and engaged in environmental education, to a group workshop outlining the program, and providing detail on issues around plastic waste. However, we found that teachers at the school who did not attend the workshop, did not understand our program. In 2016 we changed the process, and now we visit each school separately and run a workshop for the whole school community. This way everyone understands the purpose of the program and why it is important to reduce plastic waste. We have found this approach is very effective because schools often take their own initiatives to reduce plastic waste after our first visit, even before they begin delivering the lessons to students.

Bye Bye Plastic Bags has been widely popular in Bali, but their success has not come without hard work. Have you found it difficult to change people's mindset on plastic bottles in Bali? 
It has been wonderful to see what Bye Bye Plastic Bags’ small team of enthusiastic and passionate students can achieve, but changing attitudes and behaviors is not without its challenges. We believe our bottles, and people’s connection to them, are the key to changing mindsets. One of the questions we are often asked is “won’t the students lose their bottles?” We are very proud that, of the 960 students and teachers who have been part of our program at Pak Yasa’s school over three years, only one student has lost their bottle. The students and teachers feel proud of the bottles because they participated in the design competition and their bottles feature designs by their peers. This connects them to their bottle in a meaningful way and the everyday practice of bringing their bottle to school is an important reminder to avoid single-use plastics.

What are some of Bottle for Botol's achievements so far?
We currently work with 14 schools in Indonesia and 10 in Australia. To date, over 3000 students and teachers have participated in our education program in Indonesia alone. We have delivered 18 water refill stations to schools, so that teachers and students can refill their bottles with drinking water at school. We have run seven workshops for teachers and school staff. Nine students have won our annual bottle design competition and had their designs printed on bottles. 

Junior high school students refill their water bottles at school!
Tell us Bottle for Botol's plans for the future?
Conquer the world! There is so much we’d love to be able to do, but this year we’re focussing on making sure our program is the best it can be. This involves:
  • Updating our Indonesian curriculum to ensure it’s easy for teachers to use in the classroom, students are having fun while learning and we can better measure their progress. 
  • Building on our Indonesian and Australian school partnerships to create stronger connections between the schools. 
  • Raising awareness and increasing impact in the community by strengthening our partnerships with like-minded organisations - it takes a village! 

How can more Australian's get involved?

A student reading his work out loud from his BfB Environmental Education book!
If you had a moment in an elevator and could tell people just one thing, what would it be?
You can have a tangible impact on the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans, use a refillable drink bottle and purchase one for a student in Indonesia. Allow your children, and all children in the future, to have safe and healthy oceans.

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