How to make your own Magnesium Body Oil

11 December 2016

Magnesium oil is something I had never EVER heard of. That was until I started experiencing morning sickness three weeks into my pregnancy.

I was lying in bed crying, the Builder busy reading out morning sickness remedies that might help. Lemon in water, peanut butter, peppermint, apple cider vinegar, ginger, icy water, crackers, acupuncture, high fat foods, vegemite, milk, magnesium oil…

Each one was tested and none of them did much but tie me over for a short half hour. And ginger tea/beer/lollies/grated/pickled did nothing.

Magnesium oil helped. While it has never removed the full effects of morning sickness, it has helped reduce the nausea significantly and alleviated the dazed cloudy feeling, offering me some respite.

Before I began slathering it onto my body, I researched. With our skin being the largest body organ, I wanted to make sure it was safe. Anything that goes onto our skin, goes into our bodies. It’s technically not oil, however it does feel oily before it dries on the skin. I came upon articles, blog posts and many forums where women discussed their success with magnesium oil during pregnancy. There did not appear to be any negative side effects. Aside from a mild tingling during the first few applications.

How does it work to help with morning sickness? Magnesium basically helps regulate the hormones that supposedly cause the morning sickness, while balancing the levels of cortisol that peak and trough. It’s one of the reasons why eating endless carbs during pregnancy helps, as they stop you from reaching the low sugar trough. It’s when the low is hit that the nausea intensifies.

During my research, I found some people claimed it worked well as a deodorant. I am trialling it now and will report back in the new year.

Magnesium oil is made of Magnesium chloride flakes, I bought from The Source Bulk Foods and this oil can easily be made at home.

1/4 cup Magnesium chloride flakes
1/4 cup purified water

Put both into a pot and warm gently. As the flakes disappear, let cool and transfer to a glass bottle. Rub onto the body morning and night. For the first two weeks, I used 1/8 cup Magnesium chloride flakes to 1/4 cup purified water, then upped to 1/4 cup.

Apart from easing my morning sickness, it also helped me achieve a more sound sleep and reduced cramping in my legs at night. Two other side effects of pregnancy for some women. I can tell instantly when I have not applied it to my body.

Just a note /
there is morning sickness medication. My doctor reassured me that if I needed it, I would be able to have it. I have been able to manage my morning sickness. Morning sickness varies from woman to woman. It is a side effect of pregnancy that should not be treated lightly. Be aware that severe morning sickness is serious, and in some cases, confused with Hyperemesis Gravidarus. No woman is weak or has failed, for wanting or needing to take medication in any form to treat morning sickness (I’d love to know who invented the term morning sickness!). Nor has anyone failed at living a plastic free or zero waste life for taking ANY medication or making choices that will help create a more comfortable pregnancy. Do what is right for you :) I’m only sharing this as it helped me. Be gentle and always do things your way.

Expanding our garden

30 November 2016
It has been a long time since I’ve shared anything about my garden. The last time I posted was two years ago and much has changed in the last few weeks.

With the upcoming addition to our family, we have turned our thoughts to the house. I have been asked by friends if we will move, so our kid can have a "proper backyard". While it would be great to have a backyard, we are lucky to have an array of public parks in our neighbourhood. Plus our proximity to public transport makes it hard for me to uproot and leave for the sake of having a backyard. I have access to trams, buses and trains, which is perfect as I don’t have a car and we are going to try being a one car family. Yes, this country girl is quite happy to stay in our suburban town house for the next five years. That should be enough time for me to woo the Builder into making a tree change to a country town ;) Regardless if that ever happens, our home without a 'proper' backyard, will do just fine.

Early in 2015 we made plans to try for a baby in 2016, way before a zero waste wedding was ever talked about, and I have been squirreling money away from then. Since we decided that I would take two years out of the workforce to be the primary carer, I thought it best to put some money aside as Australia does not offer the best maternity leave scheme for women or men. I have saved enough, but we still had to look at other areas where we can save money. Food is probably that area we could reduce spending. Truthfully, it's probably the only place, other than bills, where any of our money goes. While we are pretty good at being frugal food shoppers, we still wanted to cut down on what we spent as we switched to a one income family. So we decided to look at our garden and try maximizing each space, turning what we have into a proper food resource.

We grow some of our own food, but never enough to avoid a trip to the farmers market each week. Two years ago, the Builder added planter boxes and made space for me to grow some vegetables. It was enough to play with. At the time I could not ask him to remove the birds of paradise and palms that took up most of our courtyard garden. But over the years they grew too big and eventually, the Builder saw the space could be more useful than ornamental. It was decided that the birds of paradise, palms and other decorative plants would go. Adverts went up on our local Buy, Swap, Sell Facebook group and one by one, the plants were dug up and taken away to new homes. Now the space is empty, ready for vegetables and herbs.

Expanding our garden

Expanding our garden

Over the years, it has been trial and error, understanding what grows well and what does not. With the new open spaces, I will have to relearn how it to make it work. I don't believe myself to have a natural green thumb, but I do work hard at it. I think the Builder has more of an inbuilt way with plants that he is not aware of. But I can see it. While the garden we have is small, it is larger than many people have, and we intend to make the most of it. Properly this time.

Creating memories with MyBestGift, the online marketplace dedicated to gifting kids activites and experiences

18 November 2016
Ahhh Christmas. Or as I call it, stuffmas. Because that is what the day has become…a day of handing over stuff. Over packaged plastic stuff.
Each Christmas, my parents would load us into the family car and we would travel west, past Goulburn to my grandparent’s farm. No matter the year, Christmas day would run in the usual order; open presents while the parents and grandparents sipped on sherry, and then proceed to have lunch. Once our bellies were full, we would be let loose to play on the farm.

One year, my brother was asked to write about his Christmas Day for a school assignment. He would have been young, still in primary school. My mother had read his report before it went off to his teachers. Recently, she shared the words my brother had written. He did not mention the presents being his favorite aspect of the day. It was playing cricket with his family. His favorite memories he had accumulated were all about doing things, not the presents.

When my mother brought up this story, I tried to recall the presents I had opened throughout my Christmases. Truthfully, I could not remember many of them. I remember the car rides, playing with the dogs on the farm, exploring the old shearing shed, generally running amuck. I remember toys played with, but they are not the things that made up the happy memories of my childhood. It was the activities I shared with my family and friends that make me smile.

I love receiving experiences as gifts and I love gifting experiences. When it comes to gifts, I’d rather choose moments over things. Not add to the unfounded belief that giving a physical object is the only way to celebrate an occasion. Happiness is not tied up with stuff.

Recently, I discovered MyBestGift. An online website that is all about gifting experiences to kids. Launched this year, the website allows us adults to find experiences for kids by age, theme and location. Looking for something not made of plastic for a 10 year old boy? Try a lesson on abseiling, kayak, skateboarding or cooking. There is also a section dedicated to parents and bubs. I’d much rather a enjoy attending a music class with my baby to come, than collecting toys, that will become forgotten too quickly.

caters for children of all ages, from newborns to 18 year olds. I spoke with founder Sara Eastwood about her venture and what it’s been like creating a site that promotes choosing moments over things and tips to have waste free Christmas. 

Creating memories with MyBestGift

Creating memories with MyBestGift

What is My Best Gift and what inspired you to start this service?
MyBestGift is an experience gifting site, dedicated entirely to kids' experiences. I have two little girls, Mila 5yo and Sophie who's about to turn 2! I realised last year that my girls already had more than they needed and I couldn't imagine them receiving more toys for every celebration, it just seemed excessive and wasteful, given they had their favourite few toys they'd always play with. As a big fan of experience gifts myself, I asked our family to give experiences to our girls instead and initially looked on the existing sites, only to find they didn't cater to kids. I then suggested ballet lessons for Mila, but the local ballet school didn't offer gift vouchers and so my parents paid for the lessons and didn't have anything to show for it so they bought her a toy as well, and the whole thing was a bit of a disaster! I felt like there had to be a better way and after doing some research, decided to start the site myself!

What has been the challenges developing My Best Gift?
I'm not a developer, so that was always going to be my biggest challenge in starting an marketplace online. I brought on a business partner early on, who has the tech experience and knowledge, so we compliment each others skill set.

What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
I've been really pleasantly surprised by how many people want to help you succeed. I've learnt that if you share your dream with people, they'll do whatever they can to help. I've had complete strangers offering their skills, networks, feedback and encouragement, it's been really incredible.

I realised last year that my girls already had more than they needed and I couldn't imagine them receiving more toys for every celebration, it just seemed excessive and wasteful, given they had their favourite few toys they'd always play with.

So many people assume that giving a present involves buying and wrapping a physical gift. Do you have tips for people on how they can approach/talk to family and friends, asking for no physical gifts?
Yes! Talk to your friends and family about your childhood memories, we remember the things we did and the people we were with, not each and every barbie doll we had. The opportunity to give those experiences is so much more meaningful and creates lasting childhood memories, which is something they'll cherish if they understand the impact they'll have. Whether it's their first surfing lesson, ballet lessons, or a jet boat ride or a trip to the local wildlife park, it's going to be memorable!

They can also get creative in giving their experience gifts! You can set up a treasure hunt in the backyard, with little clues leading them to their ultimate treasure, their experience gift voucher! We have lots of ideas on how to 'wrap' your experiences, you can find them here.

Creating memories with MyBestGift

Creating memories with MyBestGift

Christmas is fast approaching (eek!). What are two easy actions you will be making during the holiday season to reduce rubbish?
1. Experience gifts!! (no surprises there!)
2. And Secret Santa. Instead of everyone trying to buy something for each and every person, just one gift, that you can take the time to think about what that person would really appreciate.

What plans does My Best Gift have for the future?
So. Many. We're launching in the five capital cities prior to Christmas and will be working really hard to continue to grow our coverage in those cities and expand into other areas. We'll also be expanding our offering next year, so stay tuned for our updates ;-)

If you could ban one item of single use plastic from anyone using it, what would it be?
Plastic bags!

Rubbish - who is responsible for making it and reducing it?

5 November 2016

Many zero wasters keep their rubbish in a container like a jar. It's technically a bin and from the outside a weird concept. Someone described rubbish jars as a kind of waste taxidermy. Of course, living zero waste does not require any rubbish to be housed in a glass jar. Or kept in the home at all. I simply started to keep mine because it helped me track what rubbish I was creating to make improvements and to better understand materials. It was an extension of the dilemma bag used in Plastic Free July. 

Recently I have been wondering if it’s really setting the best example. Is keeping all the waste in my jar asking for change? Sure, it shows that with thought and intention, the consumers rubbish can be reduced. But now I am not as convinced that hoarding every little but it of it, in a glass home, is the way forward.

I do wonder if the zero waste movement is taking too much responsibility for the rubbish we don’t want to create. No one living zero waste wants to create rubbish, and we are forever trying to avoid it. For instance, I have several straws in my jar that I specifically did not ask for…but now are my responsibility. Why is it my responsibility?

The first month of my pregnancy, I was very ill. I couldn't keep anything in my stomach. Including water. It’s kind of scary. No food was staying down, which meant no nutrients. So I did what probably most new Mum’s do, and followed the doctors’ orders to buy a pregnancy multivitamin. I chose the most well-known brand, Elevit. They come in blister packs, that are made of half plastic and half aluminum, packed in a cardboard box. There was probably another multivitamin in a recyclable jar, but I grabbed this brand because I knew of it and I also could not be bothered sussing out another brand. At that stage getting out of bed was difficult. Trawling the internet or pharmacy for a more sustainable option was the last thing I wanted to do. My only concern was my baby and finding a discreet place to be sick after I left the pharmacy.

The brand I chose is the most popular and trusted pregnancy multivitamin in Australia. I know that I should have picked one that has recyclable packaging. And I take full responsibility that I did not. As I mentioned, my stamina for making a sustainable decision was non existent, so I went with what I felt was best for my body and baby. 

Not too long after this, the doctor discovered my thyroid was not functioning properly and I needed to get onto a medication pronto. Again I followed the doctors’ orders, and took the medication. This time it was packaged in aluminum blister packs. No plastic. Everything can be recycled. I didn't even ask or look for a sustainable packaged option.

I began to wonder why Elevit didn’t do the same, or use glass and plastic bottles. Each fortnight, I began emptying a blister sheet of Elevit, placing it into my jar, the same thought of 'why don’t they' floating in my mind. Then I wondered if we should always have to compromise our decisions because of packaging, especially when it comes to health? Is that truly fair? Will that make the big companies take notice?

Stuffing this rubbish into my jar is not going to push for any change. Elevit has been good. I can’t fault it, other than the packaging. But holding onto it, is not enough. I can help make a change and my rubbish can do more than sit there. 

It's my responsibility to speak up if I want to see change.

So now I am saving up all the Elevit blister sheets, and I'll send them back to Elevit (Bayer) with a letter and suggestions on how they can provide better packaging. Because there are alternatives. They exist and they can make a change. It should not always be up to me.

Living zero waste is not just about making better choices for myself. It's demanding better choices for everyone. One of the most effective actions to reduce waste is asking for change at the source. There is not a low waste alternative to everything yet. But if I start speaking up, maybe one day there will be.  

I’m not just stopping at Elevit. In my jar are blister packs for Nurofen and Panadol. I know these can be housed in plastic bottles. I have seen it in the US and sometimes I see it here. Though now that option seems to be less available.  I have seen my own thyroid medication housed in aluminium, so why can’t they do the same? But then I have to think about how a blister pack is easier to use than a bottle for some people.

I have airline tickets in my rubbish jar. I can send them back, explaining the risk of BPA on the tickets and asking for another option like digital boarding passes. My old mascara tube, the broken sunglasses, plastic food stickers...I can identify sustainable solutions for each. So I am going to let the companies know. 

Imagine if we all started doing this? Having conversations that asked the producer to make smarter decisions rather than us zero wasters constantly avoiding items or stuffing it away into a jar. These companies might have never thought about sustainable options in the original design. They might not know about the zero waste movement. The responsibility of rubbish sits equally on the shoulders of both producer and consumer. I believe we are going to have to work together to make less rubbish, and for us zero wasters that just might entail speaking up. 

I'm doing my part by

Interview with Treeincarnation

27 October 2016
The principle of zero waste living is much bigger than glass jars and bulk food shopping. Shifting the attitude and perspectives on how we can better manage our resources is the main principle sitting at the movements core. It's about rethinking, not filling up jars. 

Treeincarnation is a Melbourne based business challenging the wasteful mindset of the tree removal and furniture making industry. 

Melbourne is a wet and windy city. It’s not uncommon to see tree removal and branch pruning after a storm, namely for safety reasons. The trees and branches collected are turned into mulch and firewood.

While acres of forests are cut down to make cheap furniture, Treeincarnation founder Nick Peardon questioned why the wood from felled trees on our suburban streets was not being used to build furniture instead. Treeincarnation will remove trees, branches and old stumps and turn this wood into furniture. 

It's inspiring learning about businesses that are helping to challenge the status quo of waste in many different areas.

I interviewed Nick about his business and how he is hoping to change people’s perceptions in the tree felling and furniture industry.

Interview with Treeincarnation

Interview with Treeincarnation

What is TreeIncarnation? What inspired you to start the business?
Treeincarnation is Melbourne's only (and perhaps Australia's) tree removal company that makes furniture from the trees that are being cut down. The business was founded on the dissatisfaction with the way things have always been done - referring to the amount of waste that is rife across the board. Typically when it comes time for a tree to be removed, it is either cut up for firewood or disposed of as mulch. Treeincarnation is all about making as much furniture from trees already being cut down to decrease demand for deforestation and habitat destruction.

What have been the challenges in your business?
In the early stages of development, in mid 2015, we were up against various challenges that were preventing us from turning our dream into reality. This predominantly revolved around the fact that most of the trees we were removing were 'green' and thus took anywhere between 6 and 18 months to effectively dry out, and thus be in a state where they could be used as materials for making furniture.

This timeframe was hardly feasible to be worked in with the markets' demands. We set out to find ways in which we could reduce this turn around time. This brought us to the concept of incorporating the green timber into the design, which ultimately enabled us to reduce the turn around time down to a couple of days for handful of products.

Take us through the process of turning an unwanted a tree into one of your stools?
The first thing we need to be wary of when we're salvaging timber from trees is the fact that we need to make it feasible to dismantle the tree safely without breaking anything, get the job done in a timely manner so we can remain competitive, and be able to cut big enough sections out of the tree at time so they can be up cycled into furniture. There is no rule book for this as it's all uncharted territory, however we find the use of ropes, pulleys and lowering equipment to be the best method so far.

Once we have the pieces of timber safely yielded from the tree, it is time to measure them up and cut them to length. Once we have done that, the off-cuts are dealt with and the soon-to-be stools are ready to be transported back to our yard and then turned on our v. large lathe.

Interview with Treeincarnation
Treeincarnation is all about making as much furniture from trees already being cut down to decrease demand for deforestation and habitat destruction.

What are some of TreeIncarnation’s achievements so far?
I have to say as the Founder and Managing Director of the company, the most proud moment of mine would have to be seeing the dedication of our staff ever since we starting recruiting in alignment with our vision. I've had people call up wanting to volunteer, purely because they hold what we do in such high regard. My team truely understand and resonate with the fact that we are doing so much more than making furniture from trees, we are building the Great Wall of China when everyone else is just laying bricks, so to speak. The plan is to get as many other companies as possible to minimise waste as well rather than do things just 'because that's the way it's always been done'.

Tell us TreeIncarnation plans for the future?
I'm not sure whether this is just a distraction, somewhat aligned with what we're trying to achieve, or part of 'what I'm here to do' (in a spiritual sense), but there is serious talk of expanding into the treehouse business. There is so much on my plate atm that makes me nearly cringe at the thought of doing more things, however I can seriously see it come into reality in the not too distant future. We have already started our first one, and the plan is to put the word out as soon as Treeincarnation is relatively streamlined / running sufficiently without any dependance on any one key member of staff. The only problem with building treehouses is that it's hardly aligned with what we're aiming to achieve (minimising waste and inspiring the industry to do the same), however we are of the opinion that the world needs it, and that's good enough for me.

Where can people buy your furniture? Do you do custom made pieces?
If people don't have a tree they need to have removed and are looking to purchase an item from us, we will have an online store fully setup in the not too distant future where people will be able to navigate our products and checkout with a customised item, tailored to how they want it. However in the meantime, we do have a few partnerships with local retailers who stock our stools - visit Gaudion Furniture or Norsu Interiors for more.

Review: Plastic Free and Zero Waste UrbApothecary Lip and Cheek Makeup

19 October 2016
Making zero waste or plastic free makeup is not for everyone. Having the time, space, resources, finding ingredients package free, or at the least in reusable and recyclable packaging can put this aspect of zero waste living in the too hard basket. Luckily, there are pre-made products that tick the zero waste packaging box for some.

Last year, I set myself the mission to look for ready made zero waste beauty products that would suit people wishing to live a low waste lifestyle or plastic free lifestyle. I picked two product lines to investigate; lipstick and mascara.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

This is not a paid review at all. I bought this for me to use, because sometimes I get busy and don’t have the time to make my own lip cream.

Luckily, there are people out there that LOVE to make beauty products for a living. Etsy and other online stores is the space to find them. This is where I found a lipstick and cheek tint in compostable cardboard, ticking all the boxes for a consumer looking for a ready-made zero waste lipstick.

I have had my UrbApothecary Tint Stick for almost a year and continue to wear it almost every day. I even wore it on my wedding day and recently on national TV. No one knew that the packaging was, gasp, made of cardboard.

Now if you clicked the link, you would have noticed that the tint stick is wrapped in a sticker. So did I. Stickers like this are not recyclable or compostable. But seeing how this was one of the only ready made lipstick/cheek tints I found in compostable packaging, I decided to contact the seller asking if they would be able to send this item without the sticker. As it is made in small batches, the maker complied easily, saying that when she makes the next batch (which mine would be from) she would keep a sticker off my one.

This is one of reasons why I encourage people to check out Etsy or other small online stores for zero waste beauty items. They are run by individuals or are small businesses, making it easier to have a direct conversation about what you (the consumer) would like. This is especially handy too when making requests on how your items should be packaged and sent (no plastic please and bubble wrap please). Same with local markets or local boutique makeup businesses.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

UrbApothecary Tint Stick is a mainly plant based product. The red colouring comes from a plant called alkanet. Being free of mica and iron-oxide, it does require a couple of applications to provide a bold colour on the lips. On my pale cheeks, one application is more than enough.

A touch up after four hours on the cheeks and one hour on the lips suits me fine, depending if I'm eating or drinking. It has a sweet smell, nothing too overpowering or strong. I don’t know if I would classify this as tint, it does not stain the way my beetroot lip/cheek tint does. It does provide colour though, just not an instant bold colour. You gotta build that up.

It’s small (7cm long) and light weight, allowing for easy transportation.

I recognised all the ingredients, but punched them into the EWG database to double check their safety. All came back with safe recommendations. It is free of synthetic preservatives, synthetic fragrances, cruelty free, palm oil, paraben and SLS free, plus organic and ethically sourced materials ticked boxes for me.There is also a vegan wax option too.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

The cardboard case has held up well. The application is just like a regular lipstick with a push up function.

I did check with the seller and also the maker of the packaging if there was a lining of plastic. There is not. Instead it has a lining made of oil that is safe for composting. I’m about two months away from finishing this tint stick and will do the hot water test to double check it is indeed lined with only oil and not plastic. One of the reasons I gravitated towards paper based casing was the composting factor. If I lost this, it should break down in the natural environment quickly. I'll be quick to update if this is not the case. But until then I am trusting the maker and packaging company that is indeed free of a plastic lining.

UrbApothecary Tint Stick was shipped with no plastic too. A request I made. The lipstick came in a plain cardboard envelope, held in the small white paper envelop with paper tape seen below. It also came with the business card.

Review: Plastic Free Zero Waste Urb Apothecary Tint Stick

It was great to find a ready made cosmetic in cardboard. While there are more options in glass and metal, I prefer cardboard for a couple reasons. Cardboard can break down in my simple backyard compost. Cardboard is welcome and beneficial to the composting process. While resources, energy and transportation are needed to make the cardboard packaging, if I choose to compost it then I don't have to recycle it, which is a labor intensive industry too. If I have the choice, I will choose composting over recycling. Most glass packaging comes with a metal or plastic lid. Plastic lids smaller than a business card are harder to recycle and can escape the sorting process. It's best to ask your council or closest recycling centre if they accept them for recycling and how best to hand them over (usually as a bundle so they don't get lost). Metal lids and containers can be lined with plastic. This usually does not stop them from being recycled, but i'm trying to cut down on plastic where I can. So cardboard is my preferred packaging and if it works just as well as plastic, then why not choose it.

The only downside is that the product is made in the US. So there is the shipping miles included for us Aussies. However, I have found out there is an Australian company called Dirty Hippie Cosmetics that is set to offer some products in compostable packaging soon, including a cheek/tint stick.

Until then I’ll continue to use UrbApothecary Tint Stick as I am very VERY happy with it.

I’d love to know if you found this review helpful. I’d also like to know if there is a similar products available here in Melbourne or other parts of Australia? Have I missed it? Is there a Australian beauty business that has low waste as a priority? Are there any big brands that are trying to reduce their packaging too?

Zero Waste Wedding

8 October 2016
Zero Waste Wedding
Two days after Christmas Day 2015, the Builder asked me to marry him. And I said yes. Five months later we were married. This blog post covers how we tried to create a zero waste wedding for 170 guests. It's a long post, so if you want to read it all, then I suggest making yourself a cup of tea.

Planning a wedding was something I had never contemplated fully. Admittedly, there has been the odd wedding related chat with girlfriends. But those conversations were usually forgotten, never fixated upon. I’m all for commitment, it’s just I’ve never related a wedding or marriage as the solitary symbol of commitment.

Marriage is important to the Builder. Out of the two of us, I’d label him the traditional one.

The only marriage ceremony that appealed to me, consisted of the registry office, followed by a long lunch. No fuss. Intimate. Simple. Affordable. The Builder's was the opposite. Traditional church, me walking down an aisle in a white dress, big reception, first dance etc. He wanted to make a commitment to me, in front of the people we love.

Since I didn't have any dreams of how I wanted my wedding to look or be, I let go of my desire for a small wedding and gave the Builder the wedding he dreamed of. One of my conditions was that we make for a plastic free and zero waste wedding. Or at least attempt it. My husband worked very hard with me, to make this happen. In fact he did most of the planning and organising, as I was too busy with work to focus solely on the wedding preparations. I now happily admit that it was the best day of my life. Cliché much? You bet! Especially from a girl who never really thought about weddings.

Zero Waste Wedding

For those that don’t want to read a breakdown of the wedding, the photo below shows the waste we accumulated from the planning through to sending out thank you cards. So, there is your answer – we did create plastic waste on our wedding day. I named this post zero waste wedding, as it was a goal. To me, that is what zero waste is...a goal.

Zero Waste Wedding
All the rubbish (non recyclable material) that we created from planning through to sending out thank you cards. 

Before I begin, I’d like to thank my readers who offered a variety of ways to help make our day wonderful and low waste. Dresses, candles, props, styling, celebrant and even a private garden. I was floored by how much was offered to us for free. THANK YOU!

Choosing the venues

The venue for our reception was decided on rather quickly. We fell in love with the Newport Substation's unique character at first sight.

We liked that it was a community run space too. Initially an electrical substation built in 1915, the building sat in disrepair until the early 1990s. A group of residents came together, gathered donations from members of the local community and set about repairing the building, turning the forgotten space into a thriving community arts facility. It now houses concerts, art exhibitions, markets and of course, weddings. Since we live in north west Melbourne, it felt right to pick a venue close to our home and the area we spend most of our time.

Zero Waste Wedding
View from outside - Image from Wikipedia Commons
The hall - Image by The Substation
They had two dates available, May and October. The Builder could not understand why we should wait so long. Naively, we went with the date in May. Planning a wedding in five months, with the added stress of it being a very busy time at work for me was…well it was a test. I don't think we have ever fought so much in our relationship!!

The Newport Substation is not an equipped function space. This means everything, but tables, some seating in the entrance area and AV, had to be brought in for the event. Clients simply book the building, then whichever catering company is picked, runs the day. Not an in house team from the Substation. It did prove a little challenging, but we just loved the building. Guests could explore the whole space, from the gallery to every other little and big room. The Newport Substation is an interesting building and is well worth a visit.

The wedding ceremony was held at St Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Yarraville.

Paper, printing and choosing sustainable options that suited us

Using paper was always going to happen. Deciding on how much, where we wanted to use it, printing and sourcing stock was easy to navigate. I work as a graphic designer. I knew where to source 100% sustainable recycled post-consumer paper, made in Australia.

70% of our invites and information cards were sent electronically using It proved to be an efficient tool that helped not only save on paper and postage, but also for organisng the event. Remaining invitations were sent by regular post, along with RSVP cards, to those who did not have an email address.

Apart from the printed invitations, we had church service programs, menus, gift in lieu cards and a seating chart on the day. Simple actions like asking people to share menus (we had two per table) and share church service programs helped save on the amount of paper used.

The church service program was not necessary, but something I felt was needed at our wedding. I had an Antiochian Orthodox wedding ceremony. I knew pretty much all of my family and friends had never been to one and I wanted to explain parts of the service to them, so they could understand why I was wearing a crown or why I walked around a table.

I set up the printing so I could get three church service programs on one A4 page or two menus on an A4 page. All material that was left at the church or reception was collected to be reused or recycled at home.

Our Thank you cards were also sent out electronically to those that we had emailed invitations too and hand written cards for those sent via post.

Dress, Shoes and Jewelry

I found my second hand wedding dress on Love Me Twice Facebook page. When I saw it, I immediately knew it was MY wedding dress. Another cliche? You bet. 

Truthfully, it was not what I had planned.

When I first began looking for wedding dresses, I had two rules: it had to be functional post wedding and it needed to keep me warm. The wedding was at the end of May, meaning it would be cold. And it was cold!

I liked the idea of the combination of a knitted jumper with bridal skirt. I had found a place to rent a bridal skirt for the day. The only hiccup was locating the right knitted jumper, that I would want to wear again.

Then I began searching online for second hand wedding dress sites. But I found nothing that would suit a cold autumn day. It seemed like winter dresses consisted of long lace sleeves and that was it!

When I saw my wedding dress, it ticked the 'keep me warm' box. And it will be functional post wedding, because I intend to sell it onto another bride. I like the idea of selling my dress. I had such a wonderful day wearing it, and want to give that to someone else. 

Second hand wedding dress shopping is tricky, for the simple reason that dresses are made especially for someones body or off the rack dresses are altered to fit specific measurements. Even my dress had to be altered on the left hand cuff.

Zero Waste Wedding

If I had not chanced upon my dress, I would have started scouring vintage stores in Melbourne. Hiring is also an option too...the simple reason I did not hire was because I wanted a warm dress and there were zip available. Can you tell I like to be comfortable and warm? 

I found my shoes in an Op Shop.  They were simple kitten heels, comfortable for dancing all night in. A bargain at $6.

Apart from my engagement ring, I borrowed earrings from my mum and a vintage dress pin, turned into a hair clip.

The Builder chose to invest in a new suit. He tried to find a second hand suit, but nothing fit him. I suppose one perk for boys buying a new suit, is that they will likely wear it again. Since the wedding it's been worn five times.

I also let my beautiful bridesmaids choose whatever dress they wanted. I’d rather they pick a dress that’d be worn again.

Hair and Makeup

For the day, I opted to have my hair fashioned by a vintage hairstylist.

Anyone who knows me, has endured my love for vintage. I adored the vintage faux bob, and will admit there was a bit of hairspray used to achieve the look. I had planned to do my own hair for the day. Then I started looking into professional services, and I thought why not. When would be the next time I’ll get to have my hair done like this? Probably never! Should I have given the hairstylist the challenge of finishing the style without hairspray? Yes, I should have and I wish I had. Regardless, I don’t regret getting my hair done…only the hairspray.

While I splurged on my hair, I did my own makeup. I wore my regular compostable lipstick and blush all day and night. I made the decision to borrow my mum’s eyebrow pencil, my sister’s foundation and mascara.
Zero Waste Wedding
With my beautiful bridesmaids
The eyebrow powder I use regularly has turmeric in it. I did not want to risk any of it getting onto my dress. It felt weird to have the foundation and blush on my face. I did not regret borrowing the mascara, mine is not waterproof and I cried throughout the speeches. 

I feel like I should feel guilty, for not wearing my usual plastic free/zero waste makeup. My homemade makeup is great, but not long wearing. Since this wedding was only going to happen ONCE, I figured why not go with something I knew would last without needing a couple touch ups. I did not want to spend time at my wedding doing that. So just this once, I use old conventional makeup.


The bouquets were made of the same proteas, foraged blossoms and eucalyptus used in the table settings (more on that below). My mum fastened them together with old hessian and twine. They looked beautiful. Thanks Mum!!

Wedding rings

I didn't even think about buying a wedding ring. I knew that I had something suitable in my jewellery box. My wedding ring belonged to my Mum, that I have worn since I was a teenager, just on the other hand. I think many of my friends know it as I've been wearing it that long. I don't know where she got it from, but I liked it so much when I was younger, that I asked for it. And since she never wore it, she passed it over. It's called a Russian wedding ring or also known as a Trinity ring. Three bands intertwined in harmony, three colours of gold: pink for love, yellow for fidelity and white for friendship.

Zero Waste Wedding

My engagement ring also came from my mother. I have never EVER seen the point of them. When the Builder proposed, he did it without a ring. Then he asked what eco sustainable ring I wanted, and I said none. It's not needed. However, my mother is traditional and so is my now husband. They conspired behind my back, and the Builder presented me with one of my Mum's old rings. She bought it for herself in the 1970s.

The Builder's wedding band is made of gold sourced entirely from his mum, aunt and grandmother's old jewelry from Lebanon. It was simply melted down and turned into a new ring. He likes the connection the ring has to his family and heritage.

Styling the venues

We chose not to style the church. Being an Antiochian Orthodox church, it had enough going on. If you have been to an Orthodox church, you will know what I mean. 

The large windows and grand velvet curtains with the high exposed ceilings of Newport Substation were features in themselves. We didn’t see the need to add anything else either.

Zero Waste Wedding
The main hall before the guests arrived
I did want to add flowers to each of the guest tables and dessert table. I decided to forage for native plants along the Maribynong River with my mum and sister.

Having a wedding in the cooler months allowed us to take advantage of the native gum blossoms. We also used found bark and native seeds to dress the tables. I had planned on gathering proteas from a nearby tree. By the time our wedding rolled around, there was only a handful left. In the end I ended up buying 25 protea’s and silvan red from a Victorian supplier. Total cost was $150.

The flowers were arranged in jars I already owned. Living zero waste and plastic free, means my jar collection is strong. We only had to collect ten extra from family.

Foraging for native flowers, gum leaves and bark then assembling into table decorations
One of my readers donated candles, used at her own wedding (thanks Shay!!). We put these on the guest tables and used 17 of the candles as table numbers, wrapping them in old paper I had lying around, painting the table numbers on the paper.

We used eucalyptus leaves as place cards, writing on each one with a pen I borrowed from the Builders toolset.

Each table had two menus, rather than one per person.

Our catering company lent us old wooden crates to style our gift table/dessert table. I also borrowed old bird cages from a work colleague to use for the wishing well.

Zero Waste Wedding

Zero Waste Wedding

Newport Substation had round tables available for use, along with trestle tables. To keep costs low, we utilized these rather than hire. We did need to hire chairs for the night.

Unfortunately, the guest tables were worn chipboard, requiring us to hire table cloths. We rented these along with cloth napkins for the night. A MAJOR oversight by us, was not asking how the linen would be packaged, when dropped off. The linen was wrapped in a soft plastic. We could recycle it through RED Cycle program BUT on each bag was a sticker and some plastic tape. I took these off each plastic bag (you can see the stack of stickers in the photo of our rubbish at the top) before they were dropped off at the recycle bins, otherwise they would not be fit for recycling.

At the end of the night, everything we foraged for, was collected by the catering company for us to then drop off at our local Transfer Station. They collect tree pruning, garden rubbish and green waste. Paper elements left behind were recycled. 


We had the wedding ceremony at St Mary's Antiochian Orthodox Church in Yarraville - a 10 minute drive from the Newport Substation. With 80% of my guests coming from interstate and overseas, we decided on hiring two buses to take people from the ceremony to the reception. If people were travelling long distances, we wanted them to have an easy time getting between the venues, even if it was only a 10 minute drive. It saved on individual cars and also fuel.

The Builder wanted to rent a nice car...I was quite happy to get a taxi. Either way, we needed transport from my house (I don't own a car and I was not driving his dirty ute in my dress). Some arguments later, I let him hire two cars for us. One for us, the other for the bridal party. It was very cool to drive around in a vintage car. It's not something I had done before or will probably ever do again. Probably not the most eco of choices, but compromise is very important in any relationship.

The food

Bringing our own food or asking guests to bring a plate would have been one of the easiest ways to limit waste.

But only if all the guests followed our same lifestyle.

Sending out a request for them to BYO food, with a list of how to prepare and package, so it falls into a zero waste and plastic free category, did not sound like fun. Plus, with so many travelling, the last thing I wanted to do, was put them to work trying to find food in a city they don't know. The idea sounds great, but the execution would have been hard to follow through without some stress.

The quest for a zero waste catering company returned futile results. We ended up choosing Farm Café Catering (Collingwood Children’s Farm) namely because we liked their local and seasonal food philosophy and we had seen the giant compost piles on the farm. The farm sounds far away, but it’s actually in Melbourne, 10 mins from the CBD.

Zero Waste Wedding
Roasted field mushroom, thyme and blue cheese on sesame brioche bun 
We explained our desire to have a zero waste and plastic free wedding. They jumped on board, helping us along the way.

While the farm had compost on site, they were not allowed to take food served to guests back to the farm for compost.

We flirted with the idea of asking people to bring containers or supply paper boxes for leftovers. The idea was nice, but we did not think enough people would take food home. Especially all those travelling from interstate. Instead, we decided to compost ourselves.

We asked our event manager if we could take the leftover food home for composting. They agreed. The staff put everything in large containers for us, that we picked up on the following Monday. 

Composting large amounts of food is not possible for everyone. Melbourne has a pickup service called Compost Collectors. If we did not have our own place to compost, I would have arranged for Compost Collectors to collect it.

Composting the scraps helped reduce waste significantly.

Zero Waste Wedding
All the food scraps from our wedding! It filled to just over 3/4 of this bin.
Into the compost it went...
Our guests loved the meal and continue to compliment it. It was shared plates of local seasonal food. Sharing the food allowed people to dictate how much food they wanted themselves and what they wanted to actually eat. The catering company said it's a good way to reduce waste as some people like to eat more than others, while others are small eaters.

We were shocked with how much food was left at the end and had to remind ourselves it was 170 people worth of food, and some of the scraps were from prep. It made us think about all the food waste, at all the weddings, going to landfill. Kind of disheartening. The Farm Café are now thinking seriously about how to change this in their own practice.

The reception began with canapes, meaning that either small plates or cloth napkins were needed. Since the space where we were having the canapes was a little tight, we decided on cloth. We asked if we could hire cloth cocktail napkins – neither we nor the catering company could find these for hire. The cloth napkins we hired for dinner were big and bulky. The Farm Café located compostable napkins, so we went with those. They did come wrapped in a soft plastic, that could be recycled through RED Cycle

In hindsight, we should have looked for place to buy actual cloth napkins as I had an event for Plastic Bag Free Victoria where I could have used them. Regardless, we composted the paper napkins that were used.

We did away with having a wedding cake. Neither of us are big on cake. Instead, the gift table was turned into a dessert, coffee and tea table. We ordered baklava and Turkish delight - the Builder was able to pick these up in our own containers the day before. Milk for the coffee and tea was sourced in returnable glass bottles from La Latteria by our catering company. Tea was loose leaf.

The beverages

Alcohol was an easy option for us. We got to provide most of it in bulk to our guests! And we had no glass that needed recycling at the end of the night.

Melbourne based mobile bar service TAP. provided our wine on the night. All of the wine is dispensed from stainless steel kegs, that are reused.

Choosing TAP. helped reduce the waste associated with wine bottles such as cartons, labels and corks. One keg of wine eliminates the need to manufacture, package, store and dispose of 26 glass bottles.

We served rose, red and white wine along with prosecco. Yes, we had bubbles on tap!

We hired kegs of Victorian Bitter from Kegs on Legs and served homemade Arak (Lebanese spirit) from a family friend.

Whisky was not as easy to source in bulk or refill. The Builder had a conversation with Starward Whisky, a local whisky distillery, about the prospect of offering a refill option at their brewery in the future. We hope they do; it’s great whisky and a 10 minute drive from our house. Fingers crossed the conversation planted a seed for the future. I've already started reusing the empty whisky bottles we bought. 

Ice also presented a hurdle. We tried to avoid buying ice in plastic bags. The Builder researched hiring an ice machine. The time, space and money needed to create enough ice presented too many challenges. The Builder queried local pubs on using their ice, but no luck. We went with ice bags and recycled them through RED Cycle.

Non-alcoholic drinks consisted of homemade Lebanese lemonade and water. We borrowed the Builder’s sister juicer for the lemonade making process. It was an epic day making the lemonade. 22L of concentrate was created, then dropped to the catering company in every empty jar and bottle we had spare. Our kitchen floors were sticky for a week!

Bathrooms towels

Why do the bathroom towels get their own unique category? Because this is something we did not think about;  how the guests would dry their hands! Luckily the catering company, Farm Café, gathered extra cloth napkins we had hired and put these into the bathrooms, in lieu of paper disposable ones.

Wedding favours

We decided to not give people wedding favors. Instead we chose to make a donation to Cure MND Foundation. Guests did receive a small card to let them know of the donation. Sadly most of them were left in the room. They were collected and recycled.

On reflection, a small sign on the gift table would have sufficed.


A request of no physical gifts was made. If they felt inclined, they were welcome to make a contribution to our honeymoon. No one gave us a physical gift on the night, except one of my friends mum, who makes the tastiest fig and ginger jam. She even wrapped it in old cloth.

We recycled the envelopes and kept the cards. Some envelopes we could reuse too!

One guest reused an old envelope, wrote a message on the front of the envelope and put a contribution inside, with no card. It was by far our favorite! Another guest sent an e-card.

The Builder on the Lebanese drum, while guests danced the dabke

Final thoughts

None of our guests were aware they had attended a low waste wedding. Not one, suspected that we worked hard to make it sustainable. It was never explained on the invites or on the day, because we didn't feel the need to tell everyone that our wedding was an Eco event. We wanted all the zero waste elements to be a normal part of the day and prove that an Eco wedding can be had and enjoyed by all, even by people who are not that way inclined. We estimated that there were around 60 people that had no idea we even live a low waste lifestyle. And it was not that hard for us to keep our wedding low waste. This is because we kept everything simple. It had all the usual elements of a traditional wedding, we just happened to reduce, reuse, borrow, compost and recycle properly.

The days following our wedding, I was struck with thoughts like, "I should have sourced 20 second hand table cloths to avoid that plastic packaging" or "why did I not make cloth cocktail napkins myself." In the end I had to step back and remind myself that we did the best we could, and that is better than not trying.

Sticking to the zero waste philosophy and aiming to be plastic free, helped us save money too. Our wedding fell way below our budget. We found it easier to cut back on anything that was not needed or served us. While we wanted a low waste wedding, our ultimate aim was to have a fun day with our family and friends.

If you have read over this, and believe you could do a better job at creating a zero waste and plastic free wedding, then I really truly wish you do! I am sharing what we did, the problems encountered, areas we did not pay attention to, anticipating that another couple does come along with the hopes of doing it better. Otherwise, what's the point in sharing this?

My tips for a zero waste wedding

  • Each wedding is unique, and there are many different factors that make up that special individuality for each one. We found a style that worked for us. Find one that works for you and don't compare your wedding day to another.

  • There is no one size fits all for an eco wedding. Do the best with what you have got and suits you. We could have had the ceremony and reception all in one building but, that did not happen for our wedding. And that's okay. An eco wedding does not have to happen on a rural farm or in a rural location. It does not have to be boho or hippy themed. It does not have to be small. It can work just fine in the suburbs with as many people as you want there. 

  • Ask your catering company about using seasonal, local food and their views on composting or research composting companies. You could also choose catering companies that support community or charity initiatives like Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

  • If you want to have a styled wedding, then see how you can do it with less waste, by asking some questions like; where was this item made, where will it end up at the end of its life cycle and can it be reused. Most props used to style weddings can be hired or borrowed out

  • Assuming and not asking questions of our suppliers, led to the plastic waste that was created. Neither of us had planned a wedding before, nor an event for over a hundred people. So asking those tough eco questions is a must!

  • While I was able to design and print my own material for the wedding, I understand most don’t have this option. If you are going to have material designed and printed for your event, simply ask your designer exactly what you what in terms of a sustainable end product. Most designers and printers will have a good idea and contacts to help.

  • If you are fortunate enough to have access to an office printer, or simply want to print at home, then finding 100% sustainable recycled post-consumer paper is not difficult. All specialty paper stores will either have it in stock, or can source it for you.

  • We had our wedding photos before the ceremony so we could get people onto buses and to the venue 20 minutes after the ceremony finished. I had to fight the Builder for this, as I did not want my guests to linger in the cold while we posed for photos. Plus I wanted to spend time with them, not having my photo taken. After all, they traveled a great distance to see us. The Builder has since agreed this was a great decision as it saved us time to just enjoy the flow of the day. We still had that special moment of seeing each other for the first time, aisle or no aisle. 

  • There are many different ways to offer gifts to your wedding guests that are low waste and plastic free (plants, homemade jam, seeds - pinterst has numerous suggestions!). It's not a necessity to give one. Most weddings I have been to, have never had wedding favours. 

  • Ask friends (married or not married) if they have anything you can borrow. You would be surprised by what people will offer too. 

  • Check out your local second hand clothing stores

  • Another worthy mention is visiting reuse craft stores like Resource Rescue. They are a non-profit organisation which collects rejects, seconds and factory off cuts for distribution to the community. Another handy idea if you are looking for fun, funky pieces is to visit the The Junk Map, to find salvage yards

  • If you can't forage for flowers, ask friends with flower gardens or simply choose flowers that are local and in season. 

  • Avoid the throw away items, and hire ones that can be washed like proper cutlery, plates, glasses and cloth napkins. And only plastic straws if a guest needed them. 

  • Have fun :) The last tip being the most important. 

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

1 October 2016

In a recent chat with 1 Million Women, I shared that my eyebrow powder is made of ingredients straight out of the pantry. Since then, I have had emails and messages asking for the recipe. For some reason, I thought a post on DIY zero waste eyebrow powder from the pantry was already sitting among my other do it yourself natural beauty recipes. But I was wrong. So here it is.

For over a decade, I tinted my eyebrows and eyelashes at home. When I began the transition to plastic free beauty, the monthly ritual of colouring my blonde eyebrows to a dark brown was phased out.

The plastic free and zero waste replacement came easily from my kitchen cupboards.

DIY zero waste eyebrow powder and eyeshadow from the pantry

1/4 teaspoon Carob powder
1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

This is a mixture that suits MY eyebrows. The turmeric adds a golden hue that works with the natural colour of my eyebrows, carob adds darkness and the cinnamon brings a touch of ginger to match my hair.

These are all ingredients that I use in my cooking each week too, so I always have them on hand. And of course, all bought zero waste from my local bulk food store.

As I said, this combination suits ME. It took a couple of different mixtures to figure out what from my pantry would work with my skin colouring. We are all unique, so if you want to make your own DIY zero waste eyebrow powder from your pantry, be prepared to try out variations that you think will work for you. Any concoctions that don’t make the cut can be tossed easily into the garden, compost or even eaten. I love that the eyebrow powder I am putting on my body is natural and safe. Ain’t no weirdo chemical lurking on my face.

I keep it in an old glass bottle that previously had a hair oil treatment in it. This mixture has lasted well over a year and cost less than $3 to make.

PLUS, when I’m feeling fancy, it doubles as my eyeshadow.

DIY Zero Waste Eyebrow Powder and Eyeshadow From The Pantry

Below are a list of ingredients sorted by hue. Try making your own eyebrow powder or even eyeshadow using some of these:

Chinese five spice



Red browns

Matcha powder


Activated charcoal

I’d love to know if you make your own eyebrow powder or eyeshadow. What colours do you use? Are there any other ingredients from the pantry that could be added to list?
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