Thursday 26 May 2011

product of the week: tea towels

This week's featured product comes straight from the USA - thanks to my Mom and her fabulous eco-shopping skills (she also arrived rocking some fantastic J-41 shoes made partially from recycled Jeep tires and vegan materials).

These gorgeous Food Network tea towels are 100% organic cotton and cute as can be.  Traditional cotton  production uses 16% of the world's pesticides, so by choosing organic cotton we reduce those chemicals running off into our land and water (not to mention the energy and water that was required to create and transport those pesticides in the first place).  Organic cotton production also increases biodiversity and reduces soil-erosion compared to traditional cotton production*.

She also brought me some fantastic hand-knit oven pads made by her work colleague - such fantastic colours and just what I need to give my kitchen a little eco-colour.

So all in all I'm having a fabulous day - my Mom's arrival from the States for a visit plus eco-friendly goodies - what more could this greenie ask for? (Besides an end to climate change.)


Friday 20 May 2011

product of the week: undies

Because sustainability is not just about lowering your carbon footprint, this week's featured product is Pants to Poverty - undies made from Fairtrade certified cotton that are also pesticide and sweatshop free.  

How cute are these?  Adorable gathering on the backside...

...and sweet little angel wings on the front - I'm in love!

Pants to Poverty's journey began as part of the Make Poverty History campaign, and now they work with thousands of farmers and factory workers in India to create fashionable, comfortable, and sustainable pants (for men and women).  The packaging is also made from recycled Fairtrade cotton - I'm obsessed with low-impact packaging so this pleased me to no end, not to mention the hot packaging design.

I have my lovely friend Briana to thank for my new favourite undies - thanks for the lovely gift!  I'm wearing them as I type this for additional inspiration - they're like a lovely hug for my bum. 

But sorry, no photos of them on me, I'm not that kind of blogger.

Thursday 19 May 2011

a green dinner party fling

I recently hosted a sustainable dinner party for some of my foodie friends. I went with an Italian theme, and used my chalkboard wall as a menu board, naming the 'restaurant' Ristorante Biologico (which I think is the translation for Organic Restaurant).

As mentioned in a green wine fling, eating organics is good for our personal health, that of the planet, and requires less energy to grow.  As a result, the bulk of the food in the sustainable dinner party menu was organic. Thankfully I'd recently been introduced to  Lettuce Deliver, an organic produce company that delivers any organic food you can dream of direct to your door.  You can order pre-arranged boxes or select individual items from their huge selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and other grocery products. Despite living in a relatively green suburb, my local shops have a pathetic selection of organic produce, so Lettuce Deliver made it possible to create my organic menu (I now have a regular weekly delivery, too).

To further lessen the eco-footprint of the dinner, we avoided meat, served Tamburlaine organic wine, used homegrown chillies in the arrabiatta sauce and selected blue swimmer crab for the pasta dish because it's positively rated in Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide.  We also ate by beeswax candlelight and used cloth napkins.

I did incorporate one small treat that wasn't totally green - dark chocolate macarons from Adrian Zumbo to go with my vegan semifreddo (recipe courtesy of Peppermint magazine).  They were totally worth it.

I've been eating green at home for awhile, but this was the first time I'd endeavoured a large formal feast, and based on all the yummy sounds and empty plates, I think it was a hit.

Monday 16 May 2011

product of the week: keep cups

Is everyone in Australia using a KeepCup yet?  The trend continues to grow, and I can't wait for the day when every takeaway coffee I see is in one of this adorable reusable mugs.

For those of you who may not know, it was takeaway coffee cups that flipped my environmental switch, so every time I see a KeepCup my greenie heart glows.

I have two KeepCups; one stays at home, and is a bright and happy cup I created using the Design My KeepCup webpage. It's great motivation to get out for a walk on my work-from-home days.

My other cup is from my friend Aileen's coffee shop Vella Nero.  Vella Nero was one of the first coffee shops in Sydney to stock KeepCups - so not only do they serve award winning coffee, they care about the environment, too - way to go ladies!

Do you have a Keep Cup yet?
(Good news, now available to US customers.)

Sunday 15 May 2011

a green eBay fling

As many greenies (and budget-shoppers) already know, eBay is a treasure trove of delights if you allow yourself some time to search for what you want.

We recently re-turfed the backyard of our block of apartments (prior to the new lawn going down about half the yard was dirt and weeds).  Once it was complete, it was glaringly obvious we needed an outdoor table to take full advantage of the lovely green space.  One of the other owners mentioned it was sale time and the furniture shops would have some great bargains, but instead I headed right to eBay to see what was on offer in the reused market.

This event marked a major shift in my usual shopping behaviour; instead of heading into the process with a specific table in mind and buying exactly what I wanted when when I wanted it, I left myself open to the possibilities of what I might find.  I must be growing.

After only a few eBay sessions, I stumbled upon the most beautiful antique outdoor table I could have imagined.  I made sure it was within driving distance (most furniture on eBay is pick-up only) and made my bid.  The next day I found out it was mine!  It was currently residing in the Hunter Valley, so I made arrangements for a day trip up to the Hunter (not hard to twist my arm into visiting wine country) and brought home my gorgeous table.  Thanks eBay!

I bet you want to come over and chill out at my fab table, don't you?

a green wine fling

I've recently become a proud member of the Tamburlaine wine club.  This isn't just any winery, it's Australia's largest producer of organic wines, and the wine's extremely delicious in addition to being green.

Organic wine, like other organic food, is produced without pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers.  Organic farming reduces toxins in the earth and increases the nutritional value of your food, and it's also been shown that organic farming uses less energy.  What's not to love about all of that?

As you'd remember form my green eBay fling, I recently ventured into the Hunter Valley to pick up my gorgeous reused outdoor table.  I hired a ute and headed up with the hubby and Beth for some sight seeing and wine tasting.  After picking up the table and visiting Peterson's champagne house - a must-see for bubbly-lovers - we sought out the organic winery and were thoroughly entertained by quirky redheaded Gordo, resident cellar door expert who kept us in stitches and quickly signed us up to the wine club (I was sober, so he really was funny and the wine really was delicious!).

Tamburlaine's chalkboard of organic wine facts.

After the excitement wore off from our Hunter Valley adventure I was relieved to discover joining the wine club was great financial value, saving us nearly 50% off each bottle when we bought a case.  And of course I'm thrilled to have my wine cabinet stocked with organic wine - well, was stocked . . .

A delicious green fling if I ever had one!

Sunday 8 May 2011

a green picnic fling

How cute is this thermos?!  

I know, it's totally gorgeous, and thanks to the fabulous 70s motif it's obviously secondhand as well.  Now guess how much I paid for it . . .

Nada! Zip, zero, zilch. Totally free.

How is that possible? I can hear you wondering about this amazing collectors item.  So I'll tell you.

I picked it up off the street.

A couple years ago I would've scoffed if someone suggest I pick something up off the street and reuse it, but now I'm a changed woman.  I'm so grateful that someone lovingly placed this beautiful thermos on the street during neighbourhood clean up time. I just know they were hoping someone would save it from the landfill and give it a new home; it was spotless, sitting pretty on the lawn with a few other discarded pieces of furniture.

I cleaned it thoroughly when I got home, just to be safe, and it sat in my kitchen unused for awhile (though an excellent conversation piece!) waiting for a perfect day like today to make a pot of tea and head outside for an autumn picnic.  To my delight the tea stayed piping hot for over two and half hours - I got cold before it did and was still steaming when I got home. I'm so impressed with the thermos-technology of 1970-whenever this was created, it's genius.

This thermos isn't the only thing I've gathered on neighbourhood clean up days, I've also picked up a dresser and two bedside tables (on three separate occasions, but those are other stories for other days).  I love that I'm now a living example of the old saying, "one woman's trash is another woman's treasure."  I'd love to hear any great items you've picked up off the street!

PS - I hope all the mothers out there had a fabulous Mothers Day!

Friday 6 May 2011

product of the week: mascara

I learned early on in my eco-transition how easy it is to green your beauty routine thanks to the amazing natural beauty companies out there creating gorgeous products that are safe for the earth and for my body.

I know there's plenty of greenies out there who embrace a truly natural look and totally pull it off, but I just can't bear the thought of leaving my house without at least a quick swipe of lip gloss and mascara (not to mention all the fun that can be had with eye shadow, lipstick, bronzer, eyeliner. . .).

Since mascara is by far my favourite makeup product, that was the first to be greened.  I've been using Musq mascara for over two years now, and in my checkered past with beauty products this qualifies as a long term relationship. I also have other Musq products in my makeup bag now, but more on that later.

I first chose Musq mascara because
  • It uses 100% natural ingredients
  • It's produced in Australia (low transportation)
  • Featured in Marie Claire so it had to be good
I still love Musq mascara because
  • My lashes are incredibly healthy
  • It glides on like a dream and never clumps
  • It washes off with just water (beware it's not waterproof!)

I'm not the only one who loves it, either, Musq won best natural mascara 2011 in the Natural Beauty Awards by Nature & Health magazine.   So all you mascara lovers - get shopping! You'll be glad you made the switch.

Some of my favourite resources for locating natural beauty products include:
And the Skin Deep database is an amazing (if slightly scary) resource for checking out just what's inside your favourite beauty products.

Let me know if there are any beauty products you'd like me write about!

Thursday 5 May 2011

a green creativity fling: follow-up

You may recall from my visit to Reverse Garbage that I picked up two coffee hessian sacks for $6 to recover my shabby kitchen chairs.  I finally got around to borrowing a staple gun from a friend, bought some staples and got to work.

Tip - don't buy a tool you'll probably use for just for one project, borrow and reuse instead.  I'm lucky enough to have a great friend who owns every tool imaginable - if you don't have one of those friends, try the site Friends with Things.

After thoroughly washing the smelly sacks with soapnuts and hanging them in the fresh air and sun for a few days the sacks came out fresh and clean and chair-ready.  It took about an hour to cut the sacks into the shape and size I needed and recover two chairs (including convincing the hubby to do the stapling because anything with the word 'gun' in it frightens me).  So happy with my 'new' chairs!

By chair #3 I decided I was brave enough to wield the staple gun and promptly broke it, so the project is on hold.   I've yet to tell my friend I've broken his gun (hopefully he doesn't read this before I talk to him!), and it looks like I'll be buying a new staple gun after all.

Looking forward to completing my project this weekend!
Even with the added cost of a new staple gun, this project was very cost-effective and certainly cheaper than buying four new chairs.

What's the cheapest furniture refurbishment you've ever completed?