I’ve Been A Busy-Bee!

Aloha! I am back in my blogging chair after my husband and I decided we were well in need of a Babymoon: basically our final romantic, responsibility-free break before the two of us become a three-piece set! It has been really lovely though unfortunately this little Bowerbird has officially caught the ‘nesting bug’ and so relaxing turned more into renovating, decorating and gardening. Here is what we got up to.

Stormy Skies

We launched the trip with a family getaway to Yallingup. Unfortunately we probably couldn’t have picked worse timing weatherwise and we were pretty much confined indoors due to some fairly hairy storm activity. This being said, is there anything more humbling and gob-smackingly beautiful than a really stormy beach? Walking along it reminded me of one of my all time favourite songs ‘I Like Giants’ by Kimya Dawson (honestly… treat yourself to this chirpy little tune here).:

I’m smaller than a poppy seed inside a great big bowl.

And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole!

So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul.

But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado.

So I flip to my back and I float and I sing

“I am grounded, I am humble, I am one with everything!”

We did get a few rain free moments though;

And we also managed to fit in a few of my favourite pastimes of pregnant life. Namely… pancakes.

Lots of dECOrating

I never thought the ‘nesting’ phenomenon was a real thing but I can now categorically vouch for it. The greatest part is that you don’t need to sacrifice style or comfort when creating that dream eco sanctuary of yours. Over this holiday I have managed to score the most amazing treasures that are all low impact on the environment – in fact considering I have saved a lot from landfill they actually have done the environment a favour! I will be blogging more thoroughly about Eco Interiors later, but in the meantime here are some of my latest steals;

Finds, Frames and Family – Apart from the 7 black photo frames, everything on this wall has been found kerbside, in a secondhand store or one Gumtree. This was just a boring wall of nothingness and now it is full of treasures – each one with its own story. From my op-shop photo frames ($1 each) to the little brown suitcase that I found in the rain ($0) … this whole wall cost about $80.

The 60’s Buffet – We spotted this beauty on Gumtree for $80 and it was love at first sight. My husband and I are still in two minds whether to upcycle it to be more colourful (there is a certain charm in its original form) and we have already lost hours sitting together in front of it – cups of tea in hand – just pondering the possibilities. We will keep you posted.

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The Only Plastic Allowed In My House! I love colour and I am especially fond of blue! So this rug caught my eye for a number of reasons. Other than the gorgeous paisley pattern I was especially excited to discover it is made from 100% recycled straws. On our morning beach walks my husband and I pick up whatever rubbish we see (Take 3!!!) and I am always upset with the huuuge amount of straws I find. So turning trash into treasure married a lot of my favorite notions together into one bright, happy dream rug. You can see the whole selection of Fab Rugs here or read about them here. They are also reversible and because they are plastic can be used outside and hosed off if need be. Win, Win, WIN!

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The Trunk! – Without my glasses I am blind as a bat which makes me think that this little trunk belongs with me. I spotted it on a kerb, like a tiny snippet between two cars as we drove by at a fairly high speed. I mentioned that I thought I saw something great but the let it go as we were in a frustrating area to turn around. But the more I thought about it the more I knew there was a real diamond that was going to be scrapped so we turned around and I am so glad. This baby needs some love but I cannot wait to add some bright florals, clean up the metal and put it all back together. You literally pay hundreds for these in vintage stores!!!

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Oxfam 3things

I have also been spending a lot of time chatting to a lovely lady named Catherine from Oxfam. We have been chatting because I will now be their official blogger from the West posting about all things social justice, environment and general pop culture. 3Things is a fantastic initiative that asks everyone to consider this simple question;

What are 3things that you can do to help change the world?

It encourages everyday people to take matters into their own hands – ‘do stuff‘ and ‘learn stuff’.  Read all about here or maybe check out some of the 3things that everyday Aussies have committed to already (here). I am so excited to be part of the Oxfam team and after my training finishes will be blogging full steam ahead as of next week. What are your 3things?

Image courtesy of Oxfam

Creating An Edible Sanctuary

Just a light bit of reading.

What was once a fleeting aspiration has now developed into a full blown obsession – I dream of turning my despairing patch of grass into a plentiful, self-sustaining, wildlife sanctuary. This urge to grow all my own fruit and veg is a culmination of a lot of lifestyle choices – a desire to consume only organic produce, live plastic-free, have my daughter grow up foraging in our garden as well as saving our soon to be single-income. Besides these motivations though, there are also covenants attached to my grand plan. I want my garden to attract birds and bees with lots of native plants. I want it to be extremely water wise – this means goodbye to a fair share of the lawn! I want it to be a place that my family loves to be and spends most of our time together. And I want… for my darling husband… a pond that he can lose hours staring at!

Dreams in lead scratchings

I can’t wait to show you the progress over the next few months and prove to myself that you don’t have to be a green-thumb to be self-sustaining. I have already been out there with my beloved Dad turning my hundreds or sketches and measurements into realities. Unfortunately I may have pushed myself a little hard for a 6 month pregnant lass and that led to the final chapter of my holiday…

…Sick

As a constant reminder to listen to your body I am now very, very unwell. After such a busy busy holiday I am now bed ridden with a nasty cold, the return of the dreaded morning sickness and the onset of Braxton Hicks (which can come on from over-exertion – Whoops!). So (like the Wellness Warrior described in this post) I will for once listen to my body and remain cuddled in bed with my Pug and my Allen and take a bit of a Savasana. But I must say it has been great getting back to blogging (I genuinely miss it when I don’t!) and I can’t wait to share all my upcoming eco-adventures with you!

Big News, Little Facelift and A Whole New View

Well it has been quite a while since I got my blogging clogs on… two whole months in fact. And my, my how much can change in such a short time! Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to all the little emails and messages that I got, checking I was still alive and greening. I am! And after a two month interlude I feel that not only should I give a bit of an explanation on where the hell I’ve been but also a re-launch of sorts. I am taking the blog in a slightly different direction and wanted to explain how I got there and the little journey I have been on.

The Big News

Back in March I started feeling really sick and really tired. There are some fairly obvious deductions a young lady can make about those symptoms and after a quick dash to the chemist it was confirmed – we are expecting a little bundle of joy! My gorgeous husband and I are ridiculously excited about the bub but I have encountered one not-so-tiny drawback… morning sickness. Except it was actually all-day-all-night sickness! This is not the type of green I like to promote on my blog! So even though I have been dying to update my blog I have been completely incapacitated. My amazing husband has seriously picked up the slack and has basically spent the past few weeks carting in buckets and buckets of raspberries – Hero! Slowly, slowly it is starting to get better though so it is onwards and outwards from here my friends!

Nicknamed Yertle.

The Move

In some weird collision of fate my little family has made the move back into the home we own rather than our gorgeous shabby rental in Freo. The timing was partly perfect (due to the impending expansion of our brood) but also a tad upsetting as Secret Harbour is a decidedly less eco suburb. I have moved past the devastation though and I am now actually really excited about this new challenge! In Fremantle it is expected and oh, so easy to be environmentally friendly. Don’t get me wrong, that is fab, but my blog is about encouraging people to be sustainable which includes a large amount of people who may not have all the resources conveniently at their fingertips! I am now one of those people. I will be constantly reminded about how hard choosing the more sustainable, ethical option can be for some people and therefore will make sure I give as many options, ideas and resources as possible.

We have set sail for the coast.

What does this all mean for the blog?

Even though I have been splitting my time between moving house and vomiting (charming beast aren’t it?) it has, in a way, been great having a bit of time away from the blog. It has given me time to look from afar, think about what I enjoy writing about most, seeing which posts you guys like reading the most and just pondering how I want to approach life in general. Here is what I came up with…

More Positive Posts

In the past I have undertaken massive and draining articles about huge issues like the other GFC (the Global Fish Crisis) or Palm Oil. The main reason I wrote these was because before looking at how to change bad habits, I like to ensure I am absolutely the full bottle on the issue myself. I used it almost as a self-education process. But one thing I have noticed is that even though the posts are important, reading about catastrophe after catastrophe can be, well, bloody depressing. I also found it made me narrow-minded and a bit cockeyed really – a Green Nazi if you will.

We definitely all need to make sure we know exactly what is happening in the world – knowledge is power – but I think it is also SO important to focus on what we can do as well as acknowledging the good that is being done already. Use success stories as your cheer squad – prevent that completely unconstructive feeling of hopelessness. So while I will touch on the nitty gritty I will mainly focus on what we can all do to avoid contributing negatively to the planet. This being said… there will be the occasional issue that I won’t be able to pass on – Monsanto, I’m looking at you punks!

There’s still a whole lotta beauty in the world!

Health Focus (With Occasional Baby Bits)

I want to make my house the perfect healthy environment for a little munchkin to grow up in which for me equates to no chemicals, organic food and a happy lifestyle. And – according to Mrs Obama – that means being selfish and looking after myself! This is a new concept to me. So I am looking forward to exploring and experimenting with natural therapies, meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors, possibly throwing away the TV and cooking foods from scratch. And updating my blog with the progress of course.

More DIY and Upcycling

Now that I am in my own home I am able to renovate, retrofit and plant! I have so many projects that I just didn’t have space for in the last place so I am really excited to now have the ability. Hopefully I can give ideas on simple DIY ways to be more sustainable (eg; growing your own food) as well as fun ways to reduce your impact (like making your own products, furniture and art). I will also commit to using as many (if not all) recycled and reclaimed materials rather than just being one of those craft blogs that just goes out and buys everything new!

Bunting… or “Funting” if you will?

And Finally…

In keeping with the selfish theme I am just going to start enjoying life a bit more. Get out there exploring (with my camera always in tow so that I can share my virtual picture album). Be happy. Read some books. Draw.  Smooch my husband a bit more. Take the scenic route. Marvel at simple beautiful things… like strawberries! Choose some crazy wallpaper just because it makes me laugh. Read Dr Seuss every day. Judge less. Do more for animals. Finally, hug that Boab in Kings Park (his name is George). Celebrate the good that is being done rather than mourning all the bad. I have come to the conclusion that a smile will change a lot more minds than a big, ranting frown will! So here goes.

Barefoot and without a care in the world.

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what the inspiration is behind this sudden perspective change then please take some time out and watch the video below. Alice Herz Sommer provided me with a virtual kick in the arse. When I’m 108 I want to be just like her…

“I look where it is good. I know about the bad, but I look at the good thing” 

– Alice Herz Sommer, Happiest Woman In The World! 

Guest Post: Creating a Cycling Culture in the Workplace

When it comes to inspiring eco-change the group that I hear the most gripes about would have to be work colleagues. And sometimes parents. (Not you mum and dad – you guys are awesome!). Today’s culture is so politically correct that we have to be ‘sensitive’ at all times in the workplace – even if that means turning a blind-eye to laziness, ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

Luckily Olive On Blondes newest contributor has found the magic key of changing behavior in the office – offering an incentive! Meet Alyce Sala Tenna– an environmental scientist who is as zany as she is smart! To learn more about this fuss free lady you can meet her properly here. But for now, here are her thoughts on how you can change a wasteful office culture. 

Why should you implement a cycle scheme in your office?  

Throughout Australia thousands of cyclists enjoy the benefits of riding to work. These pedal pushers reap the positive results of saving money, higher fitness levels whilst also contributing to a sustainable mode of travel. However, there are still many, many more Australians yet to be converted. In 2006, transport consumed 25% of Australia’s total energy requirements!

This is where a cycle to work scheme can be initiated in the workforce to encourage the transition from fossil-fuel traveller to carbohydrate-consumer traveller. A cycle to work scheme does not have to be complicated, nor involve enormous amounts of paper pushing for the good office Samaritan who volunteers to organise and maintain the scheme. Incentive ideas can be as simple as providing workshops for staff about bike maintenance, subsidy assistance, financial bonuses, or, simply providing bicycles to employees for short distance travel. For example, Coles offers a $200 gift card each month to people who ride more than three days per week.

Em's Bike - Penelope Cruise!

How do you go about it?

So how would one embark on the implementation of a cycle friendly work scheme? Like any project, a proposal must be put forward in order to for approval and advance to the next stage. And what looks attractive to senior management in a proposal? Financial savings, of course!

Below are four main financial incentives an employer may find attractive:

  1. Reduced car park overheads and more economic use of land (for example, a cost of a single space in an A-Grade CBD office building ranges from $8, 000 – $10, 000 per annum, whereas 10 bikes can fit into this space)
  2. Reduced car fleet, taxi and petrol card costs
  3. Healthier and happier staff from the outcome of cycling are more productive at work and less likely to take sick days
  4. Increased connectivity in the workplace through strong cycle-friendly culture

Need a template? Step right up…

I created a template document of a cycle to work scheme for my previous employer. Although it never got off the ground before I left to take on my graduate job as a professional greenie, it is a document that I feel could help to make positive changes to both the environment, and an individual’s health. Senior management of corporations must recognise the importance of committing to environmental responsibility if they wish to continue harnessing the surrounding environment’s precious resources to recruit their wealth.

If you want to see an initiative like this in your office (or even your home) but don’t have time to collect the information – then you have come to the right place. If you would like a copy of this well-researched document to give to your manager or present at your next staff meeting then email oliveonblonde@gmail.com and we will get a copy to you within 24hours.

Good luck and happy cycling! 

Want more info?

For further information, ideas and approaches please refer to The Cycle-Friendly Workplace: You Step by Step Guide (2007), a concise and informative report prepared by the Australian Department of Environment and Water Resources and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

Em’s Weekly CCWA Blog

For those of you who aren’t on my facebook page or my twitter, you may not know about my latest gig. I am really excited to announce that every Wednesday I will be blogging for the Conservation Council of Western Australia on all things sustainable. If you have any particular topics that are of interest, please let me know so that I can maybe look into it!

This weeks post is all about the importance of organic food and how vital it is for a health body and a healthy planet.

Here is a snippet that I didn’t include – as it didn’t really relate to conservation – but  is pretty damn interesting. We are sending ourselves sick and crazy with conventionally grown food. This guy got it…

“Let thy food be thy medicine 

and thy medicine be thy food.”

~ Hippocrates, 460-377 B.C.

Your Health

Like everything, there are arguments and studies for and against organic food and how it relates  – if at all – to our health. But I feel that for all the science in the world there is also plain old common sense. This seems to also be the opinion of globally renowned food writer Michael Pollan who says;

 “The science might still be sketchy, but common sense tells me organic is better food. Better, anyway, than the kind grown with organophosphates, with antibiotics and growth hormones, with cadmium and lead and arsenic (the EPA permits the use of toxic waste in fertilisers), with sewage sludge and animal feed made from ground-up bits of other animals as well as their own manure”

Now more than ever, scientists are able to link the effect that chemicals in our food are creating in our bodies. Food allergies have gone through the roof as well as eczema and asthma. Behavioral problems such as ADD and hyperactivity have also been linked to chemicals in food

It has been suggested that the reasons children are particularly susceptible to the additives in food is because the recommended intakes are set at adult levels rather than child. I also find it interesting that cancer patients are recommended by doctors to eat only organic produce.

Organic food is grown naturally – as nature intended – and because of this has much more vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients and enzymes than produce farmed conventionally. I must admit – I thought the whole ‘organic’ movement was a bag of baloney… until I tried it. I couldn’t believe how quickly I felt and saw a difference. I don’t care how many studies you show me against it, I am literally going with my gut on this one.

Illustrations by Emily Ehlers

If you want to look into making the switch to organic living you can also see this blog post which gives tips even if you are on a budget.

My Fave DIY Christmas Ornaments

It boggles my mind how creative some people are! After attempting my own little ornament (instructions to make your own Paisley Snowfake here) I went googling. The results made me feel unbelievably inadequate in the craft department but also supremely proud of how resourceful people are becoming in wake of the environmental crisis we are all facing. Here are my favourtie five DIY ornaments that I found in my travels…

Recycled Book Page Bird Ornament, by Stephanie Lynn

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