Environment (20) Shopping (15) DIY (11) Palm Oil (11) cleaning products (7) Ecology (6) Fair Trade (6) Savings (6) Social (6) baby (6) Food (5) Social Justice (5) health (5) Chickens (3) free range (3) Buy Local (2) Home (2) RSPO (2) Recycling (2) chocolate (2) cloth (2) nappies (2) Christmas (1) Electronics (1) Fish (1) Free (1) Music (1) Native Fauna (1) charity (1) coffee (1) eggs (1) neighbours (1) travel (1)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fair Trade: Palm Oil?

Those of you that have been following my crusade against all thing palm over the last few months might be surprised that I have found a product containing palm oil that I'm happy to buy. Here it is:
Made by an american company, They are 100% organic and 100% fair trade. Yes they contain palm oil, see more info here. Now you might notice that the fair trade logo is not the usual one that we are used to seeing. They are certified by a fairtrade organisation called 'fair for life' check them out here

Why use palm oil in soap? Well one NZ soap company says "Soap without palm oil is like a cake without sugar." and it certainly seems impossible to find a natural soap without palm oil. The reason we are interested in soap of all things is we have recently become interested in making our cleaning products, inspired by Wendyl Nissen. Check out her site here and buy the cool soaps here. Look out for some posts about make your own cleaning products soon!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Best Fish Guide

In this country, being an island nation, we tend to take our fish for granted. We have lots of coastline and a seemingly abundance of fish in our water. This would be fine if we were the only consumers of fish from our waters, but we are not. Unfortunately for many years our waters have been heavily overfished and some of the methods used are heavily damaging our marine environment.
According to Statistics New Zealand, in 2009 we exported $1302million worth of fish, crusteceans and molluscs.

In our household, one of us doesn't eat fish- period. Though occasionally a rare exception is made for fish caught by a friend.

For anyone concerned about whether the fish you eat is a sustainable choice, we recommend you check out NZ Forest and Bird's 'Best Fish Guide'. There's a wallet guide you can print off so that its always handy for the next time you buy fish.

Please do take some time to check out the information on the Forest and Bird website so that we can all try to make more informed choices when we buy our seafood.

Copyright Lyall Reynolds Photography 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bubblewrap insulation

We stumbled across this idea on Frugal Kiwi which is a lovely blog written by a kiwi lady up north.
The idea is that you put bubblewrap on your windows and apparently it can halve the heat loss from a single glazed window. It seems like a strange idea, but one we are happy to try given that our house hardly has GIB let alone insulation!

We were all ready to give it a go this past weekend since we had a package arrive which contained bubble wrap but there really wasn't quite enough. So unfortunately, instead of having a great blog entry with before and after photos (and hopefully a thermometer reading also), we thought this time we would just link to the original article so that people can check it out. Here it is at Build It Solar.

We promise that as soon as we acquire more bubblewrap, we will try this and put up pictures asap!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The free dictionary defines re-purposing as:
To use or convert for use in another format or product.
I love to re-purpose things.
Its ultimately satisfying knowing that you gave something a new lease on life. Its also a great way to recycle.
I tend to re-purpose old holey t'shirts into scarves, have made bags out of coffee sacks and the very simple idea of using glass jars to store items like pinenuts etc, but there are lots of ways you can re-use broken or no longer wanted items. Below are some of my favourite ideas, taken from my favourite craft site Craftster, and Instructables:

Side cabinet to kitty litter holder- see the cat door to the right

Books turned into a bookshelf

Drawers into shelving

And probably my all time favourite: Kodachrome curtains

How have you repurposed household items? Please share your ideas and links in the comments below as I'd love to know!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mandatory Labeling of Palm Oil Petition

Mandatory Labeling of Palm Oil Petition

As both Australia and NZ food labels are decided by FSANZ this applies to us too. Please sign! If we know what products have palm oil in them then we can make informed choices.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil launch new Logo

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has launched a new logo, Read about it here. No idea if we will see it on products in NZ, but it raises some important issues. If you saw the logo on a product in NZ would it encourage people to buy it? Would that decision be based on sound information or simply because it sounds environmentally friendly? This blog article raises many issues, some of which I will look at here.

Lets get one thing straight, RSPO certified palm oil products are more environmentally friendly than non-certified palm oil products. The question is, are they good enough? I am a big fan of the idea that we don't need to buy ethically perfect products right now (many simply don't exist yet). What we need to do is buy the most ethical product that is available and create demand for positive change. But if palm oil free products are more ethical than RSPO certified products then staying palm oil free still the preferred option.

Whats the problem?
Auckland Zoo says "only around 4% of the world's palm oil is certifiably sustainable and this 4% cannot be traced back to the plantation that produced it... At present, being a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) - an industry led group, not an independent body - is still not a 100% guarantee that palm oil is from a sustainable source"
So even if a product carries the RSPO logo this is no guarantee that all of the palm palm oil used is sustainable. The RSPO at the end of the day is a voluntary, industry led organisation and has limits as to how much change it can make at the local level.

So if you have no palm oil free options then RSPO certified products could be worth buying. Or you could decide that on balance certified palm oil is better than the alternatives as Ecostore do, but I simply do not see how it could be justifed. Ecostore says "The other alternative to palm oil is a petrochemical, but this unsustainable." True, petrochemicals are unsustainable, one day they will run out; but is this a problem? I would rather we ran out of petrochemicals than orangutans. 

I could be wrong here, I'm no expert, what do you think?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Love food hate waste?

On Sunday, I saw four trolley loads worth of bread products being dumped in a skip by a local supermarket. I asked people (on Facebook) why this bread could not perhaps be donated or given away and was told that although some is often donated locally, there are issues of food safety and issues of legality*.

Is it just me or is this a little nuts?

Seeing this certainly got me thinking- not just about the wider wastage of food by large companies, but closer to home- the food we waste in our households.

We all do it. We cook too much, forget to put it away (or perhaps we don't have anywhere to put it) and then we throw it out. Or we buy products on special (coz its cheap!) which we don't use;they go off and then we throw them out. In fact, I know there are food items in our fridge right now which will be going in the bin for tomorrow's rubbish collection. Stuff which we should have frozen but didn't; things which we should have made an effort to use.

So how do we combat this problem?

I have found two great websites which deal with this issue. has a great section on reducing your amount of food waste under 'Shopping'.
Love food hate waste is a website run by a non-profit organisation in the UK. They promote recycling, home composting and most of all, wasting less food.

Both sites have a great section on tips and some of these I have collated below:

  • Plan your meals-- we keep meaning to try this.
  • Use your leftovers
  • Store your food properly
  • Check 'Use by' and 'Best Before' dates (and both sites explain the difference between these)

After seeing all of this wastage, We are going to try to dramatically reduce the food waste in our household. Part of this, unfortunately, probably means reducing the amount of baking I do, which for me is quite a big thing. We will try the meal planning idea which has never worked for us, but perhaps we are missing something.

Does anyone have any great ideas on how they have or will reduce the amount of food waste in their household?

Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

*ie if someone got sick from eating old food, the supermarket would be liable. There's probably a lot more to this as well, but this is the information I was told.

Free Music @

If you're like me and you find it hard to consider new music a 'luxury', then free music is great, especially when the budget is tight. is a great site that allows artists to promote themselves by giving their music away for free. More info here.

It can be a bit bewildering looking at all that free music, so I will post some gems that I find using Noisetrade's widgets - listen to, and download right from this blog. Cool eh?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some thoughts on being neighbourly

Since becoming a SAHM*, my reading list of blogs has increased quite substantially...
I went to one of my regular reads this morning ( and came across her post about her neighbours and how she felt bad that she hadn't gotten to know them better.
It lead me to thinking about our neighbours and how I would only be able to give you perhaps 2 first names out of the 20 something people who live down our driveway.

Seems kind of sad doesn't it? Do we really live such insular lives nowadays that we never end up meeting the people who live a mere few metres away?

As stated in our last post, we don't have much longer living here. Perhaps in our next house we will make an intentional effort to get to know those living close by. has a post about 5 ways to connect with your neighbours- the first one in particular really got my attention.

"Go out your front door"
Seems so simple doesn't it? So often I feel like we rush out of our home without a second glance at our surroundings.

So with this in mind, my encouragement to all who read this is to go out of your front door, stop and look around. Maybe say hello to the next person walking by.

If anyone has any great ideas as how to engage your community, feel free to share your tips in the comments below.

Token baby pic. Wee man @ the Cascades

*Stay at home mum

Thursday, June 2, 2011


In a few months or so, we will have to move house. As much as we would have loved to stay in our current place for a while longer, its just not a possibility. Which is fine, albeit a wee bit stressful.

There is one great advantage to having to move is that it gives us the opportunity to downsize our stuff.

We have too much stuff. There- its been said. We have far too much stuff for 3 people (and one of them is only little). A lot of it, in fact, the majority of it has been given to us at some point.

Its amazing what you can accumulate in a seemingly short space of time. Its also amazing how it, at times, seems to own you. Stacks of things that 'might be useful one day', books read only once, CDs gathering dust, piles of craft supplies which you really need some inspiration to use... stuff which you can't bear to throw out just because you might need it someday.

Herein lies our point: Give the stuff away. For free

There's something so nice about not making a profit on your wares. The rise of Trademe (and other sites) has meant that every man and his dog seems to want to make money off their stuff. It makes us wonder whether the time and effort you end up putting into selling some stuff on Trademe is actually worth it. 
It would be interesting to know whether the use of Trademe (and other similar sites) has affected such organisations like the Salvation Army, Hospice and other organisations which resell donated items. is a great website for getting rid of things (and acquiring things you need) for free. Freecycle say they are:
"a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills."
Essentially its a listing site for free stuff. Wanted and offers. Want something- place a wanted ad; want to get rid of something- place an offered ad. Such a simple concept.

We plan to use it to its full advantage once we find a new place and have to move. Admittedly, we've had more success using the 'offers' category than the 'wanted'- for the most part, if you have something going for free, someone is bound to want to take it off your hands. Anything more substantial (or in better condition) will be donated to the Sallies if they need it. []

Go on, try it: give your acquired crap (or treasure) away.