Conscious Consumer : How can I stop supporting ‘Fast Fashion’?

Conscious Consumer : How can I stop supporting ‘Fast Fashion’?

It can be so so easy to walk into a clothing store in any western country, buy a cheap dress, walk out and not think anymore then ‘What a bargain!’, but do we ever really consider the true cost of the clothing that we buy? Behind closed doors across the other side of the world there is a hidden cost to this cheap ‘throw away’ clothing.

Our capitalist society and consumerist tendencies have resulted in a record low price per garment, creating a throw away culture that results in completely inhumane working conditions for garment workers in third world countries like Bangladesh, where the women are earning as little as $15 a month and having to work 14-16 hour days.

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Many of these women are not able to parent their own children as their earnings will not allow for education or childcare, so they have to leave their children to be raised by family members in the villages.  These workers have little to no rights and work in extremely dangerous conditions, resulting in factory disasters like that of Rana Plaza in 2013 where over 1,000 garment workers were killed as their factory roof collapsed on top of them.

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Alongside this Farmers throughout the world are being sold genetically modified seeds and pesticides that are creating the fibres that we wear, polluting our environment in a multitude of ways.  Chemical dyes, pesticides and chemical treatments for fabrics and leather pollute waterways throughout third world countries and western countries too, causing huge outbreaks of cancer and disease as well as a huge increase in childhood disabilities and birth defects.

And at the end of this, where does all of our clothing go?  At the height of my clothing consumerism I would go through my wardrobe every few months, completely overwhelmed with the amount of clothing I had collected.  I’d sit and chuck my clothing into ‘Keep’, ‘Donate’ and ‘Throw’ piles, whilst feeling no guilt as I was only chucking away the broken pieces of clothing.  For me there was little thought to the throw pile going to landfill but also do we really know what happens to our donated clothing? Much of the clothing that gets sent to secondhand shops will end up in landfill too anyway.  In Australia alone, more than 500,000 tonnes of textiles and leather end up in landfill each year.

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Over the past few months I have started to educate myself.  This has come as a direct result of my actions to downsize my wardrobe in readiness for our Tiny House build.  I could see so clearly the impulse purchases that I make, the low quality of much of my wardrobe and the amount of money I actually spend on these garments that I am expected to purchase constantly so as to be fulfilled, loveable and basically have ‘well-being!’  I have purchased far more then I need, pushed into consumerism by a society that is built on it, with little thought to the materials used or where the garments were made.

As a consumer we hold so much power!  Here are my top 5 tips on how to stop supporting ‘Fast Fashion’:

  1. Mend what you have – Consider what you already have in your wardrobe and mend clothing that needs some love.
  2. Buy less – By not purchasing cheap clothing regularly, I can reevaluate what I actually need in my wardrobe and what I love to wear regularly.
  3. Buy second hand – Save money and buy clothing that is already ‘in the system’!  Look on Ebay for your favourite Levi jeans secondhand or check out your local consignment, vintage or second hand shops.
  4. Vote with your wallet – Support fair-trade companies with ecological practices and guidelines.  Purchase a few high-quality garments that will last.  They may cost more in the beginning but they would have been produced in a way that is ethical and ecologically minded.
  5. Educate yourself – Watch The True Cost.  The True Cost is a documentary that highlights some of the negative effects throughout the world as a result of ‘fast fashion’.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!  What are you doing to reduce your consumption and make sure that your purchases support ethical practices?

If you know of any fantastic ethical and ecological clothing brands based here in Australia I would love to hear from you! It’s so important to me that we create a community of like-minded individuals so that we can support and empower each other to make these important choices.

Until next time ❤

Bex

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My experience of ‘Plastic Free July’

My experience of ‘Plastic Free July’

It’s now a week into August and I felt the importance of looking back on how much has changed for me over the past 5 weeks, as I took on Plastic Free July here in Australia and began to open my eyes to how my actions can impact the environment around me and the world at large.

Plastic Free July came at the perfect time for me, as earlier this year I started to become more interested in downsizing and the environmental aspects of the living choices we make.  This came about naturally whilst stepping into the designing phase of our Tiny House build.

I started educating myself one the Zero Waste movement that is happening at the moment, learnt about some easy swaps that I could make in my life to hugely reduce the amount of plastics and trash that I create, and started to take notice of just how much unnecessary waste that I have been creating.  Overnight I implemented simple changes that would eradicate the majority of the waste that I was creating and I wanted to share the changes that I made with you today.

  1. Plastic Shopping Bags : I gave up plastic shopping bags completely and started to carry 2 light reusable shopping bags with me at all times.  This shift was so simple and incredibly satisfying.  There really is absolutely no need for single use shopping bags.  I even went further and started asking all customers in the shop I work at if they want a plastic bag instead of automatically supplying them with one.  I found that 1/3 took a plastic bag and our use of them DRASTICALLY reduced.  (If it was my shop I would get rid of them completely.  I got in contact with the owners and as of yet there has been no interest in change here.)
  2. Plastic Produce Bags : At the beginning of the month I bought some organic cotton produce bags and a few weeks ago I made some myself using an unused pillow case.  These little drawstring bags easily replace the need for plastic produce bags at the grocery store.  I have a couple in my bag at all times and when Im going for my weekly shop I bring 5 or 6 with me to fill up with dry goods or fruit and veg.
  3. Keep Cup / Reusable Coffee Cup : I have started taking my glass Keep Cup with me everywhere, and if I don’t have it then I don’t get my morning Soy Chai! I found out that the disposable ‘compostable’ cups that my local coffee shops use are actually not as magical as you think they are and would generally go into landfill anyway, so the solution is a reusable coffee cup.
  4. Plastic Food Packaging : If I can buy it loose (veggies/fruit/drygoods) then I do and I just use my little produce bags instead. If I can buy it in glass jars then I pay the extra money for those products.  Finding plastic free food can be tough and my partner and I actually drive for an hour to go to Terra Madre in Northcote, Melbourne as their prices are by far the best in town for a health food shop.  They have a bulk food section and many products in glass instead of plastic.  I go to local bakeries for our bread now and put it in a reusable bag.  If I have to use plastic packaged items (very seldomly) then I wash out the packaging and recycle it in our bin or at our local Coles supermarket that takes soft plastics for recycling).
  5. Stopped Buying Unnecessarily : I’ve stopped buying clothes unnecessarily and if I need to purchase something I try and pick the natural materials instead of synthetic materials that are far more common.  I have cut down my spending so much, and become so much more aware of the implications of fast fashion and how wasteful and morally wrong the fashion industry can be.

Not only has Plastic Free July opened my eyes to the environmental factors within the waste industry but it has also inspired me to educate myself further on the implications of fast fashion, the food choices that I eat, the chemicals that I put on and around my body and the containers that I put my food in.

It’s been an incredible shift and Plastic Free July was the catalyst that opened me up to exploring these areas of my life.  I’m endlessly grateful for this time of learning!

I would love to hear from you how you are taking responsibility for the environmental footprint you leave; are you implementing some ‘zero waste swaps’ into your life? Please do leave a comment below!

Until next time ❤

Bex

Alternative Living : Tiny House Storage Solutions

Alternative Living : Tiny House Storage Solutions

Some of you might not know, but my partner Tom and I are in the process of planning and funding our very own ‘Tiny House’ build starting in the new year.  If you haven’t heard of the tiny house movement, the idea is that you create a little house on the back of a flatbed trailer, which counts in the eyes of the law as an RV or motorhome.  This allows you to create your own moveable home without the need of applying for planning permission or hiring an architect.  Tiny home’s are becoming more and more common, in particular in the US, but the movement has also been gaining momentum in Australia in recent years.

I have been interested in alternative living options since I was a teenager and thought for sometime that I would own my own van, but when I saw my first photos of these beautiful little tiny homes that include everything you could need, I just knew that this is the way that we should go.  For me owning and building a tiny home allows me the freedom to lower my cost of living dramatically, escape the rental market, own my own space, and be able to move my home throughout the country.  This is something that Tom and I have been aiming towards for a couple of years now and we’re both so excited that we’re getting closer to the build start date!

In the eyes of the law tiny homes are considered to be caravans, so are restricted in size.  Tom and I will be building out tiny house on the back of a 7.2m x 2.4m trailer, so you can imagine that downsizing and also coming up with clever storage solutions are a very important part of the process.

Today I want to talk about tiny house storage and share some of the amazing ways that people include storage solutions into their tiny homes.

Storage Stairs

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Image from Small House Bliss

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Image from Tiny House Talk

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Image from Tiny House Swoon

Storage Sofas

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Image from Treehugger

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Image from DIY House Building

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Image from Tiny House Talk

Hidden Storage

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Image from Tiny House Talk

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Image from Homedit

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Image from Tiny House Swoon

I hope that you found this inspiration post interesting! I love looking at and considering different design features that we could include in our tiny home and I know that a number of you many also be considering alternative living options such as van-life or building/buying your own tiny home.  I’d love to hear from you if you are planning your own alternative living options.

Tom and I will likely be including many of these storage ideas into our own build.  I have plans to share our build progress on this platform so I look forward to sharing more tiny house inspiration and resources with you in the future!

Until next time ❤

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Conscious Consumer : What is BPA and why should we avoid it?

Conscious Consumer : What is BPA and why should we avoid it?

As consumers we are sold a huge array of harmful products on a daily basis, with very little (if any) knowledge of the adverse effects that these products can have on our body and on our environment. Have you ever wondered what all those ‘BPA-free’ stickers on plastic goods are? It’s most common to find the stickers on food-grade plastics, such as some tupperware containers and water bottles, but we’re never really told what it all means and why we should steer clear of any BPA plastics.

Bisphenol-A or ‘BPA’ is a chemical compound that has been used for generations in the production of plastic.  Believe it or not Birphenol-A actually started it’s life as a form of synthetic hormone in the birth control industry, but was replaced by stronger medications that had more fast-acting effects.  Since the late 1950’s and with a clear understanding of it’s original purpose, the plastics industry has used this dangerous chemical compound within their products, which the consumer then uses constantly throughout their days.

But whats all the fuss about BPA? BPA is an ‘endocrine disruptor’ which simply means that it mimics other hormones and disrupts our delicate hormonal/endocrine systems.  There have been numerous scientific tests over the years that have proven time and again that BPA quickly leaches out of plastic products and is absorbed into our blood streams.  In fact in a recent study BPA was detected in 93% of people tested.  BPA is proven to be connected to devastating illnesses such as autism, ADHD, prostate cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer just to name a few.

After many years health advocates have managed to get the word out into the public domain and have persuaded some companies to remove BPA from their products.  However our government health agencies (who have huge ties to the plastic/oil industries) still are not doing all they can to clamp down on these dangerous products that are flooding the market today.  According to the European Food Safety Authority for example “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group including unborn children, infants and adolescents”.

The more I learn about the plastics industry the more I see that it really is important to do our research and not automatically believe that the companies we buy from or our institutions have our best interests at heart.  Do we expect our government institutions to be trustworthy when so much of their funding comes from the very industries that we need their protection from?

Though it’s important to know this information, it’s also really important to realise that we are empowered to make changes that will directly support our health!  Here are some tips on how to eradicate BPA plastics from our daily lives:

  • Stop using plastic water bottles that often contain BPA and carry a steel or glass water bottle with you instead
  • Make larger quantities of food for dinner and package it into your lunches in BPA-free tupperware containers.  You can get fantastic glass ones that work great, or even a mason jar will do the job.
  • Never microwave or reheat in plastic!
  • Buy beauty products that are in BPA-free containers, preferably glass.  You can also make your own moisturisers, balms etc.  There are a ton of resources online.
  • Stop using cling-film and plastic utensils, switch to reusable containers and bamboo takeaway utensils instead
  • If you have children, switch to BPA free babies bottles, you can also get hardened glass bottles these days too.  If you can, Breastfeed!  Did you know that babies formula milk comes in tins or tubs that are lined with BPA plastic?

I’m so grateful for all of the incredible resources that we have available to us thanks to the Internet.  I really hope that this blog becomes a useful and inspiring online resource for people to live a creative, healthy and environmentally conscious life.

Until next time ❤

Zero Waste : My zero waste essentials ‘starter kit’

Zero Waste : My zero waste essentials ‘starter kit’

So it’s nearly been a month since I started ‘Plastic Free July’ and really dove head first into the world of zero waste.  This month I’ve been making a conscious effort to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic I use, but in particular single use plastics that will automatically go to landfill. It’s actually been a really enjoyable and empowering experience, which has been a nice surprise!

It can be scary to make these sorts of changes; for me one of the fears that I had was the social interactions that I may face when trying to steer around using plastics.  In reality what I’ve found is that people have been very supportive (if a little intrigued) and totally willing to weigh my jars and put my bread in a cloth bag instead of plastic.

Before this all started I had already been doing quite a bit of research into the plastic-free and zero waste lifestyles that many people are starting to document online, in particular Lauren from Trash is for Tossers has been a great resource over recent months.  It’s amazing to have the web as such a fantastic space to educate and support others who are wanting to adopt more of an ecological approach to life!

Today I want to share with you my Zero Waste ‘starter kit’: the essentials that I’ve been keeping in my bag at all times this month so I’m ready for the day and don’t need to find myself picking up plastics or excessive packaging throughout my city life.  I’ve come to realise that you really don’t need to purchase anything fancy to set up your ‘starter kit’, you can muddle together bits and pieces from around your home quite easily, though it can be a good incentive to buy some pretty essentials to start you off on your journey and keep you motivated! I’ve shared links to the products that I’ve used or products that are very similar.

Here’s what my current Zero Waste ‘starter kit’ looks like:

Large Glass KeepCup : $24

lime_12oz_2This was just the best purchase, not only as it is super cute with its purple and teal colours but I love the fact that it’s glass and doesnt have that funny plastic taste or smell that some reusable cups have.  My cup is about a year old now and still working really well for me.  It’s been living in my bag and comes to work with me every day.  I use it for my morning Chai and even get a discount at my local coffee shop for bringing a reusable cup with me.  I also use it through out work as a mug so I don’t need to use disposable cups or glasses there either.

 

Steel Water Bottle : $29.95

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I’ve had this Ishka 1L water bottle for a couple of years, it’s been all over the world with me! But it’s only this past month that I’ve been religiously bringing it with me everywhere that I go and the difference that it makes is obvious.  In the past Ive been caught out quite a few times and picked up many bottled drinks just because I hadn’t been prepared with my own from home.  That’s not the case anymore!  Really any reusable water bottle will do, there are tons of brands out there, I just fell in love with this super cute design.

 

 

 

Big Reusable Bags : $16.95

loqi-shopping-bag-seed-ash.jpgI just have a hodgepodge of reusable bags that I’ve picked up over the years but I’ve linked to some very similar bags that you could purchase too.  I love how small these bags fold down to, I have 2 that I keep in my bag at all times, but I also have a couple more sturdy canvas ones that I take with me if Im going on a large grocery shop for example.  They come in useful every single day, for wrapping my lunch in (they’re water proof so great for accidental soup spills!) and for carrying any purchases I make.  Having these in my bag at all times rules out my use of any plastic bags.

Cloth Produce Bags : $3.95

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I purchase 5 of these organic cotton produce bags when I went to The Source bulk foods near me earlier this month.  I have a couple more cotton bags that I have at home too.  These produce bags are perfect for filling up at bulk food places or for holding sandwiches or fruit in.  I’ve been keeping one in my bag every day which has come in useful for holding a sandwich I buy out or for an unexpected small grocery trip.  I have the rest of my produce bags storing food in our kitchen cupboard which then get reused and filled up again during grocery shops.

Bamboo Cutlery : $12.50

s-l1600I only got this set recently, for most of the month I’ve just been bringing a fork or spoon with me for my lunch and thats been working fine, but I found this set on Ebay and decided to pick it up as backup for days when i’m not able to be so well prepared.  The set comes in a handy little case that keeps the bamboo protected, which is great for just shoving in my bag!

 

This may seem like a fair amount of stuff to carry around with me all the time but it really doesn’t take that much space up in my handy stripe-y canvas bag I bring everywhere! Something that I’m considering is purchasing a smaller sized drink bottle as the 1L bottle I have does get pretty heavy when it’s full and it’s often possible to refill a bottle when I’m out and about.  I also want to say that this month Ive been making my own lunch at home and bringing it to work with me, this is mainly to save money, so if I was to go back to buying more lunches out then I would include a Tupperware container in my essentials list too.

I’d love to hear about some changes that you’re making to reduce the trash you create; what do you bring with you when you’re heading out?  Come say hello over on my Instagram account @thelittlehome.oz (link above) and let me know your zero waste essentials!

Until next time ❤

Conscious Consumer : Zero Waste Skincare – Dindi Naturals

Conscious Consumer : Zero Waste Skincare – Dindi Naturals

Hi everyone,

It’s wonderful to see that more people are starting to read these posts, it’s so inspiring for me to continue on this journey, so thank you for being here!

Today I wanted to share with you one of my all-time favourite skin-care brands, Dindi Naturals.  Dindi Naturals is a brand with a difference, they create a wide range of skincare products from beard oil to body mists, all made from 100% natural ingredients that are handmade and also very importantly environmentally friendly.

Natural skincare products has become more and more important to me over the years.  12 years ago I started getting the symptoms of Psoriasis, after taking a course of chloroquine and proguanil anti-malaria tablets whilst travelling.  Sadly what is not displayed on the packaging is that these drugs can bring out psoriasis in people who are genetically predisposed to have it.  For me this has meant 12 years so far of scalp psoriasis that is not curable but can be greatly helped by reducing the amount of chemicals that I add to my skin and body.

The first things that had to change were my shampoos and conditioners but it quickly became apparent that everything that I choose to put on or near my body can be absorbed into my body too.  For the last decade I’ve been gradually switching over to more and more natural products and now I rarely use anything that isn’t 100% natural on my skin.

So finding brands like Dindi Naturals that don’t just market themselves as an ethical / eco brand, but actually live by their values is super important to me. Not only are all of their products 100% natural (seriously, no hidden chemicals) but they also have put a lot of time and attention into the packaging that they use for their products too, making sure that their company sticks by it’s moto of ‘Skin salvation, planet protection’.

My partner Tom and I have purchased from this company a number of times now, their shop front and also their workshop is only 20 minutes from Tom’s parents property in rural Victoria, so we often purchase gifts for loved ones as well as products for ourselves here too.

The first thing that you’ll notice about these wonderful products are the smell.  Dindi Natural’s owner, Pip, has created the most wonderful line of natural skincare products that just smell divine! There’s nothing artificial here, all products are full to the brim with beautifully smelling natural ingredients that are such a treat to use.  There is a huge range of skincare and household products available for purchase, with products starting from as little as $4.50.  If you are looking for some ethical gift ideas then you should check out some of their beautiful gift sets, which come in a range of prices and are beautifully packaged.

Something else that you’ll notice about all Dindi Naturals products is that they are beautifully packaged in 100% reusable and recyclable bottles and containers.  I love supporting a company that I know cares so much about the environment and that are willing to do their bit.

Currently some of the products that I am using from Dindi Naturals are:

My most used product of theirs is definitely the sandalwood + patchouli body cream that I use everyday on my face and body as a general moisturiser.  The smell is just divine, earthy yet fresh, and the texture is luxuriously thick but melts quickly into your skin without leaving any oily residue.

If you are vegan then you’ll also love this company as they clearly mark on the website which of their products don’t contain any animal products!  Many of the products that I have chosen above do contain honey but their are plenty of vegan friendly options too!

I just love this company, and I’m so lucky to have them available so locally to me.  If you are interested in purchasing from Dindi Naturals for yourself or for ethical gift ideas then head on over to their website https://www.dindinaturals.com.au where you can find the full range of products for online purchase!

Until next time ❤

Adventure : Overnight Hiking at Wilsons Promontory, Australia

Adventure : Overnight Hiking at Wilsons Promontory, Australia

In June my partner Tom and I packed up our backpacks with everything that we’d need for 2 days out in the bush and set off on the 3 hour drive from our home in Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory, an incredible coastal national park here in Victoria. If you’ve never had the pleasure of going to Wilsons Prom, then just imagine mountains and temperate rainforests and cliffs leading straight to crystalline turquoise water.  It’s an incredible place and one of my favourite places to hike that I’ve been to.

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We planned the trip as a joint adventure with our friends Aswan and Monique who are avid hikers and climbers.   I was quite unsure of how I would fair compared to these two, as they have a lot more experience hiking then I do.

We set off on foot from the Mount Oberon carpark where we said goodbye to our car and van and headed out for our first day of hiking.  The first day was a good 5 or 6 hours of solid hiking, through many different terrains, up and down mountains, through sand dunes and then marshy forest.  Wilsons Prom is such a magical place, you look up from the trail and you’re in a completely new environment with new birds and wildlife.  We had our lunch at Sealers Beach on the first day, there really is nothing better then eating your lunch with that view!

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The weather treated us very well on the first day especially.  It was the heart of winter so we were wrapped up super cosy in down jackets and fleeces, but much of the first day we were hiking in just our tops and leggings.  It was a new experience for me to hike with a large pack on, and carrying that much extra weight up and down mountains really does keep you super toasty despite the winter weather!

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We camped out at Refuge Cove, huddled around our camp stove for warmth as the sun set, eating delicious homemade soup that Aswan and Monique had bought with them.  That night was so cold, and I really didn’t sleep very well in our little tent.  It was a great reminder of the importance of good gear and a perfect reminder to pick up a better sleeping bag for next time!

 

The next day we set off early, packing up our camp and working our way up and around the coastline to our lunchtime spot of Waterloo Bay.  On the way we had the most incredible experience of seeing a pod of dolphins in the bay, seemingly playing in the waves as they hunted a school of fish.  We stopped on the clifftop and watched them for a while, resting our sore legs and back.  Dolphins are one of my favourite animals and it was such a gift to see them in such a stunning pristine environment.

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The final day was much wetter, so we did the mammoth 7+ hour hike in intermittent rain and wind that served at cooling us down as we made our way up the steep incline back to our starting point of Mount Oberon.  It was incredible to see us all persevere through sore bodies, blisters and a fair bit of exhaustion, whilst still loving the experience, trying to take in as much of the incredible landscape around us as we could.

We made it back to our car/van just as the sun was setting on the 2nd day, having completed our round trip of 35+ Kilometres, with the mist rolling down into the valleys that we had just climbed from.  It was such an incredible moment to share together, we were all so proud of what we had accomplished and were just buzzing from spending 2 days in such incredible surroundings!

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Hiking is one of my all-time favourite things to do and it takes very little resources to be able to accomplish.  Camping overnight at Refuge Cove cost us around $30 and though it seems strange to have to pay for the privilege of sleeping rough, it’s so clear that this money is essential to cover the many costs of upkeep on this land.  Thinking about it, I’m more than happy to give a few dollars for the privilege of keeping this pristine environment well taken care of.  Other expenses were just the petrol for the 6 hour round journey and also a few groceries such as snacks and veggie wraps for lunches, so it really was a fun and cost effective activity overall.  I love the excuse that I get to spend so much time out in nature, breathing in the fresh air and reconnecting with the reality of our world.  Living and working in the city can be intense so it’s amazing to give ourselves the opportunity to slow down to a walking pace and get back into nature from time to time.

It’s great to consider the many different activities that are available to us at very little expense where we live.  It’s one of my aims for the next few months to look further into fun day and overnight activities that we can do that don’t cost the earth!

Until next time ❤

(All photos taken by my partner, Tom. He’s a bit of a photography wiz isn’t he!)

 

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