Conscious Consumer : 5 tips to curb your spending habit

Conscious Consumer : 5 tips to curb your spending habit

Whether we believe we ‘buy into it’ or not, many of us unwittingly fall into the trappings of the consumerist society we were born into.

It’s interesting to consider when we actually started to believe that the acquisition of ‘stuff’ would bring us happiness and wellbeing: was it those cartoon adverts as a child that glorified the most recent toy craze or glossy teen magazines that highlighted next seasons fashion must haves?

For most of us purchasing ‘stuff’ is a daily ritual, one that rewards heartache, sadness, good behaviour, birthdays, loneliness or just plain boredom.  But does it really bring us the satisfaction and ‘wholeness’ that we crave?

Recently Ive started to realise just how trapped I’d become in the idea that more stuff would make me happy.  When I started realising just how short-lived the enjoyment of a new purchase was it became clear to me that this was not the way I wanted to live my life anymore.

I looked at my life and saw that I was working more, so that I could buy more.  I wanted to be able to work less and live more, I wanted to have fun! I craved less clutter around me and more space to just be me, so I decided to really try to cut down on my unnecessary spending once and for all.

I tackled this by implementing these 5 techniques I’m about to share with you.  It’s my hope that you too may look a little deeper into the reasons that you spend unnecessarily and free yourself up to just live more!

Without further ado, here are my ‘Top 5 Tips To Curb Your Spending Habit’!

1/ Stop following social media accounts or reading magazines that promote fashion and makeup hauls and idolises unnecessary spending!  Look at what media you are consuming and consider just how much of it is actually just advertising that aims at getting you to buy more.

2/  Find out what your emotional shopping triggers are : are you on the way to work and feeling low about your body? On the commute home and rewarding a hard days work with some retail therapy?  Find other ways to reward yourself or show yourself love, like taking a long bubble bath or putting aside a little money each week and take a beautiful weekend trip somewhere instead.  Reward yourself with experiences instead of things.

3/  Don’t dangle the carrot under your nose : give yourself a transition time where you don’t go into shops or even look in the window shop.  Don’t allow yourself 30 minutes to shop before work if you know that’s when you’re most likely to spend.  Go for coffee with girlfriends instead of heading to the shops together.

4/  Start a spending log for a month and see clearly how much you are actually spending unnecessarily.  I use ‘Dollar Bird’ which is a free android and apple finance app that allows you to easily log and itemise your spending.  Seeing what you spend on clothes and unnecessary purchases and totalling up the costs is a great catalyst for change!

5/  Don’t let yourself buy anything right away : if you’ve walked into a shop and have your hands full with hangers and bee-lining for the cashiers, ask the cashiers to hold onto your items for half an hour or even better give yourself an evening to consider those purchases!  Often time is enough to consider if you need all or in fact any of your purchases.

It’s my wish that all people have the opportunity to experience the freedom of owning just the things that you absolutely love.  It’s amazing to relieve yourself from the stresses of debt and money-making and really live for life again!

Please do send me a comment about your experiences of reducing your spending and moving towards more conscious spending.

Until next time,

Bex

 

Healthy Vegan Treats : Carrot Cake Muffins

Healthy Vegan Treats : Carrot Cake Muffins

I’m a relatively new Vegan and I’m still finding my way around the kitchen, so I was so surprised and happy with how easy it was to vegan-ize my favourite muffin recipe!

My aim was to create a really moist vegan muffin; something that is low in sugar whilst still tasting amazing, healthy enough that you could grab one if you’re running late in the morning and not feel TOO naughty.

These Carrot Cake Vegan Muffins are packed full of fruits and veggies that bring sweetness and flavour as well as a wonderful moist texture.

Let’s get stuck in!

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp flax-meal for ‘Flax Eggs’
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 apple (grated)
  • 1 large carrot (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plant milk
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 cup Raisons

 

Method:

  • Heat oven to 190*C and put cases in your muffin tray
  • Mix Flax-meal together with 5 tbsp water and leave for 5 mins to thicken.  This will become your ‘Flax Eggs’
  • Combine all dry ingredients (saving apple/carrot/raisons for later) into a large bowl and mix together
  • Add in the plant milk and coconut oil along with the apple, carrot and raisons.  Mix together gently by folding the ingredients into each other to combine (The key to good light muffins is to mix very gently!)
  • Fill up the muffin tray with the mixture (you can be generous here, they won’t rise that much) and place in the oven
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown on the top and are not too spongy when you press on the middle
  • Enjoy warm! (You can freeze excess muffins for snack emergencies)

 

You can easily make these gluten free by replacing the wholemeal flour with gluten free flour and making sure that your baking powder is also a gluten free variety.

I can’t wait to see what you think! Please do tag me on Instagram with your photos : @thelittlehome.oz

Until next time,

Bex

How I went from meat-eater to Vegan overnight

How I went from meat-eater to Vegan overnight

Rewind to Saturday night, one month ago, where I find myself standing in the middle of a packed Bourke Street staring at a computer screen held by a black-clad person in a Guy Fawkes mask.  I’m just out of work and on the way to meet Tom for a movie and a burger but instead I find myself standing there transfixed by a little laptop screen that depicts the horrific treatment of some very terrified looking farm animals.

I’m in a hurry but time stands still; I’m completely unaware of the people around me, of the person behind the mask holding the laptop, of passers by and their reactions, until a sweet middle aged lady wearing a black vegan t’shirt comes up to me and *ping* time starts rolling again.

We chat, she tells me this is footage from Victorian abattoirs and my heart recoils. My previous tactic of being able to push this kind of footage off as ‘US slaughter house footage’ just doesn’t cut it with this experience any more, and my heart is left raw and open to change.  I remember the scared ‘moos’ of the babies and mama’s being separated in the fields near Tom’s parents home and driving past the cargo lorries full to the brim of cows and sheep on their way to market or the abattoir.

The timing was perfect.  I met my first ‘Cube Of Truth’, the name given to the protest tactics of Vegan movement Anonymous For The Voiceless, when I had been seriously considering not only my health but also the morality of my choice to eat meat and dairy.  Recently I have been on a gentle journey of aligning my actions with my values and this was naturally starting to transcend into my diet choices too.

So fast forward to the present moment and I am a month into this new adventure.  I’ve eaten so well, adjusting surprisingly easy to these new changes. Just as with most big changes I’m experiencing moments of complete insecurity and concern, questioning my choice and fearing the work that will be involved.  When I relax however and let this fear past I get to see the reality of the situation, that I don’t need to live by anyone’s definitions, that I get to choose in each moment what I do and don’t eat or wear, and that I am unimaginably strong and capable of fulfilling any commitment I make to myself.

Some of the benefits that I’ve noticed so far are:

  1. I’m eating better! I have to plan my food more and can’t just grab junk food from the city at a moments notice.
  2. My digestion is settling down, I feel less bloated and sore after meals.
  3. I’m craving dark leafy greens.  Who knew that when you eat more veggies you crave more veggies?!
  4. It’s really relaxing aligning your actions with your values, there’s so much less guilt.

It’s been pretty miraculous just how simple this transition has been; far less stressful and awkward then I previously thought.  It feels wonderful to say no and remove myself from having anything to do with the suffering of those beautiful animals, and I’m starting to see that I can live a happy and wholesome life without consuming animal-based foods.

I can’t wait to share more about this journey in the near future,

Until then,

Bex

Zero Waste : How to have a trash-free period!

Zero Waste : How to have a trash-free period!

Every month I seem to go through at least a package of Tampons per cycle and it seems that this is the norm for most of the female population. We’re not taught to think about the effects our tampon and sanitary pad use has on the environment, or even that there are other options, so this month I took it upon myself to start educating myself.

Not only does each Australian woman spend on average $5600 in our lifetimes on tampons, each year in Australia women contribute around 18,000 Tonnes of sanitary product waste that goes to landfill. This landfill waste does not biodegrade and will outlive us, our children and even our children’s child!

Alongside the environmental cost is the cost to our own health when using the bleached tampons that are available to us in the grocery store.  Our skin is an organ and very absorbent.  What we put on it or next to it will most likely enter into our blood stream very quickly and because of this the bleached non-organic tampons that I’ve been using for the last 17 years have consequently been leaching chemicals, toxins and pesticides into my body.

I’m a tampon gal and though I know there are some fantastic organic/unbleached tampon options out there (If you’re in Australia check out TomOrganic) these can work out pricey and still don’t tackle the issue of waste.  I wanted to find another way, so I started looking into alternative methods.

For me personally I never took to using pads so I knew that cotton reusable pads where not an option for me, however if they are an option for you then you should totally check this company out: HannahPad.  Their reusable pads are made from organic cotton and are so cute! They come in a range of thicknesses and would be a great option for many gals.

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I’m so lucky that my amazing mum had gifted me a MoonCup a little while ago that I had never gotten into using, so I decided to give it a real go this cycle. I was hoping that this would be the alternative that I needed so as to ‘zero-waste’ my period but I was really nervous about a few things:

  1. That the product would get stuck and I couldn’t get it out again!
  2. That it would ‘fail’ and I’d end up looking like a horror scene
  3. That it was plastic and there for bad to be inside me

MoonCup is a UK brand of menstrual cups that are made out of medical-grade silicone (completely non-toxic in the body) and were the original brand of menstrual cup on the market (they’ve been selling these products since 2002).  Not only is this company employee-owned but they also produce their products in the UK under strict ethical and ecological codes.  I was happy to find that my MoonCup came in a sweet little organic cotton pouch so as to keep it clean when it’s not in use.

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I really can’t tell you about my experience without telling you some info about my cycle: it’s very heavy, it hurts and it lasts for daaaaays (5 days but it really does feel like a year).  Needless to say that I was pretty nervous that my MoonCup wouldn’t cut it, especially on the first couple of days of my cycle when I often need to change super-size tampons every couple of hours.

It took some getting used to inserting the menstrual cup and the feeling of when it was properly in place.  I taught myself the ‘C-Fold’ which is a folding method where you push the cup in half with your thumb and finger before inserting.  On the first few go’s inserting and removing it was quite uncomfortable as I was so sore and tender, but after the first day everything got so much better as I got used to the removing and re-inserting process.

 

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I’m happy to say that there were no accidents or leaks! Unlike some reviews where women say that they can keep the product in all day without changing it, I found that I still had to empty the cup every couple of hours (on my first 2 heavy days).  I was unnecessarily nervous about not being able to remove the cup and it getting stuck, that wasn’t the case at all and I had no problem with removing it and emptying it into the loo.  Also I found that practice makes perfect here and I know the process will become second nature for me.

I’m not squeamish about blood so had no problem seeing my own blood and emptying it into the loo but I know that this may take some getting used to for others.  I felt more comfortable, less dry and sore then I normally would after 5 days of tampon-wearing, and I also felt super proud that I’d stopped around 16 tampons from having to go to Landfill!

I really do hope that you try a menstrual cup for your next cycle.  I would love to hear your experiences of ‘Zero Waste-ing’ your period so please do leave a comment below!

Until next time ❤

Bex

 

 

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