All Posts by Living Sprout

Singapore – The Garden City Of The World

Singapore 

They don't call it the city of gardens for nothing, and there are so many reasons for you to fall in love with the place (we find it hard just to name one).

Simple put, if your just here to find out if Singapore is worth visiting? Then the answer is yes

Top 15 Places To See In Singapore

Gardens By The Bay

Gardens by the Bay. How do we describe this incredible creation? Set on 101 hectares of reclaimed land it's hard to believe these gardens were once a plot of sand, sea and soil. 

There are many different areas of the gardens for you to explore with more than 1 million plants on display. 

The Supertree groves are man concrete and steel structures that topple over your head, covered in climbing plants. If you want to see them from above and are not afraid of heights, we recommend the OCB walkway. They offer free entrance to the Supertree Grove so be sure to venture back and check out the incredible night show on display.

There are two cooled observatories that are not to be missed - the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. Did we mention there is also a Heritage Garden, Sun Pavillion, and Children's Garden?

The gardens have been designed in an environmentally sustainable and energy efficient way, so there is a lot of learning to be had, for both adults and children.  So be prepared to pack a lunch and purchase a return ticket, because it's easy to see how Gardens By The Bay has become Singapore's #1 attraction.  

What we love most? Waterfront views, Seashell shaped greenhouses, futuristic tree structures with climbing plants and an OCB elevated walkway through the 'Supertrees', what more can we say? Let the gardens speak for themselves.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Established in 1859 by the agriculture-horticultural society on a massive 60 acres of land, lies the beautiful Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Known for being Singapore's first UNESCO world heritage site, the gardens are more than 150 years old and are the leading centre for botanical and horticultural research.

We all know how good botanic gardens can be… but gardens paired with a tropical climate? We’ll let you picture that slice of heaven for yourself.

Palm Valley, Symphony Lake, the Orchid Garden, the Ginger Garden and the Learning Forest, are just a couple of the picturesque and incredible locations you will find within the park.

Plan for a day of exploring and no need to pack a lunch as there are many great restaurants and cafes to explore.  Not only that, the gardens often hold various workshops and events making your return trip a no brainer.

There are so many things to do see within the gardens that you would never get bored, however on the off chance you do - the gardens are conveniently located close by the shopping district of Orchard Road.

What we love most? This is a hard one because overall the gardens are incredible. Our favourite place to explore and relax would have to be the freshwater forest wetlands and lowland rainforests. Treetop boardwalks and rope climbing are sure to get your heart pumping with excitement.

Green Heart At Marina One

There's so much to be said about the incredible planning, architecture and infrastructure of Singapore. But if we have to choose one example of how to successfully plan a cohesively built and natural environment, it would have to be Green Heart at Marina One, designed by Ingenhoven architects. 

If your not familiar with the space, there are 4 high rise buildings (commercial and residential) clustered around a 'Green Heart' of trees, palms and underplantings of up to 400 different species. 

Imagine being able to step outside your office and sit amongst the trees, without having to walk further than 100 metres? If that's not enough, there are extensive eateries and shops underground that are linked to local infrastructure and transport. 

All that we have to say is...Green Heart at Marina One Singapore is well worth the exploration.

What we love most? The incredible Siler waterfall design, delicate selection of materials and the green walls located on the floors above. 

Check out Ingenhoven architects great video below for more information: 

Fort Canning Park

Don't be fooled, this park may seem small in comparison to something like Gardens By The Bay - but once you get exploring, it makes for an very relaxing afternoon.

As a historical landmark of Singapore, Fort Canning Park was once known as the 'Forbidden Hill' and is a great spot for picnicking on outdoor lawns, exploring ancient artefacts such as the underground military complexes or smelling the sweet fragrances of the spice garden. 

Fortunately we got stuck with a heavy downpour the day we explored (which made the gardens seem all that more green and luscious) - so we took refuge next to a beautiful large wooden gate, which we later found out to be the remnants of the fortress built in the 19th Century.

What we love most? The beautiful old engulfing tree canopies, make sure you look up. 

Changi International Airport

For those who are just stopping by, Singapore International Airport (Otherwise known as Changi Airport) is FULL of gardens to explore that will more or less blow your mind...

Why? Because even on the luggage carousels - you will find an incredible display of orchids, bromeliads, and other flowering plants that we even had to touch just to make sure they were real!

There are two terminals, and within them you can find a cactus garden, a sunflower rooftop, butterfly and orchid and waterlily gardens, and a koi pond. If you aren't impressed yet, just wait till you get there. 

Note: For those who don't smoke, we found it a little unpleasant that access to some of the gardens were through smoking areas. 

What we love most? The luggage carousels and the green walls, be sure to check them out and have a good walk around. 

Civic Centre Mature Tree Plantings

People go on and on about the trees in Singapore, but what's so special about them?

Well for one, we have tree canopies to thank for providing a little reprieve from very hot and humid conditions walking in the streets. Something you will notice if you intend to walk the Civic District Tree Trail.

A 2 hour, 3km walk that commences at Istana Main Gate and ends at the impressive Empress Lawn. Here you will find 8 trees that are of particular significance. These 8 mature rain trees have been transplanted as a way to rejuvenate the historic district.

Originating from south and central America, these umbrella shaped rain trees with wide spread canopies have leaves with consist of leaflets which fold up in the evening. You will most often see the small clusters of pinkish/white flowers accompanied by thick seed pods.

And my gosh, are they impressive. Often covered in epiphytes such as ferns and orchids, they make for a really good picture. Have an extra look to see if you can spot the lightning conductors, they are there to protect some of the very old trees you're standing under!

What we love most? It is a very scenic and beautiful walk, however the engineering feat. alone of transplanting mature trees was enough to make us gasp. For more information on how the tree transplanting went down, check out National Parks Board's video below:

Marina Bay Sands

Want to live the high life on your stop over? Literally?

If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Singapore that's central, has a view and is a tourist destination in itself, then look no further than Marina Bay Sands. But be prepared to splurge.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel is very distinct and one of its own. From afar, it looks like a boat suspended on stilts. If you need one reason alone to book, just take a look at their infinity pool. With a birds eye view of all of Singapore, paired with an incredibly engineered rooftop garden, we think it's worth it. 

But wait, there's more...

If an overnight stay isn't your thing, The Sands Skypark is a ticketed viewing platform with an observation deck that is just easily as good (minus the pool) with a complete view of Gardens By The Bay. And if your in need of a refreshment? There's a bar where you can relax and sip on your Singapore sling. 

If you find vistas boring, then venture downstairs to explore the luxury retail shops, restaurants, art installations, water features, vegetable garden...the list goes on. 

What we love most? The view from a top is not be missed but having said that, we thoroughly enjoyed the coffee and air conditioning in the buildings below. 

Bollywood Veggies

Singapore is quite small, you won't find many plots of land dedicated to farming as they import a significant amount of their fresh produce. 

If you have explored all the city has to offer and are looking for a good day trip, then we highly recommend a visit to Bollywood Veggies. 

For all those little green thumb and backyard gardeners out there, be prepared to experience a little farming sanctuary out of the city. Opened to the public in the year 2000 by Mrs. Ivy Singh-Lim and her husband Mr. Lim Ho Seng Bollywood Veggies is set on 10 acres in the northwest Kranji countryside. 

What we loved most? Our tour guide was particular quirky and very well rounded in plant knowledge. The restaurant on site also provides one hell of a tasty meal.   

Sungeih Buloh Wetlands

If your any particular nature lover... then you will want to check out Sungeih Buloh Wetlands (SBW). 

Singapore's dedicated nature reserve situated just across the road from the border of Malaysia,  SBW offers up free guided tours to explore the wetlands at its best. The loop walk offered is fairly easy and can be taken at any pace, with educational content and interaction offered along the way. There are mangrove walks, observation decks, bridges, and lots of wildlife. 

Note: Best to pack a lunch and long sleeves. Don't forget your insect repellent.

What we love most? Mangrove boardwalks and sneaky otters in the lake. 

Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

You've been cruising around on Singapore's amazing transport so far, enjoying a Singapore sling along the way, but if you're looking for some wilderness and a bit of a challenge (to sweat out those sling toxins), look no further than Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Set on 163 hectares of nature reserve, you will find Singapore's closest thing to a mountain, Bukit Timah Hill. A mere 163 metre high, climbing the 'Hill' is not for the faint hearted. Pack some water and be prepared to sweat. If Singapore humidity hasn't not hit you yet, it soon will. 

What we love most? For those who want to leisure at the base, they have a great interactive visitor centre at the base, very useful for learning about local flora and fauna.

HortPark

Definitely underrated, Hortpark - a mixture of education and recreation, lies in the western part of Singapore.

It's a great space to lounge, picnic and hang out. There's a restaurant/cafe with some good food but why go to a park to eat inside when you can lounge on the grassy lawns amongst the flowers. 

As a resource centre, they offer tours and workshops so if your stopping by for an extended period of time, be sure to look them up so you can get your hands dirty. Not just a great space for kids, we enjoyed it too!

What we love most? The interactive activities gives everybody the opportunity to learn something about nature. The green walls were looking a little shabby when we went, but are a great display of the different techniques that are out there. 

Sentosa Island

You come to a tropical climate but your stuck in the city, so what do you do? Visit Sentosa Island. 

Bring your swimmers, sunscreen and a good book. For the kids, they have the amusement park, but for adults who just want to relax? A refreshing dip in the water, followed by a cold beer on the beach.

Say. No. More.

After walking in the humid climate of Singapore, Sentosa Island will be a refreshing change. And it's relatively easy to get there too. The gardens are nice, as with every garden in Singapore, manicured to it's finest. 

What we love most? The palm trees in the sand, the oddly placed cargo boats on the horizon, and the carpentered walkway that leads you into the amusement park is a sight for those who love a good wood structure. 

Retail Garden Centres And Nurseries

If you have ANY interest in gardens and plants whatsoever, you will want to make the effort to visit Singapore's retail garden centres and singapore nurseries. 

They are all lined up in a row - so this makes them very easy to access. They have HUGE displays of plants and flowers, so just wandering around by foot is interesting enough. 

Of course, there are restrictions on the types of plant material that you can bring back with you, so be sure to look this up before taking anything back with you to your home country. Orchid cultures anyone?

What we love most? The incredibly cheap orchids on display are a sight to see for itself - at home these cost a fortune. 

Singapore Zoo

Don't get us wrong, we aren't really zoo people - the thought of animals couped up in cages? Not our average cup of tea.

Having said that, Singapore Zoo is slightly different to what you might expect. 

Let's start by picturing monkeys swinging off trees above your head getting ready for their feeding time by keepers...on the footpath...as you enter. Singapore Zoo is well known and prized for its 'open concept' style. Set amidst a rainforest environment (much like the rest of singapore), if you look up, fair chances you will catch some type on animal swinging above your head.

They have educational and interactive exhibits, night safaris and breakfast with the animals, great for children and adults, and the gardens are pretty delicious too. Very luscious and green. 

So if you are looking for a nice day out, Singapore Zoo is well worth a visit. Friendly staff and keepers will always be happy to lend a hand to lost stragglers wanting more information.

What we love most? The open orangutan exhibit and the naked mole rats...yes, we said that correctly...naked mole rats.

Singapore Flyer

A little kept secret that not many people know about...and we aren't talking about the Singapore Flyer (Although that view is not too bad either).

We are talking about what's underneath - The Rainforest Discovery.

A built in rainforest at the base of the Singapore Flyer, which lets you cool off in the heat amongst tropical palms, shrubs and water features. 

What we love most? First of all, it's free. Secondly? Go get mesmerized by the the koi fish ponds.


Top 10 Things To Eat In Singapore

My throat is already starting to salivate. Why? Because Singapore has AMAZING food!

They have everything - from international and local cuisine, to boring food chain alternatives and  incredible bars and pubs (Be warned though alcohol will set you back a dime or two - happy hour is the way to avoid an empty wallet).

If you love exploring new cities and are willing to try new experiences - then guaranteed, we highly recommend exploring Singapore Hawker Markets. Why spend $20, when you can spend 1/4 of that and get an entree, main and dessert with a fresh squeezed juice?

So without further ado, here's our top 10 (local) things you should eat whilst in singapore:

  • Ice Kacang. This peculiar dessert is worth a try - for it's novelty, but may not be enjoyed by most. Shaved ice topped with sugar syrup that is layered on top of corn, red beans, condensed milk, jelly and the famous palm seed (An edible palm seed? These palms are found growing in water).
  • Fried Carrot Cake. Don't be fooled by the name - this cuisine is far from the sweet carrot cake that you and i know. Think more along the lines of a salty, potato grated omelette with chives. Made out of preserved radish, there's a salty and sweet version. A very common dish among the locals.
  • Popiah. A thin wheat crepe that encases delicious ingredients of noodles, meat and veggies and comes with a yummy sweet hoisin sauce. Fried or steamed, both recommended!
  • Laksa. A mix of chinese and malay cuisine - there are many different flavours of laksa in Singapore. A delicious soup of noodles, your choice of meat, veggies, tofu, coconut cream and spices. Not an uncommon cuisine as it is found in many asian countries, but well worth a taste in Singapore.
  • Bak Kut Teh. This is literally a meat bone / pork rib soup. A light delicious salty broth with bits of meat in it. Traditionally, a dish for the poor made out of scraps which is now - a celebrated traditional Singaporean dish.
  • Pork buns. Big or small - you will be amazed at the size of some of the pork buns found in Singapore. 
  • Pandan Cake. A Chiffon cake that is light and often green inside. Eating this feels like your eating something as light as air - softly sweet, you will need to buy seconds!
  • Kueh lapis. This cake can be stripped off in layers and eaten slowly for fun - made of  flour, tapioca, water sugar and coconut milk. Makes a great addition to that afternoon cup of iced tea!
  • Durian fruit. Watch out for that pungent smell and expensive fruit tag! Adored by locals, so get into it and give it a try!
  • Black Sesame paste. You can see locals eatings this like soup in hawker markets - not for the faint hearted, but if you enjoy sesame - and you like sweet, you will definitely love this one. A thick black sesame paste that is sweet, and can be enjoyed before or after your meal.

Best Cultural Sights in Singapore

Singapore is an incredibly rich country - rich in it's diversity of ethnicity, religion, and culture.

Many immigrants arrived to Singapore in the 19th and 20th century and as a result, there are communities that reflect particular cultures. Each neighbourhood is different and worth visiting whether it be for the sights, smells, or the people.

On the list be sure to check out:

  • Little India
  • The Arab Quarter
  • Joo Chiat/Katong
  • China Town
  • Holland Town
  • Haw Par Villa (For a cultural experience on the extreme side)

FAQ's

Is Singapore worth visiting?

I think we have already established this - The answer is YES. The real question is - have you booked your flights yet?

What is the best time to go to Singapore?

Although some people may prefer to travel in the low season (August through October) this really depends on how well you can tolerate Singapore's Climatic conditions of heat, humidity, and rain. 

It's a tropical climate. Our suggestion for the best time to visit? All. Year. Round.

How many days in Singapore?

When we travelled to Singapore, we took a cruisy two weeks. But you can explore a decent amount in less than one week. Just be prepared to walk your little feet around!

What language does singapore Speak?

Singaporeans are bilingual, so this makes getting around very easy!

They can speak English, Mandarin, Tamil and even Malay. You may even hear some singlish! Keep an ear out Lah. 

Is Singapore expensive?

This is a really personal question - because it really depends on what type of traveller you are. Though generally speaking, yes - Singapore is a moderately expensive country (at least when you compare it to its neighbouring country Malaysia). So here's the answer to your question in a nutshell:

  • Accommodation can be expensive, and tourist attractions are not often free but they ARE worth the price. 
  • Travel is relatively cheap, this includes taxis and public transport.
  • If you stick to western cuisine - it will cost you $$.
  • If you're looking for good food and a full belly for around $5.00 - check out the hawker markets.
  • If alcohol is your thing - (it's hot so why not dabble in some Singapore slings) -  save your pennies because alcohol will cost you an arm and a leg. 

A Mesmerizing City Of Gardens

Visiting Singapore is an experience of a lifetime - not to be missed.

It is an incredible city of gardens. The climate, combined with the care of the local people and government evidently shows in the landscape. Simply take a walk and breathe in the nature that surrounds you. 

We cannot avoid the demand for growth, population or the rising demand for built environments but Singapore is an example of a city whose fundamental values are to preserve the environment - enabling economic growth while preserving their green space. 

If you loved this article, please share it with your friends! Have anything to add? Feel free to add comments below!

Indoor low light plants: The basics.

Indoor plants. What do we mean?

Well, more appropriately, we mean: low light and shade tolerant plants.

LOW light does not equal NO light? ALL plants need to be able to carry out photosynthesis so light from the sun is an essential ingredient (whether this be direct or filtered).

​It has been proven (have a look, you'll find it all over google search): Plants have this incredible ability to make you feel calm, serene, and somehow - very vaguely stated all over the internet - they are 'good for your health'.

We all know plants make us feeeeeel goood. But how the hell do we make them look good AND keep them alive and healthy?

Well, it starts from the very beginning. So Lets start with the basics.

You have a space - you want to fill it - you know E-X-A-C-T-L-Y where you want to put your new healthy love child (luscious green plant). 
There is no denying the fact that we have all seen that one instagram post on an inspiring decor with woven fabrics, luscious green foliage, up cycled wooden furniture and thought..."easy peasy lemon squeezy: I can do that".

Hold up. Let’s all be very honest with ourselves - we are not interior decorators with wads of cash on hand. And these days - a good cane basket will set you back $$.
We don't all have that money to spend. So where do we begin?

Well, it might sound a little confusing.
But BEFORE you get started, here are some essential tips that will let you GET started!


Numero uno: Observe your environment​

Don’t just go out and purchase a dozen different plants that you saw pictures of on instagram.

First you need to OBSERVE.

Observe what? Well, where are you going to put them?
You need to know how much light exposure there is.

LIGHT EXPOSURE IS IMPORTANT.

You need to assess light quality, exposure and duration.


Numero dos: Prepare yourself to do some work

Plants are living things - treat them as you would any other human being - with love.

What does this mean?

Be prepared to feed them, to water them, and to take care of them. Already seem like too much effort? Well maybe a plastic dinosaur is better suited to you.


Numero tres: Budget. Prepare your wallet.

A good medium sized plant won't cost you much.

HOWEVER, having said that - the larger you go, the more expensive they get.

Keep in mind, slow growing plants usually cost more $$. So if you want something that looks great straight away, fills space and is larger than hand-sized succulent, you will need to choose wisely.

Your not just buying a plant, you will also need to purchase:

# A pot/Basket/Hessian sack (if that's what your into)


# Soil (correct soil type for the correct plant - figs require different soil to orchids)


# Plant food/fertiliser (remember - plants can't drive to macdonalds. You have to do it for them!)


Numero quattro: Plant selection and purchase

Now its time to decide whether you want a plant that flowers, a plant that has large green foliage, a small succulent that doesn't need much watering, or even something edible!

Each plant will have a specific need and it’s maintenance will vary, so it’s a good idea to select plants based on the amount of care you will be willing to provide and how they will fit into your current environment.

Where do you buy them?​

Not to discount larger chains and hardware stores - they have their perks, but consider this: a small local nursery will usually stock the same product, it may be of better quality, your supporting something local AND there may be different cultivars (variations) that interest you.

The key point here is to shop around.

If you don’t mind driving, a day trip to a larger retail or wholesale nursery may save you $$ and give you exposure to many more interesting plants.


Here's what you've been scrolling for.

Our top selections for low maintenance plants for the indoor environment

Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum wallisii

(Recommended plant for low light)

This is one of the most popular low light plantings. Why? It has both flowers and foliage that are beautiful. Dark green soft leathery leaves and fragrant white flowers on a tall stem (scape) up to 0.8m tall.

Likes a moist - well drained soil and prefers humid shaded environments. 
(Note: if you leave this plant in a pot with a saucer, the roots will rot. They do not like to sit in wet baths!)


Cast Iron Plant - Aspidistra elatior 

(Recommended plant for low to medium light, shade loving plants)

Grown for it’s luscious broad dark green foliage which sit upright to 0.6m in height.
Some species are variegated/striped/marbled - making them an interesting piece to add to any room. 

Known for its hardiness - this plant is also known as the ‘cocacola’ plant - able to tolerate binge drinking and parties.
They like a moist and well drained soil, requires a minimal watering regime. 


Fiddle-leaf Fig - Ficus lyrata

(Recommended plant for partial shade and filtered light but also tolerates full sun)

One of our favourites. Large elephant like, crimpled green leathery leaves sitting among a greyish/brown trunk and branches. Quite a relaxed bushy habit.
This plant does have flowers and fruits, but they are not generally seen in container nursed plants. Likes a moist - well drained soil so therefore requires moderate watering regime. Likes an occasional misting.

(Note: This plant is prone to a few pests so be sure to keep an eye out for things like thrips, mealy bugs and scale like insects). 


Zanzibar Gem - Zamioculcas zamiifolia

(Recommended plant for low to medium light, heavy shade tolerant)

This plant is for foliage only and will generally not flower.
This is the ultimate low maintenance plant tolerating low light levels and neglect.
Long stems with shiny, waxy leaves with a compact growth habit up to 0.8m in height.
Likes a dry, well drained soil. 
Tolerates a 'minimalistic' approach to watering regime.


Orchids - Cymbidium species

(Recommended for early morning/late afternoon light)

Everyone knows what an orchid looks like (fleshy green leaves with crazy colourful flowers), some people say they are the easiest plant to have for an indoor settings, others say they are impossible to keep alive. So what’s the trick?
Orchids like good air and water movement. They require a regular watering regime, don't let them dry out - but don't let them sit in water either!
(Note: consider buying an orchid soil mix - usually a mixture with peat moss)

Been given an orchid as a gift? They will flower for about 6 - 8 weeks. Once they have finished flowering - cut them down to the base of the flowering stem and continue to care for them with an occasional watering. 


Madagascar Dragon Tree - Dracaena marginata

(Recommended for full sun, filtered light)

Why is it called a dragon tree? Known to produce a red sap, but perhaps it's because of it's unique winding brown cane like stems and dark green sword shaped leaves. 

A dragon tree can grow between 2 - 6m but planting in a pot will limit growth so don’t be too worried. This plant will tolerate a shaded position. Likes a well drained, fertile soil and requires minimal - moderate watering. 


Happy plant - Dracaena fragrans

(Recommended for medium filtered light)

Similar to the Madagascar dragon tree, happy plant has glossy dark green leaves that sit upon brown upright stems but with a looser, floppier, larger leaf. You may have yellow/white star shaped flowers that appear in autumn that are slightly fragrant but they seldom appear indoors.

Tolerating semishade but prefers a filtered sunny position, happy plants will tolerate some form of neglect although they prefer a well drained, fertile soil that is watered regularly.


Mother-in-law’s Tongue - Sansevieria trifasciata

(Recommended plant for medium light)

This is a very hardy, architectural plant - bought for its attractive foliage that has an upright growth habit up to 1m tall. Succulent, thick leathery sword shaped twisted leaves that are almost marbled and patterned. 

Tolerant of neglect, they like a well drained soil and are low maintenance when it comes to watering. 


How to spruce up your plants by styling to a more 'organic' feel. 

1 - Think simple earthy colours.

2 - Woven natural fabrics.

3 - Natural recycled materials.

Apply the three rules together and voila - you have a picture perfect instagram post!
Unfortunately, the cool cats have caught on, now a simple cane basket will cost you an arm and a leg.

If you want to remain on the more sustainable side of things, try sourcing materials from garage sales, second hand stores or your local recycling bulk stores - they have plenty of hessian sacks available on the cheap. 
Another option is to keep your eye out for clean up days! There are treasures yet to be found!

For some not so subtle product advertising and inspiration, check below folks!

The ultimate guide to non toxic, natural cleaning products.

The ultimate guide to non-toxic, natural and environmentally friendly cleaning products

Okay, so here is the big question: Are natural ingredients effective in household cleaning? And if so, why should we use them?

The ultimate goal is to prove to you exactly how using non-toxic household items for cleaning can facilitate a positive lifestyle, impact both your health and the environment but also save you money in the long run.  

Toxic commercial cleaning products

How toxic are your cleaning products?

Firstly - go and scout your cupboards and bring out all of those store bought detergents, bleaches and sprays and put them on your counter. Let’s have a closer look at what ingredients they contain and why they are bad for you.

​Top 10 common toxic cleaning ingredients

#1 - Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs)

Found in detergents, pesticides, cleaning products, lubricants and hair care products. A synthetic surfactant which is bio-accumulative (absorbs easily), carcinogenic, and suspected to have an impact on endocrine dysfunction. APEs do not readily biodegrade, they persist for long periods of time and have a direct impact on our waterways and our marine life.


#2 - Ammonia

Naturally we are exposed to small amounts of ammonia. It is when the exposure risk increases and when it is mixed with other contaminants such as chlorine bleach that a highly poisonous chloramine gas is produced. These fumes are highly toxic, can be irritating to eyes, nose, ears and throat, and therefore should not be used by asthmatics or those with chronic lung issues. In the environment, ammonia can be very toxic to aquatic organisms.


​#3 - Butyl Cellosolve

Found in spot cleaners, oven sprays, air fresheners and carpet cleaners amongst others. In humans, it is neurotoxic and is suspected to cause some liver and kidney damage. Although it is water soluble, it has been found as a contaminant in water and soils within the environment.


#4 - Diethanolamine (DEA)

Found in soaps, cleansers, shampoos, moisturisers and sunscreens. DEA can cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation and high exposure has been shown to have carcinogenic effects. It is hazardous to the environment because it is highly toxic to aquatic organisms and has also been shown to bioaccumulate.


​#5 - D-limonene

Found in general cleaners and oil and degreasing agents. Often used as a fragrance in household products. Human exposure can cause skin irritation, gastrointestinal upset and lung and airway issues. It is hazardous in the environment because it is highly toxic to aquatic organisms.


#6 - Glycol Ether

Commonly found in household cleaning products, liquid soaps and paints. It a solvent toxic to humans that can cause anaemia, neurological effects, skin irritation, and intoxication if ingested. Glycol Ether has been identified as a hazardous air pollutant.


#7 - Nonylphenols (NPEs)

A surfactant found in laundry detergents and multipurpose cleaners. Can cause endocrine disruption, irritation to lungs, skin and eyes in humans. NPEs have been identified as a hormone disrupting substance which is toxic to aquatic life and organisms.


#8 - Phosphates

Found in laundry and dish detergents and general cleaners. Phosphates are a strong irritant and can cause skin and eye irritation as well as respiratory problems. Although the use of phosphates have been decreased, they are still found in some commercial cleaning products. They are slow to biodegrade and have been identified as detrimental to aquatic life, organisms and waterways.


#9 - Sodium hydroxide

Also known as caustic soda or lye. Found in soaps, drain cleaners and oven cleaners. It is an extremely corrosive agent and therefore can cause damage to human tissue and skin, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. It is hazardous in the environment because it is highly toxic to aquatic organisms.


#10 - Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

A foaming agent commonly found in detergents, stain removers, carpet cleaners, general cleaners and body care products. In humans it can cause skin and eye irritation and has been shown to emit cancer-causing volatile organic compounds. It is hazardous to the environment because it is highly toxic to aquatic organisms and has also been shown to bioaccumulate.

Natural, non-toxic household cleaning alternatives

When it comes to cleaning products - there are many natural and household ingredients we can use to get the same effect as their non organic counterparts. Lucky for us - most of these ingredients can be found in your cupboard - no need to spend any extra money. All you need is the right knowledge and a couple of tools.

So let’s start. What ingredients CAN we use?

Top 10 most common natural household ingredients

#1 - Baking soda (Bicarbonate soda). Let’s start by saying - this is one of the most versatile household items. Why? Because it can be used for SO MANY different cleaning problems. You can use it in its powder form or alternatively mixed into a paste or scrub. Simply put - it’s a salt composition, a ‘leavening’ agent which simply means that it expands when cooking. It cleans, deodorises, scours and softens water. 

#2 - Borax (not to be confused with boric acid). Otherwise known as sodium tetra-borate. Yes if your wondering, it is a chemical compound but a natural occurring mineral. And like baking soda, it is a salty composition that comes in the form of crystalline powder. It can be harmful if not used correctly, but then again so can vinegar or lemon. It cleans, bleaches, deodorisers, disinfects, softens water and can be used as a natural fungicide, herbicide and pesticide.

#3 - Cornstarch. A starch that is, you guessed it - derived from corn. It is a popular food ingredient, however it can also be used for cleaning. Powder mixed to a paste, it has an abrasive quality that is gentle enough so it won’t scratch surfaces. It will clean windows, polish furniture, clean carpet surfaces and even deodorise.

#4 - Essential oils. We aren't really using essential oils to clean with, we include them for the fragrance but having said that some have antibacterial, disinfectant and anti-fungal properties. In particular the ones we like to keep on hand are eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, tea tree, lavender, pine and cinnamon. Essential oils are really based on personal preference, so have a go and soon enough you will have a few favourites.

#5 - Lemon. A natural fruit that is cheap and organic. Lemons are high in citric acid and this simply means that is has a good function of eating away mineral deposits, killing bacteria and deodorising. It is well known for being an environmentally benign cleaning agent. It is a bleach, deodoriser, antibacterial and cleaning agent. Did we say it is delicious too?

#6 - Mineral oil. We need to mention here that not only are mineral oils a good ingredient to keep in your cupboard, so are a variety of oils such as olive, coconut, almond and walnut but for a variety of different uses. (Beeswax is also a good one to hand on hand too). Because of their light nature, these oils are generally not harmful on surfaces but it is always important to do a test patch first (especially on wooden surfaces). Oils are great for hydrating, polishing and minimising scratches, removing paint on your hands, cleaning pans, removing stickers on jars...oh, the list goes on.

#7 - Salt. Salt is a mineral that comes from brine (natural salty solutions) and is made when sodium and chloride come together. It is evaporated to come to the crystallised form that we know of as salt. Salt is great for cleaning but it also has medicinal uses. It can be used to clean, remove stains and is a natural disinfectant.

#8 - Soap. Not just any soap - we are talking about Castile soap. Soap that is vegetable in origin (rather than being made from animal fat or synthetic detergents), is a true soap that contains no surfactants, is often unscented, and found in many different forms such as liquid, flakes, powders or bars. Soaps will clean and easily biodegrade in the environment. 

#9 - Washing soda. Washing soda or SAL soda otherwise known as sodium carbonate decahydrate. It is a common ingredient found in many household cleaning products. Not to be mistaken with baking soda, although they do have some similarities. It is a natural mineral and a water soluble sodium salt. It is important when purchasing a washing soda, to look for brands that support natural processing. (Note: not to be used with aluminium as it will change the colour of the aluminium). Washing soda will cut grease and remove stains, cleans and softens water.

#10 - White vinegar. White vinegar has many uses and will work quite effectively on a variety of cleaning tasks. We use it mainly as a disinfectant rather than a cleaner (that is why we have soap and baking soda on the list) and the good thing is? It is cheap and can be used for cooking too! It will deodorise, disinfect (not all bacterias), bleach, clean, remove grease, mildew, stains and wax build up. Bonus - it’s biodegradable.

#10.5 - Water. Yes - we know - it does seem ridiculous to include water in this list but don’t discount it.

  • Warm water will warm fats and oils and essentially make it easier for those natural detergents and solutions to dissolve stains.
  • Cold water will work for some stains such as milks, eggs and blood.
  • Freezing cold water (ice) will harden stains and make them easier to remove such as chewing gum, or candle wax.
  • Carbonated water will lift some stains such as red wine and urine.

Give it a try - use a simple microfibre cloth with a spray of water and lightly wipe those fingerprint stains on your computer screen. No need to spend $10 on a branded spray.

Cleaning materials

Okay - so we have discussed what ingredients we should and shouldn’t use. But we haven’t really touched on what materials we actually use to clean our surfaces and everyday items - and this is important.

Here are some tips that will save you money and the environment:

  • Look for products that are made from organic bamboo or recycled plastic
  • Look for companies that are certified by fair trade practices
  • Purchase brushes and scourers that are made with vegetable bristles or coconut fibres
  • Purchase cleaning brushes that have a refillable cylinder and are not just one use
  • Look for biodegradable materials such as cornstarch garbage bags
  • Start collecting food containers for DIY homemade cleaners (glass bottles, old takeaway containers, glass jars…WHY? Keep reading!)
  • Save your old newspapers (great for cleaning glass vs. buying disposable paper towels)
  • Purchase cloths and towels that are made from organic cotton or organic bamboo
  • OR save those old t-shirts and clothing and cut them up into square rags. This way - you can re wash and reuse. If you’re a little bit creative, why not sew a couple together to make them look more appealing

There are many ways you can create your own cleaning products, but for a quick and easy general disinfectant wipe, have a look at our much loved homemade recipe below!

General disinfectant wipes

What you will need:

1 cup water

¼ cup of vinegar

8 drops tea tree oil

8 drops eucalyptus oil

8 drops lemon oil

Air tight container

15 - 20 old squares of rags

Method:

Mix all ingredients in a separate bowl. Place cloths in container and pour mixture over top. Use when needed!


Top homemade natural cleaning recipes

The one thing that you should take home, is the perception of how easy it is to make your own cleaning products from natural (non toxic) alternatives.

Below we have included our top 18 recipes for different types of cleaning solutions that you can use around the home.

#1 - All purpose cleaner

What you will need:

½ cup of white vinegar.

2 Tbs baking soda.

10 drops of essential oil (Tea tree, euc, lemon, lavender).

Method:

Combine all ingredients together in a spray bottle. Fill remaining space of the bottle water.

Once combined, give the mix a gentle shake. Spray and away you go!


#2 - Chopping board cleaner

What you will need:

1/2 sliced (juicy) lemon​

Method:

Rub chopping board with sliced half lemon to remove odours or for tougher stains, squeeze lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes then wash off with warm soapy water.


#3 - Carpet stain remover

What you will need:

Baking soda

1 Tbsp white vinegar

eco soap​

Method:

Sprinkle the stain with baking soda and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Next, mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 2 cups of warm water and 1 tbsp of mild eco soap/castile soap all together. Once mixed, using an old cloth, gently dab the area and blot with a dry cloth.


#4 - Carpet freshener

What you will need:

2 cups borax

1 cup baking Soda

5-10 drops of essential oil of your choice

Method:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, adding the essential oils gradually until you reach a strong fragrance.  When ready to use, sprinkle mixture over carpet area and let sit for 15 minutes and vacuum. 


#5 - Drain cleaner

What you will need:

1/2 cup baking soda

1/4 cup white vinegar

Method:

Sprinkle baking soda down the drain and follow with vinegar. Let sit for an hour or two and flush by pouring boiling water down the drain. 


#6 - Fabric softener

What you will need:

5 1/2 cups water

30 grams of environmentally safe hair conditioner

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

10 - 15 drops of essential oil of preference (optional)

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an easy dispersing bottle. When ready to use, simply add 1/4 cup to each load prior to the rinse cycle. 


#7 - Homemade air freshener

What you will need:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup white vinegar

1-2 drops of essential oil (citrus or lavender scents work well)

Method:

Mix all ingredients into a spray bottle. Gently shake before use.


#8 - Laundry detergent (powder)

What you will need:

1 cup washing soda

1 cup borax

130 grams natural soap

10 drops essential oil (Floral scents work well)

Method:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor to get a consistent mixture. Store in an airtight container. When ready to use, simple scoop 1-2 Tbs per load (depending on size). 


#9 - Laundry detergent (liquid)

What you will need:

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax

60 grams natural soap

5 drops essential oil (floral scents work well)

Water​

Method:

As the above recipe, you are using the same ingredients but just adding water. The method is a little different. Add the Borax, washing soda and 3 cups of water to a saucepan. Let mixture boil, and allow the ingredients to dissolve then set aside. In a separate bucket, add the soap, essential oil and 5 cups of water to mix. Combine the two mixtures together and let cool before storing in an airtight container. When ready to use, simple scoop 1/4 cup per load.


#10 - Lime scale (on bathroom fixtures)

What you will need:

1- 2 lemons

Method:

Simply squeeze fresh lemon juice onto affected area and let sit for a couple of minutes. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.


#11 - Microwave freshener/cleaner

What you will need:

1 lemon

Method:

Slice lemon and place in a microwave safe bowl with some water.  Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Once finished, allow the steam to settle and with a damp cloth wipe down walls and base. 


#12 - Moth baths (homemade)

What you will need:

1 lemon (or alternative citrus of choice)

Method:

Citrus peels are  great moth repellent (rosemary and dried lavender work well too). Simple place peels in a cheesecloth and tie within closet. (Dried peels and herbs work well as fragrance bags too!)


#13 - Oven cleaner

What you will need:

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 cup white vinegar

3 Tbs water

Method:

Wet walls and surfaces of oven with damp cloth and tap water. Mix baking soda with water to a paste and apply with cloth to surfaces of the oven. Let sit overnight. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and spray surfaces of the oven until foaming action appears. Wipe clean with a damp cloth. 


#14 - Rust remover

What you will need:

1/2 juiced lime

Salt

Method:

Sprinkle salt on areas of rust and squeeze lime juice on top.  Leave to sit for 2 hours and use left over rind to scrub area and wipe clean.


#15 - Soft scrub cleaner

What you will need:

1 1/2 cups baking soda

1/2 cup of environmentally safe dishwashing liquid

10 drops essential oil - tea tree/eucalyptus

Method:

Combine all in a bowl and stir until consistency of a paste. Store in an airtight container. When ready to use, simply scoop and scrub.


#16 - Toilet bowl cleaner

What you will need:

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup white vinegar

Method:

Mix all ingredients together and pour around toilet bowl. Let solution sit for 20 minutes. Scrub toilet clean using a brush


#17 - Window/glass cleaner

What you will need:

2 tps white vinegar

1 Litre water

Method:

Combine vinegar in a bucket with water and wash windows. Follow by polishing with newspaper. Be sure not to do this when in direct sunlight otherwise streaking may occur.


#18 - Wood polish

What you will need:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp white vinegar

5 drops essential oil

Method:

Shake ingredients in a bottle to mix. Spray onto wood surface and gently wipe with the grain with a dry cloth. Beeswax also makes for a great wood polish!


Healthy cleaning habits

It’s all well and good to clean a surface when it gets dirty or spray a deodoriser when it get’s smelly but something that will really save you time, is implementing long term cleaning habits.

Creating healthy habits means that you won’t have to clean as often and when you do, it won’t be as hard to clean. 

Healthy cleaning tips

#1 - Open windows, allows for aeration. Rather than having to use electricity to run your fan, opening windows will allow for air exchange. This will also promote temperature regulation.

#2 - Eliminate odours, rather than masking them. Get to the source of the smell. (See above recipes on microwave and oven cleaning)

#3 - Clean as you cook. Ever cooked a delicious meal and had the house smell for two days after? Try simmering water and vinegar (or even cinnamon) on the stove top while you cook to absorb some of the odours early on.

#4 - Tidy. Keeping your rooms tidy means more space to move around and less room for accidents. 

#5 - Minimise.  Removing clutter will minimise the amount of dust that collects and is also good for the soul. (We absolutely love the idea of minimalism, if it is something you're interested in, we recommend reading 'Minimalism: Live a meaningful life' by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus)

#6 - Shoes off rule. Taking your shoes off before you enter the house will decrease the amount of dust, dirt and bacteria your bring inside the home.

#7 - Use gentle cleaning products. Avoid using toxic products that, as you know now, contribute to skin irritation and health concerns.

#8 - Squeegee after you shower. Yep, that's right! This one rule will save you a lot of work and muscle. Squeegeeing after you shower will reduce mould, soap scum and mildew build up. This means you won't have to clean it as often.

#9 - Clean from top to bottom. When cleaning around the house, save the floor and carpet for last. There is no point moving dust around from those shelves and blinds once you have already vacuumed and mopped!

#10 - Don't procrastinate.  This is a good habit to break. While we enjoy some down tie every now and then, it is important to motivate yourself and finish those household chores before they build up and become overwhelming.

#11 - Plantae kingdom.  There are so many reasons to incorporate indoor plants into your environment. Indoor plants are otherwise known as natural air purifiers. They minimise indoor dust levels, regulate air temperatures, help to remove indoor pollutants, reduce carbon dioxide levels, and reduce stress levels...just to name a few.


Natural, eco friendly commercial alternatives

There has been a shift in consumer activity towards sustainability - people are aware of the consequences of toxic cleaning solutions to themselves, and to their environment.

Consumers are interested in purchasing products that don’t have a significant and negative impact on the earth. As a result companies are now producing healthier, environmentally conscious alternatives.

Unfortunately, in places like Australia, current labelling legislations do not require manufacturers to disclose the full list of ingredients in their products. (Only the hazardous toxic ingredients are required to be listed by law - this does not apply to food or cosmetic packaging)

So how do we know exactly what we are purchasing?​

We need to look at the whole picture. We are not just looking at the quality and effectiveness of the products themselves - but at the how the companies themselves produce, package and transport the products.

(In what environment is the product manufactured? Do they offer refillable packaging? Do they use recycled plastic? Are the manufacturers really concerned about the environment or are they simply using the green and eco friendly terminology and motivated by profit?)

We all know now that DIY products are cheaper, easy to make and relatively simple. BUT - if you choose to simply buy a commercial product, it’s time to start looking at the big picture. Consider the whole process.

How DO you know if a company has sustainability at it’s forefront?

Always read the label.

There are a few ways to identify the greener commercial alternatives and this will depend on where you are in the world. 

In the US: (simply two of the many key label identifiers)

The Green Seal

A set of standards that are awarded to products, services, restaurants and hotels set by a not for profit environmental standard development and organisation according to performance, health and sustainability criteria.

Safer Choice

A Label created by the Environmental Protection Agency that reviews products based on a set of standards in relation to the criteria of product performance, packaging, pH and Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Companies and their products and services must pass the criteria in order to achieve and carry the label.

In Australia:

Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA)

A not for profit organisation that has created an eco-labelling program which implies that any product or service carrying the certification, adhered to a set of standards which have a lower impact on the environment and human health. 

Green Tick 

An organisation which provides independent certification for products, services and corporations. In order to achieve the green tick of sustainable certification or label, products or services need to meet requirements and are audited against standards set by the organisation such as sustainability, carbon neutrality, organic, natural and green characteristics.​

Not sure where to start and want a quick reference?

The 'ecolabel index' is a good place to start - with a massive directory of eco labels found in many different countries for products and services. You’ll find a link below.

http://www.ecolabelindex.com/ecolabels/

If you have had a look at the link above, you might just be starting to understand the enormity of the number of independent organisations that exist and what information is available to you. We recommend doing the ground research so that you can make quality and safe consumer choices. 


But hey - the ultimate question still begs - are commercial green cleaning products actually effective when compared to regular cleaning products?

A

Well - all products have to comply with consumer acts that are generally set by a government organisation. This is to ensure that companies cannot give false or misleading information to consumers. Essentially - it is up to you to do the test and trust the companies as a consumer, but we know that there are natural alternatives to chemicals that are just as effective.


Packaging alternatives

Ever heard of a co-op, bulk food store, or waste-less pantry? If you are wondering what in the world these terms mean, following closely and BYO jar. 

BYO (Jar) bulk food or grocery stores have been popping up everywhere. These are essentially businesses that sell bulk products with BYO packaging. Pretty self explanatory but the premise is that you go and weigh your container first, then you fill it, then you weigh it and pay for the contents!

What a way to reduce the amount of waste we produce!

Jars, bottles, bags - these businesses encourage to bring your own packaging of any kind. Not only do they sell grains, seeds, nuts, spices, and coffee but some of them also sell honey, oils and even household products like dishwashing liquid and laundry soaps. Almond butter anyone?


If you want to be the ultimate consumer recycling legend, minimise chemical effects on human health, and positively impact the environment? Make the switch - consume responsibly and get creative with DIY projects at home! 


If you have any further comments or would like to ask a question, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!

A guide to non toxic, environmentally friendly and natural alternatives to chemical commercial cleaning products. DIY cleaning recipes and more

Top 10 Ideas To Make Your Bedroom Eco Friendly

8 Tips To Make Your Bedroom Eco Friendly

 Take into consideration that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping.

If that statement alone doesn't prove the importance of creating a peaceful, resting place, then i don't know what will. 

Creating an environment that supports your health and happiness is a no brainer!

So to help you along, we have put together our top 8 solutions to make your bedroom the ultimate eco friendly nesting den...

1. Reconsider Your Bedding

4. Bamboo, Tencel, Cotton.

The process in which conventional cotton/polyester towels are made is chemical and pesticide intensive - not to mention environmentally damaging. Check out bamboo, tencel and organically certified cotton materials as sustainable alternatives to conventional polyester or silk bed linen. Organic materials are durable, gentle and allergy friendly. So what more do you need to know?

7. Organic throws and blankets

No matter what you purchase, attempt to consume in a sustainable manner. Invest in products that promote organic and natural materials and processes that are less harmful for the environment. Not only are throws and blankets good for winter, they are aesthetically pleasing as bedroom and living room decorations. Look for products that are made locally and that use 100% organic certified cotton. 

Bamboo, Bamboo, Bamboozled?

We are crazy about bamboo! Why? Because bamboo as a raw material is durable, sustainable and strong!

But there is something that needs to be brought to your attention.

Yes - It is a very sustainable RAW material when compared to other fabrics on the market. But where it gets tricky is when we start talking about how that raw material is processed and what techniques are used.  

The process that is needed to break down the bamboo fibres, is similar to that of the one used to make viscose. ​CHEMICALS. CHEMICALS and more CHEMICALS. Unfortunately, chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide are pretty essential in the process of bamboo fibre production and unfortunately, also quite harmful for the environment and the employees who work in its production. 

So - although the processing techniques of bamboo fibre have a long way to go, when choosing your fabrics - make sure you choose 'greener' companies; companies who support lyocell processes and use non toxic solvents to produce their bamboo fibres.  

As a consumer you have the ability to influence the market through your consumer choices.

Ettitude and don't mess with ganesh are two companies that we love. Go check 'em out!


2. Get To Know Your Materials

6. Mattresses

We spend nearly 1/3 of our lives sleeping - for that reason alone it seems appropriate to invest your time and money in a quality product. For peace of mind and a better sleep, choose mattresses that are made from natural and eco friendly materials and processes. Materials such as organic cotton, linen, wool or natural latex. Brands such as Naturepedic, My Green Mattress and Tuft and Needle are a good place to start your research...

5. Pillows

We know the benefits of sourcing sustainable bedding, linens and towels, so why not put the same concept of thinking into every aspect of the bedroom - including your pillows. Look for materials such as down, wool, natural latex and organic cottons as alternatives.


3. Purchase Indoor Plants

We could list more than 100 reasons why indoor plants are beneficial for your health. But instead we will simply tell you to go outside right now, open your wallet and purchase some.  

Plants promote quality sleep environments as they improve air quality, have multiple proven benefits to psychological health, not to mention they look great too!

For more information on which plants to get, check out our great article on the top 10 plants for low light environments. 


4. Get To Know Your Lights

It's so simple. Get rid of incandescent and halogen lighting and replace them with LED alternatives.

Reasons to choose LED lighting? To name a few - Increased energy efficiency, operating at cooler temperatures (so it's safer), increased durability (they last much longer), contains no mercury or lead and emits no UV rays or infrared radiation.

The only question that remains - why the bloody hell not?  Make the switch - today!


5. Create A Friendly Floor

It's safe to assume that you'll be barefoot in the bedroom. And if you're anything like us, a good rug between the toe is like nothing else. Soft, relaxing and calming. 

Rugs can look great anywhere in the house. So consider purchasing products that use organic and natural fibres (we recommend 100% wool, jute or organic cotton), that are handmade or woven, that are not bleached or coloured (natural tones). 


There are many companies who produce locally, and promote environmental care, they will often come with certain certifications. If the company you choose promotes fair labour practices, that's an added bonus!


Here's our top 6 eco friendly floor suppliers:


6. Look After Your Body

We are talking simple necessities - socks, underwear, lingerie, sleepwear....

You practically live in these...so it's worthwhile investing in materials that feel good, look good and are long lasting. 

Companies that use organically certified materials or production processes that use less chemicals and produce less waste are a good place to start (It's a added bonus if they promote healthy bodies).

There are so many brands who follow this ethical standard. Here's a few we especially love: 


7. Tips for 18+

We want to cover ALL areas of the bedroom, this includes...how can we say, all areas of the body too.

 

Synthetic materials and scents are easy to buy, but they aren't necessarily eco friendly. 


There are many sprays and body products that contain nasty compounds that you don't want to be spreading around the house, let alone your body! So when you source products, look at the ingredients. What does it contain?


Look for organic or natural products as alternatives to the mainstream range available on the market. Sometimes these are slightly more expensive, but often are of a higher quality and for those with sensitive skin - your body will thank you later. 


We recommend natural oils, because they have SO many different benefits -  late night massages, skin repair, aromatherapy, or simply some well needed body therapy.


Our top picks include coconut, almond, apricot, sunflower and Jojoba. For aromas? Try blending your favourite carrier oil with a few drops of essential sandalwood, lavender, or ginger oil - once you make the swap, we guarantee you will never go back. 



8. Consider Your Kids

When it comes to buying for your children, you want to invest in quality products where chemical processes are kept to a minimum.

 

Try choosing toys (and clothing) that are made locally or from organically certified materials such as 100% certified cotton (These are often great for kids with sensitive skin).  


Alternatively, if your willing to get creative - DIY teddy bears and toys made from scrap/old materials or organic fabrics make for a great memory. 


For a great DIY doll made out of socks, check out 8 o'clock Sun's video below:


A Final Word For Sleep

Creating an eco friendly bedroom is about providing a place of rest, that it both healthy for your body and healthy for environment. 

We hope you enjoyed our top 8 solutions on how to create and promote an eco friendly bedroom. If you liked our post, please feel free to share! And if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave us a comment below! 

Happy Sleeping!

Traditional composting: How to, tips and tricks

Old School 'Heap' Composting

Not everyone has an outdoor space adequate for a compost heap but if you do, investing some time and labour will be very fruitful.

Creating a compost heap is much easier than people realise.

Heap composting allows for the greatest variability of waste recyclability.

It is an age old agricultural practice and with this particular method, you can expect to produce much larger quantities of rich compost matter (when compared to other methods such as tumbler or indoor composts).

Essentially, this method is all about layering and maintenance. You layer your waste, sit back and relax (sip on some tea, make some babies), and wait for those materials to break down into a rich humus!

You won't need much to set up your heap, all you really need is adequate space, a garden fork and a tarp or plastic sheet. Depending on the ingredients in your compost heap, you can expect to create a quality compost soil from anywhere between 6 weeks to 6 months to 2 years (this is weather variable).

If you're interested in trying to attempt old school composting, read on! Get your equipment ready and your gardening gloves on!



Essential knowledge to get you started

​Heap composting can be done all year round and is suitable for gardens of all sizes. If you have the space, then you have the ability to compost, no excuse.

The advantages of heap composting? It's inexpensive (less materials involved), involves less maintenance (dump and turn essentially), increased variability of waste you can recycle, and increased compost quantity (generally because compost heaps are of a larger capacity).

​Unfortunately, it is not as easy as a dump and run. There IS a method to the madness and if you want to obtain optimal compost success, you need to understand the basic construction technique. We will delve into this soon enough, but first lets decide if this method is right for you...

Things to consider before choosing this method

Space, budget and functionality

Space - Your choosing this method because you have a quality outdoor space for a compost heap. I would choose a well drained area that gets some form of shade during the day (by this i mean a compost heap placed directly onto soil as a good choice). Essentially it doesn't matter too much where your heap is created, as long it is balanced: not too wet, not too dry....this will all come down to maintenance. If you live somewhere and the weather is quite variable, you may need to adjust your heap according to the seasons (for example elevating a tarp above the heap if it is a wet season).

Budget - Ultimately this is the cheapest method of composting as you do not require much equipment for the set up. Time/labour > Budget. 

Functionality - The purpose of a compost heap is to simplify composting processes. Generally speaking, once you have layered your matter appropriately (see below on setup), you will have to manually turn your compost heap with a garden fork on average about second weekly. This is to allow for air circulation. Apart from the turning, you will need to inspect your matter to ensure it is neither too wet or too dry. If it is too wet, you may need to add more carbon materials. If it is too dry, you may need to add more nitrogen based materials. You want your soil to be moist as a squeezed out sponge. 


The disadvantages of this method

There are advantages and disadvantages to each composting method. With a compost heap, there are some tricky issues that may need to be brainstormed along the way.

Some people are opposed to this method because of aesthetic reasons. If you ask me? when i see a compost heap in anyones backyard, i immediately give them a high five. Who cares if you have an unsightly big dirt pile underneath a plastic sheet. The rest of your garden will thank you later for it.

Wind and storms can be problematic. Too much wind and extreme weather conditions will affect your heap, as it is exposed. Compost material can roll out so you might need to be prepared for some little maintenance here and there.

Yes - there is physical labour involved. If your compost is too large, you can split the turning into sections. But moderate sized, green thumb muscles are a prerequisite.​

Unfortunately with this type of composting method, you are more likely to be subject to invasion by animals and pests. Your compost heap is not necessarily contained, if you can handle insects and small rodents, you should be fine. To tackle this issue always remember to add a layer of soil or garden waste on top of the food layers in your heap.


What you can and can't recycle

There are certain rules for which you have to abide by with any composting technique. As far as heap composting goes, the rules for recycling are pretty simple. Yes to anything organic and raw. No to anything you consider toxic or things that would leave an offensive odour after mulling in heat for a few days. 

As a general rule - you should stick to 1:2. This means 1 part nitrogen to 2 parts carbon (or 1/3 nitrogen to 2/3 carbon). The key for nitrogen based materials is green and wet. This generally includes things like kitchen food scraps and fresh grass clippings. Carbon based materials include (but not limited to) dried garden clippings, dried leaves, and branches.  For a more in-depth list of nitrogen and carbon materials, see here.

Works well

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Cooked leftovers 
  • Small green prunings/grass clippings/leaves
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Wilted/dried flowers
  • Shredded newspapers and cardboard (Including tissue paper, toilet rolls)
  • Wood chips
  • Saw dust
  • Egg shells
  • General garden waste/old potting mix
  • Human and animal hair
  • Vacuum cleaner dust

Works not so well

  • Large Bones
  • Large amounts of meat and dairy products
  • Fat and oils
  • Magazines and printed paper (These can be toxic)
  • Pet waste/faeces (Horse/chicken manure is okay)
  • Metals, Glass, plastic (Common sense, would you eat these?)

Set up - method and mixing

Like baking a cake...there is a method you should follow to ensure the best results out of your compost heap.

Once you have the right ingredients all prepared you should begin to layer your compost heap according to a CNC algorithm. Carbon, Nitrogen, Carbon. 

Choose an area with good drainage (Preferably on a soil base).

Build up from the earth placing a layer of Carbon rich items down - twigs, cardboard, leaves, sticks - you name it. A couple of inches is suffice. This layer will promote aeration and drainage. 

Nitrogen next - get those wet and green kitchen scraps, mix them up and lay those babies down.

You know what to do next. That's right - add another Carbon layer. Sticks and twigs, paper rolls, straw, saw dust, all the good stuff.

What's up next? Adding an activator is optional, try some manure or even some pee pee to get the composting process fired up. Literally, heat that shit up.

Once your done adding your top layer, give your heap a little sprinkle with water and cover with a plastic sheet or tarp. You can weigh your sheet down on the corners with something heavy such as a couple of bricks or rocks.​

Once your compost heap has kicked off, if you want to add more ingredients - you can fork these in - layering is not neccesary as the key factor to decomposition is air and you will promote this when you turn your pile. ​

SO, are you ready to get started?


Heat - Why do we need it?

Heat = Activation and decomposition.

In a good compost heap, the heat that is produced is usually hot enough to kill weeds and their seeds and fight off disease.

Your compost heap can reach temperatures of up to and between 49 - 77 degrees celsius (120 - 170 degrees fahrenheit). You should aim for a safe and optimal temperature of around 66 degrees celsius (150 degrees fahrenheit).

So what does heat tell us?​

- You are ready to turn your pile if the temperature gets too hot and exceeds the safe range or has started to cool down - use aeration to heat it up and cool it down.
- You are ready to add more ingredients when your compost has reached a steady safe temperature.
- You may need to add more nitrogen ingredients if the compost pile is not generating enough heat and you want to give it a kickstart.
- Your compost may nearly be ready if the pile does not heat up after turning and the temperature has overall started to drop.

If you want to examine heat within your compost pile, you can purchase a compost thermometer and stick it in. Your compost heat is not always uniform so be sure to test different areas and calculate the mean temperature produced. 

If you don't want to buy a thermometer, try sticking your fist in your pile. Are the temperatures different on the outside when compared to the middle of your pile? If it's hot and if you can feel the difference over a couple of weeks, you know your pile is working. 


Tips for a successful compost heap

  • If you ensure that your scraps are broken down into smaller sizes before adding them to your heap -  this will help speed up the decomposition process. 
  • Aeration, aeration, aeration - this is a very important step in maintaining your compost heap. Turning your heap every two weeks - once a month should be adequate. 
  • How will you know when your compost is ready? Your soil should be dark brown in colour, have an earthy odour and resemble a crumbly soil like texture. 
  • If your compost becomes too wet: it may become smelly. To fix this: you can try adding more carbon based scraps or alternatively add sawdust or dolomite to reduce the acidity. Ideally you want your matter as moist as a squeezed out sponge. Also note that if your heap becomes too wet, this will impact aeration which will slow down decomposition. 
  • If your compost becomes too dry: You can add more nitrogen based scraps or small amounts of water. There are bedding and insulation options you can place over the top of the heap to keep the compost insulated in colder months.
  • To speed up the process of your heap compost you can try adding an activator which is full of nutrients and micro-organisms. Horse manure works a treat too (W.T.F is an activator? see below!)

Activator: What it is and why we use it

Activator is simply a protein product that is high in nitrogen and is used for several different reasons. Primarily, it is used to break down materials high in carbon (low in nitrogen). It can also be used to warm up compost mixtures where processes are delayed because of a cool environment. 

It's important to note that unless you intend to compost a lot of high carbon materials you won't need a compost activator. Note: Balancing out imbalances in your compost heap can be achieved via alternative techniques.  

'Liquid gold'

Did you know: URINE (yes that's right, Urine!) has been well known to be used as a liquid household compost activator? It's FULL of nitrogen! It's free, natural and abundant. So if you don't find this idea too disgusting, why not give it a try?

On average, a single toilet flush will use between 4 - 9 litres of water! So think of using urine on your compost a way to save water and energy - make a positive impact on your environment.

It is Interesting to note that male urine is better than female urine as it is slightly more acidic.

If you are concerned about using your urine - don't worry - It's generally pretty safe. Urine is mostly sterile but stay away from the use of it if you are ill or have a urinary tract infection.

Remember: Balance is key - you don't want a compost heap that is too wet or nitrogen heavy. ​


Having problems with your pH?

Testing the pH of your compost soil is CRUCIAL. What do we mean by this and why?

 ​PH is a value given to the describe the acidity or alkalinity of a subject, in this case soil.

​A deranged pH level will affect the final outcome of plant growth and absorption of nutrients.

​You should be checking your soil pH at least once every two weeks. The optimal neutral pH level you should be aiming for is between 6.0 - 7.0

​If you test your soil and you find that your pH is > 7.0, this means your soil is alkaline. ​Alkaline soils have a direct impact on plant growth (stunting) and the ability for plants to absorb soil nutrients.

​​If you test your soil and you find your pH is < 7.0, this means your soil is more acidic. Acidic soil, similar to the problem of alkaline soil, will affect a plants ability to absorb nutrients and can eventually become toxic. Acidic soils will directly impact the absorption of beneficial bacteria and can leave your plants susceptible to disease and pests.

Important to note: The ph value will vary in parts of your soil due to temperature and mixture. As a general rule, it is a good idea to test the pH of various different areas of your soil and then calculate a mean pH value.

​​There are some simple techniques you can explore to fix an abnormal pH

Acidic soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding crushed egg shells
Avoid fruit scraps such as peels and pulp​
Fast solutions include:
Add agricultural lime

Alkaline soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding small amounts of peeled fruit skins mixed with damp newspaper bedding
Fast solutions include:
A
dd agricultural sulphur, iron sulphate, or aluminium sulphate


How to test pH

There are a multitude of cheap and effective soil tester kits available these days for pH testing. You can source these from your local nursery or hardware store or alternatively, online have some good solutions, see below!


Have some questions you want answered about outdoor composting heaps? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

If you are gifted with an outdoor space, don’t mind a bit of labour and are ready to take on a larger project…then go old school and put in the effort to create a backyard compost heap. Decomposition takes place quick and hot. Sound like fun?

Tumbler composting: How to, tips and tricks

Tumbler Rumbler 

Composting with a tumbler? What do we mean and how do we do it.

Tumbler composting is essentially composting within a sealed container. A container which can be rotated to mix the materials within! Having a good seal and insulation helps retain heat which is essential for the breakdown of compost matter. This method was introduced to speed up decomposition and make composting a lot easier in relation to the physical side of things. No pitch pork or hard labour needed. 

Consider the tumbler method if you don't have space for a compost heap​, but are still interested in producing larger quantities of compost matter.



Essential knowledge to get you started

You will be choosing this method if you are ready to start composting a larger quantity of scraps as well as the addition of garden clippings. The advantages of tumbler composting? Less physical labour (the premise is that you have an effective pivot and rotating system that takes the strain off your back), less chance of vermin and rodents (as the tumblers are usually elevated and sealed), elimination of weeds and pathogens (via the decomposition process of heat) and a faster production of compost matter (if you do it right).

If you do it right, you can produce a quality compost matter in the space of 2- 6 weeks.

Things to consider before choosing your tumbler

Space, budget and functionality

Space - Your choosing this method because you have a decent size outdoor space for a compost tumbler, but unfortunately not a decent size backyard to fit a compost heap. These tumblers when compared to Indoor compost bins are larger and can hold a larger quantity. I've placed mine on the corner of our balcony on some astro turf and it looks pretty neat. 

Budget - Unfortunately, when compared to other composting methods, investing in a tumbler comes at a higher cost $$$. Bonus points if you can score one that has a tap inbuilt for the compost juice.

Functionality - The purpose of a tumbler is to relieve the physical efforts of traditional composting methods. Generally speaking, the matter only needs to be turned a few times a week and rather than getting out the old pitch fork, the bins turn on an axis via a handle. Tumbler compost bins are generally made of pretty durable and hardy materials. You can even find ones out there that are constructed from recycled materials which is an added bonus for the environment. Make sure you inspect the handle and rotating axis to ensure they are durable as you will be rotating a significant load. If your able to invest some good $$$, there are tumblers out there with wheels. What's the purpose? to allow you to wheel your bin over and empty straight onto your garden!


The disadvantages of this method

There are advantages and disadvantages to each composting method. It is important to note that with the tumbler composting method, heat is the prerequisite for producing a quality compost matter. High temperatures and good insulation are key. If you live somewhere where the weather is very cold and you are unable to sustain heat within your bin, this method might not be for you, sorry guys (but there are ways around this - see below).

Another thing to note, is that the more frequently you add fresh matter to your bin, the more you prolong the process of decomposition (this is why some smart people invented dual chamber/continuous use tumblers).


Top Products on the market

What we love and why we love it

Yukchuk under-counter

Yimby Tumbler Composter

Pros
- Dual chamber/ two chambered design
- Made from recycled plastic with a steel frame
- Easy functionality

Cons
- Requires assembly of bin and frame
- Capacity (37 Gallon/ 140 Litres)


Full Circle Fresh $29.99

Lifetime Compost Tumbler

Pros
- Large capacity (80 gallons/303 Litres)
- Made from durable, UV protected, hardy material
- Large opening  allowing for easy access and emptying

Cons
- Requires assembly of bin and frame


Spin Bin Compost Tumbler

Pros
- Lid and opening on both sides so user friendly
- Large capacity (60 Gallons/227 Litres)

Cons
- Requires assembly
- No handle -  requires manual spinning of the tumbler


Exaco ECO-2000

Envirocycle Mini Composting Tumbler

Pros
- Black sleek design and durable material
- Comes with a 5 year warranty

Cons
- Not as easy to tumble as it fills
- Single chamber design as opposed to dual chamber design


Norpro Ceramic Compost

Good Ideas Compost Tumbler

Pros
- Made out of 100% recycled material
- Comes pre-assembled

Cons
- Single chamber design as opposed to dual chamber design


190L Compost Tumbler

Pros
- User friendly design, wheeled base easy for movement
- Large capacity
- Made from 90% recycled materials

Cons
- Single chamber design as opposed to dual chamber design


What you can and can't recycle

There are certain rules for which you have to abide by with any composting technique. As far as tumbler composting goes there are certain items which you should and shouldn't recycle.

As a general rule - you should stick to 1:2. This means 1 part nitrogen to 2 parts carbon (or 1/3 nitrogen to 2/3 carbon). The key for nitrogen based materials is green and wet. This generally includes things like kitchen food scraps and fresh grass clippings. Carbon based materials include (but not limited to) dried garden clippings, dried leaves, and branches.  For a more in-depth list of nitrogen and carbon materials, see here.

Works well

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Cooked leftovers 
  • Small green prunings/grass clippings
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Wilted/dried flowers
  • Shredded newspapers and cardboard (Including tissue paper, toilet rolls)
  • Egg shells
  • General garden waste/old potting mix
  • Human and animal hair
  • Vacuum cleaner dust

Works not so well

  • Large Bones
  • Meat and dairy products
  • Large branches
  • Fat and oils
  • Pet waste/faeces
  • Glass, plastic, Aluminium (common sense, would you eat these?)

Tips for a successful tumbler compost

  • Ensure that your scraps are broken down into smaller sizes before putting them in your bin - this will help speed up the decomposition process. 
  • Ensure that you turn your mix on the regular, 2-3 times a week is optimal. 
  • Make your compost one batch at a time - by adding ingredients on the regular you prolong the process (this is why we recommend dual chamber bins).
  • If your compost becomes to wet: it may become smelly. To fix this: you can try adding more carbon based scraps or alternatively add sawdust or dolomite to reduce the acidity. Ideally you want your matter as moist as a squeezed out sponge. 
  • If your compost becomes too dry: You can add more nitrogen based scraps or small amounts of water. There are also bedding and insulation options you can place over the top of the heap to keep the compost insulated in colder months.
  • To speed up the process of your tumbler compost you can try adding an activator which is full of nutrients and micro-organisms. Horse manure works a treat too.

Activator: What it is and why we use it

Activator is simply a protein product that is high in nitrogen and is used for several different reasons. Primarily, it is used to break down materials high in carbon (low in nitrogen). It can also be used to warm up compost mixtures where process is delayed because of a cool environment. 

It's important to note that unless you intend to compost a lot of high carbon materials (which is unlikely in an urban space environment) you won't need a compost activator. Balancing out imbalances in your compost bin/tumbler can be achieved via alternative techniques.  

'Liquid gold'

Did you know: URINE (yes that's right, Urine!) has been well known to be used as a liquid household compost activator? It's FULL of nitrogen! It's free, natural and abundant. So if you don't find this idea too disgusting, why not give it a try?

On average, a single toilet flush will use between 4-9 litres of water! So think of using urine on your compost a way to save water and energy - make a positive impact on your environment.

It is Interesting to note that male urine is better than female urine as it is slightly more acidic.

If you are concerned about using your urine - don't worry - It's generally pretty safe. Urine is mostly sterile but stay away from the use of it if you are ill or have a urinary tract infection.

Remember: Balance is key - you don't want a compost heap that is too wet or nitrogen heavy. ​


Having problems with your pH?

Testing the pH of your compost soil is CRUCIAL. What do we mean by this and why?

 ​PH is a value given to the describe the acidity or alkalinity of a subject, in this case soil.

​A deranged pH level will affect the final outcome of plant growth and absorption of nutrients.

​You should be checking your soil pH at least once every two weeks. The optimal neutral pH level you should be aiming for is between 6.0 - 7.0. (Be sure to look at the type of plants you have - different plants like different environments).

​If you test your soil and you find that your pH is > 7.0, this means your soil is alkaline. ​Alkaline soils have a direct impact on plant growth (stunting) and the ability for plants to absorb soil nutrients.

​​If you test your soil and you find your pH is < 7.0, this means your soil is more acidic. Acidic soil, similar to the problem of alkaline soil, will affect a plants ability to absorb nutrients and can eventually become toxic. Acidic soils will directly impact the absorption of beneficial bacteria and can leave your plants susceptible to disease and pests.

Important to note: The ph value will vary in parts of your soil due to temperature and mixture. As a general rule, it is a good idea to test the pH of various different areas of your soil and then calculate a mean pH value.

​​There are some simple techniques you can explore to fix an abnormal pH

Acidic soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding crushed egg shells
Avoid fruit scraps such as peels and pulp​
Fast solutions include:
Adding agricultural lime

Alkaline soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding small amounts of peeled fruit skins mixed with damp newspaper bedding
Fast solutions include: 
Add agricultural sulphur, iron sulphate, or aluminium sulphate


How to test pH

There are a multitude of cheap and effective soil tester kits available these days for pH testing. You can source these from your local nursery or hardware store or alternatively, online have some good solutions, see below!


Have some questions you want answered about tumbler composting bins? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Using a tumbler to compost takes out the physical strain of traditional composting methods. If you have a decent outdoor space, but not quite decent enough for a compost heap, time to consider investing in a tumbler compost bin. They can produce a compost matter within weeks. Want to learn more?

Nitrogen and Carbon- What’s the difference?

Nitrogen vs. carbon - What's the difference?

Well, there IS a little bit of science behind the madness of composting...

If your a little bit of a geek and a little bit interested in learning what exactly materials are made of...have a look into the C/N ratio (carbon to nitrogen ratio). There are a lot of numbers, calculations and funny symbols that to be honest, give me a little headache and are not too necessary for basic composting. If you're just starting up, i would recommend getting the basics down packed first. 

When we talk about materials we can compost, we organise and identify them into either a nitrogen or carbon​ category. This is a simple way of categorising items however it is important to note that ALL materials include both properties and it is just the primary ratio of what they contain that we use to define them. So, in the simplest terms possible...

Nitrogen items are essentially defined as "green" materials. This is because they are materials that are mostly fresh and moist. 

Carbon items are essentially defined as "Brown" materials. These are usually items that are ​dry, brown and dead. 

But, what material is what?

Well, to make it easier for you...we have listed some general items below in alphabetical order. If there is something your looking for and you don't know how you should categorise it, just remember green or brown, wet or dry? Add to the plot and let it rot!

C = Carbon
N = Nitrogen
O = Alkaliser / Activator

Material

Identifier

Cardboard

C

Coffee grounds

N

Corn cobs

C

Crushed egg shells

O / Alkaliser

Feathers

N

Food scraps

N

Fruit/Fruit peels/Fruit rinds

N

Garden debris/Clippings- Dried

C

Garden debris/Clippings - Fresh

N

Hair

N

Hay

C

Leaves - Dried

C

Leaves - Fresh

N

Lint

Manure

N

Paper/Paper towel

C

Peanut shells

C

Pine cones/Needles

C

Pumpkin

N

Saw dust

C

Seaweed

N

Soil

O / Activator

Straw

C

Tea grounds and leaves

N

Vegetable scraps

N

Wood chips

C

Wood ashes

O / Alkaliser

Have a question about nitrogen or carbon that hasn't been answered from this article?

No problem...hit us up with a comment below and we will endeavour to get back to you ASAP!

Want to learn the difference in differentiating between nitrogen and carbon materials?

Indoor bin composting: How to, tips and tricks

Indoor composting - Easy peasy

An indoor compost bin is a small scale odourless system that creates a liquid fertiliser and compost matter within weeks. There are several different types of bins available on the market.

Depending on which product you choose, they will work by a process of aerobic or anaerobic fermentation.

It is important to note: Waste does not break down in the bucket; it ferments. The final breakdown and decomposition process occurs when it is buried in the soil. (Please remember - only bury this layer to the top section of your soil - you do not want to cause a toxic environment deep down where there is limited air available)

To get it right, you need to have the right tools - (A bucket or a bin system that has a valve or tap at the base to empty liquid contents as well as a secure lid to keep the odours in and the creepy crawlies out).

How does it work? - You simply empty your waste product in the bin, tap out the juices and bury into the garden! Seems simple enough, right?

(Something to be aware of: Make sure you are purchasing an indoor composter product and not just a regular bin for collecting your compost waste!!)



Essential knowledge to get you started

You're going to need to start collecting those kitchen scraps. So start cooking and re-think your garbage disposal. For a more detailed description of what you can and can't recycle for an indoor composter see below, but for now...What exactly do you need to get started?

​These days - there are so many products on the market of indoor composters. You need to find one that is sizeable and works to your space. Don't want to have it displayed? You can find ones like the Yukchuk that are free standing or can sit on the wall of your kitchen cabinet. Pretty nifty right? (See some of our recommended products below).

Things to consider before choosing your bin

Space, budget and functionality

Space - Your choosing this method if you lack garden space outdoors. You generally don't need a large area, and it depends on whether or not your happy to show off your bin to house guests. Measure out the area your willing to utilise (if underneath the sink or in the pantry) and scope out the indoor compost bin sizes relevant to you. 

Budget - There are some pretty neat DIY projects out there, but you need to employ some creativity and have the right tools. If DIY is not your thing - look to be investing $$ for a good quality indoor composter. 

Functionality - ​A good indoor bin should have a tight seal to keep odours in and bugs out. If the bin you choose uses anaerobic fermentation (fermentation that occurs without oxygen) a secure lid is important. Contrasting to this, a bin that uses aerobic processes, should ensure adequate air flow. 

You want to be on the lookout for some essential criteria so ask some questions before you buy: Is it dishwasher safe? Easy to clean? Made of durable materials? Does it require a bin liner? Does it require a product mix? Is the bin large enough for your waste?


The disadvantages of this method

Well, to be honest -  there aren't too many if you do it right. This comes with an understanding of the right things to dispose, regular emptying and regular cleaning.

Some bins such as the Bokashi - require the upkeep of purchasing a Bokashi mix (which can add up costs when you are composting per kilo) to help the fermentation process along as well as eliminate some of those odours.


Products on the market

What we love and why we love it

Yukchuk under-counter

YUKCHUK Kitchen Compost Container

Pros
- Can be stored on the wall or under the sink (includes mountable brackets)
- Dishwasher safe

Cons
- Requires bin liners
- Material made of plastic 


Full Circle Fresh $29.99

Full Circle Fresh Kitchen Compost Collector

Pros
- Made from recycled plastic (different sizes available)
- Dishwasher safe and user friendly

Cons
- Requires bin liners


Exaco ECO-2000

Exaco ECO-2000 Kitchen Compost Collector

Pros
- Includes Carbon filter (prevents odours)
- Dishwasher Safe
- Can be wall mounted
- Larger capacity 

Cons
- Made of Plastic
- Does not necessarily require liners but are recommended


Norpro Ceramic Compost

​Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper

Pros
- Made out of ceramic, aesthetically appealing
- Includes filter
- Easy to clean 


Cons
- Ceramic lid is not air tight
- Made of fragile material and is heavier than other plastic alternatives


All seasons

SCD Probiotics Indoor Composter
Pros
- Includes Strainer and Spigot (produces liquid fertilizer)
- Cleans easily and is durable

Cons
- Made of Plastic
- Requires activator mix to be added regularly


Stainless Steel Compost

Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin

Pros
- Easy to clean
- Made from durable and unbreakable material
- Includes replaceable charcoal filter
- Dishwasher safe

Cons
- Not as aesthetically appealing
- Filter is tricky to change 
- Holes on lid attracts fruit flies


Chef'n EcoCrock Counter Compost Bin

Pros
- Contemporary design
- Easy to clean
- Includes Charcoal Filter
- Removable inner pail/bucket

Cons
- Smaller volume
- Lid does not fit securely with inside bucket


BOKASHI ONE bucket composter

Pros
- Airtight and secure lid
- Includes Strainer/tap (produces liquid fertiliser)
- Larger volume size

Cons
- Made of plastic
- Requires activator mix to be added regularly


What you can and can't recycle

There are some general rules which you have to abide by with any composting technique. As far as indoor composting goes there are certain items which you should and shouldn't recycle. In general, you will be recycling more kitchen than garden waste with an indoor composter. 

As a general rule for most compost mixtures - you should stick to 1:2. This means 1 part nitrogen to 2 parts carbon (or 1/3 nitrogen to 2/3 carbon). The key for nitrogen based materials is green and wet. This generally includes things like kitchen food scraps, waste and fresh grass clippings. Carbon based materials include (but not limited to) dried garden clippings, dried leaves, cardboard and shredded newspaper. For a detailed and in-depth list of nitrogen and carbon materials, see here.

Works well

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Cooked leftovers 
  • Juice pulp
  • Dairy (small amounts)
  • Eggs
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Wilted flowers
  • Shredded newspapers and cardboard (Including tissue paper, toilet rolls)
  • Cooked and uncooked meats and fish (small amounts)

Works not so well

  • Large Bones
  • Excessive amounts of liquid
  • Fat and oils
  • Pet waste/faeces
  • Glass, plastic, Aluminium (common sense, would you eat these?)
  • Rotten/mouldy foods

Tips for a successful indoor bin

  • An optimal location for your bin is secured under the sink, out of the sun and somewhere away from fruit flies and pests
  • Do not add water or excessive amounts of liquid; If your compost has a tap - ensure that you drain regularly
  • You should have a tap at the base of your system. Make sure this is emptied regularly. (If using the liquid fertiliser straight onto your plants or garden make sure you dilute first. one teaspoon to 2-3 litres of water works well. This is a very powerful and concentrated liquid fertiliser). Make sure you use the liquid within 24 hours of emptying
  • Wash your compost bin/bucket after every use and empty to reduce odour build up
  • Break or chop larger pieces into smaller pieces to help the fermentation process along

Having problems with your pH?

Testing the pH of your compost soil is CRUCIAL. What do we mean by this and why?

​PH is a value given to the describe the acidity or alkalinity of a subject, in this case soil. You can use a soil pH to follow the process of decomposition as well as check for imbalances.

For an indoor compost - you generally won't need to test the ph within the bucket. This is where the fermentation process occurs. If you are concerned about pH, you should be checking your soil once you have added your matter to the garden​ and the final breakdown process has begun.

​A deranged pH level will affect the final outcome of plant growth and absorption of nutrients.

​You should be checking your soil pH at least once every two weeks. The optimal neutral pH level you should be aiming for is between 6.0 - 7.0

​If you test your soil and you find that your pH is > 7.0, this means your soil is alkaline. ​Alkaline soils have a direct impact on plant growth (stunting) and the ability for plants to absorb soil nutrients.

​​​If you test your soil and you find your pH is < 7.0, this means your soil is more acidic. Acidic soil, similar to the problem of alkaline soil, will affect a plants ability to absorb nutrients and can eventually become toxic. Acidic soils will directly impact the absorption of beneficial bacteria and can leave your plants susceptible to disease and pests.

Important to note: The ph value will vary in parts of your soil due to temperature and mixture. As a general rule, it is a good idea to test the pH of various different areas of your soil and then calculate a mean pH value.

​​There are some simple techniques you can explore to fix an abnormal pH

​Acidic soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding crushed egg shells
Avoid fruit scraps such as peels and pulp
Fast solutions include:
Adding agricultural lime

Alkaline soil solutions
Slow solutions include:
Neutralise by adding small amounts of peeled fruit skins mixed with damp newspaper shredding 
Fast solutions include:
Add agricultural sulphur, iron sulphate, or aluminium sulphate




How to test pH

There are a multitude of cheap and effective soil tester kits available these days for pH testing. You can source these from your local nursery or hardware store or alternatively, online have some good solutions, see below!


Have some questions you want answered about indoor composting bins? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Limited space to work with? Composting indoors is a good way to make use of those small vacant areas around the house and under the kitchen sink. Indoor composing is cheap and relatively straight forward. Want to learn more?

Sustainable swaps for the bathroom

Sustainable swaps for the bathroom

When thinking about everyday items we use in the bathroom - there are many products that we use that can be easily swapped for a more sustainable alternative. So let's have a look at a few of our favourite suggestions!


1. Water saving shower heads

Installing these will not only improve water consumption, they will also help to reduce household costs. You can save water without sacrificing comfort -  water efficient shower heads are designed so that you still receive consistent flow regardless of available water pressure. 


2. Energy Efficient light bulbs

Make smarter lighting choices by selecting Light emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) when considering an energy alternative. Making the switch will save you money and help to reduce household electricity consumption. If you have the option - natural light from skylights and windows are an even greener alternative, home reno' project anyone? 


3. PVC free or hemp shower curtains

Did you know that many shower curtains contain PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic which releases chemical gases and odours into your home? Whats more - it can't be recycled. Simply nasty! So when deciding on an option- look for PVC free options. Hemp is a good alternative and naturally resistant to mould. Nothing lasts for ever but we can start making smarter choices.


4. Organic cotton and bamboo body and face towels

The process in which conventional cotton/polyester towels are made is chemical and pesticide intensive - not to mention environmentally damaging. Check out bamboo and organically certified cotton materials as sustainable alternatives to conventional towels. Organic materials are durable, gentle and allergy friendly. What more do you need to know?


5. Eco friendly cleaning and body care products 

Exposing yourself and your family to harmful chemicals by using generic cleaning and body products is just not what you want. You can save money and have a little bit of fun making green cleaning products from organic items you have around the house! Don't be fooled in thinking they won't work as well, give it a try and you will be surprised. 


You can clean and disinfect your house using household products that are significantly less harmful than commercially bought products. All it takes is a little bit of mixing and away you go! Not only will you keep yourself healthy, you will be doing your part for the environment; keeping our waterways safe, clean and reducing the risk of multi resistant micro-organisms.

The magic of household products. Did you know...

  • Baking soda scourers, cleans and deodorises
  • Borax cleans, bleaches, deodorises and disinfects
  • Eucalyptus oil is a disinfectant, deodoriser and is antibacterial
  • Lemon juice is a deodoriser, mild bleacher and cleaner
  • Olive oil hydrates surfaces, polishes wood and minimises scratches
  • Salt (mixed with lemon/vinegar) is a stain remover and general cleaner
  • Tea tree oil is a cleaner, deodoriser, mould remover, disinfectant
  • White vinegar is a deodoriser, degreaser and disinfectant

If DIY home cleaning is your thing - there are some great resources and books out there which give you detailed instructions on how to mix products in a safe way. Check them out here for more information. 


6. Menstrual cups

Not only is a menstrual cup economical, it is environmentally friendly. Durable, user friendly and safe - your period is now transformed into something sustainable. Investing in a menstrual cup helps to reduce landfill pollution and the production of harmful chemicals and plastics. There are many different companies out there....you just have to find the one that fits to your body. These days there are many companies who design menstrual cups, check out products by Diva, Lunette and Blossom.


7. Reusable panty liners and infant nappies

Traditionally, panty liners and nappies were washed and reused so this concept is nothing new. Companies are designing products that are made from environmentally sustainable materials, products that are waterproof, odour neutralising, soft, washable and reusable. This might not be your thing - but it's worth giving it a try! Reduce consumables and put money back into your pocket.


8. Energy efficient hair dryers

Reduce your energy consumption by making the switch and purchasing an energy efficient hair dryer. Newer models on the market not only use less energy, they can dry your hair in half the time even by using less heat.

Considering canning one all together? Some hairdryers emit more radiation than microwaves! Pretty scary stuff for something you use so close to your head.


9. Bamboo toothbrushes

Consider how may plastic toothbrushes you throw away in one year, one lifetime. It's a simple choice - throw away your plastic non recyclables, and make the switch to bamboo; Tooth brushes made in an eco friendly way. They are not entirely made from bamboo (some have BPA free or nylon bristles), but they ARE mostly compostable and are a much smarter alternative. They look pretty hipster too. 


10. Biodegradable body scrub pads

Made from natural coconut fibres bound together by a non toxic adhesive. Coconut scrub pads are a gentle alternative to the plastic products on the market. Biodegradable, compostable and hygienic. Do you need any other excuse to purchase this natural exfoliating master product? Not only are they great for your body and feet but you can use them for general household cleaning as they are gentle on surfaces too! 


11. Solar energy systems

Solar energy is renewable, free, inexhaustible and completely sustainable. So why not? Well, it's a big decision - but after the initial set up and installation costs, your energy bills will start to reduce. You also help the environment by lowering the amount of greenhouse gas your home produces. It's important to do your research and choose a system that suits your needs. Solar panels are also good investments for campers, trailers and motorhomes. 


Do you have any additional comments or suggestions for other sustainable bathroom products? We would love to hear from you!

Sustainable swaps for the kitchen

 Sustainable swaps for the kitchen 

When thinking about everyday items we use in the kitchen - there are SO many products that we use that can be easily swapped for a more sustainable alternative. We spend so much time eating and cooking so why not invest in a few items made with a little more love?


1. Bees wax wraps

The natural and sustainable alternative to plastic wrap for food storage. This is a relatively new concept that has recently become popular and it is easy to see why! Made from natural bees wax, you can wrap up fresh fruits, vegetables, breads and even use it to cover those delicious left overs. With some basic care, your bees wax wrap can last up to one year and comes in multiple different sizes.


2. Re-usable produce bags

Not a fan of the bees wax wraps? We love reusable produce bags. Multifunctional so they can also be used outside of the kitchen for things like cosmetics, shoes and clothing. Completely plastic free, machine washable and designed to last. Take them with you to the shops and pack your fruit and veggies as you go. Say no to plastic bags - say yes to good decisions.


3. Compostable kitchen bags 

If you can't recycle EVERYTHING you waste - we understand. Sometimes you just want a bag to line your bin. So make the smarter choice and purchase certified compostable kitchen bags. There are quite a few brands out there on the market. Why do we love them? Certified to compostable standards, made from plants and starch and they usually contain no plasticisers. They are great for the kitchen but can be used for your compost too!  


4. Canvas tote bags

Consider that the average single person will use between 350-500 plastic bags each year

If your going to go shopping, make the switch: reusable, recycled, canvas tote bags are the no brainer alternative to plastic bags. They can be washed and used over and over again. Keep them in your car, carry one in your bag and off you go!


5. Coconut scrub pads

If you have read some of our other blog posts you might have seen this one before - coconut scrub pads. They are multi functional - great for use in the kitchen, on surfaces and on the body! They are made from natural coconut fibres bound together by a non toxic adhesive. Gentle on surfaces so they won't scratch but touch on grease. Did we mention they are gentle on the skin and completely biodegradable and compostable! YES!


6. Glass drinking straws

Not only are these straws reusable and eco friendly, they look great too! Gone are the days where you use paper straws for parties and milkshakes! Forget about those soggy sticks and make the switch. Strawgrace handmade straws are the stylish alternative which are also easy to clean, handmade and environmentally friendly.


7. Reusable coffee cups

​How many takeaway coffees do you consume each day? Have you ever thought about the amount of disposable coffee cups you throw away in one lifetime? A big waste, with a simple alternative. Make the switch - Reusable, washable, portable coffee mugs are the way to go. KeepCup brew have some sleek microwave safe and lightweight designs. We can't say no to coffee, but we can say no to unnecessary waste. 


We LOVE coffee. These days, it seems a lot of individuals and workplaces have invested in coffee pod machines. Although we don't condone this new fad, we can see why it's so popular...it's simple, quick and a relatively tasty alternative if you can't source a proper coffee from your cafe. The problem with this new concept is the production of pod waste.

Have you considered how many pods you throw away or how long they will take to break down?

The alternative: BIODEGRADABLE CAPSULES

​As a result of all the concerns surrounding environmental waste, some companies have emerged to tackle this problem by creating biodegradable coffee capsules made mostly from vegetable fibre and starch. Unlike traditional Pods which take around 150-200 YEARS to break down, these new biodegradable pods take only around 180 days! Incredible, no?

​Interested and want to learn more? We still have a long way to go before biodegradable products becomes the gold standard. Two companies that have jumped the gun are Ecocaffe and Lavazza - check 'em out and start making a difference today. Remember - every little bit counts!

Want another alternative? Nespresso have introduced a new recycling program. FINALLY! Want to learn more? Click here!


8. Re-useable dish cloths

We know how bad paper towels are for the environment. They ARE useful and we DO love them, but there IS a cleaning alternative. Cleaning cloths might take some getting used to, but can be reused, washed and are also biodegradable. Not to mention absorbent, strong, durable, safe, multifunctional...


9. Reusable utensil sets

Whether you've been on the go or you order takeout, we are all guilty of using the plastic fork knife and spoon set. ​There are substitutes. For this one? Look at lightweight, recycled, heat resistant utensil kits.  You could simply take some cutlery from home or alternatively, To-go ware have designed bamboo utensil kits that come with a casing so you can pack them away in the pocket of your bag and a carabiner for an added travel bonus!


Reusable utensils are the way to go if your looking for a sustainable alternative to plastic. Something you can travel with and something that will fit snug into your bag. 

Plastic utensils are unfortunately still prevalent in eateries and takeaway joints. When offered, you should politely decline. Did you know - the United States alone throws away more than 40 billion plastic utensils EACH YEAR?

40 BILLION.

Edible cutlery company Bakeys have created a solution - cutlery made out of rice, wheat and sorghum. That's right, cutlery you can eat your food with, and then it it too. Whats better? It comes in three different flavours - sweet, savoury or plain. Great for complimenting food. Don't want to eat your cutlery? Good news - The cutlery will decompose pretty quickly and can even act as a fertiliser. 

We're impressed. At the moment, only spoons are available for sale, but the company hopes to produce other utensils like forks and chopsticks in the future. Stay tuned. ​


10. Glass jars

Glass jars as an alternative to plastic tupperware? yes please. You can use them to store dry goods, preservatives, jams, tea bags...anything you can think of really.​ They are reusable, washable and durable. They look great and can be utilised outside of the kitchen for other storage usage as-well. Want another use? Take away the lids and they make for a pretty hipster drinking glass. How about funky herb planter jars, home made body scrub containers, candle holders? The list goes on...


11. Slow cookers and pressure cookers

There are some extremely energy efficient slow cookers out there. They work by preventing heat loss by utilising good insulation. The insulation keeps your food warm and cooking for up to 6 hours! Pressure cookers are wonder pots - a tight seal doesn't let any air or liquid escape below a certain pressure. Because of this, your food cooks quicker and you use less electricity. ​Have a look around, but these days you will get more value out of a combined 2in1. 


12. Indoor compost bins

What better way to practice sustainability than with a indoor compost bin. Odourless, space savvy and environmentally conscious - investing in one of these is the best way to get rid of all those food scraps and left overs! Decrease your impact on environment landfill and create a rich, nutrient compost matter for your garden at the same time! For more information about how to compost, click here.


Have any comments or suggestions for other sustainable kitchen products? We would love to hear from you!