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June 2012

Do you really not have time to cook dinner from scratch....

Veggies topped with grated cheese and served with nuts

....or are you just aiming too high?

Meals have been simple around here lately. Last night we had steamed veggies topped with grated cheese, a handful of nuts and seeds, and diced orange topped with yoghurt for dessert. The whole meal took less than ten minutes to prepare and created very few dirty dishes.

The night before we had steamed veggies again, but topped with poached eggs instead of cheese. It was actually pretty tasty. It took less time to prepare than it would have taken me to cook something processed or to buy take-away.

Nothing fancy. But really, do all our meals have to be gourmet?

Frittata or steamed seasonal veggies topped with some sort of protein are my go-to-meals when I don't have much time. What's yours?

Winter pantry pampering

Winter pantry pampering

The cold winter weather has wrecked havoc on my skin so I decided to enjoy some pantry pampering last night.

I made a lime, coconut and salt exfoliating face scrub by combining the juice of 1 lime (lemon will work just as well), a teaspoon of coconut oil and enough salt to soak up all the liquid.

I also made a moisturising honey and yoghurt face mask by combining around a tablespoon each of honey and yoghurt.

My skin feels delicious ;-)

What's your favourite pantry pampering recipe?

Compost hot-tub

There's currently no hot water or electricity at our little farm. I'm actually enjoying not having any power, especially when it's combined with no mobile reception. But I must admit hot water would be nice. Last week I went three days without a shower - not something I want to repeat every week.

Today I stumbled across the perfect temporary solution - a compost hot tub!

Those of you reading this via email will need to pop over to the blog (by clicking on the post title) to view the above video.

The video shares how to create a hot-tub that is heated by compost. I'm seriously going to try this!

The video is one of the finalists in the Peoples Choice Awards for The Green Screen: Climate Fix Flicks competition. The competition is a new initiative being launched by Climate Scientists from Macquarie University, The University of Melbourne and Monash Sustainability Institute. Their goal is to raise awareness of the opportunities and positive effects of moving the world towards a low carbon future. You can view the ten finalists and vote in the Peoples Choice Awards here. Which is your favourite? 

When the weird becomes normal


I realised the other day that many of the sustainable living choices I’ve made -that may seem weird to some - seem totally normal to Little Eco.

I was in a rush recently and instead of washing my face with honey I squirted some castile soap onto a wet washer. Castile soap is a gentle vegetable oil based liquid soap. I use it as a hand wash, but its gentle enough that you can wash your face with it.

Little eco looked at me like I was going crazy and asked “What are you doing!? You’re not supposed to wash your face with soap! You wash it with honey!”.

So I’ve managed to raise a child that thinks washing your face with honey is perfectly normal.

She’ll also probably grow up thinking that skipping the supermarket, avoiding packaged food, foraging food from the side of the road, and ditching disposables is perfectly normal.

Or am I being naievely optimistic? Do your children think some of your 'weirder' sustainable living choices are normal?

Excited about a waterless urine diverting toilet

The outdoor dunny

I was daydreaming recently about how cool it would be to have a compost toilet that collected urine.

Wondering why I’d want to collect urine?

Urine is high in nitrogen and a super good fertiliser. Apparently a family of four can produce the equivalent of a 50kg bag of NPK fertilizer from urine alone every year.

But instead of collecting it we flush it down the loo, along with nutrient rich humanure, and then manufacture resource-hungry synthetic fertiliser. To make it even worse we flush those resources down the loo with up to 12 litres of clean drinking water.

What a ridiculous waste!

I love Nick Ritar’s take on the ridiculousness of the situation in a TEDx talk he gave on 'Two things you can do Every Day to save the world'. He told the audience that 99.5% of them were ‘shitting in your drinking water’. Nicks talk explores the benefit of using the waste as fertiliser for food production and is well worth watching.

Urine Diverting toilets

Anyway, back to the daydreaming about urine diverting toilets. I discovered they actually exist! You can get basic camping-style diverting toilets through to luxury porcelain urine-diverting toilets that wouldn’t look out of place in a normal home.

Compost toilets are one topic that causes Daddy Eco and I to argue. He finds compost toilets obscene, whereas I find the water wastage of standard flushing toilets obscene. We’ve found a good compromise. We’ll have one of these toilets with an integrated hand basin in the home that we’ll eventually build and we’ll have a urine diverting waterless toilet in the shed we’ll be living in for the next year or so. The urine is collected in a tank which doubles as a liquid fertiliser spreader, so you don’t have to handle or even see the urine. I'm pretty excited about one day wandering through our orchard with my Ejektortank in hand.

View from the outdoor dunny

But for now, until we're at the property full time, I’m more than happy with our drop dunny. It's just a box with a toilet seat over a hole in the ground but I'm actually really fond of it. I can't complain about the view.

Have you collected urine to use on your garden? Or begged your husband to wee on your citrus? Or do you think urine is something we should just flush down the loo and forget about?