My name is Amanda. I am married with 3 gorgeous kids, living in Auckland, New Zealand.

Since becoming a mum I have reflected on the beautiful New Zealand that I was so blessed to grow up in. I look around and see how our country is changing over the years and realize that my children and my children’s children will not enjoy that same blessing if we collectively continue to treat the planet the way we do. That saddens me and I am committed to making environmentally-friendly changes in my life and to raise my kids to be mindful of the environment in their lifestyle choices. Hopefully I can be a good example.

The task of saving our earth seemed a little overwhelming to me. So instead of putting it in the ‘too hard’ basket and doing nothing, I decided to break the task down into more achievable ‘bits’. I’m committing to make small, achievable changes regularly (at least 4 per year), in a bid to ‘do my bit’.

This website is a diary of my journey. I hope it inspires you to consider how you can be more environmentally-friendly. There are others out there who are far more committed and inspiring than I, whom I greatly admire. I am just a regular consumer trying to make one small, positive change at a time - because I believe that if we all do a little, collectively it adds up to a lot.

I have called this site EcoMum because my children are my motivation to care for this earth our God has given us to be stewards over. The reality is that we probably won’t feel the effects of our mistreatment of this Earth, it is the future generations that will. Let’s ‘do our bit’ to ensure a bright future for them.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


If you already recycle, bravo to you!
We have been recycling for some time via the fortnightly Council kerbside collection - cardboard, paper, glass, cans and plastics (check with your Council re which types of plastics they accept, it differs in different areas).
But you can take your recycling a step further if you wish by seeing if other items you want to dispose of are recyclable through a different service. The Recyclers of NZ have an online directory on which you can search, either by the material you wish to dispose of, the company name if you know it, or by the service you require e.g. kerbside collection. You can refine your search by Region or Town/City. You'll be surprised at what can be recycled... polystyrene, tyres, computers, mobile phones, batteries, paint etc.
Helping to reduce landfill and saving money on rubbish bags.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Recently our computer seemed to be chugging along very slowly. I was tempted to get a new one - a slimline, snazzy model like those I keep seeing advertised on the telly. The ads keep reminding me that ours is an out-of-date dinosaur and tempt me to be out with the old and in with the new!
However, I know it's just 'perceived obselecence' marketing (if you're not familiar with this term, watch The Story of Stuff and it will explain). So instead of replacing it, we got some more memory installed and now it's working just fine. I know replacing it would have been purely for aesthetic purposes and would have cost us more money. So for now the dinosaur stays as I continue to resist being sucked in by the marketing machine!
However, if you do have a computer destined for the rubbish bin, check out whether there is a recycling program running in your area. Search on the Internet or in your Yellow Pages. I know it's free here in Auckland. And if you are in the market for a new computer, consider buying a laptop or notebook instead of a desktop. Laptops require fewer materials and less energy to produce and use a fraction of the electricity to run.
Helping to conserve energy and reduce landfill.

Life is BUSY!

It's been an eternity since I last had a chance to blog! Life with three pre-schoolers is busy at the best of times but adding in teething and the winter ills has made it all the more so. Last night I tryed to sleep sitting up, propped up by pillows, because bub would only stop crying and go to sleep if I cuddled her that way. Needless to say I am feeling a little jaded today!
With life being so hectic I have fallen off the eco-wagon and resorted back to some of my old ways. Old habits die hard! I am a HUGE fan of convenience, especially when I'm busy, and it's true to say that convenient things are usually not environmentally friendly things. But hey, sometimes you have to make your life easier for a season then pick back up where you left off when the challenge is over.
So here's a really easy way to help the environment regardless of whether you're busy or not. If you're writing a list, be it a grocery list or to do list, do it on an old piece of paper from your paper recycling pile rather than on a fresh, new piece of paper.
Helping to save the rainforests.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Birthday Parties

Well it's birthday season for me as my kids celebrate their birthdays in May, June and August. All winter birthdays, arrrgghhh! I wish it could be an outside, summery affair but alas that shall never happen. Instead we must huddle crowded inside with the heaters on. Anyway! Enough moaning! So I have been thinking about ways I can make the celebrations a little easier on the environment.
  • First up I have sent an evite (electronic invitation sent by email that recipients view and RSVP to online) instead of my regular posted invitations. Thus eradicating the use of paper, printing, envelopes, stamps and the Postie. Poor Posties will be out of a job soon! There are loads of pre-designed evites to choose from covering all occasions, or you can design your own.
  • For the party itself I am going to reuse plastic plates I bought in previous years rather than buying and throwing away disposable paper plates.
  • The kids can take home a paper 'goodie bag' rather than a plastic one. The paper bag can be recycled and the kids and I can have fun decorating them to make them more attractive.

If you've any more suggestions, I'd be glad to hear about them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fish Tank

Bella has two fish named Fairy and Splash. They're easy pets that require minimal work and that's what a busy mum like me needs! Their tank needs cleaning regularly, during which about a third of the water is removed when we vacuum it. The Green Book suggests using the removed water as a nutrient-rich solution for your indoor and outdoor plants. I never thought of this and have been tipping it down the drain and using fresh water to feed the plants.
Did you know that 1.2 billion people in the world don't have access to safe drinking water? Crazy eh! Don't you feel so blessed that you can just turn on the tap and it flows freely. How priviledged we are in New Zealand, it's something to be truly thankful for.
Helping to conserve fresh water.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Flea eradication

OK so we've had a bit of a flea problem of late. It's a bit perplexing since we don't have any animals, our carpet is only about a year old and the house is cleaned regularly. My bub was almost eaten alive the other night in bed, getting about 50 bites, no exaggeration! I felt so sorry for her, she couldn't sleep for all the itching. Anyhow, I've been researching online natural ways to eradicate them for I fear some of the treatments available, e.g. flea powders, may be harmful to us due to the chemicals they contain.

Some of the suggestions I found include:
  • Vacuuming at least twice a week to suck fleas and their larvae up before they hatch. You may need to seal your vacuum bag shut afterwards so that the fleas don't crawl out again, and place a few moth balls inside it to kill them.
  • Apparently fleas don't like eucalyptus oil among many things, so I plan to distribute drops of it on our mattresses to repel them.
  • Placing a bowl of soapy water on the floor overnight with a desk lamp shining over it and turning all other lights off. In the morning there are supposed to be a multitude of fleas in the water - worth a try! Does anyone have a desk lamp I could borrow?
For those of you with pets, brewer's yeast or a clove of garlic a day added to their food is meant to be a fantastic way to make your pet less attractive to fleas.

If you've any other natural ideas I can try, do let me know.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cash to be won!

Have you got a great green idea? If you have, you could win cash, $50,000 in cash!!! Visit http://www.mygreenidea.co.nz/ and enter your idea for the grand prize. There are also 4 weekly prizes of $500 to be won.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Baking vs Buying

I've been waiting for Feijoa season to roll around again so that I can try my friend Kim's Feijoa & White Chocolate Cake recipe (see below) that she so cleverly made up herself! So thanks to a delivery of feijoas from my mother-in-law, today we enjoyed this scrummy cake with a hot cuppa. Mmmm.....

Instead of buying a packet of biscuits, why not try baking this delicious cake and reduce the amount of packaging you send to the landfill.

Feijoa & White Chocolate Cake

150g butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 c feijoas (removed from skins)
1 c white chocolate melts
Baileys (optional)

  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and beat until combined.
  3. Add flour and baking powder and beat until combined.
  4. Fold in feijoas and white chocolate melts until just combined.
  5. Pour into a 23cm ring tin.
  6. Bake at 180 degrees for approx 40 minutes.


Tip: If you have more feijoas than you can use, freeze them in 1 cup portions (removed from skins). Then you won't get feijoa overload, you won't waste them, and you can still enjoy the taste when they're no longer in season.

Monday, March 30, 2009


We have a compost container that we keep under the kitchen sink to put food scraps in. Once it's full we empty it outside in the compost bin tucked away behind the house, because it's a little unsightly. It's a bit of an 'iky' job emptying and rinsing it but 9 times out of 10 my hubby does it so that's great - thanks honey :). We use it for kitchen waste but don't actually take time to cultivate good compost by adding other ingredients to it (see below). We don't have a vege garden to put compost on so I don't see any point in doing so at this stage. (We're not at all green fingered, the only things that survive under my care are weeds and the odd succulent!) But one day in the future I hope the desire will just 'come' and then we'll live the 'good life'. I hear it happens when you get towards retirement age but I hope it will be sooner! For those of you wanting to get started now, here is some information I hope will be useful.

My Organic Gardening book suggests the following may be added to your compost:

  • Green garden waste (weeds and plant remains after harvest)
  • Kitchen waste (crush eggshells first to speed up decomposition)
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Hay and straw
  • Manure (cow, horse, poultry, rabbit, sheep)
  • Seaweed
  • Urine (human - rich in nitrogen and potassium) This conjures up a mental image I'd rather forget!
  • Soft prunings (hedge clippings, thorn-free green prunings)
  • Woody prunings (shredded first)
And avoid putting in:

  • Cooked kitchen waste (its strong smell may attract dogs and vermin)
  • Protein (meat, chicken, fish or cheese - attracts vermin)
  • Treated paper
  • Diseased plants or pest-infested plants
  • Manure from pigs, dogs and cats (may contain diseases that affect humans)
  • Weeds with a high seed content unless your compost reaches quite a high temperature
  • Anything that won't decompose (metal or plastic objects)
  • Roots of invasive weeds
This how-to video by Kitchen Gardeners International, shows you step-by-step instructions for successful organic composting. Happy gardening!

Compost bins are available from your local garden centre or hardware store, e.g. Mitre 10. I can't recommend what type you should get or what features to look for, but staff there should be able to give you some advice. By using a compost bin for your kitchen waste, rather than putting it in your regular trash, you will save money on pay council rubbish bags and reduce landfill.

Helping to reduce landfill


I've been meaning to buy a new answerphone for a couple of years now, ever since our last one started making an incessant, loud, buzzing sound that drove me nuts! And I'm glad I never got around to it because now I know that subscribing to Telecom's Call Minder service is a much more environmentally friendly option. Call Minder answers your calls and takes messages for you when you can't. You can link up to five Telecom phones/mobiles to one Call Minder message box, and you can collect all messages from all linked phones with one phone call. Now you can't do that with an answerphone! You'll also save money on power (answerphones use power 24/7) and avoid the environmental impact of manufacturing the answerphone, it's packaging and transport to the shop, your transport to the shop to buy it, and disposal of it when you don't want it anymore.
(Please note Call Minder is not available in all areas.)
Helping to reduce landfill.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Computer Software

Recently we had our computer serviced and some new software installed. We bought the software "off the shelf" on a compact disc (CD) and I didn't think anything of it until I started reading The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers. It suggests that a more environmentally friendly option would be to download your software online, which avoids the environmental impact of producing the CD, it's packaging and transport to the shop, your transport to the shop to buy it, disposal of it when you don't want it anymore etc. Apparently more than one billion unwanted computer disks are thrown away each year! That is a lot of unnecessary waste. So I've missed the boat on this one but perhaps this information will be of help to you.
Helping to reduce landfill.

Earth Hour

At 8.30pm on 28 March 2009, our family together with millions of people all around the world, will turn off our lights for one hour – Earth Hour – sending a powerful global message that it’s possible to take action on global warming and that it is possible for everyone to make a difference. For more information, visit http://www.earthhour.org/, and go in the draw to win a Toyota Prius.
Here are some cool suggestions for how you could spend Earth Hour:
1. Attend a local Earth Hour event or organise your own by throwing an Earth Hour street party with your neighbours
2. Gather family & friends for a night picnic in your local park and look at the stars
3. Enjoy a family dinner by candlelight
4. Organise a treasure hunt in the dark
5. Take the dog for a night walk
6. Have a candle-lit bath
7. Sit in the dark and share stories
8. Organise a family night playing board games
9. Share a romantic night in with your loved one.
Helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Do you really need to be reading those trashy mags with the fictitious stories about famous, screwed-up people! Probably not but if you still really want to, get a subscription rather than buying off the shelf. A huge percentage of magazines on the shelf go unsold and trashed, which is a tragic waste of paper and energy. A subscription is cheaper with the convenience of delivery to you. If you have friends who read the same magazines, perhaps you could share a copy (and the subscription costs) rather than each buying a copy. Another option is to borrow magazines from your local library, I know mine has a great selection.
Helping to save the rainforests.


Why not borrow books from your local library rather than buying them new (see my latest library loan pictured - a treasure trove of tips for greener living!), or buy them secondhand. You'll save money and trees. You can also lend books to friends and donate unwanted ones to a secondhand bookshop. At the very least, put unwanted books in the paper recycling.
Helping to save the rainforests.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cloth Wipes

I decided that since I'm washing cloth nappies I may as well be washing cloth wipes at the same time. So I bought a stack of cloths from the supermarket and some cloth wipe solution (you could just use water) and I'm away. I already had a container that my new cloth wipes fit nicely into. I still use disposable wipes when I'm out and about because they're lightweight but I'm using far less now than what I was.
If you're skilled with the sewing machine (like my sister), to save you buying cloths, you could cut up an old towel into cloth size pieces and overlock around the edges.
Helping to reduce landfill.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Menstrual Cup

Every time I shop for feminine hygiene products I feel ripped off because you pay so much for what you get. They’ve hiked the prices and we have to pay them because there isn’t an alternative. Well guess what? There is an alternative and it’s called a menstrual cup. A menstrual cup is a reusable cup made from soft silicone rubber worn internally like a tampon. It collects menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it and unlike tampons it is not a disposable product, so you only need to buy one. There are a few different types available - Mooncup, LadyCup, DivaCup etc. I’ve bought one and I’m going to try it out the next time an opportunity rolls around. Menstrual cups are said to have a lifespan of 10 years; which means not adding thousands of tampons to landfill and our waterways, and also saving a lot of money. In addition I have also purchased some Outrageous! EasyPads (reusable cloth pads) to use in conjunction with my menstrual cup as a back-up panty liner. Poppy Pads actually give away 10 free pads a month to interested customers.
Helping to reduce landfill.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cloth Nappies

Washing is the bain of my life so actually choosing to take on more was BIG for me! However when looking at our landfill contribution and the proportion of it that was nappies, it became obvious that making the change to cloth nappies would result in the biggest reduction. When researching cloth nappies it was all a bit confusing until I found this website, which gave a brief summary of the different types including a demonstration video of each type being put on. The modern cloth nappies are a world away from the ones my parents used and there are loads of different brands out there to choose from (and cheaper imitations available on Trademe). Some of the things I considered were cost, absorbency, bulkiness, drying time, ease of use and ease of washing. I opted for one size fits all ‘pocket’ nappies with Velcro, used in conjunction with biodegradable flushable liners to catch the poo so as to make washing tidier and easier. I bought mine second hand on Trademe (7 months use) because I only have one child left to use them and she’s already 9 months old. All up I paid just under $200 for 14 nappies with 28 inserts and 500 biodegradable liners. I would spend that much on disposables in about 7 months so I’ll be saving money, even with the extra water, electricity and washing liquid taken into account. We’ve been using them for a few weeks (see the gorgeous photo of my eco bub) and the washing hasn’t been cumbersome. I have to change them more often than I would a disposable to avoid leakage but now that I'm in that routine it's no big deal. The nights have been a bit leaky so I've gone back to disposables at night and will try to find the most environmentally friendly brand.
Helping to reduce landfill.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mobile Phone Disposal

Did you know that in NZ, on average, mobile phones are now being replaced every 18 months. That means you probably have one or two hanging around the house to dispose of! I've got one from the jurassic period in the kids toy box. Well you may be interested to know that over 90% of the materials in mobile phones (and their accessories, e.g. batteries and chargers etc) can be recycled and recovered and used to make new products. Telecom and Vodafone, the two major suppliers of mobile phone networks, now have collection schemes in place. Click here to find out more. Mobile phones contain a number of heavy metals which are toxic, and if thrown into the landfill or illegally dumped, as the handset and battery degrade they could release heavy metals into the soil and groundwater. So please dispose or your mobile phone, and its accessories, responsibly.
Helping to preserve our soil and groundwater.

Compartmentalised Lunch Boxes

I bought these great lunch boxes with several compartments for my kids so I could stop wrapping items individually in plastic wrap, e.g. Gladwrap. Plastic wrap contains dangerously toxic chemicals and contributes to landfill. These lunchboxes are actually fishing tackle boxes, available from your local plastics store (e.g. Payless Plastics or similar). I’ve found they can be a bit hard to get hold of because they’re often sold out due to their growing popularity. My kids had fun decorating them with stickers (ones that won't wash off) to personalize them. Click here to read more tips on how you can eliminate the use of plastic wrap.
Helping to reduce landfill and saving time on wrapping!

Recyclable Shopping Bags

Purchase some recyclable shopping bags to reuse over and over for the grocery shopping, instead of being issued more plastic bags each time. They are inexpensive and every time I use them I get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside because I'm helping the planet. Sounds corny but it’s true! I have noticed recently that some retail shops are offering their own recyclable bag instead of a plastic bag. Click here to read more about the environmental impact of plastic bags.
Helping to reduce landfill and helping our marine life and waterways.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Household Cleaning Products

About six years ago I switched to using organic cleaning products. They are great for the environment and great for you! You will find the biggest range at your local organic store. Recently I have noticed that most of them are also available at the supermarket, although the range is not as great. They tend to be more expensive but you can buy them one item at a time as you run out and they are usually concentrated so you use them sparingly.
Helping to reduce water pollution and reducing my family’s exposure to unhealthy chemicals.

Junk Mail

I noticed that junk mail just went from my letterbox to my recycle bin. It seemed a waste of my time to be handling it and I didn’t need to be tempted to buy things I don’t need, so I invested in a “NO CIRCULARS” sign and put it on the letterbox. Signs are available from Mitre10 or a similar store.
Helping to save the rainforests.