How to reduce your waste on a budget

Did you partake in Plastic free July recently? Reducing waste is becoming more widely embrace. People are starting to really SEE the mess and be proactive to reduce waste. It truly warms my heart.  

But with popularity comes nice, shiny ‘zero waste’ objects popping up in your advertisements. Don’t get me wrong – there are some fantastic products on the market and I own a few favourite items myself. BUT – there is absolutely no need to spend money on stuff in order to swap to lower waste options!  

Look closely at what is in your home and recycling bin. There are so many ways to reuse before you go and buy. 

In my Tiny House on Wheels space is at a premium. Most of the time items are multifunctional. 

jars - low waste on a budget

 One large jar is my most used one and it has held a Christmas gift of granola, leftovers, water kefir and strawberry switchel amongst so many other things. Other jars have been vases, snack boxes, coffee cups, drinking glasses, measuring cups, dressing shakers, milk bottles and more. I keep also an empty jar in my bag with silicon bands on it for takeaway coffee or for bringing home leftover food even. 

Other things you might have around your house that you could use might be free cloth ‘showbags’ or water bottles from events, spare cutlery you could throw in your backpack for eating out, icecream or yogurt containers that could become your scrap bucket or even empty food packets that you could use to store bits in your freezer!  

– why not grab a small package (think bread bag sort of size) and stuff all the other clean soft plastics in there to take to soft plastic recycling! 

While fancy lunchboxes, water bottles, ZW shopping bags and travel cutlery are all pretty cool the reality is most of us have items around our house that could serve the same purpose without having to spend money or claim new resources for manufacturing. 

Learning to be intentional, minimalist and eco friendly doesn’t mean getting rid of everything and starting with for purpose buys. It starts with looking around you and what you have – identifying what holds value and what you can use smartly x 

P.S. I don’t mean become a clutter bug and keep everything single thing because it might have use! Be intentional about what your needs are and what you can realistically reuse for those needs. The Decluttering and Minimalism module of Talking Tiny delves into the flip side of this concept – how to declutter and deal with ‘waste guilt’.

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Low Waste Road Trip – WITH KIDS!

If you follow my social media and/or my emails you would have seen that we recently went on a bit of a road trip! With 2 small kids sitting in the car for a number of days I knew I wanted to find things to keep them entertained without creating too much waste, mess or clutter!  

So here are my top ideas for a family roadtrip!  

  • Secondhand Books! I found a local secondhand store that sold 5 kids books for $2! Honestly they looked brand new. The 2 sticker books didn’t even have any missing stickers (despite a name in the front cover). So I grabbed 10 books with enough variety for both kids. At the end we can donate any books we don’t need/want 

Cost – $4 

  • Audio! I’m a big fan of audiobooks and podcasts! Absolutely no affiliation here – I’ll just link my favourites!  

Cost – Free! (Or $12 if you include the Spotify membership to download offline)  

  • The Musical Story of Peter Pan (Note – My mum listened to this on record as a toddler and its ALWAYS been a family favourite!)  
  • ABC Listen App! (This has great options for grooving at home and for listening in the car) 
  • Audible (There is SO much to choose from! My girls love the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Playschool and Winnie the Pooh among others) 
Low Waste Road Trip – WITH KIDS!
  • Music – whatever you all fancy! If you are a Spotify family the Toddler Tunes playlist and the Disney Movie Soundtracks are a hit here!)  
  • Mini Craft Kits! I pulled together a selection of bits from home and from the office supplies place that were car friendly. I got them each a blank notebook from the clearance shelf, a roll of washi tape, a glue stick and some crayons to share. From home I grabbed 2 little pencil cases and some scraps of tissue paper for them to stick. It wasn’t completely zero waste – but it was low waste and fun! Cost – $14 
  • Finger entertainment! I gathered some felt finger puppets I had made previously for the 2 year old to play with and turned a small mind tin in to a mini ‘dolls house’ for some little peg dolls to live in! I even used some old magazine images to put wallpaper in the house. All items were things I had around the house already but are fast projects to make if you plan ahead. The finger puppets I made ahead of a flight 3 years ago and are still a favourite for in my bag or travel!  
  • Snacks! Ever the hero with cranky kids! We took some time to get to our bulkfoods shop and buy some travel-friendly snacks. Dried fruit and some chickpea puffs were on the girls’ list. We also grabbed a box of glutenfree cocoa puffs which is always a special treat and they love it dry! The day before we left I roasted up 2 trays of sweet potato and made some biscuits. Again – low waste not totally zero waste and easy to adapt as needed.  
Low Waste Road Trip – WITH KIDS!

Cost – Approx $15 plus ingredients from the pantry  

All up, we were on the road for 4 days plus a day (and 2 nights) at the campsite. I packed all entertainment and snacks into a box and just got out a few things each day!

This meant on the last day of the road trip I still had a few aces up my sleeve 😉  

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Alice Springs Road Trip! – A Travel Blog

What a week we have had!  

Getting to Alice Springs was far more eventful than we had planned! Here is how it played out..  
 
In the lead up to our trip I spent a lot of time looking into low waste camp foods that nourished my family AND were quarantine friendly as we traveled through 2 borders! I’ll hopefully write some blogs on this soon as well as low waste and low-cost car activities for kids! Stay tuned for the next blog post! 
 
On Friday night (the night before we were destined to leave) Jeremy took the car out to grab some pizza. Unfortunately, the wheel nuts hadn’t been tightened correctly and one of the big 4WD mud tyres flew off the car and hurled towards a group of pedestrians before bouncing off the bus stop sign and landing ON another car.

Alice Springs Road Trip

The crazy thing is that it made NO SENSE for the 4WD to be driven that night. We had not yet finished packing and a cheaper run around car was parked right beside it. But it Jeremy had not taken the 4WD you can guarantee the tyre would have caused problems the next day with the trailer hitched up and us all in the car traveling highway speeds. I don’t know where you stand – but to me, that’s a God moment. We are so lucky! 
 
Saturday morning (after checking out all mechanics to make sure it was safe!) we loaded up, headed to ballet and then made it to Clare Valley region SA to stay with lovely friends who just happened to comment on a post recently that they would love to have us! Talk about perfect timing! It was a slow trip there after a loose clip on the alternator but there was tasty food waiting for us, comfy beds, good company and a promise of patting lots of cuddly critters the next morning! The girls even got to help feed a bottle-fed lamb before we left! So thankful for great friends scattered all over the country! 
 
Sunday we intended to get to Alpana Station in the Flinders Ranges. It looks amazing and we really hope to get there one day! However, our trip was much slower than we had planned due to that loose clip on the alternator and we ended up staying at Mt Remarkable instead which is about half way between Pt Augusta and Port Pirie. It is a really nice quiet spot with big flat campsites and a firepit for every site. It’s got running water, toilets and shower facilities with lots of bushwalks around. We ended up staying here 2 nights! 
 
Our next drama was actually on the Sunday night while setting up the camper trailer that we borrowed from my parents! Jeremy tripped and took a nice chunk of flesh off his shin.

Alice Springs Road Trip

We had everything we needed to get it all bandaged up, but unfortunately, Jeremy has had issues over the trip ended up on an IV drip of antibiotics when we got to Alice Springs and some tissue cut out. 

On Tuesday we left Mt Remarkable and headed to Woomera for lunch. I have memories of the Woomera Arboretum as a child being full of birds and averies! It was a little eerie to see all the empty cages but the well cared for grass ovel, picnic tables, BBQs and playground make it a really great place to stop if you are ever traveling through! 
 
We ended up staying at the Coober Pedy Comfort Inn on Tuesday night and Lydia thought we could definitely build an underground house! It was a cool experience to tick off and walk around the underground hotel. 

Alice Springs Road Trip

Wednesday we made it to Alice Springs and we will spend the next 6 weeks in the area housesitting. It’s been pretty cool sitting back and watching things just pop up! I’m excited to learn more about animal care, spend time with friends and family, go on explorations and start actioning some cool stuff I’ve had sitting in the background! 
 
Stay tuned for the camp/travel pieces for handy tips! 

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My Most Essential Possession in our Tiny House On Wheels

When I think through the things that we chose to keep in our Tiny House there are many things that pop to mind first. Things I use every day like my frying pan or things that bring me joy like our photo books. But truthfully there is ONE THING that I consider to be an essential – and its probably not what you think!

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Having 4 people in about 25m2 of space counting the lofts means there is a lot of nice warm, moist air being breathed into a small space. Plus the steam from cooking or showering means that ventilation is vital! Every space has windows and we tried to arrange cross breeze access as much as we could. Even so, to keep on top of moisture content we find the one item that is most vital in our home is actually an electric dehumidifier.

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We have lived in sub-tropical environments with 90% plus humidity in summer and now in Victorian highlands where winter is cold and damp. In both cases our dehumidifier helps us keep our home dry! It’s been really surprising actually just how much water it can suck out! In total we have 9 windows in our home plus the front door and we open up the house as much as possible! I even leave the windows open just a crack even in winter which helps immensely! The kitchen exhaust fan is run whenever cooking in the kitchen and the bathroom has a small fan that runs all the time as a part of the composting toilet set up.

MecoBlue Tiny Living Essential

Despite all that ventilation the dehumidifier still fills up at least once a week which stops all that moisture building up in places that it really shouldn’t be! I know, it’s not a particularly exciting item. Still, I consider it one of my most vital items for living as a family in a Tiny House. And it is not an item I would have really considered until such time as we moved in here and lived in the climates that we have lived in!

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I’d love to hear from you what you would consider your most essential item?


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Want To Know How to Get Started on Your Tiny House Journey?

I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you have been there like a fly on the wall watching the movement grow for a while now. You’ve seen the TV shows. You’ve heard the podcasts and you’ve stalked Pinterest building a dream board. You flip over the channel whenever your favourite talkback show features Tiny Homes.

You have been fantasizing about Tiny Living and become drawn to a life where you can walk away from so much of the stress and clutter that fills your life. You crave more time to fill your days with the things that ACTUALLY make you happy rather and feeling chained to a rhythm of work and never ending cleaning! Ultimately you want to walk away from the emotional and financial burden of a big house and pick the freedom to take control of how much you need to work.

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You and your mates talk about your plan to go Tiny, but deep down something is holding you back. You tell yourself you can’t because of kids, or cost, or because you have listened to other’s opinions telling you that its way too radical. Truthfully? You are somewhere between scared to jump in and lost where to start. It all just seems impossible.

Trust me. That is where we were once upon a time. I know the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by all the clutter we fill our homes with in the process of trying to fill our lives with happiness. I know the feeling of dismay as our houses get bigger and the feeling of finally finishing that list of cleaning gets further away.

I know how marvellous the idea of building something new and leaving all the crap behind. I also know how scary it is to jump in. Truthfully you are likely stuck somewhere between fear and simply just not know HOW or WHERE to get started.

And that is where this course comes in.

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Talking Tiny the Course is an accumulation of all things Tiny Living. This is what you need to help you set your goals, design your layout and declutter. This is what you need to hear about challenges you may face in advance so that you can avoid the mistakes that cost TIME and MONEY! This is what you need to know to guide you on your first real steps towards Tiny Living!

This is what you need to really solidify your vision and build a plan of how to get there.

This is going to build the foundations for you to transition your life into Tiny Living. Talking Tiny is about how to LIVE in a Tiny House and how to walk that path towards your goals.

I know how badly you want to leave the normality of modern life and go manifest your Tiny Living dreams.

This course is here to share with you all the things we have learned in our research, build and our own Tiny Home Living. I’ll share how to change the mindset and approach the challenges you are going to face. For more information click here! 

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Reducing Toys

Parenting is such a process of ALWAYS learning right? Recently I got frustrated with the refusal to help pick up toys after playing. I love seeing them have fun! But it has to be packed up when they are done so things don’t get broken (and I don’t go a little batty)  

So I explained that I could help them care for their toys by taking away the ones they didn’t want to put away.  

MecoBlue Tiny Living - Toys

1st time eventually everything was put away after a lot of protests. The second time I set a timer for 10mins and said I would pick up whatever hadn’t been picked up when the bell went off and again explained that I was helping them to care for their toys and play better without mess by taking away what they didn’t really want to play with.  

Within 5 mins they had picked up what they wanted and gone back to playing. When the bell rang I sat down with them and asked if they were ready for me to help them now and pick up all the toys they didn’t want to play with. 

Yep.  

So I picked the rest up. It wasn’t a huge amount (we didn’t have tons to start with anyway but in such a small space it made a significant difference.  

MecoBlue Tiny Living - Toys

3 months later and they haven’t asked for a single thing in that bag. They play better with what’s left and fight less. 

But it was their choice.  

It has been about 4 months now and they have actually asked me to take away a few more things because cleaning up was too hard and they like it being easier! Interesting right? There are actually studies that back up the fact that children tend to play better with fewer toys too. When presented with too much choice kids can find the stimulation quite overwhelming and get frustrated rather than engaging in play.  

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The very first thing you need to do if you want to Build a Tiny House on Wheels

A few years ago, my husband and I came to the point of realising that ‘normal’ was never going to give us what we wanted. We didn’t want the 9-5, the huge house (and mortgage), every moment spent cleaning and our whole live spent trying to keep up.  

We wanted freedom. The freedom to follow opportunity, set our own work schedule and live by our own values. We realised our goals in a nutshell were Self-sufficiency – as much as possible without giving up our freedom and our plans to home-school, volunteer and explore. Family time where we really get to put in the quality time with our kids while they are still little and wanting our time. And control – or as much control as we really have in a world that’s always working.  

Build a Tiny House on Wheels

Like magic – we wrote down our list and suddenly appeared this idea of Tiny Houses. It was after posting in a mum’s group about our desires that a friend suggested I search for Tiny Houses. So, we researched. A lot. For most of a year! We paid for engineered plans to get an idea of materials and cost which showed us this was a viable option! Next step was to order our trailer, jump in and do it! After 11 months of work there we were standing in our new home! We have lived in our DIY Tiny House on Wheels now for coming up to a year and a half! This has been an awesome, wild and fun time of learning and transitioning done WITH 2 small kids!  

If you are at that same point and wondering how you could do the same, I want to give you the very first thing you need to do. This is your homework. Ready?  

Work out what you want from your home.  

Everything. Budget. Style. Location. Design. Time frame. All come down to this.  You need to know exactly what you want from your home. It sounds obvious right? Well I guess in a way it is. But this is the absolute foundation of planning your project. Knowing where you are going to end up is vital!  

So work out what your goals are. 

  • Do you want something as cheap as possible? 
  • Do you want to travel?
  • Do you want the flexibility to be able to move it? 
  • Do you want to be off grid? 
  • How many people will live there? For how long? Permanently or just part time? 
  • What can you afford to spend? 
  • How much time do you spend at home?  

MecoBlue Tiny Home Living

Get your intention right before you do anything else. I’ll give you some examples of why this is so important.  

Let’s say that you really want to travel for 2 years and explore the country in something as cheap as possible, sell it and then go back to ‘normal’ life. I can tell you a Tiny House on Wheels is unlikely to be the best option for you. A bus conversion project or even a caravan is probably more suitable. 

Now lets say that your goal is to live full time, save up money and then use your new asset as a home base while you build a home perhaps even setting it up as a B&B as an income stream. That sounds like your intention is to build something comfortable and practical that is going to last well! A Tiny House sounds PERFECT.  

Both of those options fall in the realm of Tiny Houses and both are amazing options! But do you see how different that path is? Setting your intention is vital! The thing I love most about Tiny Houses is they way they can be completely built to your vision! You need to have that clarity around your intention first though so you can set your direction. 

Once that is done then you can sit there with Pinterest or Tiny House TV shows making a list of the functions you want or need in your home. This is the fun bit.  

The clearer you can make this picture of what you want the easier it is going to be to start drawing up plans, making estimates, working through logistics and planning 

I found it really helpul to have a notepad nearby whenever I was looking at Tiny Houses online. I made a list of my non negotiables for my house. These were the things like a full size oven and 2 separate lofts that for me were vital pieces of the puzzle. Then I made a list of the things I wanted but were not essential. Some of them eventuated and some did not. The point of the exercise though is to get a picture of what you need in your home so you can start thinking about the floorplan with your intentions in mind. 

How exciting is that? So, what are you waiting for? 

Build tiny house

If you have read this but you are still feeling a little overwhelmed I encouraging you to reach out to us at www.mecoblue.com and one of our helpful team will help talk you through your goals and intentions so they become clearer for you!  

Good luck in whatever path you choose. I truly believe that your Tiny Living Dreams are there for a reason. 

Sarah 



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Identifying Your Intentions

Its time to talk about intentions.

I know – its a big word that gets pulled out when its time to talk about something seriously right? Well, maybe so!

But identifying your intentions are really important and can also be really fun. You see, this is about setting the direction that you are going to go.

Meco Blue Tiny Living Blog Post

Like scanning all those travel brochures and looking at the pretty pictures before you set your itinerary. See – fun right? The number 1 thing you need to do before going Tiny is set your intention!

Tiny houses are SO diverse and there are a lot of different types. Start by getting a really clear picture of what your intention is with Tiny Living.

Meco Tiny Living Blue Blog

Maybe you are looking just to downsize to a smaller place than you have now

Maybe you want to travel

Maybe you want accommodation on that bit of land your great uncle left you 3 hrs away

Maybe you want to put a Tiny House in the backyard as extra accommodation/income

Maybe you are wanting to jump into Tiny Living full time and cut back on stuff, expenses and stress?

Once you work that out your destination is selected; so finding the right Tiny House for you just got a whole bunch easier!

Then slip that word ‘intention’ right back in there as you sort out what to keep, what and where to build things in your home, and where to prioritize your budget/resources.

Meco Blue Tiny Living

This applies outside of the build process too. If your intention is to practice living in a smaller space by moving into a small unit then you are going to need to be really intentional about what you bring into that space.

Intention is a funny thing. Having clarity is like the magic that allows our goals come to life!

So what are your Tiny Living intentions?

Are you still not sure if Tiny Houses are for you?

Or is it time to pick a destination and start planning your route?


 

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Mess and Minimalism – Living your Best Life

There’s been a bit of a theme lately. Somehow Minimalism has become this construct that is defined by white walls, perfect décor and a perfectly tidy home that looks like no one actually lives there. Social Media and Pinterest have created this standard of perfectionism that most of us will never achieve – and the process of trying to achieve that standard leaves us feeling like frauds and failures.  

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Have I hit a nerve there?  

What I’m seeing is people (but mums especially) getting so caught up in trying to achieve this perfect magazine worthy home that they miss the whole point of the exercise.  I know because I have been so guilty of this. 100% have I got caught up in wanting my home to be perfect so much so that minimalism (or the process of minimising) became a  burden.  

So what is the whole point?  

In my opinion – minimalism is a process of learning to be intentional. To ask yourself what it is that deserves to be in your life. What truly adds value or brings you joy. Its learning to work out what is important to you. And then it is about getting to a place you can release the rest of it. Its about turning your back on the programming to consume and be deliberate about what you let into your life. This process should actually help us feel calmer, happier and less stressed. It should remove the surface clutter than doesn’t deserve to be taking up our emotional, physical and mental space so that we have more time and energy for the things that matter.  

For most people the things that matter are not things at all but people and the relationships that we have with those people. It is also about getting our time back and having freedom to work on the projects than interest us the most. So it’s a little counter-productive if we end up stressed out by this mission to achieve that white walled, mess free, magazine like home.  

Meco Blue Tiny Living

Now don’t get me wrong, lots of clutter and mess overwhelm me. I remember walking into my home and feeling like the entire weight of my home settled on my shoulders. I could never ever get on top of the cleaning – it really felt like by the time I finished just one area it needed doing again and that was only a small portion of the home. I couldn’t live like that anymore. We HAD to cull our things. That process led us towards Tiny House Living as well which I’m so thankful for! We have been able to gain so much freedom!  

However – life can still be messy. But you know what? That’s part of what makes it beautiful!   

Play makes mess. Creating amazing meals makes mess. Getting all the clothes clean can make a mess. Being creative makes mess. Exploring the outdoors makes mess!  

And that’s ok!  

At some point we need to learn to find balance and embrace the mess. We put the hard work in to select what deserves its place in our home and let go of the things that don’t add value. At some point the scales tip and it becomes easier to get the house tidy after mess. But that doesn’t mean its going to be clean ALL of the time. Because your house is your home not a magazine backdrop and you are busy living your BEST life.  

If you are striving for Minimalism and feeling really stuck I’d like to invite you to check out my module on Decluttering and Minimalism so we can break through some of these blocks together.

 Sarah


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My Favourite Homemade Zero Waste Mayonnaise

One of the things that really makes me happy is learning to swap out just one more purchase to a more sustainable option. Sometimes this means buying it in better packaging, package free or learning to make it myself. Mayonnaise is accessible in reusable glass jars – but the reality is that it is so much more expensive!  

So recently I decided to adapt my sisters Mayo recipe to use the very simple ingredients I had on hand. The original recipe has lemon juice, mustard and a blend of oils in it. However, in my Tiny House Kitchen I don’t always have these things on hand.  

The majority of us in our home are actually dairy free so we swap this out of sour cream in dishes like potato salad or nachos. Its thick, creamy and satisfying! 

You are going to want to do this in a blender and add the oil very slowly. If you go too fast it will split! So turn that baby on and take your time! 

  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 Tab vinegar (Coconut or Apple Cider Vinegar) 
  • Pinch salt 
  • 1 cup lite olive oil 

Blend the eggs, salt and vinegar to combine. With the blender still running slowly add the oil as a slow, steady stream. Blend until thick.

About half way through you will hear the may start to thicken and the sound will change. Keep going until you blend in that whole cup of oil. Once finished store in a clean container in the fridge.  

I used lite olive oil to avoid the heavy olive oil taste and because it was on hand. However my sister’s favourite combination is a 50/50 mix of extra virgin olive oil with a lighter oil such as peanut or ricebran oil.  

Feel free to jazz this up with some garlic, lemon juice or mustard.  


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