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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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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How Tiny Living Has Affected Our Family Relationships

Do you know what the number 1 objection people had when we first started talking about living in a  Tiny House?

Space! Families need space they said.

Admittedly it was something on our mind too. To one way of thinking we were looking to Tiny Living to improve or solve a lot of our problems. My stress trying to keep up with cleaning. Our ability to save and do something to improve our future. As well as the time we could spend together. There were definitely aspects that made me nervous however!

One of the things I was really nervous about were relationships. What happens when you cram a whole family including all of those various dynamics into a small footprint. My fear was literally “Aren’t we all going to go a bit nuts?”

Well I’ve been doing some reflecting this week. We’ve been living Tiny for 6 months and its been super interesting thinking back on the time we have spent in here.

Well a couple interesting things have happened.

Lydia who suffered really badly with separation anxiety after an interstate move at 18 months has come in leaps and bounds. She was still sleeping in our bedroom when we moved out but she has transitioned to her own space beautifully. She is confident and an amazing communicator. She thrives on the closeness and knowing Mummy and Daddy are RIGHT THERE if she needs us.

Abi is 1 soon and just adores her big sister. She loves crawling over the walkway to go visit her big sister in her room. I’ve really loved watching them play together. They play in our little lounge room actually better than they do in a big lounge room generally. I think there is something amazing about the adaptability of kids and their ability to invent games.

Small spaces have also forced our family to communicate.

We spend so much time sitting around our family space with a hot drink talking. Normally the kids will play on the floor, I’ll get comfy sitting on the stairs and Jeremy will sit at the table. We naturally spend a lot more time just talking. Maybe because there isn’t so much stuff cluttering our time and energy?

There also literally isn’t the space to go sulk or give each other the cold shoulder. Sure we still have disagreements (we had one on the weekend) and this is something we are always working to improve on. Sometimes we need to spend time thinking it over before we talk about it and hug it out. Honestly though I think we communicate a whole lot better than we have in a really long time.

Meals and evenings are far more of a family affair again.

We eat at the table and night-time TV habits have really changed as we don’t have a TV in here. Sure, sometimes we will pull the laptop into bed and watch 30mins of something together after the kids are asleep but the habit of zoning out infront of the TV every night has been forced out of our lives. It was an easy habit to fall into during the build as we were both feeling tired, stressed and overwhelmed as we faced the huge learning curve and challenge of DIY building and downsizing drastically.

6 months in and I’m still learning.

We are still adapting our space and learning how to adjust to different phases of life.

Honestly I don’t think I could ever live in a huge house again.
I love the closeness.
I love the togetherness.
I love the small space and the fewer possessions.

DIY building and the huge downsize bought a lot of hurdles and struggles to work through. Its been worth it though.

Our Tiny Home has made us strong.

Sarah

Ps.
Make sure you are in our chatter group to hear first all the new stuff I have coming for you guys! Its gonna be epic!!!

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