11 February 2014

January Eco Challenge WINNER

Cath Lousberg completed Sustainababy's January Endota Day Spa Eco Challenge to TAKE TIME OUT. This Eco challenge encouraged participants to consider where they come in the family wellbeing stakes and make an effort to put themselves first, at least once, during the month of January. By looking after themselves, ecoceptional mums are best placed to both parent and achieve their sustainable living goals without the risk of burnout. This is the story of Cath’s journey.............

The January Eco Challenge at first seemed like an open invitation to pamper myself, and although I think that all Mums are worth it, being on one family income and busy with a baby and a toddler, I was not able to visit the salon or spa. Instead, I took the challenge in a different direction and looked at how I could Take Time Out and set myself up to keep looking after myself.

Two children keep me on the move, but it is not the same as exercising for fitness. To Take Time Out, I have made a commitment to exercise every single day. This hasn’t meant a particular regime (and weeks of +40 degrees have forced me to be flexible), but there is nothing stopping me from doing a session of star jumps and stretches at 11pm if that is the first chance I’ve had for the day.

In terms of cash outlay, this commitment has cost a total of $200 for the season pool entry, a new pair of running shoes (that I will probably mainly use for walking), a decent sports bra and a pair of goggles. I found this to be cheaper than a monthly gym membership, not restricted to specific hours, and better for the flexibility I need to make sure I exercise. None of it left me feeling guilty, as even those runners have helped to remove one of my excuses for not exercising.

I realise that I am a lucky mother to have two children who sleep well. It is such a waste though if I do not, and the biggest reason for this is completely self-inflicted: I go to bed too late.

As part of the January Eco Challenge, I decided that I needed to focus on getting the sleep I need to keep me on my best game. My husband works long hours and enjoys the mind numbing familiarity of the TV. For a while, I have been fooling myself into believing that sitting down and watching with him was ‘together time’…it truly amazes me how successful we can be at believing our own stories. Realising this cycle has released me and I am happy to go to bed earlier.

Me time
With all the lifestyle ‘tweaks’ that I was implementing, I was still able to Take Time Out, by enjoying:

  • Child free lap swimming, thanks in part to the fact that my youngest is just old enough to attend the crèche at the local recreation centre;
  • Home pedicure – I know it doesn’t last as long or feel quite as good, but I sure enjoy having painted toenails;
  • Lunch with friends once in the month and coffee every so often with other mothers and ex-colleagues;
  • Family walks whenever the mercury has dropped to a reasonable temperature.


This month I have enjoyed Taking Time Out and I will definitely be doing more of it.


Congratulations Cath! It's great to see that you not only made an effort to Take Time Out during January but you've set yourself up to continue to make yourself a priority in the month's ahead. For your efforts you have won an Endota Day Spa Cocoon Gift Voucher valued at $120. This voucher can be redeemed in any Endota Spa across the country and includes a billabong foot bath, dry body brushing, warm oil cocoon, scalp massage and full body massaging. Enjoy!


If you would like to sponsor future Sustainababy Eco Challenges and introduce your product or brand to our large following of eco parents, please contact info@sustainababy.com.au.


CATEGORY: endota day spa, eco challenge | POSTED BY: Laura McIlwaine |

29 December 2013

TAKE TIME OUT this January and WIN

This January, Sustainababy is eco challenging you to TAKE TIME OUT for your chance to WIN an Endota Day Spa Cocoon Gift Voucher valued at $120!

All mums work hard. Eco mums, due to the nature of bringing some tasks that are conventionally outsourced back into the household, tend to work a little harder. 

Tasks such as using cloth nappies, cooking from scratch, planning your family meals, walking rather than driving are super rewarding for the environment, family budget and health, but they tend to rely heavily on mum to make them happen.

I know just how difficult it is for mums to look after themselves as it is something I personally struggle with, but it is SO important. If we eco mums don't put ourselves first occasionally there is the potential that we can burn out, become resentful of the extra effort required to live greener, and throw the towel in. To help you look after yourself and achieve your sustainabe living goals, we've teamed up with Endota Day Spa this month to offer you an awesome incentive to take time out and put yourself first for a change.

I'm not suggesting you ditch the family and escape for a week to a health retreat, but instead would like you to make a concerted effort during January to look after yourself, take a break, however short, and be mindful of where you come in the family's well being stakes.

How you Take Time Out is entirely up to you but may include:

  • going to bed early or sleeping in at least once during the month
  • soaking in a bath
  • reading a novel
  • having a girls night out with your mum's group
  • treating yourself to a massage or facial 

Document your journey of discovery through the month for your chance to WIN an Endota Day Spa Cocoon Gift Voucher valued at $120. The voucher can be redeemed in any Endota Spa across the country and includes a billabong foot bath, dry body brushing, warm oil cocoon, scalp massage and full body massaging. If these treatments aren't for you, you can exchange the voucher for a standard 1 hour massage or facial.

Endota Spa are top of my list of places to visit whenever we travel to Adelaide and my husband often gifts me one of their treatments for my birthday or our anniversary. Over the years I have been visiting Endota I have always looked forward to their treatments using their increasing range of quality organic body products, pleasant staff, welcoming organic tea and clean rooms. Endota is a brand I personally value and for this reason, I am even more thrilled to offer the January Eco challenge for you. 

Keen to do the Eco Challenge? This is what you’ll need to do:

  • Request to join our closed Sustainababy Monthly Eco Challenge Facebook Group here. In this group you'll meet heaps of other like-minded eco mums doing the eco challenges who can help you along the way.
  • For the month of January make an effort to take time out for yourself.
  • If you'd like to be in the running for the prize, email a short summary of your journey (500 words maximum) and supporting photographs with subject line “January Eco Challenge” to info@sustainababy.com.au  before midday AEDST Friday 7th February 2014. Please ensure your summary is grammatically correct as the winning summary will be published word for word on the Sustainababy Blog.

The winner will be contacted by email and their summary will be published on our blog no later than 5pm AEDST Wednesday 12th February 2014.

So what are you waiting for? Put yourself first for a change and TAKE TIME OUT!

CATEGORY: Endota, wellbeing, eco challenge | POSTED BY: Laura McIlwaine |

11 December 2013

November Eco Challenge WINNER

Cathy McNab completed the November Sustainababy Eco Challenge to get her kids grubby. This is the story of her journey......

Finally!! The cold, wet weather has passed (well, mostly) and I can get some vegie seedlings planted. Well, I can as soon as I’ve done this job, and this one, and then this other one….. Suddenly, November is here and still not much has been done in the garden. Arrgghhh!!

But, along came the Sustainababy Monthly Eco Challenge and I was motivated to get my act together. Because not only was I (over)due to get into the garden and get things happening, it was also a timely reminder about how important it is to involve my 2 year old, Miss E, in the garden. I love being outdoors and pottering in my garden and I want to share the joys of nature with my daughters. While Miss Z, at 8 months, is probably a bit too young to be doing much, she still enjoys being out in the garden with me, Miss E and the dogs.

First things first, we needed to dig in the manure that had been waiting for weeks. Luckily, we had some help from the neighbour (also 2 years old) to help with the “dinging” (AKA digging) and to help break up the clumps. We found some lovely big worms, which was a good sign for the soil.

While the muscle work was done by me, the planting, feeding and watering has definitely been a team effort. I have talked with Miss E about what we are doing, and while the technical details might have gone a little over her head, it seems the best way to learn is by watching and copying Mummy.

I think I can safely say that Miss E’s favourite part of being in the garden is the water play. She’s been making “soup” (1 part dirt to 5 parts water), jumping in muddy puddles (that she created herself!) and helping with the feeding and watering. I now have a first class waterer to help me.

So, what have I learned from this challenge? I’ve learned to involve my daughter in what I’m doing in the garden, so that she can learn and enjoy it with me. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if she gets dirty – it’ll wash off, and she’s enjoying herself while learning. I’ve learned that things don’t have to be perfect to be right.

And what has Miss E learned? That strawberries taste best straight from the plant. That there are lots of creepy crawlies in the garden. That helping Mum means you get to water the plants – and stick your hand in the shower of water so it sprays everywhere!

And soon, she will learn about harvesting and eating our goodies (hopefully this year she’ll learn to wait until they’re ripe!!). I’m looking forward to some zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum and pumpkin with VERY low food miles.

Thanks Laura for the kick up the bum that I needed to get me and my daughters back into the garden.

Congratulations Cathy! For your efforts in giving Miss E her first gardening lesson you've won a Gardening 4 Kids Gardening Pack valued at $94.

Congratulations also to everyone who completed the November Eco Challenge. It was the most popular challenge yet and we received many entries; it was so hard to select a winner! I loved seeing how many of you got your kids outside and opened their eyes to not only gardening, but the wonders of the outdoor world. Keep up the great effort!

Thank you to Gardening 4 Kids for sponsoring the Sustainababy November Eco Challenge. If you would like to sponsor future Sustainababy Eco Challenges and introduce your product or brand to our large following of eco parents, please contact info@sustainababy.com.au.  


CATEGORY: gardening, eco challenge | POSTED BY: Laura McIlwaine |

2 November 2013

What Drives YOU to Be Green?

By: Laura Trotta (BEng(Environmental), MSc(Environmental Chemistry))

The Environment is certainly THE issue of our generation and more and more people are jumping on the eco bandwagon to do their thing to help, or "save" it. Which is awesome. It really is.

If you're reading this post, chances are you've jumped on the eco bandwagon and for that I applaude you. You're probably trying to convince others to get on board too and why not? There's room for everyone!

But have you ever thought about what drives you to be green? What was THE thing or moment that switched on your LED light globe? What is your ECO FORCE?

Occasionally I get asked why eco is my thing. To be honest, I can't really pinpoint when or why it became my life purpose. It has just always been there. It was there as a young girl when I told my father's friends not to throw their cigarette butts overboard when we were out fishing. I remember being ridiculed and called a greenie by these big burly men, but I didn't mind. I was ok with standing up for what I believed in and even way back then I realised that the average person wasn't always aware of the impact they were having on our environment.

Fast track 25 years with a couple of environmental degrees under my belt, a rewarding career working as an environmental engineer and now a young family and eco business to focus on, I have a bit more clarity around what drives me to be green. Here are the components of my ECO FORCE.

Do any of them resonate with you?


I love the freedom of being green. I don't need to (and I don't) buy anything from the baby aisle in the supermarket (and I still have a baby). I don't even need to buy menstrual products (and I still get my you. know. what. each. month.). In fact, if the shops all shut tomorrow and we were all told to stay in our own homes for a week, I'd feel confident my family would have enough food from basics in the pantry, vegies from the garden and eggs from our chooks to make it through. We wouldn't live like royalty, but we'd be ok for a short while. In short, being green gives us the freedom not to rely on society too much and that feeling is liberating.


Those of you who have known me for a while know I like to make stuff from scratch. Especially in the kitchen. The sense of pride I get from cooking meals, preserves and other foods from raw ingredients is undescribable. And heady! The same feeling can also come from sewing, quilting, gardening, mending, upcyling and all these awesome other green activities.


I have never taken more notice of the responsibility I have to live green as much as I do today. As a mother of two young boys I am acutely aware that I have a direct influence on how they will end up leading their lives when they are grown men. This influence is something I take seriously and it's good to see that most parents do too.


Going green is one of the best ways to lead a healthier life. Whether it's eating organic, walking more, slapping less stuff on your skin or ditching your bleach for an eco-friendly cleaner, living greener has huge benefits for your health. I rarely catch a cold or get sick and am so grateful for my good health as I'm a mum and mum's can't afford to get sick.


Consumerism has alot to answer for and is one of the reasons we are all just oh so busy these days. It's the "must keep up with everyone" that just leads to people's homes being full of stuff. Who wants to spend their weekends fighting the crowds in large shopping centres, sorting through crap, turfing stuff out, putting things away, cleaning all the extra belongings in their home? I don't. I'm having too much fun cooking and playing with my kids.


While frugality and sustainability are different drivers to a similar end result, it goes without saying that living greener can save you bucketloads. Living more sustainably can also often help delay the return of the primary caregiver to the workforce, if this is something they choose to do, which takes me right back to my first point and my eco force, FREEDOM.

Living sustainably gave my family the freedom for me to step out of my environmental engineering career and start this little eco biz while caring for my babies, and for that, I am eternally grateful. x

So what is your ECO FORCE? I would absolutely love for you to share with me below. :-)

About the Author: Laura Trotta is an environmental engineer, eco mum and founder of Sustainababy. She is passionate about helping parents lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Laura lives in regional South Australia with her husband and two young sons.

CATEGORY: inspiration, lifestyle, motivation, sustainable, green | POSTED BY: Laura McIlwaine |

10 October 2013

Me and My Thermomix

By: Laura Trotta


I've been thinking about today for months.

Ever since my friend Leah invited me to her Thermomix demonstration earlier this year not a day has passed without me dreaming of this machine. As a self-confessed foodie and keen "make it from scratch" home chef, I really had to stop myself from drooling when I first saw the Thermomix in action.

Short of stacking and unstacking your dishwasher, this baby claims to do just about anything in the kitchen. It can chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and weigh food and will even wash itself when done.

The catch is the price. It is a slightly-scary $1939. Yup. That's why I've been thinking about it for months and only after going to several demos, and having my own recently where I really grilled the demonstrator, did I take the plunge.

You see, my youngest son is wheat intolerant and I'm a bit over paying $6.50 for a small loaf of gluten free bread that if left on the bench, will stay "fresh" for days. Our family also slurps down over 5 kilos of yoghurt a week and while I buy this in bulk containers, I'd really like to make my own. Based on yoghurt and bread making alone, I figured I'd save enough cash to pay off the Thermomix in no time.

Which leads me to today.

I was like a little girl at Christmas time. I couldn't get the machine out of the box fast enough. After carefully washing each component and skimming over the instruction booklet, I put it into action as fast as I could and made my first loaf of gluten free bread. Oh, and a batch of chocolate almond cupcakes for good measure!

I decided to share my first impressions of the machine with you today, as you'll no doubt hear me ramble on about it in future posts.


  • All the things it can do.
  • The ability to make food from scratch in a fraction of the time compared to conventional methods.


  • Without a doubt, cost. The upfront cost is a big deterrent but if used regularly it appears it can be saved back pretty quickly.
  • Noise. I milled my own rice flour and almond meal today and the noise was too loud for me and had Mr 16 months in major tears. I will need to re-think how and when I do my milling and grinding. Ear protection will be a must!


On the whole I was thrilled with my first two dishes and the rest of the family lapped them up in no time. I truly can't wait to further experiment with my new toy.

Do you own a Thermomix? I'd love to hear what you think of the machine and your favourite dishes. Feel free to share below.

Please note: All opinions in this article are that of the author. No payment was received by Thermomix for this article.

About the Author: Laura Trotta is an environmental engineer, eco mum and founder of Sustainababy. She is passionate about organic gardening and clean eating and ensuring her family eat a healthy and varied diet free from preservatives. Laura lives in regional South Australia with her husband and two young sons.

CATEGORY: gluten free, Thermomix, clean eating | POSTED BY: Laura McIlwaine |