Lately I’ve been caught up in making my life more efficient. I’m seeing waste everywhere I look – in all the spheres of life – and I’m taking action to eliminate it. Here are a few of the big things that my family and I are doing to trim the fat of daily life – and you could too!

Cloth nappies.


In the first two weeks of my daughter’s life I felt like I was constantly carting bags of soiled nappies out to the bin until the bin was full of stinky non-biodegradable plastic. Since she’s been big enough we’ve had her in modern cloth nappies. Unlike those strips of cloth with a safety pin they’re easy to wash and nearly as absorbent as disposables. They take maybe an hour a week to wash, dry and prepare again, and they mean almost no waste. Absorbent bamboo inserts take care of the liquid, and (cheap) cloth liners take the brunt of stains from solids.

Taking the bus.


It’s a no-brainer for me to take the train to work in Newcastle. It’s not as fast as driving, but the number of times I’ve nearly died on the M1 is reason enough – let alone the opportunity to redeem the time by working or pursuing my hobbies. Taking the bus to the train was the next obvious step. I’m saving the cost of owning, insuring, registering, maintaining and fuelling a second vehicle, and saving the world one extra parking spot and a bunch of C02 emissions. It helps that the bus stops outside my house and travels straight to a major station – so I don’t actually lose any time.

Ethical Super


You have superannuation (pension in the UK) so you can retire comfortably – hopefully – but have you ever considered what your money is being invested in? I’ve switched my super to a company that pledges to invest my money in morally and environmentally positive or neutral projects. That means no guns, no coal, no slave labour. They allow the same range of investment strategies that you’d expect from any other fund. Whilst there’s no guarantees about the future – no matter what you do – I have their word my money will do no harm.


Fair trade coffee


I’m no Coffee aficionado, but I like a good cup made with freshly ground beans. I also have a Nespresso machine, because laziness – and because to me the espresso it makes is on par with the average cafe. Coles not only sells beans and pods that are significantly cheaper than the competition, but that are fair trade certified – which means that the bean farmers are guaranteed a fair living wage. Oversupply has not reduced the number of farmers, just the wage they receive. It’s time to tell roasters we won’t stand for that. The taste seems great to me. My dad is a little more fussy, but is still able to find premium fair trade certified beans to his taste.

Look for this logo

Keep your old phone, or recycle.


I bought a flagship phone 4 years ago. I still enjoy it thoroughly. Samsung stopped releasing updates not long after the next one came out – but if you ask your nerdy friend, he’ll hack it so you’ve got the very latest software running on your old phone and have it running like new too. It’ll void your warranty, but mine expired ages ago.
If it’s just not running any-more, you can recycle it. In NSW the post office gives you a little mailing bag to put your phone in. It’s sent off somewhere where they use the raw materials for new phones and tech.

There’s a few things that I haven’t got to yet. Here’s a couple of them:



I yearn to purchase solar panels for my house and forget worrying about how much electricity I’m using. Then all my daytime energy usage would be totally environmentally neutral. Installing a battery pack and going completely off the grid is tempting too. If anyone else has done this I’d love to hear about your experience.



I really want to get into compost – but I’m totally not a gardener. I do have quite a lot of garden though. My idea is to purchase one of these in-ground worm farms where you just dump your food scraps in and let the naturally occurring worms do their thing. Sounds great to me – ultimately I could halve my rubbish output with this.

The worm farm

If you’ve got any other ideas, I’d love to hear them too!

2 thoughts on “Efficiency”

  1. In cold parts of the world like where I live, the way I can make the biggest difference to my environmental impact is to ensure that my home is heated efficiently.

    We’re looking to install a wood burning stove in our lounge. Even though the stove requires lots of fuel, it’s “carbon neutral” because the fuel just grew a few years ago – it doesn’t use fossil fuel.

    1. Efficient heating is all but unheard of down under – though plenty of heating goes on for 3 months of the year. People die every winter from bringing their barbecue inside and using it to warm their apartment.
      I’ve not found an elegant solution to home heating yet – at least not as elegant as the British system – although people tell me that the reverse cycle air conditioners most people have are actually extremely efficient at heating. It goes without saying though that our houses simply aren’t built to keep that heat in.
      People here are starting to catch on to wood burning in newer houses.

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