Top five tips that combine health & sustainability for your child

Many parents express an interest in providing a more sustainable and healthy environment for their child at home. There is an endless amount of suggestions but some are both time consuming and costly. They need not be! Gumnut Gardens Director Mimi Symons provides some easy tips.

We all have to clean…

For many years we have cleaned our floors and general surfaces with a mix of water (1L), vinegar (2 table spoons) and Eucalyptus Oil (7 drops). Not only is it sustainable but the aroma of the Eucalyptus appears to soothe and calm the children, especially at rest time. You can play around with the amount of oil or simply use warm soapy water, most of the time there is no need for chemicals and disinfectant sprays!

Check the labels

With such a variety in the supermarkets, there is also so much more to check when comparing products. Amounts, price but also what exactly the product consists of. One can of chickpeas may contain water, salt and chickpeas whilst another brand can contain no less than 17 ingredients. Yes, you are allowed to wonder what the other 14 were!

Less plastic

This is an area which is rapidly becoming more and more mentioned. Why not combine a fun and creative experience making a worthwhile sustainable product? Buy some bees wax and grate it over a small piece of cloth, cover it with baking paper and iron away. There are plenty of easy instructions of how to make bees wax cloths on YouTube. If your child is too young to help grate and iron, they will probably still enjoy drawing the shape of the cloth and choosing which fabric they prefer. Say goodbye to cling wrap!

At Gumnut Gardens we also use “Smelly Bags”, a fantastic invention made by a Queensland Mum.


They come in different colours and are a reusable bag for wet and dirty clothes. The fabric is water proof, a little bit like a diver’s suit. Needless to say that they have replaced much of our former use of plastic bags. Reverse Garbage (outlet in Sydney) sometimes sells pieces of such fabric for a dollar or two, so yet another possible project to embark on!


Involve your children in sorting your recyclables. This could involve cans, bottles, packaging, plastics and clothes that you are going to donate to charity. You can extend with counting, colours and other concepts i.e. summer clothes etc. A child remembers so much more when they are involved, rather than just being told.

Paper making

We all end up with an enormous amount of paper, be it invoices, receipts or wastage from the office so why not recycle it and make new paper? Tearing, ripping and squeezing old paper is a good fine motor (small muscle) experience for children. So simply tear old paper and then soak it overnight in a bit of water.

The next day you can squeeze out the excess water, mould it to a flat layer and lay to dry on a sheet of newspaper. If it’s out in the sun it will dry in a day. Cut or rip to size. The children at Gumnut Gardens do this on a regular basis and they all love it as an activity!