Itty Bitty Greenie

eco-fabulous finds for kids

My new, green, ‘lady cave’















Well it certainly has been a busy (and exciting!) few months. New house, new baby, and a brand-spankin’ new office and warehouse space for Itty Bitty Greenie – oh happy day!

I’m often curious about my customers’ impressions of my business and what they might think if they knew I have been running it on my own from my kitchen table – or sometimes the sofa, or yes, my bed too, with a laptop for the past couple of years. I have long dreamed of having a ‘proper’ office space to call my own – you know, like with an actual desk and a place to store and organize all those bits and bobs needed to run a business from home. Alas, the time has come.

One of the reasons we chose to buy the home that we did is there was this very promising space out in the back yard. An empty and old garage that I envisioned could be my work-at-home solution. And so the Pinterest boards started. Filled with inspirational images for how I envisioned I could transform this dusty old space into a sparkling new studio/warehouse. Let’s be honest: I was fantasizing about a sun-filled lady cave, complete with sustainable carpet, reclaimed woodwork and low VOC paint.

A few days after Hazel Mae was born, construction began. Like all new challenges in business, there was a learning curve and there was a budget. I stuck to it as best I could, and I’m happy to say I managed to do this while making the space eco-friendly and inspiring at the same time.

Best of all, I have been able to re-locate our warehouse to my home (after a very disappointing and frustrating experience with outsourcing), and I’m able to manage things here while still being around for my children, which was one of my goals when starting IBG in the first place.

I look forward to the Christmas rush and all the late nights to come where I can retreat to my green lady cave, fill orders and gift wrap, design and blog and bring a personal touch to all that I do for Itty Bitty Greenie and my customers. It’s my passion, and having a new home to nurture it has made all the difference.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

Joining the clean bum crusade

I’m visiting my family at home in Canada at the moment, and whenever I make it over to this side of the world I love to investigate new kids’ products on the market, especially skincare. Canada has a hotlist of chemicals banned in personal care products to keep the cosmetic industry aware of new substances the health department considers inappropriate for cosmetic use. On the list are toxins such as sulfates, and preservatives such as formaldehyde that pose enough of a risk that products with these ingredients are either prohibited from being sold, or require hazard labeling. The Australian Government website has a chemical information factsheet listing the risks of industrial chemicals to human health and the environment.

When you compare this to the personal care industry standards in Australia, it’s interesting to note that there is no guide for manufacturers with regard to what cannot be used in products in Australia. As a parent and consumer, I find this alarming. It’s one of the reasons I started Itty Bitty Greenie, and it’s also why I try to keep up to date with the latest international research on chemicals in personal care products – especially those formulated for children.

I know I’m not alone in my concern for children’s exposure to toxins, and recently one of our suppliers, WotNot, started The Clean Bum Crusade calling for legislation to mandate that all ingredient information be displayed on cosmetic and personal care packaging in Australia, and an immediate ban on those chemicals already banned in other countries until an assessment can be done.

The crusade aims to gain enough support to change the regulations surrounding the manufacture of baby skincare products in Australia. If you pledge your support online, you also have a chance to win one of 2000 WotNot baby wipes travel cases.

In the meantime, Itty Bitty Greenie will continue our efforts to help parents make informed choices about their skincare choices for children by sharing our research, and also by listing all ingredients used in the skincare products we offer in our online shop.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management




What’s on in the garden this winter?

With the winter weather well and truly here, getting the kids out and about can be a tough task. But coaxing your kids into the backyard is a great way to keep them occupied over the school holidays and, with a little creativity, they may just bring some life back to your little patch of green. Try these handy tips from the team at Vegecation Melbourne to get your kids excited about your garden this winter.

1) Get Farming: Building a worm farm not only appeals to kids’ innate love of all things dirty, it is also a great way to introduce them to the concept of composting. You can use an old drawer, plastic tub or wooden planter with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage as your base. Set it up in a corner of your garden that is protected from the elements and fill with shredded newspaper, cardboard and soil and moisten with water. Bury a few fruit scraps and tea bags among the shredded paper and then add your worms. Cover with a lid or blanket to provide shelter and remember to add food scraps every so often to maintain food levels for your new squirmy pets. 

2) Build a kitchen planter: Make a start on a kitchen garden by planting herbs in a window sill planter. Coriander, basil and lemongrass are great introductory herbs. You can even build the planter from scrap wood pieces and have the kids decorate it with paint for extra colour.

3) Get back to Grass Roots: Remember Chia pets? Why not make them at home for a fun little afternoon project that you can watch grow throughout the winter. They are easy to create: Simply add a sprinkling of grass seeds to the toe of an old stocking or sock and fill with soil. Tie the ends of the sock together with an elastic band and get creative drawing a face on your soon-to-be-hairy friend. Place the base in a basin of water somewhere where it will receive sunlight and watch those follicles grow!

4) Feed the birds: Encourage a menagerie into your garden by hanging edible decorations from your trees. Thread popcorn on a long string, roll lightly in peanut butter and then sprinkle with bird seed. String the popcorn up among the branches of your trees and those hungry birds will come visiting in no time.

5) Watch it! Create a bird-watching journal to keep track of the different kinds of birds that visit your newly winterfied garden. Kids can take note of the sizes and shapes of the birds, identify breeds and listen out for their bird calls. Or you can keep a gardening journal just like dirtgirl, recording all your green thumb adventures.

It may be cold out, but Melbourne’s backyard beasts will be warm as toast this July when Centro Box Hill opens the gates to a Vegecation Winter Wonderland this school holidays. Come join us as we explore the fun to be had in your backyard during the colder months, and take home your very own winter seedling to grow in your backyard.


What: Vegecation – a fun and engaging community school holiday activity
: Centro Box Hill North Precinct (opposite the food court)
:  9 – 13 July 2012
What time
: 11am to 2pm each day, interactive play times: 11.30am and 1pm
: Aimed at children aged six – 15 and their families
: FREE to attend. Every child receives a free apron to take home


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management


Handy Manny’s Green Team DVD Giveaway

I’m all for supporting educational initiatives that get the itty bitties in our life thinking about ways to protect the environment, so when I was approached by Disney Junior about reviewing their latest Handy Manny DVD that focuses on ways families can “go green”, I thought it was an interesting idea.

After all, I do have a tool and building-obsessed three-year-old at home who I knew would delight in taking up the task with me.

For those who may not know this character, Handy Manny is kind of like the Spanish-speaking cousin of Bob the Builder, or perhaps a relation of Dora the Explorer – with adventures focused on building and fixing things. He has a cast of talking tools that help him with the handyman jobs he sets out to do in each episode. (We like Stretch, the talking tape measure, the best).

This “go green” themed DVD has six episodes, each with its own inspiring story about facing challenges associated with preserving nature and building new things with eco alternatives.

Manny and his team learn about protecting wildlife and saving baby turtles, and discover the advantages of solar power and ways to conserve energy, among other things.

Aidan definitely loves the episode about saving the baby turtles the best, but I was delighted that he scored really well at the “Livin la Vida Verde” bonus feature game as well, which involves a quiz on recycling and living green. I guess he really has picked up some useful green living information along the way.

Itty Bitty Greenie is delighted to be giving away two copies of the Handy Manny: Manny’s Green Team DVD. To enter, just comment below on how you and your family have tried to live green lately. Whether its installing eco light bulbs or solar power, growing your own veggies or switching to green cleaners, we’d love to hear your tips!

Winners will be announced on June 17.

Living in a dirtgirlworld

Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.”
— Native American proverb

Dirt Girl WorldOn World Environment Day (June 5) this year, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by encouraging kids to get grubby with our favourite mini environmentalist — Dirt Girl.

One of the best ways to help your child connect with their natural environment is to spend time outside, do some growing in the garden and, even better, get them to keep a scrapbook of their adventures.

The new dirtgirlworld scrapbook can become a daily diary, a garden journal, a recipe book, an art pad or a field guide — in fact, anything kids would like. There’s also an expansion pack, with planting guides, weather stickers and more great ideas for keeping the journal.

I love that this is an item that your child can use and expand over time to express themselves and record their own experiences in their natural environment — and hopefully to foster an appreciation for the great outdoors as well. I also love that it’s printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper.

To celebrate the release of the dirtgirlworld scrapbook and World Environment Day, there are some wonderful eco carnivales happening throughout Australia. Visit for more information and for a chance to win some amazing prizes too, including a Plan Toys Eco Charging Station from Itty Bitty Greenie!

The dirtgirlworld scrapbook and expansion pack are available at Itty Bitty Greenie.




By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

How Does my Garden Grow? (part 1)

This week we will be moving into our new house, and I will have the privilege of inheriting a *dream* garden complete with fruit trees, veggie patches and every herb under the sun. I’ve always wanted to grow my own food and am so excited about the possibilities, but the scary part is, I know very little about gardening and am terrified I might just kill off everything in record time.

While I try to be a good greenie in general terms, I must confess that up until recently, I’ve had little interest in gardening. And moving to the other side of the world only made the idea more intimidating, since the difference in climate, seasons, etc. still feel foreign to me and I wouldn’t know where to begin. But I’ve always loved the idea of growing my own food – not to mention the health benefits and cost savings – and now that I have children, I know this is something we can do together and it can be an educational and rewarding experience for our family.

But before I march out the back door in my gumboots and gardening gloves – this greenie has some research to do. Luckily, in my travels online, at the local library and in talking to the few green thumbs that I know, I’ve come across some great resources for the novice gardener. I’ve also been letting my three-year-old watch “Dirt Girl World” in the hope that something will sink in :)

Here are a few tips and tricks I thought might be worth sharing if, like me, you haven’t done much gardening but would like to. If you’re a seasoned pro on the subject, feel free to share some advice as well. I need it!

If you’re in Melbourne, these guys can be a godsend in your garden by taking the guesswork out of what to plant, when, where and so many other questions. They will come to your house and assess the aspect of your garden, give advice on soil, build your own custom veggie patch, etc. Bless! They’ve published a guide book, or their website is a great resource too.

If gardening organically is important to you, then finding folks who know the ins and outs is key. I used to traipse through the organic nursery at Ceres and buy my organic fruit and veg from the farmers market located on the other side. Now I’m going no further than the nursery itself in the hope that I’ll be growing my own. Again, this is intimidating. There are so many choices, and one can spend a good chunk of money… and these guys can help.

One trip to my local library and I had a new stack of reading that on everything from organic gardening to managing pests and more.

Oh, how I love that you can type anything into the search field of Pinterest and then proceed to burn hours of time sifting through the magical results. Check out my board on organic gardening to find some of the gold I’ve found on everything from growing tomatoes, starting seeds and other great tips for beginners.

Here are a few great websites I’ve found with helpful information to get you started:
Urban Farming Oz
Sustainable Gardening Australia
Environment Society of Australia‘s guide on checking your soil

Now I guess I just have to decide what to plant this winter. To be continued…


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management

Earth Day: Then and Now

While I like to think that every day is Earth Day in our house, I know that when the internationally recognized Earth Day pops up on the calendar, it’s a chance to get others thinking about things they can do to show their consideration for this great big planet of ours.

Earth Day started in San Francisco in 1970 to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Why San Francisco? Well it’s the city named after Saint Francis, the patron saint of ecology. That, and there was a senator there who decided to hold a “teach-in” on April 22, 1970 to educate and mobilize people on environmental issues. To everyone’s surprise, 20 million Americans participated in colleges and universities, while environmental groups also came together recognizing they shared common values.

Now lead by the Earth Day Network, 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities on April 22 each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. The network works year round to broaden the environmental movement through education, programs and partnerships that affect change at the local, national and international level.

And for little ol’ you and me, Earth Day is a chance to reflect – ideally with the whole family – on ways to help preserve and protect our environment, and more importantly, act. Whether you have a discussion at the dinner table, get the kids involved in some garden activities or crafts, or simply pledge your act of green along with millions of others on the Earth Day website, no gesture is too small.

Tell us your act of green right here and you have a chance to win a $100 gift voucher from Itty Bitty Greenie. Add your comment below – and one lucky greenie will be chosen and notified on April 23.

For more information, visit the Earth Day Network, which has a variety of tools to help you plan your own Earth Day event, or simply pledge your act of green, right along with millions of others across the globe.

Also, visit our “Earth Day” board on Pinterest, for more tips and activities to get your green on this year.

5 steps to a greener Easter

After Christmas, Easter is one of those kid-friendly holidays we all look forward to. Here are some easy tips to help you celebrate in a more eco-friendly way:

One of the best things about Easter is the excuse to indulge in chocolate. It’s a $100-million industry in Australia alone, but unfortunately most of what you’ll find on store shelves is the result of cacao sourced unethically, including trafficked children, child slavery and hazardous labour. Take a moment this year to support fair trade brands. Here’s World Vision’s guide to buying fair trade chocolate in Australia.

Most commercial egg dying kits are made with petroleum or coal tar-based artificial colours that can pose a risk to health, including allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. There are many natural options for dying eggs that are just as colourful and fun to do with your children. Here are some great natural egg-dying recipes.

If the traditional Easter egg is a symbol of birth, resurrection, or a more paganesque celebration of fertility, then what does a plastic Easter egg signify? This year, why not skip the garish plastic eggs, baskets and grass for natural alternatives? Even better, get your children involved with some eco-friendly craft ideas that are sure to make the occasion more fun and memorable.

An Easter egg hunt is a perfect chance for kids to explore all the nooks and crannies of the garden, so get outside and make it fun for everyone. Studies have shown that people who spend time outside are healthier, both physically and mentally. Take a deep breath, touch the grass, climb a tree, and run around with your kids – what better way to start a holiday?

Most families have their own traditions for Easter lunch or dinner, and why not create new ones by enjoying some seasonal dishes sourced from locally and organically grown produce? In Australia we are blessed with an abundance of pumpkin, sweet corn, figs, pears and apples this time of year (to name a few). Eating seasonally encourages you to buy local produce, which will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also save you the labour costs of transport and storage, as well as supporting your local economy. For information, visit the seasonal food guide.


Project Veggie Patch

How much time do you spend wrangling with your kids to make sure they get their five a day? Getting kids in the garden from a young age can help them appreciate what’s on their plate and let them see how gardening, vegetables and cooking combined can create delicious meals.

Vegecation Melbourne shares tips on how to grow your own veggie garden. Where possible, get the kids to help to make this an experience you can share as a family.

Stake your claim: first things first, pick the spot for your veggie plot. It needs to go in an area that gets a lot of sun, in a place where your veggies won’t have to compete with the roots of trees and shrubs for nutrients.

Know your limits: don’t overstretch yourself; make sure the patch is small enough so you – and little hands – can reach everything that’s growing.

Prepare the ground: mark out the area and dig the soil over to the depth of about four inches. Add compost, decomposing leaves and fertiliser to make the soil nice and healthy and rich.

Get planting: choose your plants wisely – if you know your children like a particular kind of vegetable, make sure you include it on the garden menu. Follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet or given with the seedling; each plant needs different care.

Water well: your plants will need a lot of water over the first few weeks, and after that, establish a schedule of giving your seedlings a deep soak twice weekly to save water where you can.

Don’t let space be an issue: if you don’t have an outside space, create a green area inside: grow things like rocket and cress which can be grown on any surface indoors.

Vegecation is an educational program organised by Centro Box Hill that encourages children to get outside and learn what happens in the veggie patch. Vegecation Autumn will have an Oriental Garden theme where children can plant Asian vegetable seedlings to take home – bok choy, Asian red bunching onion, mild chilli and coriander.


What: Vegecation – a fun and engaging community school holiday activity
: Centro Box Hill North Precinct (opposite the food court)
: Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 April 2012
What time
: 11am to 2pm each day, interactive play times: 11.30am and 1pm
: Aimed at children aged six – 15 and their families
: FREE to attend
: Every child receives a FREE apron and book bag

For more information, visit the Vegecation Melbourne facebook page or the Vegecation events listing on Time Out Melbourne.


By Donna MacMullin

Creative Communications, Graphic Design, Communications, Blogging, Copywriting, Content Management



5 easy eco-friendly Easter crafts

Easter is one of those family friendly holidays most of us look forward to, and this year, why not get into the spirit with some eco-inspired craft ideas that are easy to do with the kids? The big day is only a couple of weeks away, so hippity hop to it!

1) UPCYCLED EASTER BASKETS:  Use soda bottles, empty tins, a bit of ribbon, cloth or pipe cleaners to make some colourful baskets. Kids will love to add their own personal touches in anticipation of the egg hunt. To make it even more authentic, plant a few grass seeds in the bottom of the basket about a week before the big day – so much prettier than fake plastic grass!

2) NATURAL EGG DYES: Most commercial egg dying kits are made with chemical-based artificial colours that can pose a risk to health, including allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. There are many natural options for dying eggs that are just as colourful and fun to do, using household ingredients like coffee, beet juice, blueberries and more. Here are some great natural egg-dying recipes.

3) TOILET ROLL BUNNIES & CHICKS: This is an easy craft to do with the kids that has pretty adorable results. Just take some empty toilet rolls and a bit of paint or coloured paper & feathers to create an Easter bunny or chick that’s perfect for holding a few treats.



4) EGG CARTON CRAFTS: There are lots of ways to take a used egg carton and make it into something fun for Easter. I particularly like these chicks and bunnies that are easy to do with toddlers. Just take a few paper scraps to cut out some ears and feet, glue them on, and there you have it! Or if you’re more ambitious, try this gorgeous egg carton wreath made with paint, scraps of paper and material and a bit of cardboard.

5) EASTER GARLAND: Don’t you love it when you find a craft idea that takes one thing and reincarnates it into something completely different? This garland is made with recycled paint chips, and it’s great way to make any room in your home look festive and cheerful for the holiday. Find the how-to instructions here.

Hope these ideas inspire you to get crafty with some items you probably already have around the house. I know my son and I are going to have fun making toilet roll bunnies and chicks. Wishing you and yours a very happy Easter.