Joanne Austin – owner of Mother Nature Products
20 million! That is roughly the number of disposable nappies we have kept off landfills (and wherever else they might lie around polluting the environment). Disposables do not bio degrade and cannot be recycled. They are full of toxic chemicals. It’s a good idea to use fewer or even better, none at all.
Our calculations are based on the amount of cloth nappies we have sold and then the use and estimated life span of each nappy. Our products are made to last and are therefore often passed on to the next child born or to other families in need of nappies.
Certainly, in my opinion, this is my company’s greatest achievement and I have aimed to achieve similar results with our other products such as reusable menstrual pads, nursing pads, swim nappies, potty training pants, change mats, wet nappy bags and many other items we sell.
Mother Nature Products are committed to making a positive impact on the environment and health of our babies through the manufacture and distribution of products that make a clear difference, and through accurate information and increased eco-friendly choices. We make our products locally and contribute to job creation and a reduced carbon footprint in the process.
For me there are no short cuts when it comes to our commitment to a cleaner environment for the future.
- What are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about being a mother to my son. I hope my business venture and efforts at home inspire him and his generation to live better. Stuff money buys is not what living well is about at all. Simplicity makes me happy and it requires thinking consciously about how you live and how you operate on a daily basis. What are your priorities in life?
- What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
That was 10 years ago when I decided to create a business that actually sold cloth nappies of all things!
- What makes you angry?
As I grow older I am pleased to say that being angry over anything seems unproductive and almost always regrettable. I prefer to keep a cool head and move on systematically. I think cruelty and narrow-mindedness are things that make me very sad.
- If you inherited an acre of land what would you do with it?
I often complain that I’m running out of space to grow my vegetables in my own garden so I would certainly create more veggie patches and then share the spoils, but otherwise look at restoring the rest of the land by planting endemic and indigenous plants which support the surrounding wild life and eco system.
- Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
The correct answer is a bit of both, depending on the situation, but considering the amount of contacts and information I have gathered over the years I would say more of a gatherer!
- How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Only a few pairs I need such as sandals and slops for summer, running shoes, a pair of hiking boots that I wear all the time and then a few surprise pairs of shoes: vintage red high heels in the back of the closet and my ballet shoes (I still dance twice a week).
- If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Oh definitely every meal and even our drinks are made with something out of my garden and the home is cleaned primarily with homemade natural cleaning concoctions. The last time I had guests for dinner I served a stew with wild indigenous asparagus I spotted growing on my verge! It tasted a lot like water-blommetjies, I thought.
- How would people communicate in a perfect world?
I was once told that to negotiate successfully one should mimic the communication style of the person you are negotiating with, but on the other hand, there are those I would rather not like to emulate! Honesty is the best policy and in a perfect world, we would all communicate with an abundance of love radiating around us!
- What do you work toward in your free time?
My favourite free time is either shared with loved ones in the Cedarberg, in my garden, on the beach or at ballet where I get to let go to free my mind of worries and goals.
- If you woke up and had 300 unread emails and could only answer 30 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?
I usually read my customer’s emails first then eventually get to all the rest later in the day.
- Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful.
Soil, the sound of the wind and a clean fresh stream of water or rain.
- Have you used plastic bags for your shopping in the last two weeks?
Admittedly I did – now and then I forget my reusables but not very often! The plastic bags I end up with are reused, usually as bin liners (too bad we need bin liners – does anyone have a solution?).
- What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?
Think, think, think! Live life mindfully where you can and enjoy the process. It is a process, nobody is perfect and one has to make changes one step at a time. Learn to appreciate nature. You are investing in the future.