Tag Archives: Wellbeing

Charity begins at home: an alternative giving guide to help ‘save the world’

Charity Begins at Home. Blog Post Talina Edwards Architecture Sustainable design Ballarat

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ ANNE FRANK

[UPDATED 01.12.14]

Well as the year draws to an end and with the smell of Christmas is in the air already, it engages our spirit of generous giving to loved-ones… But I do hate the over-spending and over-consumption of so much non-ethical and non-sustainable “stuff”!  But this post is not a gift guide (you can find one of those here or here), THIS is about extending our generous spirit beyond our loved ones, to our wider community… to help out others at this time of year too.

Here’s some little ways that don’t have to cost much (if anything!) that might just make a big difference to someone, and if that doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, then perhaps you’re missing the point of the Christmas season. ;o)

Show Gratitude

This is the cheapest and easiest one! Just taking the time to say thank-you and letting someone know they are appreciated. You can tell them face to face, send a gift-card, post a comment publicly on social media… Taking this time to be thankful not only brightens someone else’s day, it will improve your wellbeing too!

Partake in Random Acts of Kindness

One of my favourite films of all time is Amelie! If you don’t know it (I highly recommend it!), it is a quirky art house film set in France, about a woman who does cute, odd little things to help influence the lives of the people around her, for the better.  If everyone was a little more kind, imagine the world we could be living in! Some like to see this as “Pay it forward” – or Good Karma – that the kindness you show others now, will be returned to you in a time of need. Maybe you could pay for a coffee/meal for the person in the queue behind you at the cafe, or fill up a parking metre as you leave, donate blood, let a car in front of you in a traffic jam, offer babysitting to parents, walk a friend’s dog, pick flowers from your garden to take to an elderly neighbour….  there are hundreds more ideas online if you’re stuck.

Volunteer Your Time

More than a third of Australian adults are already involved in voluntary work – are you? It also happens to be International Volunteer Day #IVD2014 on December 5th, and the theme for this year is “Make change happen: volunteer“. Helping make a difference in your community at a grassroots level is what it is all about… just by helping in a small way, you are in fact helping to change the world! Often giving your time, is more valuable than giving your money.

Donate with ‘Shout For Good’ App

I first heard about the ‘Shout for Good’ App at the Big Hearted Business Conference, and thought it was such a fabulous idea  – by changing the way we donate to charity in the age of the smart-phone. It is so easy – when you shout yourself lunch, how about donating the same amount to a favourite charity. With a tap on our phone it is that easy! No more being hassled by cold-callers asking you for your bank details for recurring monthly donations to the big charity organisations. Check it out here.

Support a Crowdfunding Campaign

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of supporting these. It is a very different feeling to say, giving money to the Guide Dogs or Oxfam – and please don’t get me wrong, of course each and every charity is worth supporting and I have given to these organisations many times, but I do love that with “Crowdfunding” you are supporting a person or a cause or a big idea that you feel more connected with. You can support, and share in their journey,  and more often than not, you  also get a “reward” because you’ve helped kick in the funds upfront toward capital for their project – so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. I’ve loved receiving some artwork, a CD, or knowing that a tree’s been planted all due to some very worthy ‘pozible’ campaigns. Two that are close to my heart at the moment, and still really need your help, are firstly, a local art and design collaborationCollidescope  where a total of 22 Ballarat visual-artists and fashion designers are working together to create wearable-art as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival – but this is much more than just ‘fashion’! It is about celebrating creativity, community and collaboration! I’m fortunate to know many of the amazing creatives involved in this project, and I can’t wait to see the outcomes. Please see more here.

The other fabulous initiative that you may have heard about isThe Nursery Project‘ by two inspiring local creatives: blogging-royalty and author Rowan Anderson (Whole Larder Love) and his partner – photographer/blogger/cook “the lunch lady” Kate Berry. You may know that they are passionate about simple, wholesome, healthy, down-to-earth living, eating sustainable, and growing your own food and making it from scratch. I love their philosophies and share *most* of them (but, err, as someone who eats predominantly vegetarian, I must admit,  I’m not quite so fond of the raise/hunt/butcher and eat the WHOLE animal – as sustainable as this scenario is!). They “want people to get their hands dirty, minds thinking and bellies and hearts full”. They’ve chosen the Daylesford area for the location, noting “We’re also basing The Nursery Project a short drive from one of the unhealthiest regional cities in Australia – Ballarat – where food and lifestyle choices are at their worst. It’s here that we hope to encourage some positive change.” If you can, please do something to help change this fact, by finding out more here.

UPDATED 01.12.14: I felt compelled to add an update to this post, as I overlooked another fabulous fundraising initiative that is dear to my heart. My lovely friend Gemma is currently in India, working as a pro-bono architect on a very special project which is renovating and building pre-schools for children in the slums of Ahmedabad. This a very big-hearted project, to help improve the lives of these families, by providing well-designed buildings which have adequate light, ventilation, and sewerage (a rare luxury in these parts), which will be used for education, vaccination, and for the community. The project is also very much about affordable eco-architecture, with a big emphasis on reduce, re-use and recycle. I spent time in Ahmedabad, on a four-month stay in India back in 2006, and when I was there I wished I could do more to help… now I can. Please click here to read more about ‘The Anganwadi Project‘, and if you can help contribute a few dollars, know that it will be making a big difference to many lives.


I’m sure you’re already giving generously to others in your own unique way, I just thought I’d put a few more ideas out there. I think this is especially important to set a good example for kids at this time of year – that it is not about receiving gifts from Santa, it is about giving to others.

And in this spirit of giving, I want to show my gratitude to all of you – my wonderful family, friends, clients, colleagues, consultants, supporters, readers, fellow-bloggers, creative tribes-folk, followers and “likers”. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Without all of you, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing! 

Ballarat Sustainable Architect Green Builder

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions about environmental design. Don’t forget you can click here to sign up to receive our monthly newsletter  (or over there on the top right-hand side of this webpage) so you won’t miss out on our news!

Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOU warm this winter!

Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. We like to help answer your questions, and this post is about the “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOU warm this winter“. This is part 1; we’ll also be doing the “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOME warm this winter”, and “Best tips for more efficient heating this winter”.

Talina Edwards Architecture Eco Free Easy Cheap ways to keep warm winter


Brrrrr….winter has well and truly settled in here in Ballarat! The temperature has certainly dropped, and the cold wind sure is fresh! Our thermal comfort levels sure are put to the test here, and the first thing we do is usually to switch on the heating.

But did you know that here in Victoria, the largest percentage of our home’s total energy use is for heating! Over a third of our home’s energy use is for heating…imagine how much we could reduce our carbon footprints by doing some *free*, easy and green alternatives to keep ourselves warm – inside the home, not just when we go out to brave the elements!


Keep yourself warm:

1. Wear Layers: Put on more layers of clothing, including a singlet, long socks, long tights, thermal underwear, and overcoats/jackets. The layers prevent exposure to the cold, and the air trapped between the layers provides insulation which helps retain body heat.

2. Wear a hat: Wearing a warm hat or beanie as a lot of your body-heat escapes through your head. Yes, you can wear it inside. Try a balaclava if really cold, but perhaps tell your family members/housemates first!

3. Warm toes: Wear some warm socks and ugg-boots or warm slippers. Slipper-socks can be good too. If your tootsies are cold, you’ll feel more cold all over.

4. Get moving: Try jumping up and down, jogging on the spot, dancing in the lounge (this track will get you up and grooving!), ride an exercise bike, pull out a skipping rope if you have the space, or perhaps venture outside for a brisk walk or jog around the block. In a few minutes you’ll feel much warmer! Of course you can do any other activity that can get your blood pumping….err I am off course talking about vacuuming!

5. Do some housework: Speaking of vacuuming, this is also a good time to mop the floors, scrub the bathroom, do the ironing, or dust all the shelves…any of these boring tasks will actually get you moving and warm you up, and you can cross another chore off your list!

6. Cuddles!: Snuggle up close to someone – your partner, children, parents or even a close friend to share some body-heat. Pets can be great for this too (but perhaps not goldfish!).

7. Cover up with a blankie: When lazing on the couch, wrap yourself  with a blanket/snuggie/shawl/doona when reading or watching TV. Even when sitting at the computer, you can cover your lap with a blanket to keep your legs warm. In Japan they have blanket/doona-like table cloths called Kotatsu– often with small heaters underneath the table to keep everyone’s legs toasty-warm while they eat/work at the table!

8. Make yourself a warm drink: Put the kettle on, and have a cup of herbal tea, a hot chocolate or just warm-water with a slice of lemon (or perhaps with some ginger and honey too…yum!). Note that ‘moderation’ is the keyword when it comes to caffeinated drinks (and alcohol…mmmm did someone say “mulled wine”!) as they increase blood flow to the skin which make you feel warmer, but you actually then lose that heat.

9. Eat comfort-foods: Enjoy warm comfort-foods that easily digestible – think porridge for breakfast with stewed fruit, and soups, curries, daals, stews and casseroles for lunch and dinner.

10. Go old-school with a hot water bottle: Fill a hot-water-bottle with hot water (but not boiling – as it can deteriorate the rubber) or use a heat-pack to pre-warm your bed, or to warm your toes, or just to snuggle with on the couch.

11. Relax in a Hot Bath: Have a relaxing hot bath (or shower) to warm your whole body up. If you don’t have small children around, leave the bath-water in the tub to continue heating the room until it reaches body temperature before draining away.

12. Flannelette Sheets: Ok these sheets may seem a bit daggy, but they are SO much warmer and cosy then crisp cold cotton or stain or silk! Bamboo sheets are probably a better choice too, and also remember to add extra blankets if needed.

13. Take advantage of free Solar heating: During the day, sit by the north-facing window that still has some warmth from the winter-sun shining through. (You can also park your car is a sunny spot during the day, and it will soon heat up inside so you won’t need to turn the heater on in the car!)


Stay tuned for our upcoming posts, “Best ‘green’ ways to keep YOUR HOME warm this winter“, and “Best tips for more efficient heating this winter“. In the meantime, we’d love to know if we’ve missed any ideas, so please let us know how do you keep yourself warmer in the cooler months (without turning on the heater)?! I’ve love to hear about it in the comments below!

We’ll aim to answer more questions about sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes, also with reference to our local climate (Regional Ballarat area and Melbourne) in future posts. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our monthly news  (over there on the top right-hand side of this page) so you won’t miss out on our posts!