27 Feb NICKI FARRELL // ECO KIN SERIES
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your values.
Myself (Nicki Farrell) and Vicci Oliver run Wildlings Forest School on the banks of Petrie Creek on the Sunshine Coast. Our aim is to simply encourage more children and families to get outdoors on a regular basis, specifically in nature, to reap the social, emotional and physical benefits of doing so. We want to see a nature space and nature play programs attached to every school and child care setting in QLD and Australia before our time is done. We run Little Wildlings Nature Playgroup at various wild spaces along the Sunshine Coast and Forest Kindy at our creek site in Nambour. We offer holiday programs, excursions and incursions for schools and daycare centres so that they can experience the power of Vitamin N(ature). We encourage ‘risky’ play and would call ourselves nature play advocates and protectors of childhood. We are the anti-thesis to ‘cotton woolling’ our children and pushing our children to grow up too fast. We encourage our children to use hand tools such as pen knives, bow saws and hand drills and teach them how to whittle and light fires from as early as they show interest. The benefits of embedding nature play and ‘risky’ play into our education systems will benefit our communities in a myriad of powerful ways but put simply, we will raise the next generation of self-confident, resilient, environmental stewards who will take care of our planet.
Our aim is to simply encourage more children and families to get outdoors on a regular basis, specifically in nature, to reap the social, emotional and physical benefits of doing so.
What does living in an ‘eco-friendly fashion’ mean to you? What does this look like in your life?
Living in an ‘eco-friendly fashion’ to me means doing what I can to help live more sustainably. I will never have a footprint of zero, but I can make small, conscious choices every day that have a large impact on my life.
Something I think we don’t discuss openly very often is our choice as couples to have children and how many. The biggest pollution choice you can make as a human being is choosing whether to procreate or not. We have two children ourselves, so are obviously a part of this. I guess I would just like to see more conversation about the impact choosing to have children has on the planet when we discuss the reasons we want to or don’t want to have children. Choosing to not have children for the sake of the planet is a very reasonable and altruistic choice couples can make and I think there needs to more open discussion around this.
What are some of the things you do to ‘slow down’?
I need to be able to do little acts of self-love that don’t take much time or effort. I diffuse essential oils almost daily, I play music when I cook, I play the piano (badly) when I can squeeze it in. I’ve finally got back into yoga once a week. I make time to catch-up with my friends because they fill my cup and help me grow as a person. I used to try and get out in nature but now I get to do this as my job so no longer need to seek this out – lucky me!
Work wise, because I take my children to some of our programs, I need to be organized (something I’ll admit I am still working on!). I try and have most of the gear I need in the car the night before and I keep a pair of shoes, rain gear and towels in the car for both of my boys to prevent the whole shoe fiasco in the mornings!
Do you have any advice or tips for people wanting to live slower, more sustainable lifestyles?
Haha, I don’t know about slower. We are trying our very best to juggle and balance running a small business from home with 4 children between us under 6 years that we homeschool! I think it’s all about finding your joy. Where do you feel most alive and comfortable in your own skin? I was stuck in school traffic on the way to run our Nature Playgroup last week on the most beautiful cloudless day. We were heading to Lake Weyba to go and play in the lake and the clay and I just knew I had made the right choice for myself career wise and my family’s lifestyle. It’s the old cliché I think; if you were told that you only had a year to live, what would you do and who would you spend your time with? I feel very lucky to say that I would absolutely still be doing what I’m doing.
As for sustainable lifestyles, I think we need to start with small changes and choices. Personally, I spend a little more on less items of clothing than I used to say in my 20’s. I shop as locally as I can with small clothing companies like Sinerji (Forest Glen) and Wild Earth Creations (Maroochydore) for myself and I Love Doodlebug (Coolum) for my children. We get given a LOT of hand me downs and we op-shop wherever we can. When the children were little we used cloth nappies. Personally, my next goal is to try and find sustainable shoes for our family.
As far as our home goes, it’s all pretty simple and small actions – but if 7 million people do these actions, we would make a huge difference! We don’t buy bottled water or use plastic water bottles, we take our soft plastics to Coles to recycle, we pack naked lunches with Bee Eco Wraps, we op-shop our kitchen utensils/wares and jars when needed. We support small local businesses such as Eco-Tribe (stainless steel straw travel packs) and Pottery for the Planet for keep cups.
One of our biggest impacts as a family is transport. My husband and I run two businesses from home and they both involve a lot of travel, so this is something we’ve made peace with and we try and lighten our impact elsewhere.
Tell us a little bit about your business. What inspired you to open a sustainably minded venture? What is your business ethos?
“Children can’t protect what they don’t love” is the basis of our ethos. If we help our children fall in love with their environment by offering regular programs in the same wild spaces, they will eventually become the custodians and protectors of these places. We want to help raise the next generation of environmental stewards and policy makers and we feel that the best place to do this is outdoors. We choose to upcycle, recycle, op-shop or buy from local, sustainable companies wherever we can for our business consumables. We often ask the children to bring in donations from home and explain why we choose to use recycled products. We have a three-year sustainability plan for our forest school sites to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy our space long into the future.