Eco-friendly Painting? Part 1

Painting and the flow state.

During the last NSW school holidays and while Greater Sydney was into its fourth month of COVID Lockdown 2.0, I painted the interior walls of my home. Coupled with some good podcasts it was a marvellous way to pass a week in home-bound productive mess-making!

Some of you may find painting a chore, but I like it! It requires my attention, but not too much. While it’s within my skill set, I need to concentrate on the tricky bits like cutting in the edges around windows, door frames and cornices. I can do it all day and lose track of time. Some days, I get a sudden pang of hunger only to realise I haven’t had lunch and it’s nearly dinner time.  I know what I have to do and how long it will take so it’s an activity with a clear goal. The new paint job looks fresh and bright and my home is looking good.  You may recognise that these parameters offer a wonderful opportunity to enter a state of flow

The idea of flow is not a new one and the concept was developed by psychology professor and happiness researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the mid-1970s. If you are not familiar with flow, this TED Talk will get you up to speed. (And help you pronounce his name! Chick-sent-me-high!) 

Preparing the walls

My steps to Eco-friendly painting

Finding flow is a bit like finding the Holy Grail for happiness seekers like me but is not really what this post is meant to be about! My goal was to write about eco-friendly painting.

Before I started, I considered the best way to reduce the impact my painting would have on the environment. Even so, I seemed to be using an awful lot of plastic!! The steps I took included:

  • wrapping my brushes and rollers in plastic bags at the end of each session rather than washing them out to save water and save all that paint going down the drain. 
  • using the same plastic wrappers each time to reduce plastic use.
  • using plastic roller tray liners rather than washing the trays out each time,  again to stop water contamination. Mind you I stood in the aisle in the hardware store for a long while debating this point with myself! 
  • using more expensive paper-backed plastic drop sheets that I could re-use next time I paint rather than single-use ones. 
  • Buying wooden-handled brushes (win!) but they had synthetic bristles (lose!). A win-lose rather than a win-win
  • Using old cloth rags to wipe my hands and drips rather than “new wipes” although I still did use a whole roll of paper towel because I am not a very neat painter.

On the whole, I thought I was doing ok! High five to me!

It’s a bit smelly in here! 

With the painting finished and the mess cleared away it struck me (a little late in the piece)  that I had missed an eco-warrior opportunity.  After all, I had essentially just coated my walls with a thin film of plastic, the very thing I was trying to avoid. 

And then there was the smell!   It took the next three days, even with all the windows and doors open, to vent the fumes that lingered. Thankfully the weather was perfect; a light breeze swished through the house to chase that painty odour away. 

Although I deliberately bought a low fume, water-based paint, it still stank! I mulled over a barrage of questions. Were those fumes bad for me? Was there a more environmentally friendly non-plastic paint? Would a non-plastic based paint also be smelly?  Would it work as well? Would it be in the colour I wanted? Would I have been able to buy it in my area? Would I be able to afford it? So many questions!

Google was invented for questions such as these!

After a few hours down the painted internet rabbit hole, I came away with some answers and even more questions. The answers to the seven questions in the paragraph above are: yes, yes, yes, maybe, perhaps, no and probably not! 

The desk was too heavy for me to move, so I painted around it!

So what did I find out? Stay tuned for the answers in Part 2 in two weeks time! 

Minimalist Rabbit Hole

From the Vault

Just lately, I have been going down a sustainability minimalist rabbit hole. I have been reading lots of blog posts. Binging on podcasts series like The Slow Home Podcast (Australian) and Sustainable Minimalism (American). I have written a few posts about consumerism, minimalism and frugality myself.

Last week I announced a new series called From the Vault. Essentially these posts are place keepers while I decide what to do about this here blog.

My Posts about Minimalism and Sustainability

Feeling sentimental

On the Kon Marie Band wagon

Consuming interest

Year of Zero (series)

Mothers Day

Saving the Planet – One pair of socks at a time.

Decluttering despair

Digital ephemera and the cloud keepers (fiction)

Eco-hack series (1 – 7)

Slow your life down!

You might also be interested in listening to the New York Times Podcast The Rabbit Hole which explains how YouTube can lead to radicalism. I’m staying away from the radical nonsense and sticking to how I can reduce my carbon footprint!

Birthday Blues?!

It’s my birthday this week, and I wanted to write an engaging post but there has been some serious procrastinating!

I had a lot of ideas.

  • A slide show of photos from baby to now.
  • A list of things illustrating how the world has changed in sixty years.
  • Matching historical events to my own life in some sort of digital timeline
  • A funny birthday post
  • A reflective birthday post
  • No post?
At about one year old

Some abandoned starts to the birthday post:

1. Light hearted….but went downhill

Somehow I got to be sixty! How did that happen? I don’t feel old, but I am beginning to slow down. A little. My life so far has had its share of ups and downs although I don’t think I have had more ups or downs than anyone else. Regrets? I have a few!


I wish I had ended my marriage earlier and not stayed unhappy for so long.
I wish I had been a better, more patient parent.
I wish I had started thinking of myself as creative twenty years ago.
I wish I had spent less time in the sun and more time in the shade.


Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “Shit! Who is that old lady? “ The inside me still feels 27. I find myself staring at women “my age”, and judging whether I look younger or older than them. How have I fared?

2. Started sad and stayed sad.

I was hoping to write an inspirational post about turning sixty. I sit here with my fingers poised above my keyboard wondering what to write. It’s a struggle to find the right tone with the right words and the right mood. I am proud and sad. Happy and annoyed. Relieved and unfulfilled.


I don’t have another 60 years left. Another 25 – 30? My immortality is simultaneously slapping me in the face and the arse. A blanket of generalised anxiety is hovering over me urging me not to waste another minute making bad decisions or wrong choices.
I am waiting for the cloak of wisdom to descend. When does that happen?
Maybe today is not the day to write this post.


You see what I mean.

at eight?

Significant birthdays are another number. Right?

It doesn’t happen to me often but I am lost for words about turning 60. I didn’t mind turning 50 or 30 or any of the other significant birthdays. Sixty on the other hand does feel like a marker. A place to stop and reset. Perhaps it’s because I have made a big deal of my 60 for 60 list. I have completed 38 of the things on the list. Some of the undone items I have decided to abandon. They no longer hold the significance they had 3 years ago. For instance, finishing the stories I started in 2017 or 2018. The spark is gone. I’ll leave them unresolved and thank them for their service.
Many of the other things still on the list are projects I want to do. Paint my house and get new carpet, a case in point. I’m not going to get them done in the next couple of days so I’ll transfer them to another list. Seventy things before seventy!

What’s next for Old Chook Enterprises?

I’m proud to say that I have crossed the “post a blog post at least once a week” item off the list. I’m now considering what to do about this blog. Will I continue? It’s a lot of work and I’m not sure of the return. I started the project to practice writing to a wider audience. I’ve done that. Do I still have something to say? Maybe. I have 500 followers but I’m lucky to have 30 views per post. (Thank you to those thirty!! ) Is it about the numbers? Is it about having a place to express myself? Is it just a habit I need to abandon along with the stories?

Fifty one


One of my most “popular” posts is about Port Kembla, a suburb in Wollongong. I wondered why. The analytics reveal that it gets hits from the search term “Wollongong Prostitutes”. Ewww….That’s not my target demographic! A scroll through my followers shows that very few are the type of people I thought I was talking to. That is, women my age. Is that good or bad?

Maybe I’ll start a new blog?

I’m ready for another life stocktake. I’ll take my time. Look at my style guide for living, do some calculations and work out what’s feasible and add in some “stretch goals”. (Man! I hate that term, but I get the concept!)

Fifty seven


I’m all for a theme. How does “Savour my Sixties and Slide into the Sassy Seventies” sound?

BTW: I have applied for my Seniors’ Savers Card!