Contributors' Stories

As this site is still recovering from being hacked and subsequently taken down, please bear with me as I get all the contributors' details back up here. 

Nyree Bekarian

Nyree BekarianNyree Bekarian holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and has a background in cellular biology and immunology.

Nyree’s focus is on bridging the gap between scientific data and consumer understanding. She was drawn to this area after asking questions about products she used daily. As a mother, she feels that it is even more crucial to try and understand all the chemicals she brings into her home in the form of food, personal care items, and other products. She believes that there is important information about toxins present in everyday items that is either too technical for consumers to understand or is not provided properly to consumers.

She also believes that all consumers have the right to understand what is in the products they use, so that they can make informed decisions on what to buy, both for themselves and their families.

Nyree is currently employed as an environmental consultant, specializing in assessing human exposures to chemicals in consumer products. She is also a contributing writer to, a website dedicated to researching and reporting on topics in environmental sustainability. Nyree lives in Oakland, California with her husband and two small children. You can also find her on twitter.

Nicole Bijlsma

Nicole BijlsmaNicole Bijlsma is a woman of passion, and her passion lies in environmental medicine.

She first became interested in building biology as a result of two events that occurred in her life: the first was when she began to notice the connection between many of her patients’ ill health and their homes. The second was her infertility problem.

The cause of her ten miscarriages was eventually identified as an immune disorder (which was diagnosed by a US reproductive immunologist) which she now suspects arose from long term exposure to a high electromagnetic field. Once these issues were addressed, she successfully gave birth to her children.

Nicole is an accomplished naturopath, acupuncturist and building biologist who has been in clinical practice since 1989. She is the founder of the Australian College of Environmental Studies which was established in 1999 to educate people about the health hazards in the built environment. The college provides nationally accredited training in Building Biology.

Nicole is the author of the best seller Healthy Home, Healthy Family. She has been featured on every major Australian television network and conducted dozens of radio interviews. Nicole lectures and writes widely about the built environment and the way in which it influences our health.

You can connect with Nicole at or on Facebook.

Cate Burton

Cate BurtonCate is a long term devotee of sustainable, chemical free living and to that end, set up Queen B Beeswax Candles over a decade ago.

She is also a self-professed control freak.  And whilst there’s a lot that you can’t control when you live in urban areas, there are many things that you can!  Queen B Beeswax Candles was born from Cate’s desire to relax as hard as she worked, to breathe clean air and to be active in creating the world she wants to live in.

Cate’s personal belief is that one of the reasons for the increase in mental illness is that our brains are over stimulated and overloaded.  How then, when you have a demanding job, how do you protect your psyche?  You relax as hard as you work… and as many of us no longer work 9 – 5 jobs or have 5 hours to unwind in the evening, we need to relax faster.  So, turn down artificial lighting and light up pure beeswax candles, turn off your email, turn on the relaxing music and give your mind a break.

Because a major driver for Cate is to create the world she wants to live in, at Queen B they use only 100% pure Australian beeswax (because that supports Australian beekeepers and the regional communities they live in… and we want vibrant regional communities); they hand-make every candle (to build artisan skills and so that there is consciousness in every candle);  they have their printing done in Australia (with soy ink on 100% recycled Australian card by a family owned, ISO certified environmental printer), and they hand-write a note with ever order.  And, they don’t fragrance their candles (despite the demand) because that would make them toxic to burn.

You can find Cate at, or connect with her on Facebook at or Twitter at

Joanna Cozens

Joanna CozensJoanna Cozens is one half of the duo behind

Up until a couple of years ago, she and her husband Dave were like many Australians and took the worn path to the supermarket, stuffed their trolley full of stuff apparently called food, slathered themselves in lotions bursting with chemicals, and ‘cleaned’ house with products that would best be classified as weapons of mass destruction.

“But then,” she says, “we started to itch.”

“Not in the literal sense, thankfully. We just started to feel that the way we shopped and purchased stuff didn’t feel quite right. So we started to ask questions. Like what are we actually eating? What’s the bigger picture in buying perfect looking, yet insipid tomatoes when they are clearly not in season? Why are we actually supporting these supermarkets when we both grew up watching our Mums and Dads working tirelessly in their own businesses?”

On top of all that, they were ready for a professional change too. After 30 years combined experience playing in the advertising and marketing space (and subsequently feeling a little bit older and wiser) they wanted to start using their skills “for good rather than evil”.

“The light bulb moment was when we asked ourselves how we could combine our passion for living more organically, sustainably and ethically with our existing skills to have the best of both worlds i.e. do something we love and finally use what we know to really make a difference,” Joanna explains.

“So personally and professionally, this is the story of what has inspired us to start up Daily Organic. Whether you’ve just started your personal journey dabbling in organics or have been doing it for years, or you’re a business wanting more than just a directory listing, we hope you’ll join us in discovering, sharing and inspiring more Australians to live organically, sustainably, ethically one step, one banana, one cleaning product at a time.”

Connect with Joanna at or on Facebook.

Sonia Donaldson

Sonia DonaldsonSonia Donaldson is a passionate mum on a mission.  She wants to change the world, one family at a time. ‘Healthy, Happy and Holistic’ is her catchphrase and goal in life.

Sonia is the creator and writer at Natural New Age Mum, a popular blog sharing ideas on healthy, whole food, chemical free living and inspiration for the soul.

By encouraging readers to make small changes in an easy to read and non-judgmental way, Sonia has built up a huge following in just under two years.

She has a business degree and a background in management and the wellness industry. After contracting an auto-immune disease eight years ago, she was forced her to examine her life in more detail and start exploring and adopting a completely natural, new age way of living.  It has been incredibly life changing for her whole family.

Sonia lives in sunny Queensland with her new age hippy husband, two teenagers and a dastardly dachshund called Wilbur. You can find her on the yoga mat, walking on the beach, sipping a chai tea on her back deck or scrounging in the op shops for bargains.

Connect with Sonia at, or on Facebook.

Katy Farber

Katy FarberKaty Farber is the author of Eat Non-Toxic: a manual for busy parents and blogs at Non-Toxic Kids, which she started in 2007 after the birth of her second daughter.  She was constantly reading about environmental health, green living, and parenting issues, and wanted to share what she learned with other overwhelmed, sleep deprived parents.

Since then, Non-Toxic Kids has grown into a popular green parenting and environmental health blog. Katy and the site have been featured in The Washington Post, the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Toronto Star, Enviroblog, Terrain Magazine, the Huffington.  She has a growing following on both Twitter and Facebook and regularly interacts with readers online.

In addition, Katy writes for Moms Clean Air Force, MomsRising, Safer Chemicals, and has published articles on CNN’s School of Thought blog, Fox News Opinion, Problogger, Educational Leadership, and many others. She is also the author of two books about education, Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus (2010), Change the World with Service Learning:  How to Organize, Lead and Assess Service Learning Projects, (2011).

Connect with Katy at or on Facebook or Twitter. You can buy her books at:

Melissa Goodwin

Melissa GoodwinMelissa Goodwin is the creator of the Australian website, Frugal and Thriving and author of the eBook, Plan Cook Save.

“Frugal living started out as a necessity when I left home. As a student earning a casual income, I had to be creative with my finances. Nowadays, frugal living allows me to be a stay-at-home mum to my two young children,” says Melissa.

“But frugal living is more than just saving money. I’ve always been a greenie at heart, but the more I read about environmental issues, the more I realised that frugal living goes hand in hand with healthy and sustainable living.

“Making your own cleaners for instance, not only saves you money, it reduced the toxic chemicals you are exposed to. Cooking whole foods from scratch rather than eating manufactured food makes us healthier. So too does a walk in the park rather than sitting in front of the television. And of course, our natural environment benefits from us consuming less too. A frugal life leads to a thriving life for all.

“I was lucky in that my parents and grandparents taught me many of the skills important for a frugal life. Skills like cooking from scratch, budgeting money, repairing and making do. I realised however, that many of these skills have been lost to my generation. So I decided to share what I have learnt on the Frugal and Thriving website.”

Find with Melissa on Frugal and Thriving or on Facebook.

Kate Hennessy

Kate HennessyKate Hennessy is a Sydney-based journalist specialising in music, travel, arts and health and wellbeing. She has written for many major papers and publishers, including ABC online, The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Age, the Guardian UK, the Guardian AustraliaThe Daily Telegraph and the Australian Financial Review as well as magazines such as WellBeingGet Lost Adventure TravelFamily Health and Green Lifestyle.

Kate is a weekly music critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, teaches writing at The Australian Writers’ Centre, is editing an illustrated children’s book and regularly pens scripts for the Channel 7 kids’ game show, It’s Academic.

She has particularly enjoyed some fascinating commissions from WellBeing Magazine over the years on topics including the symbolism of water across cultures and times, her hunt for an authentic whirling dervish performance in Turkey, the benefits of families taking ‘digital detoxes’, an investigation into yoga for men and profiles of inspiring people like slow food chef Sherry Strong and astronomical artist Jon Lomberg.

Her best two commissions yet have been her journey into Peru’s Sacred Valley to undertake a shamanic healing using the hallucinogenic healing medicine, Ayahuasca, for Wellbeing Magazine, and a trip to the aboriginal community of Barunga in the top end for Australia’s largest remote community festival, which she wrote about for a Guardian UK cover feature.

Her article on nanoparticles in sunscreen, included in Less Toxic Living, saw a strong reaction among her social networks, some of whom suggested it would cause greater harm than good to raise any doubt at all about sunscreen and drew parallels with the fraught immunisation debate. However, Kate believes the best way to resolve the issue, for both sides, is proper safety testing and labelling and that history has taught us that informed choices are always a good thing.

Connect with Kate at or @smallestroom.

Jo Hegerty

Jo HegertyJo Hegerty has been a magazine editor, travel writer and brand manager. These days, you’re likely to find her mucking out the chicken coop, baking bread or overspending at her local tip’s treasure market.

In addition to writing for wonderful magazines like Green Lifestyle and Wellbeing, Jo manages Down To Earth Mother, a popular blog providing green living tips to busy mums.

Jo is deeply passionate about living a sustainable life and leaving a better world for our children and their children. Down to Earth Mother was designed to inspire and inform the world’s true change makers – parents – in a non-preachy, fun way.

To find out more, visit or find Down to Earth Mother on Facebook.

Jo lives in deepest, darkest suburbia just outside Brisbane with her husband and two kids, a lively cattle dog, four chickens and that creature living next to the compost. When she’s not blogging, writing for real money or enjoying her family, Jo writes YA novels. See

Tricia Hogbin

Tricia HogbinThrough her work in threatened species conservation, Tricia has seen first-hand the destructive impact our consumer culture has on the environment. She’s passionate about living a life that is less about consumption and more about meaning, connection and happiness.

“I’ve been working in the conservation of Australia’s threatened flora for around 20 years. Initially I worked in research, investigating how we can use research to help conserve threatened flora. Then I moved into impact assessment and implementation of on-ground recovery actions. I now work for the Australian Network for Plant Conservation, a national not-for-profit that aims to promote and improve plant conservation.”

“I feel like I’ve been searching for where I can have the most impact on the devastating loss of our beautiful flora. Increasingly I feel like I’m wasting my time. There’s little we can do to halt extinction unless we move away from a culture of consumption.  We are the threat – what we eat, where we live and how we spend our time and money has a direct impact on our environment.”

Tricia strongly believes that moving away from the aggressive consumer culture towards a life that is less destructive on the environment doesn’t have to be about deprivation. “The changes we have made to reduce the environmental impact of our household have added meaning and joy to our life.”

Tricia hopes to inspire other families to reduce their environmental impact through her weekly Newcastle Herald column ‘Less is More’ and her blog

For inspiration of how to live better with less visit or follow Tricia on Instagram.

Katharine Koeppen

Katharine KoeppenKatharine Koeppen, RA, LMT, NCTMB, is a nationally registered aromatherapist, seasoned clinician, author and educator with twenty years in aromatic practice.  In 2000, she founded Aromaceuticals®, a company dedicated to providing artisan-distilled essential oils for clinical professionals and aromatherapy ensiasts.

Katharine is a popular instructor and speaker on the subject of aromatics and healing, and her audiences have included community support groups, complementary/alternative healing practitioners and medical professionals. An avid and writer and blogger, her work has been published internationally by professional aromatherapy associations, magazines and peer-revie journals.

Utilizing a bodymind approach to aromatherapy, Katharine simultaneously addresses a client’s emotional and psycho-spiritual state while dealing with their physical illness or imbalance. Since the beginning of her aromatherapy career, she has demonstrated a special affinity for working with fragile populations in the areas of mental health, oncology, hospice and liative care.

Katharine is a professional member of Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) and Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. She is the former national reprntative for AIA.

A lifelong learner, Katharine has studied aromatherapy with industry luminaries from all aspects of the business. She is currently expanding her work in psycho-spiritual aromatherapy by pursuing a certificate in ecumenicapiritual direction.

She resides in Dallas, Texas, where she maintains a heart-centered private practice in aromatherapy, specializing in somato-emotional integration, cancer support and women’s issues. Last year, she introduced clinical aromatherapy at Hoblitzelle Hospice, Baylor University Medical Center, where she is aromatherapist on call.  When not experimenting with essential oils, Katharine can be found herb gardening or practicing ikebana. She may be contacted online at

You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Aromaceuticals® is a registered trademark of Katharine Koeppen.

Dr. Teray Garchitorena Kunishi

Dr. Teray Garchitorena KunishiFrom doing energy work with Tibetan nuns in India, to volunteering for sustainable agriculture in the Philippines, to interning at a water fasting retreat center, Dr. Teray Garchitorena Kunishi has spent most of her life exploring what it means to be truly happy and well.

“I was a sickly child,” she recalls, “and even though I played varsity soccer in college, I had frequent throat infections and was hospitalized many times. I was on antibiotics constantly, and I couldn’t understand why I kept getting sick.”

Her first introduction to natural medicine was through her work with the Jesuit Volunteers of the Philippines, where she was assigned to support farmers in developing cooperatives, and using organic methods for growing food. After stumbling upon a book about the impact of sugar on health, she decided to make some simple but profound changes to her diet.

“After stopping sugar and refined products for a few weeks, I felt clear, energetic and better than I’d ever felt before. I was ecstatic but also indignant – I had been sick for years! Why hadn’t any of my doctors talked to me about diet?”

Soon after, she began her medical training at Bastyr University, one of the world’s most respected schools for naturopathic medicine.

Dr. Teray is co-founder of the Berkeley Naturopathic Medical Group in Berkeley, California. Her clinical focus is on integrative treatments for mental health conditions. Her workshops and programs provide solutions for depression, anxiety, fatigue, chronic stress, and insomnia, ADHD and PTSD, using nutrition, herbal medicine, coaching and mind-body medicine.

“Just as the mind has a profound effect on the health of the body, the opposite is also true. It is critical to evaluate and support the whole person; in this way, true healing can unfold.”

She lives in Oakland, California and also leads workshops, keynotes and talks throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Find Teray at or on Facebook.

Dr Sarah Lanzt

Dr Sarah LanztDr Sarah Lantz is a health writer, researcher, presenter, nutritionist, and all-round chemical conscious nut. She grew up on a farm where family holidays were scheduled around the timing of tree-ripened fruit. Rare was an evening when her family were not slicing, stewing, roasting, fermenting and drying apples, cherries and tomatoes – often all at the same time. From these humble beginnings stemmed a passion for understanding the workings of everyday consumer life and its impact on the human body.

Sarah has a background in public and population health, nutrition, and specialises in the area of child and youth health and wellbeing. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Melbourne, Australian Youth Research Centre and in recent years has worked as Research Fellow and Lecturer at a number of prestigious Universities across Australia, including the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology. 

Sarah undertook her post-doctoral research fellowship in 2012 and was awarded a prestigious research grant from the Sydney University.  She is a regular columnist for many health and wellness magazines and is a frequent commentator in the media. Her first book released in 2009 Chemical Free Kids: Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic Worldis a bestselling publication, and has gone into its third re-print. She is currently working on her second book to be published in 2014.

She is a pioneer of the innovative Organic Farm Share and the Director of Buchi Kombucha,  a growing enterprise dedicated to bringing locally brewed organic fermented foods and beverages to families. Sarah presents regular workshops across Australia in areas of reducing toxicity of the body, health policy and building resiliency, with a particular focus on gut health. Sarah currently lives on a property on the outskirts of Brisbane with her partner and two free-range girls.

Find Sarah at or

Vanessa Layton

Vanessa LaytonAfter completing a degree in law, Vanessa grabbed a backpack and travelled the world, ending up in England. Food scares in the UK (mad cow disease, anyone?) got her thinking and researching ingredients and sources of products she was using.

Moving back to Australia with her husband and first child, Vanessa couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to buy organic, natural and non toxic baby gear, and thus Hello Charlie was born. Eight years on, Hello Charlie isn’t just one of Australia’s favourite eco baby stores, it’s also a great place for parents to research and learn about buying better for baby.

Writing on the Hello Charlie blog, Vanessa covers a broad range of topics from choosing safer plastics, chemical ingredients in baby products, and the ever popular baby product reviews – getting past the greenwash to choose safer products for your children.

Vanessa’s passion for educating parents on being aware of ingredients has found its way to her children as well. “My children are always reading ingredients on the back of supermarket packets and announcing to passersby that no-one should eat this, as it’s not real food!”

Vanessa lives in the leafy, green outer suburbs of Melbourne with her husband, two boys, dog, two cats and a spiny leaf insect. When she’s not dreaming up new projects or running around after her two boys, Vanessa can usually be found in the kitchen, or lost in a crime novel.

For those who bought the paperback of Less Toxic Living early on, Vanessa generously included a bonus discount voucher in our free bonus section.

You can find Vanessa at, or connect with her on FacebookGoogle+ or Pinterest.

Kirsten McCulloch

Kirsten McCullochIt wasn't until sometime after her third child was born, that Kirsten McCulloch started work on what would eventually become Less Toxic Living, but it was the process of trying to get pregnant that fully started her on her journey to cutting as many toxins out of her everyday life as she could.

In truth, Kirsten's interest in reducing our exposure to toxic chemicals dates back to her time writing for the "Green Youth Group" newsletter as an eighteen year old, volunteering for The Wilderness Society. 

But that interest was later revitalized when she was trying to get pregnant. Having been told in her early twenties that she might have “a few” miscarriages before her uterus learned to grow as it should, she decided to do everything she could do prepare her body to carry a baby successfully.

More recently, learning in the space of 12 months that her cousin, then her sister and finally her step-father all had cancer, suddenly the “she’ll be right mate” approach we often take to unknown risks, stopped sitting so well with her. It’s all very well to say “in my day we ate lead-painted toadstools and drove trucks with our babies hanging out the window, and they’re all right.” But what about the people who aren’t all right? What about the ones who developed cancer down the track, or who have asthma or other serious allergies or learning disorders or hormonal imbalances? What about the ones who died? And the ones who will die, ten years hence, with no clear explanation for their condition?

The more research she did, the more Kirsten realised that we are constantly exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals, and almost no-one realises it. Individually, many of the toxins might be safe in small doses. Unfortunately, when they mix together in our bodies the doses are no-longer so small, and the research into their effects is no longer so clear. Or in some cases it is all too clear, and we need to do something about it.

Kirsten is an Australian writer and mother, passionate about living a more sustainable and healthy life—for herself, her family and the planet. She writes about sustainable living, non-toxic cleaning, health, and parenting. She has a Master’s Degree in Writing and Literature, and a long history of working with environmental and natural health organisations, from her time volunteering for The Wilderness Society to working as a qualified massage therapist and teacher. After becoming a mother, it was a natural step to start considering how our consumer practices and environmental toxins are affecting not only the environment, but our children as well. She has written for various online and offline publications such as MindBodyGreen.comThe ShakeArtlook, and In Good Hands. Connect with her at or on twitter @sustainsuburb.

Andrea Muse

Andrea Muse is a Registered Nurse turned Frugally Sustainable Homemaker. She writes at Frugally Sustainable, which she describes as the story of her family’s ‘transition out of a consumer culture into the brave world of sustainability’. You can download her free ebook Herbal Rescue: Your Guide to Creating a Homemade Herbal First Aid Kit, from her website. Find Andrea at or on Facebook.

Alexx Stuart

From luxury cosmetics to being a folk singer songwriter, famed cocktail bartender, training, consulting and running a boutique events business: you’d think that would be enough for some in the first 20 years of career.

Well, there was still something missing for Alexx Stuart. She explains it as wanting unanswered questions answered, on behalf of many – a niggling curiosity that she couldn’t shake when it came to the crazy health situation in the modern world.

Having healed herself through natural therapies and much research, clawing back from a time of chronic migraine, countless rounds of antibiotics for chronic tonsillitis, PCOS and thyroid issues, she has a strong opinion on why she and so many have found ourselves in the degenerative mess we find ourselves in, and shares collective wisdom on how to get people out!

So armed with nothing but enthusiasm for making a difference, and a ridiculous thirst for knowledge and justice, she says “I’m here. I’m in the arena and I’m doing what feels right to help people heal themselves and heal the planet. I don’t feel I have a choice really, it’s kind of like a propelling desire to act in a time where the world needs teachers. Of everything I’ve done and every industry I’ve been in, teaching is what I can do. I’m loving every minute of this journey and the people I am meeting who are sharing their stories.”

Alexx is on a mission to help people eat better and be more conscious of what we use on our skin and in our homes, while eradicating all those guilty moments and feelings of deprivation from our psyche. She believes true change and guilt cannot co-exist and in her demos, keynotes and writing, the message is always one of empowerment, justice and big picture progress. Her first book Real Treats shot to #1 Amazon best seller within 12 hours of publishing. Alexx has made the first chapter of Real Treats, along with a bonus recipe, available to Less Toxic Living readers as a free bonus. Neither nutritionist nor doctor, Alexx calls herself a ‘concerned citizen’ who feels called to a task to help, in a world gone a little bonkers.

Connect with Alexx via her website:, Facebook: or Twitter:

Alicia Voorhies

Alicia’s journey toward safer living started in 2006 when Joanie, one of the Land sisters, moved to South Carolina with her husband and baby boy. She called home one morning after taking her son to their new pediatrician where she was advised to immediately throw out all clear, hard plastic baby bottles to protect her son from endocrine disruption. She left the appointment in shock and began to worry that she was dealing with a doctor who was off his rocker! So she turned to her sister Alicia, a Registered Nurse and unapologetic medical research geek, for help.

Alicia set out that day to prove him wrong but hundreds of research studies only proved him right. The more information she pored over, the more she began to see a pattern of chemicals leaching from plastic, skincare, and cleaning products to cause damage – especially in children. Alicia began a search for a plastic baby bottle made without bisphenol-A to recommend to Joanie. She was was shocked to only come up with only one possibility after weeks of phone calls to manufacturers.  Her continued search for safe products eventually lead to the birth of The Soft Landing, LLC in 2007.

Alicia now works with her mom and sisters to educate parents about the dangers of toxic chemicals in everyday products and their effect on growing children.  The Soft Landing team specializes in childproofing and healthy home consultation for families who are interested in protecting their loved ones ones from physical harm and from toxic chemical exposure.

Their work has been cited by ABC News, Newsweek, New York Times, USA Today, Fox 4 News, KMBC 9 News, The Kansas City Star, National Geographic’s The Green Guide, Dr. Greene, Kiwi and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Connect with Alicia at or on Facebook:  or Twitter:

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson is a journalist and TV presenter who writes about ‘how to make life better’. She describes herself as on a mission to find ways to make life bigger, more meaningful, nicer, smarter, healthier. Sarah is the author of the best-seller I Quit Sugar, as well as best-selling ebooks: I Quit Sugar: an 8-week program and I Quit Sugar Cookbook. Connect with Sarah at or on twitter at @_sarahwilson_