Bronwyn Kidd (00:04):

Hi, and welcome to the life freshly sorted podcast. I’m Bronwyn Kidd, the creator of SUSTOMi, and this is the show where I’ll be bringing you some of the latest, greatest ideas, stories, resources, and some of the most interesting conversations in the health and sustainability space and it’s all for the benefit of our health and the earth. I do believe that improving health and the earth come hand in hand and it really starts with the people, so where ever you are along your low waste or low tox journey, there’s something here for you and remember real change starts with you. Let’s jump right in and bring on today’s guests.

Bronwyn Kidd (00:45):

This episode is with Kate Cashman, a fellow Tasmania entrepreneur, a mom of two, a law teacher, a life coach, and a standout awesome person. One thing that interests me about Kate is the way she uses values across life, the Cashmans of family values, which have led to them starting the business to thi which is a bamboo toothbrush subscription. We delve into why bamboo, how they use values in the daily lives and other ideas about raising a family. With sustainability in mind and more the Cashmans believe that sustainable living doesn’t need to be super serious. They know that real change is born out of love and having fun, which is why for their household and yours too. Toothy represents simplicity and taking inspired action in a small yet very impactful way.

Kate Cashman (01:36):

Thanks for coming on Kate. Could you introduce yourself and what you’re working on at the moment and what your current mission is.

Kate Cashman (01:47):

So my name is Kate Cashman and I wear a number of hats in my professional working and personal life and I do that because I’m choosing to live in alignment with the values that I have for myself and the values that I have in my family. I’m a coach and a consultant in both leadership organizations and individuals. And my mission there is really to help people live a more aligned and purposeful life and so that they can live more courageously. And I have an amazing family project and family business with my husband called toothy. And tToothy was a way for our family to work together on our sustainability goals and being able to contribute by helping reduce plastic in our environment. And that was something that we did as a family. And so they’re just two of the hats that I wear. I also have a yoga studio and I’m an academic in the law faculty, but I am really excited that each of the projects and roles that I lay are completely different and they all sit within an area that’s really important to me and something that I’m really passionate about as well.

Kate Cashman (03:09):

You are a bit of a go getter. I know you’ve got multiple businesses, you’ve got a young family, you live out of town on a block and sounds like you are doing the best you can to move towards a sustainable life. So I’m very interested in hearing what’s driven you to start this lifestyle and what helps you get to where you are today in terms of your sustainability values

Kate Cashman (03:32):

As a family. And certainly as a couple before the kids came along have done a lot of traveling around the world. And I think as a traveler it’s really hard not to become aware of the impact that you’re having on the environment, not just in the flights that you’re taking, but when you are particularly visiting places where there is a high level of poverty or mass population slums, those sorts of things. And you really see the impact that that people have on the environment. And obviously it’s a little bit harder to put that into perspective for yourself when you think, well, I live in Tasmania, I’m in a developed country and I don’t have that kind of impact. But we were always just really aware of how we lived and we thought about how, and I certainly have always done that, but I’ve always thought about how I lived in a reflective way.

Kate Cashman (04:29):

And certainly in the last sort of 20 years that’s more so gone towards this idea of sustainability, partly because it was better for the planet and it meant we were having less impact, but also because it was more adventurous for us. Like we felt better about living sustainably. So there was definitely a, I don’t want to say selfish element, but it feels better for us to be living more sustainably and I actually feel like it’s a lot healthier for us to be living more sustainably. So a lot of it is health driven. As a family we want to be healthier and for us sustainability is interwoven with that. But we also want to be good global citizens and being a travel, you see how everybody is connected and every place is connected and nowhere is too far away. So that has been a real key focus, the sustainability in our life.

Bronwyn Kidd (05:23):

Okay. And what are some of the things that you did change when you came back from traveling? How has your life changed on a day to day basis?

Kate Cashman (05:31):

One of the greatest gifts that traveling ever gave me, which is not necessarily a sustainability focus, was being a great saver. So when you do longterm travel, which you know for us has been a big part of our traveling almost a year in Africa. We’re planning another year in Africa and a few years learning how to save and also, well I guess it is a sustainability bent there though because learned to use a lot less so because we were constantly saving for travel. We were spending less, we were buying less, we were using secondhand, we were re-purposing, but not just that. We also saw what, how people live while we’re away. So we knew that we didn’t need to keep up with the Joneses in terms of the stuff that we had around us. We had kids making sandals out of, you know, materials that they found in rubbish tips for goodness sake.

Kate Cashman (06:27):

So we knew that for us, having the most stylish, most expensive clothing or furniture, et cetera, was not something that we absolutely needed. It gave us a really fresh perspective on what’s needed and what’s not. And in addition to that, we stripped away, we made a really firm decision about where we wanted to live. So we wanted to live away from the major city. We wanted to have land to grow food. Some of the paper you say when you traveling who have so little in terms of material possessions are still able to to grow their own food and live sustainably in that way. Just got the poverty that surrounds them so they can do that. Then in a developed country we can do that as well. So we, we made sure that we lived out of the city a bit more. For us it was more about having the space to grow the foods and to get off the grid.

Kate Cashman (07:28):

Hmm. Amazing. In terms of not having to keep up with the Joneses, I imagine there’s a few mindset shifts going on there. So can you talk through a little bit around the mindset around that and your thought processes that had to change or any values that had to change?

Kate Cashman (07:46):

Yeah, keeping up with the Joneses has been a concept that I’ve been really interested in for quite a few years because I feel the full steel that it’s still there. This whole idea of keeping up with the Joneses and that is that, okay, if I’m earning good money, I can and should spend it on a better house, the better car, a better this or better that. And so the mindset shift, the mindset shifts was really around what do I need, what is important to me, what are our family values? And let’s direct our money to those things rather than all of the things that everyone has. So as a traveler and a traveling family, travel and adventure, one of our family values, so adventure might be missioning off to the bottom of our Bush block and building a cubby house or it might mean saving our money for the type of travel that way.

Kate Cashman (08:42):

So that might be how we direct savings or money that we have. Community is another family value of ours. And so that helps us determine the social events we go to. If our local community here in the Bush is having an event, we make it a priority as a family to go because we want to be part of our community. But keeping up with the Joneses means that you’re not making decisions based on what you think everyone else is doing or what you should be doing. And you take away the should. And when we took away the should and looked at the family values, that’s what dictates what we do as a family. Just like my own personal values dictate what I do for work, what I do outside of work. And so that’s the biggest mindset shift, not doing stuff because you think you should or because you have the money to or because you can, the reason you’re doing things is actually because you value what it brings to you or it aligns with your values.

Kate Cashman (09:43):

Mmm. That’s fantastic. And you mentioned that one of the biggest shifts that you made was moving out of town or onto your gorgeous little property that you’ve now got. I would love to hear about what that looks like at the moment and what you’re loving about it. You know, what are some of the beautiful things about living out of town and living the lifestyle that you live right now? Especially with a young family.

Kate Cashman (10:04):

We often wrestle with some of the challenges that come with living a bit further out. Now when I say further out, I’m talking 20 minutes, 20-25 minutes. So it’s a very Tasmanian concept

Bronwyn Kidd (10:15):

It’s a long whole way for Tasmania. In Sydney and Melbourne, It would be a walk in the park!

Kate Cashman (10:20):

Exactly. So for us, we wrestle with that and the decisions like I would love the kids to be able to walk to school. We can’t do that. I would love for us to be able to walk to the local post office or to the local shops and have community in that sense. We can’t do that. However, when we sit down, if you focus on all those things you can’t do, then you’ve got to question and constantly be in a cycle of criticism about the situation that you’re in. Now, what we realized when we sat down and we bought this land partly because we’d been house sitters 45 minutes out of Hobart for three years. We loved the space. We want it to be back on the Eastern shore of Hobart. And this house came up. And to be honest, we didn’t really think too much about it.

Kate Cashman (11:08):

We jumped in knowing that having some land would be great. Why we continue to choose to be here is because of what it brings our family. So our kids have grown up without TV. Our TV broke when we were house sitting and we just never replaced it. And so having the space means the kids will literally spend all of their spare time outside. So we have designated areas that we’re generally working on. So we’re building a permaculture garden on the terrorist is outside of our house. So we have a Bush block, but we’re converting spaces within that for foods, for orchards, for usable space.

Kate Cashman (11:50):

Mm. And what are your goals around that? Are you to grow X percentage of your food from your garden or what? What’s the output you’re intending?

Kate Cashman (11:58):

Yeah, definitely. So the permaculture design is very much about us just being more connected to our food and more connected to our garden, which is obviously one of the basic principles of design. We’re rebuilding this house the house that we’re currently in. So that it links with the space outside and is even more environmentally friendly for us. But having that garden right there means that we’re going to be in it, we’re going to enjoy spending time and it’s not a mission to get there. And so it just becomes part of every out part of our everyday lives and the kids, because we are in the Bush and we have this space, I have these gorgeous little outdoor souls who have never known any differently. They don’t know about sitting in front of a TV screen all day unless we have movie nights or really targeted technology by you know, time with them.

Kate Cashman (12:54):

But outside has been the greatest gift for young children that we could’ve possibly imagined. Does that mean we’ll never move in the future? I have no idea. Look when we’re facing the prospect of high school and college and those sorts of things for our kids. I don’t know who knows what the future holds, but when they’re little learning to be outside, there is always something for them to do. And so, you know, a kidners showing up wallabies everywhere, learning about how to, what to do if you see a snake. All of those things are just such incredible skills. We just wouldn’t get it if we had suburbia and a backyard or lived in an apartment, we just wouldn’t get it.

Kate Cashman (13:36):

Yeah, certainly a wonderful way of living for children. Yeah. I’m kinda envious that I didn’t get to grow up quite in that environment. It was similar but in an urban environment. But since it is a little bit different to what is considered normal these days, I’m wondering if you do experience any reactions from other parents, perhaps at schools that are a little bit apprehensive about the lifestyle and how you combat that.

Kate Cashman (14:05):

Yeah. People often ask us, Oh my gosh, what about snakes? You know, my son is a firm believer in like he’s a very animal focused kid and that includes things like Huntsman spiders and he calls them the site, you know, the saviors of the insect world because of all the bugs they, it’s so, you know, he grows up thinking Huntsman’s are awesome because of what they do. And obviously some people do freak out a little bit about that. But look, no, I think there hasn’t been, there’s not many negative reactions. I mean now lifestyle is not so different to everyone else’s that it’s unusual. Some people do say, Oh, how are you going to deal with living so far out when you’re ferrying kids around all the time to after school activities to that, I say if you’re doing so many afterschool activities that you’re feeling completely exhausted by the driving, then I think there’s definitely an invitation there to look at how committed or over-committed we are as a society and the feel that keeping up with the Joneses, that everyone’s kids have to do lots of extracurricular activities in order to be well rounded.

Kate Cashman (15:16):

But aside from that, most people are pretty supportive. They love coming over because they know that the kids can just be outside and play for hours. But I think that that’s something if we’re really intentional about doing that, we can get our kids outside in our suburban and urban environments, even if it is our own backyard because there’s so incredibly creative when we give them the space that I need a lot of space to do it. We’re just very blessed that we have it and everyone’s pretty supportive of that.

Kate Cashman (15:44):

All right Kate. So one of the main reasons that got me really excited about having you on the podcast was because of your new venture. So you’re starting a new business called toothy, which I think is something that really hits close to me because you are saving so much waste. I read the other day that there’s 900 tons of plastic toothbrushes thrown away every year and that’s just in Australia alone, which is just astronomical. And you know, all of these toothbrushes are ending up somewhere in our environment and we’re seeing more and more pictures of the ocean and beaches with waste, toothbrushes ending up in these places. And it’s just horrifying. So can you tell us a little bit more about toothy and how it came about, because I know you’ve got a really interesting story about this, about how you had your children involved with it.

Kate Cashman (16:39):

Yeah, so because we had sustainability as one of our core family values and living sustainably and supporting sustainability in every way we, we decided that if we were to run a project together, my husband Ben and I both run businesses of our own or involved in other projects. But we knew that we wanted to do something together as a family because that’s also part of our family values is us as a core family unit, but we just don’t really know what to do. And so we actually did a course together about e-commerce because we knew that we wanted something that was flexible that we could run from anywhere. So we did this course and we didn’t know what type of products we wanted to use, but we knew we wanted it to align with our family values. And sustainability was really important. And we knew we wanted it to be not a just because product, we wanted it to be something that everyone uses and making better choices.

Kate Cashman (17:39):

And so we ended up sitting around the dinner table after we’d finished the course and we were talking about brainstorming ideas. My husband does a lot of human centered design thinking and we were doing some brainstorming session around the data table and we said to the kids, you know, this is what we’re doing and this is what we’re thinking about. And our son who was five, no yeah, he was five at the time. He popped up and said, why don’t you know, you’re always complaining about the toothbrushes that we have. And at the time we were using bamboo, but just the regular quite small ones. And he said, you’re always complaining that they get yucky and they’re not exactly what you guys would like. Why don’t you design a toothbrush for all of us that you do like. And we were blown away and thought, yeah, actually why don’t we do something like that?

Kate Cashman (18:33):

So for us that was really the start of toothy and because it was a family decision for all of us to use these branding and philosophy, everything is really family oriented and family friendly, whether that families, adults and children or housemates and you know, whatever the makeup of the household. For us it was about this focus on what the ordinary everyday person can do. And so toothy is about everyday action and making those small decisions without a lot of the guilt that comes with the conversation around sustainability and making people make better choices through a feeling of guilt. We wanted it to be fun. We wanted it to be an easy shift for something that people are already buying. And we wanted to make it really easy that they didn’t have to add that to their shopping trolley.

Kate Cashman (19:24):

Hmm. I think you’ve got a really beautiful model as well with the subscription because it makes it so easy that I think that’s one of your values as a business. So that’s awesome. So why should people choose bamboo over plastic toothbrushes? Why is, why is bamboo the solution to the ttoothbrush issues?

Kate Cashman (19:42):

Bamboo is one of those incredible resources that is really fast growing. Once it gets up to starting to get to pass on to the juvenile stage of that first couple of months of being planted, in some cases it can grow up to a meter a day. It’s a really hard, and the type that we use, which is called Moso bamboo, which pan is dying to eat. … Is particularly good because it’s antibacterial, antifungal, and it’s a really great renewable resource that is harvested really sustainably as well. So bamboo obviously breaks down as well. It’s a natural resource, unlike a stick, which you know doesn’t. And so we knew that having something that we could literally plant in our compost bin at home and have all the stuff that we were already doing, break it down anyway. It was really important. But the kids also use it for, you know, seed names and identify, you know, tying seedlings to them when they’re first growing, all those sorts of things as well.

Kate Cashman (20:53):

Amazing. So they’ve got a second life potentially. And if you were to compost them or dispose of them at home somehow, what’s the best way of doing that? Because I’ve heard that the bristles may not be able to just be throwing in a compost bin. Can you talk us through that?

Kate Cashman (21:10):

Absolutely. So at this stage we when we were designing them, we had a look into what was available in terms of bristles and what was going to be the safest and healthiest, not just for the planet but for people. And so at this stage, which wasn’t our ideal those bristles are made of the dental grade nylon. So at the moment you snap the head off, put that into either your recycling or into your rubbish. And then the the handle can be planted. But the best thing about that is for us that was a really incentive to change that. Now there are some materials that are being used by a couple of companies around the world that we have tried but just don’t stand up to being able to be used for up to two months. They disintegrated quite quickly and they weren’t as high quality. So obviously we want to make sustainable choices, but we also want to make sustainable choices that are good quality. So we have started the process of developing some bristles ourselves and so we were awarded $30,000 innovation grant. And the first process of doing that with some universities here in Australia have the have started. And so we’ll be really working on creating new bristles that we, we will be able to use it to … That are Hardy and long lasting, but also that other toothbrush companies can potentially use.

Kate Cashman (22:40):

And will they be biodegradable? Is that the idea?

Kate Cashman (22:43):

That’s the idea, that you would literally be able to compost the entire brush together and that the bristles aren’t contributing to that problem. So for us it was very much, okay, what can we do right now that is actually going to make a difference? And that was okay, we’ll replace the bulk amount of that plastic. The bristles still being nylon was a real contention point for us. But we said, okay, how can we fix that? We can actually take action to create a resource or to find out what’s already out there that can be used. And so we’re in the process of helping build that. And I know that that will likely take time, but we figure wherein we’re, you know, we’re in the process of doing this anyway, we may as well continue that. And the ultimate goal is to be able to create a whole new electric version, but that’s run off kinetic energy and doesn’t have to be plugged into the wall as an option for those who like electric. Because for electricity users, there’s nothing, there’s so there aren’t really options that you can even, we would love to create those for those brushes. But there’s some patent issues around how the heads fit onto the toothbrushes that we are navigating as well. So there’s lots of future phases to [developing something biodegradable], but with starting at this point, replacing as much as we can and then and being really honest about that and then changing what we can as we go along.

Kate Cashman (24:15):

Wow, super exciting. Yeah, I’m sure there’s so many applications for that as long as the electric side of things. That’s super cool. And another part of toothy that caught my attention was the fact that you’re collecting money to give out local community grants. I find that so interesting and fantastic that you’re giving back especially so early on in your business and two of the areas that you are looking for grants submissions for where projects that are finding new ways to turn waste into recycled materials and reuse wood products and also making new technologies to keep our planet green and clean. Firstly, thank you for giving back. That’s so great. And I’m interested if there’s any particular innovations in either of those spaces that you’re particularly excited about and really came to help out.

Kate Cashman (25:12):

Oh gosh. We would love to be able to help out with a whole host of them starting as we have. There was a choice that we could make with as to where the, we start to give out the grant money earlier, so we’ve literally been collecting a dollar from every toothbrush. It goes into a completely separate bank account and so that’s been building up as the community grants now. We had a choice as to do we wait until that reaches X amount to give out the first grant money or what we realized pretty quickly having a conversation about this not long ago was… How much would actually make a difference to a small community organization. And so the choice was made that during November we’ll be launching the very first community grant and awarding that. So look at the end of the day, we would absolutely love to be supporting new innovations.

Kate Cashman (26:03):

Anything, you know, I’ve, I’ve just been following this project and I can’t remember the name, but it’s a batch, you know, shoes. There are shoes being made from plastics that are collected in the ocean. There are and some of them are sports shoes as well, which are traditionally using a lot of plastic. Anything that’s about, I mean the sort of products that we are finding that people are making. Everything from book covers to journals to bathers. There’s so many amazing things. And look, some of those are a lot bigger picture than what the grant in the early stages will be able to support. But what I, the reason why we said we want to community organizations was because we have worked in community organizations that may not necessarily be big, not for profit or even for profit organizations developing new technology.

Kate Cashman (26:59):

And we know how much work goes into those projects and how much good those grassroots groups can actually do. And so often it’s on the smell of an oily rag or they’re doing it out of the goodness of their heart or they’re paying. There are people who are doing workshops in schools, cleanup projects on the banks of rivers and beaches and histories and just, you know, three or $400 would make a huge difference to those groups, whether it’s buying supplies, buying lunch for everyone who’s just volunteered, whatever that is. So for us in the early stages, certainly that’s what we would love to get applications from people and that’ll all be finalized in November. We’ll put the call out when we’re looking for that. But people who are making a difference on a really grassroots level. And so for us, if you want to apply for those, you don’t have to be a fully certified organization. There will still be very much the same. The process of applying will still be rigorous and we’re still finalizing that now to make sure we get that.

Kate Cashman (28:04):

Is there some way where people can go to find out more information about that?

Kate Cashman (28:08):

I can go to the website to And have a look at what’s there and the actual finalized application process we’re hoping to launch in the first or second week of November. So there is information about the community grants on the website right now and you can register your interest in in those grants. We’ve had some people get in touch with us who are doing some pretty amazing things already with kids in classrooms and you know, plants and it’s, it’s really that environmental focus.

Kate Cashman (28:41):

It’s definitely a very powerful model that you’ve got. So we’re just about out of time. I’ve got a few last questions. So just very quick questions. Sure. So what’s your favorite low waste product swap that you’ve made and why?

Kate Cashman (28:56):

Aside from my own toothbrush aside from my own toothbrush, my favorite low waste products probably would be one of yours. But beeswax wraps, I love those things that replaces those kitchen materials that throw away. Anything that replaces glad wrap. So the SUSTOMi wraps I absolutely love and would probably be my favourite. And look if I know your audience may be men and women, but other probably the feminine products that I’ve changed over using cups over. I’ve used cups for a number of years now and that has just become such a blessing. So not using lots of tampons or anything like that. So that would definitely as a female they are my other favorite,

Kate Cashman (29:45):

I completely agree there. It just makes life so much easier in so many ways. It’s, it’s amazing that once you start reducing waste, just realizing how, how convenient it can actually be once you make that first step. And in terms of the SUSTOMi way of getting life freshly sorted, what have been some of the best lessons or advice or resources or maybe books or even people that you’ve been [inspired by] that you wish more people knew about

Kate Cashman (30:14):

That getting life sorted,, Oh gosh, So things like, for me, everything starts with understanding what your values are, so [I have] a values test. It’s something I offered to a lot of the people that I work with as a coach as well in one of my other businesses. But find something online that helps you develop what your family values and what your personal values are and have a look at what you’re already doing and what you’re spending money on and see if those two things are aligned. I think starting at the very foundation is really, really important.

Kate Cashman (30:51):

Hmm, amazing. Do you have any specific tests that you can think of off the top of your head that you use?

Kate Cashman (30:56):

I have a Workshape that I give out to all of my clients and what I can do is I can give that to you to put into the podcast notes if you would like to be.

Kate Cashman (31:06):

That would be fantastic. Yes, we can add those in the notes for sure. And send out to everybody.

Kate Cashman (31:12):

Definitely is the best place to start and making sure that your budget and your family life aligns with that. Most definitely. And of course the declutter. You know, Marie Kondo, the decluttering, making sure that for me it’s how to repurpose what we declutter rather than throwing it away. I don’t see any point in throwing away a plastic item. If it still has life left in it, you may as well use what you have rather than contribute to more waste just to replace it with something that’s more sustainable, that the sustainability principle. So the decluttering and simplifying and then the me questioning whether I need to buy, what keeping up with the Joneses mentality is telling me I need to buy.

Kate Cashman (31:57):

What’s one thing you wish you could make happen to make the world a better place?

Kate Cashman (32:01):

One thing

Kate Cashman (32:05):

[Inaudible] small thing. Politics with societal change.

Kate Cashman (32:09):

Look, do you know, I’m a massive fan and practitioner of meditation and I think if every person on the planet sat in some form or practice some form of meditation in their life in some way, then a lot of the hatred, violence, not just recklessness but indifference. And this is not just towards sustainability. Some people are really different and I don’t say that what they do makes a difference, but also how we treat each other. World Wars, politics. If we were to sit in silence and be okay with who we are in the silence and not fill it with noise, then I think the world would absolutely change. The world is more peaceful. So what every person makes a difference.

Kate Cashman (33:04):

And following on from that, what division for the future? What ideally do you want the road to look like for the future? Especially with the children?

Kate Cashman (33:13):

Oh gosh. I want the world to become a whole lot more responsible or the actions that it takes. So a much more enlightened population and a population that is more courageous and vulnerable, who is willing to apologize or is willing to say that they don’t know something. And actually we see a lot more innovation. We see a lot more growth. We see a lot more harmony when people do that. So embracing vulnerability and courage as a planet to realize that what we’ve done in so many cases, particularly with the environment, with big business, with politics, just hasn’t worked. And it takes a lot of courage to admit that as a, as an organization, let alone as a planet. So I think we just need to leave more boldly and except vulnerability is the way of the future and we can be really courageous with that. So a really enlightened world where we are all connected more closely.

Kate Cashman (34:21):

And final question, what’s next for yourself and how can people find out more about you and what you do?

Kate Cashman (34:28):

Okay. So next for us, our goal at the first in the first year is to have 10,000 subscribers to toothy because that is a whole lot of toothbrushes that out of the earth and the oceans and and landfill and more so being composited into wonderful gifts for our earth. So 10,000 subscribers for us where it dot. AAU and obviously a big goal is to really start seeing some change with those bristles. For me personally, it’s to keep living in that alignment in work and life with the values that I have and to probably myself be more vulnerable and courageous in living according to those. So as a coach over at that’s something you know is this principle of life leadership is something that I talk about a lot. … Want to be a really key part later in my own life and make decisions that are in alignment with who I am and Toothy is to make a really great impact just through taking everyday action.

Kate Cashman (35:34):

Amazing. I think it really hit home when you said that you want 10,000 subscribers, you know, just doing some simple math, 10,000 subscribers at or 10,000 people using bamboo toothbrushes and not using plastic times by six times a year. You know, if you’re sending them out every two months, that’s a lot of plastic every year that you’re saving and that’s an incredible achievement. So what would happen Kate, and all the best for the future with Toothy and on all your other ventures. And thanks for joining us.