A good life
An architecture graduate, teacher and mum of two, Esther Vreede is no stranger to hard work. But a dark time with depression caused her to rethink and slow down her life, and in time brought forth the creation of something very very good.
We take a moment to sit on the couch with Esther Vreede the clever thinker behind Mrs Goodness.
What is it that you do?
I run a blog and small online shop called Mrs Goodness that is a platform for me to share my ideas of low-waste and sustainable living freely, and encourage others to take part and be inspired.
Is Hamilton home for you?
I ended up living in Hamilton kind of accidentally – it was never planned, but I took opportunities as they arose and ended up with a job, then a house, the dog and then eventually a family! It took me a long time to feel at home here, as I worked long hours and never really connected with the community. When I got really sick I had to pull right back on work and other commitments, and that is when I started to take the time to explore and engage with my neighbourhood (Hamilton East) and I discovered I was surrounded by the most amazing people! Through Mrs Goodness I have met the most generous, sincere and truly inspiring people right here in Hamilton, and I feel like I belong.
How did Mrs Goodness come about?
While I was still teaching I was trying to be amazing and give everything to my students, but after I got sick I couldn’t do that anymore. I gave so much energy out to everyone and I suddenly realized I needed to start doing something that was just for me, that was important and good, and the right thing to do. I was short on New Years resolutions one January so I decided to strive for a cruelty free bathroom by the end of the year, something really small that aligns with my values that I could actually cross off my list. As I started doing this though, I realised there was less plastic as well, and that we were saving money too. Mrs Goodness came about when I saw how this small, value-based change wasn’t as difficult, time consuming, or expensive as I’d expected and I decided to start sharing my experiences with others through a blog. Fundamentally Mrs Goodness isn’t about making money off my ideas, as the whole point is that living well and doing good, shouldn’t be based on money. Making ethical choices to live a good life should be about putting ourselves first.
And then came the online shop?
The shop formed after I realised there are many people who want to do what I do, but don’t know where to start. They are looking for a helping hand, so the products are like a platform, a way to support people starting out. I’m always going to share my ideas for free though – the ethos is to be inclusive, not about money. I wanted to build a shop that was based on values first – sustainability, fair trade, quality, ethics – and profit second. I try my best to support and source New Zealand-made products, so that each purchase made has a positive flow-on effect to others in my community.
What ethos underpins Mrs Goodness?
What underpins the whole Mrs Goodness philosophy is sustainability. I know it’s a word that is just thrashed these days, thrown about so loosely, but I can’t think of another word that encapsulates so well what this is all about. I’m trying to create a life that is sustainable, that fulfils me, fuels me, that I don’t need a holiday from and that won’t wear me down. But also I want it to be sustainable in the context of how my lifestyle impacts on others and the environment. Other people seem really appreciative that I’m letting them in on this too! Even though I’m writing about my own life, I think people appreciate that they can take something from it for themselves.
Where can we see more of Mrs Goodness?