I haven’t always cared about the environment very much. It took a few peoples’ influence, and one book to COMPLETELY turn me around on the need to look after the planet.
The first and strongest influences I had are my parents. Probably mainly for fiscal reasons, we were taught to ALWAYS TURN OFF THE LIGHTS from a young age. (We had a quarter jar for when we left a light on in a room we’d left. I think my parents used it to pay the power bill). But my parents have turned in to recycling fiends – throwing away almost nothing! I am very proud of how conscientious they are and glad it influenced me.
Then there was my roommate Amy, who would remove recycling from the garbage if I’d thrown it away – and gently, but firmly remind me to recycle whatever could be recycled. She is also a wonder at using what is available, so nothing goes to waste. Thanks Amy!
And then there’s my friend Andrea, who is into growing her own food, heirloom veggies (veggies that can create usable seeds, and haven’t been modified to be sterile, I think), recycling of course, buying local (so your food hasn’t burned loads of fossil fuels getting to you), and eating less or ethically raised meat. Her influence was also profoundly influential.
There are others as well, such as Milana who was my most powerful environmental catalyst because she introduced me to the book “This Changes Everything” By Naomi Klein (one of my favourite Canadian authors). Milana, this really does change everything.
Anyway – that was a long introduction to say, it seems much easier to live green here in Australia than it was in Canada.
I’ll admit, I am not as familiar with regulatory bodies and certification processes out here, but I commit to learning more about them. Shoot. I probably shouldn’t have published a promise.
What I do know is that large parts of Australia feature a year around growing season – meaning there are in-season fruits, veggies and herbs, all year long. Including in my garden!
Here are the things I’ve done to be more green:
- I’ve begun growing my own herbs and some veggies. (Right now I have a huge crop of butter lettuce about to come in, coriander, chives, basil, mint and parsley, and although I don’t cook with it, I have a couple thriving Aloe plants that I use in lieu of skin products). [Update, caterpillars and one massive grasshopper consumed LITERALLY the entire crop of butter lettuce].
- Ditch the plastic produce bags. I ordered these reusable mesh bags off eBay. They are much stronger, obviously washable and reusable, but best of all, I get the moral superiority of not using plastic produce bags. That’s right. I said it.
- Ditch the plastic grocery bags. Weirdly, this one has taken more practice and effort than using the mesh produce bags. I’m not sure why that is. It helped to buy reusable bags in colours I like.
- I’ve switched to biodegradable ziplocs, but use reusable tupperware-like containers whenever possible. [I have heard, but can’t confirm that biodegradable plastics are a “greenwashing” marketing ploy. Not a real thing. Further research may be forthcoming].
- We recycle as much as we can here. Queensland and NSW councils don’t recycle soft plastics, so we collect our soft plastics and take them with us whenever we go to a Coles or Woolworths grocery store, where they DO recycle soft plastics. Allegedly. I’m trying to keep my idealism in tact.
- We try to get as much of our produce and dairy products as possible from local, sustainable vendors. We really like the Northey Street Market and the West End Markets. The Clayfield Market used to be pretty close and convenient. Now its the Tugun market, and word is that Aldi is about to go organic, so that will probably be another option.
- We’ve tried to buy environmentally friendly products whenever possible, including soaps, shampoos and cleaners (for us, and also for our Airbnb).
- I bought a barrel composter that sits in the backyard, and got a book from the library on how to use it. I can’t say I’m doing it right though, because the barrel’s contents look very similar to how they looked 3 weeks ago, and 3 months ago… I’m working on it.
- I’ve cut out about 70% of the meat out of my diet (and almost 100% of the beef and lamb I used to eat), and since I do the lion’s share of the cooking (especially while Dan was in school) Dan has also drastically reduced the amount of meat he eats. I’ll admit, I haven’t tried it out yet, but I saw this calculator on Facebook that calculates the amount you save the environment by reducing your meat intake. If you’re interested, take a look.
- We both have bikes and try to use them as much as is practical. Dan regularly bikes to and from work, bless his muscular quads.
That is all for now. Go green!