In my last blog Rising from the Ashes I included some ideas of Things you Can Do in your own life to support yourself and others through this bushfire crisis.
This went down really well. It seems that we are crying out for tangible things that we can implement in our lives to create positive change. We actually want to do things in our own homes and communities rather than blaming anyone and everyone else for not fixing it for us.
So.. I thought I’d share some of the changes I’ve made over the last couple of years to live a little more lightly on the earth and connect more deeply with this land I live on. My hope is that there may be ideas in here that you can be inspired by and implement. And remember that you don’t have to do everything and you don’t have to do any of it perfectly. Apparently it was Winston Churchill that said “Perfection is the enemy of Progress”!
I truly believe that WE need to BE the change we want to see in the world.
Do your research through reading and talking to people – Whether it is permaculture, social activism, no-tox living, animal welfare or any other way that you feel called to live in a kinder and more ethical way, I find it really useful to do a little research on the issue. Sometimes we can get so passionate about an issue from one Netflix documentary (!) but it’s a really good idea to read a little bit around the topic, listen to podcasts and talk to other people that are already doing things so that you get a good idea about the WHY and HOW you are making changes!
- Moving to the Country – Our move to Wandi was a big part of this feeling that we needed to be the change we want to see. Having talked and talked about living closer to the mountains and the bush and being able to grow our own food and create some of our own energy we knew we just had to do it. It’s been over 3 years and we have not looked back. We chose a house that had land, trees, was well designed and insulated with an efficient wood heating system, solar hot water, made of low-tox products and set up to add more sustainable options.
- Recycling – We kind of all know we should be doing this and a lot of people are but this includes more than just putting your plastic, glass, aluminium, and paper in the recycling bin. Over the last few years I’ve been learning more about what can and can’t be recycled and making choices around that. Did you know you can recycle soft plastic at most large supermarkets? (a bin is usually near the entrance). Recycle E-waste such as old computers, cables, phones and batteries (usually your Council will have a drop-off point), printer cartridges, running shoes (Rebel Sport has a collection bin now) and clothes that aren’t good enough for the Op Shop, as much as you can to keep any items out of landfill. This is a good website to find out about recycling programs. We also recycle all of our kitchen scraps by giving them to the chickens, guinea pigs or compost bin. Of course, the best option is to limit the amount of waste you accumulate in general by thinking twice about single-use and packaged products but this is HARD in our society so we do the best we can!
- Reusables – Even better than recycling is using items that are reusable rather than single-use. The obvious ones are straws, coffee cups and shopping bags. We always have a water bottle with us which can be refilled rather than buying plastic. Our local butcher invites people to bring their ‘tupperware rather than using plastic bags for meat & gives out Boomerang shopping bags in the store. When our kids were babies we used reusable, modern cloth nappies. We didn’t use them all the time but I feel like we saved a good amount of plastic nappies from landfill. At the risk of Too Much Info I also use reusable menstrual cups rather than throw away pads and tampons. JuJu is my favourite brand and I’ve only had two of them over the last 4 years. We use old-school reusable razors too. That’s a heap more plastic kept out of the earth…
- Low-tox living – As I have delved deeper into the use of Essential Oils and no-tox cleaning I’ve managed to almost get rid of every chemical product in the house. I use doTERRA oils for most remedies and skincare as well as mould cleaners, hand sanitisers and air fresheners. I use good old vinegar and bi-carb soda for toilet cleaning. I use ENJO fibres to clean my whole house with just water and Earth Choice washing detergents and shampoo.
- Clean Money – I have moved any of my investments into ethical accounts including the Sustainable and Ethical fund with UniSuper and Australian Ethical Investments. I did as much research as I could to ensure that my money was being invested in companies doing good in the world and that it was actually divested from companies selling arms, digging up the planet or creating products that cause disease.
- Solar Power – We have invested in solar panels to harness the energy of the sun. At the moment we are still connected to the grid and are actively keeping up to date about battery technology and will jump on board with those in the future. At the moment we are saving money and helping to deliver more renewable energy into the grid for others to buy. This is a big investment but there are often rebates and deals available however, do your research and choose a reputable supplier and installer.
- Vege-flexi-tarian – I choose to eat mostly a plant-based whole foods diet. Everyone will differ in their approach to this depending on their own values and body type. My decision to stop eating meat was mainly based on ethical and environmental reasons and right now, not necessarily a belief that we shouldn’t eat meat. I was no longer able to reconcile buying packaged meat in the supermarket with my own values and feeling that there was such a disconnection from the life that was given for this food. Not to mention the intensive way the meat is produced and the negative consequences for our environment. I still eat eggs from our own backyard chickens and occasionally some sustainably sourced fish or homemade salami. I struggle with giving up butter and cheese… I really do think we need to rethink the way we relate to food in many ways and this feels right for me at the moment.
- Growing my own food – I am still very much an enthusiastic beginner gardener but I’m reading and testing and talking to those that are producing food in this climate to learn as much as I can. This year we have (fingers crossed) tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, kale, chilies, beans, spring onions, leeks, cucumbers, herbs, garlic, strawberries, wild blackberries, olives, walnuts, and chestnuts. We have a wonderful community food swap each month (which I need to get to more!) where you can swap your excess with other people. We are by no means self-sufficient but I actually don’t think I get much more joy than going out into the garden, picking some veg, collecting some eggs, foraging for berries, and then creating a meal out of it all. It is the simplest of pleasures and something my heart has been calling for. Even if you don’t have much land your can grow in a courtyard or balcony or investigate shared and communal patches with your neighbours.
- Buying as much other food locally, organically or in bulk – I order a weekly organic vegetable box from our local organic grocery store Bright Herbs and Organics. I shop at the local farmers market or farm gates for berries, honey, nuts and apples. I am part of a bulk whole food buying group for staples such as flour, dried fruits, nut butters and oils.
- Connecting with Community – At the end of last year, we arranged a Street Party. It was such a beautiful opportunity to connect with our neighbours (and great timing for us to be looking out for each other only a week later when the bushfires came close). It was super low key, a few drinks, bring a plate, a BBQ and some games for the kids. We all agreed it’ll be an annual (or twice a year) event. If you don’t currently have a street or block party, I highly recommend not waiting for someone else to organise it and just doing it yourself!
- Support causes I believe in financially and through advocacy – For our family, we choose to support Amnesty International and Greenpeace. We give monthly and sign petitions, write letters and call politicians.
- A Waste Audit – I plan to do an audit in the coming months on what we put in the landfill bin and the recycling bins to see what we could cut out of our shopping and how we might reuse things that we are throwing away. I’d like to do this as a family so we can all learn more about where what we consume is going and how we can create change in our own home. It would be great to work towards a ‘waste-free’ or even just a ‘plastic-free’ month later in the year!
- Regenerating our soil – Continuing the process of connecting with our own land through growing our edible and bird & bee attracting garden, I plan to regenerate more of the soil for produce, without adding in chemicals, using permaculture techniques and fine-tuning our composting system. Through this I hope to grow more of our own food, reducing our reliance on the energy and transport intensive food industry.
- Using my car less & offsetting travel – I use my car to travel in and out of my small town each day to shop and to teach Yoga. Now that both my kids are at school in Wandi I plan to ride and walk more. I plan to find more ways to leave the car at home and ride into town. I’m going to research the best way to offset the carbon I do emit when using the car (or worse flying in a plane!). Some of my family and close friends still live in Europe, I love to visit other countries (I’m about to head to Indian Kashmir for a ski touring trip) and I take a group of students to Laos each year on retreat. I don’t know if I can say I will reduce my air travel from the couple of times a year maximum I use it. But, I want to a find a way to offset the emissions I contribute.
- Reducing our water, energy and toxic load on the planet even more – This year we plan to install a tank to harvest rainwater (part of the plan to grow more food and create more protection from bushfires in the future). We continue to research solar batteries, composting toilets and other ways to stop using chemical products (I’m trying to move to natural sunscreen and go shampoo free or a homemade recipe (looking for ideas of one that works!).
- Learning more about the land we live on – I’m committing to learn more about the history of where we live, including the Indigenous history as best I can. I want to learn more about foraging, about looking after the bush and finding ways to connect with the seasons and with our community more through rituals, feasts and celebrations!
- Reducing anger, fear & greed – I am committed more than ever to my own Yoga & meditation practice because I know it makes me a kinder and more compassionate person. I’m more able to respond to the people and situations around me in a calm way when I practice. I’m excited to share more of these mindfulness practices in my community and further afield as I start to teach meditation courses this year.
By including my commitments for this year and beyond here I creating a little bit of accountability to actually do this stuff myself!
If anything in here resonated for you but you are struggling to know where to start please get in touch. I can share some resources that I’ve found useful or we can workshop together. Remember we are not alone in making these changes and we are stronger together. If you have any great ideas to add to the list pop them below in the comments!
Be strong. Be YOU! Be the change!