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10 steps to building an eco-conscious lifestyle for every generation

10 steps to building an eco-conscious lifestyle for every generation

Parental guilt around leading a conscious lifestyle is real. Really real. And, over the past few weeks I’ve been feeling it more than ever.

It seems like the current fires and heavy smoke over Sydney are a glimpse into our future. A future that we are creating for our children. And it’s devastating.

I’m ashamed to admit that this way of thinking, my consideration of small actions we take as a family is relatively new to me. I always assumed someone else would take care of things, someone else will fix the problem. I now know this is merely an excuse, just me burying my head in the sand, hoping it will all go away. But it won’t.

The issues surrounding the climate crisis are many, and increasingly complex. There is no longer the option to deny that it is real. We are in a position right now to individually and collectively make a change.

Yes, large scale action on a global and government level is well overdue. And, you better believe come election time my vote will be going to the party with solutions.

For now, however, I am focused on the impact that I can make as an individual. Because if every individual focused on a few small steps towards change then collectively we can start to turn this crisis around.

Hopefully, then, our children will look back and thank us. They’ll thank us for giving a shit and not burying our heads in the sand.

What if, going into 2020, we all pledged to make 10 small changes? To look at our decisions through the lenses of consideration for the planet and the future of our children. It does not have to be an all or nothing pledge. There are no judges, or rules, just a silent commitment to do better.

To get started we have asked our community for the steps THEY have taken towards an environmentally conscious lifestyle:

Eat less meat

You can help build a more sustainable planet just by changing what you put on your plate. If this seems a little scary, don’t fret, because there are so many great resources out there to help you make this change. The beautiful cookbook (and website), Vegan Bowls, contains over 100 recipes in its pages to get you well on your way to being plant-based household. It’s okay to start small. Just ensure one meal a day is completely plant-based and increase your efforts from there. This step alone will have the greatest impact in how you feel (not to mention how your wallet feels) each and every day.

Challenge yourself to a plastic-free grocery shop

Why not inject a little bit of fun into your new eco-conscious commitment? Get a little competitive with your loved ones and present them with the challenge of who can bring the least amount of single-use plastic home from the grocery store. Want an easy way to win this one? Have your fruit and veg delivered! Harris Farm, for instance, deliver delicious fresh produce boxes right to your door.

Remember, also, to always take reusable produce bags when you hit the fresh food section. There are so many options out there, so have fun embracing your own personal style and values. Kappi produce bags are made from organic cotton and are big enough to fit your entire weeks’ worth of spinach!

You could even try shopping naked. No, I don’t mean traipsing the shopping aisles in the nude. I mean buying bulk food items like nuts, seeds, cereals and more in glass or reusable containers from retailers like Naked Foods, The Source Bulk Foods or the bulk food section of your local supermarket. Genius, and a lot of fun!

Buy less stuff

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Check in with yourself whenever you’re about to buy something new and literally ask yourself the questions, “Do I really need this?”, “Is this filling a gap in my wardrobe/kitchen/household, or do I already have something similar?” and “Could this money be better spent, or saved entirely?”

Need inspiration? There are so many excellent essays, websites and experts that speak to this idea, such as The Story of Stuff film. Also, In Over Your Head have shared a beautifully written, slightly satirical, guide on how to get rid of the excess “crap” in your home. This one definitely hit home, but it’s worth a read if you’re ready to shake up your perspective on how much stuff you keep around you that you do not really need. 

Compost

This step is a no-brainer. Not only is composting fantastic for eradicating much of your unwanted scraps, but it is also great for your garden and teaching your kids about waste. If you don’t have room for a compost bin, you can join Share Waste or Positive Waste. If you do have the space and are ready to take the plunge, Compost Revolution is offering an 80 per cent council discount to kick-start your composting goals for the new year. Happy days!

Get involved in permaculture

Trust me, it’s not as daunting or as complicated as you think. According to the ABC, permaculture is the “practical approach to the problems facing modern society based on a philosophy of think globally, act locally, and is equally as relevant to an inner-city courtyard as it is to a broad acre farm.” You can check out the ABC’s fact sheet on permaculture here. From irrigation, raising chooks, growing your own vegetables plus so much more, it covers everything you need to know (it even reminds you where to get council approval should it be required).

Another great resource is Morag Gamble’s website, Our Permaculture Life. Morag and her family live mortgage-free in an eco-modular home surrounded by thriving gardens. Yes, mortgage free. If that’s not enough to give permaculture a second thought, I don’t know what is.  

Consider your Christmas waste

For most of us, Christmas is a time to indulge with your closest friends and family. You eat, you drink and generally be merry. It’s also a time to give (and to get). While the silly season can bring lots of joy, it can also leave behind a lot of waste. Gift-wrap, old Christmas trees, strings of fairy lights, batteries, packaging and unwanted gifts… the list of waste is endless. Thankfully, the City of Sydney has created a master list of what to do with each and every item you’ll likely come across over Christmas and New Year. Confused about what to do with your broken LED lights or the Styrofoam from your child’s new toy set? They’ve got the answer. It’s worth taking a moment to have a read.

Read/educate/talk to your family about climate change

To put it plainly, climate change is caused by an excess of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere which are causing erratic weather across the globe and temperatures to rise. Regardless of what your friends and family might say, it is real, and it is happening. However, it can be a touchy subject for some, so tread lightly when approaching it. This resource from the Australian Psychological Society outlines how to teach children about the environment, and how to cope with feelings of climate change distress. As with all things, remember to always be kind and remember most people are doing the best they can with what they know.

Make your house as energy efficient as possible

We’ve all seen them. Those sinister little digits on our energy bills that seem to hit higher numbers with each month that goes by. Wouldn’t it be great to send those pesky numbers plummeting and save the planet at the same time? It’s not impossible! From natural ventilation to smart energy switches, the good people at Domain have rounded up the best tips and tricks to turn your home into an energy-efficient haven. Definitely check it out.

Recycle everything

Yes, everything! We all recycle our egg cartons, milk bottles, cans and jars. But, it’s time to take our recycling efforts up a notch. Clothes and textiles can be donated to H&M’s Garment Collecting initiative (of course you can always donate them to specific charities and those in need like shelters and opportunity shops). Socks can be sent to the geniuses at MANRAGS to be upcycled into new items of clothing. You know those soft plastics that can’t go in our recycle bin? Send them to Redcycle, and they’ll turn them into something useful. Have an item you want to recycle but not sure where it should go? Just visit Garbage Guru for the answers to your most pressing recycling questions. There’s no excuse anymore, people!

Move your money to an environmentally conscious institution

I have learnt that one of the most powerful and effective ways of making an impact and literally putting your money where it matters is by switching to an ethical bank and super fund. By diverting funds AWAY from institutions that support coal mining, tobacco framing and other shady investments, you are sending a clear and powerful message.

The Conscious Space does all of its banking with Bank Australia (their app is super simple to navigate) and our staff have their super with various funds, from Future Super, to Verve, to Australian Ethical.

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