Thursday, 28 February 2013

GreeNZ Top 10 Sustainable Living Ideas

The humble sun-brella
  1.   Grow Green
Vegetable seedlings awaiting planting into veg beds

Do it!  Just buy a packet of vegetable seeds.  Read instructions to sow them and JUST DO IT!!  Then sit back and watch them grow and experience the miracle of growing your own food.  I find it fascinating that within each tiny seed, there is a memory bank or genetic propensity to re-create a whole new plant!  Something that will nourish us and give us life!

2.  Buy second hand or pre-loved.

Our daughter wears a $51 second hand ball dress.
$11, plus $40 seamstress fee to make it smaller.
Most girls' ball dresses cost between $100 and $500! 
Opp Shops.  Second-Hand Stores.  TradeMe.  Pre-loved items have lower carbon miles, have plenty life left in them and you create less demand for the aggressive consumerist drive.  Keep something out of landfill for longer.  We only have one Earth.  Let's honour her and not fill her with trash!

3.  Eat Real Food.

Zucchini Rampicante growing up a trellis.

Pears for the plucking.
Real food does not come in plastic wrapped packages.  They have no numbers or preservatives.  They do require some preparation but then there's a silent meditative joy in that - making and creating.  Preferably eat real food that is organic or has been grown with earth-friendly practises (not the slash and burn of conventional farming) that does not cause harm to people or planet.

Real Food, grown organically.

4.  Re-use, recycle or re-purpose

Josephine, our scarecrow, fashioned from off-cut bits of wood destined for the rubbish tip.
Okay, so we get tired of things quickly, there's always something new on the market to replace the older, dated version of last year's model.    Brighter, cooler, flasher, whizzier.  But can we change what we have to create a new look?  Add some patches to faded jeans, shorten or lengthen a skirt to make it fashionable, dye those old curtains to change the wah of the living room?  Re-upholster the old lounge suite?  Re-purposing goods creates new life from old, and again, reduces waste and landfill overcrowding issues.

5.  Make use of the sun

Hot water solar panels on roof on extreme right

My little trusty solar-powered shed radio

Did you know that the sun is not really the enemy she's made out to be?  We actually need sunshine to survive!  All living things need sunshine!  It is the giver of Life.  Not cancer.  That's more likely to be caused by all the chemicals in the sunblock we are slapping all over us, and the amount of time we spend in the sun.  If we are roasting food, we have a good indicator of how long it takes to cook - if my potatoes take only 30-40 minutes to roast, dang, I'd be a little dumb to leave them in that oven heat for another hour, wouldn't I?  That'd be roast-potato suicide!  Burnt to cinders and no good to eat!  So when we know that burn time for our skin is only 5-7 minutes in the sun, why do we sit and play in the sun, without shade, for 2-3 hours at a time?  Dang, that's dumb huh??!

Make use of the sun - we have a radio powered by the sun.  And a shed light.  And fairy lights.  No cost to run.  Zilch.  Denada!  We have a solar-powered hot water system.  Cost in summer to have hot water - zilch!  Sismanga!  Now we have seen the light and we have a solar-powered energy generating system - cost of our power to run this house - minus $68, the previous month, minus $136.  Yep, you get it - the sun is making us money by putting us in credit!!  So when we have to draw more energy in winter and the sun factor is not as prevalent, we can draw on our credit already saved.  Makes sense.

6.  Walk
Okay, this is not quite a pic of me walking in action - but it is one of our giant
second-year's seed-saved sunflowers
Gym membership.  Who needs it?  Spend 10 minutes getting dressed for the gym, half an hour driving there, work out in a sweaty indoor environment, drive home and shower.  Fresh air?  Not much.  Except if you rolled down your window on the drive there, but then you'd probably get a lungful of carbon monoxide from all the other cars in the traffic.  
I have stayed true to my New Year's Resolution (first time) and walk most days - okay, it's only around the block and it's only 10 minutes but it's better than the 17 years of New Year's Resolutions that never got me this far!  Perhaps I will increase it slowly as time goes by.  And I use this time to pick up litter, so it feels like I am contributing to the well-being of our block.  And that keeps me focused to keep on doing it!

7.   Composting

Compost bins
Rotting organic matter

Without said factor, one produces way too much waste.  Precious kitchen scraps, garden prunings and weeds - all can end up as invaluable soil enhancer, nutrients for your veggies and fruit-growing venture, and mulch to aid moisture retention in soil. Wonderful stuff!

8.  Try to avoid excessive packaging
Nature's Own Biodegradable-packaged  energy snacks
If you can, return packaging to shops.  Get the message across that consumers don't need all the wrapping, plastic casings and worst of all, polystyrene, which is made from liquid petrochemicals!  There's power in collective voice.  Add to the power.  Let's make manufacturers think about all that packaging.  Some are starting to used recycled cardboard supports instead of polystyrene.  Did you know that some researchers report that polystyrene does not break down.  Ever?  The bits just keep on getting smaller and smaller.  And that it is carcinogenic in food containers but apparently health authorities say that the carcinogens are present in such small quantities, that they don't pose a real risk??  
I wonder why there are plastic food containers that are 1's and 2's that can be recycled in New Zealand, so why are manufacturers still using 3's - 5's???  Boycott them.  Yoghurt pots are the worst!  So many school children and adults take them for lunch snacks.  If there is an alternative, try it. For example, did you know that in NZ and Australia alone, 57 000 plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill every year??  That's a massive amount of plastic!!  Try a bamboo toothbrush - you'll never look back!!

9.  Make your Own
Recycled sweet tins, filled with body balm

Chutneys, home-grown.
If it is commercially produced, it probably contains chemicals.  Face Cream.  Body Lotions.  Baking.  Household Cleaners.  There are heaps of recipes out there - in books, or on the internet.  Or experiment, like me.  I even make insect repellent, sunblock and lip balms.  All in the Oh So Easy file!  And it costs much much less than conventional stuff.

10. Try to learn some form of Natural Healing

The art of healing the body through the feet:  Reflexology
Just as we talk of the health of the Planet, so too must we acknowledge the health of ourselves as individuals, all linked together.  Never before, has the human population been able to access so much "health products", pharmaceutical and medical assistance, world-wide-web of knowledge and yet, manage to be so unhealthy and truly sick!  People are suffering from heart disease, cholesterol, cancers, immune system disorders, skin and blood disorders and general unwell-ness in droves!  I recommend that one person in every family need learn a healing modality - it empowers us to heal ourselves,  our friends and family!  Help ease their suffering and promote healthy living rather than pharmaceutical drug addictions.

 Okay, so it was hard to keep it to just 10 Top Tips.    I simply have to add another: 
Little chick - backyard chook-keeping

11.  Share

Talk about what you are doing in your own backyard.  Plant seeds of hope in others.  Often, just hearing someone is doing something can inspire others to follow suit.  It's sharing of ideas and we owe it to Papatuanuku (Mother Earth)!  Lead by example, and show your children how easy it is to live in harmony with nature!

Do it for You!
Most all "sustainable" living practices are fun, easy, simple, cost less and makes you feel good!  If it doesn't and you feel like you are running on a treadmill of sustainable practices, something is not quite right.    Start small.  Increase your practices one small step at a time.  It may be a conscious effort in the beginning but soon becomes a way of life, second nature.


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