LET’S COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS, NOT RESOLUTIONS TO BE MORE GREEN IN 2016
How are you feeling now that Christmas and the party season is behind us? If I am anything to go by you are possibly a bit weary, and trying to think what other activities can keep the kids amused while they are on summer break. For my friends and family in the northern hemisphere, yes we are in the middle of the Australian summer and yes, it is hot!
I was going to write a piece at the beginning of the New Year about resolutions, but so many people advise us about making resolutions, which we really find hard to keep. At earthly passion, we are all about making changes, but in baby steps so they stick. So instead of telling you to make resolutions, here are a few ideas that you might start considering doing in 2016.
1. Leftovers…what leftovers?
Did you know in Australia, we waste approximately $8–10 billion of food is wasted each year. What a lot of food! Growing up in a family of eight kids there was often no leftovers, but if there was, my Mum made sure there was another use for them.
So how can you help? Here are a few way to use up that leftover food and to prevent waste:
Use the leftovers for lunch. Pasta and rice dishes are great dishes to make a salad with or better still, if you have a microwave at your place of work or school, you can reheat a meal.
Salads can be composted, just make sure no meat, fish or cooked egg is thrown into the compost heap.
Re-use food in a different way. Mashed potato can be used for gnocchi, cooked vegetables for soups or stews, while meat, chicken and fish can be used for serval different meals as long as it has been stored properly.
Freeze and use the same meal a few weeks later.
Plan your meals. By doing this, you can avoid waste.
2. Get away from fast clothing.
Recently I found out that in Australia over 1 million tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfill each year. One of the reasons for this is we think it is okay to buy clothing, wear it once, decide it is not good enough and then throw it away. Another reason is we want to keep up with the latest fashions. Think about reusing or buying second hand clothing. Why you will love wearing second clothing:
• You will be unique, no one else will have the same.
• Save some money. It is often cheaper to buy second hand clothes.
• Make your own style. Re-use some of your old clothing, by changing it up. Add buttons and lace or re-shape by using your sewing skills or ask your friendly dressmaking to help you out.
• You will be happy in the knowledge that you didn’t add another piece of clothing to landfill.
Look at what you have in your wardrobe. Is there clothes you haven’t used for a while? Is there any that you can recycle, dressed up? Otherwise call into your local op-shop or St Vinnies. You will be surprised what you can find there.
3. Energy waste
This is one of the easiest changes we all can make - switching off the power when we are not using it. We have so many gadgets around the house these days that we often forget to switch them off. Simple things like shutting down our computers, switching off our TVs and gaming machines can all make a difference. Often these items are left on stand, using up valuable energy while not in use.
In my house, my kids frustrate me as they love leaving on every light in the house. I’m sure I am not alone. Teach your children (and the adults) to turn off the lights when they leave a room. When it is warm open windows to cool rooms instead of flicking on the AC. When it is cold try putting on some extra layers of clothing instead of cranking up the heater. By reducing your energy usage you will shrink your power bill and help reduce the use of fossil fuels.
4. Taking a trip… leave the car at home.
It is not always easy to avoid using your car, but when you can, try taking public transport. There are many benefits to not taking your car. Taking a train, a bus or a tram gives you a chance to relax, maybe read a book or listen to music. It means you can avoid the stress of looking for parking, while having a chance to look around you, seeing the landscape you often miss when driving. When my kids were younger, I loved telling them we were heading to the city and we were going by train. It was a special treat. Now it is regarded as a lovely family outing.
I know most people decide to go on a diet this time of year. Well, maybe instead we should consider hopping on a bike (no motor involved) and instead of dieting, burn some energy using good old pedal motion. Oh the fresh air!
5. There are good reasons to compost.
Okay I love garden and therefore I love compost. Although a lot of people know it is good to compost, but often they are not sure where to start and think it is too hard. Some people don’t know why we should compost?
Where to start – Now this is the simplified version, but I am hoping to give you the low down on com posting in the coming weeks. But it quiet simple. The first thing you need to do is to collect your vegetable scraps and egg shells. You can even tear up those newspapers or paper waste. In your garden, use a barrel with a lid or make a compost pen. Layer the waste, adding dried leaves and twigs (no large branches) from around the garden. Make sure you use more dried waste than green waste (approximately 2 – 3 times more). Lightly moisten the compost with water and every 1-2 weeks mix the contents using a fork or spade to aerate the compost. It will take a few months before you should have lovely compost for your garden.
Why you should start composting - It can save you money, improve your soil and reduce the impact on the environment. By using compost there is no need for chemical fertilisers. Compost comes with many nutrients and holds onto moisture in the soil, meaning you don’t have to water as often. And best of all Compost is free.
Whatever you decide to do, putting one or more of these ideas into practice, remember every little bit counts. I would love to hear that a few of you have taken up these suggestions or other people’s eco-friendly ideas. If we all combine our efforts, we will then make huge steps.
What other suggestions do you have? Please feel free to comment.
Until the next time, have an earthly passionate week.