Monday, 26 June 2017

Earth Care at our Place

There is much about sustainability "swirling" around us all the time now as our world grapples with environmental challenges, not the least of which is climate change. Just recently here, there has been the popular television program, ABC TV's War on Waste, media reporting of imminent energy price hikes in some Australian states, the release of the independent Finkel Review into the future security of the National Electricity Market, the controversy surrounding the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in Queensland's Galilee Basin, widespread coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and so on ... 

If you are anything like me, sometimes all this can be overwhelming and can leave you wondering, "What can I do about all of this?" "Will anything I do make a difference?" The answer to those questions, for me, lies in one of Permaculture's key ethics. Maddy Harland, in an article for the magazine Permaculture (Vol. 82, Winter 2014)  wrote "Earth Care ... involves many decisions...we can make choices about what and how we consume and conserve." I think the choices we make as individuals count, I think they merge with the choices of others, like Fiona and Cheryl and Morag and Tammy, to create ripples for change in the world around us. 

So, here are some of the choices we make at our place. Did we make these changes overnight? No. Is there more we could do? Yes. But a beginning is a start, isn't it!

For the House ... 

Solar panels and solar hot water on our roof.
(We make a conscious effort to use appliances like wash machine in daylight hours.)

We collect rainwater from our roof.
(We have this small tank and a much larger one under our house.)

In the kitchen .... 

We grow and eat some of our own food.
(Reduces the food miles significantly.)

Healthy, wholesome meals made from scratch in our kitchen.
(Meat-free meals appear on our table regularly too.)

Reusable storage containers, pockets, covers and beeswax wraps.
(I no longer need to buy plastic kitchen wrap!)

Buying in bulk helps reduce packaging that comes into our home.
(Stored in good quality, air tight containers.)

Fruit and vegetable scraps go into our worm farm.
(Significantly reduces waste and returns goodness to the soil.)

In the Laundry & Bathroom ...

 The cleaning products and hand knitted washcloths we use.
(This is not a sponsored photo or post, simply the products we use.)

I buy this in bulk box of 48 double length rolls of 100% recycled toilet paper.
(Again, this is not a sponsored photo or post, simply a product we use.)

 Sunshine dries our washing.
(We have a line under the house and airing racks for wet days.)

On Our Bodies ...

Sewing some of our own clothes.
(A new skill I'm learning!)

A few simple products for skin and hair.
(Soap, coconut oil as moisturiser & apple cider vinegar as hair conditioner.)

Sourcing some pre-loved clothes from op-shops.
(I love this new-to-me top & wear it often.)

In the Garden ...

Our garden is a haven for wildlife like bees, lizards, birds and more... 
(We grow some native plants, have bird baths for water.)

We make compost from garden trimmings.
(This compost feeds our soil rather than garden waste going to landfill.)

Our garden prunings become mulch which feeds and protects our soil.
(Less waste destined for landfill.)

Handweeding instead of using chemicals.
(Fewer chemicals, that can adversely affect human & animal health, in the environment.)

Out and about ...

Reusable shopping bags and produce bags.
(Significantly reduces single-use plastic that comes into our home.)

One of our reusable water bottles. 
(We have stainless steel straws too in case we get milkshakes!)

We visit & borrow often from our local library.
(Books like this one broaden our knowledge & give us ideas.)

We spend time outside, soaking up and getting to know nature, as often as possible.
("We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know.")
~ Richard Louv

You may do similar things at your place or you may do things differently. What we do here is by no means an exhaustive list (Far from it!). In the spirit of creating and spreading ripples, I hope you'll have ideas of your own that you can share. I'd love to know what you do at your place.

Happy Monday to you all.



  1. I love this post Meg. At times I've felt frustrated and deflated by trying to live with an environmental conscious, when all around me so much waste goes on. But it's because of this little blogging community that I remember that I am not alone, that there are others who do their best as well, that we can and are making a collective difference, and that the ripple effect is real! That keeps me going some days when it all gets overwhelming. I'm not perfect there's so much more I could do, but I often remind myself I do more than most, and so being that small grain of sand really is enough.

    1. I think there's always more that we can do here too, Cheryl, but I just take one step at a time, try different things, and learn from others. I draw inspiration and hope from the little blogging community I've become a part of and from whom I've gathered some great ideas. When I feel disheartened, I try to remember that here, in our home, there is much that we can influence and much that we can do. These might be little things in the main, but I think they matter. Meg:)

  2. Have just looked at those loo rolls on line - how good they look. I used to buy recycled but stopped when supermarket prices went silly but these look good value. I also like that they donate to charity for building loos as water aid is the charity that I prefer to donate to and it's much the same idea. I've book marked the web page and will be ordering from them when i next need some.

    1. Hi, Sue. We've been using this toilet paper for a long time now.I hope it will suit your family too. I typically pay $48AUS for the 48rolls but recently, in joining with others, was able to get a box for $39AUS. I love that there is no plastic packaging as well. Meg:)

  3. Meg we can all do a little bit to lessen the waste. You have some great ideas there. We still have a way to go but every little step helps. Great post.

    1. I think every little step does help and, if there are lots of us making those little changes and doing what we can, that this collectively (as well as individually) makes a difference. Meg:)

  4. Thanks for this post Meg, just yesterday I was searching the net for ways to reduce the amount of plastic that comes into my home,beeswax wraps and bowl covers are something I'm looking at buying or DIYing. Did you make yours?

    1. I didn't make these ones, Jan, and they have lasted me a couple of years now with very regular use. When they wear out, I will make my own following the tutorial over on Morag Gamble's blog, "Our Permaculture Life". Here is the link:


  5. Nice work. :)

    We do some of those things, but not all. Where I've tried to make a difference (because it has the most potential for waste) is propagating my own plants, and reusing pots I buy plants in. On acreage (think, lots of plants) in the 10 years we've been here, I haven't had to throw out pots. Only if they break. I also stretch out potting soil mix, with other resources we have on site, so I don't have to buy as many bags.

    We also recently discovered our local mushroom farm has reopened (closed after the floods) and is making it's spent compost available again. It is contained in it's original plastic, growing bag. But it means I don't have to buy another bag of potting soil (new consumption) when I can reuse another source (second hand consumption). I try to find ways, my consumption of products, doesn't demand new plastic being manufactured.

    1. It's great that the mushroom farm has reopened, Chris, and that you can source compost from them. I don't grow a lot in pots here because I find that the pots dry out a lot in Summer and then I forget to water them. I did grow tomatoes in pots though and stretched out my potting mix with worm castings and coffee grounds. At one of the local nurseries, you used to be able to return plastic pots but that nursery has now closed:( I sometimes use small upturned pots on the tops of bamboo stakes as markers so my boy knows they are there when he's kicking his footy!!! Although we are now trying to grow more of our own mulch, we have only just begun that process, so we recently got a huge "brick" of sugarcane mulch, plastic free, from a rural produce store not far away. We brought it home in the back of our old ute and half of it's still under the house because it stretched so far! We've enough for the next time the garden needs mulching! Meg:)

  6. I love this post and seeing all the amazing and simple things you are doing to help. I am going to pin this one for keeps to make sure I get some more things happening in my home too!

    1. Hi, Clarissa. When I started thinking about this post and taking/finding the photos I needed for it, I found that there is lots that we just do now as part of everyday life here (e.g. composting, feeding worms etc.) but those changes happened bit by bit so my advice would be to make one change at a time and see how it works for your family. In a book I've read recently titled, "Sustainable Food" by Michael Mobbs, he suggests that one of the most important and powerful changes one can make to help our beautiful planet is to grow some of your own food. There is so much energy and many resources vested in the production, transport, purchasing and waste of food. I know you grow some of your own food, because I've visited your blog many times too, so I think in doing so you are already making a difference:) Meg

  7. We can only do our little bit, but if each of us does our bit, combined it will become a lot. We look at everything we do to see if there is a better way, some things we won't change because we can't see the benefit. The best thing we do is at least once a week we have a day meat and fish free, some weeks we do it twice. Rather than bang on about eating meat which is heavy in resources, it would be better suggesting we each try and have a meat free day, if everyone did that we would cut product by 1/7th which would be amazing. I do hate waste and my new thinking is if we don't by it we don't have to throw it away later.

    1. I think your approach is wonderful, Marlene. Thinking about what we'll do with a product at the end of its usefulness (or when it breaks) BEFORE we buy something is a really important consideration. Maybe that means deciding not to purchase it, maybe it means thinking of how we could reuse it or recycle it or even how we can repair it so it becomes functional again. Asking ourselves the question, "How can we stop it ending up in landfill?" is a really powerful idea. Meg:)

  8. If each of us does the best we can, and regularly thinks about how we can improve our ways to live more sustainably, then as a population we will make a huge difference. My years in Nepal were fraught with frustration as each person threw their rubbish on the ground or in the river. Every time I talked about it, they told me that their single effort will make no difference. They could not see that if everyone stopped littering it would make ALL the difference. It's starting to improve more recently as working groups are educating the population, and the improvement is visible.

    1. Hi, Sally. I think it is going to take the collective effort of individuals all over the world to make a difference rather than waiting for government to mandate/legislate those changes for us. That's an incredibly slow process & I believe there are all these little things we can do in the meantime that matter. In doing these things, in sharing with others, I think it adds to the weight of the conversation around sustainability. I can relate to your frustration in relation to littering, it just about drives me bonkers when I walk the beach and find little bits of plastic washed up with the tide or someone flicks their cigarette butt out their car window so nonchalantly. It just seems so unnecessary to pollute the world this way. Meg:)