A few months ago, I shared a post on Babyccino in honour of Earth Day and the ‘Restore our Earth’ theme with some things we do in our family to help reduce our carbon footprint. I wanted to share some ideas here too.
I am aware that I’m preaching to the converted, and that we’re all aware of the importance of lightening our footprint and saving our planet. I also know none of us are perfect when it comes to our efforts of minimising our impact on the planet — by simply being alive, we are leaving an impact. However, little by little we can do and learn and try harder. And most importantly, we can educate our kids along the way.
Here are some things we’ve implemented in our family and ways to lighten our footprint on our planet:
- Last year we bought a SubPod worm farm/composting system for our garden, and we’ve been really happy with it. We are able to compost our food scraps, and the worms create a nutrient-dense soil for our garden. It’s a win/win!
- A couple of years ago we invested in solar panels on the roof of our house. We were surprised by how affordable the solar panels are, and how quickly you start to make your money back. Our solar panels account for at least 2/3 of our hot water and energy use, which feels really good.
- We have a Flow Hive beehive in a corner of our front garden, and we are really happy with it. We are yet to harvest honey (it can take up to 18 months, depending on weather and seasons), but we love having our own bees to pollinate the flowers and fruit trees in our garden. We can’t wait to harvest our own honey! Also, it’s been really fun educating ourselves and our kids about bees. They are fascinating! (Flow Hive was founded by a really cool guy here in Byron. If you don’t already know the story of this company, it’s worth checking out.)
- We also grow our own herbs in our veggie garden, along with some veggies and fruits. So often, if you don’t have herbs growing in your garden, you have to buy a pack wrapped in plastic from the grocery store, so simply growing your own saves on all that single-use plastic. Of course we also shop our local farmers market every Saturday morning for all the produce we don’t grow in our garden, and we also like to stop at our local roadside fruit and veg stalls. We try our hardest to avoid buying produce wrapped in plastic packaging.
- When we do our food shopping at delis, or if we’re buying coffee beans or anything in bulk, we bring our own containers to fill. It used to feel weird handing someone my own container to fill up, but no one has ever batted an eye.
- When we built our studio, we bought a rain water collection tank to put at the back of it. When it rains, the tank fills up and we use that tank for watering our garden, rinsing our wetsuits, and for any other non-drinking purpose.
- Last year, after lots of deliberation, we bought a Nissan Leaf electric car. Electric cars are not cheap here in Australia, and unfortunately the government offers zero incentives for buying one, but we just really felt it was the right thing to do for us. We have several (free!) quick charging stations in our area, so we are always able to charge whenever we are out and about, and of course we can also charge at home in our driveway, plugged into our normal outlet (though that is a slower way to charge.) If you know Michael, you will know he did his research before buying this car, which involved spreadsheets (!), and we have indeed been really happy with the car. If you have questions about the car — I’m happy to answer (or get Michael to answer!).
- Our council doesn’t recycle soft plastics, but we collect ours and take them to a designated recycling centre. Here in Byron, the big Woolworths grocery stores have soft plastic recycling stations, so we drop ours off about once a week.
- We try to avoid using the tumble dryer if we can. (This is tricky in the wet season here, as sometimes we can have a month of non-stop pouring rain, but outside of those seasons, we mostly dry everything on the line.) We bought a large stainless steel foldable clothes airer, which we stick in a sunny spot of our garden (and can hide away whenever we have guests over!).
- In the kitchen, we have invested in some great food containers to avoid using plastic wrap or cling film. For our bread-baking, we bought a set of three stainless bowls with lids, to keep our dough in the fridge. We also have beeswax wrappers and reusable stretch lids. We save our empty jars as well for food storage too. Some other great websites for reusable food storage products are: Ukonserve, Lunchskins, PlanetBox, and Klean Kanteen. You can also make your own beeswax wrappers!
- We have a cupboard full of reusable water bottles. We never leave the house without our big 2 Litre one with us, and every one of our kids takes a water bottle to school with them. I made a vow never to buy a plastic water bottle again in my life, and I’m hoping I never have to break it. 🙂
- In 2015, when we set off on our travels, we decided to cut meat from our diet. We have been vegetarian for nearly six years now, and to be honest, we really don’t miss the meat. Vegetarian cooking is so fun, and the meals are so flavoursome. For lots of meat eaters, it’s hard to think about cutting out meat entirely, but even if you can go meatless one or two days a week, it all adds up and makes a huge difference. We are not dairy free, but we do try to find non-dairy alternatives whenever we can. (I am obsessed with coconut yoghurt and coconut kefir. We also have a variety of oat milks and coconut milks in our fridge at all times.) Again, it’s about making an effort — it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
- One of the easiest things we can do (which has a big impact) is to be smart about where we invest our money. Switch your bank to a good one that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels. There are organisations that make it easy to do so. (Make sure your pension or superannuation is with an ethical bank too. I believe it’s actually pretty easy to make a switch if you need to.)