It’s not easy being Green

Nope – I’m not on my high horse preaching here (well maybe just a little bit) …. I just want to say that there’s a big difference between being a “green-groupie” and truly considering your own household environmental impact in a sustainable, balanced way.

For example – my friend’s daughter’s teacher is on a personal mission to save the world through reduced consumption of toilet paper. This might sound like a great idea but according to my friend, what she’s saving in bog roll, she’s spending on napisan and washing powder: a prime case of not looking at the bigger picture of only letting a 5 year old child have a single sheet of 2-ply after a number 2.

Its also a bit like people who go on and on about being “green” because they have “acreage” with a few gum trees on it …… but they happily tell you this from inside the comfort of their McMansion (that’s so large they need acreage just fit the square footage of the house), with their ducted air-con, big-screen tv, their large, his-n-hers 4WDs parked in the garage and enough furniture made from Indonesian timber to fill a shipping container (and in some cases, that last bit is meant literally!). I’m often tempted to ask them if they’d consider moving to a high-rise unit in the city and turning their entire block over to native vegetation as that would be a far “greener” thing to do.

Its also like an old neighbour who frowned upon my use of disposable nappies on our kids, and yet would regularly ask to put his excess garbage into our (never full)  bin : the irony was lost on him.

I’m more in favour of leaving the lip service aside and weighing up how you can minimise your environmental impact in a way that makes a real difference. I know few people who I’d consider to be truly “green”. Ironically, they are also the least “boastful” on the subject because they know that they aren’t as “green” as they could be. I try not to comment much as I know that there’s heaps more we could be doing … but I feel we are generally heading in the right direction…

Speaking for myself, we do what we can but its often not as “glamorously green” as others, for example: most of our furniture is 2nd hand or has been “liberated” from road-side dumps (we have a lot of things that have been rescued from the hard garbage); we don’t have a lot of power hungry devices and the air-con unit is more of a wall decoration as its rarely running; we turn off appliances at the wall and turn off lights when we leave a room; things that need batteries are few and far between and of those that do, its rechargables all the way; the garden is full of native plants as well as fruit and veges; we have chooks to “recycle” our kitchen scraps; fuel is too dear to use the car all the time; and I know how to use my top-loading washing machine to save the suds so they get a few turns through the machine before we pump it onto the garden and end up using less water than a front loader (and of course I only use a low sodium, garden-friendly detergent).

I know that we could be doing lots more so I generally try not to preach. For example, I wish the new styles of cloth nappies were around when my kids were babies – I may have been more tempted by them over the old style that I could never quite get onto tiny bums without serious leakage making an extra load of sheets a day.
On the up side, our electricity bills are pretty low in comparison to other 4-person households in the area and we generally stick to the “140L per person per day” rule for our water consumption as well (at the moment we are averaging 120L/person/day … still a heck of a lot, but we are always improving).

So what am I trying to say here is that actions speak louder than words.   Be positive about what you’ve done but don’t berate others for what they are (or aren’t) doing.  Do your bit quietly … or if you must tell other people, do it by showing them your low utilities bill!

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