Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Of the environment, and other things

I've been tagged by Nichola with the book tag, which works out very nicely indeed - I'd been planning on writing a post about Blog Action Day, but forgot (d'oh!), and am currently reading a book that is 100% guaranteed to scare the willies off you - Six Degrees by Mark Lynas. The book looks at the effect each degree of warming will have on the earth, starting at one degree and moving up to six. Absolutely horrifying stuff. (For a terrific summary of the book, go here to read what ye old Guardian says.)

So, as per the meme, I'll open the book at page 161, find the 5th sentence down and have a look at what it says:

Lowe's work shows that flooding of this kind could hit the coast every few years by the latter part of this century, leaving whole villages, towns and huge swathes of farmland uninhabitable.
Well, that's a cheery thought, innit? Yet still we drive our cars everywhere, guzzling up all those fossil fuels and spewing more carbon into the air, which only serves to heat up our planet more and more and more. We add to this by consuming food that is grown with fertilisers based on fossil fuels, that not only contribute more carbon to the atmosphere, but ruin entire eco-systems - either by being part of agribusiness with nothing but single plant varieties grown for miles around, or by the fertilisers washing off into our rivers and bays, destroying everything except algae which sucks out the oxygen from the water, destroying the marine life, and then rots, releasing: you guessed it, more carbon! Oh, and don't forget that all the food we eat travels thousands upon thousands of miles before it hits your plate, with all those miles toting up to release even more carbon into the air!
But never mind the heat - just buy yourself a lovely cooling air conditioner. Sure, they suck up a bit of electricity but since the marjority of Australia's energy is created by burning coal, I'm sure that it will be quite all right. What's that you say - burning coal is a very dirty business indeed - in fact, it's the most carbon releasing way of creating electricity? Well, hot diggity damn! With an emphasisi on the hot! I suppose I'd best unplug my fragrance releaser (insert other completely useless electrical equipment here).
Okay, enough sarcasm. And I know I'm not perfect. I occaisonally ride in a car. I sometimes eat food that comes in plastic packaging, from locations far away. I'm not at all averse to buying nice shiny new food magazines when I see them in the newsagency. I, like most of us, do not fancy wearing a hairshirt.
But I do try, very very hard. As a family, every purchase we make (um, except for the food mags!) undergoes strict scrutiny. Do we need it? Is it ethically produced? Can I get a similar product with less 'miles' attached. Is it organic? Can the packaging be reused or recycled? Do I really need to buy it, or can I borrow one from a neighbour or the library? So, in the spirit of all things environmental, I thought I'd give you a snapshot of my average day, where the focus is on trying to do the least harm, whilst still living an enjoyable life.
Oh, and congratulations if you've stuck this far!
Sometime between 6:00 - 7:00: The Galumph and I awake to the noise of Grumbles calling out "Muuuuuum! Daaaaaaaad!" in her room. I usually roll over, murming "Oh, isn't it your turn?" and let Galumph grab her, whilst I grab another 5 minutes shut eye.
7:05 - Yawning and scratching my belly, I meander down to the kitchen. The Galumph has already boiled the kettle, bless him, using only enough water for our breakfast beverages, so I fire up the computer while I wait for him to make me a coffee, using Fair Trade coffee and organic milk. He, meanwhile, loads up his laptop to check his work emails (yeah, we need to work on having both running at the one time).
7:30 - Grumbles demands breakfast, so we begin to organise it. Her and Galumph both have organic porridge which I buy from an organic grocer, bringing my own bag. The porridge is usually topped with organic stewed fruit (I use whatever is in season). I have toast made from bread from the local baker (take my own bag there, too!) with whatever is lying around the fridge.
8:00 - Shower time. Galumph and Grumbles go first, making sure that they stay in the 3 minutes allocated by the egg timer attached to our shower wall, otherwise they get yelled at by Miss Charming over here. I pop in after them, and try and beat my personal best time. Best so far is 1 minute 27 seconds (needless to say, I didn't really feel very refreshed, although I got a good workout, scrubbing so quickly). If it's a hairwash day, I take a little bit longer, usually nudging the 3 minutes, soaping up with my plastic free soap bar from Lush. I then pop out, moisturise with my Aesop cream (glass bottle, and is manufactured in Carlton!), and then deodorise using some crappy supermarket job. I tried the Lush ones, but they just didn't work for me (although they do for Galumph - I've guess I'm just stinky), and I concluded the washing my clothes after every single wear was far worse for the environment than using the plastic deordorant.
8:15 - We all get dressed. Grumbles and I are usually sporting something that I've made myself. By making my own clothes, not only am I cutting down on some clothing miles (yes, the fabric travels, but not quite as much as it would if it went to another factory in Chinas to be made into mass produced fashion), but we think we look pretty cool! Also, you really have to want something when you sew it yourself, so it stops random spur of the moment purchases. If I do buy a new piece, I try to get pieces made by local designers. They do cost a bit, but I wear them year after year after year. Fashion is art, darling!
8:30 - On goes the washing. I load up my front loader with environmentally friendly detergant (haven't got to making my own yet, Nic!), make sure it's on the eco-cycle, and cold water setting, and away it goes.
8:35 - Grab the shower water, saved in a bucket, and use it to water the plants.
8:40 - Kiss Galumph goodbye, after making sure he's got his leftovers for lunch, plus some organic fruit to eat, as he rides off to work, rain, hail, or shine, on his bike. I then hang out the washing on the clothes line. No tumble drying for us!
9:00 - Do the dishes, using eco-friendly detergant, trying to keep water to a minimum.
9:30 - Whilst Grumbles is happily doing some colouring in, I write out my shopping list for the day, on old bits of scrap pattern making paper which I save when cutting out a pattern, then bundle together as notepaper. Once I know what we need (based on our monthly menu plan) we either walk or pram to the shops (we have to, since we don't own a car), bringing our own carry bags and paper bags. We stop at the organic green grocer, buying our fruit and vegetables there, then pop into the small local supermarket for any dairy that we might need. Depending on the day, we might stop and have a coffee with one of the girls at the grocers, or with the friendly chap at the second hand book shop. We always wave to the man at the fish shop, and say hello to the video shop fellow, who gives us free dvds in return for home made muffins, and then might go to the cheese shop, where Grumbles is always treated to a piece of cheese (that kid is yet to meet a cheese she didn't like).
12:00 - Whoooo, look at the time - we'd better have some lunch! Usually we have left overs from the night before, or maybe we'll have a toasted sandwhich, or soup I've squirrelled away in the freezer. Unless it's a very dark day, no lights go on at our place during the day time. It's not uncommon to glance up and realise we've been sitting in the dark! After lunch Grumbles heads down for her sleep.
1:00 - With Grumbles down, it's now 'me' time. I'll fire up the computer again, check and answer emails, and perhaps update the blog. I like to read the G2 section of The Guardian, as well as checking out Treehugger. Then, after closing down the computer I decide what activity to occupy myself with until Grumbles wakes up. Either I knit, read a book or I sew. The sewing does require the use of a sewing machine, plus lights, so I do use a bit of electricity there, but the knitting or reading always takes place with me tucked up in bed. I do this for two reasons: 1 - To stay warm, so I don't have to put on the heater, and 2 - So I can be close to the window, thus negating the need to turn on any lights. Yes, I am a big dork. But I'm a dork with toasty warm legs and a clear conscience! I'll remain at my activity until I hear Grumbles stir.
3:00 - With the tiger up and ready to play, we have a snack of fruit, then decide what to spend the afternoon doing. Either we walk down to the park, or meet up with a friend, or do something crafty at home, like painting, or colouring, or making our own paper, or inventing stories with her collection of home made toys. The focus is always on using what we have. Apart from colouring books, it's rare that Grumbles gets anything new like a toy or books, unless it's her birthday or Christmas. I'd much rather frequent the local library, or help her make something from scratch.
5:30 - Time to get dinner organised. I turn the computer on, and let Grumbles watch a dvd whilst I make tea. We don't own a television, so this is her 'quiet time', and keeps her from being tired and over excited, and under my feet, while I make dinner. Dinner is always vegetarian (read more about it here!), with most things being made from scratch, which can take a little while. Occaisonally I bomb out and realise that I forgot to soak the beans or whatever so I'll crack open a can, but mostly I try to keep the food packaging to a minimum.
6:30 - Galumph is usually home by now, so we play some nice music while we sit down together as a family. We talk about our days (well, we try - most of the time dinner is spent asking Grumbles not to leave her chair until everybody is finished and please pick up your fork and now pick up your spoon and don't warble whilst Daddy is talking and Grumbles I just told you not to do that and do you want to tell Dad what we did today? Oh, now you've gone quiet!) and any notable events that went on in the world (although if it's about politics or tax I may tune out - sorry honey!)
7:00 - Galumph takes Grumbles to the couch for some story time, and I have another quick look on the computer (coughcoughcelebsdressingsobadlyit'sfunnycoughcough!).
7:30 - After going through the toilet routine, then the drink of water routine, Grumbles is tucked up into bed. I sing Moon, Moon to her, then it's lights out and goodnight.
8:00 - Adult time! Actually, I don't know why I put an exclamation mark there - we're really not that exciting. We'll read, or perhaps watch a dvd on the computer. If we do that, we drag our couch up nice and close (I refuse to get a bigger monitor until this one actually explodes - there's enough useless appliance upgrading going on without me adding to it), and we'll grab the doona from our bed to cover ourselves so we keep warm and don't have to turn on the heating. If it's really cold, I put on a hat. Hey there, sexy! Attired in such a fashion we snuggle down and watch our film, then head to bed.
Whew! That took forever. So that's how I live my version of a green life - okay, sure, I'm no Colin Beavan, but we do make sure that we are being conscious about our footprint, and endeavor to reduce it as much as we possibly can, given our financial resources. We don't drive, nor fly, eat meat, or mindlessly consume. We have green power, invest ethically, and are happy to go out and plant some trees ourselves.
I'd love to hear what everybody else is doing - new ideas are always great. And remember - we're all in this together.


  1. Gulp! I thought i was doing a pretty good job until i read your post, we've got some catching up to do i think :)
    We don't buy organic for the simple fact it's too expensive for our budget, how do you manage it? We also own a tv (bad people), which i personally would be happy to not have but Kev likes to have to watch movies on. We recently had it fixed rather than buying a new one.
    Maybe we can do a book loan swap after we've finished reading?
    Have you been to Ceres? I've been wanting to take the family there sometime soon.

  2. I didn't mind the memory keepers daughter.... it was a read, but not a fantastic one. I just wanted to thump him... such a boring useless guy... makes me glad I'm single! I've just completed reading all the posts in your blog over the last couple of days. Enjoyed getting to know you and your family.
    Green things we do?
    Veggie garden. Bake. reuse and recycle. Swich things off at the wall. (Drives the kids mad but they can get just get over it.)Nothing like the level that you do, but we're doing babysteps...

  3. We have far to go, but I am trying... No tumble drier ( the Hill hoist is a wonderful thing and I use a ceiling clothes airer in the winter)).
    No dish washer.
    Short showers.
    Vinegar, Euc oil or lemon for cleaning ( that is when and if I clean).
    Garden/environ. friendly dish washing liquid and clothes washing liquid.
    All washing machine water is used on the garden.
    Organic foodstuff when I can afford it.
    I can't get the Bear to turn stuff off at the wall and he does like his large tv for watching movies( I'd happily go without and listen to the radio).
    I need a car for work as I have to travel several ks to see clients.

    Can I have 5/10 for trying please?:)

  4. Okay so I flunk this one. BUT I never water my garden and it's a large garden.

    I do however have long showers. I try to have short showers but I get way-laid thinking about my day ahead or behind. I like to think that my long showers are cancelled out by my daughter taking a bird-bath approach to bathing. She barely gets wet.

  5. You're an inspiration! I'm getting better with turning off all the lights, and try and have 2 car free days a week, as well as shopping for clothes mainly at op shops, and cooking most meals rather than having take away.
    Have you tried bicarb as deodorant? I've always been a 17% aluminium girl myself, but once I tried this I haven't gone back. Stops any smell, but you may still sweat a bit on warm days.


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