Want to know ways you can reduce your footprint, pay less to big business, give back to mother nature and your community? Want to reap the health benefits of living a more sustainable life? Then read our 10 ways to get off the grid that anyone can implement for a greener way of living.
1. Solar Panels
Own your own home? Get solar panels installed. For Australian residents there is still a government rebate if you get them installed, you can read more on that here: www.energymatters.com.au
Renting? Me too and it really bugs me to pay such an outlandish amount for energy. From owning a home last year and getting money back every quarter from having solar panels to now paying $400+ is something that really grinds my gears. How to combat it? Use less energy, change your light globes to compact fluorescent globes and choose energy efficient appliances, the more stars the better!
2. Get Chickens
Currently building a chicken coop in the backyard at the moment and we can’t wait to have three little hens running about.
Chickens are the most beneficial and economical pets for todays busy home. They lay eggs for you 6 months out of the year. They help you recycle food and yard waste, the idea is that you feed your chickens kitchen scraps, they poop out a nitrogen-rich fertiliser, and you compost it with leaves and other untreated yard waste. They work as backyard organic exterminating service whilst they aren’t feeding your family. Chickens love to eat protein-packed insects, which works out well because they can serve as the organic pest-cleanup crew in your garden and devour ticks on your property. They also love to eat many weeds, and serve as post-harvest garden bed gleaners, potentially making your work as a gardener very, very easy.
3. Grow Veggies
With all your wonderful compost from those chickens you will have beautiful nutrient rich soil to grow some lovely fresh fruit and vegetables.
I have been growing from seeds using the egg shell method, check that out here: havven.com.au/decor/diy-eggshell-garden I don’t know if the soil is enriched from the protein in the egg shell or what, but I haven’t lost a plant yet. I water them every day on our kitchen window sill and when they are big and strong enough I crack the bottom of the shell and plant them in the backyard veggie patch to mature. I am working on a hoola-hoop and netting to protect the baby plants from the many birds that love nothing more than to dig up the plants.
For a handy chart to see what you should plant and when, check out gardenate.com
4. Learn how to sew
You don’t even need an expensive sewing machine, or a machine at all for that matter but it sure does save time. By knowing the basics of sewing you can mend holes, take in clothes that are too big or take out clothes that are too small. Decorate your home with home made bunting and stitch blankets, toys, tableware. The options are really endless. Sewing is a skill but one that can be mastered with practise. How does sewing reduce your footprint? Well, it extends the life of purchased clothing, second hand stores/thrift shopping is more appealing, as you can easily adjust/mend/add, you can make your own clothes once you feel confident to work with patterns (I don’t suggest starting with patterns until you are confident with your basics). So go on, bust out the old needle and thread and start darning your favourite socks with the holes in the toe, or something as easy to start with.
5. Recycle Right
No brainer really, right? but still people don’t, why? Is it because there has been a pause in environment campaigns in the media? A friend of mine didn’t even realise when they where putting the green rubbish bin on the sidewalk that they shouldn’t have had the plastic bag liner holding the recycling. You are supposed to empty the recycling straight into the bin, if the recycling is in a plastic bag it is taken off the conveyor belt and goes in with landfill.
By improving our knowledge of what can be recycled, how valuable resources are recovered and returned back into the circular economy and making changing to our purchasing decisions, we can all contribute to a more positive environmental future. Read up: www.sita.com.au
6. Buy in Bulk
Buy in bulk saves packaging and is so much cheaper, if you have the room stock up on things like toilet paper and non-perishables. Buying in bulk will also mean you can reduce trips to the grocery store, which will save you gas mileage on those short car trips.
7. Shop Local
Increase our economy, when you buy local more money stays in the community. Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
Locally grown food tastes and looks better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheeses and are hand-crafted for best flavour. Livestock products are processed in nearby facilities and typically the farmer has direct relationship with processors, overseeing quality – unlike animals processed in large industrial facilities. The lesser time between the farm and the table the better. Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they’re less likely to sell farmland for development.
Reduce environmental impact. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.
Create more jobs. Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents.
There are lots of good reasons to compost. Save money, save resources, improve your soil and reduce your impact on the environment. Regardless of your reasons, composting is a win/win scenario. Good for you and good for the environment. It’s not hard to do or expensive. We made our compost bin from a $5 plastic bin from Bunnings and poked holes in the top. When we throw our scraps in the bin we also roll it around so the organic matter is aerated and it can break down evenly. There are some very nice spinning, multi drawer fancy compost machines on the market but our $5 Bunnings bin still creates the same result. Adding compost to your garden will not only fertilise, it actually feeds your soil with a diversity of nutrients and microorganisms that will improve plant growth. Chemical fertilisers on the other hand provide a quick burst of a limited number of nutrients that can wash away into our rivers and streams. Compost also increases soil stability, improves drainage and helps retain moisture.
9. Install a Water Tank
If you own a home you should invest in a water tank. These days, many people are trying their very best to conserve water, especially because of the drought which is not only being experienced here in Australia, but almost all corners of the globe. For Australian residents there are government rebates still available, check them out here: www.savewater.com.au
The rainwater that you have collected on your rainwater tanks can be utilised in many ways like for example watering your plants, washing your clothes and even flushing your toilets. Having such tanks installed in your home can also save you huge amounts from your water bills.
10. Choose to Walk, Ride, Public Transport or Carpool
Driving to work five days a week costs Australians twice what car owners who choose to take public transport spend, and almost $10,000 a year more than the costs of those who don’t own a car.
Data from the Southern Cross University and Australasian Railway Association (ARA), reported on the Guardian this week, reveals that Australian CBD-dwellers spend an average of $11,031 on driving to work five days a week. That includes the cost of fuel, vehicle maintenance, registration, insurance, depreciation, interest, and parking. Parking is most expensive in Perth, where unreserved parking is estimated to cost $276 a month, and in Sydney.
Choose a cheaper commute via public transport a few days a week if it’s not possible every day. Organise with one or two of your colleagues to take turns driving everyone, that is 1-2 cars off the road. If you are lucky to live a short distance to your place of work, why not walk or ride a bike? It’s incidental exercise, eco-friendly and free!
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