I used to be one of those people that thought it didn’t really matter what I did. One person was not going to make an effect on the environment. My mum would watch the news and report back to me about global warming and I really was semi ignorant to it all.

But in the last few years, I have started to change my opinion and open my eyes!

I’ve watched as our country has experienced the worst drought in 110 years.

We live in a rural community and the effect has been unbelievable. People struggling, business struggling, farmers selling their breeding stock, and some even resorting to suicide as what they see as their only way out.

Drought

The effect of the drought was then compounded by bushfires!

Australian Bushfires

Both of the photos above are within kilometres from our home.

I’ve realised that my small changes, combined with many other people’s small changes really do make a difference.

So for one of my goals this year, I decided I would reduce my footprint more. And so far, one and half months in, I am very happy with my progress.

What have I done you ask……

well…..

Plastic bags

I take my bags with me to the supermarket or for my click n collect and do my best to not use their plastic bags, and when I do use one, I reuse it for many many months after.

In a Xmas hamper I received, I got the best handy bag I’ve ever owned. It’s called an Onya bag, and it fits into its own little pocket and can be stored in my handbag.

Then you whip it out and unroll it to be a big sized carry bag.

They do come in different sizes but I’m loving the one I have. Last weekend I was shopping with hubby and normally everything gets tossed into my handbag and I become the packhorse. All of a sudden I started to put things in my Onya bag and he looked quite confused at where I magically pulled this bag out. It’s now my little party trick

Plastic straws

It’s a simple one. Just say no to plastic straws!

Drink from the can or the cup or the glass.

Most of our plastic straws end up in our waterways. This one simple change globally can make a difference.

Help our poor little turtles have a chance at surviving!!!

Reusable takeaway coffee cups

Opt to take your own reusable takeaway coffee cup. Most cafes accept these now. Some will even take money off your order. Win-win, help the environment and save money.

For Christmas, I asked my daughter for a “keep cup”. These are made by an Australian company and if you need to replace anything on them, you can buy parts individually.

Keep Cup

Not only did I receive one keep cup, but in a wonderful hamper I received a ceramic one also that is great for my desk at work. Now I have one for on the go and one for the office.

Household rubbish

Our next step has been to reduce our household rubbish. We live in a little village that doesn’t have a garbage pick-up service. At the refuse centre, they charge $22 a load. So whether you take a bag, a bin, or a ute load, it’s the same amount. We have purchased some extra bins and are trying to minimise our trips and save money. We last did a trip to empty our bins after a Christmas. And have only filled two 190 litre wheelie bins in the month and a half post-Christmas.

We compost and recycle as much as we can. We try to use reusable containers to avoid using plastic wrap.

For Christmas, I also got a wonderful drink bottle from my son which is insulated. I am actually wondering where this has been all my life. I can leave it in a hot car and it’s still freezing cold inside.

Compost & Recycle

To help this process we have two compost bins. All our fruit and veggie scraps and eggshells go into it.

We Recycle our cardboard, plastic, tins and glass bottles. We cash in drinking bottles and cans via a return and earn system in our state which also returns us money.

Gardening

We have been growing our own herbs, vegetables and fruits.

For Christmas, we asked for vouchers from family to our local hardware store. We used this to make our own raised garden bed. It cost us around $200. We used sticks from around our property in our layers of soil, and dirt off our block to save money. We collected some horse manure for nearby home as a neighbour lets his horses feed on the vacant blocks near us.

You could do this cheaper if you didn’t need it to be raised. You could build it upon the ground without a border, or with a cheap border. We have too many rabbits in our village that they may eat our plants before us.

We also have fruit trees in pots. Previously we have rented the house we lived in. So instead of planting trees and plants in someone else’s garden, we have them in pots. We have blueberries (which I got a wonderful crop off this year), lemon, lime, lemonade and mandarin. Sometimes it may take a year or two for these to fruit, but it is well worth it when you compare the cost to buy these.

Use a Clothes Line

Sounds simple I know!

Many people choose to put all their washing through a clothes dryer. What they don’t consider is electricity usage and the drain on our environment. Every bit of saving adds up, particularly when it doesn’t come from green power.

But not only do you save power, you naturally have a disinfectant using the sun. Win-win for our health!

Recycling shower water

As I mentioned before we have been going through a drought. Our town has been on level 5 water restrictions so everyone has been getting creative on water saving and reuse.

We ourselves are on tank water, so if it doesn’t rain we have to buy the water. It has become a very valuable commodity.

We have a bucket in our shower to catch the water when we are waiting for the hot to come through. We then use this water, to water our plants including our veggie garden.

Bio Cycle Septic

We live off the grid when it comes to town water and sewer. We have installed a Bio Cycle Septic system.

What is this you ask? It’s like a mini sewerage treatment plant in our backyard. Anything that goes down our drains is processed. Once processed a sprinkler comes on in our yard and waters our lawn.

Bio cycle septic
One of my sons looking super excited that it will water the lawn (dirt at that stage but it is coming along nicely now)

We do have to be careful about what we put down our drains. We use natural products and septic safe products. No bleaches or nasties are in our house anymore. We even make some of our own cleaning products. But that’s a story for another time.

Water tanks

As mentioned before we are semi off the grid. We are on tank water so rely on the rain. Having been in a drought and have had our first real rain Showers in a year. We have gratefully welcomed the rain and have not had to buy any water this year so far.

Water tank

So although we are only one. Many ones can make a difference. No one expects dramatic changes overnight. But one change, and then another has a compound effect.

I will continue to update my progress through the years. Stay tuned for my tips including how to reduce single-use plastic, making your own homemade cleaners, home gardening and home-cooked meals.