I realised a few months ago that I don't have an "About Me" page, or any posts which summarise all of our journey so far, and it's something which I get a lot of questions about. So, I figured I had better rectify the situation; here is a short (-ish!) summary of where we are today and what we've done along the way.
2006 - A Green Epiphany & Starting Out:
* My youngest - third and final - child turns one, at which time I finally feel like I can sit up and start taking notice of the wider world again, five years after having baby #1. I am seriously shocked by the amount of waste generated by, and plastic items belonging to or associated with, our three children.
* I notice that our middle child (then aged three) displays significant behavioural issues after eating many artificial preservatives and colours in commercially-prepared foods (violent mood swings, tantrums, uncontrolled crying etc). After removing most of them from the diet of the whole family I notice that my calm-natured eldest child is now more alert, and less tired & prone to tears in the afternoons.
* Hubby and I see Al Gore's film, An inconvenient Truth. We are staggered & dismayed, then overwhelmed & depressed before we decide that regardless of how little impact we personally, might make on future of the world, we need to do the best we can in order to tell our children in the future that we at least tried to make a difference.
* I am overwhelmed by the information I find about green living as I sit up very late every night researching on the internet, so I start a blog, in order to keep records of the stuff I am finding, and what I am doing to tackle it.
* I read Linda Cockburn's book Living The Good Life, and Singer & Mason's book The Ethics of What We Eat, and am simultaneously inspired (by the former) and revolted (by the latter). Both books change my life and my perspective on it.
* We do the following:
* Install window tinting on the windows in the lounge room and dining room;
* Replace as many remaining incandescent light bulbs as possible with CFL's;
* Install ceiling fans in the kids' bedrooms and in the area off the kitchen;
* Install low-flow AAA rated shower heads;
* Install a flow-limiter on the kitchen tap;
* Put shower timers in each of the showers;
* Use a bucket in the ensuite shower to catch the water wasted while it is warming up;
* Buy a battery charger and slowly replace normal batteries with rechargeable ones;
* Switch to environmentally-friendly laundry detergent and dishwasher powder, and
* Replace the dishwasher Rinse Aid with vinegar;
* Give away our very old, very inefficient bar fridge;
* Reduce use of the clothes dryer as much as possible.
* Buy toothbrushes with replaceable heads made from recycled plastic;
* Switch to SLS-free facial wash and swap my facial toner for Witch Hazel;
* Buy a Diva Cup & cloth pads for myself;
* Discover the fantastic Aussies Living Simply forum & moderator, Rhonda;
* Read numerous books on subjects ranging from Peak Oil to Slow Food and organic gardening.
* Offset the carbon emissions from our two cars via Greenfleet;
* Try to conscientiously limit the amount of driving we do, and try to drive as economically as possible.
* Start buying organic fruit and vegetables, locally grown where possible;
* Start buying other organic products where possible and we can afford it, particularly milk, cereals, meat, beans and tinned produce;
* Cut out a large proportion of the meat in our diet;
* Cut down on the amount of dairy products we are consuming;
* Eliminate many processed foods from our diet & cut down significantly on the amount of fast food takeaway we eat;
* Start making my own yoghurt & labneh (quark);
* Reduce the number of frozen products we buy;
* Plant some vegetables and start growing our own organic vegies:
* Buy & plant several dwarf fruit trees.
2007 - A Year of Greening:
Building on the start we made in late 2006, we go on to:
* Continue decluttering;
* Discover Freecycle; and
* Score a free worm farm and manual push mower.
* Vastly increase the area of backyard devoted to fruit vegetable growing;
* Buy many new fruit trees; and
* Start shopping at the local Farmer's Market;
* Install a 2500L rainwater tank & two small 300L buttes;
* Install a clothes line under cover in the garage for rainy days;
* Discover the joys (!) of baking; and
* Start drying foods and making preserves, ginger beer, cordials & soft cheeses for the first time;
* Start making our own kitchen, laundry & bathroom products;
* Replace my girls' water bottles with stainless steel ones;
* Discover the Path to Freedom Journal, No Impact Man and the Riot 4 Austerity;
* Replace as many disposable products as we can around the house with reusable alternatives;
* Start thinking about food miles in relation to our food;
* Install a Cent-A-Meter to monitor our electricity use;
* Watch The Story of Stuff;
* Read about the Ocean of Plastic, do a home plastic waste audit and are appalled. Resolve to do better;
* Are interviewed for a Time Magazine article;
* Install a Shower Saver;
* Give away our 4' long tropical fish tank;
* Learn to knit from instructions on YouTube;
* Dust off the sewing machine I have never really used; and amongst other things
* Make reusable cloth TP wipes (used only by me for #1's);
* Start taking regular meter readings in November (electricity, natural gas and water).
2008 - Simplify, Simplify:
This year I try to expand my gardening and cooking skills. We:
* Buy a solar cooker & pressure cooker;
* Install a solar tube (skylight) in our dark kitchen;
* Sew my own fabric sandwich wraps for pre-school lunches;
* Start refashioning new clothes for the girls from old & thrifted clothes;
* Buy an electric motor-assisted bicycle for DH, who starts riding it the 17km each way to & from work; and
* Sell our second car;
* Buy more fruit trees and vines, expand the vegie garden - twice - and start growing our own spices;
* Join Melinda's Growing Challenge, grow vegetables from seed for the first time; and
* Start saving my own vegetable seeds;
* Buy dynamo (wind-up) powered torches, a lantern and radio;
* Buy a power monitor meter and check our appliances for the biggest power-wasters;
* Knit my first dishcloths;
* Install lined curtains over the open doorways in our lounge and dining rooms to conserve heat in winter;
* Go No 'Poo i.e. stop using shampoo (using bicarb soda & a vinegar rinse instead);
* Are given a stove-top Vacola bottling unit (whee!);
* Expand my sewing skills, including sewing reusable fabric wraps for wrapping birthday and Christmas presents, and making aprons and pencil rolls for kids' birthday presents;
* Score my grandmother's old Singer treadle-operated sewing machine;
* Make my first ever batch of cold-pressed soap from scratch;
* Start blogging at the Simple Green Frugal Co-Op with some really inspiring writers;
* Start the slow process of swapping my plastic food storage containers for glass;
* Start playing with fermented foods and kefir;
* Make my own pasta.
2009 - Skilling Up:
In which the year whizzes by seemingly faster than the speed of sound, and we:
* Use Mr Rudd's stimulus money to replace our12 year old top-loading washing machine with a much more water-efficient front loader; and
* Replace our old, leaking, bathroom & ensuite taps with 5-star water-efficient sets;
* Install ceiling fans in the lounge and dining rooms (and now every room in the house except the kitchen has fans);
* Remove the battery from hubby's bicycle and he rides the 34km round trip to and from work unassisted;
* Work on replacing refined baking products, including white sugar and flour in our diet;
* Join a bulk food co-operative; and
* Continue to work on cooking from scratch;
* Buy compostable bamboo toothbrushes;
* Start measuring the produce we grow (which turns out to be 177 kilos or 390 pound for the year);
* Increase my seed-saving endeavours & start to get the hang of succession sowing (but am still not good at it);
* Meet up with some like-minded locals; and
* Start growing mushrooms;
* Score a second worm farm on Freecycle; and
* Install kitchen sink in the garden;
* Join Sharon's Independence Days Challenge;
* Brew our first batch of home-brew beer;
* Knit the first item of clothing for myself & then move onto slippers;
* Learn how to embroider;
* Realise I am not a Super-Mum and give up posting at the Co-Op, amongst other things;
* Rearrange our house to more effectively utilise our space and storage;
* Are gifted a hard cheese-making kit (and fail to use it...yet);
* Buy a thermal cooker to help save energy in the kitchen.
Phew! I've probably missed some significant things, but it's taken me long enough to get this far with the post, so I'll leave it there for now; I hope it's given you some idea of the evolution of our journey so far though. As for what is going to happen from now on in - that's for another post ;-)