20 Things You Should Know When Starting Your Sustainable Living Journey

Today, I met one of my long time readers for the first time.  His name is George, and works for the same company as I do.  By the look on his face, I think he couldn’t believe that he had actually met me in person.

After a hardy handshake, we talked about all the things I have inspired him to begin at his own place.  He is beginning a veggie patch and has bought the eco-wood sleepers, and will put it all together soon from what I can gather.  George is also part of an environmental panel for Monash City council (hope I got it right) and is very passionate about making a difference.  I said that I would be more than happy to give a presentation to the panel if he liked, so I believe he is going to think about it and email me with the details.  Nice to meet you George!

George requested that I put together a post full of tips and tricks that I have learned, to help out people just starting out on their sustainable journey.  So here goes.

Suburban Food Farm

Suburban Food Farm

  1. When installing a rainwater tank, ensure that you add an isolation valve first, before you install a tap.  That way, if you decide to add a pressure pump later on, you will not have to drain the tank and lose all of your precious water.

  2. When ordering chickens, make sure you have the coop finished before you get them.  It is no good bringing your chooks home to a temporary place, and moving them later, because they get used to the first you house them.

  3. Set earwig/snail traps before you plant your seedlings.  Otherwise all of the hard work you put into seed raising is for naught and you have to start all over again.

  4. When making raised garden beds out of red-gum or any other hardwood, ensure that you pre-drill your nail/bolt holes before hand.  This will stop your hammer from slipping off of the nail head and slamming into your shin at full pelt! Ouch, and the lump took a week to go down.

  5. When getting a quote for Solar PV, ensure you ask the installer about the cost of the network connection and meter swap-out.  These are hidden costs that your installer most often than not will not inform you about.

  6. Make sure your PV installer tells your electricity wholesaler that they have actually connected you to the grid.  This communications then starts the paperwork off at the wholesalers end.

  7. When asked by your Solar hot water installer, “Which part of the roof do you want the collector on?”, ask them if they have ever done this sort of thing before!  And then tell him to put it on the North (for Southern Hemisphere) or West facing at a pinch.

  8. If your neighbour asks you for help and advice regarding how to build and plant a veggie garden, offer your help freely.  When hard times hit, they may save your bacon.  You can also swap produce when the harvest comes in.

  9. Make sure that you fence off any garden beds that you do not want your chickens to make a mess of.  They will destroy most vegetable plants given half the chance!

  10. When your electrician tells you he doesn’t care about the environment, tell him that he will no longer get your business unless he starts to!  He will soon take an interest if you are a good customer!  Coercion, I know, but hey it worked.

  11. Take the time to explain to everyone in your family about why the things you are about to do are important to you and the planet BEFORE you start doing things!  This way, none of your loved ones will think you are crazy (or having an affair), and you can take them on the journey from the beginning.

  12. Worms do not like onions or citrus.  They also do not like cooked food, just kitchen scraps.  Give the leftovers to the chooks or your dog/cat/pig.

  13. Chooks love to eat worms.  Do not let them near your worm farm.  You will regret it!  They think all of their Christmases have come at once.

  14. Compost smells if you add too much wet stuff.  Add dry stuff in equal proportions.  It also gets very hot in an Aerobin!

  15. Cabbage moths detect Brassica by their shape.  Plant taller plants near them to confuse the moths.

  16. If you can water garden beds under your water restriction regime, do so.  Home gardeners use 10 times less water when growing their crops than commercial vegetable gardeners do!

  17. Mulch well, often, and thickly.  A thin mulch achieves nothing.  5 cm or more is the rule of thumb.  Otherwise your veggies will dry out on hot summer days.

  18. Visit your library.  It is a wonderful source of information.  Read as much as you can, or borrow gardening videos/DVD’s.  They are all free.

  19. Celebrate every achievement, no matter how small.  Every journey begins with a single step!

  20. Seek other like-minded people near the beginning of your journey.  Share ideas and stories, and it will keep you passionate and inspired.  A sense of community is a wonderful thing.  Get to know your neighbours.  They are the first part of community you should try to begin with.

That’s about all I can remember for now, however I am sure that if I read my entire blog again, I could come up with a few more.  If any more come to mind, I will add them to the comments.

George’s parting comment was, “I won’t wash my hand for a week now!”  I feel like an A list celebrity (just not as wasteful and I don’t own 6 mansions or have a private jet).  Thanks for making my day George, lets catch up for lunch soon and talk some more.


  1. says

    All excellent advice, wish I’d read that bit about chooks destroying the veges before I got them.

    Never mind it’s all recovering now the chooks are penned in the back garden.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. says

    How ironic you mention being an A list celebrity! I got recognised at the shops yesterday as Gavins Sister from Greening of Gavin….sheez! Lovely lady rattled on for ages bout how wonderful Gavin’s Secret garden is, and how I should follow in his footsteps… mmm.

    Hi George! Welcome to the crazy world of educating others on the effects of climate change! Congratulations on starting your Journey of making a difference to your own little space on the planet. You will bang heads with many but you will also find an inner peace that you never thought you knew about yourself on your journey. The best advice a fellow convertee could give you is listen to like minded peoples advice (yes all of it) and make it work for yourself and your environment and if in doubt…bounce your ideas off others who can more than likely give you an easier and more Eco-friendly way of doing it…. so much for a woman of few words Gav…he hehe.

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