I receive many emails a day asking me for green living tips and the like, and the other day I received this lovely email from Melissa, who has given me her permission to use it as a post. Here is the question(s);
Hi GavinThanks so much for your blog, it has really helped to open our eyes to the various things we can do as a family to help create a better environment and future for our kiddies, and we are green (hee hee) with envy over your new kitchen!! I was just reading your latest post (carbon addiction) and was wondering if you could give me some hints on the first few steps you and your family made/took ie reductions, energy efficiency etc to change your lifestyle? I know that is a pretty broad question, but we are taking baby steps and i feel like we are getting a little lost!Thanks again for putting yourself out there (so to speak).Take careMelissah
Well Melissah, as Maria said in The Sound of Music;
“Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you sing you begin with do-re-mi”
When you go green by begin with ??? Which leads me to doe a deer…. No, not really, but where do you begin when you want to start to change towards a more sustainable lifestyle and begin weening yourself off of your carbon addiction? Well, you begin where you begin I suppose. Cryptic, I know, but everyone does it differently.
- Green Epiphany (September 2006) – Where it all started, and how confused I was about everything. My reality had been turned upside down, and it was as if I had taken the red pill in the Matrix!
- Low Emission Transportation – Bought a Hybrid Car
- Water Saving Front Yard – Ripped up the lawn and landscaped the front yard
- Electricity One and Two – Electricity efficiency and the steps I took over the first 16 weeks.
- Natural Gas – How we reduced our natural gas bill
- Water – rainwater harvesting and grey water reuse around the home.
- Waste – how we reduced our landfill and began composting and worm farming
- Reducing Food Miles One and Two – How to build a veggie patch and what we grew in the first season.
- Solar Hot Water – Installation of our hybrid solar hot water system.
- Solar Photovoltaic – Installation of our 2.8 kW Solar PV system
- Making Jam – My first plum jam, one of many types I have made over the years.
- Preserving Fruit and Vegetables – Our first preserves made with our Fowlers-Vacola kit bought on Ebay.
- In the Media – My first newspaper interview
- Peak Oil Realisation – The moment I realised that there were now two shit-storms coming our way.
- Recommenced Beer Making – The first time I made beer in many years to finally drink something that had taste.
- Decided to get Chickens (April 2008)
- Chateau le Poulet – Building the chicken coop over many months
- Stockpiling Food and Essentials – What to do for food in case of natural disasters or emergencies.
- Home made Bread One and Two – We began to make our own bread and bread rolls
- Chicken Day, and Chicken Day – The Movie – Arrival of our first four chickens (we now have 8 feathered girl friends)
- Very Eggsciting! – Our first egg.
- Walk Against Warming – My first climate change rally, it felt good to be a part of something bigger than just my own greening
- Introducing Gavin – Invited to write at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op
- Carbon Accounting Course – (January 2009) Started to up-skill for a low carbon economy
- Homemade Feta Cheese – Learning how to make cheese for the first time.
- First TV appearance – I was interviewed for an article on Today Tonight.
- 160 Km Diet – The family starts to eat locally
- Soap Making – Our first attempt of making soap. We are still using it and we haven’t looked back.
As for the rest, well, you can look in the archives in the sidebar if you like. This is the way I did it, and in hindsight I would not change a thing, because everything had a purpose and helped me grow. The way that you have or may change your lifestyle will depend on your own brand of determination and personal circumstances. We are all individuals, and that is what makes the world such an interesting place to live in.
As for the cheapest thing we did, it was energy efficiency which was the biggest carbon and money saving for the least amount of outlay.
I don’t know if that specifically answered Melissah’s question, but to state it any other way would be misrepresenting reality. I hope it helps you figure out what is the most important thing for you to start on, as I can only really give you options and not specific solutions. The only real suggestion is to keep smiling and having fun as you do it, and enjoy the little successes and learn from the mistakes, because it is the little things that really count.