08 January 2010


Global crisis talk overwhelms me. I know that things are not at all good, and yet when the conversations about emissions, sea levels, food shortages, climate change, peak oil, tipping points, food miles, crisis crisis crisis begin I find myself retreating into an inner hiding space, a kind of ‘la la la’ deliberate ignoring of the realities of the world I live in. It all seems too much. Reversing trends to save the planet seems impossible, and being the token few trying to make a difference feels like missing the party while things are good only to be left with nothing when things eventually fall apart. ‘La la la’ is much easier and happier and, frankly, changing my lifestyle just doesn’t appeal to me. I have never harboured desires to be a dreadlocked idealistic earth’s-own activist type. I just want to live peacefully and put my energies into building better relationships with my neighbours, friends and family.

Alas, my husband Tyson has recently completed a Masters in Sustainability. Saving the planet is not just an ideal, it is becoming his profession. Dinner conversations regularly raise global issues – not to mention more than occasional pillow talk that includes solar panels or transition towns or the like. Ignoring the crisis in our house is simply not an option. And, to be fair, it’s not an approach that is satisfying for me, either.

Adding to the tangle is that we live in rental housing, so many sustainable living actions (grey water recycling systems, solar panels, solar hot water systems, water tanks, insulation, etc) are not options for us. I have a long-running frustration about the way talk and action on sustainability generally appears to assume you own your own home, while the very assumption of universal home ownership is in my mind one of the factors driving Australia’s unsustainable lifestyle. Especially the cultural expectations of how large and overfilled with stuff our homes should be.

Linked with our rental accommodation is that our income is relatively small. Spending a lot of money to save the planet may be exactly what governments and big business need to do, but for our little family it is not feasible. There will be no Prius in the drive any time soon!

Several months ago the inner tensions of all this came to a head. Tyson & I had a long and fruitful discussion about how we were going to live. Tyson accepted that I could not cope with the magnitude of change required. I accepted that we need to be doing SOMETHING to live more sustainably. The outcome was that we agreed to implement one sustainable act each month. Indefinitely. These actions are to be cumulative, not sequential (that is, we don’t try one thing for a month then move on – we add an extra thing each month, retaining all that has gone before).

We’ve kept this up for eight months now. I am feeling much more positive about sustainable living as a result. Although I am not quite a green evangelist yet, I thought perhaps others might be able to use ideas from our approach, so have decided to blog them as we go. Also this is a way that I can gather up ideas for future monthly sustainable actions. Please add your suggestions or comments.


  1. I love what you are doing. I try to shop local at the orchards near us, have grown many of my own veges in the past (have been unable to recently) and can live with our 70's period house and furniture (it still works, so why change it?). I will be interested to read all of your blogs and hope that you are finding it challenging and life-changing.

    1. Thanks Robyn, I hope you find plenty of inspiration. It is both challenging and life-changing. There is always more that could be done, but I hang on to our original intent: better to do something than nothing, and just keep slowly doing a little bit and a little bit more.