11 December 2015

All I want for Christmas is to change the world

This month's action is to write this blog post, to ask YOU to do something.

Would you consider taking a Small Step for Sustainability this Christmas, as your gift to me, or to someone you love more than me? Perhaps especially as a gift to someone younger than yourself, who will be living longer with the world you are creating.

Or, would you consider asking your friends to take a Small Step as their gift to you, instead of buying you something? You could direct them here for ideas.

Following are over six years of our Small Steps sorted as suggestions for you to try 'gifting':

Reduce your energy usage

Get your electrical equipment off standby; wash in cold water; use more efficient lighting (note that this is an old post and there are many more options now - see comments); boil less water; turn down your hot water heater; insulate your hot water piping.

Make changes to cool your house (and yourself) passively (turn your aircon down - or even off!)

Shade your house (1 2 3 4), put up a heat barrier (curtain), use pelmets, cool with extractor fans and various other tricks.

Make changes to heat passively

Warm yourself before you heat the room; seal up drafts; various other tips. (Particularly for those of you heading for Christmas in the northern hemisphere! You have probably noticed that cooling is a bigger issue than heating for us in Perth)

Make sustainable choices in your celebrations

Christmas (1 2 3 4); Birthdays (1 2 3); catering in general (1 2); going on holiday

Make sustainable choices about your food

Buy from a producer (try a farmers' market); use & preserve bulk seasonal fruit and veg: strawberries 1 2, plums 1 2nectarines, lilly pillies, tomatoes (bottling and making purchase choices); commit to buying local for a particular item (we chose cheese - 1 2)

Support local businesses

For school supplies and fundraising (toys & books); also ideas around food, above.

Improve water use

Consider a more efficient washing machine (or at least use the one you have as efficiently as possible);  rethink how you use water; use less water in toilets (1 2); short showers instead of deep baths; catch tap water; reuse grey water (with buckets, or with a wheelie bin 1 2)

Reduce your TV use (here)


Make ethical consumption choices

Fundraiser chocolates; clothes; printing; use the Shop Ethical Guide; washing powder; use libraries and buy secondhand; also all the ideas already mentioned around food and local businesses.

Be more sustainable in your garden

Grow grapevines; compost; and then compost better; drip irrigate; utilise your garden waste; use grey water (see the water section above) 

Reduce your waste

Get rid of phone books; pack rubbish-free lunches; fix instead of chuck and replace; use cloth nappies and cloth nappy wipes; use bread bags instead of nappy sacks; try no-buy no-waste toddler activities;  return unwanted packaging; rescue items from bulk waste; consider rubbish when you are buying.

Reuse materials to make new things

Verge collection beds reformed into a loft bed; room redecoration using existing materials; uses for pieces from an old washing machine

Make choices about your transport

Get to school without a car; car pool; consider a more efficient car; buy a bike (and/or commit to using it); rig up your bike to carry stuff; climb stairs instead of taking the lift.


Advocate for sustainability

Have a conversation in your household; write a blog (or share or comment on this one) - or whatever way best suits you to let others know about sustainable choices your are making; join a public demonstration or lobby people in power.

Assorted other posts

Short-form list of lots of actions from before I began blogging - lots of these are the simpler actions, so possibly a good starting place if this is all new to you;  combined blog of six months of ideas; update on how we did with our first year of commitments; Introduction to the blog, the 'one thing a month' project, and us in general.

If you just arrived here this list might look a bit overwhelming, as if we are some sort of sustainability gurus living the life. We are not. I've been writing this blog for just on six years, and we've been plodding away at improving our sustainability for some time longer than that. It all began because I was finding myself overwhelmed both by the enormity of the world's problems and by Tyson's enthusiasm for conquering them, so we decided we would take on just one thing a month. That was a slow enough pace that I thought I could manage it. Small steps. 

There are now a lot of actions documented here and I am hopeful the blog can be a resource for others wanting to take small steps.


Initial Time: For me, the couple of hours it took to write this post. For you: if you would like something that doesn't need a lot of your time, scroll all the way to the bottom and choose the label 'under 15 minutes'.

Initial Cost: For me, zero. For you: if you would like to choose something that doesn't cost you much money, choose the label 'under $15' for ideas.

Ongoing time or cost commitment: For me, the time it takes to answer any questions that you might throw at me as you take your Small Steps. For you: depends which Small Step you choose!

Impact: I will never know how many people read this and take a Small Step. Ideally I am hoping for a double impact: less Christmas gifts purchased AND a whole pile of individual little actions all over the world adding up to a better world. It would warm my heart to hear back from you if you do something in response to reading this. Perhaps you could even send me a photo of your Small Step (I may manage a follow-up post to report back on the impact of this Christmas action)


And a big smoochy thank you to everyone who reads this blog regularly. I really appreciate you giving it your time. Have a lovely Christmas season.