The most important thing we discovered as we participated in this blog was that the best way to not get overwhelmed by life’s challenges was to simply start taking one new action a day.
While each action in and of itself seems minor, when you look back at this 4 month period the number of changes are actually quite significant in just a short period of time. Looking back, 5 years later, it’s interesting to see that almost all these changes have remained permanent in our lives and have not only enhanced our lives but have saved us money.
These are some of the NEW personal actions we took when we first started the blog:
21/8/07 Salvaged elastic from an old ripped bedsheet and made hankies out of the rest of the sheet – the boys decorated them and I taught them how to use a sewing machine
20/8/07 Made hanky boxes, so that hankies would be as convenient as tissues
19/8/07 Started drinking freshly made juices rather than shop bought drinks
18/8/07 scrubbed old venetian blinds and settled for them rather than buying new cedar blinds
17/8/07 cleaned verandah so I can start planting out seeds for spring
16/8/07 plugged headphones into computer so that I can blog and listen to Lateline with only one appliance not two (computer using battery so no electricity!)
15/8/07 healed an infected cut using homemade calendula lotion
14/8/07 tackled flu with immune boost tea …. began drying oranges and lemons to use in my own tea concoction
13/8/07 Bought organic potatoes from the Growers’ market for the first time – far too many chemicals in commercial potatoes
12/8/07 Read Ian Gawler and spent all day in the garden contemplating how one can be in harmony with nature
11/8/07 Experimented with snail deterrents … coffee, strips of copper
10/8/07 Got boys to collect flowers from the garden and create an arrangement using a piece of recycled oasis
9/8/07 Began spring cleaning and cleaned all the windows with newspaper and water … NO WINDEX!
8/8/07 Tackled winter neglect in the garden and a whole “new” garden bed emerged; combined two vacuum cleaners to get one that worked. Got floorsanding quotes so that I can get rid of old, dirty carpet and not need to vacuum as much.
7/8/07 Increased the number of vegetarian meals I’m eating each week
6/8/07 Started using an old soda making machine instead of buying bottles of soda water and threw out 6 bags of clothes
5/8/07 Filled old plastic drink bottles with water to become freezer blocks for trips away rather than throwing them into landfill – freezers which are full also consume less power; suggested that everyone show some real appreciation for those in the community who work for the good of others
4/8/07 Started using bicarb soda for cleaning; Was relentlessly positive – it infuriates the cynics
3/8/07 Stopped drinking alcohol – to reduce bottles that need to be produced and to stay as healthy as possible to be able to look after my children into the future; did lots of things to be happy: face painting, planting a nectarine…..
2/8/07 Swapped our main phone over from a chord free electrical one to an old fashioned non-electrical fixed phone (that will also work during blackouts)
31/7/07 Moved my office to a northern verandah room that was a storage area but traps more sun and requires less heating; watched The Green Line and felt extraordinary gratitude for people like them
30/7/07 Scrounged old palettes from the hardware store to build compost bays (yeah recycling!); spent more time than ever gardening, planting and planning around the home over the last week.
29/7/07 rescued some old bricks to use for a garden wall; cut down an enormous cypress pine to let light in so that I can plant food trees – all the wood is being used for firewood, mulch, furniture, sawdust – none to landfill!
28/7/07 Gladly accepted a whole chipped tree from friends and used it to build garden paths and mulch the garden; removed almost all of my reasons for going to Sydney to avoid long distance travel
27/7/07 Bought old railway sleepers to build up another garden bed; learnt more about conservation of our local environment
26/7/07 Was an eco-nazi with Ian – niggled him to catch the train rather than drive and stopped him automatically taking stuff to the tip
25/7/07 Took large recycled plastic containers to the Co-op to buy bulk Envirocare dishwashing detergent
24/7/07 Bought organic garlic cloves and planted them in the garden
23/7/07 Have started going to bed earlier to reduce heating costs
22/7/07 Bought fruit and nut trees for the garden
21/7/07 Lugged all my gear (data projection unit, speakers, computer) on the train to Springwood for An Inconvenient Truth Presentation
20/7/07 Asked a builder to measure up our verandah so that we can close it in to become a suntrap to warm the house next winter
19//7/07 Redistributed more of our excess “stuff” through Freecycle (Ian’s action really but I’ll take some credit)
18/7/07 Ordered a Dynamo wind-up torch from the ATA to reduce our need for batteries
17/7/07 Joined the ATA – The Alternative Technology Association
16/7/07 Finished the sourdough bread and made a pact to no longer buy from large supermarket chains unless in an emergency … don’t want them to squeeze out smaller food suppliers and gain control of our whole food supply
15/7/07 Continued the long saga of making the sourdough bread and made cupcakes for the boys. They were really keen to have hundreds & thousands on them so, given the choice at the local shop, I bought a very large container rather than small ones that cost more and used more packaging.
14/7/07 Decided that while I can I’ll stop buying tomatoes in cans and either use all the ones I’ve frozen or bottled or buy them fresh.
13/7/07 Made the next stage of my sour dough bread and read on Grist that it’s better not to put a brick in your toilet because they disintegrate; a plastic bag is better
12/7/07 Had dinner at the Agincourt Hotel – “the first truly carbon neutral hotel in Australia”
11/7/07 Started researching composting toilets but came to the conclusion that it’s probably too difficult (mainly because it’s so cold in Blackheath) to install them here. The boys went to a birthday party and instead of buying wrapping paper we used some white paper I had on a roll from reverse garbage and they decorated it; much nicer and more personal. I’m going to try to never buy new wrapping paper again if I can. You can wrap presents using all sorts of things like old maps, magazines & newspapers, old scarves etc.; took every dry moment to plant food in the garden
10/7/07 Fiddled with and fixed the mechanism on my mother’s fold down couch which was broken and stopped her needing to throw it out; while I couldn’t reverse the fact that we were flying home from holidays, we did at least keep and take back the ear plug headphones that we’d received on the way up; reused them on the homeward trip.
9/7/07 Bought fresh sugarcane instead of lollies for the boys from the Maleny Co-op – no packaging! Celebrated NAIDOC week by attending a talk on bushtucker at the Maleny Library and learning about the Bunya tree as a source of food; took the boys to Maleny Library for entertainment … no cost, no consumption
8/7/07 Showed the boys how to cut grass with a scythe rather than a lawnmower (very difficult!)
7/7/07 Packed lunch and snacks on holiday in reusable plastic bread bags; refused to let boys use electronic pinball games while there were outdoor alternatives
6/7/07 Took all our holiday drinks on outings in reusable glass bottles … avoided creating more waste and using more plastic; started home remedy notes for a post peak oil global warming world (calendula for conjuncitivitis!)
5/7/07 Refused to buy souvenirs – got the boys focussed on experiences rather than objects … took digital photos to put into a slideshow for show and tell at school instead; lay in bed all week sick so didn’t use any energy
4/7/07 Had no drive day on our holidays … just staying where we were and enjoying the natural environment there rather than needing to go sightseeing
3/7/07 Kept any containers we accumulated on holidays and filled them with seeds from gardens we visited in QLD … basil, beans etc
2/7/07 Took both boys and all our holiday luggage in train rather than driving
1/7/07 Held stall at Community Market to redistribute even more stuff!
30/6/07 Held Garage Sale to redistribute my excess stuff!
29/6/07 Refused to use electric blanket and airconditioning in Hotel … (freezing and didn’t sleep as a result! … will take sleeping bag next time I travel)
28/6/07 Centred myself with aikido techniques to deal with rage about inaction on global warming; got ready for garage sale
27/6/07 Tried to find Naturale 100% recycled tissues at Coles; no luck so spoke to the manager and asked him to try and get them; had dinner out with my partner and slept for a whole day (might sound stupidly irrelevant but without it I would not have had the energy to continue)
26/0/07 Made a lampshade by recycling an old plastic sleeve with slides in it; spent a week with no main lights on and have decided that I will continue despite the power being back on
25/6/07 Switched off everything and walked through the snow to have dinner at the pub – dramatically reduced our electricity and gas heating for a few hours; have stopped using plastic bags in all but one of the bins in my house; will go through the rest of my bags, then stop altogether
24/6/07 Cleaned carpet stains without using commercial carpet cleaners – used warm water, vinegar, bicarb; have stopped using another electrical appliance in the kitchen (coffee machine wah!)
23/6/07 Broke a lifetime habit of collecting the free “bits” in the Motel room (mini shampoos, coffee, tea, sugar); left the car at home for so long the engine wouldn’t turn over! (haha)
22/6/07 Learnt how to check the air pressure in our tyres – having the correct pressure helps to get maximum mileage
21/6/07 Replaced all the “difficult” lightbulbs in the house with compact fluorescents (eg. chandalier bulbs which are finally available)
20/6/07 Put a brick in the toilet to reduce amount of water used when flushing (in retrospect, plastic water bottle probably would have been better); also made a sourdough bread starter using currants.
19/6/07 Ordered bulk fairtrade & organic tea and coffee from Trade Winds to reduce packaging and negative impacts on society; put computer into energy saving mode & kept pulling the plug out when the battery was charged …. am attempting to use the computer less to reduce energy (and a life!) being consumed; stove blew (again) so inadvertently saving electricity too (doodoo doodoo)
18/6/07 Started using a teapot and teacosy to reduce the number of times I need to boil the kettle and resisted the temptation to do unecessary renovations and extensions on the house; condensation blew my lights so inadvertently saving electricity
17/6/07 Started researching getting a gas heater to replace electrical one in shed; took boys on our first bike ride around Blackheath together (kept warm and didn’t use electricity at home); collected water from bathroom and kitchen despite the rain
16/6/07 Actually started mending clothes! (OK, OK, but this is big for me)
15/6/07 Cancelled NRMA’s Open Road magazine (thanks Beth for that idea)
14/6/07 Researched greenhouse friendlier heating options; looked for a secondhand light for dining room (no luck)
13/6/07 Bought bulk organic chocolate from Co-op; found a secondhand watch band to replace one that fell apart
12/6/07 Stopped eating Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate (made with palm oil)
11/6/07 Stopped picking up pieces of paper (advertising etc) whenever I’m out of the house
10/6/07 Bucketed water out of bath into washing machine to do a load of clothes
9/6/07 Used Helen’s idea of keeping boiled water in a thermos to avoid reboiling each time I wanted a cuppa; parents moved next door – cutting down on 200km roundtrips for visits, saving on energy & fuel as we eat, shop & watch TV together.
8/6/07 Purged the house and sent 4 bags of clothes off for Smith Family & St Vincent de Paul; reused one of the boys’ baby beanies as a tea cosy for one of my small teapots
7/6/07 Spent time seedsaving from this year’s garden (sunflower, coriander, dill, beans, pumpkin), stripped dried rosemary off stems & saved stems for shishkebabs & made a plastic scourer out of an plastic net that the oranges came in; made pumpkin soup from my homegrown pumpkin & wore lots of layers to avoid heating
6/6/07 Drove very slowly to Orange and back (5 whole hours but still back in time to take the boys to music!); have been experimenting using acorns to make bread, muffins & pancakes – today I made chilli con acorn; turned fridge off – so cold I don’t need it
5/6/07 Took a large bottle to the Co-op and bought bulk Castille Soap; started collecting excess boiled water in thermos for next cuppa; rang up charities I’ve donated to, NRMA Open Road and my Alumni & asked them not to send anything in the mail anymore.
4/6/07 Sorted through clothes and filled bags for the Smith Family; organised to have garage sale with a friend; started insulating windows with extra material; in preparing reports at work I’ve removed all blank pages between sections & chapters & saved almost 5 reams of paper
3/6/07 Resisted buying a fantastic cookbook – my biggest temptation; donated domestic electrical appliances to Blackheath Climate Action Now market stall to help raise funds for the group; provided organic veggies for the community market and made a free worm farm to take home; bought a pre-loved white shirt for $1 at the market instead of the new one I was planning to get as well as marigold seedlings for my veggie garden
2/6/07 Made native animal masks for the boys with found objects only – didn’t use it as an excuse to buy stuff as I usually would have; went to the nursery and bought plants for food bearing or medicinal purposes only; saw “As It Is In Heaven”- an uplifting Swedish film about opening your hearts, choirs and community
1/6/07 Made real potato dumplings with potatoes out of our garden instead of packet mix; stood up at a convention centre meeting & asked everyone to use carafes instead of the plastic water bottles at their tables – saved lots of bottles being used and then thrown out; it is getting very cold in Orange so I’m layering lots of clothes & walking the dog to warm up to avoid using heating
31/5/07 Kept reusing my cup at an all day conference instead of getting a new one at each break; gave away a stack of goodies to charity & those who asked – dormant items I wasn’t using
30/5/07 Continued driving 20kms below speed limit; started switching computer off for 6 – 8 hours a day; looked at my water, electricity & gas bills & started direct action to reduce my energy usage.
29/5/07 Rode bike for the first time in Blackheath (and took a day to recover); made my wild slippery jack mushroom into a wonderful spinach, potato and mushroom soup
28/5/07 Started simplifying my life (Calm-pact) & collecting things for a major garage sale – letting go of hoarding means other people don’t need to buy the same things new
27/5/07 Made yoghurt for the first time – no more plastic yoghurt containers!
26/5/07 Resisted buying souvenirs at Opera House – instead shared and reused plastic drinking cup at intermission (used 2 cups instead of 6) then brought cup home, drew the Opera House on it & planted a cactus in it – free souvenir & nothing into landfill
25/5/07 Started wearing aprons to avoid having to wash my clothes as often & kept cooking food with “bits” out of the cupboard
24/5/07 Drove 20km below the speed limit all the way to and from my talk at Nepean TAFE & bought safe reusable stainless steel drinking bottles for the boys; am trying to reduce my use of plastics and the car to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil; joined Richard Glover’s challenge and have stopped washing & conditioning my hair – said goodbye to hair products
Started a week of only eating what I had at home, in order to use up anything nearing a “use by” or “best by” date (did manage this for a whole week!) Goal: to avoid food wastage ; while clearing cupboards I took food out of plastic containers and put it into empty glass jars I’ve been collecting; my personal action was to join the blog!
22/5/07 Stopped eating Australian grown rice to reduce demand on irrigation; SUGGESTED to Ian that he wait and do one car trip to Katoomba instead of two; ripped myself out of the despairing voice in my head that kept saying it’s too late; we are fucked, don’t have kids they will suffer and die, etc; this really wasn’t funny at all and is partly a response to focusing a lot of time and energy in understanding the most reliable information about climate change. Doesn’t sound like an action particularly, but if I hadn’t talked myself around and got support from people like Lis than it would have cancelled out any future actions, because I would have given up!
21/5/07 Started an experiment to stop using hair conditioner; forgot my travel mug at uni and did without coffee for the day; not so funny!
20/5/07 Went mushrooming in Blackheath & collected pine needles to try to create a future mushroom garden in our own yard; forgot my shopping bags so precariously carried my groceries home in my pockets, bag and hands; very funny!
19/5/07 Made the “loooonnnngggg” public transport trip to Sydney by bus, train, bus … then bought beer on tap rather than in a bottle
18/5/07 Went shopping for pre-loved & rare rather than “new” birthday presents; made my own lip balm using beeswax and almond oil
17/5/07 Started driving 20km below speed limit (except in 40km zones!); said no to disposable pads and bought reusable ones
16/5/07 Used wine bottle as new water bottle; started airing & spot washing clothes instead of automatically putting them in the washing machine; started using henna dye on my hair rather than chemical dyes
15/5/07 Researched corks v. stelvin screw caps on wine bottles & decided to stay with corks (unless I need more bottles); turned temperature on new fridge down to conserve energy over colder months
14/5/07 Bought mousetraps to try and avoid using ratsac; used water collected in bathroom & kitchen to water new plants
13/5/07 Stopped using commercial “packaged” stock and made my first ever vegetable stock; bought and planted herbs and native plants for garden
12/5/07 Looked at non-chemical options for pest control in garden – decided on beer traps! Cruised blogs for other ideas; recycled a jar to buy freshly ground peanut butter at the health food shop
11/5/07 Raked up leaves from the footpath for the first time ever to help make compost and soil for growing food
10/5/07 Bought carbon offsets for my driving for the first time
9/5/07 Decided to never buy shoes that can’t be repaired … took what shoes I could to bootmaker and started polishing shoes
8/5/07 New for me … actually thought and planned rather than just doing (a Permaculture thing!) – did however attend Permaculture course and learnt about greywater and laundry detergents; bought a secondhand smaller more efficient fridge
7/5/07 Guillotined a magazine into squares to make origami paper for the boys – adaptive reuse!; bought diet coke in glass not plastic (OK, OK … I know…); found a “new” winter coat at an Op-Shop
6/5/07 Made a commitment to no longer use teabags (unnecessary packaging); got involved in community market & donated goods to BCAN opshop for which I also made signs
5/5/07 Reused disposal drink cups by planting coriander seeds in them; reused glass drink bottles for children’s drinks; bought metal water bottle & vowed never to drink out of plastic drink bottles again
4/5/07 Set myself the goal to eat 4 vegetarian meals a week
3/5/07 Turned an old croc shoe into a hanging planter with an alpine strawberry in it (Jan 08: this eventually died because I forgot to water it …damn!
2/5/07 Did a cost/benefit analysis of actions so far and stopped using deodorant (will see about this one); attended dicussion and information session on the IPCC Report at UNSW
1/5/07 Put clothes drier out of the house into an unplugged INCONVENIENT position; DIDN’T buy a recycled paper notepad (used what I still had) & joined Freecycle (got an A3 printer & chicken wire); I and 11 others in Katoomba have joined The Compact today (not buying anything new) and if I do have to buy something I’ll only buy it locally
30/4/07 Stopped using sponges to wash dishes – using old washers instead
29/4/07 Recycled milk cartons and planted seeds in them; devised strategy for permaculture extravaganza in garden to grow own food
28/4/07 Cut down on tissues, and started using hankies; wrote first blog
27/4/07 Borrowed books, videos and magazines from the library instead of buying them; sat and stared at the wall all day – carbon neutral day!
26/4/07 Stopped using blowdryer for hair (no choice – it blew!; I’m refusing to buy another)
25/4/07 Made tomato sauce for the first time; turned thermostat down 2 degrees C on central heating; put bucket in shower to collect warm-up water
24/4/07 Started permaculture course at local Neighbourhood Centre (it’s free!); bought ream of recycled paper for printer
23/4/07 Stopped buying milk, juice and water in plastic bottles; caught train instead of driving and took travel mug for take-away coffees at uni
22/4/07 Learnt how to bottle homegrown tomatoes
21/4/07 Made a pact to recycle every glass bottle and started drinking home brewed beer
20/4/07 Washed clothes with no phosphate enviroclean which comes in a recycleable bottle
19/4/07 Caught train to Sydney; bought hemp pants instead of jeans; stayed out of Gleebooks
18/4/07 Bought local honey from beekeeper, recycled jars for fresh peanut butter and planted winter crop