Living sustainably for our family has become a way of life, it has not ever been just about choosing and buying the next new sustainable product that comes along, sustainability is, and can be so much more than that. My sustainable living began at quite a young age and at the time I did not consciously think of it as living sustainably. I grew up being taught to chose wisely and to nurture and look after the things that you have, my childhood, like everyone’s had its trials. The death of my Dad when I was only 6 meant that Mum had to raise four children on her own in a small country town, money was always short and hand-me-downs and op shopping became a way of life. Learning to treasure, recycle, and up-cycle things were a creative challenge that has continued on through my life. I was very fortunate to have amazing and loving grandparents who taught me that possessions were never as important as people, and that as long as you are loved, have a roof over your head and food in your belly than you were rich beyond imagining.
However my frugal upbringing and the natural, and moral code that was instilled in me makes it easy to make choices that are more sustainable and environmentally aware. I find beauty in things that have been lovingly handcrafted and have stood the test of time. I do not totally understand the need to want to buy and replace things wth new items, there are literally warehouses full of furniture, utensils, machines, nic nacs and more, that have far more appeal than a mass produced item that in all probability will not last the distance. Our family home is full of items that have proven the test against time, and I know will in all likely hood outlast me. Reusing, refurbishing and upcyclng items is a far more eco-friendly alternative to the throw away society that has developed over the past few decades.
I suppose my love of all things vintage and retro makes it a whole lot easier to incorporate these things into our lifestyle and home. But judging from the admiration and questions about our home I know that it is a style that is much loved and emulated. I can honestly say that almost all of the items in our home have come from the side of the road, op shops, tip shops and garage sales. This has allowed us to put money into redesigning our home to reduce our overall environmental footprint. Our home is designed to be solar passive, allowing the sun to heat it in winter and to take advantage of sea breezes and shading in the heat of summer. We have had solar panels powering our home and heating our water, and a bore drilled to reduce our dependence on town water since 2009. In our recent renovation of our home we opted to manage our stormwater on site, and sank a stormwater tank and a retention pit in our backyard. This endeavour proved costly and held us up with council for an additional 6 months, but was worth it to reduce the burden on an already failing stormwater infrastructure, and has allowed us to further reduce our dependence on town water by running our washing machine and flushing of our toilets.
When creating our specification list we were adamant about choosing environmentally friendly options, this included all the tapware, light fittings, appliances, the choice of glass in our windows and more. But it is very important to consider all these things at the outset as changing it or trying to make decisions at the last minute may mean that you end up with something that you are not happy with. Living sustainably has included the design of our landscaping and the way we want to use our outdoor spaces, our gardens are planted with Australian natives that are not only water wise but are a beautiful addition and support our bees and beehive. Gardens and lawns are critically important to living more environmentally conscious, as they can greatly effect ground heat, thus reducing temperatures. We opted to use natural river pebbles for our paths instead of non-permeable surfaces like concrete, pavers or tiles, this allows rain water to find its way into our subsoils and replenish our lawns and gardens, it also reduces the temperatures around our house.
There are many more ways to live sustainably, and for us as a family, it has become a lifestyle that includes much more than purchasing things, but a way of life, we are always happy to consider and incorporate other sustainable ways into our lifestyle and home. I hope that you have found inspiration in my sharing our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment and our journey to live more sustainably.