GreeNZ Top 10 Sustainable Living Ideas for 2020

1.  Grow Green

Do it!  Just buy a packet of vegetable seeds.  Read instructions to sow them and JUST DO IT!!  Then sit back and watch them grow and experience the miracle of growing your own food.  I find it fascinating that within each tiny seed, there is a memory bank or genetic propensity to re-create a whole new plant!  Something that will nourish us and give us life!

And if you enjoy the thrill of harvesting that fresh food, plant a fruit tree, or two or more! Abundance at your fingertips. Health in your backyard. Money in your pocket!!

2.  Buy second hand or pre-loved

Opp Shops.  Second-Hand Stores.  Thrift Shops. Aladdin’s Caves of Treasures! Or online markets for second hand stuff… TradeMe.  Pre-loved items have lower carbon emissions, have plenty life left in them and you create less demand for the aggressive consumerism drive.  No need to buy brand new, this season’s “in” is next season’s throwaway! Keep something out of landfill for longer.  Give it another life. We only have one Earth.  Let’s honour her and not fill her with an overload of trash!

3.  Eat Real

Real food does not come in plastic-wrapped packages.  They have no numbers or preservatives.  They do require some preparation but then there’s a silent meditative joy in that – making and creating in your kitchen.  Preferably eat real food that is organic or has been grown with earth-friendly practises (not the slash and burn of conventional farming) that does not cause harm to people or planet.

4.  Re-use, recycle or re-purpose

An old lean-to wood store wood becomes furniture….

Okay, so we get tired of things quickly, there’s always something new on the market to replace the older, dated version of last year’s model.    Brighter, cooler, flasher, whizzier.  But can we change what we have to create a new look?  Add some patches to faded jeans, shorten or lengthen a skirt to make it fashionable, dye those old curtains to change the wah of the living room?  Re-upholster the old lounge suite?  Re-purposing goods creates new life from old, and again, reduces waste and landfill overcrowding issues. Create a new life for the old, e.g old socks with holes make great plant ties in the garden when cut into strips.

5.  Make use of the sun

Solar panels harvesting free sun energy.

Did you know that the sun is not really the enemy she’s made out to be?  We actually need sunshine to survive!  All living things need sunshine!  It is the giver of Life.  Not cancer.  That’s more likely to be caused by all the chemicals in the sunblock we are slapping all over us, and the amount of time we spend in the sun.  

If we are roasting food, we have a good indicator of how long it takes to cook – if my potatoes take only 30-40 minutes to roast, dang, I’d be a little dumb to leave them in that oven heat for another hour or two, wouldn’t I?  That’d be roast-potato suicide!  Burnt to cinders and no good to eat!  So when we know that burn time for our skin is only 5-7 minutes in the sun, why do we sit and play in the sun, without shade, for 2-3 hours at a time?  Dumb huh??!

Make use of the sun – we have a radio powered by the sun.  And a shed light.  And garden lights.  No cost to run.  Zilch.  Denada!  We have a solar-powered hot water system.  Cost in summer to have hot water – zilch!  Now we have seen the light and we have our own solar-powered energy generating system – cost of our power to run this house, in the warmer months, only $10.  Sometimes we go into credit, which means we made more than we used, so energy goes back into the National grid. Yep, you get it – the sun is making us money by putting us in credit, or costing very little as we use our grid-tied power we haven’t generated due to poor weather!!  So when we have to draw more energy in winter and the sun factor is not as prevalent, we can more easily afford it.  Makes sense.

6.  Walk

Picking up the Trash….

Gym membership.  Who needs it?  Spend 10 minutes getting dressed for the gym, half an hour driving there, work out in a sweaty indoor environment, drive home and shower.  Fresh air?  Not much.  Except if you rolled down your window on the drive there, but then you’d probably get a lungful of carbon monoxide from all the other cars in the traffic.

I am not the energetic gym-loving lady I would love to be. So I try to walk a couple of days every week or two – okay, sometimes it’s only around the block and it’s only 15 minutes but it’s better than allowing all the previous 17 years of New Year’s Resolutions that never got me into the gym, win the battle!  I use this walk time to pick up litter, so it feels like I am contributing to the well-being of our town.  And that keeps me focused to keep on doing it! Saving turtles as I walk. A healthy body and a healthy mind. And if we pick up trash along the way, a healthy environment. Win-win all around.

7.   Composting

Without a composting system, one produces way too much waste.  Precious kitchen scraps, garden prunings and weeds – all can end up as valuable soil enhancer, nutrients for your veggies and fruit-growing venture, and mulch to aid moisture retention in soil. Wonderful stuff!

Compost bins

From this waste….

To this valuable resource!

8.  Try to avoid excessive packaging

Nature’s Own Biodegradable-packaged  energy snacks

If you can, return packaging to shops.  Get the message across that consumers don’t need all the wrapping, plastic casings and worst of all, polystyrenewhich is made from liquid petrochemicals!  There’s power in collective voice.  Add to the power.  Let’s make manufacturers think about all that packaging.  Some are starting to used recycled cardboard supports instead of polystyrene.  Did you know that some researchers report that polystyrene does not break down.  Ever?  The bits just keep on getting smaller and smaller.  And polystyrene is carcinogenic in food containers but apparently health authorities say that the carcinogens are present in such small quantities, that they don’t pose a real risk?? I beg to differ.

I wonder why plastic food containers that are 1’s and 2’s that can be recycled in New Zealand, so why are manufacturers still using 3’s – 5’s???  Boycott them.  Yoghurt pots are the worst!  So many school children and adults take them for lunch snacks.  If there is an alternative, try it. For example, did you know that in NZ and Australia alone, 57 000 plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill every year??  That’s a massive amount of plastic!!  Try a bamboo toothbrush – you’ll never look back!!

9.  Make your Own

Recycled sweet tins, filled with body balm.

Chutneys, home-grown.

If products are commercially produced, it could contain chemicals or unnecessary additives.  Face Cream.  Body Lotions.  Baking.  Household Cleaners.  There are heaps of recipes out there – in books, or on the internet.  Or experiment, like me.  I even make insect repellent, sunblock, Moisturiser, toothpaste and lip balms.  All in the Oh So Easy file!  And it costs much much less than conventional stuff.

10. Try to learn some form of Natural Healing

The art of healing the body through the feet:  Reflexology

Just as we talk of the health of the Planet, so too must we acknowledge the health of ourselves as individuals, all linked together.  Never before, has the human population been able to access so much “health products”, pharmaceutical and medical assistance, world-wide-web of knowledge and yet, manage to be so unhealthy and truly sick!  People are suffering from heart disease, cholesterol, cancers, immune system disorders, skin and blood disorders and general unwell-ness in droves!  I recommend that one person in every family need learn a healing modality – it empowers us to heal ourselves,  our friends and family!  Help ease their suffering and promote healthy living rather than pharmaceutical drug addictions. I practice EFT, Reflexology and Shiatsu on myself, family members and friends.

 Okay, so it was hard to keep it to just 10 Top Tips.    I simply have to add another:

11.  Share

Talk about what you are doing in your own backyard.  Plant seeds of hope in others.  Often, just hearing someone is doing something can inspire others to follow suit.  It’s a sharing of ideas and we owe it to Papatuanuku (Mother Earth)!  Lead by example, and show your children how easy it is to live in harmony with nature!

Do it for You!

Most all “sustainable” living practices are fun, easy, simple, cost less and makes you feel good!  If it doesn’t and you feel like you are running on a treadmill of sustainable practices, something is not quite right.    Start small.  Increase your practices one small step at a time.  It may be a conscious effort in the beginning but soon becomes a way of life, second nature.


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