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Five steps to a greener home

Date

Bree Player

We all want to care for the environment but it can sometimes seem overwhelming. The easiest place to start is in your home.

Grow herbs and vegetables in a garden at home.

Grow herbs and vegetables in a garden at home. Photo: Steven Siewert

 

Eco living. Between work, home life, busy schedules and kids it’s become one of those think-about-it-later issues. But with rising energy costs and increasing social awareness, now is a good time to make your home and lifestyle more environmentally friendly. 

1. Green furnishings and homewares                        

Recycled burlap stool by textile designer Julie Patterson.

Recycled burlap stool by textile designer Julie Patterson.

Sustainable furnishings and homewares are popping more and more frequently. Antique and second hand furniture is a great place to start - there are charity stores stocked to the brim with everything from dining tables to tea cups, all at next to nothing prices. Antique stores tend to lean more towards the expensive side but offer valuable, good quality pieces. There are also often green alternatives available for practical home wares. Even items you would never think of, such as Eco Hang who have a replacement for metal or plastic hangers with durable, non-toxic, compost-friendly paperboard hangers. Interior design has also seen a huge push towards using recycled and repurposed materials to build furniture, often resulting in quirky or beautiful pieces that have a rustic and natural feel. It’s also nice to think your furniture has a history - and it’s a talking point!

2. Edible garden

Make like spunky celeb chef Jamie Oliver and turn your garden into your own home grown food source. Planting leafy salad, vegetables, herbs and fruit will not only look beautiful but you’ll have a renewable source of the freshest produce a hop, skip and jump from your kitchen. There are so many benefits - you’ll save money, save the planet and you’ll know you’re eating organic food because you have control over it. Best of all, if you get the kids out learning and helping to grow it, evidence proves they are more likely to eat it when it appears on their dinner plates. Our number one tip? Start small (with herbs and leafy greens) and build upon it over time.

3. Buyer beware

Read up on everyday products you buy and use. Traditional cleaning products are high in toxic chemicals - which can have a negative impact on not only the environment but also the health of you and your family. Start by looking at the labels on the products you buy and compare them to the green brands available. Websites like Greenclean will give you more in-depth advice on how to switch over to a completely eco-friendly clean home. Other products to consider are skin and beauty cosmetics - look for organic and biodynamic products. Australia has some of the most advanced and innovative brands available including Aesop, Jurlique and Miranda Kerr’s brand; Kora. 

4. Reusable grocery bags

This is an obvious option but have a look around at the supermarket checkouts... most consumers are still filling up hundreds of plastic bags. Environmentally friendly grocery bags are reasonably inexpensive, readily available and if everyone did their bit, would have an enormous impact on the planet. They last for years before needing to be replaced. Keep them in the boot of your car so that you're prepared for even those unplanned stops at the grocery store. 

5. Buy less

This will be welcome advice for your bank balance... if you really want to cut down on unnecessary waste just buy less. How often do you fill your supermarket trolley with fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy and other perishable goods to find at the end of the week you’ve not used it all and it ends up in the bin? Many of us are guilty of this. And it’s an enormous waste of money, produce and valuable resources. Cut down your waste by planning your meals and shopping for only the perishables you need in smaller amounts, more frequently. So rather than a weekly or fortnightly mass shop, go to the store every couple of days to pick up the produce you need on an ad hoc basis.

6 comments so far

  • Good advice. Mostly it boils down to reduce (buy less), reuse (furniture, grocery bags), recycle; and I'd include composting as a form (possibly the best form) of recycling for plant and kitchen vegetable waste.

    With regards to the edible garden: the most "eco" option is probably to only grow what doesn't need additional fertiliser or water that doesn't come from your compost or tank. Also helps to cultivate your own, which can vary in difficulty: our compost seems to do an excellent job of cultivating pumpkins and tomatoes all over the joint, but other veges... not so straightforward. Still beats wasting space with lawn or non-productive shrubs, trees and flowers by a long shot though.

    Commenter
    Fred
    Date and time
    April 11, 2013, 12:31PM
    • A good article. Saving the environment like charity begins at home. No need for carbon tax which does NOTHING for the environment jut takes money out of our pockets

      Commenter
      liz
      Location
      perth
      Date and time
      April 11, 2013, 3:06PM
      • As a troll, I guess facts won't make a difference to you, but others reading the comments might be interested to know that "Carbon emissions for March for electricity from the National Electricity Market were down 10.1 million tonnes, at an annualised rate, since the introduction of the carbon tax last July."

        Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/carbon-economy/coal-extends-retreat-despite-power-surge-20130405-2haio.html#ixzz2Q8H0tLot

        Commenter
        Juliet
        Location
        Central Victoria
        Date and time
        April 11, 2013, 4:12PM
    • We as a community need to move well beyond thinking that edible gardens and using green cleaning products and reusing shopping bags make your home green. For a home to be green or sustainable it needs to have these five key features: 1. Passive design. 2. High thermal comfort levels which mean you don't have to have any artifical heating or cooling such as an air conditioner. 3. Choosing sustainable building materials and waste minimised construction techniques. 4. Water saving, energy saving innovatibe products and permaculture. 5. The residents knowing how to operate the home to maximise energy efficiency. All these keys can be used to unlock a green home when you are doing a renovation or building a new home. When all the keys have been used then you have a green home!

      Commenter
      Anthony
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 11, 2013, 4:38PM
      • When are bakers going to stop putting their bread in plastic bags? every day hundreds and hundreds get sold and where do they end up? I am an ace recycler but it's overwhelming the amount of plastic that enters my house I have bags of the stuff everywhere refusing to put them in the landfill, I've stuck them outside the door in the rain and wind,alters nothing, I've wrapped them up into tiny balls and cello taped them, now what do I do?

        Commenter
        Pythinia
        Date and time
        April 12, 2013, 8:15AM
        • I've been saving plastic bags with the intention of making a rag rug out of them. They last a surprisingly long time (years). But yeah, why is bread in plastic bags? it's not good for the bread, the sweaty environment encourages mould. It's not good packaging, as the plastic tears easily in transit. Coles put their loaves in paper bags with a cellophane window - much better.

          Commenter
          photondancer
          Date and time
          April 12, 2013, 12:56PM

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