Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Walk the Talk

Because I want to walk like a boss with heaps of pandas too

There are so many things in the world I want to change and want governments to legislate for so that being smart and green is law, not optional. However, in the spirit of Gandhi, I am trying to be the change I want to see in the world while I wait.

Complaining is pretty easy to do. Changing your way of doing things is a lot harder, but ultimately more rewarding. I sometimes forget the things I do that are actually making a small difference to the rest of the world.  So, in the interests of promoting action over talk, here is a list of things that do or have done in order to make smart and green the norm, not the exception:

1. I swapped my Super fund to Australian Ethical

Money speaks volumes when you decide to take it away from one person and then give it to someone else. Trust me, I have never received so much attention from my old super fund as the day I switched my savings to someone else. Letters and phone calls all week! SunSuper is a great fund, but they weren't as progressive as AE and they couldn't guarantee they had investigated the ethical practices of every investment partner they had. I like the idea of investing in green technology, and things like the cochlear implant people, and you know, not coal. So I switched.


2. I ride my bike to work 2 or 3 times a week

This does so many things for me! It's my mental health hour, it's my gym, it takes my car off the road and it saves me money. It was a conscious decision to take a job close enough to my house that I could cycle to and fro - there's even a bike path that goes 95% of the way, so it's like my very own personal freeway lane, right next to the cars stuck in a traffic jam. Gliding downhill past motionless cars never fails to make my day.

3. I live in a small house and I intend to live in a smaller house next time I move.

McMansions are possibly the most ghastly and grotesque beasts to grow from mindless consumerism. Say no to suburban caves. I love living in a small space - it means the things I buy to furnish it can be of better quality because I need less of them and can therefore afford to spend more money on them. I use less electricity to heat and cool and light my house, and oh, it's underneath someone else's house, so our collective footprint is smaller too. I really don't feel like I need to go out and occupy my allocated 1.1 square kilometres of Australia actually, I really don't.

4. I don't own a television. Nope.

I have a shiny MacBook, but I don't have my own television any more (correction, I put it in storage with all my Mum's stuff, but I intend to get rid of it properly now that I know how easy it is to live without). I fill up my evenings with study, books, internet surfing and Skype conversations with friends in far away lands. If I get desperate, I can traipse upstairs and watch TV with my brother, but that happens maybe once a week or so. I am not the person to discuss GOT plots with, sorry.

5. I take public transport in to the city as much as I can.

Living in a suburb on the fringes of Brisbane does pose its own special social challenges, however, most of the time the train will take me almost all the way to where I want to go. I can drink, and I can catch up on reading or simply gawk at the exotic types of human fauna that populate the Ipswich line (this is best done whilst wearing sunglasses, obviously). Having places to crash in the city does help though, because if I didn't, missing the last train would immediately turn me in to a grumpy pumpkin.

6. I took the 33 things challenge, and then kind of forgot about the rest of my wardrobe.

Courtney Carver, writer of excellent blog Be More With Less, had an interesting idea. What if people had to choose just 33 items to dress themselves with for 3 months. That includes shoes and accessories, but excludes underwear and gym gear. 33 things. I live in Queensland, so it is surprisingly easy to do this in summer, and hey, let's face it, also quite easy to do in winter if you own a decent pair of jeans and a good coat. So now I own a lot less clothes, and also buy a lot less because I realised I just didn't wear those excess items at all. The ones I do choose to put away are quickly forgotten about and when I go to change my wardrobe over for the next 3 months, it's like greeting old friends! Hey pretty scarf, I haven't seen you in ages! Try it, you will actually enjoy it I swear.

7. I don't like physical presents.

Clarification: I actually love receiving presents. You give me a thoughtful gift, I am yours. However, give me some thing and maybe I am not so thrilled underneath. When it comes to birthdays and Christmas, I ask for things that are not 'things' like massage vouchers and going out to dinner.
I did ask for a compost bin last Christmas, which was a pretty great present, but really, if you are not sure what to get me, don't get me anything! I love handmade cards and chocolate. A winner every time.

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