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Eco warrior

29 May

I’ve always liked gardening.  Maybe it’s because we didn’t have much money when I was little.  Fancy toys were out of the question, but outside of our mobile home/trailer, we had a large yard and  a horse pasture, so when it wasn’t pouring down rain, I spent most of my time outside.  Even though I refused to eat vegetables when I was little because I was the most annoying, fussiest eater on the planet, watching them grow was amazing.  Once I spent an entire day pulling all the long grass out of the ground in front of the barn and then planted flower seeds.  I was only about 7 or 8 at the time, and it was the very first garden that was all my own.

Down the road there was a big wooden windmill next to a house.  Even though I knew nothing about sustainability or eco-friendly practices back then, I always thought it was really neat that  the family living there used wind to get electricity.

Fast forward many years,  go half way around the world, and now I’m very passionate about sustainability and being eco-friendly.  I am doing a degree in sustainable agriculture and food security, after all.  But it didn’t happen all at once.  I’m not even sure when it started happening.  Maybe when I lived on my own for the very first time at the age of 19 or 20.  I rented the 2 bedroom granny flat across the street from where Aaron and Jess lived with their Mum and Grandma.  The lovely family I rented from said I could do whatever I wanted with the little garden next to the house.  I planted tomato plants that ended up being taller than me, lemongrass, cucumber, and I can’t remember what else.

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I started cleaning the little house with vinegar, baking soda, and eucalyptus oil.  Not because I knew it was eco-friendly, but because I lived on my own, only made $400 a week, and was saving for my wedding and honeymoon.  Cleaning with such things was way cheaper than using nose curling store bought sprays, but they work just as well.  I still clean that way, but now I do it for the environment and my family’s health.

Now that we have our own house, I would love to plant every square inch of the front lawn (if you can call it that, it’s more like the front bindii infestation) with vegetables, fruit, herbs, and all things edible, but Aaron is not so down with the edible landscaping movement.  Instead, I have an edible garden around the perimeter of the back yard (leaving enough room for the kids to play), which, at the moment, is growing peas, beans, grapefruit, purple broccoli, cauliflower, four kinds of lettuce, two kinds of spinach, kale, asian greens, spring onions, basil, perennial basil, sage, thyme, blue borage, nasturtium, and marigolds. I’ve also started to infiltrate some edibles amongst the decorative plants in the garden under our front window, including a dwarf red banana plant, a red chilli plant, chocolate mint, peanuts, strawberries, chives, oregano, coriander, native finger lime (in a pot), rosemary, and a macadamia tree (in a pot).  It’s amazing how many things you can plant in a small space.

Growing some of your own food not only teaches your kids about where food comes from (some kids these days don’t realise that milk comes from cows!), but it also saves money (which is a huge plus if you’re a cash strapped parent.  Kids are expensive…), and encourages kids to eat more healthily.  Hannah and Daniel love eating veggies from the garden.  Before we started growing our own, Hannah wouldn’t touch veggies.  Plus, if you grow your own, you know exactly what they’ve been fertilised with, and what hasn’t been sprayed on them. You know your food won’t be laced with synthetic, bad for the environment, eco unfriendly herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers, or genetically modified material.

Instead,  I have a worm farm. The kids love looking at the wiggly worms, and they eat all my veggie scraps.  Then I use their castings and diluted pee (worm “tea” if you want to be polite about it) to fertilise the garden.

I also have a bokashi bucket, which is an anaerobic digester that can take any kind of food, even stuff like chicken carcasses, and all the other food that the worms can’t have, and the compost heap won’t like.  My local council is very into sustainability as well and has a special bin for food scraps and yard waste.  When my bokashi bucket is full, I can put all the scraps in my green bin and they will be taken away to be made into compost in a giant anaerobic digester.

One of the best things the eco and budget conscious Australians can do is take advantage of the sun and get solar panels and/or a solar hot water system.  The sun shines a lot down under (according to the world wide web, Sydney has around 236 days of sun or partial sun per year, way more than my hometown, near Seattle, which gets around 201 cloudy days per year), so we live in the perfect place to harness it’s green, non-polluting power that has the added benefit of slashing electricity bills.  Yes, there is the initial outlay, but the panels will pay for themselves after a while. How many panels do you need? How much does it cost? How does it work?  Australian solar quotes can answer all these questions and more.


One day we also want to install a rainwater tank.  Fresh water is a precious resource, especially as the population increases and ground water can be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, agricultural runoff, landfills leaching toxic chemicals into aquifers, etc.

Maybe my sustainable/eco friendly ways started because I’m cheap, but it’s so much more than that now. For the sake of our kids and our kids’ kids, we all need to at least start thinking about sustainability and being eco-friendly so that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch doesn’t keep increasing in size.  So that our fresh water supplies stop getting contaminated.  So that we lower our greenhouse gas emissions and stop global warming.

*This post was in partnership with Australian Solar Quotes.

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