Swirly lifey stuff

I’m on the eve of my tenth move in 2 years, weary at the thought in principle but on further reflection, relishing the idea that I have very little “stuff” to actually move. What a change!

As recent as 2 months ago, I had to haul things I had in storage at a friend’s place in Brisbane over to another friend’s place (bless their hearts for being so kind to make room for my crap) which took a 1 1/2 ton truck and about 10 hours of my time to load and unload. This is of course stuff that I am not using, just towing about from one location to the next with consideration of using it at some point. Meanwhile, I have been successfully living my life for the past year and a half with none of it. Sure, I miss the odd thing like when I say “oh, I have a Breville in storage; would be good to have a toastie right now” or “my golf clubs are in storage,” but these things happen so infrequently as to not recall thinking of them moments later. So when I thought “oh here we go again, another bloomin’ move (substitute “bloomin” with a more colourful term), I was pleasantly surprised to find when I really thought about it, I have about 4 or 5 boxes of stuff, clothes and 4 or 5 items of furniture and that’s it. Easy. Yay!

Interestingly, I’m possibly moving out with my girlfriend’s friend (my beautiful Heidi is old-fashioned so we cannot live together yet and thus the living with her friend 🙂 ) who is very much a simple-living-eco-friendly-sustainability-loving-community-oriented person like I have become, which is a new experience for me. Perusing potential dwellings with someone who heads out to the backyard first to see where the veggie patch might go before looking at the house itself is different but refreshing; I like her priorities! After many years of looking at things through the standard lazy commercialised-living lens as many other people do, I’m truly starting to consider things like: hoping for rainwater tanks and solar panels on the property; how passive heating/cooling will work effectively in the house; what fruit trees exist on the land and how much space is there for growing veggies; ensuring there is opportunity for community gatherings and sharing meals with people; and making sure that shops are walkable/rideable to conserve fuel. Whereby I was quite happy to live alone until recently, I’m now reveling in the opportunity to live with someone else and develop a greater sense of community; something I’ve spoken about but not really put into practice yet. It’s quite exciting!

I’ll update when I find a new place and we’ll see how many of these new thoughts have been put into practice.

All of this moving comes amidst a push for funding on my human trafficking film which we’re starting to work on. My feelings about the environment and climate change became blurred when I was away looking at people dying or screwing up their lives from poverty, but I’ll save that for my next blog entry. G’night! 🙂

Lifestyle Report – as of May 2011

This is my second Report (since January’s) as a way of assessing my successes, targets, improvements and areas I need to be more vigilant with when it comes to simple, ethical, environmentally sustainable and community living.

It might not be an interesting entry to read but it’s a way to keep myself accountable and constantly improving my lifestyle.

I’ve highlighted positive changes in green and backwards steps red. So, as of today:

ETHICAL/SUSTAINABLE LIVING

• grocery shopping (with % of how often I do it)
— local green grocer for veg (60%)
— leftover bread free at end of baker business day (100%);
— skip-dipping/dumpster diving (0% but aiming to re-introduce it;
May: have been looking , but it’s hard to find anything in Adelaide)
— major supermarket for all else (100%);
— Fair Trade where possible (tea, chocolate, recent clothing)
— some organic (10% – food, soap & shampoo)
— use Ethical Guide to boycott bad companies, GM food (95%);
— boycott food with known cruel processes eg. veal (100% where known)
— food miles, locally produced (25%)
— meat consumption (15% of meals; May: this is mostly due to being poor)

• grow own food (not yet 0% but get some from friend 3%)

• household shopping: I only buy new from store if I can’t get from op shop or build myself;
— purchased new in past year:
—– furniture (0%)
—– clothes (10%)
—–accessories (15%)
—– car ( 0%)

• home energy:
— electricity:
—– solar/renewable = no
—– aircon/heating (10%)
—– computer (on 24/7, asleep when away & at night)
—– fridge (2/5 star rating)
—– dryer (0%)
—– water pump (everytime the tap is turned on);
— water:
—– rainwater tank (90%)
—– shower grey water for garden (0% May: stopped when I realised I didn’t have time to deal
with the garden and water is from tank anyway)
—– shower avg. duration (5 mins)
—– garden (0%)
—– dishwasher (0%)
—– washing machine (top loader 2/5 star rating)

• waste:
— food scraps (90%; goes to compost);
— wasted food (5%);
— recyclables like glass, paper, aluminium cans (95% to recycle bin, 5% kept for food/household storage);
— wasted paper (minimal use of printer, kitchen & recycled toilet paper)
— wood (90% saved for building material); May: haven’t built much now that I have what I need!
— white goods, electronics, equipment (0%);

Areas to Improve: fewer food miles; support local; buy organic if it makes sense & affordable (May: been very tight on cash the past few months so it’s hard to justify extra costs for organic sometimes); grow some own food; continue to consume less energy & town water. As it gets colder, it is tempting to use more heating but I’ll just have to be as resolute as possible and put on more clothes!

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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SIMPLE LIVING
• build most of my own furniture (lounge daybeds, coffee table, office desk, outdoor tables & seats)
• other furnishings have been donated (bed, futon, tv & DVD) or secondhand (kitchen table & chairs, office chair, rug); May: acquired two wooden trestle tables and some deck chairs i hard rubbish
• buy nothing that isn’t essential to the household or work
• work less, spend more time connecting with friends & family; May: disappointed as work has been all-consuming for the last 3 months; on the positive side, a chunk of that is due to a doco I’ll be shooting soon which is about helping people in need, so I think that’s good.
• spend money on essentials, friends, charities; May: out of necessity, been spending very little on me

Areas to Improve: connect more with real (not virtual) people

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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ENVIRONMENTAL
• approx. annual carbon footprint (avg. based on lifestyle as of today): 9.1 tonnes of CO2 (Aus avg. 16 tonnes; world avg. 4 tonnes)
• car usage per month – approx 300kms ; mileage (approx 10kms/L)
• bus instead of drive (15%)
• ride/walk/skate instead of motor transport (15% – 20min walk to shops)
• return flights in past year – domestic (3), international (0); May: about to embark on massive trip for doco for which I will be shedding environmental tears…26,000kms planned. This will blow my current Carbon Footprint figure out of the water 😦

Areas to Improve: take fewer flights; walk/skate/bus more rather than car; use less electricity; aim for 7-8 tonnes/yr CO2

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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COMMUNITY
• I live walking distance to my girlfriend and a couple of other friends; 5 minute drive to a couple more
• intentional community living (share house or close living) = no
• share property or resources with community (some household items, driving, food with girlfriend & her housemate; borrow from other friends occasionally)
• collect hard rubbish from neighbourhood
• engage in conversation or help with mentally/physically challenged people in neighbourhood (30%)
• give to charities (monthly to: 1 x global aid, 1 x animal, 1 x heart foundation, 1 x activism organisation )
• volunteer with some friends’ and charitable projects

Areas to Improve: aim to achieve closer and more intentional community; share more resources; be more accepting of minority/disadvantaged; give more to charities; get more involved with meaningful & helpful projects

MAY SUMMARY: overall, doing the right things still but not socialising much due to workload which is not a routine I want to get stuck in. That said, I still work from home and can shuffle my schedule around. In addition, I don’t commute which saves on time, carbon pollution and gives me more opportunity to be social. Some areas I can still be a bit more green.

Being poor is good practice

Boy have I been cash-strapped of late; work has been dribbling in at a pace that is slower than my consumption no matter how much I try to make that output as small as possible. There’s some work on the horizon but it’s always just at arm’s reach when I need it in close. Admittedly though, it has been a good challenge and excellent practice at being stingy, creative and disciplined.

The greatest part of my discipline comes into play when it comes to my credit card; it is a necessary evil as I have a great deal of automatic payments that come from it, which is rather thankful as I would be scrambling much more otherwise. However, I have used it exceedingly rarely when it comes to anything that is not a necessity (ie. going out to restaurants, “impulse” buys, “stuff”) which I find is my biggest success during this period of moneylessness. The challenge of course is to maintain this stingy behavior when the cash does start rolling in, and for that I see this period as great practice. For example, I know there are a couple of job-related things coming up that I could use some new gear for, but I have been resisting and looking at DIY alternatives that I can build for much less in some cases. When I have the money, I have to resist just going out and buying those things new and keep on the DIY way of thinking.

Being stingy is actually quite satisfying if it is confined to personal wants and desires but not relegating yourself to never going outside or being sociable. I’ve been guilty of the latter in the past, saying “oh, I can’t go visit friends cuz they’ll all just want to go out and spend money so I may as well just stay at home.” Luckily, I now have a lot more like-minded friends when it comes to living simply and saving money, so it’s easy to just hang out at someone’s place or do something with the deliberate intent on not spending money. My thrifty/stingy attitude extends to groceries and just getting the basics (while trying to remain healthy), driving less and taking the bus or walking more, scraping every last little bit of food from a jar/bottle/box and being more liberal with use-by dates (while not giving myself food-poisoning!). I’m only drinking cask wine and looking for 2-for-1 deals on big boxes which thankfully come along regularly (if I have nothing else, at least I have my grog!). I’m also conscious of things like excess toilet-paper usage, excess shampoo and toothpaste usage, wearing more clothes instead of turning on the heat (it’s been very cold in this house just lately) and feeding the dog slightly smaller portions of bulk-bought food to save a bit (no, I am not under-feeding my beloved pup!)

Creatively, I am managing to look at the cupboard and use what I see rather than just what I want (I know, a lot of my thoughts have to do with food! I do love my food…). This naturally results in eating a lot of rice-based dishes (from my 10kg sack of rice persistently offering itself to me from the corner of my kitchen); a surprisingly tasty dish is just steamed rice, a tin of chili-infused salmon or tuna, some green veg like zucchini or bok choy, and a bit of soy & sweet chili sauce. That’s about $2.50 for a big, tummy-filling bowl, and is pretty healthy too. In addition to food, I am rotating my clothing usage more consciously to get maximum wear requiring minimal washing frequency.

Anyway, tightening the old belt, as they used to say, is not so bad. I like having a few extra frills to make life a little less banal but it really is a good challenge to deprive yourself every once in a while, even if you aren’t financially hard-up. I reckon everyone should sacrifice something regularly if only to prove to yourself that you can, plus maybe save a bit of money/be healthier in the process. It also makes you appreciate all those little things that we all love in life that you tend to take for granted!

Struggling, but kinda not…

Just a quick note on simple living when you’re a freelance artist and always kind of broke: it’s better than being kind of broke but with a mortgage, kids, a massive credit card debt and other sizable monthly expenses! That’s what I’ve been telling myself of late as I struggle to find work and am just getting by financially. If I had any lifestyle other than a simple one, I’d be forced to get a job I didn’t want, working too many hours and becoming a slave to my work and my debt. I might get myself out of debt, but then I’d be working too much, lured into spending frivolously, and then so the snowball grows…

Anyone reading this who makes a decent living financially is probably thinking I’m an idiot, suffering when I could be working in order to pay for the “good things” in life. There are times when the idea of greater financial security sounds appealing, and perhaps I just need to organise myself a bit better still, but the hardest part I struggle with that scenario is the working/commuting for 1/3rd of your life (plus sleeping the equivalent) and just squeezing in the real living we should all be doing. And by “living” I don’t mean shopping, I mean spending time with family and friends, following hobbies and creative pursuits, being altruistic and helping the needy or at least people around your community, being healthy with lower stress and greater chance to be relaxing and enjoying life – the real good life.

The great thing I’ve learned about my new lifestyle is when I get in a financial pickle, getting myself out of it is 10 times easier when the hill is not so insurmountable, like it was in the past. I’ll admit that sometimes I just want to go out and have a nice meal or just not have to think so carefully about my cash-flow, but when I think about the sheer number of things I have on my list of hobbies that I’d like to achieve/finish, I could never go out again and still not get through half of them! On top of that, I want to be able to spend time with my girlfriend or other friends at the drop of a hat and not be stuck at work, only fitting people in in evenings or weekends. I live for flexibility in my life!

Anyway, I’ll tighten my belt this week, push through a couple of pending jobs to get paid, and then a relatively small sum will carry me through for a couple of weeks. In the past, that same amount would last me half as long or less.

Intentional Community living

“Intentional” and “authentic” community living are a couple of words/phrases I had never heard before about a year or so ago. When you live in a city in our society and follow the rest of the pack, like I did (and still do, to some degree), you are led to believe that we should spread ourselves out – wayyyy out – sprawling our cities to the max, stake out our 400-600 sq metres+ of land, and live at arm’s length from our neighbours and also, effectively, from the problems of the city/world. This “buffer” gives us our private space to stretch our legs, let the kids safely run amok, put in a swimming pool and successfully segregate ourselves from everything that might impinge on our peace and quiet and security. What it is also successfully doing, however, is isolating ourselves increasingly more from other people and their needs, struggles, support, and face-to-face interaction.

I personally tend to batch together the ideas of intentional & authentic community living as I think there are elements that overlap: intentional communities can be defined as a planned residential collective of homes and people who work as a team to see through their common visions and goals together, sharing responsibilities and resources including traditions, beliefs or spirituality. A brilliant article on this idea is at the Intentional Communities website (IC.org). In her book Designing Social Systems in a Changing World, Bela Banathy describes authentic community as “a group of individuals who have developed a deep and meaningful commitment to each other and to a shared meaning or purpose.” These members of the community “feel that they belong together believe that they can make a difference in the world by pursuing their shared vision and purpose, communicate with each other openly, honestly, and creatively”, deliberately avoid a hierarchical or bureaucratic system of organisation, instead “govern[ing] themselves by shared stewardship,” and nurture and practice genuine development of the members of the community, “taking full advantage of their unique and collective potential, knowledge, skills, creativity, and intuition.” There is a tendency for spiritual groups to use authentic community often to describe this coming together, but I think it has many other exciting applications as well.

[ check out our intentional community trip in 2015 ]

What I like about this whole concept is that it starts to knit back together our social networks that have becoming pulled apart and frayed by this suburban sprawl and our thinking that we are better off barricading ourselves from the people around us in the name of security and privacy. The thing is, I reckon the world was a much safer place in general when people lived more communally, with generations of families under the same roof, with “tribes” or communities integrated together with their kids playing safely with each other and people generally having much greater support systems all around them. The only reason we build the walls is because we don’t know our neighbours so we don’t trust them; we don’t let our kids just run off and play down the street unsupervised because we don’t trust anyone; parents take their kids to daycare because they have to pay for the expense of having so much unshared space in their protected private property which they’ve walled off from the neighbours who, had they got to know them better, would be able to communally take care of the kids. And so on. That of course is a minute tip-of-the-iceberg of the snowballing problems of how far our society has strayed from a true sense of community, but you get the idea…

OK, this wasn’t supposed to be a rant! I get that way a bit, don’t I?? 🙂

Getting back to why I like this concept, I think there are so many benefits that would make my life better, not only because of the type of person I am (keep to myself and lazy at making friends but enjoy and need those closer, personal relationships; increasingly environmentally and ethically-oriented lifestyle; need a better support base for struggles and personal growth and understanding), but because there are so many interesting dynamics that come into play when you get similarly-minded people coming together to invigorate and enhance their own lives and those around them. Or as Geoph Kozeny puts it: “a feeling of belonging and mutual support that is increasingly hard to find in mainstream Western society”. A lot of people have some of these networks in place and still live in the segregated lifestyle that I mention above, but they live a distance away from friends and groups that meet occasionally and require a lot of wasteful driving time and energy, and leave big gaps in between. I am increasingly craving the ability to have all those benefits available on tap.

I will outline my “idealistic” (and hopefully not unattainable) vision of intentional/authentic living in a new blog entry which I make as my master wish list, expanding on it as time goes on. Over time, it’ll be interesting to see if this type of community living can be achieved, and if so, if it lives up to the billing that I am giving it! It would be exciting to chronicle the process and see what unexpected challenges and achievements would come of it. I’d still love to hear from anyone living this way!

Quick links:
Bindarri Cohousing and intentional living Australia
Amazing list of all the worldwide IC’s (intentional communities)
Excellent article on what IC’s are

Actions + words

Sometimes I think it’s easy to say but not do (when really you should), while other times you do but don’t tell (when really you should).

I find it’s so easy to either say or think that I should be doing something a certain way (like being more ethical, doing more exercise, helping people, eating more healthily, being more pro-active with many things, stopping unproductive behavior…to name a few), but then get stuffed up when it comes to putting these things into practice. Conversely, some activities are easy to do (eating unhealthily guilt-free, spending too much time on Facebook, enjoying the company of friends), even ones that might have been difficult in the past or are sometimes difficult for other people too (living simply with less stuff, earning less, shopping a bit more ethically/organically/fairly, focusing more on other people than myself), but don’t get talked about.

For example, today I woke up with a wretched pain in my back from an albeit long, 13-hour workday shooting a wedding yesterday. Fair enough, I was on my feet nearly the whole day, but the pain was made worse due to my aversion to exercise. Even simply doing a few crunches every day will strengthen my torso and keep my back from bearing all the load. I know this stuff, but I don’t just do it. A few minutes a day will save my ongoing pain and yet I just can’t get myself to expend the effort. I even say these things to myself while sitting in the kitchen eating a block of chocolate (Fair Trade chocolate, at least!). Sigh. These words are something that need some action attached to them!

On the contrary, I have surprisingly easily slipped into a low-consuming life, becoming quite adamant about staying away from consuming holy lands (aka. shopping malls), taking a hard line about racking up credit card debt, building my own furniture, being careful what I eat and how much I eat out, and being satisfied in general with less. While I act this out every day, it wasn’t until very recently that I’ve been talking up this lifestyle (in this humble little bloggie-blog!), something I still feel a bit funny about though as I am not pretending to know what I’m talking about.

Perhaps what I’m trying to decide is when is it important to just act with no words, when is it good to have words but no action and when do you need both?

I’m always quite happy to lavish my lovely girlfriend, Heidi, with lots of thanks and praise for guiding me into this more responsible world of frugality and giving, but she has learned with her lifestyle choices that sometimes actions need to speak for themselves. As I believe she quite rightly assumes, people are very reluctant to be told that they are doing something wrong and should change; they need to just see how it works for someone else and feel inclined to question why you do what you do. Seeing that this way of living or things that you’re doing makes them happy or less stressed or just feels right, might incite them to do it themselves, or at least ask more questions. One can always hope that if it’s a good thing, the idea or action will cascade through to their friends and so on and so on

Maybe words and actions are both required sometimes though; I was just reading from a brilliant and well-written book The Rough Guide to Ethical Living, and they suggest that it’s all well and good to eat organic, shop Fair Trade and make other ethical decisions about where your food and products come from, but sometimes the action of making the right choice needs to include a message that communicates what you’re doing. Simply making the choice doesn’t specifically tell one brand or retailer why you’re not shopping with them (if it’s due to their brand/product being seen as having poor production practices, eg. treatment of people or animals, poor emissions, or marketing practices); you need to not only make the purchase, but indicate what your problem is with the other brand/product. Even more ideal and impactful in terms of acting and telling is to cut your own carbon emissions then writing to your local MP and “encouraging them to lean on the government to pass legislation which requires everyone to reduce their greenhouse emissions.”

This is sound advice; I think I’m going to get into the habit of regularly writing to retailers (like, Coles – boycott Nestlé!), writing to brands (like, Nestlé – irresponsible marketing practices!) or MPs about a variety of green/sustainability things. I hope anyone reading this can challenge themselves to put into action at least one thing that they have been telling themselves to do but haven’t acted on it; or conversely, if you’re doing something great but no one knows about it that’s ok but you could be influencing a whole lot more people with being a bit more pro-active with letting them know about it! But don’t listen to me (yes, listen to me! heehee).

Not Buying It

I’ve just been going through a mini bout of poverty: no jobs rolling in, Christmas costs just past, bills to pay, etc. So I’m down to a few cents in the ol’ bank accountaroodle. But it’s all good. Great actually to be firm with myself about delving into credit just so I can live comfortably rather than tightening up and just doing less, spending less and eating what’s left in the cupboard Not Buying It book cover(it’s surprising how many meals you can make when you think the cupboards are empty! In fact, during my housesitting period, I chucked out countless boxes worth of old food from people’s cupboards that could’ve saved them $$ heaps on buying new stuff when they didn’t need to…anyway, that’s another story!).

Coinciding nicely with buying less and just dealing with it, Heidi and I have started reading a book called Not Buying It by Judith Levine. It’s started off a bit doom-and-gloom as many of the books I’ve read of late about climate change and unsustainable practices are, but it looks to be an interesting read as she chronicles a year of her life not buying anything that is “non-essential”. She keeps a chronological journal that shows how she does through a whole year of reducing her consumeristic behavior.

In general, but especially when money is hard to come by, I like this thinking. I’d love to try doing a whole year of buying only “essential” stuff but I imagine it’d be hard. With less income rolling in, I guess you’re forced into that kind of action anyway, made even more obvious when you see how homeless and under-developed nations live like this all the time. Of course, this sort of “experiment” is the extreme as most of us don’t choose to live such a hard life, but I suppose if we all pulled back just that extra bit and reconsidered the true necessity and impact of every non-essential thing we buy, we’d be making some headway with the global crisis.

Learning to cope with less…

One of the hard parts to living simply if, like me, you’ve chosen to do so with a career that is spotty in terms of work plus you’ve decided to work less so that you can devote more time to other projects and community, is when you run low on funds. Even with my monthly costs halved from one year ago, I still need to bring in a surprising amount of money to cover the basics plus business expenses. Sometimes I wish I could live in a cheaper country! Australia is probably one of the most expensive in the world… (well, 15th in the world, apparently)

The coping part becomes difficult when you run low on funds for the basics but you’re still trying to wean yourself off the need to spend money on diversions when you’re bored. Take this evening for example: tv is rubbish, don’t feel like reading (I read a lot these days), been in front of the computer too much (though, here I am right now!), not feeling like doing anything creative, already had a couple of walks today and was a bit too dark to go for a skate. What would be fun is to go to a movie, go to a pub or at least grab some wine to bring home, go for a drive, etc. all of which require money (fuel tank is empty on car). That said, maybe it’s just the mood I’m in as I did reel off some non-money stuff that I might normally do but just don’t feel like it. I guess that’s the point: if I had the money, when I’m bored then spending is the (so-called) answer to alleviating the boredom.

I will just have to learn not to think that money is the better option when I’m needing something to make life more interesting or occupy my mind. Perhaps I just need an increased arsenal of non-money things that I can automatically turn to, a list of which I haven’t done yet. Money is easy when you have it. The lazy option. I have to realise that simple living isn’t doing nothing as to spend less, but rather being clever with my time and ideas in order to make best use of the extra time I’ve been afforded. It does require perhaps extra motivation to live this different lifestyle as I am admittedly someone who can slip into cruise control just cuz it’s easier than trying.

Lifestyle Report – as of Jan 2011

As a way of assessing my successes, targets, improvements and areas I need to be more vigilant with when it comes to simple, ethical, environmentally sustainable and community living, I’m going to blog here in this format regularly.

It might not be an interesting entry to read but it’s a way to keep myself accountable and constantly improving my lifestyle.

So, as of today:

ETHICAL/SUSTAINABLE LIVING

• grocery shopping (with % of how often I do it)
— local green grocer for veg (25%);
— leftover bread free at end of baker business day (100%);
— skip-dipping/dumpster diving (0% but aiming to re-introduce it)
— major supermarket for all else (100%);
— Fair Trade where possible (tea, chocolate, recent clothing)
— some organic (10% – food, soap & shampoo)
— use Ethical Guide to boycott bad companies, GM food (95%);
— boycott food with known cruel processes eg. veal (100% where known)
— food miles, locally produced (25%)
— meat consumption (25% of meals)

• grow own food (not yet 0% but get some from friend 3%)

• household shopping: I only buy new from store if I can’t get from op shop or build myself;
— purchased new in past year:
—– furniture (0%)
—– clothes (10%)
—–accessories (15%)
—– car (40%)

• home energy:
— electricity:
—– solar/renewable = no
—– aircon/heating (10%)
—– computer (on 24/7, asleep when away & at night)
—– fridge (2/5 star rating)
—– dryer (0%)
—– water pump (everytime the tap is turned on);
— water:
—– rainwater tank (75%)
—– shower grey water for garden (10%)
—– shower avg. duration (5 mins)
—– garden (0%)
—– dishwasher (0%)
—– washing machine (top loader 2/5 star rating)

• waste:
— food scraps (75% to compost);
— wasted food (10%);
— recyclables like glass, paper, aluminium cans (90% to recycle bin, 10% kept for food/household storage);
— wasted paper (minimal use of printer, kitchen & recycled toilet paper)
— wood (90% saved for building material);
— white goods, electronics, equipment (0%);

Areas to Improve: fewer food miles; support local; buy organic if it makes sense & affordable; grow some own food; consume less energy & town water.

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SIMPLE LIVING
• build most of my own furniture (lounge daybeds, coffee table, office desk, outdoor tables & seats)
• other furnishings have been donated (bed, futon, tv & DVD) or secondhand (kitchen table & chairs, office chair, rug)
• buy nothing that isn’t essential to the household or work
• work less, spend more time connecting with friends & family
• spend money on essentials, friends, charities

Areas to Improve: connect more with real (not virtual) people; volunteer more time to help others

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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ENVIRONMENTAL
• approx. annual carbon footprint (avg. based on lifestyle as of today): 9.24 tonnes of CO2 (Aus avg. 16 tonnes; world avg. 4 tonnes)
• car usage per month – approx 500kms; mileage (approx 10kms/L)
• bus instead of drive (15%)
• ride/walk/skate instead of motor transport (15% – 20min walk to shops)
• return flights in past year – domestic (4), international (0)

Areas to Improve: take fewer flights; walk/skate/bus more rather than car; use less electricity; aim for 7-8 tonnes/yr CO2

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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COMMUNITY
• I live walking distance to my girlfriend and a couple of other friends; 5 minute drive to a couple more
• intentional community living (share house or close living) = no
• share property or resources with community (some household items, driving, food with girlfriend & her housemate; borrow from other friends occasionally)
• collect hard rubbish from neighbourhood
• engage in conversation or help with mentally/physically challenged people in neighbourhood (50%)
• give to charities (monthly to: 1 x global aid, 1 x animal, 1 x heart foundation)
• volunteer with some friends’ and charitable projects

Areas to Improve: aim to achieve closer and more intentional community; share more resources; be more accepting of minority/disadvantaged; give more to charities; get more involved with meaningful & helpful projects