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Living Lightly Inherited

By Beth Simpson, Albury

What we as parents and teachers do now towards minimising our impact on the environment will have an influence on the attitude of our children eventually.

Last week I described some of the quaint “living lightly” behaviours of my family when I was a child. For many years after I left home, I was determined to do things differently; I aspired to be more modern thinking.

In retrospect, three decades after leaving their nest and with the environmental issues now facing our society, I realise that my parent’s habits were not so silly and have positively influenced the way I now live.

Last year I did an excellent course in kitchen gardening at Wodonga TAFE. Now I am making compost, using all the kitchen vegetable scraps, autumn leaves, grass clippings, newspaper and other garden waste.

I am growing vegetables, citrus, stone fruit trees and berries. I have made apricot, strawberry, mandarin and feijoa jam all from produce in my own back yard. I have tackled the problem of fruit fly, though not altogether successfully.

I make liquid soap out of all the little bits of soap left at the end of a cake – put them in a saucepan with water and boil until a thick liquid results, then put it into an old pump action bottle.

I recycle as much as possible. I try to encourage the family to turn off appliances at the power point and not leave them on stand-by. I use cloth bags at the supermarket.

I live by the theory that if you can walk, why drive? If you can run, why walk?

I try to remember my cloth bags for the supermarket.

I try to reduce our water consumption. Large cooking items are hand washed and only plates, cups and cutlery go in the dishwasher.

I even tell the family what part of the meal each night comes from the garden!

The fact that none of my children is excited about this nor have taken on board many of these initiatives does not surprise me – it may take a few years to convince them that the quickest or easiest way is not necessarily the best way. But I am sure that in time, they too will realise that we cannot continue to just take from our communities and land. It does take time, it does take effort but we can all make a small difference. 


PS My parents are still living lightly, albeit much more slowly these days!