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Shopping with a Conscience

By Lizette Salmon, Sustainable Living Festival event officer

How much would you reduce your household’s carbon pollution if your electricity was from renewable sources and you never used motorised transport?

Many people assume around 80 per cent, but the answer is only 30 per cent.

How so? Because on average, 30 per cent of our emissions come from the food we eat and another 30 per cent from the goods we buy, so our shopping behaviours have a big impact on our ecological footprint.

Two well-loved locals, Father Peter MacLeod Miller and youth leader Milla Reid, are among a growing group of conscious consumers.

Conscious consumers: Father McLeod-Miller and Milla Reid

Father Peter preferences locally grown produce whenever possible. As a weekly visitor to the Farmers Market, he deeply appreciates his connections with producers.

“You start eating local foods and then get involved with the people growing it, sharing recipes, and discussing local issues like the environment, equality, mental health and homelessness,” Father Peter said. “Rediscovering the homegrown is the antidote to globalization and shrinking our carbon footprint, connecting neighbours and sharing our gardens, tables and future.”

Local food not only advantages local producers; it minimises fuel spent transporting food long distances.

Milla gets almost all her clothes second-hand, either from op shops or by swapping with friends.  “I don’t see the need for manufacturing new clothes,” Milla said. “Op-shopping reduces waste to landfill and energy required to manufacture new clothing, and money goes to charity.”

Australians are the second-largest consumers of textiles, buying twice the global average of 13kg per person every year.

Milla grew up enjoying time outdoors and in the bush, leading to a great respect for nature.  A visit to a beach in Malaysia during secondary school proved a pivotal.  “The whole beach was filled with rubbish,” Milla said. “I was so shocked I sat there crying.”

This experience fuelled her determination to buy less and reduce waste.

November marks the start of Albury-Wodonga’s popular Sustainable Living Festival – a month of events, including a fair and tiny house display at Junction Square on Saturday, November 18.

This year eight well-loved locals, including Milla and Father Peter have agreed to share their living lightly stories.

For more on their stories and the Sustainable Living Festival program, please visit http://wod.city/SLF2017. The Festival is brought to you by Wodonga and Albury City Councils and sponsored by Halve Waste and OzGreen Energy.