Sustainability? No way – it’s too expensive and too hard!

By Alison Mitchell, Friends of Willow Park and Wodonga Urban Landcare Network

There are two common myths about living lightly – it’s too expensive and/or it’s too hard.  I don’t believe this at all.  I know that sometimes if we think the best thing we can do is some kind of retrofitting of our houses or businesses, then some items may be out of our economic reach.  But changing our behaviour to save natural resources is relatively simple and can save as much money, if not more, than retrofitting alone.  It’s true!  Try it.  It’s fun, it’s great for all the family and it’s easy.  The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be saving money.  You may even feel good about your contribution to the sustainability solution.

The best and easiest place to start is to use a bill (the electricity bill might be the best one to start with as prices keep going up predominantly because of “poles and wires”).  Get the whole family around the kitchen table and talk about the bill.  How much energy are you using each month and season?  How might each of you contribute to reducing your energy usage?  Can the teenagers turn their computers off overnight rather than leaving then on standby, for example?  Can you make sure the dishwasher is full before running it? 

There are lots of hints and tips on the internet about how to save energy and it might be a good idea to check these before meeting with the family.  Put signs in appropriate places to remind everyone that they should be doing something e.g. “turn off at the power point when not in use”.  Have a reward for the person who stuck to their energy-saving behaviour the most at the end of, say, a month.  Keep checking the power bills when they come in and meet with the family again to talk about your progress and what else you might be able to do to save energy.  It’s really that easy!  But don’t try and force anyone into a particular behaviour.  You’ll recall your reaction when someone has tried to force you into doing something – it doesn’t work and if it does, it doesn’t usually last.

When you have done as much as you can with your electricity bills, move to another bill that monitors your use of natural resources – the gas and water bills – and you can also consider what’s going into your landfill, recycle and green waste bins.  Happy money-saving!