The Brady Bunch Goes Environmentally Friendly!
By Anthea Hudson and Carol
Carol from 'The Brady Bunch' (no, not the famous TV family, but our very own homeschooling Aussie 'eco stars') tells us about her concerns for the future and what her family are doing to address these issues. Some of the things this family do can easily be put into practice by anyone, for no cost, and will even save you money! Others do require some initial expenditure, but often cost less than you might think with government rebates, and will help save money, and precious resources, in the long term.
|Saving water is probably personally most important to me, because I worry about water shortages for the future of our country, and the world, really. We have a 5300 litre rainwater tank plumbed into our house to assist with the laundry and toilet flushing.
We have an old gravity-fed hot water service (which means it takes ages to warm up), so my husband came up with the idea of using a jug or container to catch the water at the kitchen sink before it heats for washing up dishes. We sometimes catch up to 3 litres of water and we usually wash up 3 times a day. We fill up our water bottles with this and also use it for cooking and if there's nowhere else to use it at the time, we put it in the washing machine for the next load.
I also bucket water from our bath into the washing machine as long as it is quite clean for the first cycle of a load. This works as long as you wash quickly and don't let the water sit too long. Frequently, we fill the washing machine up enough for a large load, first cycle. It pays off because on the SA water chart you get with your bill, as a 5 person family, we are usually in the water usage of one person with no garden (and we do have a large yard) category! At the worst, we are rated as a couple with no garden.
We only grow a few veggies, etc, here and there and are striving to create a proper vegetable garden, but it's been a long time coming because when we bought the house, the yard was just dirt and weeds and it's taking lots of time/expense to sort it. We do have plans for this, plus adding another water tank or two for watering.
We have had solar panels for three years and regularly generate enough electricity with them to run our house during the day. We always add back to the grid. The children have all learned about turning things off at the switch as well as the need to save water.
My husband rides his bicycle to work every day, unless the weather is simply atrocious. Our homeschooling group meets down the street, so on that day, we generally don't drive at all. Our older children due attend school, but locally and walk there every day. For the most part, I shop locally, which helps. My car is dual fuel as well, so by switching around, we often can get away with filling up the fuels only once a month. LPG is of course, a cleaner fuel than the petrol. Not always, but often, my son and I take public transport to the city.
The children see these measures and we show them the bills, which are still high, because prices are going up, but we say, imagine if we didn't do these things. I am not so worried about the money, but worry about water and drought and hope future generations will cope. Certainly, our sunny country can provide massive amounts of energy in the future.
For anyone thinking about making similar changes, I think just what the kids do-- what can your bills be like without doing it? That's a big motivation, which is why the charges are going up, anyway-- to discourage use, I suppose. It's not hard really. With the rebates, we paid all of $129 for our solar panels and received a good rebate for plumbing the tank in, as well. I know the rebate system has changed now, but I believe something is still available, and if you are staying in a house for a long time, it's an investment.
As for what costs the least and anyone could do right now-- catching water is free! It's easy and is worth it.
This is just one family making a difference.
Think what might happen if we all made some simple changes to the way we view and use resources. The effect would snowball... and the Earth, and us, would be much healthier for it. Join us in creating this change. Even one small change can make a huge difference over time!
If your family is doing things to live more sustainably, we'd love to hear from you and include your tips for others to use and be inspired by! The more people who share their experiences on here, the more they will motivate others to do something, and the bigger this move to sustainable living will become.
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