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sustainable-living-customhomedesigns-1Sustainable Living

“We have all heard the word ‘Sustainable’, but what does it really mean, and how can we change things? Or do we even need to?”
“I don’t understand all the hype, isn’t the global warming thing happening with or without us getting involved?”
“Yeah sure, I would love to do something, but I don’t have any spare money or time…..perhaps I will just leave it to the guys with money, and power to sort out – aren’t the governments doing something with clean air and natural resources these days?”
If you have found yourself saying or thinking one or all of these at some time, then perhaps you should look further into this web page… Making a difference is EASIER than you think!!

sustainable-living-customhomedesigns-2Firstly, let me tell you that I too was one of these people many years ago.  However, now that I have some knowledge in the area, read a few books and articles, and have engaged with a few wonderful people who offer their services daily on ways and ideas that help us to make a change for our earth, I can see that it is easier than I thought, and not just easy, but imperative if we want a life for ourselves and our kids.  Otherwise, the future looks bleak, to say the least.
And it will not be a matter of if, but when.
Professionals and those in the know have the responsibility to advise as many people as we can on just what is happening, why, and what we can do about it. You don’t have to have large sums of money, or be in a position of power to make a change.  It starts with YOU, your family and your home, and your actions.

It is simple, let me share some facts first…

“Seafood is simply a socially acceptable form of bush meat.  We condemn
Africans for hunting monkeys and mammalian and bird species from the jungle, yet the developed world thinks nothing of hauling in magnificent wild creatures like swordfish, tuna, halibut, shark and salmon for our meals.  The fact is that the global slaughter of marine wildlife is simply the largest massacre of wildlife on the planet” – Captain Paul Watson,

“The current extinction event is due to human activity, paving the planet, creating pollution, many of the things that we are doing today.  The Earth might well lose half of its species in our lifetime”. – Assistant Profession Bradley Cardinale, co-author of the study on extinction conducted by the University of California Santa Barbara

Many people remain unaware that whales, dolphin, and porpoises are still being killed and sold for food in many regions.  Whales continue to be hunted by commercial fishermen over the world. – John McCabe/Extinction


Millions of acres of forests throughout the world continue to be destroyed to clear land for oil mining, cattle and other farm grazing animals.

We clear precious trees (which lead to soil erosion and desertification) and kill endangered wildlife so we can grow corn or oats to feed these animals….however, that same amount of grain could feed the entire planet of people 5 times over!   Simply put, our inefficiencies are killing our planet.


So, what can I do??

Here is another fact to consider….

  • “The typical westerner’s diet consists of 28 per cent meat & fish, (or other animal product).  This generates the equivalent of 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories.  By comparison, the difference in annual emissions between driving a typical family sized car (sedan) and a hybrid car (which runs off battery and gas), is just over 1 ton… so, it’s better to green your diet than your car!!” – New Scientist Magazine, Dec 2005

So, if you ask “What can I do to help save the world?”  Stop eating dead animal’s flesh, (including mammals, birds and sea creatures), dairy, eggs and processed foods. See, simple isn’t it!!


In the mean-time, I can give you some starter ideas for your home

  • Start a vegie & herb garden (begin small) – just do what you can manage (perhaps get the kids involved!!)
  • Purchase a water tank (you don’t have to have a huge one, just start with a 2000 litre poly tank, they can be bought for under $900) – Hook it up to a well-placed down pipe to your house or shed gutters.  The water can be used for drinking, filling the pool, washing the dog and watering the plants (or, if you really want to be responsible, buy a larger one and connect it to your home for flushing toilets, showering and washing clothes etc)
  • STOP using pesticides – there are simple ways to kill weeds, and if you don’t have time to pull them out, simply pour boiling water over them (from your kettle).  There are also a number of other solutions for weeds, like keeping chooks and planting the right trees etc.  Why not plant some beautiful ground covers, they look great, grow quick and help manage the weeds for you!
  • Take the kids out to the beach and offer rewards for who collects the most rubbish (make sure you dispose of it responsibly)
  • Have 2 bins in the house (one for recyclables)
  • Get the kids to build a compost area (or bin) – or you can buy them pretty cheap at most hardware stores (great for disposing of food scraps and wonderful nutrients for most plants or fruit trees)
  • Have the kids plant their own ‘special’ tree that they can watch grow
  • Perhaps consider a worm compost area (see notes on Google for how to build and use them) – or you can purchase a ready-made one
  • Have a rule in the house about 3 minute showers
  • Encourage the family to turn off lights, fans, air con & power points when not occupying a room (make it a house rule)
  • If you want to go somewhat further with responsible power production, and you have the funds, solar panels on your house roof and/or shed is a great option (ultimately you will save a lot of money on electricity as a bonus!!) – there are also more advanced ‘off-grid’ solutions such as battery back-up power, generators, or even wind turbines (however, these are more costly solutions)
  • Consider another option to replace water flushing toilets – such as recycling your grey water, or using a composting toilet (and yes, they really do work, and don’t smell – there are good commercial options these days that look & function just like other toilet systems) – if that is a step you don’t wish to consider, then maybe get a plumber in to your home to check your taps & appliances for efficiency.  (A good shower head vs an old inefficient one would result in the savings of thousands of litres of water each year)!
  • Consider where your current water heater is placed on your home – if it is far from your kitchen, you may want to arrange an alternate option (waiting for the hot water to reach your tap could be costing you and the planet!!)
  • Have the kids ride their bikes to school if it is reasonably close (why use the car when there is another option that does not use unnecessary petrol – and it is exercise for the kids!) – perhaps also consider that option for yourself if you live only a couple of kilometres from work
  • Try using fresh lemon to wash your hands instead of harmful chemicals that end up in our waterways, rivers, oceans and streams (I keep a half lemon near the kitchen sink – it is amazing how well lemon will clean your hands – and it smells great too!!)
  • Replace your dishwasher with useful storage cupboards or shelving, and get back to washing your plates & cutlery by hand – (make a game of it with the kids… will be surprised how they will be happy to pitch in!) – And it is amazing how much cleaner your dishes will be! (without the water waste)
  • Replace harmful detergents & cleaners with ‘earth friendly’ or ‘green’ products (they usually cost the same as other products these days)
  • Replace your hair products, cleansers and other personal items for ‘green’ options (eliminating harmful chemicals not only from the earth but from your body!!)
  • Choose to shop with green reusable bags (not plastic, which ends up in our oceans and kills our marine & bird life)
  • Don’t ‘print’ documents to read or save them – keep them on the PC, and save more trees from being cut
  • Choose recycled paper, furniture, flooring and any other item you can where possible, over new
  • Fix it, don’t buy another!
  • And finally, why not extend or renovate your home, or even knock down and rebuild on the same site, rather than buy a piece of land from a developer to rebuild – (How many trees had to be cut, and animals that were either killed or had to relocate to provide that new piece of land)
  • There are a number of ways business owners, farmers and other large developers can save water, power and wastage, however, I am focusing my message to the average home owner in this instance.

Thank you.
Leanne Irvine/Owner/Custom Home Designs Pty Ltd