a change in time

musings on behavioural change – the small stuff and the big stuff.


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checks and balances; where change lives

I thought it was about time I looked back over the last three years, from the time when I started the Graduate Certificate in Sustainability, to see what changes we have made and what still lies in the ‘too hard basket’. The ‘We’ to whom I refer is my husband Peter, and myself. I am lucky that Peter has supported me from day one in my attempts at behaviour change. Such support is not a given.

The change I am most pleased about is our reduction in food waste, or more precisely, wasted food. While we have made attempts over the years to ‘divert food waste from landfill’, it hasn’t always been a top priority, funny about that. We’ve had a compost for years but that has become a place to stack all unwanted green waste. I have had some success with worm farms, however I have twice been defeated by a string of hot days. Then one of the students in the course suggested I try the bokashi bucket. It suits our lifestyle perfectly, something not to be underestimated, so now all scraps and any leftovers go into the soil in our backyard.

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Chopping up food scraps is a meditative practice for me – I enjoy the process and the result.

Another area where our awareness has been raised is, just how embedded ‘single use plastic’ has become in the western lifestyle. I am constantly reminded, at the monthly creek sweeping of Darebin Creek, of the amount of plastic being thrown away. We stopped using plastic bags, for the most part, some time ago. We still have a way to go when it comes to kicking the habit of buying prepackaged goods from the supermarket. Some people seem able to go cold turkey – once they realise the damage a product is causing to the environment, they no longer buy it – still working on this one.

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I was pretty shocked at how far down the layers of plastic go. There was no way I could remove all of it so I stuck with the most recent items that could end up in the waterways.

But let’s not get too depressed. There is fun to be had in this crazy old world in which we live. Our efforts at ‘re-using, re-cycling’ etc still provide a lot of pleasure and pride. Take for example, when our washing machine recently stopped working and was beyond repair.

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Peter made it into a brazier! Okay, the plastic might melt from the heat, but we’re going to give it a go. Suki is not so sure.

One unexpected outcome was my new career as a rapper. (ha ha!) As  part of our graduation from the Community Leaders in Sustainability program, we were required to make a short video of what we would take away from the course. Inspired by our son, Louis, who kindly allowed me to use his beat, I decided to try writing a rap. Peter took on the role of camera operator and editor and , voila, instant fame!

And last, but not least, I finally ditched the big toilet paper company and changed over to a company that has a strong ethical basis – my logic being that we should support companies that are committed to making a difference.

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The name is a bit off-putting, but it isn’t a bad question for us to be asking ourselves. (Couldn’t resist a free plug for Bill Gammage’s book!) 

The main thing I have learnt on this comparatively newly chosen path is that it is worth making these small changes, even though there are those who think we are way past being able to make a difference with the little things. It is our continued desire to consume way beyond what we actually need that is contributing to the current swathe of problems linked to environmental degradation. If we stop buying stuff, the companies producing it will have to change their ways.

For our children, and our children’s children.


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The dandelion in the garden

There appears to be two main schools of thought on what to do with dandelions – spend your entire life trying to remove them from your lawn and garden, or appreciate their nutritional and medicinal value by including them in your diet. I have been in the former camp for pretty much all of my gardening life however in recent years I have gained an interest in learning about these plants we call weeds. Most recently I bought a book to help me in my quest:

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Kelly, one of the other participants in the Community Leadership in Sustainability (CLS) program, brought them along to sell. I purchased 2 copies – one for us and one for our son, Louis. 

It sat on the pile of books next to our bed for a few weeks, and was then overtaken by other newer, supposedly more interesting books, until it was relegated to the book shelf in the guest room.

Don’t despair, my foraging friends, Facebook came to the rescue! One of my favourite Facebook groups is called ‘Edible weeds and other useful survival information’. Yesterday after I finished watering the garden and pulling out a few weeds (heretic!) I thought I’d see what the FB world is sharing. That’s when I saw this post:

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I was horrified – they looked exactly like the ones I had just removed from our side path!

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I can’t show you a ‘before’ because I was in the mindset of, ‘better remove those weeds from the side path’ and didn’t think to take a photo – why would you? 

It wasn’t too late to save the recently removed weeds from the compost.

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I feel guilty just looking at this photo, to think I was going to leave them to die in the 40 degree heat! I’d like to think they would prefer their qualities were used more purposefully. 

I followed the recipe provided and was pretty happy with the result. I was due to attend a Banyule CLS group that evening. Now if I wanted the perfect group of people that would be willing to be guinea pigs for my first efforts at preparing weeds for consumption, this would have to be it! And they did not disappoint.

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There wasn’t quite enough to share between 26 people however the brave ones were happy just to have a taste and, to my delight, some were even inspired to give it a go themselves!  

Ian McBurney was the guest presenter last night. He bravely took on the topic, ‘Leadership and Change in a Changing World’ and somehow managed to make it interesting and relevant and even doable. One of the things that hit me was his assertion that we are already all connected and, even if we don’t know it, we are influencing each other all of the time. I was seeing this being acted out in my relationship to dandelions. I had been influenced by Kelly’s book, and Alexander’s post and, by taking the prepared dandelions along last night, the influence is spread wider.

Changing behaviour is not easy, at least for me, even with all of the knowledge I have accumulated about why and how. Every time I do make a change, even to the smallest of my habits, I feel secretly thrilled that it is possible, and I wonder what change I will take on next, and know that there are people all over the world making changes, big and small, and it’s nice to be part of this little revolution.