Wednesday, 7 March 2012

"...I hold the power to try to change it" - wise words, Kellie.

Now that I'm a parent, saddled with the extra responsibility of raising a child, I'm starting to become much more aware of the choices we make and how our actions are shaping our child. In particular, I've been thinking a lot about our current lifestyle habits and the example we are setting for Lalie and any subsequent children we may be blessed with in the future. It's quite alarming to know that our daughter is forming habits and establishing values based on what she observes every day. And although a large majority of what she observes is good, there's definitely a few areas that could do with a good overhaul.

Despite reality being quite the contrary, we tend to fancy ourselves as rather left of center when it comes to food, health and lifestyle. We're completely romanced by the idea of eating organic whole foods, living sustainably and so on and so forth... but the truth of the matter is - we shop at major supermarkets, drink softdrink, eat more processed food than we'd like, don't recycle as much as we should, leave lights and appliances on for no good reason - the list goes on and on. And yet we so often talk of moving to Tasmania and buying a plot of land, building a modest home and supporting ourselves by growing and rearing our own.

Honestly, though? We're kidding ourselves.

We certainly have an idea of the type of people we'd like to be - the life we want to live. But we're not there yet. Not even close. And moving to some idyllic rural setting with a couple of cows and a veggie patch isn't going to miraculously transform us into those people. There are so many habits to turn around, cycles to break, new values to be established and nurtured. And it all needs to start happening here and now - right where we're planted.

It's time for change. It's time to bring more positivity into our life. I want to feel good about the food we're eating and the way we're living. I want to try to break bad habits before they're passed on to our children. I don't want to set double standards in the home - it's not fair to expect more from Lalie than I do from myself. I simply want to lead by example.

So, these are some of the changes we are going to try and implement over the next year and beyond:

Immediate Goals:
- Start composting.
- Buy organic and/or local produce wherever we can (by cutting out rubbish food we can allow more in the budget for quality food).
- Cut down on our waste (it's appalling how much food I throw out each week because I've been too lazy to work it into a meal plan).
- Reduce processed foods.
- Put more thought into meal plans and preparation.
- Establish a substantial herb garden.
- Reduce energy usage in the home.

Short term goals (1 year +):
- Introduce chickens to our suburban backyard.
- Plant fruit trees.
- Establish a seasonal vegetable garden.

Long term goals (5 years +):
- Install solar panels.
- Install a rainwater tank.

It doesn't seem like much, but it's a start. We're not about to go on some extreme departure from who we are. This needs to be an achievable transition, not a plan that simply overwhelms us. I think these goals are certainly enough to make a noticeable difference to the way we feel about our life, our health and our family's future.


  1. One of the hardest changes to make are those that involve our habits! I've made the same habit changes in the last few years but the great thing is your family will serve as a great motivation to make the change! Just start small, it should have the domino effect after that!! Can't wait to see how you go :)

  2. Change is hard to make but when you want to change things are so much easier. It sounds like you've put lots of thought into what you want to achieve and set realistic goals for you which are achievable, this will reward you greatly and spur you onto to setting goal after goal. You will feel great just knowing what you are doing is making a better future for all of you. Enjoy the change. xx

  3. Amen to all of that! And, it's a fantastic start x

  4. It doesn't seem like much?! That list looks like a lot of work! But you can totally do it! These are goals I'd love to have as well. But they're so hard to do! PLease keep us updated on this journey. It'd be great to follow along and hear whats working and what you had to adapt/modify.

  5. Great goals Claire. Every single thing we do changes our impact on earth and imprint on the little souls watching our every move.
    Google 'project girl meal plan' awesome template I use that nixed food waste & made planning food/groceries easy peasy.
    We also have the Tassie dream here, search domain for properties, then continue where we are.
    Best to start in your own backyard.
    Be the change you want to see in the world.
    X Ashley

    Adore you and your blog,
    X Ashley

  6. I think we're a bit like you, lots of good intentions but in reality not as good as we'd like. Great goals though, we'll try a little harder too!

  7. Those are great goals and those are some of my goals as well!
    Sadly, I'm such a creature of habit I don't know how I'd ever start ha ha

  8. awesome. recently i have been really aware of using what food is actually in the house, even if turns into a "this and that" meal, it stretches out the market stop just another day or two. like last night i served the boys yogurt, fruit, and handful of almonds. they came to the table and said, "this is the best dinner ever". who knew. with life getting so expensive i think living a eco aware life is essential. it isn't just the food shopping but also the clothing shopping. i didn't purchase one new item of clothing for myself this past summer...and survived. hip hip.

  9. Hello Claire,
    Our habits are the hardest things to change, aren't they.
    We lived a similar lifestyle a few years back, then slowly I started changing a couple of things at a time. Once I'd broken those habits, I moved onto the next. .
    Among other things, we now cook 99% from scratch, avoid big chains as much as possible (which also cuts out a lot of waste packaging)and make our own cleaning products.
    We still have so far to go, but I'm confident that this sort of conscious living is making a difference to our children and our world.
    Do you read the Down to Earth blog?
    Rhonda always has wonderful advice for simple, green living.
    Good luck with your Goals. They're all achievable.
    Your garden is looking so lush. And how adorable is Lalie's smile!
    Have a gorgeous day.

  10. Great goals, and really achievable too. I started composting a couple of months ago - I don't know why I put it off for so long. SOOOO much of the kitchen waste now bypasses the rubbish collection and soon the lovely compost will be ready to go into a vegetable bed. Halos are a-shining as we speak! xx

  11. I feel the same but many of those things are impossible.
    We have tried, we have a little veggie patch on our balcony & try to eat less junk but its harder than I thought.

    I love your goals, they are fantastic.

  12. You've made the first step! It all takes time, but you'll find once Eulalie gets involved it will become so enjoyable and rewarding. We still have a long way to go too, but we started with a ''veggie garden'' in 3 wine barrels, cloth nappies and we have a rainwater tank with our newly built house. We planted 2 fruit trees last year but haven't seen any fruit yet, maybe this year :). We try to turn off our appliances etc and always use the eco friendly light globes. These things don't seem like much, but they really add up. And it helps that the kids are aware of it, they seem to remember more than I do ;). I will look forward to following your journey :).

  13. We are on the same path as you and trying really hard - we have the chickens, we meal plan (mostly), we compost. I hate the composting, to be honest, but the rest just feels great. I'm not fussed especially on buying organic, but buying from small business At shops and markets is a major preoccupation of mine.

    The processed food is hard. Finding the time to make our own has been tough. It's all about the time, isn't it? We modern people just got ourselves so busy doing STUFF that we no longer have time to actually live with purpose. Madness.

    Now that I've given up the slog of corporate life, I aim to find more time to live the way we want to live. I will follow your progress with great enthusiasm, Claire!

  14. Lovely post Claire! Change is a beautiful thing. There is something in the air lately... I think 2012 is encouraging many people to change the way they live - in essence, to simplify.

    We have had similar goals to yours in place for a few years now, and are slowly chipping away at it. If we can do it, you can do it! It's definitely possible. And your goals are very calculated and achievable.

    We changed to organic/minimum spray produce a few years ago, mostly purchased from our farmers market so it's also local and sustainable. I was throwing away so much fresh food each week too, so I started to meal plan three years ago and haven't looked back! (Tip: I used to go through cookbooks and magazines to write my meal plan but found our shopping bill went up because I was buying lots of odd ingredients to make extravagant meals! So now I see what's in season at the market, especially what's available at a good price or in bulk, and then write my meals based on that.) We have existing fruit trees, but are still yet to start our compost, or our vegetable garden - our goal is this spring! And chickens are in the pipeline as we speak! I get very excited about it all :) I look forward to seeing you guys on this journey! x

  15. I agree...when you have a young one or are about to welcome one, your habits are really thrown into relief. I feel that way about some of my lazier habits -- not picking up all of my clothes or zoning out while watching the Kardashians or some other nonsense. I think we are giving up the TV before baby comes as I don't want him to grow up in a house where screens are always flickering away. The laptop habit might not be so easy to break.

  16. You're going to do well. You definitely don't need to move to Tasmania to make important changes.

  17. you are too hard on yourself claire. lalie's light shines ever so bright, you and paddy are wonderful parents - despite eating too much processed food! ha you raise some great points, many I have wanted to implement for a while, but of course habit is hard to change and with little time to implement around the demands of a growing family, plans are put to the side. but I think you have just inspired me! small goals, little steps. our backyard is nowhere near as impressive as yours, but we have room for a good herb garden and small vegie patch, even a few chooks. and the kids adore being outside and in the garden which makes it more enjoyable. thanks for the inspiration!

  18. This was a really encouraging and honest post Claire. You've inspired me to do less of the fruitless romanticising and daydreaming about sustainable living and more 'doing'! It'll be great to see the progress of your goals (and hopefully some veggie garden photos and such once you get it all set up).

  19. Oh my lord, absolutely perfect pictures and beautiful writing. You are so inspiring!

  20. Go to the library and see if you can get a copy of "Frugavore" by Arabella Forge and "the Chook Book" by Jackie French.

    Our children have that wonderful ability to display the best of us and to copy the not so good in us. They are our greatest inspiration for change, the ideal catalyst really.

    I have been thinking about this a lot too - we work from home, we shouldn't have any excuse for a lack of vegie patch or compost (although those damn bush turkeys eat everything in sight!) Time is and always will be an issue but, in a way, when we simplify we create more space (a true yogic philosophy!)

    At the moment I'm living by the motto: one step at a time, trying not to feel guilty along the way :) x

  21. Love this post Claire - I can relate to every word! We did take the plunge on composting a few months ago and I can not explain the satisfaction I get from it. I grew up on a farm where food scraps went into the "chook bucket", so it used to kill me to throw all that good stuff in the bin.

    Your photographs are looking just gorgeous btw. If you could spare the time (between composting) to share some tips with us, I would love it!


  22. I have a habit I need to break - even though Gus is only 3 months he has started watching when I play on my phone. Which is pretty much constantly. I've gotten worse since having him - I would use the endless hours of breastfeeding in the early days to check facebook / look stuff up on the internet etc on my phone. Now I'm totally addicted! And it's so not behaviour I want him to replicate!!

  23. Isn't it a lovely thing about this life that when we become parents, we strive to become better people and live authentic lives. I really, really want a backyard with some chooks. Kellie xx

  24. All very easy and achievable. We live in Tassie and trying to do what you have on your list... in the suburb...

    The hardest we have is buying local grown food - I have had miserable success with our veggie patch this season. The best place for us is the farmers market but even then we cannot get variety... I also struggle to drag children around different places to get different things so some things I have to cut lose till I can do better. I hear there is a possible local produce farmers family delivery but when it happens is another...

    One step at a time then add another till it becomes habit. You can do it.

    Looking forward to watching it all happen : o )

  25. You have many of the same goals that we are striving for Claire and we're finding that taking it one step at a time will see us there eventually. The important thing is being aware of the impact we are having on our environment and being willing to break habits and make the necessary changes required to get us to where we want to be.

    Good luck :)


  26. I planted tomatoes this season, the best thing I did this summer. I hope to have a bigger veggie garden soon, but you have to start somewhere. GoodLuck with the garden xx kellie

  27. Claire, it is so interesting that you posted this as we have been having exactly the same thoughts and conversations these last couple of weeks.
    As Archie starts to move into solid foods, I worry about the amount of crap food and crap additives (including pesticides) we ingest every day. I have always said I would rather my kids not eat lollies and chocolate until they are older. But I wolf down blocks of chocolate like it's going out of fashion, all the time.
    How do you create a balanced lifestyle for your kid and a compromise you can live with after years of habit?
    We had a lovely potager that produced vegies for our dinner daily but with the new bub that's fallen by the way side. And we go to the organic food markets every weekend but still shop at chain grocery stores during the week.
    I think that your idea of achievable goals is a good one. And am going to start doing some pondering on it myself.
    Thanks for your blog post, it has been a great comfort to know that other people are struggling with these ideas to.

    Sorry about the essay!

  28. you are inspiring Claire. I know you will achieve every single one of these goals and its wonderful that you now have it written down so you can give yourself a big pat on the bum when it's all done.

    Its such a fun family project too.

    xo em

    p.s we can still tassie dream though right?

    p.p.s your 'cabbage' name is now even more applicable!


  29. What an inspiring post Claire.
    Something that I need to think about some more and write us a plan too!!

  30. Our goals are similar also, though we currently compost, meal plan and have some herbs and veggies growing, long term we also want chickens and wish to install rainwater tanks and solar panels. We installed a rainwater tank at our last house for use in the garden and it was fantastic. I could water the garden or Cohen could play with the hose without guilt. This time we are going to hook it up for use in the downstairs toilet and laundry as well, to further save water. I also want to make more food from scratch and preserve more.

    Looking forward to watching your goals become reality. :)

  31. I think it's a fabulous start Claire and it's such a wonderful thing that you are thinking of all of this and planning it for the better of you and your family. Really admirable. I would also love to cut back on the processed foods, recycle more and instil a healthier meal plan for my family. I feel like I'm in a serious rut when it comes to eating right now. Too much comfort type foods, not enough natural fresh options. I want the fresh stuff to be my comfort food. That is my goal xo

  32. A wonderful list of realistically achievable goals Claire. There is nothing like goal setting to motivate us to make positive change in our lives - and your desire to lead by example for your children. I have facilitated sustainable living courses back in the city - which are full of helpful tips and goals to help us lead simpler lives. Many are easy to implement and don't cost a thing - like bucketing greywater. A worm farm is definitely the easiest way to get started with composting, as you can feed kitchen scraps to it daily (while you get that chook run built!), unlike a compost heap which needs a stockpile of materials and is made in one go. Looking forward to watching your progress!

  33. What a wonderful list of goals Claire. 9 years into this parenting gig I can see plainly that leading by example is the best way to go. Even if you have a few off days along the way :)

    A funny story...we had chickens for a couple of years when Otto was around 2/3 years old and we called one of them Coco (I know!! Actually is that wrong that we went on 3 years later to call our daughter Coco?!!)
    Sadly Coco passed away and we buried her at the back of the garden.
    One morning we woke up to see Otto out in the back yard with his shovel. When we asked him what he was up to he said 'I'm just going to find Coco' !!!

  34. oh. I had to smile as I did the same thing when we had our second baby;
    we now have backyard chickens and ducks, more food grown on our property, I learned to bake, I planted fruit trees & stopped buying any commercial meat (even organic as it is PROCESSED in the same way as non-organic) - I only buy meat from the local farmers market.
    I also stopped retail shopping for clothes, furniture and many other things. I go to thrift stores and craigslist when I need something....
    feels great and my home looks better because of it! Your home however is beautiful and your taste ROCKS. xoxoxo

  35. Hi Claire ... I can relate to your post so much. In fact, I've been pondering these things myself today. It always makes me so nervous to know my children are taking in everything they see and will eventually copy! What a responsibility! Your goals sound great and I'm sure you'll do a fabulous job at achieving them. I look forward to hearing the progress. xx
    ps - I love the photos ... Eulalie is just beautiful Claire (that smile of hers) especially having cuddles with her Dad.

  36. I think your list is ace!
    I think most people could probably make a similar list.
    I know we could. We live on an organic farm in the middle of the bush and even so, sometimes we let things slide. Get into bad habits.
    I look forward to watching your progress. x

  37. Well said Claire. I love your list and I love that you're feeling so positive about making these changes. You've totally inspired me to make my own list.

    The mister also dreams about moving to Tassie for the same reasons and then I have to bark at him to stop leaving all the lights on/put the vegie scraps in the compost etc. Glad to see we're in good company.

    Lead by example. I need to keep reminding myself to do this. A tattoo idea perhaps, ha! xx

  38. boy, does this resonate. What a great list of goals, might just copy them.

  39. if you want... add One A Week Project - each week add one extra item to your grocery shop within 8 weeks you will have 8 products to give to a local charity - join with friend or other group and you could have a hamper to really help out a local family. From what I read, you are aware and are trying and have goals - all wonderful!

  40. By no means an expert, but can I recommend planting your fruit trees earlier because they take a few years to establish and get a good crop! Wish you all the best with your goals and really appreciate the honesty. Merging our words and our actions is one giant step towards integrity. :)


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