Making the switch from big-city life to the laid-back rural life has its ups and downs. Brooke from eco parents has certainly taken a positive approach to her families new lifestyle, by taking the opportunity to grasp a sustainable home lifestyle. This week I spoke with Brooke and she gave us some insight into her new sustainable home and lifestyle.

home made bread sustainable food

Driveway up_September 2015

“inspire others to live sustainably” is your moto/tag line. Why do you, personally strive for sustainablility and
why do you believe is it important that others catch-on?

I’ve always had a green heart, but things really became real for me when I had my own children. The reality of bringing children into the world is a privilege and a huge responsibility. I started researching cloth nappies and my searching and discussions opened up a whole new world of reusable products and green thinking. This of course translated into green living. But I was attempting to change some behaviours years in the making. The Eco Parents blog came about as my way of documenting our attempt at trying to raise kids sustainably. It has now grown into a community of like minded people. My personal journey is at the heart of it, but we also share online resources, promote discussions and inspire others to share their eco triumphs and challenges. I’ve always been adamant that Eco Parents is a reflection of our own values. Fixing the planet can seem extremely overwhelming to anyone. The blog has a personal aspect that allows people to see that if parents in a normal household can make changes, so can they.

Please tell us a bit about your sustainable home and lifestyle.

After growing up in a rural setting but living in Brisbane all my
adult life I recently resigned and we packed up and made the tree change we’d be dreaming about. Having children seemed to amplify our desire to live more gently and gave us real motivation to move to a country setting. We settled on the Granite Belt region in Queensland. A picturesque town well known for apples and grapes. The altitude and granite gives it an alpine feel and it snows here from time to time. We purchased a certified organic hobby farm set on 14 acres. While we don’t plan on keeping up the certification we will certainly be making decisions for the good of our land and animals. We have a mixed flock of chickens, pigs, will be filling our hive with bees in the spring and have plans for a cow and goats. We are also adding to the eco credentials the house and property came with so we can be more self sufficient and reduce our living expenses.

What do you love most about your lifestyle?

The biggest adjustment for me is not working a traditional job. I’ve worked for many years and I’ve just left a professional city based job. I don’t miss the traffic. We do not have a rubbish collection service here and rely on rain and dams for our water supply. There are many tasks to keep things going but we take time out to explore our
surroundings and just have fun with the kids. We make sure we teach them what we are doing and why we are choosing this lifestyle. Our focus now is on establishing ourselves within the community here and being creative about how we can use our skills and knowledge to help us pay our living expenses. While we gave up many conveniences to move
here, we don’t see this as  a sacrifice we made for our children, it is a lifestyle that appealed to us too.

reusable coffee cup sustainable home

What do you suggest are the things parents should look to change first in their journey for a sustainable home?

It can be valuable to start with small easy wins. What is a small easy win? Well this will depend on each household’s circumstances. For some households there may be structural aspects that are open to influence, such as installing grey water systems, putting in solar, double glazing windows, rain gardens etc.  Swapping out single use products for reusable alternatives is relatively easy and has a great ripple effect. It is also easy for people renting or share housing. While expecting a new baby may seem like a big eco challenge, it can be a great trigger. Most new parents put in quite a bit of research into the products they’ll need. And in fact we need a lot less than the parenting magazines would have us think. There is plenty of preloved baby and kids stuff on the second hand market. It comes at a fraction of the price and reduces landfill and packaging waste. Reducing incoming consumables is one way to tackle it. The other is to reducing outgoing waste. Repair things, make do, transform items, explore options before adding to landfill. The first step will be different for different people, the key is to look at the opportunities for change and select those that will be easiest to try first.

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

I grew up in a similar setting to what we have here. My parents built their house and continued to learn valuable real life skills. Inevitably their attitude had an impact on my values. My father continues to provide inspiration to me in a multitude of ways. I’m also a part of a number of different networks that support my green thinking but also drive me to be creative and inspire others. l often look at other parents and gain inspiration from how they tackle this parenting thing. At the end of the day, we all try to do the best we can for our family.

Sleeping mask super mask

What are the key tips you would give to someone aspiring to live a more ethical/sustainable lifestyle?

The environmental problems of the world can seem overwhelming and it can be easy to become detached from the big issues. The first step is acknowledging that as humans living on this planet, we all have a responsibility to look after it. Then it is about deciding what small changes you can make. It can be encouraging to surround yourself with
like minded people. This might mean connecting with people, groups and initiatives in online forums. Different green choices work for different people and different situations.  Read, research, ask questions, challenge thinking and then make decisions based on your situation. An practical way to start making small changes is to look at your
shopping receipts. For every product ask yourself if there is a reusable alternative, a less packaged version, a local alternative…

Parents can be lead into a haze of powerful marketing from the moment they are expecting. It pays to remember that children are pretty happy eating fruit and playing with saucepans.

See Brookes Blog over at www.ecoparents.info

 

 

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