2016 – my most sustainable year yet

I think in 2016 I lived more environmentally sustainable than ever before. Great! I’m far from having no environmental footprint and I’m not sure if that’s even possible. I guess we all leave our mark on this world, one way or another. We cannot go one day without affecting the world around us. We just have to choose what kind of effect we want to have.


This year I tried to be more conscious of my impact on the world and assess whether I want to continue making that impact or change it. Here are a few things I did (or didn’t do) in 2016 that are different from my life before:

  • I didn’t take an overseas holiday therefore reducing the demand for petrol consuming air travel ever so slightly (ever ever ever so slightly… :)). Instead I explored some of WA’s natural treasures which are much closer to our home and don’t require so much travelling. Saying that, WA is a massive state and I still drove around in fossil fuel powered cars a fair bit. I did however also make use of public transport, e.g. trains around Perth and coaches (busses) in the country up north.
  • We Meeka Goes Green volunteers made a definite impact on the Meekatharra rubbish tip by diverting a lot of stuff to recycling instead (over 200 bales and we raised over $1400 for Perth’s Children’s Hospital! That’s very good impact, dare I proudly pat our vollies on our backs! We even took out the Tidy Towns state prize for winning the Waste Management category. Yeah Meekatharra!)
  • I learnt the basics of Permaculture at Fair Harvest in Margaret River and took away so much knowledge, some of which I’ve started applying in my life. Permaculture has exactly the kind of information I was seeking. Yes! I loved the course and all the awesome people I met there!
  • I built a big veggie garden next door using the Sheet Mulching method (works a treat! Look it up online if you’re interested) and have started harvesting fresh, locally grown food. Who would have thought kale grows so well in Meeka’s hot climate?!
  • I was given two rainwater tanks by my friend Helen and have cleaned out the gutters on our back patio. How to actually connect water tanks to gutters is the next step.
  • I tried out more recipes, increasing my knowledge of how to cook with whatever is leftover in my cupboards  and fridge rather than buying ingredients for recipes and then seeing half of the ingredients go off in the fridge, forgotten somewhere in the back. There’s definitely still room for improvement though as my chickens and the dog quite often get the pleasure of eating something that I meant to use up and then forgot. And if it’s too far gone even for their tough stomachs then it gets composted or bokashi’ed.
  • I discovered just how awesome the Salvos shop is in Mandurah. No more shopping for brand new “made in Bangladesh supporting horrible working conditions” jeans at expensive shops. Pre-loved clothes all the way! It also makes me feel so good when decluttering my wardrobe and knowing the clothes get another chance.
  • I bought a stainless steel water bottle in an attempt to reduce my plastic water bottle consumption a bit. I love my bright green bottle.
  • I fixed up the flat tyres on my bicycle a few times this year (getting better at it each time) and have rolled down the hill to work many mornings therefore avoiding starting up our big diesel engine car. Going uphill against an easterly wind at lunch time in the heat is not so nice but at least that’s my daily exercise taken care of.
  • I learnt how to hot-compost (thank you Permaculture course!) and have successfully made three batches of beautiful compost in my recycled-pallet-compost bins. I stuck my finger in the compost pile (the weird greenie that I am) a few days after I piled it up and it was so hot I quickly had to pull my hand out otherwise it would have burnt my fingers! Amazing what a few (well, lots of) bacteria can do!
  • I built a worm farm out of an old 44 gallon drum cut in half and have not only composted all of our office food scraps but have also made amazing vermicompost (worm poo) which is a fantastic soil amendment.
  • I started this blog to make my currently-little-but-growing knowledge and wisdom available to you (I think/hope this has a good impact on the world :))
  • I used the Ethical Consumer Guide to shop as ethically aware as I could
  • Pete and I have used our clothes dryer hardly at all this year and have made more use of Meeka’s hot and dry climate to dry our laundry on the line. It means we have to iron our work shirts now but that is no marriage dispute causing problem at all. (I told you Pete, that I was going to iron them. I didn’t specify the exact time frame and I may have procrastinated on it (a lot) but I would have done it… Eventually. Maybe. … I love youuuu, thank you for ironing the shirts for me! 🙂 🙂 :))
  • I read the label of Rexi’s dog flea&tick treatment stuff and discovered it’s a neonicotinoid that kills bees. Here I am trying to attract beneficial insects to my garden with pretty flowers and at the same time I poison the same backyard with pesticide in and on my dog? That’s a bit counterproductive. So I stopped using it and he’s been just fine. Good 🙂
  • I got some beeswax food wraps and trialled using them as a clingwrap replacement. I love them! They work really well! One less disposable plastic item in my bin.
  • I learnt how to bake sourdough bread with my own home made sourdough starter. It is fascinating! And after a few brick like attempts they became very edible and yummy too!

Such a variety of things. Some are life changing milestones in my life (like getting my Permaculture Design Certificate), others are tiny little habit changes (like drinking from a stainless steel bottle instead of a plastic bottle). All in all though they add up. And I’m just one single human. We shouldn’t discount the impact we collectively have on this planet and on everyone and everything around us. Life can be overwhelming and it’s easy to just say “why bother, it’s not going to change anything anyhow” but grumpy bums like that aren’t very inspiring people.  I personally rather surround myself with people that try and do something and keep up hope and have goodwill and motivation to achieve something. People that are open to trying something new, willing to learn, okay with trialling something and falling down and having a laugh and then trying it again differently. We’re never going to be perfect, all we can do is work on improving ourselves and our way of life step by step. One small thing after the other. Baby steps will eventually get there too.

So what are my baby steps for 2017? How am I going to improve myself and my way of life to be more environmentally sustainable?

  • Figure out how to connect the rainwater tanks to the gutters
  • Take time for my own well-being (I’m hoping to figure out how to be well and centered. 2016 saw me eat a lot of chocolates because I was stressed or worked hard or felt I somehow needed or deserved it. Resolving that need will save the world a fair few plastic wrappers.)
  • Learn more about Permaculture and environmental sustainability
  • Design and develop my backyard further with that new found knowledge
  • Plant (fruit) trees
  • Try out more recipes and learn how to bake amazing sourdough breads so I don’t have to buy any bread wrapped in plastic that comes with lots of food miles attached
  • Declutter our whole house and make better use of what we have
  • Together with my mates improve the Meeka Goes Green recycling centre
  • Embrace everything and anything else that life is going to throw at me

2016 has been good and I’m looking forward to 2017. Bring it on! 🙂

6 Responses to “2016 – my most sustainable year yet

    3 years ago


    Love reading your blogs!

    Try growing some worm-wood in your garden to help with the fleas on the dog. Apparently a good deterrant.



    • Outback Greenie
      3 years ago

      Thanks Vicki, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Thank you for the wormwood tip! I have heard of it before but have never seen anyone grow it in Meeka. Well I guess I’ll be the first to try 🙂

  • Robyn Gerace
    3 years ago

    You are amazing My daughter follows such journeys and it rubs off on me! You are both making a big difference not only to your personal lives, your areas you are giving others great ideas and a little motivation Have a wonderful 2017

    • Outback Greenie
      3 years ago

      Your daughter sounds like an awesome person! I’m glad you’re gaining inspiration, that’s exactly what this is for! Take care Robyn 🙂

  • hey Svenja, it’s now 2018! how did your 2017 goals go, and what have you got planned for 2018?

    • Outback Greenie
      2 years ago

      Wow a whole year gone already. Interesting to read my goals from a year ago. Some I’ve progressed well, some I’ve tried and failed (the sourdough starter perished in the back of my fridge. I administered CPR a few times and got it back to ‘existing’ but never ‘flourishing’..) 😀

      Time for a new post to assess 2017 and set some goals for 2018, hey? 🙂

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