Saturday, April 28, 2012

Being Green in Australia + recipes

As another Earth Day comes and goes, I thought you might like to know how 'being green' compares in Australia to the States.

First, I should preface this post with a fact. Boulder, the city where we lived previously, is ranked as one of the top 5 most eco-friendly cities in the United States. (I once went to a house party where the hostess pointed me to the bathroom and warned me to check the toilet first because they 'let it mellow' in their house.*)

There's not many places in the world where being green is as steeped in the social consciousness as in Boulder but, luckily, Canberra is a fairly progressive city.

Some similarities and some differences
  1. Recycling is just as easy as it was in Boulder. Canberra also has single stream recycling, which means everything recyclable goes into the same bin.
  2. Canberra recently initiated a Plastic Bag Ban in November 2011. Shops no longer carry plastic shopping bags. Instead, shoppers must bring their own bags or buy a tote bag at the store if they forget their own. The Plastic Bag Ban didn't really change our lives that much. In Boulder, while it wasn't forbidden to have your groceries bagged into plastic bags, it was definitely frowned upon and so we are in the habit of bringing our own bags to shops.
  3. Bike lanes are just as common here and there is a very extensive bike/walking trail system throughout the capital city and surrounds. However, I am sad to say that we use our car a lot more here than we did in Boulder. The city is just so spread out that riding our bikes or walking to work is not always feasible. I miss the commute to work in Boulder—it was a beautiful one mile walk through the historic part of town, with a view of the Rocky Mountains in the distance.
  4. The one area that Canberra really falls down on is availability of organic vegetables, fruits, and meats. And this is an instance where Boulder totally spoiled me. In Boulder, buying organic was easy and extremely affordable. Here, I have to search through 2-3 stores to find the organic food that I need and, in the case of fruits and vegetable, it is often rotting on the shelf when I find it.
  5. An upside to living here is that most houses and apartments do not have clothes dryers. Everyone hangs their laundry on a line to dry which helps to conserve energy. In Boulder, our apartment complex forbade us from hanging our laundry out on our balcony. I always thought that rule was silly. Every time I hang up laundry outside now, I smile and remember my mom hanging up the laundry when I was a kid.

To end this post, I thought I'd share a couple of recipes with you. When we first moved here and I wasn't working, I decided to experiment with some homemade cleaning solutions. My best friend in Colorado (hi, Taryn!) is a master at making things and she shared these two with me.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
Works great. The only thing that sometimes needs to be washed twice are our stinky running/climbing clothes. Though sometimes I can get by with just dumping in a bit of extra detergent. Taryn recommends using Dr. Bronner's bar soap. I haven't been able to find it here so I usually buy whatever brand the natural foods store has on sale.

Homemade Shampoo and Conditioner
I decided to try this one at a time when I wasn't working because it didn't matter how bad my hair looked. Luckily though, these recipes worked just fine and I continue to use them. Drew especially likes these homemade hair solutions. Three things to note - a) your hair does not smell like vinegar after it dries, and b) your hair might be a bit more oily when you first start using this recipe, but it quickly adjusts, and c) you may need to fiddle with the amounts of baking soda or vinegar to perfect it for your hair type.

Happy Earth Day (a few days late....)!


*You know, the little ditty that one sings when one's house has lost electricity and one is trying to conserve water..."If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." ♫


  1. Glad to hear that being green isn't too difficult in Canberra. And I am so glad that you are enjoying your green cleaning techniques! I love them too. (And you of course.)

  2. I love the ban on plastic bags! I wonder if that would ever fly here in America? Luckily, Charlottesville is pretty green-friendly too. Lots of walkers, bikers, natural food stores, etc. But we live about 14 miles from the city, so we are commuters too :( And our HOA does not allow for clothes lines...which is incredibly silly! I know we use SO much energy running our dryer twice for each cycle. So we do what we can: using our tote bags, recycling everything, using green products,and buying locally whenever possible. Glad to see this "green thing" is happening in Austrailia also!

  3. The "let it mellow" thing is a) kind of gross, b) weird for someone to do at house party, c) SO Boulder. And I miss our Boulder "commute" too! That walk each morning was so lovely.


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