The climate emergency that we face requires us all to reassess how we are living and drastically reduce our impact on the environment. The list below is a starting point, we encourage you to get in touch with us if you need help or more information.
Reduce, reduce, reduce!
Think twice before buying new things
Put simply, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Everything you buy needs land, water and energy to be made and transported to you. You have power in every dollar you spend - use it wisely. The best way to reduce waste is to avoid buying new things, buy second hand, reuse items and recycle. Putting things in the rubbish bin to go to landfill is the very last resort.
If you do have to buy something or make an investment, consider things like divestment (superannuation, insurance, and banking) and purchasing ethically made and locally produced goods and services. You can easily compare your bank and super fund, and find out which institutions do and don’t support the fossil fuel industry with Market Forces. Why not set yourself a goal and challenge yourself, check out 'buy nothing new month' for some ideas.
The starting point is your gas bill and looking at what you would like to achieve. We can help you to plan simple initiatives like reducing your usage or to make bigger plans that will enable you to live gas free.
Gas is also a polluting fossil fuel and produces harmful toxins that are bad for our health. In fact, a child living with gas cooking in the home faces a comparable risk of asthma to a child living with household cigarette smoke! You can read more about the harmful effects of gas in this Climate Council report. We encourage householders and businesses to go 100% electric and seal any gaps around your windows and doors with draught proofing to reduce heated or cool air being lost.
The first step is understanding your current usage by looking at your bills more closely and see where you can reduce. There are also smart phone apps available that can connect to your meter box and help you understand which items in your home are using the most energy. Often the things that use lots of power in a home include the clothes dryer, oven and heating and cooling. Here are some other ideas to consider:
- Switch your lights and appliances off at the wall when not in use
- Upgrade all lights to efficient LED lights
- Upgrade old appliances to energy efficient appliances
- When using the oven, cook multiple things at once and make the most of having the oven on
- Switch to Green Power Electricity. Visit the Victorian Energy Compare website to get the best green electricity deal
- Check out Sustainability Victoria’s guide to saving energy in the home
Reduce water use
Reviewing your appliances in terms of water efficiency is a great first step. Here are some simple actions you can take to use water more efficiently:
- Pay attention to your water bill to help you identify peaks in water use that could be the result of a fault or leak
- Use the half flush toilet button when you can. This will save around three litres every flush
- Reduce tap and shower flow rates. If your taps or showers have a higher flow than required, investigate more water efficient fittings, for example four star Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) rated shower heads and tapware
- Install a rainwater tank. There is the option to have your tank plumbed in and used for toilet flushing and watering your garden
The easiest way to reduce waste is to reduce the amount of goods and packaging that come into your home. By shopping carefully, you can dramatically reduce the amount of packaging, materials and resources that will be wasted. The next step is to carefully separate the waste products that remain into their appropriate waste streams and discard accordingly. Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started:
- Read our handy guide to waste and recycling
- Find your nearest communal glass recycling location and communal Food Organics hub location
- Find out where to take your e-waste, including electronics, batteries and light globes
- Resell unwanted items in good condition or donate them to your local op shop or charity organisation
Use clean energy. Install solar!
Join the many thousands of Australian's who now have solar panels installed on their home. The Victorian Government provides incentives to residents, find out more on the Solar Victoria website.
A Heritage Overlay does not prevent you from installing rooftop solar panels. If your panels will not be seen from the street, then you can go ahead. A planning permit is required if the panels will be visible from the street. However, Council will waive the permit fees and will process the application through the VicSmart service which minimises administration.
Discuss your proposed installation with Council’s Planning Department on 03 9209 6424 or email email@example.com. Check whether your property is affected by a Heritage Overlay.
Read more about powering your home with clean energy.
Set goals to act and connect with others
There are many ways to live more sustainably and it's even better if you join forces with neighbours, friends and other community members to take action together. Whether it's growing some food, joining a community garden, joining a beach clean group, you can make a difference. Every little bit counts!
Use sustainable transport
Walking, riding your bike, using car share, escooters and taking public transport are all great ways to reduce your impact and emissions. There are also a large number of ships, planes and trucks required to supply the materials we use to support our currently lifestyles. To reduce the impact of these consider buying local. Find transport options and maps.
Increase biodiversity in your garden
Like our climate, the natural world of living things is also in crisis. We need to protect the remaining wild places that do exist and expand our natural spaces and the life within them. Locally, we have significant opportunities to connect with nature and work with others to restore habitat in our bay, our streets, our yards and our parks and reserves. Check out how to increase biodiversity in your garden including an indigenous plants booklet.
The building, construction and trade professions are heavy on consumption and the use of new materials. It is entirely possible to upgrade your home with secondhand materials, but it takes a lot more effort as the industry is not geared in this way.
Contact us if you’d like to have a chat about how you might do your renovation or new build in a more sustainable way or visit Sustainability Victoria's Guide to building or renovating for energy efficiency. Melbourne Water also have a detailed flood resilience guide for Retrofitting your Home.
We know there are specific challenges when interacting with Real Estate Agents, Landlords, Owners Corporations, and other tenants. That said, there are a lot of things you can do individually and potentially a lot of things that can be done collectively. Read more about energy sharing for apartments.
If you own your apartment and want to install solar, or reduce the energy use in common areas, navigating your Owners Corporation and legalities can often be challenging and confusing. We’ve worked with a lawyer to put together a toolkit which will guide you through the process of getting your Owners Corporation's approval step by step. It also includes templates for you to use. Take a look at the guide and toolkit.
Adapting to changing weather
Get ready for extreme weather such as flood, storms and heat waves. Read our guide on preparing for storms, flooding and heatwaves.
- Check if you are in a flood zone
- Check with your insurer to see what you are covered for
- If you are over 55 consider joining our Linking Neighbours program for support
Grow your food or join a community garden
Grow some food, join a community garden, eat less resource-intensive foods such as red meat and visit your local bulk buy stores and farmers’ markets.
"The production of meat and dairy products requires extremely large amounts of land, land which is often cleared through the destruction of existing forests and ecosystems. Deforestation creates greenhouse gas emissions, which, combined with the amount of greenhouse gas emissions ruminant animals create, means that meat and dairy are a key contributor to our environmental footprint." - City of Port Phillip Eco Footprint Report.
Join local environmental groups
While personal action is important, you can also help change the larger system by supporting a climate action group. You could join a local group, see the community directory.
Or join one of the big climate action groups, here are some suggestions:
- Get Up
- Friends of the Earth
- Australian Conservation Foundation
- The Wilderness Society
- Sea Shepherd Australia
- Australian Marine Conservation Society
- Victorian National Parks Association
- Greenpeace Australia
- Environment Victoria
Other ways to take action
Find out the powerful ways you can live a more sustainable life.
- Find out more about local environmental community groups and how to get involved
- Find out about becoming an Environmental Leader.
Want more help?
We are here to offer advice and help to anyone who wants to live a more sustainable life.
Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9209 6777.