There are many choices we make and behaviours we undertake that can influence how we impact our planet and our communities.
We recognise the most common definition of sustainability:
Meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
We also recognise that sustainability goes well beyond simply meeting needs. It is also about improving quality of life and wellbeing while preserving our precious ecosystems.
In an effort to reduce our adverse impacts on the environment, we provide the following information to promote the benefits of living more sustainably.
In the garden
Indoor plants help to absorb harmful pollutants, providing fresher air which keeps us healthier.
Top ten plants for removing toxins from the air (including formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide):
- Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) – semi-sun
- Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) – semi-sun
- Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) – semi-sun
- Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta) – semi-sun to semi-shade
- Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”) – semi-shade
- Philodendron (Philodendron sp.) - semi-shade
- Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) – semi-sun
- Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”) – full sun & semi-sun
- Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis) – semi-sun
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum "Mauna Loa") - semi-shade
Community gardens involve the collective gardening of a single piece of land by a community group, both on privately owned land or on land owned or managed by Council.
They are great places to learn more about gardening, share your top gardening tips, reconnect with nature, share your fresh produce, stay fit and active and make new friends.
Community Gardens can be based on a shared model where planting and harvesting is carried out communally, or on an allotment model where individuals are allocated a space within the garden to cultivate produce for their own use, or for sharing and swapping with other gardeners.
Contact the Broadford Community Garden.
Nothing tastes better than fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables grown from your very own garden.
Keeping chickens is easy with the right setup, equipment and knowledge.
Check your local library, bookstore or search online for in-depth guides to keeping and caring for chickens.
Chickens will eat most kitchen scraps and can be a great addition to your home composting.
They will also be helpful at the end of growing seasons if you have a garden bed or veggie patch that needs turning over. They will scratch around, pulling out plants, and provide the soil with high nitrogen fertiliser (chicken manure). Their manure can also be added to your compost pile.
Chickens can be helpful in pest control as they love feeding on common garden insects. However, if chickens are on the hunt for insects, the seedlings may not survive digging and scratching, so keep this in mind before letting them have too much free rein.
Temporary fencing or a well thought out enclosure leaves you the perfect garden companions with the bonus of fresh eggs.
For great tips on how to get started, see worm farms and composting.
Support biodiversity in your backyard by attracting wildlife to your garden.
Address the three basic needs animals have:
- vegetative structure for shade, protection and breeding
Plant an indigenous garden
Select indigenous plants that provide food (flowers and fruit) for local birds, bats and possums (or food for the insects they eat).
This will provide the key incentive for them to inhabit your garden.
The Goulburn Broken Revegetation Guide provides great information on understanding your planting profile, planning your revegetation project, as well as local indigenous seed suppliers and nurseries.
Feed the bugs with mulch and rotting logs
Insects, worms and bugs thrive in decomposing natural matter and are an ideal source of food for bats and birds which are further up the food chain in your backyard ecosystem.
Frogs and lizards also use the logs to live and nest in.
By adding decaying debris such as logs and mulch, you will also improve the soil condition, which promotes plant growth (further enhancing biodiversity).
Install a birdbath or pond
A local source of freshwater is a great way to attract local biodiversity, especially given the prolonged dry spells many parts of our country have been experiencing.
The vegetative structure around the source of water is important, otherwise, you may attract larger birds such as starling and pigeons (rather than honeyeaters).
House and home
ESD integrates building technologies, materials and methods that promote high performance, economic vitality, ecological values, environmental quality and social benefit, through the design, construction and management of the built environment.
The Australian Government: Your Home website provides a great guide on how to create a comfortable home with a low impact on the environment.
Switch off lights and appliances when not in use
Appliances account for up to 30% of your home energy use, so the appliances you choose and the way you use them makes a big difference to your energy consumption and bills. If you're in the market for a new appliance, consider purchasing an energy-efficient model.
Switch to energy-saving LED light globes
Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. When they fail, replace compact fluorescents lights (CFLs) also with LEDs.
LEDs can reduce running costs by up to 90% and last much longer than incandescent and CFL bulbs.
Line dry your clothing
Hanging your laundry out to dry instead of firing up your dryer:
- reduces your energy bills
- helps your clothing and linens last longer by eliminating some wear and tear on the fabric (saving you more money)
- is a great excuse to get outside
- gives your fabrics that natural, fresh outdoor smell (no need to use artificial, chemical fragrances)
Insulate your roof
Effective ceiling insulation is the best barrier against the summer heat and the winter cold, saving you up to 20% on your heating and cooling energy costs.
Sustainability Victoria provides some great information on what to look out for when choosing insulation.
Use plants and trees
Position plants so that they can shade a north or west-facing wall or window. Bamboo grows well in pots and provides excellent shade.
See know your recycling for frequently asked questions about your kerbside recycling bins.
Stock up on a few safe, simple ingredients that can be used in most cleaning situations.
The following items can take care of most household cleaning needs:
- baking soda
- lemon juice
- coarse scrubbing sponge
You can also buy ready-made chemical and toxin free cleaning products, but be sure you know what you are looking for and that the manufacturing company is ethical and trustworthy.
Electricity accounts for about half of the energy used in most households, but it accounts for around 87% of the greenhouse gas emissions as most electricity in Victoria is generated by burning brown coal.
By purchasing 100% accredited GreenPower renewable electricity you are instantly switching your electricity dollar from a traditional coal-burning power plant to one of a combination of renewable sources (e.g. wind, hydro, biomass and solar) and stopping approximately 10 tonnes of CO2 per year (for an average home) from being released into the atmosphere.
Solar electricity systems use photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert sunlight into electricity.
Solar panels have an approximate lifespan of 25 years. Minimal maintenance is required over this timeframe, consisting mainly of regular washing with water.
The panels work more efficiently when free of dust, leaves and bird droppings.
As a general rule, 1 kilowatt of panels would provide you with roughly 4.5 kilowatts of power each day, provided the panels are not shaded.
The Australian Energy Foundation (AEF) provides a helpful guide to choosing the best solar panels for your home.
Living on the driest continent on earth, water conservation is critical.
The following are 6 easy actions that will save clean fresh water being flushed away:
1. Install a water-efficient showerhead
You will save more than 12,000 litres of water each year and reduce your water and energy bills when you exchange your old showerhead for a new 3-star water efficient one.
2. Install low-flow taps
Reduce the amount of water coming out of your tap. It is that simple. Available from any hardware store.
3. Dual flush toilets
Installing a dual flush toilet will allow you to use the appropriate amount of water to clear the toilet bowl.
Another approach is to learn the mantra "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down".
4. Use the water twice
Connect up a hose to your washing machine so you can pump the water out to your garden. Make sure you use phosphorous-free detergent so that you don’t harm your soil or plants.
5. Invest in front loader washing machine with a high star water rating
They are more efficient with water and energy and gentler on your clothes.
6. Check the water rating
If you're about to buy a water-using product find out first how Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) ratings can save you money and help the environment. The more stars on the WELS label the less water that product will use.
Reducing the impact that your domestic pets have on our native fauna and biodiversity is a crucial aspect of responsible pet ownership.
Sustainable living is much more enjoyable when you can share and enjoy it with others. There are many great and worthy organisations out there fighting for the future of our planet.
Help spread the word about actions we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment.
We are blessed with a fantastic natural environment, with so many beautiful places for us to explore right on our doorstep.
Why not organise a family picnic at a local park, head for a walk along the Goulburn River to spot the ever-elusive platypus, or sit and breathe the fresh air of the Tallarook Ranges.
Simply relax in your castle and enjoy your family, friends and hobbies without having to work.
Email your contacts asking for their best local holiday tips and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Recent events have certainly reshaped how we think about travel, prompting many of us to explore more in our own backyard.
Head over to Discover Mitchell to explore more of what this gorgeous shire has to offer.
Returning with your kids to your childhood holiday spots can help you realise that memories are about relationships and emotions, not places and things.
Cars are the primary mode of transport in Australia with most households having at least one.
The current generation of cars emit greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change.
For every litre of petrol used in a motor vehicle, 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) is released from the exhaust.
The efficiency of the vehicle (design, engine, weight, etc.) determines the fuel consumption and the number of greenhouse gases and airborne pollution released per kilometre, so there are many factors to consider when aiming to reduce the emissions you create.
The Green Vehicle Guide rates new Australian vehicles based on greenhouse and air pollution emissions.
Anyone buying a car can use the guide to identify the vehicle which best meets their needs as well as one that reduces the impact on climate change and urban air quality.
You could reduce the use of your car by organising a carpool to:
- the shop
- your kids school
- use less petrol
- save money
- have more fun
- environmentally friendly
How to organise:
- send an email around work asking if anyone lives close to you and if they would be keen to alternate driving to work with you
- set up an online registry
- talk to your neighbours and see if they would like to share the regular trip to the supermarket or local food markets
- speak to the parents of your children's local friends and see if you can alternate driving the kids to school (this means less time on the road for you)
If you don't need to drive a car every day, you may find car sharing significantly cheaper than owning your own car.
A quick, effective and popular way to address the many tonnes of greenhouse gases we emit is to pay to offset this by planting enough trees to absorb the emitted CO2.
Bicycles are an important mode of transport for both our own personal health and the sustainability of Victoria's beautiful environment.
Cycling just 10km each way to work, once a week, instead of driving, saves about $926 and 304kg of greenhouse gases each year.
Things to remember
- Bikes are allowed on trains but unfortunately not on buses.
- Bike lights are very important. USB rechargeable lights are inexpensive and good to use at all times of the day, not just at night. Wearing bright colours will also ensure that you can be seen by the motorists you share the road with.
- Avoid sudden movements or changes in direction when cycling in traffic and remember to ring your bell if you are passing a pedestrian on a shared path.
Get out and explore
Have a ride along the Great Victorian Rail Trail. Along the way, you will see heritage classified rivers, majestic valleys, lakes and mountains.
The Great Victorian Rail Trail extends 134 km from Tallarook, through Yea to Mansfield, with a spur line linking Cathkin and Alexandra.
Trains, buses and trams all use far less resources than cars.
Increased public use will lead to a better service and you can read, listen and relax as you go from A to B.
Reduced car use, along with the creation of efficient public transport networks, also ensures that when higher oil prices arrive we have cost-effective mass transport systems available.
It's also a great way to travel and connect with your community and fellow citizens.
This page was last updated on 13 October 2021.