When it comes to living an environmentally friendly life, there seems to be three categories of people in the Inner West: the environmental extremists, the extremely careless carbon-munching consumerist and those who fall somewhere in between.
Here we break down each of these groups and look at how both the most sustainable and non-sustainable locals travel, dress, live and eat.
Some of the descriptions will surely sound familiar for those who live and work in the Inner West. Do you hate fast food as much as fast fashion? Do you prefer going to the markets rather than going to the mall? Note your own answers down along the way to find out what category you fall into…
On the road you are a…
A) Pedal pusher
There is nowhere the power of your own feet and legs can’t take you. You don’t own a car and you keep healthy getting around on foot, bike or board. If/when you must travel by motor vehicle or aeroplane, you always offset your carbon footprint.
B) The bus stop regular
Public transport is your go-to mode of transportation and you can recite bus timetables off the top of your head. But whether you take trains, trams and buses for sustainability reasons or simply because you can’t afford a car, is up for debate.
C) Devout driver
Whether you’re traveling an hour to get to work or just 10 meters down the road to the local corner shop, you are always behind the wheel of a car. CO2 emissions? Never heard of them. You don’t believe in climate change and love your big four-wheel drive (even if you can’t find anywhere to park it on your narrow street in Balmain and can barely afford the petrol it takes to run).
When you get hungry, you are a…
You live a cruelty-free life, which means you eat no animal products at all and buy locally for low food miles. Most of what you eat comes from local organic farmer’s markets and you hate anything that comes in plastic packaging. You also recycle all food scraps and your compost heap is as big as a small car (not yours though because you wouldn’t dream about driving anything that runs on fossil fuels, right?).
You try to be eco friendly, frequently go through organic, fruitarian and vegetarian phases, and try to buy sustainably grown foods. However, it is not uncommon for your cravings to overpower your will; you’ve been spotted in the Woolworths confectionery aisle a few times.
C) Gimme beef-atarian
You don’t care where your food comes from, how it’s made and the damage it’s done to the environment. When you’re hungry all that matters is that it tastes good and doesn’t put too big a dent in your wallet. I’ll bet there’s McDonalds food wrapping on the floor of your car right now.
Your shopping style is…
A) Eco fashionista
You go out of your way to wear sustainable fabrics, mostly dress in secondhand clothing and/or make your clothes yourself. If something tears, you mend it before throwing it out and you always re-purpose old clothes. You would probably spontaneously combust if you crossed the threshold into a Westfield.
B) Op shopper
While you will buy new clothes from time to time, most of your wardrobe is ‘vintage’, borrowed or stuff you found at op shops, Vinnies and garage sales. You like to think that you buy second-hand clothes for sustainability reasons (and this might be true), but most people just think you’re a hipster, not an environmentalist.
C) Top shopper
OMG, shopping! That word alone has you salivating and you’re always waiting for the next sale or updating your wardrobe. You would go out clubbing baby seals for a new fur coat, but you wouldn’t be able to catch them in those brand new Manolo Blahnik pumps you’re wearing.
You describe your home as…
A) Green house
Your house practically runs itself. You’ve got solar power, a water tank, your toilets only have half flushes and you always have a bucket in the shower to collect the runoff. If you had a big enough backyard, you would build a windmill, probably from recycled timber, to go with your organic herb garden.
B) The best of both worlds
You take the easy steps towards sustainability with low-energy appliances and light globes, but you’ve been known to turn the heaters on in winter and stand in front of an open fridge when a heatwave hits.
C) Carbon factory
You put your TV on as soon as you get home (even when you’re not watching), your taps leak, you use a dryer (even though you have a clothes line) and you are a big fan of hour-long showers. The only thing that can shrink your carbon footprint is bankruptcy.
How you scored:
Generally people are all too quick to criticise each other – you’ve probably experienced your fair share of road rage as a cyclist on Parramatta Road – but don’t let that deter you from your cause. You’re doing the right thing by the environment, and you should feel good about that. By the same token, however, make sure you don’t alienate people who aren’t quite there yet when it comes to living an sustainable life. Help educate people rather than judge them.
These days most people tend to pick and choose what level of sustainability suits their lifestyle; it’s a ‘do what you can’ attitude and it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all. While you may not be able to give up some things like eating packaged foods, you could look into growing your own food as well. If you enjoy mixing new and pre-loved fashion, try clothes swapping with friends too as a way of getting the most out of a garment. Don’t rest on your laurels, there’s always more that could be done.
You’ve got a long way to go to becoming an eco-warrior but the good news is there are plenty of changes you could make in your day-to-day that the planet would be grateful for, and that wouldn’t disrupt your lifestyle too much. If you’re a meat-loving carnivore for example, you could choose sustainably farmed meat for your next BBQ and embrace the practice of ‘nose-to-tail’ eating (making use of the whole animal) to minimise waste. And if you really can’t give up driving, try cutting down by car sharing, which will save you money and the environment – visit www.goget.com.au for more information.