Living Sustainably Helped With the Property Investor Credit Crunch

This is a blog topic I thought would never be covered on my sustainability ‘GreenerMe’ blog.

However last week it happened – the correlation between living sustainably and a property investing benefit.

The media has been so focused on the Sydney property boom that little is reported about the current property investor credit crunch.  Combank, NAB, ANZ and Bankwest have announced that they are tightening lending criteria for property investors and raising interest rates on variable investment loans (new and existing).  AMP have even announced that they will stop lending to all property investors indefinitely. 

This post is not about why this is happening but about our own experience with the restrictions in seeking a loan. 

One way lenders are tightening their  lending criteria, is by asking investors to prove their monthly, personal spending.

We were given a budget form, to fill out what we spend on food, clothing and household items etc. We filled the form accurately however once completed we were concerned. My husband stated what we were both thinking “they are going to question the small amount we spend in these areas”.  Therefore after discussion we decided we would add notes on the form explaining that we value sustainable practices i.e. buying 2nd hand, recycling, reusing and restoring.  These practises not only save the Earth’s resoures but also our savings.

Having a public blog of my sustainable living journey since 2008, certainly backed up our personal spending claims.

Despite the credit crunch our loan was approved and I am sure our sustainable living helped – even if just a little.

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Organic home grown mandarins - the joys of sustainable living.

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Our Vegetable Garden Gets Us Through Tax Time

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I'd rather be gluing glitter than doing my tax

The brand new fiancial year, means the commencement of a period of being ‘out of balance’. 

Complaining isn’t helpful so I focus on just getting the job done – completing  our tax returns for our businesses.  If I had a full day or two the task would be relatively easy however this is the season for juggling multitasks.

There is a slight saving grace this tax period – our veggie garden.  For over two weeks we have been totally eating out our pantry after totally eating out the fridge.  However having fresh produce in our garden meant it didn’t matter that we hadn’t got to the  grocery store in weeks. We ate well and have now got to the grocery store but I still need to finish my tax return.

Do You Desire to be a Catalyst?

Within a chemical reaction, a catalyst will increase the speed of the reaction.  A catalyst does this with less energy and often with only a small amount of catalyst is needed.  The catalyst is never consumed.

The parallels between these chemistry characteristics and that of sustainable, visionary leadership, inspires me.  Inspiring ‘chemical reactions’ for positive change. 

Sharing the vision and promoting the possibility, then allowing others to be apart of and own the vision.  In so ensuring the vision spreads, grows and strengthens while ensuring one doesn’t  burn out or become consumed.

Being a visionary catalyst is about ‘giving birth’ to belief. Then like a ‘parent’ you will nuture, support and care for your belief ‘child’.   Your child at some point will mature and like a parent you will need to let go.   Micro managing is not the visionary catalyst’s role.  Micro managing will kill the visionary and vision.

Let go and trust your communication of the vision.  Trust those who believe and support the vision. Trust is empowering others to become leaders.

Regardless if you are a leader in a work situation or a leader in an environmental mission or voluntary community group, the lesson is the same. I wish I understood this lesson in my earlier leadership roles.

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Why is there a photograph of Autumn leaves accompaning this post? I can't think of a connection - I just like Autumn leaves.

Divestment – The Movement Challenging & Impacting the Fossil Fuel Industry

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I believe most people are concerned about rising power bills, the impact of coal seam gas and our current dependence on fossil fuels.

I also believe most people have a ‘head in sand’ strategy when dealing with these concerns – not because they don’t care but because they feel powerless to do anything about it.

If I have respectively described you, then the good news is that you are wrong about being powerless.  There is a rapidly growing movement that is having a powerful impact globally.

Individuals, families and businesses are moving their money away from supporting the fossil fuel industry. The movement is ‘divestment’.

Allow me to explain by sharing what my family and I have done to divest.

* I have moved my Sarhn McArthur Photography business bank accounts to Bendigo Bank.  Their policy is to not invest or support coal seam gas and the fossil fuel industry. 

* We have chosen a sustainable energy supplier company – moved our home energy away from the big providers.  We are now with Red Energy who own the Snowy Mountain scheme and hence all their energy is from sustainable sources (no fossil fuels). Red Energy where also cheaper than our previous big energy supplier.

* I have no superannuation being invested in the fossil fuel industry.

Australians to date, have divested 450 million dollars away from the fossil fuel industry. 

The latest global, big business company to have reportedly divest from fossil fuels is the Guardian Media Group – 
the second $1US billion business divestment commitment.

“What was a trickle is becoming a river and will, I suspect, become a flood.” Alan Rusbridger – Guardian’s Editor-in-Chief

If you wish to join the divestment movement – to add your money to the river of funds leaving the support of the fossil fuel industry:

* Consider moving your savings away from any bank and superannuation scheme that supports fossil fuels.

* Buy your home energy from a supplier not supporting the fossil fuel industry.

* Let companies know why you will no longer be a customer.

Check out @Sarhn’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/Sarhn/status/507299343703875584

Sustainable and Balanced Blogging part 1

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Since I started blogging in 2008, you would only see two posts per month (at best) from me.  Therefore much thought and consideration went into my decision to post daily from the beginning of this year. 

Leading up to the new year, I was reevaluating my work and business commitments.  Long story short – by being focused on what my priorities are and what makes me happy, changes were made.  Changes that allowed me time to post daily.

However strict boundaries needed to be put in place to ensure balance was kept – that blogging didn’t interrupt my work commitments and more importantly my family life.

Even blogging about sustainability needs to be sustainable.

* My mobile phone is used to capture images and write posts. This means I can blog at anytime I have a spare moment (not needing to be at my computer). Saved posts can then be scheduled.

* One hour only in the morning is dedicated to blogging. After this time I resist the urge to check comments, likes and stats (an important boundary that I usually stick to).

* If after our Little One is asleep and any work completed, I can either do a little blogging or crash into bed (I am asleep within 2 minutes of my head hitting the pillow).

These boundaries are not limiting me. On the contrary they enable me the time to do what I enjoy.

This post arose from a conversation with Australia’s prominate sustainability blogger, Gavin Webber (Greening of Gavin).  I have permission from Gavin to share our conversation with you. To be continued…..

Environmental Thinking With Your Investments

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We believe our rental tenants are like VIP clients. Therefore we are quick to resolve any issues.

So when I was advised the stove in one property was broken again, I knew it was time the oven needed to be replaced (I took the photo so I could remember which element wasn’t working this time).

Being committed to making daily decisions that are best for sustainability, also includes our investments.

So after checking the oven measurements we went shopping / researching online. Unfortunately we didn’t have much choice with the new oven brand because we could only find one which would fit into the tight space. However choices of where we could buy the oven were plentiful.

We decided on buying the oven from 2ndsWorld because they offered a service that no one else did.  For an extra cost they take the old oven away to be recycled.

This service was a better choice for our natural resource limited world.

I will now tell 2ndsWorld the reason we purchased from them (their recycling service) and perhaps I will tell the other companies I didn’t buy from them because they didn’t have a recycling service. 

Waste, Resource or Opportunity?

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A pile of kitchen organic waste is saved every day in our home.  For what most people consider is waste, we see as a resource.   A valuable commodity that feeds our 10,000 plus garden worms and compost bins.  This in turn feeds our gardens which of course feeds our family.

Dr James Bradfield Moody, co-author of the book ‘The Sixth Wave’, believes that the next big business market will be in waste. “Waste will be a source of opportunity”.

This opportunity will be at all levels; from global multinationals to small start up businesses.

I believe I may have stumbled across one such opportunity – a potential small business idea that utilises everyday household waste.

Recently I attended a ‘moving house’ garage sale, 30 minutes before it was due to end.  The garage sale resident told me “you have come at a good time…everything must go…just take what you want…anything you don’t take is going to the tip”.

We filled the car full of stuff we intended to keep and stuff I quickly thought I could sell on Ebay.  Even if I sell an item for $10, it would generate a 100% profit as I paid nothing for the item.

If you wish to have a similar experience,  you need to attend moving house garage sales (highly motivated sellers with limited time) PLUS arriving at the end of the garage sale advertised time.

It is a win win win situation.

Win for the owner, as no one really wants to see any of their once loved pocessions go to the tip (landfill).

Win for me or you as I consider it easy money.

And a win for the environment with it’s imitated resources.

Like Dr James Bradfield Moody, I believe that the next big business success stories will come from people who see waste as an opportunity in our resource limited world.

BTW check out Tushare – James Moody’s current resource sharing project.  Giving and getting free stuff with Australia’s fastest growing giving network.  Tushare is an easy way for people to give their remaining unwanted household items away after a moving garage sale – instead of taking them to the tip (of course my business idea still fits in nicely too).