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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Humbled that Australia’s Prominent Sustainability Blogger, Interviewed Me

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Last night Gavin from the ‘Greening of Gavin’ interviewed me for his blog cast – episode 111.

Gavin is Australia’s most prominent sustainability blogger and in my humble opinion, an Australian National treasure – with his years of dedication to not only living a sustainable life but educating others how they can too.

Gavin also interviewed me back in 2011, way back at episode 14.

At the end of last night’s interview I thought it would be fun to take a screen shot of my mobile phone screen (to accompany this post). Hmmmm I should of taken others – not my best look.

As soon as Gavin uploads the blog cast to his website, I’ll add the link here, so you can listen in.

Thankyou Gav!

Nature Verses Nurture and Our Environment

A conversation with a friend, some months back is still on my mind.  It intrigued me.

My friend was adopted by a lovely family when she was little, however they never really shared her interests for growing food and sustainability.  What struck me as fascinating, was her biological father, whom she recently tracked down, was in fact a farmer.

Immediately I started to wonder if more is passed through our DNA than what we think.  It is again a debate of nature verus nurture.  When it came to sustainable pursuits, I believed it was all nurture – all we come into contact with and influenced by, after the womb.

I know many of my readers share my fascination with psychology and in particular how it affects our natural environment – our green psychology.  Up until my conversation with my friend, I have believed our psychology was 100% responsible for our response to the environment.  What if however our genes, passed on from our parents, have a little part to play too.

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The photograph above is of St Nicholas Street in Aberdeen, Scotland.  My Ancestors the Fyfe’s, owned the haberdashery store on the corner.

I have always found it interesting that there is a long line of direct female decedents from the Fyfe’s that were and are exceptional seamstresses – all would have been frequent customers of that haberdashery store. I have always believed that this was due to purely nurture – mother’s teaching their skills onto their daughters.  Now I wonder if maybe mothers passed more onto their daughters – naturally through their DNA?

The world is a wonderous and magical place. 

Food for thought?

Visiting Family – We Needed to Buy an Enviro Aero Bed

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There is a point in time when you realise ‘I might not have enough beds’ for visiting family.  That point for me was a week before family were due to arrive.

Here is an insight into my ‘sustainable’ thought process when I realised we needed to acquire another bed:

1)  Can I burrow a bed from a friend?
No ➡

2)   Can I purchase a bed, second hand from Gumtree, Ebay or a second hand store?
No ➡

3)  What can I purchase new that would be best for the environment and sustainability?

With this bed needing situation, we proceeded to number 3) – needing to buy something new, when I failed to borrow a bed from others or source one second hand.

I jumped on Google to search ‘environmental air beds’ and discovered The Green Mom Review blog.  Don’t you love sustainable Mummy bloggers!

Anyway I purchased ‘the original Pakmat AeroBed’ because it’s PVC and phthalate free, hence making it more environmentally friendly (and non toxic).  I liked that it came with a manual hand pump and that reviews were favourable to it’s comfort level.

When you have to buy brand new, think of your money as a vote – voting for the best sustainable, kinder and environmentally friendly option available.

Wild Slippery Jack Mushrooms

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Wild Slippery Jack Mushrooms are new to me.  I have been educated and enlightened by my friend at Little Field Mice Farm.

These yummy free delights grow wild on her farm, underneath the pine trees.  My generous friend gave me lots to take home, last time we met for our local Seed Savers event.

Foraging for wild food is something I enjoy, however mushrooms to date have been out of the question – dangerous with my lack of knowledge. 

Don’t you think it is cool that my friend teaches her children about wild mushroom foraging on their farm?

These Slippery Jack mushrooms have now been cooked up in my homemade soups, quiches and stir fries. Everyone in my family ate them with no fuss or complaint.

I just needed to peel off the skin from the top of the mushrooms, remove the stems, wash them, then squeeze out the water (slippery jack mushrooms are like a sponge).

Interested if you forage for any wild, free food?  What is your experience?

What to Consider When Designing a New Community Garden?

As previously mentioned, I am again enjoying the starting stages of a new community garden.  If you have read my earlier post (click link above) you will already know, that I believe coming up with a combined, united vision statement is very important.

I have yet to again meet with the others who are committed to building our new community garden but I thought I would share my vision statement I have prepared (still a work in process).

“Together building an edible and sustainable garden that everyone in our town can love and belong.  A place to learn, inspire and have fun, while creating  financial support to care for our community hall.”

Apart from the vision statement, those committed to building the community garden, have also agreed to bring along their garden designs and plans.  I encouraged everyone to dream big and plan what the completed garden will look like.

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My grand community garden design is drawn on a very large piece of paper and stuck to our kitchen wall – so I can look and ponder, to ensure I have everything included (in the big dream).

What is included in my community garden design?

* meeting, eating, sitting area
* raised wicking beds with worm tunnels
* herb and sensory garden
* benefical insect attracting plants
* BBQ & cob pizza oven
* chickens? pigs? sheep?
* fruit and nut orchards
* water tanks
* glass house
* shed
* vertical garden
* strawbale gardens
* compost and worm farms
* aquaponics
* no dig gardens
* fun direction sign posts
* green manure plants

If you were in my position, what would you put in your community garden design?  I am looking for suggestions on what I may have overlooked.

Biodynamic Composting – a Very Basic Description

Saturday I spent the day with my friends at MacArthur Seed Savers group.

Not only do the Seed Savers share produce and saved seeds with each other but they also run workshops about growing edible food.

Yesterday’s workshop was on ‘biodynamic composting’.

Honestly I have never heard of biodynamic composting but as always keen to learn.

One of the benefits of this particular composting technique is you don’t need to ‘turn’ the compost mixture once competed.

From listening, it apperas biodynamic composting is based somewhere between science and spirituality (a little like moon planting). However like most things in life, some people will stick to the pure techniques and philosophies while other people will only be interested in applying the basics to their gardening skill repertoire.

One workshop doesn’t give me the best understanding to share an expert, detailed description of the biodynamic composting process (especially when I was taking photos).  So if you are interested to know more, this website would be my recommendation.

Otherwise sit back and enjoy the photos and be slightly amused at my lack of descriptive information – hover over the photos (if viewing on a computer but not sure how to ‘hover’ over the photos on a mobile device so you can view the description – any ideas?).

Have you ever heard or tried biodynamic composting? Very interested to learn from your experiences with it!!

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