With the UN Climate Change Conference struggling along, I’ve been thinking, rather despairingly, that I’m misguiding my energy working towards my children’s parenting security  when I can’t even guarantee my children a planet to grow up in. That seems pretty basic. Elisabeth has just finished  the harrowing The Road by Cormac McCarthy and we’ve been wondering what we can do. It all seems so big.

J-le over at  The Twinkle in My Eye has also been giving this some attention. This is reposted from her blog, at  Greening the Twinkle’s Future

I’ve been inspired by a range of factors to tread more lightly on this earth. Those factors include:

My head has been filling with ideas on how we can lessen the impact we have with our lifestyle and I’ve finally decided to put them all in one place, categorised, in public, to challenge me to go ahead and deal with them instead of just thinking about them. So here goes.

Here’s the list:

The things we could do more of:

saving water

  • collect excess water from kitchen and bathroom sinks and bucket onto garden/indoor plant
  • collect cold water from start of shower and bucket onto garden
  • install rainwater tanks – large for whole roof, small for verandah
  • collect more greywater and direct it onto the front (non-edible) garden
  • use more greywater-friendly cleaning products
  • plant more indigenous plants in front yard
  • buy a front loader washing machine in the long run

saving gas

  • put more clothes on before choosing to put heater on
  • reduce draughts around windows and doors
  • keep hot water service turned to fairly low temp
  • consider double-glazing
  • close vents not really needed (eg kitchen, bathroom in evenings)
  • keep thermostat low-ish
  • consider pelmets above windows
  • cover bathroom fan
  • put insulation in bathroom and laundry ceiling
  • put insultation in walls when weatherboards are replaced

saving electricity

  • be more vigilant about switching off lights
  • find a replacement for halogen downlights
  • switch appliances off at the wall
  • turn computers off at night
  • put in a smart switch for computers and maybe tv
  • switch to buying green energy
  • look at solar in the long term
  • buying 5-6 star rating appliances (not in the near future – most of our whitegoods are new-ish)
  • don’t use the dryer except for emergencies
  • only use air-con on 40+ days if possible, and don’t set thermostat too low
  • close all blinds on hot days
  • install exterior blinds or other shade treatments
  • use cross-ventilation on hot nights (find out out how to open top window on front door)

reducing waste

  • be more vigilant about separating recyclables
  • make the most of the worm farm and compost
  • find the best solution for dog poo
  • get a diva cup or similar
  • toilet-train the twinkle
  • get hankies instead of tissues
  • use microfibre cleaning cloths
  • consider rechargeable batteries
  • buy less pre-packaged meat and veg
  • buy less processed food in general
  • find creative uses for rubbish and recyclables (eg toilet rolls as seedling tubes, softdrink bottles as mini greenhouses)

sustainable transport

  • walk more!
  • get the bikes serviced and get a seat for the twinkle
  • investigate local produce to reduce food miles
  • produce more food at home
  • use public transport as much as possible

There’s lots of things that we already do, and there’s plenty more we could improve on. There’s more stuff that needs to be on that list that I have forgotten in my big brain dump just now. I will add them as I remember or learn them, and I plan to talk myself through it on my blog.

Molly adds:
Readers, I’d love to hear your ideas on what you are doing or could do more of to green your children’s future.

Today’s post is written by J-Le,  who blogs at The Twinkle in My Eye. She lives in Melbourne and has a two year old daughter with her partner.

Last weekend, masses of people around Australia protested about the Federal government’s inaction on marriage equality. This followed a Senate enquiry, initiated by Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens, into the topic. And here I am writing about it on this rainbow families blog… but is marriage even a rainbow families topic? My instinct is that same-sex marriage isn’t primarily about families – indeed the Marriage Act itself makes no mention of children – but if you’ve been following the debate you’ll know that opponents of same-sex marriage have made it into a debate about families. And as rainbow family advocates, we can’t ignore this, regardless of whether we want to be married ourselves.

At the Senate enquiry hearing, the opponents were all Christian, as were some of the advocates for same-sex marriage, interestingly enough. The opponents mostly insisted their position wasn’t religiously-based (which is just as well because we do pride ourselves on being a secular society). Their position on marriage can be summarised by these direct quotes:

· “Out of all human relationships the union of a man and a woman is fundamental to our continued existence. (Australian Family Association)

· Marriage is not simply a loving, committed relationship between two people but a unique kind of physical and emotional union which is open to the possibility of life. (Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney)

· “It is possible and does happen for two men or two women to have a loving relationship. The question is not whether they love each other; the question is what is best for the children. (Australian Christian Lobby)

Clearly opponents of marriage equality believe that marriage is about families and children, and not about love and commitment between two people. They brush aside the obvious drawbacks of their argument – we allow infertile, post-fertile and couples with no intention of putting their fertility to child-bearing use to marry – with an argument along the lines of “even if they don’t have children, it’s sort of like they can, even if they can’t.” (I kid you not – read the transcript here ). They insist that a child is best raised by a mother and father who are biologically related to them. Single parents are “heroes”, but same-sex parents in committed relationships are wrong, wrong, wrong. They are in denial about the fact that gay people have children – always have, and always will, and these days in increasing numbers – and that the communities and governments of most Australian States have accepted this. They think that by disallowing same-sex marriage that children won’t find themselves being parented by two people of the same sex. They are forcing the marriage debate to be about what’s best for children, and this may be their downfall.

If indeed they are interested in what’s best for children, then it seems inevitable that the Federal government will one day catch up with the State governments who are one-by-one realising that children raised in same-sex relationships do not experience harm and should be given equal protection and recognition in law, just as the State governments are progressively doing in the area of assisted reproduction.

One of the opponents of marriage equality suggested that “law reform supported by the Australian community has given them (ie us) equality with de facto heterosexual couples.” And of course he is right. Our relationships are now recognised by the Commonwealth as being de facto, giving us and our children equal treatment under most Commonwealth laws (with the exception of marriage, adoption and surrogacy). But there is a danger in us settling for this level of almost-equality, because being unable to marry continues to place us on a tier below heterosexual couples. And this translates into family and social differences, which can be subtle but significant. We call each other “partner”, which has become an impotent word, equivalent to girlfriend/boyfriend, with none of the unspoken implications of wife/husband. Our partners can remain invisible to family and society. If one of us dies, we’re not considered to be a widow. And when our daughter asks why we’re not married and we tell her we’re not allowed, I fear we will be faced with one of those pre-schooler whines of “but why?” and we would be obliged to say that the government thinks our relationship is not important enough. And I hardly think it is in the best interests of our child to have her believe that her family is less important in the eyes of our government.

I don’t think marriage is about children. I think it is about commitment and love and I think that any two adults who enter into such a commitment voluntarily should be supported and their love celebrated. We’re not trying – to quote a Catholic bishop at the Senate hearing –  to “steal marriage” (yes, he really said that). We’re trying to embrace it. And I think the more visible our rainbow families are in the debate – showing that you don’t need to be in a heterosexual marriage to perpetuate the species, and showing that kids don’t need two opposite-sex married parents, both biologically related to you, in order to be a good and happy personthe weaker the opposition arguments become.