16 February 2012

Swap It, Don't Stop It for a Greener Life

By: Laura Trotta (BEng(Enviro), MSc(Enviro Chem))

Changing our habits and rituals is difficult and is best done incrementally. Rather than going for change ‘cold turkey’ we can up our chances of sustained change by gradually modifying our behaviour.

I’m a big fan of the Federal Government’s Swap It, Don’t Stop It campaign. Targeting Australia’s obesity epidemic, this campaign promotes healthy eating and active lifestyles for all Australian’s by suggesting small and relatively easy food and exercise swaps. Individual swaps are easy to make and quickly accumulate to build momentum into sustained behavioural change and a healthier lifestyle.

The theory behind the program easily transitions into the environmental sphere. It is here where the focus shifts from changing our consumerism-based and waste-intense lifestyle to an existence that is more simple and sustainable. The benefits of making simple eco swaps are profound on our health, wallets and the health of our environment.

Using the Key Four Pillars of the Swap It, Don’t Stop It campaign, here are a few simple eco parenting and lifestyle changes you can make:

Swap Big for Small
• Rather than buying your children a mountain of presents each birthday, purchase one quality item that will last
• Drive a car with a smaller engine and hire something larger for occasions when you need it
• Close internal doors so you’re not heating/cooling the entire house
NB: You can also swap small for big by purchasing items in bulk (saves packaging).

Swap Often for Sometimes
• Introduce a vegetarian night into your household each week
• Swap single-use disposable nappies for cloth or only use disposables when travelling
• Have a go at making your own infant food and children’s snacks rather than buying commercial and heavily packaged varieties

Swap Sitting for Moving
• Walk or cycle into town instead of driving
• Get active in the garden and grow your own vegetables and herbs. Read why gardening is great for kids here.
• Use local parks and the pool to entertain your child rather than the TV

Swap Watching for Playing
• Plan one activity per day to do with your child. Activities such as constructing a nature collage or baking some biscuits together are easy, enjoyable and free!
• Get your toddler involved in your daily household tasks such as picking up their toys and watering the garden. Toddlers learn by mimicking adults and they thrive on helping out around the home.
Involve your children in food preparation and they will learn vital skills that will help them live a healthy and sustainable life.

Change is a continual process and even the greenest of us can improve. Here are a couple of eco swaps I’ve made recently to further reduce my family’s environmental footprint:

  • Using reusable fruit and vegetable bags at the supermarket rather than the thin plastic bags on offer (am loving the Aussie made Greensacks)
  • Switching from eco cleaning detergents to Enjo products to further eliminate cleaning products from our household (their bathroom gloves in particular are the best!)
  • Using everyday household items such as bicarb soda, vinegar and eucalyptus oil in the laundry rather than detergents.


What are some of the eco swaps you’ve made recently or plan to make soon?

Note: This article has also been published at connect2mums.

About the Author: Laura Trotta (BEng (Enviro), MSc (Enviro Chem)) is an eco mum, environmental engineer and founder of Sustainababy. She lives in Roxby Downs with her husband Paul and son Matthew.

CATEGORY: green, lifestyle, tips, eco | POSTED BY: Meg Supel |