Elle Morrell – Our Living Coast

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Elle Morrell from Our Living Coast tells us more about Sustainable Living in our region …





What is Our Living Coast, and how did it come to fruition?

The Coffs Coast is a beautiful part of the world, and Our Living Coast wanted to protect, improve and show off its assets. Generally, people in the region want to do the right thing by our environment, and Our Living Coast gives a helping hand to achieve protection of our natural assets and deliver a reduced ecological footprint.

Our Living Coast is a joint initiative of the Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Councils to encourage sustainable living across the region and improve our environment. It is supported by the NSW Environment Trust to deliver environmental education to households on ground environmental works, a transport campaign, business program, improve Council’s environmental performance and promote sustainable living via the Our Living Coast website.

Sustainable Living is a term that is thrown around a lot these days. What does it mean, and why is it important? 

Living within our earth’s resources is critical for the sort of world our future generations will experience. Currently, we are in an ecological overshoot, where humans are using the earth’s natural resources such as clean air, water, forests and soil at an unsustainable rate. It is like we have an environmental credit card and we are maxing it out to the point that if the whole world lived like Australians, we would need more than four earths to support us.

Sustainable living is a way that everyone can do their bit to reduce their environmental impact – whether it be by reducing the amount of electricity you use by being energy efficient, such as turning off your standby power at the switch or putting solar panels on your roof, or maybe you reduce toxic chemicals being used, by cleaning your home with vinegar and bicarbonate soda. And it is popular now to grow your own organic food at home and have chooks to get fresh, free range eggs.

Sustainable living empowers us to make choices about living healthily and in harmony with our environment. There is always more that can be done, but we encourage people to set themselves short, medium and long term goals to tackle what they can do with their family within their own time and monetary limits.

Sustainable living is a positive response to the environment crisis, when sometimes it all seems so big and overwhelming. Governments and some polluting industries might be slow to act on something so important, but we can lead the way every day with our actions.

So how is Our Living Coast helping to make the Coffs Coast a more eco-friendly community?

We have just launched a new car pooling website for the Mid North Coast. Go to www.carpoolmnc.org to register and share a ride to reduce your climate change pollution and save money on fuel bills. We also have bicycle maps now available from Council, bicycle shops and online (www.ourlivingcoast.com.au/about-our-living-coast/transport/).

Attend a Healthy Homes sustainable living workshop and learn to live in a healthier home, have smaller household bills and join with your local community to improve the environment. Currently they are running in Sawtell, Mylestom, Urunga and Bowraville. If your local community wants Healthy Homes to come to you, get in contact with us or visit www.ourlivingcoast.com.au/household-program/

We also provide small community grants for environmental projects to participants of the Healthy Homes workshop series. And by getting involved, one lucky person will win a solar hot water system for their house, generously donated by Self Sufficient Homes.

We are doing environmental stabilisation works to Mylestom and Nambucca Heads dune ecosystems, Bellinger river erosion works and bat colonies awareness and rehabilitation in the region. Our Living Coast is also upgrading the Solitary Island Coastal walk from Sawtell to Red Rock, making this an ecotourism landmark in the region.

What are some of the most successful programs you’ve run so far?

Hosting Healthy Homes workshop series have been an informative, practical and supportive environment for neighbours to tackle sustainable living.

Just last week, a participant in Sawtell mentioned that she has done lots of little low cost things around her house as a result of the energy efficiency workshop and has saved a considerable amount on her latest electricity bill.

Have you been able to see just how effective these programs have been? How have you monitored them?

Our full evaluation results for the program will be out in January 2013. Anecdotally, participants have reported that they have learnt a lot and saved money on their household bills.

We have supported communities to do projects such as establishing community gardens, insulating the Eungai Creek community hall, planting fruit trees in Bellingen, launching a website in Taylors Arm to promote their community and providing nesting boxes and compost bins to workshop participants.

What are some of the community programs you have scheduled from April onwards?

You can win solar panels for your house, donated by Self Sufficient Homes worth $7,700 and fully installed. If you live in the Our Living Coast region, simply ‘like’ us on Facebook and tell us why ‘Solar is smart’.

Learn about green cleaning and detoxing your home on 18 April at Urunga’s Neighbourhood Centre at 10.30am, or come along to a weed identification workshop and chook care either at Sawtell on 11 April at the CWA Hall at 6pm or in Mylestom on the 17 April at 6 pm at the Community Hall.

If you’re interested in finding out the pros and cons about installing solar electricity, solar hot water and rainwater tanks, then come along to one of the following free workshops: Saturday 21 April in Bowraville, Tuesday 1 May in Mylestom and Wednesday 6 June in Urunga.

How can people find out more and/or become involved in your programs?

The best way to keep informed about environmental happenings on the Coffs Coast is to subscribe to our monthly email newsletter at www.ourlivingcoast.com.au and also like us on Facebook. They can enrol in the free Healthy Homes workshops at www.ourlivingcoast.com.au/household-program/ or contact Elle on (02) 6648 4644.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about Sustainable Living and Our Living Coast?

If you want to live in a connected and healthy community that cares about looking after the environment for our future generations, then Our Living Coast is a great place to start. You get the latest advice on how to save money on your energy bills, grow your own food and detox your home.

Climate change, peak oil, water shortages, food security and waste are all very real and confronting problems that we face as human beings. Together, we can tackle these issues, build resilient communities and live lives that are sustainable.

Thanks Elle.

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