I am not currently writing for Family Footprint Project as I have returned to university to become a counsellor. I am leaving it up as an archive for now. I hope you find it helpful for working on your own family footprint project.
Welcome to the Family Footprint Project!
I’m so excited you are here, joining me on this project, because I really believe we can make a difference. Let me introduce myself and what the Family Footprint Project is all about.
Hello! I am Rebecca – project leader for the Family Footprint Project in our home. I’m a woman on a mission. My family’s carbon footprint is too heavy. I want us to step more lightly on this amazing planet we call home. I’ve embarked on a project to significantly reduce our environmental impact through reducing our waste, becoming more conscious consumers and changing the way we use the Earth’s resources.
But why blog about it?
Because I think you might be feeling a bit like me – guilty, helpless, and overwhelmed.
Despite thinking of myself as being environmentally conscious, when I really looked at our lifestyle, I couldn’t really take that claim seriously. For a long time now I’ve had this gnawing feeling of guilt. Guilt when I throw ‘stuff’ into the waste bin, guilt when limp vegetables are finally tossed (even if it is into the worm farm), guilt about needing a bigger car to fit my growing teenagers.
And then I listen to the news about global warming, coral bleaching, species extinction, islands of plastic in the ocean. The environmental picture for the Earth is troubling and I feel helpless. The pace of change by government and corporations is frustratingly slow. How can one person, even one family’s efforts, make any impact on all that?
And if I were to make changes, what can I do? I live a modern lifestyle in the city with a husband, three children and a dog. A self-sufficient, off-the-grid life in the country seems worlds away and out of reach. In any case, I don’t think that is what I want and I’m pretty sure my teenagers would have something to say if I suggested it!
It’s all so overwhelming…
And I could sit at home and feel anxious and depressed about it or I could do something…
In October 2018, my family and I were fortunate to visit the Great Barrier Reef. I knew the reef was in trouble but snorkelling on it brought it home to me in a real way. We went out to the reef with Wavelength Reef Cruises from Port Douglas. The talk by the marine biologist on board explained some of the ways humans are impacting the world’s coral reefs and how we are in danger of losing them all. Rather than finish on that depressing note, however, he said that if we all ate less meat, we could reduce the carbon in the atmosphere which is a big contributor to the reef’s woes. Yes, I thought, I can do that!
But it also got me thinking in more depth about the environmental impact of the choices I make for myself and my family. And, long story short, from that seed grew the idea for this blog and the Family Footprint Project.
Great Barrier Reef cruise with Wavelength Reef Cruises in October, 2018
So what is the Family Footprint Project all about?
The power of our individual choices
First of all, I believe that the changes we make at the household level are meaningful and we, as individuals, can have an impact on the health of the Earth particularly when we work together.
Optimism and hope for the future by taking action
So the Project is hopeful and optimistic about the future. And I choose to be hopeful and take action rather than let anxiety about the state of things and a feeling of powerlessness overtake me. As Dale Carnegie is quoted as saying, “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” For me taking action has been the antidote for worry and our personal footprint reduction project and the Family Footprint Project blog is the action I have chosen to take as an antidote to the rising fear I have about the future of life on planet Earth. If you have similar worries, maybe your own family footprint project could be the antidote.
Finding the changes that fit individual circumstances
I want to stress, however, that each family’s efforts to reduce their ecological footprint will be different. We all have different lifestyles, needs and preferences. We will all make different choices – and that is OK. It isn’t necessary to be vegan, or minimalist, or move to an off-the-grid yurt in the remote hillside in order to reduce the impact we have on the Earth. While these choices may well be beneficial, I think that prescribing a particular way to achieve a low impact life makes it seem unrealistic to many – and I believe that we need ‘the many’ to make meaningful changes in order for our collective impact to make a real difference.
A spirit of exploration without judgement
The thing that unites all of us joining the Family Footprint Project is that we are striving to reduce the carbon footprint of our family life. We are exploring what is possible, feasible and realistic for our individual circumstances in a non-judgemental space. We will undoubtedly make different choices but that is OK. The important part is that we make conscious decisions with respect for the environment as a fundamental element of the process.
Finding changes to fit the family budget
Another major difference between families is the financial resources we each have. There are some changes that can be made to our homes and lifestyles that require a very significant injection of cash such as installing solar panels or buying an electric car. That is well beyond the reach of many families, at least in the short term. However, there are many significant things we can do that are low cost or are behavioural changes that cost nothing. In fact taking steps to reduce our consumption will surely save money. The Family Footprint Project will look at changes along the full spectrum but a core message is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to live in a more sustainable way.
Implementing changes within the time that we have
Finally, of course, we all have the same limitation of 24 hours in a day. I’m yet to meet a family with school age children who do not feel rushed and that their lives are too busy. The Family Footprint Project is about experimenting and finding the changes that are achievable with the time that we each have as well as looking at how to do things differently in a time efficient way.
We’re a normal family (although I’m always telling my kids, and I believe, that there is no such thing as ‘normal’!) I’m married and a mum to three adolescents, my daughter and her two younger brothers, and a Lagotto puppy called Lucy. We live in Canberra, Australia.
I have a qualifications in psychology and education so I’m not an expert in any area related to the environment. I am just a ‘concerned citizen’ and nature lover who wants to do better by the Earth and leave a brighter future for my kids and grandkids. My husband does work in the environmental arena so conversations about waste, renewable energy, pollution and the like are regular topics in our house. We have been conscious of our environmental impact for a long time and have made some changes to the way we live. But we have not done nearly enough and nor have we thought about things in any systematic way.
Our Family Footprint Project is about changing that.
On Cape Tribulation beach, Queensland in October 2018