Feature

Everyday Green Hero

Green Lifestyle

At the 2013 Green Lifestyle Awards, Gavin Webber won the Local Green Hero Award. While he calls himself ‘Just an ordinary bloke’, his blog, charting his journey to a greener lifestyle, has inspired a remarkable number of people to live more sustainably.

Gavin-on-site

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In Melton West, Victoria, lives a humble father, who says his conversion to a greener lifestyle was the result of a transformative life experience after watching Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Webber describes his moment of eco-revelation as similar to his imagined feeling of being “smacked around the head with a big fish”.

“I felt so guilty that I was one of the billions of humans trashing the planet. So from that day to this one, I now do all I can to lower our family’s environmental footprint and promote the benefits of living sustainably.”

Webber’s green epiphany led him to buy a hybrid car, plant an organic vegetable garden, convert his home to solar, lower his consumption, and get a compost bin and a worm farm. He now collects rainwater, raises chickens and has even started making his own soap and cheese; and he writes about his journey along the way.

His blog, The Greening of Gavin, has had more than 1.75 million page views since 2008, and the site receives around 1000 hits a day. His YouTube videos have had more than half a million views, and the site has more than 2000 subscribers.

To give his love of making cheese a fair go, he’s started writing another blog, Little Green Cheese, which features an e-book, Keep Calm and Make Cheese. His cheeses range from feta to farmhouse cheddar, and Emmentaler to Stilton, Camembert, parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella and his favourite, Caerphilly.

While going green was a huge effort, Webber says it was a very worthwhile journey of “calculated small steps”, lowering his own family’s environmental footprint along the way. The biggest surprise for him has not been the work involved but the many people inspired to live sustainably by his work.

“The comments on my blog encourage me to keep doing what I am doing here in the suburbs,” he said.

“Before my green awakening, my wife Kim and I were caught hook, line and sinker on the merry-go-round of easy to acquire credit and over-consumption. I was slogging my guts out without much meaning in my life.”
He says that the enduring support

of his family was essential in the journey to a more self-sustaining way of life. “The entire family helped get us to where we are today,” he says. “My four kids helped build the raised garden beds for the vegie patch, the two chicken coops, and to plant the fruit trees and build the clay oven.”

Twenty years of naval service has also been a benefit. “I think the discipline that was drummed into me and the ability to stick to a mission helped me to set goal after goal, and to achieve them,” he says.
During his first year of growing food, Webber was amazed how well everything grew – in fact, he laments, sometimes the vegetables grew so well he had too much.

“Every gardener gets their swag of failures. Mine were Brussels sprouts that no one would eat – and planting too many zucchini and eggplants. It gets to a stage where you can’t even give them away for free!” He says that he learnt succession planting techniques soon afterwards.

“The best thing about food gardening is that it keeps you grounded. You spend time noticing the changes of the seasons in minute detail.”

“When you calculate out all the television and ‘Facebook time’ each day, you would be amazed how much quality time you get back and are less influenced by advertising.”

In June, Gavin was accepted onto the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, the training for which included a meeting with his inspiration, Al Gore. As a Climate Reality Leader, he has committed to spreading the word about climate change through presentations, blog posts and leading others to take action.