Hippy in the city

Extract from Hippies in the City

Rita Balshaw shares her top eco tips for being kinder to the planet in your everyday life.


Rita Balshaw is a regular bicycle commuter.


Rita Balshaw self-published her book, Hippies in the City.

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“We walk for miles trying to find ourselves, when all we have to do is look within.”

The biggest problem our environment faces today is, without a doubt, global warming. Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline for electricity and transport raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse gas effect and global warming. It is unfortunate that so many people are unaware of what they can do to save our planet; it is either that they somehow feel disconnected from nature, or that they simply don’t realise the severity of the global warming issue.

I believe that change starts in our homes, and my passion is to inform others of how to live a more environmentally friendly life. I wish for people to understand that what people do to the planet, we do to ourselves. We can all help to reduce global warming, by using energy more wisely and thinking a little greener. Here are a few tips.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
Do your part to reduce waste by choosing reusable products instead of those that are disposable. Buying products with minimal packaging helps to reduce waste, and wherever you can, recycle paper, plastic, newspaper, glass and aluminium cans. If there isn’t a recycling program at your workplace, school, or in your community, ask about starting one. It only takes one person to make a difference.

Always say no to a plastic bag
Bring a hippy cloth or string bag, or reuse plastic bags when you are buying your food and goods. Plastic bags are not biodegradable- even if they say they are they never fully decompose. Also the ink is made up of cadmium, which is highly toxic. Plastic bags are a massive problem, contributing greatly to the pollution of our planet, killing our wildlife and destroying our waterways. Please think before you shop: either say no, or bring your own.

Switch your home electricity to Pure Energy
Simply call Energy Australia and ask about greener options that suit your home and family. Surprisingly, it is not expensive. Pure energy is an easy way to make a difference. By signing up for Pure Energy, you’re making a stand every time you flick a switch. That’s because with every flick, you’re supporting renewable energy generation.

I like the bus…
Less driving means fewer emissions. Besides saving money on petrol and parking, walking and biking are great forms of exercise. Explore your community’s mass transit system, or check out options for carpooling to work or school. Keep driving to a minimum, and when you drive, make sure your car is running efficiently.

Buy energy efficient products
Ditch all toxic cleaning and skin products, as these are the things that are destroying the oceans and potentially harming your health. Get back to basics and feel the difference. Buy environmentally safe cleaning products or make your own using pure essential oils, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Switching to organic, synthetic free skincare is one of the best things you can do for your health, including ditching deodorants that contain aluminium. Avoid products that come with excess packaging, that can’t be recycled and contain ingredients that are toxic to your body.

Share a shower
Keep your showers short. Set your heater to 20ºC to save energy, and wrap it in an insulating blanket if is it more than five years old. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water to reduce your use of hot water and the energy required to produce it. Use the energy-saving settings on your dishwasher and let the dishes air-dry.

Turn it off
Save electricity and reduce global warming by turning off lights when you leave a room. And remember to turn off your television, video player, stereo and computer when you’re not using them. It’s also good to turn off the water when you’re not using it. While brushing your teeth, shampooing the dog or washing your car, turn off the water until you actually need it for rinsing. You’ll reduce your water bill and help to conserve a vital resource.

Plant a tree, man
If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. During photosynthesis, trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. They are an integral part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle here on earth, but there are too few of them to full counter the increases in carbon dioxide caused by automobile traffic, manufacturing and other human activities. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.

No junk mail please
Put a sign on your letterbox or door and say no to flyers, brochures and leaflets that you never read; it’s waste! I’m sure that if you saved up all your unwanted junk mail for one year, you would have the equivalent of one and half trees. Having bank statements and mail sent electronically is very easy, all you have to do is jump online or call up the company and request that all invoices, statements and letters be sent by email.

Encourage others to conserve
Share information about recycling and energy conservation wit your friends, neighbours and co-workers, and encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment. People will not think you are a massive hippy is you raise awareness about the environment… In fact this kind of jargon is becoming kinda cool!

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