Bree is waiting for me at her “beach shack” apartment with 180 degree ocean view from the top of Alexandra Headland. Her daughter Indi is looking at me with her beautiful ocean-blue eyes, a bit sceptical before she gives me a welcoming smile and I step in. I got to know Bree a few months ago, and since then she has inspired me and challenged my way of thinking more than once. Today I met up with her to talk about how bottles are going to help Indi buy her first car, and to be inspired by some other lifestyle choices she has made for a more environmental friendly living.
Indi's first car
Indi was born 31 July last year, and have just entered her ninth month in this world. It was Bree’s dad that came up with an idea one day ‘wouldn’t it be cool if Indi bought her first car from recycling bottles?’ From that day on, they all started collecting bottles for Indi’s first car.
“We are collecting bottles and cans from the streets and our local environment, and cashing them in, saving it in a jar for Indi’s first car. When she buys her car, she will be proud knowing that it was from helping cleaning up our community and recycling. Hopefully when she is old enough she can help collect, learn about sustainability and learn to take care and respect it. Doing this also gives us something different to do as a family. Something to be excited about.”
So far, two months after they started, they have collected 1000 dollars only by recycling bottles. In other words, that’s 10 000 bottles saved from going to landfill and in the ocean!
“If there was 20 dollars in the bottom of the bin, would you get it? Yes you would pull everything out to get a 20 dollar note. That’s how you have to look at it. It’s benefiting you, and it’s benefiting the environment as well. You pick up those few bottles or plastic or whatever is on the ground - that’s maybe one turtle that doesn’t get killed. A lot of people say: one person can’t make a difference, but one person can really make a difference to save one animals life.”
“I also want Indi to grow up in a time where she has clean water, and the benefits that we have. I don’t want us to destroy the planet and then forget about it because we get old. Because the next generations have to grow up with the consequences of how we live. I think it’s really selfish not to do anything to change that.“
During a family night out they usually go through three or four bins, where each contains one or two grocery bags full of bottles. She smiles when I ask her how she feels after coming home after a night like that. “You feel accomplished. Like I guess, being vegetarian, I have always made it my thing that I want to go to sleep at night, knowing that nothing had to die or go through pain and agony, for me to live today. Knowing that, I can sleep soundly because I believe in karma and I think what goes around comes around. It’s nice to know that I have helped protect species from potentially being in danger due to human littering and ignorance. To be honest, I don’t even think we should feel that good, because this should be something you just naturally do anyway.”
No meat and minimalistic approach
Nine years ago, Bree watched a documentary about how animals were slaughtered for us to eat them, and she woke up as vegetarian the next day. It lead to an ethical awareness around other things than just meat as well. Clothing, for example. The family are choosing natural material, like bamboo, in clothes for Indi, otherwise they go op shopping.
“We try to follow a minimalistic approach, so about every three months we go ‘what haven’t we worn for the past months?’ And if we haven’t worn it or we don’t love it, we donate it. Because I believe the more clutter you have in your life, the more mental clutter you have. I know that I love the few outfits that I have, I feel comfortable in them, and I know they are made really well. We’ve got a one in - one out rule. So if we buy something from the op-shop, we donate something we already have.”
With a home with not much stuff, but with lots of room for love and a simple life, it is a comfortable and housewarm place to be. Indi is starting to get ready for her soundly sleep, and we are packing up her wooden toys for now. Bree also encourages everyone to stop and think about the environment in their every day life, and how they can positively make a difference.
“I think it’s ironic how we teach our children to be gentle and not hurt animals, but we serve meat for dinner. And I think that is very contradicting to teach them ‘be gentle - but we eat it’ - what other things are we compromising on that we’re teaching them? So if we set the example to not kill or hurt anything, I just think that’s a kinder way to live as in the end, only kindness matters.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m nowhere near perfect. But luckily we are humans, and have the ability to change our ways if only we want to.”