Turn Out Your Lights for Earth Hour

Started in 2007 in Sydney, Earth Hour is now a worldwide movement that unites people on a broad range of environmental issues. On Saturday 19 March at 8.30-9.30pm your local time, you are asked to turn off your lights. We think it’s a great way to switch off, disconnect and slow yourself down for an hour this weekend!
  

By asking people around the world to switch off their lights for just one hour, they aim to encourage an interconnected global community to share the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world.  

How do I join in?
Participating in Earth Hour is joyously simple. Take the pledge on the website (or not); then at the appointed hour – SWITCH OUT YOUR LIGHTS. 

For the next 60 minutes, you can enjoy the novelty of not having good light to do things by. Spare a thought for your grandparents, who knew a time when light was not available at the convenient flick of a switch!

What to do with no electric light

We’ve been participating in Earth Hour on and off for quite a few years now. When it rolls around, I switch out our lights and go outside into the street. The amount of light pollution always amazes me! 

We like to plan a small activity to keep us occupied during our self-imposed blackout.  We light candles and eat some dessert, then try to read a book or a magazine for a little while. Sometimes we just talk! 

You could play a board or card game, write something or make something – get creative!

Tip for young players: unless you have a lot of candles, reading by candlelight is not recommended. Your eyes, used to artificial light, will only be strained!

  

How does turning off my lights help?

Sitting there in the near-dark, you may be asking yourself how your small contribution can help our global energy consumption. 

Well, apart from the fact you’re not consuming as much energy for an hour, consider the cumulative effect of a lot of people doing it. Think about thousands of households and businesses turning out their lights that would otherwise have been on all evening, or even all night. The concept is a powerful one. 

The other thing about Earth Hour is it makes you stop and think. As long as you’ve put your phone or tablet away, you may find that the lack of distraction makes your thoughts focus on the issue at hand – our insatiable need for energy, and the problem of fueling it in a sustainable manner. 

  

One hour a year to think about energy consumption is not much to commit to, we think. 

Got any good Earth Hour activity ideas? Share with us in the comments!

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Declutter Your Life

If you’ve been hearing the word “KonMari” too much lately, this post might be for you. 

Unlike the famous Japanese declutterer Marie Kondo, who advocates chucking away anything that doesn’t have purpose or give you joy, we don’t think that being left with a dozen items of clothing is the way to go for everybody. 

But having a good purge every now and again is good for the soul.   

Too Much Stuff

Let’s face it: the majority of households have too much stuff. Even the messiest people are bothered by the accumulation of items sometimes – we speak from personal experience here. 

Whether it’s a kitchen bench overflowing with paperwork, a bookcase you can’t fit any more books in or a pantry where you can never locate your ground garlic; clutter can really get you down. 

Bringing Order from Chaos

The best part about making up your mind to declutter is that you don’t have to do everything at once. The very idea is frankly overwhelming and likely to make you give up and go check your Facebook instead.  

So here’s the secret: do a small area at a time. You could start with the traditional place, your wardrobe, and start bagging up clothes for charity. Or even haul out your old shredding machine and start feeding it decades old bank statements that you have stashed in the home office drawer. 

Decluttering the pantry

Recently we used the fact that our parents-in-law were staying to action Operation Pantry. Being fundamentally lazy people ourselves, we knew that they would not let us stop halfway through! So one rainy Saturday, the task was tackled.   

Frankly I was shocked by the amount of food we had to throw out as out of date. It would be embarrassing to admit what we found lurking right at the back – but afterwards there was a profound sense of accomplishment and satisfactions to be had. 

And now we can find the garlic!

Tips for Young Players

Don’t let anyone tell you decluttering is about throwing things away. It’s about decision-making. Endless choices about what to do with each item you’re tacking can be exhausting! Here’s some tips learnt from our experiences over the years. 

  • Buy a big roll of garbage bags. 
  • Make sure you have cleaning supplies on hand to dust and wipe shelves, bench tops, clothing rails etc once there is nothing on them. 
  • Block out a reasonable amount of time to dedicate to the task -then double it to be sure. 
  • Put on your favourite tunes to work by. Music makes a boring repetitive task more fun sometimes!
  • Recruit unsuspecting family members with promises of ice cream or similar. 
  • Tackle one shelf/drawer/area at a time. 
  • Know what types of items charity shops will accept. They don’t want your broken sandals, for example. 
  • When it comes to food – if in doubt, throw it out. 
  • Keep a list of expired items you chuck out to restock later. Murphy’s Law dictates if you throw out chicken stock cubes you’ve not needed for 5 years, you will next week. 
  • Take regular breaks – but make sure you go back to it afterwards!
  • Take before and after shots to boast about your decluttering skills on social media. 

Reward Yourself

When it’s all done, don’t forget to reward yourself with a cup of tea (or something stronger) and give yourself a mental pat on the back.   

The act of jettisoning unneeded or unwanted stuff from your life can be incredibly cathartic. There’s a strong sense of satisfaction in tackling clutter and paring down one’s possessions. 

We think it’s a great way to spend a few hours of your weekend. Who knows, you might even find that awesome blouse you bought 2 years ago and forgot about!

Have you had a declutter lately? Any tips or good stories to share?


Your Guide to Great Weekend Road Trips

The sun is shining. You’ve got no plans. It’s a great day for a road trip!

  
Why they’re a good idea

One of the best things about taking a drive in the country for city-dwellers is simply “getting away from it all”. The lack of traffic, the fresh air and seeing new things are a big drawcard!

There’s also a great sense of adventure when going someplace you’ve never been before. Whether you’re stopping at quaint antique shops, grabbing a burger in a small-town milk bar or taking a short bush walk to a beautiful waterfall; you’re going to be seeing new things and enjoying a unique experience. 

AND it’s relatively cheap to do! You can spend a little more on things like food and souvenirs, but at the end of the day all you really need is petrol money. 

How to plan one 

Listen when friends, family and coworkers tell you about places they’ve been. Ask around – you’d be surprised how many people are willing to share their favourite “secret” weekend drives. 

Crank up google maps. Pick a distance and draw a mental circle around your starting point. Pick a direction. What’s there? Zoom in – follow roads and see what is along any given route. 

Remember not everything is on maps!

Online region tourism guides are your friend. They’ll invaluable have places of interest to recommend to the day-tripper. City guides also often have day-trip route suggestions. 

  
What to take with you

Besides a car, think about what else you’ll need for the trip. Do you get hungry for snacks? Take some along to avoid costly service station chips & chocolate (unless that’s your thing!). Wear sunscreen to protect your skin – yes you can get easily burnt in the car! 

Throw in some walking shoes and a hat in case you decide to do a bush walk. Swimmers too if the weather is nice!

We always take our DSLR camera to capture beautiful nature photos but these days your smartphone camera is a good alternative. Don’t forget your car charger!

Tip from a pro: a roll of toilet paper in the boot is a godsend in some situations!

Destination inspiration 

Out favorite drives out of Brisbane are all mostly within 200km of the city. 

  • Gold Coast Hinterland
  • Maleny and Montville
  • Samford Valley and Mount Glorious
  • Mount Mee 
  • Scenic Rim

We recently discovered D’Aguilar Forest and Mount Mee National Park. Though you need a 4WD to get around the tracks, the payoff is pretty amazing with kilometres of beautiful bushland to explore. There is an amazing lookout too, and we had the tripod out quick-smart to capture the view over Lake Somerset. 

  
Get up and go

So what are you waiting for? Plan your weekend road trip today. Remember; a destination is optional!

Done any good drives recently? Share with us and help inspire other readers! You can comment below or tag us in your Instagram #weloveweekends