What does it mean to live sustainably?
For Sustainable Living Coach Dr. Janani Mohanakrishnan, it means to consume less, choose better, reduce waste and appreciate more to decrease our daily carbon footprint.
Participants from the Mt Roskill community who took on Mohanakrishnan’s sustainable living programme, funded by Auckland Council’s Climate Grant, reduced their carbon emissions by almost 170kg CO2 over 10 weeks.
That’s the equivalent to a return flight for two passengers from Auckland to Napier/Hastings, according to Air New Zealand.
“The goal of the program was to assist Mt Roskill families adopt sustainable living habits and reduce their impact on the environment”, says Mohanakrishnan.
10 individuals were put to the test
Through word of mouth, Mohanakrishnan recruited members of the Mt Roskill community who were willing to make positive changes and embark on their sustainable living journey.
Ten participants were motivated to sign up and improve their tāmariki’s future and make a difference in their community. Members of the group ranged between 30-70 years of age, female and male.
Within five focus areas, food; energy; water; transport and travel; and shopping and entertainment, people chose actions such as:
reduce dairy consumption
choose reusable coffee cups, instead of single use
soft plastic recycling
reduce water use
choose to walk, bike, use public transport instead of driving.
Specific goals were set to track progress against their baseline habits as a means of measuring emissions reduction.
Participants were given 10 weeks to reach their goals, recording weekly progress and with check-ins for guidance and motivation with the group and coach.
How sustainable was living sustainably?
“At the halfway point, participants discussed challenges, shared tips and tricks, exchanged learnings, and made adjustments to their chosen actions,” explains Mohanakrishnan.
“This was an opportunity to reflect and adapt, allowing participants to adopt new actions or discard those that were not working for them without feeling guilty.”
She says, “Most participants were able to continue with the actions they selected at program start. A few incorporated additional actions during the program, inspired by their peers.
One action that gained good momentum was recycling soft plastic. Members discovered the range of nearby retailers that collect soft plastic packaging to be recycled into fence posts and other materials. The action was then implemented and easily became an effortless habit.
However, reducing dairy consumption proved to be challenging for those who regularly have milk and yoghurt as part of their normal diet.
“Some found it easier to shift to plant-based milk for their daily coffee or tea, while others preferred vegan yoghurt for meals, as a way of reducing their dairy consumption.”
Mohanakrishnan was pleased with the programme’s progress as participants actively made sustainable choices by reviewing food packaging labels.
“One even reached out to a yoghurt manufacturer suggesting they include better disposal information like their competitor,” she says.
“The biggest success was participants gaining an understanding of the impact of each change they made, while building conveniently sustainable habits for life,” says Mohanakrishnan.
Mohanakrishnan is grateful for the assistance with delivering this initiative. “Many thanks to Auckland Council, Do Good Feel Good and Roskill Together for supporting me in this initiative.
“Next year, I hope to run sustainable living coaching workshops at Mt Roskill Library and look forward to expanding the sustainable living coaching service to interested participants and groups.”
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