The Birth of Eco Green Spirit

I Didn’t Choose the Eco Life – The Eco Life Chose me….

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Maria Faki. Though officially a music teacher and music professional I have always had a passion for earth-friendly living. This year, I have taken the steps needed to expand this into my professional life and try to make a difference in my immediate community. I want to start by saying how lucky I am to have a fantastic network of friends in my quest to transform my life and those of others into a sustainable way. We inspire each other and I am overwhelmed by their belief in me – warms my eco-lovin’ spirit.

In my post I will cover how I became interested in green living and the initiatives I am taking to do my part in leaving a smaller footprint.

 Nature Girl at Heart

Though I grew up in Melbourne’s suburbs, I have parents who were raised on a Greek island -- where back then a sustainable life was just known as “life.” At the time it wasn’t considered rustic or chic. They merely lived modestly; didn’t have an abundance of conveniences; so, people lived off the land and therefore had to be resourceful in every way possible. My parents have always maintained a way of living that was true to their upbringing, whether it was homemade wine making, harvesting or pickling. As a child I remember always being fascinated by these processes, never being afraid to get my hands dirty. Even though our dwelling was in the burbs, I always remember us having a chicken coup for fresh eggs and being taught about veggie maintenance at a wee age. Being out in the open air and toiling in the soil was exhilarating for me!


So. Much. Waste.

Fast forward to adulthood, maintaining two family households (one in the suburbs and one in Philip Island) allowed me to really appreciate the wonders of our magnificent Aussie ecosystem, but also its fragility. Through the years, commuting between the two homes also opened my eyes to the tremendous volume of waste we consume and exert. How long could this continue? I loved spending time with my children in the great outdoors, but what was I leaving behind for them in 20, 30 and 40 years from now? What habits was I passing along to them? Walking along the shores of Cowes beach and seeing bottles from revellers hurt my heart.

Maintenance of the Earth relies on each individual so what was my part? Something about seeing my own children not living by the values of my parents and their respect for their island, their land and their earth really awakened me. On my own property I was composting to fertilize our abundant gardens, but how could I take this further, to benefit my kids and their generation? I also looked at my daily processes. So much excess. There had to be less wasteful means of doing things. From this I recognised I needed to do something for my children and realised that: Instilling a respect for the land they grow up on and teaching your kids how to maintain it is one of the kindest things you can do for them.

I also began to consider the products I was putting on my body and ingesting through my skin, such as deodorants, lotions and balms. These were loaded with chemicals and additives, which can be considered carcinogenic. My desire for a natural alternative got me researching how to make my own natural products (influenced by my parents’ rustic ways from the old country). I wanted real soap; homemade lip balm; chemical free insect repellent. I wanted packaging that was biodegradable or easily recycled, that wouldn’t take 400 years to decompose.


Recreation with a Conscience.

Taking my kids onto farms and beaches on the peninsula I started adding a small element of waste management to each outing. Firstly I showed them how the soil was strong in the country from the fallen leaves and how the land was feeding itself through its own decomposing bark and nutrients.  We would also make a game by seeing who could pick up the most rubbish by the end of our walk.  The game appealed to my kids' competitive streak.  The amount of rubbish we ended up gathering was quiet impressive (if you can call it that) One families compilation may not seem as much but collectively, this is a BBD (big bloody deal).  We can all appeal to our kids' sense of empathy by explaining how sea animals can choke on disgarded plastic.


Eco Green Spirit Beach Clean Up

While on my weekend morning walk on our local Mentone beach trail, I was suddenly very aware of the level of waste around me. I showed photos to my Facebook friends of how much rubbish the kids and I had gathered on our beach walks, and several expressed interest in joining us next time. This gave me momentum and got me thinking…..we could make a day of it!

Calling on those friends and those with a desire to make a difference, I organised an outing with a purpose. On the 17thof August, 35 Eco volunteers, generous of spirit, gave their Saturday morning to make our beautiful Beaumaris beach pristine. Enthusiastic people, both children and adults put their Eco hats on and got to work. Pretty inspiring stuff – Thank you! In a mere hour we had gathered:

- 80 cigarette butts
- 200+ plastic film remnants
- 120 bits of polystyrene
- 13 aluminium cans
- 13 glass bottles
- 20 bottle caps/lids
- 3 balloons
- 8 pieces of clothing
- 2 razors
- 100+ plastic bits including micro plastic.

 Phew, what a collection! (Thank you to Elysa Tancheff for gathering this data).This amounts to a boat load of rubbish over the course of a year. Just think of all the animal habitats we’d be saving by repeating this monthly. Your bit really counts for a lot 😊

If you would like to show the bay some love and be part of our next beach clean-up at Mordialloc Beach on Sunday, September 15th, you can find details here:

In Conclusion

We are just getting started! Finding ways to reconnect to the island life has become a mission for me - that simple life that filled my parents with joy and respect for the land - that was built on a natural sense of responsibility to our land and our resources.  I have so many fun ideas about making the sustainable life work for our Australian (and cosmopolitan) lifestyle.  Joining me by subscribing to this blog is just a small way you can start making a difference, hopefully by reading and feeling inspired by what I am doing for my family, the earth, and for our future.  You can join in and make changes to your household and community; make tracks towards making a greener, more sustainable life; live with less waste, and receive updates on the Eco Green Spirit Farm. (yes I bought a farm! more to come on that.  What did your parents pass on to you which makes for greener living?  Would love to hear your own folks ideas.

Keeping it Green,

Maria Faki