Category Archives: Transition Tip

Ten ways supermarkets in Australia can be more sustainable

Sunday 2 September 2012

Chief Executive Officer
Supermarket Chain

CC: Marketing Manager

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would love to see Australia lead the world in responsible food management and sustainable practices.

I would love to see my local supermarket follow these practices:

  1. All eggs to be free-range (like Sainsbury’s) – and battery cages banned in the EU.
  2. All pork and bacon to be free-range.
  3. Support grass-fed and organic certified butcher products.
  4. Support sustainable seafood which have been certified against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.
  5. Support our dairy farmers with fair prices for milk.
  6. Purchase fair trade coffee, chocolate, tea and sugar.
  7. Ban products containing palm oil* – until they are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
  8. Paper products to be recycled where possible (particularly for toilet paper and kitchen paper). Swap from plastic bags to starch-based 100% compostable bags (like Flannerys) or paper bags.
  9. Go BPA free (like Flannerys).
  10. Compulsory labeling of genetically modified food products, so people can choose to go GM-free.

Warm regards,



* Palm oil is often listed as ‘vegetable oil’ on a product’s ingredients list. If the product can sit on your shelf for many months then your vegetable oil is probably heated to a high temperature and is damaged. This is known as a trans-fat and should be avoided.

My Town in Transition video – by Rob Hopkins

An inspiring talk by Rob Hopkins “My Town in Transition” video.

Rob Hopkins is author of “The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times

I love it when he says:

…let’s be more brilliant than we have ever been…

Transition tip: Make your own green cleaners


Transition tip: Make your own green cleaners.

It’s easy to make your own green cleaners with a few tried-and-true recipes. You’ll be protecting your health by avoiding using toxic chemicals in your home and these are better for the environment. Better yet, you’ll find yourself saving money.

What’s not to love?

Here’s a round up of my posts on how to make your own green cleaners:

The Transition Trail to Resilience

“The Transition Trail to Resilience” illustrates the steps our local communities can take to transition to living with climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy and oil.

I was inspired by first developing “The Permaculture Path to Sustainability” which deals with how individuals and households can transition to a life with a smaller footprint on the earth.

I then wanted to expand these issues to encompass a community wide scope and take on the perspective of the Transition movement.

Several years ago, I was introduced to the transition town concept with the book The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience by Rob Hopkins. I walked around in shock for a few weeks and then fell into denial (I later found out that this is a very common reaction). Recently I was unable to ignore the signs and I rediscovered the movement with their new book The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times also by Rob Hopkins, which really brings alive all the exciting and innovative ideas bouncing around the world.

I enthusiastically joined my local Transition group and then discovered differing levels of awareness. I wanted a way to capture these great ideas and create a clear plan of action for the group.

I started by collating some of the common elements found in a transition town and then I divided them into different categories. The categories are the ones we use in our Transition group (your group may have different ones).

I then sorted the elements out in to levels. Each level reflects an increase in the level of difficulty, commitment and/or expense.

  1. Level 1 is what you may find in a young transition town.
  2. Level 2 are practices and elements found in a more mature transition town.
  3. Level 3 are practices and elements which are found in local communities dedicated to resilience, self-sufficiency, and sustainability. The citizens proudly view their local community as a system.

I love to see concepts come alive as a diagram, so I created a table to illustrate “The Transition Trail to Resilience”:

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Building and construction
Business and economy
  • LETS
  • Shop Local campaign
  • Energy Resilience Assessment
  • Credit Unions
  • Energy / carbon audits
  • Locally owned energy-supply companies (ESCOs)
  • Solar power buying group
Food and Gardens
  • Food coop
  • Food swap
  • Garden Share scheme
  • PermaBlitz
  • Seed saving group
  • Organic markets
  • Community orchard
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  • Land Trust
  • Micro-brewery
Fauna and flora
  •  Bush regeneration
Local learning and education
  • Book club
  • Film nights
  • Reskilling workshops
Our community
  • Newsletter, website, facebook, and twitter
  • Organisation established
  • Community Centre
  • Festival
  •  Car free day
  •  Car share company
  • Plastic bag free campaign
  • Salvaged wood depot
  • Tip Shop

Where is your local community on “The Transition Trail to Resilience”?

Is your local community doing well in one category and neglecting another?

(Note: Health and Water are two other categories our group uses).

How resilient are you? survey


Grab some paper and write down your answers to the following questions.

Are you self- and community-sufficient?

  1. I put my savings and investments in community and regional banks and local institutions
  2. I buy or barter the goods and services I need from local merchants, organizations, or individuals.
  3. I make my income from my local economy.
  4. I know how to fix, grow, build, or create things (such as repair a roof, grow kale, give a guitar lesson) that others would want in good times and hard times.
  5. I have an alternative source of livelihood that could sustain me (and my family) if my current source were no longer viable.
  6. I consume locally grown food that I could afford even if prices went up substantially (e.g., from a food co-op, backyard garden).
  7. I know how to preserve food and keep a well stocked pantry.
  8. I have access to sources of water, even when the weather is unpredictable or the tap water doesn’t work (such as a rainwater tank or a reliable well).
  9. I have ways to get around, even if the gas at the pump is unavailable or pricey (such as feet, bike, electric car).
  10. I have alternative heat and energy sources (such as solar panels or a wood stove) if the power goes out or utilities get expensive.
  11. I actively promote the development of renewable energy in my local community.
  12. I have a hopeful vision of what my community and life can look like in a future without fossil fuels.

Do you have a support network?

  1. I have friends and acquaintances in my local community (and I know their faces, not just their Facebook pages).
  2. I am comfortable asking my neighbors if I can borrow stuff (e.g., tools, ingredients).
  3. I could easily call on nearby friends and neighbors for help in an emergency.
  4. I offer support to people in my community when they need help.
  5. I’m active in community groups (like neighborhood associations, potlucks, churches, soup kitchens, gardening clubs, arts organizations, or local political groups).

Do you have sources of personal resilience?

  1. I sing, dance, paint, or otherwise participate in arts or creative work on a regular basis.
  2. I regularly engage in activities that help me stay calm and balanced (such as meditation, exercise, prayer, or spending time in nature).
  3. I take care of my health, such as through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and an appropriate amount of sleep.

Adapted from the How resilient are you online test by YES! Magazine

Transition tip: Deconstruct your consumption habits

This transition tip idea comes from Mark Boyle in his book called The Moneyless Man – a year of freeconomic living.

As part of living without money for a year, he got a notepad and listed every single thing he consumed

“I called this my ‘breaking-it-down’ list. To structure my thoughts, I categorised my list into food, energy, heating, transport, entertainment, lighting, communications, reading, art and so on. The list eventually took up half the notepad – and that was the list of someone who considers himself quite a moderate consumer….

“It became clear, after just a couple of pages, that most of the stuff would involve me having no more than one degree of separation from what I consumed; either I would make it myself or know the person who produced it.”

“My list-making enabled me to establish my basic level of subsistence, the things I really couldn’t do without, and my priorities for the rest.”

The Moneyless Man
- by Mark Boyle

Transition tip: Participate in a clothes swap


Transition tip: Participate in a clothes swap


  • Rehash – a fashionable way for you to trade your clothing, accessories, and books with others online.
  • Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing.
  • Swishing – To rustle clothes from friends



Have you participated in a clothes swap?

Transition tip: Participate in a free gifting system (freecycle)


Transition tip: Participate in a free gifting system

There are a number of free gifting systems around, with Freecycle perhaps the most well known. Using a website or email group you can give away things you no longer need or ask if anyone has something to give away that you’d like.

These schemes promote waste reduction and help save the landscape from being taken over by landfills.




Have you had any experience with a gifting network?

Transition tip: Request some transition resources for your local library

Transition tip: Request some transition resources for your local library

Transition Network

Self-sufficiency and permaculture

Do you have any other suggestions for good transition resources?