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Growing family values

Alexander, Margaret, Grant, and James Cullen-Erickson are making small steps to a sustainable future. Photo by Osker Lau
IN THE quiet suburb of Sherwood, in Brisbane’s inner south-west, the Cullen-Erickson family are your average family.

Margaret and Grant, and their children, James (16) and Alexander (12), lead busy lives and are active members of Sherwood Uniting Church, a congregation known for their focus on justice and sustainability.

The family have also made a commitment to lessen their impact on the earth although Margaret said that commitment varies amongst them.

“We are only a very small way along the way of a more sustainable lifestyle,” she insisted.

They have installed a water tank for flushing toilets, running the washing machine and watering plants.

Only the edible plants tend to get watered but the veggie patch includes herbs and fruit trees.

Their chickens are a hit with the neighbourhood children.

“We were delighted to be able to get a larger recycling bin from our local council last year which means more is recycled and less goes to landfill, although ideally we would be purchasing less packaging that needed to be put in it in the first place,” said Ms Cullen-Erickson.

“And there is much that can be passed along to others who might use it when we no longer need it.”

16-year-old James has been vegetarian since he was seven.

“When he was seven he talked a lot about not wanting to hurt animals and that being part of his reason,” said his mum, who also suspects he didn’t like the texture of meat.

“Now his main comment is that he thinks eating meat is gross.”

Ms Cullen-Erickson said a growing awareness of the importance of sustainability through the local council and church prompted some of their changes.

“Being raised by parents who were used to making do and living with very little has no doubt influenced our thinking.”

Ms Cullen-Erickson has always enjoyed the challenge of finding new purposes for old items, making homemade gifts,
restoring old furniture, and cooking with ingredients from her own garden using water from their tanks.

“It’s really about ensuring that we are better stewards of the world we live in, and about not wasting what we have.”

She said faith plays a part in the decision but external factors like increased community awareness, the creative challenge, and family also played a big part.

“Economically it makes sense as well,” she said.

“There are many small and large changes that we can all make to our lives.

“We can continue to let our politicians know that we want to live in a more sustainable way.

“We make choices every day that can influence how much we impact on our world.”

Photo : Alexander, Margaret, Grant, and James Cullen-Erickson are making small steps to a sustainable future. Photo by Osker Lau