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This blog documents an average Australian family’s journey towards a sustainable lifestyle without leaving suburbia. It’s easier than you think!

We’re a household of 5 (2 parents and 3 young children) living in Kiama, on the NSW coast just south of Wollongong (which itself is just south of Sydney).

The Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong councils have joined together to create the Sustainable Illawarra project. This project has funding from the NSW State Government’s Environmental Trust, and aims to pool the three councils’ resources and knowledge to promote sustainability in a consistent way across the Illawarra.

As part of the project, 120 families across the Illawarra were selected to participate in the Sustainable Illawarra Super Challenge, and we were fortunate enough to be chosen as one of them.

Despite the name, it’s neither a competition nor a reality show. It’s a 12-month programme to help the families learn more about sustainability issues, to set their own goals, and to work towards achieving them. Participants’ stories will be shared via the Sustainable Illawarra web site and various media outlets to help promote sustainability in the community.

We’re using this blog to record what we learn and to document our own “green change” as it unfolds.

If you’d like to send us information, brochures, catalogues, samples, etc, our postal address is:

Darren Collins PO Box 30 Jamberoo, NSW, 2533 Australia

Feel free to email Darren if you have any questions or suggestions!


  • Oshana Himot said:


    A wonderful website!! I am feeling the desire to become sustainable now – and get off the grid. Because of my work commitments – a website busienss focused on helping people have more joy – better health, relationships and careers – I want to find a coach – someone to help me make off-grid decisions for a sustainable dwelling I will be buying to put on land…..and there is much I can do in the meantime.

    Let me know your ideas…I am in California and there is much that can be done thru email. I can pay for coaching time….

    Many good wishes,


    It’s All About Joy Redding, CA oshanaben@yahoo.com 480-353-7312

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Oshana: It’d probably be best for you to find someone local to coach and advise you on becoming more sustainable. Someone half-way around the world, or even just in another state, won’t have the in-depth knowledge to help you make the most of state rebate schemes, city programs, local organisations, etc. Try looking for some clubs or associations with active groups in your area that deal with food (e.g. the Slow Food Movement, Community Supported Agriculture), transport (e.g. car pooling schemes), the environment (e.g. GreenPeace) and other sustainability topics. Just by attending a few meetings you’ll begin networking with like-minded people, and discover other organisations, events and programs that can help you on your journey. Good luck, and do let me know how you get on!

  • Michelle said:

    Hi Darren

    I just wanted to say that I really admire your committment to leading a more sustainable life and know that your blog is an inspiration to many. I cam across this website http://www.biowishtechnologies.com/index.html when I was doing some research into environmental products for the home and garden and thought you might be interested in having a look.

  • Darcy Moore said:

    Hi Darren,

    I enjoyed the fruits of the project today: http://darcymoore.net/2009/11/01/sustainable-illawarra/

    Lets meet-up soon.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Darcy: Sounds like it was a great workshop, and great to set up some garden beds at the school. We’ll soon (this Thursday!) have a large area to plant out if you’re keen to put your new-found skills to good use :-).

  • Darcy Moore said:

    I like the new look for your blog, Darren.

  • Darren (author) said:

    Thanks, Darcy! I’m still working on tweaks, but I liked this theme when I first saw it. I’m trying to put together an interesting header graphic, too. Now I’ve just got to get back in the swing of writing posts!

  • Happyearth said:

    Hi Darren,

    Congrats on your blog revamp – looks really great! Very professional. Fantastic to see you’re getting back into blogging again too. Hope you’re settling into your new place well. Very exciting for you to have more land to play with on your sustainable living adventure!


    Ally and rich http://www.happyearth.com.au

  • Darren (author) said:

    Thanks Ally & Rich! I’m liking this new template so far, although there are still a few things to tweak. The new property is great so far, but we haven’t had much time recently to do all that we want to. That’s life, though, eh?

  • Nick Ritar said:

    Hi Darren,

    The new site looks great and the content is awesome as usual. Would love to come and see the new place when we are next down in Kiama (which is actually pretty regularly).

    Well Done

    Nick, Kirsten and Ashar

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Nick: That’d be great – I’ll email you and give you our details.

  • Nick Huggins said:

    Hey Darren,

    Just came accross the website thru a link on the PRI Website. looks great. Look forward to the RSS feeds.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Nick: Thanks! I’ve been enjoying the posts on PRI lately. Keep in touch!

  • Kiamasphere « Darcy Moore’s Blog said:

    […] the launch my friend, Darren Collins, gave a good presentation on the journey his family has taken towards sustainable living. I really […]

  • Jo said:

    Hi Darren, great things happen in families of 5. We love what you guys are up to. Check out our similar adventures at funky frontyard farmers, Jo

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Jo: Hi! I just checked out your site and subscribed to your RSS feed. It looks like we’re doing so much similar stuff! I loved your lists of things to do with kids – some great ideas in there. Nice monthly planting charts, too. I need to get more organised :-).

  • Roger said:

    I just stumbled across a link to your site when visiting the milkwoodpermaculture.com.au – Its great to find more people who are heading in the right direction. My partner and I are planning to move south of Wollongong, within a couple of hours of Sydney, in 2011. We are wanting to buy a few acres of farmland/semi-bush for ourselves, or join an organic, rural, co-op community within 30 or 40 minutes drive of the ocean. If anyone has suggestions, please forward details to: theprintingguru@hotmail.com Many thanks for your help. Roger

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Roger: Hi! I live in Jamberoo, about 25 minutes south of Wollongong and about 10 minutes from the beach. It’s a beautiful area with excellent climate and rainfall, but land prices are astronomical. It’s very hard to get “a few acres” too – you can either get 1-acre concessional lots with houses or building permission, or you have to go to 40-100 acres. There’s very little in between.

    West Dapto, Albion Park, and Berry are all worth a look, with lots of very nice properties available. Moving further south into the Shoalhaven region there are a lot of options, but if you go much past Nowra then you’re pushing the 2-hours-from-Sydney boundary. The Southern Highlands are also very nice (Robertson, Moss Vale, etc) if you don’t mind it a bit colder and with proper frosts, but then you’d be pushing the 40-minutes-from-the-ocean boundary.

    Good luck, and let me know how you get on!

  • Jaime Hammersley said:


    I have just come across your website when searching for some information on broody chickens. This sounds like a fabulous idea, especially if you have had support by local councils. We are a family of five too, our children are very young, all under 3 years and this year we’ve decided it’s time to learn how to live a sustainable lifestyle to guide the children into a sustainable lifestlye too. I had always thought we were somewhat environmentally friendly but now I have realised we weren’t even half way there! I haven’t had the opportunity to read all your posts yet but look forward to learning from your experience. From the date of these comments it appears that your 12 month challenge is over – did you ever make a summary of what you learnt in that year? If you did, could you please direct me to that information? I’d love to know what worked, what didn’t and what permanent changes you have made! Thanks in advance. Kind regards Jaime

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Jaime: Thanks, glad to be able to help you! I haven’t done a summary post on the 12-month challenge. It’s something I would have liked to do, but never got around to. I didn’t keep very good records, either – I was holding off, waiting for a workbook they were going to send out, but it didn’t arrive until the end of the 12 months. Pretty much all the main stuff we did is recorded in posts on this blog.

    You can access the Sustainable Illawarra Super Challenge Workbook and use it as a guide to get you started: http://www.sustainableillawarra.com.au/pdf/Sustainable-Living-Guide-SUSTAINABLE-ILLAWARRA.pdf

    If anyone discovers this post sometime in the distant future and can’t access that URL, please email me and I’ll send you a copy!

    Feel free to email me with questions etc as well.

  • Shane said:

    Hi Darren. Thanks for stopping by my site earlier and leaving some comments. Just laid out another 200kg of home made compost today and remembered that there are others out there such as yourselves that really want to make a difference within suburbia. If there is anything I can help with passing on my experiencing with reusing large quantities of used coffee grounds and other organic ‘waste’ please let me know. Keep well mate.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Shane: No worries. I put your brochure on our coffee machine at work, and got a few additional people interested in using them at home. A great result!

  • Tina ~ Tina Gray {dot} Me said:

    Hiya! Thanks for joining the PR Friendly Aussie Blog Directory. Love the idea of your blog. I’m a local girl too 🙂

  • David Power said:

    Happy new year!

    Hello Darren. Just dropped you an email. Would love to catch up some time.

    David Power 😉

  • Larissa said:


    What a great project to be involved in with the local councils. What a pity the council did not send through the workbooks earlier…however i will look trhough the blog to see what you did. Such a great idea to keep a record on your blog so that it can been read by others.

    I am currently conducting research into blogs that focus on sustainable living as part of my Masters at the University of New England, Australia. We are looking for people to participate in a short online survey (5-10minutes), link below http://uneprofessions.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1MOWwlgbGJlIyJS If you could help that would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Student Researcher, Master of Environmental Systems, Markets and Climate Change University of New England Email: lshashko@une.edu.au

  • Erin said:


    I work for Environmental Science Degree.com, a website that strives to be a valuable resource for anyone who is interested in pursuing an environmental science or related degree. Additionally, we offer information for professionals and others interested in learning more about being environmentally conscious. To that end, through our own research, evaluating factors such as peer recommendations, web presence, and content quality, we’re developing a list of the Top 100 Green Living Sites.

    We are pleased to inform you that we have nominated Green Change for inclusion on our list!

    Should you be featured on the final list, we’ll provide you with a badge to display on your website and to promote your inclusion on your social media accounts.

    Once the list is published, we’ll be reaching out to other environmental bloggers and websites to ensure maximum recognition for your site.

    Additionally, if you wish to nominate another environmental blog or website that you feel is worthy of a spot on our list, please let us know. We’re still in the review and nomination stage. If you have any questions, please let me know.

    Best, Erin

  • Erin said:


    I’m following up with you regarding the list Environmental Science Degree.com published, entitled Top 100 Sites for Going Green.

    We emailed you last week to inform you of your nomination. We are now pleased to let you know that you have made the final list! You can view the entire list here: http://www.environmentalsciencedegree.com/green-living/

    To promote your recognition on your website and social media accounts, you can use the provided embed code below. We’ve also created a badge for you to display that I can email to you once I hear back from you, as I can’t attach it to this contact form.

    We hope this collection of blogs about green living, sustainable technology, and eco-friendly lifestyles will prove to be a valuable resource for you, as well as everyone who is interested in learning more about sustainability.

    Congratulations, and if you have any questions about how to incorporate the badge onto your site, please let me know – I’m happy to help!

    Thank You, Erin

  • plastic plant said:

    Excellent blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!

  • Darren (author) said:

    Welcome! One of the best places to talk with like-minded people is Permies.com.

  • Jamie said:

    Hi Darren, just stumbled on your site here after looking for info on growing mushrooms at home cause my daughter spotted a kit (we got the kit from woollies) but I was interested in doing it for a while and wanted to find out more, well done on the site and am looking forward to reading more Cheers Jamie

  • Damien said:

    Hi. My name is Damien and I’m interested in having a go at making a small farm work. I’m curious what the permaculture community in the area looks like. Are there a lot of people doing this? If you can give me some tips or point me in the right direction to get started I’d be very grateful. ilfrinco@gmail.com

    PS. I have the use of some 28 hectares in Jamberoo but most of the land is forested and on a steep hillside. I’m only looking to sustain one or two people starting out so I imagine I wont need too large an area clear.

    Thanks so much.


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