Visibility

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I surveyed my street in 2011 and I was surprised  to find how many people in the street  were actually composting or worm farming already. Almost everyone I talked to was aware and engaged with the idea, and a fair few houses in the street had substantial composting systems, along with bountiful gardens.

If you walk or drive down our road you’d have no idea that was the case. How can you tell who’s doing what? Recently I saw a sticker from a project in Melbourne, which puts little stickers on houses and letter boxes when people start composting. I think this is a great idea. A letter box is a good place to make a statement. The sticker then tells a little more about the people who live there, it says something about what it is that’s important to them.

Some people put a lot of effort into their letter-box, so it says a lot about who they are and what they care about. My letterbox is a bit neglected, but it still does the job. I think it’s fair to say we’ve got the full range on our street.

Stop!

Simply putting a sticker on your letterbox about anything is a pretty strong statement. If it’s a statement about something you do to help improve the environment even better. If you have a sticker that says ‘No Junk Mail’, what about one that says ‘Composting happens here too’? If you walk down the road and it seems a lot of people are doing the same thing, you might consider it too. If you know that the neighbours are composting, and you want to learn about it yourself, you can ask them for some help.

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That’s what the stickers in our street are about. I asked people if they would mind putting them on their letter box or fence to make their composting activity visible to the rest of the street. I’ve been offering them to people in Halston Road for some time now (nearly a year) and at last count 19 households (of 45) have stickers on their letter-boxes or wheelie bins. I think a couple have gone MIA in the winter rains…

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One of the concepts people talk about in sustainability is ‘Visibility’. We all take cues from those around us, and this shapes a lot of what we do. If everyone’s looking at you, you feel a bit sheepish right? It’s the same in reverse, if you’re doing something cool, it’s nice to know you’re not alone… This shapes a lot of the decisions we make or things we do. If we don’t know what everyone is doing around us, it’s hard to relate to the idea that we’re acting collectively, or that what we do actually has a meaningful impact.

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More composting, less rubbish trucks, less cost for us and the environment in the long run. Hopefully we’ll get a few more stickers on letter-boxes in our street soon, and then we’ll start looking for another street that wants to be part of the revolution!