We may pride ourselves on being a hip, flashy city shaking off its dullsville status but along the way we are busy eating through our precious natural capital, stomping out a pattern for consumption and development of monster proportions….
We drive, drive and drive…We rack up more clicks per person per year than just about anyone else on the globe. Only the Texans and their yank tanks pip us for juice per jaunt. With every TV ad break bracketed by yet another car commercial and our import ships disgorging yet another shiny new batch to clog our roads it is hardly surprising that the freedom the car offers can be lost in a tapering sea of headlights
We sprawl. Stretching nearly 250kms from Yanchep to Bunbury we are the land on the long white development. Our great straggling city covers an area about that of London but with only about 1/9th the population. Such low density design consigns many of our suburbs to little more than the places we eat and sleep with neither the population nor diversity to re-create the vibrancy of a true complex and evolving city
We waste. Our verge rubbish chuck out has become a state right but it is also a tragic reminder of our excess and most of what we see ends up as yet more stuff buried in the bottom of a big hole in the ground. We throw out over 500kg of junk per person per year. The highest in the world!
We are very thirsty! For a city built on the worst sands in the world, gripped by the fastest drying climate we are pretty slow to wake up to just how precious our liquid gold really is. Already we have spent over $1.5billion building two desal plants to quench this ravenous thirst for water. But when you see the biggest chunk of this goes onto our gardens, most of which are poorly designed and managed for our semi arid climes, you have to think our water woes are set to continue
We bulge….and it is not just our waistlines! It is as if as the average family unit has gotten smaller we have felt the need to build bigger houses. Since the 1950s the average house has doubled and the battleship grey ‘McMansion’ looms in every suburb. It has declared war on common sense, grace, humility, aesthetics and energy efficiency in a structure of such epic proportions that it has to rely on huge air conditioners to keep the house comfortable throughout the year.
But it doesn't have to be this way! The Forever Project runs a whole range of workshops, events and performances to inspire and empower people to lead more sustainable, happy and fulfilling lives in this mad, fast and furious city.
By Chris Ferreira