Monday, August 30, 2010

Climate Smart Home efficient light bulbs

Well after my little rant on Green Dreaming about the extreme delay in my energy saving light globe in my hallway that was provided by the Climate Smart home service I got some customer service.

Initially the service responded to my blog and asked me to contact them. I did this and they said that they could replace the light bulbs by posting them to me. I thought this was excellent service because not only did I not have to wait around my house for a person to come between x and x, but also had the convenience of it just arriving after I let them know the attachment type (bayonet or screw in). (They did offer to send both at the time but I thought since I enrolled the help of their service in the first place as a environmental footprint reduction type measure it was best I call back with the exact specifications).

My light bulb arrived in the mail...surprisingly intact. As for functionality, it has certainly improved since the last version, but there is still some delay (really quite minor). Another reason that could cause a delay apparently is how far the electricity has to travel around the circuitry in your house before it gets to the particular appliance. Nevertheless I have adjusted (can't expect that everything will be the same when making environmental decisions in one's life, sometimes we have to change our behaviour and expectations as well).

So, thanks Mr/Mrs Climate Smart service, appreciate the swift and personable customer service.

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Sea level rise

Given that we are a country where the vast majority of the population lives within the coastal zone of the continent, I am fascinating with the areas within this coastal zone that will be significantly affected by sea level rise in the future. Where should you live if you're concerned about the possibility of sea level rise?

I just found a website, which can provide you with a mapped indication of the likely extent of flooding with an increase of incremental measurements (one metre increments) of sea level rise. This allows you to calculate, based on your information, where the water will extend to within the coastal zone of any continent throughout the world. The website is: Think that it must be based on a google maps and then provides an overlay of the flooding extent. This allows easy searching and enables you to pin-point exact properties. Cool!

I can hear people saying "I don't believe that the sea is going to rise" or "it isn't going to rise up to my property", etc. But I think the thing that people will feel first in regards to sea level rise and climate change within the coastal zone of Australia will be an increase in their insurance premiums or the inability to get insurance for their houses. Remember, insurance is based on risk and if the insurance companies perceive a higher risk then premiums will reflect this. Maybe this will make people consider where they choose to live within the coastal zone or elsewhere on our gorgeous planet and also make governments invest in infrastructure in appropriate locations!
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

No Impact Man

Just watched a 'documentary' on a family's journey to live with no environmental impact in New York, USA for a year. What an amazing journey, particularly for the wife who is just coming along for the ride (at least to start with) and works in the high flying world of an international business magazine that doesn't usually follow the environmentally sustainable footpath.

The insights into family life, struggles with some of the challenges and the desires to lead a normal consumptive existence is very interesting. It was also revealing for the critics, where Colin addresses (or at least acknowledged) some of the 'backlash' from people considering them extreme greens to others who considered them to be superficial.

Colin Beavan, the lead instigator of this 'experiment', is still seemingly treading some of the modifications that they made during their year long voyage and he maintains his blog: I look forward to reading some more of their adventures and seeing whether any of Colin's suggestions can be incorporated into our lives.

I also, by the way, appreciate Colin's commentary on the fact that much of the consumptive behaviours in modern society results from the lack of community. I am only really just starting to explore this but I think it is completely true and even I, the ever introvert, is looking to connect with some form of community.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Removal of pesticides from fruit & veggies

In an ongoing examination of pesticides/chemicals that occur on our commercially produced fruit and vegetables, I have found an interesting article that discusses the effectiveness of rinsing these products in water on the web.

This research indicates that the mechanical washing of fruit and vegetables, that is the physical action of washing in water, can cause a reduction in the amount and types of chemicals that are typically found on commercially available produce (at least in the States). This was fascinating to me. The article does go on to say that such washing has to occur for 30 seconds, which to me seems like a significant amount of time and something that most people wouldn't undertake on a regular basis.

The research also examined the use of some of the commercially available (again in the USA) products that market themselves at reducing the chemical load on your produce. The findings were that these products didn't reduce the chemical load any more than simply washing with water.

Well it is off to scrubbing my fruit and veggies (from the shops) under the water for what will seem like an eternity for me.
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Detroit, USA

Detroit was once a thriving, bustling city. But now it seems that nature is returning to the suburbs. I was listening to a podcast the other day about how the central city area of Detroit was previously a place considered undesirable to settle down with your family and the urban sprawl began with people seeking the security of the suburbs and bringing their thoughts of owning their own home in a 'nice' neighbourhood.

This typical system was all running well and then through various factors, many of the industries and commercial activities left town and unemployment rose. This led to people leaving town and now it turns out that the nature that was once over-run by a large sprawling city is now returning to the area and in some cases not waiting for the bulldozer to clear a path but just adapt to the 'new' environment that has been left for it. The city is in 'ruin' and nature is taking advantage.

A blog post discussing this reclamation by nature over Detroit can be found at: It has some photos showing how nature is taking over the city.

Not a process that you often hear about. I wonder how many towns in our modern world will end at this point for a whole variety of reasons.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hang your washing in the sun!

Another tip for a smaller environmental footprint that I really didn't consciously consider as a way that I make a difference, but after reading it in a book I thought this was definitely a way that I make a difference.

What am I talking about? Well, instead of putting your washing straight from the washing machine into a dryer in your laundry, why not hang it on the washing line in the back yard? There are so many benefits for doing this.

  1. You get outside and this is always a positive
  2. If you hang it out in the middle of the day you'll probably also get your required dose of vitamin D
  3. You don't have to pay for the electricity that would have been used to power your dryer
  4. You won't contribute to additional electricity usage to power your dryer
  5. Whites will be whiter, without using any nasty chemicals. The sun actually whitens whites and can remove some of those stubborn stains from your clothes/sheets/towels, etc
  6. Even if it rains during the 'drying process' it will wash some of those nasty chemicals that some of us wash with out of your clothes and then will dry your clothes once the sun comes back out.

I think another reason that this wasn't something that I consider as something good for the environment is because I have always done it and my mother has always done it. This I find interesting because we can accept behaviours/activities into our life and make them an everyday activity and not consciously recognise that we are making a positive difference.

So, whatever you choose to do to reduce your environmental footprint, it might be difficult or annoying to start with but over time it will become part of your normal routine and you'll be making a difference without considering it a burden on your lifestyle. Just start small and do things that are manageable for you and your family.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Latest veggie garden produce

Here is the latest veggie patch haul! Woo hoo. Potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli and eggplant!

I was a little disappointed with the potato crop this season. I bought organic seed potatoes from the local produce store and I don't think all of the potatoes I planted ended up producing. Peculiar! Maybe go back to the store bought ones next season or order some online. Don't get me wrong, the produce from the seed potatoes was still fantastic, very crisp! Yummo! Great side to a meat dish on Sunday night and tonight it was Shepherd's Pie. Great end of winter dinners.
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Less is More

Another book review for those looking to read something that may potentially change your life. I think I found this latest book through the David Suzuki book club!

I am currently reading Less is More edited by Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska. It is a great book introducing many different authors' ideas on the concept of simplicity and bringing it into your life. It is kind of the equivalent of down-sizing your life and making it simpler so that you have more time to spend with family and friends and doing things that you will really appreciate.

I have borrowed this book from my local library but am definitely thinking I will invest in a copy. It has some great 'ah-ha' moments and I think owning a copy will allow me to refer back to the things that I consider are important because it is really easy to forget these principles when you get caught up in 'normal' life.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Glorious worms

Digging in my veggie patch on the weekend, I found some glorious worms calling my veggie patch home. It was a welcome site. These critters help aerate the soil and leave behind lovely nutrients that enhance the growth of the vegetables I am getting out of our patch. The ones that I came across were quite close to the size of my little finger, both in thickness and length. Very joyful!

I look forward to bumping into these creatures more often as I dig around the soil.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sustainable House Day

On the 12th of September 2010, Sustainable House Day is on again. This is a showcase of sustainable houses in Australia where the public can visit and learn ways to improve the sustainability of your home.

You can find out the locations of homes in your area that will be open houses on their website: (Addresses aren't available until the 30 August 2010). You can also volunteer your house, as an open home, on the website to share the wonderful things you have done to create your house as a more environmentally viable housing option.

Great initiative and a great place to learn more ways to improve your lifestyle. Apparently a number of the houses will also have architects on hand to provide advice about your situation and what you can do to become a more sustainable household.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dreams of building a green house

Well I dream of building my perfect home that is self-sufficient for its power needs, has the right aspect which means heating and cooling artificially is not necessary, grows our own vegetables in the garden, uses water from showers, washing, etc for use on the garden, composting toilet and other things that I can't even think of off the top of my head but will mean that overall the impact of a stand alone house for our living purpose isn't that great a burden on the resources of this planet.

Whether such a house could be created in the local government areas within south-east Queensland (that is, whether councils are willing to build such an atypical house within their district) or whether they consider it to atypical and too difficult to wrap their heads around is an unknown and something I will have to look into. Would it be better to adapt a 'traditional' house with measures that make it more environmentally sustainable?

Looking forward to researching this matter to see whether the dream is possible and in my case affordable.
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Walk against Warming...Brisbane 15 August 2010

The Walk against Warming community action is up and running again. It is being held in King George Square from 11am on the 15/08/10.

There are going to be stalls, speakers and obviously the walk through the streets. Bring your comfy shoes, hats and a lot of environmental spirit.
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Your local Climate Action Group

Climate Movement has a website that allows you to find other people/groups in your communities that are also interested in climate change. Their current list of these groups is available at:

There doesn't seem to be any in my particular area but there are certainly a number and the page allows you to find these groups, make contact with them and just generally find out more information about them if you're interested. Maybe you can create your own group if there isn't one in your area. Pin It

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What makes your place your home?

What features do you love about your house? What makes it your home rather than just a building in which you occupy? Is it the garden, the environmental features, the kitchen where you create masterpieces for your family and friends?

I love my garden (perhaps fairly obvious from a number of my other posts) it has my veggie patch but it also has a great big shady tree, a lot of natives which I have planted over the last few years, a couple of cages for the wildlife that I use to look after when I was a wildlife carer and now the garden supports a lot of children's paraphernalia. It is a great space that we share with the dogs and I love just hanging out there.

I think the part that I dislike about the house is the fact that it doesn't support more features that make it more environmentally friendly or community oriented. I would love to be off the electricity grid. I also would like it if the kitchen was more a central feature of the house where people could hang out when I was cooking, presently it is too small and feels overcrowded if anyone but my toddler hangs out in it with me. And the last but not least would be to place it in a more community feeling suburb. We hardly know our neighbours apart from waving hello at them when they come into their driveways. I think this is a sad indication of the state of our suburbs.

Anyway, what do you like/dislike about your house/home & why? Pin It

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Short showers

Why is important not to stand under the shower for extended periods of time?

  • limited availability of freshwater - obviously this varies according to the weather and the overall continental climate,
  • the use of resources to get the water from the water source to your shower (pipes, water treatment, electricity, etc),
  • the use of resources taken to heat the water.

The extreme version of a short shower is the 'navy shower'. This is where you turn the water on get wet, turn the water off then lather up, then turn the shower back on just to rinse off. Bit extreme and at present here in South-east Queensland we aren't at a level of water in our dams that would require this. However, if you're really into making a change, this perhaps is something that you might consider.

I think the current recommended length for a shower, that isn't consider too excessive or resource hungry, is 5 minutes. Certainly if you're not washing your hair or shaving your legs every day this is achievable. And if you're thinking the first 30 seconds or minute is when the water is heating up, perhaps the use of a bucket in your shower to catch some of this water and either use it to flush your toilet or use it on your garden.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Smoky vehicles

Do you know that you can report 'smoky vehicles' in Queensland to the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR)? I find this fascinating.

Basically the premise is that smoky cars are a pollution source. DTMR states on their website that if you see a car smoking for more than 10 seconds continuously you can report the car (make, model and other details as described on the above webpage are required) to the Department. Apparently the owner of the car is then sent a letter explaining ways to fix the car and if the car is reported again within a fairly short period of time they will be required to present their car to an inspector to be checked for defects.

Now I will have to look into what the pollutants that a vehicle that is smoking may be contributing to the air and the significance of such pollution. Pin It

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

David Suzuki lecture

Yippeee. A friend of mine has just organised for us to go to the David Suzuki lecture during the Brisbane Writer's festival. It is my understanding that he has a new book and hence the association with the writer's festival, but it certainly will be an interesting seminar to listen to since I have grown up being surrounded by David's books and my mother thinking that I should work for him when I suggested in my late high school years that I was going to do environmental science at uni.

Hope it is a great night out.

More information on this seminar can be found on the Brisbane Writer's festival home page ( and the Powerhouse's home page ( Pin It