Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What will the coastline look like in the future?

Many highly populated areas are now directly adjacent to the coastline or in very close proximity to the coast. This is lovely for those that get to live with lovely views of the ocean or live there because of proximity to trade routes or similar.

However, with climate change and sea level rise there are likely to be significant consequences for all those people that live near the coast. Not only are people going to be directly affected with houses being inundated, but much of our society's infrastructure is located in close proximity to these areas and will likely have significant challenges because of these environmental issues.

(Source: The Guardian

In light of these significant impacts that will be faced by millions of people, I cannot see anything but gloom for coastal environments and coastal processes that remain intact nearby these large human populations. 

Do you think governments will stand by the ecological value of the community of mangroves or salt marshes when the people that live behind them face imminent inundation and furthermore the government could take the easy option for these people through the construction of a seawall or similar? 

I feel so pessimistic about this. My professional world is immersed in this reality based economic development sector and I can't see the broader community supporting the retreat of communities (and protecting the coastal environments) over the "easier" solution of building walls and providing coastal engineering solutions (due to the externalities associated with these strategies).

I would love to hear your opinion about this and perhaps lift my mood about this. Perhaps you have some of the picture that I have forgotten to consider in the first place. 

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Salesman's worse nightmare

I am in the market for a new fridge/freezer and a chest freezer. We have had the main house fridge/freezer for about 10 years and it is still kicking along quite nicely with the exception of the seal but with the improvements in technology I see a lot of merit in upgrading our refrigeration situation.

Benefits primarily relate to the improved electrical efficiencies that the new model refrigerators have experienced in recent years, which will in turn help out my hip pocket (cheaper electricity bills)!

So after some research on the government's efficient efficiency appliance website, calculation on size requirements, preparation of my list of possibilities, cut out a size guide for some of the larger items I plan on storing in the fridge/freezer, I have started to visit some of the shops that sell these appliances.

Since I started this process a couple of weeks ago, all I can say is that I am highly disappointed with the attitude of sale persons and the stocked range of fridge/freezers (brands) that the I have experienced so far.

It must be said that I haven't visited some of the bigger chains yet, as where I live these two stores are currently in sales/moving mode and I can't bear to think of going to these places with a whole bunch of sale driven customers added into the mix.

But nevertheless, the stores that I have been to so far either:

  • showed me products that weren't in my list because they aren't energy efficient, but was told by the salesperson that I would love them because of the technological features they supported (I mentioned that one of my criteria was that it had to be energy efficient) - ice dispensers in the door and a tricky little door that opened so that I could get the milk out of the door without opening the entire door; or
  • considered me a bit of a disappointment as a potential customer (well that was the impression I got) and was just told the star ratings had change several times over the years and the kWh give you an idea of how much the fridge would cost me to run per year. After thinking about this for a little bit, I just think I was a disappointment because he wouldn't be able to upsell some random product or feature to me.
As you my expect from this post, I haven't bought any of my required appliances yet, but at least have ruled out two stores in my purchase process.

The thing that surprises me most about this process is the number of brands and models that are being sold by appliance stores that aren't energy efficient and sales peoples' attitude/lack of information to be able to respond to queries about energy efficient appliances and the amount of personal effort I have to go to to know the energy efficient models and time to go to the variety of appliance stores to even find the models. Hope this all changes in the future and these energy efficient appliances are easy to come by and sales people become well armed with the "right" information!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012


Some time last year a friend of mine from my permaculture group gave me a couple of tubers of turmeric. She had grown this in her garden and had a bountiful year and plenty to share. Prior to this, I had no experience with this plant and as such said I would give it a go but in a confined space so that it couldn't get out of control and establish in my garden without my explicit permission.

My next question to my friend was, what do I do with it? Then, how does it grow and what special things do I need to do to keep it alive? The answers were, it's simple, put it in the ground and watch it grow, you harvest it once the plant dies back next winter.

Well, that doesn't sound very hard!

So my trial is now complete, I placed my two tubers in the ground. I had a 'orange' and 'normal' turmeric tuber and placed each in a separate styro-foam box with potting mix, then covered the soil with hay. A few weeks on and I was cooking with gas, well actually I finally had a sprout poking its little snout out of the soil. Then a few weeks later some leaves and eventually a leafy green plant that didn't have to be watered more than fell out of the sky! How simple.

Here are a couple of in progress photos.

About a month ago the plants started to die back. Remembering the conversation about harvesting once this started to happen, I wondered how difficult this harvest and processing would be. Turns out, the harvesting process is just as simple as growing these things. I snapped off the plant or remnants of and dug around in the soil with my hands for the tubers and voila a whole bucket load of turmeric for my greatest cooking delight (I think). 

I think I got about 1.5kgs of tubers from the two small nodes that I planted last year.

I reckon the hardest part to this whole plant is knowing what to do with once you harvest it. From my internet reading I understand that you can use it just as you would do ginger in Asian cooking. 

Considering the amount of turmeric I have, I have already planted a nodule of each of the two types of turmeric back into a styro-foam box for next year's harvest. I also have plans to share some of my produce with the permaculture group next month.

If you have any recipes that use turmeric that you'd care to share I'll happily try them out, so that I can use up some of this turmeric. 

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Climate Science and Environment should be in the Queensland education system

According to the change.org website, the LNP has passed a motion in the Queensland Parliament to remove 'environmental education' and 'climate science' from the Queensland education system. Oh my goodness, is all that I can say!

This is ridiculous and as one science education commentator said this week this means that climate change denial is rife in the LNP and they are treating this scientific information as a 'belief system'.

Please feel free to join science educators and supporters, in their action to ignore this governmental policy and bring scientific understanding and investigation back to the classroom, by signing the petition at change.org
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken update

We have had the chickens two weeks now and they have changed so much in this short period of time. They have almost overwhelmed their small inside cage and have been happily testing out their chicken tractor during the day out on the front deck. They enjoy short bouts of weed pecking and scratching around this bigger space. The space also means that they aren't inundating their water with sawdust within seconds of it being replaced.  

I am starting to wonder whether Cheeky might be a rooster. She/he has always had a larger comb than the other two and is certainly larger than the other two. We will just have to wait and see. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Socks is the smallest of the group, but seems to be coping well.

Hope the chickens are enjoying their time with us as much as we are enjoying their company. 
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to let your neighbours know you're a greenie?

Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of talk about no-dig gardens. What trips me up is the need to source all the materials to make a no-dig garden. No-dig gardens just seem to have so many ingredients, when you can just call up a compost or landscaping place and they will dump a whole bunch of 'soil' at your front door. Convenience strikes again!

I haven't given up completely on the idea of creating my 'perfect' veggie patch through a no dig process and due to a number of recent random events in my life I am starting to think it might even be possible. However, the no-dig garden still needs all of those ingredients and perhaps the biggest sticking point is the current lack of compost in my life! Now compost doesn't just appear over night, you have to work at it, love it, feed it......and maybe, just maybe you might be rewarded with some 'black gold'.

When we moved in to our new place, I did rush out and buy the biggest and nastiest black compost bin I could find at our local green & red hardware store. I put it in a place I thought would be accessible and convenient, with the idea that I would be making buckets loads of compost by the time I was thinking about building the veggie patches. Well, 12 months on and I have decided that the bin is in the completely wrong spot and its location doesn't allow me to turn the ingredients to aerate them. Also, I think perhaps the type of bin I bought (a flat pack square one) is probably not strong enough to take a good turning.

Anyway, I will continue with my bin choice, but I have moved it and its current ingredients to a new location. The move brought ingredient aeration and some realisation that I don't have enough green materials (nitrogen) going into my compost bin (because the worm farm is hogging them). So this is where my neighbours find out that they have a hippie in their midst!

With the amount of green waste being utilised in my worm farm and the lack of established veggie patch to "feed" the compost bin, where am I to get this green material from? Work colleagues seem to be a little "special" when it comes to separating suitable lunch scraps and don't actually seem to have that many (or least not placed appropriately into the designated bucket in the lunch room).

So, where am I to get this stuff from? My greenie and recycling streak re-surfaced and I came up with a grand plan. Through a little initiative of mine, I am hoping my neighbours will be the source of all my required 'green materials'. How is this going to happen? Well, I have put together a flyer, that I have so far dropped into 50% of my street's letterboxes, requesting my neighbours be so kind as to drop their kitchen green scraps into a "bin" that I have conveniently placed at my front gate.

I wonder if this plan will be successful? Once the rain eases I will do the rest of my neighbourhood letterbox drop and see whether this strategy reaps any rewards! Pin It

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Queensland University of Technology food seasonality/growing survey

I just received the Northey Street community garden email newsletter and within it there was a request to participate in a short survey for a QUT organised research program. If you have less than 10 mins to spare and you have an interest in growing your own food or knowing about what fresh food is in season, take the time to participate in this survey. The survey is at:  http://tinyurl.com/SeasonalitySurvey.

If you'd like more information about the research and/or the researchers here is some basic information from the Northey Street newsletter and contact details of the principal researcher. 

"SURVEY: Your Experience with growing and harvesting food
As part of ongoing research at QUT, Peter Lyle (a Northey Street volunteer) and his supervisors Dr Jaz Choi and Assoc Prof Marcus Foth are investigating ways of designing technology to provide useful and engaging information on the seasonality of food. We would really appreciate it if you could take the time to fill in this 15 minute survey about your experience with growing and harvesting food, and any information you have access to through IT that may have helped proven helpful. For more information on the project please go to http://www.urbaninformatics.net/projects/food/ or contact Peter Lyle at p.lyle@qut.edu.au".
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Monday, July 9, 2012

The chaos I came home to!

Hi ho hi ho its off to work I go and by the time I got home this afternoon the house seemed to have regressed into some sort of chaotic parallel universe!

I returned home after nine hours at work and find that my driveway is almost completely blocked with a massive pile of palm tree mulch. Sure I should be happy about this a gigantic pile of mulch (as tall as me and probably three standard car lengths long) but the access into our carport is nearly blocked. Not such a big deal one might say but the other half spent did spend about forty-five minutes this afternoon clearing out a flat enough section in the mulch pile so that he could four-wheel drive over it to get his car out from behind this pile. All this drama just because the dumper of the mulch was too slack to listen to instructions, which required them to open a gate and then dump the excessive amount of palm mulch next to an existing pile of mulch in a location that wouldn't create such inconvenience.

So this is my first 'shock'! The next was the realisation that this large pile of mulch was smothering my just fruiting snow peas! Now this nearly floored me and certainly I had to restrain myself from screaming down the pathway to my other half to explain or justify why I shouldn't be strangling someone. This fabulous pile of much was soon to be killing off my fine, organic, locally obtained snow peas grown from seed, in a newly cleaned out garden bed, with the newly grown fruit easily accessible to my food-fussy toddler (who will eat these off the bush) and I am not very impressed!

I managed to restrain myself from screaming like a banshee about this, but the next thing that struck me was my withered and chewed brightly blooming grafted Eucalypt ($50). As I struggled through the front gate whilst trying not to step on my bottom lip, the tree appeared to have either been attacked by a lawn mower or a more likely explanation a dog's mouth. From the damage, I certainly suspect it was one of my dogs! Basically they have chewed off the top of the tree in frustration probably whilst feeling frustrated at my other half ignoring their barking whilst he over at the neighbours' negotiating a bargain on the large pile of palm mulch that now is residing in my driveway!

This palm mulch had better be the best damn weed-suppressing mulch ever - that's all I've got to say!

(Source: Backyard Poultry)

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chickens have arrived

Last weekend I went to a local produce barn to buy some dog food and like a kid in a candy store was so excited to see the chickens they had. They sell a lot of 'point of lay' chickens, which are chickens that you basically buy and once they have settled into their new 'digs' they will start to lay. However, this produce barn also sells 'day old' chickens that are 80% guaranteed to be females and therefore egg producers and not wake the neighbours in the morning. And last weekend they seemed to be teeming with baby chicks and true to form being so adorable (sucked me in)!

I was with my toddler and my other half was at a conference. So being like a possessed person I rapidly sent off a text message stating that the produce store was about to close and if he approved could I buy some of these day old chicks now, otherwise he would have to wait until Monday to get some. I mean, it wasn't like we had spoken over breakfast and mentioned that I would be getting chickens that day, nor discussed it during the week to make sure we had all the right facilities to have these new chicks. No. Their cuteness took over and I needed them.

The approval came back and I purchased three Australorp chickens. Why Australorps you might say, as Rhode Island Reds are quite a common purchase for backyard egg producers? Cuteness once again. I love the Australorps, I think they are a very attractive bird even as an adult - they are all black with bright red contrasting combs. Beautiful.....so once again, decision was only skin (or should I say feather) deep.

Anyway, got the three chicks home with some additional paraphernalia, such sawdust, chook food and some water dispensers and set them up in an old cage that I had from my wildlife caring days. I then madly sent off another text message to the other half again and insisted he get a heat lamp on the way home and voila three baby chicks growing rapidly at our house. 

We have had them a week now and they have been named by my toddler, with some assistance. We have 'Cheeky', 'Peckish' and 'Socks'. They certainly have grown over the week and I have noted a significant change in food consumption, even within the first twenty four hours.

I am also amazed at the innate behaviour that they demonstrate. We have taken them outside a couple of times to enrich their environment and let them experience dirt and weeds (which I will be getting them to work on when they are a little older) and they just instantaneously starting scratching in the bark and pecking at weeds, etc. They also happily consumed three worms between them the first time they were outside. It was hilarious to watch them with these worms, it was just like a Three Stooges skit.

One week on, no regrets and our three little chicks are starting to show signs of their egg-producing adult selves, with little tail feather shafts being now visible and wing feathers being quite prominent. They haven't lost their cuteness yet and we are hoping that we aren't smothering them with love.

What an adventure this is for a city girl and I'm loving it. Pin It

Monday, July 2, 2012

Countries with carbon taxes around the world

 (Source: Indian Link)

I just found there are far more countries around the world that already have carbon taxes in place than I realised. It is absolutely astounding the number of countries that have such schemes/legislation already in place and to hear our politicans (particularly opposition) and large companies whinging about how our carbon tax will be detrimental to our economy is astounding when most of the countries with their schemes in place certainly not blaming their carbon tax for any economic woes.

Have a look at the SBS website (scroll down to the bottom of the article) showing the countries that have "carbon tax schemes" already in place.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carbon Tax starts tomorrow

The world will continue with the carbon tax, my strawberry farmer neighbour and his sign "families can not afford the carbon tax" will continue to farm and the sign to rust into the ground (yipppeeee) and I will be happy to see a price on carbon. Sure this will see an increase in prices and greedy businesses passing this tax on to their consumers, but there will be a recognition for the environment in the economics of business and we may start to make some realistic decisions about what we should and should not invest in.

The environment should not be an externality but something that is costed within prices and this is what the carbon price is about.

I enjoyed reading "Greening of Gavin" blog's post on this topic. Go and have a read and maybe you might also see some light at the end of the tunnel too! Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Changes to QLD Feed-in tariff

The Queensland State Government has announced that they will be reducing the feed-in tariff rate for solar energy produced from residential houses from 44 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh) to 8 c/kwh. This change to the tariff will occur after the 9 July 2012, but those already receiving the 44c/kwh feed-in tariff will continue as long as you still meet the relevant eligibility criteria.

A State Government factsheet is available at:  http://www.cleanenergy.qld.gov.au/demand-side/solar-bonus-scheme.htm

This change will have a significant impact on the amount of income that a house can potentially generate in the future and also reduce the incentives for families to invest in this technology. Hopefully the investment that the residential sector has generated over the last few years will have brought the cost of solar panels to reasonable level and still provide enough incentive for families to continue to think of this renewable source of power as a reasonable alternative to traditional non-renewable sources of power.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Commonwealth Marine Park Estate

The Labour government has just this month promised to increase Australia's marine protected area estate. This initiative will see the Commonwealth marine parks increase from 27 to 60 throughout national waters and represents 3.1 million square kilometres. Can you even imagine?

The national marine park estate will include:
  • parts of the Coral Sea;
  •  the south-west marine region extending from the western end of Kangaroo Island in South Australia to Shark Bay in Western Australia;
  • the temperate east marine region running between the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef to Bermagui in New South Wales and includes Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands' marine areas;
  • the north marine region including the Commonwealth waters of Gulf of Carpentaria, Arafaru Sea and Timor Sea up to the border between the Northern Territory and Western Australia; and
  • the north-west marine area proposed to stretch from the Western Australia/Northern Territory Border down to Kalbarri, south of Shark Bay. 
This represents a massive milestone in terms of environmental protection for Commonwealth marine waters. Detailed information about these marine reserves areas, including mapping and regulatory proposals can be found on the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website

The final push on this government policy will soon be available with the government seeking public comment on whether this proposal should or should not go ahead. Presently, their website just states this comment will be sought in the near future. If you want to keep tabs on when this public comment period is available keep an eye on the following website:  http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/reserves/comments.html .
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Save electricity

Turn your microwave off at the wall.

Sure you won't have the clock function but did you know that your microwave will actually use more energy to run the clock than the energy used to cook or defrost the food.  I'm sure this is dependent on how much you actually use your microwave, but I would assume most of us don't use our microwaves to cook every meal and as such believe that it is likely that this statement is probably true.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Google view can go anywhere

On Treehugger's website there is an article about the Google group now having the capability to capture "Street View" in areas that don't have roads. Now you can check out all sorts of places from the comfort of your own lounge chair.

I'm not sure this is a step forward for the human species. In the future I fear there will be no exploration available for one to undertake in their own life and imagination will be a thing of the past.

Have a look at the full article at: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/google-trekker.html Pin It

Friday, June 15, 2012

Here is my possum drey

After my post on how to make a ringtail possum nest I thought I would give it a go. Went to my local hardware store and picked up two hanging baskets for less than $10 (this included the coconut fibre inserts). I then connected these together using zip toes, cut a hole in the fibre in the bottom section of the basket to allow an entrance and removed one of the hanging chains. All this in less than half an hour.

I have now hung this in a tree in my front yard and hope to have some new tenants in the near future.

One thing I think I will modify in the near future is to add an additional smallish hole on the opposite side to the existing entrance. This will allow any inhabitants to escape any unwanted guests, such as an interested snake.

This is such an easy way to create additional fauna habitat in your very own backyard! Pin It

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Human-induced climate change

I just bumped into an interesting article on the Skeptical Science website entitled "10 indicators of a human fingerprint on climate change".

I think the last paragraph is great and provides a bit of perspective for non-scientists about science and climate modelling. I thought I would share it with you all.

"Science isn't a house of cards, ready to topple if you remove one line of evidence. Instead, it's like a jigsaw puzzle. As the body of evidence builds, we get a clearer picture of what's driving our climate. We now have many lines of evidence all pointing to a single, consistent answer - the main driver of global warming is rising carbon dioxide levels from our fossil fuel burning."

Food for thought.  Pin It

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ringtail possum nest

I was just looking at the Hollow Log Home (HLH) web page because I would like to invest in some nest boxes to put around our property to encourage some new wildlife opportunities. There are currently no significant hollows in any of the trees on our property and having roosting and nesting opportunities for native wildlife would be excellent.

On the HLH page they have some great suggestions for creating nesting/roosting opportunities out of regular household items for some of our more common native wildlife. Have a look at the first link page on the following webpage: http://hollowloghomes.com/DOCS.html. The link is a pdf document and explains how you can create nesting opportunities for brush-tail and ringtail possums and microbats out of regular gardening/household objects. What a great idea!

The one I thought I could easily create, and I have done so in my days as a wildlife carer, is the ringtail possum "drey", which can be made out of two wire hanging baskets. I will have to compare the costings of these items at my local hardware store to those of purchasing a "proper" nest box for these creatures from somewhere such as HLH.

 (Source: My Growing Passion)

Great initiative and some suggestions that we could all follow. Pin It

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I had my birthday this week and got a fabulous present...a breadmaker! How exciting to be able to wake up to fresh bread each morning. My new present is a programmable version, which can make all manner of bread types, including white, wholemeal, seeded, rye and brioche. It is even capable of making jams, compotes and some cakes.

I have made one loaf of white bread so far, which was delicious and consumed in just 24 hours! I will be a little more adventurous later this week, once the family has consumed all of the store bought bread in the house! Don't want to be wasteful now.

I would also like to try and get some sourdough yeast, instead of the dry packet yeast, but I think this will have to wait until I am a little more confident with the bread cooking process. Let the experimenting begin!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

World Environment Day

Yesterday was World Environment Day and I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to write before or on the day, but I am interested to hear what you got up to.

The theme this year was 'greening your local economy', and in the consumptive phase that our communities seem to be obsessed with at the moment, this is a great one to attract the more mainstream community to join in and become more aware of the environment and the impact each of us have upon it.

To celebrate this day, and particularly the theme, I decided I would encourage a bit of a socialisation in my office and hold a tea-tasting event. You may wonder what this has to do with either World Environment Day or the green economy theme. Well, all teas I purchased for the day were teas produced or owned by companies in my local area. In addition to this, I asked participants for a gold coin donation, with the proceeds to be donated to a local wildlife caring group run by volunteers and which my work requests assistance from occasionally.

Great way to get together over a cup of herbal tea and chat about the environment! 

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Solar hot water system...bit of boosting!

Late last year we installed an evacuated tube solar hot water system. I have found the system we installed awesome to date!

Site-specific features of our system include:
  • having the system mounted on a north-facing rack. This ensures the system works to its maximum potential, particularly during the winter months.
  • a booster when the system doesn't achieve adequate heat through the roof mounted system. For our system we chose to have a mains electricity booster.
  • having my booster attached to an overnight tariff. 

The last couple of weeks have brought me some awareness to weather conditions that will challenge the solar component of my system. In the last two weeks we have had overcast weather, with occasional showers. In addition to this inclement weather, we are now entering winter where the sun is positioned further in the north in the sky during the day. All of these factors contribute to lower efficiency in all solar systems, when compared to these systems' performance during prime summer sun positions and certainly has resulted in some diminished performance of my system.

As a result of this cooler, wetter and gloomier weather the water tank that stores my hot water did not maintain a temperature much over 23 degrees. As a result, morning showers were a little cooler than one would consider comfortable and a little shorter than usual (good though for the water level in our rain water tank). But thanks to the boosting system, we flicked the switch and by the time we woke up the next morning we were back to a stable hot water tank temperature of 65 degrees.   

This one night of boosting was adequate and the next day I turned the booster off and the roof mounted tubes managed to kick into doing their job for the rest of the week due to some sunny weather.  Pin It

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Another cool book club

I have just bumped into the very technological savvy Royal Institution of Australia. This seems to be a powerful source of useful scientific information available to the general public and includes many fantastic resources, with many of them being online.

One of their fantastic initiatives is their book club. Unfortunately, I don't think this is online, but for those in Adelaide you can regularly go along to the Science Exchange to participate in these book club sessions. For those of us not in Adelaide, the RIAus website (past events) lists the books to be discussed each session and this provides us all an opportunity to seek out some great science reads.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Quote from Jim Hightower - a way forward

I just listened to an interview with Jim Hightower, a fomer Texan (USA) politician, and found some of his principles very interesting. Some of political positions would traditionally be considered opposed to my current political views. However, Jim proposes many sensible ideas and considers bringing people together by linking them with issues of commonality.

Here is one of Jim's quotes from the interview describing his political position. 

"...fairness, justice and opportunity...."

I certainly believe if all of our politicians framed their policies in this manner our communities and businesses would all be better off and there might be some holistic consideration of our environment. 

I say, bring forth sensible people in politics and positions of power.


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Sunday, May 27, 2012

More weeds in the yard!

Since we have been in our place nearly a year it was time to tackle some of the larger tasks we have been putting off. Chainsaw in hand, a number of umbrella trees and African Tulip trees were in our sights. These two species are weeds here in south-east Queensland. They are quickly spread throughout the environment by our lovely native birds, which eat their seeds and fly elsewhere poop out the seed and voila a new tree sprouts! Basically, these species have the ability to out-compete our native tree species, through quick establishment, prolific seeders and lots of helpful native birds assisting their movement. 

We removed three semi-mature African tulip trees and about five umbrella trees from the bottom of one of our paddocks. All we did was chop them off at the base and pile the top half of these trees in a big pile (will chip later). We will then monitor these stumps for re-growth and if required undertake some additional treatment (maybe salt).

Here are some piccies of these two offending weeds. 

African Tulip Tree

Umbrella Tree

In addition, to chain-sawing the trees out, I choose to remove a small patch (about 5m x 1.5m) of broad-leaf paspalum. This is a shade-tolerant, non-native, hardy grass species, which out-competes many of our native grasses. I employed the assistance of a fork and just loosened the soil around the base of each individual outcrop and removed them to the domestic waste bin once out of the ground. I did this action about three weeks ago and so far no new outcrops of this grass have sprung up in the area of 'treatment'. 

 Broad-leaf Paspalum
Hope these treatment options hold and with my revegetation money I will look to establish a bit of a native cover crop/midstorey to replace these weed species and provide some additional protection for my overstorey eucalypts.

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Friday, May 25, 2012


Recently I applied for funding to my local council as part of their Landholder Environment Grant initiative. The Council received hundreds of application and awarded over $300,000 in grants. The big activities in my proposal were weed management works and revegetation activities. 

Due to the number of applicants most proposals were not fully funded, which was the case for my application. However, I was successful in securing $650! Woo hoo! Council has specified this money is to be spent on 250 native species tubestock and 50 bales of straw mulch, as outlined in my proposal.

250 native tubestock won't go far in revegetating the southern paddock on my property, but I certainly consider that all contributions will go a long way to making things happen.

Last night, I have forwarded a species list to my local Bushcare nursery to request a stocking rate estimation for each of the species I have proposed and request what sort of timeframe they could supply these tubestock to me. Once this information is in hand, I will be able to plan my planting day!

So exciting! So as they say, you've got to be in it to win it and let the fun begin!

I will post photos as we go through the process and hopefully it will inspire you to either apply for a grant to undertake something you've been meaning to do at your place or alternatively just think about what native plantings would suit your block.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Koala....threatened in Australia

The Australian government has now listed the koala as a vulnerable species at the national level. This listing has specifically nominated populations of koalas in Queeensland, the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales as those requiring "government" protection. The koalas that live in these areas face threats from habitat destruction, vehicle strike and dogs as a result of urban expansion and the Commonwealth listing aims to address these threats.

What does this listing mean for most people? Nothing, actually. Where this legislation comes in, is when development is proposed in the areas where koalas are now considered threatened. If such, development has the potential to significantly impact on koalas, the proposal needs to forwarded to Commonwealth government for their consideration. 

Populations of koalas around the rest of Australia are not considered to be facing the same threats as those listed in the new Federal government decision. And in fact in some circumstances the koala is so prolific that they are actually creating environmental devastation in the areas in which they live. The koalas in the broader Australian continent are therefore not considered under this legislation.

My interest in this decision, is whether this listing will truly have an impact and bring about a reduction of the habitat loss in these listed areas. To date, Queensland's koala conservation legislation has had little on ground success in curbing the decline in koala populations, particularly in south-east Queensland. 
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This is where your plastic rubbish goes!

Please watch this film trailer! 
I don't know how people can't be moved by such things. 
This is the impact of our modern lifestyles.
Make a difference!
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Common questions about climate change answered

Many of us have asked questions about the science behind the causes and impacts of anthropogenic climate change. I just came across an informative source of information on the ABC website. The page is called "ask an expert > Climate change" and has many of the frequently asked questions answered by scientist working in the relevant fields at CSIRO and other recognised experts from here in Australia.

Kevin Hennessy (Climate Impact Group, CSIRO Atmospheric Research) provided an answer to one of the most common questions: how do we know the climate change we are experiencing is man-made rather than natural. Kevin's response is:

"Climate models driven by scenarios of greenhouse gas ans aerosol (small particle) emissions estimate a rise in temperature of 1.4 to 5.8 degrees by 2100 assuming no actions to reduce climate change. While this is comparable to previously occurring climate change, it is occurring at an unprecedented pace and the changes would affect a larger and less mobile population." (emphasis added). 

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Inspiration to "convert" your street

Here is a couple of ordinary Australian people that have changed life in their street (for the better). Maybe you'll get some inspiration from them too.

You Tube presents: Sustainability Street

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rosella cordial

After planting my rosella bush at the beginning of the year, I have been inundated with flowers/buds. The continuous development of flowers and the fact that I have only one bush, means that I never have had enough flowers/fruit to harvest all at once to cook with. However, rather than letting all these buds go to waste I have been collecting these lovely red buds as they reach "maturity" and placing them in the freezer. 

On Friday I finally decided that I had enough buds and associated requirements that I would try to make rosella cordial. Many people make rosella jam, but since I have never made jam before I thought cordial would be easier since there is no setting process required (which I have heard is quite difficult). 

So Friday afternoon the cook up began! I followed the Green Harvest rosella cordial recipe and below shows you how I went about it.
Extract the rosellas from the freezer

 Fill your largest saucepan with rosellas, until it is approximately 3/4 full. 
Cook/boil and then strain the pulp/buds off and keep liquid. 
(I put the pulp into my compost bin...don't want to waste these things)

 After you have added sugar to the liquid, let this dissolve and boiled for a little bit more 
you add a lot of lemon juice (thankfully my lemon tree is in full swing and I managed to 
retrieve 8 lemons from my tree to add to the mixture)

 Finished product! Tip of the day: don't let this boil over because it is a sweet, sticky syrup 
now and getting this off the floor is also a sticky business

 And here it is, my first batch of rosella cordial all bottled up!

Now my first taste of my rosella cordial! Yummy!

My batch made about three litres of cordial and apparently it will keep for up to a year. That is, if I have sterilised the bottles properly! So, I expect the above glass of rosella cordial will not be my last.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Biodiversity, life as we know it?

I am an ecologist (a person that studies native plants & animals in their local context and within the "living web of life") by trade and in recent months I have become disillusioned with the possible longevity of many of the species that occur naturally within my local urbanised environment and broadly in the Australian landscape.

The thirst of the current Australian population to satisfy their personal needs and wants sees little space for the appreciation of the natural environment and in turn the right for all species to inhabit this planet with us. It seems that if a species, no matter its relative importance, gets in the way of "progress", it is justifiable to decimate these individuals at the location of interest.

With the ongoing development and increasing global population, I see no stop to this progression or mantra. The human focus on the environment and how we will survive climate change, we will survive sea level rise, we will survive the economic downturn, shows little regard or consideration for other people or other species on the planet.

My hope is that all of us remember our childhoods and reflect on the enjoyment we got from playing in the mud, along with the slugs, bugs and other creepy crawlies. For those in a more country setting, enjoying the wallabies or kangaroos grazing in the paddocks as we attempted to surprise them in an early morning fog. Or just remember that all creatures great and small have a right to live on this planet just as much as you and I and we should have some consideration for their welfare as we approach these tough times.

Sure we want all the current seven billion people to survive on this planet and have the capacity to live with some prosperity. But we should also have the capability of bringing most of the species that live on this planet along with us. Perhaps some food for thought?

(Source: Amazing top 10)

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Compost - what I need to be doing!

Organic matter in your vegetable, fruit or flowering garden is an essential ingredient to keep your plants growing over the long term. Initial plantings directly into your garden quite often do well, but overtime your garden's minerals and nutrients become exhausted and the overall soil health diminishes. The addition of organic matter, particularly in the form of compost, is a welcome and worthwhile addition to any garden to allow the same successes over and over again.

With the addition of compost to your garden, you will increase the amount of nutrients available, increase the potential water availability, decrease the amount of nutrients made unavailable in traditional landfill, reduce greenhouse gases being generated unnecessarily in landfill, provides soil structure in your garden and increases soil microbial activity leading to healthier and more productive soils over time. 

(Source: Abi Homeschools)

In recent years, I have always had a compost bin and presently my bin is not being loved as much as it should.  I really haven't had a significant amount of time to dedicate to the established garden beds at my place and thus, I haven't been maintaining my compost with love and vigour. I do regularly add food scraps, occasionally brown "goods" (such as leaves and branches) and when I just happen to have some green waste (fresh leaves and grass clippings) in my hand as I walk passed these go in too. Another ingredient that I have added to my compost bin is a few bags of fresh horse manure. I just did this because my understanding is that it isn't great to add manure straight to the garden and horse manure also quite often contains a large of weed seeds and the composting process will kill some of these off.

Things I should be doing to my standard compost bin to allow it to be composting more effectively and in a shorter period of time, include:
  • aeration - I should be forking it over at least once a week (at present), to re-establish a bit of air flow and allow the breakdown process to become re-activated and mix the "ingredients" through each other;
  • checking the moisture levels - if it is too wet or dry, decomposition of materials will be significantly slowed;
  • getting a better balance between the ingredients - adding a significant larger proportion of brown goods over the green ones.
Once I have established a better routine for my compost, then it is likely that my compost bin will be more productive and the end product will be an ingredient that my garden will love in the long term.

So, what is stopping me from doing all this you may ask? Well, firstly time is a little against me at the moment, but I think the more important thing is that my compost bin is actually in quite an awkward location to access. As such, putting things into it is certainly a chore and attempting to do anything more than drop an occasional bucket of food scraps into it can in fact be quite dangerous (it is located on quite a steep hill on top of a small retaining wall). I think the re-location of my compost bin to a more appropriate location would re-engage me with my beneficial garden waste and overall inspire me to a new level of commitment to this nutrient recycling process in my garden.

Given that it is currently compost awareness week, maybe you can make a difference to your garden by re-engaging with your composting activities or establishing a new bin. Happy composting!

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Where to put your power points?

Having moved in our new home not too long ago and this coinciding with my increased passion for energy efficiency and sustainable home design, many "home renovation" ideas have been added to our family's "to do list".  One of our key considerations, is how we function with existing infrastructure in our house (one of the key "environmental" principle - reuse), or alternatively what we would need to do to the house to make our life easier or improved without creating a significant cost to the environment.

One of the things that should be considered, but may not seem so obvious to most people and surely should be towards the top of the list, is the location or placement of the humble power point or power outlet. Why, you might ask?

In the modern household, power points are typically low down, in the corners of rooms throughout the household or just generally tucked away. However, if you re-locate these to locations that are higher on the walls or just surrounding the "edges" of your furniture, you will be encouraged to turn off your appliances at the wall. Through this simple re-location, you have the potential to create significant environmental and energy savings in your home (particularly, if you live in a typical modern, western household).

The mere action of moving power points to more accessible and more prominent locations means you are more likely to turn them off (at the wall) when your appliance isn't in use and if you're really diligent even remove the appliance's plug from the power point. Why do you need to remove the appliance's plug from the wall as well? There is actually a small amount of current used by many modern appliances even when they are turned off at the wall but remain plugged in, quite often to run memory requirements or maintain batteries, etc. Therefore, the simple act of removing the plug to the appliance from the wall removes this energy requirement and save you money.  

All in all, the action of turning off appliances at the wall means you save electricity, money and  reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and "obviously" save the planet in the process. And all this is more likely to happen if you can see your power points and reach them.  

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Another overwhelming moment

This week I listened to Nicole Foss and her writing partner at my local permaculture meeting. It brought me to a point of concern, which quickly spiralled into a overwhelming feeling of no hope (for the environment).

My concern was raised because Nicole's position is that the future (and this is really in the short to medium term) is bleak! It is Nicole's thought that the global economy will spiral out of control in the next 10 years and result in no money/economy left to fund things that are considered fundamental to our modern lifestyle. According to Nicole, there will be no funds available for things such as future mining exploration, continuation of large-scale industry, maintenance of existing infrastructure (such as electricity grids, roads, etc) and that unemployment will be a norm.

This apparently will all occur in the next 10 years! Oh my goodness! My mortgage has another 29 years life on it and if I don't have a job, then how do I pay for my home?

During this question and answer session with Nicole I asked "is there any hope to avoid economic and environmental collapse"? The answer was, "no, for economic collapse, but environmental collapse will be slowed because people won't have money to undertake major environmentally devastating activities". Not exactly the positive glimmer that I was hoping to hear. I was thinking that maybe our society would wake up to itself before it is predicted to "implode", but apparently according to Nicole, we won't!

So, this sent me into a gloom and doom mood and gave me some realisation of how many people must feel when they receive many of these dooms-day environmental messages. Anyway, after a little bit of, 'then I may as well not try and stuff being good to the earth' attitude, I snapped out of it and realised we are all masters of our own destiny and I needed to pull up my socks, so to speak. I need to make myself more resilient if such scenarios are to eventuate. I also should not loose faith in people that have initiative, spark, drive and commitment to make the world a better place. We might still end up in the black hole, but I may as well go down fighting.

So, my outcome is, we should all encourage people that want to make a difference, share their knowledge and experiences, become educated, prepare yourself and your family for things that you consider will happen in the future and re-ignite community spirit in your area. Personally, I think this will make a difference to our attitudes, moods and ability to 'ride the storm'.   Pin It

Monday, April 30, 2012

Earth's disease

Monday's funny
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Website to have a look at....climate change science

I am reading a book called Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand at the moment and thought I would share one of the resources that the book highlights.

John Cook is one of the authors of this book and runs a website called Skeptical Science. It is a great resource that explains much of the science behind climate change and also brings awareness to the lack of science that surrounds climate change "skepticism".

Certainly a fabulous resource and one that you might be able to use to find out more about the science and evidence for human-induced climate change. It also reveals some of the strategies and ploys of climate change deniers and provides explanations as to why the "popular" climate change denier arguments are not accurate. Pin It

Monday, April 23, 2012

Food waste

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how much thin plastic was dominating my domestic, internal rubbish bin. I thought this was so peculiar and a significant burden on the landfill to which this rubbish was destined.

 (Source: Tree Hugger)

The second fact is still true, but as I washed my dinner dishes this evening I had a bit of a light bulb moment. At the time all this plastic was going into the bin I was doing a bit of a cook up. I perhaps might not have noticed the complete dominance of plastic in my rubbish bin if I had been mixing all this plastic with food waste as well. However, there is very little food waste that enters my traditional (in urban environment) rubbish stream.

Food waste in my house generally gets separated between the worm farm, the compost bin and the dogs. Hopefully in the near future I will also be sharing my scraps with some chickens too! In fact, I might not have enough food waste to sustain the chickens and may have to actually grow some goodies for them! Amazing.

All green waste from kitchen, including fruit and vegetable peelings, fruit stones, ends of herbs and old and sloppy fruit and vegetables all go to my worm farm and compost bins. The meat wastes and any small amounts of old left-overs go to my dogs! The only food scraps that on occasion goes into my mainstream garbage stream is my onion and garlic skins. Worms don't like these and as such most of the time they go into the normal rubbish bin.

Interesting what little light bulbs turn on when you're up to your elbows in grey-water appropriate soaps suds!   Pin It

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Science versus advocacy

I just read an interesting post on the The Sea Monster blog. The blog entry discussed whether junior scientists should be involved in advocacy.

Have a look at the post at: http://theseamonster.net/2012/04/weighing-advocacy-and-objectivity-as-a-junior-scientist/

Certainly some food for thought. I personally agree with the comments made by Matthew Ayres. I think this response does however split hairs with regards to definitions relating to certain language or terms.  But my thoughts are if you informed (no matter whether a junior scientist or not) it is important to tell the masses, including policy makers, the information you hold.

I find many pure scientists are hesitant to provide information on their findings until the full process of their science has run its course. The world, however, does not wait for this process and policy makers tend to make public policy based on gut feelings, the loudest voices or quasi-science. It is therefore important for the scientists to be more actively involved in this process.

Many people in my field (policy-led environmental profession/quasi-science) now discuss the importance of making decisions now and apologise later.  This seems to be how 'the world' and 'policy' seems to work these days.

As such, I think it is important for scientists to reveal information about their findings and research prior to the end of the pure science process and if something that has been conveyed to the public that isn't quite right at the end of the process, then inform the public of the complete picture at that point. People may have even forgotten the original information, given we all have two second attention spans these days. Pin It

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment

You may recently heard about UNESCO's concern about the level of potential impact and the amount of proposed development in and nearby the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. In lines with this, the Queensland Government will be undertaking the lead role in the coastal component of the strategic assessment for this area. The idea behind the strategic assessment is to determine whether there is areas which could have development proceed, whilst others have higher levels of protection. Specifically, the Commonwealth drive process is to identify potential and actual impacts on matters of national environmental significance (things protected by Commonwealth government legislation) at a strategic level.

The two levels of government involved have determined that they will assess the overall impacts of land use, including cumulative impacts, that have the potential to impact these Commonwealth protected matters (including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area). This strategic assessment will also determine whether the current regulatory framework adequately protects these issues.

The Queensland State Government is currently seeking comment on the draft terms of reference relating to its responsibilities under this assessment. This draft Terms of Reference (ToR) is now available for review and comment and should be read in conjunction with the strategic assessment fact sheet also available on their website.

This consultation period closes on the 30 April 2012.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Deepwater Horizon...nearly two years on!

(Source: Planet for Life)

It is nearly the two year anniversary of the biggest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by a drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon. I can't believe that it has been two years, but the effects of this event are still being felt in the surrounding marine and terrestrial environments.

The National Geographic has an interesting article on their website by Brian Handwerk, describing some of the activities that are still being carried out on the beaches and how much effort is still being put into the 'clean-up' activities. It is interesting to also note that it still seems there are significant questions about whether the contaminants that remain within the environment are reason for concern and what health impacts they may pose.

I'm sure there is much research and learnings being generated out of this horrific event, but I don't know if I would like to be living in the experiment. Pin It

Monday, April 16, 2012

What will your container do in its second life?

It is time to re-think containers! Most of the products we buy from the supermarket come in some sort of container and many of us just throw them out or put them in our recycle bin to be turned into another product. Well, now it is time to think what you can do with these containers around the home.

In our house I religiously wash and save jars. I have a nice stash in the top of the cupboard and utilise these for all sorts of things around the house, but mostly for holding basil pesto that I make from basil I grow in my garden. Another container that has many uses in my household is a strong plastic type container that we get yoghurt in. My partner is particularly good at utilising these!

(Source: Georges Yoghurt)

We store many of our bulk food items in these containers, including sugars, biscuits, cereals, bird seed and much more. And these types of containers are sturdy enough to last a long time and have great lids that seal well so little black ants aren't attracted to their contents. 

What is great about re-using these containers at home, is that there is no additional transportation costs and no more electricity or water used to make these products into something new and none of these costs (financial and environmental) associated with buying a new container to store the products that I am currently using these "second hand" containers for.

Other uses for these containers might include:
  • storing elastic bands, sewing cotton;
  • storing kids' pencils, felt tip pens, crayons;
  • storing all types of food products;
  • storing or freezing leftovers and excess garden produce.
Why don't you leave a comment and tell us all what you use your left-over containers for.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Bob Brown planning to retire

The long-standing leader of the Greens party, Bob Brown, plans to retire at the end of June this year. Christine Milne has been endorsed as the replacement leader and faces a mammoth task with the Greens set to lose their balance of power position in the Federal senate at the next election.

What a milestone! Bob Brown has been in parliament since 1996 and led the Australian Greens since 1992. He has seen initiated and progressed many environmental and human rights matters through the Federal parliament. Some of the bills he has introduced and the matters he and the Australian Greens are passionate about are listed on his wikipedia page.  

He has been a voice of reason, a person that seems to care about the Australian people and the environment in which we live and someone that has been passionate enough to stand up for these beliefs.  Pin It

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Q&A...climate change episode (do you want to be part of the audience)

ABC is asking for audience members for their Q&A show for an episode on climate change. You have to be in Sydney on the 26 April 2012 to participate and filled out a questionnaire prior to the show.

More details are available at: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/changeyourmind/about/show.htm.

If you can't participate in the show, you can still have your voice heard by taking part in the show's online survey about your opinions on climate change. Visit the following web address to participate in the survey: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/changeyourmind/survey/ Pin It

Something to add to your tv schedule

On the 26 April 2012 ABC1 is airing a very interesting television show called "I can change your mind about climate".

It is proposing to take an environmental activist and a climate change skeptic to meet various influential and informed people on the matter of climate change. The aim of each of the show's participants is to sway the other's opinion on human-caused climate change based on the information provided to them during the course of the program.

I am very much looking forward to watching this show. Have a look at the trailer at: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/changeyourmind/.

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One of my favourite products

Wandering around my house today I noticed a product in my household that I get completely frustrated about if we buy an alternate product. What product is it you may ask? Well, it is a specific brand and type of toilet paper. That's right, toilet paper!

We buy double length 100% recycled "post-consumer waste paper" toilet paper. This isn't plush, extra soft, printed, excessively chlorine-bleached toilet paper which many people indulge in, but rather a recycled product. When you come to my house you may experience this product and I think you might be surprised that it isn't scratchy like some people believe recycled toilet paper is, it isn't unattractive and is certainly practical and appropriate for its use.

The product (6 rolls of toilet paper) is branded as "Safe", endorsed by Planet Ark (produced by Encore Tissue) and made in Australia. The best part about the product I buy is that the amount of toilet paper on each roll is the equivalent to two standard rolls. These rolls still fit my standard toilet roll holder and means that I save on the number of toilet roll tubes (less waste), the amount of packaging used to cover the entire product is reduced and the double length means you have to need to change the toilet roll less. The only unfortunate thing about the product is that it is packaged in a plastic material, where surely a paper wrapping would suit just as well and could then be recycled.

The product is also rated as an ethical choice by the Ethical Consumer Guide.

What a great product and it means that all the recycling of paper and cardboard products as part of my domestic waste collection, might eventually come back to me in the form of toilet paper later in their life cycles.

Give it a try, you might be surprised. Pin It

Friday, April 6, 2012

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand

I have started to read Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand by Haydn Washington and John Cook (2011). So far, I am truly enjoying this book, but I wanted to share a part of the forward to this book by Naomi Oreskes.

"Most of us are aware that scientists say climate change is under way, but even if we accept it as true we act as if it had no implications. We deny, what it means, and continue business as usual. 

....will that is needed.....not the will to keep calm and carry on in the face of tragedy. It is the will to change the way we live in order to avoid an even greater tragedy; a tragedy that will affect not just Queensland, or even all of Australia, but the whole world, including the plants and animals with whom we share this rock upon which we live. 

It is about the way of life that does not reckon the true cost of living, an economics that does not take into account environmental damage and loss.

Climate change is the ultimate accounting; it is the bill for a century of unprecedented prosperity, generated by the energy stored in fossil files. By and large, this prosperity has been a goof thing. More people live longer and healthier lives than before the industrial revolution. The problem, however, is that those people did not pay for the full cost of that prosperity. And the remainder of the bill has now come due. 

What we need now is the will: the will to face the facts, the will to accept their implications and the will to do something about it."
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Long weekend! Woo hoo

What are you planning for the next four days? (For those that are under a rock or live outside Australia, all States in Australia have two public holidays either side of this weekend for Easter). For those that aren't particularly religious or completely un-interested in religious activities here is a list of things that might tickle your fancy to keep you busy for these four days:
  • relax;
  • vegetable patch planning or maintenance;
  • bit of weeding;
  • riding your bike along your favourite waterway;
  • hang out in a tree (for all those kids);
  • setting up a worm farm or a compost bin;
  • de-clutter to make space for positive vibes;
  • order a rainwater tank;
  • plant a deciduous vine on the western wall of your house;
  • hang out with family and friends;
  • eat fair-trade and/or organic chocolate;
  • recycle or freecycle some 'junk' around your house;
  • sit on the beach and take in the breath-taking view & when you're finished take some rubbish from the beach;
  • go bird-watching;
  • visit your local national park;
  • see what activities your local Museum or library is holding;
  • plan your garage sale to take part of the Garage Sale Trail in May;
  • see what you can make out of bamboo;
  • have a swim at your local pool, watering-hole, river, creek or beach; 
  • go camping; or
  • set up a herb garden. 
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Internet carbon footprint

(Source: Pareto Logic)

Just came across an article on the ABC website about a new technology that could potentially improve the carbon footprint of the Internet. The article is located at: http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2012/04/02/3469291.htm.

I thought the most interesting part of the article was the section that explained that currently the Internet has a carbon footprint equivalent to the global airline industry, but that the Internet is in fact growing at a faster rate. My understanding is the majority of this impact comes from the electricity used within the buildings that support the data centres. Pin It

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do you know what a ghost net is?

Ghost nets are discarded fishing nets. These nets can be deliberately discarded or lost at sea during fishing expeditions and end up traveling around the world on ocean currents. Here in Australia, the northern shores of our continent are significantly impacted by these nets, with particular effects on marine wildlife. These nets are known to capture, injure and kill a number of our marine species, including threatened marine turtles and sawfishes.

What can be done about this situation? There is certainly room for improvement to netting and fishing technology and restrictions to locations where nets are permitted. But as many of these nets are released or lost in countries other than ours, these solutions won't help the Australian marine wildlife in the short to medium-term.

So, here in Australia the majority of attention and funding is on the removal of these nets from our coasts and waters. Ghost Nets Australia is an alliance of indigenous communities across northern Australia which are funded to remove ghost nets from our shores. What a big job! Their website shows many initiatives that have been generated from this project, including recycling and art programs and scientific research.

This is certainly a big problem, particularly for northern Australian marine species and one which is generally out of sight of the majority of the Australian population.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Have you outsourced your environmental impact?

I was daydreaming the other day about my future vegetable patch. Carrying on from this lovely moment, I continued to ponder but this time specifically about the irrigation system that is going to have to support this dream. Then my thoughts strayed to considering how significant a burden a vegetable garden can be on your domestic water bill, your rain water or your dams, depending on your situation. No matter which one of these water sources you have you become keenly aware of how much water it takes to get your vegetables going and producing adequately.

In line with this, when you create a vegetable patch, no matter what style or type, there are a significant number of imposts on your household budget, particularly during the establishment phase, but these do carry on through to the maintenance phase. Anyway, long story, not so short, it made me think! At least I am keenly aware of this 'economic and environmental' impact to produce the lovely vegetables and fruit that I receive. All resulting from hardwork, effort, investment and natural resources.

But how many products and systems does the average householder have that removes them from the direct production process or means that they do not understand how much and many resources (water, soil, nutrient, electricity, timber, minerals, waste, etc, etc) it takes to produce the items in their household? The answer, I'm afraid, is soooooo many! Basically, our households, systems and businesses have allowed us to outsource our environmental impacts and become removed from this production process. This in turn, creates a false sense of one's personal environmental impact. No wonder we have a society which does not value the environment or think the planet is in dire straits.

Many people in our society do not believe that the environment has an intrinsic value and should just be preserved/conserved. Moreover, many of these people are completely devoid of understanding and experiencing natural resources. How can we therefore expect them to care for the planet?

Obviously education is a key component of rectifying this situation! With my thoughts being an important focus on arousing a re-connection to nature and particularly natural resources. Maybe with such information people might start to care about the world and potentially change their lifestyles to recognise the finite nature of many of earth's provisions.

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