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Category Archives: Environment

Magazine Mania

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Monday Morning

Australians have a love affair with magazines. According to Ibis World Australian magazines employ over 5000 people and generate $2 billion in revenue. I myself love sitting down for some quiet time with a cup of tea and flicking through a glossy magazine. They’re perfect reading material when you don’t have the energy to concentrate on a novel and need some time away from the computer screen. Today I want to highlight some of the best Australian magazines for those pursuing the simple life. Many of these are available in public libraries, alternatively you might like to try gumtree, ebay, freecyle, friends, neighbours, local thrift shops & garage sales for back copies. You might even be able to order backcopies at a reduced rate online.

Grass Roots

Australia’s most popular self-sufficiency magazine

PO Box 117, Seymour, VIC 3661

Ph: 03 5792 4000

Earth Garden

Practical solutions for green living

http://www.earthgarden.com.au

G

Green Living Made Easy

http://www.gmagazine.com.au

Organic Gardener

Your guide to sustainable Living

http://www.organicgardener.com.au

Warm Earth

Warm Earth is Australia’s practical guide to organic gardening. Published since 1993, Warm Earth does not contain paid advertising. Every issue contains 48 information packed pages about growing food in your backyard. Written by organic gardeners, for organic gardeners.

http://www.warmearth.com.au/

Northey Street City Farm

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Organic Markets Sign

The Northey Street City Farm runs tours every Tuesday morning at 9.30 am. The farm is located in Windsor, just north of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. This morning, despite the rainy weather, I drove over to the farm and spent two hours being guided around the grounds learning about the farm and permaculture. It was a fantastic (and free) opportunity to pick up lots of good ideas and advice for my own backyard garden.

Edible Landscapes Sign The farm operates in line with permaculture principles and as well as being a community garden, there is a plant nursery ‘Edible Landscapes’ where you buy seedlings, fruit trees, mulch, manure, fertiliser and other gardening supplies. The nursery stocks some really interesting plants that you’ll be unlikely to find in your local nursery. Today wild passionfruits, elderberry, water chestnuts and ice-cream bean (Inga edulis) were all in stock.  It is open to the public:

Tuesday to Saturday: 9.00 am – 4.00 pm
Sunday: 6 am to 12 noon

There are also organic markets held in the carpark every Sunday morning (6 – 10.30 am). In fact they are the oldest organic markets in Queensland and sell  certified organic produce.

If you get the chance I would definitely recommend the tour and a wander through the nursery afterwards. Of course, the farm is always looking for volunteers so you may end up staying a little longer than you plan…

Bokashi

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I went and did it today. I bought a bokashi. After discovering them online recently I couldn’t resist buying one.

Bokashi

I expect that it will reduce our waste considerably as much of it is compostable. Up until now the vegetable peels and table scraps have been reluctantly thrown in the bin as we live in a first-floor apartment, without the luxury of a courtyard. Now though I can put them in my new Bokashi.

Call me an enviro-nerd but I am super excited by this!

Calculating my Environmental Footprint

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Before I start to try and reduce our family’s environmental footprint (and the associated costs) I think it’s about time I actually looked at where we are and take a snap shot, if you will. With some help from One Earth to Live who has posted some Carbon Footprint Calculators on her site I’m sitting down to work out where we stand currently and where we can possibly improve.

Travel

We have two four-cylinder cars. One is four years old and the other is five years. Each car is filled between once a fortnight and once a month, depending on how often we are driving. My husband’s car is usually only used for work which is a 15-30 minute drive but an hour by train. Personally, I’d prefer my husband home for that extra hour each day. My car is used for general errands and for weekend trips. There are often days where I don’t go anywhere though.

My car current mileage: 55588 km
Approximate 12 months mileage: 5672 km

Husband’s car current mileage: 38793 km
Approximate 12 months mileage: 6740 km

Home

We live in a two-bedroom apartment. It has a south facing balcony which, in the southern hemisphere, means we don’t get much direct sun. It means growing fruit and vegetables on the balcony could be a challenge, especially because we have resident possums who have managed to destroy almost everything I’ve tried to grow so far. Lucky for us our climate means that we don’t need heating or cooling for most of the year.

Electricity

Here’s our last 12 months of electricity usage per quarter:

  • Oct 2009: 1302.5 kWh
  • Jan 2010: 1333 kWh
  • Jul 2010: 1082 kWh
  • Oct 2010: 1112.6 kWh
  • Average:  1207.5 kWh

Given that we had a baby in September I would like to at least keep this stable and possibly reduce it. Between the first and last bill there was a 15% decrease.

Water

Here’s our last 12 months water usage per quarter:

  • Feb 2010: 27 kL
  • May 2010: 29 kL
  • Aug 2010: 27 kL
  • Nov 2010: 25 kL
  • Average: 27 kL

Given that we had a baby in September and are using cloth nappies, which need washing I would be surprised if we can keep this at the same level. Between the first and last bill there was a 7% decrease. Note: the water is actually averaged out between all the units in the complex so our bill is also reliant on the water usage of our neighbours.

Food

We are meat eaters. I try and shop once a fortnight and organise mean plans to reduce wastage. We buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the local markets each week. At the moment we don’t buy organic and we still shop at the supermarket which is walking distance from home.

Goods

We try to limit the amount of consumer goods we buy. My husband buys computer games and downloads them online rather than buying the physical copy at the games shop. I have eliminated my book-buying and go to the local library instead, which is also in walking distance. In fact lately we have been getting rid of far more goods than we have replaced. Freecycle and eBay are our tools of choice.

Waste

We throw out about the equivalent of one shopping bag a day, a lot of this is compostable waste but living in an apartment I hadn’t found a suitable solution to this until I stumbled Bokashi. I am considering buying a unit to trial. It would be really great if I could find a second-hand one but might have to resort to purchasing new. We also throw out about the same in recycling each day.

The Results
Carbon Footprint calculated our household output as: 10.54 metric tons of CO2

Carbon Footprint

Live Clean calculated it at: 6.95 metric tons of CO2

WWF calculated that it would take 2.3 planets to sustain our lifestyle if everyone lived as we do.
WWF Footprint results
By the looks of it we aren’t doing too badly compared to other households in similar countries but we are still using far more resources than the earth can sustain. In the future I’ll be exploring ways we can further reduce our usage. But for now I would be really interested in what other people use in terms of water, electricity and car mileage.

Environmental Footprint

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I’m reading David Suzuki’s The Legacy after seeing him speak on the ABCs Big Ideas. Suzuki’s discussion revolves around economic disregard for the environment and the excessive population figures we can now attest to. There are now an estimated 6.8 billion people living on this planet and that number is growing by the second. It is really alarming to think about the damage that human beings are doing to the planet.

While I do a number of small things to conserve energy and water, after reading this book I do not feel like I do enough. We are still a two car family and live in suburbia, granted we live in a two bedroom apartment although that restricts us (but does not necessarily exclude us) from installing water tanks, solar panels and solar hot water, composting green waste, and growing our own produce. These are steps I would love to implement. I suppose I am waiting until we own a house with a backyard. As well as owning two cars and living in an apartment we own a massive LCD television and three computers.

So this year I am going to try and reduce our environmental footprint. One step at a time.