How to Live More Sustainably
Folks are finally talking earnestly about carbon emissions and climate change. I am pleased by the level of discussion and by the number of individuals who are starting to change their lives to reduce their waste and impact on the environment. It should come as no surprise that we now face serious environmental challenges after more than 300 years of industrialisation and environmental pollution. So, what can you do? Here are some tips on how to live more sustainable. Pick and choose but at least please pick some and do your bit to help! By John Lieber, Naturally Clean.
Energy Reduction (Transport)
- reduce your driving!
- buy a bicycle and use it instead whenever possible
- walk more, like to the local shops
- use public transport (harass your local MP if you don't have good public transport)
- when you do drive, combine several trips into one
- try a motorbike instead
- live closer to where you work or where your friends and family live and/or choose to live where there is good public transport
- shop locally and if you drive do fewer, bigger shops or if you walk or ride do more, smaller shops
- buy locally produced goods and/or grow your own vegies and have fruit trees
- choose holiday destinations closer to home (and support local business)
- park your car under a tree - don't sit and idle your car in the sun with the air conditioning on
Fuel Saving Tips
- always let your car warm up before driving
- accelerate modestly
- look ahead and brake early (the aim is to keep rolling, minimising complete stops)
- keep your car well serviced and change its oil regularly
- fit a free flow exhaust and air intake system to your car as these reduce fuel use
- buy a car with good fuel consumption
Energy Reduction (Home)
- turn off lights, heating, cooling, TV, computer etc when not in use
- reduce heating usage by wearing a jumper and closing doors, curtains and blinds in winter
- reduce cooling usage by opening doors and windows at night in summer
- insulate walls and ceilings, seal gaps around doors and cracks, and place blinds on westerly facing windows
- turn off the hot water system before going on long holidays
- be conscious of energy ratings and buy lights and appliances with high energy ratings
- before you decide to live in a house be conscious of how its design and orientation affect energy usage and check past power bills
- use the oven as a heater in winter by cooking more roasts
The secret to saving water is to use it twice! Grey water from the bathroom or laundry can be channelled into the toilet cistern, the garden or a water tank for later use. You can check out Rainwater Tanks Direct website for different water tank styles, sizes and colours. Naturally Clean is highly suitable for untreated grey water use.
- install a rainwater tank
- be conscious of water usage and buy low water use appliances
- toilets don't have to be flushed every time: "if it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down" (tip in a little Naturally Clean liquid to mitigate odours if necessary)
- select local native plants and grasses for your garden and lawn - they will be the most water efficient (and don't use "drought proof" imports which have a serious risk of becoming weeds when we have excellent Australian species instead)
- avoid introduced thirsty grasses
- use Naturally Clean and hand wash, or wash on the rinse cycle using the rinse water to wash the next load (start with the whitest and least dirty clothes and work towards the darkest and most dirty)
- buy fresh loose produce and avoid pre-packaged (and often over priced) products
- keep a close reign on your cupboard and refrigerator to avoid food spoiling and store food in sealed containers
- compost waste foodstuffs - for the vegies!
- reuse glass and plastic containers
- wash out all containers and reuse
- cut the top off almost empty toothpaste tubes to get to the last bit - you'll be surprised how much is usually thrown out
- shop where you can buy bulk product and take your own container
- use cloth nappies for your kids - wash with Naturally Clean and find out how easy it is!
- understand the recycling requirements of your local area
- print only if you have to and then reuse paper or print both sides
- overwhelmed with your own junk?! then have a garage sale, try selling through free classifieds or wanted to buy columns, give it to your neighbours, try www.freecycle.org.au, give old clothes to charity, and take your scrap metal to the recyclers
- say no to junk mail - "no junk mail" stickers are readily available or visit www.cataloguecentral.com.au for specials online
- visit the local library and borrow books and dvds
- try reading the news online instead of buying newspapers and magazines especially since most newspapers are just read once and hardly ever in their entirety
- your garden can be home to native animal species
- leave mature habitat trees
- allow for undergrowth
- plant local natives
- avoid neatly manicured gardens as this reduces much habitat for lizards, birds, etc
Lobby your local politician. Here are some ideas on aspects of publicly funded policy with environmentally sensitive impact:
- population policy - what is the sustainable population of Australia?
- public transport - is it a viable alternative to your car in your area?
- land use, development and zoning - and developer donations as part of the political process
- contradictory government policies on such things as
- health regulations that increase waste
- OHS/Privacy policies which create vast reams of waste (which few read)
- Fringe Benefit Tax rules which promote more driving
- greater subsidies for non-sustainable industry than sustainable ones
- putting more money into roads and the road transport industry instead of public transport and the railways
- the avid promotion of industry/mines and infrastructure that aid wealthy industry to the detriment of the environment (Lake Cowal, McArthur River, Tamar Valley, Port Philip Bay dredging to name a few)
- public parks maintained to "look nice" while preserving weeds and not providing habitat for native species
- volunteer for a green cause
- donate or leave a bequest to a green cause
- educate your neighbours and friends in your practices
- use your imagination!
All the above apply just as much to farmers, miners, businesses and any landowner as energy costs accelerate. What is worth more: an enterprise within a greener microhabitat or a degraded environmental desert? I am not pretending this is for "all the people, all the time" and I fully understand that not all these suggestions are for everyone, however, everyone can adopt a few of these practices and still make a difference. Many of these tips are low in cost and don't require any fancy gadgets. In fact, they should save you money!
The important point is to try and change your habits. That's why I have left solar energy to last as this is expensive. Maybe one day the government will realise that using people's roofs to produce power is a lot less costly than building a new mega power station, but then they can't tax you on production for your own usage and governments and electricity corporations don't like seeing their returns eroded.
Any questions on these tips or how to make your business, garden or life more sustainable please contact me. Please share your tips too!