Start with baby steps then hit your stride! It’s all very well recycling what you use but unless the so called ‘first world’ (that’s from saying ‘me first!’ I think!) uses less to start with, then global warming will continue to be an ever-escalating problem.

When we had our carbon footprint assessed in a free service from our local council, we were shocked as we have always been moderate consumers.  But then it turned out that two of us living in a large house and regular guests staying for short and long periods really gave us the footprint of four. Australia was 5th highest use ranked nation in 2005 (no accurate figures are available for today) but that was a deterioration from 2000 when we were 9th.  Shocking eh?  I am sure it has improved as we all use recyclable bags and do all kinds of other things.

Only 6 degrees Celsius temperature rise caused the last ice age and it took 100,000 years to recover. We need to act fast! But the need is urgent – how can you get that number down without sacrificing your way of life and living like a hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those options if that’s your choice …)?

Here’s a list of simple things you can do immediately

  1. Turn it off when not in use (all electrical appliances should be turned off at the wall).
  2. Buy a windup or rechargeable battery clock.  Forget all those digital clocks on your appliances.
  3. Live cooler and warmer.  In other words, turn down the central heating 1 to 2 degrees Celsius, and the hot water by 2 degrees.
  4. Make sure that any exposed hot water pipes are insulated.
  5. Don’t run heating and cooling when nobody is in the house.
  6. Dishwashers use less water etc. than doing many small sink loads.  Become an expert at loading it to the max efficiently with jets being able to reach all items.  Run it every second or third day.
  7. Washing machines – separate and sort washing and only wash them when the machine is full.  Use cold water.  Check out those washing balls at nanochoice and stop using soap altogether.  Orange spray will de-stain prior to washing.
  8. Fill the kettle with only as much water as you need
  9. Plan shopping trips ahead, buy in bulk and cut out the daily top up. You CAN freeze milk or have some UHT on hand for emergencies.  Start a buying group with your friends or neighbours.
  10. Use the clothesline, not the drier.
  11. Only buy power from a green supplier.
  12. Put in a solar or wind or both system!  Add to it and power an electric car in the future.
  13. Fit energy saving light bulbs especially LED bulbs.
  14. Install thermostatic valves on your radiators
  15. Buy a hot water bottle or heat a brick and wrap it in a blanket.  Dump the electric blanket.
  16. Recycle your grey water  (this will need a plumber but you can get a subsidy)
  17. Buy a new fridge with a high star rating.
  18. Stay at home more.  Have old-fashioned house parties instead of going out all the time. Car pool to work, or school or preferably walk, use public transport or a bike.
  19. Replace business trips with Skype.
  20. Work from home one or more days a week.
  21. If you are buying a new car, buy an old Volvo and convert to bio-diesel.
  22. When staying in a hotel – turn the lights and air-conditioning off when you leave your hotel room, and ask for your room towels and sheets to be washed on demand instead of daily.
  23. Drink tap water if it is safe.  Top up your own bottle.
  24. Take your own coffee mug to the cafes. Avoid those that won’t allow this.
  25. Buy local and seasonal food, without redundant packing,  and go for more veges instead of more meat.
  26. Compost even in a Bokashi bucket.
  27. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
  28. Don’t go to the gym, work harder and walk more.
  29. Buy 2-ply toilet paper.  If you can bear the unbleached, then that is good.  There is one on the market made from recycled cotton waste and it seems a good option.
  30. Find out about methane capture as a power source.  This seems to be a great idea as sewerage treatment plants in cities waste a considerable amount of methane.  Lobby your local government on this!
  31. Plant trees.  Bill Mollison, creator of Permaculture, would walk around with a heap of hazelnuts and plant food trees that would also give solar passive shade. In the tropics, plant some native palms along the beaches, in the subtropics plant some jacarandas, cool temperate zones, oaks.  You can adjust soil through the leaf compost from these plants.  Eucalypts are not necessarily the best for this as their leaves give off toxic gases.  I have always wondered if the first vegetation in Australia was the wattle and gum as these seem to be a desperation measure after a fire. Oaks wouldn’t burn as readily.  Nor would coprosma, those useful non-flammable shiny leafed plants ideal for hedging in bushfire areas.
  32. Thus, plant coprosma around fragile areas as a bushfire preventative. You can always use the leaves to make whistles!!
  33. Clear tracks to halt fires.
  34. Don’t use pressure packs. Make your own sprays and decant into a pump bottle.
  35. Reduce your dairy intake.  Cows have shocking flatulence and this maxes out the carbon footprint.
  36. Always put your esky in the car wherever you go for those ‘local’ produce impulse buys.  Buy from farmers’ markets and farm gates.  Fruit and eggs are always available.
  37. Combine the family picnic with a ‘pick your own’ fruit farm visit.
  38. Avoid food produced in batteries.   These require masses of lighting, air-conditioning and barns that free-range produce does not.
  39. Join the 2000 watts society.  Most people in the developed world use around 5000 watts.  The aim is to reduce it by 3000.  In Australia this should be EASY!
  40. Extend your house/hospitality to care for your oldies!  OK, so for many people this is not possible,  but wouldn’t it be better to have your aged parents NOT living in an institution with other oldies?  This would reduce the number of households enormously.  (Multi-generational houses need rules though – lay down the ground rules so that it is democratic and intelligent and nobody will be exploited or grumpy!  Do have an additional bathroom and a nook for basic cooking, set of keys – in other words, self containment and independence – and agree on some useful contributions from all parties so that nobody is made feel like a guest or a burden as these conditions for the long term create stress.  Pitching in with the gardening, washing up, mending etc. make people feel useful.
  41. When you go shopping, ask yourself  which of your purchases you could make yourself, borrow from a neighbour or do without.  Large items  – tools and gardening items – could form the basis of a tool library users borrowing for points and sharing the cost and storage.  You may not want to be that formal, but some people prefer it.
  42. Ditto with toys.  Start a toy library.
  43. Start a babysitting club to free up parents for social outings. Or do as the Italians, Greeks and Mexicans do and take the kids too.  The method of setting up a baby sitting club will be posted shortly. This also frees parents up for some civic duty which is a good way of reducing neighbourhood stress!
  44. Use your fence lines not just to keep out intruders but also to grow green crops – passion-fruit vines, grapes (use the leaves for dolmades as well as the fruit), vertical gardens.
  45. Keep enough hens to lay your own eggs, eat the garden snails and provide fertilizer.  Don’t name them if you intend to raise them for meat! Do research the local council rules, a plan for the coop, worm and pest control and feeding for optimum care.  Make sure  you make plans for their care if you are absent
  46. Turn your swimming pool into a fish farm.
  47. Volunteer for things!  You can pick up rubbish, green the desert, rebuild burnt towns, plant trees along rivers, weed national parks or just keep a lonely old person entertained.  Start as close to home as possible and see how far you can make your personal mark. Weigh careful the balance of travel carbon expended!
  48. Separate your own garbage.  If there is no system in your town, lobby with like-minded pals till you get something happening.
  49. Lobby for gas mining of old rubbish tips and sewerage plants.
  50. Stay well and healthy as this is the best way to lower society’s debt.
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