The carbon tax is gone…. now what?

Thousands rally for climate action and a carbon price

Ding dong, the carbon tax is dead, meaning Australia – one of the world’s greatest polluters – makes history as the first developed nation to renege on its climate action responsibilities. Whatever the pollies are saying about jobs and how the carbon tax didn’t work, know this: there is currently nothing in place to make polluters think twice about their emissions. There is currently nothing in place to ensure Australia reaches its laughably inadequate 5% emissions reduction target. There is currently nothing in place to show the world we Aussies even believe in climate change.

All we had was the carbon tax, which this Australian National University study found cut up to 17 million tonnes of CO2 and reduced emissions in the electricity sector by 10 percent. Critics will say the reductions are due to people and industry cutting back on their usage due to “price hikes” (on average 10 percent for households), however this has been factored into the conservative estimates in the study. Anyway, the whole point of the carbon tax was to encourage people to use less energy in the first place, so it was doing its job!

Free app for happy fish

We Aussies are a bunch of fish-n-chip loving, prawn-sizzling, ichthyophiles. But how do you give your family a good fishy feed without contributing to the oceans’ woes?

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has just released the new and updated Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide and it is available as a booklet ($9.95), online, or as a free app for both Apple and Android.

More than 90 common fish and seafood species have been categorised into traffic-light colours, meaning you can quickly (and surreptitiously) whip out your phone, tappy-tap the name of the fish your kids want battered and instantly see whether you can give them the green light. When you have more time, scroll down to see why the seafood has earned its rating and learn more about the very complex issue of seafood sustainability.

A year without supermarkets

a year without supers

It’s been a whole year since I stopped shopping at the Big Two supermarkets. Can you believe it? Me neither. In the past 12 months Coles and Woolies have done absolutely nothing to lure me back in. In fact, they have carried on behaving just as badly, confirming the reasons I broke up with them in the first place.

To celebrate my little milestone, let’s have a look at some of the most recent incidents that have made me roll my eyes and mutter “wankers” under my breath.

1. The Jamie Oliver debacle

Woolworths has the world’s favourite chef on board, encouraging us to eat more fresh produce, which is great for Australian growers… But the company has asked farmers to pay a voluntary contribution of 40c per crate to fund the campaign. This doesn’t sound too bad until you learn from the peak industry body that Aussie growers feel pressured into paying the fee (which is on top of their regular marketing contribution) and fear retribution if they don’t. AUSVEG went so far as to write to Jamie Oliver about their concerns. Woolies says the campaign has been a huge success. AUSVEG described it as a “furphy” and suggested that after posting a $1.32 billion net profit in February, the company could have paid for the campaign itself without asking already stretched farmers for their “voluntary” contributions.

Do you live in a green house?

brighton earthship

The organisers of Sustainable House Day 2014 are looking for house-proud greenies to show off their dwellings and I can think of a few of you out there who would fit the bill! Throw open your doors on September 7 and/or September 14 and inspire others to build green, convert their bricks-n-mortar, or make the transition to a home with a smaller footprint.

In 2012, 38,000 people viewed 220 sustainable houses around Australia. More and more Aussies are looking to green their homes, but the advice they need isn’t easy to come by and the materials aren’t always available at Bunnings. Actually talking to someone about their experience is invaluable, and as more people demand green building materials and services, supply will grow.

So what is a sustainable house?

The picture at the top of this post is of the Brighton Earthship, a super-sustainable abode in Brighton, UK. No one lives there (hello, I’m available!) but it’s open for tours and as a learning resource. This experimental house has solar, rainwater harvesting, a windmill and upcycled tyres used in the walls, among other features. But you don’t have to live in a hobbit house to claim green cred. The open homes for Sustainable House Day may use clever building materials and construction techniques, be water or energy self-sufficient, use passive solar design, smart fittings and appliances, have a kick-arse food forest or other incredible outdoor space.

Basically, if you have spent time and money to make your home more sustainable then you are a master and could definitely share your knowledge. According to surveys, 90 per cent of the people who attended an open home were influenced by what they saw. If ten people visit your home, then you’ve done more than green your own abode, you’ve made nine other homes more sustainable. Go you!

For more information on Sustainable House Day, visit the website. To submit your awesome house, click here. I’ll be sure to keep you all informed about event as it draws closer.

photo credit: Dominic’s pics via photopin cc

Safe, eco-friendly and resuable food wraps

Dandelionsmall

Are you partaking in Plastic-Free July? This should help!

Today I want to introduce you to a fabulous Aussie brand that will help you use less plastic, pack waste-free lunches and store food in a healthy, earth-hugging way.

4MyEarth is a range of stylish, reusable (my favourite word!) food covers and wraps, snack pockets, bread bags and produce sacks. Creator Rebecca Hurst was kind enough to send me some seconds to review, which lit up my dials immediately – nothing wasted is something gained! Anyway, that was a few months ago and now I don’t know how I ever lived without them.

My climate reality

climate reality Jo Hegerty

I know you’re all waiting to hear about the Climate Reality Leadership training with Al Gore in Melbourne. In short, it was incredible. More than 500 people from 32 different countries, all with something pretty special in common: a desire to change the world. Al Gore spent a whole day with us and he was as inspiring and generous as you’d expect a Nobel Peace Prize recipient to be.

I’ve spent a week distilling all the information and advice from Al Gore and all the other fantastic speakers and obviously I have a lot to share with you. But first, I want to tell you where we’re at and what needs to be done.

My friends, we are in a pickle. And the situation for our children is way, way worse. But that is no reason for despair. Don’t you dare despair! There’s work to be done.

Teaching kids how to want less

teach them to want less

This post is the fourth instalment of my Easy Green series over at Childhood 101.

As parents we naturally want to give our children the best, what’s more, we want them to have… more! But as studies have repeatedly shown, money doesn’t bring happiness, and neither does the accumulation of things. In fact, having too much stuff can cause more stress than it’s worth.

Then there’s the environmental impact. Our need for more creates enormous amounts of waste and pollution, and chews through our natural resources. Since the 1950s, civilisation has consumed more resources than all of humanity before us. But try explaining that to a seven-year-old with her eye on a Frozen figurine.

There are, however, ways you can encourage your children to step off the hamster wheel of hyper-consumption. Here are some ideas to get you started, we’d love to hear yours as well.

Continue reading here…

This post is the fourth installment in the Easy Green series by Jo Hegerty of Down to Earth Mother.

As parents we naturally want to give our children the best, what’s more, we want them to have… more! But as studies have repeatedly shown, money doesn’t bring happiness, and neither does the accumulation of things. In fact, having too much stuff can cause more stress than it’s worth.

There’s also the environmental impact to consider. Our need for more creates enormous amounts of waste and pollution, and chews through our natural resources. Since the 1950s, civilisation has consumed more resources than all of humanity before us. But try explaining that to a seven-year-old with her eye on a Frozen figurine!

There are however ways you can encourage your children to step off the hamster wheel of hyper-consumption. Here are some ideas to get you started (we’d love to hear your ideas as well);

- See more at: http://childhood101.com/2014/06/16-ways-to-help-children-want-less/#comment-37835

This post is the fourth installment in the Easy Green series by Jo Hegerty of Down to Earth Mother.

As parents we naturally want to give our children the best, what’s more, we want them to have… more! But as studies have repeatedly shown, money doesn’t bring happiness, and neither does the accumulation of things. In fact, having too much stuff can cause more stress than it’s worth.

There’s also the environmental impact to consider. Our need for more creates enormous amounts of waste and pollution, and chews through our natural resources. Since the 1950s, civilisation has consumed more resources than all of humanity before us. But try explaining that to a seven-year-old with her eye on a Frozen figurine!

There are however ways you can encourage your children to step off the hamster wheel of hyper-consumption. Here are some ideas to get you started (we’d love to hear your ideas as well);

- See more at: http://childhood101.com/2014/06/16-ways-to-help-children-want-less/#comment-37835

This post is the fourth installment in the Easy Green series by Jo Hegerty of Down to Earth Mother.

As parents we naturally want to give our children the best, what’s more, we want them to have… more! But as studies have repeatedly shown, money doesn’t bring happiness, and neither does the accumulation of things. In fact, having too much stuff can cause more stress than it’s worth.

There’s also the environmental impact to consider. Our need for more creates enormous amounts of waste and pollution, and chews through our natural resources. Since the 1950s, civilisation has consumed more resources than all of humanity before us. But try explaining that to a seven-year-old with her eye on a Frozen figurine!

There are however ways you can encourage your children to step off the hamster wheel of hyper-consumption. Here are some ideas to get you started (we’d love to hear your ideas as well);

- See more at: http://childhood101.com/2014/06/16-ways-to-help-children-want-less/#comment-37835

Soft plastic recycling update #2

Untitled design

Something amazing happened recently that made my day. It was an email from a reader asking me to update this post on the soft-plastic recycling scheme by RED Group to include foil-type packaging. Allow me to explain why this caused me to dance around like a Brazilian soccer fan…

There are two heavily processed, overpackaged foods that my family simply cannot give up:  corn thins and rice crackers, both of which come in that faux-foil stay-fresh packaging (the corn thins do the foil-bag-within-the-plastic-bag trick, terrible). These foilesque bits of trash are the only packaging you will find in the yoghurt pot we use for a bin, and despite being so very light, they have weighed heavily on my conscience.

So when Stefan so kindly emailed to tell me he’d been informed this type of  packaging could be recycled by the REDcycle Program, I was thrilled. That email single-handedly reduced my waste-to-landfill by half!

I contacted RED Group to confirm and sure enough:

“Yes, the very thin layer of foil that some muesli bars, chips and crisp breads come in can go in the REDcycle drop-off bins at Coles supermarkets.”

If you have yet to discover the wonders of soft-plastic recycling, it goes like this: collect all those pasta packets, frozen veggie bags, dog food pouches, plastic bags, wraps and other soft plastic that usually fill your bin, take them to Coles supermarkets and stuff them into the REDcycle bins (which are usually green), and Melbourne-based recycling consultancy RED Group will turn them into playground equipment. It’s awesome on all levels.

One quick note: just because you are a recycling goddess (or god) and take all your plastics to Coles to be recycled, remember the huge amount of resources that go into these throw-away items, including water, petroleum, shipping resources, bulk packaging, manpower and so on, and stick to the first rule of eco-living: reduce!

If anyone knows how to make corn thins or rice crackers from scratch, I’m all ears!

Learn more about the REDcycle program here!

My veggie patch is going gangbusters: here’s why

[disclosure: Productive Gardens gave me this watering system to review at my request. It's every bit as good as I hoped]

watering system 6

Like all of you, I am freaken busy. There’s kids, there’s work, the house, dinners, endless washing and all those  “little things” like filling out holiday forms and ordering toilet paper. And while my kids thrive on loving neglect, my veggie garden does not.

I have many excises for all the failed starts and shrivelled-up greens, but the truth is,  I just forget to water the vegetable garden. It goes thirsty for days (and by that I mean weeks) then gets a five-minute shower from the hose, which reminds me I need to buy a pump for the water tank, so I run upstairs to order one, discover Edith has been chewing a texta and Alfie is drawing on the table, remember to turn the oven on and then forget about the garden until I need salad, by which time it’s dark and the kids are in bed and I really, really want to put on my ugg boots and lie on the floor. “I’ll do it first thing,” I tell myself.

Thank you, my friends…

thanks for your support

 

Gosh. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, but I am pleased to inform you I’m going to Melbourne for the Climate Reality Leadership training – woohoo! I was absolutely blown away by the words of encouragement, donations and support I received from the Down to Earth Mother community. I am truly humbled and grateful to you all.

Sustainable superannuation company Australian Ethical was so inspired by your incredible support they agreed to match the $1000 already raised, which means I can start planning my ten “acts of leadership”. Already I have reached out to my local environment group, contacted council and started planning an ebook. My head is spinning with ideas – time to pin them all down!

The speakers at the conference range from leading Australian scientists and environmentalists, to media experts and, of course, Al Gore. In every session, I will give thanks to those who put my bum in that seat, and I can’t wait to share with you what I learn. One final promise – I will take what I learn, hold it for a while, poke it, play with it, and finally mould it into something relevant and actionable to you, my lovely, inspiring readers.

Thank you xxx

 

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