Posted by: jacksterja | 16 October, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day when thousands of bloggers all over the world are writing on a single theme: our environment.

So, what do I have to say on the topic?

Well, my take on the whole environmental thing is that if everyone just does everything they can, combined we can all make a big difference.

The problem often is, though, that you don’t know what you don’t know. I hit a point a while back, where I was already doing everything I was able to do and was out of ideas.

One thing that really helped me get out of that rut was signing up to the daily email newsletter from Ideal Bite. If you only ever click on one link I post on this site, I would strongly recommend this be the one you check out.

They offer simple, small, practical and easy advice on day to day things you can do to make the world a better place. I have found this a goldmine of ideas. Everything from advice on reusable water bottles to which brands of tea are environmentally and socially responsible to buy, to where I can recycle old or broken electronics gear (even in Australia, although it’s a US-based newsletter), to using staple-free staplers, to eco-coffins!

So, in the spirit of sharing, I thought the other thing I might do is make a bit of a list of the main things I personally do to make the world a better place. Hopefully this won’t be construed as a brag, but as a list of possible ideas for any readers out there….

  1. Recycle. Everything from everyday items (paper, plastic etc) to bigger items.
  2. Create less rubbish. Compost where possible (I live in an apartment with a tiny balcony, so no excuses!). Buy items with less packaging. Wash and reuse plastic bags.
  3. Use green bags when shopping. This includes those tear-off bags for loose veggies. Either keep them loose, or take last week’s washed bags to reuse. I also take my own washed containers to take-away shops (much to their confusion, sometimes!).
  4. Buy locally-grown seasonal produce. Buy from the greengrocer everything possible (or a farmer’s market is better where practical) and keep the amount of stuff purchased at grocery chains to a minimum.
  5. Bigger ticket items – do your homework. Especially with electronic and white-goods. This website is invaluable as it does all the research for you.
  6. Grow as much as possible. Even in the space I have. fun flowery plants and succulents just for the CO2 offset are great. Fresh herbs cut down what you need to buy and taste amazing. This year I’m even having a go at tomatoes and eggplants in pots. Sprouts are great, even if you have nooutdoor area. A jar, a rubber band and an old square of nylon stocking is all you need for mung beans, alfalfa and chickpea sprouts – I’m thinking of experimenting with even more!!
  7. Public transport. Yes, I do have a car. It’s a pretty efficient one, though and it’s been registered with Greenfleet for the whole time I’ve had it. They came up with carbon offsetting way before it was trendy so I tend to stick with them! I do, however, hardly drive the thing. I commute daily on the train, walk most places I need to go, and have just committed to buying a new bike so I’ll be joining the pedal-power revolution for those slightly longer trips. Even the one regular thing I do use my car for (grocery shopping), I car pool with my friend Ronene
  8. The bucket in the shower. It actually comes in handy for all sorts of things. My toilet actually doesn’t flush so well with the bucket option, but I do use it to do my windows or mop the floor or soak laundry etc.
  9. Toilet Paper. I have reason to believe that this is the most contentious one. For me it’s a no-brainer – my butt isn’t really going to suffer without 3-ply toilet paper.
  10. Use the dryer as little as possible. I have a very stylish clothes line in the cupboard in my spare room and a hook the other side. It works a treat and packs away to nothing if I have guests. I’ve honestly never been a fan of electrically dried clothes etc. they just seem to feel wrong, and if you coordinate yourself properly, it really doesn’t take any longer. Plus if you pay a bit of attention to how you hang things you can minimise (avoid?) ironing – making it doubly less power used!
  11. I’m a vegetarian. I know this one’s not for everyone, but if you think about the overfishing of fish stocks, the damage of hoofed animals to Australia’s environment, the methane emissions from cows, and the amount of land-clearing required for grazing lands, it’s no surprise the the veggo option is of far less impact. for the record, this is a major factor in my position on the vegetarian lifestyle. I generally steer clear of leather and other animal products where practical for the same reason.
  12. Re-use. Everything. Water bottles take up heaps of landfill when they can be easily refilled. Buy yourself a good water filter jug or tap fixture and you’ll pretty much never need to buy bottled water again. Expensive petroleum-based canisters for the kitchen? My cupboards keep stuff just fine using recycled jars and take-away containers. Wash well, remove labels, and off you go!
  13. Turn power-points off at the wall. Wherever possible. Use only lights you need. Add/remove clothing as needed instead of using air-conditioning/heating. Energy-efficient light-globes are a must.
  14. Green friendly products for cleaning / personal hygiene. I’m a personal fan of the Enjo products as they generally require no chemicals, do a great job, and seem to last forever. For things I do need products – laundry, dishes etc, I avoid soaps and phosphate-based products. Always choose the green option or natural alternatives. For my beauty needs I love products made on-site by my beautician at Native Beauty. They are all natural and use native Australian plant extracts. And they’re divine to boot.
  15. Wine. Mmmm. I’m a big fan of wine, and have recently discovered some great organic wines made quite locally. At the moment I’m particularly enjoying wine from Macquariedale. Mmmmm.
  16. I live in an apartment, so have no current choice in the matter, but I am a big supporter of alternative energy options. NTB works in the industry, so I have a pretty good knowledge of how these things work these days, and have every intention of moving to self-sustainability on this as soon as is humanly possible. A small plug for Australia Wide Solar may also be in order. I hear they do neat work. 😉
  17. At work. I avoid printing things wherever possible, especially agendas for meetings etc where it’s easy enough to share a copy or two. When I do need to print, I print two pages to a sheet and double-sided. This means 4 times less paper than standard. I recycle everything (my building is pretty good with these things) and make notepads out of other people’s single-sided printing when I’ve finished with them. (Interestingly, it’s getting harder and harder to do this as people seem to be getting better at this one!). I have a staple-less stapler, too, which makes recycling easier and doesn’t require heavily processed metal pieces. I shut down my PC and monitor as often as possible. It helps, too, that I work for a company that is a world-leader for social and environmental responsibility. It has definitely been a factor of me staying here so long.
  18. I cut out the bling. I know this might be a hard one for some people, but I’ve seen the research on gold, silver and gemstone mining and I’m afraid I can’t justify it for my personal accessorising. So, if you see me with bling, you can be pretty sure it’s a fake.
  19. Avoid over-consuming. Whilst I haven’t taken the step to the compacting, I do have a philosophy, with clothing and shoe purchases, that for every item I buy, I must get rid of an old item. It certainly makes me rethink how much I want something, and if I do have a splurge, the local Vinnie’s charity bin does well out of me.
  20. Second hand stuff is great. As someone who’s moved around quite a bit and lived in  lot of different places, I have a pretty zen approach to household stuff. As a result, I’ve collected and used and passed on to better homes many, many items over the years. Even now, quite a lot of my major furniture items are 2nd hand…my lounge sweet, dining table and chairs, my bed (not the mattress, for hygiene reasons), my washing machine, many of my clothes (especially now I’ve discovered vintage clothes at the auction house down the road), my Dyson vacuum cleaner. The list could go on, but I think you get the point.

There’s probably a lot more, particularly small things, but I hope there’s a chance someone’s had an idea sparked by part of this story.

Anyone else have their own hints and tips out there??? Feel free to share in the comments.

J.

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