Eco Resolutions

Resolution: A firm decision to do or not to do something.

Why not take a stand and make your firm decisions in favour of our planet this year? In Australia, the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998 and each decade since the 1940’s has been warmer than the last. Those are pretty scary statistics which I think we all need to take heed of. So here are some suggestions if you are looking to green up your resolutions.

Save water

“Thirsty World” – A photo-essay by Brent Stirton

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet yet we are often completely carefree with our water usage. I often think of what a bizarre comparison it is when I drive past Aussie kids playing in sprinklers when there are kids in Africa that literally have to walk kilometres to get a bucket of water to live off. Especially when you realise that it is so, so, SO simple to save a couple of litres every day. I wrote a blog post that lists lots of simple ways that you can save water. Challenge yourself and see how many things on this list you can adopt.

Did you know… Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh and only 0.3% is available to humans.

Choose social activities that are eco-friendly

There is such beauty in the simple things in life. My husband and I the other day just went into Fremantle and lay down on the grass and looked up through the trees. It was so relaxing and lovely that we have decided we will be doing it a lot more often. Give it a go! Here are some suggestions of low impact activities that do you some good as well.

  • Instead of a restaurant meal… Go for a bike ride and finish it at a coffee shop (make sure they are Fair Trade conscious though!)
  • Instead of going clothes shopping… Make a map of the op-shops in the area and go exploring there instead. (you’ll save money and not look like everyone else)
  • Instead of playing Wii or Kinect or any other computer game… Play a boardgame. Beware – Trivial Pursuit can get aggressive. In our household anyway.
  • Instead of lying on the couch watching movies all day… Volunteer! Go walk dogs at the local shelter or be a companion for an elderly person. There are plenty of opportunities out there and you feel a hell of a lot better than you would have sitting on your bum all day.
  • Instead of ordering a cheap book online… go to a second hand bookshop or charity store and find a pre-loved beauty to bury yourself in. Appreciate what is the magnificence of a truly old book. I found a beauty the other day – see below!

My fave vintage find ever! A worn and pre-loved Dr Seuss ‘Yertle the Turtle’ book (which also happens to be one of my faves)

Reduce your household energy use

My husband and I have been graphing our power bills for a few months now and we challenge ourselves to reduce our energy consumption month on month. It has really worked for us and we have reduced our energy costs significantly. Amazing what a bit of competition can do? Here are some simple ways you can cut energy costs this year.

  • Close blinds and curtains during the day to prevent your house heating up
  • Try cold showers in summer! It can be really invigorating and cold water is better for both your skin and your hair.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. It cleans just as well and saves 80% of the energy used in hot washes. (Exceptions for bedsheets or reusable nappies for health reasons)
  • Use the shortest washing cycle possible
  • Abolish your clothes dryer during summer!
  • Microwaves and gas burners use less than a quarter of the energy as an electric stove and half of a conventional oven
  • Use low watt lamps where possible. It often creates a far nicer atmosphere and uses a lot less power
  • Turn your fridge off when you go on holiday
  • Turn off all appliances at the plug!
  • Never leave lights on that don’t need to be on.

Did you know… Australia has the highest emissions per person in the industrialised world, 35% more than the US?

Green up your diet

His name is Winston

The great thing about this one is that it generally goes hand-in-hand with another very common resolution – Be Healthy. Eating organically, cutting meat and dairy from your diet, cooking whole foods; these are all small steps that we can all take towards a healthier body and a healthier planet. If you want to see how you can reduce your carbon footprint just by altering what you eat then see my comprehensive list here.

“When you go to the grocery store, you find that the cheapest calories are the ones that are going to make you the fattest – the added sugars and fats in processed foods”

Michael Pollan

Let your voice be heard

At the Walk Against Warming Protest with the Save Our Marine Life Crew

If you are passionate about something then let it show. There are social groups, organisations and companies all around the place crying out for volunteers. Volunteers can be involved in organising functions or fund-raisers, tend to animals, be part of the protest, rattle a tin for a day, man a stall or even just to write a letter to their local government. These places are great for meeting like-minded people, talking about new ideas or discovering new opportunities. Here are some ideas if you want to give it a go;

Ban completely useless crap from your life!

Plastic water bottles, plastic bags, paper towels – these are all completely useless products that you use one time and then throw away. Rid them from your life! There are so many funky reusable options that are around. Get yourself a reusable shopping bag, buy an insulated bottle to keep your water cool, get a microfibre cloth. Look at anything that you throw out and ask yourself if there were any alternatives that you could have used that won’t end up in landfill.

Here are a two of my favourite reusable shopping bags.

The FEED Bag ($70), By Lauren Bush

The brain behind this is Lauren Bush (pictured) who is also – surprisingly – the niece of former president George. She took inspiration from her travels as UN ambassador on the World Food Program. She is now CEO of FEED which has spawned an iconic range of reusable shopping bags made of burlap and organic cotton. Each bag purchased provides school meals for one child for one whole year.

(L) The converted clutch (R) The full bag with it’s designer, Lauren Bush

Buy it here.

The Big Fair Bag ($8.95), by Oxfam Shop

As soon as I saw these bags in Oxfam I loved them. They are eye-catching, fun and – best of all – Fair Trade. They come in four colours and are made by the Federation of Tibetan Cooperations in India (FTCI).

The FTCI provides an income for producers (Indian and Tibetan) and also supports the refugee community in India. The biggest part of profit is used through the Tibetan government in Exile for education and health with some of the profitsalso going towards better working conditions.

I love ’em!

Fun, Functional and Fair

Buy it here

Did you know?… In March 2002 Ireland introduced a tax on plastic bags. Each plastic bag handed out costs the consumer an extra 15 cents. Since the tax scheme began it is estimated that plastic bags available at stores have been decreased by 90%. 

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Palm Oil

Palm Oil is a topic that is becoming more and more common. People want to know what it is, why they are hearing about it and why it’s such an urgent and important issue. How can oil that comes from a fruit be wiping out Sumatran Tigers and Orangutans?I’ve discussed, in detail, the effects of palm oil production and consumption in a previous article, but in summary: the production of Palm oil is leading to mass clearing of important South-East Asian rainforests (homes and habitats) and astronomical carbon emissions, all for a product that is unhealthy for humans anyway (it’s extremely high in saturated fat). I think it is safe to say that those are three damn ugly side-effects for a product that is a) easily produced sustainably and b) easily replaced if not.
Baby Orang

Image by Emily Ehlers

Palm Oil – What the hell is it and why is it bad?

Image by Emily Ehlers

To me it seems that palm oil is my generations CFC (chlorofluorocarbon). Think about it, the eighties was the decade of big hair and what were people using to keep it looking so deliciously bouffant? They were using hair spray – unceremoniously – to the point that they even named a Broadway musical in its honour. We now know that all aerosols (as well as refrigerators) were using chemical compounds called CFC’s. Retrospect is a spiteful thing because we also know just how damaging these chemicals were to the environment. However then, due to lack of information (or perhaps more a case of being misled by those that had the information?) people were going about their everyday lives not realising that they were actively contributing to irreparable environmental damage. Then in 1985 the bubble burst and the announcement came(1); there was a hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic and CFC’s alone had caused it. Fast forward to 2011 and we are in the same predicament, but there is a new player at our table… Continue reading