Sustainability

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I am quite committed to doing what I can to be sustainable and perhaps to show how it can be done for others, This is unlike the 3% of scientists and 40+% of the general public who think that there is nothing that we can or should do to keep the Earth sustainable for the future. 3% of scientists get about 50% of the coverage on most media in the interests of “fairness” and “balance”. The argument is not balanced. It is as definite as you can be in anything you might do in life. Humans are causing the climate to change and unless we do many things then we will ruin the world for future generations.

Rather than try to convince anyone to believe one way or another, this page collects a number of articles that I hope make sense. The headings below summarise what I have put together so far. Energy, Water, Food and Consumer goods are the key contributors to unsustainable lifestyles so I will tag posts with each of those themes. If you think I have said anything here that is worthwhile you know what to do in social media.

Energy

The first and foremost issue with sustainability is energy usage. Building design, more efficient appliances and reducing waste are the keys to better efficiency. I have embarked on a journey to improve an already good building design and to make it more efficient. It has worked well so far but there are many lessons to be learned. Hopefully the lessons learned are useful.

I have managed to reduce my gas usage by 75% and electricity usage by 2/3. How?

  • Double glazing made a difference of nearly 30% on its own
  • Better curtains and other internal window treatments made about 10% difference
  • External window treatments made a big but difficult to measure difference. Mainly it stops the house from getting hot in Summer. It makes at least 5 degrees difference on the hottest days of Summer and reduced the need for cooling when the outside temperature is over 32 degrees.
  • Growing a creeper on the west facing wall to reduce the temperature in Summer.
  • Changing appliances and using hot water inputs to the dishwasher and clothes washer.
  • Changing to LED lights. This included closing up the vents in downlights that were originally installed.
  • Installing a skylight which opens in Summer to let hot air out and create a draught of cooler air through bedroom windows
  • Installing an active heating panel that provides solar heating through the South side rooms of the house and bedrooms.
  • Installing solar PV panels with grid connect

Articles focused on Energy are:

Water

Water costs a lot to provide domestically. We need very clean and pure water for drinking and cooking. Slightly less purified for washing (pure in terms of micro-organisms removed) and much less pure water for flushing toilets, washing cars and watering gardens. At the same time it costs a lot of money to provide storm water drainage to remove rain water from our rooves. We water plants with pure treated water.

A hundred years ago not many people had “Town Water” and used water stored in tanks for most of their daily needs. Toilets were outside and not flushed with water. Gardens produced food with only a little bit of water to keep them going when the weather was very hot and dry. I have been experimenting with some ways to store water and use it in and around the house. The easy part is to catch the roof runoff and store it in water tanks to water my vegetable gardens. The harder parts are to reduce the need for purified water in daily use.

  • Removing grassed areas – lawn
  • Ponds for catching runoff on a sloping block
  • Raised garden beds for growing fruit and vegetables
  • Growing drought tolerant plants
  • Removal of some decorative plants and replacing them with more water efficient ones
  • Water tanks to store runoff from my roof
  • Using stored water for the fruit and vegetables

In the future:

  • Very large capacity water storage
  • Toilet flushing with tank water
  • Grey water recycling for gardens from bath and shower water cycled through the ponds
  • Tank water for clothes washing
  • Extend ponds to store more ground runoff and grey water capacity

Articles focused on Water are:

 Food

A large amount of cost and waste is due to the way we buy and consume food. I can see how my own buying and storage contributes to problems.

Things I am doing to improve my sustainability:

  • Growing staple vegetables. Capsicum, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, eggplant, spinach and chillis
  • Growing berries. Raspberries and blueberries
  • Growing citrus. Lemons and limes
  • Growing perennial herbs. Thyme, oregano
  • Annual herbs. Corriander, basil etc
  • Growing Olives

Future options:

  • Nut trees/bushes. Hazelnut and walnut seem appropriate for this climate
  • A small amount of grain crop – yet to be determined
  • Starting capsicum seedlings early in the glasshouse and transplanting in October
  • Starting tomatoes from seed and transplanting in November (glasshouse again)
  • Growing more basil and coriander in a mini greenhouse and/or inside
  • Add another 3 sq metres of garden bed for more vegetables
  • Better distribution of plants so that they get more light and are less crowded
  • Plan my corn two per week over 8-12 weeks so I get more over a longer period (and don’t have to pick and freeze)
  • Consider oranges near the ponds
  • Grow more beans and peas over the cooler months

Articles focused on Food are:

Consumer Goods

Darling River water

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While reading Capital in the 21st Century I was thinking. A century ago, the means of production was considered the most important economic asset –…
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Who needs Oil and Coal?

Having a look at some of the oil exploration figures and pricing for electricity last weekend, I thought I might see how much the cost…
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Energy update

Not much really but I used 5.2 MWh of electricity in a year and generated 3.4 MWh from the PV panels. Predicted generation was 2.6…
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