The Great Eco-Tech Divide

You can’t always get what you want!

What an amazing era of technology we live in! Super efficient technologies pop up daily. But when the average earth-user reaches out to adopt them, there’s no-one there to guide them.  It’s tough and expensive to yearn for new technologies. The pioneers have to be prepared to take an active role in implementing new technologies and providing constructive feedback.

A key permaculture principles is: Information and observation replaces energy use. The more we learn and observe, the less effort we will need to spend getting it to work.

Retro-fit nightmares

Are your thinking about adopting a new technology? Maybe it is solar air-conditioning. This is a great recent science invention based on adsorption (not absorption). Or perhaps you want to convert your conventional toilets to a compost system. Well, how do you go about it? who can advise you independent of the sales people of a particular brand or particular technology or method?

There are lots of teething problems and pitfalls in the commercialisation of the eco-technologies.  Consumers risk failing with the business that strives to help them. When we recognise the pitfalls for the businesses, we can assess them better and help them and others.

Each Eco-technology manufacturer needs to build their:

  1. supply chain security with distribution methods
  2. support network for parts
  3. expert after-sales service
  4. methods to listen and learn from user feedback
  5. installers – trained installers
  6. demonstration sites where people can touch and feel the gear before committing

Brave Pioneers

Info-replaces-EnergyThe early adopters of new technologies pay a lot of money for products that are usually only just at the adequately functional stage.
These consumers often have to

  1. write their own ‘operations manual’ and
  2. source after sales parts and
  3. make modifications or improvements are at their own risk
  4. be able to service the equipment themselves

At Permaculture Visions we were the first people in our region to set up a solar-hot-water radiator heating system. We took temperature measurements for 12 months to help provide feedback to the supplier and write our own user-guide. With some self-maintenance it is still working well.  Sadly the provider, along with many local manufacturing companies, has closed down.

Speeding up the Eco-technology uptake

Eco-technology uptake can be sped up on three levels: government, business and grass-roots.  Greater government leadership can:

  • provide regulating authorities who provide advise on national and international standards
  • listen to independent forward-thinking councils such as Clean Energy Australia,
  • support regional demonstration institutions such as Future world
  • limited and targeted subsidies can make big impacts.
Clean Energy Council Australia

Business can bridge the gap

There is a gnawing gap between displays of new technology (crowing about it) and honest appraisal and evaluation. The consumer has to know their own needs and be able to assess whether the new technology is appropriate.

If you have a head for technology, are people savvy and don’t have an investment (financial or emotional) in any particular type of technology, here is a good business opportunity for you. You could advise people on which technology would suit their needs best. You could set yourself up as an aggregator. There are some aggregators for individual technologies ie. solar but there are no aggregators for a range of eco-technologies. This can be done as a consultant or in software format.

Business and institutions need to SHOW,  EVALUATE, INFORM, SOURCE improvements and MAKE COMPARISONS.

Choices on the domestic front

Whenever we make a purchase, we are making a technological decision. If we choose an old technology, we might feel we are playing it safe – but are we really safe? When we reach out for an older, proven technology our choice has two impacts.

  1. It supports the current way of life that is not sustainable and governments are already acting to limit this technology.
  2. It fails to support technological advances unless there is a real improvement on the old technology.

The safest option is to adopt a mixture of safe and new technologies to serve our need. This is like wearing ‘a belt and braces’ to be sure the pants stay up.  Consider first the soft technology options. There are a lot of natural and traditional technologies that cost very little to set up (eg. planting deciduous trees on the sun-side to cool the house in summer, using double glazing to hold heat and allow natural light).

Tailor and Blend your technologies

Optimise your soft-technologies like permaculture and dabble intelligently in the cutting-edge eco-technology to build a path to a healthier future.

Nature Knows How - Soft Technology

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Affluenza’s Ground-Breaking Cure

Affluenza can be cured

fish laugh at the sleeping fisherman who is struck with AfluenzaEveryone is affected by Affluenza. “Globally affluenza is a back up of the flow of money, resulting in a polarization of classes, and loss of economic and emotional balance.” The debilitating side-effects of Affluenza include addiction, depression, and other social disorders.  An Affluenza pandemic can even trigger war.

The biggest causes of Affluenza are:

  • faith that money buys happiness
  • reliance on self-esteem linked to economic ‘value’
  • dependence on social status
  • insatiable greed

Money doesn’t always motivate

Beatrix Potter was an excellent example of someone who was curious, engaged and motivated. She studied animals and fungi with the sole purpose of building knowledge. Her study was not financially motivated, nor was she supported by the then chauvinistic scientific community. She was motivated by her passion. Later she was motivated to achieve financial independence from her parents and she turned to writing and illustrating. When she had achieved the goal, she used her surplus money to fund conservation projects.

Step safely outside the Affluenza zoneCure for Afluenza - enjoy a bushwalk and reconnect with nature

Albert Einstein produced most of his theories without funding. Funding often traps us into doing what the funding body wants. If we want to be truly free to follow our passions, we need to set up a small income stream of our own. Aim for a smooth transition by keeping a safe income stream flowing until the new income stream is viable. List your genuine needs. Respect these needs in your effort to live more simply.

Small Steps To Create Lasting Change

Creating change by implementing small and successful steps is a fundamental Permaculture principle. When change is sudden it can have unforeseen effects. How many times do we hear about broken promises and forgotten New Year’s resolutions? We don’t hear about small successes because, on a daily basis, we all make small changes. This is not news.  Permaculture is healthy lifestyle planning with a view to working with natural energies and lowering our impact on others and the planet. Once we have the plan we simply make small changes to fit.

5 Easy Cures for Affluenza:

  1. Keeping compost worms easier than a pet mermaid
    Keeping compost worms easier than a pet mermaid

    Get a sense of Purpose by adopting a responsibility. eg. Start a garden that will flourish with your attention, care for a productive animal like a chicken or learn how to start a worm-farm or beehive

  2. Re-connect with nature. Build your survival skills and self-confidence by learning to work with nature, not against her.
  3. Be productive outside the usual day. Repair something. Make something.
  4. Immerse yourself in of gratitude. Praise others.  Say thanks when someone does something special for you. Be proud. Celebrate the invisible successes (social) as well as the visible ones. Be an active member of your family and community.  Globally, we can be proud of important successes such as the education of women and children. Share your tangible successes such as your compost heap, home-grown fruits, hand-made shopping bag.
  5. Share and Let Go. Be generous with your compassion and respect. Give away surplus. Being sensible about giving away surplus may involve repairing something so that it can be properly used and valued by someone else. (For example: why not fix that button before you pass that shirt on?)
we walk the talk - award winning business and food forest
We walk the talk. Our winning food forest is mature and inspiring. Thank you for supporting us.

 

How To Downsize Quickly and Gracefully

have abundant thinking

If you have just lost work, had your hours cut, missed out on getting work or unable to work, you will need to build a new lifestyle. A do it fast. How do we gracefully downsize?
Most people talk about their work as a major part of their life. It consumes most of their day-time thoughts (and sometimes nightmares). It provides most of their social interactions throughout the day and it fills their dreams at night. Some people think a bad day at work is better than a good day of unemployment. It all depends on what is causing the bad. If it is unrealistic expectations from management, poor training, over-work and other stresses, then plan to get out. Plan to get re-skilled, be sharing and less wasteful and find a more productive life.

Create A New Status

To have a high paid job may mean you have “golden handcuffs”.  Many people have their status and self-esteem regulated by how much they earn. Yet some of the richest people are very frugal and choose to have only the same consumption as the average person.

We have two choices when we are faced with a major pay cut. 1. we can go into debt further and hope that all will come good. This is simply a form of gambling and can risk your health and well being. 2. we can play safe and downsize and create a change in our thinking, we can create our own status. When we stop defining ourselves by our job-description or formal qualification we can become someone different, we get a chance to learn more about ourselves and what we can do for ourselves and others.  Less than a hundred years ago it was cool to be “a woman/man of independent means”. Alternatively we can describe our new work-life as a portfolio career (meaning we do lots of different roles or odd jobs).

How You Can Downsize:

If you have a car, sell it, or at least leave it at home and lock the keys away from easy access.  If the family has more than one car, sell all of them except the one in best condition and cheapest to run and maintain. You can either sell or lend the car to someone else. By removing the car you automatically stop buying petrol and parking fees and start investing in public transport which means you are investing in your community’s future. By selling the car you cut registration, maintenance, insurance and interest on repayments.

Housing options:

If the cost of staying where we live is too great we have two main options: to move or to share.

  1. Moving – we can look for cheaper housing. If you are no longer working and want to retire or change your work role, consider moving to a small country town that is connected to family and medical services by reliable public transport. Many country towns are in desperate need of work-age residents and will welcome you. Some people work all their lives to be able to move out of the city when they retire, now could be your opportunity.
  2. Sharing – If you are in financial trouble, there will be many others in need. If you want or need to stay in your home you can take on lodgers or boarders to help pay. You might even be able to retro-fit your home so you can rent out a section and stay in another part with a separate living space. The people you choose to share with might be friends, relatives or students. It will make life more interesting and you can easily go back to living alone later.

Get More Productive At Home:

  • Start cooking more. Share meals with friends instead of meeting them at resturants. When we cook from basics you will have many of these basic items left over to make another meal. Don’t waste money on pre-made or expensive additives but search for fresh local produce. It is harder to use pre-processed leftovers, they cost a lot more and they are often less nutritrious. The risk for people on low-incomes is malnutrition. More often this is the result of poor food choices not a lack of food.  Many people in the so-called developed world are feeling worried, overweight, sickly and lacking energy. Look after your health by eating healthy foods, walking to the shops, to work, or to public transport.
  • Support live local entertainment ideas in your neighbourhood.
  • Start a garden-club, a book-club, a small singing group, a drumming group (you can make your own drums). Have local parties outside with a fire in a drum (unless you are in the inner city and living with fire bans).
    Sell items you haven’t used for years but be careful not to sell items that could be used to earn money.
  • Get out your unfinished projects or hobbies and do them,
  • Make items that you can trade and put up a sign out the front to sell these items. You might be good at fixing bikes or machines, sewing, growing plants, cooking items for sale.
  • Sell some stuff.  Be careful to work out what stuff is procreative and what is degenerative (simply put – work out what makes money and what cost your money). Most residential areas allow you to sell to the public once in a while (like once a month) if it is called a ‘garage sale’. Otherwise, services can be advertised year round: these include home-cleaning, painting, pet grooming and walking, tutoring kids, cooking, baby sitting, massage, organising and promoting events, sports coaching etc. Trade and swap locally. Join LETs or simply trade with friends. The only way to oppose a consumer driven society is to become a producer.
    Grow food, it is very easy to grow tomatoes (simply save the seed from those you buy to eat).
  • Be less wasteful. Start composting and don’t throw away so much food.
    Restrict energy use. Cut your hot water heating hours, e.g. move to off peak, or if you have solar power hot water with a booster, turn the booster off and shower when the water is warmest. Reduce heating and cooling in the house by actively stopping excessive sun entering the house in summer (use shade covers) and preventing warmth from leaving the house in winter (use heavy curtains). Use less rooms and put up dividers (large heavy curtains can be made with blankets or secondhand curtains) in open spaces. Make sure you have all drafts and windows sealed and covered.
  • Reduce consumption of items such as new clothes (buy recycled), haircuts (grow it long), beauty products, gadgets, and have just the occassional treat. E.g. if you walk to town, you can buy something special that would have cost the amount of the petrol for the car.
  • Give more. The more we all give, the more costs will stay low and the more we will value each other. Some people have their houses full of items so it would be physically difficult to downsize. Become active in Freecycle. What is the true cost of keeping your items? Most houses have only a few people but lots of stuff. Be free of your possessions, not driven by a requirement to house them.
  • Smile, a happy person has more friends. People with friends get connections, people with connections get work.  There are a lot of friendly happy people in the world who could never afford a computer to read this article.