Armchair Activism – 7 Things You Can Do

spoof on superman

Permaculture designs a greener lifestyle. And we have a wealth of techniques to reduce our impact on the environment. But for once, lets sit back and explore what can be in the comfort of an armchair. Get comfortable. Don a knee rug. Grab your glasses. And join in.

Greg Knight Quality Engineer, BMet Host of WhyNotWollongong,
Founder of Wollongong Power and Renew Illawarra Convenor

7 Armchair Actions

1. Invest in Someone

Traditionally we leave money in our will and have no idea how that will be spent. But there are other options. We can invest in green technologies for your beneficiaries and help them create a greener future. For example: Buy solar panels for a friend or your adult children’s home. For $6k in the bank you would be lucky to earn about 1% = $60 interest for the year. You can buy a solar panel system for about the same amount of money.

A generous act like this has compounding benefits. It will save your adult child $750 per year in reduced power costs and export tariff. Not only have you saved your child money for decades but you have also greened the grid. Even little investments like solar toys spark their imagination and build a better future. These include little gifts like a solar-powered torch. Your gift makes a change for many people and for nature.

2. Make Your Super Truly Super

Move your money away from ecologically damaging investments. Change your super fund category to green. If your fund doesn’t offer a green and ethical category, change funds. Super is a powerful tool for mature investors.

3. Green Your Investments

Green your share portfolio. Forget currencies that guzzle valuable energy. Look at what the super investment companies are choosing for their green funds.

Abandon fossil fuel assets. These will eventually become stranded assets. And their value is likely to plummet, not slowly decline.

4. Lobby

Lobby for change. You can lobby on a national scale for example Australia could save a lot of energy by simply upgrading the voltage of the national grid. And the USA could save a huge amount of energy by allowing people to dry their clothes outdoors.

“Your local Council is capable of making fundamental changes to our living systems in a way to improve our climate. Understand the actions your Council is taking on your behalf. Read their climate plan. Find ways this can be improved. And lobby your local Councillor. Write letters offering a fresh perspective, background research and creative solutions,

Here is a link to his proposal to his local city council

Thinking globally, subscribe to newsletters of the Climate,  donate to their cause or join their campaigns. The Citizens Climate Lobby offers training on how to influence politicians and start a conversation.” Greg noted.

5. Support Sustainable Technology

Australia is leading the wor\ld with solar panel installation. This is because it works. One family after another has invested. They have discovered the pay back on investment is around 5 years. After that you can enjoy free electricity.

Support sustainable technology such as electric cars. These can be powered by your solar system. When the time comes, replace your current gas or old electric hot water system with a timed heat pump system. Heat/cool your house with an air conditioner. Their clever use of physics provides 3-5 times the heating/cooling power than conventional systems. Investigate ways to stop air leaks and air movement in your main living room. How many bodies (at 100w each) does it take to heat your living room?

King Henry is surrounded by a dense crowd of kneeing subjects. Everyone is heavily cloaked in the dim, austere hall. They ask: Is the room warm enough now?
How many bodies (at 100w each) does it take to heat your living room?

Downsize and get cosy. Use smaller rooms as a winter hideaway or snug. And rug up. Retrosuburbia has lots of ideas on how to downsize and be closer to your family and friends.

6. Get Collective

Community power collectives include the Windfarm in Hepburn. What project could your street get into?

7. Upskill

Even from your armchair, you can make a difference. When you are happy in the armchair, you buy less and learn more.

Learn more about your community waste and how it can be repurposed. Also, learn how to improve and manage your home. Your home is not a box. It interacts with the climate outside. You can open the sunny windows or blinds in the morning and close them in the afternoon.

Learn more with our online method. We provide a wealth of course notes, videos and personal mentorship.

Transport: Driving Us Further Apart

The Tyranny of Distance

earth_sun_day_fireyThe world population grows every second.  As the density increases each of us gets physically closer to one another.  Very few of us remain are truly remote.  And yet, most of us are more reliant than ever on transport for work, goods, services, education, vacations and relationships.

Why do we travel more and travel further? Is eco-transport the solution or will expectations simply match capacity to travel. Can we change this culture of transport to cut the mileage and build true sustainability?

On Being Distant

chinese-pedlar-ming-dynasty-chicago-museum_2The more wealth a person accumulates, the more distant they become. They need more storage and display space. This bigger wealthy living space creates their physical separation from society. But this is not the only force driving the wealthy apart. The huge growth in sales for solo entertainment and exercise gadgets adds to the pressure for space.  Self-driving cars will simply encourage us to travel further and longer.  Wealthy consumers have a reducing need to share. Perhaps they will enjoy the lower risk of catching germs in public spaces and a reduced potential to be the target of any uncomfortable village gossip. But there is a serious downside to this excess.

In this hedonistic space no-one can hear you scream.

fostering a love of animals helps children develop empathy and understanding of nature.

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. .. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison ..We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. Albert Einstein, 1954

Future of Eco-Transport

Transport in the future will be more efficient not just because fuel may become more expensive but because the pollutants from each vehicle need to be cooler. Automobiles are a major contributor to climate change. So, each automobile needs to be cleaner and used more wisely. The average car sits idle, quietly depreciating, 92 percent of the time.

bikeBicycles are the most efficient form of transport and it is great how major cities like Copenhagen and London have built bicycle superhighways. Of course, public transport is easier for most commuters and freight companies. Rail is especially good for long distances. A lot of governments have been forging new public transit technologies. Shipping is the most efficient means of transporting goods and cruise ships are enjoying an era of renewal for long distance travel. Cars rank very low in transport efficiency.

Cars of the future will need to be:

  • car of futureModular. We could make cars as small as necessary and able to linked to one another as required.
  • Fully Biodegradable. Steel is biodegradable and some new plastics can be made out of very tough natural materials.
  • Durable
  • Able to fixed easily. When items are able to be fixed simply, they have a far greater chance of durability. If you break down in a rare vehicle, be prepared to wait longer for someone to know how to fix it and have the parts.
  • Classic and functional yet beautiful in design. Beauty enables a vehicle to be treasured much longer than its peak performance period.
  • Self-analysing and self-repairing.  Living modes of transport such as horses are self-repairing if well maintained.

Permaculture is Not Idyllic Country Living

The ideal permaculture home does not sit in isolation. When we are sharing and giving to family, to neighbours, to the community, to our society, we build a more peaceful world.

Culture Shift To Reduce Transport Needs

There are three ways to modify our behaviour to reduce our need to travel.
1. Be Proud – celebrate local foods and services 2. Be Creative 3. Share

1. Celebrate Local Production


Local produce fits the climate so it usually has less chemical inputs, is more nutritious because it is fresher (has not been transported far) and supports local workers.

2. Creative and Inventive

Being creative means we find ways to solve the problem that have local resources. It can be as simple as finding an alternative utensil for a task rather than buying another tool imported from a foreign country.

3. Sharing

Permaculture leader, David Holmgren says: sharing a ride will double your efficiency, instantly. When we share more, we need less storage space and get better neighbours. If that’s not possible ask yourself: why live in the kind of area that people don’t appreciate sharing?

Sharing can be:sharing-over-fence

  • Formal like hiring a car or a suit, or paying for local food
  •  Informal like barter or offering a neighbour a lift, lending them a car or giving them an old bike. The building of trust can start with just a friendly cup of sugar when they have run low.
  • Semi-formalised like local exchange currency trading, business barter systems, and selling/recycling goods on eBay, gum-tree.

Sharing and giving reduces our need to travel. It builds trust within relationships, neighbourhood goodwill and peaceful communities. People who enjoy each other’s company are more likely to make fun at home together rather than feel the need to travel to see friends.

Join us in a permaculture course online or on Permaculture Design Course Retreat.