Waste Less – Want Less

The best way to lighten our footprint is to consume less. Then the next best way is to find ways to use the stuff to its full potential. Finally, lets use our waste to regenerate the environment.

Every dollar we spend has the power to influence what the producers create. And how we limit, convert, or use our waste has the power to influence our environment. Let’s use this power for good.

Mindful consumption

Mindful consumption has three stages. Firstly, there’s the respect and awareness of the waste generated throughout the total life of the product. Secondly, there’s the search for ways to use the materials to their full potential. Then thirdly, we find ways to reclaim the materials to regenerate the environment.

To buy or not to buy! That is the basic question. Above all refuse everything that cannot be recycled. And, if you get a choice, choose materials that cost less energy to produce and cost less energy to recycle. For instance, both wood and metal biodegrade. But wood costs less to create and is less dangerous as it degrades.

Gull nesting with plastics flickr.com/photos/thomashaeusler/

The Consumer Trap

As consumers we’re trapped in an ongoing cycle where resources are taken from the earth They are manufactured as cheaply as possible. Then we like it. But soon forsake it for the next big thing. But we need to resist everything that is harmful.

Every day, waste washes up on tiny island beaches and it’s often from another country. The truth is we don’t know the real cost of our waste. Nylon is one of the biggest pollutants in city harbours. The Nano plastics, tiny plastics, can get into our skin and bloodstream. Next time you buy underwear, check the material. Plastic based materials include nylon and elastin whereas natural fibers include cotton and wool. And when you go to throw out the old underpants that are made of natural fibers you can put them into the worm farm.

Plastic-free comfortable underpants https://www.thebottomlineunderwear.com/shop

It’s a good idea to know the true cost of the manufacture the mining, the wearing or using, and the disposal of a product. The true cost of the mining of materials includes the loss of habitat, loss of carbon into the atmosphere, loss of soil to absorb water, and polluted streams and rivers. And mining often occurs in remote areas in communities of vulnerable people. And in countries of poor governance. As a consumer, do we want support the abuse of vulnerable communities?

Blind consumption – Take, Make, Like then Forsake

Why Throw That All Away?

In the consumer trap we take make like and forsake. That’s pretty much blind consumption. Alternatively, it would be great to live with purposeful consumption where we accept stuff that we can determine its reuse. Then we protect it by maintaining it maybe even improve it by restoring it or retrofitting it. Later, when we don’t need it anymore, we let someone else have it. Ghandi said “Live simply so others may simply live”. Cutting harmful consumption lets all beings can live better.

Purposeful consumption – accept, protect, retrofit, then donate

Exploring the R’s

Reusing something doesn’t change the product or its function. Whereas, repurposing it gives it a totally different function. For instance, we can reuse a jar to store leftovers then as the jar gets old and scratched we can reuse it for seed raising or a potted plant. A fun reuse of a product is to redistribute it. To share it. Sharing spreads goodwill. Think about the full cost of hoarding. Do you desire a home for stuff or a home for people?

Reuse, Repurpose and Redistribute

Repair, Retrofit , Remodel and Restore

Things usually break because we are using them. This means they have value to us and our part of our lives. And having an attitude to repair things helps us to deal with mistakes and failures better than this some repairs can make the items stronger or more beautiful patchwork and invisible mending turns a piece of clothing into a walking artwork. There are repair cafes all around the world they bring people together the knowledge keepers feel valued and the consumer discovers how to fix things.

Repair and Retrofit

Now let’s have a look at restoration. Nature is that it is forever optimistic life doesn’t give up it pushes through and it demands to find a way. Nature will colonize a building with mold and plants and it will slowly turn the building back into soil. Maintaining things saves energy saves resources and it honours our heritage.

Redesign and Regenerate

We can place things at random or we can consider their use and their interaction and integrate them in the example on the left where there’s random placement of things the car or the van is a pollution source to the pond it’s a threat to the chickens and the falling fruit is a bit of a menace if it’s near the pathway whereas in the designed placement the palm tree shades the van the van doesn’t pollute the pond because there’s a filtering garden between and the fallen fruit goes directly to the chickens beyond converting waste into new products or finding more efficient connections.

There are many ways to use waste to regenerate the environment. The simplest regenerative act is to save seed and grow it into a new plant. And a hedge is a regenerative substitute for the rusting metal fence.

Turn Waste into Wealth

Food waste becomes fertilizer. Grey water benefits gardens. And restored homes, antiques and vintage clothing can turn a profit.

In summary, we reduce waste by refusing non-recyclables, resisting hazardous materials and sharing items. Then we explore the many ways to get full use out of things. This includes reusing, repurposing, retrofitting, repairing, remodelling and restoring. Ultimately, the best avoidance of waste lies in the redesign of the items so that they are easily deconstructed and responsibly repurposed and recycled. Finally, we redesign our lifestyles so we use things more efficiently.

Next time you buy something: choose the product that is made with biological resources. Because nature works for free seven days a week and it doesn’t need any help from us to recycle.

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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,

Thinking globally, subscribe to newsletters of the Climate Council350.org,  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.