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

Learn more about Permaculture with us.

 

 

 

 

Still Not Digging It – no-dig gardens

No-dig gardening is not just the easiest way to convert compacted crusty sub-soil to lush gardens full of food. Nor was it simply the best way for us to combat an acre of vigorous grasses that grow more than 2 meters high up and over our young trees. On a global scale, No-dig gardening is the best way to grow food without releasing any carbon into the atmosphere.

Martin Crawford understands the power of no-dig gardening in his food forest. He has a beaut book Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops”

No-dig gardens at Permaculture Visions demonstration site.
No-dig gardens at Mt. Kembla Permaculture Visions demonstration site.

Learn more here about the no-dig gardening method we used over the past 20 years to build our food forest.

The no-dig garden made with cardboard provides:

  1. protection from erosion for the soil
  2. moisture trapping (if laid carefully in reverse-tile pattern).
  3. evaporation barrier
  4. carbon and organic matter
  5. worm-food
  6. composting of a waste that is often sent to landfill
  7. weed-control and conversion to worm-food
  8. food without killing soil micro-organisms
  9. habitat for soil fungi

On the down-side we do need to be careful to remove all plastic-wrap, ties and tape attached to the cardboard as this is a real threat to small animals and reptiles.

Jerusalem Artichokes sunning to improve sugars
Jerusalem Artichokes work in the no-dig gardens to break heavy soil and provide food.

Join us in an upcoming practical workshop on no-dig or simply learn with us online.

Happy Giving

Why Give Gifts?

Gift giving is up there with the biggest consumer spending frenzies of our lives. It is as emotionally charged as buying a home, a car or a holiday. Some people might think the easy answer is to stop spending and stop giving gifts. Some might think that it is better to give money so the recipient can choose to spend it how they wish. But giving money is giving up on all the trimmings that go with the act of giving.  We give each other things to show we have thought about them, want to share things with them and give them surprises. In contrast to this – being mean makes people more isolated, more distrustful, less caring and self-centered.

Generosity is an up-ward spiral of positive thoughts, an enriching psychological experience. When we are generous, we are kind and say encouraging things and act to support others.  We can turn the gift-giving into an opportunity to good for others, for producers and for the planet.

Gifts For The People You Love And The Planet You Treasure

 

Instrument craftsman in Peru

Locally handcrafted gifts are three way gifts – They give to monetary support and encouragement to
1. your loved one
2. the planet, and
3. your local artists and economy

Personal Gifts

  • Buying Antiques allows an item to be loved again. Antique collectors value design, craftmanship and durability.  Antique items have character, are unique and often have a life-story to reveal. There are many amazing pieces of history that need a good home, to be dusted, polished and cared for. We don’t need to buy anything new when there is so much stuff from the past.
  • indiana-state-museum-fossilsFossils and other historic items need care, you can give these to a friend who will exhibit and value them OR you could give a gift of membership to your local museum.
  •  Handmade jewellery or handbag jewellery or
  • bookmark or spectacle holder made from recycled necklace.
  • Tickets to see a show (there’s little wrapping or waste, simply pop it in a hand-made card).
  • Hire a ride in a vintage car, this is especially good for people who need a special outing but can’t go out for a long period.
  • Photos of their childhood, family members and travels presented as a small non-plastic ‘poster’.
  • Hand-made photo frames.
  • A real razor blade, not a disposable one.
  • Under-arm de-odorising rock salt crystal.
  • Walking shoes.
  • Handkerchiefs or cloth serviettes instead of paper tissues. These are amazingly handmade jewellerygood finds in the op-shops and markets – You can find some still in their packaging and of a very fine quality linen.
  • A silk pillow case to prevent hair from getting knotty in bed
  • A silk eye pillow with dried herbs and calming oils
  • A basket of homemade ecologically sound cleansers.
  • Cosmetics and toiletries made from natural ingredients and not tested on animals.
  • Their favourite home cooked meal frozen in a resealable serving dish, ready for a weary day. include recipe in a card.
  • A hand made scarf/bow/tie or cloth jewelery bag.
  • A hand-made musical instrument or clothing

Homely Gifts

  • A live potted Christmas tree, that can be planted out after Christmas. This could live potted tree Mt Kembla Permaculture Visionsbe a native pine OR a large chilli plant full of chillis (for a Summer Christmas – southern hemisphere) OR a shrub that is full of flowers such as a rose (to make rose syrup and other delicacies).
  • Home made preserves and chilli sauces
  • A Packet/s of seeds. OR make a suprise packet out of mixed seeds (check they are all edible in case they are mistaken)
  • Subscription to a seed saving group, soft technology magazines, organic gardening magazines, rare fruits association etc.
  • A donation to a charity such as Tear or other like organisation on the recipients behalf.
  • Hand-made compost bay.
  • Worm farm made from found materials. The Potted worm farm looks great with a plant on top and you can water it whenever you pop over.
  • A non-disposable lunch kit with a thermos or drink bottle, lunch box with separate compartments so no wrap is required, cloth serviettes. You can add a few velcro fastners to make a cloth serviette into a durable, washable wrap.
  • A fountain pen and coloured inks.
  • A cup to carry everywhere.
  • Cloth nappies and a pledge to help hang them out.
  • Energy saving shower head.
  • An eco-tour or eco-holiday voucher (you can offer to take them on a bush-walk or holiday or their choice).
  • Durable garden tools.
  • Books on organic gardening, composting, herbs and flowers, native species.
  • Field guides on birds and local reptiles.
  • solar recharger for phone – this is great to take on a hike, in case you get lost! Also include a flint or even a little survival kit.
  • A garden pond with optional solar powered fountain.
  • A fruit dryer.
  • A yoghurt maker.
  • Rechargeable batteries with re-charger.
  • A tent and small, efficient camping equipment. To encourage clean bush walking and adventure.
  • Dried herbs and flowers from your garden and instructions on their use as a tea.
  • Natural wool or angora sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, socks.
  • Hand-made baskets, natural fibre washing baskets, paper waste containers, pot plant containers, picnic baskets.
  • Canvas, string or cane shopping bags, ham bag.  A supermarket cloth bag with a favourite fabric pocket sewn over the logo as well as a bit of elastic inside the sides. These bags are always too wide and floppy.
  • Potted kitchen herbs in organic potting mix (you could make this yourself).our winter harvest Permaculture Visions
  • Edible house plants such as sugar cane for hot spots, mint, shallots, monstera vine.
  • Gift voucher for nursery plants or environmental products and courses.
  • Beeswax or remade candles.
  • Homemade preserves.
  • Hand-painted recycled glassware.
  • Organic Christmas Cake or other special treat.
  • A homemade Christmas wreath of grapevine and other home grown materials.
  • Blankets (cotton or wool) suitable for the lounge and living areas.
  • recycled material turned into Cloth kitchen washers/cloths/ car washers etc. You can simply cut and hem the edges.
  • if you must get something high-tech here is a good guide for Ethical Technologies choices

TOYS FOR CHILDREN

  • Redeemed  toys (repainted bicycle, trike, scooter, rocking horse). Use safe paints, preferably organic paint products. These items could be antiques but beware of toxicity of old paints and any loose parts.
  • Homemade cushions and bean bags with environmentally friendly safe stuffing.
  • A wooden loom and natural fabrics for weaving.
  • A dolls or action figures tent made of recycled fabrics and stakes.
  • Science series books by David Suzuki.
  • A homemade backyard swing or tree house, a rope climbing aparatus.
  • A small gardening kit, tools and seed.
  • Wooden or cane furniture.prize pumpkins Permaculture Visions
  • seeds for novelty plants such as giant pumpkins.
  • Roller skates or bicycles to encourage energy efficient travel.
  • Recycled or re-used paper fastened as a book.
  • Craft books.
  • Weather proof boots.
  • Pets such as ducklings and hens, Guinea pigs or Rabbit in hutch to mow the lawn.

Wrap gifts in Re-useable materials

  • Children’s Artworks
  • unused photocopied music scores
  • Material Shopping bags
  • Tea towels or Hand towels
  • Biodegradable tablecloths
  • Sari or Beach wrap
  • Scarf
  • Beach towel
  • Picnic rug
  • Bamboo place-mats
  • hand made paper or
  • hand made bags

How To Avoid Wasted Food After Special Celebrations

Plan you menu
Write a Shopping list
Measure your serving sizes or let people serve themselves
Store Food Correctly
Eat the Leftovers
feed the leftovers to your chickens or worm farm