Blog Archives

LITTLE STEPS: Down The Drain

Today I thought I’d take a look at something that I think all of us are guilty of doing at some time or another. How often do you contemplate your pipes? Ever wondered about the journey your dish water takes once you pull that plug? Ever stopped to consider exactly how many drops of used cooking oil it takes to kill a fish? Or an ecosystem? This post could be accompanied by some graphic and horrible images, but I thought I’d post photos of some creatures I’ve met on my travels instead. Creatures who can remind us just how important it is to take the extra effort at home to protect our waterways.

A tiny crab we discovered in Fiji

A tiny crab we discovered in Fiji

We use water in diverse ways in our homes: cooking, cleaning, washing, playing, soothing, nourishing, drinking, and of course, flushing. But whatever the reason, all the water we use, whether at home or out and about, makes its way via drains to the sewerage system. Still with me? Not the most fascinating topic, I know. But our lack of interest in our drains is causing damage to our waterways, and the ecosystems they support. What goes down the plug hole, also has to come out somewhere, and for most homes it’s the sewerage system. After treatment, this water then rejoins the water supply for reuse, or is released into creeks, rivers, and oceans. When we don’t pay attention to what we’re putting down the drains, the entire system is affected, which can: Read the rest of this entry

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LITTLE STEPS: Standby to Switch Off

Today I’m writing about an electricity conservation tip that is so simple it drives me nuts when people won’t follow it. Our electrical appliances, entertainment devices, and other assorted gadgets all consume power when they’re plugged in and we’re using them. Simple concept, right? And they all use power when they’re plugged in and we’re not using them.  Simple concept, right? Well, for the majority of people, it would seem not.

All electrical devices fitted with standby mode continue to use power when you’re not using them. Switch the tv off at the remote, walk away, and it happily continues to use electricity, which, for most people, is generated by non-renewable resources. Even if you’re powering your house with solar or wind power, you’re still wasting it unnecessarily when standby is on. How can you tell that it’s still using power? The little glowing red light (or green, or blue, or yellow) is a bit of a giveaway. Those things don’t just glow by themselves!

But sometimes, there’s no light to remind you. Got an iPhone? Ipad? Plug it in to the wall to charge it? If you’re like most gadget owners, when it’s charged you remove the device and leave the charger plugged into the wall (and turned on if you’re in a country with switches on the sockets). Any device which does not need to be manually turned on after connecting the power cord, is one whose power source will continue to use electricity as long as it’s plugged into the wall (and turned on if applicable).

So think about all the devices which use standby in your house. TV? Stereo? Gaming console? DVD player? Microwave? Chargers? Computer? Laptop? Tablet? More? More than one of some items? And what about things you leave constantly connected to their plugged in charger: laptop? Rechargeable vacuum? rechargeable flashlight? Sensor Light? Others?

standby usage per product

Percentage contribution to total household standby power by type of product (in Australia, 2005). Image credit ecoswitch.com.au

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LITTLE STEPS: Get Real About Your Ecological Footprint

Welcome to the first post in my new series Little Steps, where I’ll be examining some of the little steps we can all take to make a big difference to the Earth. Are you overwhelmed and feel that nothing you do can make a difference?  Or do you kneel at the temple of crunchiness daily and think your footstep is non-existent? There are simple things we can all do, every day, to reduce our environmental impact and improve our commitment to sustainability. But before we start examining solutions, the best thing to do is work out your baseline. What is your Ecological Footprint right now?
The Centre for Sustainable Economy’s website myfootprint.org will take you through a simple multiple choice questionnaire to give you a basic overview of what size rack your actions, lifestyle, and home have thrown your ecological shoes onto. If we don’t get real about where we’re starting from, how can we expect to make changes? As you go through the questionnaire you’ll also see hints on how to improve in each area, and as you answer the questions you may realize that there are factors you’ve never even considered. Read the rest of this entry