The Occasional BLogger
It was thrilling to see this little 'grow free' table in my street yesterday, packed full of limes and early grapefruit. I stopped, keen to take a photograph and collect a few limes. The owner saw me and was happy to chat. He explained that he and his wife have been using a cardboard box on their nature strip to share extra produce with neighbours. It seems they were out recently and saw the little pine table on a kerbside collection 'free to good home'. His wife suggested they pick it up to display and share their produce with their neighbours. What a wonderful opportunity to repurpose and reuse the table, as well as promoting local food sharing and reduced food miles. I only had to drive half a block for my freshly picked limes!
The Occasional BLogger
Benalla Local Food Network convenor and local dietitian Kathryn McQualter is always on the look out sturdy wooden baby changing tables or auto-trays to convert into 'grow carts' to place in community settings to share fresh fruit and vegetables, home made jams and sauces, seedlings and other produce.
'Before Covid', Kathryn's Grow Free Cart was a popular feature in the waiting area of Benalla Health's Community Centre in Coster Street. Continuing restrictions in the health sector have led to the need to find it a new home. It has just been relocated to a new home at Tomorrow Today Foundation, Corner of Cecily Court/Nunn Street, Benalla, Shop 10 Cecily Court, 66 Nunn St, Benalla VIC 3672 +61 3 5762 1211 tomorrowtoday.com.au.
How to set up a grow cart in your local community ...
Reading and resources:
Grow Free Website and Grow Free on Facebook
Is the number of your house clearly visible to others?
A retired friend with a long history of working in the transport industry said in conversation recently.... 'You know, you Greenies should promote the idea of making sure houses are visibly numbered. :Lots of fuel is used and emissions increased when delivery drivers go around in circles trying to find houses without clearly visible numbering".
Reflecting later on his comment, it seemed a Google search was in order. I couldn't find any links relating house numbering to the reduction of greenhouse gasses. Most links mentioned one or more of the reasons listed in an article titled '7 reasons why you need a visible house number' -1) Legal 2) Emergency Services 3) Postie 4) Deliveries (eg. parcel; food, take-out) 5) Family and Friends 6) Home Services 7) Potential Home Buyers.
It seems an eighth reason could be added - 8) To reduce greenhouse emissions!
The '7 Reasons' article makes a number of suggestions for effective house numbering:
"BEST WAYS TO DISPLAY A HOUSE NUMBER
Living in Benalla, every seven years or so itinerant 'house numberers' arrive at my door holding number stencils, iridescent paint and brushes and cheerfully ask if I'd like the house number painted on the kerbside guttering outside my house freshened up. After agreeing on the price, they proceed. This visible house number numbering, together with the brass numbering on the letterbox outside the house, appear to 'do the trick' as deliveries and visits proceed without complaint.
Perhaps 'house numberers' should add 'Reduce Greenhouse Emissions' to their marketing spiel!
The Occasional BLogger
As someone who has recently updated the ceiling fans in the house, also has a large pedestal fan and a tower fan, and only uses the air conditioner as a last resort, this article captured my eye...
Do fans make any difference during a heatwave? ABC, Kelsie Iorio, 20 December 2019
"The way a fan keeps you cool is that it either blows cold air across your skin so you lose heat via a process called convection and it helps sweat evaporate faster."
Ollie Jay, an associate professor in thermo regulatory physiology from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Medicine and Health, interviewed for the article, said fans can be extremely beneficial in heatwaves, especially when you know what kind of heat you're dealing with.
Fans are particularly effective when the heatwave is humid - with a recent Australian clinical trial by Dr Jay and his team on the effects of electric fans under different resting heat index conditions finding that in higher humidity, fans reduced core temperature and cardiovascular strain and improved thermal comfort.
"The reason that humidity is very problematic is that it prevents the sweat that you're producing from evaporating. ...The issue is getting the water off the skin and getting it to evaporate so it cools you down. You can really accelerate that evaporation by increasing airflow across the skin."
"When the air goes above 35 degrees Celsius, you're no longer losing heat via convection. But, it still helps sweat evaporate at a faster rate. That's the most important way in which we keep cool."
The Federal Government's YourHome sustainability tool, suggests fans as 'the first choice for mechanical cooling in most Australian climates, recommending any kind of fan, floor, wall, ceiling or stand-alone as the cheapest cooling option to run with the lowest environmental impact.fans. If you don't already have ceiling fans installed, floor fans, pedestal fans or tower fans are readily available and entry-level models are often fairly affordable. Pedestal fans are apparently really good for generating airflow and don't need to be expensive.
Dr Jay's research has found the situation regarding the use of fans in hot-dry conditions more complicated, even deleterious, in very hot-dry heat conditions over 42 degrees Celsius.
However his team's follow up research in both hot-humid and hot-dry conditions has found that externally applying water to the skin using a flannel or spray bottle, even without a fan, and submerging feet in water to manage extreme heat can reduce body heat via evaporation or conduction when body parts are submerged.
"That water evaporates and basically prevents you having to produce too much sweat because it's doing the job sweat does anyway, and it keeps you cool."
After reading the article I feel reassured that I am on the right track in my use of fans, but as the heat waves in my area usually fall into the hot-dry category, am looking in the cupboards for flannels and spray bottles and will be taking particular care to supplement my use of fans with water applying strategies once the temperature enters the late 30C's and 40C's.
An occasional BLog.
An interesting piece from Peter Sainsbury's environmental roundup on John Menadue's Pearl's and Irritations site on Saturday 8 December...
"Don’t know about you but I refuse to engage with climate deniers. Life is too short to waste my time on them. That’s not to say that some climate deniers are not very influential politically and in business circles but Rupert and Gina and their friends don’t frequent my haunts very often. That all said, it is useful to be well acquainted with the more common concerns people express about climate change and be able to respond to them: How can there be global warming when there’s a snowstorm? Scientists can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather, much less the climate in 100 years. How do we know humans are to blame? Carbon dioxide is good for plants. What about the economy and jobs? etc. etc. To help you, the Climate Reality Project has produced a useful guide: ‘The 12 questions every climate activist hears and what to say’.
You can see some of the deniers’ points being made in Craig Reucassel’s short video about Australians’ views on climate change'.
Have you determined your carbon footprint? There are a range of online carbon footprint calculators. This one seems to take in quite a lot of data so it should be fairly accurate https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx.
I have put this on the BSFG website, https://www.bsfg.org.au/energy-overview.html.
I found this carbon footprint calculator at Australian Ethical https://www.australianethical.com.au/carbon-footprint-calculator/. My footprint is 9.96 Tonnes CO2e per year which is about what I get using other calculators.
However the most interesting thing about this calculator is that it allows the inclusion of financial investments which have a very large effect on my carbon footprint. Assuming I had $200,000 in mainstream investments my footprint increases to 37.67 tonnes of CO2 emissions (CO2e) and accounts for around 26.7 tonnes CO2e or 70.9% of my carbon footprint. If I invest in low carbon funds I would reduce my overall annual carbon footprint by approximately 43% to around 21.47 tonnes CO2e. Is investment environmentally sustainable?
Carbon Footprint Calculators generally give a report showing total annual carbon emissions, but may also include a breakdown on where emissions are coming from such as transport, including air travel, housing, food and consumption expenditure, highlighting areas where reductions can be made.
This article appeared initially in the September 2019 edition of the BSFG Newsletter.
Office Works 'circular economy' - return your unused computers, printers etc for recycling - Albury and Shepparton
Click to set custom HTML
It is encouraging that the Coles and Woolworths supermarkets in Benalla both now have REDcycle bins in their foyers to collect soft plastic items for recycling. A Melbourne-based company RedPlas has been collecting and recycling soft plastics for a number of years now, and turning them into products such as benches, signs, boardwalks and bollards. They collect plastics that cannot be recycled in our yellow bins, and that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Items they want include bread bags, silver lined chip packets, clean cling wrap, frozen food and fresh produce bags, bubble wrap, plastic Australia Post satchels and zip lock bags to name just a few. But they DON’T WANT plastic bottles or containers, drinking straws, glass, polystyrene, paper or cardboard. The REDcycle website shows what plastics can be recycled through the REDcycle bins at Coles and Woolies. Basically if it is soft plastic that can be scrunched up into a ball, it can go in the REDcycle bin. A detailed list of what and what NOT to REDcycle is attached below.
Reduce e-waste in our land fills! This thought provoking article, '10 Handy Uses for your Old iPad or Android Tablet' by Michael Cridon, was published in online magazine 'How to Geek' on December 27, 2017. Many of the suggestions also apply to redundant smartphones.
"Tablet sales are slumping at the moment, probably as a result of big smartphones and convertible laptops chip away at a tablet’s usefulness. But if you have one or more tablets at home gathering dust while you happily poke away at your giant smartphone, there are probably some good ways to put them to use rather than selling them or recycling them. Here are a few ideas.
Turn it into a Streaming Media Machine Android and iOS apps for most streaming music and video services are readily available, even if they’re not specifically for tablets. So why not augment a hi-fi stereo or a Bluetooth speaker with a dedicated tablet controller? It’s much easier to manage than, say, a remote control, and in a kitchen a tablet is easier to press buttons on than a smartphone. Pandora and Spotify are obvious examples, but in a living room a shared tablet can be paired with a Chromecast or Roku for easier Netflix browsing or streaming. And speaking of living rooms…
Use It as a Smart Remote Control Logitech’s Harmony series of remotes is a favorite among videophiles with big AV collections. But the Harmony system can be used with Android and iOS devices too, including tablets—and in fact the touch screen makes them much easier to program. Even if you don’t have a dedicated smart remote set up, many smart TVs and standalone systems like Android TV, Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV offer remote apps for mobile devices, not to mention dedicated cable boxes and receivers. Individual quality of the apps notwithstanding, it can be a much better way to navigate long lists or complex user interfaces.
Create a Desktop Widget Screen If you have a desktop computer workstation, or even a laptop that you periodically plug into a monitor setup for more comfortable work or play, an otherwise unused tablet can make a great accompaniment. Paired with a stand and a charger, it can make a handy dedicated email screen (especially with push email and home screen widgets on Android), an RSS, Twitter or Facebook viewer, or even a second screen tool for PC gaming enthusiasts to check their thermal statistics. There are even programs that let you display a screen full of custom commands and macro keys that are then sent to your PC over the wireless network.
Turn it into a Second Desk Top Monitor Want to live the dual-screen desktop life without having to buy any more equipment? There are several apps that will let your computer treat your tablet like an extra monitor, either wirelessly via Wi-Fi or with a direct USB connection (which also helps with charging). Note that, unlike most of the other uses on this list, iOS and iPads seem to be better supported for external displays, but it’s still possible on Android—just not quite as good.
Use it as a Guest or Kid's PC Setting up an entire computer just for guests to use when they visit you is a bit of a chore, but don’t forget that a phone or tablet is basically an all-in-one computer that doesn’t need to be tethered to a conventional monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Using guest mode on Android or iOS, it’s easy to let someone use your system and your network without having to set up a new account for them or grant them uncomfortably close access to your own data. You can even add back a stand and a Bluetooth keyboard to make things easier for them. And of course, tablets are already quite popular as “starter computers” for kids who aren’t quite old enough for a full-power Windows machine or their own cell phone.
Give it New Life as a Dedicated Smart Home Controller If you’ve invested enough money into wiring your house with smart gadgets like a Nest thermostat, Wi-Fi lighting, automatic blinds, and even connected appliances, you’re probably already using your phone to control some or all of them. Install all of the applicable apps on a tablet, stick ’em in a home screen folder, mount the tablet on a wall with a charger, and you have a dedicated hub for controlling everything in the house. Oh, and you might want to put a PIN number on that thing, too—especially if it’s within kid reach.
Turn It Into a Dedicated Security Monitor or Baby Monitor Your tablet has a Wi-Fi chip, one or two cameras, and a microphone. That means that if you can find an appropriate place to stick it with constant power, it’s already well equipped to be a remote control camera… which can be a handy way to create one if you’d like to save some dough on the genuine article. There are multiple iOS and Android apps specifically designed to turn an otherwise unused device into either a standard Wi-Fi camera with recording capabilities, or a baby monitor that can alert another mobile device with noise or movement notifications. It’s a great way to re-purpose your existing devices. (The article included a link to this YouTube video:)
Convert It Into a Mini Arcade Cabinet This one’s pretty much just for the iPads, because Android tablets aren’t standardized enough to be slipped into semi-custom cases that look like someone took a shrink ray to that ancient arcade machine from your childhood. But the results are undeniably cool: these little stand-up cases include old-fashioned button and joystick controls (connected directly or wirelessly) and uses an iPad’s screen as a replacement for an arcade CRT. There are a surprising number of old and new games on the App Store that are compatible with these gadgets, and the most widely-sold seems to be the branded iCade. Of course you could do the same thing with a regular stand and a Bluetooth controller, but where’s the fun in that?
DIY Your Own Car Stereo Screen If you’re a gearhead who’s seriously into the tech inside your car’s dashboard, and you’re comfortable voiding a huge part of your manufacturer’s warranty, you could try replacing the head unit of your car stereo with a tablet. This is a surprisingly popular car mod, especially for smaller tablets like the Nexus 7. Check out dozens of guides and breakdowns on YouTube if you’re interested…and remember that in most places it’s illegal to watch a video while you’re driving. These kinds of mods are best for music management and performance statistics, and even then, used carefully while the car is in motion.
Use It as a Dedicated Voice Control Hub If you’ve been drooling over a voice controlled gadget like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, it might have crossed your mind that your cell phone can already do pretty much the same thing. Ditto for your tablet—heck, Amazon is even putting screens in these things now. Google and Apple’s tablets can both be activated hands free with “OK Google” and “Hey Siri” commands, and they tie into most of the same services. That being said, a dedicated tablet won’t have the rather nice 360-degree speakers or advanced microphones in the genuine article, but for the low price of free-because-you-already-have-it, it’s not bad.
A Note on Battery Life For a lot of these applications, you might be wondering how to use your tablet untethered and keep the battery going for more than a day or two. Consider that a lot of these suggestions are periodical rather than constant—it’s not as if you need to use a remote for hours at a time. For instances where a dedicated dock or charger is impractical, remember to use your tablet’s airplane mode if you’re not actively connecting to the Internet. Combining low standby power use, no wireless drain, and a battery two to four times the one in your cell phone, most tablets will last for a week or more off the charger.
Cridon, M (2017) '10 Handy uses for Your Old iPhone or Android Tablet' How-to-Geek https://www.howtogeek.com/315258/10-handy-uses-for-your-old-ipad-or-android-tablet/ accessed 19/1/2018
"There are some basic energy-saving tips that anyone who is conscious of their environmental footprint or looking to save money on bills will have heard time and time again. These are not those. We’ve gone down the unbeaten track to gather six surprising energy hacks that will take your home’s sustainability levels to the next level. Game, set, match.
Pack your freezer tightly As counter intuitive as it may sound, the more you have in the freezer, the more efficient your freezer will be. Avoid buying an unnecessarily large fridge and start getting into the habit of freezing leftovers rather than throwing them out. In those instances where your freezer isn’t full, use newspaper, ice trays, ice packs or bags of ice to keep the space tightly packed.
Get stove smart The smaller the burner, the less energy it uses, so simply matching your pot size to the burner you’re using can save you a huge amount of energy. In addition, only boiling the amount of water you need and adding a pinch of salt to speed up the boiling process can save you energy, and cooking with the pot lid on for as long as possible will help speed up the process.
Use a slow cooker or microwave Despite the fact that slow cookers are on for hours on end and microwaves simply seem as though they would be energy suckers, in fact these smaller appliances use far less energy than the oven. Use these two time-savers and your wallet will benefit, too.
Light up the corners Make the most of your lighting by letting it bounce off the walls to brighten an entire room. Putting a light fixture, like a lamp, in the corner of a room with a lower-wattage bulb will provide your room with an amount of light similar to that given off by a more powerful bulb in the middle of the room.
Redecorate around your heating and cooling If you have curtains or furniture blocking the heating vents in your home, you’ll find yourself cranking up the thermostat more often than you really need to. Shuffle things around to allow for at least 30 centimetres of space so the air can get out and flow through your home.
Close your apps, use airplane mode and unplug your phone charger Our smartphones demand a lot of charging and can suck up more energy than we realise. Cut this down by closing all your apps to conserve battery, swapping to airplane mode while you’re charging to speed up the process and unplugging your phone charger when it’s not in use.
Making sure you’re on the best value energy plan can also help you keep costs down".
Source: Energy Australia
Maybe you are not ready to give up the plastic altogether but there are some easy ways to make a big difference in reducing the amount of plastic waste that is a huge burden to our environment. Recycling goes some of the way to easing the issue; however it is a much better option to avoid the use of plastic as much as possible.
Bring your own shopping bag
I am thinking hessian is best. Or why not make your own out of left over fabric? In addition to bigger
carryall bags, you can take your own reusable produce bags or don’t use produce bags at all.
Ditch bottled water
Such an easy way to reduce waste. Keep a refillable bottle handy and take it wherever you go. Bottled water is incredibly expensive compared to the tap. Say ‘no’ to bottled water.
BYO Coffee Cup
Coffee Cups are usually lined with a polyethylene making it difficult to be recycled. Take your own refillable cup....you may even get your coffee at a reduced price!!
Choose cardboard over plastic bottles and bags
Try pasta in a box instead of a bag, detergent in a box instead of a bottle. Even better, see if the cardboard is from a sustainable source.
Say ‘no’ to straws
They are just not necessary. Paper or stainless straws are an option. Get plastic out of the makeup drawer and bathroom
Aim for none in your products.
Skip the disposable razor
Re-think your food storage
Try to use glass instead of plastic for fridge/pantry storage. Take your own containers for the left over restaurant meal. Use reusable sandwich wraps e.g.‘Keep Leaf’ eco-friendly bags.
Use cloth nappies over disposable nappies
Shop in Bulk
Consider joining the BSFG Bulk Food Co-op. Keep your eye out for places with refill stations or bulk purchases.
Think about fashion choices
Do you really need another item of clothing? Consider clothes swapping with your friends and family. Check out the Op Shop.
Try to follow the practices you have at home. Carry a lightweight rolled-up reusable carry bag. Purify the tap water – choose to avoid the bottled water. My daughter recently travelled Sri Lanka, India and Nepal for 3 months and used a ‘Steripen’ handheld water purifier....was fantastic, easy to use, saved heaps of dollars, and heaps of plastic bottle waste.
CHOOSE TO REFUSE
Check out the ABC’s “War on Waste”:
And the website for “Plastic Free July”:
Also recommended reading:
BSFG Plastic Bag Action Group
Source BSFG's May Newsletter, 2017
Check out this link on treehugger.com - https://www.treehugger.com/green-home/11-easy-ways-reduce-your-plastic-waste-today.html
The ABC reached out to community members for ideas on the best ways to keep cool during a heatwave if the power cuts — or if you don't have air-conditioning to start with. They are energy reducing at any time.
"Use cold packs and frozen tea towels:
Keep it cool outdoors:
It's important to make sure animals are also kept cool and comfortable.
Here are some tips from the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge's animal coordinator, Jess Moody:
How to keep cool when you're at home:
Link to Planet Ark's '12 Do's' website to find out more!
Vinegar and bi-carb soda were non toxic products used by our grandparents and parents as cleaning agents before the advent of mass produced, heavily marketed, usually plastic bottled 'specialist' cleaners.
If you are interested in finding out more about the use of bi-carb soda, you can access 'McKenzie's Bi-Carb Soda Tips and Uses' booklet by clicking on the image.
Recipes are provided for making a paste (combine 3 tablespoons of Bi-Carb Soda with 1 tablespoon water. Adjust for your desired consistency; a solution (dissolve 3 tablespoons of Bi-Carb Soda in 1 litre of warm water) and for wiping: (apply Bi-Carb directly to a damp or moist cloth).
BSFG member and paramedic Jenny often travels overseas, both for pleasure and to volunteer as a paramedic in disaster zones. Jenny reports discovering a great use for those single use shower caps which are provided in most hotels. Her idea? To use them instead of single use cling wrap to cover bowls of left overs etc. in the fridge. Jenny says they fit well on many bowl sizes and that they remind her of the durable use plastic covers with elasticized edges her mother used in the fridge. (I'd forgotten completely about these - and suddenly had a flashback of similar covers in my parents' and grandparents' fridges...) Good thinking, Jenny!
A community blog of bright ideas and links for lightening our environmental footprint.
Luke Davies' Recycled String Band - 'Recycle and Reuse'