The views expressed below are my own, and are only intended to provide information about the way I live my life. I respect your decision to vehemently disagree with my opinions, but please don’t try to change mine.
Like Kermit the frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green”
Recycling Our Products
The products I sell are made from synthetic, man-made materials. If would be great to create our products from entirely renewable resources, but at present this is not possible. Once they’ve worn out, the main component of our products, neoprene is extremely re-usable — please read the recycling page to find out more.
There are quite a few things I’m doing to reduce my impact on the earth, and I’m happy to receive input from individuals or organisations out there with similar values to my own — please contact me. I’m currently a member of the Alternative Technology Association (www.ata.org.au), Sustainable Living Tasmania (www.tasmanianenvironmentcentre.org.au), Tasmanian Land Conservancy (www.tasland.org.au) and the West Hobart Environment Network (WHEN) (www.westhobart.netfirms.com).
Reducing My Impact
Climate change, global warming, ground, air, sound, and water pollution, habitat destruction, animal and plant extinction — the list goes on — are bought about directly by humans inhabiting and continuing to over-populate the earth. I’m not in denial of this, and nor should you be. It’s hard for me to not be overcome with guilt, as my existence has forced other living things out of existence, and by continuing to live a modern lifestyle and sell the product I do will put further pressure on the planet.
I have chosen not to help fill the world with more all-consuming humans by not having kids! And when I die, much of the proceeds of my last will and testament is directed towards helping to save our environment.
For those of you who are overcome by the natural instinct and desire to ‘pop out screamers’ (my joke term for having babies), I hope you have the good sense to educate them to be less destructive than our current generation.
Making My Home Greener
Heating and Cooling
My timber Hobart home is undergoing a slow retrofit to make it more energy efficient. Heavy curtains and pelmets have been fitted to all windows, helping to capture heat entering the house during the day and generated by internal systems. Heating and cooling is predominantly handled through a highly efficient inverter ‘heat pump’ (reverse cycle air conditioner).
Up until the recent drought conditions, Tasmania generated the majority of it’s electricity from hydro electric schemes and wind farms, so it was logical to use electricity, rather than a carbon dioxide and fine particle releasing wood heater.
I also generate a proportion of my own electricity — I’ve fitted six 80 watt solar panels to the roof, with the resulting 12 Volt DC being fed to a battery bank. Through an inverter, the 240-volt AC is fed to the lighting circuit of my house. This, along with fitting compact fluorescent and LED lighting has led to an energy saving of about 10%. Plans are in place (once finances allow), to upgrade the system to at least a 3kw ‘grid connected’ solar system, so that other Tasmanians and Australians, via the Bass Link, can use my excess electricity.
A huge twin wall polycarbonate skylight was fitted to the attic, which has the best solar access of the entire house, and I’ve set up an exhaust fan connected to the inverter, which pushes the collected hot air from the attic to the lower levels of the house. On a cold day, the living area can be warmed by up to 8 degrees above normal using this system.
Hot Water System
Once finances allow, I’ll be replacing the existing electric hot water service with an evacuated tube solar heater, replace the 240 Volt AC fridge with a far more efficient chest style 12 Volt DC model, and continue to insulate the underfloor areas and make other efficiency improvements.
Purchasing Day-to-Day Consumables
Consumables are purchased (not necessarily in this order of preference) if they are:
- Australian made and by Australian owned companies
- Were grown and value added geographically as closely as possible
- Organically grown and are free of or have minimal content of chemicals harmful to the environment and humans
- Not tested on animals, or unnecessarily cruel to animals in the rearing, slaughtering or harvesting (e.g. free range chicken and eggs)
- Not taking advantage of poorer workforces. (E.g. are fair-trade, and are non ‘sweat shop’ produced goods)
- Not encouraging the destruction of habitat (e.g. no paper produced old growth forests, no palm oil derived products which encourages habitat destruction for new plantations in Indonesia)
Re-using and Recycling in my Home and Office
My household and office also recycles and re-uses all consumables, whenever possible. Non-consumable goods in the house and office are used for as long as possible, with no cosmetic or ‘latest and greatest’ upgrades. Special attention is paid to electrical goods with low power consumption. Excess furniture and clothing are donated to Lifeline.
Native Garden and Organic Produce
The front garden is well-mulched native landscape, planted predominantly with Tasmanian species — many of which I grew from seeds and cuttings. It’s extremely water efficient. Usually the new plants are only sporadically watered for the first season, then not at all.
The heavily mulched rear garden is full of fruit and nut trees, berries, vegetables, and herbs, all grown organically, and with the principals of Permaculture in mind. Excess produce is given to my friends and neighbours. Generally Hobart does not suffer from the water shortages that most other cities in Australia endure, however as we become a drier planet, I’ll be installing water tanks, and a grey water-recycling unit.
A poly tunnel shelters my winter vegetables, herbs and carnivorous plant collection from heavy winter frosts and a family of frogs has also taken up residence inside.
Planting Native Trees
Rather than subscribe to a carbon-offset organisation, which plants trees on my behalf, I produce Australian native trees myself, and give them away to anyone who has the space to grow them. I’m particularly concentrating on growing species, which are also food trees for the threatened Swift Parrot.
Need some native trees, and live in the Hobart area? Please contact me.
I also produce fruit trees, berry, and vegetable and herb plants to give away. It annoys me greatly to see household yards bereft of food sources that have been ‘Durified’. Jamie Durie — if you ever read this, how about incorporating more food plants in your garden designs?
My Way of Saving the Tasmanian Forests
I’ve never been one to chain myself to trees, wave banners and yell at politicians to try and bring about saving what’s left of Tasmania’s mighty forests. Instead, I’d taken a more direct approach. I had purchased (with a bank loan), a 16 acre property of wet sclerophyll Eucalyptus forest in Tasmania, with the view of preventing it from being cleared at any time in the future.
The photo here is of a ‘man fern’ (Dicksonia Antarctica) gully within the property. A pair of Lyre birds — introduced from Tasmania from Victoria some years ago, inhabits the space and they’re a joy to hear.
After moving through the application process to have my 9/10ths of the land area set aside as a permanent reserve, I discovered that the Tasmanian Government was unwilling to lock the land up — it wasn’t big enough! With mounting interest payments on the loan, I sold the property to another ‘green’ minded person. Now that I’m more aware of the criteria required to create a reserve, I’m seeking more land to buy and protect under the guidance of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.
Perhaps you’ve got a bush block for sale? Please contact me.
My vehicle is moderately fuel efficient, although living so close to the centre of Hobart means I rarely drive. I particularly don’t drive at dawn, dusk, or at night on country roads, as Tasmania has mostly nocturnal animals, that can easily become road kill. I look forward to a day when ‘fuelling up’ a new generation of vehicle will mean plugging into my rooftop solar system.
Like all people of our earth, I’m constantly discovering new ways to lessen my impact, which is why this section of the website will be constantly upgraded as new ideas are put into practice.