It’s that time of yeara again when we celebrate sustainable living in Australia.
Sustainable House Day 2014 will be held on Sunday the 7th and 14th of September to showcase some of the country’s most environmentally progressive homes.
Did you know that the average Australian household contributes 13 tonnes of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere every year? That’s enough to fill more than 700 balloons every day …scary.
The event gives you the chance to tour every day Australian homes with a lowered ecological footprint and you can visit some sustainable houses in our region. Residences in Mount Duneed, Belmont and Queenscliff will be opening their doors for anyone seeking inspiration, tips and ideas about renewable energy, recycling, and other sustainable practices.
Take a look at the gallery of sustainable homes below. Each residence integrates various sustainable features such as rain water harvesting, recycled building materials, photovoltaic solar panels, sustainable food production and much more!
For more information on Sustainable House Day 2014 or to find a sustainable house in your local area, click here.
Australians generate approximately 41 million tonnes of waste each year. Half of this waste is not being recovered for recycling (Clean up Australia, 2009).
To help encourage recycling practices, the Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) are inviting the community to attend the August film night, which will showcase the award winning film, ‘Waste Not’.
The 30 minute film, created by Total Environment Centre follows the journey of our rubbish as it is sorted and handled by an army of workers. The night aims to transform the community into ‘Waste Wizards’ and raises awareness about the importance of recycling.
After the screening of this empowering film, the evening will continue with engaging activities for the whole family including:
• ‘Sort it’, where the whole family can decide what should really be in the recycle bin.
• ‘Show and Tell’, an opportunity for community members to present their best reuse and recreate item for the chance to win a prize.
• Rubbish experts from the Shire and Barwon Regional Waste Management answering your questions about where to recycle other items.
• A discussion about the Surf Coast Shire’s vision to reduce landfill.
• A delicious supper provided by Zeally Bay Bakery, Hidden Secrets and SCEG volunteers.
SCEG encourages everyone to come dressed in their best op shop outfit and walk the red carpet at Surfworld Theatrette Torquay, on Friday 2nd of August, commencing at 7pm. Entry by donation.
Watch the Waste Not trailer to gain an insight into the film:
Today is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Environment Day and this year the theme is awareness around the environmental impact of your food choices.
The UNEP website states this year’s theme for World Environment Day celebrations is ‘Think.Eat.Save’, an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your food-print.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted, which is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.
The theme, ‘Think.Eat.Save’, encourages you to become more aware of the environmental impact of the food choices you make and empowers you to make informed decisions.
Surf Coast residents are being encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by embracing sustainable eating opportunities.
Local groups and initiatives such as the Danawa Community Garden, Greenmums 3228 and the Torquay Farmers’ Market are encouraging people to think about the environmental impact of food production, packaging and transportation.
Greenmums 3228 member Leanne Reinke said people need to be aware of what they are eating and the effect it has on the environment.
“People need to ask where their produce comes from, think about the distance it’s travelled and how it’s packaged,” she said.
According to the University of Queensland, choices regarding food packaging and place of origin are the single biggest contributor to most people’s carbon footprint.
People can easily reduce their carbon footprint by simply switching their thinking and considering sustainable alternatives.
Those wishing to eat more sustainably can include more fruit and vegetables into their diet and consider having a meat-free day once a week.
A 1kg portion of beef, according to EPA Victoria, requires 16,000 litres of water in order to get it from paddock to plate, making meat one of the most resource-intensive foods.
Danawa Community Garden Secretary Perry Mills said people are becoming more interested in sustainable eating as vegetable gardens and organic produce increase in popularity.
“There’s a growing interest in eating a plant-based diet and an increased understanding of the importance of growing chemical-free food,” he said.
Eating sustainably is not just good for the environment, it has economic and health benefits too.
“Many of our members have changed their diet to include sustainable eating and this has helped them to control some pretty serious health issues, such as obesity, diabetes and heart problems,” Mr.Mills said.
Torquay Farmers’ Market coordinator David Bell said the increasingly popular market encourages people to change their habits and attitudes to food and support the local community.
“Initiatives such as this help to stimulate the local economy, support small producers and businesses, and increase resilience and connectedness in the community.
“It’s an opportunity to create niche businesses in food production and supply customers with fresh, health and sustainable produce,” Mr Bell said.
When you are filling your trolley with your favourite fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, do you ever wonder exactly how fresh they are and where they come from?
Well, there are a number of Surf Coast women asking these same questions.
Green Mums, a network of environmentally-orientated women are working to establish a “farm gate” fresh food cooperative to encourage healthier and more sustainable living in the Surf Coast region.
How will the initiative work?
The Green Mums initiative will develop a weekly collection of food from producers in the Surf Coast region which will then be sorted, packed and delivered to designated community pick up points by rostered cooperative members.
They have also applied for a grant from the Surf Coast Shire for additional support of this initiative.
How will the cooperative benefit our community?
This cooperative would allow regional farmers to distribute their produce fairly and provide opportunities for the community to buy locally sourced groceries.
Leanne Reinke, a member of the Green Mums group, said this initiative will be beneficial to both our health and the environment.
“This initiative will result in carbon emissions being reduced by people buying food that is not sourced interstate or overseas, families eating healthy, fresh food and community friendships being fostered,” she said.
Ms. Reinke also said the initiative would build a more locally-based and self-reliant food economy within the community.
“We want to pay a fair price for good food and local farmers need support and a fair and consistent return, so this initiative will deliver a sustainable and secure food future.”
Are there other regions which support similar initiatives?
The recent Shell EcoVolunteers Geelong Climate Change Forum run by Conservation Volunteers Australia opened with a message for us all. David Tournier of the Wathaurong Community welcomed the attendees with the words “I have been involved in land care since birth” – a sobering thought for a group of people meeting to discuss environmental challenges created through a lack of protection for the very land he was referring to.
The forum aimed to articulate important actions to be taken locally in response to the effects of climate change on biodiversity, and gave participants a greater understanding of what others were doing to tackle climate change.
Speakers from various facets of the community described how they were making a difference within their businesses, careers and communities. Some of the speakers sharing their stories included:
Mark Schubert, General Manager of the Shell Refinery: Mark spoke about climate proofing our communities. This included information on “integrating economic, environmental and social considerations into business decision-making”, and how Shell was tackling the issue on both a local and global stage. Mark’s presentation can be found here.
Patrick O’Callahan, Director of Conservation Enterprises and the Conservation Volunteers Australia Wild Futures Program: Patrick raised the point that it is not necessarily about trying to save the world, but thinking about actions we can initiate right now, so that plans come to life and become ‘living documents’, and spoke about the animals being targeted by the Wild Futures program, including the Australian Flat Back Turtle and the Southern Bell Frog. Patrick’s presentation can be found here.
Assoc. Professor Peter Waterman, Environmental Planner and Associate Professor, Environmental Science at the University of Sunshine Coast: Peter clarified ambiguities surrounding definitions of and phrases relating to climate change, and spoke about ‘climate proofing’ and how to adapt to change. Peter’s presentation can be found here.
Katie Gillett, President of the Geelong West Community Garden, Chair of the Geelong Organic Gardeners:Katie spoke about community gardens as a tool for tackling climate change and their ability to improve health, look after our environment, create a sense of community and increase food security. Katie’s presentation can be found here.
Mark Sanders, Managing Director of Third Ecology – Third Ecology is a multi disciplinary firm focusing on sustainability in architecture, construction management and sustainability advice and ratings. Mark focussed on tackling climate change through architecture and his presentation can be found here.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s Website also has information on what the organisation and others are doing to maintain the coast’s health and resilience in light of climate change impacts such as sea level rise and other threats and what you can do to help.
Below is a video clip available from The Committee’s website about climate change along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road Coast and how you can help us to look after the coast by reducing your carbon footprint.
Other topics on the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee site include:
We love the coast. It looms large in our collective psyche as a place where we live, work and play. As another summer nears the half-way mark, hundreds of thousands of Victorians have already made their way to the coast to enjoy swimming, fishing, surfing, camping and other coastal-related activities. More are expected in the coming weeks before summer draws to an end.
Also looming large is the risk of climate change significantly impacting on our coast. The Victorian Coastal Strategy, released in late 2008, states that we must plan for sea level rises of not less than 0.8 metres by 2100.
At first glance, this may not sound like much or appear to be too far ahead in the future to worry about. However, sea level rises of the magnitude predicted, along with associated storm surges, will impact substantially on beaches and infrastructure along the coast. And we will start to see these impacts sooner rather than later.
Climate change therefore does represent a major risk to all the things we love about our coast – its natural environment, its cultural heritage, a place to enjoy and relax.
While we ponder this, let’s not also forget the coast’s significant economic value.
Coastal industries and tourism contribute more than $2.8 billion each year to the Victorian economy. Visitors to our own Great Ocean Road region – with its spectacular coastline and adjoining hinterland – spend more than $1 billion annually, underpinning not just local and regional economies but also a large chunk of the Victorian and Australian tourism experience.
Consequently, we must recognise that the coast’s value to us – on both an individual and a broader economic level – is contingent on the value of the coast itself. That is, a healthy coast equals healthy communities – and a healthy economy.
There is a high risk that climate change will noticeably diminish the health of our coast. Given this risk and the coast’s importance in our lives, it is essential that new and ongoing investment focuses on protecting the coast.
We need to protect high quality areas of native vegetation, cultural sites and estuaries. We also need to undertake beach protection works, as well as providing car parks, walking tracks, lookouts, signage and other facilities to support our use of the coast.
And importantly, we all need to do our bit to reduce the risk of climate change.
In just the same way as our greenhouse gas emissions are warming the climate and contributing to sea level rise, which in turn threatens the coast, our actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help lessen the impacts of climate change and therefore help to protect the coast.
In other words, we all need to become climate changers – for the benefit of our beautiful coast.