Everything posted by MargaretSw
MargaretSw posted a blog entry in Sustainable Lifestyle in The Land Down UnderIn the last couple of decades, people became more conscious of the different ways we affect the environment. Our interested in ecology opened up topics like what damages we've done up until now, can we reverse them and can we prevent them from happening in the future. With global warming, polluted waters and deforestation more people want to take part in protecting our planet, bringing the conversation to our homes. Now we do our research and make conscious purchases. Let's talk about cleaning for example. Some of the products we used to think are harmless, are now proven to be dangerous. They go down the sewer or into the ground on their way to disturb the natural eco-system. Some companies gained a bad reputation for using not-so-eco-friendly chemicals in their cleaning solutions. Behind the beautiful packages and expensive commercials stands something very ugly. The truth. "Kill all the germs!", "More powerful than ever!". What about when this solution goes into the sea? Nothing is lost, the poison just changes locations. Be sure, those chemicals are as bad for the fish, plants and you, as they are for the germs. Simply following the cycle of water, we can see how easily the dangerous chemicals find their way back into our homes. No wonder people have second thoughts about over-the-counter cleaning products. More people opt-in for professional cleaning services because they offer safe cleaning solutions. But beware! A lot of companies saw this demand as a possibility to break through the market, so they started labelling their products as "eco" and "organic". Some of them really are but most are just as bad as the previous ones. Their lie is hidden on the back of the labels. People often get discouraged, as they feel like an insignificant speck in the cosmos. But we should all remember that big changes happen with one step (person and household) at a time. We shouldn't wait for others to change. We should take care of ourselves first and set a good example for everybody else. The number of bad things we should watch out for seems to be growing. From where do you begin? The first step is conscious purchases. Be aware that mass production is in fact "mass" because consumers buy the stuff. Think about it this way – with every choice you make, for every product you buy, you claim what world you want to live in. If you buy products with heavy, harmful chemicals or made by industries that exploit their workers, it's like giving them thumbs up for it. You invest in it, you give it green light. Having this in mind, you can now start applying it in your everyday life – from grocery shopping to what kind of paint you use for your house. The second step is to swap disposable items with reusable ones. Why do you have to spend who-knows-how-much dollars in your lifetime on something that you use only once? Like wet wipes for example. They don't disappear into thin air or dissolve in water as lots of people seem to think. "But it's only one wipe," said a million people while flushing it down the toilet. They build up, causing problems for plumbers, as well as for nature. Simply washing with water and soap should do the trick. And they should be replaced with reusable cloths in our households. We can at least try to cut down the usage. Getting back to the chemicals in the domestic cleaning products. Some of them (actually a great deal of them) are labelled as dangerous to the environment picturing a real wasteland – with a dead fish and a dead tree. This is pretty straightforward. But other companies slip under the radar. Thanks to laws and policies, the businesses are not obligated to list all of the ingredients of the product if there is very little of the toxins in it. Okay, so they're harmless then? Well, no. Combining cleaning solutions can be dangerous and the toxic chemicals build up. Even those that are labelled as “toxic-free” and “green” can be misleading. Watch out for phonies, who use “eco” or words like this only to decorate their label. They should be certified, not just state it freely. People can start feeling discouraged as they seemingly cannot be sure about the trustworthiness of anything. But do we really need to use chemical-based products that much? There are ways to clean without any cleaning solutions. Like using a squeegee and purified water – for windows. Steam treatment technique – for carpets. Pressure cleaning – for outside walls. The later is effective even if the surface has graffiti on it. Those are maybe the best ways to do domestic (and corporate for that matter) cleaning. The equipment for these methods is professional and quite expensive so it's usually used by cleaning experts. If you are looking for service here's a list of what you should be looking for: Environmental Policy Energy Saving processes Responsible products Low energy usage equipment Recycling policy Even if we don't like it, we do have an effect on the world. Why don't we turn that into something positive and actually be the change in our choices? We try our hardest not only to repair the damages done by previous generations but to prevent any of them repeating in the future. And we can do it. Minimising the negative effect on nature has become more important than ever and every household counts. Are you in?
Green roofs and walls are often discussed these days. But few realise that they have been part of Sydney's landscape since the 1930's. True, they were a rare sight back then a luxury reserved only for multi-national companies and just in ten years there has been a 70% spike in the number of green buildings across the metropolis. However, over the last eighty years local government in NSW's capital city has done much to support and encourage the green roofs and wall installations in the metropolis. Having in mind that synopsis predict average growth of urban population in Australia's biggest cities to reach more than 40% by 2030. So far there are 49 approved green roof installations on Sydney's territory varying significantly in proportions. Some are as small as a couple of planter boxes placed on a building's rooftop while others are truly majestic. The most expensive and memorable rooftop garden built on local ground is the iconic garden on top of the MCentral residential building in Pyrmont. Spreading on over 2600 square meters of community rooftop area which was considered a breath of fresh air as opposed to the "standard in luxury housing" - huge swimming pools. Green walls also are becoming a more common sight in the city. 14 sites across the metropolis already have such installations. Sydney's pride and joy in sustainable architecture is Australia's biggest green wall (so far). The formidable installation in Chipendale, Sydney is certainly a sight worth seeing. With green panels covering 1,000 square meters of the One Central Park both on the in- and outside. This exceeds the previous Australian record holder - the installation at 1 Bligh Street (again in Sydney) which is 9 metre high and 40 metre long. Breaking Ground on the New Green Roof and Wall Policy in Sydney The City of Sydney has chosen an ambitious but estimable path to expand the green areas in the metropolis and encourage green building and sustainable development in the area. The local authorities have been conducting studies on green installations. Some are aimed towards assessing public opinion while others try to measure the estimate costs and benefits of green roofs and walls. Additionally, potential locations are being scouted. After a full analysis of the industry environment, international policies and programs, as well as considering the current industry drivers and development, the government will develop a special policy to encourage the green roof and wall creation in the city. Main Objectives of the New Green Roof and Wall Policy Providing guidance and leadership to local businesses and residential associations; Addressing potential obstacles to the implementation of green roofs and walls projects in the metropolitan zone; Working shoulder-to-shoulder with community members, local and international businesses and other stakeholders; Promoting the green roofs and walls idea and providing more information about it; Aid local research on the subject; Leading by example with implementing green roof and wall technologies on Government and Council properties; Documenting, evaluating and publishing current results of the development of each project. While many obstacles lie ahead like minimising the costs of the special irrigation systems, the creation of a potential project by a specialised landscape architect and naturally the day-to-day garden space maintenance which also needs to be conducted by professionals, the benefits of green roofs and walls remain immense. Professor Stuart White of the University of Technology in Sydney reminds that the green roof and walls projects might not solve the city's air quality issues but they are still a vital step towards a better, greener future for NSW's capital city. A Great Example of the Benefits of Green Spaces Wayside Chapel in Potts Point has a rooftop garden. While the installation certainly improves the building's carbon footprints and its overall sustainability but its benefits don't end there. For people with mental disabilities, taking care of plants and seeing them grow and flourish is a part of their healing process. Producing the food served in the dishes is more therapeutic than one would imagine. Thus, the advantages of adding more green areas throughout the city is about more than just improving the sustainability of Sydney, it's about strengthening community bonds.
Did your last energy bill take you by surprise? Yes? And you thought your home was energy efficient. So the best choice you have in order to avoid unpleasant surprises of that particular type is to singlehandedly assess your home's energy efficiency. You can run some tests and see for yourself what you have to do in order to make make your house more energy efficient. If you do, you'll not only save money on electricity bills, you'll also be ensuring your personal safety and the safety of your home. Look for Air LeaksSo to start with, first check your house for any air leaks (drafts). These drafty areas fail to keep warmth inside during the winter months and respectively, the cool air in the summer. Fixing these problems can help you save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each year and on top of that will make your home much more comfortable. Begin by checking for air leaks near windows, doors and vents. If you find any you can easily take care of them yourself by simply airsealing around doors and resealing the caulking on your windows. Make sure you check your flooring and vents as well as all outside areas where different materials meet. Replace Inefficient LightingMost people don't know that, but around 10 percent of your electricity bill is due to lighting charges. So if you still haven't replaced your old incandescent light bulbs, it's high time you did. You can opt for the spiral compact flourescent lamps (CFLs), or the so-called LEDs – light-emitting diodes. They are a bit more expensive than your ordinary bulbs, but are a much better investment because they last a lot longer. Something more, they also let off more delicate light and use less energy, which is another plus and significantly contributes to the return on your investment. Large Household Appliances InspectionAn important step towards making your home more energy efficient and reducing your electricity bills is inspecting your household appliances. The surest sign something's not right with a device would be the loud noises coming out of it and its impaired efficiency. To lighten the workload of some devices, prolong their lifespan and save up on energy, you might want to consider: Buying new and more energy-efficient home appliances with the Energy Star label. It might seem a bit on the expensive side but in the long run the investment will pay off, especially if you take good care of the new device.Switching off or unplugging items from the power grid when you aren't using them. Unplugging them will prevent the so-called vampire draw or phantom loads which refers to the consumed by your appliances electricity when they're in switched off.Regular Air Filter ReplacementReplacing your air filters can also go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient. Ultimately, you should replace the air filters of your ventilation on a monthly basis. Otherwise the debris and dust in the air system will impair the airflow and cause the system's capacity to go down. As a consequence, it will need more energy to heat/cool your house. The regular air filter maintenance also means that no dust and debris will fall out of the vents. So you're saving money on both energy and house cleaning services. Insulation CheckupIn the last few months Melbourne, and Australia as a whole, saw some scorching heats. So if you want to stay cool this summer you better check the insulation of your house. Otherwise, given today's energy prices, the cool loss during the hot summer and the heat loss in winter will make your energy bills skyrocket.