With all the emotion and propaganda about “climate change”, I am interested in what members are doing in their own lives as their contribution to cut emissions…things like selling their fossil-fuel burning cars and going totally electric. Growing your own food so trucks don’t have to deliver to the supermarkets. That sort of thing.
“What are You Going to Give Up?”
A great question and topic, although some of us might be a little reserved in responding personally. Should we offer up and expect to be judged by our peers? I would hope not.
To the topic in question I will wave a white feather and suggest politely as little as possible.
The assumption from the title is that we need to give things up. I’d argue we do not, and perhaps others would agree. Is suggesting buying an electric car to replace our aged Toyota giving anything up. We will only do so when the replacement can do what we need of a new car. The replacement does not need to be an equal, simply suitable for our future needs. What we have currently given up is the luxury of a new car that does not require frequent TLC. That is until the current crop of BEV’s come down to an affordable price.
The old push bike has been upgraded to a folding E-Bike. I’ve given up walking as often to the station in summer in 35C heat, and gained a non petrol option for creaking knees.
Perhaps adding solar PV we have gained the ability to run an air conditioner during summer while reducing our E-Carbon footprint.
An alternate question.
“What are you going To Do Differently?”
Or better perhaps to suggest,
“What can we give up or do differently to save the planet?”
Aside from not having any more children?
This simply adds to the population of the plant and feeds the economic benefit by growth/consumption model?
Should I reveal changes to bathing habits?
How personal need our responses be?
If like us you live on a largish block of dirt, have only roof water and septic, and are active in revegetation of natural forest, the answer is far more complex. Perhaps giving up employment is another suitable response.
And I do like this topic. Many Thanks @bottville.
I agree with @mark_m that is not necessary what one gives up, but what things does one to to minimise one’s environmental or carbon footprint. It is also not necessarily about saving the planet, but being conscious of the decisions one makes in everyday life, to make the future hopefully better than the past.
Giving something up is a negative, doing something differently is a positive.
It is also refreshing to see that @bottville recognises that minimising one’s footprint starts at home and through the things that individuals do is very important. Unfortunately many take the position of doing nothing, but blaming the government for their own inaction.
We do a lot of things to minimise our own environment footprint. These include:
- designing and doing renovations to our house to encompass the principles of eco-homes.
- utilising cross ventilation and shading instead of air conditioning
- high efficiency wall and ceiling insulation
- PV (so that we produce what we use)
- solar hot water (in many parts of the country, this is the most efficient way to produce hotwater - we use only about 6kW/y boosting when needed)
- replacing any high energy/water use products (lighting, faucets, shower roses etc) with the low energy/water equivalents.
- rainwater harvesting, storage and use systems, grey water diversion from bathroom and laundry,
- composting, worm farming, and bone burying
- recycling to the maximum possible under state and local council recycling. schemes
- soft plastic recycling
- collecting waste when walking and disposing of appropriately
- vegetable gardening
- preference to use of public transport and/or walking to minimise private car use
- car pooling where possible when using private vehicle
- buying local where possible
- selecting products which will generate less waste (our household produces about 5L waste per fortnight and these are usually items that can’t be recycled, composted, worm farmed or buried)
- loaning tools and equipment to others when not in use…to minimise the amount that needs to be purchased
- repair where possible in preference to replace
- using recycled products over new
- minimise our own consumption of things which aren’t important
- and the list goes on.
Every thing one does make a difference, and the more one does the bigger the difference.
Fairly clearly the question itself comes with a bunch of ideology and assumption.
Answers could vary across
- nothing because nothing needs saving
- nothing because I am already doing everything that I can do
- nothing because I am already doing everything that I will do
- nothing because I can substitute without giving anything up
- lots of things
As @phb’s response shows, “saving the planet” and “making changes relating to climate change” are not the same thing. The scope of the original question is not clear.
phb’s list is so comprehensive that I will let it stand as a good list for anyone to consider. I suppose two additional (controversial) items could be
I would also comment that
- Rome wasn’t built in a day - reengineering society takes time
- the viability of different options changes over time - so there isn’t just one answer now that applies for all time
To take the question slightly differently … what things that I am not currently doing today do I plan to do in the future with a view to improving environmental outcomes?
Taking from phb’s list
- replacing any high energy use products (lighting) with the low energy equivalents - we started doing this when we bought the house - it had a zillion incandescent globes and they are being replaced with energy efficient alternatives as the original globes die - and hey this isn’t giving anything up because it is saving me money(!!)
- maybe get an electric vehicle (might not have been on phb’s list)
- repair where possible in preference to replace - would love to do more of this but manufacturers work against this so - and this is highly relevant to Choice - hassle government to improve product standards to make this more possible
This is very hard but some products it is possible to get exploded drawings (online) with part numbers. These part numbers can then be used to find replacements on some of the spare parts websites.
Sometimes we make replacement parts ourselves if it is possible out of timber or light sheet steel.
It also is useful to have friends who are electricians/technicians if one needs to replace something one is not supposed to touch.
Our private vehicle tends to be used only for longer trips (several hundred or more kms each way) while we use public transport and walking for those mainly in town. EV don’t suit such driving patterns due to range limitations. We are keeping track of some of the promising developments associated with hydrogen fuelled vehicles and such vehicles would be better fit.
We did also think of buying a chip oil burner a few years ago, but decided not to due to the emissions they produce.
I’m not very handy anyway - which is why I need government help to make it easier.
My comment was as much about whether anyone can repair something not whether I specifically can repair it.
Very true and subject of other thread. The other thing is whether they can be repaired as many products are welded/glue plastics never made to repair…or whether spares are available (sometimes they aren’t which I have also posted elsewhere).
For me it’s the old adage of “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Using minimal electricity/gas and just buying fewer things is the most important step for me. I use my air conditioner as little as possible (fortunately my apartment is well insulated so I usually only need the air con on very hot days, though there have been more of those lately!). I keep a bucket in the shower to catch water for the pot plants or occasional toilet flush. I do use my car more than I probably should, but walking/cycling to work on hot days or wet days is less fun than when I was a bit younger. I drive a 2005 model which is still ticking along pretty well and I don’t plan to replace it until it dies; maybe an EV will be a viable option then.
As mentioned above, the topic name doesn’t quite gel.
That said, I’ve been off-grid, powered by solar (+ wind some of the time) since 1991, and grow a lot of my own vegetables and fruit, and fish in an aquaponics system. Not being anywhere near a town water supply, rainwater from the roof is our water supply, and the toilet is a composting Clivus Multrum - fresh water is far too valuable to waste it by mixing it with poo and flushing it away!
I ride my bike much more than drive the car- for example this morning I needed to pay some cash off my credit card, so I cycled into town and back instead of driving, even though it was sprinkling rain. It was a 73km round trip. There is no public transport here. Vehicle trips (mostly my wife) are kept to a minimum- always making sure there are a number of tasks to make the trip worthwhile.
We don’t have children, on purpose, as we’d both independently decided many years ago that was one of the best ways of minimising our environmental footprint.
We have 2 diesel vehicles, one a small 2006 model panel van that gets better than 5l/100km, and a 1996 Hilux, which doesn’t get driven very often, but is required since we are so far out of town and need it for transporting heavy loads sometimes, and occasionally for navigating our dreadful gravel road and steep driveway. It is much more environmentally sound to keep these going with motors tuned, than to rush out and buy a new EV, which we have no chance of affording anyway.
The house is well insulated, and we have a wood fire for winter heating, with wood sourced from our own block. We’ve planted many hundreds of trees, and do not have livestock, so that the natural bush is regenerating quite well. Long term efforts have been repairing a few patches of eroded land from previous livestock overgrazing.
We provide watering points for the native birds and animals, in contrast to the property owner across the road, who often spends his evenings shooting wallabies and kangaroos. We’ve created habitat for small birds, and have large numbers of wrens, finches etc living and breeding near the house.
We operate the property without the use of toxic chemicals- weeding is done manually, rabbits, foxes and feral cats are shot with steel, rather than Lead, bullets.
We have a few chooks and ducks for eggs, orchard fertilising and some bug control.
Hot water is from an evacuated tube system, with no gas or electric boosting.
Cooking, water boiling etc is mainly done on an induction cook-top, but we also use an electric microwave/oven. We have a hand-me-down gas BBQ, but it is rarely used. One 9kg bottle last many years.
We have a fridge freezer plus 2 chest freezers- required to store frozen produce. Trout harvested from the aquaponics system keeps for up to 2 years when vacuum sealed and kept below -25C. I do a lot of preserving of our fruit, in particular cherries and apricots, so we can enjoy them year round. (however, no fruit to preserve in past 2 years due to the drought!)
Shopping, we buy quite a lot of organic produce, locally produced if possible, avoid fruit and veg wrapped in plastic, generally only buy Aus/NZ produce. With no rubbish collection here, we only go to the nearest council tip once or twice per year, and most of it is recyclable, which we separate, so there are no tip fees. We avoid excessive consumption, and when purchasing tools etc, go for quality over price, in order to get the longest life possible. I inherited quite a few of my fathers old tools, some of which are about the same age as me! We hate the junk tools sold by the big B store with the ‘if it breaks when you try to use it, bring it back and we’ll give you a new one’ type policy.
So, I feel that I’m doing my bit to “save the planet”, and I don’t feel that I am giving up anything in the process
The question assumes that our lives are profligate. If they aren’t, then there will be little left to give up and little benefit in doing so.
The impact of isolated individuals is limited. That’s why those who really don’t want effective action emphasise isolated individuals. They don’t want us hitting the most effective targets.
Return on effort quickly diminishes. One connotation of the Pareto principle suggests that, in any endeavour, 20% of the effort yields 80% of the benefit. Once an individual has given it their best shot, their labours are best directed to influencing others.
Environmentalists are often trolled that we should give up things like air travel, motor vehicles and electricity, but we have to operate in the world as it is. Beyond a point then, our best option is to change the world as it is. That means protesting, boycotts and lobbying. The effectiveness of such tactics is shown by our Prime Minister’s reaction. If an individual does nothing else, then their efforts are best directed at influencing business and government. Making it easier for everyone to reduce their impact will be more effective than just reducing our own.
What I am going to give up to save me, mine and the planet is all buying support of non stick materials that never ever breakdown. They are in coatings on micro wave popcorn, clothing, furniture, carpets, and most of the cookware and it’s all imported stuff that can’t be recycled and goes into landfill along with the mixed metal cookware…cannot be recycled. Australia imports all these problem cookware including ALL the fast slow cookers with non stick coatings. Probably the pressure cookers too, saw one open at a medical specialists home the other day. Those ever persisting substances are in the rain, in the rivers, in our bloodstream.
I keep hassling the local council to do something with the kitchen waste which other councils are doing. I keep getting told to “watch this space”. I compost and redcycle. My rubbish bin is lucky to be 1/4 full each week. When I see 2 rubbish bins out next door at two properties I letterbox them with the items that can be redcycled. I grow some veggies and fruit but it is a battle with the birds and possums. I belong to an organic co-op getting fruit and veggies once a fortnight. We had an energy audit done on our house 10 years ago. Since implementing the suggestions we never turn on an air-conditioner till 5pm unless extreme days in a row. We have 2 rainwater tanks for the garden, laundry and toilets in winter as well.Solar panels are worthwhile as on hi9ghest feed in tariff which lasts till 2024 and had a solar HWS which lasted less than 10 years and during that time cost us a bit to have things fixed, don’t think we got our money’s worth.
Don’t think we can do much more. I volunteer in Stephanie Alexander Kitchen garden program and try to teach the young kids all what I have learned over my years. I encourage my grandchildren to eat directly from my garden and to compost. When are we going to get rid of all the hard plastic packaging in supermarkets especially meat packaging?
We go to a local butcher which reduces the waste.
Of course most hard plastics are able to be more readily recycled and may even be made using recycled products.
A lot of hard plastics do not have the recycle triangle on them. Whilst I might go to the butcher we need to be encouraging others who buy meat there (as it is cheaper) to also recycle.
Not a matter of “giving up” anything. We live simply, ignore the constant advertising to buy clutter or do unessential things, buy good quality reliable equipment (Choice recommendations & research), reuse, repair, etc. We don’t have a bin service, live in a rural area, and so we have to deal with our own waste, manage our own water, and that means caring for our small portion of the planet. It makes us more aware.
We have younger family (2 adults + 1 teen) living in town who fill 2 waste bins a week (one borrowed from the neighbour) plus a fortnightly recycle bin (usually with non-recycleable items) and think this is “normal”. Guess it is a generational thing.
Avoiding meat altogether, whether or not it comes in plastic is something you can do too, as agricultural meat production has a very large environmental footprint. I used to enjoy lamb and beef when I was younger, but didn’t find it hard to give up, over 30 years ago.
I totally agree with @phb and @gordon. We also live on a bigger acreage away from the city and apart from the many good points mentioned and implemented by the contributors and most by us as well I just like to add my two bob worth with:
- There’s no point to argue about the proper scope regarding the question by @bottville. Bad enough that the politicians carry on with it
- If anyone does his little bit the planet is on a winner and
- it’s never too late to start with personal consumption or living changes. We e.g. started on our ‘safe the planet’ journey in 1994 with an energy efficient house, wind turbine, solar HWS, veg garden, chooks etc etc. and are still working on improvements
We do try to stay away from unnecessary consumption as far as possible. This is part not wanting to use resources for no reason but also frugality. Our house was designed and built to be very passive solar efficient. However we run aircon as the temperature varies from -6 to 45 C and you can’t live in those extremes. And as white ants and bushfires are endemic it was not smart to use timber. Compromise is required.
We compost as much as possible and grow our own fruit veggies although in our climate it is simply not possible to not buy food that has travelled. If you tried you would spend several months of the year eating no vegetable but brassicas, lettuce and broad beans.
We also limited the number of children we raised. Once again for frugality (who can afford 5-6 kids today) and partly as the earth cannot support an infinite number of humans.
We try to allow the native animals to do their thing without interference as much as possible but this too is a compromise as our forebears cleared the forest for pastures and that will never be reversed and I draw the line when black snakes want to come in the house.
When we bought our last car choosing non ICE was simply not possible for many reasons. Hopefully it will last until that changes.
It is reasonable for individual households to make some effort on their own. Do we freeze in winter and melt in summer, do we wear shirts made of felted cat’s fur, do we go without underpants because (as movie stars demonstrate) you don’t absolutely need them? No.
It is also reasonable to have collective action, in fact it is a necessity. It would be an absurd waste of resources for every household and business to individually switch to renewable energy. Collective solutions that don’t involve excessive poles and wires charges are attractive but not yet available to me.
It’s a good point to raise. The most practical solutions for some improvements may require community commitments and clearly the support of governments at all levels.
Other than giving up electricity totally it is expensive and difficult for many of us to step up to an alternative individually.
Perhaps giving up that APT luxury European 3 week river cruise for two might pay for an off grid solution, Lotto win pending. Apologies to those who might think such a cruise is a poor option for any Lotto win, or expect Lotto is a great investment option.
We gave up our annual holidays away for cheaper nearer to home trips to offset the costs of two solar PV systems. Yes, there will be a cash payback after 4-5 years.
What we give up in kind may be very different from what we gain.