What you can do?
Here are some tips for reducing your environmental impact at home.
Switch to Green Power
GreenPower is electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar instead of coal. Almost all electricity companies offer the choice of GreenPower - for a list see www.greenelectricitywatch.org.au
Switch off stand-by power
Standby power is the electricity consumed by an appliance when it's not performing its primary function. Nearly 11% of Australian residential electricity use is attributable to standby power. So when you’ve finished using your TV, computer or microwave switch the unit off completely (preferably at the wall).
Install dual-flush toilets
The toilet is one of the biggest water users in the house, using on average 38,000 litres a year. Even if your toilet is not leaking, you can easily reduce the amount of water you literally flush down the drain by installing a dual flush system.
A thick layer of mulch will reduce the need to water, even on hot days
Make your garden a mulched one
The vast majority of household water is used outdoors on the garden. By mulching your garden it is possible to reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation by around 70%. Mulch could be leaves, grass clippings and other shredded garden waste that is spread over soil with the aim of inhibiting weed growth, retaining moisture and returning nutrients to the soil.
Buy reusable, not disposable
The best solution to waste is to avoid it in the first place. Only purchase products that you need, and avoid items that are excessively packaged. Try to only buy products that are reusable or come in reusable packaging - and actually reuse them!
Go for No Junk Mail
By simply putting a No Junk Mail sticker on your letterbox you'll reduce the amount of paper that goes to waste each year. Australians receive on average 7 billion unaddressed flyers, leaflets and catalogues in their letterboxes every year. You can stop addressed junk mail by using the Australian Direct Marketing Association's Do Not Mail Service.
On yer bike!
If every vehicle owner in NSW reduced his or her road travel by as little as one kilometre a day, about 345,000 tonnes of greenhouse pollution would be saved. According to the Australian Greenhouse Office, with every litre of petrol saved, greenhouse pollution is reduced by 2.5 kilograms.
Cycling is a pollution free method of transport but if you can't walk or ride to your destination, public transport is the next best way to reduce your contribution to climate change.
Reduce Animal Products
University of Sydney researchers have found that to produce a single 150g serve of meat (say, one small steak) can take over 200 litres of water - mainly in growing animal feed and washing abattoirs. The same steak creates 5kg of greenhouse pollution, including emissions from haulage, storage and packaging. You can reduce environmental pressures by choosing pasture or grass-fed beef instead of grain-fed.
For good advice on which fish or shellfish is a better choice, order a copy of Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide from The Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Bring the paddock closer to your plate
Locally produced food is the best choice for the environment. Local food has traveled a shorter distance and buying Australian supports our farmers and growers.
Great ways you can support local produce are:
- Check 'Product of Australia' marked on the label of packaged or tinned foods
- Only eat what is in season - this will save you money too
- Shop at local Farmers' Markets in Byron Bay, New Brighton or Bangalow.
- Grow your own by creating an organic veggie patch in the backyard
Detox your home
Most cleaning products you find in the supermarket and hardware store are extra-strength cleaners which can contain harmful solvents, acids and corrosive chemicals which can harm the environment and the health of you and your children.
The best green cleaning approach is to try warm water, bicarbonate soda and a textured or microfibre cloth first. If you need something more than water and elbow grease, visit the easy guide to natural cleaning.
For more info on sustainable living, download the Australian Conservation Fund’s Green Home Guide
Installing a composting toilet can reduce household water use by more than 30%, is great for the garden and reduces greenhouse gas generation at the sewage treatment plant. Furthermore, anyone in the sewered areas of Byron Shire is eligible for reduction in the fixed sewer charge off their annual rates if they have composting toilets! Savings in water and rates are estimated at around $500 per year