My Latest Green Fail….

…. another post about green that isn’t really green and how we all need to change our thinking and consumption patterns…and yes I am not perfect …..

My previous post on rare earth minerals got me thinking about the fact that transitioning towards a greener and more sustainable economy by focusing on technology, resource and innovation may not necessarily be the best option, especially when:

  • The new and innovative technologies end up increasing our dependence on resources, albeit, new or different ones.
  • The new and innovative technologies result in dependence or impact that is merely dressed up in different possibly green-washed and even organic new swag.
  • The new and innovative technologies result in an increase in unnecessary consumption often due to green wash and unsustainable trends.

Keep in mind that not all new and greener technologies are unsustainable. What is important is the manner in which we make the change to newer technologies, and the quantity and quality of the new technologies that we buy. Merely buying the newest and greenest technology will not make you greener and in fact may make you guilty of unsustainable and unethical consumption patterns.

It is very important that when we make our “green” choices we consider the entire impact and not merely the superficial impact that we would like to see?  Unfortunately, and much to my dismay I am guilty of this in many respects. So I thought as my good deed for the day…..I would share some of my green fails with the hope that I could prevent someone else from going down the same route.

My most recent “goody two-shoes green delusion fails” are;

  • Falling for a new high-tech gadget and upgrading my iPad to the latest version, that isn’t really that different from my previous one? From a functionality perspective I use the new one for exactly the same purpose as the previous one.  The question is did I really need the new one? and was the overall cost of the upgrade really worth it?

Green Pros:

  1. Less paper use and waste by reading eBooks, magazines and online news,
  2. Note taking, report editing and emails on the tablet = less printing of emails and reports and having an easily transportable and accessible library of documents that I need during the day.

Green Cons:

  1. Unnecessary use of resources and rare earth metals used to produce, package and transport my new tablet: think ecological footprint etc
  2. The iPad 3 has a higher carbon footprint that the iPad 2. (http://ecolibris.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-green-is-new-ipad-part-6-comparing.html#)
  3. Waste: landfill / recycling and disposal costs associated with the previous tablet. (though, I did try to offset this cost by up-cycling  the old tablet)

  • Green Retail Therapy: I recently bought a whole new batch of solar fairy lights and garden lights. The new solar fairy and garden lights were marketed as being greener than the previous generation of solar lights etc.  … so despite that fact that I already have a few pretty solar fairy lights twinkling away in my little garden and the fact that I don’t need more lights in my garden, I bought some more.

Green Pros:

  1. At least I didn’t buy conventional fairy lights that would increase my use of electricity generated from coal.

Green Cons:

  1. Unnecessary use and waste of resources that were used to produce, package and transport my new ”green” lighting.

Ultimately, these two examples are a large-scale green fail on my part that has sent my ecocred plummeting, despite the fact that I didn’t send the old iPad or fairy lights to a landfill.

I didn’t really need a new tablet to do exactly the same things that my previous tablet did. Neither did I need additional fairy lights., …even if they were solar-powered and therefore greener than conventional lights.

I was just a greedy little wannabe wanting to have the newest and shiniest gadgets. Gadgets, that are being marketed as green, that maybe a bit faster, prettier etc , yet barely have enough new features to outweigh the environmental and social costs of the new gadget or technology.

Not everything that is green is sustainable!

Additional reading to up your ecocred!

Five things you should know before buying apples iPad.

How green is the new iPad?

Touch Lightly This November: Three Easy Things You Can Do To Increase Your ECOCRED

Closet waiting to be recycled!

The following is a list of quick easy and good green things you can do this November that will contribute towards reducing your/our impact on our planet and saving you some money.

1. For the book-worms, you could go paperless and start reading ebooks (if you haven’t already). For those who say that the whole thing about reading a book is holding it and smelling it etc… I say try something new for the planet… I used to be one of those who needed a proper book to read from, however I gave ebooks (kindle iPad app and apple bookshelf app) a shot and found that the benefits are great and include:

.

  • Never losing your page. Whenever you reopen the book/file you will automatically find yourself where you left off. No need for bookmarks, dog-eared books and forgetting your spot.
  • The Kindle app has a thesaurus. This is great, even bespectacled book-worm like me (sometimes) need to check the meaning of words
  • You can highlight phrases and sections without permanently damaging the book and you can see what phrases etc that other readers have found interesting and highlighted.
  • You can have all your books with you are the same time without having to lug an entire library around with you. This is particularly great for travel!! And also for reference and when you forgets parts of stories.
  • Ebooks are often cheaper than “real” books.
  • you could also recycle all your old books and donate them to a library, charity or educational facility.

2. Recycle yours and other’s wardrobe’s. You do not always have to buy a new pair of shoes, item of clothing or jewelry. Simple changes in your wardrobe and fashion related buying habits can save a great deal of resources, energy and emissions etc. A few tips are:

Vintage Jewelry

  • Re-sole and re-heel your old pair of favorite shoes. I often get really upset when an old favorite pair of shoes starts to look a little worn or old or needs a new heel etc. Until I found a really good shoe repair place. I have just recently had one of my wardrobe staples re-heeled and re-soled and they are back to perfect and I didn’t have to worry about having them replaced!
  • Old jeans can be cut to make shorts or bermudas.
  • Maxi dresses can be hemmed or cut and turned into shorter summer dresses.
  • Shirts can be taken in or modified to suit the new season trends.
  • T-shirts can be dyed, tailored, and tweaked with the help of lace, glitter and paint (lead free of course) etc
  • Scarves can be used to accessorize outfits and change looks
  • Raid your aunt’s, uncle’s, mother’s, mother in-law’s, granny’s, sister’s wardrobes and jewelry boxes for vintage pieces that can be used to add a bit of flair to your wardrobe. I have found many a gem in my mother’s and mother-in law’s wardrobe!

3. Instead of buying fresh flowers to brighten up your office or home grow your own flowers. Cut flowers even though regarded as “natural” have a significant impact on the environment. One has to look at cut flowers from a holistic perspective and consider things such:

Roses

  • Carbon and ecological footprint of the cut flower industry
  • Water use for growing and storing the flowers
  • Costs and emissions associated with the refrigeration and transport of the flowers.
  • Costs associated with maintaining the optimal temperature for the growth of the flowers (if grown in hothouses)
  • The use of Genetically Modified seed
  • The reduction of biodiversity in areas that grow the flowers often in mono-culture fields or hot houses etc.

However, one should also bear in mind that the cut flower industry does in fact provide employment and economic benefits to the areas in which the flowers are grown. As a result the issue is not the kill the industry but rather to nudge the industry towards greener production methods. So until the cut flower industry is able to reduce its negative impact on the environment you could reduce your consumption of cut flowers by the following:

  • Grow your own indigenous flowers and use the flowers to make your own flower arrangements. The indigenous flowers in your window box or garden will use less water and attract pollinators as well as increase the biodiversity of the area.
  • Grow your own indigenous plants and have statement pot plants placed strategically throughout your home or office. The indigenous plants will also contribute to the biodiversity of the area while creating an aesthetically pleasing focal point.

    Indigenous Austrailian Flowers

Getting you hands dirty by growing plants and gardening is also a great and cost-effective way to de-stress and get/ stay in touch with the nature.

Have a great November!

Food & Environment

We need food to survive. We also need a safe an healthy environment to provide us with food. Without food we would all die and without an healthy environment we would not be able to eat. This is all very simple…. however, we need to be a bit more mindful of the environmental impact of what we eat.  The manner in which our food is produced, harvested, stored, packaged, transported, prepared and eaten all have environmental impacts that are in many instances contributing to the degradation of our environment, which is counter productive considering that we need the environment to provide us with food. 

The fact that we all need food and all eat at least once a day (those of us who are food secure) means that by simply introducing one or two (preferably more, but something is better than nothing) environment friendly habits to your eating habits you could contribute to a healthier environment and also a healthier you!
The quickest way to green your eating habits is by focusing on reducing the food miles, carbon emissions, pesticides, wastes, and packaging associated with the food you eat.  A few simple tips are:
  • Buy and eat seasonal fruit and vegetables that are preferably organic, pesticide free and locally grown.

    Fresh Cherries

  • Stay away from over/ unnecessarily processed foods such as pre-chopped veggies or peeled and sliced oranges? Processing and storage involves energy and emissions so if you don’t really need the processed food don’t buy it!

    Reusable shopping bag

  • Reduce food waste. Only buy and prepare as much as you eat. Less waste less pollution and less costs!
  • Buy your food in packaging that is either recyclable or reusable or try and stay away from unnecessarily packaged food. Individually packaged fruit and vegetables is wasteful and unnecessary. Do we really need individually wrapped oranges/bananas/ onions etc?

    Individually packaged fruit.

  • Reuse your shopping bags.
  • Grow your own fresh fruits, vegetables and or herbs? This will save on production and transportation and storage costs which will in turn result in fewer carbon emissions.
  • Recycle your food waste by having a wormery or composter. You can use the nutrient rich “worm tea” and compost in your garden.
  • Buy local produce. This reduces transport related emissions (food miles) and also supports the local economy.
  • Eat less meat, this reduces your GHG emissions.
Some informative links on the above are:

Example of a Worm Farm