30 Dec 2010

Did the holidays bring you new gadgets? Here’s how to recycle your old ones.

Hi Wilma,

Electronic gadgets were at the top of many holiday shopping lists again this year, with iPads and Kindles fueling a lot of the buying frenzy. The biggest sellers were e-readers, tablet computers, smart phones, HD TVs and video games consoles and accessories.

So what should you do with your old stuff – the items these shiny new gadgets replaced? Or the even older ones – the dead cell phones, PDAs, and iPods stashed in your dead gadget drawer, or the old printer or TV tucked away in the basement? It’s pretty easy to keep a recycling resolution, with the help of the our Guide To Recycling Your Electronics. Here are the basics, with a lot more information available in the Guide.

Don’t Trash Old Electronics
The easiest (but worst) thing to do is to toss the old items in the trash. These gadgets contain toxic chemicals, which we don’t want seeping out of landfills and into groundwater, or creating toxic air emissions from incinerators. Plus they take up a lot of room in overcrowded landfills. And most contain metals that can be recovered and reused.

Donate for reuse
If your old item still works and is pretty current, it can probably be reused. Many cities have local, non-profit reuse organizations, which will refurbish electronics for use in local underserved communities. You can usually find these by contacting your local county solid waste agency. If you don’t find one, consider the National Cristina Foundation, which matches donated computers to charities and agencies, or the World Computer Exchange, which sends requested working items to educational institutions in developing countries.

If reuse is not an option, then please take it to an electronics recycler. Make sure your old product gets to a responsible recycler – one who will actually recycle it, and not ship it off to a developing nation, where old electronics are causing terrible health and environmental harm. The best way to do that is to work with a recycler who is part of the e-Stewards network. E-Stewards recyclers adhere to the highest standards in the industry, including a firm commitment not to export non-working or untested e-waste to developing nations. Many e-Stewards also refurbish products for reuse.

If there is no e-Steward near you, then there are many takeback programs run by the manufacturers and retailers (especially Best Buy), most of which are free. See our website’s Guide to Recycling Your Electronics for information and links to all of these manufacturer takeback programs. Some of these programs have trade-in options, which will give you money back for certain items, especially cell phones and laptops. The Guide includes details on these trade-in options as well.

Happy New Year and thanks for taking the time to recycle!

Barbara Kyle
Electronics TakeBack Coalition

18 Dec 2010

100% of most challenging Christmas plastic wrapping could be recycled by new tech

On average we each consume 120 grammes of plastic wrapping on Christmas gifts most of which is of a type which is almost impossible to recycle. Now researchers at the University of Warwick have devised a new technique which could process 100% of Christmas and other household plastic instead of the tiny fraction that currently actually gets processed - typically only 12% of such waste is truly recycled, often the rest is put into land fill or simply burnt as fuel.

Some plastic still goes straight to land fill but householders currently spend a great deal of effort separating out the rest of their plastic waste believing it will be recycled yet typically only 12% of “Municipal Plastic Solid Waste” is truly recycled. It is often simply too time consuming to separate out and clean the various types of plastic of their persistent labels or other problems, as that requires significant laborious human intervention. An additional problem is that often objects are made of more than one plastic that would require different treatments.
Check website and watch video here

17 Dec 2010

Australia: Selling the Farm

China and the Middle East are buying up Australia's agricultural assets to secure food production

From Crop To Swap - the journey of jeans

The way we dress reflects our personality and our lifestyle choices, and increasingly, we're thinking about the environmental and social impacts of our clothes. What really goes into making them? What are they made of, who made them and how were they made?

This video follows the journey of a pair of jeans from crop to swap. Narrated by Melissa Doyle, co-host of Sunrise on Seven and Big Aussie Swap ambassador

More information here

Community asset or underwater junkyard?

Within just two years big concrete structures could be submerged off Western Australia's pristine coastline in a bid to enhance the local recreational fishing experience.

That is, if the state's peak fishing lobby group can convince the community that creating artificial reefs would be an environmental brainwave and not an underwater garbage site.

Recfish West's Cane Moyle says new technology and improved designs mean artificial reefs are now something to be embraced.
Read article

Worldwide groups join fight againt gas hub

Worldwide environmental groups threw their support behind Kimberley groups fighting the proposed gas precinct at James Price Point today with a united front in Broome.

A "statement of global support" signed by 25 international conservation groups including Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Cetacean Society International, each representing millions of members, warned of "severe and irreversible" impacts on the environment if the project went ahead.

Comparing the Kimberley with the Amazon and the Great Barrier Reef, the group warned of the risk to humpback whales, flatback turtles, dugongs and snub-nosed dolphins, as well as the environmental risks of million tonnes a year of greenhouse gas emissions and destruction caused by dredging.
Read article

20 Jan 2011 - Gas hub protesters arrested in Perth
20 Jan 2011 - Protesters target browse investors

Reply on my letter to the minister:

GM contamination in WA
Dear mr Redman,

I am shocked to read about the contamination of the organic farms who are close to farmers that use GM seeds.
I am totally against it and although I try to be a very environmental friendly person I rather buy non local food with the stamp GM free on it (with long food miles and therefore not sustainable) than go for not labeled local processed food like oil, pasta and other foods.
I have a big scare for the future in buying bread when the GM wheat will be contaminating WA.
Please consider a growing group of people who are aware of what's happening with GM and don't like to consume it or their children but where do we go if contamination is so easy???
When more people are aware of this it will be hard to turn back the clock, please consider sharper rules for those who work with GM and allow suitable distance to avoid contamination and please fight for labeling the food so I can buy local again!

Thank you,
Wilma van Boxtel

Click to enlarge and read

Update: And one from Minister Redman

And a reply from OGTR@health.gov.au

Dear Ms van Boxtel,
Notification of decision on licence application DIR 105 from Monsanto for limited and controlled release of genetically modified (GM) canola

I am writing to thank you for your submission on the consultation version of the Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan (RARMP) prepared in relation to licence application DIR 105 from Monsanto Australia Ltd (Monsanto). The assessment of this application has been completed in accordance with the requirements of the Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act) and a licence was issued on 22 December 2010.

Licence DIR 105 permits a limited and controlled release of a canola line that has been genetically modified for herbicide tolerance. The trial is authorised to take place over four years, from March 2011 to December 2014, with up to 2 sites in the first year, 8 sites in the second and third years, and 20 sites in the fourth year. Sites will be a maximum area of 4 ha in the first year and 10 ha in subsequent years, and will be located in 46 possible local government areas (LGAs) in New South Wales, 28 possible LGAs in Victoria and 53 possible LGAs in Western Australia. Material from the GM canola will not be permitted to be used for human food or animal feed.

Licence conditions

The licence is subject to two types of conditions:

statutory conditions set out in sections 63, 64 and 65 of the Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act); and
specific conditions described in the RARMP, relating to matters set out in section 62.
Response to comments on the RARMP
Following the Notification of Application issued on 29 July 2010, in accordance with section 52 of the Act, the consultation RARMP for DIR 105 was released for comment on 15 October 2010 with written submissions sought by 26 November 2010.

All State and Territory Governments, the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee (GTTAC), relevant Australian Government agencies, relevant local councils and the Australian Government Minister for the Environment were consulted on the finalisation of the RARMP and asked to provide comment.

The public consultation process undertaken in relation to the RARMP exceeded the requirements of the Act and included media advertisements in national and regional newspapers, postings on the OGTR website and direct mail or email to interested parties who have registered on the OGTR mailing list.

In accordance with Section 56 of the Act, all submissions received during the consultation process were taken into account in finalising the RARMP and reaching the decision to issue the licence.

The advice received was considered in the context of current scientific information in assessing the risks to the health and safety of people or the environment that may be posed by the proposed dealings.

The finalised RARMP concludes that this limited and controlled release poses negligible risks to people and the environment. However, licence conditions have been imposed to limit the trial to the size, locations and duration requested by the applicant, as these were important considerations in the evaluation process.

Appendix B of the RARMP summarises public submissions and indicates where issues raised relating to risks to human health and safety or the environment were considered in the document. I enclose a copy of Appendix B for your reference (at Attachment A). Your comments in your submission are included as submission number 4.

The finalised RARMP and the licence are available on-line (www.ogtr.gov.au) under ‘What’s New’, or on request from my Office. I enclose the Executive Summary of the finalised RARMP (at Attachment B) and a set of Questions and Answers (at Attachment C) on the decision for your information.

Thank you for your contribution to the regulatory process. Should you have any queries about the issuing of this licence, please do not hesitate to contact the OGTR help-line on 1800 131 030.

Yours sincerely
Dr Joe Smith
Gene Technology Regulator
22 December 2010

Attachment A: Appendix B of finalised Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan for DIR 105
Attachment B: Executive summary of finalised Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan
Attachment C: Questions and Answers on this decision

The year of the TIGER...

With only as few as 3,200 still existing in the wild, tigers are still in trouble. World leaders and countries that have wild tigers endorsed a major plan to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022 underscoring their commitments at the historic International Tiger Conservation Forum. Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments capped a year-long political process with about USD 127 million in new funding to support the plan, known as the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.
I am born in the year of the tiger, 2010 is the year of the golden tiger, it is supposed to be a roaring year with a lot of challenges so maybe they are still to come or I had and solved them without noticing... we still have a few months left!

Buy Local, Surf Global

16 Dec 2010

Remida is looking for creative volunteers

Check website

GLAD Degradable Waste Report

To focus interest on their recently new introduced product, degradable garbage bags, Glad is revealing a report on waste.

The GLAD Degradable Waste Report has revealed some key insights into Australian’s green credentials around the home, uncovering our worst habits, misconceptions and areas where we can most improve when it comes to living greener.

According to the research, nine out of ten Australians admit they could be doing more around their homes to reduce their impact on the environment with 74% noting that they are still uncertain about which materials can be recycled.

On a more positive note, the GLAD Degradable Waste Report goes on to reveal that Australians are keen to reduce their environmental footprint and would welcome information on the steps they can take to do this.

The overwhelming consensus among those surveyed was that more should be done to encourage recycling, with over 60 per cent of Australians eager to see councils make recycling easier, stronger government incentives and greater access to information and education about recycling.
Reduce your waste as much as possible by having chickens for the foodscraps, or a worm farm, or a compost heap or all of the above like me. And for the packaging you can't recycle use Glad degradable garbage bags instead of the plastic bags you get at the supermarket, take your own bags!

McMansions don't make us happy...

Click on picture to enlarge and read

15 Dec 2010

Cane toad sneakers hopping out the store

A youth-at-risk charity raising funds by manufacturing shoes made from cane toads says it is a "huge missed opportunity" that it cannot buy cane toad leather in Australia.

The Ted Noffs Foundation says it started producing the handmade cane toad sneakers to raise money for its Sydney drop-in centre.

It says cane toad leather seemed the most ecologically sustainable material available.

"We were looking at using materials that were going to be more biodegradable and so we started looking at things which were better for the environment, such as roo over bovine," Matt Noffs from the foundation said.

"And then someone said you can actually get cane toad, and I thought, well, that would be really interesting."

But the charity says its leather supplier is having to buy the cane toad skins in Indonesia because there is no processing factory in Australia.
Read article
More about Gideon Shoes here
Also check out the ABC documentary on this amazing Noffs family here The part about the shoes business is at the end in the last five minutes.

WA sheep farmers to cut flocks

A prolonged drought in Western Australia is making its impact on sheep farmers, with about a third anticipating a decrease in flock sizes.

The latest lamb survey from Meat and Livestock Australia shows that 29 per cent of producers in WA are planning to downsize their ewe flocks in the coming year.

It comes as 90 per cent of those in WA rated weather conditions much worse than in 2009.
Read article

Drought and bugs nip flora in bud

A drying climate, land clearing and destructive diseases including dieback have been blamed for the rapid deterioration of hundreds of plant species in WA.

The situation has prompted the creation of an unprecedented list of the top 25 most endangered plants in the State, compiled for _The West Australian _ by the recently formed Threatened Species Council.

For the first time, WA's most critically endangered flora species are ranked according to those most under threat.

Spanning locations from the Mid West to the South Coast and across the Wheatbelt, plants on the list include a variety of wattles, banksia, grevillea, honeysuckle and orchids.

Dieback has been identified as the major threat in the South West and land clearing in the Wheatbelt has forced some species on to the list.
Read article

Maps predict future floods for Australian cities

Rising sea levels are likely to cause serious and regular flooding in Australian coastal cities by the end of the century, according to maps released by the Federal Government today.

The maps for low-lying areas in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Newcastle, the New South Wales' central coast and south-east Queensland show significant levels of inundation by the year 2100.

The maps show three different scenarios, with the lowest rise of 50 centimetres representing a situation which is likely to be unavoidable.

The Government says the flooding shown in the maps is likely to occur at least once a year.
Read article
Check maps here
Picture above is Perth with highest level of risk.

Genetically Modified Foods

Are genetically engineered foods safe? Dr. Oz leads an investigation to find out. See how you can protect your family. Click here for more information on organic and GMO foods.

Watch the documentary here

GM contamination in WA

As we feared it appears that Kojonup organic farmer Steve Marsh has GM canola contamination on his certified organic farm, and is now waiting for test results to confirm this.

GM buffer zone breached says WA farmer
KOJONUP grower Stephen Marsh believes even more GM canola has found its way into his organically certified paddocks.

Mr Marsh was featured in last week’s Farm Weekly voicing his concern about the ineffectiveness of GM buffer-zones in the Great Southern when he found GM canola swathes had blown up against his boundary fence.

A strip of land one and a half kilometres wide over five paddocks had been contaminated and Mr Marsh’s sheep had started to eat the wayward seed pods.

Mr Marsh said the contamination had occurred over 180 hectares of his farm.

“It’s hard to know where to go from here,” he said.
Read article

Update: What we feared has occurred.
GM canola contamination has resulted in certified organic farmer Steve Marsh being decertified.

This is outrageous, and we need to act urgently to send a clear message that this uncontrollable experiment has to stop.

Please find the time to both phone and email Department of Agriculture Minister Terry Redman, and Premier Colin Barnett to register your outrage at this event.

Call Minister Redman (08) 9213 6700 or 1800 644 811
Email: Minister.Redman@dpc.wa.gov.au

So far all Redman has been able to suggest is allowing GM tolerance in organic standards! How much does he think should be allowed and where would it stop?

Monsanto continues with the line that coexistence can succeed in other countries but this depends on tolerating GM contamination. This is Australia and we have our National Organic Standards, which do not include GM contamination.

We were told that segregation would be possible, but we were lied to.
So many promises were made, and all have been broken

We were led to believe that we would have a map to show where the GM canola was grown; a list of who was growing it; random audits to ensure compliance; and GM free zones for farmers.

None of these eventuated, and now we are being told to tolerate the contamination of this unwanted crop which is being forced onto us when markets are clearly calling for GM free crops, and consumers are refusing to eat it given the choice.

As a matter of urgency please show your support for Steve Marsh and all farmers that are battling to remain GM free, by contacting Redman and Barnett today!


8 Dec 2010

Loch dries up in drought

THE warmest spring on record and the driest in 41 years has had a knock-on effect at Yanchep National Park.

Water levels at Loch McNess are too low for the park’s popular rowboats to operate, and they will be in storage for the foreseeable future, in what is on course to be the second driest year since records began 130 years ago

Also, a bigger boat used to take visitors on a wildlife-spotting circuit of the lake has not been in use for three years and park acting manager Julia Coggins said it had been decommissioned because of low water levels.
Read article
Dear Wilma,
I hope you don't mind me contacting you? I work for Taronga Zoo and we are offering a $50,000 grant for the person who can come up with the best idea to inspire Australian's to live sustainably or assist wildlife.

We are looking for the next Earth Hour idea or Clean Up Australia type idea, and we don't just want the idea, we want to help the winner make their dream a green reality.

I thought since your readers are obviously 'green minded' that many of them might have the winning green idea churning around in their heads.

More details can be found at: www.tarongagreengrants.org.au
Please let me know if you do not wish to receive any further correspondence from me, however I hope to hear back from you soon.

Kind regards,

Danielle McGill.
Media Relations Officer
Taronga Conservation Society Australia | Taronga Zoo - Sydney

So let those ideas flow into Taronga Zoo's mailbox!

Thanks to Central Institute of Technology

A BIG THANKS to Central Institute of Technology, and especially the East Perth campus, for hosting the Perth Green Drinks in 2010!
Thanks for the perfect organisation, for all the good care taken in the theater for the speakers and especially for the superb catering!

New organiser for Perth Green Drinks

Let me introduce you to Julie Grundy, the new Perth Green Drinks organiser from 2011!
Yesterday I organised the last one and Julie is going to take it over from me after 3.5 years of fun doing it.

Julie is the ideal candidate to do so and she has carte blanche for organising it as long as the main aim for Green Drinks (now in 766 cities world wide) is covered. And that is that it's available and accessible for everyone with a sustainable mind in whatever area of expertise as the whole idea is to mingle and learn from each other which can grow into somthing bigger.

Julie has her own website Go Greener, Australia for as long as I know her and I know her since the first Perth Green Drinks. She shares interesting environmental topics on her blog and she also writes a regular column in G Magazine online.

I am pretty confident in her getting the Perth Green Drinks to the next level!

Carbon Neutral Design with eTool

Richard Haynes was the other speaker yesterday at the Perth Green Drinks. After first simply explain the differences he recently made to his life by started cycling to work instead of taking the car and eating kangaroo instead of beef for example and so lowering his footprint he introduced the eTool life cycle analysis software and explained life cycle analysis in a simple way comparing two houses; one standard 'from the shelf' building and one specifically designed with the environment in mind.

Richard told me taht the ABC will be screening eTool on the show New Inventors scheduled for the 6th of April

For more information check the website

Spartel - Environmental Solutions for a Sustainable World

Yesterday evening at the Perth Green Drinks Harry Hofstede explained one of his inventions during his talk; the BottleCrusher™. The BottleCrusher technology is safe and quiet. The range of machines deliver reduced noise emissions and up to 75% reduced glass volumes. Several of his products are already used in WA mainly in hospitality like restaurants and clubs.

Harry demonstrated the glass crusher during his talk, it hardly makes any sound and is fully automatic and easy, you just put your empty bottle in the hole and there it goes, in a few seconds only small chards are left over in the catching shelf. Later during the drinks everyone had fun crushing the empty beer bottles.

He also explained that he innitally had problems getting the crushed glass taken away as conventional waste removers are used to transport 80% air when transporting the bins with empty glass bottles so they weren't interested in the 'smaller amounts' of glass. But he found a solution and is also working on using the glass to create insulation materials such as glass wool.

Glass crushers are not the only products which keep Harry busy, his company, Spartel, also has plastic crushers and systems to process solid and semi-solid organic wastes into compost.
For more information check his website.

Perth Green Drinks December photos

Yesterday evening was the last Perth Green Drinks of 2010 and we already noticed that December is a busy month as so many people send me an email telling they had already another function and were sorry they couldn't come. But there was still a little crowd to listen to the two interesting speakers of which I will ad separate posts later. And as time was flying and we catering was already waiting with drinks and canapes downstairs I only shortly explained that I am going to stop organising the Perth Green Drinks and introduced Julie Grundy who is going to follow me up and taking the Perth Green Drinks to the next level.
I really had good fun in the past 3.5 years when I started this blog and set up the Perth Green Drinks. I met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot. But I've decided to focus more on sustainable design as that's how it begun. Me being the o2 liaison for WA. o2 is a global network for sustainable designers. They told me the first thing I had to do here was to set up the Green Drinks and now I am ready for going deeper into o2WA!

6 Dec 2010

Kimberley Rally - What a week it's been for the Kimberley!

Over 1,500 people converged on Cottesloe for the Protect the Kimberley rally on Sunday, 28th November proving the WA Government has a fight on its hands

Over 1,500 people came together in Cottesloe for the 'Protect the Kimberley' Rally, November 2010The weather turned it up to 36 degrees for the ‘Protect the Community’ as people flooded onto the lawns at Cottesloe, many wearing red shirts representing the colour of the pindan cliffs of James Price Point.

This capped off a week of activity which saw John Butler and Missy Higgins make video messages urging people to support the rally, and Michael Caton, of The Castle fame, turned up in Canberra to present over 12,000 postcard petitions to protect the Kimberley to the Prime Minister.
Read article

2 Dec 2010

Perth Green Drinks 7 December 6pm

You are invited for the last Perth Green Drinks in 2010, Green drinks is a global event happening in more than 750 cities worldwide to bring people together.

When: Tuesday 7 December 6.00 – 8.00 pm

Where: Central (TAFE) East Perth Campus at 140 Royal Street, come by train, just 2 minutes from Claissebrook station. There plenty of free parking available at the back of the building off the Brown Street entrance.

How: Central Institute of Technology is providing one voucher per person for a choice of drink + finger food. Following drinks are non alcoholic.

What: Network, interact, talk, laugh, debate, drink, have fun!

RSVP: Green Drinks is a free event but please rsvp before Thursday 2 December 5pm - rsvp @ central.wa.edu.au

Topics of tonight:
Harry Hofstede from Spartel; Environmental Solutions for a Sustainable World is going to talk about Innovation and efficiency in glass and plastic bottle recycling.
Richard Haynes from eTool will be demonstrating software for Life Cycle Assessment in the building industry. The ability to reduce the environmental impact of designs using eTool will also be showcased.

I started the Perth Green Drinks 3.5 years ago in 2007 and it’s time to move on and focus on sustainable design only, being the liaison for o2 in WA.
I’ve found Julie Grundy interested in taking Perth Green Drinks to another level from 2011. Julie is a blogger with her own website on sustainable issues: Go Greener Australia and is looking forward to see you all on 7 December when I’ll introduce her to you.

Hope to see you there!

Wilma van Boxtel

Central Institute of Technology

Meet international Green Drinkers and become a member of the Perth Green Drinks group at NING