30 Jun 2011

WA worst in nation for recycling

WA has the lowest recycling rate in the country and reuses less than half as much waste as South Australia, according to a report that has sparked renewed criticism of the State Government's landfill levy.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics report into the waste management industry shows that WA diverts 28.2 per cent of all rubbish from landfill sites compared with a national figure of 42.6 per cent.

South Australia, which has Australia's longest running recycling refund scheme, has the highest recycling rate of 66.3 per cent, while all other States bar Queensland (35.4 per cent) reuse more than 40 per cent.

It comes after last month's State Budget showed the Government would fail to meet its Perth recycling target by 10 per cent this financial year.

The figures have raised fresh questions over the effectiveness of the State Government's controversial landfill levy, which Premier Colin Barnett increased 300 per cent in 2009.
Read article

Great Sustainable Home Challenge: Part 4

Think of Perth, and the chances are you’ll think of sunshine. But despite our abundant solar resources, it is only relatively recently that solar panels have become affordable enough for many homeowners.

“Until five years ago there were more solar panels on roofs in Scotland than Perth,” says sustainability expert Chris Ferreira, who is campaigning to encourage more homeowners to embrace renewable energy.

Since then, the number of solar panels glittering on suburban roofs across the metropolitan area has skyrocketed and the price of silicon photovoltaic cells has tumbled.
Read article

Watch the other issues as well, click here

Or go to one of the free garden workshops, info here

27 Jun 2011

Results of Super Tuesday national bike count

2011 is the fifth consecutive year of the annual Super Tuesday Bike Count. In 2007, the count occurred in four inner metropolitan Melbourne municipalities.

This year the Bicycle Network’s Super Tuesday Bike Count covered 47 municipalities at close to 1100 sites across five states, namely Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia.

I counted on a great spot, along the river opposite UWA, and had almost 300 cyclists passing me between 7-9am during the great bike count in March this year.

The intersection of PSP towards George St, PSP up from the Narrows Bridge, shared path heading towards roundabout and shared path towards Mounts Bay Rd was the busiest commuter route in the Perth municipality, with a total of 1041 riders.

Perth recorded an average of 8.7 riders per minute at the busiest site
which ranked 3rd overall.

If you are interested in the results, check here

WA coastal waterways dying

COASTAL waterways in Perth and the South-West are dying from a lack of oxygen, warns a new report on the health of the world's oceans.

In a list of the world's worst-affected coastal areas impacted by hypoxia - where oxygen-hungry bacteria decompose organic matter, creating "dead zones" - 15 are in WA. Dead zones threaten the health of marine ecosystems, killing fish and decreasing the size of their reproductive organs.

They are caused by agricultural run-off, land clearing, industrial pollution, human sewage and climate change.

According to the Ocean Stresses and Impacts report, produced this month by 27 marine scientists from six countries, the WA estuaries suffering from the effects of hypoxia include the Swan and Canning rivers, Peel-Harvey estuary, Moore River, Parry Inlet in Denmark and Beaufort Inlet in the Great Southern.
Read article

Choice and social change

Professor Renata Salecl explores the paralysing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice.

Does the freedom to be the architects of our own lives actually hinder rather than help us?

Does our preoccupation with choosing and consuming actually obstruct social change?

26 Jun 2011


MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

We are at a mid-way place. On a remote and isolated island in the middle of the Pacific, twelve-hundred miles northwest of Hawaii.

This is a moment in time, a chance to witness and understand our role in an astonishing environmental tragedy. This is a place that provides context. Here, reflected in the beauty of the Albatross, is an unfolding horror. Yet it is a horror in which we see our own lives, a snapshot of our impact on the planet that challenges us to consider how to move forward.

Production of the feature film "Midway" continues through 2011. For more information click here

24 Jun 2011

Win an iPad in our Universal Design Competition.

Tell us how you would use universal design to improve life at Curtin and win one of two iPads or one of eight $50 book vouchers.

What is universal design?
Universal design applies to the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design. Universal design is good design.

Universal Design principles help ensure a safe, efficient and accessible environment for everyone at Curtin University. By sharing your ideas, you will become part of Curtin's efforts to take a leadership role in the development of universal design principles in the design of curricula, services and facilities.

Competition details
Tell us how you would use universal design to improve life at Curtin. The competition is open to all Curtin students and staff.

Your entry can be in any form: a video presentation, text, images, website or something else! Entries must be emailed to universaldesign@curtin.edu.au before 5pm Monday 25 July 2011.

Judging will be based on:
Understanding and application of the principles of universal design, application of universal design in a university context, standard of presentation of the entry
creativity, innovation and visual appeal of the entry.
Competition terms and conditions

Tree formation to be visible from space

The Condamine community is so serious about doing its bit for the environment it wants the whole universe to take note of its efforts.

Not-for-profit organisation Condamine Alliance has announced plans to plant more than 85,000 trees in the Condamine River Basin to form a unique pattern which will be visible from space.
Read article

More info or become part of it click Treehenge

Great Sustainable Home Challenge: Part 3

The Swan River is in trouble – and part of the reason is the fertiliser runoff from home gardens. That’s the bad news – the good news is that it’s possible to keep your garden looking beautiful without sacrificing your green credentials.

Sustainability guru Chris Ferreira showed how it was done by making over a green play area at Beechboro Christian School.

Mr Ferreira is renovating his 1950s Hamilton Hill home to show how you can save money and the environment. Insulating a north-facing wall can cost as little as $100 and help banish air con for good, he said.
Read article

Or go to one of the free garden workshops, info here

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 as well.

Marc Newson spoke to journalist Jenny Brockie

On his philosophy:
"I have a desire to want to make things better and the desire to create things that have a sense of longevity, sense of quality – not designing landfill... if I can avoid it. I love the idea of designing something that as a consumer you can have one of for the rest of your life, and it will work forever. I don't really like the idea of disposability".
Read the interview

22 Jun 2011

Help an orphan

One of my old students, Glenn Goodison, is doing volunteering work in Tanzania and started a help page on Facebook, have a look at it here

"HEY GUYS, I NEED YOUR HELP. Please, please take 5 mins to watch this…
As you may know, Elaine and I are doing Volunteer work in Africa. I have put together a quick video to raise awareness and funds to help the children we are caring for. Please watch this video".

"A brief video to show you all what we are dealing with here in Tanzania.
Not the best video quality, but enough to get the message accross".

"Yesterday, a young girl came to school with third degree burns to her entire neck and lower face. Her mother burnt her with fire 'because she was bad'. her neck is covered in a thick, black crust. she has been given no treatment and desperately needs to go to hospital. Please help us pay for her treatment".

Thankyou all for watching!!

"I know you can’t be here to help these children, but we are and we need money urgently. Any donation is greatly appreciated. The money you donate will be put %100 towards the children and fully documented on film for you to see what your donation has contributed.
Thank you all!!

Elaine and Glenn

Bank Details:
Please use “Tanzania” as account description.
For my Australian friends, please send your donation to this account:
Commonwealth Bank
Mr Glenn Goodison
(BSB: 06 6110) 1013 8620

Tiny toxic pellets choking WA beaches

Millions of tiny plastic resin pellets, some containing harmful chemicals, which litter Western Australia's southern beaches, are thought to be contributing to the "inevitable" wipe out of the world's marine species.

A report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, held at Oxford University, has found that overfishing and ocean pollution is killing fish, sharks, whales and other marine species far faster than predicted, and could result in a catastrophic extinction event.
Among these dangerous pollutants are plastic resin pellets, used in the manufacture of plastic drink bottles and other plastic ware.

Made up of different chemicals, they absorb pesticides and industrial chemicals found in the ocean and form concentrated toxic pills for unsuspecting marine life, according to Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society officer Wally Smith.
Read article

20 Jun 2011

Charging down the solar road

After his wife suggested making roads out of solar panels he started investigating whether it could work.

Mr Brusaw said he had dreamed of transmitting electric power through roadways since he was a kid playing with slot cars and he always thought an electrified roadway could be used as a solution to reduce emissions.

He claims a single parking bay in a shopping centre paved with solar panels would produce enough electricity to power the shopping centre while a cul-de-sac paved with solar panels could take an entire subdivision off the grid, even on a cloudy day.

Mr Brusaw says to have not only succeeded - building panels strong enough to be driven over by thousands of trucks and cars each day - but said panels could be built at a competitive price.
Read article

17 Jun 2011

Plastic Free July 2011 Challenge

The Eartcarers set up a challenge for July, are you up for it too? Join here!

Plastic Free July 2011 Challenge Aims and Guidelines

- Acquire no plastic packing this July and discover alternatives.
- Share your experiences with others during the challenge (ie. post on our Discussion Board) and at the end of challenge de-brief.

- Decide who is doing the challenge with you (just yourself or will you enlist the whole family?)
- Pledge to go plastic free by selecting "yes" in the question below
- Only purchase items that aren't wrapped in plastic
- Keep any purchased plastic packaging in a "Dilemma Bag" and bring for show and tell at the end of challenge de-brief

Electrolux Design Lab 2011 Semi-Finalists Announced

Electrolux Design Lab 2011 inviteted industrial design students and recent industrial design graduates (2010) to create home appliances that consider intelligent mobility. Your ideas will shape how people prepare and store food, clean and do their dishes, both within and beyond the home.

A few of my students 3D Technology at Curtin University have submitted their ideas although the due date was far too early for them to be finished with their work. A pity they are not shortlisted in the semi finalists.
Check here who is semi finalist
And here the article on Treehugger

GM wheat planted, on shelves by 2015 says Government

This year's GM wheat trials have begun, with plantings in the ACT, NSW and WA and claims by the Federal Government that Australians will be eating GM bread by 2015.

GM wheat will be planted in field trials across Australia this year, and our government science body, the CSIRO, plans to have GM bread on supermarket shelves by 2015. This year's field trials are scientific scale trials, which means most are under one hectare in size. But if CSIRO suceeds with their plan for Australia to become the first country in the world to approve GM wheat, we could be facing large-scale commercial field trials of GM wheat within the next two years.

That means two things; global biotech patents on our daily bread, and inevitable contamination of Australian farmers' conventional and organic wheat crops.
Read article And take action!

I am so happy that since a few months I bake my own sourdough bread and I can source GM free wheat flour so at least I know what is in my bread! It's special to keep the sourdough starter alive in the fridge :)

16 Jun 2011

Pizza boxes made of recycled paper scare when heated up

A major pizza chain is calling for an industry-wide rethink on packaging after a scientific study found recycled food containers could contain harmful toxins when heated up.

It's the toxic incs, glues and dyes that are the problem containing Diisobutyl Phthalate (DIBP) a chemical that if absorbed into the body can affect the reproductive system.

Dominoes pizza chain did a test on their boxes in Europe and America and found there was 0 levels of DIBP in them!

Yet another scare what stays with ignorant people and gets a negative influence on recycling...

GM facts by FOEI - Friends of the Earth International

The biotechnology industry secures funding from a vast array of public and private sources promising to combat hunger, poverty, malnutrition and now even climate change. Yet large scale cultivation of GM crops is still limited to six countries, with the vast majority of these crops grown for fibre, industrial agrofuels and animal feed, not feeding people.

No new beneficial traits of GM crops have been successfully commercialised by the biotech industry despite persistent assurances about the development of drought resistance2 and nitrogen fixation, through to the availability of enhanced nutrients and a reduced need for fertiliser.3Most ‘new’ GM crops turn out to be existing herbicide tolerant and insect resistant gene traits stacked in a single modified crop.

One of the myths about GM crops is that insect resistant and herbicide tolerant crops reduce pesticide use. In fact, evidence from the US shows a dramatic rise in pesticide usage, driven particularly by the use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, on GM herbicide tolerant crops.

Despite this, farmers and communities across the US are suffering the impacts of ‘superweeds’ that have developed tolerance to herbicides that are supposed to kill weeds without damaging the crop.

In response, corporations have developed yet more GM crops, which can resist other toxic pesticides, which were set to be phased out in the US, such as 2,4-D. These crops are currently awaiting approval. Recent research also links glyphosate herbicides to miscarriages, cancer, and damage to DNA and reproductive organs.
More GM info on FOEI website

Wood heaters could go on back burner

THE humble wood-burning heater releases more hazardous pollution than a car and the average heater in Sydney leads to an estimated $3172 in health costs a year, new research claims.

The report, published in the journal Atmospheric Pollution Research, applies the same methodology used to measure vehicle emissions to wood-burning heaters and adds up the cost of respiratory health treatments.

Dr Robinson, also a Greens councillor in Armidale, drew together international research on the health impacts of heaters, including a 2007 New Zealand study that showed death rates rose along with wood smoke levels after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, socio-economic status and tobacco smoking.

New Zealand has since tightened its particulate matter emission standards for heaters but the Australian standard has not been updated since 1999.

The Greens want tighter emissions standards and a moratorium on new wood-burning heaters until new rules come in.
Read article

Govt urged to review pesticide laws

The federal government must promise to test high-risk pesticides every five years to ensure health and safety, a new alliance of health and consumer groups says.

The government is under pressure to outline how it will better protect the health of Australians and the environment in a reform of the nation's pesticides regulator.

The new alliance of health, consumer and green groups has accused the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) of being in denial about the lax job it's doing regulating chemicals designed to kill.

Advertisement: Story continues below The groups, including Choice, WWF and the Public Health Association of Australia, say more than 80 pesticides registered here are no longer authorised in Europe due to the risks to human and environmental health.
Read article

14 Jun 2011

Electric vehicles found to be not so green

ELECTRIC cars could produce higher emissions over their lifetimes than petrol equivalents because of the energy used in making their batteries, a study has found.
An electric-car owner would have to drive at least 130,000km before producing a net saving in CO2.

Many electric cars will not travel that far in their lifetime because they usually have a range of less than 145km on a single charge and are unsuitable for long trips.

Even those driven 160,000km would save only about a tonne of CO2 over their lifetimes.

The study, the first analysis of the lifetime emissions of electric cars covering manufacturing, driving and disposal, undermines the case for tackling climate change by rapid introduction of the cars.
Read article

Just now they begun an Australian-first trial involving real-world use of an electric vehicle for two years in Perth...
Plugging into the future

Update 20 June:
The US Department of Energy has predicted that batteries for electric vehicles, which account for nearly 60 per cent of the cost, will be 70 per cent cheaper by 2015.

11 Jun 2011

Cyclist Argues Against Bike-Lane Police Fine

Casey Neistat was ticketed for not riding in the bike lane in New York City and had to pay a $50 fine. It brings up an important issue about how cities need to keep bike lanes safe if they're to require cyclists to ride only within the narrow white lines. I think this cyclist makes a strong, and admittedly funny point when he illustrates why cyclists sometimes don't, or rather can't, ride in the bike lane.

I think it's not only in New York but any other city in the world! For example Perth...

9 Jun 2011


EARTHLINGS is a documentary film about humankind's complete economic dependence on animals raised for pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, EARTHLINGS chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit. Powerful, informative, controversial and thought-provoking, EARTHLINGS is by far the most comprehensive documentary ever produced on the correlation between nature, animals and human economic interests.
More info

An epic documentary about our treatment of animals...

Warning: animal cruelty, if you got scared after the documentary what happened with the Australian cattle in the slaughter houses of Indonesia, don't watch this, as human's are cruel, very cruel, when they want the meat, fur, ivory, etc.

The Not-So-Humble Australian Home

I am often asked, “How can I make the house I’m building more environmentally friendly?” My first answer, which admittedly is not very popular, is, “Trim your house plan by at least 50 square metres.”

Australians live in the biggest houses in the world. Yes, even bigger than Americans. To provide some perspective, the average new Australian home is 248 square metres. In Britain in 2009, the average new home was 76 square metres. Denmark has the largest new homes in Europe, and at 137sqm, they’re still just over half the size of ours.

It makes me wonder why the merchandisers at IKEA even bother with the “Live in 20sqm!” displays. Many Australians consider 20sqm an acceptable size for, say, the laundry.

Our big houses are part of the reason Australians have among the least environmentally sustainable lifestyles in the world, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation‘s Sustainable Cities Index. It’s not just that our houses are big, fewer people live in them and they’re on smaller blocks. More house, less yard, fewer occupants.
Read article

And check out more stories from local fellow blogger Kirsten

Debate: Is Nuclear Energy Essential in a Low Carbon Future?

Yesterday evening we went to the debate in The Grove library with Michael Angwin, CEO Australian Uranium Association vs Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens Senator for WA

It was very interesting and the room was full of people who listened to both parties and afterwards there were questions. The answers by Mr. Angwin were often longwinded without giving an answer to the question while Mr. Ludlum was pretty clear in his view and seem to know far more about it. He was very clear on the problems of nuclear energy; nuclear waste disposal, uranium mining and radiation to name a few.

I loved Scott's end quote: Those that say it can't be done should get out of the way of those doing it!

Nuclear reactor by 2022, uranium body says Australia should try to get its first electricity generating nuclear reactor up by 2022, despite the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan, the head of the Australian Uranium Association says.

Michael Angwin, CEO of the AUA, told an International Uranium Conference in Perth on Wednesday he was puzzled why the country was debating a carbon price without talking about energy choices. Read article

WA Government blows one million on dangerous, dead-end uranium industry The Barnett Government's costly support for uranium mining in Western Australia will leave the state littered with long-term environmental disasters, the Greens warned today.

Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said the ongoing problems plaguing Ranger mine in the Northern Territory and the decades-long multi-million dollar clean up of the defunct Rum Jungle mine illustrated the danger of uranium mining.

"Just last week it was revealed another seven million dollars will be spent just assessing how best to clean up the radioactive mess at Rum Jungle, and this is not the first time authorities have tried to rehabilitate the site since it closed 40 years ago," he said. Read article

Rubbish dumping

When we walked the Yaberoo Budjara Heritage trail over Easter we came across a lot of rubbish dumped in the beautiful bushland just south of the crossing Romeo Road and Wanneroo Road, see photo.

What kind of people are putting their rubbish into a car, drive it all the way in to the bush to discard it??? They must be really sick in the head! Councils organise a bulk waste collection twice a year in most areas and there are plenty of opportunities to get rid of your waste in a normal way. Why pollute nature???

So I was happy today to read this: Lesmurdie man faces $62,000 dumping fine the man used a semi-trailer to dump a large amount of demolition waste onto a service road in a water catchment area off Brookton Highway, Karragullen, on January 5

Barbie's rainforest destruction habit REVEALED!

Barbie gets dumped for being an environmental wrecker

Barbie gets dumped as part of a new campaign by Greenpeace targeting the toy industry for its connections to deforestation in Indonesia.

A Greenpeace campaign is seeking to do exactly that as part of a global campaign to highlight the destruction of rainforests for pulp paper used in the toy's cardboard packaging.
Read article

8 Jun 2011

Mosman Park Vego Wannabes Tuesday 14 June

Screening of the documentary "No Impact Man" at The Mosman Park Vego Wannabes on Tuesday 14th of June at Alf Adams Pavilion, Mosman Park (It's near the Mosman Park Primary School, on Solomon St and opening out onto Mann Oval).

If you are coming send an email to Jane: jblsey@gmail.com

You don't have to be a vegetarian, just interested in eating less meat and share vegetarian recipes with other locals. We went last month at the first Mosman Park Vego Wannebes, so come along, it's fun! Subiaco is having a Vego Wannebes every last Thursday of the month at Earthwise on Bagot Street. For more info about Subiaco email Libby: eustance@iinet.net.au

6 Jun 2011

Thousands rally in Perth for carbon tax

An estimated 3000 people have rallied in Perth as part of a national climate-change campaign urging the federal government to set a carbon price.

Young families were among those who rallied during a long weekend in the state to show their support for climate action.

Signs and placards that read 'Yes to a price on carbon', 'Our planet is worth it' and 'Pay now for our kids' future' were waved around in the crowd.

Speakers included Conservation Council of WA director Piers Verstegen, World Vision representative Jarrod McKenna and Unions WA secretary Simone McGurk.

Politicians also showed their support for the campaign including Greens senator for WA Scott Ludlam and Greens WA Legislative Council member Lyn McLaren.
Read article and this one
I was there, you too?

UPDATE: RTR FM 92.1 Understorey program features a couple of the speakers...tune in at 11.30 am 15 June 2011 to catch it (or you can stream it/podcast it).

Fracking fight looms in WA

A CONTROVERSIAL technology that fractures the earth to extract gas is emerging as the next environmental flashpoint in the South-West.
While the process is banned in France and parts of the US, Canada and South Africa, "fracking" - where sand, chemicals and millions of litres of water are blasted underground to rupture rock and release trapped gas - is happening in WA.

The technique, which is used to explore and extract "unconventional gas" or methane deposits in coal seam, shale rock and tight sand formations, has had disastrous consequences in Queensland and the US.

There, it has been blamed for depleting and contaminating groundwater and causing methane to leak up through farmland.

In WA, fracking is already occurring in the Kimberley and the Mid-West near Dongara, and there are eight active coal seam gas exploration permits, including two held by Westralian Oil and Gas Ltd near Margaret River and Busselton.
Read full article

Bamboo tricycle a contender for Aussie best design

IS this the future of green transport?

It may be small, but Monash industrial designer Alexander Vittouris believes this miniature prototype for a bamboo tricycle can revolutionise renewable manufacturing.

The design involves manipulating bamboo as it grows to form the shape of a recumbent tricycle frame.

The manufacturing idea has made Mr Vittouris a finalist for the James Dyson Award, part of the Australian Design Awards.

He said the bamboo frame would be fitted with other eco-friendly parts to make a functioning vehicle.

"It is a total rethink of how the manufacturing process works," Mr Vittouris, who designed the tricycle as part of a masters project, said.
Read article

Wish one of my students came in the news like this ;)

2 Jun 2011

What Are Your Trees Worth?

Almost everyone knows that trees and other living plants are valuable. They beautify our surroundings, purify our air, act as sound barriers, manufacture precious oxygen, and help us save energy through their cooling shade in summer and their wind reduction in winter. And above all they provide a home and food for a lot of animals like birds and insects.

How can people in the suburbs of Perth be still so stupid to cut all those beautiful old trees down for stupid reasons like falling leaves...??? They seem to prefer concrete bunkers with a few tiny sprigs of green or worse, a plastic lawn, and high energy bills for the airco which is blowing all day long in summer and winter.

Our new neighbour cut at least 7 grown trees, most of them gums, a peppermint, a paperbark and a palm, at the front, side and back of his house. All Monday I heard the screaming noise of trees being cut and mulched up next door which gave me a stomach ache. And why? He owns about 3 cars, a boat and a trailer which he needs to park...

I'd foreseen this happening and asked the council about it, but they were annoyed with my question; everyone can do what they want on their property. There is no such law that you need a permit to cut trees of a certain diameter like in other countries. I am very dissapointed and in the past few months have seen several properties losing beautiful old trees which is part of our view and the reason we bought a house in the old part of Perth; the western suburbs. Not sure if they keep up the green as it starts to look like all those new bare patches of colorbond roofed McMansions in the outer suburbs...

I am ready to move to the country!

Update 7 June: Couple cop record $112K tree clearing fine

The Biggest Bike-Share in the World: Hangzhou China

Anyone who claims that bike-sharing is a European-style transportation innovation has clearly never set foot in Hangzhou, China. The 50,000-bike system in this southern China city of almost 7 million people (about 1.5 million people fewer than New York City) blows all other bike-shares off the map. As Bradley Schroeder of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy said, "I don't think there is anywhere you can stand in Hangzhou for more than a minute or two where you wouldn't have a Hangzhou Public Bike go past you."
Hangzhou's 2,050 bike-share stations are spaced less than a thousand feet from each other in the city center, and on an average day riders make 240,000 trips using the system. Its popularity and success have set a new standard for bike-sharing in Asia. And the city is far from finished. The Hangzhou Bicycle Company plans to expand the bike-share system to 175,000 bikes by 2020!

Can we do something like this here in Perth?