29 Nov 2011

Eco-design reduces costs

INCORPORATING environmental design can reduce waste and improve your company's financial position.
That's according to a leading Dutch eco-design expert. Delft University applied environmental design Professor Albert Stevels told a recent Innovate SA seminar while so-called eco-design is intended to reduce a company's environmental impact, it must also fit into its overall business strategy, reduce costs and give it a competitive advantage.

"You want to be better than the competition, you want to use eco-design to be better," he said.

But Prof Stevels said there was an existing prejudice among many businesses that "green" strategies were expensive, while consumer studies showed that - despite what they say - customers won't buy products simply because they are "green".

"A lot of people are thinking `green always costs money,' which is not true," he said.
Read article

28 Nov 2011

Save the Tarkine Rainforest in Tasmania

In the north west corner of Australia's island state, Tasmania, lies the Tarkine. The worlds second largest temperate rain forest.

For the past 50 years, conservationists have been waging a battle against successive governments to have the Tarkine turned into a national park and given World Heritage listing, protecting it from destructive logging and mining practices.

Mining companies want to destroy it. Earlier this year the Australia Heritage Council made a clear recommendation to protect the Tarkine, but Environment Minister Tony Burke let its emergency heritage status expire, and has yet to visit the area.

Tony Burke is just days away from making a decision on the Tarkine's heritage status and is under pressure to look the other way - but if he sees the beauty of the Tarkine first hand, he'll see for himself why he must protect this area. Check the Get up, action for Australia website and sign the list!

The Tarkine: Saving the last of Gondwana from Brent Melton on Vimeo.

Wasted Resources (2011)

Wasted Resources (2011) from Nat Campbell on Vimeo.

Another interesting video made by an old student of mine; Nat Campbell.

This video documents the journey of 3 students as they attempt to raise the awareness of water and wind resources that go unused daily in Sydney, Australia. The giant pin-wheel and water bombs succeed in stimulating imaginations and conversation, and capturing social fears and attitudes.

Created for:
Interdisciplinary Design: City In Crisis
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

25 Nov 2011

26 November: Buy nothing day Perth

Here is the schedule for Buy Nothing Day celebration at the Blue Room Theatre in Northbridge!

12 noon-5pm -- clothing swap -- bring clothes to leave and try on and take whatever fits you! Bring a friend whose closet you've always wanted to raid!

1-2pm -- upcycling workshop taught by EcoFaerie LaFee Verte -- learn to refashion your old clothes (or ones you've just got from the swap) into luscious new looks

3-5pm -- video screening of What Would Jesus Buy? -- a hilarious documentary about US activist Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping, inspirational and inspiring!

ALL DAY: plastic bag collection (for recycling), credit card cut-up station, walking map to open house of REmida Creative Reuse Centre

Celebrate Buying Nothing with us! Entrance to everything is, of course, FREE! If you'd like to spend the day, bring a snack to share!

Not buying it: Could saving your cash also save the planet?
September 27 was declared Earth Overshoot Day – the point when, according to researchers, “humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year”.

24 Nov 2011

The Story of Broke

More info here

Keep it local

Need to buy Christmas presents and want to spruce up the local community instead of cheaply produced goods sold by big giants who only fill the pockets of huge foreign enterprises from low wage countries?

Why not think of a gift certificate from your local hair dresser, beautician, gym, car wash, handyman, garden or cleaning services?

Or a gift voucher for a nice dinner at a local owned restaurant or a gift basket full with local produced skincare products, soaps and fragrant oils. Or a box of nice wines. And for the ones with a sweet tooth delicious local made chocolates and other goodies.

Take your family to a concert with local musicians, or the ballet if that's more of their fancy.

Check out the local crafts people who spin their own wool & knit them into scarves. They make jewellery, & pottery & beautiful wooden boxes.

It's time to think outside the box! Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?


23 Nov 2011

Pig as a raw material

Watch this talk from Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma

22 Nov 2011

Don’t get eggs-cited about free range: the realities of poultry production

If it's ethical eggs you're after, the backyard may be the best source.

There are three main options for the large scale egg producers. The first is barns with rows and rows of cages containing five birds each, which provides about an A4 piece of paper of space per bird.

There are two main problems with this system: the restricted space stops them performing their natural behaviours such as flapping their wings. And the barrenness of the cage provides no possibility to dust bathe or forage in the dirt. The chickens' food is provided automatically by a conveyor belt and their dung is removed equally automatically by another belt, so the bird is just a machine in the middle of the process.

The second option is to have groups of several thousand birds loose in barns. Consumers pay a premium for these type of eggs. This set-up improves the birds’ behavioural freedom because there is more space and variety in the environment, but there is increased fighting and even cannibalism.

A third alternative is allowing birds to have access to both a house and free range. This gives them the opportunity to go outside, but usually offers little protection from aerial predators or the extremes of weather. As a result the birds often don’t venture outside.

Organic chickens – according to the international NASAA standard – are provided least eight hours continuous darkness every 24 hours, and must have access to natural light and forage areas for at least six hours per day. Farmers have to provide at least one square meter for every five birds.

So maybe the best way to support chicken welfare is to hunt down that backyard producer that sells a few eggs on the side. Even better, if you have a yard buy a few chooks and recycle your vegetable scraps.
Read article
I've five chickens in my backyard keeping my waste to a bare minimum as they eat all scraps, provide manure for my veggie patch and provide me daily with too many eggs. So if you are interested in buying organic eggs (they only get fed grains, veggie scraps and whatever bugs they dig out of the yard) let me know as I've too many eggs for the two of us at the moment.

Bicycle Rush Hour Utrecht

Morning rush hour in the 4th largest city in the Netherlands. Streets look like this when 33% of ALL trips are made by bicycle!

This is an ordinary Wednesday morning in April 2010 at around 8.30 am. Original time was 8 minutes that were compressed into 2 minutes, so everything is 4 times faster than in reality. The sound is original.

This is one of the busiest junctions in Utrecht a city with a population of 300,000. No less than 22,000 bicycles and 2,500 buses pass here every day. And yet Google Street View missed it. Because private motorized traffic is restricted here.

These cyclists cross a one way bus lane (also used by taxis and municipal vehicles), two light rail tracks and then a one way street that can be used by private vehicles.

Behind the camera is a railway (you can hear the squeaking sounds of the trains passing) and the main railway station is very close too. A number of rental bikes from the station pass and many of the cyclists will have come by train for the first part of their commute.

For those who frown upon the total absence of bike helmets in this video, consider these findings from a US study:

"Cycling in the Netherlands is much safer than in the USA. The Netherlands has the lowest non-fatal injury rate as well as the lowest fatality rate, while the USA has the highest non-fatal injury rate as well as the highest fatality rate. Indeed, the non-fatal injury rate for the USA is about 30 times higher than for the Netherlands.

Injury rate per million km cycled: USA 37.5; NL 1.4
Fatality rate per 100 million km cycled: USA 5.8; NL 1.1"
I wonder what the rate is in Australia... But I would like to see this in Perth!

2011 not compressed

21 Nov 2011

Curtin University for Table & Chair

Curtin University Interior Architecture students let their imaginations run wild in a fun collaboration with Perth's Table & Chair.
Over the past 5 months, Table & Chair have been inviting Curtin University Interior Architecture students to design the showroom's window display, teaming up their own products with items from the Table & Chair range.

The results have been a diverse mix of ideas, beautifully executed to demonstrate the great talent on tap at Curtin Uni.
Read article

These five pieces are chosen from the unit 'Furniture Design Workshop' I did last year at Curtin University with Interior Architecture students. They had to design and prototype a desirable piece of furniture or lighting from industry off cuts or waste materials.

In December 2010 the top 15 was exhibited at The Grove Library in Peppermint Grove (slideshow) and this year five pieces were chosen to exhibit at Table & Chair. I am very proud of my students!

Perth Green Drinks 29 November

Click on picture to enlarge
Please RSVP to greendrinks.perth@gmail.com by Thursday 24th November!

Shame on WA government!

40% of Monash Ave bushland was destroyed today at the behest of the state government and their henchmen.
These are the people who are meant to lead and who are invested with the duty and power to protect our natural environment and health.

We believe more bush is to go tomorrow.
We want to stop it.
Please help us to do so. We need your support. It is only with numbers that we will stop this.
Please forward to all your email contacts and ask them to come along too.

We meet tomorrow at 7:00am on site.

People's assembly
Monash Ave. Bushland. QEII Medical Centre, Nedlands
7:00 am Tuesday 22nd November
Bring signs
Bring shame signs

Thanks for your support.
The Campaign to Save Monash Ave bushland.

Urban bushland Council WA
CCWA Concervation Council WA

Click on picture to enlarge

20 Nov 2011

WindyLight™ - Wind Operated Outdoor Lights

WindyLights are wind operated outdoor lights designed to let soft gusts of wind blow light into our world. WindyLight envisions a future in which human activities are based on a deep participation within the natural environment.

WindyLight aims to become a “high social-environmental value & fair profit” venture in which for-profit activities create revenues to support non-profit developments
for communities that are not connected to the grid.

With this social-environmental vision, the next challenge is how to fund WindyLight in a way that will allow maximizing its environmental and social potential. After exploring different possibilities, its decided to go with the “by the people, for the people” approach and launch a crowd funding campaign on KickStarter.

How can you be part of this? Back WindyLight on Kickstarter - Funding opportunities start from $1 (via Amazon). Every supporter receives unique rewards that were specially crafted for the campaign. One can also pre-pay a WindyLight™ and become one of the first owners of a wind-operated light worldwide.
More information here

18 Nov 2011

Kids and cycling to school

This is a picture of my brother in law in The Hague, The Netherlands, where he is bringing the kids to school in the morning and as you can see both girls fit easily on the bike!

We live across a big private boys school for boys from 7 up till 18 years old and most of them are brought and picked up by car every single day!

Every morning and afternoon our street is one big traffic jam because of this. In front of our house there are cars parked everywhere with the sound of the motor running because they might get too hot without the airco...

This generation of parents is too protective of their kids, they say it's too dangerous because of the traffic, THEY ARE THE TRAFFIC! They say the kids backpacks are too heavy to carry as they have all kind of sports after school to be brought to. Use a roller bag! They say kidnappers and child molesters are waiting on every corner, ooh, please get real!!!

Take a bike, urge councils to provide save bicycle lanes and footpaths. Public transport is already around the corner but used only sparingly because they have to walk two minutes. It's easier when mum is waiting in her big 4WD probably with tea and sandwiches... What a weak generation we are creating...

Scary news: WA's non-GM sector could vanish within 10 years

WA'S non-genetically modified (GM) grain sector could vanish within the next 10 years due to contamination from GM crops, some farmers and conservation groups fear.
Nic Dunlop, environmental science and policy co-ordinator for the Conservation Council of WA, says feral GM canola plants have been found on road verges in the state's Esperance district some 20 kilometres away from the nearest GM crop.

The discovery shows that the requirement for a five-metre gap between GM and non-GM crops under the state government's limited commercial-size trials is ineffective.

The main purpose of the trials is to assess whether segregation is possible.

Dr Dunlop said GM-free canola could be a thing of the past in WA by the next decade, given that eight per cent of roadside plants recently sampled by the Conservation Council in the Esperance region were GM, only one year into the trial.
Read article

It will be harder and harder to find GM free staple so if you care for healthy non GM food, please write to the government and local council and make yourself heard!

Or write to The West Australian: letters@wanews.com.au and cc WA Agriculture and Food Minister Redman: Minister.Redman@dpc.wa.gov.au
Premier Colin Barnett: Premier.Barnett@dpc.wa.gov.au
Minister for Regional Development Brendan Grylls: Minister.Grylls@dpc.wa.gov.au

Tuna industry whistleblower reveals whale shark slaughter

The never-before-seen footage shows protected marine life caught as bycatch, then killed after being lured into massive purse-seine nets by Fish Aggregating Devices, nicknamed death magnets.

The whistleblower, who worked as a spotter onboard a tuna fishing boat in the Pacific said marine species, such as dolphins, manta rays, marlin and whales, were caught almost every time FADs were deployed.

Greenpeace Ocean Campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said the majority of canned tuna eaten in Australia is caught in this manner.

WA shoppers eat more canned tuna than any other seafood, despite evidence that overfishing has pushed stocks into serious decline, with some on the brink of collapse.

Mr Pelle is urging WA consumers to demand retailers stock more sustainable tuna varieties, such as Safcol, which sources tuna not caught using FADs or purse-seine nets.

“Greenseas should be congratulated for recently pledging to stop using FAD-caught tuna by 2015, but that’s several years away,” Mr Pelle said.
“Brands like John West, Coles and Woolworths have refused to make any such commitments.”
Read article

17 Nov 2011

Why volunteering is far better then giving money...

There is a lot of commotion around the actual 1.8 procent of many millions that is spend on breast cancer research by Pink Ribbon in The Netherlands. It seems that Pink Ribbon is mainly lead by huge marketing companies focused on a lot of pink and glamour to raise money for research while spending 98.2 procent on marketing. (collumn)

Is that only in The Netherlands or worldwide? And is this the only organisation or are there many more 'good cause fundraising' organisations working in a similar way?

I donate my time to organisations and causes I like to help instead of giving money to organisations who are pretty vague about where the money actually ends up...

Time is far more valuable than money and you are more engaged with the cause. The past few years I volunteered for several organisations and donated many days of my time. And I really enjoyed doing it!

So next time think about donating your time instead of some tax deductible dollars!

A container deposit scheme is proposed for WA

Would you take your used plastic and glass bottles, milk cartons and aluminium cans to a recycling machine in exchange for money?

West Australians use about 1.2 billion containers every year equating to about 500 containers per person.

But, WA lags behind other Australian states or territories when it comes to recycling. According to the 2010 National Waste Report, WA's recycling rate for bottles and cans is 33 per cent.

Labor's environment spokeswoman Sally Talbot says that means 960 million empty drink containers each year end up in landfill or as litter and that's not good enough.

"WA's recycling record is appalling, the lowest in Australia," she said.
"A container deposit scheme could be expected to lift that rate to at least 70 per cent."
Read article


15 Nov 2011

The Building Green Guide to Insulation Products and Practices

It is really hard to get people excited about insulation. As Tedd Benson says in the introduction to BuildingGreen's Guide to insulation,

It’s invisible and boring. Like reinforcement in concrete, it’s often seen as kind of a cost nuisance rather than something you’d want to consider improving. Similarly, “out of sight, out of mind,” aptly explains why people don’t give much consideration to insulation.

But it is probably the most important factor in the design of a building. Tedd notes:

We can literally insulate our way to a much brighter energy future while insulating our- selves from the ever-higher cost of energy. Every highly insulated building is an energy miser forever. Every building weaned from fossil fuels is weaned forever.

Read the rest of this e-book review

14 Nov 2011

Clean water by design

Portable water purifier by Steripen
Steripen has produced 'freedom', a highly portable purifier that uses UV light to sterilize water for drinking. The company is well-known for its water purification devices, of which 'freedom' is the lightest and smallest.

The device need only be immersed in up water and its UV lamp will illuminate, within 48 seconds (per 0.5 L of water) killing over 99.9% of bad bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. 'freedom' offers 40 treatments on a single charge, while the UV lamp and battery last for over 8,000 uses. the device recharges via a micro USB port, connectable to computers, solar chargers, or normal wall outlets. the device also features an LED flashlight.

solar powered water filter by gabriele diamanti
Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti has developed 'Eliodomestico' a solar-powered water distiller made from terracotta, recycled plastic and anodised zinc.
The device produces 5 litres of drinking water daily and is one of 12 finalists in the prix émile hermés 2011 competition. Compared to traditional solar stills, 'Eliodomestico' is designed to function without filters nor electricity, and requires minimal maintenance. Using traditional technologies, the system has no negative environmental impact and will create positive outcomes for the local economies because it's to be produced by local craftsmen. Taking from archetypal forms and materials, the distiller is easy to use: in the morning fill the water tank with water from a local source and in the evening collect clean, evaporated and re-condensed water in a portable basin placed underneath the tank.

Care to repair?

With the cost of consumer goods dropping to their lowest ever levels, the side effect may be a loss of our skills to repair, make and invent.

WITH APPLE'S CO-FOUNDER Steve Jobs passing away recently, the media was deluged with obituaries rightly lauding his visionary genius in the realm of consumer electronics and entertainment. Many of those offering plaudits knew of him through his easy-to-use, sleekly designed computers, music players and phones.

A small cadre of hold-outs, however, continued to express their bitterness over Mr Jobs' intricately crafted gadgets, because they leave little opportunity for under-the-hood tinkering.

His adulation reflects a change in society. We have become consumers. Rarely creators. We spend much of our precious time working, in order to afford purchases from an every expanding cornucopia of new 'stuff'. Stuff we know how to use. But not how it works. Or, importantly, how to make it work again after it stops performing.
Read article

Repair is, against the odds, quietly making a comeback.

13 Nov 2011

Materials recycling data base

MATREC (Material Recycling)is the first free Italian eco-design data base dedicated to materials ensuring a low environmental impact and to their use in the world of production and design.

Conceived by Architect Marco Capellini, MATREC was established in 2002 as an online portal, in co-operation with the National Recycling Consortia CiAl, Comieco, and CoRePla. In 2006 MATREC changed from virtual to real, also thanks to the collaboration of the Lombardy Region and of Cestec. In a dedicated area at the Polytechnic Design School of Milan, samples of recycled materials from all over the world are exhibited to the public for free.

MATREC is a tool, but first and foremost a service aimed at companies, free-lance professionals, designers, Universities, and Research centres for the development of low-impact products.

Information on the main issues of eco-design, on sustainable products, and on several materials obtained from recycling is available in the website, divided by categories and supported by descriptions, including composition, technical properties and applications.

MATREC is also a research centre at the service of companies for the development of innovative, sustainable, and design products.
Read article

The repair workshops

The latest newsletter from Saturday in Design had an interesting article on a project with the repair workshops in Melbourne. And I was positive surprised that one of the designers involved was in my class at Curtin University several years ago; Wil Campbell!

The repair shop project challenges us all to think about how products are designed to break so easily and why we are losing the ability to repair.

Great work Wil!
More info on The repair shop here or follow them on Facebook.

10 Nov 2011

Airdrop Design Pulls Water From Air to Irrigate Deserts

The winner of this year's James Dyson Award is one that focuses on the water crisis in Australia. A continent faced with severe droughts, it is no wonder that Edward Linacre from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne wanted to come up with a solution that will provide fresh water where there is no source on the ground.
More info here

9 Nov 2011

The 11th Hour; it's 11.59...

This film with Leonardo DiCaprio is from 2007 and still it looks like there is little improvements done in the past four, five years.

We hit the 7 billion people mark and although economies are weak we are still focused on materialistic stuff, want to live in huge houses filled with products we are hardly aware we posses while craving the urge for more, driving our own car, eating more processed food than ever and nature is dying around us to make space for more people craving for more stuff...

When will we realise we need nature to survive?

8 Nov 2011

Strictly Hypothetical at City Farm

A truly different night out!
Help raise funds for City Farm's inaugural Food Film Festival in 2012.

Would You Like Lies With That?
Production, Packaging, Pesticides & Politics
11 November

Eating for a Small Planet
Cows, Carbon, Culture and Climate Change
25 November

Darling, What’s for Dinner?
Sustainable, Seasonal, Secure and Shared
9 December

Panel members:
• WA Young Chef of the Year, Matt Stone (Greenhouse Restaurant)
• Wholefoods trailblazer and author Jude Blereau
• Senator Rachel Siewert and Hon. Lynn MacLaren, MLC for South Metro
• Dr Felicity Newman: food culture lecturer and unashamed Jewish mother!
• Sustainability pioneers, horticulturalists and radio gardening experts Chris Ferreira and Steve Wood
• Vince Gareffa: celebrity butcher and organic meat specialist

Bookings Essential

2 Nov 2011

An example for Australians living in huge houses:

Two years ago, Debra and her family lived in a nearly 2000 square foot home on an acre and a half of land. Then her husband lost his job and they began to work 4 jobs between them to pay the mortgage, until one day they remembered they had a choice.

Before having their son, Debra and her husband Gary had spent 9 years living in very tiny homes in South America. Living small hadn't felt like a sacrifice, but a way to stay focused on what is important. They decided they wanted to get back to that.

They stopped working so hard, sold or gave away all of their extra stuff and began looking for the perfect tiny home.
Debra had always liked the Mississippi shotgun style homes, and one day, while browsing craigslist, they noticed an ad for a local Arkansas company custom building tiny homes for a price that could mean an end to house payments.

Six weeks and $15,000 later they had their own fully paid-off dwelling. Today, Debra, her husband and 13-year-old son live in a 320-square foot home that is not a sacrifice, but exactly what they need.

Inflatable Solar-Power Light

A new design for a solar powered light called LuminAID is quite different from any other design, the light is an inflatable, waterproof bag that contains an LED bulb, and a solar cell on the outside. Created as a solution both for backpacking or disaster relief, the design shows a lot of promise for a compact light that expands when needed.
Check it out here

LuminAID: Give Light, Get Light from LuminAID Lab on Vimeo.

Short Course - Resilient Regions: People and Practice - 1st to 6th December

Are you curious about ideas of resilience? Bio-regionalism? Sense of Place? Putting sustainability into practice in a regional setting?
Join a small group of Murdoch University students to explore the theoretical and practical elements of
sustainability and resilience through direct experience and field trips in Denmark and the Great Southern region. This course is run in partnership with Green Skills and Centre for Sustainable Living in Denmark.

This week long intensive and residential course will expose you to all of these influential ideas that will be important in creating a sustainable future.

Please see website for more details.

Please direct any queries or registrations to Nicole Hodgson, Murdoch University.
Email: n.hodgson@murdoch.edu.au
Phone: 0438 750 751

1 Nov 2011

"I will be a hummingbird" - Wangari Maathai

This is the trailer for Dirt, the movie

Dirt! The Movie is an insightful and timely film that tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet. Inspired by WB Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth. Dirt! The Movie takes a humorous and substantial look into the history and current state of the living organic matter that we come from and will later return to. Dirt! The Movie will make you want to get dirty. 80 minutes
At the The Painted Fish, 21 Hulbert Street, South Fremantle.
FOR MORE DETAILS CONTACT SHANI 0417 941 991 stay@thepaintedfish.com.au

For more clips about the movie check the website.