31 Jul 2013

More scary: GMO companies launch website to fight anti-biotech movement

A group of biotech seed companies on Monday launched an online forum to combat mounting opposition to genetically modified foods among consumer groups and activists. The website, www.GMOAnswers.com, is designed as a "central online resource" for information on genetically modified organisms and their use in agriculture and food production, the Biotechnology Industry Organization said.

The website is backed in part by Monsanto , DuPont , Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, and other companies whose products include seeds that have been genetically altered in ways the companies say improve food production. The website launch is part of a broad campaign by the biotech industry to try to beat back growing calls for GMO food labeling and for tighter regulation of the biotech seed industry in the United States.

European opposition to GMOs is so strong that Monsanto this month said it would withdraw all pending requests to grow new types of GMO crops.
Read article

Pretty scary...

Could peaceful protest ever be labelled terrorism? New laws in the states are heading in that direction and Australia's big corporations are eyeing their progress.

Journalist and author Will Potter, who is on a speaking tour of Australia this week, says since 9/11, the focus of the War on Terror in the United States has widened from those who murder human beings to include environmentalists and animal rights activists, who are now considered to be the FBI's number one domestic 'terrorism' threat.
Read article

I have noticed this a few years ago when I googled my name and found me on a list created by US labeling me as an 'organisation' related to a whole list of topics from uranium to carbon credits with the main source this blog. It lists me and other people who refer to this blog complete with maps of which part of the world is affected by it and gauges on the tone of my posts... pretty scary I would say, especially as I seem to have heaps of readers from the US while all my posts are related to Western Australia! This list has only increased and has a timespan from when I started to now and they've invented that I am related to Washington, which is rediculous as besides it's starts with Wa, it doesn't have any relation to our WA = Western Australia!!!
Through his research, Potter continually encountered the influence of corporate interests. "Corporations have been behind this every step of the way."

26 Jul 2013

Participated in Plastic Free July?

RSVP here

Darkness and light pollution

Have you ever seen the Milky Way?
We are lucky here, in Western Australia, we can drive out of the city going east for an hour and it's pitch dark so we can see many stars. But look at the US, Europe or Japan, they have so much light pollution that they might only see the odd pin prick in the sky. Also India is surprisingly lightened.

The night sky is so amazing and precious that everyone should have access to this magnificient view of the stars. Turn off the lights at night!!

Interested in Astronomy? Check out the free online course by Curtin University Astronomy: Discovering the Universe (IntAstro) by Open2Study, free online study for everyone. 

25 Jul 2013

How the electric Tesla car is made

Humans and robots, working together.

Tesla recently said they were confident they could double their electric car production to 800 per week by late 2014. But how are they doing that? How are they different from other automakers when it comes to actually building their cars? What makes them so efficient?

Made in Fremont, California, USA.

24 Jul 2013

Get Outside and Grow

The typical Aussie outdoor lifestyle is becoming less of a reality for Australian families in 2013.

Shrinking backyards, longer working hours, decreased outdoor recreation time (including sports) and fewer visits to National Parks have been identified as the key drivers for this trend and present some fairly alarming facts, to name a few:
•  73% of respondents would prefer to live on a property with a large backyard/extensive outdoor area, but only 53% of Australians currently do. 
•  For every hour spent on outdoor recreation we spend over seven hours in front of screens watching television or accessing the internet.

How big is your backyard and more important, how green? Do you have trees in your garden? Or are you growing veggies and herbs? If you have kids, do you have interesting corners for them to play?

Toyota Australia makes it possible to give away a Bunnings voucher for my readers (Australia only) so the two readers who send me the most interesting photo of themselves in front of their favorite tree will get a $ 50 voucher each. This can be a tree in your backyard, in your street or in the local park. Click on my name on the top right side of this blog to apply.
I am looking forward to see your entries coming! I will chose the lucky winners on 1 August.

This one was my favorite tree, I passed it every time I walked into town. Unfortunately it has been cut in 2009 together with five others, it gave me stomach ache for a long time. I still miss this huge character.

More info on National Tree Day, 28 July 2013, click here or scroll down to 3 July to find out what's happening locally in Perth. 

23 Jul 2013

Chemical time bomb

In the 1980s and 1990s governments across Australia outlawed the use of the herbicide 245T. The ban was introduced for one very good reason - 245T contains dioxin, a chemical impurity with the potential to seriously harm people who are exposed to it.

Four Corners reveals evidence that this potentially deadly chemical compound may still be present in weed control products and that authorities do not routinely test for it.

The program also reveals that this hands-off approach to regulation is entirely in keeping with the way governments have dealt with the lethal chemical dioxin over four decades. Read the article and watch the 45min documentary  

Living in WA and want to do something about it, check out this website.
I just send my local council an email to point out the unnecessary spraying of our parks; most of the weed don't even dissapear while we and our pets are exposed to harmful pesticides and herbicides. I also asked our verge to be put on the exclusion zone for spraying.
There are harmless alternatives like using steam to kill weeds. As a child I learned from my mother to poor the hot water of the boiling potatoes to poor over the weeds outside to kill them. I still use this method on the weeds growing in between our tiles outside and it works perfectly. The day after pooring the hot water on the weeds you already see them dying off. After a few days you can sweep the left overs away and your tiles are clean. No harmfull side effects and it smells delicious as well.

Also read this article: It's time to dig up the truth

21 Jul 2013

Is 3D printing an environmental win?

By Jeremy Faludi, a sustainable design strategist and researcher.

Technophilic environmentalists, including myself, tout the 3D printing revolution as a boon that could eliminate waste in manufacturing. But is that really true? Even if it is true, does it matter compared to the extra energy used? And what about toxins — does it release more, or less?

No one has done this comparison before in a comprehensive, quantitative way, so some colleagues and I in the UC Berkeley mechanical engineering department set out to find the answers. The results were tricky and surprising.
Read article


According Dutch company Newaste Recycling is good, but what they do is better! Recycling is the process of retreating waste material to be able to use it again. The negative part is: you need a lot of energy for the process (Metal, aluminium), or the material will be degraded (wood, paper, stone).

They eliminate this negative point by upgrading the value of waste materials from manufacturers to up-cycle.

Heras in corporation with Newaste: rest materials become design products.

This reminds me of when I was working for a big metal bedroom manufacturer in The Netherlands. We had a huge load of metal tubes not moving for at least ten years as it was an odd rectangle shape. To get rid of this old stock I'd designed a simple double bed which was powder coated in a hammered grey to hide the rust damage and competitive priced to the Asian competition which was increasing rapidly in 2002. Ironically within no time we got rid of the stock of old metal and had to order new tubes in that shape and add single and queen size to the collection because of the demand.  

18 Jul 2013

Bio bags the solution? Think again!

By Two Hands Project.

Self-destructing gadgets dissolve when no longer needed

Imagine this: There's no need to throw out your old smartphone or tablet, because it will self-destruct.

That's the idea behind a project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where researchers are investigating how to build electronics that vanish in water.

The goal of the "born to die" program is to design transient technology that can dissolve at the end of its useful life, thus saving space in landfills and reducing waste.
Read article

WA coalition in favor of burning up waste to add to pollution

Coalition may back WA energy

Taxpayers' money could help underwrite projects that burn household rubbish to produce electricity after the Federal coalition put its weight behind the contentious technology.

Shadow environment minister Greg Hunt said the Federal Opposition was "extremely supportive" of "waste-to-energy" as a renewable electricity source and would look favourably on funding proposals.

The position is likely to draw the ire of State Labor and green groups, which claim waste-to-energy is a lazy way of avoiding recycling.
Read article

It's not only a lazy way to avoid recycling, it's a way to create a lot of pollution in the process of burning (it releases dioxin and furan emissions into the atmosphere)  and landfilling the residu.
The highly toxic
fly ash must be safely disposed of. This usually involves additional waste miles and the need for specialist toxic waste landfill elsewhere. If not done properly, it may cause concerns for local residents. 

"Funding for waste-to-energy projects would form a key plank of coalition plans to win green votes".
How wrong can they be, if green minded people understand the process they will never vote for it!
Incineration is not the answer! Neither for getting rid of waste as for creating energy!

17 Jul 2013

How Much Does That $14 T-Shirt Really Cost?

If there’s one positive thing to emerge from the deadly Bangladesh building collapse in April, it’s a growing global awareness of the less-than-humane treatment endured by the South Asian nation’s garment workers. Those rock-bottom prices we’re accustomed to seeing don’t exactly come cheap. According to a 2011 report by O’Rourke Group Partners, a consulting firm based in New York, New Jersey, and Hong Kong, a generic $14 polo shirt sold in Canada and manufactured in Bangladesh costs a retailer only $5.67. To achieve such low numbers, workers receive just 12 cents per shirt, or 2 percent of the wholesale cost. It’s this stark inequity that accounts for Bangladesh’s booming garment industry, which is second only to China’s in terms of exports. The country’s 4 million garment workers, mostly women, are paid as little as $38 per month—a quarter of China’s current minimum wage—to sew clothing for brands and retailers in North America and Europe.
Source Ecouterre

16 Jul 2013

No Impact Man

I saw the movie a several years ago and noticed that ABC 2 has shown it on Sunday night. If you've missed it you can still watch it until 28 July on Iview, click here.

More info on No Impact man here.

Until we drop duality from our perception will real changes happen.

Writer / Director Shaun Monson discusses the making of UNITY, and its correlation to his previous film EARTHLINGS.

12 Jul 2013

Apple's withdrawal from an environmental ratings registry

Apple's withdrawal from an environmental ratings registry has prompted at least one city — San Francisco — to stop buying its computers.
The decision does not apply to iPads or iPhones. But Francis Tsang, spokesman for Mayor Edwin Lee's office, says the city's rules require that laptops, computers and monitors comply with the registry's requirements.

Late last month, Apple Inc. told the nonprofit EPEAT, short for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, to remove its products from its registry. It also plans to stop submitting its products to EPEAT for environmental ratings.

EPEAT is an industry standard that seeks to make it easier for customers to buy environmentally friendly electronics. Manufacturers still participating include Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung and Sony.
Read article

Josh's House


Josh Byrne’s vision of building two 10 Star family homes on the one block is now a reality and interest from industry, government, academia and the broader community is growing! 

More info here

Every Designer Who Wants to Address Poverty Should Watch This

Students at the Art Center College of Design work with target communities in poor areas to co-create innovative design solutions to common problems around the world like hauling potable water from a public pump, or purifying drinking water. "We don't have aspirations as designers that we can end poverty," said faculty member Penny Herscovitch. "But we really believe that if we work with people who themselves are living in poverty and who themselves are working to get out of poverty, that we can design solutions that give them a leg up." This video documents the work of a particular group of design students in Lima, Peru working together on designs for social innovation in a small community called Cerro Verde.

Perth is Australia's most expensive city, according to Numbeo

PERTH is now Australia's most expensive city and the eleventh priciest to live in worldwide, according a renowned online cost of living index. Numbeo, a website that claims to collate the world's largest database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide, now rates the West Australian capital more expensive than Darwin, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne for consumer goods, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities. And the list also christens Perth as the second most expensive city in the southern hemisphere behind Luanda in Angola, with the rest of the top ten taken up by cities in Switzerland and Norway - with Stavanger classed as the most expensive place to live in the world. Have your say, click here

3 Jul 2013

National Tree Day coming soon

National Tree Day will be on Sunday 28th July so why not plant a fruit tree in your garden?

Or go help somewhere in your comunity to plant trees on that day. There are lots of planting days at local parks and schools organised, check it here.

If you are in the Western Suburbs of Perth for example you can come along and help plant some trees around Lake Claremont from 9.00-12.00 but there are many more around Perth, check here.

Have you ever wondered why trees are so important in our life? Check it here

National Tree Day provide all Australians with an opportunity to do something positive for the environment and reconnect with nature, thanks to support from longstanding major sponsor Toyota Australia and category partner Bunnings. Hundreds of thousands of Australians planted over 1 million native trees, shrubs and grasses at more than 3300 Tree Day events in 2012.


"Single-use" includes plastic shopping bags, plastic cups, straws, plastic packaging...basically anything that's intended only to be used once and then sent to landfill. If refusing ALL single-use plastic sounds too daunting this time, try the TOP 4 challenge:
NO straws
NO  plastic bags
NO plastic bottles
NO take away coffee cups