Monday, 30 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #232 Clean Your Car with Enjo

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #232 Clean Your Car with Enjo


When we went through ten years of drought here in Australia we had to change the way we used water. Car wash businesses popped up on every major corner and people who used to wash their cars at home started to take them to the car wash. But I found a better way to wash my car that uses even less water than the car wash. With an Enjo® mitt made specifically for cleaning the car, I can get the job done with half a bucket of water. And to make an even bigger statement – I only wash my car with plain ordinary water that I have collected in my rainwater tank. I do not use soap or any cleaning products – the Enjo glove does the work for me. It’s designed to do the work. I recommend them because using this method means saving water, reducing energy use as no pressure cleaners are used, prevents solvents and other chemicals from being used, does not require the car to travel anywhere which saves fuel, can be achieved quickly and efficiently and looks after your car and the planet.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #231 Shut Your Damper

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #231 Shut Your Damper

No, I’m not talking about Aussie bush bread or telling you rudely to ‘be quiet’. A damper is a valve or plate that regulates air flow in a chimney or duct. If you leave this open when the fireplace is not being used it will allow air to travel up the chimney, thus you will be losing a great deal of warm air that you might be producing through a central heating system, and that would be incredibly wasteful. If you shut the damper you will save a lot of money in energy costs apart from saving the energy. Check your ducted system has dampers allowing you to control which rooms are being heated/cooled and block off any unused rooms to conserve energy. You have the control – remember to use it.

Friday, 27 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #230 Work from Home

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #230 Work from Home


Obviously this is not an option for everybody, but if you can work from home, why not? Some people are able to employ themselves and work from home full time, others can manage a few days away from the office to work remotely from home. The benefits are many. On a personal level, being at home means no commute, saving lots of valuable time and providing opportunities for spending that time in various ways, as you choose – more time with the kids, a few extra hours of work, a sleep in. Not commuting means savings in terms of travel expenses, either saving petrol for your car, or the cost of public transport. It reduces congestion on the roads or in public transport. Working from home may even be better for your health as you avoid the stress of rush hours, cranky drivers in bumper to bumper traffic or maybe even the office bully. You may be more productive working in the comfort of home where you can contemplate complex issues in your cosy chair or go for a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. The planet benefits too with reduced fuel usage, lower carbon emissions and less pollution. And guess what? You can go to work in your pyjamas!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #229 Recycle Aluminium Cans

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #229 Recycle Aluminium Cans


I've been on annual leave so the daily flower post has has a little hiatus, but let's get going again ...
 
Recycling just one aluminium can saves enough electricity to power a TV for 3 hours! Wow. Furthermore, making cans from recycled aluminium uses 95% less energy than making them from scratch. [source: http://cans.planetark.org/recycling-info/] That’s major stuff! If we recycle all our aluminium cans we will be reducing carbon emissions, reducing landfill, reducing litter and saving so much energy. Even better news, 100% of the aluminium can is recyclable. And it all comes in one piece – so long as you don’t pull off the tab. So here’s another idea – don’t pull of the tab. When participating in Clean Up Australia Day I discovered so many ring pulls on the ground. They become a huge litter problem, yet they are completely recyclable. It’s a wasted opportunity to toss them on the ground. Make life simpler by leaving the tab on the can and put the whole can in the recycling bin. If you really can’t manage that, hold onto the ring pull until you’ve finished drinking and put the ring inside the can. Let’s keep aluminium going round and round – recycle it.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #228 Recycle Wire Hangers

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #228 Recycle Wire Hangers


Wire hangers have been used for a multitude of purposes since they were first invented, including the good old fashioned aerial for the car (no longer required though), often shaped into a map of Australia or something fun. They are made of steel, so if you have a local recycler that takes steel, there’s one avenue. Otherwise, the simplest thing to do is return them to your dry cleaners, which may be very glad to receive them. Check if the nearest charity shop needs them for hanging and displaying clothes. Wire can often come in very handy, so if they’re dreadfully out of shape, cut them into sections to make hooks for cleaning out hair from the drains or hanging bits and pieces in the garage. Check online for more ideas or share ones you have come up with yourself. Every bit of recycling is important.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #227 Recycle Your Mobile/Cell Phone

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #227 Recycle Your Mobile/Cell Phone


If you’re an Aussie it’s a mobile, if you’re an American it’s a cell – whatever you call it, recycle it when you’re done. Personally I’m never happy to change my phone. I get comfortable with what I have and really hate having to learn how a new phone works, so I resist the change. But even a low-level phone user such as me goes through phones every few years. It’s a sad fact that phone companies encourage the constant upgrade of phones at least every two years when contracts are up for renewal, and of course, everyone wants the latest technology. But this comes at a price.
Apparently, in Australia there are 23 million mobile phones tucked away in people’s drawers, not being used. That’s one each folks! Where will they end up? And imagine how many are hoarded throughout the world! Too many.
Mobile/cell phones contain toxic substances that we really don’t want to put back into the land, but as the phones go to landfill, so does the hazardous waste. Over 90% of your mobile phone can be recycled. This is a much better option for the planet. Recycle your old phone and help reduce carbon emissions, reduce landfill, protect the environment, save energy and conserve precious resources. In Oz you can check out  http://www.mobilemuster.com.au/ for more information, or search for a recycler in your own country.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #226 Make a Draft Stopper

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #226 Make a Draft Stopper

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Some houses are not good at keeping out annoying drafts, particularly under the doors. Draft stoppers might seem old fashioned but they make perfect sense and prevent your expensive hot air from escaping out into the cold. A draft stopper at the door, front and back, will keep your hot air where you need it to be: inside keeping you warm. It will also lower your energy bills, save natural resources and reduce carbon emissions.
Making one can be as simple as stuffing an old pair of tights – only one leg required, or make two from the one pair and have both front and back doors covered. With a bit more effort you can make something a little fancier. I have a terrific sewer for a mum who made one for me using velvet fabric, in fact it has the head of a dog at one end with floppy ears and a fancy collar, and a tail sticking up at the other end – very cute. The Internet will give you lots of options: snakes, dogs, cats, patchwork, giant bonbon, row of houses, crocheted, knitted, fabric – there’s a draft stopper to suit you. Have fun with it and help the planet with this small idea.

Monday, 16 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #225 Carry Your Own Coffee Cup

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #225 Carry Your Own Coffee Cup


If you really are that addicted to coffee that you have to purchase one at every stop along the way as you go about your day, tally how many disposable coffee cups you use and throw away each day / week / year. If that number is considerably high then start carrying your own coffee cup with you. Most coffee shops are happy to fill your private cup and some even offer a discount – if they don’t, then encourage them to consider the option for their business and thereby attract more trade. Together, the benefits mount up when less landfill is created; fewer natural resources are used to manufacture single use cups; the coffee retailer decreases overheads and creates a marketing point; and you both look after the planet that little bit more.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #224 Adjust Your Thermostat

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #224 Adjust Your Thermostat


Reduce the thermostat on your heating system to make big savings on your energy bill. It’s not necessary to make a huge change all at once; rather you can turn it down by one degree and live with that for a week or two while you adjust to the new temperature. Keep lowering by one degree and allowing your body to adjust until you have reduced it by three or four degrees and you will find you can actually adjust to living in a slightly cooler environment. At night when you’re sleeping you can adjustment the thermostat down by five to ten degrees. Also remember to turn down the thermostat when you are away for a weekend or longer. All of these things will make a huge difference to your energy bill. You will be doing the planet a big favour by using less energy (gas/oil/uranium/electricity), saving finite resources, reducing transportation costs to get that energy to your house and reducing carbon emissions. It’s actually quite do-able.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - # 223 Buy Second-Hand

1000 Flowers for the Planet - # 223 Buy Second-Hand


It’s not always necessary to buy things brand new. People everywhere are learning the art of buying second-hand for several reasons. In financially difficult times, it saves money to buy second-hand. It prevents items from being sent to landfill for no good reason other than they are surplus to requirements. People often want to get rid of some of their possessions either because they don’t use them anymore or their needs have changed and these items can be bought by someone else and given a new purpose. Shopping at a charity shop has the dual benefit of finding things at really good prices and supporting the charity the shop exists to aid.
By moving things around the community for use and re-use we avoid putting them into landfill where they do no one any good and the planet a great deal of harm. Buying second hand goods ensures the resources that went into making those items are put to further use and not wasted mindlessly. By valuing our resources and ensuring we maximise their use we reduce the need for more and more energy being used to produce goods from scratch. Second hand doesn’t mean second-rate – it just means someone doesn’t need it anymore. But you might.

Friday, 13 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #222 Protect the Great Barrier Reef

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #222 Protect the Great Barrier Reef


The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet, stretching 2,300 kilometres along the north-east coast of Australia. It is one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It is home to thousands of marine species. And it is under threat.
The major concern for the reef is climate change. Rising temperatures can easily affect the balance of the reef if coral is subjected to warmer water. Changes in sea levels also affect the reef when species that have adapted to certain conditions find themselves in altered conditions: if levels drop and coral is closer to the water surface it becomes bleached by the sun and if levels rise they are put under pressure by deeper water levels. Man’s constant intervention adds to the reefs concerns. Tourism is a big trade and vital to the economy but puts pressure on the reef, as does fishing, urban runoff and coastal development. Shipping accidents and oil spills pose serious threats. The Australian Government has recently agreed to the dumping of dredge spoil in the marine park, which could be considered a significant blow to the future of the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef could be looked upon as an indicator of how well we are managing the beauty that surrounds us, and if we fail to protect it and preserve it for the future, we do ourselves and this planet a great injustice.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #221 Educate Yourself

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #221 Educate Yourself

Too many people like to go around with their heads buried in the sand. It’s time to lift your head out of the sand and take stock. Have a look at what is happening around you and educate yourself. Find out how your household waste affects the planet; learn about the environment; question what’s in your food and where and how it was produced; discover the beauty around you and find out how you can keep it safe; understand how you use water and don’t waste it; learn how many animals are becoming endangered daily and why – learn as much as you can about your affect on this planet and do something positive before you die and leave the problems to the next generation. Even if you only learn one new thing, that’s a plus, because if everyone learned on new thing and acted upon it, we’d all be better off. Don’t leave everything to someone else – take responsibility for your own education, then take action with your new-found knowledge.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #220 Become a 'Caring' Society

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #220 Become a 'Caring' Society


How you ‘care’ for others is very much open to interpretation and each individual will see it in a different way. The dictionary definition is: ‘the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance and protection of someone or something.’ I think that describes exactly what I’ve been trying to demonstrate with my 1000 Flowers for the Planet art project. Imagine the shift in our lives if we were to live by the definition of the word ‘care’. Everything I’ve written about so far has been about looking after people, marine and land species, plant species and the planet overall. Health, welfare, maintenance and protection – these are the words we need to remember and to live by in all our transactions with each other and with the planet. Once we begin to care, we begin to heal, and we begin to make everything better.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #219 Fight Corruption

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #219 Fight Corruption


This is the one that brings us down every time – corruption. Sadly, it’s everywhere – it’s in the worst economies and the best economies, the most developed countries and the least developed countries. It’s in police forces, armies, politics, business, and even environmental groups. It’s also in patchwork group committees, parents and citizens clubs at the local school, car enthusiast clubs, genealogy groups, children’s clubs and dance clubs. It covers all areas of our lives, including defence, education, sport, climate change, private enterprise, health and government. You name it, it’s everywhere. And it undoes everything good that we do. It is created by selfish, self-serving individuals who only want power and money. It forces people struggling with poverty to resort to it. It tempts people of all races and creeds. And it has probably always been a part of human activity since the beginning of time.
Yet if we are to see our way forward, if we are to reverse the damage we’ve done by this planet in overusing resources, polluting it in every way possible and having no regard for how future generations will live, then we MUST fight corruption. If we can’t eradicate it, then we must minimise it. But it needs solid action from all quarters, a united front and a desire to function for the good of everyone and everything on this earth. I’ve made my start by speaking up today through this art project. Make your start today too.
For more information you could read www.transparency.org

Monday, 9 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #218 Save the Lions


1000 Flowers for the Planet - #218 Save the Lions

With thanks to Guest Writer, Stephanie Keys:
There are currently around 30,000 lions living in the wild in Africa. This might sound like a lot, but only a century ago we had as many 200,000. And in West Africa there are 250 lions remaining. No, that number is not missing a zero. That means we’ve lost an average of 1,700 lions every year – so despite all the lion cubs that may be born each year, we’re still losing them faster than they’re being born. At this rate, we’ll lose our lions altogether within 20 years. Can you imagine your grandchildren not ever being able to see a lion? What kind of tragedy would it be to lose them? So what’s causing their disappearance in the wild? Poachers hunt down lions so that they can sell their bones to make tiger wine (Flower #218). Lions are also farmed, for things such as canned hunting (Flower #92) whereby hunters pay lion ‘farmers’ exorbitant amounts of money to ‘hunt’ a lion in a controlled/fenced area. There is also a phenomenon known as cub petting, in which big cat cubs are carted all over the countryside from as young as six weeks to be paraded about for the general public to interact with. Not only are the conditions of this practice unsound, using wild animals for entertainment is just against the laws of nature. And when the cub gets too old? You’d like to think that they get a nice home and live a full life. But you’d be wrong. Another threat to lions is the encroachment of humans on habitats. New land is constantly being farmed and built upon, reducing habitats and leading to lions entering within these new human spaces to find food in the form of livestock. When a lion takes the life of livestock, the people take the life of the lion. Little wonder their numbers are dwindling so quickly. Save the lions. Spread the word. Educate the people.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #217 Rally Against Lion Bone Trading

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #217 Rally Against Lion Bone Trading

[By guest contributor, Stephanie Keys]
You may have already read the flower regarding canned hunting (Flower #92). ‘Breeders’ fetch a high price for this ridiculous so-called ‘sport’. A bi-product of this, where the people running these canned hunting rackets earn even more money from our endangered creatures, is in their bones. Lion bones are used in the making of tiger wine, in which the bones are ground up and are meant to cure all sorts of ailments. It may seem to make little sense to use lion bones in tiger wine, but the reasoning is this; tigers have been poached to the point of near extinction and so their remains are becoming hard to come by. Because of this, makers of tiger wine are substituting tiger bones with lion bones. But doesn’t this seem like a bit of false advertising? If it’s tiger bones that are meant to cure the illnesses, then substituting them for lion bones wouldn’t work. UNLESS! It never worked in the first place – and as there is no scientific backup for this wine actually helping with anything to do with the function of a human being at all, it seems more than likely that this has been the case all along. However, if people keep buying the product, it will continue to be manufactured. This leaves our lions AND our tigers in jeopardy, unless something can be done. The word needs to be spread about this substituting, and people need to be educated that this ‘wine’ does nothing to help them, it’s all a placebo designed to take their hard earned cash.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #216 Use Cruise Control

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #216 Use Cruise Control


Whenever possible, use the cruise control on your car. It’s an added feature that will save on fuel usage, particularly over long distances. Cruise control makes fine adjustments to the acceleration and deceleration of your car, something we are unable to do as well ourselves, and thereby increases the efficiency of the motor vehicle, saving fuel. This reduces our demands on finite resources (oil), reduces production and associated costs in creating petrol/gas, and saves money. If multiple people take on this small step towards saving resources then the effect is multiplied and becomes significant. So next time, cruise to your destination.

Friday, 6 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #215 Brush Your Teeth Quietly

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #215 Brush Your Teeth Quietly


Continuing my theme of water saving tips, I suggest you brush your teeth quietly. How do you do that? Turn off the tap while you are actually performing the action of brushing. The noise of water rushing down the plug hole will be silenced and you will save quite a few litres of water. Multiply this by how many times you brush your teeth each day, then by the number of days in the year and you should come up with a substantial water saving. One website quoted a savings in the U.S.A. of five gallons per day with a nationwide savings of up to one and a half billion gallons. Imagine saving nearly nineteen litres of water a day by the single act of turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth. That’s major!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet # 214 Avoid Watering Lawns

1000 Flowers for the Planet # 214 Avoid Watering Lawns

Here, in one of the driest countries on earth, it’s a sensible thing to avoid watering lawns. Many other countries could do the same. Unless you’re the lawn-keeper at a major golf course, your home lawn is really not a priority for keeping green all through summer. Eventually the rain will come and any patches that may have gone slightly brown will come back green again. It’s more important to save water, our most valuable resource. By doing so, you will save many other things as well, such as the energy used in the transportation of that water to your house, and the financial savings with a reduced water bill.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #213 Shorten Your Shower

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #213 Shorten Your Shower

When we were going through a drought here in Australia, one which lasted ten years, one of the first things we were asked to do was to reduce the time we spent in our shower. Specifically, we were asked to keep it to four minutes or less. For those who stand under the pleasant, warming cascade of a hot shower for twenty minutes or so, just the idea of a four minute shower was a nightmare – but these measures had to be taken. I recall meeting a girl from the outback who was able to shower in less than a minute – and that included washing her hair. She pretty much puts the city folk to shame.
However long you spend in the shower, consider reducing it, if only by a few minutes. It will mean that much less time for water to run down the drain, wasting our most valuable resource. You’ll not only save water, you’ll have a bit of extra time for doing something else, save a few dollars in the process, and still come out clean and fresh.

Monday, 2 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #212 Use Cloth Napkins

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #212 Use Cloth Napkins


Paper napkins can be very pretty and come with an endless choice of sizes and prints to suit your d├ęcor or event. Be mindful that they are a paper product and single use, thereby thrown away into landfill. Obviously paper napkins are a big seller because you can buy them in many places, so their use is not as obsolete as one might think. It’s probably an old fashioned idea, but the use of cloth napkins is a much more environmentally friendly option, and maybe it’s time to bring back some of the traditions that grandma tried to teach us. For everyday use your cloth napkin can be used for several days, and may only need to be washed once a week. When guests visit to share a meal they will feel extra special when given a nice cloth napkin to wipe their hands and mouth upon, and it will make them feel more comfortable. Have you ever visited someone for afternoon tea when they’ve offered you a sticky treat and you’re left with dreadfully sticky fingers and nowhere to wipe them? You’re left to lick them clean as best you can and hope you don’t get caught wiping them on your clothes – not very classy!
This Flower can be about good manners and behaving with style, but if you really don’t care much about that, then consider that paper napkins are created from trees, which could be avoided if you don’t use them. The planet benefits by cutting down fewer trees, saving all the resources used in processing, creating less carbon emissions and adding to landfill.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #211 Try Vegetarian Once a Week

1000 Flowers for the Planet - #211 Try Vegetarian Once a Week

A lot of the planet’s resources are invested in raising animals for meat consumption. I confess to quite happily being a meat eater, but if every human carnivore chose to eat a meat-free meal only once a week, imagine the reduced pressure on the demand for meat, and thereby the savings of many resources such as transportation, energy, fuel, grains, and even plastic which is used to package the meat. Vegetarian meals are extremely tasty and you can make it as simple as eating a bowl of hearty vegetable soup with a piece of crusty bread – yum. It’s a very easy shift to make in your thinking, saves at least one seventh of your demand on meat products, will provide you with a much cheaper meal, so some financial savings there too, and helps the planet in a big way.