Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour - think global act local

Its Earth Hour today and we will all (hopefully) be turning off our lights for one hour from 8.30 p.m. to show our concern for the earth's global warming crisis. So its an ideal opportunity to chat about the sustainability measures we've implemented in our community over the last couple of years.

It all started with Get Up's Climate Action Now initiative in 2007 to get online activists to meet in their local area. A group of us took up this challenge, met in a strangers home, got to know each other, formed a local action group and chose our target; we would sign the Kyoto Protocol declaration because the then Howard government wouldn't.

Our aim was to follow the protocol and reduce our carbon emissions by 30% over twelve months and to advertise what we were doing as much as possible within the community. We promoted our efforts in the Blue Mountains Gazette and through hosting community events such as a 'bring your own plate' supper where the Blue Mountains chapter of Ecopella sang to entertain all the brave souls who came to meet like minded strangers in their neighborhood. We found out about the Council's Sustainability Street initiatives and met the local's involved. We ran a couple of stalls to hand out tips and tricks on reducing your carbon footprint at our local shopping centre. We investigated setting up a lower mountains food cooperative, but didn't get it off the ground. All very local and low key, using the Think Globally, Act Locally principle.

What were our personal initiatives? Well we started big with the installation of water tanks to get us off the water grid as much as possible and we replaced our electric hot water system with a solar one, the picture shows the tanks and hotwater set-up and our proud green plumber. Nic changed from a non-sustainable plumbing business to a sustainable one and we were one of his first clients in his new incarnation.

We also implemented less expensive things such as riding our bikes as much as possible and combining the bikes with public transport for longer jaunts, putting water saving devices on all our taps, not using the house's air conditioning or the clothes dryer, shopping locally, buying local produce, consuming less, ensuring the things we bought were Fair trade and noting the 'travel miles'.

Our Climate Action Group has fizzled out sadly, busy people, busy lives, and we never got to evaluate whether any of us reached the 30% goal of reduced carbon emission, but we did raise the profile of sustainability issues within our community, met strangers who became friends and implemented green initiatives in our home, this year we've installed a one kilowatt photovoltaic electricity system and are making our own electricity to contribute to the grid, so a good outcome all round.

I would encourage you to think about how you can think globally but act locally in your own neighborhood to reduce your carbon footprint and make the world a more sustainable place.

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