Category Archives: Environment

Sponsored: When we talk about natural gas, what exactly do we mean?

marigold-scotch-prize

Natural gas is one of the cleanest fuels that we have on our planet. Natural gas is found in little pockets throughout the layers of earth and rock and under the sea. It began its journey millions of years ago as tiny plants and animals stored energy from the sun. Taking the form of carbon molecules in their bodies, they took it with them to their watery graves at the bottom of the sea. Layers of sediment covered the bottom of the ocean and, as the carbon molecules sink closer to the centre of the earth, heat and pressure have a tremendously transformative effect. The result is natural gas.

As the natural gas was produced, some forced its way upwards through cracks and tiny holes before escaping into the earth’s air supply. Other supplies were trapped by impermeable rock and are still being discovered to this day.

What makes natural gas so special is that it is mostly made up of methane. This means that emissions won’t react with sunlight to create the smog which grips so many of our cities. We can compress natural gas to make it easy to handle – the great news is that this is nontoxic, noncarcinogenic and noncorrosive.

It doesn’t stop there. Natural gas is lighter than air, so leakages just disappear into the air around us. This means that there is less potential for the explosive results we can see from liquid fuels. This also means that we won’t have to endure toxic spillages which can irreparably damage our delicate and precious ecosystems. Once it comes out of the ground, it stays out.

Natural gas can be used to heat our homes. We can cook with natural gas and even bathe in the waters warmed by natural gas, when knowing that we are creating fewer emissions that the traditional fossil fuels, like oil. It is piped into our homes and will keep going, even when electricity lets us down during a power cut.

Natural gas exists in pockets all over the globe, just waiting to be discovered. With lower emissions of harmful and toxic chemicals, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides, natural gas doesn’t produce any ash which can often lead to breathing problems.

What many people don’t know is that natural gas in its pure state is actually is odourless. Without being able to see or hear gas, natural gas suppliers add an artificial smell to it to help people identify it in the air. The scent is a sulphur-like smell, which you may recognise from a gas cooker or oven.

So, natural gas is all around us. It’s in the earth beneath our feet and tucked away in pipes, ferrying supplies directly to our appliances. It’s even in our public transport. Many forward thinking city councils have made a commitment to cleaner, clearer air in their cities. Next time that you see a bus go past, have a look and see if it’s running on natural gas. You might just be surprised!

How to buy sustainable seafood in Australia

A nice video showing a sustainable way to catch fish in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia
According to the “Shop Ethical” guide:
Demand for seafood has doubled over the past 30 years; three-quarters of the world’s oceans are now fished right up to their limit. Often we’re eating rare or endangered ocean species without realising it. This includes shark, commonly sold as ‘flake’ in fish and chip shops; and species such as orange roughy, bluefin tuna, swordfish, and toothfish. ‘Bycatch’ – fish caught unintentionally – often sees up to 15 tonnes of discarded fish per tonne of targeted seafood.

When buying sustainable seafood you want to ask a few questions:

  1. Buy local. Ask where it’s from and if it’s imported ask for certified sustainable seafood.
  2. Consult a seafood guide. Use the the Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide or app to choose a fish that has been sustainably caught and managed. For the best choice in tuna consult the Greenpeace canned tuna guide.
  3. Look for certified products from the Marine Stewardship Council (see below).

msc1

Good swaps

If you consult your Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide, you’ll want to choose fish which are ranked “Green – Better choice”, such as Australian Bonito, Bream, Luderick, mullet, tailor and whiting.

Here are some of the more popular fish with their green – better choices:

  • Calamari – choose Squid, calamari, cuttlefish and octopus 
  • Crab - Blue Swimmer (Sand) crab, Mud crab
  • Mussels - Blue Mussels, also better choice is Green Mussel imported from New Zealand
  • Salmon - Imported canned salmon, predominantly Sockeye (Red) and Pink Salmon
  • Tuna - Australian Bonito, Better choice: troll or poll and line caught Albacore Tuna and Skipjack Tuna

Seafood guides

For choosing a sustainable fish consult one of the following resources:

Let’s Fight for the reef

I volunteer for the Australian Marine Conservation Society who in partnership with WWF (who I used to work for) are currently involved in promoting awareness in their Fight for the Reef campaign.

The Queensland Government is fast-tracking mega port developments, dredging and dumping of millions of tonnes of seabed and rock, and encouraging a shipping superhighway.

The Australian Government is approving these developments, including the world’s biggest coal port at Abbot Point, 50 km from the Whitsunday Islands.

Fight for the Reef is working with the Australian community to protect the Reef and the $6 billion tourism industry and 60,000 jobs it supports.

It’s your Reef, but you’re going to have to fight for it.
- Fight for the Reef

The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Posted for National Volunteer Week.

How we can eat our landscapes – by Pam Warhurst TED video

What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humor, Pam Warhurst tells at the TED Salon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.

Pam Warhurst co-founded Incredible Edible, an initiative in Todmorden, England dedicated to growing food locally by planting on unused land throughout the community.

For National Volunteer Week.

Ten ways supermarkets in Australia can be more sustainable

Sunday 2 September 2012

Chief Executive Officer
Supermarket Chain
Australia

CC: Marketing Manager

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would love to see Australia lead the world in responsible food management and sustainable practices.

I would love to see my local supermarket follow these practices:

  1. All eggs to be free-range (like Sainsbury’s) – and battery cages banned in the EU.
  2. All pork and bacon to be free-range.
  3. Support grass-fed and organic certified butcher products.
  4. Support sustainable seafood which have been certified against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.
  5. Support our dairy farmers with fair prices for milk.
  6. Purchase fair trade coffee, chocolate, tea and sugar.
  7. Ban products containing palm oil* – until they are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
  8. Paper products to be recycled where possible (particularly for toilet paper and kitchen paper). Swap from plastic bags to starch-based 100% compostable bags (like Flannerys) or paper bags.
  9. Go BPA free (like Flannerys).
  10. Compulsory labeling of genetically modified food products, so people can choose to go GM-free.

Warm regards,

Gustoso

Notes:

* Palm oil is often listed as ‘vegetable oil’ on a product’s ingredients list. If the product can sit on your shelf for many months then your vegetable oil is probably heated to a high temperature and is damaged. This is known as a trans-fat and should be avoided.

My Town in Transition video – by Rob Hopkins

An inspiring talk by Rob Hopkins “My Town in Transition” video.

Rob Hopkins is author of “The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times

I love it when he says:

…let’s be more brilliant than we have ever been…

Coffee Ground to Ground

“I have been collecting used coffee grounds since about November 2010. I haven’t used a huge amount, probably 30 Kilos (at one stage I hauled a 10kg bag home). But even this has been enough to see the results in the garden! No more ants- they had been eating out the root systems from many of my plants and when I added coffee grounds to the garden they stopped immediately. I have also found plants have shot up and are full of colour.”

“I have found that pests like ants, snails and slugs stay away as well as my cat! The cat seems to think my garden is her personal litter box and kept digging up plants as well. Since putting the used coffee grounds on the garden I haven’t found anything disturbed.”

Did you know that coffee grounds are a fantastic compost material that are free to collect and use?

The Ground to Ground website caters for this opportunity, by delivering news, views, research, and general information on the reuse of coffee grounds for compost and gardening. Of the tonnes of used coffee grounds that are discarded each day, only a small amount is collected for reuse – which is a real pity considering the good that can come from a group effort.

Recycling coffee grounds would have to be one of the easiest ways to make a difference, and for anyone interested in gardening, composting, vermiculture, or just environmental awareness, the Ground to Ground website can show you how to get involved for all our benefit.
Please help spread the word about this great initiative and tell your barista about it at your local coffee bar or cafe.

The Ground To Ground Map – Find Used Coffee Grounds

20 Ways to resuse coffee grounds and tea leaves – Treehugger

Transition tip: Make your own green cleaners

sunflower-sml

Transition tip: Make your own green cleaners.

It’s easy to make your own green cleaners with a few tried-and-true recipes. You’ll be protecting your health by avoiding using toxic chemicals in your home and these are better for the environment. Better yet, you’ll find yourself saving money.

What’s not to love?

Here’s a round up of my posts on how to make your own green cleaners: