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Your Sustainable Community

Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast Another great

publication!

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Your Sustainable Community

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Your Sustainable Community

What’s in it for you – a look inside‌ Building for comfort ‌ and mother earth

p4 Feral fashionistas seek out sustainable clothing

p5 Solar neighbourhood program p12 – a winner in the Tweed Shire

Our unwanted home companions

p14 p6 Neighbourhood juice undermines the baseload myth about power generation

Wanted – a sense of humus when composting Giving your garden heaps of help

www.echo.net.au

THE TWEED SHIRE

Take control of your energy use

Aiming for best office practice p7 Your desk is part of the planet, too

Buying locally organically the way to go

p8

Moving lightly through the landscape

p16

Transports of delight are ahead

Educator Katrina Shields p17 keen about making a difference

You can fill your plate in the neighbourhood

p9

Slow down, don’t let your food move too fast

Sometimes you get what you want by not getting anything

THE BYRON SHIRE

and further Council initiatives

How to cope with little visitors

Go go gadget shopping doesn’t offer all the answers

p11

Never mind the fabric, feel the recycling

Making yourself at home with nature

Rescuing ourselves from speedy eating

An Echo supplement

p10

Byron College teaches sustainability

Fantons are foragers for future generations

p18

The founders of Seed Savers rock on

Helena Norberg-Hodge sees p19 localisation at the heart of survival A planetary perspective on resilience

    

Living the High Life The last ever 3000m2+ elevated lots in the majestic Currumbin Valley from $395,000 to $1,050,000

www.tweedecho.com.au Editor: Michael McDonald Design & Production: Ziggi Browning Advertising Manager: Angela Cornell Client Liaison: Amanda Bennett Front cover illustration: Ross Johnson Contributors: Nina Bishop, Victoria Cosford, Giovanni Ebono, Luis Feliu, Mary Gardner, Daniel Harper, Eve Jeffery, Kel Raison and Lani Summers. Photographers: Jeff Dawson and Eve Jeffery, plus images from Stock.XCHNG – www.sxc.hu. Š 2010 Echo Publications Pty Ltd ABN 86 004 000 239 Village Way, Stuart Street, Mullumbimby Phone 02 6684 1777 Fax 02 6684 1719 Byron Bay: 95 Jonson St. Ph 6685 5222 Printer: Horton Media Australia Ltd Reg. by Aust. Post Pub. No. NBF9237. Printed on recycled paper

High on the oceanside ridge of the beautiful Currumbin Valley, just a few short minutes from Currumbin Beach with its stylish cafes and restaurants, another life awaits. One you’ve always desired. One that will soon be unattainable. Set amidst 150 acres of peaceful mountain forest and creek-lined valleys is The Ecovillage’s newest release of premium large lots, The Highlands. Discovering this land will release your inner designer. Or if you need inspiration, a range of pre-costed contemporary architect designs are now available. Spend the afternoon at The Ecovillage, exploring the extraordinary village facilities and protected environment, and you’ll soon discover why it’s Australia’s most awarded development.

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Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

Further steps towards the good life This is the second of our supplements about sustainability. It offers not only ways to help protect the biodiversity of the planet but also to enhance your own life through good living. Many people would be familiar with the 1970s British sitcom The Good Life which tracks the efforts of a forty-something couple to escape the London rat race and set up a sustainable household in the suburbs. Much was made of the amusing contrast between the Goods and their conventional neighbours, the Leadbetters. Now, thirty years later, the tide seems to be turning and the Leadbetters, with their high-consumption, status-conscious, high-stress lifestyle, may be becoming the unconventional couple. The change certainly offers humans and the planet alike a better chance of survival. To many the challenge of sustainability might seem to be about ‘less is more’. Certainly the good life seeks to thrive on less consumption, less plastic, less waste, less energy use. But in their place it offers more good food, more resilience and more satisfaction at living sustainably. Quite often the enthusiasm of those who’ve grown their own vegies, raised their own chooks and pumped energy back into the grid instead of sucking it out is palpable. In the following pages we cover topics as diverse as creating the killer compost pile and becoming a dedicated follower of low-impact fashion – I’m a great fan of the House Of Vincent myself. We also interview living examples of the commitment to sustainability, who by their efforts provide promise of a saner world ahead. One of the points the articles and the green-footed tips emphasise is that you

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say. Wynn Bullock One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us. Black Elk

Learn from the birds what food the thickets yield; Learn from the beasts the physic of the field; The arts of building from the bee receive; Look! Look! Look deep into Learn of the mole to plow, nature and you will underthe worm to weave. stand everything. Alexander Pope Albert Einstein

Brunswick Valley Nature Festival Bru

Celebrating Biodiversity

Mullumbimby Civic Hall and an around the Brunswick Valley 4 June – 6 June, 2010 Friday 4 June, 6.00 – 9.00pm

Opening night for Visions of the Valley photo competition at Civic Hall.

Saturday 5 June, 8.30am – 3.00pm

Felicity Kendal and Richard Brier, stars of the 70s sitcom The Good Life are not alone in your efforts to create a sustainable lifestyle. You can join in projects such as Sustainable Streets or Seed Savers or take a course in greening your curry or getting to know butterflies. It’s also a good way to meet your neighbours – and exchange jams and eggs. The move to local resilience on the

north coast is well underway, with farmers markets, Slow Food convivia and carpooling, to name a few. A sustainable future might night be on every governments’ agenda, but there’s no reason we cannot take positive steps of our own. Good luck and have fun. – Michael McDonald, editor

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Outdoor activities including basket weaving, am and pm Bush Birds walks at Brunswick Heads and West Byron Wetlands and, starting from Mullumbimby Civic Hall, a Botany Walk, Habitat Walk, Riverside Restoration Walk and Bush Regeneration Workshop.

Sunday 6 June, 9.30am – 4.00pm: World Environment Day

Seven guest speakers will talk about the Brunswick Valley’s biodiversity from the perspective of their special expertise. Presentations will cover reptiles, migratory birds, soil biology and pest species.

Full program at www.brunswickvalleylandcare.org.au


Your Sustainable Community

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Building for comfort … and mother earth Giovanni Ebono

Shop 4/18 Centennial Circuit Byron Arts & Industry Park 8am - 5pm Mon to Fri, 9am - 1pm Sat Phone: 6685 7522 www.house-paint.com.au

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Our buildings consume energy (and other resources) in two different ways. When we build them, we consume energy and lock up resources in the building itself. When we live in the building we also use energy: primarily to warm it and cool it. This article looks at how approaches to building can reduce our energy footprint and ensure a robust and vigorous future. Small dwellings have small footprints. The energy directly consumed in the home has increased by about one third since 1970 and one fifth since 1990: heating and cooling accounts for most of this. The Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that between one third and one half of the energy consumed in Australian homes is used to heat and cool them. In the US and the UK, where freezing winters make heating a life and death issue, that number is closer to 60 per cent. Building homes to minimise the energy required to keep us comfortable, then, is a huge contribution to a sustainable future. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the major reasons that we consume more energy that our grandparents is that our houses are much bigger. From

the semi-rural setting of the Northern Rivers it is easy to scoff in righteous indignance at the McMansions of the Gold Coast, but every time you convert a verandah into a bedroom, open up a wall to create a larger space, or throw a roof over the driveway you are embarking on the same journey. We love to enclose and control our environment. The same urge drives us to throw huge windows into our houses and gaze out across a vista, lord of all we survey. The cost of our love affair with the view is also measured in terms of energy. Heat passes readily through these windows, in both directions, making it harder to control the internal climate. Fortunately, the answer is

D E R E H T H G U O R H T G IN T T CU

not to seek out caves or return to the musty curtains and pelmet boxes of the nineteenth century but to intelligently harness the rhythms of nature to our advantage. Build smarter not larger. With a little forethought, we can use natural rhythms to increase our comfort. Shutters, for example, can control the amount of afternoon sun pouring in your western windows and so warm your house in winter and cool it in summer. Deciduous trees on your western wall will achieve much the same effect for almost no effort. The classic passive home has large northern windows, sheltered by generous eaves that shade the wall in summer but allow plenty of the low winter

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sun into the northern living spaces to warm the house naturally. The southern rooms then have a well warmed northern wall in winter and, with high windows above the central wall, can have their own access to winter sun as well. There are some stunning examples of this approach in the area, including Nina Bishop’s hand-built Mullumbimby home (see picture above) that she opened to the public in 2008. Search You Tube for my chat to her on the day. By planning and building to maintain control of the airflow through the building you can place stair wells, hallways and doors to avoid heat traps and frigid zones that become energy suckers. continued opposite ➤


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Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

Our unwanted home companions Mary Gardner The joke goes that cockroaches will survive after the Great Nuclear War that wipes out humanity. The truth is that already, they are up one or two on us. First, over the past 250 million years, a group of cockroaches have evolved into termites. Second, the key to the success of termites is that they are social insects. Can we, social primates less than three million years old, outsmart them? To begin with, we need to identify termites properly. They may be called white ants, but they are not. A termite’s head has straight antennae, in contrast to the bent ones on an ant. A termite’s body is thick, while an ant’s has that characteristic narrow ‘waist’ between the middle and final segment Both types of insects fly. The two sets of termite wings are the same size, while the sizes of the ant wings differ: the top set are larger than the bottom set. Why do termites fly? Just as for ants, flight is the privilege of males and females in mating mode. The successful royal couple sets up a colony, which may include other royal pairs. This is unlike ant colonies that depend on one queen, fertilized in one nuptial flight, who stores the semen for use over the years to come.

Protozoa at work Over time, the termite queen’s abdomen becomes so much larger that she cannot move about without assistance. The social lifestyle of termites provides for her. In the colony are workers, who are her attendants. As a caste, the workers not only hunt for food but they also feed each other. Their guts are filled with not only bacteria but protozoa which digest the food first. The workers feed all members of the colony. Sharing these excretions, from either mouth or anus, is a strategy for success. Sharing saves time and also ensures that the useful microbes get spread throughout the colony. ➤ From previous page

Water tanks, earthen or stone walls and other heat masses can be used to absorb daytime warmth and release it slowly at night and with clever design the affect can be maximised in winter and minimised or reversed in summer. Smaller, smarter buildings are obviously important components of a sustainable future, but the materials we use are also important. Lightweight homes, made out of recyclable materials have a light footprint, but have to be regularly replaced. The big advantage of building out of cement, or stone, is that buildings can be designed to last a very long time. The best way to

This strategy can also be the downfall of the colony. One major ecological role of termites is in clearing dead wood by tunneling through and then eating the softer parts. There are five families of termites with very different habitat preferences. Only certain dry wood species and many subterranean ones forage in human housing. They can be tricked into eating and sharing poisons.

Bait programs Such bait programs are an emerging technology. Until 1995, the standard practice was to repel termites altogether from a house by surrounding the foundation with a barrier of chlorinated hydrocarbons such as DDT or organophosphates. The thinking was that dead termites scared off foraging workers. These poisons are effective for thirty years at most. As we now know these chemicals are quite toxic for people and many more other species, they are banned. Some new products such as chloronicotinyl (based on nicotine) and fipronil (also used for treating fleas on pets) are effective but have side effects on other species. Interestingly, baits or barriers made of boron, considered not more poisonous than table salt, slowly and surely upset the guts of termites. This leads to the collapse of the colony. Another bait is a bioagent. Spores from a fungus Metarhizium anisoplia work like boron from the outside of the termites. But the soldiers of the colony apsave energy in the future is to build buildings that will serve future generations instead of having to be pulled down in fifty years. Concrete and steel form the foundation of modern building practice and both are very energy intensive. Cement, as we know it, is basically burned limestone. It consumes huge amounts of energy to make and the chemical processes involved in making it release large amounts of carbon dioxide. Cement manufacture accounts for around eight percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the entire airline industry. We need to adopt alternatives where possible. Pozzolana

pear to bar entry of returning workers covered with too many spores. Still, only a few spores are needed to get inside, where conditions allow the fungus to dominate for up to two years. But whatever the bait or barrier that is used, 21st century best practice is to use an integrated pest management approach. Site management is critical: the house foundations, whether on piles or a slab, must be clear of standing water. To survive outside the colony, termites meet their need for high humidity by keeping building moist tunnels. A reliable source of water helps them a lot.

Physical barriers Physical barriers are also important. Stainless steel mesh is very effective, under the soil and all around the house. So is graded gravel. Besides these deterrents, watch out for bridges from earth to untreated wood. Avoid garden brooms leaning against the house, tree branches that touch the house and garden pots on wood decks. Termites forage up to fifty metres from the colony so walk your property boundaries and watch for signs of tunnels. Surveillance also means regular building inspections. Some specialists recommend installing tiny Perspex portholes into wood frames so that you can quickly assess any hidden activity. ■ Mary Gardner is a biologist,

writer and tutor. See more at www.mgardner.info and gypsum cements offer one type of alternative, hempbased solutions another. These are both traditional approaches used by those historical heroes of concrete, Roman aqueduct builders. If we use materials that will last a long time in a form that will last a long time, then we have made a major contribution to future generations. If that form also costs very little energy to run, we are starting to make a real difference.

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Your Sustainable Community

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Wanted â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a sense of humus when composting Nina Bishop Zero organic waste to landfill is a worthwhile ambition. Organic waste, such as food and garden waste when disposed of in landfill generates a potent greenhouse gas called methane. A generation or two in the future weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll look back at the way we buried our â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;wasteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; as strange behaviour indeed. Byron Council made a good call when they voted recently not to implement an organic waste service to Byron Shire residents. I take it as a vote of confidence in us to deal with our kitchen and garden waste in the more efficient way â&#x20AC;&#x201C; at home in our yards or perhaps with the help of a neighbour. The benefits of producing compost are enormous: it improves all soils, sandy, clay and everything in between. Compost or humus is the sexiness of soil, the culmination of carbon with an abundant variety of micro-organisms and nutrients in a form readily available for plants. Building a compost heap is precise but easy, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s evident to me now, however, that it can take a little practice before your humble heap takes up a good life of its own. Scientific research in 2004 found that poorly managed unaerated composts could produce as much as 20 times the amount of methane as produced in aerated piles. Getting it right can take a little tweaking and A.D.A.M. here explains it very well.

A. D. A. M. Creating the conditions for good composting ALIVENESS: good composting relies on a healthy variety and population of micro-organisms & organisms. They will exist if you have provided the conditions below.

Composting is not about just adding kitchen scraps to a pile of grass clippings in a corner of your backyard. These two ingredients can make up some of the mix, but more diversity is needed to have a healthy biological metabolism. Gathering diverse ingredients for healthy compost is about being opportunistic and seeing waste as a resource.

Pruning and weeding for me now is as much about collecting materials for compost as it is for the other obvious reasons. Fallen dry brown leaves are an excellent addition to help with the very necessary carbon to nitrogen ratio. This may sound technical but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really only about diversity â&#x20AC;&#x201C; achieving a balance of this diversity is very much a feel thing. There are lots of ways to develop your sense of humus â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ACE courses, demonstrations at Farmers Markets and Sustainable Streets events. In

Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Waste Our Earth

fact thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s probably a person living nearby whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s passionate about growing plants naturally and can be spotted salivating over a handful of good homemade compost. Byron Shire Council and Sustainable Streets are gearing up to support these â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;composting championsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to help people in their neighbourhood feel at ease with this very natural and rewarding process. â&#x2013; Nina Bishop is the Sustainable

Streets program coordinator for Byron and Tweed shires.

DIVERSITY: Aim to get a good carbon/nitrogen ratio with a variety of ingredients. Materials with a dense consistency and/or a high moisture content (such as green grass clippings) can often create anaerobic conditions. When composting these types of materials, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to add bulking agents such as straw, leaves, and shredded cardboard to help increase air flow. AERATION: To ensure an aerobic breakdown of its contents compost should be turned regularly to avoid anaerobic pockets when there is poor air flow. MOISTURE: A compost heap should be moist (not wet or dry) and ideally with the consistency of a wrung out sponge. Every living thing requires water â&#x20AC;&#x201C; microorganisms are no exception.

COMPOST SURVEY

Half of what we throw into the garbage bin in Byron Shire is food and garden vegetation. This organic waste ends up at the Myocum LandďŹ ll site where it is buried and slowly rots and decomposes. As it breaks down it sends off methane gas which is a harmful climate changing, greenhouse gas. All of these organic materials can be used to make compost instead and this can then go onto your garden and your garden will love you for it!

7).GREATPRIZES

Lots of people feel that compost bins are: smelly, attract mice and are hard work. Others donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how to compost or have tried and failed. Well take heart â&#x20AC;Ś. Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current online compost survey is showing that lots of people are not sure about composting and are a bit confused about how to do it. So you are not alone!

$50 voucher at farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mkts movie passes compost bin worm farm

If you learn a few basic steps about composting (and believe me composting is very basic its NOT a scientiďŹ c formula at all) you will make good compost that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t smell, isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t attractive to mice and rats and actually works for you! If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re having trouble making good compost youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re probably not using the right recipe! Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like baking a simple cake .. you just need the basics. One good secret is in layering the green food scraps layer (nitrogen layer) with the brown dry layer (carbon layer). You need 4X the brown layer for every layer of green food scraps!

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Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

Aiming for best office practice Daniel Harper

Social

Sustainable business integrates ecological concerns with social and economic ones. These three factors need to be addressed in a holistic manner to achieve a truly sustainable business. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, reducing the amount of resources needed to effectively run a business adds value to it. Sustainable workplace practices reduce running costs, increase productivity, improve customer perceptions and help the planet. Following are some key points for achieving businesses sustainability.

t#FBXBSFPGUIFTPDJBM impacts of where products and services are sourced. How money is spent and which companies you support, is a very powerful tool. Support local businesses. t*EFOUJGZXBZTUPJNQSPWF and strengthen the relationship your business has with the local and broader community. t&OTVSFGBJSQBZBOETBGF working conditions for staff and suppliers. &ODPVSBHing equal opportunity practices when hiring staff. t)BWFB designated person who has the knowledge and tools to ensure best practice in in your workplace.

Economic t5IFXPSMETDVSSFOU rate of consumption is unsustainable, as is the idea of continual global economic growth. tA5SVFDPTU economicsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; needs to be fully embraced, allowing the environmental and social cost of products to be factored into their pricing. t5IFSFOFFETUPCFBNFDIBnism that allows the market to value the environment, a carbon tax for instance. If we can give more worth to a forest as it stands as opposed to clearing it for crops/grazing then there is an economic incentive for protecting the environment.

Energy efficiency Reducing electricity use will save your business money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of global warming. Most ways to reduce energy use will fall into two categories, behavioural change and retrofitting. For instance, turning off

lights at night is behavioural, upgrading the lights to a more efficient type is retrofitting. When looking at retrofits, an important factor is the payback period, this is how long it will take to recoup the investment in new equipment with money saved by reduced electricity use. In office settings, generally, the biggest areas of electricity use will be air conditioning, lighting and appliances (computers/printers etc). Consider getting a professional energy assessor to identify ways to reduce energy consumption.

Waste, water, transport Reduce, reuse, recycle. Have a compost bin for organic food waste. Have recycle bins DMFBSJOHTJHOFE#VZQSPEVDUT with recyclable and minimal packaging. Consider turning off your electric hot water system if hot water is used infrequently. Put flow restrictors on taps and ensure they are not leaking. Get staff to carpool, walk or ride bikes to work. Minimise air travel. Having a sustainable business not only makes good business sense but lets others know that you value the earth as well.

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Your Sustainable Community

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Buying locally organically the way to go Victoria Cosford

the art of running an

Ethical business For over 30 years, Santos has worked hard to provide the largest selection of fresh produce and health products that are Certified organic, GMOfree, non-animal tested and low-carbon footprint. Because our values are shared by a community of customers, we can offer the best that Mother Nature can provide, at sustainably good prices! Thanks to customers like you, everyone in our community (and the planet) can benefit! Byron Bay – 02 6685 7071 105 Jonson St, Byron Bay Mullumbimby – 02 6684 3773 51 Burringbar St, Mullumbimby Byron Industrial Estate – 02 6685 5685 7 Brigantine St, Byron Bay

Organic food is produced to a set of standards and principles concerning such issues as chemical pesticides/herbicides/insecticides; food additives; animal welfare and sustainability, those practices enabling the production of food with the least impact on the planet. Produced in an organic farming system without the use of synthetic chemicals or genetically modified organisms, it emphasises a holistic farm management approach. And yet there continue to be differing views on the value of organic food, especially in relation to nutrition, with little evidence to suggest that it is nutritionally better for you than conventional food. Criticism is levelled at its cost, the fact that it has acquired a sheen of elitism by being significantly more expensive than conventional foodstuffs. A colleague recently forked out nearly $18 a kilo for two plums from a local health food store – plums were in season at the time – which is frankly outrageous, smacking of opportunism on the part of the storeholders who are clearly seeking to capitalise on the current celebration of all things organic. Then there is the insidious possibility that, the more popular organic farming becomes, the more it will inevitably come up against the same problems as other agribusinesses in terms of mass production, transport, equipment used. Global organic production is expanding at the rate of 10 to 15 per cent a year, making it the fastest growing food sector. Sweeping aside such considerations – and where would a movement be anyway without its detractors? – the one true fact remains about organic food and organic farming, which is that its practices are much less harmful to the environment. This, then, is its most compelling argument. So, apart from the ever-growing availability of farmers’ markets, where can you buy organic food locally? Health food shops are a good bet. Increasingly, supermarkets are perceiving the need to oblige demand and so you will find entire sections devoted to organic grocery lines. The newish SPAR in Byron Bay in particular has a very comprehensive selection.

Shoppers should, however, exercise caution. Due to its fashionability, the word ‘organic’ is often bandied about without evidence of the necessary certification. How do you know you are getting organic food? The only way is through organic certification, which means that not only has the product or produce been organically grown but that it has been harvested, prepared and transported via systems and processes that guarantee it is not contaminated by synthetic chemicals and that it is not irradiated. The little roadside stalls operating on an honour system of payment should never be overlooked either – although best of all is your very own backyard, a garden of your own inception, care and cultivation. You can’t ‘shop’ more locally and organically than that! ■ Victoria Cosford is a journalist and food

writer for The Echo and author of Amore And Amoretti (Wakefield Press), a memoir of cuisine and romance in Tuscany.

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Local farmers markets Tuesday – New Brighton Oval, 8am-11am, www.newbrightonfarmersmarket.org.au Thursday – Byron Bay Butler Street Reserve, 8am-11am www.byronfarmersmarket.com.au Friday – Mullumbimby showgrounds off Main Arm Road, 7am-11am Saturday – Bangalow, behind the hotel, 8am-11am Saturday – Uki, 8am-11am


Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

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Rescuing ourselves from speedy eating Victoria Cosford When founder and president of Slow Food International Carlo Petrini visited Australia in October last year, his chief message was that we must build a fraternity of food, to have a ‘‘holistic vision of gastronomy’. It was in 1989 that he conceived the idea of the Slow Food Movement, with the aim of not only countering fast food global domination but also of promoting local production and environmentally responsible farming practices. Today it counts more than 100,000 members in 130 countries of the world, comprising people from all walks of life: home cooks and chefs, caterers and students, winemakers and scientists, farmers and families – in short, anyone who is interested in supporting food traditions and local growers. In Petrini’s presentation at the Sydney Opera House he spoke about the fact that ‘if we destroy the planet’s diversity we destroy our health...’ ‘We are the environment’, he continued, ‘sometimes we feel that we are superior, but after some years we actually go back to earth, all of us, so we are the environment... With local production, eating local food, and by helping each other – producers and co-producers – we will be able to rebuild that

which we have destroyed. In this way we can also rebuild biodiversity. We need to work at two levels – that is, among co-producers (consumers), paying more for local food, and among politicians, who must be far-sighted and preserve this land, not build on it and transform it with cement...’ Slow Food Australia – Slow Food’s first national association in the southern hemisphere – has 42 convivia, or branches, all coordinated by volunteers. Across the country their job is to foster community awareness and celebrate and champion food that is good, clean and fair; to work with artisan producers to market their foods; to help school communities to develop kitchen gardens; to promote food traditions and knowledge. In addition they organise tasting workshops and events through which members can learn about the source of food, farming methods and the impor-

tance of food sustainability for themselves and for the planet. The Slow Food Movement is founded upon the belief that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture to make this pleasure possible: a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet. We are co-producers rather than consumers because, by being informed about how our food is produced and by actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of – and a partner in – the production process. Writer A A Gill says that ‘the Slow Food Movement... speak(s) to a terrible yearning of urban folk, people who feel the timing of their lives has been taken out of their control, who are being forced to run faster and faster by the collective aspiration and fear of others...’ He says that

‘there is something immensely attractive about slowness. We think of those lunches that turn into tea and then cocktails. Of flipping the sign on the shop door and taking an hour on the couch. Everything you think of with slowness comes with an accompaniment of sybaritism...’ Sybaritism and pleasure are, finally, less important than the substantial need to safeguard our earth for the little time we are allowed our small plot upon it. We’re losing farmers’ knowledge’, Petrini said in his address, ‘and small farmers are disappearing... [but] we can really make this change. We can support farmers’ markets. We can defend food and build school gardens. We can create and support communities and work with them. Ask for more information so we can learn where food comes from and how it is made. This way we’ll be able to give value back to food... We have never talked about food so much before and now food is eating us.’

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Your Sustainable Community Go go gadget shopping doesn’t offer all the answers

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Story & photo Eve Jeffery In days of yore, incandescent was a word used for romantic poetry and floral descriptions of a lady love. In 2010 it is those dirty, nasty thingies that some folk still have planted in their kitchen ceiling. I don’t know anyone who buys the older style of globes any more, the newer, energy efficient compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) has now all but replaced its predecessor. The early models looked like something from Robot Central but recent incarnations are more aesthetically pleasing. The main issue that has arisen from the succession of CFLs is that, like all fluorescent lamps, they contain small amounts of mercury as a vapour inside the glass tubing. The Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), has been investigating the issues associated with the end-of-life management for CFLs and other mercurycontaining lamps. In May 2009, the EPHC announced its support for FluoroCycle, a voluntary partnership between government and industry to increase recycling of mercury containing lamps. This is OK for big business and highlights the need for some sort of protocol but it doesn’t help ma and pa

water and water saving shower roses up the wazoo and most feel the saving items do the right job, although the mercury question did arise. Most felt their big energy waster was their heating and believed that their biggest energy saver was solar water, instant gas water and heating and one pair of legs that always walked to the shops. Most of the Echo residents had a petrol car as did each driving member of the family, though the winner in the car stakes shared a hybrid with her hubby. About half of those polled rode a bike or wished for a bike and most said they would love solar power. The individual sins that they would not relinquish were Carmel Chetcuti contemplates a CFL from atop her Toyota Prius. cars, fridges, dishwashers, much. Currently, the Byron to produce and unless they There is a tonne of great hair straighteners and one Shire Council does not recycle are used many times over you earth savers to help the planet. battery-powered vibrator. The fluorescent lamps. are defeating the purpose of Some have become so much collective sins were not turning Another device the disposal having them in the first place. part of our life that we forget power off at the wall and toof which must be explored It is estimated that about 100 we are helping out, for examtally, like, forgetting Earth Hour. and the use of which we have trips to the supermarket will ple, the dual flush toilet. It has The majority of staffers use adopted as our badge of see each bag in the clear, but become so much a part of our a fuel powered mower but honour in the quest for sustain- only if the bag makes it to the daily ablutions that we really only one used the sprinkler ability is the shopping bag. checkout and isn’t left in the don’t think about it much any to encourage the lawn. There While everyone will agree that boot of the car or on the kitch- more. But how much do we was about 50 er cent wood fire the only sensible move is away en bench. Probably the best think about the gadgets we users, few had electric heating from the plastic grocery bag, its receptacle for your shopping is use? and cooling going for the substitute mustn’t be a flippant a trolley just like Nana used to I visited a small village in softer option of a fan. choice on the run. It has to be have – a well maintained grothe heart of Mullumbimby last Surprisingly there was only remembered that in the long cery buggy could last years and week to ask the locals about one mention of environmenterm, reusable bags take more years and then you could sell it their eco gadgetry. The average tally sound, star rated white time, energy and resources on eBay as a collectable! ‘Echo’ villager has CFLs, solar goods (another given maybe?)

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and only a small percentage used an extra fridge or freezer.. There are plenty of ways to save the planet. Surfing the net is the easiest way to find cool enviro gadgets (maybe the idea of global warming adds a whole new dimension to the word ‘cool’). I found a self heating shower, the Ecoflap letterbox draught stopper, the The Metalcell portable battery which generates energy for electronics from salt water or urine (ieew), a hand held portable espresso maker and just what I always wanted: an energy recycling prosthetic foot. If you want to save energy and the planet, and sometimes money as well, you can find something somewhere to do the job, but the best energy saving idea came from one of the Echo pollees. ‘A brain,’ she said. ‘It’s all very good to have all these water and power saving devices, but being conscious of what you are using is important. If everyone had very limited tank water they would soon remember to turn the frigging tap off.’ Hear, hear. For more gadget ideas visit www.envirogadget.com. ■ Eve Jeffery is an Echo journal-

ist, photographer and sports writer.


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Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

Feral fashionistas seek out sustainable clothing

Many of the pieces at the Shearwater school Wearable Arts event used recycled materials. Photo Jeff Dawson. Kel Raison The ethical perversion of the fashion industry is noticeable even in Byron with the increase in chain stores stocking cheap, badly made clothes designed to last no longer than the latest trend produced in abhorrent working conditions in Asian factories. Our throw away culture is leading top designers to release multiple lines per sea-

son to satisfy fickle consumers who want it all first, fast and for less time, and while designer labels may last longer than the cheap chain store variety fashion, it’s the ripple effect and the volume of clothing produced that is creating the problem. Landfill is at the top of the list when it comes to fashion sustainability faux pas. A 2006 study published by the University of Cambridge, Well

So, what can we do? don’t tumble dry or iron (sorry mum). 6. If you must buy new clothes, buy ones that are 1. Buy fewer clothes. made to last and choose the 2. Recycle the ones you have. Repair damaged clothes most sustainable fabric that and take them to Vinnies when you can. 7. Research before you you’ve finished with them. purchase. Studies have shown 3. Buy secondhand clothes or arrange clothes swaps with that the fashion industry is developing more sustainable friends. approaches due to consumer 4. Hire clothing that is for pressure and some organisaone-off use, such as wedding tions are more sensitive than attire. others. Check out Deeper 5. Wash in cold water with Luxury Report produced by detergents containing less than five percent phosphates. the World Wildlife Fund available online. Wash clothes less often and

It comes down to the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle.

dressed? The present and future sustainability of clothing and textiles in the United Kingdom, revealed that UK residents purchase 35kg of clothing and send 30kg to landfill per capita each year. While these figures are not Australian they serve as a useful comparison to our developed society. Once fashion items reach landfill, synthetic fabrics such as nylon take 30-40 years to biodegrade, whereas cotton rags take only one to five months. This however seems to be the only thing conventional cotton has going for it in terms of sustainability. Previously environmental impact was measured only in the production phase of the fashion industry, with synthetic fibres such as polyester faring badly in the sustainability stakes due to emission levels. Now sustainability is measured using a lifecycle approach, which takes into consideration

the entire life of the garment from farming or production through to care of the garment and eventual disposal. The energy needs of a cotton T-shirt during the use phase of its lifecycle accounts for 60 per cent of its entire energy consumption assuming it is washed, tumble dried and ironed 25 times in its life. Conversely, a viscose blouse requires much less energy during the use phase – only 14 per cent of its total requirements assuming it is line-dried and not ironed – but has double the energy requirements of cotton when producing the material. Comparing the combined material, production and transportation lifecycle phases, the cotton-shirt and the viscose blouse both used the same amount of energy (distributed differently) over the three phases and had the same waste output. Cotton farming, including

organic cotton which currently makes up only one per cent of the cotton market, uses copious amounts of water according to another UK report. ‘In some cases over ten tonnes of water are used to grow enough cotton to make one pair of jeans.’ The Aral Sea in Central Asia, once the fourth largest inland body of water, is now reduced to 15 per cent capacity as a result of cotton farming. Conventional cotton falls further down sustainability rankings when chemical toxicity is included in the equation, with high levels of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth regulators and defoliants (chemical products used to remove leaves) used in conventional farming practices. Globally, cotton farming accounts for 16 per cent of insecticide use and the chemicals used are so toxic that there have been many cases of acute pesticide poisoning to cotton farmers, some resulting in death. Dyeing of materials accounts for most of the chemicals released into waste water from the fashion industry that are

not related to cotton farming. The chemicals are non-biodegradable and cause toxicity in factory workers, with some dyes being linked to bladder cancer which is the most common type of cancer in the clothing production workforce. So if cotton is such high maintenance in farming and garment care, and production of synthetics is also sustainably problematic, then it seems using hemp as a natural fibre alternative is a no-brainer. The Well Dressed report acknowledges that: ‘Hemp is four times stronger than cotton, twice as resistant to abrasion, and more resistant to mildew, soiling, shrinkage and fading in the sun. In addition, hemp plants need little irrigation and significantly less pesticide or other chemicals.’ Other natural fibres derived from wood and corn are also surfacing, however this still doesn’t address the volume of land fill generated by the fashion industry. The only thing that will make a difference is a change in consumer behaviour. ■ Kel Raison is a freelance writer.

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Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

a winner in the Tweed Shire between Council and a suitably qualified solar installer would provide Tweed property owners with a simple way of reducing energy costs and environmental footprint through the application of renewable energy technology. Solar neighbourhood programs are a successful way of cutting the cost of solar power systems as costs are significantly reduced when large numbers of installations are arranged in the same area. Under the program, participating householders will: t(FOFSBUFVQUPÄ&#x17E;ĂżÄ&#x201E;Ä&#x201A;Ä&#x20AC;XPSUI of electricity a year (based on a GFFEJOUBSJòPGÄ&#x17E;ĂžÄ&#x201E;ĂžQFSLJMPXBUUBOEBOJOFQBOFM ĂżÄ&#x192;L8 solar photovoltaic (PV) system); t3FDPVQUIFJSĂśOBODJBMPVUlay in less than three years; t5BLFBEWBOUBHFPGHPWFSOment incentives; and t3FEVDFHSFFOIPVTFHBT FNJTTJPOTCZÄ&#x20AC;Ä&#x201A;UPOOFTPG$0Ä&#x20AC; per year. .S8BMUPOTBZTUIF4PMBS Neighbourhood Program is beJOHEFWFMPQFEUPNBLFJUFBTZ for people to get solar power on their home or business. A5BLFVQSBUFTPGHSFFOUFDInologies in the local community increase significantly when Council facilitates the process,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; he said. This was demonstrated CFUXFFO+BOVBSZÄ&#x20AC;ÞÞÄ&#x2026;BOE%FDFNCFSÄ&#x20AC;ÞÞÄ&#x2020;XIFONPSFUIBO

Sustainability initiatives on offer across Tweed and Byron Shires Northern Rivers Carpool 4JY/PSUIFSO3JWFSTDPVODJMT have teamed up to create /PSUIFSO3JWFST$BSQPPM BGSFF on-line service for commuters JOUIFSFHJPO8JUIOFBSMZÄ&#x192;ÞÞ members so far, visit www. nrcarpool.org to register and MJOLVQXJUITPNFPOFUSBWFMMJOH in your direction.

Northern Rivers Food Links /PSUIFSO3JWFST'PPE-JOLTJT a project that aims to localise the regional food supply in response to climate change and anticipated long term oil TVQQMZTIPSUBHFT 1FBL0JM  /PSUIFSO3JWFST'PPE-JOLTJTB collaboration of Ballina, Byron, $MBSFODF ,ZPHMF 3JDINPOE Valley and Tweed Councils, 3PVT8BUFSBOEUIF/48 %FQBSUNFOUPG&OWJSPONFOU  Ä&#x192;ĂžQFSDFOUPGTIJSFIPVTFIPMET 5IF"MMJBODFXJMMSVOGPSĂżÄ&#x20AC; $MJNBUF$IBOHFBOE8BUFS had energy and water saving NPOUITPSÄ&#x20AC;ÞÞJOTUBMMBUJPOT  %&$$8 $PNNVOJUZCBTFE devices installed through a whichever comes first. partnership between Council $PVODJMJTDVSSFOUMZTFFLJOH organisations interested in local food production are invited and Fieldforce Pty Ltd. In other expressions of interest from UPBQQMZGPSVQUPÄ&#x17E;Ä&#x192;Ăž ÞÞÞJO local government areas where suitably qualified solar photoFieldforce offered their service voltaic installers to partner with GVOEJOHVOEFSUIF'PPE-JOLT 1SPKFDU XIJDIJTTFFLJOHHSBTTwithout Council support, the Council to deliver the Tweed UBLFVQSBUFXBTBSPVOEÄ ĂžQFS Solar Neighbourhood Program. roots, food-related initiatives in each local government area cent of households. Tender details are available for a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Village Showcaseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. These Council aims to launch the at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/ could include projects such program in July following a tender. as community gardens, street tender process to choose the PSDIBSETBOEGBSNFSTNBSLFUT company which will deliver the â&#x2013; Luis Feliu is editor of The "TVNPGÄ&#x17E;Ä&#x192;Ăž ÞÞÞIBTCFFO Tweed Shire Echo service to customers.

allocated from the Northern 3JWFST'PPE-JOLTCVEHFUGPS a community project in the 5XFFE'PSBOJOGPSNBUJPOLJU  QIPOFĂžÄ&#x20AC;Ä&#x201E;Ä&#x201E;Ä&#x2020;Ä&#x201E;Ä Ä&#x2021;Ä&#x2026;Ä&#x20AC; PSFNBJM JOGP!OPSUIFSOSJWFSTGPPEMJOLT com.au The closing date for e GVOEJOHBQQMJDBUJPOTJT+VOFÄ Ăž

nature. The site will serve as a sustainability education model to promote sustainable living.

What can you do?

Here are some tips for reducing your environmental impact at home. Northern Rivers tSwitch to Green Power: Sustainable Streets (SFFO1PXFSJTFMFDUSJDJUZGSPN An initiative of Tweed and Byrenewable energy sources ron Shire Councils to strength- MJLFXJOEBOETPMBSJOTUFBE en community, conserve of coal. Almost all electricity non-renewable resources and companies offer the choice rehabilitate local ecosystems PG(SFFO1PXFSGPSBMJTUTFF UISPVHIBTFSJFTPGXPSLTIPQT www.greenelectricitywatch. and community activities. org.au Households in combined street tSwitch off stand-by power: efforts are participating at Standby power is the electricMurwillumbah, Mullumbimby, ity consumed by an appliance 6LJ $BCBSJUBBOE4PVUI(PMEFO when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not performing its Beach. QSJNBSZGVODUJPO/FBSMZÿÿQFS cent of Australian residential The Byron Shire Food electricity use is attributable to Production on Public standby power. So when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve Land Project finished using your TV, computer or microwave switch the represents an innovative trial in demonstrating the compat- unit off completely (preferably ibility of managing urban food at the wall). tInstall dual-flush toilets: production on Council-manThe toilet is one of the biggest aged, public open space. The water users in the house, using circular garden bed located POBWFSBHFÄ Ä&#x2020; ÞÞÞMJUSFTBZFBS around Byron Shire Council For more information on susChambers in Mullumbimby has been chosen as the area in tainability initiatives visit www. which to conduct the trial due tweed.nsw.gov.au/sustainability or www.byron.nsw.gov.au/ to its profile, visibility, access, soil condition and contained sustainability

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Your Sustainable Community

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Listen to any politician, government scientist or other mining industry representative talking about electricity and you will eventually hear the term ‘base-load’. Chances are it will be used to justify the expanded extraction of mineral resources, or to damn renewable resources. The classic line is, ‘Wind is fine for supplementing our electricity but it is too unreliable to supply the baseload.’ Baseload sounds big and strong, like one of the four elephants holding up the preCopernican world and, on close inspection, it has just about as much credibility. The term really means the minimum amount of electricity that we use at any one time. When we are asleep, with our television sets off and our air-conditioning units turned down low, our cities hum along quietly using a minimum amount of electricity. This minimum consumption level, or baseload, is the amount of electricity that always has to be available. If that baseload (or demand) is not met, so the argument goes, then society would collapse: life support machines would stop working, clocks would set

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themselves back to midnight 01:01:01 and start flashing red; a clear indicator that civilisation as we know it has come to an end. To avoid that horrific catastrophe, we absolutely must open new coal mines, build new coal-fired power stations and start generating electricity from Plutonium. It is critical not only that you understand what is wrong with this argument but that you convince your relatives, colleagues and aquaintances. It is all very well to forgive them for not knowing any better, but if they vote out of ignorance for the mine that is going to destroy your children’s future, that is partly your fault.

Pimp your base The first myth to be dispensed with is that the current baseload is actually a true minimum. In fact, it has been manipulated over many years to be artificially high for economic reasons. In the fifties, public utilities began to package the electricity they produced at night as a new product, ‘off-peak power’, and sell it cheaply. It saved them the cost of powering down and powering up their power stations and made them heaps of money. Until those pesky solar models came along, domestic hot water services soaked up the bulk of this off-peak power, heating water at night


Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

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the baseload myth about power generation

so people could enjoy a hot shower in the morning. The modern switchboard in most homes have an off-peak switch that the power company can

turn on by sending a special pulse down the power line. That way the power company can sell you electricity you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re buying

Did you know? t6OJOTVMBUFEDFJMJOHTDBO waste 35 per cent of your winter heating. t'PSFWFSZPMETUZMFJODBOdescent globe you replace with a compact fluorescent light you can save about $40 in electricity costs. t"MBSHFTDSFFOUFMFWJTJPO turned on for 6 hours a day can generate half a tonne of greenhouse gas a year. t.BOZBQQMJBODFTVTFFMFD-

when they have some to spare. Another customer of cheap off-peak electricity is hydroelectricity power companies. They use it to pump water uphill overnight so they can let it run down again the next day and generate higher priced, peak-load electricity at a profit. About forty per cent of the energy is wasted but the price difference is sufficient to make it worthwhile.

Lie about size tricity even when they appear to be turned off. Switch them off at the power point to save energy. o'SPNXXXMJWJOHHSFFOFS gov.au/be-informed/savingenergy

The second myth to be dispensed with is that big is beautiful. To be sure there are commercial advantages for the owners of very large things in the form of reduced overheads but, from a technical point of view, many small things are of-

ten much more powerful, more flexible and more resilient. The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s computer manufacturers resisted the personal computer revolution and media owners ignored the internet revolution to their own detriment. Now, an enormous network of small computers delivers many times the computing power than the older centralised networks ever could. The media contributions of millions of users holding those computers is much richer and more flexible than anything owned by a handful of megarich owners ever could be. In the same way, an individual wind farm may be more dependent on the weather than a cluster of steam generators burning coal or capturing the heat from fissile Plutonium, but a network of wind generators in different locations in combination with solar thermal plants is not.

Power of the edge There is a final, extremely important point to make about the distributed generation of electricity from a wide range of sources. The contributions of local, micro-generators â&#x20AC;&#x201C; solar panels on rooftops, for example â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is a totally new phenomenon that will create a steady supply of electricity when we need it most, during the day. Not only that, it will be

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generated near to where it is used, reducing the cost of the distribution network. Just as the IBMs of the world could not see the PC revolution coming and the Sonys, TimeWarners and BMGs of the world have yet to grapple with the Internet, so will the electricity utilities learn the hard way that a distributed network will

monolith beatt a centralised mono every time. It seems to be the les lesson of our time. â&#x2013; Giovanni Ebono is a publish-

er and author who has edited and written many books about sustainable living. Links to his recent projects are available at www.ebono.org.


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Your Sustainable Community

Moving lightly through the landscape The vehicle tracker application on my phone-disc beeps a warning as a shiny green e-car pulls across six cycle lanes to the curb where I am standing. The mechanical whoosh of the door sliding open sounds an invitation that I accept, folding the silky pleats of my bamboo dress into my lap and taking my seat. As I return the sleepy greetings of my carpool companions I inhale, enjoying the sweet scent exuding from the newness of the hemp fibre interior of Rick Shawâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recently upgraded car. I close my eyes as we turn onto the electric car lane and let the gentle rhythm of the electro

magnetic recharge strips lull me into a pleasant daydream about my dazzling driverâ&#x20AC;Ś

of burden for transportation, labour, food then fabric. Mechanical horsepower too, motorbikes and mopeds balance Lani Summers entire families and livestock in ways that defy physics, and It could happen. Some of it our western road laws. These is already happening. South are definitely options that do Korea is onto the rather expen- not necessarily cater to many sive recharge strips, and many current western lifestyles. countries are turning car lanes As far as efficiency goes, over to cyclists. Last month bulk transport uses the least Austrian Telekom announced embodied energy per unit a plan to turn redundant moved. Before the availability phone boxes into electric car of cheap oil, we relied on ports recharge stations. Some of the and rail networks to move vast earlier Ford cars were made amounts of people or products with hemp, so we definitely over varying distances. These have the technologies, perhaps technologies exist greener than too many. Town planners and ever before. Solar, wind, hydro government departments glo- and many other â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;freeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and availbally are showing trepidation, able energies, can be captured perplexed about which way to to power huge vessels over go, how to prepare infrastrucland and sea. But free energy ture for speedily superseded doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t line the wallets of big and expensive systems. industry, so as much invention This biosphere is not an occurs in designing inbuilt entirely closed loop system; redundancy in parts, or an therefore nothing on this ongoing service provision planet is truly infinitely sustain- dependency to fulfill the able. However in relation to economic versus transport, we look to processes environment which smoothly transition us dilemma. away from fossil fuels, reBio-fuel for duce harmful emissions and cars has been all minimise air, noise, water and but given the land pollution. We also want efficiency and ease, lest our lifestyle get too inconvenienced by adaptation. There is no one size fits all solution, nor should there be. Systems thinkers know that diversity brings a robust quality. That is diversity and boot at least in the long simplicity. The most readily term. The math on land mass available simple and sustainrequired for ethanol producable transport available to the tion would leave us without majority, are of course our own room for adequate food crops. two legs, add some wheels and Crops can contribute more pedestrian power is closely fol- efficiently to bio-electricity prolowed by skates, skateboards duction than bio-fuels. There and bicycles. They all require are so many clean, green ways minimal outlay, minimum to make electric vehicles move, maintenance, and the byprod- that fuel based cars are sure to uct is improved physical health become superfluous. from the exerted effort, and While some countries move improved community relations forward, Australians are feelfrom the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;pedestrian effectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. ing the push and pull effect For low tech energy solubetween federal, state and tions we can look to the third local government funding world. They use horsepower and policy. As Rudd hits the of the hoofed variety, beasts pause button on sustainabil-

ity and the State leaves our priceless rail infrastructure to decompose, the Byron Shire council is trying to fulfill local demand for green transport. The ongoing construction of a labyrinth of cycle-ways is designed to connect the Shire as described in the Bike Strategy and Action Plan adopted in 2008 and recharge stations for electric vehicles are whispered concepts remaining a vision for the future. More recently, Byron Shire has collaborated with other councils of the Northern Rivers region to offer residents a web based carpooling service. Currently it is mostly Byron Shire residents utilising the service, and more often to commute to work and similarly regular trips. Memberships need to hit a critical mass, for the service to work effectively for casual and one off trips. I am still waiting for a lift to the airport!

Participants can register for membership as a driver, passenger or both by going to the website www.nrcarpool.org. There are designated priority parking spaces for Northern Rivers carpool members and the first eight people to register with the carpool service and call Graeme Williams at council (6626 7305), can win a carpooler pack which includes a $25 fuel voucher, travel cup and other goodies. Be sure to read the websites etiquette page, it can prevent potential embarrassment from car pool faux pas such as excessive cologne wearing. â&#x2013; Lani Summers is a freelance

writer. Pictured, the Aptera, one of the new breed of electric cars â&#x20AC;&#x201C; see www.aptera.com.

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&,

Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

Educator Katrina Shields is keen about making a difference Story & photo Eve Jeffery Katrina Shields has many years experience and qualifications in environmental sustainability, practically and theoretically and in recent times she has been sharing her knowledge in the Byron Shire. Last year Katrina coordinated a team for a large research project to make recommendations on the National Training Package in Retail and Horticulture – she ran some pilot training for people working in those industries locally. There is recognition from the top of the bureaucracy that things need to change so they looked to a place like Byron Shire for ideas of how this might happen on the ground. Katrina is the Sustainability Officer at the Byron Region Community College. Each term Katrina oversees around 20 different sustainability related courses at the college and she says participants are enjoying the workshops. ‘We are getting great feedback from students,’ says Katrina. ‘People are finding courses very inspiring and the Byron Shire Council has helped us keep them very affordable. Some of them are general interest courses and some are funded, accredited, certificate courses such as the recent

Sustainable Land Use course and units on Water, Weather and Organic Pest Control.’ She recently wrote a teacher’s resource manual called ‘Eden at Home’ which looks at teaching backyard food growing. ‘The Health department asked us to do this book and is now being picked up by other

colleges.’ Katrina says the college has a terrific team of passionate tutors who really know how to walk their talk. She says students get out in the field and into people’s backyards as much as possible but it is getting back inside that she is really excited about at present.

‘We are moving back to our totally renovated and expanded building with some state of the art energy efficiency features such as the huge 30Kw of solar panels,’ she says. ‘We were given a one-off economic stimulus fund payment from the teaching and learning capital fund. The great new training spaces, the improved sustainability features and new display spaces will support our Living and Working sustainably programs as well as generating a lot of power to put back into the grid.’ Courses at the college are always packed to the rafters, the sustainability program is a popular one that rarely has spaces left over. There is a huge variety of sustainable practices to learn including a NSW Department of Education funded certificate course that covers the process of assessing soil health and land requirements to improve land under production in Sustainable Land Use. If you want to save the earth’s resources you can learn how to calculate your “wet footprint” in the Water for Life workshop and you will also find that sometimes getting some exposure to sun is a good thing – learn about Solar Technology and the many ways you can incorporate the sun’s 100 per cent, ever reliable, GST-free gift

into your household’s economy during the Solar Works day. For animal lovers, you can discover some of the creatures you share the shire with when you enter the the fascinating world of native butterflies, dragonflies and other wonderful creatures in Native Butterflies. Katrina says she gets to meet a lot of great people and a lot

of the positive changes that are happening. ‘Often taking steps to lower our impact also enriches our life. I am passionate, particularly about improving our local organic food supply, which would go a long way to lowering our carbon footprint and improving food security. I know together we can make a difference.’

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Your Sustainable Community

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Fantons are foragers for future generations Victoria Cosford

Design Courses in nine countries, and always including a I spent the loveliest couple strong biodiversity and seed of hours in the company of production component. They Jude and Michel Fanton, of have written countless articles the Seed Savers Network. for newspapers, journals and Invited at lunchtime I had magazines and made appearnot, however, expected the ances at conferences and on generosity of lunch served to radio shows; their gardens a complete stranger – and yet have been photographed and after an introductory tour of filmed as a thriving example of the front garden there we were permaculture. – daughter, son-in-law and two Increasingly the Fantons are little grandchildren included – relying on modern technolsitting around a long table in ogy to get the word out – their the shade outside, eating soup Jude and Michel Fanton in their garden. Photo Jeff Dawson well-designed website includes a regularly updated blog – but (mushroom and chicory), duck ‘we need more alliance with pate on spelt bread, risotto and Jude had made using soya milk that they were required to set up a register and a seed bank. and bananas; the two olive younger people’, Michel told salad. Just about everything, ‘Over 21 years’, Michel said, trees out the front they must me, ‘We need troubleshootof course, had been foraged ‘we’ve been sent 8000 samples ers in social networking to from the acre of lush abundant begin to harvest. of seeds from the public. So They established the Seed help us on to the next level gardens which spread before Savers Network in 1986 in order it’s not like we’re short on or breakthrough...We want and around us. diversity!’ to conserve local varieties of to sprout many more roots There was no formality or, There are now 85 local seed food plant. The skill of saving around the world – we’re like to be sure, any interview in networks around the country seeds was being lost and the grandparents coming in on the strict sense. Pale pretty and the operation has been they perceived the need to this movement!’ Jude and intense, humorous He is also adamant that eveMichel either talked over each resuscitate and rejuvenate it to decentralised, with local seed networks exchanging varieryone become involved, saying other or took turns to describe prevent valuable varieties disappearing forever. ‘We started ties, ‘reviving old traditions for that ‘it’s not just good enough what they do, where they had to revive backyard agriculture’, new gardeners’; and giving out to buy local, you should grow been, what they love. And so cuttings. In addition Jude and Michel told me, ‘to dig out local. You should grow perenin between hearing about those traditional varieties suit- Michel ‘work a lot overseas, nials. Save your own seeds and trips to countries like Africa increasing the strategic alliance exchange them with other able for home-growing.’ They and India I find out about the with groups of people...we’re people: that way you can see wild mushrooms they pick and were encouraged greatly, in the early stages, by the founder always doing new things.’ For the full cycle... Learn how to eat; the 1200 pecan nuts they of permaculture in Australia, many years they taught – Jude harvest, to use the garden, to discovered fallen from a huge be a forager...’ tree hanging over a public lane Bill Mollison ; a national request is an ex-teacher of social sciby them for seed from tradiences, history and literature which, when they went back, – teaching in the footsteps ■ See more at www.seedsavers. had been inexplicably chopped tional varieties met with such of Bill Mollison Permaculture net. down; the breadfruit ice cream an overwhelming response

Village Showcase Project Funding Information Workshops Village Showcase Projects are an opportunity for a collective community approach to improving the local food chain system, providing sustainable health, economic and environmental benefits for all. Applications are now open for Village Showcase Project funding of $50,000 per Local Government Area. Contact Northern Rivers Food Links for an Expression of Interest proforma and application kit You are also invited to attend Information Workshops being held across the Region on the following days. Mon 7 June 2pm – 4pm

Coolamon Cultural Centre 3-5 Tumbulgan Road MURWILLUMBAH

Tues 8 June 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Ballina Community Services Centre Cnr Moon Street & Bangalow Road BALLINA

Wed 9 June 10am – 12pm

Richmond Valley Council Chambers Cnr Walker Street & Graham Place CASINO

Wed 9 June 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Lismore Workers Club 231 Keen Street LISMORE

Fri 11 June 2pm – 4pm

Maclean Services Club 36 - 38 River Street MACLEAN

Contact information Email to info@northernriversfoodlinks.com.au Attention: Village Showcase EOI. Alternatively contact by phone 02 6686 3972. Find out more about the Northern Rivers Food Links Project at www.northernriversfoodlinks.com.au

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&.

Your guide to sustainable living on the north coast

Helena Norberg-Hodge sees localisation at the heart of survival Story & photo Eve Jeffery Helena Norberg-Hodge is known around the globe as someone trying to help save it. An analyst of the impact of the global economy on cultures and agriculture worldwide and a pioneer of the localisation movement, Helena is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), a group whose mission is to examine the root causes of the planetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s social and environmental crises, while promoting more sustainable and equitable patterns of living. ISEC oversees the workings of the Local Food program and Global to Local Outreach and the Ladakh Project. Helena is probably best known for her association with Ladakh and its people. Also known as Little Tibet, Ladakh is a remote region on the Tibetan plateau which, until 1974, had remained mostly isolated from modern development. Helena and a documentary film crew went to the area a year after it was opened to foreigners and she has spent much time and energy since, trying to help the Ladakhis preserve their traditional culture, values and sustainability against the onslaught of western cultureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s glamour and luxury and the

misguided perception that modern lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rewards are infinite wealth and leisure. Though she started the project over 30 years ago, Helena still spends up to a third of her time working on Ladakh issues and travels every year to the area for a couple of months to work with the indigenous organisations that she helped start there. ISEC also run a tourist education program with about 3000 visitors from around the world every year. More recently, Helena has been working on yet another

project to promote sustainability, She has been producer, director and also in front of the camera for the film The Economics of Happinessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. She recently made a presentation at the famous Cooper Union Great Hall in New York where she was able preview the film. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;At Cooper Union, my main presentation was a lecture on the Economics of Happiness and I showed an excerpt from the film. I made my presentation in the Great Hall on the evening of the same day that President Obama had an-

nounced his plans for financial regulation. The audience was very high-powered and included the President of Cooper Union as well as several trustees.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The film describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions: an unholy alliance of governments and big business is pushing us ever closer to the brink. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and, far from the old institutions of power, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re starting to build a very different future. Helena received interest from the Institute for Sustainable Design at Cooper Union to look at collaborating with ISEC to promote localisation and sustainable development. She says they have had meetings to discuss the opportunities. Helena believes that for the people of this planet to survive, they must work toward localisation in their own lives on many levels. One a daily basis she would like to encourage people to take a two-pronged approach. Firstly by using education and information as activism and taking action at the local level. â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Something people can do today is to pass along this article or any other writing, film, website that promotes

localisation. They could also make a point of buying from an independent small business, rather than a chain. Above all, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to buy fresh local food, that comes from the region, rather than processed food from the other side of the world.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Week to week, Helena would ask people to devote more

time than they usually would to informing themselves about why economic localisation is so important and perhaps look into joining a project in their local area that is promoting localisation. Helena hopes that as we take care of the days and weeks, that the years will take care of themselves.



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Your Sustainable Community  

Your Guide to sustainable living on the north coast

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