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Sustainable living resources

Written By: - Date published: 7:47 am, December 21st, 2009 - 30 comments
Categories: activism, climate change, Environment - Tags: ,

I’m trying not to get too depressed about the lack of an outcome at Copenhagen. As one analyst put it – “Leaders came to Copenhagen to rewrite history and left having made a few notes in the margin”. Not good enough. However, with or without a formal agreement, it was always going to come down to each one of us, and the decisions that we make about our lives. So this post is about listing some of the resources in NZ that relate to sustainable living.

This Ministry for the Environment website is a good place to start. It has sections on: Rubbish, Water, Energy, Building, Transport, Gardening and Shopping, with featured information and several case studies of each. It also provides an overview 25 easy steps towards sustainability.

Statistics New Zealand provides a wealth of information relating to our progress towards sustainability in many categories, and an overview snapshot of the current state of play.

The Sustainable Living Education Trust has a useful site, especially a section on actions you can take under several headings. They also have regional information and contacts here. From the home page: “Our independent practical information and short courses show how you can trim 10% off your carbon emissions, save money and create a healthier lifestyle. If you’re ready to reduce your footprint, this information is designed for you. Sustainable Living has seven years experience running relevant evening classes and single-topic workshop sessions across New Zealand, backed by independent research, local councils, educators and environmental NGOs. Start making a difference for future generations now.”

Some of the same information, and further resources, are available from the Sustainable Living Programme site, which also has links to further resources in many categories.

Many Councils have their own resource pages, including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Just google “sustainable your-place-name” and it will probably be the top hit.

Transition towns are a neat idea: Transition Towns initiatives are part of a vibrant, international grassroots movement that brings people together to explore how we as communities – can respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges arising from climate change, resource depletion and an economy based on growth. We don’t look for anyone to blame or anyone to save us, but believe our communities have within themselves the innovation and ingenuity to create positive solutions to the converging crises of our time. These are small scale, truly local grassroots groups, there’s probably one near you. Our local group is great, friendly and full of advice, always ready to help amateur gardeners. Check out the transition handbook and the list of useful links.

The Sustainable Business Network is a forum for businesses that are interested in sustainable development practice. Their site lists tools, case studies, and a (very business / product oriented) Guide to more sustainable living (PDF). BusinessCare is a similar business oriented resource.

Other miscellaneous resources: Whitcoulls books on sustainable living, Enviroschools, information on rural recycling, aiming for Zero Waste, Trees for survival, hazardous materials disposal, Waste Exchange, EcoMatters, and The Good Blog. If you know of other useful sites or resources, especially if they provide good practical advice, please list them in the comments.

The next step is up to us. Merry Christmas.

[On a personal note, that's probably it from me until February. I intend to spend as much as possible of the next month in places where the most complicated piece of electronics is the piezo-electric igniter on my gas cooker. Take care all...]

30 comments on “Sustainable living resources”

  1. Good post.

    With the failure of Copenhagen us ordinary mortals are going to have to take more and more responsibility for changing our lifestyles to improve sustainability.

    I wonder if Timmy, tsmithfield, gitmo et al will have any criticism of this post?

  2. Stop poking yr stick @ the trolls in their cave.
    You’ll regret the emissions.

  3. Doug 3

    [link-whore]

    [lprent: If you want to link-whore - don't do it here or write something relevant yourself about the link. Adding you to auto-moderation. ]

    • barry 3.1

      Connolly has invested a great deal of time in making sure that the Wikipedia articles match the scientific consensus. Many deniers are unhappy that he has removed some of their pet theories, but the moderation has also removed a lot of more extreme warming diatribes as well.

      In the absence of the moderation Wikipedia would be completely useless, as the content would vary wildly throughout the day, every day.

      As to the Medieval warm period, the content now reflects the scientific consensus. There are proxies that show warming in various places around the world around 1000 years ago. Some might indicate that some places were warmer than today. However no proxy tells the full story, and the paleoclimatogists have assembled a large number and attempted to distil an average. That is what is reflected in the IPCC reports and on Wikipedia.

      You can argue about the reliability of any particular proxy, and the process of assembling the averages etc, but the proxies and prcoesses that produced the graphs that were removed are not very reliable and representative either.

  4. …how you can trim 10% off your carbon emissions…

    Surely people who’ve been berating the govt for not forcing us to reduce our emissions by 40%+ would be ashamed of themselves for aiming at no more than a quarter of what they’ve been demanding from the govt? Why berate the world’s govts for “failure” and at the same time invite people to hold dismal, complete failure as an aspirational target?

    • The proposal is an immediate 10% reduction by individuals. The 40% reduction should be the country’s aim by 2020. National did promise 40% by 2040 but I do not have the slightest idea how the country is going to get there.

      Like a few other promises (not raising the age of qualification for super, reaching pay parity with Aussie by 2025) this is one that you can make and not be held accountable at the next election for.

    • felix 4.2

      Surely people who\’ve been berating the govt for not forcing us to reduce our emissions by 40%+ would be ashamed of themselves for aiming at no more than a quarter of what they\’ve been demanding from the govt?

      I’d be ashamed if I owned a dairy farm and I was only going for ten percent. Or an aluminium smelter.

      But I don’t.

    • Yeah, it’s those other guys fucking it up for everybody. We, who merely buy the dairy products and stuff with aluminium in it, don’t need to do much at all…

      The 40% reduction should be the country’s aim by 2020.

      Last time I looked, the country was us, the people who live in it. If the people who live in it don’t reduce emissions by at least 40%, there isn’t some entity called “the country” or “the govt” that’s going to magically do it for us.

      • Bill 4.3.1

        The reason we buy stuff with Al in it is because the market ( ie production and distribution system) is completely tied up by vested interests.

        Why do you think we run ‘everything’ on oil? Is it just because we, as consumers keep buying the stuff and products made from it, or is it because the market ( through various contrived and default mechanisms) favours the vested interests of the oil industry over others?

        How long do you think a person would survive if they wiped oil out of their life tomorrow? It takes a society….greater than sum total of parts blah…to bring such changes about.

  5. Doug 5

    [lprent: link-whoring. This is the third time that link has been placed on this site. Copy-n-paste doesn't count as your content. Adding you to spam. ]

    • singularian 5.1

      Doug – Lynn doesn’t want to see that stuff. It conflicts with his world view. Lynn is soooo smart that he doesn’t need any new information, he has all the info he needs to be cosy in his cave.

      Fingers in ears – all together now –

      Lalalala I can’t hear you – you’re just spam – Lalalala

      [lprent: We don't permit link-whoring here - especially across posts for the same link. The first comment with its link is up. I've deleted the other two with the same link that he was attempting to plaster on the site.]

  6. Gosman 6

    I always find it interesting that many of the suggestions for lowering our individual impact on climate change involve organic food.

    Whether or not organic food is a better option nutritionally or even from an environmental pollution point if biew is a different matter entirely from if it will lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

    There is a strong body of evidence that suggest it is at least as harmful as modern conventional farming methods. It xcertainly requires a larger land area to produce the same amount of food and also produces more methane due to decomposing plant material that is an essential part of the organic process.

  7. Andrei 7

    You still haven’t got it have you.

    None of this is about “climate change” which is a bogus scare anyway.

    Its about wealth transfer from you the peasantry into the hands of a global elite.

    For example the most efficient steel plant in the UK Corus in Redcar is closing down with the loss of 1700 jobs.

    Why? The owners can sell the carbon credits thus released on the EU market and manufacture the same amount of steel in a new plant they have built in india, which under the looney tunes Kyoto protocol is some counted as an emissions reducing exercise which produces Carbon credits to sell.

    And surprise surprise who is heavily involved int the companies doing this

    Why non other than the head of the IPCC himself Dr Rajendra Pachauri.

    Why bdo think John Key has gone along with this? He doesn’t believe that your doom and gloom forecasts.

    No he has done it because he and his mates can line their own pockets at you expense

    Wake up you are being conned!

    • Bill 7.1

      Do you think people don’t understand the transfer of wealth that lies at the heart of the ETS? The ETS is a scam; a fraud; a piece of useless and dangerous market nonsense.

      But climate change is not a scam or a fraud and has nothing to do with the market.

      And let’s even say that all the science is strangely wrong….as the cartoon linked to yesterday asks, what can possibly be wrong with making the world a better and healthier place?

      • Andrei 7.1.1

        what can possibly be wrong with making the world a better and healthier place?

        Nothing – its what all people of good will want to achieve.

        Its the best way of going about it that is in question.

        But the world is full of people who have their own agendas and either don’t care or manage convince themselves that what they are doing is worthwhile for everybody – when its not.

        From where I sit environmentalism and climate science have been hijacked – by the left to advance big government and by the greedies to line their own pockets.

        And I think that is a crying shame

        • quenchino 7.1.1.1

          Yeah right. Last year the major economies printed money almost to the tune of 30% of global GDP to bail out the shareholders of a bunch of failed banks. Didn’t hear a peep from you objecting to that.

          By contrast we could transition to a low-carbon sustainable economy for a tiny fraction of that cost. As you have just said, it’s something we could all aspire to ….and yet you object strenuously. Baffling really.

          • Andrei 7.1.1.1.1

            Actually did object to the bailout of the banks thing – I think it was wrong.

            I do not believe “a low-carbon sustainable economy” as you put it to be either desirable nor necessary.

            My opinion, borne out by my observations of the Copenhagen circus, is that transitioning to such a model will see the average joe, such as you and myself, reduced to serfdom while the elites who impose such a model on us will continue to feed at the trough and indulge themselves in ever extravagant and opulent lifestyles at our expense.

            And as my original links show this is already happening as in 1700 English workers Christmas present this year being no job to go to in the New Year. They lose, Dr Rajendra Pachauri and his mates get richer and not a single molecule of CO2 less will be emitted.

            • quenchino 7.1.1.1.1.1

              such as you and myself, reduced to serfdom while the elites who impose such a model on us will continue to feed at the trough and indulge themselves in ever extravagant and opulent lifestyles at our expense.

              You are already. In this world, right now, the top 1% of the elites control more wealth than the bottom 90% of us. We are serfs, our masters greedily indulge themselves in oplulence and gross extravagence on the back of the suffering of billions.

              This world you fear…. you’re soaking in it.

              Actually did object to the bailout of the banks thing I think it was wrong.

              Oh great.. so where was the endless stream of posts from you about it? Compared to your constant flailing output on AGW? Any sense of perspective here? Methinks you protest too little, too late.

              • Pascal's bookie

                “so where was the endless stream of posts from you about it? ”

                He was too busy looking for Obama’s birth certificate at the time.

              • Andrei

                He was too busy looking for Obama’s birth certificate at the time.

                Does this comment have any point? Or is my original argument so compelling that you have to invoke a silly conspiracy theory and align me with it (falsely) to divert attention.

                How about introducing a little intellectual rigor into this debate – as it is introducing this type of argument just suggests you have already lost it.

        • jaymam 7.1.1.2

          “environmentalism and climate science have been hijacked”
          They sure have. But why? I’m not sure of the reason.

          By whom? The hijacking seems to have started with these:
          Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Susan Solomon, Kevin Trenberth, Ben Santer, and Tom Karl, to name a few.

        • Bill 7.1.1.3

          So are you saying that advocates of the market…or market players… are out to line their own pockets and that’s a bad thing?

          And are you also saying that centralised government is a bad thing?

          So neither market institutions nor government institutions offer a satisfactory path for our future. Is this because of flaws intrinsic to market and government organisational structures rather than the managerial style applied to these structures? ie putting different people in charge will not really make much difference to how the market and government effect society and it’s peoples?

          If this is close to what you’re saying, then where is it that we disagree?

          Maybe you agree with the climate science but decry perceived political interference with the science….or maybe you believe that the climate science is in and of itself the political interference?

          Regardless, what kind of organisation do you think we should try to bring into being to benefit us moving forward? What human traits do you think such an organisation should foster….obviously not greed for wealth or power by your comments on government and markets…..so which aspects of human nature should be encouraged and which aspects discouraged?

  8. gitmo 8

    Great post r0b this is a far more constructive way for people to make a difference than screeching about governments and expecting they’ll ever do anything apart from line their own pockets.

  9. Bill 9

    Had an admittedly rather quick flick through the links.

    It all amounts to a bloody nonsense.

    You and I cannot buy our way around climate breakdown. And all the domestic recycling in the world will make bugger all difference.

    The problem lies in the fact that crap is produced, distributed and discarded. It includes the demands that the production and distribution systems puts on people, forcing a particular way of living on people and instilling pro market values in people…pro market values that too often run counter to human well being.

    Nowhere in any of the links is the basic assumption that capitalism is good questioned in any way shape or form. Instead we get the oxymoronic ‘sustainable development’ mantra and the ‘be a good and conscientious consumer’ and everything will be alright clap trap.

    If people buy into that stuff, then those people will become as much a part of the problem as any industrial lobbyist….and maybe even more of a problem than any climate change denier given the potential influence of their wrong headed but cozy cotton candy message.

    • gitmo 9.1

      Bill no one wants to live in your 1950s USSR collective and the continual wailing about capitalism is pretty meaningless when virtually all societies on Earth are a mix of ideologies.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        Gitmo.

        I’ve never been an advocate of organising society along USSR socialist lines.

        Anyway. Are you saying that our organisational structures ( with regards production, both end product and method of production) have got nothing to do with climate changes?

        Are you saying that market values exist in glorious isolation from and have no effect upon personal value systems? That our value systems don’t have an aggregate effect on the rest of our environment?

        Are you saying anything designed to engage, explore and debate….or just seeking to throw cheap and inaccurate shots?

        If the former, then good.

    • felix 9.2

      The problem lies in the fact that crap is produced, distributed and discarded.

      Bingo.

      The concept of “waste” simply doesn’t exist in an ecosystem. People need to realise that there is nothing inherently natural about making things to throw away.

      Until they do, all the carbon trading and paper shuffling in the world won’t do squat.

      • Gosman 9.2.1

        “The concept of “waste’ simply doesn’t exist in an ecosystem.”

        I think you will find it does at an individual level. For example some Animal’s can be very destructive when it comes to their immediate environments. Elephants spring to mind on this point. They will occassionally destroy large plants just to get at the most juicy and succulant parts of them.

        How nature deals with this destructive and wasteful individual species behaviour is an entirely different issue though.

        • felix 9.2.1.1

          If it’s “dealt with” then it’s not “wasted”. It’s just used for something else.

          Compare this to disposing of plastic. The ecosystem has no way to “deal with” it, at least not in the sort of time frames relevant to us.

        • Bill 9.2.1.2

          Okay. It’s not as though nature is benign. And it’s not malignant, nor intelligent or stupid.

          And elephants trash out swathes of bush on their large cyclical migrations which allows for regeneration. When we limit elephants to the boundaries of National Parks, the parks get trashed ’cause the human input to the equation (limiting the range of he elephants) upsets a balance that had evolved.

          But I cannot think of any non-human generated waste in an ecosystem ie any detritus that isn’t utilised in some fashion or other. And then there are plastics and dioxins and plutonium and a whole heap of fucked up shit that nothing alive seems capable of utilising….oh, except for us who briefly, cunningly, unintelligently, unnaturally and unnecessarily utilise in our endeavours to create profit.

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