Saturday, December 27, 2008

Enjoy a more sustainable festive season with your loved ones...

(Source: Australian Conservation Foundation)

Another year bites the dust, and the festive season is here once more!

Often the best time of year for catching up with family and friends, it's also the biggest time of spending - on presents, food, alcohol, parties and holidays. Unfortunately, all of our spending and consumption results in significant environmental damage and carbon pollution.

However, you don't have to be a scrooge to reduce your carbon footprint at Christmas!

Here's our top five tips for a more sustainable festive season:

1. Buy a service, not a product: To reduce embodied carbon pollution and water consumption, think about buying someone a service - say a voucher for a massage, rather than a massaging appliance. Vouchers for other services, (such as gardening or housecleaning) or film and theatre tickets are also good.

2. Buy gifts that give twice:Give your friends and family membership to charities, overseas aid groups or environment organisations - such as the Australian Conservation Foundation! Get someone an ACF membership, see Karma Currency for charity gift voucher ideas or visit Oxfam Unwrapped.

3. Buy carbon offsets:You can choose the amount you want to spend and offset someone's car travel, household energy use or airline travel, once-off or for a year. A great gift for people coming from interstate to celebrate the festive season!

4. Get a really green Christmas tree: Go for an Australian native tree in a pot which you can use year after year, or can plant in the garden after Christmas. Tip: Support the campaign to revive the native Wollemi Pine, an endangered Australian native which makes a great Christmas tree!

5. If you're organising a get-together with family or friends, check out what you can do to make your event more sustainable here.

To see how your local area rates in its consumption, check out ACF's Consumption Atlas.

Enjoy a safe and happy festive season!

The Team at Who on Earth Cares

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How do we calculate our carbon footprint?

There are many ways of calculating carbon footprint...and there are many nifty calculators that can help you do that, you can spend 10-15 minutes to several hours trying to calculate impact of your activities on the environment..depends on how accurately you want to do it.

For the purpose of this community project, I am trying to find an easy to use carbon footprint calculator which everyone can use without much technical background or training. In this quest, I have located the links below that provide fun and engaging options (courtesy: EPA Victoria):

Personal Calculator
Home Calculator

[Note: Just follow the instructions. Keep your latest electricity, gas, fuel, water bills handy.]

The calculators can help you to set the targets to reduce your carbon footprint and live sustainably. You can even save money.

Enjoy...let me know your experience. Drop me a line...

Friday, December 5, 2008

A few highlights todate...

The genesis of the project lies in my participation in the Self Expression and Leadership Programme, by the Landmark Education, Sydney.

The project was covered on 4 November 2008 in the Hills Shire Times - A local community newspaper with over 65000 readers.

The possibility of the project was presented to the Local Public School - Kellyville Public School who took upon themself to do a school project for childrenwhereby students measure the carbon footprint of their homes and families. This is happening in Term 1, 2009. And a great lead in the community involvement.

The Baulkham Hills Shire Council has agreed to provide every assistance as may be required to engage with the local community.

The Climate Action groups such as Hills against Global Warming invited me to their event, wherein we viewed a docmentary on the Carbon Connection (the downside of carbon trading on the local communities).

Climate Friendly - a commercial organisation provided 50 brochures and marketing materials to support the programme.

The programme was mentioned on the Carbon Footprint - an interest group on the LinkedIn, leading to several enquiries from overseas ventures to support the project.

The programme generated considerable interest in the local neighbourhood with a few enquiries about how to participate in the programme.

More to follow....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Healthier Neighbourhoods - A Community Project to reduce Carbon Footprint

Dear Friend,

My name is Inderjeet Singh Virdi and I am your neighbour in Kellyville NSW 2155. I work full time. I have often thought about contributing to a healthier and cleaner environment for the future of our children and the next generations. However, I never got a chance to focus on and actively contribute to this area due to hectic lifestyle.

To create a safer, healthier environment always seems like somebody else’s problem (e.g. governments, councils, business and environmental activists). We all live busy lives and it seems days, weeks and months fly past without us taking any action at home to reduce waste and our carbon footprint.

As a result I have initiated a community project and I would like to invite you to be part of this programme which aims:

1. To create greater awareness about carbon footprints created through our daily activities
2. To help us measure the impact of what we do on our environment
3. To help you to choose ways to reduce your own carbon footprints
4. To acknowledge your achievements and celebrate with your family and neighbours

I am reaching out with this message to households in the Hills Council area.

If you want to make a difference to the environment for our children and future generations, I am keen to talk to you. Together we can promote better practices in households throughout our neighbourhoods and reduce our carbon footprint through learning from each other.

Being a community project, it is important that people engage in this initiative on their own and contribute as much as or as little as they can. Every bit counts….Together we can make a huge difference. If you can’t participate in this programme directly, please also let me know and you can still benefit through shared learnings from other participants and thus promote the cause.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully

Inderjeet Singh Virdi

What is our Carbon Footprint?

Many of our daily actions generate carbon emissions, which contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change. This is called our carbon footprint-an indication of the effect we have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases we produce (measured in units of carbon dioxide).

20 Tips for Energy Saving (Source:

To reduce your carbon emissions here’s 20 tips to get you started.

  1. Buy renewable energy. Make the switch to save around 30% of your household greenhouse gas emissions a year. Buying Climate Friendly's renewable energy credits separately from your current electricity supply is a fully accredited way to obtain GreenPower and earn the GreenPower tick of approval.
  2. Drive less. Cars contribute to a high percentage of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Before getting into your car, think about walking, riding your bike or taking public transport instead. It's better for your health and the planet.
  3. Turn off lights and switch your bulbs. Turning off the lights when you leave a room or office and switching to compact fluorescent bulbs can make a big difference to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And it saves you money in energy costs.
  4. Insulate your home and body. Look for ways to keep warm in winter without heating. Insulate ceilings, walls and your hot water heater, and wear a coat instead of turning up the heat.
  5. Open the window, turn off the air conditioning. Air-conditioning is a great contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In summer, open your window, use a fan instead of air-conditioning, and always turn off air-conditioning when not at home.
  6. Switch off standby. As much as 10% of your home's emissions may be from appliances like computers, televisions and other home entertainment devices left on standby. Try to always turn off appliances at the source.
  7. Conserve water. Use less water when possible. Install a rainwater tank or even a grey water system that channels water from showers and baths to toilet and garden systems.
  8. Fly less. Take international trips sparingly and make the most of local destinations. Do business remotely via conferencing units or online conferencing applications. This will mean fewer flights, less travel time and savings of up to 10 tonnes of emissions per international trip. If you need to fly, consider offsetting your flight emissions.
  9. Use alternatives to electricity. Switching to solar hot water or gas heating can save as much as 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
  10. Buy efficiency. When buying high energy-using equipment or appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers, try to choose the item with the best energy rating.
  11. Dry washing outside. One t-shirt can send 4 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during its lifetime, mostly due to washing and drying. Whenever possible, use the power of the sun or a clothes horse instead of the dryer.
  12. Choose a hybrid, biodiesel or fuel-efficient car. When buying your next car, make the move to a greener vehicle. It can save up to 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.
  13. Work from home. Even one day a month working from home can make a difference by reducing transport emissions. Ask your boss if you can work from home occasionally and skip the commute.
  14. Pay bills online. Paying your bills online saves paper, transport energy and time.
  15. Own just one refrigerator. Old, inefficient second refrigerators and freezers are huge energy users and often have other environmental issues such as leaking chemicals that damage the ozone layer. If you don't really need it, look into local buy-back schemes or dispose of old refrigerators and freezers properly to ensure ozone-depleting chemicals are not released into the atmosphere.
  16. Eat lower on the food chain. Producing meat uses a lot of energy and water and often requires pesticides and other chemicals. In fact, producing meat generates about 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Eating less meat is good for you and the environment.
  17. Buy local. Buy food and other products that are grown and produced locally to reduce emissions from transportation and to support your local community.
  18. Green your event. If you are holding a conference, family reunion or wedding, do what you can to reduce the environmental impact by buying locally, choosing energy-efficient and environmentally aware venues, and offsetting remaining emissions.
  19. Buy recycled and 'vintage'. Buying used or recycled goods avoids the energy used and emissions released in making a new product. Always try to recycle your waste and unwanted goods.
  20. Check your tires. Inflating your car's tyres to their proper level means the car runs more efficiently, uses less energy and produces fewer harmful emissions.