Bulk Rubbish Discoveries

Well, it is the season … for putting out your bulk rubbish.

We live in a funny age, never before has there been the need for so many ‘extra’ rubbish collections. Who remembers growing up with just one of the small round tin bins? The rubbish men would run from house to house, with an even bigger plastic version of what we would put on the verge. They would throw two, maybe three, maybe even four bins worth of rubbish into the bin they carried on their shoulder before manually dumping it into the back of the truck that was being driven (usually by a big fat guy who wouldn’t run!) Where was all our rubbish in those days? Imagine a rubbish man running (just that is enough!) around with 3 or 4 wheelie bins worth of rubbish on his back!!! Now we have 2 full sized wheelie bins for all our rubbish, an occasional trip to the tip as well as our annual bulk rubbish collection!

On this topic have you ever seen Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff“? I have posted it here before, but it’s worth another look.

From Roll 141

It was fun, a few weeks ago when our area had bulk rubbish. Christine and I got up early one Saturday morning before the kids were even stirring. I took the dog for a walk while Christine began the clean up around the yard. Whilst on my walk I discovered a fantastic compost bin as well as 2 big sheets of marine ply maybe 2.5M by 1.5M! I ran home, grabbed the car and went back and grabbed it. As I was off-loading my find, Christine was busy dragging out stuff onto the verge, some of it admittedly was stuff I had brought in last time…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure they say 🙂 We laugh at people in their utes driving up and down the street filling their cars with other peoples ‘rubbish’ but maybe they are the ones with the last laugh. As they never need to spend $500 on that swing set for the kids because they found a perfectly good one on the roadside. They laugh as they remove the broken keyboard from the perfectly good monitor and replace it with the perfect keyboard they found attached to a broken monitor! Where does most of this stuff go? Well after the guys at the tip (who are heroes in my mind!) have sorted the good for the crap…it gets put into landfill, mostly. Our region is just experimenting with a massive composting factory, millions of bucks to avoid so much land fill. Great stuff, but you should see the environmental footprint it creates to keep the engines running 24/7 so the fumes remain neutral! I know, I know, it sounds hopeless and negative, but I guess I don’t see a future in better ways to deal with our rubbish. I only see a future in learning to create less at a domestic level – YES domestic. Because when Mr Production Plant owner has a revelation about how much ‘stuff’ he puts in his household bin, I think…I hope…he would carry that over into his factory waste.

So next time you go to throw out something, I dare you to ask yourself NOT which bin should this go into, NOR do I need to throw this out? BUT rather, did I need to buy what was in this box in the first place, could I have made something? Borrowed it? Done without it? Got it second hand? I know this is the question that perplexes me always too late. That my purchasing of stuff is directly related to my environmental footprint. “stuff in – stuff out”. And I just love ‘stuff’ too much!

I get a pleasure from buying stuff, all that lovely packaging, the sound of unwrapping the box…the smell of the fresh plastic…

From Roll 141

I can even justify stuff. Take for example my new water-pump, lost f nice smelly plastic in that new box hmmm But I justified it ok…prices are low now, I wash my diesel in rain water now, our veggies are watered in rainwater now, we wash our clothes in rain water now… all great, but I still loved the power of the purchase more than all these sweet reason to buy such a ‘nobel’ toy!

We yesterday I put my guilt to rest…for while at least, I was out with master collector and bio-diesel buddy Andy Longhurst and we decided to drive the streets near his house where bulk rubbish is happening, my discoveries?

1) Another great compost bin, this one with a liquid catchment and tap on the bottom.

2) Two good milk crates for the shed, storage and seating 🙂

3) A pair of blundstone boots in my size.

4) A couple of jerry can holders for my car…admittedly they were in Andy’s shed…but he was going to get rid of them!

So call me a scab – but I’m having fun!


The Low Down On Our Solar Rebates

An economical truth (from the Australia Institute)

The solar panel rebate announced by Peter Garrett this week sounded like just the news we need after the weak five per cent emission reduction targets were revealed in the White Paper. Finally, it seemed that the Government was doing something serious to reduce emissions. No such luck.

Minister Garrett chose his words very carefully when he explained the benefits of this new scheme. It would be a boost to the solar industry. True. It was great for families who wanted to put solar panels on their roofs. True. The removal of the means testing meant more families would be able to access the rebate. True.

But what is missing from the Minister’s statements is any mention about Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The silence on this issue is no slip-up—it is part of an elaborate strategy to try and ensure that the public continues to ‘do their bit’ in their homes without revealing the awful truth behind the Rudd Government’s emissions trading scheme. After 2010, nothing households do to reduce their use of f ossil fuels will reduce Australia’s emissions by one kilogram.

The Rudd Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme, now known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), will work like this. The government will issue a fixed number of permits to pollute, with the number of the permits ensuring Australia’s emissions will fall by five per cent by 2020. Once these permits are given away (a small number will be sold) to polluters, the polluters can buy and sell them among themselves.

The problem for households keen to ‘do their bit’ to reduce climate change is that if they have shorter showers or put solar panels on their roofs, all they will do is reduce their personal demand for electricity. If less coal is burned to provide households with electricity, the coal-fired power stations won’t need as many permits and they can then sell their ‘spare’ permits to the aluminum or steel industries so that these polluters can INCREASE their emissions.

The real sting in the tail is that the less energy households use, the cheaper the permits bought by the big polluters will be.

Hopefully the Senate will modify the CPRS so that individuals who reduce their energy use can ensure that any ‘spare’ permits get ripped up, thereby reducing Australia’s total emissions. But in the meantime, if Peter Garrett’s announcement has made you think about installing some solar panels, it might be best to call his office first. The question you need to ask is a simple one: ‘Will installing solar panels on my roof reduce Australia’s emissions?’

Feel free to let us know if he answers.

A Garden Justice Story

I have posted on this issue in the past. It was first brought to my attention when I saw the farm destroyed on the DVD “Escape From Suburbia” (Sequel to The End of Suburbia). When I saw the DVD I thought it was the end of the story until I recieved an email from one of the activists involved saying that it was far from over. Here is the latest –

For Blog Action Day: LA’s South Central Farm

October 15th, 2008  by Susan Harris

Thousands of bloggers around the world are participating in Blog Action Day today by focusing on  poverty, a timely issue that got a lot more so in the last couple of weeks.  But don’t worry; my contribution to the event won’t be about Wall Street but about 41st and Alameda in Los Angeles, where the 14-acre South Central Farm once was the heart of a poor, mainly Latino community and fed 350+ families – until the powers that be allowed a developer to bulldoze it to erect a bunch of storage warehouses.

Yes, that’s the unhappy ending to the documentary “The Garden”, which chronicles the fight to save the urban farm.  The movie, by acclaimed documentarian Scott Hamilton Kennedy, premiered at the American Film Institute, where it won the highest award at its Silver Docs Film Festival. (See my review on GardenRant.)  Truly, you have to see the movie to appreciate the depths of corruption that led local politicians to support the bulldozing and the depths of racism exhibited by the odious developer.  The sight of the bulldozing of not just 400 garden plots but the livelihood, community and culture that had been created by them will break your heart.

But the story – and the fight –  isn’t over yet.  The 14 acres could be returned to garden if they win the next stage – the environmental review, which was demanded by South Central gardeners.  In it, they’re making the point that turning the land into huge storage warehouses will bring a swarm of noisy, polluting diesel trucks to the site, and that using the land as green space is far better for the environment.  But has it really come down to purely environmental factors?  Will the human environment be considered, including crime reduction and the sheer amount of food – really healthy food – that was grown there to feed poor families?  Let’s hope so.


On a positive note, some of the South Central farmers took their farming skills to Bakersfield, 120 miles north of LA, where they grow food that’s then brought back to the old neighborhood via a CSA (community-supported agriculture) – the cheapest one available to the neighborhood.  So for a fee, they can continue to get really healthy food, admittedly a poor substitute for growing it themselves.

South Central Farmers have also created a grassroots economic project aimed at bringing “green jobs” to the neighborhood, called “Bringing Food to the Hood“.  Its regular events around the perimeter of the old garden are all about food, music, teaching urban farming and nutrition, and keeping the spirit of the farm going.

And you’d better believe they’re using all their grassroots political skills and connections to lobby the City Council and Mayor Villaraigosa to stop the warehouses.  The long battle to save their garden has turned these urban farmers into savvy, experienced community organizers (a term that, incredibly, evoked derisive laughter at a certain party’s convention in St. Paul).


If you’re in Los Angeles, express your support for the garden to the mayor and City Council.  If you know someone in  LA, send them this article.
Help get this important and very entertaining documentary distributed.  Just contact the filmmakers.
Bring more urban farms to your city.  Here’s a good roundup about urban farming today.

Sabath Economics & Living Organically

Here is an extract from a great article Harry from Peace Tree put me on to, I loved it.

It dawned on me that what I was witnessing was a near perfect example of a local economy in action.  And when Andy started talking specifically about economics, which he will do if pressed although normally he is quiet and reserved, he “brought home” the significance of what I was looking at. He and Jan delight in their frugal life style which is the main reason they can afford to keep on being such small farmers producing such high quality food. Their house, partly underground, is modest and environmentally sane. They heat it with their own wood cut and split from their own woodlot. Parts of the house and of other buildings are made from salvaged  materials. They raise most of the food they eat, obviously. They are keen practitioners of home medicine. They are very artful recyclers of material our wasteful society throws away. And they are content with their lives. “We would rather do without many things that modern society strives for,” Andy says, “so as to have the time to grow really good food while enjoying the natural and spiritual world around us. We could expand, work ourselves to distraction and make more money. We choose to avoid that trap.” I have used Andy’s observation about their life style before: “It is rather easy to live comfortably below the so-called cost of living because the government keeps raising the index.” This is something that today’s society needs to hear, especially now that the international economy has come near to collapse because so many people are so unwilling to live sensibly and have therefore borrowed  themselves into bankruptcy.

Full article here

Canberra Forces Give the Nod…

I have always been a big fan of Midnight Oil but in particular Garrett’s edgy ability to speak up for things that matter. In the past year I have seen a steady comprimise in him for the sake of ‘the party’ and I guess his career. This decision (which overides the Premier of Tas not to extend the reporting time for Gunns) is just the last nail in the coffin for me, my old hero of environmentalism is gone as far as I can see. Every time I listen to The Oils now it is with a sense of sadness 😦

Peter Garrett ‘grants further favours’ over pulp mill

Christian Kerr | September 09, 2008

THE Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has been accused of granting favours to forestry company Gunns over its controversial pulp mill project in northern Tasmania.

Mr Garrett yesterday granted Gunns an extension until January next year to complete the environmental impact management plan for the mill.

“It is not unusual for major projects to need additional time to ensure that all environmental matters are fully investigated and properly addressed,” he said.

“The comprehensive assessment of every aspect of the Gunns EIMP by both my department and the Independent Experts Group must not be rushed.”

Gunns welcomed the decision. “Approval of the EIMP modules is a complex and time-consuming process,” Gunns’ resource manager Calton Frame said.

Ed Cooper, from activist group GetUp!, accused Mr Garrett of “granting further favours to Gunns”.

The Opposition said Mr Garrett was “doing his best to indicate” the approvals process “has nothing to do with him”.

Environment spokesman Greg Hunt said: “Every time he is quizzed about the planned mill, he hides behind the work carried out by his department, the Independent Experts Group and the former government.”

The extension was slammed by the Greens.

“It was a condition of Malcolm Turnbull’s approval that Gunns would have 12 months to finalise their approvals process,” Senator Christine Milne said.

“Gunns knew that, and they failed to meet that deadline.”

Source The Australian

Worlds Largest City Farm Destroyed

Last night I watched the movie “Escape Form Suburbia”. In it were some powerful and disturbing scenes of the LA Council bulldozing the worlds largest urban farm in order to put a diesel truck warehouse in its place. People were screaming and crying and being carried away by police etc.
I thought that was it, I thought it was all over, this movie was made many months ago.

Today I get a random email from someone over there (Greg Greene – Escape From Suburbia) asking me to sign a last minute petition (which didn’t seem to work on line) to save the site before developers move in.
It turns out that today 23rd, (tomorrow in US time) is the day the City Council will decide upon whether or not to listen to all the submissions from people who have a concern for this issue and maybe even give back the land, albeit now void of all their plants!
This was the email –
“As a result of the July 2 hearing, there is a 21 day extension (till July 23rd, 2008) on comments that can be submitted to the Advisory Agency of the Planning Commission. They will render a decision in 5-6 weeks.
Please consider what YOU can commit to doing to help this effort RIGHT NOW.
Sign this petition NOW, the extension for submissions ends on WEDNESDAY! (July 23rd)”

As I felt my name on a petition would do little at this time, I decided to find the phone numbers of the City Councilors and start leaving messages so when they come to work in the morning they know where the world stands on this issue!

Anyone want to join me? I guess the cost of calling could be seen as a kind of donation to their cause!!

See the LA South Central Farm here – http://escapefromsuburbia.com/southcentral.html

All the councilors numbers are here – http://www.lacity.org/council.htm

You need to dial 0011 then 1 then the area code listed on the above website (213) and the number. (From Australia)

Counselor Jan Perry is the one pushing it all through, but I say ring them all! Tell them people all over the world are seeing what they are doing. We should be adding urban food lots not removing them!!

At the time of this post (here in Oz) it is around 6.30pm on the 22nd July in US, they make up their mind on the 23rd July. Lets get this out there!