January 30, 2012

How one person, Eileen, is reducing GHG emissions

By Eileen (Victoria):

I can't remember when I first became interested in climate change.  It feels as if I have been banging on about it almost all my life (I am 62).  I also believe that it is important to live what you believe.  

When we needed to move to Victoria I insisted we buy a place where we could also grow food as well as live.  Now in inner Melbourne we have a great garden with lots of edibles.  I usually refer to my garden as my edible jungle - in part because of the overgrown raspberries which I keep promising to prune in winter.

When we first moved here there were a few fruit trees already:  a huge old fig tree, a peach, pomegranate and kiwi fruit vine.  Whenever anything ornamental died I replaced it with something edible.  Hence the hakea outside the front door became a nectarine (my husband's favourite fruit - and it is amazing how quickly fruit trees produce when road kill is dug in!)  Other additions include a grape vine, apricot, lemon, lime, kaffir lime, apples which are espaliered along the garage wall, plums, tamarillo, pear, blueberries, goji berries, hazelnuts (not good producers as it doesn't get cold enough in winter).  Excess fruit is cooked and frozen for winter meals or given away.  

Because of the tree roots all my veggies are grown in pots - and some fruit trees too.  Especially during summer and autumn but other seasons as well we eat a lot of fresh food from the garden.   

Recently I went to a presentation on keeping chickens and decided to give them a try.  I wish I had known about keeping them earlier, as they would have been wonderful pets for our children.  My two hens are now producing an egg each every day, and lots of lovely manure to add to the compost which will keep the garden happy.  The eggs have made a huge difference to our eating habits.  Now the eggs are there so regularly we have a few non-meat meals every week, which makes a difference to our production of greenhouse gases.  The meat industry produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases - including methane which is more potent than carbon dioxide.  Also there are transport and packaging costs as well.  

A few years ago I made a decision to have solar panels and solar hot water installed.  My husband thought it was a silly idea, spoiling the look of our Californian bungalow by putting something so modern on top, but because we live on a busy road I thought it was an excellent idea, as it sets an example to everyone going past. 

 The most recent addition has been a ventilation system.  I was unsure of the benefits, but have been very happy with it.  Since its installation my husband has been "miraculously" cured of his hay fever, caused by a house dust mite allergy - house dust mites need moisture to breed, and the air in the house is now much drier.  As well, during the hotter days of winter warm air from the roof cavity is blown down into the house, making the temperature much warmer than before, and on hot summer days we look forward to the night time coolness which is also sent in to the house, helping us sleep and making it cool ready for the next day.  Instead of the house running between the minimum temperature of about 5 degrees in winter to 30+ in summer we have had a range of 11-27 degrees in the past year, (using winter heating only in the living room when we are present). We do not have an air conditioner. At last our electricity and gas bills are tiny - mostly connection fees.  

I enjoy reading what others are doing to reduce their energy usage.  If each one of us tries our best, we will eventually make a difference.