Updated: Jan 21
Despite the overwhelming doomsday headlines the future is likely to be bright. An amazing array of renewable and regenerative initiatives are leading us into a clean, green and efficient environment. We just need to take some giant steps (quite quickly) in order to get there.
This Wednesday (June 5th) is World Environment Day so we thought we’d highlight some brilliant projects that are reshaping our environment and also the steps we are taking on an individual level to reduce our own carbon footprints.
Australians have a huge carbon footprint, we contribute 15.4 tonnes per capita of CO2 annually, in the UK it is less than half of that per person at 6.5 tonnes, while the French produce just 4.6 tonnes per person. Our Government has been lacking, but the good news is that the population has not. Australian citizens are doing some amazing things to pick up the slack, we’re reusing coffee cups, we’re embracing biodegradable food containers, visiting farmers markets and we’re creating insightful documentaries.
Enter the wonderful 2040 documentary that has just been released by Victorian documentary filmmaker Damon Gameau, the man behind the award winning ‘That Sugar Film’. If you haven’t seen 2040 already, I highly recommend you go watch it now. An inspiring film that highlights some key initiatives that will (hopefully) reshape our future.
One of these initiatives is Marine Permaculture, floating ocean kelp ecosystems that are being used to absorb CO2, cool oceans and regenerate our decimated fish population. When the floating seaweed gardens have reached the end of their life they can then be used as a food source for us, a food source for cows (which in turn has the potential to reduce livestock methane production) and even as a biofuel . If you want to know more, you can read about it here, but here are a few key highlights:
The kelp, a seaweed, is better than the amazon rainforest at absorbing CO2
The floating systems create an upwelling, which is normally a natural occurrence that brings nutrient rich waters to the surface of our oceans providing the perfect environment for fish and plants, but due to rising ocean temperatures the natural cycle is struggling
Heat is absorbed in the upper layers of the ocean, but with today’s increasing amounts of heat the layer of warm water is becoming deeper and deeper and creating a thick blanket that is preventing ocean upwelling
Marine permaculture is using ocean and solar powered deep water pumps to create upwelling and these create new kelp forests that can draw in CO2 and provide better conditions for plants and fish
At the end of their life, the floating kelp can then be sunk to the bottom of the ocean and lock in 90% of the carbon it sequestered ‘away for millennia’
Amazing right? It’s still a new idea, but it’s happening now, it’s already in the Philippines and it's coming to our Oceans off Tasmania. So watch this space.
Remember what you do matters. Change does happen at a local level, it can sometimes be hard to see, but your actions can influence the world. Look at fifteen year old, Greta Thunberg and her contemporaries around the world forcing Governments to take action, like the Climate Emergency introduced by the British Government.
Following our post last year about how to reduce your carbon footprint, we started changing a few of our behaviours and have just compiled this surprisingly long list:
No longer have a coffee with a takeaway cup
Use a refillable bottle so there’s no need to buy a bottle of water
Use a soda stream to have sparkling water without waste
Drink juice in store with a reusable glass/metal straw or bring own takeaway cup
Make my own toothpaste I keep in a glass jar - takes a while to get used to (Laura)
Almost eliminated all food waste by making dishes with leftovers and putting scraps in my worm garden
Switched to a 90% vegan diet with no processed foods, which as well as reducing methane, land mass needed for livestock and feed for livestock it also cuts packaging (Laura)
Use soap, shampoo and conditioner bars
Use recycled toilet paper, tissues and hand towel, which doesn’t come wrapped in plastic (Who Gives a Crap)
Use beeswax food wrappers to eliminate clingfilm
Recycle soft plastics at my local supermarket
Volunteer for a solar energy social enterprise working in Nepal and India called Pollinate Group (Laura)
Eliminated all plastic bags from shopping, no need to use plastic bags for fruit (the paper bags for mushrooms are great if you need something for smaller items or fabric bags for vegetables and refuse products packaged in excessive plastic
Donate to help farmers switch to regenerative agriculture, a style of farming that not only helps to reverse climate change by trapping carbon, but also improves soil biodiversity and has financial benefits for our farmers
We buy our coconut oil and detergents in bulk to reduce wastage and reuse plastic containers for storage
Ensure we change these behaviours both personally and in our practices
It’s actually quite easy when you get started and now that I have started to make an effort to really cut my waste, I feel terrible when I do make any waste, so it makes me work even harder.
If everyone takes these small steps together we create a movement, so please get started and don’t you dare use a takeaway coffee cup again.