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Hazelwood and Churchill (Victoria, Australia) local Girl Guide information noticeboard.

The 7 Worst Home Eco Sins


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1. Not recycling
If you’re doing your bit by putting papers, PET bottles, glass and cans out for the local council to collect, then make sure you keep up to date with what they’re picking up, particularly with plastics.
Many councils accept all plastics marked with the numbers one to seven in a triangle on the base. As for ink cartridges, environmental advocacy group Planet Ark has placed recycling bins in participating Officeworks, Australia Post, Harvey Norman, Tandy and Dick Smith outlets nationally in a bid to reduce the 34 printer cartridges going into Australian landfill every minute. Batteries and lightbulbs are tricky to get rid of, but Ikea in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will take them off your hands.
Visit www.recyclingnearyou.com.au to find recycling services in your council area. It lets you search by product for a specific recycling solution.

2. Dumping unwanted items
It’s a lovely feeling when the local council offers free clean-up days and you clear your home of the junk you’ve been meaning to get rid of for ages. That glow of satisfaction would soon wear off, though, if you saw the extra landfill it creates at the other end. But you can restore that good feeling by donating unwanted furniture and the like to charity organisations who’ll be happy to take it, as long as it’s in reasonable condition.
What might be junk to you may be just what someone else was looking for. You could always organise a garage sale, but if you just want to get the stuff off your hands, consider www.scoodi.com and www.freecycle.org.au, which are recycling communities that allow you to you list your product, much like eBay, except the items are free, as is your listing. Clear home
and clear conscience all in one lovely hit.

3. Wasting energy
Perhaps the biggest change you can make is to buy GreenPower energy, whereby the amount of electricity used in your home is purchased by an energy provider and put back into the main grid in the form of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and hydro-power. Opting for 100 per cent GreenPower will add about $400 to the average family’s yearly power bill, but you can opt for a lower percentage. Visit www.greenpower.gov.au.
Replacing incandescent globes with energy-efficient fluorescents is a start, as is turning off stand-by power and lights when not in use; check out the new power boards that let you control appliances by remote control. Visit www.todae.com.au and www.neco.com.au.

4. Wasting water
We’ve come a long way since hosing our garden paths to be rid of a few leaves, but we can still do more. While there can’t be many of us who still leave the tap running while brushing our teeth, can you put your hand on your heart and say you never brush them in the shower? Even if you don’t, a standard showerhead can use up to 25 litres of water each minute.
By installing a WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme) four-star rated shower rose you’ll use just seven litres per minute without losing the pressure. Before you buy new appliances visit here and rate the water efficiency. To make the most of your washer and dryer, wait for a full load before you use them.

…switch to phosphate-free dishwasher and washing-machine powders – our waterways will be eternally grateful…

5. Buying brand new

The trend for mid-century modern furniture is not only soothing to our eyes but also to the environment as it means one less brand-new thing is being bought. This has a trickle-down effect, with fewer new pieces being made and therefore less resources being used. While, admittedly, mid-century items aren’t cheap, there are bargains to be had when it comes to vintage furniture. Everyone’s heard a story of a great junk-shop or council-clean-up find brought back to life with a bit of clever reupholstery. Hit the internet to find out where your closest furniture auction houses are and when the auctions are held and you’ll soon have your own story to tell. When it comes to flooring, using reclaimed or recycled timber is a certain way of knowing the timber is from a sustainable source. Also, bamboo is a great newcomer, environmentally speaking, as it takes only around five years for the poles to reach harvest stage. With any new wood, look for approval by the Forest Stewardship Council as this means the timber has been certified as meeting responsible forest management standards.

6. Not composting

We all know fruit and vegetable scraps are great for the compost bin, but there are other household items adding bulk to our kitchen bins – and therefore landfill – that can be put to good use. Wood-fire ash, coffee grounds, tea leaves, tissues and even vacuum dust can all be added to the mix and your garden will thank you. Even apartment dwellers with a balcony can get in on the act as worm farms take up little space. Unbelievable as it sounds, one kilogram of earth worms can eat their own weight in scraps in just a day, leaving behind fertilised soil known as castings that are pretty much the caviar of the compost heap. Hardware stores have a great selection of compost bins that are as simple as a (preferably recycled) plastic container to top-of-the-line numbers that spin, making aeration a breeze.

7. Using chemical cleaning products

There’s no need to be pouring chemicals such as sulphates, phosphates and petroleum by-products down our sinks. These are common ingredients in many cleaning items, but unnecessary now there are so many plant-based products that do the dirty work beautifully. Yes, they cost a bit more, but prices are coming down as demand grows. At the very least, switch to phosphate-free dishwasher and washing-machine powders – our waterways will be eternally grateful. Chemical-free drycleaning is tougher to find, but there are alternatives to using perc (as perchloroethylene is commonly known), the solvent that’s the current norm, so ask around. Take a look at Daisy (www.daisy.net.au), a Melbourne-based chemical-free drycleaning business.

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May 23, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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