Sunday, December 26, 2010

Some things we all can do

At one of our street meetings the question of water emergencies was raised, and it was suggested that as all of our street is on bore water, except one family, it was suggested that we look into installing handpumps, which could be used when we have no power. I investigated this idea, but found the cost of handpumps, plus installation would be too expensive for most of us. My suggestion is that if we wish to store water for emergencies we should seriously consider purchasing a 200 to 500 litre Water Tank, which are readily available, and a much cheaper option.

As we are trying to give up using “nasty” type cleaning products, to help our carbon footprint, the following are a few tips using good old fashioned vinegar.

LAUNDRY: An easy way to periodically clean out soap scum and disinfect your washing machine is to pour in two cups of white distilled vinegar, then run the machine through the full cycle without any clothes or detergent.
Instead of expensive fabric conditioners, add 275 mls, of white distilled vinegar to your rinse cycle to keep your linen soft.
For an antibacterial rinse, add 275 mls of white distilled vinegar to your rinse cycle to kill any remaining bacteria.

CLEANING: Fill a recycled spray bottle with 2 parts water, 1 part distilled white vinegar, and a couple of drops of “green” washing up liquid. This will make an effective quick clean solution. Suitable for glass, stainless steel, and plastic laminate surfaces.
To remove lime scale from your kettle, fill the kettle with water and add 100 mls of white distilled vinegar. Let it stand overnight, then rinse well with cold water and it is ready to use.

Lots more vinegar tips for those interested, and there will be more to come.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Sparking Our Interest

We heard about the KCDC Greenest Street Competition through one of our residents, Mon, who works at the Council.  We already had a warm community spirit through our involvement in the Neighbourhood Support scheme and were amenable to the odd street BBQ.  It's not that you would describe us as "greenies" though.  Sure, we grow herbs - but we're talking about the thyme and rosemary variety.  And rather than being active environmentalists our commonality is that we know we are living the "good life".  We live in a peaceful rural road with beautiful alluvial soil and are blessed with stands of native trees (indigenous to the area) and  an abundance of land on which to grow produce and raise animals.

So it was with a mixture of curiousity and trepidation that we held our first street meeting.  And we were hooked!  We quickly identified a couple of projects that everyone could get involved in and the surprising thing was discovering the simple things that we could do to reduce our environmental footprint.

We already have our Seedling Project underway where we are potting up self-seeded natives which we'll eventually make available to community groups and people in the area.  Farmlands has generously donated plastic sleeves and the potting mix has been organically grown by Vicky and Paul.  Our first goal is to get them to grow successfully in tubs, and be ready for distribution in April/May next year.

Picking Lemonade Lemons
Another project is our Sustainable Food Project and this stems from the abundance of fruit trees and vege plots we have within our street.  The aim is to be as self-sufficient as we can by sharing produce and recycling waste.  We figure that what we don't eat the pigs will!  Already we've shared fresh produce such as oranges, grapefruit and lemons; fresh brown farm eggs; macadamia nuts; raspberries; and walnuts.  And we're eagerly awaiting the feijoas and tamarillos and other fruit. 

Chook house

What's more we have "given back" to the soil by the horse-poo compost that was kindly donated and delivered by Jo and Campbell.  And now we have Christmas lambs on offer (processed packaged by the local Otaki butcher) with the promise of more produce to come.

Project Light Bulb is our commitment to replace all expired light bulbs with eco-friendly versions.  And whilst, for cosmetic reasons,  these were not a preference, our resident engineer so impressed us with the facts and figures as to why this was a far more sustainable option that we've made the commitment to do it.  I counted over 70 lightbulbs in my house alone (thanks to the many ridiculous multi-bulb fittings - which all seem to require a different type of light bulb to the ones I usually have on hand!) so I'm going to get Denis to calculate how much of an energy saving this will be once they've all been converted.

So the idea is for each of us to keep a journal (preferrably on recycled paper of course!) of everything we do to help reduce the environmental footprint and to share our stories with one another so we keep motivated and reminded of the many ways we can contribute.

It's been very satisfying so far, knowing that the small things make a difference, that we can participate individually and collectively and that we can put our resources to good use. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Te Roto Road Greenest Street Launch

The Kapiti Greenest Street competition is underway and the Te Roto Road whanau has a lot of work to do.  Our average environmental footprint is 3.5 Earths.  Converted to land area, the collective footprint is equivalent to 18 Otaki Racecourses.  Clearly there's room for improvement!

Fortunately we're up for the challenge and there's nothing like a street BBQ to get the ideas flowing.  Already we're fired up by the sense of community spirit that's developed and the generosity that is pouring out from everyone involved.  So now we have to bottle it up into a plan so we can capitalise on the quick wins and have the sustenance required for our more ambitious ideas.  I can see we're going to need a few more street meetings to keep everyone motivated.  Oh well, it's all for a good cause!