Monday, August 15, 2011
Over the course of nine months we reduced our environmental footprint by one whole Earth and in the process learned to live together more as a community. We introduced some sustainable living practices that are now firm habits and we've got a lot more projects planned. Our environmental footprint is currently 2.6 Earths and we'd like to see that get even lower!
It's been amazing to find what a big difference the little, everyday, things make - and just how easy it is to get started and to get hooked! Our early ideas seemed too simple to have any real impact - use energy saving light bulbs, recycle, buy local, drive less, take the small car, swap produce, share knowledge - but what a huge difference it made. It was also very satisfying and great fun to talk to neighbours about our virtuous new habits. So starting out with these simple concepts was a great way to begin.
This gave us the encouragement to take on the more ambitious projects and we quickly found that by sharing ideas and working together we could achieve more than we could as individuals. Macadamia nut harvesting for example, planting native seedlings, stacking firewood - how fantastic to share the workload!!
We soon found that we had a lot more in common than simply living in the same street and this resulted in some friendships and bonds that most likely would not have occurred in our previous "busy lives".
We discovered a wealth of knowledge and skills that could be shared and learned and so began a series of workshops for bottling and preserving fruit, chutney and jam making, limoncello making, composting, pruning and tree care - it just went on and on - and the biggest challenge was literally finding more time for all the new projects and social activities.
We began doing spontaneous favours for one another: a half a dozen eggs for a jar of tomato passata, a sack of pinecones for mowing the lawn, baking a cake, sharing a casserole, a handpicked bunch of flowers, plants for the garden - on and on it went - each act of kindness seeming more extravagant than the last!
We were constantly thinking about the next favour we could do in return and this gave us the motivation and enthusiasm to push boundaries as each generous gesture spurred ideas for other projects. "Hey, let's knit hot water bottle covers?" (okay so that's a project we haven't started - but only because we ran out of time!).
The Frasers lovely glass driveway is testament to the commitment and number of meetings we've had just so we can recycle glass to fill those potholes. What dedication to the cause!
The Greenest Street Competition has changed the way we live. We had a Royal Wedding Party and that really showed how far we had come as a community. Who would have thought you could have so much fun with your neighbours! The friendships we now share are an unexpected bonus.
This blogsite has been a lot of fun too. It was a novel experience for us all and it's been read by people around the world. And there's been no shortage of people making contributions. I've rushed home from an evening with my neighbours to write it on the blogsite only to find someone else has beaten me to it! It's been a great way to document our journey and share our experiences. And we've enjoyed reading the other Greenest Street blogs too.
Being a Greenest Street competitor is a constant topic of conversation and I'm often asked: "What are the Te Roto people up to this week?" and I am very happy to tell them - and pick up tips from them too which I then pass on to my neighbours. (Did you know that if you freeze the fruit first, it's much easier to pulp for wine making?) There's a lot of interest and no shortage of people who care about the Kapiti region - and the planet - and are already doing amazing things. This is a fantastic initiative and we encourage people to get involved.
KCDC has provided fantastic support and we are so appreciative of their help and encouragement. They've created a high profile for the Greenest Street Competition and they've supplied some fabulous support and resources. Jake and Stacey have been outstanding, attending our meetings and helping us along the way. It's been an absolute privilege to be part of this initiative (I was going to say "social experiment" because it has been fascinating process to be part of) and we will continue to support it in any way we can.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The fuel used in New Zealand's vehicle fleet accounts for over half of the total energy used in NZ annually.
This ratio probably applies to most New Zealand homes. If they are spending two to three hundred dollars a month on their power bill you can bet they are spending a similar amount to run their cars, if not more with the recent price increases!
We had taken various steps to reduce energy used in our homes, (see previous blogs), however in an effort to reduce the fuel used by the vehicles owned by residents of Te Roto Road during the Greenest Street Competition, it was decided to introduce an old method tried in the 1970's - Carless Days!!
Unlike the draconian scheme from the '70's, this one would be entirely voluntary. Each household would be asked to have at least one day a week when they didn't use their vehicles. Obviously depending on circumstances this would prove to be easier for some families than others.
Column 1 Household
Column 2 Vehicle
Column 3 Reduction/Increase km use for year
Column 4 CO2 output grams/km travelled
Column 5 Reduction/Increase CO2 output for year.
A : 1 : 2500 km : 218 g/km : 545 kg
A : 2 : No change
B : 1 : 9000 km : 162 g/km : 1458 kg
B : 2 : 5500 km : 341 g/km : 1875 kg
C : 1 : 2430 km : 177 g/km : 430 kg
D : 1 : 12764 km : 141 g/km : 1800 kg
D : 2 : 456 km : 152 g/km : 70 kg
E : 1 : 2769 km : 171 g/km : 474 kg
F : 1 : 272 km : 216 g/km : 60 kg
G : 1 : 2929 km : 224 g/km : 654 kg
G : 2 : 2640 km : 206 g/km : 544 kg
G : 3 : +1000 km : 227 g/km : 227 kg
H : 1 : 3444 km : 186 g/km : 640 kg
I : 1 : 800 km : 190 g/km : 152 kg
J : 1 : 7580 km : 276 g/km : 2092 kg
J : 2 : 9300 km : 264 g/km : 2455 kg
Total Reduction km use per year = 61375 km
Total Reduction CO2 output for year = 13022 kg
By the use of a very simple method involving a bit of forward planning to organise their vehicle use, the residents of the street have avoided making unnecessary trips and reduced their total of:-
#1 Distance travelled by 61,375 km
#2 The total CO2 produced from their vehicles by 13022 kg
#3 Fuel Saved : Since individual vehicle consumption figures were not recorded, an approximate group average figure will be calculated.
From the Govt Wright Car website.
To calculate CO2 emissions from fuel consumption figures litres per 100 km. (L/100km)
CO2 g/km Average Conversion factor for petrol is (L/100 km x 22.961 = CO2 g/km
From this we obtain (L/100km = CO2g/km / 22.961)
Total CO2 saved = 13,022,000 grams
total km saved = 61,375 km
The group average CO2 emissions = 13,022,000 / 61,375 = 212 g/km
The group average fuel consumption L/100km = 212 / 22.961 = 9.233 L/100km
Total fuel saved = Avg 1/100km x Distance Saved / 100
= 9.233 x 61,375 / 100
= 5,666 litres
# 4 Dollars Saved:
Fuel prices increased rapidly during the six month period of the project, so an exact figure would be impossible to calculate.
However if we assume a conservative average cost of $2.00 per litre, this gives pretty impressive value = 5,666 x 2.0
= $11,333 over 1 year !!
Over all a very worthwhile project !!
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
¾ of our property had been fenced prior to the purchase of our wee puppy, (who is not so wee any more). Our mission was to fence the rest of our property so that we could keep her in and other dogs out! The price we were quoted was $2,000 for swimming pool fencing and labour. We almost accepted this quote until Andy and Paul David were having a chit chat over the fence. Paul gave us a rather cunning and incredibly cost effective way to fence the last side of our property. He suggested mounting galvanized gates to tanalised posts. The gates would sit on tanalised timber. The cost, $600 for the gates and timber and $350 for the labour.
The result, a fence that contains the dog, looks good for half the cost of swimming pool fencing. Thought we would share this idea!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
For some time now we have been collecting up all our metal and aluminium cans as part of our street recycling of glass & metal, and today saw the end of this project for the time being.
Pat, Peter & Denis, got stuck in and sorted out the huge woolsack into metal and aluminium, loaded all into the trailer and deposited with Nationwide Scrap Metal Recyclers in Levin.
The result was 35 kgs of tin cans, and 27 kgs of aluminium cans, a grand total of 62 kgs. We were paid $71.70 in all, which will go into our “street kitty” to help defray costs of the projects the street has been involved with.
The result of our recycling of glass and metal has meant that these items have not been collected by the KCDC, we have disposed of them ourselves.
I have finally made some kawakawa ointment. With an enormous amount of kawakawa plants growing on our property, and knowing of the healing properties in the leaves, I decided to google the web for a suitable recipe for making an ointment. This is what I found:-
A large hand full of kawakawa leaves, as many as can be crushed into the palm of hand. These should be the leaves with the holes in them, as the bugs know which ones have the goodies in them.
250 mls of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
250 grams of Beeswax (approx)
Soak the leaves in the oil for 24 hours, then heat the oil to a very low temperature, (just warm), then stir and crush the leaves, do this for about 20 minutes.
Then remove the leaves, and raise the temperature slightly, but not bubbly, and add the beeswax in small amounts, stirring, until desired consistency. I would suggest testing a small amount like one would do with jam until you are satisfied you have the right consistency.
Take off heat then put into small jars to set.
Mine turned out a bit firm as I had put a bit too much beeswax in. Oh well the next batch should be spot on. Hence I call it Kawakawa Salve.
I have asked my daughter to try this on my granddaughter's eczema as it is supposed to be very good for healing eczema, especially children. I have been using it on my dry lips, and it certainly is great for that, as at this time of year I find my lips get very dry and crack. It should be great for any dry skin areas.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Puha, also known as sow thistle, is a green plant often found growing as a weed in your backyard or for sale at your local community or farmers market. This lot was picked on Bobby and David’s property and took 5 minutes to gather. Have a look and see if you have Puha growing on your properties, before you pull it out or weed eat over it, consider picking and cooking it. If you do pick it, serve it with pork bones for a delicious meal for the family. It can be a FREE healthy meal for the family.
If gathering from your backyard, PLEASE make sure that what you're picking is indeed puha - check the photo at the start of the post, take a look online or ask a someone from the iwi. You'll need a large fistful per person. Cut off the heads, any flowers and the bottom of the stems. The stem contains a milky coloured sap; eaten raw, the stem and leaves have a bitter taste.
Cooking your puha
- Puha can be bitter, cooking does not remove the bitterness but it can be greatly reduced.
- To prepare puha for cooking, you will need to rub the puha plants together (vigourously) under running water - repeat a couple of times.
- Add it to meat that is at least ¾ cooked along with potato, kumara and pumpkin; then
- Serve it to your hungry family
Key Medicinal Uses – from http://www.digherbs.com/puha.html
Puha has considerable health benefits as it is rich in antioxidants and iron. It can be used as follows:
Internally – Puha has been used as a blood purifier. It is also used for hemorrhage, constipation and cervical abnormalities. In Traditional Chinese medicine, it is known to clear heat and toxin from the body, invigorate the blood and stop bleeding, clear damp heat and to cool the blood. In western herbalism, the herb has been used as an abortifacient, to treat cancer, diarrhea and infections.
It is anti-inflammatory and calms the nerves. It is said to be a cure for opium addiction. It is good for the liver and to promote milk production in nursing mothers. It is also a mild laxative and narcotic. The herb has also been used as a gynecological aid, to promote menstruation and to treat fevers. It has sedative qualities. It may also have anti-cancer qualities. This herb has been used as a tonic to support the systems of the body.
Externally – Puha is used for boils and carbuncles. It can stop bleeding and has been used as a poultice (made from the leaves) and as a remedy for toothache. The latex sap can be used to treat warts.
Other Uses – Puha is eaten raw or cooked in salads or other dishes. The milky sap was used as chewing gum by the Maori people of
We now have our ceiling insulated with the sustainable Knauf Insulation's EarthWool. (see previous blog dated 8th May).
This insulation is unlike Batts as the insulation arrives in a long roll and is unrolled in the ceiling like you would roll out a carpet. This completely covers all the joists, creating a nice snug fit.
In the short time since it has been installed we have noticed that the house is much warmer, and we haven't needed to put the heater on in the morning at all, which is something we usually have to do, as everyone knows we are now finding it a bit on the nippy side night and mornings now.
We do thoroughly recommend other people in the street consider having it installed in their homes, if theirs is getting a bit old, or they don't have any installed, and of course it is made easier with the Government's excellent subsidy off the cost.
All in all we are more than satisfied that we had made the right choice on this insulation, and we should find that we save on electricity also.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
We were given recipes for potions and lotions and one particularly stood out for me. It was the Tutu - or Toot or Tupakihi - and it is used for healing wounds, bruises, sprains and swollen joints. With this you use the shoots and leaves to make a poultice. We were told to boil it vigorously for approximately 37 hours (or was it 72??)! We were warned that it is poisonous* and it does stain. They recommended doing this outside using an old bathtub with a fire underneath and keeping that fire well stoked so the tub is boiling and bubbling - much like a witch's cauldron I suspect!!
* All parts poisonous except for swollen petals. Contains Tutin toxin, which has caused death.
Armed with my new knowledge on herbal remedies and spiritual healing, I returned to our marquee and proceeded to tell my neighbours all about this. One just so happened to have a very sore lower back and was suffering a good deal of pain. Perfect - I had my guinea pig!!! I marched him back to talk to the healer and it was agreed that a jar of lotion (Tutu mixed with bees wax I think) would do the trick. We were warned in no uncertain terms, that it would not fix the problem but it would relieve the pain. So one was to remember that walking and exercise were still required and it was not going make them feel like they were 20 again. No, no!! It would relieve the pain and it would stain. Message understood! It had to be applied a couple of times a day and rubbed in well. "And wear old clothes - especially to bed!"
I returned the next day to pick up the lotion and my neighbour started to use it with instant results. Within 24 hours he had ceased his pain medication and was feeling better than he had in a long time!! Not 20, but remarkably better!! So how is that? Pretty impressive I have to say.
Here are some interesting and informative websites for you to check out. I tell you that knowing more about common garden weeds makes for a very interesting walk along the road. I have totally changed my attitude towards weeds and now find myself saying: "what a healthy dandelion that is"!!!
Friday, May 13, 2011
Total heat energy transfered into the jug of water over the 6 1/2 hour test was 62.7 kiloWatts. This is equivalent to a transfer rate of 62,700 Watts divided by 23,400 seconds = 2.68 Watts.
Unfortunately due to recent extended periods of overcast weather we have been unable to conduct these test yet !
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Finally Peter has replaced all the old filament light bulbs in our house with eco ones. The first attempt at a photo shoot ending up with Peter falling off the ladder and taking a lot of skin off, but now fully mended was reluctantly allowed to venture up the ladder again.
Hopefully these bulbs will last a lot longer than the old ones as we always seemed to be replacing them. So, perhaps cost-wise, having to replace the old ones quite often, and the eco ones not very often, it would probably cost the same price in the long run.
This gives us an 80% power saving on lighting.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
On the 4th May we had a visit from Joy Darke. She brought us a selection of shrubs and packets of seeds which was a lovely gesture. Bobby & David offered to hold this at their home, thank you Bobby & David. We had ten of our street members there.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Somehow I ended up over at the Council offices helping to construct the street displays, wrestling with huge sheets of paper and recycled real estate boards as Stacey applied her creative skills and hand painted the Street Signs (very cool). It was a lot of fun and a great way to get into the spirit of the event from another perspective! The display boards also gave me an insight into the community spirit that was alive and well in the other Streets and had me looking forward to meeting these enthusiastic people and sharing ideas!
With a cup of Streetwise coffee and gumboots I arrived at the Show on the Saturday and it was great to see so many of my Street buddies already there donning their Street teehshirts! Mon brought along her first ever batch of apple shortbread, I'd made the bacon and egg pie, and the coffee was on tap (thanks Stacey - great idea). It was obvious that we were in for another awesome Street get together and this continued into the Sunday with another huge showout from our Street. This time Bobbie bought a platter of smoked salmon and crusty bread, Mon surpassed herself with another batch of apple shortbread and we had plenty of fresh fruit, nuts and pickles to boot.
There was this one little boy who visited our stand and he was right into the whole 'grow your own' deal and had an established herb garden of his own! He guessed all but one of the fresh herbs in our huge bouquet (the Soapwort) and said the Vietnamese mint was his favourite. It was such a buzz to talk to so many people who had similar interests and to get them involved in the Green Street initiative. We all had a few walks around the stands and got so many ideas.
My personal favourite was the 'Tāngata Whenua – of the Land' site where the kaupapa (theme) was: Rongoa Māori - which is the Maori term for medicines that are produced from native plants (including weeds) in New Zealand). I was spellbound by the presentation on how we can use common backyard weeds for healing and wellbeing - more of that in my next blog!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
This day saw the final distribution of the Native seedlings we have been collecting, potting, and labeling over the last 3/4 months.
All of the varieties that we have gathered have come from our own gardens and woodlands in Te Roto Road. We had already given away approximately 50 or so to folk at the "Sustainable Home & Garden Show".
So, today we delivered 14 or so different species of natives, total of approximately 350 trees to the Nursery of the "Friends of the Otaki River", at Riverbank Road.
The varieties included; Totara, Karo, Kohekohe, Pittosporum, Cabbage Tree, Five Finger, Lancewood, Kawakawa, Taupata, Pohutukawa, Lemonwood, Karaka.
Denis Harnett, (on left), Peter Campbell & Campbell Andrews, (on right), from Te Roto Road, were assisted in the unloading of a trailer and small truck by Mr. & Mrs. Eric Matthews, and one other lady, all of the friends of the river group, who over the years have planted thousands of trees from Crystalls Bend down to the river estuary.
Most of the seedlings donated will be held for the Wellington Regional Council, and the group headed by Mr. Graham Campbell, and it is proposed that they be planted around the stopbanks and the areas where the Recreational Lake is being developed.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
We have just recently completed our first prototype of a Solar Oven Box.
We were very interested in the display of these at the "Sustainable Home and Garden Show", and took aboard some ideas from Geoff & Clyde and decided to go ahead and give it a go We will be paying a visit to see Geoff and look at some of his other types, and we may then proceed with one or two other designs.
We are currently conducting some tests with our first effort, and when we get a real good day we will have our first "cook-up.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
It was a lovely balmy afternoon, completely different to 10 April 1968. A tragic day etched in all our hearts.
Our fruit and nut trees were rather overgrown, due to being neglected last year and most didn't even see a saw or pruning shears, with the exception of the pear tree and the fig trees.
My son Stuart assisted me, or maybe I should say that I assisted him as he did all the tree climbing in an attempt to prune and return some order. That certainly was a new experience for Stuart who would barely qualify in having a garden at his apartment in Germany, let alone doing anything as specialised as pruning !!
Hannah informed us that the time to prune stone fruit is immediately after fruiting, so a wee bit late here - not that the peach harvest was very abundant. Pip fruit is pruned in winter, so still time to work up lots of energy and enthusiam for those trees.
She started with the peach tree, advising that the dead branches be removed first. From there you remove the inward growing shoots as this opens up the centre of the tree. She advised us to prune no more than a third of the tree and to step back and look at the tree after each cut. The stone fruit like to fruit on horizontal branches and you can encourage branches to grow horizontally by strapping down flexible branches or hanging something weighty on the branch.
The walnut tree needed little pruning, although Hannah did recommend removing some of the branches that were encroaching onto the feijoa and loquat trees - so a little more muscle required there!
The fig trees needed to have the larger branches removed rather than fiddling around with smaller ones which will help to open them up to receive maximum sunshine.
It was a lovely afternoon with added assistance from Hannah's young children also Wyeth - the next generation of gardeners - they were great.
We ended the afternoon with a glass of wine and snacks including pickled walnuts, preserved figs and dip made from chutney, all produce from the garden.
We really appreciated Hannah's expert advice.
Thank you Hannah.
At last I have finished pruning the peach tree,it was a mamoth task,up & down the ladder,viewing the shape,making that all important cut. Now I await an abundant crop of peaches next year,hopefully enough to bottle some too.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
The ingredients last for ages so you're not continuously shopping for them.
1/2 bar of sunlight soap - grated
1.5 litres water
1/2 cup of washing soda crystals
4 litres hot water
Place grated soap in saucepan with 1st quantity of water. Heat until soap melted.
Add washing soda and borax.
Stir for a few minutes until soap thickens and remove from heat.
Add soap mixture and mix well.
Pour into 2 or 4 litre milk bottles or other bottles you may have, using a funnel or just keep in the bucket.
It will thicken after 24 hours. It gets very gluggy - but easy to squeeze out.
I also add a few drops of essential lavender or eucalyptus oil for a slight scent. (optional)
Have a go - it's easy to do, easy on the pocket, and easy on the land !! :-)
We are now eating veges out of Wyeth's garden, much to his and my excitement. Corn, beans, lettuce, rocket, now waiting on the beetroot, spinach and carrots (the latter not looking to flash) but fun anyway. Will endevour to plant a bigger garden next Spring.