At the start of the Green Street competition one of the Judges, Brenda Vale (MA DipArch & PhD), gave a talk explaining how the ecological footprint is calculated, it’s impact globally and ideas how to reduce it. Brenda has created a Ration Card concept. The idea is you try and reduce the ‘red’ (see picture), aiming to only use the green allocated hectares. My understanding is that the ‘green’ allocation is the fair global share.
Our major ecological footprint impacts were:(1) Regular International travel back to the UK for holidays,
(2) Our two pet dogs. A large breed dog increases your footprint by 1.10 ha/annum and a small breed dog 0.42 ha/annum. As our dogs are small breed that is a 0.84 ha increase per year.
(3) Although we used numerous Eco/Green products this still meant they were processed products, a large percentage were imported and used quite a bit of non-compostable packaging.
What we did to reduce our footprint:
(1) In previous years we have returned to the UK for our holidays. When back in the UK we have then spent the holiday driving around the country to visit friends and family. This year we decided to take our holiday in a nice hotel in Wellington. So, we cut out all International and Domestic flights and reduced our car miles drastically. The only issue with this was that the TePapa Museum can only entertain a 4 year old for so long and city centre hotels are not really kid friendly.
(2) Our domestic car use was also increasing our footprint. So we combined the hours our son spent at Kindy into a three day, instead of part days scattered across the week, so reducing the need to drive to Kindy two days a week (it’s unfortunately not possible to use public transport to the Kindy).
(3) Our neighbour helped us fix up our push bikes and we bought a 2nd hand trail-gator on TradeMe (to attach my son’s bike to ours) so that we could use bikes on our car free days.
(4) During the Green Street competition we have only purchased 2nd-hand appliances (e.g. weigh scales and blender from TradeMe) or repaired existing appliances (e.g. dishwasher and washing machine).
(5) One of Brenda’s suggestions was to work part-time to reduce life stress and so reduce the drain on health care. Rob now works a 4 day week and is enjoying spending his 5th day with our son and weeding our additional veggie beds .
(6) Looking at Benda’s ration card (picture) changes to our food appears to be a ‘quick win’. We now eat less meat, buying and cooking meat once a week and then eating a bit each day throughout the week. We have increased our home produced vegetables too as this reduces cropland needed.
(7) We’ve been reducing our consumerism by upcycling as much as possible. We’ve been sharing our ideas on the web for others to take advantage of on Face Book (https://www.facebook.com/WasteNotUpcycling) .
(8) We reduced our power usage by installing two washing lines so we don’t need to use the electric clothes Dryer any longer.
(9) Luckily we already have a smaller than NZ average sized house so there’s less space to heat. Also, coming from the UK we automatically insulated the whole house (internal and external walls), so it does not lose much of the sun’s heat we gain through the windows during the day.
(10) Finally, Rob challenged himself to buy all my Christmas gifts by not leaving the village – and managed it!