Focusing on the Right Stuff
Kiwis love our big outdoors. We also love to travel the world. That love of travel is leading to some big carbon emissions.
Over the past year I've been running sustainability workshops where participants calculate their carbon footprints. The aim is to empower people to identify where their carbon emissions lie and to then work out what they can do to make the most difference. Most people seem genuinely concerned about the state of our environment and climate change. They are often not clear about where they personally can make the biggest difference. This is why I suggest that all New Zealanders (businesses, organisations, families and individuals), calculate their carbon footprint. Once you've measured it, it is a lot easier to identify where you can make the biggest impact.
Food, Home & Travel
Everyone is a little different but in these workshops there are three predictable outcomes. One person will have a massive food footprint, one will have a really energy inefficient home, and the other will have clocked up big air miles on holidays or business trips.
Buying more local, seasonal food and eating less meat and dairy seems pretty achievable to most people - the health benefits alone are often enough to drive these changes. Those living in cold drafty kiwi homes are usually planning for insulation and energy efficient home heating improvements. These are achievable changes for most people. The most resistant to reducing their footprint are usually those who love to travel. For many people it is the one big thing they are really looking forward to, or it is considered a necessity with aging parents, children or business interests overseas.
The average carbon footprint for New Zealanders
is 7.645 tonnes pa.
7.645 tonnes might seem pretty respectable compared to other countries. But this is well in excess of the 1 tonne per person that Bioregional is suggesting as a maximum to stay below 2 degrees of warming. Auckland Council is targeting a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2040, under its Low Carbon Action Plan, and has a slightly less challenging carbon emissions target of 3 tonnes per person pa. This means that most kiwis need to make changes which will reduce their carbon emissions substantially. With the cost of air travel being low there is little financial incentive to reduce this.
Calculate Your Carbon Emissions
If you are concerned about climate change and planning to travel you should check out the impacts first. Calculate your flight distance using the calculator above then punch the resulting kms traveled into Enviro-Mark's Travel and Tourism Carbon Calculator.
A return flight to London from Auckland can emit up to 7 tonnes of CO2, and a Wellington to Auckland return trip 0.276 tonnes.
As a result a low carbon future, with reduced per capita carbon emissions, is going to require that we travel much less frequently and that when we do travel we choose the most sustainable options available.
Stay at Home or Think Big When Offsetting
If the amount of carbon emitted from your planned air travel doesn't shock you into staying at home, or skyping that next meeting in Wellington, you can choose to offset your travel (Enviro-Mark, many airlines and Million Metres of Stream all offer options). An offset is definitely not the perfect solution. The impact of your carbon emissions from flying will be immediate whereas your investment in a carbon credit - which invests into a carbon sink like native forest revegetation or renewable energy like windfarms - will have much slower benefits. It will make a difference though. And for this reason, if you are unable to avoid air travel, I recommend that you do offset, and ideally retire the units so that they cannot be on-sold.
You should also THINK BIG when buying your offsets, which are currently set at about $25 a tonne. $100 per tonne is considered a much fairer level of offset investment, so consider quadrupling your payment to pay a fairer share of the full cost of carbon emissions resulting from your air travel.
Click the links above to measure or offset your air travel footprint now.
Wondering about the correct etiquette for environmentally friendly toileting? You've found it.
Warning: Involves Reference to Bums and Girl Stuff!
Some basic tips here. Don't flush baby or facial wipes, tissues, condoms, tampons, pads, or dead goldfish. The best option for most of these is the bin. The goldfish will compost so perhaps a garden burial ceremony! None of the other items break down easily (or at all) and can cause major blockages in the sewer system.
Look out for reusable, washable alternatives to disposables:
That just leaves condoms - wear them - then bin them! The planet will cope! Hope that helped demystify what you can flush!
So you want to make a difference in business? Click this link to view a full list of New Zealand Sustainable Business qualifications from Certificate to Masters level.
I'd love to hear your feedback on these qualifications. Have you completed one of these courses? Was it just ok or amazing? Did it lead to your dream job or business opportunity?
Please let me know if you know of any other New Zealand qualifications that I should add to the list.
This list was compiled on 15 May 2017 – please refer to providers website for current fees and more detailed information.
One Planet Living: Day 31: 2017
Carpooling, sharing a ride or combining errands is a great way to reduce you travel carbon emissions. With the majority of kiwis still driving round in fossil fueled vehicles the less we travel the better. Time and destination constraints can often prevent public transport, cycling and walking being an option so think about how you can introduce ride sharing into your weekly routine - make it easy to make it a habit. After all the share economy is the next big thing and doing this will not only reduce your environmental footprint but save you both some time and money.
Carpooling to work is one option but also think about those kids sports trips. We share rides to Tai Kwon Do, which is on twice a week, between three families. Leading to some simple but effective fuel savings. We haven't set this up yet this term so last night instead of driving there and back twice I decided to just stay put and make one trip. Nice to hang around and watch and do the smile and big thumbs up when your boy is out there working hard!
One Plant Living: Day 30: 2017
The snails ate my first two courgette plants this season so the annual courgette glut is a little late getting under way this year. I've gone yellow this year. Picked the first two today. It pays to check daily as they grow so fast. One minute a courgette the next a marrow. Last year I discovered that courgette is actually really nice in salads grated raw. Freshly picked they have a subtle but sweet taste.
Just did a quick google Jamie Oliver has 47 courgette recipes so might need to expand the repertoire this year to keep the kids from groaning. I love a courgette fritter but seems the novelty has already worn off for them!
One Planet Living: Day 29: 2017
We've got a set of drawers in our lounge which, rather randomly contains all our excess sport gear and halloween costumes.
These were constantly spilling over after the regular last minute search for goggles and togs so I cleaned them out today.
One Planet Living: Day 28: 2017
I've just started going to the local gym again this week. It's only 1 km away but I've driven there and back twice already this week. Like many, these little trips by car don't save much time, it's just the energy of getting there and organising your cycle gear. The result really unnecessary carbon emissions.
So this morning I got motivated and cycled to a yoga class. Which was lovely, it started at 8.30 am so was a pretty civilised time and the weather was beautiful. Then on a roll Tom and I cycled to St Lukes to get his hair cut for the next term at school. We took the Roy Clements Walkway to avoid the traffic and it is probably just as quick by bike. We need some more cycle racks though couldn't find any on the walkway side so tied up to a down pipe. It has been exciting seeing all the new cycle networks and infrastructure growing in Auckland over the last year. Next test will be cycling to Wednesday's 6.15am Spin class! Will need to track down my lights. Seems like summers only just started and already it is getting dark in the mornings.
One Planet Living: Day 27: 2017
Happy Birthday Auckland. It's Auckland Anniversary day on Monday and my birthday today and we've both got a long weekend off to celebrate. So here's my gift to Aucklander's everywhere. These are what I rank as the two best op-shops in Auckland.
Buying second hand has the benefit of:
Auckland's Top Op-Shop - Fashion
Located in the village of Sandringham at 571 Sandringham Road this Red Cross is home to some of the best op-shop clothes bargains in Auckland. Open weekdays from 9:30 - 4:30 and Saturdays from 10:00 till 3:00. With lovely volunteers this is a compact, well lit and super organised shop. The stock has a high turnover with donations coming in daily.
This is fast fashion with a heart. Racks are packed with menswear, womanswear and children's clothes with a good selection of shoes and accessories. With goods coming in from surrounding suburbs these are good quality clothes, with many barely worn. My pick today was a $9 Marcs orange silk dress. It was too small - be quick you might just get it. Last winter I bought my whole wardrobe here for about $120. This included a lovely grey jersey from Country Road that was brand new. Today I bought a Country top and a pair of black jeans for $27. There are always clothing ends of lines and faulty goods from Country Road part of an on-going relationship between Red Cross and the company the benefits both. Less waste for Country Road, good PR and more income for the Red Cross. This stock comes in regularly so frequent visits are a must.
The store also has a small selection of books, homeware and some great cheap and cheerful jewellery. While you are there stock up on your bulk spices at the local Indian specialty shops or pop into Satya Spice and Chai Shop for a quick Chai and some Indian street food in the quirky hessian and plant lined alleyway. This fit out is pure sustainability with cable coil tables and tree stump stools and crates for seating.
Auckland's Top Op-Shop - Furniture and Homewares
Feast your eyes on these goodies. Need something for your home? Look no further than Dominion Road. The Salvation Army at 200 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland, is split over two levels with homewares and clothes upstairs and furniture, childrens toys and books downstairs. With some of the best second hand furniture in town you are bound to find something to fall in love with. My couch, pantry and some single beds were all bought here. They will deliver locally for a pretty reasonable charge of about $40 depending on the distance from the store.
They always have a great selection of couches, curtains and homewares. Staff are super patient and helpful and the stock is always changing.
One Planet Living: Day 26: 2017
I've been working on a couple of exciting projects for Unitec over summer. One of which has been creating a fantastic new on-line Certificate in Horticultural Services (Landscape Design). This is a six month level 4 course which introduces students to the fundamentals of landscape design, botany, soils, pests and diseases, design principles, from how to assess a site through to the creation of design drawings. Perfect for anyone who loves gardens and would like to start out on garden design as a career path.
One of the best things about the course is that you will not just learn about residential garden design - but how to design and create a sustainable garden. Sustainability principles, soil health, permaculture, companion planting, biodiversity, sustainable water use, plant selection and biological control are all introduced. Over 43% of Unitec's programmes now contain sustainability content and under the One Planet Strategy I helped Unitec create we are working towards sustainability content in 100% of their programmes by 2020. The goal is that any Unitec graduate will be able to act as a kaitiaki (environmental guardian) within their profession.
So if you are thinking about garden design and are passionate about making a difference check out this course which starts 27 February - http://www.unitec.ac.nz/career-and-study-options/landscape-and-garden-design/new-zealand-certificate-in-horticulture-services-landscape-design - in 6 months time you'll be able to design a sustainable residential garden!
One Planet Living: Day 25: 2017
Made the kids pancakes for breakfast this morning and we used up the very last drop of the organic apple syrup. It was in a nice bottle so spent some time contemplating it before deciding what I could fill with it.
At first I thought about a flavoured oil or vinegar - but that would be something I'd tend to not use. Instead I decided to make some chilli sauce. I had half a bag of chillies in the freezer from last summer that really need used up and some dried ones from 2 years ago. Waste not want not...
Here is the recipe I used:
1 cup chillis chopped roughly
200g of tomatoes (I used one of the massive heritage ones from the market)
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
Pop all the ingredients into a pot and boil for 7 minutes, cool for 5min, blend in food processor, then decant into a hot clean bottle. Results - looks good. Taste test - blow your head off hot - but then I like it like that!
My name is Carolyn Cox, I'm the Director of Green Businesss HQ.
I help businesses develop sustainability strategies, action plans and provide sustainability advice for businesses, industry sectors, education providers, and communities.
I am passionate about my family, sustainability, gardening, my bike, good food, movies, and doing stuff that is good for the planet.