1. The challenge to make our house carbon neutral

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What I am doing and why

I want to find out out how easy it is to make our house carbon neutral – or as close to it as I can, because I feel the imperative to do my bit to reduce carbon emissions and fossil fuel use. In south eastern Australia, water is also a big issue. So this is an experiment – partly practical, partly philosophical. If I truly believe that we need to collectively and drastically reduce our carbon emissions as soon as possible to help preserve human life on earth, then I need to change the way I live – right now. However like many middle-class Australians, I like my relatively comfortable lifestyle. Most people I know recycle the easy-to-recycle parts of their rubbish, and some have solar panels or rain tanks for their gardens. But that’s about as far as most of us like to go. Anything else is a bit too much hassle or expense. So I’ve decided to be a guinea pig and see how easy it is and to document my progress.

Both my partner and I work professionally, he as a university academic and I as a teacher, and we have three adult children, the younger two at university and still living at home. We have a fairly average Australian family income with a mortgage that soaks up a lot of it, and like most working families we don’t have hours of time to do things ourselves. So I am hoping to find ways of doing this that are not too time-consuming, difficult or expensive and hopefully encourage other people to do it too. Because if we can’t do it, who is going to? As far as possible, I will document suppliers and costs along the way.

One of the first steps for me has been convincing my partner to do this. While I am firmly convinced that we need to act now and radically to save humanity from the worst effects of global warming, he is a scientist and wants “evidence” for everything. While he doesn’t not believe in climate change, he’s also not totally convinced by all the arguments. But he agrees with the argument of “what have we got to lose?” by conserving resources, having cleaner air and water, more liveable cities, preserving wilderness, being healthier, etc etc. So he’s humouring me and going along with it. My children are supportive, though I suspect they think I’m a little weird, but it’s opened up conversations around climate change and sustainability of the planet. Their thinking is being challenged and that’s a good thing.

Resources

Beyond Zero Emissions, http://bze.org.au/about an organisation dedicated to encouraging changes in Australia’s climate change policy and  a zero emissions economy for Australia, has issued a nine-step plan to Energy Freedom http://energyfreedom.com.au/ so I’m going to use that as a guide for reducing emissions around the house. I’ll document other resources as I find and use them.  Here we go…! The first few posts will describe what we’ve done so far before really embracing the challenge. Then it’s on for real. Your suggestions and comments are welcome, I could use some help.