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 Post subject: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 01 Jul 2008, 09:41 
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Grand Poobah
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Every little choice we make every day can make a big change in the world, when they add up.

This thread is for all those little choices we make in order to make the world (or our part of it) a better place.

All ideas are welcome, from smiling while driving, to environmental ideas, to personal health ideas.

Anything at all that makes the world a little better...

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 01 Jul 2008, 09:48 
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ok, some things we do.

I keep baking soda at the sink in a pizza-place style cheese shaker. We use this instead of scouring powder, and it works at least 90% of the time. Just shake some onto the junk, and scrub with a spone. Really sticky stuff, like whatever was affixed to the silicone pot holder, needs a mix of dish detergent and baking soda to shine.

Cheap and way more eco-friendly.

We just bought Siggbottles for our water. Partially for the plastic issues (health and environment), partially for convenience. We've attached those hiking clips to the tops, and now have hands free alimonum bottles. Cool.

We also got some Pearl Riverlunch boxes. These things are awesome! They hold a ton, are light, and our boy loves his at camp.

They also look cool!

I also am now in the habit of replacing at least 1/3 of our white flour in almost everything with whole wheat/ wheat germ. Now plain white flour things taste wrong. LOL!

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 19 Sep 2008, 05:41 
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It’s not so easy to think of the little things because they are so, well, little. Anyhow, here goes:
  • We have installed energy-efficient light fittings throughout our property.
  • We have started using bath water to flush our toilets (except for the guest toilet). This has helped reduce our consumption of both water and chemicals. If we ever move to an empty plot where we get to design our house, we’ll be sure to automate this.
  • I’ve also resorted to showering in the dark. This has nothing to do with power saving – it’s just a more intense spiritual experience – but since it does save a miniscule amount, I thought I’d mention it. :)
  • We only use brown flour and brown sugar.

There are also a few not-so-small things that are probably worth mentioning:
  • Farming. This is highly unusual for the upmarket area that we live in, but since we have the land, we may as well use it. Perhaps this is just my childhood roots coming to the fore (I was raised in rural Croatia where we grew all our food).
    • Trees – we were lucky in that the property that we bought almost five years ago had several fruit trees already planted, some of which were well established – an apple, an avocado, a lemon and two mulberries. We are planning to clear the remaining bamboo growth in two corners of the property and plant a few more fruit trees in its place, as well as on one side of the property where we recently cut down three large dry trees.
    • Shrubs – we have started planting these only recently and have two hazelnut and two pomegranate shrubs to show for our efforts (two raspberries will be added this weekend :)). The plan is to plant these adjacent to the house and property walls.
    • Vines – we will shortly plant three blackberry vines along one side of the house where they can grow along a trellis. We will do something similar with one of the fences within the property, though we will probably plant grapes there. Later on, the plan is to redo the porch with a wooden structure that can likewise support grapes.
    • Vegetables – we started dabbling in this last year and it has worked relatively well. We planted a whole range of vegetables – tomatoes, green peppers, beans, carrots and many others. Intercropping has made it easier to grow a variety of vegetables on a relatively small patch of land. The soil was poorer than we realised, so we recently added a whole lot of matured horse manure from equestrian estates around Johannesburg. We are currently setting up additional vegetable patches in another corner of the property, as well as expanding the range of plants to grow. There’s still a lot to learn, but the results have been very encouraging.
    • Herbs – we are interplanting these with vegetables and some flowers due to their insect-repellent properties, as well as growing them in pots. This is actually a lot easier than growing vegetables, partly because they require less tending to but also because much less is consumed.
  • Composting
    • Garden compost pit – we have just completed building it (it’s a walled enclosure rather than a pit). All our garden waste will find its way there, and hopefully re-emerge as nutritious compost.
    • Wormery – I constructed this last year and expanded it this year. It consists of 24 earthworm containers and 8 drainage containers all made from waterproofed wood. The earthworms consume all our kitchen waste (mostly fruit and vegetable peels and other leftovers). Some of the organic waste is donated by my mum and sister, some by a nearby fruit & vegetable shop, and the rest by generous work colleagues (I have set up five collection points in different departments that I visit daily). The products of this operation (compost and liquid fertiliser) are used in the garden.
  • Rainwater retention – we have just purchased four barrels that we are planning to attach to the gutter drainage pipes from our house in order to collect rainwater. This will then be used to water the garden.
  • Koi farming – this is a small-scale operation that my wife is in the process of setting up. I’m only mentioning it because the waste water will be used to fertilise the garden.
  • Recycling – this industry is frustratingly poorly developed in South Africa. Hardly anyone is contributing to it. Recycling and composting together take care of about 90% of our trash. The rest makes it to the landfill.

There’s a lot more that still needs to be done. In addition to what I’ve mentioned above:
  • We are planning to install solar power once the thin film technology becomes available locally for domestic use. The present technology is just too expensive. We recently had to replace a geyser, but the solar-powered version was three times more expensive, so we opted for the regular electric one.
  • Soil erosion in the front (sloping) part of our garden is becoming quite severe, especially with all the rains that we’ve had last summer (the wettest summer that I remember). The plan there is to build several low stone walls (to follow the slope) that will prevent the soil from being washed away. Plenty of stone has been excavated from the vegetable patches and holes that we dug to plant the shrubs, so we will use it for this purpose.
  • At some point we will also fill in our swimming pool and build a greenhouse over the surrounding area. This will enable us to grow tropical plants, for which Johannesburg is otherwise a little too cool a place. If it turns out that the recent climatic changes are here to stay, this will happen sooner rather than later.


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 19 Sep 2008, 20:30 
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Wow, Hrvoje ... That certainly seems like a whole -lot- of good stuff ...

Well done!

(BTW - What part of the mulberry is actually good? The ones we have up here drop copious amounts of seed-like stuff, but the don't really seem edible ... :dontknow: )

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 20 Sep 2008, 06:53 
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Grand Poobah
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Yeah--- Hrvoje has a bunch of great ideas.

Little choices can add up. I have been thinking of the rainwater catchers myself--- a local group has been talking about ways to make the beaches safer, and reducing the storm run off is one way, and catching our rainwater helps with that...

Thanks for sharing!

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 22 Sep 2008, 01:32 
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Hex wrote:
(BTW - What part of the mulberry is actually good? The ones we have up here drop copious amounts of seed-like stuff, but the don't really seem edible ... :dontknow: )

The Wikipedia page on mulberries has a few pictures of the ripe fruit. We have two mulberry trees, a bigger one that looks like the third picture from the Wikipedia page (Mulberry fruits in various stages of ripeness), and a smaller one that looks like the second picture (Mulberry fruits in Libya). The smaller tree has larger leaves and produces larger fruit. Fruit is ripe when it turns black. It falls off the tree shortly after that.

It makes HORRIBLE stains.


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 23 Sep 2008, 07:20 
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Some good ideas can also be found here: http://www.greenlivingtips.com.


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 23 Sep 2008, 09:23 
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Grand Poobah
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Thanks!

Every little thing we do adds up. Just like the little things we don't, add up as well...

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 06 Oct 2008, 00:38 
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Here is a sister thread from Indigo Society.


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2009, 00:21 
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Here is an article that I’ve just released that seems pertinent to the discussion.


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2009, 10:29 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
Here is an article that I’ve just released that seems pertinent to the discussion.


Nice! It's important for people to remember, when thinking about the future, that how we condition our children is an important part. I've wondered is the generation of American kids who are hitting college now are the product of too much of a lack of caring about/ exposure to/ prioritizing some of the social virtues that would actually help to make out society more social rather than more insular and selfish ... :dontknow:

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2009, 13:14 
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A quote from Duane Elgin’s book Promise Ahead seems pertinent:

Quote:
A major survey of American college freshmen over a period of thirty years gives us striking evidence of the powerful impact of television on values. This study, by the American Council of Education and UCLA, found that there has been a dramatic shift in the values of college freshmen since the 1960s. In 1966, “developing a meaningful philosophy of life” was the top value, being endorsed as a “very important” or “essential” goal by more than 80 percent of the entering freshmen. “Being well-off financially” lagged far behind, ranking fifth on the list, with less than 45 percent of freshmen endorsing it as a very important or essential goal in life. Since then, these two very different values have essentially traded rankings… In 1996, being well-off financially was the top value (74 percent of freshmen identified it as very important or essential) and developing a meaningful philosophy of life fell to sixth place (only 42 percent named it as very important or essential).


According to the researchers who conducted this study, a major reason for this profound shift is the impact of television viewing on values. They found that “the more television watched, the stronger the endorsement of the goal of being very well off financially, and the weaker the endorsement of the goal of developing a meaningful philosophy of life.”


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 25 Jan 2009, 20:52 
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I like to use cloth shopping bags; I've even used my backpack as a shopping bag.

I like to write on the blank side of paper that's been used on one side, at least for temporary sort of stuff like intermediate results of calculations.

I like to bike and use public transit as much as is reasonably feasible.

Etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2009, 04:13 
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About the using the other side of a piece of paper. At my last job we'd get tons of faxes, many of them with (useless) headers sheets. often times people would use one of these for scrap paper but only write a little on it & then throw the whole sheet away. So I took the all the sheets I could find, cut them into quarters & put them in all the desks. We then had so much scrap paper we started doing origami & kirigami to decorate the office :cheeky:

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 Post subject: Re: Little Choices---
PostPosted: 26 Jan 2009, 11:00 
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I used to take scrap paper and use a paper cutter to slice it into different size pads.

Here's a cool article that has some little choices:
http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/bigg ... ageindex=1

We've been out house shopping, and our (suburban?) realtor has been amazed at how small garbage totes are here. I was like, it's a city thing, City folk recycle and conserve more.

She didn't quite get it.

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