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Ward off Climate Change

About the author


Gary Warden was raised in the Perth Hills. After graduating from the University of Western Australia with a degree in Geology, Gary joined BHP Billiton where he spent 18 years working in a variety of roles in a number of locations around the world. Prior to leaving BHP Billiton in December 2006, Gary was Global Manager for the company's US$1Billion business improvement program.

While he was originally sceptical about the claims relating to climate change, he became convinced of the urgency of the issue in early 2006. He left BHP Billiton primarily to spend more time with his young family, but also to dedicate himself to creating a more sustainable life for himself and his family and to support others in making that change.

In September 2007 he was trained by Al Gore and has delivered the "Inconvenient Truth" lectures to thousands of west australians since then. In November 2007 Gary ran for the senate in the Federal Election representing the Climate Change Coalition.

In addition to his climate change lectures, he has facilitated Living Smart workshops across Perth. Between 2008 and 2009 he was on the Executive Committee of the Conservation Council of Western Australia including one year as Vice President.

Gary co-founded and is Executive Director of the very exciting Days of Change program, one of the largest sustainability programs in Australia and is now General Manager WA for Eco-Kinetics, one of the largest Solar PV companies in Australia and subsidiary of ASX-listed CBD Energy.

Reducing Your Waste Emissions

How much do you throw in the bin? 

For the average Australian household, the embodied energy contained within the waste that we throw out represents 14% of our overall emissions, or almost 5 tonnes. 

Most people find that they can reduce the amount of material that goes into the waste bin by more than half. Some people even have a goal of completely eliminating waste going into the bin. 

Before you say "that's impossible", check out the following chart showing the breakdown of what gets thrown out in Western Australia.

Virtually all of the waste we throw in the bin is recyclable in some form or another.  Toni and I have set ourselves the goal of not putting out our Green-top bin during 2009. Read more here.

Garden waste can be shredded and turned into compost. Most councils have routine collections of green wastes that they shred and turn into mulch. Lawn clippings and leaves can be composted and used to enrich your garden beds. 

Most food scraps can be placed in a compost heap, or can be fed to worms in worm farms. Worm farms are fantastic as the transform your scraps into either rich worm castings which can be used to enrich your soil, or so-called "worm juice" which can be diluted with water and used as a natural liquid fertiliser. Worms will eat their way through most kitchen scraps including vegetable peelings, fruit peelings, and offcuts from fruits and vegetables. The only things that worms don't like are citrus, onions and meat products. Worm farms are available in most hardware stores. 

If you have a dog, then the dog will quite happily each most of your remaining food waste, although you need to make sure that this represents just a small portion of your dog's diet and it is balanced by a good quality dog food. 

Paper can be shredded and used in your compost heap, or added to your worm farm. Paper can also be placed underneath other forms of mulch to help prevent weeds from growing in your garden beds. It gradually breaks down organically. Any remaining paper can be replaced in your recycle bin. 

Glass and most metals are recyclable and should never go in your general waste bin. Most domestic glass and metal use is related to storage of prepared food-stuffs bought at supermarkets. For example glass jars and bottles for sauces, spreads and beverages and metal for tinned fruits and vegetables. You can eliminate these by making your own versions of of these at home, using home-grown produce. This will have the added benefit of reducing your food miles. 

It is interesting that plastics represent just 2% of the average waste disposed, however this is a little misleading as these numbers are calculated by weight. If the numbers were calculate by volume, which is really what cause most concern environmentally, then plastics come out much higher. The key here is to avoid plastics where possible. Choose glass over plastic, or if you do have to buy plastic then make sure it is code 1, 2 or 3 (recyclable). 

The mantra of being Waste-smart is to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE 

Reduce

  • Buy products with less packaging
  • Avoid takeaway & pre-packaged foods (lots of packaging) cook fresh foods or even grow your own
  • Repair rather than replace
  • Only buy what you need
  • Discourage junk mail
  • Avoid buying disposable products
  • Make gifts, cards etc rather than buying
  • Avoid falling into the trap of buying cheap goods. They are normally cheap for a reason. Buy the best quality you can afford to make sure that the product lasts for as long as possible.  

Reuse

  • Reuse containers for storage (look out for reusable containers when shopping)
  • Buy second-hand or have a garage sale, reuse with others!
  • Take your own bag when shopping
  • Use back of leaflets/ envelopes for writing notes
  • Buy rechargeable batteries
  • Buy good quality reusable/ washable clothes 

Recycle

  • Steel can be recycled again and again without reducing the quality of the end product
  • Every tonne of steel recycled saves 1.5 tonnes of iron ore, 0.5 tonnes of coal and 40% of the water and 75% of the energy it takes to make a tonne of new steel
  • In WA we used 5000 tonnes of steel cans in 1999, less than 20% were recycled -That's over 60 million steel cans going into our rubbish tips
  • Recycled aluminium uses 95% LESS energy than sourcing aluminium from bauxite mining
  • Recycling one aluminium can saves enough electricity to run a tv for 3 hours.