Tipping Point ~ incentives help win war on landfill

James Turnell
It smells earthy at the Armidale dump, a mountain of rubbish built bag by bag over 50 years by the city’s 25,000 residents.

Residents have more than halved the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill since the introduction of the City to Soil program two years ago.

More than 70 per cent of residents are taking part in the program to turn household organic waste – ranging from potato peelings to meat scraps, used pizza boxes and lawn and garden clippings – into compost.

The program was piloted in Goulburn and Condobolin, and Armidale is the first larger regional centre to introduce it citywide. Variations on these schemes are being tested around the world but Armidale and City to Soil are attracting international interest because of their use of incentives to get consumers involved and the low level of contamination.

Zero Waste Australia president Gerry Gillespie said most recycling programs suffered from about 15 per cent contamination, which meant farmers and gardeners did not want the end product. In contrast, the level of contamination, such as plastics, in Armidale consumers’ green bins was about 0.5 per cent, he said.

To encourage Armidale residents, who cut Council costs by sorting their rubbish at home, the rich compost is sold back to them for $25 a cubic metre (less than half the usual price) and prizes are given for the best garbage.

Read more here…
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Trends for the Shift to Sustainability

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]MATURIALISM: “Thoroughly exposed to (if not participating in) an uncensored, opinionated and raw world (especially online!), experienced consumers no longer tolerate being treated like yesteryear’s easily shocked, inexperienced, middle-of-the-road audiences. Able to handle much more honest conversations, more daring innovations, more quirky flavors, more risqué experiences, these consumers increasingly appreciate brands that push the boundaries.”[/quote]

Trendwatching are one of Starfish’s favourite sources of inspiration and innovative insights about the rapid changes happening and emerging around the world. What’s especially interesting is how many of these mega-trends are aligned with sustainability.

Trendwatching recently put together a list of five favourites, and here are the two we most love:


Read more here…
Source: Trendwatching

Generous Cities ~ Biomimicry and Urban Design

How can a city and urban areas be more like an ecosystem?

Janine Benyus’ keynote speech, delivered at the 7th annual Biomimicry 3.8 Education Summit, spoke of the importance of generosity.

“The city would provide the same level of services as the forest next door,” she said. That means a city could build fertile soil, filter air, clean water, sequester carbon, cool the surrounding temperature, provide biodiversity and produce food.

This seems like a long list of functions, but Benyus says there’s “a nice pallet of technology” that’s already available to builders and designers. It’s just a question of putting them together. For example, the Bank of America building in New York already has air filtering technology that allows air to leave the building three times cleaner than what entered. “But that’s just one building.”

Read more here…
Source: Treehugger

Grass is Greener for Families in the Country

Easy living: (From left) Erica, Tom and Ed Nutt, Tom and Georgia Maurice, and Will Nutt. Photo: Steve Gosch  Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/grass-is-greener-for-families-in-the-country-20130608-2nwok.html#ixzz2X1zzSfQw

Country kids are more independent and have a better understanding of the cycle of life and death than their city peers, their parents have told researchers.

The rural families told Edith Cowan University researchers they value the close-knit community of a small town, which rallies around in times of tragedy and disaster. They also thought life was more relaxed, people were less materialistic, and it was easier to make friends in rural areas.

Read more here…
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

The Next Green Revolution (This Time Without Fossil Fuels)

Norman Uphoff/The AgriCultures Network
The world record yield for paddy rice production is not held by an agricultural research station or by a large-scale farmer from the United States, but by Sumant Kumar who has a farm of just two hectares in Darveshpura village in the state of Bihar in northern India. His record yield of 22.4 tons per hectare, from a one-acre plot, was achieved with what is known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). To put his achievement in perspective, the average paddy yield worldwide is about four tons per hectare. Even with the use of fertilizer, average yields are usually not more than eight tons.

Sumant Kumar’s success was not a fluke. Four of his neighbors, using SRI methods, and all for the first time, matched or exceeded the previous world record from China, 19 tons per hectare. Moreover, they used only modest amounts of inorganic fertilizer and did not need chemical crop protection.

Producing more output with fewer external inputs may sound improbable, but it derives from a shift in emphasis from improving plant genetic potential—whether through engineering or plant breeding—to providing optimal environments for crop growth. SRI methodology translates into a number of irrigated rice cultivation practices that, for most smallholder farmers, include the following:

  • Plant young seedlings carefully and singly, giving them wider spacing, usually in a square pattern, so that both roots and canopy have ample room to spread
  • Keep the soil moist but not inundated. Provide sufficient water for plant roots and beneficial soil organisms to grow, but not so much as to suffocate or suppress either (e.g., through alternate wetting and drying or through small but regular applications)
  • Add as much compost, mulch, or other organic matter to the soil as possible, feeding the soil so that the soil can, in turn, feed the plant
  • Control weeds with mechanical methods that can incorporate weeds while breaking up the soil’s surface. This actively aerates the root zone as a beneficial by-product of weed control. This practice can promote root growth and the abundance of beneficial soil organisms, adding to yield.

Read more…
Source: The Solutions Journal

Wood Pellet Stoves for Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Reduction

Wood Pellet Stove ReportStarfish has been working on a sustainable heating initiative as part of Farming the Sun for several years. This initiative is currently focussed in the High Country region of NSW. While there are a wide range of benefits from sustainable heating, the particular need in this instance is to address serious wood smoke pollution issues which are impacting on air quality and public health.

A new Report, “Wood Pellet Stoves for Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Reduction”, has just been released. One of the recommendations from the research is to consider establishing a discounted bulk-buy arrangement for pellet heaters modelled on Starfish’s Farming the Sun initiative.

To quote from the Report: “Domestic space heating in many cold regions of Australia is usually supplied by heaters running on solid wood, gas or electricity. All three fuel sources usually emit large quantities of greenhouse gases. Firewood collection for wood heaters has serious impacts on biodiversity. Wood heaters emit smoke and other gases which cause serious health problems. This research looked at pellet heaters as an alternative home heating option, to see if they could reduce wood smoke pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity impacts, using the Northern Tablelands of NSW as a case study.”

While Starfish is currently focussed on an innovative and energy efficient solar thermal heating and cooling technology, pellet heaters are a further sustainable heating option well worthy of consideration.

Download a free copy of the Report here

Economics word cloud from ABS analysis of Australia's 55 regional development plans

Australia’s Regional Development Priorities

The Australian Bureau of Statistics have completed an analysis of Australia’s regional development priorities and challenges. This analysis has been based upon the 55 regional development plans prepared from each of the members of Regional Development Australia.

The findings from their analysis include:
– the need to diversify regional economies
– recognition of climate change as a key challenge
– the priority for meeting education and health needs
– youth development being a priority
– infrastructure needs are paramount

Starfish facilitated the large-scale participatory planning for the Northern Inland (NSW) Regional Development Plan.

Find out more…

North Coast Energy Forum: Lismore

CLAIM THE DATE ||| 31 May 2013 |||

The North Coast Energy Forum is back this year and will be holding a day-long forum in Lismore 31 May. The goal of this grassroots initiative, founded in 2010, is to help the North Coast “grow its own” sustainable energy system.

“After two highly successful events in Bellingen in 2010 and Mullumbimby in 2011 we thought it was time to take a step back and see how things developed locally”, said forum convenor Mark Byrne.

Starfish is a long-term partner of the Forum, a member of the Organising Committee and Forum Facilitator.

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King of the Trees

[frame src=”http://starfishenterprises.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/KingOfTheTrees.jpg” width=”300″ height=”IMAGE_HEIGHT” lightbox=”on” title=”King of the Trees ~ Source: Australia Network News” align=”right” ] The 57-year-old Taiwanese entrepreneur made his fortune in transportation and property, but his real mission in life is to reinstate at least some of the forests that once covered most of the island.
“It was just a simple idea I had,” said Mr Lai from a hillside near his native Taichung city in central Taiwan.

“If I was to safeguard Taiwan, I would have to plant trees.”

For the past three decades, Mr Lai has bought and planted thousands of trees every year, often with his own hands.

Today his efforts can be seen in the form of 130 hectares of mountainsides near Taichung covered with 270,000 deep-rooted trees, representing indigenous species such as Taiwan incense cedar and cinnamomum micranthum.

Find out more…
Source: Australia Network News

Starfish to Facilitate EcoArts Australis’ Conference

The arts are uniquely placed to explain the problem of climate change and other environmental challenges to the general public, and to motivate people to work towards solutions and adopting more sustainable lifestyles.

The EcoArts Australis annual conference is an opportunity for you to network and communicate with others who are using the arts in creative ways to foster environmental sustainability.

EcoArts Australis conference
12th –13th May 2013
Innovation Campus, University of Wollongong, Wollongong NSW
and Armidale NSW via web-based connection

Find out more…
Source: EcoArts Australis