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Today was a historic day for Australia as the Senate approved a price on carbon pollution with the approval of the Clean Energy Future package.

For the first time, Australia will have a price on carbon, after the 36 to 32 vote in the upper house.

According to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Australia is one of the top 20 polluting countries in the world. Finally we may be taking some substantial action that should benefit future generations and help the Australian economy transition more swiftly into a cleaner, greener future.

Despite massive downpours in Canberra, a crew of committed supporters celebrated the event, with the filling of a time capsule to commemorate the event and speeches from Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Christine Milne from the Greens and Penny Wong from the Australian Labour Party.

Let’s hope that the rest of the Australian community can realise the importance of this legislation and not just think of short-term vested interests or their own hip pocket.

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Today I was lucky enough to have my own personal tour of the EcoCentre located in the St Kilda Botanical Gardens. The centre is situated in the EcoHouse in the old ground keeper’s house which in 2003 was retrofitted to a five star equivalent standard by installing solar panels, a grey water/black water treatment system, large underground water tank, wall, ceiling and floor insulation and solar hot water.

The site includes a community garden, native plant garden and on-site composting and worm farm. The EcoCentre also runs a host of activities including weekly organic veggie box pick-ups, workshops on composting, bike repairs, redesign of old clothes etc.

Apparently there are already several other community gardens operational in the council area (City of Port Phillip) and a few more about to start up. For an area with a relatively low ratio of open space to residents, it appears that community garden plots are in high demand.

I wonder how many of these ideas are transferrable to Canberra?

I know we already have quite a few different community groups with an environmental focus, but do we have enough push factors such as restricted private open space and like-minded people close together looking for similar facilities? It seems to me that the population density and higher education facilities of Canberra’s inner north appear to attract an alternate crowd interested in food co-ops and the like, but what about the rest of us out in “the burbs”?

To me one of the major benefits of these centres, apart from the environmental outcomes, are the community building aspect, by bringing together people within a local community to work towards a common purpose. Local schools, churches and sporting groups can also help in the development of community, but maybe this is another rallying point to improve the sense of community, generate activity and reduce social isolation in our suburbs?

Top of the bedside reading pile the CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook!

Thanks to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s Living Greener team for the lovely book (also on my Books to Read list by the way).

If you want to find out more about how to live greener, check out this government website, which includes information on energy, water, waste and transport efficiency as well as information on government rebates and assistance.

My little contribution is under the Real Stories section and if you want to add your own contribution (and get a free book in the process) make sure you send something in by the 31 July 2011.

Only recently had I heard the term Carrotmob, and had absolutely no idea what it was!

Now that I am in the know, I can inform you that a Carrotmob is a group of people taking positive action on climate change, by selecting a day or time to purchase goods at a particular store that has agreed to spend part, or all profits made on the day, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Such as by installing solar panels, retrofitting with more efficient lights, recycling waste etc. 

The concept of a Carrotmob emerged in San Francisco, with the name reflecting the “carrot” rather than the “stick” approach to encouraging people to make changes to how they ran their businesses through positive consumer activism. The first Carrotmob campaign was successfully pulled off in 2008 and from what I understand there have been many Carrotmobs since!

As part of this Carrotmob phenomenon a group of enterprising Canberrans have approached IGAs across the inner north and asked them what they would do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for being mobbed by a large group of customers.  Ainslie IGA offered to put 100% of the money spent on the day towards reducing the stores emissions. So if you are interested and in Canberra Saturday 11 June 2011, come join the mob at Ainslie IGA!

To find out more see Carrotmob Canberra or Time article (2009) Shoppers, Unite! Carrotmobs Are Cooler than Boycotts

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Once again my son has inspired me to get enthusiastic about things.

This time it was for Earth Hour which was held last Saturday. He had experienced it at school on Friday when they turned off all the lights and electrical items for 1 hour.

So on Saturday night, we had a romantic candlelit dinner, and attempted to extend the lights off to two hours. Despite his brother’s best attempt to ruin things by being inconveniently sick in the middle of it all!

Nevertheless we had some fun, and it turned into a bit of a camping at home “what was it like in the old days” experience. The novelty of having all the lights out and only candles was fantastic and cemented for my son the idea of what we use electricity for, and what it is like without it.

The challenge of going beyond the hour and hopefully into the days and weeks beyond, is one which we are hoping to take up.

Maybe a candlelit dinner could be become part of our weekly routine!