Thursday, July 27, 2017

Get money back from a vending machine

In 2018 my home state of Queensland will get container refunds. We will get money for the used bottles and cans we return for recycling.

Right now there's a trial 'Reverse Vending Machine' operating at 400 George Street Brisbane in the food court.

It's called reverse vending because it's the opposite of a normal machine. Instead of paying for an item, you return a used item and it pays you.

Here's video of me giving it a go.



At the moment the payment is replaced by a donation to a charity. So I donated my refunds to Clean Up Australia.

When the program starts in July 2018, the refund can be in the form of discount coupons, vouchers or something you can use.

Hopefully, they allow you to add credit onto your transport card.

Friday, July 07, 2017

May the cup be with you

KeepCups are great. You can get a takeaway coffee without having to add wore waste to landfill.

It's even greater now that they have a Star Wars range.


It might be too late to save Alderaan, but it's not too late to save Earth.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Get a coffee discount

Here's another way to profit from your good actions. Keep Cups are reusable coffee cups specifically designed for takeaway coffees.

Many coffee shops give you a discount for using a reusable cup - even your own mug from home. After all, you're saving them money and helping the environment.

Responsible Cafes shows you where these shops are - so you can get your discount. Check the map for your closest option.


If your favourite coffee shop offers a discount for bringing your own cup, suggest they register on the website.

If they don't offer a discount, suggest they do. It's good for the planet but it also good for business to be listed on the site.

PS. The reason this is a big deal is because of the enormous waste of disposable coffee cups. This tram contains 50,00 coffee cups. Australia throws away a billion cups a year. That's 20,000 trams full. To put it another way, we would fill this tram every 30 minutes with our trashed coffee cups.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bringing plastic back

In December 2012 I first blogged about the soft plastic recycling at Coles Supermarket (then a trial).

In all those years I've never seen it overflow so massively as today.


It's so exciting to see people recycling their soft plastics instead of sending them to landfill.

I'm guessing this was because of the publicity in the ABC series War on Waste.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Help the planet, help feed people

Sometimes I get feedback that doing things for "the environment" isn't really worth it. That human convenience is more important. But there are so many real human impacts of our high-emission high-waste low-efficiency living.

This is one example. Episode one of War on Waste showed the enormous food wastage that occurs before food even get to the shelves. For example millions of bananas get thrown out before a customer ever sees them. Meanwhile, Foodbank gives these stats on hunger - even if a wealthy country like Australia.

The last stat is probably the saddest.


Definitely food for thought (pun intended).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Are there jobs in renewable energy?

Some people worry that changing to renewable energy will cost jobs. It's really nothing to worry about. Forbes in the USA did a comparison of the jobs in the various energy sectors and found that already the jobs in solar are double the jobs of all fossil fuels combined.


And that's when solar is only a small fraction of US energy and fossil fuels are about 80 per cent. Imagine what that will look like if solar is 10%, or even 20%.

The future definitely looks sunny for jobs.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

I made a super switch

The email title was subtle - "Confirmation of your transaction". But it meant much more. Now my retirement savings are being invested ethically. Not with companies that are damaging the planet I will retire on.


The "transaction" was moving my old superannuation money into my fund with Australian Ethical.

If you are wondering about your current super fund, check out Super Switch. There you can also find a better fund - like Australian Ethical or Future Super.

PS. This was really easy to do. I'd already joined Australian Ethical so I just filled in a form to get my old (not so ethical) company to switch my savings across. Then the two companies sort it out for us. I should have done this ages ago.

PPS. As I write this my new fund averages 8.1% growth per year over the past decade. My previous fund did only 5.0%. It's great when the ethical decision is also a very profitable decision.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Something great about Australia

Google often makes different versions of it's logo for logo for special events, including "Australia Day". This is what they created this year.


What an inspired choice. The Great Barrier Reef is something great about Australia - and something we should definitely celebrate and cherish.

Here is the search that the image linked to.

There was also a link to Explore Australia's Great Barrier Reef up close.

Definitely check out that link. It's like a streetview of the reef.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Governor Nix's speech

The plot of the movie Tomorrowland is obviously fictional but this classic speech by the character Governor Nix has quite a few elements of reality in it.



It's even better in the context of the movie but is still very good as a stand-alone critique.

What do you think? Is it all the fault of politcians, or do we sometimes settle for a worse future because we don't believe that a better one is possible?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How hot is Queensland?

Today has been very uncomfortable. It's 34°C. With Brisbane's famous humidity it feels like 38°C. (That's 100°F). People have been sharing this:


It's great that we agree it's really hot. I also hope for two other things:

1. That we remember this painful heat when we are making decisions that affect the planet. Choosing our transport, choosing Greenpower or choosing our politicians.

2. That we remember that (technically) this is not even a hot day. When experts talk about us having 28-65 hot days here in future summers (or 312 in Darwin) they are talking about days even hotter than today. Surely that's worth doing something about.

Friday, December 30, 2016

It's at the library!

I was quite excited to see David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef already in my local library.


The series came out only this year so it's great to see it already available to watch again.

The interactive website is also still running. Obviously, not as much footage as the DVD series, but incredibly fascinating.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Bad for the planet, bad for your wallet

Divestment Day is this weekend. It's an event where people leave the major banks - who are using our money to fund fossil fuels.

In case climate change is not enough reason to change banks, this data came out recently.


Turns out the the major banks (the'big 4' in Australia) also charge us higher than average rates on home loans.

Perhaps they have to make up for the money they lose by investing in last century's energy sources.

Consumer affairs program The Checkout investigates banks, and finds out that we pay more and get worse service with the big 4.
It was surprising just how much better of we can be with other banks.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The facts - and why they don't matter

The people at It's OK to be smart, have put together this easy-to-watch What you need to know summary of climate science.



It's quite convincing - on a rational level. But then they looked at why facts don't matter to the human brain.

This is more psychology than science, but can help you understand why some just don't get it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Sunfunder Update

A while ago I told the story of Sunfunder, the crowd-funding website that's reducing emissions and poverty) in Africa.

The mixed news today is that they're closing the program. Why mixed? It's kind of sad that they won't be doing anymore crowdfunding projects. But the reason is great. Crowdfunding is great for medium size amounts, but not so great for enormous amounts of funding. The projects they are doing now are so big and happening so quickly that crowdfunding just takes too long. They have big sponsors now who can lend large amounts very quickly.

So what happens to the small amount I lent? They gave me the option of getting my money out, or donating it. I decided to donate it to the non-profit Solar Sister who do similar work.

So long SunFunder, it was great to be part of it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dog helps explain climate v weather

With Winter on the way, you may hear someone say "global warming isn't happening because it's so cold outside" or something like that.

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks down the differences between weather and climate change in a simple and visually effective way.



It's an important distinction to make. Any day can be hot or cold, but what's the overall trend? That's the question.