In my second year of university I was lucky enough to be involved in a design competition held by one of the big engineering firms. During our mid-semester break we pretended to be adults for a week as we worked with some of the engineers to design a self-sufficient green portable classroom.
One of the engineers gave us a presentation on a concept they used when considering sustainability - one less thing. As important as new technology is, sometimes it is considering what can be removed that leads to the greatest innovations.
At the same time as applying it to our design work, they encouraged us to thing about one thing we could minimise in our everyday lives. At the time this made me quite indignant. I liked to think my lifestyle was already pretty environmentally friendly - my family composted and had solar panels. But one aspect I kept coming back to was transport.
Like all Australian 18 year olds, having just obtained my drivers licence I was reluctant to stop driving and give up my hard earned freedom. Plus I had a million excuses why I couldn't:
Just as a side note, shall we have a look at some of the impacts of driving? I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here, but I couldn't resist including some graphs (I am an engineer after all). This one, from the Australian Government Climate Change Authority shows the significant contribution that light vehicle (aka car) use makes to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. The comparative contributions of public transport seem tiny!
But it still bothered me that there are some emissions from public transport. Looking at it from another perspective, the graph below shows the comparative emissions for a person travelling a kilometre on different transport modes. Specifically in Melbourne, it seems that while travelling by public transport does have less emissions than driving, it's still not the greatest.
It is interesting to note that this data will really depend on where you live. Unfortunately in Melbourne the electricity that powers our trains is very polluting as its mostly from brown coal. Also our bus system often operates below capacity, which means there are less people to share the emissions between. The data I have collated in this graph is from a University of Melbourne study (if you are keen to recreate it, I have averaged all the values in Table 10).
So I started to consider cycling. I had a bike, and sometimes went for leisurely rides but had never considered commuting.
But one chilly morning my dad helped me put some lights on it and I struggled through the 3km ride to work. But I survived, and I grew in confidence. That summer I had the time and freedom to ride everywhere, and by the time uni started the next year I was ready to tackle the daunting 20km commute.
Several years later, cycling has become a habit that I love. It brings me so much happiness to whiz past gridlocked cars and packed trams on my way to work. It started as one less thing - but cycling has had more benefits for me than I had imagined.
What's your one less thing? If there is something in your life that you have changed or are considering changing for the greener, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
Having finally finished university I was very excited about all the free time I would have on my hands this year. Weekends! Public holidays! Unfortunately my grand plans of filling up my spare time with languages, yoga, calligraphy and further learning haven't worked out as I had envisaged. I am still adjusting to working full time, so for now I'm just making lists of all the things I would like to do.
There are some amazing looking online courses that address certain aspects of sustainability. Although I'm not sure I could bear the idea of doing an assignment just yet, I am thinking of listening in on the lectures from a couple. These ones have caught my eye recently:
What are your favourite resources for keeping up to date on your areas on interest? Let me know about any courses on your radar in the comments.
Having toyed with the idea of making a blog for a few years, I have decided to take the plunge. Why now?
I guess because there is something that I actually want to talk about.
Having finally finished university, I am lucky enough to be working in a job I love as a sustainability consultant. Yet sustainability seems to have become almost passé. But I think it is a wonderful concept, and I hope to share why in this blog.
My vision for Wonderfully Green is to have a space where I can collect ideas and information related to sustainability. Through this platform I hope to share reliable and robust information in a way that relates to everyday life.
But what exactly do I mean by sustainability? A commonly used definition comes from "Our Common Future", a 1987 report by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (aka the Brundtland Report). The report is a lengthy read at 300 pages, but if you flip to page 41, you'll find the following definition:
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
This definition highlights one of the most important aspects of sustainability for me - it is about people as well as the natural environment. We aren't just saving the world for its own sake, but for the people (us!) that live in it.
Thank you so much for visiting Wonderfully Green. If there is a particular aspect of sustainability that you would like to read about, let me know in the comments.
Welcome to Wonderfully Green...
My name is Kara and I created this blog as a way to document all the lovely aspects of sustainability. You can find out more on my About page.
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