Thursday, May 31, 2012

Environmentality 30 May 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Bridget, Jaime and Smokey took the opportunity to recognise the United Nations World Environment Day early (officially on 5th of June).  The co-presenters spoke with Graham Hunter, President of the Victorian Division of the United Nations Association of Australia to learn more about the World Environment Day and upcoming events.

The United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) is one of over 100 United Nations Associations from around the world,  which are not-for profit organistations, established to support and promote the work of the United Nations.   The UN Associations from different countries come together as a Federation, and have observer status at UN conferences.

If you are interested, there are opportunities for people to join the UNAA as members in individual state divisions.   The UNAA host a range of activities for members, including talks by visiting people from the UN.  The UNAA also undertake a human rights training program for private corporations.  They also work with schools to facilitate student understanding of climate change through role playing type activities.  You can find out more at

World Environment Day was first recognised around the world in 1972.  The theme of this year is the Green Economy.  Honours will be given to people who have taken an exceptional role in the environment over the last year.  Jaime noted that the architects who designed the Banksia Gardens building won this award a few years ago.  Announcements will take place at a dinner held on the 8th of June this year, and finalists will be listed on the website. 

The UN Environment Programme has defined the Green Economy as, 'Improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities'. 

Also upcoming shortly is the 'Rio+20' Summit, which is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  It will be held in Brazil on the 20-22 June 2012.  Rio+20 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, where the 'Agenda 21' was created.  The Rio+20 Summit will seek to broadly address the following two areas:

  1. Common sense of the issues currently facing the world.  What progress has been made over the last 20 years?  Establishment of goals for sustainable development.
  2. Improve private sector reporting, through the establishment of a global reporting initiative.

The UNAA have developed a draft Melbourne declaration for the suggestions on how Victoria can transition to a Green Economy. The UNAA are taking this to the Rio+20 Conference.  

The Environmentality team look forward to hearing from Graham Hunter again in the future to find out more about the Rio+20 Summit and the progress of the UNAA work in Victoria. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Environmentality 23 May 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Jaime and Bridget hosted a special show today, focusing on sustainable and ethical fashion!   The co-presenters spoke with Georgia McCorkill from The Red Carpet Project, and Andrea from the Social Studio.  Both had much to say about eco-fashion, starting up sustainable ventures and increasing awareness of the environment within the fashion industry.

The Red Carpet Project is a design practice with a focus on women’s fashion for special occasions.  Georgia is also undertaking a PhD in sustainable fashion.  Georgia obtains her materials that are recycled from other fashion houses.  The Red Carpet Project promotes that garments worn are returned, reworn or reused.  Their website:

Image courtesy of Red Carpet Project

The Red Carpet Project designed a dress for Zoe Tuckwell-Smith worn to the Logies in 2011.  Such events can be used as a platform to raise awareness about sustainability in the fashion industry, issues such as pesticide use in cotton production.  Georgia uses a lot of silk in her work, much of it is from left over pieces from other dress designers.  She has a special practice of silk dying with dye derived from eucalyptus leaves. She collects leaves wherever she finds them, and extracts the dye that is used on her silks.  

Image courtesy of Red Carpet Project

The Social Studio is a social enterprise based in Collingwood.  It is a community space where clothing is created ‘from the style and skills of the young refugee community, transforming recycled and excess manufacturing materials into original design’.  The Studio is open most days, and includes a café, a retail component and school.  The idea for the enterprise originated from a brain storming session amongst talented youth in 2009. 

Image Courtesy of the Social Studio

The Social Studio have a number of fabrics kindly donated to them from local manufacturers and textile schools, which are often one-of-a-kind fabrics.  Many of the refugees and migrants working in the studio have a background in textile design. The Studio helps to link young people to employment opportunities with them or elsewhere. See:

Another impact of clothing on the environment is the way we use and care for our clothes.  Georgia raised the point that in general people are washing their clothes more than they need to, thereby wasting water and electricity.  What constitutes clean and unclean?  Maybe we can also save electricity by not ironing at all, like Jaime!   

And natural fibres may not necessarily be a more environmental option than synthetic fibres.   The way we make our ‘natural’ cotton fabrics is not necessarily a natural process.  Synthetic fibres can be washed at a lower temperature saving electricity.

Jaime succinctly summarised how we can be more sustainable in our purchasing and use of clothing:

1. Do you need it or not?
2. Is it good quality, will you reuse it?
3. Don’t wash it unless absolutely necessary!

Thankyou for visiting our blog.  Remember that you can listen to our podcasts if you missed this or another show.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Environmentality 16 May 2012

 Dear Environmentality Listeners,

What are some of your favourite films with an environmental theme? Jaime and Danielle talked about sustainability in cinema and invited listeners to share on their stand out films.  The co-presenters also enjoyed a discussion with Damian Sullivan from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence about how their organisation is responding to climate change in their programs.

There were so many films that came to mind!  Cinema has made such a significant contribution to promoting the environmental message.  Some of our favourite films:

Erin Brokovich: Erin Brokovich led a campaign against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, found to be contaminating water.
The Matrix: Sci-fi genre, robots/artificial intelligence ‘feeding off’ energy of humans in a world where environment destroyed.
Gorillas in the Mist : About Dian Fossey, who worked to study and save gorillas in Africa.
Avatar: Sci-fi genre, theme of environmental destruction, and movie portrayed a world as a living entity.
Blade Runner: Sci-fi, set in a dystopian future Las Angeles world with polluted environment, controlled  by corporates.
Star Trek IV (The Voyage Home): About the original crew going back in time to the 1980s to save humpback whales from extinction.
Finding Nemo:  Fish were affected by pollutants in the Sydney harbour, and taken out of the natural environment.  
The Day after Tomorrow: Sci-fi disaster movie looking at mitigating climate change.

Some notable documentary films:
No Logo:   Similar to Who Killed the Electric Car, looking at the deliberate effort made by motor companies to make people reliant on cars. By Naomi Klein.
An Inconvenient Truth: The Al Gore classic! We are reminded of Gavin Webber (who we interviewed recently), who after watching this film transformed his life in a very green way. See his blog:
Plasticized:  By Michael J.Lutman.  About a location in the Pacific ocean where plastic waste is gathering on a large scale.
Fast Food Nation: About the horrors of the meat producing industry in the fast food market.  Jaime as a meat eater was particularly disturbed!

Banksia Gardens are continuing their green film night program.  Some upcoming films include Garbage Warrior, Who Killed the Electric Car and I Bought a Rainforest.  You can find out more on the Hume City Council Green Workshops and film nights:

Jaime and Danielle spoke with Damian Sullvian, Senior Manager of the ‘Equity in Response to Climate Change Program’ of the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence is a community welfare organization that works across Australia.  Their focus areas are in employment, aged care, youth and children.   Their interest in climate change is not standard for a welfare organization, however the Brotherhood having been addressing climate change in their programs for at least the last four years.

It has been important to plan for the future.  Research has shown that climate change could affect the programs of the Brotherhood of St Laurence in events such as heat waves, extreme storms and food crises.  This is particularly pertinent for vulnerable people and households on low incomes.  For example, they may not have insurance and not be in a position to afford repairs of their house or car if damaged by a natural disaster.

The Brotherhood also run energy efficiency programs, assisting households make changes to help them save electricity and money. They even help facilitate the recycling of… fridges!   They have helped audit and retrofit 700 households to date,  that includes all the standard fare such as changing shower heads and light globes.  They are looking into upscaling this program, and are working with the government to identify training options and opportunities for expansion.

It was a very engaging discussion, a podcast of the show should be available shortly.  We hope you will tune in next week!

Listen to the show!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Environmentality 9 May 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

It was a full house, with co-presenters Smokey, Jaime and Bridget hosting the show supported by Danielle.  The crew had the privilege of speaking to Hugh Wareham, CEO of Eco-Buy about sustainable procurement, and also enjoyed a lively chat about some current environmental concerns making the news.

Eco-Buy helps organisations and companies buy goods and services they really need, taking into account the environment.  Hugh explained that around 80% of an organisation’s impact on the environment is about the 'things they purchase'.  So in trying to be more sustainable, procurement is obviously the right area to target!

The team spoke with Hugh about perceptions that sustainable products are more expensive.  In many cases the initial price is higher, but over the lifespan of the product, savings can be made.  Energy efficiency is becoming a well known case in point.   Also, changing economies of scale mean that sustainable products are becoming cheaper, for example many people would be aware that recycled paper has become more affordable.

Hugh Wareham, CEO, image courtesy of Eco-Buy
Many organisations are choosing to be more sustainable to actually save money.  They are concerned about rising energy costs, compounded by the impending price on carbon.  In other cases, Jaime raise the point that many savvy consumers will be prepared to spend more on a product if they are equipped with the correct information as to why it is environmentally friendly. 

Eco-Buy offers a range of training options and support services, and has a large client base situated in the government sector.  Eco-Buy also helps consumers choose products that are independently verified as environmentally friendly, and have contacts that assist both suppliers and consumers meet their needs.  You can find out more on their website

Later the Environmentality team had a chat about why Australians should revisit drinking recycled water, issues surrounding the Victoria desalination plant, the price on carbon taking effect on the 1st of July, and more! If you missed the show you will be able to listen to the podcast.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Environmentality 2 May 2012

Dear Environmentality Listeners,

Co-presenters Bridget and Danielle today talked to participants of the Hume Environmental Champions Program, Jodi Jackson and Norman Palumbo.  Both Jodi and Norman have set up community based programs that are both participatory and inspirational.

Norman is the creator of several exciting initiatives based around his two cafes, in Sunbury and Bendigo.  Particularly in Sunbury, the cafe is the focal point for community activities, gathering,  discussion groups and events.  Upon learning that child slavery has been found to be involved in the production of cocoa around the world, Norman was committed to selling fair trade chocolate in his café.  The Just Planet cafe now sells a range of organic and fair trade products, including of course coffee!

The café hosts Sunday morning breakfasts in which people gather and share their experiences and concerns about a range of topics relevant to the community, be it political, social or religious.  For example, the idea of creating a food cooperative has recently been canvassed.  Norman also incorporates a spiritual aspect to some of his discussion groups and activities, for example he recently he organized an art therapy session in which people explored their connection with God, the creator, other people and the planet.

You can find out more on:

Jodi also shared with the audience details of her fantastic projects.  'The Lemon Tree Project’ is a newly created initiative, and inspired by Jodi’s travels through Italy.  Specifically on route to Cinque Terra, Jodi encountered a number of homeless people. However the people were surrounded by orange trees on the streets, a source of nutrition. 

From that point on Jodi considered the importance of people working together to make food readily available.  The idea of the project is to have a lemon tree on every street, and this becoming a focal point for community meetings and connection.  This small gesture can make a big difference.  Jodi is currently looking at integrating this idea into new housing developments and the local area.

Jodi also has a very productive backyard. On an 800sqm block, Jodi is producing about 60% of her food!   You can find out more about Jodi’s garden, vegetable gardening tips and more on:

A reminder that Hume City Council are running some practical workshops on seed propagation that will help people get the most out of their vegetable gardens.  There are two sessions, Friday the 4th of May, 10-12am at Roxburgh Park Homestead and on Wednesday the 23rd of May, 10-12 am at Meadows Primary School.

Finally, Bridget and Danielle briefly spoke to Dan from Sustainability Drinks.  On the first Wednesday of every month 6-8pm, Sustainability Drinks hosts a social drinks night featuring a guest speaker.  Tonight, film maker Karl Fitzgerald from 'Real Estate for Ransom' will be talking about the issue of how our precious land can be used for more productive purposes, as opposed for purely speculative financial gain.  As Bridget remarked, its about ‘fair trade land’!

If you missed the show, you can listen to our podcast.  Next week the Environmentality team will be speaking to Hugh Wareham, CEO of Eco-Buy. 

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