Monday, August 26, 2013

Govt strategies make boring reading - but to make change one has to begin at the beginning, as the King said in Alice in Wonderland

Here is the Waste Strategy for Ballarat, the city where I live. I know it looks boring but what I would like to know is - do you think it does the trick? Does it help people to REALLY know how and what to recycle?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tackling food waste

Dear Waste Wielders,

Sometimes it would be great to have a jet aircraft or time machine at one's beck and call.  And if I had some marvellous free transport near at hand, I would be off to New York City for this event.  Food, food waste, composting etc are topics of great interest to me.  

It appears that a star-studded cast has been assembled for this foodtank event.

I live in Ballarat - and I would love to have such an event with speakers of this calibre speaking here.  Locally, if such an event were to take place in Ballarat, we might have some speakers to touch on the topics of the waste associated with the destruction of  fruit trees because the processor won't give producers contracts; the waste if low supermarket prices drive dairy farmers from their farms or into other forms of food production.

There are three things that keeps us alive - clean air, clean water, fresh food.  While we are working to alert the world to Climate Change and renewable energy, we ignore at our peril this trinity of basics.  Included in this short list are the background issues - good, sound, productive soil; regulation of any interference or possible interference with the cleanliness and freshness of our air, water and food; the maintenance of fair livelihoods.

So can we have a big think and discussion about this?

Blessings from Miss Eagle ~~~

A very special evening discussion bringing together the New York City food movement for food waste awareness week. Hosted by Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

Sept 19th 5:30PM to 7:30PM EST
The Snapple Theater, 1627 Broadway, New York, NY, 10019

Musical Guest:

and many more to be announced soon!

Drinks and light snacks included!

$25 donation. Limited tickets available, purchase now
If you have any questions, please call 202-590-1037 or email

Saturday, March 16, 2013

UN World Water Day 22 March 2013 - a reminder about water waste and what might be done

I know that many parts of the east coast of Australia have been too darn wet this year and for a while.  Places like Bundaberg in Queensland are still suffering dreadfully from the effects of flood.  Victoria is no longer either in flood nor is it experiencing drought.  Vic only came out of a twelve year drought a couple of years ago.  The people of Victoria learned not to waste water - even those living in Melbourne.  While things are not as bad they were, there are indicators that we have drifted away somewhat from our water thrift.  The comments below from Danielle Nierenberg will, I hope, serve to remind us about water waste as we come up to UN World Water Day on 22 March.

March 22, 2013 is the 20th anniversary of World Water Day. In honor of this important anniversary, this week we are highlighting 7 Strategies for Reducing Water Waste. Please visit the Food Tank website each day over the next week for posts focused on innovations around water. 

Although the earth has 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water, only 0.001 percent of that is accessible for human consumption and use. And 70 percent of water is used for agricultural purposes. In 2012, the United States experienced the most severe drought in at least 25 years which, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), affected 80 percent of agricultural land in the country. Couple that with recent droughts in other parts of the world, most notably in the African Sahel, and the urgency for action to safeguard water resources is clear.

As water supplies face mounting pressures from growing populations, climate change, and an already troubled food system, analyses of “water wealth” and “water security” are laying the groundwork for future cooperation and stability. In order to meet all municipal, agricultural, and ecological needs for water, it is crucial to develop innovative water saving systems for the future of food production.

Here are seven strategies for reducing water waste in the food system:

1. Eating Less Meat

According to Sandra Postel of the Global Water Policy Project, it takes roughly 3,000 liters of water to meet one person’s daily dietary needs, or approximately 1 liter per calorie. The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of red meat can range from 13,000 to 43,000 liters of water; poultry requires about 3,500 liters of water; and pork needs about 6,000 liters. Eating more meatless meals, even one or two days a week, can help conserve water resources. 

2. Using intercropping, agroforestry, and cover crops
Soil health is critical to water conservation. Diversifying farms by including cover crops, planting trees on farms, and intercropping can help keep nutrients and water in the soil, protecting plants from drought and making sure that every drop of water delivered by rainfall or irrigation can be utilized.

3. Implementing micro-irrigation
Approximately 60 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted. Drip irrigation methods can be more expensive to install, but can also be 33 percent to 40 percent more efficient, carrying water or fertilizers directly to plants’ roots. 

4Improving Rainwater Harvesting
Since the 1980s, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, farmers in Burkina Faso have been modifying traditional planting pits known as zai, making them deeper and wider and adding organic materials. As a result, the pits retain rainwater longer, helping farmers to increase yields even in years of low rainfall.

5. Using mobile technology to save water
Santosh Ostwal is an innovator and entrepreneur in India who has developed a system that allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn their irrigation systems on and off remotely. This helps reduce the amount of water and electricity wasted on watering fields that are already saturated.

6. Planting perennial crops
Perennial crops protect the soil for a greater length of time than annual crops, which reduces water loss from runoff. According to a report from the Land Institute, "annual grain crops can lose five times as much water and 35 times as much nitrate as perennial crops."

7. Practicing Soil Conservation
Soil conservation techniques, including no-till farming, can help farmers to better utilize the water they have available. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), studies have shown that no-till techniques improve water-retention capacity and improve water use efficiency in crops.

Be sure to visit the official World Water Day website for more details about the day’s events, including activities in your community and tips for reducing your water footprint. You can also learn more about water issues from the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, the Global Water Policy ProjectFood and Water Watch, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

What do YOU think? What are the best ideas, studies, and on-the-ground innovations helping to conserve water? 

Check out some of our newsletter articles below, reply to this email or call me, and please join the conversation on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Google+, and on YouTube
All the Best,

Danielle Nierenberg
Co-Founder, Food Tank: The Food Think Tank
Please connect with us on Facebook,  Twitter, and Pinterest

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Opportunities for keeping stormwater run0ff on site at Mt Evelyn

Not exactly the sort of architecture you would see or want at Mt Evelyn
but you get the drift of what is possible.

An Australian-first initiative that encourages residents to use more of their stormwater runoff at home is being proposed for parts of Mount Evelyn.

The two year pilot, developed by Yarra Ranges Council and Melbourne Water, aims to dramatically reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and pollution entering the Little Stringybark Creek..

Yarra Ranges Council has proposed an Environmental Significance Overlay to apply to new developments in the Little Stringybark Creek catchment which create additional hard surfaces, such as roofs or paving, that are greater than 10 square metres.

Planning approval will be conditional on the proponents finding options to capture and treat more of their stormwater runoff onsite.

The pilot program will encourage residents to capture their stormwater at home and use it to flush their toilets, water their gardens and for other non-drinking purposes around the home.  It is a practical example of how Integrated Water Cycle Management can be tailored to suit the needs of local communities.

Throughout the trial, all stormwater capture and treatment systems will be awarded a stormwater retention score.  Calculated by Melbourne Water, the score will be based on the ability to treat and capture stormwater on site, with a minimum score needed for new developments to proceed.

Treatment options such as raingardens or rainwater tanks that go beyond the minimum requirements may be eligible for partial or full reimbursement by Melbourne Water.  Households may also be eligible for Victorian Government rebates through the Living Victoria Water Rebate Program.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

From unmentionable human stuff to pellets of useful fertiliser

The Minister for Water, the Honourable Peter Walsh, MLA, has officially opened the $77 million biosolids thermal drying facility at the Black Rock environmental precinct in Connewarre.  The ribbon-cutting completed a project that has been more than 10 years in the making.

Every day of the year, the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant treats around 50 million litres of domestic and commercial sewage from the greater Geelong region and creates almost 140 tonnes of biosolids.  Biosolids are nutrient-rich and make valuable fertiliser, but must be first dried and turned into pellets.

The biosolids drying facility was built by the Plenary Group and will be operated by the Water Infrastructure Group.  The $77 million project was delivered within the Partnerships Victoria framework, an initiative of the Victorian Government.

Water Minister Peter Walsh with Plenary Group Associate Director Carl Retschko 
officially open the biosolids drying facility.

Further reading