What corporations should know (if they don’t already)

My husband Brett works in the Marketing/Advertising industry.  He brought home an industry magazine entitled ‘The Issue’ which was all about ‘what you need to know about sustainability in marketing’.  I found it a very good read.

Here are some extracts that I thought was worth mentioning – words by Kevin Johns:

“Whether you’re a brand, an agency or a media business, it’s important not to look at carbon offsetting as a silver bullet.  The first steps to take are reducing your energy use as much as possible through examining your power saving options, such as turning off all office hardware and lights at night as well as buying the energy your business uses from renewable resources (wind or solar).  After that, carbon offsetting should be used to lessen the remaining impact of your energy use.”

“If you advertise carbon offsets that sequester carbon through tree planting, but fail to disclose the planting of those trees will not occur for several years, this could constitute misleading by omission, warns the ACCC.”

“There is mounting concern that business  and the individuals working within them,  are using carbon offsetting as an excuse to delay making changes to the way things have always been done.  Even if the world’s total energy consumption was offset by renewable sources, current levels of consumption are still unsustainable.  The conventional wisdom among environmentalists seems to be that business and individuals need to take direct action.  They urge us to join pressure groups that push for political change, and alter our consumption patterns and behaviour.  A far-reaching global framework to make sense of emissions cuts is what is needed, they say….”

“To most people looking at the total sustainability picture – climate change, all of the natural systems in the world, fisheries, water stocks, and so on – it’s clear that human activity is causing stress on the environment.  This raises a fundamental problem for brands, corporations and the very notion of consumerism.”  Words by Ben Wheaton of Beer Wheation “With current per annum global growth the global economy doubles every 24 years, and that means that in the next 24 years we will consume the equivalent amount of resources that we have already consumed in the entire history of humanity up to this point.  You might think ‘OK maybe we can do that’ but then in the next 24 years after that, we’d have to do the same again, so there comes a point when it all runs out of steam.  A lot of companies are fearful when they start looking at the big sustainability picture as they realise this stuff, and then the questions is, ‘well, what we are really saying globally is we have to actually use much less resource’.  And for economies to continue to grow we have to find a way for resource consumption and energy use to be separated from growing the economy”.



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My Eco Footprint

Today, Peta from Sydney’s Precinct Magazine interviewed me at home, about living in the City of Sydney and trying to live a ‘greener’ life.

I spent the afternoon demonstrating our household Bokashi bin, worm farm, home wireless electricity monitor and even our dog poo recycling system.

Peta was particularly interested in the Australian Conservation Foundation’s report that shows Sydney residents to have an average eco-footprint of 8.58 hectares per person per year.  This is well above both State (6.33) and Federal (6.4) averages.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s website states that “eco-footprint is an indication of the total amount of land required to supply all the resources a person’s lifestyle demands. Australian’s have the fourth largest eco-footprint in the world”.

So how does my eco-footprint compare to the average Sydney, NSW and Australian rate?  After chatting with Peta today I visited The Australian Conservation Foundation’s website and looked at their ‘Consumption Atlas’ then calculated my own personal eco-footprint.  According to their calculator my eco-footprint is 4.8 hectares per year.

This may be well below Sydney, NSW and Australian averages but it is however way above the 1.8 hectares, that ACF states is sustainable.

In finishing, I wish to thank Peta for taking the time to visit me at my home to research what I am doing on my ‘green’ journey.  Also Peta I wish to thank you for sharing your research with me as I am inspired to work at getting my personal eco-footprint down even further. 

Australian Carbon Credit Schemes

In a recent post ‘Offsetting Your Wedding Carbon Emissions’ I touched on the subject of ‘Carbon Offsetting Schemes’.

In this post, I mentioned the scheme of offsetting your carbon emissions by planting trees, which many companies offer.  Since then, I have come to understand that though these type of carbon offsetting schemes are not bad, the premise is not accurate.


My reasoning is based on knowledge given to me by Sam Lucic at ‘The Carbon Reduction Institute’.  This was in an article that Sam emailed to me; “For trees to be used as an offset, they must stay in the ground for 100 years to match the life-cycle of CO2 in our atmosphere.”


Sam spoke with me last week in regards to an alternative that ‘The Carbon Reduction Institute’ offers.  Here is my understanding from that chat:


Using the online calculator that ‘The Carbon Reduction Institute’ has, calculate how much carbon emissions you as an individual or company creates each year.


Then instead of paying money to plant trees, choose from a range of Australian projects that is currently taking carbon out of the environment today (not in 50-100 years time when planting trees).


Here is one project mentioned in the article that Sam emailed me:


Project: The SMRC’s waste processing facility diverts from landfill the household rubbish of more than 350,000 residents. When the disposal of organic matter to landfill is avoided by composting, methane emissions are abated, as the waste is broken down in the presence of oxygen. This means that the carbon is released as CO2 (carbon dioxide) rather than CH4 (methane).


Methane is 21 more times potent as a greenhouse gas (that is, its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere) as carbon dioxide. It is the net difference in emissions between dumping in landfill and composting that gives the SMRC its Verified Emission Reductions (VERs).

Accreditation: The process is independently audited under the stringent rules of the Australian Greenhouse Office’s Greenhouse Friendly verification programme.


Personally I still would prefer to lower my own carbon emissions in the first place i.e. turn power off at the wall and not have appliances on stand by etc.  However it is unlikely that I can create a lifestyle that emits no carbon emissions in the next twelve months.  Therefore this type of scheme can work together with my efforts to personally lower my emissions.


What I like about ‘The Carbon Reduction Institute’ carbon offsetting scheme is:


1)       Money spent goes towards Australian projects.  Therefore investing in a potential local ‘green’ industry, which will help Australia’s economy and environment.

2)       Money spent takes carbon out of the environment today (don’t have to wait 50-100 years for trees to grow).


Take a look at ‘The Carbon Reduction Institute’ website for more information.  For companies you can apply for accreditation that allows you to say your business is 100% carbon neutral (or part % carbon neutral).


For individuals and families you can use their calculator to work out your yearly carbon emissions figure, then choose a project you would like to invest in.  A project that will offset your carbon emissions now.  Then feel really proud that you are actively doing something that will improve our environment today!

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Offsetting Your Wedding Carbon Emissions

Regular readers of ‘Greener Me’ may know that I also write for the blog ‘Wedding Planning Tips’.  ‘Wedding Planning Tips’ are my inside the wedding industry secrets from a professional wedding photographer’s perspective.


Many of my wedding couples are not only sharing my concern for the environment but also share my desire to actively do something about it.  I have been impressed and inspired by many couple’s knowledge, actions and decisions in regards to having a ‘green wedding’.


I mentioned in a recent post ‘A Green Wedding’, a couple I photographed last year at Balmoral Sydney.  Instead of paying money for guest bomboniere, they donated the money to ‘Climate Change’.


On my personal journey to live a greener life, I have been investigating the carbon offsetting scheme that many companies offer.  From my basic understanding, the scheme works by honestly answering a number of questions about your life i.e. how much petrol you spend each week, what is your power bill etc etc etc.  Then these companies calculate how much carbon emissions per year your lifestyle and business are creating.


This emission figure then translates to a money figure that you can pay.  These companies will then plant the number of trees needed to cover the amount of carbon emissions being emitted from your lifestyle / business.


I have to admit my knowledge on these schemes is at present limited (still researching), however even though my current personal opinion is that the idea isn’t bad; I feel I could do better.


I would rather try to eliminate the carbon emissions in the first place rather than simply offsetting them.  Therefore instead of paying $200 a year because I run a heater all day during winter, I would rather put on another jumper and turn the heater off.


However in saying that I have decided to do both.  My goal is to pay less money each year for offsetting because I am not having a lifestyle that is emitting as much carbon as the previous year.


So for couples trying to organise a ‘green’ wedding, perhaps their thinking may be the same.  In my post ‘A Green Wedding’, there are some more information, links and ideas about how to have a wedding that will create less carbon emissions. 


To be fare it is probably highly unlikely that couples will be able to have a wedding that is totally carbon natural without offsetting (unless you plan to stand naked in the forest and forage amongst the trees for berries to eat at the reception).


It is my great pleasure now to direct you to a website that I stumbled across only recently.  Sally Miles, is a Sydney lady who recently held a carbon neutral wedding.  She has created a website dedicated to Australian Brides wanting to do the same.  She named her website the ‘Green Wedding Guide’.


She offers ideas and also the option to calculate your wedding’s carbon emission and even offsetting them.


I will be personally contacting Sally to congratulate and encourage her new green wedding venture.



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