Simple ways to save the planet

23:27, Jan 16 2012

Here's a beautiful video video a Facebook friend shared about our home and how we live.

We live in one of the world's best playgrounds, and it's never more obvious than in summer when we're out catching fish, enjoying the rivers and exploring the wilderness.

What puts it at risk are really big trends: climate change, loss of habitat, the spread of invasive species, pressure on endangered species, the poison we pump into the air and leave in the ground and the relentless depletion of finite resources.

Last year in our house we set the goal of cutting our power bills by a third. The year before we cut our water use by a third. This year I want to cut our rubbish disposal by a third.

In each case the changes turned out to be mostly easy (except I took the power saving light bulbs out. Worst invention ever.) The point is, I didn't have to become a hippy. Once the changes are made we don't notice them - or else they don't last.

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For example, cutting the amount of rubbish we throw out was as simple as adding all our household paper and cardboard to the garden compost, recycling diligently, but also making much tougher choices when we buy things. I try to avoid packaging, especially polystyrene and that horrible tough display plastic that toys often seem to be cased in. I choose paper or recycled plastic if I have to have something. We'll see how it goes.

Our local council has an energy consultant who comes around for free and gives advice room by room about how to cut power and water use. He talked me out of putting in recessed ceiling lights. They're an ecological disaster - like having mini chimneys all over the place. He also talked me out of some pricey plans to install a heat pump, and came up with far cheaper and more effective ways to warm the house.

Anyway, if you can get an energy consultant, I strongly recommend it.

I was going to write about the law changes our natural environment needs, but if everyone cut our power, water, rubbish and transport by a third, we wouldn't need to regulate much, would we? 

Conservative politicians seem to think being conservative means helping yourself to as much as you can get, when you would think it meant being a conservationist. The point is, if you believe in personal responsibility and you're generally opposed to waste and government regulation, then you really ought to be taking all the conservationist steps that you can.

John Pagani is a former senior adviser to Labour leader Phil Goff and before that was a key player in Jim Anderton's Alliance team.

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