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My Christmas tree dilemma

24 December 2013 3:37:32 PM AEDT

I find there are so many considerations over the festive season besides just surviving the hectic period. My sense of community is at its greatest at this time of year, as I take stock of just how fortunate we are to have a roof over our head and a family to share this special time with. It also highlights some of the challenges I face as a consumer trying to be environmentally minded.

In our rush to complete our Christmas shopping (well at least mine anyway!) it can be easy to overlook considerations such as where the gifts we are buying are sourced from and how they are manufactured. Furthermore, simple details such as where the gift wrapping is derived from or what can be reused or re-purposed as gift wrapping are also considerations.  I also find myself questioning whether my choices of gifts are useful, needed and made to last. There are so many aspects of Christmas and the resulting environmental impacts I could discuss but today I’m going to focus on Christmas trees.

As each Christmas passes, I increasingly wrestle with the long held family tradition of buying a real Christmas tree vs. my environmental conscience. For the last four years over the Christmas period I have either had a newborn baby or we have been doing some sort of home renovation.  We haven’t planned it this way; it’s just how things have worked out.  Needless to say it always seems to be beyond hectic at this time of year and I could use that as an excuse for my decision to take the traditional option of purchasing real Christmas trees, but if I’m honest I do struggle to part with a beautiful smelling fresh Christmas tree.

Knowing that I wrestle with this decision my husband has tried to talk me into a plastic tree a couple of times. However, I’m not a big fan of all things plastic and I have my doubts (albeit subjective) of the environmental credentials of a plastic tree. So I decided to put this to the test and do some reading on the subject to determine which is the more sustainable option – ...

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1 Comments | Posted in 0 By Shannon Clipperton

Challenging mainstream building products

11 November 2013 10:18:54 PM AEDT

We have just started a small renovation at home, which has exposed the finer details of building that I hadn’t before considered. Let me begin this post by saying I am fully aware that I may be overthinking things!

We renovated our bathroom a year ago and it happened really quickly, from a quote to demolition one week later.  I didn’t get the opportunity to think through how I wanted the process to go from both an environmental and healthy product perspective.  I remember walking in to see cans of foam that were being sprayed under the bath to hold it in place and wondering what is that made of??? It was a real eye opener for me and I was determined this time around to be involved in product selection.

The laboratory work I did when study environmental science has increased my awareness of the hazards attached to even the most common chemicals you would see in your house.  This along with a lengthy bout of ill health in my 20s, which increased my systems sensitivity to products, influences the choices I make when purchasing and using products.

This project has several challenges; a small budget, a desire to be as environmentally minded as we can, in addition to a focus on using products I was comfortable with my children being exposed to. 

Given the small scale and budget of the project we are restricted to what we can do environmentally, it is our intention to install solar panels at a later date. Our main focus has been utilising as many recycled products as possible, particularly in the kitchen.  I am getting the sense that our kitchen is going to be a massive fail or win and at this stage I have no idea which it will be.  We wanted to maintain the integrity of the house, which is a cottage, so instead of ripping out the old woodstove fireplace which would have made much more sense we decided to open it up.  This is financially risky for us as it would mean an additional expense of re plastering if the fireplace was a flop.

We have listed useable items on eBay not as ...

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Comments | Posted in 0 By Shannon Clipperton