clear the air

Water, Not Down The Drain

Water: Not Down the Drain

A guide to using rainwater and greywater at home
by Stuart McQuire

It’s time to think of other ways to secure water for the home. This book shows you how.

Water Not Down the Drain is a comprehensive guide to sustainable water use around the home. With Australia experiencing one of its driest phases in history, everyone has to think about how they use the water available to them and find ways to reduce their day to day water use. The good news is that with rainwater and greywater, people have more water available to them than they think.

Topics include:

  • Making the most of the water you have
  • Saving water, including tips on how to use less water
  • Top water greenhouse savers
  • Calculating how much water is available including rainwater, greywater and stormwater
  • Where can you use rainwater, greywater and stormwater
  • Rainwater tanks and where to place them
  • Tank types including under floor tanks
  • Regulations
  • Rebates
  • Selecting a greywater system
  • Greywater health and safety
  • Watering systems for greywater
  • Composting toilets and complete treatment systems such as worm farms
  • Wise watering in the garden
  • How to use stormwater at home

Water Not Down the Drain includes case studies from author Stuart McQuire’s house, including examples of how he uses rainwater, greywater and stormwater. Useful tips and advice appear throughout the book to help you make changes at home.

About the author
Stuart McQuire’s household used to be above average suburban water users. Since then they have reduced their mains water use by 96 per cent. In fact, they use just two and a half buckets of mains water per day, but still have a thriving garden full of fresh produce. All other water comes from the site either as rainwater or recycled water. Stuart began using rainwater and greywater in the early nineties to save water, and his home has gained a national and international profile for its role in pioneering environmental technologies and sustainable living.

Stuart McQuire is an environmental scientist and past president of the Alternative Technology Association. This is his second book about water. In this book, he shares his journey to sustainable water use and shows readers what he’s done at home. Stuart’s house is surrounded by a permaculture garden with 20 fruit and nut trees, and features grid-connected solar electricity, solar hot water, rainwater tanks, water recycling, composting and chooks. The book includes photos of Stuart’s water smart house and garden.

Retail price only: $29.95

Click here to order your copy.

Now Available in Borders – check both the magazine and book section of the store to locate a copy.

The book is published by the Alternative Technology Association and supported by the Smart Water Fund.


ECOPOD: Be Green in this Life & the Next

You’ve done everything you can to green your lifestyle, eating and buying the right foods and products, making sure you tread lightly on our earth. But have you thought much about your “return”?

There are a number of international services and products that promote low impact funerals.

Designed in the UK, the Ecopod is a revolutionary design concept to “return to the earth.” Made from 100 % naturally hardened recycled paper ideal for a green burial or a clean cremation.

The Ecopod was designed by Hazel Selina who spent many years working with natural birth. Now that her family have grown up she feels it is time to turn her attention to the primal event of death.

Hazel has had a lifelong interest in Ancient Egypt and the rituals surrounding birth and death. She is also a friend of the earth and concerned about the pressing issues of Ecology.

Hundreds of Ecopods have been successfully used throughout the UK since 1998. The Ecopod is extremely durable – it weighs around 40+ pounds and yet even the small size can carry 200 pounds! It is covered in handmade mulberry leaf and recycled silk paper.

The US also has a variety of services that promote more natural funeral arrangements. The Natural Burial Company in the US offers funeral planning services and also promote the Ecopod. Meanwhile, ARKA offers eco funeral planning in the UK. Because of the pollution involved, many of these services tend to shy away from cremation and suggest burial with tree planting instead.

For more information visit ecopod

5 Green US Trips

Whatever your style, whatever the weather, you can make your US trip green. CALIFORNIA

1. Go wine tasting
You thought the movie Sideways told you all you need to know about Santa Barbara? You thought wrong. There is, for instance, the Sustainable Vine Wine Tour that we’re guessing you haven’t tried. The six-hour, behind-the-scenes look at organic winemaking might include a visit to Demetria Winery, lunch with the owners of Ampelos Cellars, and a grand finale at Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards, run by eco-minded wine pioneer Richard Sanford.

Why it’s green You learn about water-saving vineyard techniques and biodynamic practices. And the tour vans run on biodiesel, of course.

Details $125, including tastings, lunch, and transportation to and from the Santa Barbara area; reservations required; 805/698-3911. –Matt Kettman


2. Be a beach bum
The villas at Playa Las Tortugas, 70 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, share 5 miles of creamy beach with nothing but a coconut plantation. When beach-bum fatigue sets in, volunteer to rescue turtle eggs on the beach or to place baby turtles on wet sand, and watch as moonlight sparkling off the waves guides them to the sea.

Why it’s green Your help — and tourist dollars — protects turtles at their most vulnerable time.

Details Nightly turtle releases Jul–Jan; villas from $149; 877/287-8905. –Laurel Delp


3. Go spring skiing
Next time you’re planning a ski trip with your ski-hating spouse, consider this: In Salt Lake City, you get sublime skiing plus the fun of a big-city stay. With the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass, you can enjoy all-day access to lifts at the area’s top four ski resorts and base yourself right in town, taking advantage of the best hotels, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and culture.

Why it’s green The pass includes shuttle transportation from downtown — no car required.

Details Buy the pass at most hotels. From $52 per day; 800/541-4955. –Amy Wolf


4. Ground yourself at a spa
At Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Sonoma County, bury yourself under a huge mound of fragrant, fermenting mulch made of ground cedar, rice bran, and plant enzymes. The mixture, which heats naturally, sends you into a warm dream state that’s oddly exhilarating. To prolong the sensation, follow an attendant up a wooded trail to an outdoor pagoda for a massage.

Why it’s green Can it get much more green than a mulch bath? Plus, all paper goods are composted by red worms (“global worming”), which turn waste into garden fertilizer that’s used on-site.

Details From $80 for a standard 1½-hour treatment; from $95 for a 75-minute massage; reservations required; 209 Bohemian Hwy., Freestone; 707/823-8231. –A.W.


5. Raft a river
Make like an early explorer: Discover southern Utah’s Cataract Canyon from the vantage point of a raft. The canyon’s red-rock cliffs are every bit as beautiful as the much more crowded Grand Canyon’s.

Why it’s green River outfitter O.A.R.S. has an extensive carbon-offset policy.

Details All-inclusive six-day trip from $1,506; 800/346-6277. –Susan Crandell

Home Loans With An Eco Rebate
February 28, 2008, 8:20 am
Filed under: Australia's Challenge, Eco-Friendly Tips, Facts | Tags: , ,
A full choice of lenders and rates, plus a rebate to purchase eco-friendly products.

Add Carbon Offset To Your Grocery List

A Norway shopping mall is offering customers carbon offsets for purchase on its shelves. John Acher from Reuters reports that the Stroemmen Storsenter shopping centre outside Oslo began selling the certificates on Saturday, at 165 Norwegian crowns (US$30.58) per tonne for shoppers to pick up with their weekly groceries.In one weekend, more than 300 Carbon Emissions Reductions (CERs) had been sold, and store managers were considering stocking up with more.

The store, partnering with CO2focus (a carbon management firm in Norway, is hoping to make sustainability more accessible to its consumers and is not receiving any return from the sales. “Many people want to buy reductions, but until we started this in the shopping mall, they haven’t known where to get them, but now they are available to everybody,” said Ole Herredsvela, the shopping centre’s technical manager.

Read more from Reuters.

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Australia’s Eco-Property Guide

The trend for people to consider selling up their higher priced city home, being mortgage free and heading to a coastal retreat for a more relaxed and family oriented life has been reported often in TV shows and print stories. Of course most of us still need to make a living so this requires either means having an easily transferable set of skills or making changes to way income is earned by running a small business or changing your profession.

Making the move to rural or regional areas of Australia is far less common despite the fact that Australia is known as the wide brown land and farming and the outback iconic. Returning to or considering country life is definitely the poor relation these days and it will be interesting to see what it may take to change this trend.

There are though some fabulous opportunities for families or business partners to consider not only moving to rural parts of Australia but taking up a new way of life. One example would be to join the organic industry by buying an already establishing citrus farm and business. All the hard work is now done with of course some potential to be realised if you wanted to grow the business further. Added benefit is that the current owners providing training and support. On the other end of the scale are properties such as in Tasmania which are more hobby farms where the activity on the farm at least pays its way and contributes food to the family and can blend with some off-farm activity to combine a wonderful way of family life.

Check out the Eco-Property Guide

“Visualising” Energy Use In Your Home

Household energy monitors have been around for some time. A few new entries into the space, however, add a splash of colour and style to make understanding energy consumption more intuitive.

Wattson, first of all, is a sleek, aesthetically pleasing device that shows homeowners through both numbers and colours how much energy they are using in their home. Consumers begin by attaching to their electricity meter or fuse box a transmitter device, which can measure both single and 3-phase systems. That, in turn, beams information directly to the freestanding wattson device elsewhere in the house, where it instantly displays current usage.

Wattson’s LED display can represent energy use in euros, dollars, yen or pounds, while its pulsing, coloured light also reflects the amount of electricity being used, ranging from cool blue for small amounts to red for high energy consumption. The wireless wattson display is portable, and when appliances are switched on or off, it indicates how much energy they use.

Homeowners can store up to 4 weeks of energy-use history on the device and download it for analysis on software that comes included; a forthcoming community feature will let wattson owners compare their usage. Wattson was listed in Stuff Magazine’s “Cool List” of the top 10 gadgets of 2007. It is priced at GBP 149.50 from UK-based DIY KYOTO.

The Home Joule, meanwhile, resembles a nightlight and plugs into any outlet in a home. The device displays not just energy usage, broadcast wirelessly by the consumer’s energy meter, but also the real-time cost of energy, which comes wirelessly from the energy company. The colour of light emitted by the device represents the costs of the moment, with yellow and red light indicating expensive energy costs, while green means energy is cheaper. The idea is that consumers can then modify their consumption accordingly, switching off discretionary appliances at peak times of the day. The Home Joule is from Ambient Devices and is currently available only to customers of Consumer Powerline’s demand-response program.

Finally, though not truly an energy monitor, we can’t resist mentioning Ambient‘s beautiful Energy Orb, which also emits different colours of light to represent pricing information. This time, however, the device emitting the light is an egg-shaped orb that plugs into an outlet. The Energy Orb has been adopted by Pacific Gas & Electric and other US energy companies, and is priced at USD 149.99.

With energy prices heading nowhere but up, so, too, will demand for devices like these. One to get in on early, especially outside the US!