What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Monday, 29 August 2011

Sustainable Living Video and 3 car free days!

Stoked that the last 4 days have featured 3 car free ones. In that spirit here is a video looking at a possible solution on the grand scale.

A new resident

Jacq leaned over to rotate a large pumpkin and found her nose to be a few inches from this golden orb weaver. This is the first one of these we have seen in our garden, perhaps due to the recent eradication of about 10 wasp nests in the old poles on the porch as we replaced them with new wood. Apparently, wasps particularly like to feed spiders to their young. In any case, she is welcome.

Personal Sustainability quote of the day on mindfulness

Change requires mindfulness. One must be aware of the conditions that lead to undesirable behaviour or mental states and act to avoid those conditions. In the practice of sustainability these conditions often lead to consumerism, poor dietary choices, wasting of time with pointless media, or unnecessary driving, for instance. Mindfulness is required to avoid the conditions that lead to these negative behaviours. Full awareness of the emotional triggers that lead us to seek solace in the acquisition of consumer items that lose their lustre within days of purchase, or the emptiness within which leads us to over-eat in an attempt to fill the void, the lack of planning that leads us to hop in the car to run insignificant errands that could be combined in fewer trips; and perhaps the most pernicious, the need to shut off our mental activity in front of a screen controlled by interests antithetical to our own. Mindfulness in all our actions is required. "We live under threat from painful emotions: anger, desire, pride, jealousy, and so on. Therefore we should always be ready to counter these with the appropriate antidote. True practitioners may be recognized by their unfailing mindfulness." - Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Personal Sustainability quote of the day

"When there's a disappointment, I don't know if it's the end of the story. But it may be just the beginning of a great adventure." - Pema Chodron. Keeping perspective in this work is so important.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Personal Sustainability Quote of the day

Attempting to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle is not just about your own resilience, comfort and security. It is also about creating conditions whereby the myriad creatures around us can thrive. For without the success of the ecosystems of your local neighborhood, your country and planet, your own resilience, comfort and security is at risk. "Just like space and the great elements such as earth, may I always support the life of all the boundless creatures. And until they pass away from pain, may I also be the source of life for all the realms of varied beings that reach unto the ends of space." - Shantideva

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Video - David Suzuki & Thich Nhat Hanh: Despair and the quote of the day

David Suzuki, Zen Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and David Suzuki Foundation Chair Jim Hoggan in conversation about mindfulness, climate change and how to bring about the collective public awakening needed to restore health to the planet. In this video, Thich Nhat Hanh and David Suzuki discuss the challenges faced in protecting the environment and the importance of not letting despair cloud our ability to affect change. For more information about David Suzuki please visit - http://davidsuzuki.org/# For more information about Thich Nhat Hanh please visit - http://www.plumvillage.org/ "Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back." - Pema Chodron

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Storm damage

Wow! Yesterday a small tornado ripped up the neighborhood one of our rental units is in. We got an email that a tree was down and blocking the drive, I envisioned a branch or two but it twisted a full grown Bradford pear to shreds. Trees are down or ripped up all over the area including the nearby park. We've got a big cleanup job this week, lotsa firewood. I'll probably use the biggest bits to frame up a raised bed for the tenants, try to encourage them to grow some food. Today we just managed to clear the driveway for the tenants, fortunately no-one's car was in the drive when it hit and there is no damage to the house.

Personal Sustainability quote of the day

"Every morning, our first thought should be a wish to devote the day to the good of all living beings." - Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Friday, 19 August 2011

Personal Sustainability quote of the day

"Nothing goes right on the outside when nothing is going right on the inside." - Matthieu Ricard

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A tragedy, emotional turmoil and the personal sustainability quote of the day

Yesterday was a car free day. I love it when I can leave the beast in the driveway all day.

Yesterday evening we had a graphic reminder of the harm that can be caused by driving. Just after dark, as I stepped out to walk the dog I heard a loud smash and immediate cries of pain and distress followed by a car speeding by at near 60 miles an hour, speed limit there is 25. I hurried to the intersection to see what had befallen and to whom. A dog, a pit bull mix we had seen loose in the neighborhood hours earlier, was struggling to escape from one of my neighbors who was trying to help it. Even though it's hip and leg was crushed and it probably had a broken back it managed get away using only it's front feet. Annie and I stood stock still as it passed us by with the neighbor close behind. What I didn't know was that Jacqui had heard the accident and was frantically trying to find us afraid that it was Annie who had been hurt. She was beside herself when she finally found us and I was close to tears as well.  All I wanted to do was to find the poor beast and comfort it somehow. We stood and hugged to try to calm ourselves.

The police came and a whole cadre of neighbors gathered to look for the dog but it had disappeared.  Who would comfort it now, hold it till it died, stroke it's head and reassure it? How sad that due to reckless driving not only was an innocent dog maimed and left to die alone but so many people were distressed and angered. Jacq and I both lost sleep last night.

"Touch is the vehicle through which we comfort one another and are comforted, via hugs or clasps of the hand."  The 14th Dalai Lama

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Personal Sustainability quote of the day

So much about trying to create a more sustainable lifestyle, in a culture that encourages everything but sustainability, is about observation and openness to what goes on around us. This usually leads to the conclusion that some change is necessary. As always change can be challenging and even a bit overwhelming. Here is another way to look at it. From Jack Kornfield

"This is not a matter of changing anything but of not grasping anything, and of opening our eyes and our heart."

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

At last, a proper rainwater harvesting system!

Two of the giant ones just off the truck.
One of the smaller tanks heads up the drive past the ramp.
The last big one about to slide into place.
One 500 tank is elevated for distribution pressure
Checking the fill during the first rain; the temporary covers are for shade.
At long last, we have our water tanks. The semi arrived a day earlier than expected, but we were mostly ready. I had built a ramp with my friend Carl, as we were responsible for getting them off the truck. Jacqui and I rolled them down the ramp and onto the grass at the bottom of the drive. Three 500 gallon tanks at 100lbs each and three 1550 gallon tanks at 215lbs each, that's over 6000 gallons of storage. We prepared the way, swept the drive and moved obstacles, and rolled them into place one by one. Only one of the giant tanks is hooked up for now, and it's only collecting from a little less than half the roof, but we still collected around 200 gallons in a couple of very short downpours. As that one fills, we'll pump the excess into the less giant tanks, particularly the one mounted on the plinth to provide some pressure to hoses. The Rain Reserve diverter and the Beingwater First Flush units are working great. I'll have to duplicate that setup for the south side of the house as well. This will be routed to the other two giant tanks. Until we get the deck framed in above those tanks, we won't be able to hook the last two up, as we will have to move them to access the structure.  I've yet to do the drawings for the building permit for the deck, but hopefully will get that squared away this week.
Clearly the system is not complete, but it is already far superior to the drip to trashcan system I've been getting by with. The trash cans will go into service as comfrey tea brewing containers;, two are already full of composted horse manure I picked up yesterday.

Personal Sustainability

As my good friend Joe reminded me yesterday, in order to thrive one must look after one's physical existence, mental well being, social interactions and perhaps most important of all, your spiritual life. I get plenty of exercise, eat mostly organic local food, I rest, study and discuss. I've joined a local church and have become involved with my immediate community. And now I've returned to regular Buddhist meditation practice and study. As I consider my spiritual well-being to be part and parcel of my mission to live more and more sustainably, and to spread the word about the challenges that face us and the solutions I believe are evident, I will share a quote from learned teachers, here on this blog, on a regular basis. Today I offer one from Jack Kornfield.

"When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice."

Thursday, 4 August 2011

dry heat, tank prep, and canned tomatoes

Pad for the big tanks
Tank platform prior to decking
Tomato bed #4

Our first grapes
It's been in the mid-nineties round here with nary a drop of rain for days and days. We've finally had to start watering with city water. One of my nicotianas is taller than me and has flowered. The squash and melons have wilted every afternoon, only to bounce back in the cool of the evening. Our tomatoes produced enough to need a canning session and the basil is starting to go to seed, so we now have fresh pesto. We've also been enjoying some grapes from the bamboo arbor.

Our friends from Bermuda are visiting, and while Suzy helped Jacq with the canning, Carl and I built an elevated platform for one of the 500 gallon tanks I ordered. We also built a ramp for getting the tanks, three 1550 gallon and three 500 gallon ones, off the truck. I had hoped they would arrive this week but it is not looking likely. I've moved the rain barrels onto the pad until the big tanks get here.
Another project Carl helped me with is the first flush diverter for the collection system. The main diverter at the top of the gutter downspout clears out the big debris before passing on the bulk of the runoff to the first flush unit. It involves a kit of parts to which one adds various PVC pipes and fittings. The long 4" pipe collects the appropriate amount of the first runoff, later drained or set to drip, and then seals to pass the water onto the tank. 

First flush and main diverter