Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Summer storms....

Just had a great summer thunderstorm through.... dumped over 15mm in 5 or 10 minutes ... mainly as hail... still rumbling outside so may get some more...

Arghh the vegie patch... the kids pumpkin is all spotty now ..........lost a branch off the apricot tree as well ...

Got some good water into the rainwater tanks though.. well what did not flow out of our shallow 1980's guttering.

Getting ready for school again

It is always easy to get swept away in the back to school rush... new this, new that, please Mum I need this for my pencil case.  This morning, I was helping the boys get ready for there return to school tomorrow.  We made sure the uniforms were all ready, the school bags cleaned out, lunch boxes and drink bottles found and last of all that those pencil cases got restocked.

Instead of buying new pencils I convinced the boys to go through our tins of odd pencils and make up a "new" set for their pencil cases... I think they were pleasantly suprised by what they found in the tins. 

This year we will also be committing to not using any plastic wraps or bags in the lunch boxes - that is the boys will be having lots of  "nude food" days.

These are just some of the ways that we will be trying to reduce our purchasing of new materials and minimising the waste that we generate.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Board games on our TV free Tuesday evenings

As part of our quest to make life at home more sustainable we have decided to make Tuesdays a TV free day.  To help remind Dad and the kids - a cloth gets put over the TV on Tuesdays.  So far TV free Tuesdays are going well and the kids are enjoying playing a board games instead.  It's been a great way to enjoy some family time.  We are all looking forward to many more TV free Tuesdays and being able to learn some more games as a family.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Water in Orange

Orange (as per Orange Airport weather station) has a long term rainfall avergae of 882 mm a year, last year (2009) we got just 640 mm.  Not the lowest on record - that was 364 mm in 1981.  The year 2009 was highlighted by having some periods of lower than average rainfall and of course all that rain we got at the tail end of a cyclone in the Christmas week.  See the graph below which was generated on the Australia Bureau of Metereolgy's Climate statistics for Australian locations website.

Despite having an average rainfall of close to 900mm per year Orange residents are about to enter tighter level 5 water restrictions (1 hour of bucket watering of established gardens - no lawns - a week).  For a city of close to 40,000 there is not a reliable water supply - Orange is not on a major river and the city relies on water from a range of small local storages which have low water levels.  There are various proposals to pipe water from neighbouring regions or even to treat our effluent water. All residents are being encouraged by council to reduce water consumption.

In response to water shortages in our area and our goal of sustainability we are already trying to reduce our town water supply consumption by:
  1. using rainwater on the vegie garden and in the glasshouse
  2. using the rainwater collected to flush our main toilet and wash clothes - when supplies allow (all of winter and most of summer). 
  3. getting the kids to turn off taps and share their bath
  4. using grey water, such as water collected in the shower, for bucket watering the garden.
Solar powered signs advertising water conservation targets in one of the main carparks in Orange

The local council has set a goal to get Orange residents to 160 litres per day per person. On our last water bill our average water consumption per day for 5 people was 466 litres a day or just 93 litres per person per day, so we are below the targets of our local council which is a good start. What a pleasant suprise - I had never sat down and worked that out.  In the local paper the average town water consumption per person was 171 litres for the third week of January 2010 - so we are nearly down to half the average weekly consumption of town water in Orange!

Even with our current water saving measures in place our town water consumption could be further minimised... but where are we going to be able to make the cuts?  To work out where we use our water we will be running a water usage audit at our house over the next few weeks.  This will help us decide on the best places to further reduce our usage of town water.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Getting kids into bike riding..

The idea of starting our journey over the school holidays was a good one.... well so it went until one of the boys got a puncture in his tyre on the way home from dropping our littlest one at daycare. After a walk home (slightly longer than the ride - but with more constructive talk time) and a trip to the shops for another puncture repair kit then some tyre fixing with the boys we will be off to daycare for pick-ups this afternoon.

This is one of my 2010 goals - to do at least half of my daycare drop offs and pick-ups on the bike. Will see how I go.... not sure about Orange's winters where it can snow! Once school is back next week, the boys will be riding down with me after school to pick up their little sister.

This regular riding should keep them fit for our holiday activities that have in the past included riding some of Victoria's Rail Trails (pictures were taken on the Beechworth-Everton Trail).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where it all began...

Two years ago we moved to Orange from further out west. We left our 1920's weatherboard house on a big corner block in central NSW and headed to the colder climate of Orange and to a smaller urban block.

Our dream is to make a more sustainable lifestyle in Orange.

Like many others, we consider ourselves to be fairly "green". Since moving to our "new" 1980's house in Orange we have:-
  • installed solar panels and solar hot water on the roof,
  • we have put in a rainwater tank for the garden and have it connected to the washing machine and our main toilet,
  • we try to reduce waste and fill the councils recycle bin regularly,
  • we compost or feed the chooks all our green waste - even the mountain of lawn clippings that we seem to generate,
  • we have planted fruit trees and shrubs and created vegie gardens

Despite doing all this we realise that there is a long way to go toward sustainability - much of this will be the small every day changes to our life habits. We hope that through blogging our challenges to achieving better sustainability we will inspire others to follow.

Join us on our journey....