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Living Lightly column

Living Lightly with Ease

By Bruce Key, Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH)

Many people think that trying to tread lightly on the earth is too much trouble.  But it’s mostly easy and sometimes it returns immediate positive benefits.  Consider the following examples.

Each morning I go for a walk on Federation hill where I look down on several flat-roofed houses.  The only people who can see the roofs are those who walk on the hill.  The amazing thing is that most of those roofs are black metal.  In contrast to pale roofs, the black ones lead to the use of more air-conditioning in the summer and hence more power consumption.  Why not have a pale roof, especially when very few people ever see it?  Treading lightly in this case costs nothing and returns a long-term gain in lower power bills and lower emissions.

Bottled water is another example of how living lightly can provide a financial return.  Many people buy 600 mL bottles of water, sometimes up to $3.30 per bottle.  If they filled the same bottle with water from home (in Wodonga) it would cost between one thousand and five thousand times less.  That is a reasonable saving.  If this happened every day the saving over a year could reach $1200!  On top of that there would be less plastic used and of course fewer emissions.

To prove that even businesses have a sense of humour, someone pointed out to me that when Evian (one of the common brands of bottled water) is spelt backwards it becomes naïve.

It amuses me that people will visit a service station and pay two or three times as much for water as they pay for fuel and yet it would cost hundreds of times more money to produce fuel than to bottle water.

I have seen comparisons between the quality of bottled and tap water and I think they have all shown that bottled water was no better than tap water

Finally, living lightly demands that we take food-miles (or food-km) into account.  That means avoiding grapes and oranges from California and other foods that have been transported halfway around the world (often by air).  Avoiding such foods will not only save all the energy used in transportation but will benefit local producers.

Living lightly is not that difficult.