The Courier-Mail Q-Weekend | 5 July 2007
Excerpt taken from the article -- A few blocks up was a store called Biome, an Eden for the green-focused. Owner Tracey Bailey told me about petroleum-based chemicals. She painted a picture of a world functioning on caustics, chlorines, benzene, polyethylenes, phosphates, acrylics, synthetics and harmful bleaches. It's the "spray and wipe" effect. I expect my bathtub to have more shine than the Milky Way. If there's a stain on it I hit it with five sprays of petrochemicals. If the stain doesn't wipe away instantly, I hit it with another five sprays.
"We can't maintain those expectations," Bailey said. "We have to change our mindset. I don't need to see mould disappear in five seconds, or obliterate every skerrick of dust. The long-term consequences of all that cleaning are we're destroying our planet."
Bailey equipped me for a green life. I cleaned my toilet with Ecover, a natural, plant-based cleaner. I cleaned the oven with a washable Chi Clean microfibre glove using no detergents, just water. I washed my hair with a shampoo bar made from Tasmanian hops. I conditioned my hair with vinegar from the pantry. My hair was clean and strong, with a delightful garden salad aroma.
I cut down on meat. The CSIRO says it takes between 50,000 and 100,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef. It takes four litres of water to produce one bottle of beer. Not willing to drop beer from my diet - I figured I could drop dairy to compensate - I searched for an eco-friendly ale. Coopers Brewery runs on a "cogeneration" plant that burns natural gas in a turbine to drive an electricity generator, using waste heat to produce steam that powers the brewing process. Water is funnelled from an aquifer beneath the brewery. The saline water is purified by reverse osmosis.
Our food scraps went into a Bokashi kitchen recycling kit. It ferments waste which, when tossed on the garden, produces better-quality soil. My bedside clock was hydro-powered, its electronics driven by two egg cup-sized rear knobs filled with tap water. My new toothbrush had replaceable heads with boar bristles. I ate from a plate made of recyclable bamboo using a bamboo knife and fork.
I listened to a relaxation CD called Oceans of Blue. It was packaged in a case made from hemp. Track eight was one full minute of Buddhist "Om" chanting.
Nightly I drop a plastic bag of used disposable nappies into our bin. Australians throw away almost one billion disposable nappies each year. They go to landfill, along with food and garden waste, to decompose anaerobically, producing methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Washable nappies are no better for the environment, using large amounts of energy and water in washing and drying. Short of doing as the Tibetans do and using dried yak dung to capture baby waste, we switched to Weenees, waterproof pants (costing $25.95) that carry flushable and compostable pads ($32.45 for 40). When our little angel got all James Brown, the pad was thrown in the toilet or in the compost for the worms to figure out.