What does it mean?

I had looked at this issue with my partner recently, whilst addressing the consumption of meat.

What does “sustainable” mean?

Sustain – this means to continue, to ‘go forth’.
Able – ‘ability’.

So, sustainable is therefore the ‘ability to continue’. This is a pretty basic definition of it.

Place the ‘un’ prefix in front of ‘sustainable’ to form ‘unsustainable’ –  ‘not being able to continue’.

That’s as basic as I can break that down I think.

So, the path for me, was to look at what consumption was occurring, identify what could change, and then put in place sustainable alternatives to that.

The entire list with the mini tasks and all would not be complete, however a rough form of it is:

  1. Installed Solar Power Panels
  2. Installed Apricus Solar Hot Water
  3. Changed the previous P4 server to one using an Intel Atom chip.
  4. Turn off all computers from the wall, standby power is higher than the energy to flick the switch.
  5. Installed a wireless energy monitor, to keep monitor of the power usage.
  6. Create, and plant garden beds to provide fruit and vegetables for us.
  7. Insulate the walls to reduce discomfort from winter.
  8. Rip up the carpet and move to floor boards.
  9. Install rainwater tanks on the shed and granny flat.
  10. Use the laptop for the remainder of my work day that doesn’t require the computer.
  11. Reduce meat intake and source protein from other forms of food.

The list is very rough, we also have chickens in planning, fruit trees are growing already but will benefit from more sun.

As to meat reduction, this one came once it was considered that a bit of meat goes through a pretty extensive process to get to the supermarket, and so wasn’t really something that we could contribute to.

Careful thought was given, before recognising that we could reduce, but must not (and I say must as key), meat consumption. We don’t need excessive amounts of protein, and likewise, we can source protein from other items of food anyway (such as eggs, cheese, and some vegetables). Vegetarian meals were the perfect place to look for meal alternatives, however, that isn’t to say we will be vegetarian – as meat will still form part of our weekly meals.

The overall impact in these changes isn’t easily measured as far as I know. I’m not noticing any serious impact – the biggest impact noticed so far was the recent drop in energy consumption, from 393kWH over 30 days, to 260kWH as I look at it now.

So, the meal changes aren’t noticed, the garden isn’t an annoyance, but more of a enjoyable task, the solar power and water take care of themselves with minimal maintenance needed.

We reduce our gardening dependence on town water with the tanks (and strange but true – our garden uses more water than we do in the house). This isn’t a noticed impact though, as the tank makes filling up the watering can far easier and faster than the tap does.

Inspecting the plants/ removing the figs and leaves is a bit of a task, but it’s not without benefit, we see all the growth resulting and helps us find issues (assumably), faster than if we ignored them.

There’s adjustment, but it’s hardly a massive impact on us, maybe it is because of our ability to adapt – or the desire to change is strong.

I’ll Google around, see if I can find some way of measuring the impact of the changes above, compared to the beginning of the year, and then compared to 2 years ago (where I gave absolutely little care as I was blinded to the issues surrounding consumption).

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