By Andrew McLean
At our recent Annual General Meeting (AGM), Eco Villages Australia agreed to retrospectively go Carbon Neutral. We have been tracking our carbon footprint since inception. We have quarterly 'eco audits' which involve sharing our progress with the group. Both our accomplishments and areas we need to improve.
Last audit we found that each person living at the Maleny Eco Village has a carbon footprint of around 6% of the average Australian. We are really proud of this, particular because this was our aim, and our original hunch was right - it's much easier to be "eco", when we live in "village". when we have a This is somewhere close to where the science says we need to get to. Transport is by far our biggest carbon emitter.
Maleny started Australia's first recycling programme, but it's now clear we aren't going to recycle our way out of the climate crisis. Going carbon neutral is the next step.
You can commit to going carbon neutral in your home or business. You'll save money, you'll save the planet. There has always been talk of the limited effectiveness of personal climate action compared to business and government. And it's true that individual efforts are a drop in the ocean. But society is made up of people, and if we start to track and curb our energy consumption, corporations and governments will change - and they are!
This is what we did to achieve carbon neutrality:
Step One. Join up to Climate Clever*. It's free, and it's an awesome Australian-based start-up. New features are being added constantly.
Step Two. Start entering your electricity, gas and water bills, car milage, plane flights and even the paper you buy.
Step Three. Start tracking your Co2. What you measure, you can change.
Step Four. Start reducing your Co2. Find out your big emitters and reduce.
Step Five. Offset your Co2.
Offsetting - how it works. It's always better to reduce rather than our western throw-money-at-it-and-the-problem-will-disappear attitude. But offsetting your carbon footprint with projects that reduce Co2 impact is , for me, unexpected, and neat way to do good in the world!
Climate Clever uses a company called "Southpole" for the offsets. There is a lot of greenwashing in this space, but this appears to be a reputable company. Not the cheapest, but that's probably a good thing. You don't have use them - you aren't locked into any one company, you can upload a certificate from another, or create your own offset project if you wish.
You choose the year in which you are offsetting, and then choose the project you would like to support - that's a fun round-table discussion! "Should we help the koalas or a hydro electric scheme in Africa?". All projects have different prices per tonne of Co2. We chose, for our 2021-2022 offsets, to support an African project that provides efficient wood stoves instead of open fires for cooking, which saves 30% of wood usage.
It's really easy and rewarding. Go for it - go for carbon neutral!
* Eco Villages Australia receives no financial benefit from the Climate Clever or Southpole.