Craig you might be interested in this forum: http://www.selfsufficientculture.com/forum.php it's owned by Mark Valencia who was active on this forum but is more into self-sufficiency than BLF is. His blog may be of interest as well.
I have a self-sufficiency book that my lovely Rozie bought me for Christmas. They go for: rainwater tanks (check), solar power (damn - can't afford it but am still investigating cheaper options), wind power (bit hard on an urban block), grow your own fruit and veges (check but my quantities are way small as yet), produce your own meat (am investigating the aquaponics seriously now - I think I have the set up down to just over $1000), love their bio-diesel - recylcles waste cooking oil from the local restraunt into diesel (requires more skill to set up than I possess), compost (I've cut my non-recylce waste by half - but it's a slow old game to produce good soil), preserve your produce (check), and my personal fav - waste not want not - I pretty much re-use all left overs (which became a really fun game for me - the object is that the family can't remotely identify what's been recycled- LOL).
We ebb and flow in our efforts as having four kids is itself rather unsustainable. We drive a diesel 4wd to accommodate the extra seat in safety (previously drove a Tarago, great car!, but it can't tow a trailer, which we need for our garden and for camping). Plus, where we live, in recent years, we have been glad to have the 4wd as flooded and damaged roads are common out here. When the kids grow up, I'll downgrade to a hybrid car I reckon.
However, we do live in a house designed for sustainability. We have solar panels and water tanks, battery blackout system, star rated appliances, we keep chooks and guinea pigs to eat our fresh food scraps (used to keep worms but let that all go) and we compost almost everything. We plumbed our bathwater to a hose so we can irrigate with relatively clean grey water. We used to do the same with laundry water but no longer need to.
Our garden is slowly evolving to permaculture designs (if I can ever get Mr Tidy to let the mower go and embrace green mulches I will happy dance but he's not very tolerant of the untidiness of permaculture). I would like to grow more of our own mulches and make more of our own fertilisers. I would like to save a lot more seed than I already do.
We do shop locally and support our local businesses as much as possible.
We aren't growing a lot of our own food at the moment (have fruit trees and herb gardens) but I started a business using sustainable ideals as a foundation and most of our food is sourced from it.
I try not to waste any organic material - eveything in my yard gets recycled back into the beds one way or another. If it's small and green, I cut it up, if it's large and bulky I just let it lie there and decompose while creating habitats for the insects and small animals.
I have always had a bin under the sink for uncooked kitchen scraps (I now have a large one with a lid thanks to Elaine).
My garden mad Aunt taught me to bury this in the garden many years ago and I still do it. I don't bother with worm farms. I use a tub to create weed tea instead.
Everything that can be put in the recycle bin does, of course. I buy Multix degradable bin liners and use green bags shopping.
I can't afford solar or alternatives. One day.
I'd like to keep quail one day - will have to gear myself up to the killing but think I could eventually do it.
The idea that householders generate electricity and sell it back sounds fine and dandy in theory. The artificial feed-in tariff (where the buyer paid more for the power than they got when they sold it) had to finish eventually. The taxpayers of Australia subsidised that one. Soon the power companies will be finding ways to extract more money from the owners of those solar panels for which they paid so handsomely - charges for this, fees for that. And remember that the panels need replacing every so often, too.
From where I sit, and to be totally independent stand-alone solar with batteries and dual wiring is the only way to go. Worked out the price even using the buying co-op around Ipswich way who are much cheaper than for-profit companies, but we would be (at the rate we use electricity) between 10 and 20 years paying it back. I am 70, my partner is 78 we just won't be living here for that long. Bummer. I'd like nothing better. Solar stand-alone is for the much-younger-than-us folks.
Since only about 5 to 10 percent of the grid-electricity in Australia is generated by alternate means - 'green power' - paying greedy companies for the almost-non-existent privilege of using 'green power' is just giving their execs a down-payment on their retirement package. My view is that it is a fraud and deception and totally a waste of money for the consumer.
The coffee grounds are interesting, read that they are acidic and good for acid-lovers. High in nitrogen, I did not know that. Would have to be composted in with everything else then unless you're growing leafy crops which would benefit. I've no idea how I would cope with the output of just the one coffee shop in the local shopping centre so I've not asked, I just compost our grounds.
Thanks for the coffee tip, Craig :-)
I just throw mine, filter paper and all, into the compost.
I have started a compost heap about a month ago and have seriously noticed that our rubbish has at least halved. I am on the way to starting a vegie patch and the recycle bin is always full. Our hot water system died about 6 weeks ago and so we are seriously considering solar, although have found an alternative, as you are looking at around $6000 for solar hot water alone! We are looking at a heat pump alternative which is around the same as electric to install but costs far less to run as it draws warmth from the environment to create the hot water. Pays for itself in around 3 years. Apparently, it is like air-conditioning in reverse... all our coffee grounds go into the compost heap.
I think what you are doing is great Liz. I compost with 3 normal black bins with holes drilled in them. It seems slow at the start but it cut my garbage by half as well. I'm guessing you are now saying "Jeez. I never realised how much packing was on everything!" Let me know how the hot water goes - I'd be interested to hear.
Will do - hopefully in the next few weeks. I only have 1 compost at the moment but hope to start another once this one is going properly. So, so much packaging on everything!!