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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Quick quiz: household actions preventing climate change

Me and my husband in front of a Say Yes banner

My husband and me at Perth's Say Yes rally the other week. It was a lovely sunny day in Perth, which is a bit weird for June, don't you think?

Credit: David Appleby

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Quick quiz: which is better for preventing climate change?

a. switching off your mobile phone charger when it’s done
b. using the microwave instead of the oven
c. switching from incandescent to CFL lightbulbs

Do you know? If so, leave me a comment with the answer, because I don’t have a clue! I’ve switched my bulbs and unplug my phone when it’s charged. I’m not much for using the microwave, but I do know it takes less energy to to boil water with a kettle than with the stovetop.

I believe that even small changes are a step closer to living in a sustainable world, and I’m committed to making them. But I’m not an expert in assessing wattage, duration, efficiency and materials use, all the thousand and one things that need to be taken into account when working out how we can reduce CO2 emissions permanently.

Luckily, there are life-cycle analysts who figure all this stuff out for us, and I’ve written about them before. However, there are so many things for them to assess: take a look around you right now, and count how many different objects there are. And that’s just a small sample of the work they have to do (by the way, I reckon lifecycle analyst will be a popular job in the next few decades!).

This is why I’m generally in favour of a carbon price, although I reserve the right to get annoyed with any politician who messes it up. A price on anything that creates carbon emissions, which gets passed on from primary through secondary to tertiary industries, should show up on the price tags of the stuff we buy.

Two items that are more or less the same, but made by companies with different energy efficiency policies or materials, will have different prices. The more polluting one would cost more, and hopefully people would choose the cheaper one. I would, if I knew the cheapness was due to it’s eco-friendliness and not to the company cutting corners.

I don’t think a carbon price is going to save the world. But I think it’s a really good first step, because it’ll put pressure on big multinational corporations to have a look at their business practices. The rest of us have to change our lightbulbs and save water, why shouldn’t businesses have to do it too?

At the moment, it’s too cheap to waste electricity and water and materials. Anything that helps make them more valuable in the eyes of accountants and CEOs is a good thing, I reckon. What do you think?