Archive for Environment

Green is the New Black!


Organic cotton is just another term used to refer to cotton harvested and made from non-genetically modified plants. Note that, genetically modified plants are plants used in agriculture where the DNA of these plants have been modified using genetic engineering. These modifications were made to make them resistant to certain pests, diseases, and environmental condition. It also reduces spoilage.

The plants, the source of the organic cotton, were grown without the use of any synthetic chemicals like fertilizers or pesticides. Its presence also stimulates the regular and natural growth of all other biological entities in its surroundings due to its non intrusive trait.

The new trend nowadays is this shift from regular commercial cotton to organic cotton. This trend came from the growing awareness on the negative effects that come from buying and using materials that are made from commercial cotton.

Disadvantages of Commercial Cotton

Commercial cotton relies heavily on the use of insecticides and other pollutants. Cotton covers only a small percent of cultivated land (around 2.5 %) yet it consumes sixteen percent of the total amount of insecticides worldwide. The fumes from these chemicals pollute the air and water around it. And these chemical toxins stick to the cotton and can have numerous negative effects on the person who wears it.

Advantages of Organic Cotton

Organic Cotton ClothingThere is very strong belief backing the idea that organic cotton clothing is safe and easy on the skin which makes it ideal for people with sensitive skin. It is also ideal for infants, babies and toddlers.  Several consumers have attested to these claims and have cited other benefits such as: it is less likely to trigger any allergies and it even reduces respiratory problems.

Another notable benefit is its usefulness for children with special needs. Some CSN usually suffer from hyposensitivity which makes them extra sensitive to the textures around them. That is where organic cotton comes in. It is also a  great aid in terms of pacifying babies or toddlers who are going through a teething phase since organic cotton wristbands are non toxic and can be safe for children.

Having thus listed and recognized the numerous benefits of organic cotton, it’s no wonder that it has become such a booming trend. This is a true testimony that human beings are going back to basics and are really becoming more aware of their responsibility, not just for themselves, but also for the world around them.

Uses For Old Coffee Beans You’ve Probably Never Thought Of

8 uses for old coffee

Although brewing coffee at home is an excellent idea, it’s  impossible to utilize every single coffee bean. Whether the beans go out-of-date or you just don’t like their taste any more, there are always some beans left behind.

No one knows this better than the team at Alternative Brewing, who go out of their way to keep their coffee fresh and tasting delicious by testing out hundreds of coffee accessories to provide to their loyal fan base.

This healthy caffeine addiction means there is always used pour over grounds or burnt beans around that need to be disposed of. Here are some of their best tips to help you use old coffee beans in a fun and effective way; from stopping creepy crawlies to creating an inspiring work of coffee bean art!

Ground Coffee Beans

coffee works as ant repellant

Keep the Ants Away

One of the best ways of keeping the ant colonies from invading your precious home is to randomly throw some old coffee grounds around the house. Keep your garden, kitchen, and family safe from those troublesome little insects. learn more about natural DIY pest control remedies in our previous post.

Save your Pets from Fleas

Relieving your pets from fleas can be a tiresome task. Rubbing old coffee grounds on the pet’s fur will not only keep these irritating pests away but it will also absorb the odour from the animal. Just don’t let your dog eat them!

Get Rid of Unwanted Odours

Coffee grounds operate exceptionally well when it comes to absorbing stank. You can place the grounds in an open container and put it in an area that stinks. After a couple of hours, the area will be free of the unwanted smell.

Spruce Up your Kitchen

Not everyone knows this but old ground beans are rich with acids and abrasives that are helpful when trying to scrub stains and spots. You can mix the coffee grounds with water and soap and clean your kitchen to perfection.

Whole Coffee Beans

chocolate coffee beans

Make Home-made Chocolate Covered Beans

Buying espresso beans covered in chocolate from stores can turn out to be extremely costly. With countless recipes available online, you can easily turn those stale and unwanted old coffee beans into a consumable and scrumptious dessert. Maybe you can even sell them at the local markets! check out our guide to making it big at your weekend markets.

Redecorate your Candles

You can acquire a number of ideas from the internet and create coffee and candle combinations that can bring a sense of luxury and extravagance to any room.

diy coffee candle

Enhance your Coffee Brewing Skills

Any old coffee beans are best utilized by trying out new methods of brewing at home. Although the actual indicator of a good brew is its taste, it’ fun and intuitive to play around with old coffee beans.

Some alternative brewing methods are a bit tricky to get right the first few times, so if you want to ‘go through the motions’ so to speak, then there’s no harm in using old coffee.Our number one suggestion however is to use them to test your coffee grinder!

coffee grinder for hario v60

Our primary use for old beans at Alternative Brewing is testing coffee grinders. With some automatic grinders like the Baratza range boasting more than 40 grind settings, it can be a waste to use fresh coffee to see the difference in coarseness for every grind. This way you can set your coarseness, test the effectiveness of the grind when bloomed and you can always taste it anyway to train your palette on different acidity levels.

Create your Very Own Masterpiece

Just like the coffee bean mural in Moscow, you can create an exquisite piece of art with the help of old coffee beans. Get your artist skills on and cover the sides of a canvas with unwanted old beans.

largest coffee bean mural in the world

How to Prevent Home Drainage Clogs

It’s easier to prevent blocked drains rather than to clear them. In addition, prevention of clogs is less demanding and does not consume a lot of time. Here are some expert plumbing repair tips from the professionals at Drain Cleaning Brisbane to help you prevent drainage issues in your home.

Clean After Use

Immediately after you finish washing your dinner or lunch dishes, pour hot water down the kitchen sink. Do this every day to prevent buildup of gunk that might cause a blockage. The hot water prevents grease, hard water and other oily substances from solidifying in the drain. You can also pour some baking soda or vinegar down with the hot water to help remove any stuck debris.

debris in a drain pipeRegular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is always a good preventative measure. Make a consultation with a plumbing contractors to regularly inspect your drains. Frequent inspections may uncover drainage problems before they cause further damage. You can also check your home sewer line yourself using a snake drain, however, for major home drains you will need to hire a plumber to conduct a thorough inspection.

Avoid Disposing Materials down the Sink

Keep in mind how you manage your waste disposals. Products like grease, butter, cooking oil and margarine should not find their way into your drains in any way whatsoever. Avoid pouring these materials down the sink because they are a primary causes of clogged up drains. Instead, allow the fatty substances to cool and then dispose of them in the trash. Clogged drains that result from fat buildups are some of the most difficult materials to clear.

Install Filters

Another common drain nuisance is the building up of hair, food particles, soap pieces or other materials. To prevent this, install filters to catch and keep such materials from entering the drains. Since the filters collect particles of substances and hair, remember to clean them regularly to avoid buildup of dirt and grime.

Use the Right Chemicals

In some cases, chemical are used to clean drains. Before putting them to use, read carefully the instructions on how to use them. Be on the lookout for harsh chemicals that may corrode pipes and avoid using them. The corrosion may cause further blocking up of drains later in the future. Ensure you run ample water down your drain to wash away the chemical after use, as per the instructions on the bottle.

Follow these simple, basic tips to reduce your plumbing repair expenses. In the event of a major blockage be sure to consult a professional plumber immediately. A blocked drain can end up costing you a lot of money if it is left clogged and water backs up and overflows from all the surrounding drains.

Installing Your Grease Trap to Comply with Local Laws

While it’s not the most interesting topic, grease trap installation is necessary for many new business owners. If you are considering starting a restaurant or a business that prepares or serves food, and has any form of oily discharge that leaves from the kitchen or dishwasher etc. you must have a correctly installed grease trap to comply with local laws.

Grease traps, often also called grease interceptors or misspelled as a single word to be greasetraps, are necessary to stop the flow of oils, fats and other greases into the sewer collection lines where they can cause blockages. If these systems were not put in place there would be constant problems with clogged up wastewater piping which would end up being extremely costly and problematic over the long run.

Many people believe that warm or hot grease can be poured down a drain without any issues, however once the fats or oils cool they harden which can cause major blockage issues. Large, solid clumps of oil or fat can also cause problems at treatment plants when wastewater is being treated.

Depending on the amount of fat, oil and other grease you expect to be discharged through your system will depend on the size of the trap you need installed. A licensed, local grease trap installer will be able to give you more information specific to the size of your establishment and the laws in your area. We recommend speaking with several installers to get quotes before going ahead with any work, to make sure not only you have been given the right information, but also that you are getting the best price for the job.

Grease trap complianceFor smaller commercial establishments with minimal wastewater runoff, an under the counter trap may suffice, but larger restaurants will require an outdoor interceptor. Take a look at the image above to see the preferable drainage layout for a grease trap in compliance with the Plumbing Code of Australia, 2012.

While there are many plumbing companies that install grease interceptors, it is always best to use one that specializes in their particular area to make sure your trap is set up and installed properly the first time. Should your grease trap be improperly installed it may cost you a fine from your local council, or even worse, you may need to pay to completely redo the job, which can be extremely expensive for a new business.

If you are in Brisbane and are looking for more information on grease traps, take a look at Grease Trap Sales, for a quick run down on what is involved with a new install, or speak with a few local installers to get more information and a quote on setting up your new trap.


Solar Roof Vents – Smart Roof Ventilation for Australia

Whirlybird-vs-Solar-roof-ventThe Solar Ark solar roof vents are Australia’s highest performing solar roof vents and can give you the equivalent performance of up to 20 whirlybirds. The solar roof vent works by a solar panel providing the required power to operate the extraction fan. The extraction fan then sucks the hot air out of the roof cavity, reducing the room temperature of your home and making it a much more comfortable living area.

Summer roof temperatures often exceed 700c (especially if your roof is black!) and greatly increase the room temperatures inside your home. Solar roof vents can reduce roof temperatures by up to 300c and room temperatures by up to 60c. This can save you big $$$ off your electricity bill as it helps your air conditioner run much more efficiently and in some cases eliminates the need for an air conditioner all together. Thanks to the solar panel the solar roof vent has no running costs ever and a built in thermostat, that shuts down operation when temperatures drop below 240c, ensures that you are not extracting valuable heat during Winter.

Solar roof vents also fight mould and condensation build-up in your roof space, reducing the likelihood of mould spores in the roof that can affect the health and air quality inside your home. A typical whirly bird has a flow rate of 90-100m3/h and the Solar Ark SAV-20 has a flow rate of 2718m3/h, however this is not the only advantage. With whisper quiet operation and a much more attractive appearance the solar roof vent is a superior ventilation system than a whirly bird.

There are 3 different models of the Solar Ark roof vents available – the SAV-20, SAV-20T and the SAV-30.  Solar roof vents require the solar panel to be facing North to operate efficiently. The SAV-20T is the exact same as the SAV-20, but with an adjustable tilt for the solar panel. This makes it very effective for installations where it is not possible to install the vent on a North facing roof. Both the SAV-20 and the SAV-20T use a 20w PV solar panel to operate the motor. The SAV-30 is the big performer for high extraction requirements with a flow rate of 3150m3/h. This means a larger 30w PV solar panel is required to operate its larger motor. These roof vents are not restricted to home use as they are very effective and often used in sheds and warehouses and have even been used in horse stables.

Not only are Solar Ark roof vents Australia’s highest performers, but they are also made to the highest quality standards. They use a polycarbonate fan blade and stainless steel fan cover, along with a brushless (super quiet) DC motor. Their quality is backed up by a 10 year warranty on the solar panel, body and fan and a 3 year warranty on the motor.

DIY Pest Control in Your Home

As summer approaches us, bugs, insects, and pests once again prepare to come out in full force. Warmer weather means more food and this, combines with perfect breeding conditions means there will soon be a lot more ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other bugs to contend with around your home and garden. We spoke with Michael from Pest Control North Brisbane on some simple yet effective ways to keeps the oncoming onslaught at bay.

“While most people think cans of toxic bug sprays or hiring professional pest controllers are the only options, there are a number of homemade products that are effective against insects and even rodents.” He said. “You can purchase the ingredients cheaply, or often even find them around your home, and make safe repellants and deterrents for a fraction of the cost of store bought chemicals.”

Common household products that can be used to ward off unwanted nasties include:

  • Vinegar
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
  • Borax
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Beer and
  • Many common plants and herbs

For more information on what to do for specific pests that are bothering you take a look at this great infographic below.

If you need more specific information on how to create a natural, cheap and effective pest control solution for your particular problem, take a look online for more information. You’ll find a wealth of information on sustainable control methods which are effective for both residential and commercial applications. Simple do a search for “Natural Pest Control for Cockroaches”, or whatever bug it is that is currently bothering you. Not only does using home-made sprays and deterrents save you in the back pocket, they’re also better for the environment and safer for you, your family and your pets to be around.

If you’re still having trouble with the pests even after you’ve tried the home-made methods, it might be worth considering getting in touch with a professional in the field. Look for a pest controller who uses organic or natural methods whenever possible to ensure your family, and the environment, is protected as much as possible. If you’re in the Brisbane ares, give Michael and his team a call or get in touch with them via the interactive contact form on their website.

Remember, it’s always best if you can learn to live in harmony with nature, so please don’t injure or kill bugs or insects if they are not troubling you. We only advocate using extermination methods when absolutely necessary. Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful Australian spring weather!

Olympic Park setting the Trend for Australian Water Reclamation Projects

“Did you know that Sydney Olympic Park has been reclaiming water since 2000?”

Built to showcase Australia on the global stage for the 2000 Olympic Games, Sydney Olympic Park was built to impress. In the days before “Global Warming” turned to “Climate Change”, water management was almost as much of an issue as it is today. The highly developed design of the Park’s infrastructure and its advanced capabilities has been awarded for it’s excellence and emulated around the globe.

Sydney Olympic Park’s water system has been managed under the Water Reclamation and Management Scheme (WRAMS). The scheme was started in 2000 and was Australia’s first large-scale urban water treatment scheme. The system was following the integrated water model issued by Sydney Olympic Park Management (pictured below). It covers not only the sport facilities but also the surrounding supporting elements including: settlements, hotels, and apartments. WRAMS recycles water from sewage and storm-water for irrigation, ornamental water fountains and toilet flushing applications across all the connected facilities in the park and in the bordering suburb of Newington. This water is supplied to customers through separate meters and at a considerably lower cost than regular water.

Integrated Water Cycle

Sydney Olympic Park Integrated Water System (from: Sydney Olympic Park Authority)

Statistically, WRAMS saves more than 850 million litres of potable water each year by avoiding its use for non-drinking purposes. The sewer-mining function of WRAMS treats an additional 550 million litres of sewage annually, saving a huge amount of discharged flowing out into the open waters.

So What Exactly is Water Reclamation?

It al begins with the word reclaim. According to the online dictionary, it means to retrieve or recover something “previously” or “potentially” lost. In this case that something lost would be the water. So water reclamation is a process by which wastewater from a facility or a communal of facilities (residential, commercial or industrial) is cleaned using biological and chemical treatment so that the water can be returned to the environment safely. This process aims to maintain the sustainability of our water networks.

While the piping, infrastructure and design of Sydney Olympic Park was groundbreaking, it was neither the first nor the most impressive reclamation project of its kind. This first reclamation system ever was introduced in 1932 in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, while the first Australian water recycling initiative was started in 1977. Since then it evolved from just settling pond technology, to advanced chemical additives, and now to high-tech selective membranes.

So How Does This Apply to Us?

The catchment management, stormwater harvesting and wastewater reprocessing at Olympic Park can all be emulated on a smaller scale but local councils or even in your own home. Ensuring that you don’t leave contaminants outside when rain can wash them into your own local water catchments is a start. This is a very common issue in Australia with car cleaning chemicals that are disposed of after cars have been washed.

On a smaller scale, installing a water tank for storm-water harvesting is a great idea that will benefit your local water system and your back pocket (For more information on saving water around your home see out article Tips on Saving Water From a Brisbane Plumber). Lastly, installing a greywater system is just like having your own wastewater-reprocessing unit and will allow you to reclaim some of your very own pre-loved water.

If you do decide to petition your local council to improve their water management or even install some water management utilities around you own home, ensure that you speak with a qualified plumber or water management expert for their opinion before proceeding with any project. The correct plumbing system is integral to hassle-free performance of any water reclamation system. Here, the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) and the 2008 Plumbing Regulations regulate water reclamation. A state of the art water reclamation system will not work effectively with badly designed plumbing system, as this may compromise the level of quality of the treated water.

Recycle More than Garbage for Good

The process of recycling is familiar to nearly all of us, as a foundation of the sustainable movement. Recyclable items have been a huge focus of urban growth in the most advanced countries. At this point it is almost laughable to some people that others do not recycle their leftover products and resources. While the revolution began with red, blue, and green bins alongside trash can every week, the recycling revolution has grown into a new monster of its own.

People are coming up with weird and wonderful ways to reuse their waste; from garden beds made of old tyres to houses made from recycled bottles. This evolving creature is changing the world for good in unforeseeable ways. The real teacher in this environment has been time and distant communication. By using these two resources over the last 20 years we have been introduced to an obvious truth. Hand me downs are global.

recycleIt seems that the modern worlds run almost a decade ahead of the under developed second world nations in Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia. Visiting these regions is like stepping into a time machine and heading back to the 80’s or 90’s. It’s a little odd at first how consistent it is while at the same time how jarring it can be. It is not uncommon to find 80’s t-shirts being worn by kids listening to Britney spears and talking on flip cell phones. The clash of cultures is indicative of an obvious truth. Recycling doesn’t just keep our modern world cleaner and our environment healthier. It also helps facilitate the transfer of goods from the controlling consumers to the eager less fortunate. This recognition has now added a new philanthropic and sustainable culture type approach to recycling not only plastic and paper but electronics, clothing, and other accessories.

Mobile Phones

Companies like TechPayout help people sell a cell phone at incredible prices because they know that they can sell it in another country where the demand will always be high. Modern factories are designed for the modern world. To supply the rest of the world we’ll need a larger infrastructure for manufacturing. This will most likely be a lot of distributed 3D printing factories than our current model. The moral of the story is that there are philanthropic entrepreneurs who are finding these eco-sweetspots in business and raking in the money as they make the world a better place without overcharging or underselling.

Used Tyres

Thousands upon thousands of worn and used tyres are scrapped and dumped illegally each year. These tyres end up as a health hazard and cause untold amounts of environmental damage. In Australia alone, 500 000 tonnes of tyres are replaced every single year, but all the used tyres need to go somewhere right?

Working within the industry, DTL have been encouraging all of their customers to be responsible with their tyre waste. As a wholesale exporter of Chinese tyres, they realize the impact their end product can have on the planet if they are not properly disposed of and recycled.

Companies like Tyrecycle are taking things a step further. They are partnering with industries that have a lot of old rubber waste and giving them a new life. From athletics tracks to brake pads, insulation to alternative fuels; recycled rubber has a plethora of uses.

Life is full of these recycling type solutions to our global expansion and limited resources. In order to have more ideas for good we have to get everyone in the world the basic resources they need in order to be able to liberate their minds to focus on the goals, not the needs. By donating or selling at a discounted price, your old goods you can not only make some spare cash to cover new purchases, but you can also change someones life forever halfway around the world. Not a bad way to get a new iPhone.

Doing your part for Australia’s Possums

Part of growing up in the luscious green suburbs of coastal Australia, especially around Brisbane and Sydney, is constantly running into the abundant wildlife here. One animal that has adapted exceptionally well to the invasion of humans into their native homes is the brush-tail possum. As suburbia has expanded, these cute, furry critters have moved from their historical homes living amongst trees and bushland, into people ceilings, roof crevices and garages.

possumWhy would this pose a problem you ask? The thing is possums are extremely territorial, and because they are so abundant, there are always clashes over any available territory. As one possum tries to displace and remove another, fighting often ensues and because they are nocturnal creatures, the loud altercations generally happen at night. Due to their nimble nature and uncanny ability to access hard to reach places, a rogue possum is one pest that can be very hard to control.

This poses a problem for those of us who like to sleep through the dark hours of the night. Scampering and fighting on roofs can be deafening, especially if you happen to have a tin roof, and if there are any gaps or crevices in your house, they will find a way to get in and make it their home as well. This can cause all sorts of hygiene and noise control problems, as other pesky possums invade in an attempt to take over the newly found hidey-hole.

Because possums are a protected species you cannot hurt or kill them, and if you catch one in a possum trap you are not allowed to take them more than 50 meters away from where they are caught. The good new is that if you are having issues with their loud banging and scampering keeping you up at night we have some tips for you, brought to you by Brisbane’s possum removal experts.

First and foremost, cut down the trees close to your home! Possums won’t build a home in your roof if they can’t access it. This simple step is a massive possum deterrent. If there are tall trees around your house, chances are possums are using them to access the top of your house. Remove the branches or trees that are close to your home and your can very easily remove the possum problem. If they are unable to get up onto your house, they will move on to somewhere more easily accessible to hang out and live.

If this doesn’t work, and you’re still being kept up late at night it is quite likely that some of our furry friends have made a home inside your ceiling. Get up on your roof and take a look to see if you can find any access points. Once you have located any holes, patch them up thoroughly so that possums can no longer get in or out. If you do this during the day, keep in mind that there may be one or even a few of the little critters asleep inside, so it might be best to set a possum trap for them so you can remove them and set them free outside.

Another way to keep them away from your home is to plant some native trees around your yard. Certain trees make excellent homes for these cute little marsupials, and many varieties are also the possums’ preferred foods, what they ate before European settlers brought over their agricultural methods and vegetable gardens. Plantings some of these will keep them away from your home and your veggie patch! If you’d like more great tips from a long-time possum catcher, check out the latest Pesky Possum Pest Control blog posts.

Medication Donations to Save Animals

Many people don’t think about donating old or unused medicine when their pet passes away or no longer needs it. Medical donations can help save the lives of animals who’s owners cannot afford treatment, and can be used to help sick and injured wildlife as well.

The process of medical donations can help pass needed medications on to veterinary patients who are currently suffering from a disease which is similar to the disease or illness of the donor animal. Herbal medicine donation is a life-saving and cost-saving process to patients whom continuously need medications, where the medicine are no longer of any use to the previous owners.

Where can I donate medicine?

Dr. Kaori from the Sunshine Coast Vet Clinic will accept any herbal medicines which are not open or half used (usually NOT powder) and pass them on to patients who can benefit from the medication. This saves the client money but also stops unnecessary wastage. If you do not live on or near the Sunshine Coast, talk to some veterinarians in your area and see if they would like to take you unused medicines.

Can we donate money as well medication?

Almost all vets help sick and dying animals for free, especially wildlife, so all donations are welcome. KK’s Holistic Veterinary Clinic accepts all types of donations including: herbal medicine, supplements, money or even volunteered time to help with the animals. We spoke with Dr. Kaori who is the brains behind the medicine donation drive, and she love to bring people in contact when their medications have helped save lives. This way they can see the good they have done for other living creatures.

If you are interested in sharing your story with owners of pets with similar ailments, please get in touch with her at one of the Sunshine Coast Veterinary Clinics she works from so she can find out more. People who have helped other animal lovers are only ever put in contact if both parties agree to do so.

At her Sunshine Coast clinics, Dr. Kaori will gives complementary acupuncture to wildlife whenever they require it, however needles and the time can be covered from donation money. The donation money goes to those who are not able to afford to see a vet but require urgent help with their animal.

Why do people donate?

Simply because they want to help the needy! Also they being able to give the gift of life in the hope to pass on something that their beloved animals could not have.

How can I donate?

You can simply bring the medications back to one of the Sunshine Coast Vet Clinics where Dr. Kaori works or send them to the addresses as listed on the website –

There have been numerous patients who had a benefited from donated medications so far, these include:

Leo, Gucci, Sasha, Ebony, Darcy, and Bella are only some of them.

Please help your community and donate any medications your animal may no longer need.

Vets around the country and the animals they look after appreciate your generosity.

Help to pass on the gift of life to another living creature. Thank you.