Regenerative Livestyle Blog

Sharing my regeneration journey, enjoying living in harmony with nature

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I enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Sustainable practice in 2010 and I have finally graduated! I did not have to wear the black graduation cap but instead was offered this amazing pounamu / greenstone that connects me to the Earth and gives me strength to care for her. A mandate, a mission!

This is my final presentation, summarizing my years learning in 10 minutes!Click on the image then on the arrow to view the presentation

The most interesting part of my studies has been the development of the Yellow Blue Park concept. A public/private partnership contract has been signed in December and a task force is being set up in January to implement it.

I now feel ready and skilled to help businesses or organisations who-want-to-but-are-not-sure-how-to embrace sustainability. Exciting times ahead!

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Cooperatives and social entreprises

BAU: Business as Unusual!

If we are to avoid Business As Usual competition and profit spiraling against resources and people, we can choose to make business differently. The choices include but are not limited to social enterprise, trust, cooperative, industrial and provident society…

I have searched about the various forms of these structures from the Community Economic Development network, the Office for the Voluntary and Community Sector and the New Zealand Cooperative association, and overseas from Social Traders in Australia and various dedicated government websites in Europe.

Social entreprise

Social enterprises mix social and/or environmental aims with a commercial orientation. Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK, at a meeting on Thursday 26 April 2012 in Wellington (hosted by the Department of Internal Affairs), shared how social enterprise models will let communities stay ahead of the curve and have a valuable role to play through providing innovative approaches. Latest CED Bulletin announces the imminent creation of a social enterprise network in NZ.

Sources:  and


A cooperative “means an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise”. ILO Definition

2012 is International Year of Cooperatives, “Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. ” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

In 2002, ILO passed a recommendation for governments to promote and support cooperatives, creating a legal framework that enables them to thrive, rather than limiting them in the informal economy.

Governance Options


Industrial and provident society

Social Enterprise

Definition an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise An industrial and provident society is an entity of a minimum of 7 members and the secretary for carrying on any industry, business or trade authorised by its rules with the exclusion of banking.
Names ending in Society Limited
Social enterprises are organisations that: a. Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit; b. Trade to fulfil their mission1; c. Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade2; and d. Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission.
Purpose Mutual support for members or the promotion of a specific purpose or social benefit. Improve the conditions of living or the social well being of members or be for community benefit. economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission consistent with a public or community benefit;
Economic aspects Members contribute to the capital. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Benefits go to : developing their cooperative, setting up reserves, benefiting members in proportion to their transactions supporting other activities as approved by the membership. Usually consist of the owners of small businesses who, while continuing to operate independently, become part of this larger entity for mutual benefit.
They work (industrial) and receive benefits (provident) from the society for their future wellbeing.
Operationalised as 50% or more for ventures that are more than five years from start-up, 25% or more for ventures that are three to five years from start-up, and demonstrable intention to trade for ventures that are less than two years from start-up.Trade (exchange of goods and service)s, including:·monetary, non-monetary and alternative currency transactions, where these are sustained activities of an enterprise; contractual sales to governments, where there has been an open tender process ; and·trade within member-based organisations, where membership is open and voluntary or where membership serves a traditionally marginalised social group
Values self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity; as well as ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others; To be defined by society To be defined by enterprise
Principles voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; and concern for community. To be defined by society To be defined by enterprise
Advantages Mutual bond between transacting shareholders Power to Issue shares with a nominal value; and manage shares to ensure continuous active membership of company
Strong supporting national and international framework
A society becomes a separate legal entity once incorporated; A society will have a common seal (no longer applicable to companies); A society can lease, rent, buy and sell property, borrow money and enter contracts in its own name, generally under its common seal. No member of the society can have personal rights or interest in any of the assets of the society; A society will continue as a separate entity even though its membership changes; and Members will not be personally liable for the debts, contracts or other obligations of the society. Range of naturally occuring ‘types’ that emerge from common approaches, ideals and social purposes. 1. Income generation – Many nonprofit organizations see social enterprise as a way to reduce their dependence on charitable donations and grants through commercial activity 2. Employment – Many people see employment or engagement of marginalised groups as the principle motivation for social enterprise. 3. Service delivery – Social enterprise has the capacity to create or retain services needed in communities.
Legal New Zealand Co-operative Companies Act 1996 Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1908



Future Fiction

It is not Sci-Fi, yet it is fiction with a future focus. It is fiction that expresses what could happen with the global change our world is experiencing, in various ways and perspectives. The genre “eco-thriller” is on the rise and it is as exciting as crime, adventure or detective stories. Plus, it could turn out true!

Teenage reads

Carbon Diaries, Sacy Lloyd

2015. Britain governement implements a carbon card to ration it. You take a car? You use up some of your monthly allowance. You light up your fan? You use up more carbon points, and they disappear far quicker than you would expect. Laura is a normal urban teenager who loves music and tries to live a normal life. Everybody will adapt differently to this new situation. Then disaster strikes… Laura tells about it all in her diary, in a realistic and witty style. Award-winning series.

Empty, by Susan Weyn

In a town in the US, the coming prom is all that matters to these high school students. Being rich and popular or different… But when electricity runs out, and petrol stations close one after the other, nothing is easy anymore. And the coming cyclone transforms all life in survival mode… But solutions exists, if you can shift your mind to them…

On thin ice, by Jamie Bastedo

Set in a small Artic town nowadays and following the talented Ashley, this book opens to a rarely described culture, where reality and myths merge. Impacts of climate change are central to the plot although never sermonic. A rich, suspenseful, true-like novel. Multi-award winner.

More Adult reads

Solar, by Ian McEwan

Beard surfs the wave of fame he won with his physics Nobel price . When he “inherits” the plans for creating artificial photosynthesis power stations, he tries to save the world from climate change and save himself too… A thriller with some scientific data, a lot of travels and adventure, deep human understanding and some hilarious moments.One of my 5 favourite books ever!

Island of shattered dreams, by Chantal Spitz

Meet several generations of a family living on a remote atoll, their loves, their connection to their land, and their struggles when French engineers come to install a nuclear test plant on their island… This book opens to the Pacific Islanders ways of viewing the world, which is quite wide and profound, like the ocean that surrounds them. Beautiful, moving, unforgettable.

Forty Signs of Rain, by Kim Stanley Robinson

He is adviser to a member of Senate in Washington and looks after the kids while she works in the National Science Foundation. There she meets a monk, a high achiever climber surfer, etc… I enjoyed meeting these normal people in their daily life and how they manage, cope or struggle with what they know and what they want to achieve… before cataclysm hits… The sequel, Fifty degrees below is definitely on my To-Read list.

9780571290802Flight behaviour, by Barbara Kingsolver

It starts like a bored housewife book but as soon as she discovers these butterflies in the hill, it will be a roller coaster of questioning, emotions, meeting new people and science discovery. Barbara Kingsolver is an excellent writer conveying people thoughts and reactions in amazingly subtle ways giving this book as deep a meaning as you want it to.

Children reads

The Lorax, by Dr Seuss, “who speaks for the trees”… and more popular than ever before…
The Paperbag prince, by Colin Thompson, about this old man who lives happily in a bus on a dump;
George saves the world by lunchtime, by Jo Readman and Ley Roberts, to discover how everyday actions can affect the world around.

And many others

  • J. R. R. Tolkien, deep connection with nature in the Middle-earth underlying his books.
  • Carl Hiassen with lots of humour (Flush, Paradise Screwed…);
  • Ursula Le Guin creating a world of literate people in a subsistence age (the Earthsea series);
  • Margaret Mahy, denouncing coastal subdivisions in Kaitangata Twitch…

Do you know of any good one that I would add to my reading list?

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Urban Gardening

Why gardening ?

Because it is one of the solutions to:

  • the population problem (people feeding themselves),
  • the carbon footprint problem (no food kilometres),
  • the affordability of food (seeds and seedlings are cheaper than food, then can be harvested for the next year, or swapped…)

Because it contributes to:

  • community strenghtening (gardening together, intergenerations, between neighbours)
  • better health (fresh -full of vitamins, no pesticides residues, physical activity)
  • connecting to the Earth and its natural cycles
  • relax people, provides pleasure and satisfaction therefore taking care of the gardener too!

Because it tastes good, it looks nice, it is enjoyable, rewarding and nearly free!


When owning a land, even small, it is easy to transform parts of it in vege patches, starting small, enriching the soil over the years with homemade compost.

Even when renting, most owners will allow the tenants to create raise-beds and are often happy for patches to be dug, as long as the land is restored when leaving, which is easy to do (just flatten it and saw lawn seeds). It is however more expensive as usually shorter term than above, compost usually have to be added initially and the improvement of the soil is left behind.

People living in a flat can grow on their balconies and windows… and roofs. They can advocate the creation of gardens on the shared property, in place of concreted yards or useless lawns. They can also look for some land they could use, perhaps in exchange of some work on the rest of the property. Many cities have available land that is used for gardening, family gardens or collective gardens or community gardens… Here is a list of New Zealand community gardens. If there aren’t any in your town, get some interested persons together and ask the local council for it.

If all fails, you can always start guerilla gardening, which consists in sowing and planting in public places without authorisation, even practising seed bombing. Very Naughty!


– Start small, get some books from the library (Dewey 632) or buy from or

– Do not use any chemical fertiliser nor pesticides, although you will be told it is good for your plants, even compulsory! Or you will be deceived by “natural” labels. In fact, unless it shows the Biogro label, it is not organic. So how do you take care for your plants? Compost, green manure, companion planting, crop rotation, compost, mulch, choice of local varieties, soil preparation, comfrey, nasturtium, biodiversity, observation, patience, experience and compost are some of your key-words. Did I mention compost?!

– Talk “gardening” around you. You might be surprised how many people love gardening, and have seedlings and advice to give away.

Here in Upper-Clutha…

There is no community garden… yet. It is true that we are lucky in our town, as most people do have a little patch of land around the house where to grow some veges, and many people do. It is still time to start now, if you have not yet.

There is an Upper Clutha Herb Society whose focus is on Herbs rather than veges.

Free Compost workshops are happening soon (22nd Oct 2011 and 12th Nov, 9.30-12-30, at Wanaka Wastebusters) and there is a Bio-dynamic workshops series starting 30th October.

From Green Drinks, a small group is meeting quite regularly to visit each others garden and share seedlings and knowledge.

More is probably coming, with tomorrow a forum about the Future of Food and a growing interest and need for it.

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Pakeha perspective

Tena koutou e nga kaipanui haere mai nei ki tenei kupu ki te whiriwhiri i maori matauranga ratou ko kauneke tawhiro.

Ko Alps toku maunga
Ko Fure toku awa
Ko Boeing whitu wha whitu toku waka!
No Dauphine no France oku tupuna
Ko Gaulois toku iwi
No Wanaka ahau
Ko Florence toku ingoa.

 Greetings to you, readers, welcome to this letter that discusses maori culture and sustainability.

The Alps are my mountains
The Fure is my river
I arrived in New Zealand in Boeing 747
My ancestors are from Dauphine in France
My tribe is the Gauls.
I live in Wanaka and my name is Florence.

I chose to live in New Zealand with my family for its pristine landscapes and the warmth and welcoming of its people, which we experienced when we visited in 1998-99. We felt it was possible here to live a grassroot connected life, unlike in crowded and nuclearised France.

I can’t love a country and not its people. Therefore interested in Maori people and culture, I was fascinated by the unique case in colonisation history of “equality” between natives and colons, as signed in 1848 in the Treaty of Waitangi. I read lots of books about maori myths and legends, maori lore, history and tahunga. I joined and enjoyed a waiata a ringaringa local group and recently passed a certificate in Te Ara Reo Maori level 2, at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, where our great Tutor taught us maori perspective, so intricated in the language. I came to understand that the assets I initially admired in this country were linked to the Maori presence.

We became New Zealander in 2008. Pakehas. Proud to be. Pakeha is the word Maori gave to the first “fair-skinned” visitors. Pakeha is a word gifted by the Maori to the people who came to live here. It is a recognition that we are part of this land too. That we belong.

Caring for the land

Belonging to the land is a central notion for many indigenous people. Whanaungatanga. People do not possess the land but belong to it. Fundamental difference. It feels good to belong. It means I need to respect and take care of the place. Not to use it, consume it, exploit it… It is linked to the protection and conservation of resources. Kaitiakitanga. Hence the vast protected landscapes and forests. Tane-Mahuta, the first son, guardian of the forests, is still very strong. We can learn a lot from the maori knowledge and perception of the environment.

Caring for the people

Hospitality and welcoming also derive from Maori culture and has warmly diffused the whole country. Manaakitanga was Maori Language week theme this year and is widely acknowledged by tourists of the Rugby World Cup.

Maori have coded social structures, which I was lucky to experience on a marae. Communication skills korero, shared decision making, connectedness and support, transmission of knowledge and values, cooperation and participation, sense of belonging -again, are all essential skills to build a sustainable society.

New Zealanders welcoming habits, community sense and cool-she’ll-be-allright-attitude has much to do with maori culture and has changed the anglo-saxon immigrant into a Pakeha, a blessed citizen of Aotearoa.

Holistic approach

Most importantly, Maori have an holistic approach as they “never separate the sea from the land and the land from the air.”
Interestingly, the sustainability pages of Landcare Research are bathed in Maori culture. Not only sustainability could not be achieved in New Zealand without a deep inclusiveness of all people of New Zealand. But also Maori people behold the sustainability principles deeply and therefore mātauranga Māori is naturally at the core of landcare research sustainability.

All over the world, indigenous people have a great connection with living systems, as poetically detailed in the famous -if not authentic- Chief Seattle Speech. While humans deconnect from nature to live the “modern life”, understanding and respect of natural cycles also decrease. It is urgent to reverse the decline of the state of the environment by reconnecting with the world thanks to indigenous values.

Titi story

While on the marae in Bluff, we were offered muttonbird stories (also some to eat, yum). I was amazed to hear that birds numbers actually increase when the island is well looked after, following knowledge transmitted from generations. Not only they know when and how many birds they can catch to get the best harvests over the years. But also, muttonbirders restore nests and look after the trees the birds need to take off. That is sustainable management of the land, guardianship.

To thank our hosts on the Marae, we created a song. Like the muttonbirds who take off to migrate towards unknown lands, we have to listen to our destiny, open our minds to change, open our wings to fly into the unknown, and all this is possible thanks to the great nurture provided by the marae.

“Maori principles can help us deepen our appreciation of the environment, sound social structures and a connective view of sustainability”, as summarised in the Maori Perspective leaflet published on the Outlookforsomeday Sustainability Film challenge for young people website.

Tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.



Maori language resources

Learning a language is directly connected with learning a culture, because the way people express their ideas reflect their way of understanding the world. Knowing a culture is respecting and embracing it. Maori language is now widely taught in pre- and primary schools. There are 800 and a growing number of kohanga reo schools (maori language) and 3 maori tertiary education institutes. Give it a Go! One Maori word a day and much more Maori Language commission

More Maori resources

Maori culture is becoming a strong and integrated part of New Zealand, thanks to great leaders (Apirana Ngata, Dame Whina Cooper), thanks to the Treaty of Waitangi, thanks to many Maori and Pakeha who know if they do not strenghten this culture, nobody will… And increasingly both Maori and Pakeha realise they enrich each other, and learn to live respectfully with each other … And all are proud of the Haka 😉 New Zealand is one of the few countries worldwide who managed to maintain indigenous identity in a diverse society. Te Ara Encyclopedia of NZ about Maori history and culture deals with maori claims.

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Funnel vision!

A funnel is a metaphore used by The Natural Step to illustrate the sustainability challenge. What is increasing over time? What is decreasing over time? Visualise how this squeeze is getting critical! What can be done to reverse the trends and possibly improve the situation?

Following the 4 Sustainability principles, symbolised by the 4 Earth icons, will create a sustainable situation.

Here is a video created by Whistler municipality,  that explains the funnel in 2 minutes.

I have “played” at creating funnels.

New Zealand funnel

Click to enlarge

I was amazed at how this tool make complex and interconnected issues look easy to solve.

Tourism funnel

One of my assignment is a sustainability study for a local guiding business. Here is a funnel that can be adapted to many tourism activities.

Click on the picture to enlarge

Libraries funnel

Well yes, I am librarian. Although it is not quite a sustainability subject, I gave the funnel metaphor a go with libraries squeeze. As you may be aware, many libraries are being closed in the US and in the UK. Libraries are threatened nearly everywhere, and are generally affected by budget reduction. It is all too common to hear that libraries (and books) are not useful anymore, as there is so much on the Internet nowadays.

Click to enlarge

Here again, solutions are quite obvious when the problems are laid in the funnel metaphor. Opportunities naturally arise from it.

For example, e-books are not a threat but the solution to cover customers needs with new books. They all want to read the same book at the same time? They can and the librarian does not have to purchase several copies that will clutter the shelves when the fashion is finished.

A lot of information is on the Internet? Good! Librarians do not need to buy every book on every subject in the world and will still be able to provide information about any query.

Transforming a library into a community place is a success criteria for libraries. People come for a variety of reasons and are exposed to a variety of experiences and knowledge (including reading).

Dematerialisation is quite visible, less books vs more access. It is also about replacing a product (book) by a service (advice on how to find the information). It is interesting to note that applying a sustainable practice tool to a different subject leads to solutions common in sustainable practice: dematerialisation and “service rather than product”.

From the tunnel vision metaphor to the funnel vision!

Try it with any issues that look like an unsolvable problem… and please share your experience below…



Intensive dairy farming in Hawea

7000 dairy cows on a 2322ha farm in Hawea Flat…

Startled by this idea, feeling that it can damage beautiful Hawea river and far beyond, I did a bit of Internet research to understand… Here is gathered and summarised relevant information. Click on the maroon words to open links to internet documents. I am not a specialist and invite you to leave comments if some statements are wrong or incomplete… I hope this post contributes to an important debate. Feel free to use any or all of it.

“Best possible way” not good enough

Intensive dairy farm “the best possible way” does not mean it is good enough. Rules are too loose to protect our waters as detailed in this submission against the Freshwater management act by the Guardians of Lake Wanaka and The Cawtron report on National Policy Statement available from Fish & Game website.

To summarize the issues, Regional councils can let water quality degrade as long as some others are improved. In the case of our pretty good water quality overall in our upland area, it simply means that the law allows our waters to be degraded. It is important to be aware of the fact that the current laws do not set any limits to freshwater pollution. Water quality standard, mainly compliance criteria exist only for public drinking water.

Intensive dairy farming is the main water polluter in NZ

Damming is partly responsible for freshwater species decline when it does not provide migratory routes facilities. Industrial and human pollution are affecting water quality obviously too. But many studies prove that land use intensification is the main cause of water quality decline in New Zealand, in particular intensive dairy farming.

From the detailed article “Clean, Green and endangered” article by David Brooks published in Forest & Bird Issue 341, August 2011, dairy farming leads to:

  • lots of water being removed from rivers,
  • pasture erosion, leading to flows of sediments
  • damaging nutrients from fertilisers and animal waste leaching back into our water bodies.

In a following article “Our Sacred cows”, by Dr Mike Joy says “the number of cows milked in the South Island has increased sevenfold”. He adds:

  • Only shed effluent is controlled by regulation
  • Other effluents are unchecked (uncheckable indeed), just an externality
  • Worse still, cows are fed with imported palm kernel, for which rainforests are massively destroyed
  • In 20 years, the dairy boom has generated a 700 per cent increase in nitrogen fertiliser use, with the consequences detailed in a previous post.

That is a case against intensive dairy farming alltogether, not only in our backyard.

No resource consent needed

If water if not a resource, then what is? Yet, there is no need for public submission to resource consent for land use intensification. This is why there was no resource consent submission for Hawea dairy farming plan, therefore no avenue for people to say what they think. We cannot trust our Council to protect our waters, because laws do not cover it properly. The community interests are not protected by the law. The laws give advantage to dairy farming which is a leading NZ export sector (i.e. lots of $$ for some), provided that they intensify production. Meanwhile in Europe, the catastrophic state of rivers prompted capping intensification and reducing fertilisers use.

I have explored the MFE website, in particular the “Managing Waterways on Farms” section. Now, tell me if I am wrong but the only thing I found is: “The first priority for the management of nutrient contamination should be excluding livestock from streams and stream channels.” Should! It is not even compulsory! I have also skimmed the Otago Regional Council Plan : Water and found the word “livestock” once. In the FAQ however, I find: “while you are allowed to graze all forms of stock near waterways, they must not damage or pug the bank or contaminate the waterway in any way”.

Even this law is not applied. I often witness cows walking in the rivers around the area, for example: Bulls grazing in Cardrona River on Robrosa Station, or cows roaming Motatapu river below the Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road bridge.

It is also shown in the beautiful award-winning documentary River Dog by James Muir.

Now cows defecation impact on water quality is well documented for example in this study “Water quality impact of a dairy cow herd crossing a stream” by the Royal Society of New Zealand published in 2004 (find the conclusions on page 7)

It is important to note that even if not poured directly in the river, dejections and fertilisers do reach the water table or the rivers as it is acknowledged on the MFE website page Type of Activities that pose a threat to water quality. Check it out. There is no “Best possible solution”. Cows dejections and fertilisers WILL sooner or later end up in our waters.

Clutha river

Consequences on our waters

Just drink the water from the lake” is now a health hazard, as well as swimming in many areas. Water from the tap, is also an issue. The Ministry of health states in an ESR report dated 2006 that “ the actual number of waterborne cases lies between 18,000 and 34,000 a year”! In Hawea flat, residents take their water from bores reaching the aquifer. They will have to dig deeper to reach water and their water will be polluted one day.

Biodiversity is at great risk, with 60% of native fish, threatened with extinction, including the longfin eels. No fish ? No fishing! And many people have sadly observed a sharp decline in our areas in recent years. Also at risk, invertebrates, birds, freshwater crayfish and mussels.

New Zealand “100% pure” brand, a key to our thriving tourist industry is also at stake of course.

In the News

According to the news, everything is done by the rules, Otago Regional Council is setting up some monitoring tools, and there will be some jobs (Wanaka Sun 25th August). Great. But if intensive dairy farming is a national threat to waters, then surely it is not good for Hawea waters, is it? How doing the same thing could have a different outcome? I was confused to discover that the Coopers’ farm consultant, Peter Hook, is also chairperson of Guardians of Lake Wanaka. So it may mean that things are done indeed in the interests of the Upper Clutha waters or, that the laws are well known and used… For whose interests is not sure yet… What happens when the monitoring tools will show an increase of pollution? Can you remove pollution from water tables? Will they then reduce the numbers of cows when the damage is done?

I have read the Otago Daily Time Article about it and wonder why the owners declined a meeting. Do they have something to hide? The answers provided in the article to reassure residents about environmental impacts are that “Hawea is different, with low rainfall and different soil structure”. That raises more questions. How are they going to feed their cows on the famously lush- not!- grass of Hawea, without irrigation? Is irrigation not a factor of run-off? Different soil structure? Will it hold nitrogen in its little arms for ever? Or will the nitrogen take longer to reach the water table? Or what? Many questions are unanswered and a meeting would indeed be great to clarify things…

What can we do?

As somebody texted it in the latest Wanaka Sun, “We, the people of Wanaka, were able to stop the already consented spread of human waste in Tarras by speaking out. (…) so write to or email the Otago Regional Council.” Good idea, thank you for making a stand! I had started to text to Wanaka Sun too but “did not dared”. Now this comment and others published about the subject prompted me to do a bit of research and send it to ORC. In a previous article in ODT, new owners were considering other options too, so we are not preventing them from doing business if we ask them to revert from their lucrative but damaging intensive dairy farm plan. And the stock will not arrive before next year so there is time for action. Let’s do it!

So I ask ORC:

There will be a meeting shortly organised by Hawea residents. Date and venue To Be Confirmed.

The Otago Regional Council organizes a meeting in Cromwell on Tuesday September 13 at the Presbyterian Church from 11am to 2.30pm. Agenda : update local farmers on proposed changes to the Otago Water Plan at a series of upcoming water quality forums. 

For the bigger picture, participate in Forest & Bird Freshwater for life campaign.

* 5.5 times more is planned in Hawea Flat. This rate would imply they “only” put 1277 cows on their land. Now Fonterra can only collect milk for 10,000kg of milk solids a year or more for a farm situated beyond its usual routes (Alexandra, Omarama or Fox Glacier). Some data found on NZ Agritech website calculates that 250 cows produce an average of 315 milk solid per year. 1277 cows will produce 1609 milk solids… Besides, this raises the issue of the fodder, fertilisers and milk travels and petrol use implied… Will Hawea flat milk travel to Christchurch to be processed or to Southland? Just not sustainable…

Florence Micoud, Wanaka

Any other idea? Please leave a comment below…

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I have just learned  that New Zealanders would need more than 4 planets if their lifestyle was experienced by all the people on Earth. Another way of saying it is that an average New Zealander lives on 7.7 hectares whereas it is estimated that there are only 1.8 “bioproductive” hectare per person.

I had a look on to compare country trends…  The data is given on graphs in Global Hectares per Capita (GHC), between the 1960’s and 2005-2007 depending on the countries. It also shows the “biocapacity”. The data is a few years old, unfortunately.

NZ: 5 Global Hectares per capita in 2006
France: 5 GHC in 2006 (increase since the 60’s)
US : 8 GHC since 1980
China: 2 GHC (has rocketed since 2003)
Danemark: 8.5 GHC ! Champions!
Afghanistan: 0.5 GHC ! Real champions!
Japan : 4.5 GHC
Sweden : 6 GHC
Poor countries GHC varies between 1 and 2.

World average: One and a half planet in 2007.

Recent studies are greatly needed, because the trend has not globally improved since 2007 …

Hence the great value of Ella Lawton’s project: it is a 3-year programme to measure footprints related to built settlement types, then establish a vision of the theoretical ideal scale and form of built settlement, then put it in practice in rural and urban environment, and eventually enlarge and empower the rest of the country and beyond…

There are other initiatives in the world based on ecological footprint, like the One Planet Sutton, Foot Prints Wales but if you google “footprint US”, you find … a company that sells shoes, of course!

Environmental footprint is a great awareness tool

So I tried…

The footprint network quiz is interactive and easy to do. It concludes I use 1.9 planet and 3.4 bioproductive hectares! OMG!

I pledged to halve my meat consumption, to reach 1.6 planets and the only way I can yet improve to 1.5 is to pledge to buy less packaging, which “I do”.
It does not make a difference with this quiz if I travel to Europe every 4 years instead of 3.

It is well under the New Zealand average but far too much!

Worse! The Ecological Footprint Quiz by the Center of Sustainable Economy says that I need 2.21 Earths!

Oh, No!

I am reassured by the fact that questions are quite general and do not consider the fact that we have nearly no electrical appliances, for example.

So I tried more detailed calculators, and for them, I need my electricity bills, my vehicule logs, and bank account statements…

Here is the Carbon Footprint calculator result:

Although half the NZ average, I still feel I need to improve a lot. I “played” around with the questions. I would need to halve my electricity consumption ( which would be quite hard), fly only as far as Sydney, buy only local food (and no meat)  and get rid of my car to reach the world target. I am not there yet but I know what my goal is…

WA$TED is a NZ clever TV programme and book and website with a comprehensive household footprint calculator specifically designed for NZ. I am somewhat reassured, because it enables me to enter the exact number of lights and appliances etc, which are quite low and therefore I end up with a 3/4 hectare footprint. There is no international travel in this calculator so I would need to add about 1 ton of CO2 for travelling to France every 3 years, that is about 1 hectare and I am just within the available land for me. Just! This seems too light compared with other results.

I am not sure how CO2 tons convert in global hectares. The Ecological Footprint Standards 2009 from the footprint network says “A2.3 The assessment calculates the Footprint of carbon dioxide emissions (e.g., converts tonnes of carbon dioxide into global hectares) using the same methods as the National Footprint Accounts” but I was unable to find it. From various sources on the Internet, I estimated that 1 ton of CO2 is roughly equivalent to 1 hectare. In average, 1 hectare would be able to absorb about a ton of CO2 per year. This needs further research. Would my teacher know?

The most serious is the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development emissions online calculator . It finds that I create 4.5 CO2 tons per year, which is fairly consistent with other results.

It slowly kicks in that although I thought my household was quite sustainable, it is actually twice bigger than what our Earth can make and take and therefore I MUST halve my own footprint. I should have done only the Wa$ted test and I would have felt quite content!

So now HOW do we reduce our carbon footprint?

The Centre for Sustainable Economy advises how to reduce our eco footprint. I feel I do a lot of this already…

In June 2011, an article in the Guardian explains HOW a household can greatly reduce its footprint. Seems easy.

It is actually quite complex. Patagonia has designed an interactive tool to visualise the travels of several products. They are accompanied by interesting videos. For example this Capilene path:

It is amazing to see how many kilometers (therefore carbon) a simple jumper encapsulate, even one that is made by a company that cares. It just give a glimpse of what we need to think about when buying.

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Why go sustainable?

I watched this youtube from TED conference by Simon Sinek: “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action”.
He explains that companies are successful at selling products when they advertise why they do them. People will buy a product because of why it is done. Decision making is done from the heart, from the belief. Companies who just say what they do, or how they do it do not get as much success.

Simon says… it is the same with ideas…
I thought I’d try to apply it to sustainability…


So what is the problem? What is sustainability? A huge number of studies have gathered data measuring the ampleness of the issues, and created estimations and recommendations. They are essential for governments and international organisation to decide for actions.

Here are some excellent studies with compelling results. We cannot say that we do not know… But you need time to read!

Living Beyond Our Means from the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment website is a summary of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessement, a 3000 pages document, created by 1360 experts from 95 countries, reviewed by more than 2500 experts from 185 countries. Check out the 107 slides
presentation or my summary of the summary here.

– The Stern Review – The Economics of Climate Change  calculates that climate change will reduce global per-capita consumption of around 20% over the next 2 centuries, in the current trends. However, mitigating the impacts of climate change would only cost around 1% of annual global GDP by 2050 for a weak stabilisation of 550ppm Co2e. Policies to reduce emissions include carbon pricing, technology policy and removal to behavioural change.

– Check out the comprehensive IPCC website. For example the Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation  or the latest assessment report summary (2007).

– For New Zealand, here is the “Climate Change Effects and Impacts Assessment: A Guidance Manual for Local Government in New Zealand

These are all very interesting researches that all prompt for urgent collective action, while giving governments and decisions-makers clues on how to do it best. Whether they decide to go for it or not is so far political.

But for many people anyway, although striking and obvious, these graphs and facts are boring and not engaging. The required actions seem beyond their means, whereas they actually have the political choice in their voting card…

Some people even deny that there is a link between climate change and extreme weather, but that won’t last!


How can we become more sustainable?

It is important to give information (ex: how-to-do a garden), and to show examples of successful sustainable actions. But there are so many sources of information and so many topics that I do not attempt a list here. Giving tips on how to cut energy bills or recycle does help, but people may be overwhelmed by the number of things to know and do. They may not see connexions between seemingly different subjects. They will do it, then forget it. They miss the big picture. They need to know why…


So why go sustainable?

Why do I study sustainability? Why do I choose to buy local or fair trade, to bike or walk when I can, to make my own hand-made organic flour bread, to use eco-bulbs, to plant trees, to bring my old clothes to the recycling centre where I get not-so-old ones, to grow a pesticide-free vege garden, to live with a 6 years-old mobile phone, and so on…
Because I believe I can help changing the world in doing my part. I am convinced we can manage to curb these horrific Green House Gas curves (and others)  that threaten to over-heat our planet, if we all do our bit. I believe one day, all humans will be aware and respect the cycles of the nature we are within.

I also believe that the climate change is actually an opportunity for our human specie to grasp our problems as a whole and solve them altogether, from poverty and disparity, to pollutions and ecosystems destructions. Idealist? Yes, I am, because I trust humans. Each human trusts himself, why couldn’t I trust each human?

Therefore I am working towards raising this awareness, as well as spreading the information on the many solutions that do exist.

I know people will not all embark on the sustainability track now. As for products, ideas have an “adoption cycle”. I am humbly an innovator, carving this path for 25 years, despite mockery and derision. I think we are in New Zealand in the early “Early Adopters” phase. I believe this is the decade when we can make a change, and I am not alone. I study sustainability because I want to do professionally what I have been practising at home for long. The more I study, the more I realise we can make it.

Now, one of the most compelling action-prompting Youtube I’ve seen is “The most terrifying video” or the global climate change matrix where Greg Craven brilliantly shows that choosing to take no action is choosing Death! Boy, that is a pretty convincing reason why to go sustainable!

I have a vision of a happy, healthy, sharing era in a sustainable world. I do believe that a majority of people will soon realise that we are better off cooperating with each other and learning to use our resources wisely. Now is a good time  to shift your mindset and adopt the sustainability “innovation”.

“I have a dream” we will get there!

Does this post inspire action?

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Changing of perspective…

I have enjoyed reading the ”Future of Progress”, by Helena Norberg-Hodge which gives a totally different perspective on the world economic issues. This chapter is part of “The Future of Progress: Reflections on environment and development”, by Edward Goldsmith, Vandana Shiva, Sigmund Kvaloy, Martin Khor, Nicholas Hildyard, Gary Snyder and Helena Norberg-Hodge, a book which was the result of an international conference on environment and development organised near Stockholm by the International Society for Ecology and Culture and Friends of the Earth – Sweden, in 1995. It was made into a video which script can be read here.

The chapter demonstrates the impossibility and indesirability of economic growth in “South” countries.
Drawing a parallel between the crisis in the South (poverty, environmental degradation, ethnic friction, overpopulation and debt) and the crisis in the North (resource depletion, pollution, unemployment, and social breakdown), it argues that the economic growth is the cause of the problem and in no way a solution.
The solutions to both crises are on the one hand, strategies that counter destructive trends linked to the “techno-economic” model, and on the other hand, strategies that foster positive alternatives including:

  • Small-scale and local initiatives;
  • Appropriate technology: solar and small scale water power;
  • Education that integrates connections rather than narrow over-specialised learning; and
  • Synthetising traditional and post-industrial values, reviving traditions of cooperation, wisdom and local culture.

Simple and well demonstrated.

I am a long term “fan” of Helena as I met her in Terre Vivante in France when I was working there and had considered translating her book “Ancient futures”. Helena’s first book vividly describes the culture of one of the world most remote and harsh place of the world and how the 70’s development policies systematically destructured it.

Helena visited Ladakh in the 70’s and mastered the language. She became an international voice of Ladakhi people and by extension all traditional people of the world, revitalizing cultures and diversity, and promoting local communities worldwide.

I have also read “From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture”, by Helena, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Peter Goering and John Page which analyses the roots of the environmental, social and economic crises facing modern industrial agriculture, while reviewing more sustainable options.
My partner and I tramped through the Zanskar valley in Ladakh in 1991 and we saw how people were happy and sharing whereas they had “nothing”. We witnessed how local people could cultivate this impossible landscape only with a local fine-tuned knowledge of cultivation. We listened to the stories of older children going to the town for school and leaving a gap of workforce while missing their traditional learning, which made them unable to come back living on the land…

Helena has since created a documentary “The Economics of Happiness” which she presents at TED and which I just bought to view and share. I’ll summarise it as soon as I see it.
I am very pleased she managed to create a world-wide awareness. It is great she managed to harness the power of social media for her quest.

All these resources can be purchased from