Unexpected pleasantries and low-footprint beer

Ang and I decided to duck out for dinner at a local restaurant in Newtown tonight. While we were waiting to order, the two people we were sitting next too offered us a beer. I was a bit taken aback, and asked why and they said “we just want to chat”.

The couple were from Kansas, Missouri, USA. The gent was a military pilot who is training to fly B2 bombers. The lass was a journo working for a magazine covering social trends, particularly in rural areas.

We had a lovely conversation that ranged from touristy things to politics to the environment (of course) and many stops in between. It was a lovely, unexpected, evening.

And we had one of those moments where you realise that tourists sometimes get to know your local area better than you do. The beer they offered was a James Squire Pilsner. It was a nice drop, and we asked why they chose it: “it’s a local beer apparently”. Then we realised it was brewed in Camperdown – just down the road from where we live.

Neither Ang nor I are beer drinkers, but we’ve taken a shine to Amstel. This presents an ethical dilemma. Amstel is an imported beer, and we were concerned about the eco-footprint of the product. Yes, we’re that eco-geeky.

Given we’re so far enjoying the James Squire – and you can’t get a much smaller footprint than “imported from just down the road” – we might have just found our new beer.

So thanks to two yanks who are in Newtown for one night we’ve been introduced to our new favourite beer from just down the road…

Tonight has been full of unexpected moments – I mean how often does that sort of thing happen? Makes you realise it’s fun to be alive. Thanks to J and B, our friends for this evening. Hope you have a great time on the Great Barrier Reef!


I wonder – if Richard Branson is splashing all this money around to reduce climate change, why doesn’t his airline have an “offset this flight” button when you book a flight?

People that want it can get it easily when they’re booking the flight. People that don’t simply uncheck the box.

Ang had a similar idea for insurance companies. Insurers are well aware of the risks of climate change. If they have a retail arm that insures cars, they have most of the information they need to provide offsets. All they’d need to add to the bill is a check-box and the distance traveled during the billing period (e.g. the last year). Send in the bill with your cheque and you’re done – or provide an online payment service.

They could outsource the fulfillment to an existing carbon offsets provider (like Climate Friendly).

Two simple things that would help effectively reduce emissions.

Incandescent ban

Ban the bulb

Seems like Malcolm Turnbull is considering banning incandescent light bulbs (more at news.com.au).

I think this is a great move that will not only benefit the environment, but will also reduce the cost of the bulbs as sales volume increases. (I also love the fact it’s front page news, and the top news item on Google News today. Brilliant!)

The Sydney Morning Herald has a great image that compares the two types of bulbs. What I love about the picture is that it compares the cost of 6 incandescent bulbs with one CFL – which is a much fairer cost comparison as the life of a CFL is much longer.

At a total cost of more than 6 times, and CO2 emissions of roughly the same proportion, the incandescents simply don’t stack up.

Of course, there’s no need to wait for government intervention – you can get CFLs on the shelf today.

(I also hope that CFL manufacturers ditch the plastic blister packs (which are annoying to open) and replace them with more conventional and easier to handle packaging…)

A couple of further thoughts – I agree with some of the comments I’ve read that it doesn’t take a lot of political will to do what Turnbull is suggesting. And that a lot more is needed. But it’s a great first step.

To put the announcement into perspective. From what I understand, lighting accounts for between 5% and 10% of all household emissions. That means that more than 90% of a households emissions still need to be addressed. Still a 5-7% gain in efficiency in a household is a big step forward and should be supported.

Hot water, which Turnbull is reportedly also targeting for efficiency measures, accounts for around 25-30%, which will have an even bigger impact.

Ultimately, however, the energy industry needs an overhaul to make the big difference required. As I’ve stated before, energy efficiency will play a big part in allowing that to happen.

(Image thanks to Lighter Footstep)

OLPC ships

The One Laptop Per Child initiative ships. Very cool… It’ll be interesting to see how they perform in real life.