ReNew Issue 133

Reuse and recycling special

In this issue we look at programs aimed at reducing and reusing waste, from building materials to e-waste. We see how old salvaged building materials can be used in new buildings rather than being sent to landfill. We also look at recycling schemes for old solar panels, light bulbs of all kinds, and battery recycling. Plus, we take a look at one reader’s move towards ditching gas altogether, going all-electric, and how it is saving him money in the process. We also take a look at the LED lighting market, Australia’s first approved earthship home, a double-glazing retrofit, and the environmental issues with that most ubiquitous of materials, plastic.

Issue Contents:

Issue 133 is hot off the press and full of advice for your sustainable home this spring. As always, ReNew comes overflowing with articles to satisfy both the technically and the not-so-technically minded. Regardless of whether your interest is sustainable building, low energy lighting, going all-electric or simple energy-saving DIY projects, there is something for everyone in this issue.

ReNew 133 has ‘reuse and recycling’ as its focus. Inside you’ll find:

Special feature: reuse and recycling

Waste not, want not

Lance Turner considers the evolving recycling options for some of the common technologies in households: solar panels, lights and batteries.

A reuse/recycling revolution

Robyn Deed and Emily Braham talk to some architects and builders about the practicalities of reducing construction waste.

Storage, study, sleeping

Motivated by reuse and sustainability, Tammi Jonas is a convert to container homes. Here she describes the conversion process and shares the joy of living in her ‘lovely trappings’. Plus we revisit another container home first covered in ReNew 122.

The DIY life: Bear Grylls with spanners

John Hermans explains how to live well on minimal income by reusing the vast array of high-quality waste generated in the suburbs.

A toxic legacy

With mountains of e-waste continuing to grow and much of it ending up in landfill, Kirsten Tsan looks at what’s happening here to address the problem.

Earthship Ironbank

Australia’s first permitted earthship is almost ready to set sail in its new life as B&B accommodation, and as a living laboratory. Owner-builder Martin Freney describes the voyage so far.

The proliferation of plastic

In the course of her 70 years, Dorothy Broom has witnessed the rise and rise of consumer plastics. Here she offers her perspective on their history and sociology.

A PET project

Deb Shaw shares her innovative way of teaching the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle to her students, at the same time as helping the school’s vegie seedlings thrive in frosty Canberra.


New choices in lighting: LED lighting buyers guide

The move to LED lighting has become mainstream, with more options appearing constantly. Lance Turner takes a look at what’s available.

Other Features

Tale of two heaters: gas vs electric

Tim Forcey describes the learnings (and savings) gained from his experiment with reverse-cycle electric heating.

Small changes, big savings

Glenn and Lee Robinson show us their low-cost, all-electric green cottage built on common-sense principles.

Up to standard

Architect Fergal White visits a home in Canberra, certified as a Passive House, to see it in action and hear its story from owner and designer Harley Truong.

The Pears Report: Changing states

Alan Pears looks at the rapid changes in electricity policy, provides some practical perspectives on carbon pricing and discusses some good news about the national appliance energy efficiency program.

Member profile: Everything is crucial in design

Thermal mass, floor mass, wall mass, the case for new materials, smart home measures, passive solar design, embodied energy and more … Sarah Coles spoke to Griff Morris from Solar Dwellings about sustainability and the ethics of building a home.

Book review

Review by Sarah Coles of Post-petroleum design by George Elvin, review by John Knox of THE ENERGY-FREEDOM HOME: How to Wipe Out Electricity and Gas Bills in Nine Steps by Beyond Zero Emissions/Richard Keech, and review by Robyn Deed of MAKE GARBAGE GREAT: The Terracycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle by Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes.


Downlight transformers

Not all halogen downlight transformers are created equal when using them with retrofit LED globes. Alfred Howell explains how the wrong transformers can be costing you money.

Double glazing: a clear improvement

It can be an expensive commitment, so is it worth doing? Matt Gray takes us through his glazing retrofit and explains the advantages.

Clean out the dust and save money

Is your fridge running all the time? It may not be worn out, just dirty. Charlie Woolstencroft explains how easy it is to fix.