Three Green R’s reconsidered

reduce ruse recycleWe all know the three R’s of conservation, of course, but I wondered recently whether more of them might be useful.

I shared that thought with friends on and off facebook; most of their suggestions were good but they tended to be refinements or extensions of the first three, and the only one which seemed to deserve an equal standing was Repair, although Refuse nearly deserves a spot at the top of the list.

One respondent suggested that we should Rejoice in what we have already, and that’s a good thought, too. If we can be happy with what we’ve got, we’re well on the way to all of the other steps: we will reduce new acquisitions, we will re-use and repair our belongings, and in the end we will dispose of them respectfully.


The most significant consumption choice we make is whether we acquire an item in the first place.

  • Repudiate consumer culture.
  • Refuse to buy, or accept as commercial freebies, stuff you don’t need.
  • Reject unnecessary packaging.
  • Research before you buy so that you don’t buy stuff you can’t use.


Re-using things in their original form for their original purpose is generally the highest level of re-use. And the more times we can re-use an item, the longer we postpone the need to replace it with a new one.

Lower levels such as repurposing are better thought of as high-level recycling, since they usually imply a loss of original function.


We can extend the life of our belongings by looking after them, and then by fixing them rather than throwing them out. If we can double the useful lifespan of each shirt, table, car or house we own, we can halve our lifetime consumption of such goods, and halve the waste of embodied energy they represent. We use different words for different kinds of repair. Here are some of them:

  • Renovate
  • Redecorate
  • Refurbish
  • Rejuvenate


When an object is beyond re-use and repair, recycling is better than dumping. But even here, higher-level recycling is better than treating things as raw materials for industrial processes.

  • Repurpose objects to give them a second life.


Once upon a time, according to the Buddhist scriptures (Kd 21.1.14), King Udena’s wife gave Ananda, the leader of a group of monks, a generous gift of 500 robes – without asking her husband’s permission. He wasn’t particularly happy about that, thinking that the gift would be wasted, so he interrogated Ananda:

“But what can you, honourable Ananda, do with so many robes?”

“I will share them, your majesty, with those monks whose robes are worn thin.”

“But what will you do, good Ananda, with those old robes that are worn thin?”

“We will make them into upper coverings, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ananda, with those upper coverings that are old?”

“We will make these into mattress coverings, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ananda, with those mattress coverings that are old?”

“We will make them into ground coverings, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ananda, with those ground coverings that are old?”

“We will make them into foot-wipers, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ananda, with those foot-wipers that are old?”

“We will make them into dusters, your majesty.”

“But what will you do, good Ananda, with those dusters that are old?”

“Having torn them into shreds, your majesty, having kneaded them with mud, we will smear a plaster-flooring.”

It’s a wonderful example of best-practice stewardship of possessions. History relates that King Udena was impressed – and so he should have been! – and all ended happily.

The principles apply equally to our stewardship of the world we inherited from our parents and will pass on to our children.

Poplar gum full of birds

Our poplar gum dropped a lot of leaves a month ago in preparation for its flowering, and it has been full of birds ever since. In order from most to least numerous visitation, we’ve enjoyed (mostly!) the company of Rainbow Lorikeets, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, White-gaped Honeyeaters, Little Friarbirds, Leaden Flycatcher, Great Bowerbird, Brown Honeyeater (common in the garden but not in the poplar gum), Blue-winged Kookaburra, Spangled Drongo, Indian Mynah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Figbird and Torres Strait Pigeon (my first sighting this season).

Amongst them, however, was a Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus, my first record of the species in the garden.

Continue reading “Poplar gum full of birds”

Blencoe Falls in winter

I visited Blencoe Falls, inland from Kennedy, in December 2016 at the very end of the Dry Season. Friends have just been camping up there and shared photos of their trip so, with their permission, I thought I would share them more widely.

The creek is beautiful but there is not much more water coming over the falls than when I saw them, and one has to wonder how such a small stream could have carved out such an enormous channel.

blencoe creek
Blencoe Creek near the camping ground (photo: Claire F.)

Continue reading “Blencoe Falls in winter”

The Dry Season continues

White-gaped Honeyeater
Oooh, that was good!

We’re well into the Dry season now and the birds come to water whenever they can. These White-gaped Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus unicolor) came to bathe under the sprinkler this morning.

Rain? What’s that? We had a few drops (almost few enough to count individually) a couple of days ago, but before then?

I had to look at the BoM’s records. They show we have had nothing over 0.2mm on any one day all the way back to early July when we had 12.4mm one day and a sprinkling on the days either side of it. June’s total was … wait for it … 2.2mm and in May the total was only 1.8mm. We had 10 mm in April but, really, it stopped raining at the end of March.

We have had less than 30 mm in a bit over five months. Continue reading “The Dry Season continues”

Black Cockatoo chick leaves the nest

My friend in Kelso who invited me to visit the Tawny Frogmouth a while ago and has spotted 75 species of birds around the house to my 50 got in touch a week ago about a Red-tailed Black Cockatoo chick (Calyptorhynchus banksii), saying, “Come and watch the mother feeding it,” etc, and we visited him today for the purpose.

The nest, in a tree hollow as usual, was visible from the back of the house and when we arrived about 3.30 the chick was sitting up, waiting for food:

Black cockatoo chick
Waiting patiently

Continue reading “Black Cockatoo chick leaves the nest”