I recently had the opportunity to meet Author and Innovator Michael Mobbs, Sustainable Home, at his inner city home in Chippendale, Sydney.  Here he is off the grid for water.  He catches rainwater for showering, cooking, and drinking after which the greywater and blackwater is treated through a series of sand, gravel, and peat beds ending with a solar powered zap of UV rays.  It is then recycled in the home and used for laundry and toilet needs.

Not only does he concern himself with his direct ecological footprint, he has made an effort to include his neighborhood in his concerns by creating an edible street fed by stormwater, along with adding community composting bins.  You can read about his neighborhood efforts here.  

He and his neighbors disconnected the storm drains leading from their gutter downspouts to the street guttter and perforated them, running them through the nature strips in front of their houses, which are planted with food plants and natives along the whole street

Street Compost Bins offer neighborhoods a resource to put their food scraps in and reap the rewards, if they don’t have the space in their own places.  Furthemore, neighborhood residents are paid in local café currency to take care of the compost bins.  

Look at this list of achievements over an 18 month period!

·      Road gardens built by residents and businesses for ~ $4,000 + ~ $3,000 from council 

·      Six folk trained to maintain public compost bins 

·      Value of resident and business maintenance labour @ $20 an hour over $5,000 a year 

·      Over 1,000 fruit trees and plants planted, about 30 trees and several dozen herbs stolen or broken by local human Galahs (pesky birds that travel in flocks and destroy parklands)

·      Stopped over 4 million litres of stormwater entering Sydney Harbour each year -at a cost of less than $100 

·      Grow over 5% of citrus and herbs needed by about 150 households by 2011 

·      Cut food miles by over 5,000 k for every harvesting house 

·      Grow conversations in the streets -several blogs, facebookpages and many local stories 

·      Grow community gardening skills 

·      Conducting possibly the first public trial of composting -four x 400 litre compost bins 

·      Trialled and proven a way to water street gardens with roof water at a one-off cost of less than $5 per house 

·      Trialled a way of diverting compost liquid nutrients below ground to irrigate the citrus and road gardens at a total cost per bin less than $10 

·      Kept over 12 tonnes of food waste out of council tips, prevented over 3 tonnes of greenhouse pollution

·      Stopped over 4 million litres of rain water leaving our streets to pollute Sydney Harbour for a total one off capital cost of less than $200 and no maintenance costs 

Bringing this sort of simple technology out to the streets fosters community spirit.  Once we think as a community, we start to make decisions based on not only our own needs, but with a thought to how our actions affect those around us, including our local ecology.  What an inspiration!