Last night, I gave a presentation about Sustainable Living to the members of the Melton Rotary Club. I arrived at 6.10pm as the meeting started at 6.30pm. Thank goodness I arrived a little early, as the set-up of the projector, laptop and screen took about 10 minutes, and then I discovered that there was no power extension cord to connect the projector and the laptop to a very distant power outlet. Thankfully one of the members helped me out and we managed to find a power board and an extension cord. After a quick test, everything was ready to go.
I had a chat with a few of the members who were curious about what I was going to talk about, but I did not give much away. The gong sounded, which meant that I had two minutes to grab some Dutch courage in the form of a glass of red wine to calm the butterflies building in my stomach. We all toasted our country and then sung the national anthem and then we sat and the formalities commenced, with the President’s weekly address.
After dinner finished, the Sergeant at Arms started his session, which was quite funny, and everyone had a good laugh. Then it was my turn on centre stage. I took a minute to start up the equipment and then got the show on the road.
My opening statement was that I was not here to plug anything, or convert anyone. I was just here to talk about what I had learned, and what my family and I had achieved over the last 19 months during our sustainable journey. I then explained what I thought sustainable living was by definition. I had two definitions, one from the dictionary which was OK, but the one I made up was better. Sustainable Living is never having to say sorry to your grandchildren and great grandchildren about the way you lived and the consequences of that. I believe that this statement hit a raw nerve with most of the audience as many members were over 60, and had children and grandchildren. I also discussed my experience of when I saw “An Inconvenient Truth” for the first time, and that I cried as I walked the 5 km back to the office from the cinema with huge blisters on my feet, and the feeling of guilt that I had during the next few days!
As I worked my way through the presentation, I noticed that I had about 99% of the audiences attention, especially when I got past the first few slides about CO2 concentrations and the warming effect. I actually got gasps when I said that within the next few years there will be no Arctic Ice cap during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Then I realised that there were not many people that knew that these things were going on globally! After the doom and gloom, which was only about 4 slides to get my point across, and the reasons why we choose to live sustainably, it was into the fun part of the presentation. I went through the following challenges that we as a family tackled;
- Energy Efficiency
- Power Generation
- Natural Gas
- Organic Gardening
- Preserving Excess, and
- Home brewing Beer (a big hit)
I then got to the summary and stated that “One person can make a difference, and so can a family” and that “Energy Efficiency and growing your own food are the easiest to achieve and make the biggest impact on you environmental footprint” and to finish off “If you build it, they would come!” I then gave Earth Hour a small promotion and showed my blog address if anyone wanted to learn more. It was now question time, and I got asked about 5 questions, which I think I answered to everyone’s satisfaction, from no dig gardening, to “Not everyone can afford to do this” (I agree, but they can be energy efficient), to “can I buy a half a PV system and add to it later” (yes you can, get a bigger inverter first). It was during question time that I mentioned my 2006/07 summer quarter power bill ($700), and compared the 2007/2008 quarter power bill this year ($150). I said, why wouldn’t you do these things, if this is the type of savings you can make. That made people think!
After question time, I was presented with a nice glass with the Rotary International Wheel engraved on it and thanked for an excellent presentation. When I sat down in a state of euphoria, I had about 6 other people talk to me and ask me further questions. Most people were really interested, and I think I opened up a lot of minds to new ideas, and gave many members food for thought.
I have managed to create a movie file out of the Powerpoint slides, but just be aware, there is no sound, just the slides. It takes 15 seconds before it begins.
I had a fantastic feeling of achievement, and I believe I delivered an informative and entertaining insight into my world of Sustainable Living!