The Economics of Happiness - Screening Update

We blogged about this film back in February and thanks to Social Innovation Sydney will now get a chance to see it.

The screening will be held at COFA on May 5, 2011 and will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Jon Dee of Planet Ark and Do Something & NSW Australian of the Year, Gareth Johnston of Live Local.

“Localization is about connection,” says Norberg-Hodge. “It is about re-establishing our interdependence with others as well as with the natural world around us. And this connection is fundamental to our very happiness.”

Watch the trailer here.

Tickets are $15 and available from Eventbrite

For more information please call Michelle on 0415 092 298 or email

Read a review by the Huffington Post

The Living Bath Mat

Do you like walking barefoot on grass?  We don't do it enough but there's something quite liberating about it and it instantly reconnects you to the Earth.
So imagine stepping straight out of your shower onto soft moss.  Gorgeous.

This brilliant bathroom mat designed by Nguyen La Chanh is made from imputrescible foam called plastazote.  It includes ball moss, island moss and forest moss and the humidity of the bathroom ensures that the mosses thrive.

It's the next best thing to an open air shower.  Buy here or perhaps grow your own?

Greenhouse by Joost - Are Eco Designers the New Rock Stars?

I'd say yes.  Perhaps it's my age but I'm finding this new breed of young ecologically minded designers damn hot.
Just being in Greenhouse made me want to jump on the spot screaming.  It's brilliance is infectious, I'm not the only person who feels this way.

greenhouse - rooftop

For the last few weeks, the Greenhouse has been operating as a fully sustainable cafe and bar in its prime position opposite the Opera House.  This beautiful structure made from three shipping containers is the brains of Dutch born Melburnian, architect and creative genius Joost Bakker.

He designed the first Greenhouse back in 2008 as an exhibition and event space for Federation Square in Melbourne and a subsequent permanent construction is currently operating in Perth with over 800 visits a day.

With executive chef Matt Stone on board, (Gourmet Traveller Best New Talent 2010, 2010 Perth Restaurant of the Year for Greenhouse Perth), the concept behind the Greenhouse is simple.  Create a space from wholly recycled or recyclable materials, serve seasonal organic whole foods that are either grown on site or sourced locally and operate sustainably, producing zero waste.

Welcome to the über cafe of the future.

greenhouse - vertical strawberry pots greenhouse - imagine
greenhouse - interior walls greenhouse - window

  • The interior walls are completely clad in MgO board (magnesium oxide board) impregnated with Bio-Char which stores carbon within the walls.
  • The steel framed walls are filled with straw and the doors and windows are recyclable steel framed.
  • The toilets are Australian made Caroma Dorf and the sink above the cistern uses water from the hand wash to fill the next flush.
  • The kitchen and bathroom floors are lined with natural linoleum and the cafe floor with recycled conveyor belts.
  • The chairs are made out of old aluminium irrigation pipes and the leather used for the seats are off-cuts from a saddle makers in Ballarat.
  • Food is served on wooden boards with plantation timber cutlery.
  • Suppliers will only be able to supply fresh produce in returnable Chep crates. 
  • Fresh milk will be delivered straight from the farm in returnable stainless steel buckets and will be used to make butter, yoghurt and mozzarella cheese. 
  • A local wheat grower will provide wheat direct from the farm every week which is ground on site into fresh flour to make bread, pastries, pasta and wood fired pizza.  Oats will also be rolled fresh.
  • A wood fired oven is used the whole day; early morning for breads and pastries, pizzas and flat breads at lunch.
  • All waste from the kitchen will be organic and composted on site using a JoraForm in-vessel composter and will then be used to maintain the roof top garden.  The plantation timber cutlery can also be composted.
  • The rooftop bar serves wine from returnable kegs or barrels and beer on tap. The Gin, Rum, Vodka and Whiskey are also Australian made and owned and Hepburn Springs Mineral Water will be derived straight from the aquifer into kegs and used to make Tonic, Soda and Cola. 

greenhouse - table greenhouse - coffee
greenhouse - rooftop with bridge greenhouse - rooftop with opera house

Make sure you catch it while you can. It is due to leave Sydney for Milan at the end of March before traveling on to Berlin, Budapest and London.

Check their website for opening hours and more information.


Recycling, upcycling even supercycling - call it what you will - the re-use and re-purpose of our "stuff" is a brilliant way to give objects continued life.

Here are a few truly beautiful examples I've come across lately.  Thanks to sustainable interior design weblog the Interior Revolution and Inhabitat for these links.

Benoit Vieubled’s “terre à l’endroit, terre à l’envers“ is a gorgeous way to re-use old globes, so quickly out of date.

Information desk

Recycled books used to construct the library desk in Delft's University of Technology.
Image © Ellen Forsyth

Gilles Eichenbaum's lamps made from found objects are nothing short of stunning.
There's something wonderfully surreal about the objects he uses, like this teapot and flan dish.

Or this old telephone and top hat.  Brilliant stuff.

The Economics of Happiness

The importance of "buying local" has become more than a passing trend, it is now a necessity if we are to make our planet sustainable.  The incredible quantity of waste involved in the food process, from producer to consumer, is nothing less than shocking.

As governments and big business continue to promote globalisation, communities are demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance and are returning to more human-scale, ecological economies - the economics of localisation.

The Economics of Happiness, a film by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick & John Page describes  this conflict.

The film has just been released in the US and is touring globally.  No screenings planned yet for Australia - find out more here.

Collaborative Consumption - much more than buzz words

It's fitting that the first post on here is about Collaborative Consumption - it is after all the pebble that started the landslide for me.
The ideas behind the Collaborative Consumption movement are so obvious that you'll kick yourself for not getting on to it sooner. Or like me, you'll realise you've been doing it unwittingly for years; clothing and toy hand-me-downs, teenage mix-tapes for friends and lovers, veggies from your grandparents garden.  
Give and take - it's how we relate as human beings.

But apply this on a bigger global scale aided by growing network technologies in the 21st century and you have Collaborative Consumption.

According to Rachel Botsman and Roo Rodgers who founded the movement, "(It) describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping redefined through technology and peer communities.

From enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist to emerging sectors such as social lending Zopa and car sharing ZipcarCollaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.

New marketplaces such as, Zilok, BartercardAirbnb and thredUp are enabling “peer-to-peer” to become the default way people exchange — whether it’s unused space, goods, skills, money, or services — and sites like these are appearing everyday, all over the world".

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers charts this movement.

"We are at the start of the “Big Shift” away from the 20th century defined by hyper-consumption towards the 21st century, an age of Collaborative Consumption.
But just how LARGE and FAR-REACHING is this groundswell?"

It's hard not to be inspired isn't it?

I heard Rachel speak briefly at Sydney's GreenUps event last December and discovered instantly that all the projects I had been planning, all the ideas I had been germinating led here. And so here we are.