Practical Matter

Finance, utilities and affairs - practical thought to support you on the road to living small.

Free to Feed: Soul Food

Free to Feed is a Melbourne-based social enterprise that creates empowering employment opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum through the creation of shared food experiences. They facilitate community interconnectivity and break the stifling sense of social isolation often faced by these new arrivals. Through the delivery of cooking classes, catering, and one-off seasonal workshops, […]

Play Matters: The Style and Substance of the Berlin Spielplatz

Germany has some of the world's most exciting playgrounds, thanks to a combination of social values and wise design regulations. On her sojourn in Berlin, planning lawyer Mitra Anderson-Oliver gets to explore (mit kind!) this essential infrastructure of childhood.

The Rooftop Energy Revolution

According to the United Nations, the global community has until 2030 to change its behaviour before we lock in a disastrous level of warming. This begs the question: why aren’t we using the vast amounts of renewable energy available to us? Ryan Alexander investigates the green energy movement in Australia and how households can effect change.

Waste No Food: Circular Food Systems

Our series ‘Circular Thinking’ brings together insights from our workshops on the circular economy. In  our last instalment, we look at what it takes to close the loop on food waste, with Kirsten Larsen and Jen Sheridan from Open Food Network.

Global Garbage: Where Does Our Recycling Go?

In our latest instalment of the ‘Circular Thinking’ series, we are going global. Where does our waste go? Does our recycling even get recycled? And what has China got to do with it? Professor of international urban politics at University of Melbourne, Michele Acuto, is here to help.

Circular Thinking: Zero-Waste Buildings

‘Circular economy’ is a fancy term for an industry that produces no waste. In practice, it means making products and materials more efficiently, and reusing them for as long as possible. This week we begin our series on Circular Thinking, looking at what circular economy might mean in practice. First off: buildings. No other human activity creates as much waste as construction – but what can architects and builders do about it? Our friends from Arup – the engineering masterminds – guide us through their research into zero-waste buildings.

Redesigning the Housing Market

Is housing really best left to market alone? Turns out there are many models for financing housing. Urban designer Andy Fergus shares his research into alternative housing models, from for-profit to non-profit. Choose your own adventure!

Solar for the Suburbs

In our second article shared from 'Future West (Australian Urbanism)', a new print publication considering the future of urbanism through the lens of Perth and Western Australia, Brad Pettitt and Peter Newman consider how a WA-based solar project might advance the future of home solar technology, with over one in five households in Perth now generating solar energy.

Patagonia: treading lightly is good business

The Fifth Estate's Willow Aliento speaks to Dane O’Shanassy, Patagonia Australia and New Zealand general manager, about the rise of the "conscious consumer" and how good business can actually inspire its customers to buy less. Find out how the renowned B Corporation-certified outdoor clothing and equipment company "uses business to inspire solutions to deal with the environmental crisis."

Fossil fuel subsidies? Or water, power, sanitation for all

As The Fifth Estate's Cameron Jewell discovers, we’re spending US$550 billion a year on fossil fuel subsidies globally. But freeing up just a small portion of this money could finance access to water, sanitation and electricity for everyone on earth, according to a new commentary piece published in the journal 'Nature Climate Change'.

Green and wellbeing are the new black, sitting is the new smoking

In the first of a series of occasional articles from The Fifth Estate, Australia's leading business newspaper for the sustainable built environment, TFE's editor Tina Perinotto looks at the trend towards green design and wellbeing in the US, and how walkability, holistic design thinking, and the Internet of Things just might be 'the new black'.

Zoned out

The new residential zoning scheme for Victoria, released by the State government last year, has huge implications for the urban fabric and social diversity of our city. Seeking to demystify an incredibly complex and confusing system of regulations, Mitra Anderson-Oliver delivers an urban planning 1-0-1 on how the zoning changes might affect you and your housing dreams.

The Internet of Things

New technology and the emergence of the “Internet of Things” is leading the way towards a connected future where seeing and controlling your energy use will be as easy as checking into Instagram. Tim Riley asks, what is this Internet of Things? And how will it make it easier for us to better manage our energy use and reduce our impact on the environment?

Clean Money: The New Sustainability Frontier

Ever wondered whether your superannuation fund is making ethical and sustainable investments with your retirement savings? Ryan Alexander investigates the need for a shift towards more environmentally and socially responsible decisions in the financial sector. We, as consumers, need to research and arm ourselves with the necessary knowledge to bring this change about.

The statistical secret to happiness

Did you know that statistically, four main factors determine how happy we are at any point in time? It seems that contentment stems from a delicate balance of our gender, personality, external circumstances & age. Intuitively, this makes sense – but how does age determine happiness? Tim Riley talks "the U-Bend" & "the Spending Wave", suggesting we "downshift" our way to happiness.

Crowdfunding and couchsurfing: the rise of collaborative consumption

What do car-sharing, Etsy, community supported agriculture, Facebook, Airbnb, co-housing, co-working, social lending, crowdfunding and couch surfing have in common? Tim Riley takes us on a tour of collaborative consumption, an emerging social trend that TIME magazine has called one of the ten ideas that will change the world.

Is Melbourne still the Golden Child?

Throughout the 2000s, Melbourne was the best performing Australian city on almost every economic indicator and it rightly claimed the mantle of Australia’s ‘golden child’. However, legitimate questions are increasingly being raised about Melbourne’s ability to retain this title in the current decade.