What has really stood out – apart from the country's natural beauty and the friendliness of the Australian people - is how easy it is to save energy and water here.
In the U.S., electronics waste 40% of the energy they consume just by being plugged in. Even if they're turned off, they pull energy through the socket, which is why the U.S. EPA calls them "vampires." If you want to stop the waste, you need to plug into an energy-saving powerstrip; the powerstrip turns the energy off when the electronics aren't being used. The device saves energy, but it's an extra expense to buy and can be a hassle to use if all your cords are behind your computer or desk.
In Australia, every plug has two on-off switches. One that turns the current on and off like a powerstrip does, and one that then lets the current flow to the computer or light so it actually works. It's extremely convenient and doesn't require any added expense or effort on the part of consumers. All new residential and commercial construction in the U.S. should be built with a similar system – we could probably reduce the amount of electricity we use by at least a third if we used this simple energy-saving technology.
Aussies are brilliant when it comes to toilets. I'm not trying to be insulting! In the U.S., most toilets always flush an entire tank of water. Most toilets I've seen in Australia have two flush options – the full, and the half. Usually, all you need to use is the half flush option, a feature that probably saves close to ten gallons of water per person per day. These toilets are a matter of course here. It's not about being "green," just smart! For more info, check out this website.
Stay tuned for my report from the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.