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Cold weather opportunities

2 solf toy dogs covered in a blanket, lying on their stomachs, reading a storybook infront of a bookcase of books

As the colder weather creeps up on us, here are 4 ideas for keeping ourselves and others warm, and caring for the environment at the same time.

Let’s start with a warm cuppa. Nothing beats warming up your hands and insides with a nice hot cup of coffee, tea, chocolate or soup. So when reaching for your hot drink, don’t forget to take your reusable cup or thermos, and if you’re making your own, try to use fair trade and sustainably sourced ingredients. You might even consider volunteering at your local charity soup kitchen, or making a donation to help keep other warm and nourished.

A coffee cup, a keep cup and a cup of soup
Image by KMindum

Crafting and giving. Every winter KOGO (Knit One Give One) calls for donations of new knitted or crocheted beanies, gloves, scarves and blankets for charity, in all sizes. So, if the weather is too awful for a walk, why not form a craft circle around the lunchroom table. Or set aside a corner of your makerspace, for staff and community members to knit or crochet for KOGO (or another charity). You could call for donations of yarn, or organise a yarn hunt in local charity shops. The KOGO website includes information about what is most needed, as well as patterns and a list of drop-off points (although they are mostly in the eastern and southern states). There also also dozens of fibre craft magazines in Flipster® and Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center  many with step-by-step instructions. Trove also includes patterns, if you’d like to try more vintage style garments. Here are a couple of Trove blog posts for inspiration. Getting craft and Vintage patterns. As an aside, I know I’m not the only one who sometimes does secret crafting during online meetings.

knitted and crochet charity donations including baby booties, a checked blanket, 2 baby beanies and a scarf, providing examples of possible donations for KOGO
Potential types of donations for KOGO

Switching to more efficient lighting. As the days get shorter, we naturally increase the amount of artificial lighting we need. At home we can, of course, reduce the impact by switching to LED light bulbs which use less energy and also last longer. So, cheaper bills and a reduction in non-recyclable light bulbs going to landfill. At work we can also seek to make the change. There are newer more energy efficient flourescent tubes available now, as well as options install motion activated or zoned lighting. The website includes some information for both households and businesses including a number of case studies to help you build a case for your library or institution to make the change towards better lighting with reduced energy consumption and long term cost.

The bigger picture. Most of us have little control over things like power bills, lighting fixtures, insulations, heating temperatures at work, but that doesn’t mean we should  just sit back and call it someone else’s problem. Although published in 2015  The EnergyCut: 20 step guide to cutting energy bills in your business includes not only great ideas for areas to tackle, but also strategies for getting your team, and  management on board. Further information about energy management for business can also be found at the business section of

Don’t forget the ALA and Sustainability libguide and the IFLA ENSULIB site, for publications and ideas. This webinar recording on Energy Efficiency for Libraries (although commercially produced) may also spark some ideas. So, let’s not moan about the weather when we can work towards positive action instead.

By Katalin Mindum, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group Committee Member


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