Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Mon, 12 Jan 2009

Recycling everything

We've been recycling to some extent for many years. It used to be just newspapers and bottles to the local 'banks', but for a few years now we had a household collection that takes cans, some plastics, paper and card. Last year we found that we could take drink cartons to a local dump for shipping off somewhere to be recycled. So our black bin for stuff that goes to the landfill wasn't getting so full. At the end of last year we got little brown bins for food waste. That should make for a less smelly bin. We try not to waste food, but the kids and the cat don't always eat everything.

Today we get a brochure from Bedfordshire County Council to say that the green bin scheme is being extended to take a lot more materials including foil, plastic bags, drink cartons, textiles and most plastic packaging. This is great news, assuming that they really can find outlets for it all. I've heard that waste paper prices are very low these days. They don't specify what happens to it all and their web site doesn't have any new information. Still, if it reduces the need for landfill and raw materials it has to be good. I'll be interested to see how much goes in the black bin in future.

The downside is that it makes our new set of 3 stacking bins we just bought slightly redundant. They can still be used for glass and for collecting stuff that goes in the green bin.

I've been getting rid of some stuff on Freecycle to try and clear the house of unused junk. There's still more. Books and DVDs will go to charity shops. It might be nice to get some money for some of it, but most is not worth much. Putting it on evilbay is too much hassle.

[21:53] | [] | Comments | G

Mon, 22 Dec 2008

All I want for Xmas...

I'm not totally anti-Xmas, but I do feel that it has turned into a commercial event rather than its origins as a mid-winter family festival (I don't go for the Christian aspects). The result is mountains of crap that will end up in land-fill before the next year ends. I've tried to reduce my personal impact by asking for either second-hand/charity gifts or contributions to my guitar amplifier fund. I've also managed to make one present myself. I'll try to do more for next year. My kids will still get a pile of toys, but I would hope that these will get well used. I've tried to get some that use rechargeable batteries as I dislike having to buy lots of disposable ones.

Some of the family may not agree totally with my sentiments, but I'll just try and do my bit to make Xmas a little greener, as I do with many aspects of my life.

On a different topic, I watched V for Vendetta last night. I thought it was a very intelligent film that happened to include some nasty violence. It was a twist on the 1984 scenario and very British for an American film, even though the two leads were not Brits. I've not read the comics, but I understand from the IMDB FAQ that it diverges a lot from the original stories. I've read very few of that sort of comic, but would like to if I find the time. I'm currently deep into Anathem that involves a bit too much philosophical discussion. I'm hoping the action will pick up before the end.

[12:01] | [] | Comments | G

Thu, 21 Aug 2008

Greenish Holiday

There are a number of reasons people go camping. A major one is cost, but a side effect is that it can have a lot less environmental impact than other sorts of holiday. We take a car full of stuff with us, but that should produce a lot less CO2 than flying. This year we only travelled about 100 miles to Kelling Heath in Norfolk. This was the biggest camp site we've been to, but also one of the best. Far better than the Haven site we visited. It consists of 250 acres of woodland and heath with spacious camping pitches and many static caravans and lodges. The facilities were pretty good. We used the outdoor pool. The indoor one meant paying a lot for use of the heath club and that was over the top for kids. We only ate in one restaurant once as we did a lot of cooking and ate out. We did use their cycle hire a couple of times to explore the area. This was the first time we had cycled with the kids and they coped well, even if the small hills could be tough on little legs. I really ought to do more cycling.

We also visited the beach and some of us swam in the sea. It's really not too bad once you are in. I was intrigued by the huge amount on flint on the beaches and elsewhere. No wonder they build their houses with it.

Some other UK sites I've been to do not offer much, if any, recycling facilities, but this one had plenty of bins. A few people need to learn what you should put in them. I was also impressed to see solar water heating for the showers. That seems a perfect application of the technology. I'm considering it for our house as gas prices shoot up.

I made sure I turned off as much as possible at home whilst we were away, including the water heating and even the Wii, but that only uses a few Watts. I don't think it made a huge saving, but there is no reason to not do it. I think it will barely show up in my logs at The Carbon Account.

We didn't drive much whilst we were there and so did no more miles than I do in a normal working week. Economy on that tank was pretty good at around 50mpg. It's been slightly worse this week, but that's probably down to London stop-start driving.

[21:05] | [] | Comments | G

Wed, 23 Apr 2008

Paper Chase

I've been trying to clear out some old paperwork at home. Anything vaguely important tends to get filed in a binder or chucked in the filing cabinet, but it builds up over time. A lot of stuff goes out of date, so I chucked old insurance documents, TV licences and more. It would be great if we could get by with less of it. I could scan some documents, but that will require working out a way to file it on the computer so that I can find stuff. It would be neat to set an expire date so that something could clear out the redundant items. Any Linux solutions?

I'm looking at ways I can cut down the paper I need to keep. I found out that I can get my next TV licence by email. I already get the itemised phone bill on-line and get a small discount in exchange. I bank on-line and have started just saving the statement pages instead of printing them. I rarely need the printouts anyway. Other suggestions are welcome, via comments would be good.

We just got a new Yellow Pages, so now I have to recycle the old one. Nationally these must represent a huge amount of waste. The thing is that I hardly ever use it. Most services can be found on-line these days. The domestic phone book is even less useful. Why do I need an address book full of strangers? I'm not in it and and neither are many of my friends. I'm not sure you can opt out of getting either book as they just get delivered to every house by default.

I've tried to opt out of some junk mail, but still get a fair bit. It wastes my time to sort it all for recycling. I tend to rip out the envelope windows as I assume they do not belong with the paper collection. I'm not sure that bit of plastic is really necessary. I only keeps the contents slightly cleaner, but why bother?

Don't get me started on the amount of paper wasted at work.

[22:06] | [] | Comments | G

Fri, 27 Jul 2007

Buying a better you

I'm sure I'm not the first to think this, but it occurs to me that the current trend for carbon offsetting is something like the medieval practice of paying monks to pray for your soul to get into heaven quicker by spending less time in purgatory. Maybe I'm just being cynical. It is a good thing if rich people use some of their wealth to enable the less well off to have a better, stustainable, lifestyle.

I read a BBC report on patio heaters yesterday. It attracted the usual crank comments about 'enviro-fascists' and 'attacks on freedom and choice'. I particularly liked the one asking if would be asked to stop exhaling altogether. Well I think the world would be better off with a few less of these Daily Mail readers, so they can feel free to stop breathing. Everything we do has a cost and some are just not worth it for the sake of being a little more 'comfortable'. If it's cold outside then put on a coat.

I wonder if the government has calculated the environmental cost of all the patio heaters, shelters and other construction that's been put in to cater for all the smokers who have to stay outside. At my workplace a path has been built through the shrubbery to the smokers' refuge at the far end of the carpark. So that's less greenery and more concrete.

It would be better if the smokers could give up their dirty habit. As well as the effects on others of what they exhale the production of cigarettes is causing a lot of damage too.

[14:26] | [] | Comments | G

Mon, 12 Mar 2007

Global Warming Swindle

I've still to finish watching this programme, but it looks like the 'truth' is coming out. On first viewing it had me a bit worried as a series of scientists told how the worldwide hysteria over CO2 was misplaced. A chat with Ian last night put my mind at rest. It looks like Channel 4 have let someone with a political agenda have 90 minutes of prime time to push their ideas.

There's a small discussion going on over on my Multiply page. I've persisted with that site in parallel to this one for several reasons. Primarily it makes it easy for me to post pictures for friends and family to see, whilst allowing me to control who has access. I've got around 30 contacts on there, most of whom are not very technical and will not want to get into things like RSS. It gives them an easy way to post content, but most of them have been a little shy so far. I've also started and joined a few groups there. I've looked at a few other social networking sites, but Multiply still seems to offer the best match for my requirements and has a reasonable signal to noise ratio. If anyone wants to join my contacts and gain the ability to post comments on my posts there then don't be afraid to join up. You don't have to expose any personal information you don't want to and I have had no problems with spam or other annoyances there.

[09:07] | [] | Comments | G

Tue, 06 Mar 2007

Saving the planet is hard

There were a couple of interesting programmes on TV last night. Unfortunately they clashed, but my faithful Twin dealt with that. One was a Panorama about Newsnight's Ethical Man and his efforts to cut his carbon footprint. This was fairly light stuff, but highlighted the problems of making a real impact. I've been following his blog on and off. Interestingly he was due to get a free wind turbine to try out, but this was cancelled at the last minute as it would only save him about 10 a year. The other was Dispatches on 'Greenwash', how the whole green issue is being distorted by government and industry. I missed the first half, but they were saying that the government has no chance of achieving it's targets of cutting greenhouse emissions, especially as they are prepared to accept massive growth in car and plane use. They seem to think that improvements in vehicle efficency will balance this out, but that seems very unlikely unless we all converted to really efficient cars, but then the impact of building all those cars would outweigh the savings.

I've blown my carbon budget this year on flying to Finland to go skiing. More on this later.

If you want to let the Chancellor know that you think he should increase the incentives to drive a greener car then Friends of the Earth have a suggested email you can send to him.

[12:54] | [] | Comments | G

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