Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Greenness

I feel that we should all be doing something to reduce our personal impact on the planet. This page will list some of what I do personally. This page could do with some more links to useful sites. There are a fair few under the relevant tags on my del.icio.us page.

Reduce

I think this is the most important move to make for most of us. We in the first world are using too much of everything at an unsustainable rate. If the rest of the world did the same then we would be doomed in a few decades, if that, It is hard to break consumerist habits, but we should all try.

The best place to start is at home. I was lucky enough to be able to build my own house and got it designed to be a little greener than required by building regulations. It makes use of some passive solar gain by having the larger windows on the south side and has a little more insulation than specified. I would have liked to have gone further, but funds at the time did not permit. For instance, solar heating would great, but would have cost several thousand more. We keep the heating on around 17C and set the timer so that it is not on when we are usually out. There are several low-energy bulbs, but some rooms use dimmers that need incandescents. There are a few things we would like to add such as an internal lobby door and some sort of shutter or blind for the largest window that might help to reduce heating costs further.

The other big energy user is the car. My place of work is further away than I would like and so I drive a lot of miles. I'm trying to reduce the effect by driving a bit slower and using less throttle. It is not having a huge effect, but I'm keeping my diesel Zafira around 45mpg. I make a bigger imact by driving less. I try to work from home at least one day a week and have taken to using the train now and again. It costs more, but takes about as long and is usually less stressful. We live in a rural area that practically requires two cars when you both work and have kids to transport around, although they both walk to school.

In general I don't buy lots of stuff. I buy the clothes I need and treat myself to the odd book or CD. With the kids it is harder, but I would like them to appreciate what they have. I try to shop with a bag of some sort in my pocket to avoid getting too many carriers. Those we get are re-used in the kitchen bin.

Re-use

We seem to live in a disposable culture where we throw away rather than repair. It is understandable when many things are just so cheap, but that is often due to exploitation of cheap labour in other countries. I will try to repair gadgets and toys that break, but often they are just not well enough made.

I have taken to shopping for books and music in charity shops. There are bargains to be had. We also have a bookshelf at work we can borrow from. I was always a great library user, but take too long to get through a book these days. I'm happy to lend out my own books, CDs and DVDs to friends as they generally just gather dust. I've used some on-line services to manage this, but others seem less into it.

I would like to clear out some of the items that I have collected, but may never use again. I know that ebay is popular, but that can be more hassle than it is worth for less valuable items. I have given some away using Freecycle and gained a few too. Garages and lofts across the country must hold vast amounts of all sorts of usable items.

Recycle

I've been recycling some items like bottle and newspapers for many years. These days a lot of it gets picked up in the bi-weekly collection. Other items can be taken to the local tidy tips. We still generate more waste than I would like. We could do with something to handle some of the waste food that cannot go on the compost.

We slightly reduced our rubbish by using refillable Ecover bottles for our washing liquids. We take them back to a local shop to be topped up.

I try to buy recycled products where possible, but they often carry a price premium.

Ethics

I did have a subscription to Ethical Consumer. I'm distinctly light green compared to many people featured there. Many products that we buy do not rate that highly by their ethical standards. We have modified our buying habits in light of this, but some products are either too expensive or less convenient (I know that is not a great excuse).

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