Natural Light

Reducing Our Ecological Footprint

Mrs W, who follows our blog by email has very kindly pointed out that we neglected to say what we are doing with regards to the WWF's ideas.

So here's the post from Saturday: Earth Hour 2012 as reference & this is what we are doing...

  1. Transport - As we live in a rural area, we would struggle without a car. There is a bus route a mile away, though it only runs 4 times a day. It's also expensive (£5.50 return to the nearest town). There is  a community bus, which tends to fill up quickly with older people who no longer drive & that's great. We need a car for our business & most of our work is within a 3 mile radius. We have cut down on our trips further afield & wait until we have several things to do before making a journey - even Sime's gig journeys get combined with doing something useful on the way.
  2. Growing and wasting food - A stumbling block for us, in that our landlord really isn't keen on us digging up his lovely lawn! We grow some garlic, potatoes & herbs amongst the shrubs. Tomatoes in the bath & this year after considering an allotment (which costs £55 a year, but has no water) - we've decided that we could spend £50 on pots & just be disciplined about bringing them indoors during the snail & slug season (we've done this before, but always give up & pay the price). We don't waste any food, everything gets used - leftovers just keep going on & bread crusts get ground into crumbs to sprinkle on top of vegetable bakes or into burgers. We rarely visit supermarkets, but when we do - we go to the Co-op. 
  3. Flying - We decided when we made our trip to New York, back in 2000 that it would be our last flying holiday. So far we've stuck to it & have never been drawn into taking cheap flights into Europe. We have said that if an opportunity ever came our way to take a long haul flight for an extended stay (at least a month) somewhere in the future, then we may consider it. We would love to use the train more, but just couldn't afford to make long journeys.
  4. Smaller car and less mileage - Now we are a family of 3, we will definitely be making sure our next car will be small & as efficient as we can afford. As we said in #1 - we've already cut our mileage & make as few journeys as possible. Sometimes we don't venture out from the area for 2 weeks.
  5. Second-hand - we haven't bought any clothes in over a year & they were mainly from a charity shop. We wear everything for a long time (Kay still wears a top she bought in 1984) & repair as much as possible - luckily, we're not into fashion! Pretty much all our furniture is second-hand or we've had it for at least 15 years, but mostly it's been given to us. The only new stuff we own is our computers,  washing machine, freezer, kettle, toaster & camera.  Our business also owns a dryer (awful, but we wash lots of bed linen & towels)  & 2 vacuum cleaners.
  6. Home energy - We live in a 250 year old rented house, it has roof insulation - but old windows. Not much else we can do, but are always chipping away at our lovely landlord to improve things. We don't leave anything on unless we're using it, even the cooker gets turned off at the mains after each use & lights are always switched off when we leave the room.
  7. Central Heating - We have oil heating & have managed to get through this winter with just using it on 3 occasions, Christmas Day (when the kidlets were all here) & 1 evening when a friend was over & the other was when the temperature had dropped vastly. On those times it was on 18C. We have various curtains over doors to keep the warm in & the draughts out. We also have an open fire which we burn logs on & our landlord has just given the go ahead for a woodburner in the dining room.
  8. Vegetarian Diet - We became veggie just before Sal, our eldest was about to be weaned on to solid food. We couldn't bare the thought of feeding her dead animals, so we started getting educated about everything we ate. We stopped drinking cow's milk, tea & coffee. Instead we bought soya milk, rooibosch & Barleycup. We did go vegan for 8 years, then let it go, but are now vegan again & know it's here to stay.
  9. Organic food - We eat a predominately organic diet, we have a seasonal veg box each week & buy our grains in bulk from a local wholesaler. Our food is not as local as we'd like, but we're always looking at ways to improve this - growing more of our own will help. There is a more local veg box scheme, but it's not organic & for us that's the most important thing. 
  10. Recycling - We've been big into recycling for years. Though now we are moving towards cutting down wherever possible on any form of waste. Our biggest problem is the plastic bags that grains & pulses come in. In France, you can visit a Bio-coop & help yourself to dried foods by filling a paper bag or your own container with the amount you require. At some point, we'll find a better way... And is it better to burn some materials that cannot be recycled like plastic packaging & tetra paks, or stick them in land fills? It's a difficult one.
So there we go - hope this has been interesting & we've not bored you all senseless!

We were up at 6am this morning clearing the final bits away in the dining room, so we're tired now...

The builders are going to be in for a few days - sorting out our damp problem. 
Will post some photies tomorrow...

Night, night.

Kay & Sime 


dreamer said…
You can grow almost everything successfully in pots, and hanging baskets are great to avoid slugs and snail attacks :)

If you ever find a definitive answer to the burn/landfill conundrum I'll be interested, as that is one issue I have been trying to weigh up too.
Unknown said…
Such an interesting post.

Thank you.

Sft x
Karin said…
Transport is a tricky one with all the calls on our time these days, there isn't always time to walk. I need a car to visit my parents and take Mum shopping etc.

When we bought our Skoda it had cheaper tax than the smaller car it replaced because it is much more efficient to run. Now the kids don't come on holiday with us any more we shall probably go for a smaller Skoda next time.

You clearly do your best for the environment, but everyone has their limitations. Some can grow lots of veg but not everyone is in a position to do so; you do other things which some people would struggle with.
Catherine said…
You two really are an inspiration to us all! Even if we all do a little bit of what the two of you do, it will help I think.

Good stuff!
xo Catherine
It was nice to know you visited, Kay...thanks for your comment. It's always nice to hear from people! I loved hearing all the different ways you conserve, recycle, etc. I also do many of the same. I enjoy it and couldn't think of doing things any differently. You should see the look of horror on my face when I see a recycleable in the trash, haha! But, I have a question; I stopped drinking milk about 8 years ago without any reason. Almost as if it were an instict (I drink soymilk). What do you know about cow's milk, reason's you don't drink it, etc.?
just Gai said…
I like the idea that everyone does what they can, and that doing something is better than doing nothing. I find I'm living much more sustainably than I did 10 years ago but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Sharing ideas, as you do, is a help and an encouragement.
Thank you everyone...

Dreamer - hanging baskets are a brill idea! Especially if we hang them at the front of the house, it will do wonders for our weirdo reputation - hahaha!

Sft - thank you!

Karin - thank you, it's obviously worth bearing in mind with cars. We'd still like to do more though!

Catherine - thank you & you're right, even if we all just did one thing it's better than nothing!

Elizabeth - thank you & nice to see you back. Where do I start with cow's milk? This very long article explains everything in detail...

Gai - thank you, glad you've found it encouraging!

Kay :)