Sustainable living?

There’s a ‘go greener’ meme going round. I tried copying it here then editing in place, but wordpress’s editor mangled the markup horribly and – worse – re-mangled it when I fixed it but left in a typo. So lets ignore the instructions, and just tackle the list of actions in brief.

1,2,3,15,22. Low-energy lightbulbs and appliances. Yeah, of course, been on them for years. Don’t forget to use them efficiently too: for example, don’t put more water than you need in the kettle. (3), (15), (22) are examples.

4,14: N/A; don’t have a water tank

5,11,23: This is southwest England. We don’t have hot or cold weather here, so I don’t use either heating or aircond. In fact we don’t have any extremes of weather at all.

6. I make strenuous efforts to avoid junkmail. Not that it stops the buggers.

7. I don’t eat meat (and what’s “feedlot beef”?)

8,18. I’m able-bodied. Why should I want a car?

9. I recycle things that the recycling centre accepts, and more importantly re-use things myself. But should do more: there are some bad omissions, and I often generate a bag of non-recycling waste in just three weeks.

10,16. If I had the luxury of a garden or other land then composting and/or tree planting would become relevant.

12. I buy local fruit&veg, and occasional processed food (the latter being from very small-scale producers). But most things have to come from further afield. I don’t worry about long-distance transport that doesn’t involve airfreight or refrigeration. I gave up buying organic when it got devalued and became just another subsidised marketing effort for agribusiness.

13. I try to avoid air travel, and am regularly faced with stupid difficulties booking alternatives: the painfully broken Eurostar website, and the difficulty booking any bloody ferry without taking a car these days.

17. Is frozen food really that bad? I don’t buy much of it, but I do freeze food I’ve cooked. That’s efficient: I can cook in bulk, meaning less energy-intensive cooking.

19. Erm, are there non-biodegradable soaps/etc these days?

20. I use tapwater at home, but buy too many other drinks bottled, and usually take a bottle when travelling.

21. I plead guilty to leaving the tap running while brushing teeth. Not that we have a problem with water here.

24. Switch to reusable products? Bah, doesn’t that presume you were using disposables in the first place?

25. I’ll occasionally borrow something, but it’s too much hassle to do that very much.

The original wanted new suggestions, so here are a few

  1. Telecommute. Electrons are cheaper to transport than humans!
  2. Cook efficiently. For example, when using the oven, plan a cooked dessert at the same time as an oven-cooked main course and baked spud. Or when steaming vegetables, put the pasta/rice/etc in the water underneath them.
  3. Cook in bulk and freeze where possible (e.g. soups).
  4. Don’t printout things you can equally well read on screen. And avoid printing silly cover/banner pages.
  5. Take showers rather than baths.
  6. Re-use beats recycling. Buy one robust bottle of water or ice-cream container, re-use it indefinitely. Re-use carrier bags as long as they’re fit for it, and if one gets too dirty but is still intact, use it one last time to carry stuff to the bottle bank.

And there’s a final one that dwarfs the total effect of all the above. But I’ll leave that for another day.


Posted on March 20, 2007, in environment. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. A couple of tips to reduce junk (snail) mail:

    1) Where there is a return address on the envelope, leave it unopened, mark it “unwanted mailing – return to sender” and put it back in a post box (no stamp necessary from you). I have tried this, and it works with many direct mailers.

    2) Register with the Mailing Preference Service. This is run by the direct mail industry. It’s not perfect, but will cut out some of the mailings. See

  2. My commenters at made some interesting points about water temperature and a few other things.

  3. Neutral Existence

    These are all really great techniques, if you want to learn a few more check out http :// www . neutralexistence . com

  4. What to do with comments that are ambiguous-spam? Not adding anything to the discussion, but pointing to a website that may be relevant to the topic of the post?

    Look at the website. It’s not a pure ad-site, so that’s a plus. On the other hand, if there are contents beyond a proclamation of “we’re green”, they’re hidden behind someone’s browser-busting wet dream. I don’t think I can accept that kind of link from my blog, but should I delete the comment? Maybe I’ll leave it in but just remove anything some innocent victim might click on.

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