Three little green things

Ok so I’m long overdue another blog entry. I have a few ideas that are part-written and waiting in the wings, but I’ll keep this one simple.

So far this year I don’t feel like I’ve made much progress in becoming greener (and last week’s ‘speed awareness workshop’ as punishment for driving too fast doesn’t set the best example huh?), so it’s time to remind myself of some things I do or have done that hopefully make a bit of a difference.

1) Lightbulb moments

For a long time I resisted the energy saving lightbulb (I’ll abbreviate to ESL if that’s ok with you). Not that I didn’t want to switch to them, I really did. But a lot of the lighting in our flat was not very conducive to ESLs. We had a lot of fittings that used candle bulbs, golf ball bulbs, that sort of thing. And the usual stick-shaped ESL just didn’t work. And then, even though I knew the humble ESL had evolved and was now available in a more diverse range, we had so many of the things I put off replacing them (and let’s face it, throwing away numerous bulbs I’d paid good money for).

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has the odd non-ESL bulb lying around because ‘they don’t make them for this type of lamp’.

A bit of a scare with the electricity bill finally forced me to take action and seek a solution. And that led me to the marvellous I’m sure there are plenty of other places online, but this one did the job for me. Soon I was running round with a notepad figuring out how many bayonets and screw fittings I needed and what Wattage, size and the like.

And finally all was well in lightbulb land.

2) 2 become 1

Last year we became a one-car family again. For five years we’d had a car each and now, circumstance has allowed us to do away with one. I can’t claim to have made much of a sacrifice here myself, as it’s my other half really who gave his up, but he doesn’t have a blog and what’s his is mine, etc.

Because we’ve moved house we’re now better connected by public transport, so Stuart is walking a mile to the railway station and taking a train to work each day. The journey to work was the only time his car was really needed anyway, for the rest we just have to plan a little if we need to be in different places at the same time.

The fact is that he now has to travel further to work, so quite how it really balances out in terms of carbon-footprint I couldn’t say, but I guess as the train was running anyway it’s an improvement. We’re also further north which puts me nearer where I need to be (I currently do a strange mix of working from home and commuting to a different city), so all to the good I reckon.

3) My cup runneth over

Ok, so if you’re especially squeamish, cover your eyes now.

Following a friend’s recommendation I tried, and then converted to, a menstrual cup. There’s plenty of info about them on the web (see for the low-down) so I’ll spare you too much detail. Suffice to say, the cup replaces the need for tampons, and has several advantages. It’s washable and re-useable (thus greener), it’s safer (no connection to Toxic Shock Syndrome), you don’t have to empty it as often as you’d change a tampon, and as a cup can last for years, it should save a lot of money in the long-run..

So it’s getting close to 2 years now since I used and threw away a tampon, and that’s great. While I can’t claim it hasn’t been without a few teething problems, I really think more women should try it. There’s not much really said about it in the UK but they’ve been around longer than you might realise and they have a lot of fans. There’s lots of types available, but based on my own experience of I’d recommend the Lunette (I previously tried a Mooncup).

If you can’t stand the thought of a cup, at least look into greener tampons, and ditch the applicator if you can.

So there you have it. Three little things that might make a little difference to my carbon footprint, the waste I create, and also my wallet. 🙂
Care to tell me some of yours?

GG x

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Going where the grass is greener (part two)

I promised an update after my trip to the West Midlands Regional Gathering of Friends of the Earth a few weeks ago. So here it is in brief…

I’ll admit that taken at first glance the people assembled for the gathering seemed pretty much as I’d expected, though once taken as individuals rather than en masse it was apparent that they were actually a pretty diverse group. Sure, one or two were what I can best describe (but not without considerable shame) as ‘beardy weirdies’ but most were just normal people with the admirable philosophy of adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.

After my initial nerves on arrival, I was soon made to feel really welcome by the FOE organisers and settled down to hear about the work that FOE does. I guess I started from a knowledge base of close to zero so it was good to find out more about how many people are involved in local FOE groups and what they actually do, both as part of national campaigns and at the more local level.

The day was a mix of presentations and a choice of interactive sessions. It was really hard to choose which session to attend, as every issue seemed interesting to me as a newcomer.  I found myself rather out of my depth in the first session on International Climate Change, though the suggestion of developing a twinning scheme between UK and International FOE groups, to build relationships and help us understand the impact of climate change in the developing world, sounded like a great idea. I was a little more at home discussing how a mini street opera could be used to promote green issues, and a later session on the food chain also provided a subject I could relate to a little more!

Because it’s voluntary, people get involved in the issues and actions that interest them the most so I guess I just need to bite the bullet and get involved. I’m definitely keen to help and as a first step I’m going to try and take a role in the forthcoming Waste day of action (March 19th). I guess the way in which I’ll get involved will evolve with time, but you’ve got to start somewhere, so that’s what I plan to do!

GG x

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Going where the grass is greener

Tomorrow I’m taking what is probably my most proactive step to date in Going Green. I’m attending the West Midlands regional gathering of Friends of the Earth. It’ll be my first time doing anything like this, and I’m hoping it’ll be my first step towards getting involved.

I’m really kind of nervous, because I’m not sure if I’ll fit in. I’m not sure if I’m ‘green’ enough.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • I don’t grow my own veg, shop at farmers’ markets, and rarely buy organic
  • Despite being a vegetarian all my adult life I still wear leather sometimes because it’s practical for shoes and – let’s be honest – shoes are a girl’s best friend
  • I haven’t got dreadlocks, I don’t smoke pot and I don’t own a thing made of hemp
  • I go virtually everywhere by (petrol-powered) car and find public transport a hassle

Do I have any right to go to a Friends of the Earth meeting? Will I be viewed with contempt? Of course not. I’m sure everyone I meet tomorrow will be lovely, and make me very welcome.

Yet I’ve even been nervous about going public with this blog and my aim to become more environmentally aware. And when I say ‘going public’, I actually mean telling the people I’m friends with on Facebook about it!

Why do I have this perception that people who care about the future of the planet are stereotypical hippies, and that my friends will somehow frown upon my efforts to become one? I’ll admit this probably says more about me than my friends, but even so I think it’s pretty telling – being green just isn’t all that ‘cool’.

Is Red cooler than Green?

I think the ‘green movement’ needs an image change. Somehow supporting green issues just isn’t as glamorous as some other charity stuff – the fight against HIV/AIDS for example. For most people, supporting the fight against AIDS is a simple case of throwing money at the problem, buying [RED] and putting on a condom before you have sex. Sex is cool, so safe sex is cool too, and a red ribbon is quite the fashion accessory. The green issue is rather more complex and will take more than a few ‘White Tie and Tiara’ balls at Elton and David’s to fix. You can’t mend the planet with money alone, and actually money is part of the problem. That’s the trouble: for most people, ‘green’ always sounds like ‘less fun’.

Hopefully we can start to get over ourselves and realise that green is something we all need to be. If we can do that, maybe we stand a chance of re-writing the future.


PS I’ll let you know how the gathering goes!

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