For a very useful general guide to installing renewable energy, go to Of course, the one thing you can’t be absolutely sure about, is how much energy your panels will actually produce –one is always afraid that predictions are exaggerated. But I have a friend who’s had solar panels for a year; so before I made up my mind, I fed his details into the on-line solar calculator, and he actually generated more than the predicted amount, not less. This was very satisfying. The On-Line Calculator is at , and click on “Download the Publication”. [Click on “Change our assumptions”, and put in your Post Code and Roof Angle Don’t try to indicate “How much you can afford” –it doesn’t seem to work. Go for either square meters or size of system]. It’s best not to look at at predictions for the future, go by the first year figures–anything else depens on so many assumptions, like future oil-prices.
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Low Impact Living
Following SEA's Low Impact Living evening in March 2010, it was decided to try to get down on paper some of the ideas that came up, and here they are. From my point of view, having spent 12 years living on board a boat with my husband in the Mediterranean, we soon learnt (as did Ellen MacArthur!) that every drop of water was precious, as was every scrap of electricity. So we developed habits of saving both water and electricity. Then every time we came home we were shocked by how much people normally waste.
So see what you can do avoid waste of all sorts. All these tips may sound a bit of a chore, but they soon become second nature -- look on it as a kind of game as to who can save the most! One important point – the whole document may look overwhelming but you don’t have to do everything all at once. Glance through it and pick out maybe just one thing that you think you could work at improving over the next few weeks. Then when you’ve got that one going well, go back and choose another item to work on. Things take time, but think of the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.
We are sure that many more ideas will emerge, so please, if you have any further suggestions, do let us know: email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire James, Coordinator [Saltash Environmental Action]
Things written in red in this document are suggestions for the SEA Committee to take up.
a. Avoid unnecessary journeys.
b. Walk whenever possible.
c. Use a bike.
d. Use public transport rather than the car.
e. Try to organise car sharing if you have to use the car – see http://www.shareacar.com./ or www.carsharedevon.com
f. Maximise fuel economy in your car by "Hypermiling" or eco- driving. See www.hypermiler.co.uk or www.devon.gov.uk/ecodrivingfilm for more information. Change your aim, from 'getting to your destination as fast as possible', to 'saving as much petrol as you can'! See also the AA website at www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/fuels-and-environment/drive-smart.html.
· Drive more slowly! Above about 55mph, the faster you go the more fuel you use per mile. According to the AA website above, cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph, which in turn uses up to 15% more than at 50mph.
· Be aware of the road ahead so that you can avoid sudden braking. Every time you brake you turn fuel into heat and brake dust! Look well ahead so that you can anticipate changes before they occur, and then just allow the car to slow down naturally. Leaving an adequate distance between you and the vehicle in front of you is essential.
· Reduce speed or decelerate gradually up to stops and turns -- simply remove your foot from the accelerator when approaching a junction or red light. Again, forward-planning is needed for this.
· Turn off the Engine when Stopped, even for just a couple of minutes.
· Minimise Revving.
· Use the Highest Gear Possible.
· Drive like you would Ride a Bike. When using pedal power you try and conserve energy, since it's your own energy! You do this without realising. So do the same in your car.
· Pump up the Tyres to Correct Pressure [this increases the efficiency of your car].
· Streamline your Car (e.g. remove roof rack when not in use).
· Empty the Boot and keep car as light as possible.
· Some people recommend you should Fit a Bioflow Magnet -- a special magnet that fits on the car's petrol feed to make it more efficient. Available from Bioflow www.simplymagnetic.com/. I don't know of any scientific proof and I've never used one myself, but I have used their magnetic pain-relief wrist-bands, and they certainly work for certain types of pain -- particularly those that benefit from improved blood-flow.
g. "WFH" -- i.e. Work From Home if possible
h. Avoid Flying if there is any possible alternative available -- in terms of greenhouse gases, it's the most damaging means of travel per mile..
i. Use SatNav or maps where possible to avoid getting lost and making unnecessary detours.
j. SEA should work on trying to get improvements in the Bus Services for the Saltash area. Saltash to Plymouth Centre is good, but many other areas in PL12 are poorly served. For example we need more buses from Saltash to Derriford, and better services for the rural areas and small towns/villages.
Reduce Household Energy Use
a. Change to a green renewable energy company such as "Good Energy" [www.goodenergy.co.uk], "Switch to Ecotricity" [www.ecotricity.co.uk], www.greenenergy.uk.com/ or "" [www.npower.com/web/at_home/juice-clean_and_green]. Go to www.cornwall-switch.org/suppliers-of-renewable-energy.htm to choose which. This is much more effective than just changing to a green tariff with your existing company because they are obliged by law to provide a certain proportion of green energy, so if you sign up to this you may just be forming part of what they're doing anyway, rather than forcing them to provide more green energy. Some of the above offer a choice between 100% renewable electricity [which may be a bit more expensive] versus 10%, and some also provide a dual fuel tariff. In addition some offer guidance on generating your own energy.
b. Better still, Generate Your Own Electricity [see end of document].
c. Insulate your house thoroughly -- most of your heating is wasted replacing heat lost to the outside. Grants are available through the Energy Saving Trust [www.energysavingtrust.org.uk]. Reduce your costs, increase the value of your home and reduce your eco-guilt! Other things you can do to save on the heating bills [and thus reduce greenhouse gases] are:
· Draw the curtains, to keep the heat in -- windows are poor insulators, even when double-glazed. Curtains should be Lined to increase insulation.
· Eliminate draughts, since these allow the warm air to escape, being replaced by cold air.
· Only heat the rooms you most use.
· Keep doors shut between heated areas and unheated areas -- especially the outside doors! A lot of heat can be lost in a short time through an open door.
· Turn down the central heating by a few degrees -- this makes huge savings and you can still keep perfectly warm by wearing more clothes [many layers are more effective than one thick layer].
d. Reduce use of electrical appliances wherever possible, and whenever you have to buy new, make sure you buy A-Rating appliances – they use far less energy..
e. Become a 'Wooden-Spooner' i.e. use manpower rather than electrical gadgets whenever possible. Try to avoid using a tumble dryer, washing machine, food processor, electric tin opener etc. Soups can be mashed instead of whizzed, cakes can be beaten, veg can be chopped with a knife, as long as you have average strength in your arms! Hang washing out to dry rather than using a tumble drier. If it's raining, use a warm part of the house, or over the bath [if you use the green house, turn clothes inside out, to avoid bleaching from the enhanced sunlight]. If you have to buy power-guzzling equipment, make sure you buy eco-friendly types.
f. Use energy monitoring meters to find out how much you are using, and where, and to work out where you could most easily make savings [you can borrow one from SEA -- email: email@example.com].
g. You can use a lot less energy with the kettle, in the following ways:-
· Only boil as much water as you need -- if you heat more, the excess energy is totally wasted.
· Always put lids on pans [even if not fully on, when heating things that will boil over easily, like milk and pasta]. Apparently a saucepan covered with a well fitting lid uses a quarter less energy when boiling than a saucepan without a lid [quotation from tarvinenvironment.org.uk/docs/low_carbon_diet.pdf].
· Allow cold tap-water to heat up to room temperature naturally, in a jug, before boiling it -- boiling water straight from the cold tap wastes a lot of energy [but don’t drink water from the hot tap if you have a storage tank in the roof – the water becomes dirty!].
· Make use of the heat of the kettle after boiling – absorb the heat into some cold water, and store it in a thermos flask. You can save the excess heat after using the oven in the same way [if you don’t need it to heat the house]. Put some jugs of water in the hot over, and you’ll be surprised at how hot they are after half an hour. The water can, again, be stored in a thermos flask.
h. Use energy-saving light bulbs -- they may be expensive but they last far longer and use a quarter the energy.
i. Always turn everything off that you are not using, including lights. Each one may not use much energy, but it all adds up, and it's only too easy to leave things on unnecessarily.
j. Don't leave things on standby -- this saves a lot of energy!
k. Fridges use a lot of energy, so:
· Turn the fridge-setting down a bit (it uses far less power at higher temperatures), though obviously it must be sufficiently cool to keep your food safe -- about 4°C / 39°F is good. For further info, see http://www.health.state.mn.us/foodsafety/cook/temperature.html
· Consider keeping your fridge or freezer in a cooler place, and insulate it more. Most of the energy it uses is to make up for coolness wasted through poor insulation.
· Restock the fridge in the early morning, when the drinks etc. in your store-cupboard are at their coolest. Then less power is needed to cool them.
· Put things back in the fridge quickly before they have time to warm up.
· Don't put things directly from fridge to oven -- allow them to warm to room temperature first, or your oven will have to do it, using more energy.
· Equally, allow hot things to cool naturally before putting them in the fridge: to cool a casserole etc quickly, place it in a bowl of cold water.
· You might even be able to try living without a fridge, if you have an old style larder or cupboard in a cold corner of the house -- or at any rate, you could manage with a much smaller fridge.
· Keep your refrigerator's coils clean. Brushing or vacuuming the coils can improve efficiency by as much as 30 % [and not doing so can contribute to fridge breakdown]. Some hardware store sell a special refrigerator-coil cleaning-brush. Go to http://www.hometips.com/diy-how-to/refrigerator-coils-cleaning.html for instructions.
l. Defrost the fridge and freezer regularly -- they use much less energy that way.
m. Keep the freezer as full as possible. This also keeps energy bills down -- there's less airspace for warm air to rush in, the core temperature remains more constant, and in the event of failure it stays colder for longer. But freezing does use a lot of energy, so if you are buying one, don’t buy a bigger one than you need, and make sure it’s an A-Rating one.
n. Use a halogen oven -- cooks food a lot faster, so saves energy. Available widely.
o. Develop hobbies that use less electricity -- for example, read a book or play a game or some music or craft, rather than sticking the TV or computer on.
Save Water Whenever Possible.
You might think that this isn't necessary given the amount of rain we get, but in fact saving water is important. For a start, saving tap-water means saving the energy, chemicals etc used in purification; and secondly, our weather patterns are already changing and giving us less variation, so we get long periods of rain followed by long droughts. Climate Change could greatly increase this pattern in the future.
Save rainwater in water-butts
[as many as you can afford and have room for], and use it for the garden,
greenhouse, fishpond etc. Watering the
garden with a hose uses huge quantities of expensively treated water, so the
more you can save of the water that falls freely from the skies, the better
[and the plants and fish much prefer it].
If you haven't got much room, Sankey do large [250 litres / 55-gallon]
slim-line butts [available at Tamar View Nurseries or possibly cheaper on the
Internet e.g. http://www.waterbuttsdirect.co.uk/spacesaving.htm]. See lefthand photo [ask for further details] . If you can get bigger ones still, all to the
good. South West Water provide
subsidised water butts [www.savewatersavemoney.co.uk/],
but they don't do these large
slim-line ones. If you want really big butts, get the non-drinking-water ones from Mole Valley Farmers, beyond Liskeard [see righthand photo].
b. Alwaysuse the least amount of water that you can -- for example:
· Have fewer, smaller baths -- and share a bath when you do have one.
· Have a shower rather than a bath, and shower less often! Our generation have got into the habit of showering every day – do we really need to?
· Strip-washing uses even less water.
· Wash-up in a bowl of water not the sink and save the rinse-water.
· Use the washing machine as rarely as possible. Wait until you have a full load -- and if you have to use it only partly full, use the "Partial Load" setting so that it uses less water and power.
· If you do a hand-wash, reduce the rinse-water needed by using less soap, and by wringing out the clothes to the maximum each time. In fact, just soaking and rubbing clothes in warm water with no soap gets a surprising amount of dirt out, and avoids the need to rinse much [which saves you a big effort as well as a lot of water!]. The latter also applies to hair.
· Only wash clothes when actually necessary, not automatically every day/week or whatever.
· Only flush the Loo when really necessary.
c. Turn off taps whenever not in use -- for example, turn the tap off while cleaning your teeth. A running tap uses vast quantities of water, so never let it run to waste unused down the drain.
d. Never throw water away if you can possibly use it for something else. If you have to leave the tap on for a moment, always run it into a bowl -- for example, the cold water that comes out of hot tap before the water runs hot. Then you can save it for future use, as follows:
e. If the saved water is clean, use it for rinsing the washing up, or for rinsing vegetables before eating them.
f. Slightly soiled water can be used in the following manner:
· To give dirty vegetables a pre-wash, or
· If salt-free, transferred to a watering-can and used for watering the plants, or
· Transferred to a bucket or 5-litre bottle and used to flush the loo -- either directly from the bucket, or by filling the cistern from your bottle [immediately you have flushed the loo, before it has time to refill from the mains]. You could even use clean bathwater for this.
a. Use local high street shops whenever possible, especially the independent retailers. They have a lot to offer in terms of cheap prices and local goods. If we don't use them we may lose them -- and it saves petrol.
b. Obtain a Saltash Discount Loyalty Card. The SALTASHCARD costs £2 from the Guildhall, Library or Bookshelf. There are over twenty shops in the scheme, many offering 10% discount, e.g. Cornish Farm Produce, Palfreys Bakery, Saltash Sports, Evans Hardware, and Rogers Blinds.
c. Over-packaging has many ill effects -- embedded carbon and resource depletion from making the packaging, extra weight and volume leading to higher carbon emissions in transport, and problems of waste disposal. And it probably costs more too! So:
· Buy goods with less packaging -- food, stationery, household items, tools etc.
· Avoid plastic packaging -- so much of it ends in the oceans, killing many marine creatures.
· Patronise shops that sell things loose and in paper bags.
d. SEA ought to mount a campaign about this problem.
Sharing as Much as Possible
a. Share equipment and tools with friends and neighbours, instead of everyone owning everything
b. Share any surplus products from your garden -- fruit and vegetables, seedling veg plants, cuttings, etc.
c. Shop at Charity Shops [many sell household goods as well as clothes], and donate unwanted items to them rather than throwing them away.
d. Use the Worldwide Freecycle Network www.uk.freecycle.org/ -- a grassroots movement of people giving (and getting) stuff for free locally. Freecycle groups match people who have things they want to get rid of, with people who can use them. "Our goal is to keep usable items out of landfills. By using what we already have, we reduce consumerism, manufacture fewer goods, and lessen the impact on the earth. It encourages us to get rid of junk and promotes community involvement”. [However, we don't recommend inviting unknown customers into your home etc!]. Saltash group covers Plymouth and most of SE Cornwall, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freecycle-saltash/
e. SEA could perhaps set up its own Freecycle Network, with people advertising their needs in the Newsletter, if they didn't want to join the official network
a. Supermarkets waste vast quantities of fresh fruit and veg -- I heard on TV that one third of what they buy in ends up in land-fill. This is a shocking statistic:
· Firstly, because it is such a waste of good food
· Secondly, because we are running out of landfill space
· Thirdly, because unlike composting where aerobic bacteria help the food to decompose to produce a useful soil conditioner, sending it to landfill creates an environmental problem. Aerobic bacteria cannot survive in landfill so as food rots it produces the very powerful green-house gas methane.
It was felt that this was so important, SEA should run a Coordinated Campaign to encourage better practice. We already are contacting various groups who are doing something about this elsewhere in the country to get ideas -- www.re-plenish.org and The Fareshare Organisation.
b. It is not just supermarkets that waste a lot of food -- research has shown that most people do too, either by over-buying or by failing to arrange to eat things before they go off. If you reduce your own food waste, you will save money, in addition to avoiding the disadvantages outlined above. www.lovefoodhatewaste.com has plenty of tips.
c. Use in-season fruit and veg. More and more people buy expensive foreign-grown or out of season produce, "Because it's there, and it’s nice". But it uses vast quantities of energy, either flying it in from abroad or keeping it chilled for long storage. These things are nice once in a while -- but seasonal fruit and veg are nice too. I'm greatly enjoying winter vegetables picked from my garden at the moment [March] -- carrots and leeks in white sauce, roasted parsnips and celeriac [scrumptious], steamed cabbage and curly kale or, when I feel like something more exotic, frozen Ratatouille, made last summer from home-grown tomatoes, aubergines, onions and peppers. [I know -- I've used the deep-freeze! but while it's there, it’s more efficient to keep it full]. Flying in year-round green beans from Kenya, new potatoes from Egypt and raspberries from who knows where, is crazy -- and not having them all year round makes them seem even nicer when they do come into season.
d. Equally, try to buy locally grown food that hasn't been transported miles, using up totally unnecessary energy. The Cornish Farmer's Shop in Saltash Fore Street uses local producers when it can, and there is a list of local suppliers on the website [http://www.sea.PL12.org.uk].
Better still, grow some of your own – it’s not that difficult, and they taste delicious [see photo of a basket of veg from the garden, and of my fan-trained Victoria Plum Tree].
e. SEA should try to reinstate the Saltash Market. One would have thought that all the farmers who are apparently ploughing back into the ground fields-full of broccoli and other veg because they aren't quite up to standard for the supermarkets, would welcome another opportunity to sell their produce, but I gather it's something to do with EU Subsidies. Maybe we should be lobbying parliament!
f. Don't buy bottled water -- our tap water is safer, nearly two thousand times cheaper, and is delivered through an energy-efficient infrastructure. In contrast, bottled water is an incredibly wasteful product. The annual carbon-footprint of bottled water used in the USA alone [including pumping, bottling, transport, refrigeration and bottle disposal] is the equivalent of over 50 million barrels of oil -- enough to run 3 million cars for the same period [Source: earth-policy.org]. "For a fraction of the amount spent on bottled water everyone on the planet could have safe drinking water and sanitation" [www.commondreams.org].
g. Buy concentrated fruit juice – why do we import concentrated fruit juices only to then add water to them and sell them diluted? Selling it concentrated would reduce packaging, transport fuel, and cost! Nag your fruit juice supplier -- some health food shops (e.g. A&N) already sell concentrated apple juice, or can order it for you.
h. Use "Fresh Pod" Fridge Fresheners – they extend the life of fruit and veg by slowing down the natural ageing process. Available from www.ecokitchensonline.com, who say, "Saves money, less waste, reduces food miles and shopping trips. Fresh Pod is 100% natural and safe and will not harm your produce in any way. The kit contains four sachets that last for a year.”
i. Change to a lower-meat diet. Animals give off huge amounts of methane, especially cows. Also, it is far more efficient to use a primary food-source such as plants, than a secondary one such as animals [which have to eat the primary source to turn it into meat]. Thus, the less meat you eat, the better for the environment.
j. Try to avoid products containing Palm Oil -- The Indonesian Rain Forest is being rapidly destroyed to make way for it. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8523000/8523999.stm, "Many biscuits, margarines, breads, crisps and even bars of soap contain an ingredient that is feeding a growth industry that conservationists say is killing the orang-utans -- palm oil: the cheapest source of vegetable oil available, and one that rarely appears on the label of most products.”
k. Make homemade yoghurt, hummus, etc rather than buying them in lots of plastic pots.
l. Start a Baking Circle – get together with friends, make a big batch and then share what you make. It is a much more efficient use of oven-power if small families get together.
a. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In other words:
· In general, reduce the products you use to a minimum
· Reuse old things instead of buying new
· Recycle when you really have no more use for something
b. Don't replace things just for the sake of it -- everything you buy has a heavy carbon footprint.
c. Don't keep changing your mobile phone for a new one when the old one still works. And next time it actually stops working (due to annoying built-in obsolescence) try life without one – you may survive! Our Mayor Elect has coped so far and he could definitely argue that he is very busy and needs one!
d. Repair rather than buy new
e. Keep printing to a minimum, reduce margins, and always print double-sided
f. Buy concentrated cleaners etc to reduce packaging and transport.
g. Refill containers where your shop provides this service
h. Buy large quantities of necessities and decant to smaller bottles / packets to reduce packaging
i. Think laterally -- find new uses for things rather than throwing away, e.g. instead of buying new plastic garden labels, use old used-up biros and felt-tips to make recycled labels by writing on them in marker pen.
Use Eco-Friendly Products
A number of specific recommendations were made, including:
a. Use Peat-Free compost. This is important both because the over-depletion of the peat bogs releases huge quantities of the stored greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and also because the loss of the bogs greatly reduces the land's ability to store water, leading to flooding lower down the valleys.
b. Minimise the chemical products you use -- for example, fabric conditioner
c. Don't use chemical air fresheners -- use home made room sprays if you really want them. Add 5-10 drops of two essential oils of your choice to tap water, and put it in a little pump action spray -- plastic ones are available from Superdrug, or glass ones from aromatherapy oil shops.
d. Use Microfibre or ‘e-Cloths’ -- need no detergent or other chemicals to clean a wide range of stuff such as bathrooms, windows etc. The Woollen Mill, Trerulefoot was mentioned at the meeting, but widely available.
e. Use compostable "Enviro Friendly Grease Filters" for your cooker hood -- available from www.betterware.co.uk [difficult to find on the website, so type the product number 37410 into the search bar].
f. Use "Ecover Products". Look this phrase up on Google, or go to www.ecover.com. They say about themselves, "Ecover is the world’s largest producer of ecological detergents and eco-friendly Cleaning and Laundry products -- washing up liquids, household cleaners, laundry and personal care products.” Refill your Ecover containers at the Health Food Shop in Saltash or at Lawson's in Plymouth.
g. Try the new Eco Friendly company "WIKANIKO" [we-can-eco] -- degradable plastic bags, skin-care, garden products etc. You may have seen their stall at the Saltash May Fair. Visit www.youkaneco.co.uk
h. Use washable nappies -- The "Cornish Real Nappy Project" offers a range of advice from how to use, to where to buy washable nappies in Cornwall : http://www.crnp.org.uk/
i. If changing your toaster, think about buying an eco-toaster which has a closed top so uses far less heat.
j. Buy natural deodorant stone -- no chemicals, no aluminium. Widely available on the Internet, e.g. from www.buyinconfidence.com, or www.wikaniko.com [who say "The pure natural rock crystal eliminates odour causing bacteria, allowing perspiration without body odour. Does not block pores"]
k. Use "Holistic Toothpaste" -- no harmful chemicals for us or the environment. "Oraheal" was mentioned at the meeting [www.oraheal.com] but there are many others available in the Internet.
l. Range of products, e.g. Joint Gel, made locally from "Healing Oils", 50 Culver Road, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 4DT; Tel 01752 291 396; www.healingoils.org.
m. Use multi-purpose soap bars (shampoo and soap in one bar) from www.cornwallsoapbox.co.uk (plus a range of other useful products). All natural ingredients made in Cornwall -- but watch out for products containing Palm Oil.
Make Your Own Compost
· It is very good for your garden
· Making your own saves you from the expense of buying
· It saves the peat that is dug up to make bought compost. To use home-made compost for potting, you may need to sieve it first, depending on how well it has rotted down.
You can make compost in
any old pile, but it is better covered perhaps with old carpet, to keep it
warm. I make mine in home-made Compost
Bins, see photo [ask for further details]. While this particular system works extremely
well and is very convenient, it was rather expensive!
b. Key points to making good compost are:
· Putting the right things in it [see below].
· Getting a good mixture of soft material with a good nitrogen-content like grass-mowings that will encourage it to heat up, and more solid material like cut-down herbaceous plants, that will form the base of the compost. If you have no grass-mowings, use a compost activator -- a special form of comfrey [www.allotment.org.uk/vegetable/comfrey/index.php#comfrey4] can also be used for this.
· Compost will rot down in time if simply left in a pile and not allowed to dry out, but it works much better and quicker if you turn it at intervals.
· Don't let it dry out or get too wet.
c. Suitable material for compost is almost any herbaceous or vegetable-based material, such as:
· Grass-mowings [must be composted for at least six months after treating lawn with weed killer]
· Weeds [excluding weed-seeds, and the roots of persistent weeds such as bindweed or dandelions]
· Non-woody prunings
· Woody-prunings if shredded [shreddings from a large commercial shredder will need much longer to rot, and even more grass-mowings added to encourage the process]
· Uncooked kitchen scraps [e.g. vegetable peelings, cauliflower-bottoms chopped up, banana-skins]
· Non-shiny paper soaked in water, squeezed into a mush and then spread out and mixed in
· Non-shiny cardboard ditto
· Egg-shells [and also egg-boxes if made from natural material]
d. Grass-mowings are a key ingredient, although they must be well mixed in. Many people have grass-mowings going to waste, while other people want to make compost yet haven't got enough of them. The key is to share with your neighbours. However, your neighbours may well have the same problem as you rather than the opposite one, so we feel that SEA could coordinate this sharing for members. So contact us [firstname.lastname@example.org] if you either have grass-mowings [or kitchen waste etc] you want to share, or alternatively if you want to receive these -- we will try to put one in touch with the other.
e. Even if you don't do this, recycle garden waste by either putting it out for green-collection [you have to pay for this, nowadays], or taking it to the Recycling Centre near Waitrose
f. Another suggestion was that we should get schools involved in making compost -- children could be educated in how to do this, and could bring suitable materials from home if they were not needed there. This happens in Devon as part of Don’t let Devon go to Waste, and may well happen in Cornwall through WRAP [www.wrap.org.uk], who help businesses and individuals reduce waste, and use resources efficiently.
a. Excellent clothes can be bought at Charity Shops at minimal prices, if you choose carefully and shop around -- this saves manufacturing new ones, with their associated carbon footprint.
b. Wear larger shoes in winter so more layers of socks can be worn!
c. Someone brought along to the meeting some long-lasting Spanish/Menorcan sandals with soles made from recycled car tyres -- available from email@example.com and possibly elsewhere e.g. www.sand-monkey.com/
Consider Installing your own Green Energy Generator
a. Solar Panels. There are two types: Solar Thermal Panels which heat your water, and Photovoltaic Panels which convert energy to electricity, which you can then sell to the National Grid. The former are less useful since they generally only heat your hot-water, which is only a small proportion of your heating bill. The latter are more expensive but will save or earn you much more money. [See Below]
b. There are also other possibilities, such as Wind Generators, Ground Source Heat Pumps, etc. More information from the Energy Saving Trust [www.energysavingtrust.org.uk]
c. Grants are available through the Energy Saving Trust [though not for Solar Voltaic Panels]. There was also a new Government scheme for Green Home Loans being planned, which may cover these, see www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn2010_037/pn2010_037.aspx and below. Grants and loans for businesses from www.carbontrust.co.uk.
d. Good Energy have a home generation scheme that pays people for energy they produce at their own homes or businesses. They offer guidance on generating one's own electricity at www.goodenergyshop.co.uk.
Install Your Own Solar-Voltaic Panels
I have wanted to install Solar-Voltaic Panels (turning solar radiation into electricity) on my roof for many years, to help reduce my carbon impact, but it always seemed too expensive. However things have changed – new government legislation in 2010 made it extremely profitable financially! Because the government had legally binding carbon-reduction targets, they set up a scheme, called the Feed-in Tariff Scheme, which they hoped will, through big financial incentives, persuade large numbers of the general public to invest in small-scale low-carbon electricity-generation, in return for a guaranteed payment for all the electricity they generate [whether they use it themselves, or sell it back to the National Grid]. Feed-in Tariffs, or FITs, are offered for Wind Generation, Solar Photo-Voltaic, Hydro, Micro-CHP Boilers, and a few other systems, but it is the Solar that I investigated.
But it is not only the Feed-in Tariffs that affects the issue, but the cost of electricity. I generated 1816 kWh from 18th June to the end of December, which earned me about £800 Feed-in-Tariff; but of course my electricity bill will also be lower, which will save me more money. However, the amount I save here, will depend on how I use my electricity. I have discovered that it is very advantageous financially to use the electricity as it’s generated. Forgetting about the Feed-in-Tariff, which you get automatically for everything generated, you must consider what happens next. If you use it as it’s generated, it’s free, so you gain the 12p or so per kilowatt-hour that you would have paid your supplier for it [a kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy needed to use a one kilowatt appliance for one hour]. If you don’t use it as it is generated, then it’s sold back to the grid – but you only get 3p /kWh, so you are 9p /kWh worse off. So it’s well worth checking what you are generating, and making sure you boil the kettle at the right time. You also don’t want to use two appliances at once, if you’re only generating enough to cover one. If you do, you pay for the second one. If you use them at different times, both will be free. I have just had my electricity bill, and was staggered to learn that my electricity usage had gone down by a factor or two compared with the same period in previous years. A friend lives nearby and has the same system -- her usage had only gone down by a quarter, because she hadn’t be able to make so much use of the electricity as it was generated, and she hadn’t made as many savings as I had in other ways [as described earlier in this document]. [Unfortunately, my bill didn’t go down anything like as much, due to the way the one gets charged more for the first amount of electricity you use, and less for later amounts, which is the bit I was reducing! I need to see if there might be a better tariff].
If you can’t afford to pay for Solar Panels yourself, there are other alternatives. The government’s original plan was that the rate of return should be sufficient for people to be able to make a profit even if they have to take out a mortgage in order to pay for the panels. If even this is beyond your resources, then there are companies who will install them for you free. I have not investigated these, but I understand that you get some free electricity [whatever you manage to use as it is being generated, see above description], but they take all the Feed-in Tariffs – which is by far the greater part of the profit! [See ].
If you wish to go ahead with Solar Panels, it is important to go about things the correct way.
1). To be eligible for FITs support, projects must use eligible products installed by MCS-accredited installers. The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is an independent certification scheme, which assesses installer companies and products against robust standards. MCS gives assurances about the likely quality, durability and performance of installations. Go to to find a [long] list of accredited installers. Or email me and I will tell you who installed my panels – I’m thrilled with the result!
2). Write to your electricity supplier in advance, and tell them that you wish to install Solar Panels, and that you want to apply for the Feed-in Tariff. They will tell you what you need to do.
Other Organisations not mentioned above:
a. Join "Fair Shares, Fair Choice" -- Charity Sustainability South West's campaign for everyone who supports the principle of a 'globally fair and safe carbon share for everyone’.
b. "Fareshare" is a national organisation that redistributes surplus produce from the food and drink industry to organisations working with disadvantaged people.
c. Earth Café is a friendly space for environmental, animal and human rights networking, generally held in the Cellar Bar at The Fortescue, Mutley Plain, Plymouth: www.plymouthenvironmentcentre.org.uk
d. Get tips from 'Surfers Against Sewage' -- a UK-based organisation campaigning for clean, safe recreational waters, free from sewage, toxic chemicals, marine litter and nuclear waste [ ].
Claire James:- firstname.lastname@example.org