1 Jan 2008

Green New Year resolutions?

Best of 2007....no lets think green instead

The real point is politics of course as we all know...no good resolving to use public transport and no point ditching the car if there is no bus stop.

However I have tried to think of some lifestyle changes that are easy/fun and I do.
And yes if you are Jonathon Porritt please don't fly but if you are off to see you mum in Singapore you have a stronger moral case. These are within the parameters of easy/fun, done by me....but fairly random and not exclusive. One should avoid suffering for green politics and enjoy. Obviously buying less crap, sharing more and being generally eco conscious are general rules.

Green lifestyle can be a miserable way of point securing, more compensatory than emancipatory and who loves the eco police! But as I say I find these easy/fun/worth doing and please comment and add your own points, a short essay on lifestyle from me if you scroll down the page.

1. Mail Preference scheme. Sign up here this removes most of the junk mail and saves you a trip to the recylin bin.

2. Worm bin...basic instructions here , turns food waste and cardboard into compost.

3. Cook more....I like cooking, pizzas, bread, christmas cake...cuts out the palm oil and the additives and saves you cash and if you have kids keeps them entertained. Pizza instructions here...very hot oven plus the dough should be very thin, 3mm when you put in for an Italian style classic see here

4. More vegan...reduces energy use, animal feed is a good way of wasting resources....a decent vegan curry once a week is an easy way of starting, I am not vegan but it is a direction I try to move in....with enough chilli you can make a decent vegan pizza...Vegan New Year resolution resource's here

5. Walk more drive less...obvious but obviously good for health as well

6. Insulate, easy

7. Change your electricity to a renewable source, none of them are perfect but it is a start...take a look here ecotricity seems to invest the most in renewables.

8. Avoid palm oil where you can , 4 can sometimes make this more difficult, 3 generally makes it easier.

9. Grow more....start off with herbs ....if you have a pot from the supermarket (avoid unless a mutual or cooperative where possible), you can grow 20 extra this website shows you how
10. Get political join the Green Party!

I am vegetarian because producing meat is hugely energy intensive and wasteful. With declining fish stocks, the Economist predicts all commercial stocks could be gone by 2050, so I have given it up. I write a food column for Red Pepper magazine and my partner is runs a pub, so cooking healthy, sexy, organic, straight-out-of-the-garden meals is my passion. I am getting a lot of herbs, garlic and onions at present, had leeks right through the winter, but chillies are my pride and joy.

Since I stopped using plastic bags I have accelerated to zero waste. My local authority has good kerbside collection and food waste goes into the wormery. I bought tiger worms on the internet, they came in a brown paper envelope and they devour pretty much anything I throw at them. I steal my neighbours' grass clippings to make more compost, although the digestion product of the worms is pure gold.

I campaigned in Slough against the incinerator and I can't stand the idea of burning waste. Even arch anti-environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg worries about the health risks of the tiny mb10 particles produced by such plants. Landfill is evil as well.

The key thing is to live well on less. I buy all my clothes, bar underwear, from the charity shops. It is recycling and my second-hand Prada is a much commented-upon joy. I buy books second-hand and get through mountains of DVDs, CDs and books from the library. Green economics is about getting more from consuming less. I have just put my last book, Babylon and Beyond, online, so people can read it without having to buy the physical book. The internet is our greatest ally; what a shame Al Gore didn't use video conferencing to spread his message.

I live in a wooden home, which was low-energy to build and uses less energy to heat than most dwellings. Low-impact housing is not for everyone, but it suits me.

I practise Zen meditation. It makes you question mindless consumerism, and it is also very relaxing, so keeps me strong in terms of my green commitments both lifestyle-wise and politically. I do think it is important to enjoy lifestyle, for every sacrifice one needs a low carbon sin. I drink organic Whitstable ale, and for special occasions I buy my partner a bottle of organic Champagne - rather than flowers flown from Kenya. I smoke the occasional Bolivar No 1 - a strong cigar but I love Cuba and Simon Bolivar was "El Liberator". I am not keen on the concept of leaders but when he freed Latin America from Spain, he gave all radicals an example.

The slogan I came up with, with Penny Kemp, the sustainability guru and former Green party chair, that sums up personal green lifestyle goes like this:

"How to be green? Many people have asked us this important question. It's really very simple and requires no expert knowledge or complex skills. Here's the answer. Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life."

My further thoughts from the Guardian here.

Other how to be green lists
at http://imgsrv.1023thewave.com/image/ckwv/UserFiles/File/Go%20Green.pdf



Sheila said...

Thanks for these suggestions Derek and thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. Yes we do have a way to opt out of junk mail in the U.S. And with so many online shopping venues with wonderful photos of products, I think I could safely do without catalogs. I think we will see more and more electronic communication and less and less print pieces in our lives. But until we curb our love of material possessions, we will continue to acquire too much stuff.

Anonymous said...

I much enjoyed your post.

"Obviously buying less crap, sharing more and being generally eco conscious are general rules."

My sentiments exactly. But often the problem is the lack of realistic green options for the more fundamental things in life, such as transport. These are the things that we will need to get right if we are to make a major impact on our impact.

I also enjoyed your comment about having a moral case for flying. Often flying is unavoidable, and usually it has a net benefit for the world, but we need to separate sensible flying from the cheap weekends in Prague which achieve nothing except waste.

(If interested, I have written up my 2008 green expectations here: Reflections on 2007 and expectations for 2008 )

Lisa said...

Hey Derek,

Greetings from the Green Party in Los Angeles! I've known about you as the principal male speaker of GP England and good to see you posted on the greenlagirl blog.
It's a great lifestyle blog, but the greenlagirl is a Democrat, not a Green. Sigh...so it goes in our winner take all system.


Lisa Taylor
L.A. Greens Volunteer Coordinator
lisa at losangelesgreens.org

Derek Wall said...

Cheers everybody...nice to get some intelligent comments...I think the resolutions game is a good way of promoting a bit of wider thinking about green issues.

well must put the LA greens on my blog roll....I am a 'Run Cynthia, run' person myself, a bit biased because I met her in London and she seemed a good person

Anonymous said...

This is a great article. Our entire family resolved to go green in 2008 and you can track our progress on our new blog The Deneens Go Green. I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I'm actually considered a worm bin. Eek! My husband has been begging me to let him have one for years, but I just couldn't stand the thought of all those creepy crawlies doing their creepy crawly things. Anyway, thanks again!

Anonymous said...

These are some good resolutions!!!
I notice a lot of people are taking much more care of the environment, buying less trash and reducing their ecological footprints, great!
2008 might be the year of real change!

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