What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Yikes! consuming again - by Robb

It has been a long time, months, since I have bought anything other than used clothes, used books, biodiesel for the van (made from recycled veggie oil of course) or food. Today Jacqui, that's my wife, and I drove the van, another unusual occurence, to the DIY shop and bought 5 tubes of silicone sealant, 4 cans of spray foam sealant, and some latex gloves. All of this stuff was product from the chemical industry, over packaged, and toxic. It was a weird feeling.

We are finishing a project on the house I started some time ago, insulating and sealing the ground floor. The insulation is made from recycled denim but the sealant and the protective gloves are certainly not sustainable products but are the only cost effective solutions to the problem of cold air ingress from the ventilated unheated cellar into the heated ground floor. This will save energy, obviously, but I wish there was a way to do green renovation work without the use of such nasty stuff. I wish the building had of been built more tightly 100 years ago and that when it was renovated along the way someone had thought of that. But alas, I'm stuck with stepping back on the treadmill again.

If this bugs me I dread how I'll react when I fly back to the US to see my family this winter, love miles.....ouch! Can't live with em, can't live without em.

I first heard the term "love miles" from George Monbiot. For a good read see Mr. Monbiot's fascinating essays on flying entitled "Travelling Light" and We are All Killers


Alison said...

I've done a fair number of those Love Miles in the opposite direction across the Atlantic. Almost every other contribution I make to CO2 probably pales compared to the Love Miles.

I also agree with you on the wish to live in a more sustainably designed home. It really is crazy that with all the technology and design options available we are still building homes designed for such things as look and low building cost. I hope this will change really soon.

C Robb said...

Thanks for the post Alison,
I get a fair amount of visitors to this site but not many comments, I'm not sure why that is.

As to flying,I hope this next trip will be my last by air. We've been looking into going by sea. There are various options, all pretty much twice the price of flying but the gap is narrowing. We'll be willing to pay the difference when we move over in autumn 09 as we'll be carrying lots of stuff and we'll have the time to enjoy it as a holiday as well.

We're also discussing the housing options available to us. We own some rental properties in North Carolina and have considered moving into one of them, which we may do for the short term, but ultimately we want enough land to become close to self sufficient for food and fuel, 5 to 10 acres probably. If it has a farmhouse on it I'm sure we'd use that. I'm torn about the idea of new build. It seems such a waste to tear down seviceable structures. I've seen the figures that suggest that the investment in new build done properly makes up for it but I'm still not convinced. I'm much more into the idea of green refurb to bring our existing stock up to snuff. After all it does represent, and will continue to for some time, the vast majority of where people live. We need to focus much more effort into finding ways to affordably rework our homes. I'm fascinated by the idea of going off grid right in the midst of an urban, peri urban, or suburban context.

One of my biggest concerns for moving back to the states is living car free. In a city, no problem, out in the countryside, much more of a challenge. The town where my family lives is completely inaccessible without a car. Once there, as long as one is close in to town, it is walkable but I'm wondering about how many 5-10 acre sites are available that close in. I'll probably have to set up a car share scheme.