Thursday 24 July 2008

I <3 Planet Green

Ever since I started using iGoogle and became minorly obsessed with finding cool and interesting RSS feeds to add to it, I have been reading blog posts and articles on New Scientist and Treehugger. These have been quite eye opening, and also quite depressing - today, for example, I read about the tar sands project in Alberta and how the water ends up so polluted they have to use propane cannons to keep the ducks from landing in it; and yesterday I read that almost a fifth of the energy used in the USA goes on growing and transporting the population's food, because the average Yankee eats twice his daily recommended calorie limit.

I know I'm in a glass house on that one.

However, James, my maths-teaching car share buddy, did some quick sums when I told him about the article this morning, and worked out that - since America produces 25% of global emissions and has roughly 7% of the world population - 5% of the total energy of the world is going on feeding 7% of it. Does that sound right? According to those numbers, if everybody ate like an average American, the whole of the world's energy would go on food production and people would still be....well, not dying of starvation, since you don't need 3700 calories a day to survive, but you get the point.

Anyway, it's all very well to be smug and locavory and "Oh those disgusting Americans thank God I'm a Brit" about it but, actually, we still eat a lot of meat and most of our food has done a lot of miles before it reaches our plate and I still throw quite a lot of food out (sorry, Gordon) because I like to buy the nice-looking salad and fruit but I sort of forget to eat it. And let's not forget those 250 miles a week I commute.

Don't worry Mr Z, I'm not going to reduce the amount of meat in our diet (and I hope I'm across the desk from you when you read this, so I can receive the full benefit of your icy cold eyebrow raise and frosty "You couldn't if you tried"-esque comment).

So, I spent some time today browsing around the green guides on Planet Green. I was semi-inspired by a thread on Ravelry about line-drying clothes - Ravelry being at times painfully America-centric, the thread was mostly about whether your neighbours will think you're a hick if you do the completely sensible thing and make the sun work for you a little (to be fair, most contributors were pro-line drying but it really pisses me off when I hear people complaining about stiff clothes, as if the slick, static-filled clothes the dryer spits out are better - and it REALLY pisses me off when people complain that the sun bleaches them, like a dryer doesn't.....)

(This was meant to be a short update but I am evidently rant-filled today).

So, anyway. Greening my laundry. I refuse to own a tumble dryer, so I'm halfway there. I wash everything except bedding and towels at 30 degrees. I don't see the point in fabric softener. I only use half the recommended quantity of detergent - the boyfriend of somebody I trained with, a committed eco-vegan, talked me into this, arguing that detergent companies tell you to use way more than necessary, and that most dirt on clothes is just sweat and therefore no detergent is required if your clothes aren't greasy....I haven't quite taken that leap yet. Half the amount, on a 30 degree wash, removes all stains except the ubiquitous antipasti stain, in the same place on most of Mr Z's t-shirts.

However, it seems I can green it further! I was most excited to come across this recipe for laundry soap, made out of common household items. One of which is soap. Normal soap. Normal the drawerful I have in the bathroom?

I am excited by this prospect. I am not a big lover of bar soap, I find it really drying (I suspect palm oil is the culprit, since Lush's new palm-free formulations don't have the same effect). Yet, I have, in my years as a Lush fan, stockpiled a fairly large quantity. This sounds like a summer science project to me. You can even use the liquid stuff to wash dishes!

Solar panels it ain't, but every little helps.

I am also eyeing the front garden and thinking that half the lawn could be removed and the space used to grow salad vegetables and keep chickens in an Eglu. I think it would look tidier than the current excuse for a lawn, and it gets more sun than the back. Also,
we need to keep the back garden for the hammock and the cat and our poorly-attended barbecues. I think Mr Z is a bit anti, but perhaps I'll just do it one day when he's not looking. It makes good sense.

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