Having just filled an 8 tonne skip with massive quantities of metal, plastic, material, wood, I think it’s important not only to consider what we buy, but also how we look after it, or pass it onto others to look after before they rot or go beyond repair.
It takes a massif amount of effort to explode rocks out of the ground and to reduce them to rubble and heat to make metal. It takes a fair amount of effort to extract oil from our sub-surface, and to chop down, season and refine those trees to turn them into tables and chairs etc.
So why do we let them all rot ? Chairs that if mended in time before they get too wobbly or re-upholstered could support a bum for many years to come. Curtains that could be passed onto others or turned into stuffing for cushions, Pots and pans that could be recycled, etc.
Personally I’ve just taken apart a caravan that had completely dis-integrated in the same spot for 20+ years. Timber rotten to the point of being compost, mouldy plastic, soaking cushions from where the rain leaked in. In this case, the caravan could have gone to new owners years ago who might have eaked out a few more years of life. Instead it’s all in a skip, waiting to be taken away.
A collapsed roof of a garage left un-attended meant that high quality garden tools were beyond safe use. rotten handles, rusty tools. Another example of a simple fix, not sorted has lead to a large waste of good tools.
Maintenance of the things that we buy is very important, environmentally speaking, as well as on financial terms. All the way down from houses to cars, to bikes, furniture, window frames, garden tools etc. What has happened ? Have we lost DIY skills ? Do we not know how to oil tools to look after things ? Do we just reply on maintenance free uPVC windows to make life easy, sharp for life knives that are never sharp for life. Don’t be conned by advertising. Most things need looking after to work reliably for many years.
Sorry for the rant, but take a look around you. Is that gutter needing repaired, has the rain leaked into your house and is causing untold damage. Do those garden shears need a bit of TLC after being left in the shed all winter ?
Everyone says things are not meant to last, and that’s partially true with built in obsolescence to encourage us to spend spend spend, but we can do better.
* Choose products that can be repaired
* Choose products that could last a lifetime, and look after them.
* Only buy what you need. Check to see you don’t already have 5 spades or forks before buying another.
* Remember to use services like FREECYCLE.ORG to pass your possessions onto others before they go beyond the point of use.
I’m off to check the windows are ok and to clean those garden tools.
Upside down life ahead.
When people contemplate renewable technology, do they consider the implications on life’s daily chores ?
Re-tuning your day to cope with using electricity when the sun shines or when the wind blows will be an interesting transition for many of us. With little energy storage options on the market beyond large battery banks, we might have to adapt.
Fancy a new log stove, remember you’ll need to plan your fuel months if not years in advance as it will need to sit and dry [unless you can afford seasoned logs]. Kindling wont make itself either. So before you were used to working 9-5 returning home on a cold dark night and flicking a switch to put on the boiler or electric fire, and with a log stove, oh oh… who was the last person to use the last twig ?
Equally, ground source heat pumps. Again not an instant-on technology, it’s supposed to be on for most of the day keeping a large thermal mass warm, like a concrete/stone floor. You can’t just come home and rack up the thermostat.
So where am I taking this ? Many are looking at solar panels, both electric generating and producing hot water. Producing say 2-2.5kW during a sunny day is great, but with the new Feed in Tariffs, you are best to use that energy, and avoid using the grid if possible to make a decent benefit. So that means moving washing clothes, dishes, ironing, vacuuming all needs to be done during the day if you want to make it more cost effective.
Insulation companies are touring the town touting for sales. Cavity and Loft insulation. While this is a great benefit to home owners, it’s only half the challenge. Behaviour change is also required. Do you alter the thermostat as a result or adjust the boiler heating programmer as the summer approaches? Or do you simply enjoy the warmer home and sit about in vest and shorts?
If you get insulation fitted then go the extra mile. Borrow an energy monitor from the library, ask a member of Linlithgow Climate Challenge to pop around to your home to check your appliances and boiler controls etc. It’s free. e are here to help.
I’d also watch that you are not being conned. Linlithgow Climate Challenge works with the Energy Saving Trust to provide the lowest cost insulation and also to make sure everyone gets the financial support of the Energy Assistance Package when possible. I’ve heard of one couple over 80 who were charged £199 for insulation. This is totally wrong and they should have had that done for free. So if in doubt, ask us first. The insulation companies are great, but they have profits in mind, not your welfare.
Chickens. Going well so far with a decent quantity of eggs on a regular basis, but I must protect key parts of the garden if they are let loose. They seem to quite like tearing leeks apart, and digging up those seeds that are just next years flowers. So ho do you teach a chicken to eat weeds only ? Or are weeds edible. I’ll need to go on a foraging course to learn more. Give me a shout if you want to have a chicken tour, theres 4 or 5 of us locally that I know of and I’m sure there are more.