The fourth episode of the Strawbridge's green renovation focused on a heat recovery system, designed to remove moisture from the air inside the house, after it had been well insulated with recycled denim! Current central heating systems, double glazing and insulation results in our houses having poor air quality, mould and condensation. Whilst we can open a window for some fresh air or buy more houseplants, we also waste energy through our heating systems. Heat Exchange System's ensure fresh, dry and warm air passed through vents around the house. For the first time, Briget Strawbridge proclaimed "its not easy to live a greener life", referring to home life without heating and the struggle to install all the vents around their farmhouse.
David Prosser of the Independent asks (that is, answers), does carbon-offsetting work?. Basically, he says it's complicated, but a damn sight better than not.
Organizations such as the Carbon Neutral Company and Climate Care allow you to carbon-offset the dioxide generated by your travel by paying a little extra. In the case of a London-New York return flight, the carbon-offset charge would be £11.67. The money generally goes to reforestation, and typically to countries not signed to Kyoto. In March 2006, the Blair government pledged to carbon-offset all travel by civil servants or ministers.
For those interested in eco house and garden design, there's a number of specialist books recently published. If you'd rather spend your hard-earned cash on a holiday rather than on your eco-pad then there's some must-read material for you too. 'Natural Swimming Pools' is packed full of plans and pictures of how to create your own self-contained aquatic ecosystem. 'Building with Cob' is a practical guide to earth building. 'Diary of an Eco-builder', charts the visions and challenges of creating an environmentally friendly home. 'The Ethical Travel Guide' is your essential resource for responsible global travel. For more information and links, read on.
If you're a bit of a Ray Mears at heart and would like to know how to live from the land then why not try a survival holiday this year. Dryad Bushcraft will develop your understanding of the natural environment through the pursuit of primitive survival skills and wilderness adventure. The company is committed to the sustainable use of natural resources around Gower, South Wales. There's lots of courses to suit everyone including a one day bushcraft course, a two day practical woodsman course and a week long bushmaster course.
You've probably heard about 'eco-tourism' defined by Responsible Travel as a 'walk on the wild side' that supports conservation and local people. 'Fair trade' tourism is the latest ethically motivated adventure available through Traidcraft Meet the People Tours. You can develop your knowledge of different cultures and see first hand the impact fairtrade has in improving poor peoples lives.
I know it's more green to reuse that old battered set of luggage until it falls apart on the conveyor belt, showing the bemused crowd your smalls. When the suitcase cannot be taped up or fixed anymore then treat yourself to a new range of travel bags from By Nature. Swap monogram monstrosities for rugged khaki hemp, available in a rucksack, holdall or this two-piece travel set, with suitcase and shoulder bag for £87.95. Brighten up the bag with a coloured recycled leather luggage label (and matching recycled leather passport holder) - try Tsena for some reasonably priced offerings. Now you just need to settle on that guilt-free destination! [Ella]
We were all ears listening to the environmental issues in Mr Brown's budget yesterday, but were his ramblings much cop? The general consensus is that although Brown has increased road tax for the most polluting cars (such as 4x4s) from £175 to £210, that is not nearly enough. Both Greenpeace [see story here] and Friends of Earth say that the rise will not discourage road users from driving gas guzzling cars. FOE feel that Brown's commitment to an Annual Carbon Report needs to be linked to a statutory requirement for annual cuts in climate changing pollution (as per The Big Ask campaign). Friends of the Earth generally welcome most of the changes but feel they need to be backed up by policy and legislation, particularly in relation to energy efficency and related technology.
The perfect eco-friendly ride around town is to be found in the EVT 168 Scooter by Scoot Electric. A clean, cheap and reliable alternative to cars, the EVT 168 both looks good and drives well or so I'm told. Its speed is limited to around 30mph, which is sufficient for commuting short distances. It will drive for 30 miles before you need to charge the battery. Available in go-go green, Brighton blue and mod maroon (pictured) with chrome detailing, the scooter oozes retro cool and is priced at £1850. Read up on the technical spec and the benefits of electric scooters on the Scoot Electric website. [Ella]
Previous related post: Vectrix scooter
Football matches and traffic congestion go hand in hand and I for one avoid my local stadium on match days like the plague. But what if you are actually going to watch your favourite game? Football carsharing aims to reduce both congestion and pollution, plus you can have post match debates with fellow fans on the ride home. Its free to join the scheme - for full details including how to sign up, see the Football Carshare website which is part of the wider lift share network. If football isn't your bag then check out Liftshare for other local schemes or even start your own. If half of UK motorists received a lift just one day a week, congestion and pollution would be reduced by 10% and traffic jams by 20%. Anyone up for beach lift-sharing this summer? [Ella]
The Saab 9-5 Biopower is the latest green car on the block. The 180 bhp 9-5 Biopower has a 2. 0 litre environment-friendly engine that runs on bio-ethanol produced from sustainable resources. Bio-ethanol's higher octane rating plus Saab's technology offers 20% more bhp than petrol engines. Saab say its a 'purer power'. A clear downside is that this type of fuel is not widely available in the UK. Saab have addressed this by making the Biopower a flex-fuel car, it can also be run on normal unleaded petrol or even a mixture of the two different fuel types. The car is on sale in the UK now from £21,651 - you can register your interest at their website. [Ella; Source: Topgear]
If you live in the center of a city then you probably find driving and parking a nightmare. Plus if you are a Hippyshopper then chances are you do not even bother with a car. However, sometimes a car would be nice to have around, wouldn't it? The probelm, of course, is being green and owning a car does rather chaffe at one's morals. Well, help is at hand, thanks to people like www.mystreetcar.co.uk. They offer a self-service pay-as-you-go car service using unleaded Volkswagen Golfs. Their cars are available on demand in London, Brighton, Southampton, Bristol & Oxford (with plans for more naturally) and you can rent by the hour, day (for as little as £35), week or month. Va va voom anyone? [written by Cityhippy]
If you dream of a small organic wedding in the country then Penrhos is for you. Penrhos Court (pictured) is nestled between the Herefordshire and Welsh borders and was saved from demolition in 1971. The hotel and restaurant specialises in seasonal organic food and not only caters for eco wedding's but holds 'green cuisine' courses run by chef and nutritionist Daphne Lambert. The place even meets Soil Association standards and won their restaurant of the year award in 2002. Check out the Penrhos website for an online organic shop, plus details of other courses and events including 'mama heaven', a yoga retreat-style break for mothers and babies. Hotel tariffs are currently set from £110 for two persons staying one night including breakfast. [written by Ella]
As far as I'm concerned the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is a great organisation for green parents. Each local branch frequently runs Nearly New Sales where you can buy and sell second hand children's clothes, toys and equipment. You can usually pick up lots of bargains as the mums try to compete in price with cheap supermarket clothes. A percentage of the profits are given to the NCT who provide support during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood - such as through their breastfeeding counselling line. Then there's the NCT house-swap register, which is a green and economical way to holiday in the UK but I can't guarantee all the houses will be as beautiful as the one pictured. Annual membership for the register is £30, there are no other fees to pay and you can swap as much as you like. Check out their website for full details including dates and locations of the nearly new sales. [written by Ella]
Being grey and grim, January is naturally the month when we all get bombarded by the no-frills airlines. Thankfully, there are alternatives, including Responsible Travel, which offer thousands of holidays in the UK and abroad, including eco-tourism trips. If a low carbon English hol doesn't appeal, Hippyshopper honeymooners should consider a nature lodge situated at a secluded and unspoilt part of the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsunday Islands, Australia. The lodge costs from £100 to £250 per person per night and it's one of Australia's most environmentally sustainable resorts - almost self sufficient for power, fresh water and waste treatment. Responsible Travel have partnered with Climate Care to go some way to offsetting your long haul flight. [written by Ella]
Planning a last minute escape to the slopes in the next few weeks? Ditch the early check-in, dehydrating plane journey, rubbish four hour coach journey and the attendant carbon emissions. Take the train instead. This year, Eurostar's offering a terrific-looking ski train from £180 return to France, including Moutiers, Aime Le Plagne and Bourg St Maurice. It may be a touch more expensive than a plane tickets, but it's also quicker, more comfortable and far greener. Full info over at Eurostar.com.