Thursday, 26 October 2006

A very inconvenient truth

Last weekend Lewes Cinema showed An Inconvenient Truth, the film by Al Gore that describes in graphic detail the crisis facing our planet, people and creatures. About 500 local people saw the film. Here’s the viewers’ (including some young ones’) response:
M: The acceleration of how things are heating up is terrifying. And I feel sorry for the polar bears [drowning].
G (her daughter): It was a bit confusing because of all the tables and facts. I was shocked. Afterwards I felt, ‘You need to make a difference.’
A: There was a really scary graph that showed that because of our carbon emissions we’re going to heat ourselves to death.
R: It was a powerful documentary. Yes, it was political but it needs to be political. Once I saw the statistics about what was happening in the Arctic and Antarctic I woke up. It was a very effective film.
T: I knew many of the facts but I was quite shocked because I’d never seen how fast the ice caps are melting.
A: It was very interesting and powerful and thought provoking. The message was that everyone can do something within their own everyday life. Also you have to make a commitment on a bigger scale.
It’s not a film I could say I enjoyed. Al Gore said that people tend to go from denial to despair. The middle choice is action. It’s a moral imperative, he said. We live in interesting times…

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Towards Zero Waste

Last week’s events around the incinerator going ahead despite huge local opposition, set me wondering whether zero waste, the alternative, is doable. So my long suffering family has spent the last week trying to live without sending waste to our bins. As we all know, reduce, reuse, recycle is the mantra in that order. We started on this path a year ago by gradually cutting out supermarkets. A prerequisite; you can understand why. Bear with me though, before panicking. Monday morning was an abrupt jolt: we couldn’t have the usual porridge because the milk was in a tetrapak (not recyclable). We’d soon set off to Barefoot Herbs to source milk in a plastic bottle, as well as dishwasher powder in a cardboard box. On to Beckworths who does a fine line in Fairtrade coffee, freshly ground, in a bag. The week progressed surprisingly easily, with occasional debates about margarine vs butter packaging. And what to do with yoghurt pots. Things we learned: Laportes sells local butter wrapped in paper. You can get refillable flagons of ale from Harveys, and at some of their pubs. It’s quaint taking Tupperware to the butcher and cheese shop in Riverside. How great is it these shops and breweries still exist!By the end of the week, we had a carrier bag of honest waste (all plastic packaging), about half of which could have been avoided. Zero waste mentality is like composting: a gateway to another reality, and you don’t have to have loads of time or money (believe me, you save a lot not going to supermarkets!) Before you know it you’re walking around local shops, chatting and smiling and well fed. Things start to get very happy and simple, like that wartime feeling my granny used to speak of.

Thursday, 12 October 2006

The Baked Bean Car Club

Luckily my growing allergy to cars and the stuff around cars has neatly dovetailed with an imperative to reduce our ecological footprint in order to save the planet. So last week we gave away our car: a Ford transit minibus, in fact, on Freeserve. It was claimed by a local charity. 

This idea has been brewing for a year. At first I felt deprived and curtailed at the thought of it. But we started using trains more, walking around town more (it helps not shopping in supermarkets and getting most of our food delivered free) and planning things differently, so we ended up not using the wheels much anyway. But I do like to go to the woods once a week. So we’ve started a car share between five people, using a friend’s car. The cost is £100 refundable deposit to pay for the initial service and insurance, and then £1 an hour or £10 per day, plus petrol. We’re reviewing and refining it as we go along. 

Car share schemes are springing up all over the country. Imagine them springing up here: a shared car/bike/minibus/van on every street in Lewes, with free parking. Imagine the council paying someone a salary to manage this. Apparently it costs £2,200 a year to keep a car on the road and it’s getting more expensive. So we’re saving loads of money. Plus we get to be smug about something we were going to do anyway!