Your Green Voice of the UK

I am shocked to tell you that I have won something. Sadly it’s not the lottery (I gave up entering years ago when I didn’t win for three weeks running) and it’s not another windfall from a dubious solicitor in Nigeria, although to tell the truth, I have had two such emails in the last week directly to the Frugal Life blog. Obviously they think I need the money!

The Energy Saving Trust has been running a competition to find the Green Voice of the UK – somebody who will stand up for the man in the street on green issues and represent the public’s point of view – so I thought I’d have a go and apply. They billed it as a kind of Green X-Factor. Although the role is voluntary, there were 100 entries which were whittled down to just four finalists – myself, Tom Callow from London, Shirley Mann from Derbyshire and Michael Groves from Edinburgh – who were all very strong candidates. They made us make little videos about ourselves, which were uploaded onto YouTube and onto the Energy Saving Trust website (you can watch mine here), explaining why we thought we were the best candidates. Judges at the Trust, as well as its green ambassadors around the UK, voted and we waited with baited breath to see who would be crowned the Green Voice of the UK.

Yesterday me and the other finalists attended an event at Portcullis House in Westminster with the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Joan Ruddock, where the winner was announced and I was dumbfounded to find that it was me! The next thing I knew, I was up on the podium shaking hands with the Minister, having to give a speech and then questioning Joan Ruddock, along with other journalists present, about her policies on climate change.

However, a sinister looking item was lurking in the background – a huge green and gold throne which had apparently been reclaimed from an old theatre. It wasn’t long before they’d got me in it, complete with a bright green sash proclaiming ‘The Green Voice of the UK’ across my chest and I was surrounded by paparazzi. It was a pretty strange feeling, I must say. My local MP John Baron even appeared and insisted on buying me a cup of tea.

The funniest thing (besides the sight of me dressed like a green Miss World) was after the event when it was announced that the Prime Minister himself was on his way to use the same room for another meeting. Panic set in when the Energy Saving Trust’s team got the green throne stuck in the lift and had to carry it down the stairs in the end to some strange looks from MPs.

But now the hard work begins. In my new role I will be reaching out to everybody in the UK to find out what our fears and concerns are about going green and saving energy – what is stopping us from doing so. Is it apathy? Is it money worries in the recession or do we feel that the bottom line is that it isn’t our responsibility to do so but that of the government? Are energy companies, local authorities or the government not doing enough to help? Would a boiler scrappage scheme similar to the car scheme be a good plan? I want to hear people’s thoughts and ideas for new schemes and initiatives or how existing ones can be improved. So please get in touch through the blog and let me know your thoughts. As anybody who reads this blog regularly knows, I am no angel either when it comes to saving energy or resources around my home. DJ and I have made a lot of progress, but we could still do better (you’ll be relieved to hear that we now have energy saving light bulbs through most of our home now following my blog entry last week). So part of my role will also be to set an example by making more small changes around our home and to our lifestyle.

What is stopping you from saving energy or going green? Got any suggestions for initiatives to make it easier? Leave a comment or email me through the blog and let me know. Thanks, Piper xxx

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14 Responses to Your Green Voice of the UK

  1. Bill says:

    May I be the fust to Congratulate you!Many of us try, you simple try so much harder. Just wish I had the time, also the access, to crack a few heads together in the local corridors of power, as also in nation & Eurowide.I have seen some horrifying waste on my fairly extensive travels, & oft find myself reasonably unpopular when I speak out about it. Apparently, it is never any of my business, despite the fact that I spent almost 40 years as a tax payer.Fantastic pics too, you look geeeeorgeous, but you need to be over 18 to be Miss World!!!

  2. Christine says:

    Congratulations Piper. Nice picture of Miss Green World. However – perhaps now is the time to get that draught proofing done eh just to lead by example she says laughing. It shouldn\’t break the bank – it didn\’t used to be expensive to do – and would make a nice little blog. I\’m sure that some people think that going green is expensive rather than just being apathetic. You\’d be amazed at how much ordinary, everyday people do think about the environment. One project which bought together 10 older, ordinary, everyday people came up with a whole host of simple ideas – http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/uploadedFiles/Publications/reports/Greener%20and%20Wiser%20final%281%29.pdf and some of whom had never really thought about the environment before.

  3. naomi says:

    Congratulations on the win! My issue is one which weighs heavily on my concience, nappies. I\’m throwing away bin liners full of disposable nappies each month. I\’m not able to use washable and I haven\’t been able to find a realistic way to compost the compostable nappies I could easily buy in my local supermarket. I spoke to my council who won\’t take them away even if I get rid of the poo, cut them up and put them in a compostable nappy bag!!! I\’d be prepared to store them for up to 2 weeks then take them to a collection point in my area if I knew they were going to be composted. I\’ve spoken to other parents who agree that they\’d be prepared to do the same.

  4. John says:

    Congrats on the award! However, If it ain\’t broke why fix it, my old boiler works well enough for me and it\’s 25 years old, if I replace it I\’ve got to replace the whole heating system and that just too damned expensive!!I can\’t afford for £3,500 for as a needless expense. I do use energy saving bulbs etc, partake of all the local recycling schemes and such, but I am not spending money I don\’t have to keep a bunch of eco – warriers happy, OK?

  5. yusef says:

    congrats… 🙂

  6. Vivien says:

    The biggest problem/apathy is local government, The difference in what is taken in my home area and my mother in laws area, is quite unbelievable we are 16 miles apart, for instance in mum inlaws area they will take all cardboard, in my area, they will take only heavy duty cardboard even taking the light weight stuff to the local tip resulted in my being told that it would compost they don\’t take it,The problem the lady with the nappies has can be solved by erecting publically accesible compost bins, if all local councils do this, money can be earnt by selling it to the public, thus reducing poll tax, By the way congratulations it\’s about time we had someone with common sense

  7. Peter says:

    Global warming is a myth. The Earth is heading for the next ice age . There is nothing we can do to stop Sun spot activity, volcanoes, etc. Green issues are just used as an excuse by the Government to try a tax us more , luckily market forces ( the recession ) stopped this Government from implementing more of them. Too much importance is given to mankind. We are as insignificant as an insect , a mere blip on the history of time of this planet. Do you know how many years the dinosaurs were on this planet ? Or how old the Earth is ? Then look up how many years Man has been on the Earth. If you want a suggestion to save the planet , then find the bacteria in Kangaroos that stops them farting and introduce it to cows . One of the largest sources of Methane in the World , is cows farting. Not the likes of more coloured bins or collecting bins every other week, to save the Councils money!

  8. Nicki says:

    Firstly, I agree with Peter insofar as mankind having little to do with the Earth either warming or cooling. History shows that both have happened before without our "help".However, that isn\’t the reason why I don\’t inconvenience myself for the sake of the green brigade. For arguments sake let\’s assume that what we do could affect the Earth. My little contribution pales into insignificance when compared with the waste of energy and carbon footprint of Joan Ruddock and her colleagues. For example, ask Ms Ruddock how many trips she and her colleagues have taken to international conferences over the last two years. Then ask how many used the greenest form of transport (eg walking, cycles etc) – I bet the answer to this second question would be "none"! The reality is that we have reliable forms of video conferencing which the politicians decide not to use because it would prevent a "free" trip/holiday ("free" in this context meaning paid for by us, the taxpayer). When the government decide to "go green", I\’ll think about joining them!

  9. Ziz says:

    Hi Piper and congratulations…Now down to business. Having spent a lot of my time in the last 10 years pondering on this subject I\’ve come up with the following conclusion.People often will turn a blind eye to what they don\’t want to admit. They let there dog foul in the street and don\’t clear it up. Drop litter and walk away. Only obey speed restrictions when a policeman is around etc. And it is the same with green issues. What they can\’t see don\’t bother them. Or as in one case I know go on about how green they are by recycling etc, but will have 2 big gas guzzling cars in the drive, have the house lit up all day. Television on in every room with only one person at home (were talking 3 TVs downstairs and 3 upstairs) and 4 foreign holidays a year by plane. And still consider themselves green. I\’m not having a go because they are able to pay for these nice things. Its because it shows how some or a lot of people think. Best regards Ziz

  10. mary says:

    Congratulations – Miss Frugality UK! What a good idea to have a "real person" talking to the government. I\’m a lighting designer and it really worries me that the man/woman in the street must be confused with the best way to change their lighting and save energy – the options pretty much change daily and there are some truly awful options out there masquerading as truly green. If you\’d like to know how to make your home lighting better as well as save energy, contact me and I will make you into a case study that might help others. For example if you are working from home, have you really got enough(energy efficient) light to work by? Best wishes Mary RB – http://www.lightingdesignhouse.com

  11. Bill says:

    Nicki & Ziz, both spot on!I only shave once/wk, or even once/month, & even then I use a power & steel saving "open" razor, depite heading toward an extremely frail middle age at a rate of knots. I rinse & shower in cold water in order to reduce my carbon hoofprint, & make every attempt to keep my entire "household energy" expense down to £5/wk. I have not washed my vehicle in over two years in order to conserve all resources, & last time I did it in the pouring rain, as a completely free water supply. I degrease the windscreen with a medium handbrush & a tadge of screenwash after a night of heavy rain. A tadge of fresh lemon juice with an equal measure of white vinegar on a genuine sea sponge is extremely good for all internal glass, including goggle box. In the past I have used second hand engine oil as car polish, best sprayed on lightly, from a garden spray can, & rubbed in with a cotton wrapped timber block. I have also jacked the vehicle up & removed a wheel, in order to save on parking tickets.I also avoid peeling veg, where possible, in order to cut waste of good food, time & energy. I squeeze every t-bag in order to enjoy the very last drop, & only use a fresh mug for my first brew in the morning, washing dishes only once/day.

  12. piper says:

    Thanks for all the great comments and suggestions – keep them coming!

  13. Christine says:

    Congratulations on your win, hopefully if you actually can speak openly on behalf of the public with their support perhaps change might actually happen. I fear this position might be one of appeasment with nothing being accomplished which is a shame for the enviroment and all of the en-dangered species and their loss of habitat.The main problem we have experienced is lack of interest from Planning authorites, if the planner is having a \’bad hair day\’ forget it they are quite happy to abuse their powers and not follow guidelines. Also to be taken into consideration is the age old mantra of who is to gain. Political lobbying wins every time, do you honestly think that the big power companies with there shareholders would be happy for the public at large to obtain their power for free, NO and therin lies the problem. The government could create many jobs by allowing companies to mass produce Solar panels and photovataic panels in order that they would be within the budget of all, even let people purchase them over a period of time spending the yearly amount of their household utility bills. Too many powerful entities would lose out so this will not happen soon if ever. The publics growing concern that they democraticly vote these odd jobs into office and all they do is look after the money makers and their cronies.We recently installed Solar panels and we are exceedingly impressed, it was not without difficulty as the planning officer was very arbitary as to whether we should be allowed to put them up. They cannot be seen from the road only from the next door neighbours property and he had no objections at all, others we are aware of have had similar difficulties in obtaining permission and they were astounded beyond belief.We have had a smallholding since 1985 bacj then I was then taking eggs to local factories, unheard of in those days, I was virtually shut down by the local council, and government, not through any health or enviromental issues, everything was perfect, people who have todate looked at the paperwork have reached the same conclusion it is the worst case of abuse of power, corruption they never dreamed possible of happening in their lifetime in the UK. I complained to the ombudsman who has been warned off of investigating, newspapers back off, this was good old fashioned land clearance on the grandest scale, my livestock were tortured and if lucky killed, we have been shot at, I have been driven at on many occasions. Why because the neighbouring property has been used as a \’safe house by the Royal Family who have according to the boasting host who was a Knight of the Realm and our sad situationconfirmed by some honest planners that on behalf of their friends \’the Royal Family\’ are exercising their \’crown right\’ over the land in order that we will move off so their friends can have it for nothing. I have the evidence.Needless to say the Police are employed by the crown so therefore when they were notified of any criminal offence I was leant on in the most horrendous way. This is supposed to be \’Great Britain\’ not Zimbabwe. Not withstanding the abuse of human rights act against us, when the water table is low, ducklings and wildlife die as a result of the river drying up because of over extraction, having asked for permission with the backing of grant offers to put a small lake on the smallholding, we were refused I have a loverly letter from the planner it took a year to arrive stating that there was in the planning office\’s view no need and it would not be fitting for the enviroment. If it were not so serious one could laugh at the mentality. The whole political system is in my honest opinion corrupt from the top down and all the time this sort of scenario like ours is kept out of the public eye and allowed by default any attempt at helping the global warming threat by lowering your carbon footprint or growing sustainable organic produce is doomed. Working together in a common sense manner we could achieve more than we could ever dream of, giving us all a healthier diet, preserving wildlife and leaving a good legacy for our children. Next time you meet the prime minister if you want I can forward to you the damming evidence of our experience and watch him blush, he works on the principal that if he ignores you "what are you going to do about it" Same as the expenses scandal. A united Britain for one cause is needed -and parliment sack the establishment the phogies who are working for the agenda of the few and lets see some real results that a few good honest folks could bring to this country.

  14. jaxnpete.dowsett says:

    I too have a "G" rated boiler that I am keen to swap for an "A" rated boiler. The efficiency change would be enormous going from 65% to over 90% and the CO2 saving is enormous too. It would also save us about £450 each year but the cost to change is prohibitive and the payback time is many years. So while it aint broke I\’m leaving it.It occurs to me that if the government is serious about climate change they should fund "G" rated boiler swaps outs like they have funded the UK car industry through the £2,000 car scrappage scheme.Which is more important for the planet (and the politicians) more new cars or households with efficient boilers? (or both?)jaxnpete

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