It’s not easy going green: your thoughts and comments

Thanks for all the comments and emails you’ve sent me about me winning the Green Voice of the UK competition run by the Energy Saving Trust and your thoughts on going green and saving energy. As you know, the point of the Green Voice role is to find out the public’s views on going green and what they feel is preventing them. It’s early days yet but already many of you, commenting both on the blog and on a piece I wrote last week for the Guardian website, raise some interesting points.

They tend to fall into these different categories:

1. Confusion

Sean, an energy manager, reckons a major problem is that people feel confused. We don’t know what we should be doing on a personal basis to save energy in our homes or how we should be doing it, he says. He also claims that the way in which the climate crisis is presented to the public makes them feel “detached” from the issues involved.

Another issue you raise is confusion over recycling and the number of plastics that still can’t be recycled. Recycling options vary greatly from local authority to local authority – there seems to be no uniform approach to it. Plus there are still many types of product packaging that are either non-recyclable or which state that they can be recycled but not by your local authority. Annoying!

2. Cost

Mrs Green who runs the great website makes a good point – that many green energy products, like LEDs and solar panels, are simply too expensive for most people to afford.  “Sure there is a LOT you can do for free, but we’ve got to a stage where our carbon footprint can’t really go much lower without some major investments,” she says. Too true. Last year I looked into how much it would cost to introduce heat pumps/solar heating into Chez Frugal and was pretty shocked. At the moment we don’t exactly have a spare £7k lying around.

3. Consumerism / education

Christine complains that the affordable green cleaning products, available in the supermarkets just a few months ago, have disappeared. She wonders whether this is because consumers believe they can only get things clean with bleach or chemicals. “Unless you are part of a whole-food co-operative or are prepared to pay transport costs or have a Costco card or can get to a Chinese supermarket, [it] gets difficult [to get hold of these products],” she writes. “Not everyone shops on the internet and can track down good bargains. Do you start a campaign to educate people in buying better whilst saving money and the environment?” Good point. Maybe we have been brainwashed by advertising that in order to get something clean we have to nuke it with chemicals.

Meanwhile, writing on the Guardian website, Organic John says he wants to encourage more people to grow their own, but that this shouldn’t just be another outlet for consumerism. “There’s far too much buying involved in gardening, and a mighty seductive bandwagon on the road with ‘grow your own’ emblazoned all over it,” he says. “[Show] how food gardening is something you do, rather than something you buy from a garden centre.” Lots of us on this blog know too well how growing your own can be an expensive business, unless you make a conscious effort to make it frugal by harvesting seeds, collecting rain water etc.

4. Transport

What will persuade us to get out of our cars and into public transport or on bicycles? Helenell, a commentator on the Guardian website, asks me to look into the transport issue. “We’ve been trying really hard at home for the last few years to reduce our energy consumption, watching the energy meters, doing all the sums, and the big sticking point that we just can’t get on top of is transport,” she says. “Like everyone else, we have our own reasons why we can’t use it – frequency, cost, access, time, but sometimes I wonder if we’re not just making excuses.” She also said she’d heard somebody say recently that “buses were for losers”, but is the unsexy reputation of the bus really the problem? I wonder if it’s the sheer cost and reliability of public transport. Cycling is safer in some areas than others, but few things can beat the car for convenience – unless you’re travelling in central London – and not all areas of the UK have reliable public transport links. Got any good suggestions? Get in touch.

5. Who cares, anyway?

There are also people out there, and who have commented on the blog, who don’t believe climate change exists or that if it does, it’s not caused by us. Everybody is entitled to their opinion – it’s not one that I hold. But even if you are sceptical about climate change and its causes, surely it still makes sense to save cold harsh cash on your water and heating bills?

Thanks for all your comments and keep them coming. Got any other points, suggestions or ideas about how to make it easier/cheaper to go green? Leave a comment or email me through the blog. Thanks, Piper.

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7 Responses to It’s not easy going green: your thoughts and comments

  1. Rebekah says:

    I\’m not really interested in going into whether major climate changes are caused by us (massive,complicated subject) or not but wanted to suggest that perhaps what we should be promoting more strongly, is sustainability. Making the most of and recycling what we already have and making an effort to conserve energy and valuable resources is something we should all be doing, climate change or not. I feel that climate change has become too much of a political agenda and is leading to confusion and to be honest a bit of disinterest from a lot of people I know. If we could get people to think about what being frugal/green and living sustainably will do for them day to day (eg. watching energy consumption/growing your own veg saves you money) they would perhaps be more interested. Most people can\’t afford to put up solar panels and mini wind farms so if we can promote simple, sustainable living and provide the support needed to achieve this, then we will be going a long way to sorting out the publics side of the bargain when it comes to climate change; it is then up to the government – as it is now, to make the major commitments that will move us to where we need to be (climate change or not!).

  2. Bill says:

    The council are currently wasting £8,500,000 of state cash on refurbing 100 flats. There is no green energy in that, & no recycling either. I provide my own green light bulbs, & take my own garbage to Tesco car park, every time I do a large shop. My neighbours do not have the necessary wheels, or simply have no care or interest, they simply bin it all down the chute.I do admit, the nearest recycling is Tesco, 3 miles away. I "flush" all my "wet" (bio/organic) kitchen garbage, on a daily basis, 10 floors up.I do not buy much cleaning kit, & only the cheapest. I also look at the temp. label, hoping to do all my cleaning/laundry at 30C, or less, as I have a serious hot water problem. For personnel hygiene, shaving etc., I only use the cheapest showergel.I refuse to use the central heating, & have only 1 portable 1.2kw halogen heater, which is not in use more than 3 hrs/day. I have not used the central heating for at least 10 years, as it is not only extreme dirty in use, but also extreme expensive, & so wasteful. The council will not fit electric hot air, green air or charcoal filters. They also refuse to fit electro-magnetic or charcoal water filters, which would all improve the living standard, & also save \’leccy.

  3. Gabrielle says:

    Congrats again, you are and will be a brilliant Green Voice. Children and teenagers are telling me (through my role at children\’s newspaper First News) that they\’re feeling jaded by green issues and feel like doing their bit at home – recycling, switching off electrics and tap etc – doesn\’t make a difference and if no-one else is doing it what\’s the point? I know not all kids feel like that but it\’s a bit worrying that even a few do! Do you have info/stats/concrete evidence on how everyone doing their little bit really does add up to a big difference? We need to inspire the youth!

  4. Bill says:

    Considering purchasing new green air conditioning for me wheels/mobile office/rolling hotel, plugs into fag lighter socket, @ less than £25 from Amazon. Cost of materials, labour, p&p etc., only pence. Big rip off, but still an exttremely viable clean air system, with no working parts, no refills etc., it could last a lifetime. Heres hoping.Similar household models, complete with noisy/greedy turbines are £50 – £250, + \’leccy.Hopefully it will bring an immediate improvement in my living standard, also that of any passengers. Reputed to be anti-viral/bacterial???Green Energy is possibly the "Duty Free", invisible stuff. If they could find it, they would certainly tax it!

  5. tina says:

    well. I did all the washing, crushing, boxing, recycling bit with my rubbish for three months. Then, I got stuck behind the rubbish lorry and guess what? they throw everything in together! Apparantley they don\’t have the facilities for sorted waste…. what does that mean? What is the point It\’s not just the children who are feeling frustrated here.

  6. Bill says:

    Tina:Check my previous post on here, 3 days ago. Been there, done that . . . & am left in a spin of confusion, despair, & rage.As seen on other blogs/postings, I have driven large 45t bin wagons, both solo & also with 1 man escort, for various contractors on "Trade Waste", also for Dudley Council, who were then charging £17.50/item extra (late 90\’s) as I collected only white goods, including fridges, in a standard 18t garbage crusher, straight to the expensive landfill.All trade waste also lands straight in the landfill, with no sorting whatever. It is only taxpayer\’s money!There simply appears to be no financial incentive for them to get it Right.Hotpoint Creda were throwing their 2nd hand (used) machines in a skip, for further transport, I know not where, although some were purchased direct from us (new) delivery drivers, by a young man with a double garage, who was renovating/breaking for spares, & selling the good condition, 1 careful owner, on through the small ads, in the local area.I was splitting £10/machine with my escort selling the machines, in any condition. I then made a further £5/machine, delivering the rectified used machines, in the evenings. The 2nd hand consumers were also enjoying a bargain. Our gaffer also thought it cheaper than tossing them in the skip.The politico\’s are playing both ends against the middle. By "selling" the Green message they are looking extremely good, but in reallity, they have no teeth, all wind & no trousers. Other side of coin, they do not give a monkey\’s, & much prefer spending the available loot on a knees up for the board of executive directors, rather than on the job in hand.10 or even 20 head take their spouse/concubine on "fact-finding" trips to the far side of globe, @ £20,000/head. That could run a top notch bin wagon, with crew, for at least 2 months (/head). They should also ban golf, at least on the firms time!Powergen were transporting all there "used" machines from Wallsall to Bristol Central Recycling on a daily basis. I believe it was simply an oversize dump/excuse. I did not see much recycling. I suspect many of those machines ended their days in Davy Jones\’, half way across the Atlantic. All at consumer\’s expense.Gone are the days of clean healthy paper, & used newspaper wrappings. They were not so generous. We had to "source" timber fruit packing cases, & old furniture, to heat the happy home on the "open" hearth. Sadly, such healthy/efficient/Green heating is no longer legal.

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