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:
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!
Mrs Green who runs the great Myzerowaste.com 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.
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.
|StumbleUpon||Technorati||Yahoo! My Web|