Proud Co-Founder of Transition Town High Wycombe
Proud Member of the Low Carbon Chilterns Cooperative
Proud owner & retrofitter of Superhome 59
This website proud host of the High Wycombe Local Food Guide
5 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Respect, Recycle
The more we throw away the more we consume. Consumption draws in disposable consumer goods which all require Fossil Fuels in manufacture. Oil, Gas and Coal are so ubiquitous in our lives that we don't see how they are used in every piece of food we have ever eaten, every CD we have listened to, everyplace we have driven to, every person we have ever met - everything.
So everything you have ever bought came into your possession through fossil fuels being burnt and CO2 released. These products all have "embedded carbon" for this reason. If you just throw it away and replace it with something new then all that Carbon needs to be dug up and released all over again. Hence the less you use and the smaller your Carbon Footprint. The less you use the more Fossil Fuels for your children to enjoy. But if we only recycle then we may find our consumption increasing as we re-assure ourselves that we can always recycle. We must stop & think. Can we reduce consumption? Do we need tha new thing or repair the old? Can we just look after our things better? Read on...
Your Next Ten Steps
The Coming New Reality
Already across the UK Local Governments are cutting back on Rubbish Collection services. This is for two purposes - firstly the landfill sites are filling up quickly - secondly, this is causing costs to rise. In order to stop everyone's Taxes from rising our Councils have to cut back, they simply cannot find enough holes to bury everything in. For some reason this has become a Political hot potato. Candidates for local elections even stood for election on the principle that they would not allow any reduction in Rubbish Collection services. Here at Post-Carbon Living we say this is NOT a problem. If you need to have your Bin emptying EVERY week then you are doing something wrong. There is little or no reason why every green scrap can't be composted or every plastic bottle not recycled. All paper can be recycled as can all glass. So what is the problem? The average household can easily recycle over half of all waste. At the end of each week your bin should be a cavernous hole with plenty of space left.
So, what is the excuse? Normally "I can't be bothered". We have all seen the Bins overflowing haven't we? We see the households that don't put their recycling bins out. We know who you are. Soon there will be no where to hide. No excuses. Soon Councils will start charging offenders. Not recycling is not only socially unacceptable it is wrong and it will start to cost you dear. Good! It is wasteful and every perpetrator of unnecessary waste should be ashamed of themselves. The recyclers can stand proud. Be an example to your community, friends and neighbours. Recycling is simply a good habit. In Post-Carbon households it is simply inconceivable that any piece of recycling could ever end up in a bin. Most of us still have a long way to go. Some 'ultra-greenies' throw away a bin full only once every three or four MONTHS! That may be a bit extreme but these people have a seriously LOW Carbon Footprint and we can all learn new tricks from them.
So, go out there! Recycle. Be proud and create that new social 'norm'.
But it isn't that simple. Recycling is a good start but its contribution is trivial without all the other "5 Rs":
Reduce consumption - do we need this new stuff at all?
Reuse old things - get on EBay, Freecycle, Freegle, or go to a car boot sale or a good old fashioned jumble sale.
Repair something broken or worn - do you have the skills? Have we lost this ability. Go see our "Make Step".
Respect what you have. Look after your things better. Buy products of a higher quality that will last longer.
Recycle what you have when it is truly at the end of its life
It seems the entire World has gone mad against plastic bags. Sure they are ugly, mostly made of Oil, won't biodegrade, wasteful and deadly to marine life. However, their contribution to Climate Change is insignificant. On average we consume 134 Plastic Bags a year. That is just 2kg of Carbon. Considering the average citizen in the UK is responsible for 11 tonnes of Carbon a year then your Plastic bag addiction contributes just one five thousandth of your total footprint.
Sure, stop using them, but get things in proportion. We would rather you stopped flying, used public transport and insulated your home.
- Stop consuming like it is going out of fashion
- Stop throwing things away if they can be recycled
- Reduce, reuse and recycle until you don't need your Bin emptying until every second week
- Set yourself this target and then pride yourself, each week, in reaching or exceeding this target
- Don't forget to compost all your green waste
- Fit one or more water butts to the down-pipes outside your home to recycle rainwater for cleaning the car or watering the garden
- Do NOT drive to the recycling center. Do this whilst making the trip for another reason.... And, please, switch the engine OFF whilst off-loading!
- Buy reusable rather than disposable items - particularly Nappies. Use reusable's for your nipper
Read this Book
"Twilight in the Desert - The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy" Matthew R. Simmons. The Saudis claim to have potential Oil reserves to meet global Oil Demand for between fifty to one-hundred years. Matthew believes this is wildly optimistic. They have been pumping many of their fields flat-out for years. This will deplete them artificially early. The Saudi's are pumping vast amounts of water into the fields to force the oil out. Saudi capacity is already falling according to Simmons.
We recycle like crazy in our house. Our big wheelie bin goes out every Sunday night for collection but is only 1/3 full. Our neighbours bins are full to over-flowing. Why? We could get our collected once every two or three weeks without problem. We also recycle rain water for garden and car washing. All green waste is composted. We get our paper bin collected once every two weeks. Bottle, tins & plastic once a week.