Sunday, 17 March 2019

Chateau L and the planet: Part II

So the last post was about preaching, this one is more preach-y. I didn't blog a lot in January, nor in February, but one of the posts was about a few changes the residents of a small castle in Wanstead are going to make in 2019. Part I can be found here and concerned energy. Shortly before that there was the whole vegetarian thing, which is still going strong into March. Here are some of the other things that occurred to us as we worked out what small changes could be made to our lifestyle.
  • Extend the vegetable patch! We're not going full-on The Good Life, but actually growing veg is a lot of fun, and as you know I am fairly green-fingered. We have a meagre vegetable patch that last year delivered a handful of meals. To be fair we didn’t really do very much, it was more of a kid’s project. This year we plan to treble it in size and actually tend to it diligently. The seeds were bought a month or so ago and and the first plants have germinated in the greenhouse already. This includes lots of tomatoes – per the BBC mass-grown tomatoes are one of the worst vegetables in terms of water usage per kg. I expect this to only make a meagre dent in the amount of food we have to buy, but it does mean we may be able to survive Brexit for a few days longer than our neighbours.
  • Composting. This is something we used to do but gave up on. We have started again and once again realised it takes no effort whatsoever. We have several large compost bins at the end of the garden which for a few years now have only had garden waste and grass clippings. It is amazing how quickly this mass reduces in size, and we can use the results for the enlarged vegetable patch, and to fill the pots for strawberries and tomatoes and so on. As a family of five we rarely even fill a 30L bin bag with non-recyclables each week, and this should now become even less. Versus some of the immense piles of rubbish I see on my street on collection days I feel pretty virtuous. Emptying it and carrying it down to the bottom of the garden is not the nicest of tasks, so this has been decreed to be one of my jobs, just like cleaning the toilets and taking out the rubbish.
  • Water. Our main bathroom with the bath in it is currently out of action until we can raise the money needed to renovate it. It has been like this for over a year actually, but we are coping admirably. It was the the turret work that really killed us but I think we are nearly there now, although it means more work and more mess. This means we all have showers which is much better for water usage than having a bath. Watering the garden and greenhouses is mostly accomplished using stored rain water, and we do a fair amount of actual washing up as opposed to using the dishwasher (which I think we use four times a week – too much I am sure but there are some luxuries I insist on). Where we can do better is with washing – one of my daughters frequently seems to wear three different sets of clothes a day, and with stupid things like not leaving the tap running whilst brushing our teeth. Basic stuff. I think we have a water meter somewhere so we may be able to see if this makes any difference.

So just a few more things that can easily be tweaked, not a lot of effort required. The big elephant in the room is of course my love of travel, particularly air travel. A tough one, and one I am doing really badly on with two long haul trips this year already. However I did just cancel one - I had planned to go to Boston and then had a change of heart and canned it. I checked and the plane took off regardless.... I'll return to this in another post, there is a lot to cover.

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