I first started cutting carbon a while back, after writing a paper at university really opened my eyes and motivated me to live sustainably. Fast forward a few years and here I am with a wife and 3 kids.
Now there's more than one footprint to think about! We're tackling this as a family, and we're always searching for new ways to cut carbon together. We aren’t extremists by any account, but I really do believe that individuals can make an impact by making simple changes day by day.
We’ve been using Dave Reay’s 'Climate Change Begins at Home’, a really entertaining read, to see what we can do.
Our 10:10 year saw little changes around the house. We’ve been using eco-friendly bulbs for 15 years – though we don’t use that as an excuse to leave them on! We’re generally energy conscious around the home, switching off when possible and keeping an eye out for devices left on standby. We check our energy monitor to see how much we're using.
We’ve taken advantage of new technology, kitting out the kitchen with a new energy efficient fridge last year. All the family are on laptops, as opposed to PCs, as they use less electricity. That’s not to say we don’t make the most of our older stuff though; I’ve used my wind up radio, a gift from my wife, for over 15 years now!
We’re lucky to live in a reasonably modern house with good insulation and double glazing, which means we can turn the thermostat down and still stay cozy. When it gets chilly in winter, we spark up the wood burner to keep us warm.
We really went for it reducing water waste, and knocked 20% off last year’s usage (and our bill)! We installed three butts for watering the garden, put bricks in the cisterns, made good use of a washing up bowl and tried to keep showers short.
Siphoning water from the bath into a water butt was very entertaining - so much so we did it four times last summer. The last time was a ridiculous effort involving my two daughters and I, a lot of running up and down stairs, a little swearing trying to get it going but quite a lot of laughter too (especially when we told Maddie to look down the hose to see what had blocked the flow and Catriona then removed her thumb from the other end!).
This fun exercise had a serious side, bringing home how much water we actually use; it’s quite a surprise to see how many litres even a shower produces.
My wife and I used to drive like maniacs, but now we try to “crank up your favourite tune on the radio, relax and slow down!”
Having read about low carbon living, we’re wiser to the volume of emissions from driving and flying, but also more aware of alternatives like lift sharing. Living in a village a car is necessary, but for shorter journeys we hop on a bike. My wife and I used to drive like maniacs, but we’ve really taken Dave Reay’s advice to heart – “crank up your favourite tune on the radio, relax and slow down!”
We’re spending less on fuel and I keep the pressure in my tyres up much more than I used to too. Camping has become part of our lives now, which is a great laugh – we are off to France for 10 days this summer, with a couple of nights in a hotel at the end for a treat.
We haven’t got a big garden, but it turns out you don’t need one to grow your own veg!
We haven’t got a big garden, but it turns out you don’t need one to grow your own veg! In the summer we don’t have to buy salad or beans- if you give it a go, you’ll be amazed how much you can do with a small space.
The rest of the year we buy local and seasonal. My wife’s green fingers in the garden tie in nicely with our recycling as well; now that we compost there’s less in the bin and the plants love it too.
So what next? We’ve spent quite some time looking for a house to fix up in an eco-friendly way, and we may finally have found the right one for us. If we get our 'project home' we’ll tweak the design to include better insulation, woodburners, underfloor heating, solar panels, and anything else to shrink our footprint.
Essentially, we’re a pretty typical family trying to do our bit. I really believe that people can do a lot without it changing their quality of life, have a lot of fun with it and save money too!