Monday, 28 December 2009

New Year's resolutions! Resolution 1: Renewable energy, as much as possible

I’ve taken over the baton from Mark, with an awesome interlude from Erik – I can’t hope to achieve his standards of excellence in sustainable living.

Hats off to you, Erik!

Instead, I’ll try to set some festive targets for myself for the coming year. They are interwoven; you can’t separate them out neatly. They deal with hard numbers (eg how much energy consumed in units of therms) intertwined with an attitude to life that is changing in line with challenging times.

I’ve got through Christmas, a time of huge stress for lots of people for all sorts of reasons. For me, it’s a joyful occasion. I never miss midnight mass at our wonderful cathedral, then scamper home to fill stockings for children and grandchildren before putting a Christmas feast on the table. It wouldn’t matter if the stockings contained nothing more than a tangerine and a few sweets and if the feast was merely bread and cheese – what’s important is the celebration together. This year, a new baby boy has arrived safely in my extended family after a difficult birth –time for more celebrations. Neighbours too – this is a time to wish each other good wishes.

And after the feast, time to take stock and decide what I need to do differently – or better – in the coming year. Resolutions!

My first resolution is to use renewable energy as much as possible and to consume energy responsibly. No overheated furnaces here!

I’ve made good progress this year, encouraged by fellow-Transitioners. I’ve cut my gas consumption by half, while dressing like a womble at home. Electricity consumption is modest and has remained stable since switching to working a lot more from home; although I use more electricity because I am at home, I have also managed to cut it back by switching things off promptly. I’ve become much more interested in harnessing free energy from the sun in drying laundry in winter (very handy, having windows in a south-facing house). And I’ve decided to invest in a woodburner. I’m planting some hornbeam, which I’m told is perfect for coppicing, on my guerrilla garden, where today I tidied up my neighbours’ massive prunings of various overgrown shrubs.

My picture today is of Lion Wood. It's about five minutes walk from where I live and I discovered it by chance when walking (instead of driving) to see a business advisor. It's all that remains of an ancient wood mentioned in the Domesday Book and probably much older than that. While I was there I saw and heard all sorts of birds and watched the antics of a family of squirrels, not as much as a mile from the city centre. There's a lot of wood to be harvested here! Seriously, though, we have have forgotten a lot of the ecologically sound ways of the past. We have lots to re-learn.

Next, I’ll look at food, then transport. These are the ‘big ticket’ items for most of us, in terms of our impact and what we spend on our fragile planet.

Pic: Lion Wood, December 2009

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