Archive for climate change

And then there were lights

Spot the difference:

Spot the difference

Spot the difference

OK yes, in one picture only 2 lights are on, and there’s definitely a different hue. But the real point is I’ve just put in energy efficient lightbulbs.

Really it should be step one on any green-minded person’s to-do list. But some how this one slipped down the list; and I really only have British Gas to thank for sending four free ones in the post.

They reckon it could shave 15% off my bills.

I have to say though the difference in colours much more pleasant too!

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Bikes v Cars (literally)

So I’ve been cycling to work every day for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been really lucky with the weather so far – cool but not too breezy, and most importantly dry.

Wednesday it bucketed it down, and I got soaked before I’d even reached my office. Is that a nice start to a long day?

Well, I’m going to fight the urge to become a fairweather cyclist.

Meanwhile, the other challenge is negotiating Hull’s busy streets. Lots of cycle lanes but there are still some busy lanes to cross. Then I was sent something from the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

It’s advice for both drivers and cyclists – maybe it’ll help us all get along better:

Motorists and cyclists: share the road

With motoring costs ever increasing, there has been a tremendous growth in the number of cyclists.

Getting back on to a bike after ten years or so can be a nerve racking experience. The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) offers these handy ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for anyone dusting off their old bike and also for motorists, who must share the road with the growing number of cyclists of all abilities.

Car drivers….

DO overtake with care, not too close and not too fast.  Whizzing past cyclists within a foot of their handlebars may feel perfectly safe, but it doesn’t for the cyclist

DO leave cyclists enough ‘wobble room’ when passing them – cyclists may have to move out slightly to negotiate drains, potholes, smashed glass and other debris.  They don’t want to be squeezed into the gutter

DO check the door mirror and the blind spot before opening the driver’s door after parking to avoid knocking down a cyclist

DON’T sound the horn when near them

DON’T cut up a cyclist passing on the nearside when turning left, and don’t overtake then turn left across their front wheel

DON’T drive into the ‘advanced stop area’ for cyclists at lights: it is against the Highway Code

Cyclists….

DO establish eye contact (in a non-aggressive way) with drivers emerging from junctions, particularly if they are turning right

DO position the bike to avoid being knocked off if a parked car door swings open

DO stop at red lights – this is a major irritation for drivers who see the law being flouted

DO undertake some cycle skill training, some employers offer this as a staff benefit

DON’T forget to check the bike lights, spare batteries and wear a good high visibility jacket/vest.  See and be seen

DON’T abuse the zebra crossing.  When riding along the nearside of the carriageway, do not swing onto the zebra to cross the road: drivers won’t be expecting that, and the risk of being hit is greater

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Check out my box

Fruit n veg

Fruit n veg

That’s right, it’s one of those organic fruit and veg boxes no-less; the ones that get delivered straight to your door.

After all, one of the points on the manifesto was to eat locally produced food and organic where possible. So this solves two of those problems. They were delivered to my door by the Arthur Street Trading Company who cover the Hull and East Yorkshire area.

I can pay by direct debit each week, and cut out the hassle of going to the shops.

I was inspired to find one while reading an excellent “chapter” on green food, on the Otesha Project‘s website, part of a book they’re writing on ethical living.

Organic box schemes run all over the UK – find your local one here.

There is a catch though: £12 for the above box: is the price sustainable?

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Time to hit the road…

I wrote a few weeks ago how, through the wonder of Freecycle, I had got myself a 2nd hand bike-absolutely free.

Well, now it’s time to use it. The delay? I needed to get hold of new lights, a helmet and chain to make it road worthy, but I’ve now tested it out, and from tomorrow, I will be a commuting cyclist!

It’s going to cut my carbon emissions down significantly as my car does many miles a week.

But, unlike what I wrote last month, it doesn’t look like it’ll save me much money. I’m keeping the car for the occassional long journey to see family and friends. That means it needs to be taxed (£66 for 6 months) and insured (£42 a month).

Can’t win ’em all eh, but at least it keeps me green!

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What to do with an old computer?

My laptop is five years old, and to be honest it’s crap. It’s got 20GB of memory which is filled up, and a ram so small it struggles to load MS Word sometimes.

So the plan is to get rid of it soon and buy a new bigger better faster one.

But here’s something I’m now determined not to do – to see it head into the system which allows stuff like this to happen:

I used to live in Ghana and it’s a beautiful country – things like this shouldn’t be allowed.

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A good way to encourage recycling?

How do you get people to recycle more?

I’ve lived in a few different parts of Britain over the last few years. Each council treats recycling differently.

In Warwick, it was – after a shambolic introduction – somewhat of a Nazi affair: up to six different bins for each item. Grey bins couldn’t be overfilled, each red box had to have different contents they had to be sorted neatly or they would be left by the side of the road.

In Stratford, also in Warwickshire, it was very similar; they had a bit more of a user friendly system in place.

Now I’m in Hull, and there’s not nearly as much faffing around. Two boxes…one for paper, one for everything else. Quite easy. But the council are doing other things to make sure we keep up the good work – like texting people to remind them to put their boxes out:

“Up to 6000 residents have already subscribed to the council’s text reminder service for the blue recycling bins. The evening before the blue bin collection, the council texts those residents to remind them to take their bins to the kerb. The success of the text service prompted the council to launch its email service.” (council press release)
Simple idea – but makes a big difference. More of this please!

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From four wheels to two wheels…

“When I see a person on a bicycle, it gives me hope for the human race” (H.G. Wells)

This week I’m saying goodbye to this….

My beautiful (but polluting and expensive) Nissan Micra

My beautiful (but polluting and expensive) Nissan Micra

…and hello to this!

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My new "duel suspension" mountain bike!

Yes, it was one of my first aims on my “Green Manifesto” last week, and I’ve wasted no time in getting this one sorted.

In his inspiring book “365 Ways to Change the World” the author Michael Norton talks about all the benefits of taking to the saddle, including saving petrol, not giving your hard earned cash to evil oil companies…and flying through rush hour traffic.

Instead of driving the 1.5 miles to walk, from next week I’m going to cycle it instead, reducing one of my major carbon emissions down to zero.

And environmental benefits aside, this is a massive money saver. My car currently costs £40 a month, just in tax and insurance and another £60 a month on petrol.

I acquired the bike off the website Freecycle – a phenomenon I discovered about 2 years ago, which is steadily becoming more popular. It’s management system – through Yahoo Groups – is cumbersome though, and I think it would benefit from a Gumtree type design.

But still, it got the job done. I posted a message a week ago saying “WANTED: men’s bicycle”. And within days someone contacted me. I didn’t pay a penny for this bike and it’s in excellent condition.

Now to buy a helmet and revise my Highway Code……..

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