Saturday, January 06, 2007

Living Lightly - It's easier than you might think...

I'm coming up to the point of reviewing my carbon emissions for the year to see how I've done. I took the view that I had a year to take some action, to monitor and to see how I did, and then be able to see with hard evidence what my One Tonne Challenge would take.

When I created the challenge, I had one pre-booked item that was going to guarantee that I didn't succeed in my first year - a trip to Cuba. I might have considered cancelling if it weren't a trip arranged with a female friend who would not be going alone, so it was either me or someone in my place. Given the situation, I resolved to use the trip to inquire about what sustainable living means in a very different country. I certainly got that result.

So, you may ask "What has changed?"

The answer, is "a lot, but a little". I've made some notable changes, but my life seems to have hardly changed. The biggest change is probably that I'm excited about travelling over to the Alps by train.. enjoying the changing scenery, comfortable seats, and the freedom to walk around.. and with lunch in Paris, and an extra day skiing.

I was already on a 'green' electricity tariff, with nPower Juice, so you might think that there was nothing to be gained there. I decided not so. My experience in Cuba awakened me to the nature and power of multi-national companies. The corporate machine rarely cares for local people... it just cares for the bottom line for it's shareholders. That was true in Cuba prior to the revolution when the Cubans lost the ability to grow their own food and became dependent on trading sugar with the US, and it can be said to be true of any situation where we put things that are locally important in the hands of large corporates.

Anyhow. I decided to review the situation, and opted to switch to Good Energy, who specialise entirely in renewables. As E. F. Schumacher said "Small is Beautiful".

And.. it cost me. I lose the dual-fuel discount, as Good Energy, not surprisingly don't do gas, and it's very slightly more expensive (a lot less than a cappuccino a month!). Good reason to watch my energy usage.

You might think that I wouldn't need to watch my electricity usage, being on a renewable tariff, but I started thinking about that. It all comes from the same grid. If I cut down on my electricity usage, then the wind doesn't stop, nor do the tides. So, when someone on a green tariff cuts down, that doesn't reduce the amount of renewable electricity used. It reduces the amount of coal or gas that is burned! Seems mad.. but it's true.

So.. there's a start to what's happened since committing. More later.

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