Elizabeth Rimmer over at Burned Thumb at Luchair
did a really interesting interview the other day, and it turns out that by taking the time to answer the questions, you can also donate money to an environmental charity of your choice. What a good idea! I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth's answers
and was having a challenging time thinking of what my own answers would be, when I realised that in fact, I could join in. So, here goes:Turning the heating down by just one degree in your house saves 240kg of CO2 a year. It would take eight trees to soak up this amount of CO2! Are you currently doing anything to make your home eco-friendly?j
Lucky us, living in the south of France! In late spring, summer and early autumn, we don't have to heat the house at all, and the house is designed to keep (fairly) cool in summer. So, we flake out during a heat wave, but it's not too often and at least we don't use air conditioning. Now, back to heating - we have a wood fire which can be closed down to act like a stove, sending heat around the house. Not perfect - in the cold weather we pile on jumpers and sit under blankets in the evening. In really cold weather we turn on an oil-burning stove too.
Last year I could get organic fuel for the stove locally, but this winter we resorted to burning fossil fuels. So, we're lucky, and we're doing something but we're not perfect yet.
Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface, now they only cover 2%. How are you reducing your use of paper?
The French tax system has just (yesterday) offered us the chance to go paperless - a lot of our bills can come online now rather than in the snail mail. We're able to save the records and back them up on the computer, so this is a new way we've started reducing our use of paper.
At PriceMinister we believe that trading second hand items online is a great way to extend the life span of products. Have you ever thought of buying or selling second hand items on or off line?j
Oh, have I ever? I think it was this question, on which I win Brownie Points (or Greenie Points) that inspired me to answer this challenge! I love buying second hand, and the internet is often a good place to start. For us, finding English books in France isn't easy, and we buy a lot of books second hand from Amazon and their second hand traders. The books are often as good as new, and others give me a chance to read something out of print. I do tend to buy my French vintage stuff locally though, as I don't want to pay either postage or ebay prices.
One of the biggest environmental challenges we face is Freshwater Shortages. Are you taking measures to reduce your water consumption?
mentioned in April how expensive water is in France. To be honest, the fact that we're metered and pay for everything we use is a great incentive to reduce consumption. We're thoughtful and care for the environment, but I guess we care for our money even more! So up until last year we had two water butts to save rainwater for the garden. In an average French summer these empty very quickly indeed, so Ben spent over a year (on and off) digging a huge hole at the back of the garden.
This he has built up around the sides, lined, and lidded. Water now feeds off our roof into the two water butts and then on into the new cistern. It should hold enough water to irrigate our veg, flowers and trees for six weeks without summer rain. It nearly emptied in the April/May drought, but since then we've had tons of welcome rain - hurray! And you may notice we don't water our lawn. Only people with wells do that around here. The rest of us search for lawn alternatives (gravel, paving etc) or just put up with dead grass for five months of the year.
How do you choose the produce that goes into your shopping basket? (any favorite products?)
I buy with three main criteria. No, four, or five... Oh whatever... In no particular order my criteria are: cheap, local, seasonal, ethical, healthy. It's hard to buy ethical and cheap, but otherwise the criteria match each other quite well!
Favourite products: Alter Eco fair trade chocolate. Local supermarket bread - really nice, because this is France!j
What is your favourite green space near home? (a photo would be great!)
This photo is by Son 2.
The Couleé Verte
, where Ben jogs every morning, Son 1 walks the dog most afternoons, and the whole family mooches round wildlife-watching on a regular basis.
The name means something like 'Green Corridor' and the idea is that undeveloped land around the streams and rivers of our area forms a series of linked green spaces for the benefit of communities and nature alike. I think it works.
Which charity would you like to support and why?
I'd like to support the Young People's Trust for the Environment
, which is "a charity which aims to encourage young people's understanding of the environment and the need for sustainability".
The reason I chose this one is because as a teacher and as a mum I've seen how interested and concerned children and teenagers can be in the environment. In addition to their natural interest and sense of justice, they are also concerned because they will inherit the world as we leave it to them!
If you'd like to answer these questions on your blog, Price Minister will donate £10 to whichever of their nominated chairities you choose. It's well worth it - why not give it a go?