Rules to live by

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When your lines cross

This post is really for G.

G (obviously his first initial) is a stranger who probably won’t know I am writing this.  A random chat at the end of a random connection at the end of a phone about the phone.  Somehow, our conversation veered towards the environment and the slim ten years we have for damage limitation. G said he felt hopeless. “What can be done?” he said.

I feel this too.  The weight of “what can be done, how quickly, how much will be enough”. Finally the last question that always comes top trumps to others and leaves a lump in my throat, “Is it to late?” Sometime I feel hopeful, other days scared.  In truth aren’t we all feeling a little like this?

Leaves in sunlightWhat you do.

This isn’t a preachy post.  There is considerably larger infrastructures that require movement and change which will have far more impact than anything I do. I know that. And I can’t judge you for the choices you make, I am by no means perfect.  As I said, this post is for G, or for anyone who has feels that hopelessness.  I want you to know I am here standing with you, trying to make good choices.  I also want to put some ideas out there, spread the word things already happening which you might not know about which could be useful.   It is also an ask. If you have ideas or knowledge, share it with me, I want to learn too.

Ideas to share

Plant trees. At your desk.

Trees are our lungs and probably the single most important thing that can be done.  So far, so obvious but bare with me.  However, not everyone is lucky enough to have a space to plant a tree.  If you do, great.  If you don’t have you heard of Ecosia?  The search engine that plants trees for you.  So even if you don’t have access to a green space you can still plant a tree just by pressing search on the internet.  You can read all about how it works here.  I made it my default search engine.  I love watching that counter going and it is especially satisfying with a really inane search.

Warm up

I live without heating, other than a wood fired stove.  In the dead of winter, no matter how many thermal tops I wear (three is my record) I am so glad we have it.

Picture of a rocket mass heater
Picture credited to Steve & Claire Golemboski-Byrne

However, they are not the cleanest or the most sustainable energy even though we use waste wood and pieces we collect from the floor.  The future plan is a Rocket mass heater.  Incredibly, they are so efficient they release only water vapor, no smoke and are much more efficient – you can use sticks rather than logs.  They are also cheap(ish) to DIY, no more than a wood burning stove.  Best bit – one of these will keep your bum warm!  These aren’t going to be suitable for everyone but maybe for one or two of you it could be useful?  Click here to view this rocket mass heater being built.


Compost it

What about a compost loo?  We have had one for years.  It is our only loo.

I was reticent at first, it seemed to strange but now I think it is odd we use anything else.  And it is a brilliantly simple system, no chemicals, no water waste, all part of a perfect cycle. You can get indoor ones too.

Compost loo
Picture from

“Human faeces in the presence of oxygen naturally breaks down into pathogen-free compost – another reason why dumping it into water is a pretty silly idea. Urine, which is sterile on exit and full of nitrogen, is an excellent fertiliser straight out of the tube.”

Humanure is great compost and I promise it will grow your flowers beautifully.

What else am I doing?

In brief, no meat, which was far easier than I thought it might be.

No air travel, not until planes run on peanut oil at least, (interestingly cars were made to run on peanut oil originally so perhaps it isn’t as farfetched as it sounds).

We are lucky enough to be able to be off of mains so all our power comes from solar and we rainwater harvest, the same goes for my workshop too, again it isn’t a perfect system but the best we can do right now. 

Knowing that fast fashion is a massive polluter I have chosen not to buy new clothes this year with the caveat of undies and one pair of trousers from ethical sustainable independent businesses like Lucy &Yak.

I am also about to experiment with a few homemade recipes for laundry detergent starting with this one.  Funny to think we are so comfortable with using ingredients toxic to marine life, yet we are happy to put them against our skin or on our kitchen counters.

At the end

These are small things but part of a bigger picture, the things I know I can do, that and holding on to hope while we still have time to make a difference. 

Have you got rules to live by? Tell me about them. 

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