Green Tips from Transition Keyworth

The Abundance Project – an update!

The Abundance Project is going from strength to strength! We now have regular picking slots on a Friday afternoon and evening, and we aim to be in the Square every Saturday morning until the end of October. Our last couple of Saturdays have been an absolute joy – people have been bringing produce to swap – and we have been able to give away plums, peaches (yes, honestly, grown right here in Keyworth!), damsons, marrows, grapes, apples, jam and chutney. We are really enjoying the chance to meet you all, and have a chat about the project and our plans for the future. We are still short of pickers, so if you are still waiting for us to contact you I must apologise – we are doing our very best! Also, if you have surplus fruit which you are able to pick yourself and bring along to the Square on a Saturday morning, we will be happy to distribute it.

Co-ordinating Abundance has really got me thinking about our community here in Keyworth – we are so lucky to live in a village which has so many beautiful and productive gardens, and I think it is really important that we value the fact that we can produce so much food just outside our own back doors. As climate change really starts to take hold, and we face the threat of global fuel shortages, it will become increasingly important for our communities to become resilient and self-sufficient in food – and the food we can produce in our own back gardens will become crucial.

Finally, I must mention our Apple Day which will take place at the Farmers Market on Saturday 16th October. We will have a traditional apple press, and would love you all to being along your apples (eaters only) for juicing, plus a container to take away some lovely fresh apple juice. We will have lots of delicious apple dishes to try, and recipes to take away so that you can make really good use of all those cooking apples!


For information about Abundance please call Rachel on 07754157595 – or come along and see us on a Saturday morning!

How to stop eating the planet

Eat-the-world

Today we tend to take food for granted because it is cheap and plentiful. But our food industry is in turn based on cheap oil and as oil supplies peak and oil prices rise the cost of food will rise significantly.

It is also easy to overlook the major environmental impacts our personal food choices can have. We are constantly reminded to use low energy light bulbs, drive less, turn the heating down etc but your carbon and environmental footprint is just as dependent on what and how you eat.

If the target of us each reducing our personal CO2 output by 50% in the next ten years seems daunting it is reassuring to know that we can make real inroads just by changing some of our food habits. So, we can help the environment and our purse!

This is a huge subject so we can only give a few examples here. There is a lot more information available if you look on the internet or see the information sources we have attached.

Eat Less Prepared Frozen Food

While prepared food is a convenient way to make a meal, it requires a great deal of energy to keep frozen in transport and storage, not to mention the waste produced by the packaging.

The supermarkets’ open top freezers are great for displaying food, but tremendously inefficient at keeping food cool.

Shop for Local Food

Have you ever noticed how far some of the food travels from to reach your shop? In fact the average UK supermarket trolley of food has travelled over 3000 miles. Every carrot calorie from South Africa uses 66 calories in fuel. And while sub-Saharan Africa is suffering droughts, every string of beans in the packet on your supermarket shelf has used 4 litres of water to produce.

Buying locally produced foods not only helps the environment, it also helps the local economy and provides you with fresher food that often has more nutrients.

Grow Your Own Food

You can reduce transport, artificial fertilisers and pesticides by growing your own. It can be as simple as growing tomatoes in a planter or as extensive as producing all your food needs for the growing season and beyond. If you haven’t gardened before, there are a number of people in Keyworth who would be glad to help. As you get more experience, you can expand what you grow.

Purchase Organic Food

Organic food is produced using natural methods of farming. This much less dependent on fossil fuels than many modern farms which rely on artificial fertilizers that are nitrogen based, which use considerable amounts of fossil fuel.

Eat Seasonal Food

There is nothing better than eating food that is in season (and locally sourced). The short time from-field-to-plate provides wonderful flavours that can’t be beat by off-season fruits and vegetables. Remember that supplying food out of season means transporting them long distances, or using large amounts of energy to produce artificial heat and light.

Eat Less Meat

According the UN the livestock sector is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a higher share than transport (13.5%).  So cutting down on animal products could be the biggest single thing you could do to reach your carbon target. Vegetarian and vegan meals tend to be more healthy, no more difficult to prepare than ‘animal-based’ meals and these days there are many recipe books and products available to make it easy.

Eat Less Rice

Rice is another large source of methane, which is 20 times more powerful than Carbon Dioxide as a Greenhouse Gas. In fact, it makes up about 20 percent of methane produced from human activities.

Drink Water from the Tap

Now given that tap water in Keyworth can taste like it comes from the swimming pool, bottled water can be tempting. But remember water is heavy so transporting bottled water is hugely damaging and wasteful of oil. The ‘use-once’ plastic bottles are also wasteful even if recycled. And if you wonder why there is a ‘use by’ date it is because after time certain chemicals (biosphenel A) used in the manufacture of the bottles leach into the water. These chemicals have serious health effects and there have been calls to ban them. Save the money and invest in a simple water filter.

Cook to save energy

Cooking is a major energy-use in the average home. A lot of the energy we use in cooking can be saved, which with current gas and electricity prices can help our pocket as well as the planet.

Top tips for low-energy cooking:

  • Gas is always far more efficient than electricity, so choose a gas-cooker if you can, but make sure you get a cooker hood, as this makes sure the combustion gases don’t build up in the kitchen.
  • Defrost by putting the item in the fridge the night before, rather than always using the microwave. This also makes your fridge use less energy!
  • Only boil as much water as you need at a time. Keep any extra in a thermos.
  • Always put a lid on your pan and make sure it is larger than the ring you are cooking on. If gas flames come up the side of the pan or you can see the heated ring at the sides of the base of the pan, you are wasting heat.
  • Steam rather than boiling – you loose less nutrients in the water this way as well, and the food tastes better.
  • If using the oven, use it for batches of food, rather than single meals (freeze any left-overs), and try turning the oven off 5 or 10 minutes before. Also, avoid large cakes if you can divide the mixture into fairy-cake or muffin pans. These cook in half to a third of the time.
  • If you have a pressure-cooker, use it!
  • Try cooking for less time, then turning off the heat and leaving the food to cook with the remaining heat. Boiling for half the cooking time works well for boiled eggs and rice (if you must eat it!). For pasta, bring the water back to the boil once the pasta is in, and boil for 2 minutes. Then (making sure the lid is on), leave for the remaining cooking time.
  • Create a modern “hay box”. Before slow-cookers, this is what people used. Now we can make our own no-energy slow-cookers for free….

Choose a cardboard box that fits a lidded pan you use often for soups or stews.

Line the inside with foil and put a heat-resistant mat in the bottom.

Get another card-board box which is about 4 inches / 10cm larger than the first one. Line the bottom and sides of this with shredded paper / polystyrene / cardboard or anything else insulating. Put the smaller box into the larger one. Heat up food and boil for at least 10 minutes. Then put the pan into the smaller box, surround it with shredded paper and shut the lid. Add some more insulation, then shut the larger box. Leave for several hours.

Have a ‘greener’ Christmas.

cartoon_christmas_treeWhy not think about making your own Christmas cake, pudding, mince pies or stuffing? It’s often cheaper (my home-made stuffing recipe simply uses stale breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and egg) – and it means that where possible you can use ethically produced ingredients, such as fair trade dried fruit. Similarly, try to source your turkey and other Christmas meat from a local butcher, and get your veg from a market or one of the several vegetable box delivery schemes operating locally. It won’t all come in plastic wrapping, and the carrots might be muddy, but they will taste fantastic!

If you want to avoid dealing with acres of wasted wrapping paper on Christmas morning, there are quite a few things you can do. If you are creative, you could make reusable fabric gift bags to put presents in, it’s even simpler to use a pillowcase – look for fancy ones in charity shops. Or just use plain brown paper, or even newspaper, decorated with pine cones, sweets or ribbons.  Whatever paper you decide to use, please make sure it goes into the blue recycling bin, or is saved to be re-used another time!

It is also possible to be creative with gifts. Many people will appreciate something that you have taken the time and trouble to make yourself – or what about a book of ‘vouchers’ offering babysitting, ironing or whatever your particular skills might be? Presents do not have to be expensive, over-packaged, made of plastic or even new!

More present ideas – Send a Cow vouchers and other similar schemes from Oxfam and other charities are a great way of making a donation to charity and a nice, light-weight solution if you want to send a present abroad. Another solution for overseas gifts is to use the Internet to find suppliers close to where your friend or relatives lives who will deliver. It’s usually cheaper than sending things by air-mail and reduces the need for flying presents back and forth.

What about organising a massage, beauty treatment  or sport-experience? These are all available in and around Keyworth, so you can support local businesses at the same time as giving someone a treat.

Over the last few years I have managed to save money, trees and time by gradually reducing the number of Christmas cards I send from well over 100 to around 30. I’ve done this by making a donation to charity rather than sending cards to people at work, by putting a big sign in my front window sending greetings to all my neighbours instead of sending them cards individually, and by using email and ‘E- greetings cards’ for many of my friends who live further away.

If you are looking to get new fairy lights, look for LED ones. These use much less electricity, are much safer, and much more reliable, so you won’t have to spend half of Christmas under the stairs looking for spare bulbs.

With the Christmas tree, look for a locally grown one – it will definitely be fresher,  as it will be cut later than the supermarket ones, so the needles are more likely to stay on, and it won’t have been trucked from one end of the country to the other to get to you. Some people look for trees with roots. This is a good idea if you have somewhere to plant it afterwards, but only if you have a nice cool place to keep it.

A tree that has sat by the radiator for the whole of Christmas is unlikely to survive whether it has roots or not.

If you decide on an artificial tree, go for a good quality one that will last you for a long time, and won’t look like a bunch of green loo-brushes when you get it out next year. And if you do decide to replace it, put the old one on Freecycle instead of binning it. Someone will be happy to give it a new home. Freecycle is also a good way of passing on unwanted gifts!

Christmas is a magical time, but it does not need to be all about expensive gifts. Make it a time for slowing down, doing some proper cooking, enjoying time spent with friends and family – and maybe this year it will be relaxing and fun, rather than stressful and exhausting!

Transition Keyworth would like to wish everyone in our community a very peaceful, joyful and planet-friendly Christmas!

snowman-funeral

Green tips and the 10/10 campaign

Welcome to the first in a series of articles from Transition Keyworth in which we aim to tell you about simple things you can do at home which will really make a difference. This month we are hoping that everyone in the village will sign up to the 10/10 Campaign.

The plan is simple: we work together to cut our carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. This will not only save energy, it will save you money too!

In order to make it easy for you to cut your emissions by 10%, we have come up with the following 10 simple steps

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  1. Make sure that all of the light bulbs in your house are low energy.
  2. Turn off lights in rooms you are not using
  3. Wait until your dishwasher and washing machine are full before you run them- and try using a lower temperature.
  4. Instead of drying everything in the tumble dryer, wait for a dry day and peg your washing outside! It will be softer and will smell gorgeous!
  5. Never leave any appliance on standby.
  6. Make sure that your house is insulated to current standards. You may even be able to get a grant towards this – the Energy Saving Trust will be able to advise you.
  7. Turn down your heating thermostat by just 1 degree, and you will save between 5 – 10 % on your heating bill.
  8. In winter, use thick lined curtains at all windows, and close them at dusk.
  9. If you need to buy new electrical appliances, check the energy ratings –AAA rated goods will save you money as well as helping combat global warming!
  10. Consider joining together with your neighbours or work colleagues to buy an energy monitor. These ingenious, simple to use devices will quickly show you exactly where you are using most electricity around the house.

For more information see

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

http://www.1010uk.org/