It’s not easy being green. At least not according to that classic Muppets song. However, that isn’t necessarily true. Admittedly being green can be difficult, or at least daunting and potentially expensive. The thing is, it really doesn’t have to be. Especially not if one is realistic about what can be achieved by one person or family.
Small steps to being green
You see, we don’t need to try and do all of it ourselves, but we can all do a bit. Those bits soon mount up to a lot. The more people join together and do their bit, then the more will be done overall. It also quickly becomes second nature, so it stops feeling like an extra effort very quickly. And while the rewards may not be instant, it is amazing how soon the differences can be noticed.
There are also so many ways to be at least a little bit greener without making our lives more difficult. Indeed once the “new” habit(s) become second-nature it can often be astonishing how much easier doing the right thing for the planet actually makes our lives. Win win!
Some things may not be possible at all. Each of us has to weigh up the individual factors in our lives to work out what we can or can’t do. There are many practical reasons why, for example, using a car rather than public transport, or walking, may be the only choice. We certainly shouldn’t feel bad about this. What is impractical cannot necessarily be changed.
Single use plastics
However, other aspects of living a greener life just take a little thought. By now many of us will be aware of the efforts being made to reduce the reliance on single use plastics. Many of us carry shopping bags with us, in the car or in a pocket. After all, who wants to pay extra for a plastic carrier bag that may not even last the journey home? And the benefit to the planet of not having all this extra waste is huge. All for a slight potential inconvenience to us as individuals. Is that a price we should worry about? Not in my opinion.
Big ticket eco-friendly items
Some people get very hung up on the big things like solar panels or air source or ground source heat pumps. In an ideal world we’d all be able to use these quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively. I am sure that in time we will be able to, just as we will all eventually be able to afford vehicles that don’t rely on petrol. But we’re not there yet.
As an example, here at Byther Farm we had to get a new heating system installed not long after we moved in. We investigated air source and ground source heat pump options. Even with the incentives offered, these were beyond our available budget. We went with what we could afford – an oil-based heating system which is compatible with retro-fitting an air or ground source heat pump as a replacement, in time.
I would have loved for us to immediately do the greenest thing. Our budget didn’t allow for this at that point, but having the option to change things in the future without major upheaval is a compromise we were willing to make.
That will doubtless be the case with other aspects of life here. In other areas, though, it is quick and easy to do the green thing. For instance we only ever use peat-free compost – that is when we have to buy any in. At the start of the new farm we have had to do this, until our own home-grown compost is ready to use. This will, of course, also be peat-free.
When selecting new power tools for the farm I opted to go down the battery-powered route. I understand and appreciate the arguments about using electricity to charge batteries – it is not necessarily the greenest fuel source. That does depend, a little, on what the energy supply company’s fuel sources are. Our supplier claims to be using mostly renewable energy, which is at least something.
I also acknowledge that the production of the batteries themselves involves some processes that are detrimental to the environment. Again it is a question of compromise and at least doing something to help. Not having to use, or store, quantities of petrol to be able to trim hedges or deal with weeds or logs is a good thing in my opinion. It also increases safety on the farm by reducing the amount of flammable liquid we have here. Using any power tools on this site which require plugging in to the mains is simply not an option – we don’t have extension cables long enough!
Self care and earth care
From the perspective of taking care of our own bodies, too, the battery-powered tools have a real advantage. They are lighter and quieter, with less vibration. Not to mention the lack of fumes, which is a real environmental plus.
Naturally it would be moot if the tools weren’t up to the job. Some time ago battery-powered alternatives wouldn’t have cut the mustard. These days they are vastly improved, and these improvements will only grow over time. And as the technologies improve, the relative costs will also come down. This is already the case in the tool market and, even though still above our current budget, the world of the air source or ground source heat pump.
This article is just a snapshot look at how easy is being green – a few nuggets to spur further thought. There will be more detailed pieces on specific elements of how we try to live a greener life here at Byther Farm. We’ll be honest about the areas in which we are – at least currently – unable to do all we would like to as well. After all, none of us can do all of it. But we can all do our bit.
About the author
Mr J lives at Byther Farm and works off-site for part of the week. To find out more, read an introduction to Mr J here.