Virtual Water: An introduction to saving the water you can’t see

I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone knows by now that wasting water is a bad thing. In general, we know we should turn off the tap whilst brushing our teeth, only boil as much water as we need for a cup of tea, and take shorter showers in place of deep baths.

And whilst all of these things are important, they really are (steady yourselves for the upcoming predictable pun) just a drop in the ocean. Evidence suggests that we are approaching a global water crisis:

  • Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two thirds of that is locked away in glaciers and other inaccessible places.
  • At the current rate of consumption, two thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages by 2025.

Source: WWF: Water Scarcity

A global perspective

Earlier this year, there was one news story about the water crisis that really stood out. Cape Town in South Africa is in the midst of a drought, and the city was preparing for the apocalyptic-sounding ‘Day Zero’. This was to be the day the water supply to around one million homes was to be turned off. In its place, residents would have an individual daily allocation of just 25 litres (approx 6.6 gallons), available from water collection points around the city. Continue reading “Virtual Water: An introduction to saving the water you can’t see”

March Round Up

I need to start this month’s round up with an apology for what was essentially a Big Fat Lie. In February’s round-up, I said that spring was coming! In fact, it turned out to be the week before temperatures of -5C (23F), inches of snow, and biting winds even in our usually mild part of the UK, nicknamed by the press as ‘The Beast from the East‘. People were trapped in their cars for hours on end as roads closed, schools shut down and general chaos ensued. That is clearly not spring, is it?

So what better way to celebrate the coldest winter in the UK in 30 years than by going on holiday to even-colder Norway? No better way, as that’s where we went! Two days in beautiful Bergen, followed by four nights in a tiny log cabin on the island of Askøy overlooking a fjord in the North Sea (perfectly located for a cheeky but chilly dip), finished off with a visit to Norway’s first zero waste shop. Amazing, and deserving of a post of its own, coming up soon.

Reading

Holidays are a great time for catching up with reading, and spending some time with Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees whilst surrounded by pristine nature was perfect, although I do wonder if reading it in a cabin built from logs was entirely appropriate. It is beautifully written, and without too much sentimentality it ‘humanised’ trees as beings with social networks, who much like humans have the ability to suffer loss, make bad decisions, plan ahead, and look after each other. A brilliant combination of science, nature and wonder.

I’m going through a bit of a non-fiction renaissance at the moment, and next up is Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth. Nothing to do with actual doughnuts, but instead a rewrite of our ‘growth is good’ prevalent economic mindset, with Raworth setting out her proposal for building economies that balance social justice within environmental limits.

Eating

This month we have discovered the recipe to end all recipes…for broccoli. Broccoli? Slightly tasteless, hated by children, reluctantly finished off as the least-exciting part of a Sunday Roast, broccoli? Yes. It turns out if you roast it with some olive oil, chili flakes and lemon juice at 190C for 10-15 minutes, you can build up a two-giant-heads-a-week habit in no time at all. As a source of vitamin A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants, surely a recipe which means you’re literally sneaking snacks of it out the fridge as leftovers after eating it with lunch and dinner must be a good thing?

The recipe for this amazing stuff is available here, on Laura’s lovely blog, A Beautiful Plate. I save her suggested addition of cheese for special occasions, because as great as it is, I can’t really claim cheese as a health food.

Blogs

I’ve been offline more than online this month, but a couple of great websites to share nonethless:

Tammy Strobel’s blog, Rowdy Kittens has really helped me remember to celebrate the joy in simple things and daily mini-adventures.

I’ve been working through the archives of Mr Money Mustache, who somehow manages to make saving money sound like fun. Whilst I’m not sure how I can retire 30 years early yet, as Mr M himself has done (and then some), it’s definitely helping me see my spending and the bigger financial picture in a new light, and is more fun than cutting out 2-4-1 coupons.

 

So, now it seems like the last of winter is behind us, what have you been up to? Leave me a comment, or blog, book or article recommendation in the comments!

Compassion is still our currency

brighton-heart

It’s very easy to become disillusioned when you care a lot about the environment. The earth, and our fragile place on it, can feel very precarious at times. 2017 seems set to be a year that will test our resilience to its very maximum; most notably an incoming US president who doesn’t accept the clear, established science of climate change. He is depressingly accompanied by our own UK government who appear to see environmental protections as ‘red tape’ to be swept aside along with investment in renewable technologies, as it goes on a mission to alienate itself from its neighbours on the continent. Also in attendance is a shocking resurgence across large swathes of the Western world of a far-right ideology that sees compassion for the planet, and indeed other humans, as a weakness to be mocked and exploited. Continue reading “Compassion is still our currency”

What price happiness?

wardrobe
Definitely no magic land at the back of this wardrobe…

Over the last few years there has been a growing backlash against the rise of a culture based on hyper consumption. The movement towards buying and having less has grown as people have begun to realise that a. more stuff doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness, and b. that our planet doesn’t have the resources to sustain our growing levels of consumption.

There is a level of affluence and technical innovation that greatly increases our happiness and ability to lead full, productive lives – from a warm, safe home, access to food, clean water, healthcare, through to education, and access to freedom of ideas and time to discuss them with others. Continue reading “What price happiness?”

Plastic Free July: Some lessons learned

Last July, I meant to write a post each week on my attempts to be single-use plastic free for the month. But one week in, there was an emergency in my extended family, and July became a rush of sleepless nights, worried phone calls, hospital visits and many other things that seemed immediately more important than the packaging my dinner came in.

It’s hard to care about plastic packaging when you’re worried about the people around you, if they’re coping OK, if they’re eating OK. And when someone asks for blueberries and grapes to be brought to the hospital, the correct response is not “sorry, I can’t get those because they come wrapped in plastic.” It’s “yes of course.”

A year on, and things have settled down a lot. Life returns to something approaching normal. And when Plastic Free July arrived, Continue reading “Plastic Free July: Some lessons learned”

A tiny victory

As Eeyore might say, a useful pot.

A couple of Christmases ago, a friend bought me this tin. Not being known for someone who was an excessive shopper, I wasn’t overly enamoured of it at first. But then as life inevitably created receipts in my pockets, backpack, side table, everywhere, it made sense to use it for its intended purpose.

At first, it was just a small useful object that I cleared out when it was full and the receipts had expired past their usefulness, every couple of months or so. This morning, as it had reached its capacity, I figured it was time for another slightly dull shredding session.

But for once, it was actually rather nice.

I found: Continue reading “A tiny victory”

The very first post

After months of starting a blog in my head, it feels rather strange  to be actually typing real words on a real computer. Especially as they are words that other people will be able to see!

Whilst this post is just me dipping my toe in the blogging waters, I’m hoping to hit the ground running and am planning some posts on guides to zero-waste food shopping around London, my experiments in finding environmentally-friendly products to replace more mainstream products, and possibly some lovely places for outdoor swimming.

I’ll see you again soon, with some actual adventures to tell you about!