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Down to a size 7 Carbon Footprint


Since buying the diesel Clio (now named Valerie after my daughters French teacher!) I’ve been calculating the reduction in carbon emissions I’ve now made.

The Audi A4, built in 1995, produced 197grammes per kilometre of CO2

It also did 28 miles to the gallon, cost £190 in car tax and £430 in insurance, which equates to a total running cost per year (9,000 miles per year), including servicing etc, of £2,350

The Clio, built in 2001, produces 119 grammes per kilometre of CO2

It does 60 miles to the gallon, cost £50 in car tax and £230 in insurance, which equates to a total running cost per year (9,000 miles per year), including servicing etc, of £1,450

So I’ve reduced my carbon footprint by 40% and saved £900 per year!

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Reading ‘Living with a Carbon Budget’


Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and The University of Manchester have produced a report for Friends of the Earth and The Co-operative Bank, called ‘Living with a carbon budget’, which paints a rather bleak future for our world unless governments step in and take immediate action. The report states:

The Government has only four years to implement a major new programme of action to cut carbon emissions if the UK is to play its part in keeping global temperatures below danger levels

The report sets out a path to “a low carbon economy” to make sure the UK keeps it commitments to keep temperatures from rising 2C above pre-industrial levels  the critical level. It recommends that the UK needs to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 70% over the next 30 years.

The Independent neatly summarised what this path will mean:


* All cars must have a minimum fuel consumption of 45mpg and electric cars are common in towns

* Electricity and gas bills state how much carbon has been emitted

* Incandescent light bulbs are no longer on sale, replaced by high-efficiency bulbs


* Double-decker electric trains run on high-speed tracks across Europe with multiple direct routes, eg Manchester to Rome

* City centres are car free and there are 10 per cent fewer cars on the roads following a massive investment in new tram, bus and trolley bus infrastructure

* Renewable energy is a major force with large schemes such as the Swansea tidal lagoon and wind farms operating

* Rush hour is reduced by a large increase in flexible working

* All new housing will have “near-zero” demand for heating and cooling, provided by wind turbines and solar panels


* Hydrogen produces 25 per cent of all energy, including in the home with special fuel cells to provide heat and power

* A third of electricity is produced locally by communal boiler plants that burn gas

* Industrial production is based around hubs which allow “recycling” of energy resources between manufacturing processes

* Petrol stations have been replaced by multi-fuel stations offering hydrogen, electricity and bio-fuels

It would take a lot of balls for any government, yet alone the current one, to take such drastic steps to meet these proposed targets, yet what choice do they have? To upset the oil and car companies, along gas and electric companies, the majority of which aren’t owned by UK companies any more, is going to take a very, almost impossible, aggressive strategy and I don’t think any politician around today is up to that.

We can only hope we found someone soon…for the sake of our grandchildren.

Download the report here

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Making Jam – Part 3


Having successfully made my first lot of jam I was keen to label it up, being a graphic designer meant of course I would have to design my own! I’m a great fan of those 1950s fruit crate labels and so tracked down some inspiration. I’d taken a digital pic of a hastily arranged basket of apricots before I made the jam, so using the Watercolour filter in Photoshop I quickly turned it into an illustration before adding some period type, Underground font from P22 along with a really nice script font Liorah. Think I’ll use the design as a templte for all my other jams, just change the image each time.

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Visiting the Centre for Alternative Technology


The Centre for Alernative Technology is near Machynlleth and about 20 minutes from our campsite. It’s described as ‘Europe’s leading environmental display centre’. Built on the side of a slate tip its seven-acre display site demonstrates the power of wind, water and solar power and has examples of environmentally responsible buildings (built from straw bales and recycled materials), energy conservation, organic growing and composting (including a compost toilet!).

On arrival, you ascend 180ft via one of the steepest cliff railways in the world, with a gradient of 35-degrees – powered entirely by water. Two carriages linked together with a steel cable, so that when one carriage goes down the other is pulled up. When you go up or down water flows into a tank in the top carriage until it is heavy enough to pull the lower carriage up. Simple stuff and a good introduction to sustainable power. We’ve been to CAT before, its starting to look a little tatty, the information displays are fading and it’s lost its sparkle – however they are building new displays so it’ll be interesting to come back. The wholefood cafe is good and there is plenty of interactive things for kids to do. It was a beautiful sunny day so we stayed for half the day – the composting section is worthwhile if you’re a keen gardener – the suggest the men of the house pee on their compost bins!

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