Thursday, June 18, 2009

You've got to fill a bucket or two...

A diary of my day with just 2 buckets of water!

Ok, so I bought my buckets. I am not sure it is cheating, but I went for a medium sized bucket, 10 litres... should be a doddle, I don't use much water anyway. Shower in the morning, cup of tea, bottle of water during the day and a coke at lunch. Easy, I should be able to boil some peas and have a bottle of wine with 15 litres to spare!

So the morning comes and oops, I have a hangover. Not a great start, made much worse by the fact that I can't down a pint of water and take a long shower... Why did I choose today? Oh yes, I remember, it is because there are a few days like this. Note to self, as a service to all the readers of this blog I think I should thoroughly research organic wines and beers at some point.

Right, so I have filled my bucket for a wash, and since I am such a loving husband, I have agreed to share it with my lovely wife (as long as I get first go). HORRIBLE!!!!! Water is not too warm and I still feel soapy. My apologies to anyone reading this over breakfast, in fact, the squeamish should probably look away now. Here is a link to some pictures of lovely kittens and stuff:

Anyway, I used up most of the water and what was left was all soapy by now. I am a considerate husband as well as loving.

Next up was tea... There is no way I am missing out on a cup of tea... another 0.75 litres for a couple of cups. I am starting to realise this might be a bit more tricky that I first imagined.

Now, without going into too much detail (click on the kitten link now!!! It is your only hope!) there is a horrible phrase that goes around some environmental circles that no matter how much I try, I simply can't cope with... If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down (Clearly not invented by Guinness drinkers then - you can't complain, the link to the kittens is up there). So this is going to be tricky, but to baffle you with a few facts, toilets are MONSTERS when it comes to water consumption. Each flush can use as much as 14 litres of water in old ones, and even a new one will use 4 to 6 litres. I am not going to like this. Again, I made sure I was first in the queue and used the rest of the shower water as a sort of flush. NOT NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, over 10 litres down and I am not even out of the house yet!

My ipod hates me! Walking to work I get Ocean Colour Scene and The Waterboys on shuffle. Suddenly I realise that I take water for granted! This is not going to be fun.

Lunch was ok, but I have finished my water. Gulp! (or rather, not!)

YIKES! I need a wee! Toilet has auto flush and I am definitely washing my hands (unlike the other bloke who just walked out of the toilets! DISGUSTING!)

So, mid afternoon, time for a count up... shower and stuff, 5 litres, water, coffee, teas and stuff about 2 litres, that flush and washing hands, let's call it a polite litre. So 7 down and 13 spare.

Think I will celebrate with another coffee...

Now, evening comes and then it hits me. First up is cooking. I decided to use water in the spirit of the challenge, so another litre gone there. Then water with the meal itself and then THE WASHING UP! Stupidly I had decided to use every pot and pan we had in the house and furthermore had spot welded half the dinner to it! I love that burnt flavour!

So suddenly we are down to a couple of litres left and I still need to go to the loo!

So all in all it was a success, but has made me realise how much water we use and waste. In fact I cheated a bit as we would often water the garden, clean the house etc.

So any ideas you have on how to cut down or save it would be welcome. One friend suggested saving the water wasted while waiting for the shower to warm up for watering the plants.

So on to this month!!!!

Also, I have been meaning to tell you about my garden! This year we have been growing vegetables and they are brilliant! We've had radishes and lettuce so far, with potatoes, carrots, onions and beans to come! Which brings me to this weeks challenge and something where you can get involved!

All I would like you to do is grow something (or buys something that grows) and send me a picture! Well when I say that is all, I would like it if you could decorate or 'pimp' your plant pot! This page needs some colour!!! (This idea is unashamedly stolen from Mark Watson's original, but who knows, it might be fun!)

I think that since I have been doing this for nearly a year I am going to try and do a report for the next post as to whether I am better or worse than I was since I started...

Monday, March 30, 2009

What did you do while the lights were out?

Hello folks, what's all this then, two posts in as many weeks. Perhaps spring has sprung and I am getting all enthusiastic again.

So, before I get on to the next challenge (and it is a good one this week... I really want to hear how you get on!!!) I thought I would let you know how I have been getting on.

Saturday night was Earth Aware night which, thankfully, tied in perfectly with the end of the Enland game. What a great idea! Switch your lights off (and everything else) for an hour. The silence was great and I am sure many people got up to plenty of interesting things while the lights were out. I definitely had my own ideas, but my wife quickly put an end to those, so our first half hour was spent trying to search for our escaped kittens (who are both the colour of dusk, making them a bit mean, but not that scary really), who had decided to take the opportunity to explore the neighbours gardens and a party going on nearby and generally be pesky. The rest of the time was spent having a beautiful candlelit dinner (all prepared while I was out watching football, I am a lucky boy) all made from leftovers I might add. It was really fun actually, and for someone who can't spend 10 minutes without the stereo on, it was surprising just how beautiful the sound of silence was. Ok, when I say silence, I really mean relative quiet while at the end of the road it sounded like downtown Baghdad with all the sirens going off. But it was still kind of tuneful.

Now, I have definitely come to the conclusion that I am not very good at being environmentally friendly. Everything I do seems to involve a new stumbling block on the path to saving the planet. But I am definitely trying to be better, so with this in mind, as you probably remember (or if you don't, it is just down the page) the simple idea for the last few weeks was to cut down on waste. I would like to think I was quite successful too. I certainly cut down my extra trips to the supermarket and I can't remember buying any cheap meat... (have I mentioned before that I can't resist buying any half price food? I have a freezer full of stuff that I may never eat, but more about that later...)

So to start out I thought the best way to get rid of all the food in the fridge would be to invite some friends round for a barbeque, the sun was sort of out, or at least, as much is it comes out in Belgium so my reasoning was I could fob off last years supply of sausages and cheap meats on my unsuspecting friends, masking the freezer burn and antique price labels with marinades and general burntness.

In fact it was a great succes, largely down to a friends incredible ability to eat more sausages than I believed possible. On the downside, as usual we made far too much, so I lived on leftovers for a good few days.

Then I started looking at the other stuff in the fridge. Most of it was good and I felt like I was in an episode of Ready Steady Cook most evenings being challenged to whip up something exciting from the things that had been festering in the fridge for longer than they maybe should (although the thought of having Ainslie round every day would have been more than I could cope with). Most of it was a success, but I might not make beansprouts in custard again... Luckily my wife eats like a horse and we scoffed the lot! (No really, she eats like a horse, I have tried to get her to use plates, but she just prefers the bag hooked round her ears...)

So, all in all I think it was a success, but it raised more questions than answers. Waste is a problem simply because we produce too much but have little way of getting rid of it. This weekend I looked into getting a composter for the garden as we are lucky enough to have one. Of course not everyone does when you live in the city, but even then, the smallest one we could find would take up half our garden!

So what to do? I think perhaps this is where we need to look at an environmental community. Shops don't really sell food in single person portions (unless you are a lard arse like me and can eat for 3) so we are often left with food going to waste. So I want to start promoting a shopping share idea. But I need to think about how that might work first. Perhaps the easiest way is to invite your friends over for dinner more, then get invited back. I dunno, please send me your thoughts on how this might work?

And so finally on to this weeks challenge, and it is a good one... Back to waste and back to water... I think we have all seen the stories and pictures telling us how, for many people accross the globe, water is very much a luxury item and yet we happily waste it all the time. I read somewhere that even in England, the water system is so bad that there is real danger of it running out! So, just to make us think of just how much water we use, here is the challenge...

For one day I want you to see if you can survive a whole day on 2 buckets of water. One for washing, toilets and stuff and one for cooking and drinking*. It sounds abominal, but this is what people have to deal with their entire lives. Perhaps we might be a bit less wastefull when we realise just how precious water actually is...

* I am not sure whether you can supplement your bucket for drinking with wine or beer

And finally, I am nearly ready with the free gifts I am going to give you all. Sign up as a follower of this blog or let me know if you want one!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where on earth have I been?

My goodness it has been a while hasn't it! I have been procrastinating, dithering and generally being far to lazy to update this for a while, but here it is, AN UPDATE and all is not well...

Now, when I started this I thought I would write something every week and gradually improve my own environmental attitude, but it is a bit sad to report that I have not been as good as I thought I was. The plastic bags have been creeping back in (though on the whole I am much better and usually have my own at the ready) and no matter how many reusable bags you do buy, if you don't use them I guess I am missing the point somewhat... The phone charger is STILL plugged in upstairs...................................................................................ok, now it isn't, but it was. This laptop has been charging for the last three weeks too. So easy to fall into the old habits.

But it isn't all bad... the organic veggie box has been a revelation and parsnips aside, most of the stuff we get is actually rather nice.

So, where to go now? Well, thankfully, some of you lot out there have been trying to get me back into writing this and have been a LOT better at this environmentally friendly lifestyle than I am so I am going to go with a suggestion from Tish which kind of ties in to something I have been thinking about and mentioned before.

So, here's the challenge...

What I am going to try and do, and hope you give a go is just buy what I need. Sounds simple, but rubbish is piling up across the world so for this week I suggest we try to only buy enough perishable food as we are going to eat. No waste!!! I noticed pretty early on how much less rubbish we were producing with just the few changes we had made, but until I get a composter or persuade the neighbours dog to eat more potato skins we are still making too much.

So, that's it for a few days, cut down on waste till I have some better ideas...

Also, to whet your appetite for future editions of this blog, I am giving you all a gift in a couple of weeks if you sign up as a follower or send me a message... but more about that next week, I have to watch the rugby on my new low emission TV...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oops... and a look forward to Christmas

Ok, well I have procrastinated enough, but finally have to come clean, I didn't make it to the tree planting. A mix up in planning (I hadn't planned to drink all that rum) meant that I forgot to set my alarm clock and was generally in too much of a weakened state to find the place. I did try to cycle up there and find everyone though but at the end of the day, VERY POOR!!

So instead of lots of lovely pictures of people planting trees it is all just text again. (I could post a picture of me looking befuddled and sorrowful...)

However, it did sound like the day was a great success, so well done to all those that were a lot better than me!

Now, onto Christmas... tricky one this, Christmas must be a nightmare for all the proper environmentalists. I tend to reconcile myself with the payoff that, yes, ok it does have 14 tons of plastic packaging, has been made in sweat shops somewhere poor and horrible and has been flown half way round the world to get here, BUT AREN'T THE FLASHY LIGHTS AND GO FASTER STRIPES COOL!!!!

Not this year though. This year I shall be thinking about recycling and more importantly PREcycling.

More soon, but there is an interesting article about precycling here:

Any thoughts and tips on how to make this Christmas as environmatally friendly as possible, please let me know...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trees Company

Its finally here, the first, I hope, of many environmentally themed events we can do to hopefully make things a bit better! You didn't think this was just going to be about reading my strange antics did you?

On Sunday 23rd November a group of people are going to be planting trees in the Forêt de Soignes here in Brussels.

The plan is to try and plant as many as 1500 new trees in the forest so let me know if you are interested and I will sign you up.

Thinking about this, I can see mostly positive things, we are helping the forest, the planet and all that stuff.

The downside is that it is early Sunday morning, likely to be cold and muddy, but that shouldn't put you off!

Details about the event are below:
What is the event?
The organisation, Natuurgroepering Zoniënwoud vzw, takes care of the Forêt de Soignes (Sonian Forest) and provides guide services to those wishing to learn more or contribute to the growth of the forest. The Forêt de Soignes is the largest wooded area in Flanders and Brabant. This forest conveys an image full of impressive trees but regeneration is absolutely necessary as most of these trees are very old. This is where we can help.

EFQM would like to organise a casual and fun event to bring together a group of people for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning to plant trees in the forest. The guide service will work with us to teach us how to plant trees. By the end of a few short hours, we hope to contribute 1500 trees to the Forest. (Yes, this is possible!)

EFQM will also make a financial contribution to the Natuurgroepering Zoniënwoud ( for their guide service.

Because this is a weekend, we can make this a fun event where we can all meet – but also, we can include our family – partners and children of any age. We would also like to extend this event to those friends of EFQM – those who have worked with us in the past. Also – we plan to mention this to members who are nearby in the hope that they can join us. Our goal is to bring together at least 45 people from EFQM for this day. If you can think of anyone we should invite, please let us know.

Details of the Day
The Forest service will provide a main guide, Dirk Raes, and two others to help us throughout the morning. Their preparation includes gathering the trees to be planted, clearing the area and digging the holes – all completed before we arrive.

We will meet at 9:30 a.m. at a parking area reserved for EFQM where we can begin with fruit juice and pastries. Dirk will introduce himself to us and guide us toward the clearing. We will begin with an ‘inauguration’ of the space and then we will plant trees. Children can participate too and are encouraged at any age (and they get to put their name on a label that will be hung on ‘their’ tree). The space will then be marked with an EFQM sign that will last about 5 years in the space. Each participant will receive a certificate.

All in all, the day begins about 9:30am and will end about 1pm – so just a few short hours to contribute to the forest.

In the case of extreme weather conditions, the event will be cancelled. You will need to wear boots and gloves.

So let me know if you fancy coming and I will sign you up! Hope to see you there!!!

I shall spend the rest of the week thinking about treemendous puns, hopefully this will branch out and we can do even more. So please, get involved and don't just leaf it to me!

To sign up, leave your details on the comments page or e-mail me at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where have I been?

Sorry folks, not been online much this week.

I have something BIG planned for a couple of weeks time though... More details soon. All you need to know is it involves getting dirty and will be happening on Sunday 23rd November at 09:30hrs.

Sadly it is not my suggested mud wrestling event.

In the meantime, send me your thoughts, experiences and ideas for future challenges please. I only know so much about all this so I need YOUR help. Actually a lot of people tell me that I need help.

Oh, and as a sideline, check out for info about something else I am doing this month.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Eat a belgian!

Picture this! I have actually been MAD busy for the whole of last week and most of this one so far.

Actually today was particularly stressful as I had to delver a training course. Easy peasy I hear you say, however, it turned out that the course was booked in French... I don't speak French...

So through the few words I remember from school, some interpretive dance and mime I think the class got what they expected... A headache probably.

What I have noticed though is travelling is a real killer when you are trying to keep to these challenges, but it is doable... just.

I failed miserably on the plastic bottles though so I shall self flagellate with the carrier bags I accidentally had to use on Monday whie trying to be OH SO VERY GOOD buying organic local produce.

Now, on to the challenges. I REALLY need your suggestions. But for this week I want us to think about food miles.

I have been amazed to noticed the carbon footprint of my (often veggie) dinners. Chillis from thailand, limes from brazil and all manner of weird and wonderful places. Even fair trade food is no good as those bananas didn't walk here. Or did they? I read somewhere that some trees can walk. But it may have been in Lord of the Rings so it may or may not be true.

Anyway, this brings me to the challenge. EAT BELGIANS! Or at least as much as possible, eat their food.

When I say this, I don't mean nicking someones chips, but try to buy local produce. Organic even better...

Now I have been thinking about these challenges too. Is anyone doing them? Should we make it a monthly challenge from now on and collect experiences (please leave me comments, I get so terribly lonely when I am away from home!) or shall we try to keep it weekly for now until I am perfect and have a long life, low carbon emmission glow (BLAME GLOBAL WARMAL ON READY BREK!)

Anyway, let me know how you get on and what you think. I am back to the grindstone here. I will be forced to sit through 90 minutes of Chelsea vs Roma in a pub drinkng LOCAL beer (the water is from France so can't fail the challenge quite yet)

All the best