Moving house has been really bad for our “LittleGreen” credentials .. here’s what we learned in the process
Yep .. a house move. All a bit unexpected, at very short notice. It’s one of the joys of private renting. It’s also why we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front for the last few months.
Looking at the whole exercise from a #LittleGreenSteps point of view has been a real eye opener. Here are just some of the things we’ve noticed:
- Packing and Packaging Cardboard may well be a very sustainable material .. but bubble wrap, vinyl tape, polystyrene chips and all the other lovely stuff we had to use to keep our valuables protected during the move definitely were NOT.
- We found there were very few green alternatives available to the amateur packer. That meant we used as many tissue paper sheets as possible, and also used our household towels, tea towels etc. as makeshift packing material, just to at least *try* to cut our plastic use.
- Add to that the yards and yards of plastic pallet wrap the removal guys used to protect our furniture on removal day and .. well .. you get the picture. It’s really not sustainable .. We wondered how many tons of this stuff gets used and thrown in the UK every single day? And do removal companies look for biodegradable alternatives? Do they even exist?! Answer is, probably not.
- Transport We lost count of how many car runs we did (just to the tip, never mind in the move itself) Plus our removal company’s vehicle had to make a fair few runs between the old place and the new. Okay, the 2 houses were only a couple of miles apart, but those miles soon add up.
- Clearing out = landfill. There’s just nothing else to say about that; a lot of the stuff we got rid of as part of our move went to charity shops. As much as possible was recycled .. but we also know a lot of our cast off possessions (and bubble wrap, tape, pallet wrap etc.) will end up incinerated or in landfill. Not where we wanted to be
- Different home = different LittleGreenSteps Here are a few examples:
At the old LittleGreen HQ, we had new, and really effective, double glazing (albeit PVC). The house was also kept warm by cosy curtains and some very thick carpets.
Our new LittleGreen HQ has laminate floors, quite old wooden double glazing, wooden blinds rather than curtains and is (by comparison) freezing! How freezing? Well, we understood very quickly why the previous tenants always had the heating set to about 24 degrees.. not at all where we expected to be!
At the old LittleGreen HQ, we composted all our food waste, dug our grass mowings into the home-grow veg patches we’d built, and we also had a bug hotel built in the garden. At the new LittleGreen HQ, the garden is very tightly managed, and there is literally nowhere for a composter. Or veg patches. The only way to grow anything ourselves is in pots – and that usually means having to buy commercially produced compost in plastic bags. Again, not quite where we expected to be.
On the other hand, the old LittleGreen HQ didn’t have solar panels. The new one does – which means during the day, we’re producing clean, green, renewable electricity for free. We’ve yet to see what difference that makes to our energy bills, so watch this space.
In summary, the new LittleGreen HQ:
- is producing really sustainable, clean, green electricity
- blew a massive hole in our plastic reduction programme
- forced us to make lots of short car/van journeys to get the move done
- has potentially increased our gas heating usage
- has made us think again about what to do with food waste, because we no longer have any option to compost it
We had thought we were doing pretty well as a family in reducing our use of plastics, and just being that little bit greener. But moving house has made us realise that just because we’d chosen to make quite a few “greener” changes in our old home, not every UK home is set up or able to do the same things.
It’s also got us thinking – and talking – about how many green decisions are left to individuals. There’s literally no leadership from the Government, or even from our Local Council: It’s all been down to us and the choices we are making as a family. Being in a new place shows us that some homes are designed in ways that make greener choices far, far easier than others.
Finally, it’s made us think how wasteful the removals industry is, when it must produce tons of plastic waste on a national scale every day. Where are the alternatives to plastic? And where’s the incentive for the industry to to use them?
In some ways, our house move has taken us right back to the LittleGreenSteps drawing board. We’ll let you know how we get on, and thanks for reading our story!
The Green Family
LittleGreenSteps is all about one regular family, trying to go greener. Follow our story on Facebook and at LittleGreenSteps.org