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Have you thought about installing solar water heating? This is a much cheaper way of harnessing the sun's energy than photovoltaic electricity generation. Systems cost in the region of £3000-4000 pounds and take a few days to install. Plenty about this on the web. Planning is much less of an issue than with wind generators.
Charles Suckling, Rushden, Northants
Regarding low energy light bulbs. I have found the new generation DAYLIGHT bulbs much better. They run on the same wattage but have a wider light spectrum and are brighter. They are also available in 25 Watt and 30 Watt (equivalent to a 150 Watt conventional bulb). They also reach optimum light output in about 30 seconds. Try them out.
Andrew Armand, Cottingham
Being ethical appears to be an excuse to be miserly. Maybe that's why ethical funds do so badly.
Wenzel Spath, Ripon, N Yorks
It's about time that these sorts of issues were brought into the national limelight, so well done for doing so. Green is definitely the new black. It can also be very exciting and challenging to see how much you can personally change your life to live more ethically. Christmas shopping this year will be entirely ethical, due to the existence of loads of trendy new ethical retailers, and grocery shopping using veg box schemes are easy. However, it is necessary for collective direct action to be backed up by strong government policy. Companies should be forced to create and publish their environmental and ethical policies, and government targets should be tougher than the pathetic goals set (eg 50% for recycling - way too easy - get tough, the technology is there!) All in all, keep it up - let's get it on the national news more.
Jonathan Pearce, Fareham
So far the Ethical Man series has shown me what I have long suspected - trying to reduce our own impact upon the environment is a waste of time and energy. Global warming is inevitable and we are going to have to live with it. Still, it might not be too bad. Warmer weather, closer to the seaside, southerners telling us how much water their houses can hold rather than how much they have increased in value.
John McIntyre, Runcorn
I am very interested to read about the project. I decided a few years ago that I would do the same, and am still working on it. So far:
- sold my car, and joined the Car co-operative in Exeter
- a veg box every week
- no longer shop in supermarkets. In fact, I try and ensure I only shop in locally owned shops and it works very well. But it does take a lot of energy! It took me months to decide where I would buy a tin of tomatoes if it wasn't in a supermarket
- I have built flower beds in my small town garden, and am slowly replacing many of the planting with edible stuff
- I am still learning that you don't have to do the "Good Life" to do all this; hence the above point
- just taken up an allotment five minutes walk away - I am the proud proprietor (or whatever) of 15 rods costing me £15 per annum
- I work within 10 minutes walk - or five minute cycling - of where I work
- I am looking into a log burning stove and solar panels for heating, but in the meantime am working hard at plugging all the draught gaps in my Victorian cottage
- just gone on to a water meter - though this is a bit of a cheat as I know we (foster daughter and self) are low water users
- buy shampoos, etc, on the net from a local producer
- I confess to buying most of my clothes through Charity shops; it's a crime just how much excellent and expensive stuff people get rid of
- I made a vow a couple of years ago that I would not fly again (unless one of my children moved to another continent) and so, last year, when I went to visit son number two who lived in Italy at the time, I went by train. A great adventure, and 24 hours door-to-door, which surprised many of my colleagues and friends
There is tons more to do. In the meantime - good luck!
Sue Greenall, Exeter Devon
I have only recently some across this site and I have found it so very informative and interesting. It has presented me with many answers to questions I have never had the time to ask. Especially being surrounded by many people, who do not recognise these problems or who do not view them as problems and are certainly not prepared to make any sacrifices to any cause. I hope many people come across your site and take the time to look through it.
Chelsea, Stockholm, Sweden
I find that not doing very much at all conserves the most energy, thereby saving more of the planet on a personal, day to day basis. I would suggest avoiding even buying organic vegetables as the energy used in such a task is unconscionably large when compared to the general smallness (and grubbiness) of said vegetables. Some of your contributors suggest switching off lights, TVs, etc. Do they not realise they shouldn't have turned them on in the first place? Finally, I am sure that the Kyoto protocol should be abolished as it is the most miserable document I can think of, recently signed by senior politicians who should know better.
Andrew Hirst, London
So far I have seen the ethics of Ethical Man revolve around green issues and I think the examination of consumption power needs to be tackled. We finance all sorts of institutions through every day purchases and we need to highlight where our money is going and acknowledge the responsibility coupled with that. I would like see Ethical Man listing the shops he regularly visits and find out what kind of activities they are involved with locally and globally.
Dunia Hatuqa, Cardiff
My own personal tip to parents would be to look at their children's toys. Just how ethical are they? How environmentally considerate? I run an online toy shop for wooden toys sourced from German companies using European sustainable hardwood forests. Packaging is minimal, very little (if at all in some company's cases) plastic packaging.
Nicola Haxell, South Yorks
Great programme. As boiling water from cooking and hot water from baths and showers pours straight down the drain, I wonder if anyone has considered ways of reclaiming the heat (apart from breeding tropical fish at the outflows).
W Bennett, Dundee
My husband is a keen cyclist, but too old for the cold, so during winter he spends hours on the stationary bike, in the garage. I'm sure this would produce enough electricity to power the TV that I'm watching, whilst he's pedalling.
Next on your list of ethical discoveries should be water recycling. In Britain we use drinking water to flush our toilets! Madness. We should be storing and re-using our shower and bathwater to do this.
Kevin Thomson, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
I am the Managing Director of a small family company based in Isleworth, West London, and we have been down the ethical route - it is long and winding and if you have the patience you will get to the promised land. It has taken us 16 years. In that time we have cut out waste down to practically nothing, we produce our own electricity with our 120 solar panels and a wind turbine. We have environmental certification and in 2003 we won the Queens Award. So the rest of you get moving. If you don't look after the planet it won't look after you.
Mark Ormiston, Isleworth
Justin should install a geothermal heat pump using a borehole in his back garden. Better than a windmill and no problems with neighbours!
Richard Orren, Aberdeen
I got so fed up of electricity suppliers trying to offer me better and better deals about three years ago I started telling them that I had my own wind turbine above my house and had no need for their services. Now it seems I can have one! AMAZING. I want one! Do you have the link for the supplier? Loved the experiment.
Ronnie Kingsley, Liverpool
You hit the nail on the head! Just seen your GREAT item on Newsnight. You are so absolutely right. For the man in the street the payback time for these investments is just too long. The "I am all right Jack" prevails all the time these days. We need to expose and embarrass the man (and woman) in the street. In my house I have a lot of trouble getting "teenager" to put an extra jumper on rather that turning the heating back on again.
Steve Hill, High Wycombe
I want to wish you the very best of luck. We try to be green but your example is going to make us try harder and quicker. "Keeping up with the Rowlatts" should be the new catchphrase. You know you are making a difference when almost everyone tells you you're crazy, and the changes you are making in your lives are pointless. Feeling threatened, they will think of all sorts of specious arguments to support this view to justify their own inaction. The truth, as Loppy shows, is we all know we can and do make a difference, and the government should have been saying so for years, instead of being too timid to this day for fear of losing votes. Others have already suggested the things I had in mind - cycling, eco-balls etc - but I haven't seen anyone suggest you join a local ethical or environmental group, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, Amnesty etc. It's good to work with others who share your ethical concerns. I hope your efforts to become an ethical family inspires a new national mentality, away from material growth, to a realisation that we have to rethink society so that it is sustainable. Global warming is a crisis now, not tomorrow. Nuclear power is not the solution to anything, and sustainability has to be the top priority in all we do.
Malcolm Margolis, Harrogate
I despair at Justin's evident lack of basic science. He repeatedly speaks of the energy consumption rate of his household gadgets in terms of "Kilowatt Hours" (a quantity of energy) when he means "Kilowatts" (a rate of consumption). I hope that he will meet someone who can help him generate energy for hot water using solar panels, which might be more rewarding than his static windmill.
Dr Michael Goddard, Leicester
What has prompted this sudden conversion by the BBC to environmental issues, and why were these questions not being asked during the general election campaign, or during the Conservative or Lib Dem leadership campaigns? And why do these interviewers suddenly think it's the politicians' role to tell people what to do about saving energy, when they constantly tell politicians not to nanny us in other ways? Shouldn't the media take responsibility for informing people about green issues? At least the ethical man is finally doing so - please continue, day in, day out, till people finally get the message! What I'd like to know from the ethical man is: how much energy would be saved if every office worker in Britain turned off their PC every night? Thanks, and good luck!
James Adutt, London
Buy wooden products like garden furniture and kitchen utensils with the FSC logo on it. This is the only certification scheme which ensures the timber products you buy are not contributing to forest destruction and the forest where the timber is grown is properly managed to protect the environment and the people who live in and around it. Products with the FSC logo are now widely available in many DIY stores.
Andrew Kinsey, Tring
None of the family is wearing any warm underclothes, or a sweater. It is early Spring and you expect to be warm in T-shirts and flimsies. You are all dressed for a Spanish Summer! Put on a long-sleeved vest plus tights or long-pants, with a thick sweater, and you'll find the thermostat setting needs turning down.
Philip Evans, Norwich
How possible/productive do you think it would be to have small water wheels/turbines integrated into our household plumbing? ie, in the waste pipes, so when draining a bath you add to your electric supply, or when you flush your loo. Also, they could be incorporated into the water supply, so when a tap is turned on it rotates a wheel to create a charge. This could be done at several points within the household plumbing and/or in the main supply/waste system. Just a thought as we use these services daily anyway. Liked the programme, made me really want to contribute more to living more efficiently.
Mac Arbuckle, Enfield
The best and cheapest idea of ALL! Put you old worn out carpets in the roof as additional insulation. It costs nothing, but be sure to leave ceiling light fittings ventilated. The most obvious change is how much COOLER the top story is in summer. So I am sure I am saving a great deal in winter too!
Cllr Harry Verney, Cheroton
Some suggestions - thick, lined curtains at all doors and windows in winter. Pressure cooker - fast and cheap cooking. Slow cooker - long slow cooking in one pot, low energy consumption. Get rid of tumble drier - dry clothes outside on line. Good luck with the project!
Gill Roue, Helston Cornwall
This evening was the first time that I'd seen ethical man. I wondered if he'd looked at the possibility of a compost bin in his garden? We got one earlier this year and between a family of four upstairs and two late 30s lodgers downstairs we generate half a wheelie bin and a full recycling bin of rubbish a week. This includes one toddler's worth of disposable nappies (sorry, but we try to get the 70% bio-degradable versions). The resulting mush is great food for your garden and it's great for the kids to think that they are doing something natural.
Stuart Austin, Blackheath
100+ years ago every river in the country had weirs and water mills every few miles. Why is there no interest in small water turbines? These days they are very efficient, don't have to wait for the wind to blow and don't require large areas of land. OK, each one may not be huge, say 30-50 KW, but I live 10 miles from the coast and on the river from here to the coast there were at least 12 water mills 100 years ago - if the weirs were reinstated and each one produced 25 KW then our little river alone would produce 300KW food for thought.
Michael Toms, Beaminster
Just wanted to say what a terrific piece, Justin. One of the best news pieces I have seen for ages. Congratulations to you, your producer, crew and editor on a fantastic piece of work. I know how much effort it takes to produce a lengthy package to such a high standard. Well done!
Tim Watson, London
Love the idea of wind turbines for household use - they would certainly be carbon efficient up here! Regarding the large commercial turbines, why not put them on top of tall business buildings in the centre of cities? The reported humming noise pollution shouldn't be a problem in areas with low levels of people living there.
William Annison, Buxton
Why not put multicoloured wind turbines all along Brighton seafront? The gales we have been having over the past few days would power East Sussex for months!
Deb Rae Smith, Brighton
Hi Ethical man - loving the show. I live in a Victorian house in Nottingham that we have recycled. What does that mean? We have turned it into the most advanced eco retrofit in the UK and we pay no bills for heating. The central heating runs on waste wood, we use solar thermal panels, collect rainwater to flush the loos and supply the washing machine and even compost our own poo. This is not a rural idyll - we live smack in the middle of a Nottingham suburb - come and have a look at us. Oh and we don't fly...
Penney Poyzer, Nottingham
The ethical man
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