By Justin Rowlatt
Ethical Man, BBC Newsnight
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David Cameron tells us we can vote blue and go green. Well, last night ethical man revealed what appeared to be the limits of Mr Cameron's environmental commitment.
Nice bike but where are your work shoes David?
It turns out that when he gets on his bike to go to work it is more than just the wheels that are spinning.
Take last Wednesday. He was photographed leaving his home on his bike. Then minutes later his official car glides up.
The driver picks up David's shoes, briefcase and a crisp new shirt and is off, following the leader.
The Mirror, which took the pictures, called it hypocrisy but according to some Newsnight viewers he wasn't the only hypocrite featured in the report.
A number of people have written in to accuse me of unethical behaviour.
We decided to reconstruct the journey Mr Cameron's car made to illustrate the carbon cost of chauffeuring shoes (over one and a half kilos of carbon for every trip, we reckoned).
As if that wasn't bad enough we then filmed an interview with my carbon guru, Professor Tim Jackson, in the car alongside the shoes and, to make matters even worse, we neglected to put our seatbelts on.
The seatbelts I will just apologise for - we should have worn them - but the car I will defend.
You need pictures to tell stories on television and this story was about cars. And, having got the chauffeur (Dave, the Newsnight driver) and the shoes, our decision to add the interviewee was just a way of extracting maximum value from the carbon we were already using.
It can be very difficult to live ethically while at work, as I am learning. It is something Sara and I hope look at later in the year. Send us an email if there are particular issues you think are important.
I may not have dispensed with cars at work but we have done so at home and - a week into my family's carless existence - we are, I can report, doing much better than Mr Cameron. I even managed, with a little help from a London cabbie, to pick up some furniture we'd bought.
'Ikea please driver, and step on it'
The trick is - as Bee and I are discovering - to plan in advance and to take things nice and slow.
On Sunday I went swimming with the girls. Normally this would be a two hour round trip. Without the car it took more like four hours. There's no direct bus to the pool so we walked instead, with Eva and Zola stopping to sniff every spring blossom.
On the way back we feasted on tea and cake. It was delightful.
There's already a slow food movement, perhaps there should be a slow travel movement too.
Couldn't car less
In its 80 years the BBC has asked its reporters to do many extraordinary things for a story.
Colleagues have climbed the highest mountains and journeyed to the most dangerous conflicts - I have even seen a correspondent hide himself in the boot of a Mercedes to get the interview he needed. But I never expected the BBC to ask me to do what I did a few days ago.
Ethical Man finally sees the back of his car
On Tuesday morning last week I stood with my wife Bee and our two young daughters, and watched as a very nice man winched my car onto the back of a truck and then drove it away. I am told it is now "in storage" in some distant car park.
The BBC has stolen my car! Not only that, it did so just weeks before our third child is due.
I use public transport to get to work and we live very close to my children's school so the loss doesn't bite immediately. But my producer Sara - as always - has a plan. She wants to send me and the children out to do a weekly shop.
My sister, Cordelia, has lived without a car for years and right at the start of this project we went to visit her at her home in Wiltshire. She showed me how she manages to get the shopping done without recourse to the internal combustion engine. The answer: a builder's trolley.
The ethical alternative to the car, though in need of a good service
That afternoon I find myself on the local high street dragging a trolley from shop to shop with the kids trailing behind. It is amazing how much a family of four needs especially as Bee is in the last weeks of her pregnancy and has asked for lots of fruit, veg, juice and fizzy water.
As I reach the checkout in the local supermarket my load is far too big to be carried home without piling the bags into a car. Will the trolley make the grade?
I discover that the key to a trolley shop is careful stacking. Bags won't do the job, they'd just fall off. What you need are good strong cardboard boxes which can be piled one upon the other.
"We don't have any boxes," the shop assistant tells me, "we crush them every morning". I must look crestfallen because he says he'll see what he can do and rushes into the back of the shop.
Back at home Bee points out that a couple of bananas and the mushrooms have suffered a little along the way but all in all we agree that my first car-less shop has been a success
He comes back with two flimsy banana boxes. "This is all we have left," he tells me. I glance over to where Sara is sitting. She is struggling to hold in her laughter. This is now a matter of honour.
I carefully pack each box putting the heavy stuff at the bottom and building careful chosen products around them. Then, with a little assistance from the assistant, we strap the two bulging boxes to my trolley. Bingo! This ethical shopper is on the road.
Despite some difficulty, I even managed to negotiate the steps on the way back without my teetering tower to consumerism collapsing.
Back at home Bee points out that a couple of bananas and the mushrooms have suffered a little along the way but all in all we agree that my first car-less shop has been a success.
The family outing on Saturday morning was much less pleasant. At 10.30am I am running with Zola on my shoulders while Bee is trying to herd Eva up the street. We've got tickets for a puppet show at 11am, and we'd completely forgotten that we couldn't just leap in the car.
As we bundle aboard a tube train I wondering why on earth I agreed to a project which would see my work having such an impact on my personal life. The look Bee shoots me suggests that at this moment, she certainly thinks I have made a big mistake.
I am no petrolhead, but I've owned a car virtually ever since I first passed my test 20 years ago. When Sara and I first discussed the possibility I might get rid of it, I didn't think it would be that much of a hardship. After all, we live in London, which is probably better served by public transport than almost anywhere else in the country.
The only green thing about Justin in those days was the colour of his Beetle
"We can still get there on time if we're quick," I tell Bee, as we corral the children out of the station. I say it more in hope than certainty because the girls are starting to get seriously annoyed by our constant imprecations to "hurry up" and "come on".
Meanwhile, Bee is getting seriously annoyed with me. Sara has insisted that I make a video diary of my life without a car and now, as we struggle down the road, I am trying to film our progress.
It is good stuff: fractious kids confronting fuming parents. Precisely the kind of thing Sara wants, I tell myself, as Bee shouts at us all to get a move on. What I need now, I think, is a shot of Bee.
As I swing the camera onto her I know I'm in dangerous territory. I want to capture the flash points and frustrations of our first days without a car but at the same time I know I must also give my heavily pregnant wife (four weeks and five days to go) the support she needs. It is a tough call and, when Eva bursts into tears, I realise I have judged this very badly indeed.
'I wish daddy wouldn't slip into that Ethical Man pose whenever he sees a camera..."
"If you don't stop filming immediately," Bee tells me furiously, "I will shove that camera..."
We just made the show on time. It was great, but when we finally get home four hours later all our tempers are frayed. Bee vanishes upstairs for a rest, leaving me with the girls who are tired and irritable.
I take the easy way out. I bang on CBeebies and the kettle.
If we'd planned the journey a bit better then things wouldn't have been so stressful, I reflect as I drink my tea. But there's no question, it would have been a whole lot easier in a car.
A load of eco balls?
One of the most impressive emails we received when we launched the Ethical Man project was from a Newsnight viewer called Loppy Garrard. She told us some of the many things she does to try and live more "ethically".
Loppy and Justin talk balls over a nice cup of tea
I need all the help I can get, so we decided to visit her at her home in Swansea.
As I left Loppy one question haunted me: can it really be possible to wash your clothes without using any detergent?
Loppy had told me that one way she conserves water is by using a hose from her washing machine to put the waste water straight onto her garden. She says she is able to do this because she washes without powder. I want to know how that works.
"Eco Balls!" she announces.
Is this a wind up? Is Loppy telling me she's talking nonsense?
She says she's not and to prove it produces three green plastic balls, each a couple of inches in diameter. These are Eco Balls, she announces, and tells me she adds the three balls to her wash instead of detergent.
"They can be used up to a thousand times," she boasts.
I am dubious but Loppy assures me that the balls leave her washing clean and fresh.
"So if I sniffed your washing, Loppy, would it be clean?" I want to know.
"Yes it would," she laughs, "but it would be a very strange thing to do."
I admit, I didn't actually sniff her washing but I can report that Loppy smelled clean and fresh.
I leave Swansea mystified by the miracle of the detergent free wash.
The next area of my life to get an ethical make-over is transport. I'm going to see how my family can cope without our car.
Joe's Cafe, Studland Beach - Dorset's premier Eco-Balls outlet
But before it is taken away, my producer Sara has agreed that we can have one last family holiday in it - an Easter break in Dorset.
We stay close to Studland and one of the finest beaches in the country, a vast crescent of dunes.
It is a glorious late spring day so we head for South Beach, the last stretch of sand before the chalk cliffs. It is my favourite beach with a great café; a white wooden hut selling fair trade hot drinks and ice creams. What more could an ethical man ask for?
We build sand castles and paddle in the sea - the water is very cold but Eva and Zola do not seem bothered.
After and hour or so we head over to Joe's café. As well as the drinks and snacks I notice that Jose, the woman who runs the café, has got some new products on display - boxes of "Eco Balls".
Like Loppy, Jose - who has four small children - swears by Eco Balls. She says you need to use a little soap on really stubborn stains but apart from that they work very well.
I am not a religious man but I recognise a sign when I see one
I can't believe this: I am talking Eco Balls on the beach.
I am not a religious man but I recognise a sign when I see one. The balls are not cheap - £35 for three - but, in the interests of ethical research, I buy a box.
The blurb on the side says the three plastic balls: "unleash ionic cleaning power to penetrate deep into clothing fibres to lift away dirt without fading bright colours". Eco balls if ever I heard it, I think.
I return to the deckchair where Bee is sitting. She is impressed by my new balls.
"This ethical man project seems to be changing you" she says, "a month ago you would never have considered buying something like that. I'm glad you are willing to give things like this a go."
Well, I am happy to try them but, if they don't clean our clothes, I will have no compunction about throwing the things out and going back to the Persil.
We agree to put the Eco Balls to the test when we get home. We plan a "wash off". We will see how the Eco Balls measure up against my old powder in the face of the cleaning challenge of a series of soiled garments.
Watch this space.