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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 00:10 GMT
Ethical Man's top ten tips for ethical living

Justin Rowlatt
Justin ponders what a family can do to reduce their carbon footprint

Justin Rowlatt and his family were told to "go green" for an entire year to see by how much they could cut their carbon footprint.

You can find out how they got on by watching BBC One's Panorama at 2030 GMT on Monday.

In the meantime, here are Justin Rowlatt's top 10 tips for ethical living (in no particular order):

1. GIVE UP YOUR CAR

Justin with his family
Justin and his family had to give up their car

Experiment with giving up your car, you may find it easier than you think. Our cars produce 11% of the country's carbon emissions so there are big savings to be made here. We never thought that we would be able to give up the family car permanently but that's what we've done. Of course adjusting to a life without our motor took a bit of time - and a few stressful moments - but shank's pony and public transport have seen us right. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Remember cars cost a lot of money - I reckon we're saving 2,000 a year - so don't worry about treating yourself by jumping in the odd taxi when you can't face the bus. Why not join the local car club so you've got wheels on hand when you really need them and, if you want a weekend away and taking the train isn't practical, just hire a car.

2. INSULATE YOUR HOME

Justin
Insulating your home can be expensive

Our homes produce a quarter of the UK's carbon emissions. You should consider insulating your home but, as I discovered, that can be expensive. So why not try draught-proofing your windows and just turn down the thermostat by a degree or two and put on a jumper. If you can afford it you could line your curtains - that'll stop draughts and save almost as much heat as double glazing your windows. Consider buying a rug or carpeting your floors, that also helps keep rooms warm. We did all these things and cut our gas usage by 15%. That has saved us real money - I reckon over 50 in one year.

3. MOVE THE ELECTRICITY METER FROM UNDER THE STAIRS

meter
The electricity meter under the stairs can get ignored

I've bought a little gadget on the internet that has certainly cut our electricity use - proving that gadgets can help save the world. It's a little device that takes the electricity meter out from under the stairs to tell you how much electricity you are using as you are using it. It has found a permanent home on the kitchen worktop and I can now tell which appliances and lights are on around the house just by looking at it.

4. START COMPOSTING

Compost
Much kitchen waste can be composted

I have taken great delight in my compost bin. It doesn't save much carbon but cuts the amount of waste we send to landfill. The handful of worms I was given by the country's composting king, John Cossham of York, have multiplied and now happily devour all our kitchen waste. We are a family of five but thanks to the efforts of my worms, a year of green living and the compost bin is still less than half full.

5. EAT MORE VEGGIES

Sprout
Vegetables can be far more interesting than boiled sprouts

Our veggie box has proved a revelation. It is delivered once a week and contains locally produced organic vegetables. We've had vegetables delivered that I have never heard of before so it forces you to try things you'd normally walk straight past in the supermarket. It also means I have developed quite a repertoire of recipes for cabbage and courgettes.

6. EAT LESS MEAT

Cow
Livestock accounts for roughly18% of greenhouse gas emissions

Farming animals produces an astonishing 18% of world emissions of greenhouse gases - much of it from the burps, farts and poos of the world's three billion cows and sheep. I tried going vegan for a month. It wasn't easy, you'd be amazed how many products contain animal products in one form or another. I shed two kilos and saw my cholesterol levels fall from a worrying 5.5 to just 3.4. But I love meat and am eating animals again, though not so many.

7. USE WASHABLE NAPPIES

Nappy

The weather is now too bad to hang out our bamboo nappies on the line for our new baby Elsa.

We now get washable nappies delivered by a local company, Nappy Ever After. I'm still learning some of the more complicated folds.

8. BUY ENERGY-SAVING LIGHT BULBS

Bulb
An energy-saving bulb has been installed outside 10 Downing Street

I was very sceptical about energy-saving light bulbs when we launched this project at the end of February last year. I thought the light they gave out was cold and couldn't believe that they'd make any significant savings in power use. But the bulbs have got much better and our electricity bill shows the difference they can make. We changed most of our bulbs - we've still got six halogens in the kitchen (down from 12) - and, thanks to my portable meter gadget (see tip 3), we've got much better at turning appliances off stand-by and we've slashed our electricity use by 22%. That's 100 worth.

9. TRY TO FLY LESS

Plane
Air travel is one of the fastest growing contributors to carbon emissions

What my year of green living really brought home was just how polluting the culture of cheap flights is. I pretty much bust my family's carbon budget, undoing many of the careful carbon savings we'd made, by jetting off to Jamaica to explore carbon offsetting. My carbon guru was very strict: he said if you've pumped the CO2 into the atmosphere it has to be counted, even if you pay someone else to cut their carbon by the same amount. So my advice is to try to fly less. Instead of jetting off to some European capital why not take a break here in Blighty?

10. TURN OFF THE TAPS

Tap
Brits use an average of 150 litres of water a day

As climate change alters weather patterns, water use is increasingly becoming an issue as well as carbon. In The Gambia people use an average of 4.5 litres of water a day. Here in Britain we use an average of 150 litres a day. I've got water butts in the garden and have tried (not always successfully) to remember to do the little things like turning the tap off when I brush my teeth. My composting guru even persuaded me that we could use the toilet less by urinating in our compost bin. I did try this out but since our compost bin is in the front garden it wasn't - how shall I put this - something you'd want to do every day.

  • Go Green Or Else will be aired on BBC One and on this site on Monday 5 March at 2030 GMT.


  • VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
    Watch Go green or else!



    SEE ALSO
    Go green or else!
    02 Mar 07 |  Panorama
    Ethical links
    06 Apr 06 |  Newsnight
    I am the ethical man
    22 Feb 06 |  Newsnight
    My carbon footprint
    22 Feb 06 |  Newsnight

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