Sunday, 30 January 2011

A convenient truth

This week's article is a guest post from Martin Wilkinson, of Muswell Hill Local Quaker Meeting. Martin will be leading a course at Woodbrooke on this topic, this coming weekend, 4-6 February.
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Economic inequality, of the sort we find in Britain, is very bad for us all. For our personal health and for the health of our society.

This truth, established by years of research and increasingly known to Friends through the Salter Lecture at the 2009 Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering in York, is presented in the book The Spirit Level – why more equal societies almost always do better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

The other side of the coin is, of course, that in more equal countries people are healthier and happier.

If income in Britain were as equal as it is in Japan or Sweden, we could expect to halve the number of murders and the incidence of obesity, cut the level of mental illness, reduce prison numbers and teenage births to less than one third of their present level, and almost double the number of people who feel they can trust most other people. Additionally, there would be significant improvements to levels of crime and drug-taking, to school achievement and many other social indicators.

So, why is this 'convenient'? Because it comes just as we fully realise that we can’t go on as we are, that free market economics have led us into financial disaster, and that the unthinking quest for economic growth is incompatible with keeping the planet in a fit state for people and the living environment.

The Spirit Level research has many helpful things to say.

First: it shows that greater equality of income in a country has huge social and health benefits; and similarly it shows that economic growth – in any country as rich as Britain – does no good at all. For the sake of the planet we have to realise that we cannot look to growth to solve our problems; and now we discover that growth was not worth pursuing anyway. But there is hope, because going for a fairer distribution of income would make us all healthier and happier, and would go a long way to solve the problems that feature in news headlines every week.

Second: the research shows that bigger economic differences between people create greater anxiety about status, and that is a major driver of excessive consumption. People use shopping, and possession of new and prestigious things, to shore up their self-esteem. Retail therapy indeed. In more equal societies there is less pressure to consume, and thus to work long hours to earn the money to buy all this stuff.

Third: more equal societies are more convivial. People are more ready to act for the common good, whether by recycling more, or giving more for development aid, or keeping to environmental agreements.

Fourth: this one is for Quakers and everyone else who has always known that greater equality is the best way for humans to live together: The Spirit Level research gives us firm scientific evidence, of a kind that could not have been produced until quite recently, to back up Quaker testimony on equality. It shows that people and communities thrive when there is respect and esteem for one another, but that wide social and economic differences lead to feelings of separation and disrespect that are harmful to ourselves and our society.

As Friends, we have a positive and exciting job to do: to understand this research, and how it connects with our testimony, and our understanding of the changes we need to make to lessen global warming and to care for the planet; and then to tell other people about it, and see how we and our politicians can change things for the better.

The Equality Trust has been set up to help people find out about the research. On the website you can find more information, a link to buy the book, and get ideas for action. In some places people are setting up local groups to share ideas and action. If you would like a speaker, contact Kathryn Busby at the Equality Trust;
or, for smaller or Quaker groups, contact Martin Wilkinson at

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An earlier version of this article appeared in Friends in Action, published by Quaker Peace & Social Witness, Friends House, 173 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BJ

Thanks to Martin for this post.
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Monday, 24 January 2011

Let's talk about insulation! (part 3 - walls)

This follows on from last week's post on windows, and the previous week's on roof spaces. Insulating walls isn't a DIY project, except in certain limited circumstances, and then only if you're a very experienced DIY-er! Insulating your walls is well worth doing; it saves a lot of energy in heating your home, and hence reduces carbon emissions and energy bills.

The first question is: what kind of walls do you have? Are they solid walls or cavity walls? Most houses built from 1920 onwards have cavity walls, and if your house was built before then it almost certainly has solid walls. Houses (or extensions) built in roughly the past ten years are likely to have cavity walls that are already insulated. A registered installer will check before doing any work, if you are unsure.

The easiest way to check what kind of walls you have is from the pattern of the bricks on the outside of the house. If your home has cavity walls, the bricks will normally have a regular pattern like this.

If your home has solid walls, the bricks will have an alternating pattern like this:

If the brickwork has been covered (with rendering or other cladding) you can also tell a cavity wall by measuring its thickness. Go to a window or door on one of your external walls, where you can see the thickness of the frame and the recess and measure there. If the wall is more than 260mm thick then it probably has a cavity; a much thinner wall will probably mean that it's solid.

Cavity walls are the easiest and least expensive to have insulated. Your energy supply company can probably do the work for you, or you can find your own installer (information on doing this appears at the end of this post). Your gas supplier may be subsidising the work (to meet their own carbon reduction targets), and if you are over 60, or in receipt of certain state benefits you may be entitled to have the work done free. There are also some grants available - all details at the end.

Cavity wall insulation is blown into the cavity from the outside of a house.

Every part of the wall must be filled with insulation, so it's important that the installer can reach all your external walls. If you live in a mid-terraced house, the will need to run their equipment through your house to reach the back walls. A large lorry will park outside your house, and a long hose will be run from the lorry to your house. Small holed will be drilled in a grid pattern over the whole wall surface, and a nozzle inserted into each in turn. A generator in the lorry will drive a compressor that blows the material into the cavity.

The holes will be filled afterwards, and a good installer will also paint over them to match the brickwork, mortar or rendering, so you won't be able to see where the work was done. The length of time needed for the work depends on the wall area to be filled, and on the ease or otherwise of access, but a couple of hours is an average estimate.

If you life in a terraced or semi-detached house, your cavity may be continuous with your neighbour's. In this instance, the installers will fit a barrier from the top to the bottom, inside the wall along the line where the properties adjoin, to prevent your insulation ending up in your neighbour's walls! Imagine a very long bottle-brush on a string, with no handle . . . that's what the barrier looks like. I couldn't find a picture!

CAUTION: if you have any damp patches on your internal walls then they should not be insulated until the problem is sorted out. You should speak to a builder who specialises in damp prevention about this.

Doing the maths
If you pay the full price of the work yourself, it will cost roughly £250, depending on the size of your house. It will pay for itself in two years in reduced energy costs, and will save something around 550kg of CO2 emissions per year, again depending on the size of your house and how you heat it.

Solid wall insulation
If your home was built before or around 1920, its external walls are likely to be solid rather than ‘cavity walls’. Solid walls do not have the gap present in cavity walls, and this allows more heat to pass through them. In fact, twice as much heat can be lost through an un-insulated solid wall as through an un-insulated cavity wall.

But the good news is that, like cavity walls, solid walls can be insulated, either from the inside or the outside. If you look at the guest post that Harriet Martin wrote, about greening Cotteridge Friends Meeting House, you'll find a picture of internal solid wall insulation being installed. It's about halfway down the post.

Internal wall insulation is best carried out when you are re-plastering your walls or you’re changing major fittings in your bathroom or kitchen. It creates a lot of work and mess, and the room(s) will need redecorating afterwards, so it's most cost-effective if it's done along with other planned work.

External wall insulation will be more cost effective if your external walls need re-rendering; you may need planning permission if your property is listed or located within a conservation area. Each approach has its own pros and cons and conditions when it’s ideal or which make it unsuitable.

Internal solid wall insulation will cost anything between £5K and £9K, depending on the size of your house. It will pay for itself (in reduced energy bills) in anything between 10-25 years, depending on the initial cost, the size of the property, and how you heat it. It will save roughly 1.8 tons a year of CO2 per year(again, depending on the details of the property).

External solid wall insulation will cost anything between £10K and £15K, depending on the size of your house. It will pay for itself (in reduced energy bills) in anything between 25-40 years, depending on the initial cost, the size of the property, and how you heat it. It will save roughly 1.9 tons a year of CO2 per year(again, depending on the details of the property), and is slightly more thermally efficient than internal insulation.

Internal solid wall insulation is usually installed professionally, and should not be attempted by the average DIY-er; only the very experienced should install it themselves. Approach an installer (see details at the end) that provides dry lining or plastering and ask them to show you what measures can be taken to prevent condensation forming on the wall structure once it is insulated.

External solid wall insulation will definitely need a specialist installer trained by approved system designers.

Comparing internal and external solid wall
Both internal and external solid wall insulation substantially reduce a home’s heating costs and CO2 emissions. However they are quite different in terms of the effect they have on your home:

Internal wall insulation
• Generally cheaper to install than external wall insulation
• Doesn’t alter the appearance of outside walls but it will slightly reduce the floor area of any rooms in which it is applied (the thickness of the insulation is typically around 100mm).
• Is ideally installed at the same time as internal renovation work and re-plastering as this will reduce the costs of the installation.
• As work is being done to the interior of the house, there will be some disruption but the disruption can be minimised by doing it room by room.
• Skirting boards, door frames and external fittings need to be removed and reattached to the new wall surface.
• Can make it difficult to fix heavy items to inside walls – although special fixings are available to help.
• If there are unresolved problems with penetrating or rising damp, these should be resolved before installation.

External wall insulation
• Can be applied without disruption to the household and does not reduce the floor area of your home.
• Renews the appearance of ageing outer walls. Planning permission may be required so check with your local council before undertaking any work.
• Fills cracks and gaps in the brickwork, which will reduce draughts.
• Increases the lifetime of a home’s wall by protecting the brickwork.
• Reduces condensation on internal walls and can help prevent damp, although it will not solve rising or penetration damp which must be resolved prior to insulating the walls
• Is ideally installed at the same time as other refurbishment work to outer walls as this will save you a lot of money
• Requires good access to the outer walls so that the installers can apply the insulation
• Not recommended if the outer walls are structurally unsound and can not be repaired.

Installing rigid interior insulation boardsThis insulation technique involves fitting plasterboard backed with rigid insulation onto the inside of walls. Typically the insulation will be made of either expanded or extruded polystyrene (EPS or XPS), polyurethane or phenolic foam. The insulation should be at least 60mm deep to meet recommended standards, and can be anything up to 100mm deep.

Think about the amount that this will reduce the usable size of your room. The end result depends on how many external walls each room has.

Before installation, it’s crucial to prepare the wall that’s to be insulated; its surface needs to be even. Where existing plaster has been removed and the brickwork is uneven, the wall must be levelled using a layer of plaster or render. Ask your installer if they do it as part of the job.

Once the wall is even, the insulation boards can be fixed straight to it using continuous ribbons of plaster or adhesive. Additional fixings should be used to hold the boards firm, and the joints between each board should be sealed to prevent air leaking out through the solid wall.

Alternative method - stud wall
With this technique, a metal or wooden studwork frame is attached to the wall and filled in with mineral wool fibre. It can then be plastered over, ready for redecoration. Mineral wool insulation, which is also used to insulate lofts, is a less powerful insulator than rigid insulation boards. So, to provide the recommended level of insulation, the mineral wool ‘filling’ needs to be at least 120mm deep.

This makes stud wall insulation thicker than rigid insulation boards, which means it will affect the size of your room a little more. But on the plus side, a stud wall is strong enough to hold heavy fittings.

Combination method
Rather than finishing off a stud wall with plasterwork, rigid insulation boards can be added at the final stage instead. This combination of techniques will boost the performance of your insulation and reduce your running costs and risk of condensation even further. It is also a good idea if the wall is very uneven; putting a stud wall on first will reduce the time spent preparing the surface.

If you’re planning to insulate your walls from the inside with insulation boards or a stud wall, then it needs to be clear of any objects – including radiators – so that the entire space can be insulated. Only external walls need to be cleared of objects, not internal partitions. Light fittings and pipe work will probably also need to be removed and reattached, so that they are flush with your new wall surface.

Skirting boards and door frames on external walls will also need to be removed and replaced on the new wall and areas round windows must be insulated at the same time as the walls, to prevent condensation.

Further information
For general information on all topics, visit the Energy Saving Trust
For external solid wall experts, visit Insulated Render & Cladding Association (INCA) or the National Insulation Association (NIA). This latter also lists cavity wall insulation installer.
Cavity wall information is also available from the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA)

There are grants and offers available to help pay for cavity wall insulation - you can search the grants and offers database (at the Energy Saving Trust) to see what's available or call your local Energy Saving Trustadvice centre free on 0800 512 012 0800 512 012. They will give you free, impartial, one-to-one advice on saving energy at home.
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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Let's talk about insulation! (part 2 - windows)

This follows on from last week's post on roof spaces. Insulating your loft, as discussed last week, doesn't have to be expensive, and is very cost-effective, paying for itself quite quickly in reduced heating bills.

Double glazing is a different matter - it isn't cheap! But it is effective, it increases comfort, reduces energy bills and carbon emissions, reduces noise from outside (when the widows are closed), and increases the value and saleability of your house.

I had planned to do both walls and windows this week, but this windows section is quite long enough, I think - walls to follow next week!

Double glazing, as well as adding an insulating layer to the glass, usually adds an excellent seal to all opening windows, cutting down draughts and heat loss. I say 'usually' becasue it does depend a little on the type of widows you have. Casement windows, that hinge open, get fitted with a rubber pressure-seal that eliminates draughts completely. However, if you have double glazed sash windows installed, you get the insulating effect of the double glass layer, but you don't get an airtight seal.

There are various materials from which double-glazed windows and doors are made. The most frequently seen is UPVC - the white plastic that you see everywhere. Some companies fit wood-framed units, and there are many choices to suit both financial and aesthetic considerations. The more beautiful styles are also - of course - the more expensive. Additionally, if you live in a conservation area, or in a listed building, there will be restrictions on what you are permitted to do - make sure to check with your local authority planning department before doing anything. You don't want to spend a lot of money on expensive double-glazing only to be told you have to take it all out again!

There is a portal, giving access to a vast array of information on double glazing options, at

If you're considering having double glazing fitted, make sure you get several companies to quote and show you what they would do. We got three quotes - a leading national large company, a regional medium-sized company, and a local sole-trader. The quotes - for doing the same work (windows, front door, sliding patio doors, fascia, bargeboards, gutters and cladding) were, respectively £20K, £15K and £10K (these are prices as they were 10 years ago).

The £20K quote was, we thought, excessive. The regional company didn't really want the work, it transpired. They did most of their business renovating whole streets at a time of council-owned properties. The didn't want to do one or two houses. So we went with the sole trader. This meant the work took longer - the age-old problem in the building trade of your contractor vanishing part way through the job to do a piece of work for someone else! So we lived with the scaffolding for rather a long time.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the sales/costing methods the companies use mean that the price per window tends to drop, the more windows you have done. I live in a terraced house, and the construction of the whole row is done in pairs of houses - so that the guttering downpipes occur every two houses, the cladding was run across two houses at a time, etc. So my neighbours and I - whose houses form such a pair - had the work done together. We benefitted from reduced scaffolding costs, and greater window discount.

The downside was that this also prolonged the work. If they'd been doing my house alone, they would have done front and back, and then finished. The point of doing two houses together was to reduce their costs - and hence ours - so they put one huge run of scaffolding across the two houses. They did both houses at the front, then the did my neighour's gable end (they're the end of terrace), then they did across the back of both houses. So it was quite a long stretch of being surrounded by scaffolding.

The other thing to be aware of is that scaffolding isn't kind to your garden. If you have flower beds or shrubbery areas up close to the house, they will suffer. You might like to plan the timing of the work so that you can cut back, or temporarily dig up, vulnerable plants. Equipment will be dumped all over your garden surface - lawn, gravel, or whatever - and booted feet will be tramping around. If you have a lawn, it will suffer . . . but fear not, it will recover.

The question of cat flaps! You can have them fitted, but better in an opaque panel than straight into the glass.

If your double glazing is well installed, it should be trouble-free, but small glitches can occur in anything - a lock might need replacing, for instance, or your fitted letter-box might break with constant use. Unless it's a major installation fault, be aware that your installers won't be interested in minor repairs - they're already onto other installation jobs, which is where they make their money. But there is now a secondary industry of firms doing minor repairs to double glazing (and sometimes even major repairs to older installations). You'll find them in your Yellow Pages, or Thompsons Local Directory, or you can Google 'double glazing repairs' and the name of your town.

There is another option, which is secondary glazing. I'm not going to write at any length about it, because I have no direct experience. It tends to be cheaper, can be visually less appealing and less conventient, but can be thermally efficient if it's done properly.

There are several different ways of creating secondary glazing. Some are fully openable, and give you access to existing window latches.

Others are fixed - one downside of these is is that you can't open those windows if you want to. So you might find yourself putting the secondary glazing up for the winter and taking it down for the summer . . . this might be a real disincentive!

If you Google 'secondary glazing' you'll find lots of information. Also, the BBC's climate change action website has some information on DIY secondary glazing.

Once you've got your warm, snug double-glazed (or secondary-glazed) doors and windows, there is one more thing you can do. In cold weather, you will notice that the area near the windows is still colder than the centre of the room - it's still a large area of glass, and there's still some temperature loss. Putting thermal linings in your curtains makes a huge difference, especially as the coldest weather is almost always at night.

You can buy thermal lining fabric, or you can buy ready-made thermal linings with header tape. You just gather them in the normal way, and hook them to the backs of your existing curtains. In the winter they keep heat in and noise out. In the summer, if you draw the curtains during the day, they keep heat out and keep the room cool.

I have a west-facing sitting-room and bedroom, and I leave the curtains closed during the day in the summer, while I'm out at work. When I come home, the sitting room isn't like an oven, and the bedroom remains cool enough to sleep in comfort. The linings are also 'blackout' so that early morning light through the curtains is reduced in summer, aiding a good night's sleep.

Walls to follow next week.
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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Let's talk about insulation! (part 1 - roof spaces)

I've been thinking for some time that I should do a post about insulation, and the cold weather over Christmas and New Year has prompted me finally to do it! When I posted last February about my solar electricity panels, and the previous November about my solar hot water panels, I didn't write then about insulation because I thought the panels were more interesting to people; that insulation was a deeply boring topic; and in any case everyone knew all about it already.

On the third reason there, I have been proved to be wrong. I've been really surpised by the number of people who've been reading this blog, or who have talked to me about these issues in other contexts, who have wanted advice on insulation!

It really does matter, and it really does make a difference - over a period of about 18 months, prior to having my solar hot water panels installed, I had my old windows replaced with double-glazing; had my cavity walls insulated, increased my loft insulation to about 12" (14-15cm), and put thermal linings in my curtains. This resulted in my gas bills being halved, and that was without turning down the thermostat.

Of all of these, the most cost-effective is loft insulation - it doesn't have to be expensive, and it has a huge effect. There are lots of products available now, some more expensive than others.

Black Mountain sheep's wool
At the expensive end of the range there's sheep's wool - effective, breathable, moisture-controlling, eco-friendly, supports sheep farmers. You can find out more here.

Wool with polyester
There are other products that blend sheep's wool with recycled polyester, making less expensive and a bit easier to handle. All these products come in rolls.

Warmcel pellets
Another 'natural' insulation product is Warmcel, which is made from fireproofed, shredded recycled paper - this comes as loose pellets. It is claimed that this has a 'negative carbon footprint' - that the embodied carbon stored in the product is more than the carbon used to manufacture and transport it.

You can also buy 'non-itch eco-fibre' made of recycled plastic bottles - this, too, comes in rolls.

The not-especially-eco, most usual and inexpensive material, is glass fibre in rolls. This is horrible stuff to handle - prickly and itchy, and you need to wear protective clothing and a mouth/nose mask.

You can also - a bit more expensive - buy it with each roll inside a huge plastic bag. This makes it much easier and more pleasant to handle, and it has one side of the plastic bag made of a heat-reflective material to add to the insulating effect.

All these products are easily available, because the big DIY chains, like BandQ, now stock them. And they're reasonably priced now, because they're subsidised - a partnership with British Gas means that BG subsidises the products that BandQ sells, and gets carbon-credits (actually renewables obligation payments) for doing so. [Blogger seems not to like me trying to type an ampersand - hence the slightly weird way of writing BandQ!]
Fill between the joists first

Each product comes with a recommended thickness to install for that particular product, taking into account its specific thermal properties. Typically, you put narrower rolls in first to fill the spaces between the joists,

then cover in the other direction
and then add wider rolls which you lay over the top, at right-angles to the joists.
If you're laying Warmcel, or some other pelleted material, such as rockwool, again you fill between the joists first, and then on top to the required thickness. (Rockwool is that grey/fluffy/fibrous material that you used to get in old-fashioned Jiffy-Bags, before they started putting bubblewrap layers in them instead.)

It's harder to do this yourself, as the easiest method is with blowing equipment (which is how they do cavity walls - more on that next week).

Rockwool being blown into a loft
Either of these methods will effectively insulate your loft, but won't give you storage space or anywhere you can walk on it - if you tread on the insulation, you'll end up falling through the plaster-board in the same old way!

Space Boards
being placed across joists
If you want storage/walking space, first you fill in between all the joists as above. Then, you decide how much area you want to be able to walk on or store things on, and you cover this with a double layer (you need two thicknesses to get enough insulation) of Space Boards or similar. And then you cover the rest, that you don't want to walk on, with rolls as above. You can walk, and place objects, directly on the Space Board, but it's a foam material and will eventually compress and its edges will crumble. You can be very finicky and cover the whole lot with screwed-down hardboard - which is what the manufacturers recommend.
Shelving standing on
wooden planks to spread load
What I've done is just lay planks (old shelving, in fact) where I want to stand anything heavy, to distribute the weight; and then I covered all the walking surfaces with offcuts of old carpet to prevent abrasion of the foam. If you already have part of your loft boarded , then you can put the space boards straight on top of the existing planking - and then cover the foam as needed, as above.
Reflective surface showing;
small tear shows material inside
In my own loft, I've used 'space blankets' (glass fibre in plastic bags) between the joists, and in the areas where I don't walk. All the space high enough to walk in is boarded over, and that's covered with Space Boards.

surface of Space Boards

Side view of Space Boards

And don't forget to insulate your loft hatch! An area of thin wood can lose a lot of heat into the loft space. Here you see a piece of block foam (actually sold as insulation for underneath concrete floors) - it has a heat-reflective surface on one side, and I've taped all the edges with duct tape, so they don't crumble with repeated use.

You can find out more at the Energy Saving Trust.

I'll write about walls, windows, etc next week.
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Monday, 3 January 2011

What happens to 10:10 now we're in 2011?

The 10:10 Campaign was one of the features of 2010, for people interested in sustainability issues, particularly climate change.

10:10 was founded by Franny Armstrong, director of the film about climate change, The Age of Stupid. Two things influenced her: a Guardian article by George Monbiot, laying out the kind of policies we’d need to cut the UK’s emissions very quickly, none of which sounded impossible to her; and the Climate Safety report (from the Public Interest Research Centre) that had identified a 10% cut in the developed world's emissions by the end of 2010 as the kind of target we should be aiming for, to maximise our chances of avoiding a climate catastrophe.

10% in 2010 seemed to Franny to be a far more tangible aim than the far-off targets – such as 80% by 2050 – that policymakers tend to talk about. It's easy for politicians, who know they won't be in office for that long, to talk about grand gestures like that; doing something that actually works is a different matter.

Franny and the Age of Stupid team gathered for a brainstorming session; everyone loved the 10:10 concept as it was simple, catchy, meaningful and something that everyone could get involved in – from businesses and hospitals to schools and families. Within weeks, the 10:10 idea had caught one. Local authorities, individual, celebrities, faith leaders, economists, universities – all wanted to be part of it.

10:10 was formally launched on 1 September 2009, when it took over Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (and the whole of The Guardian's G2 supplement). Within 72 hours more than 10,000 individuals, businesses, schools and organisations had signed up. Politicians very quickly saw that they had better be seen to be supporting it. At the time, I wrote to my MP (Conservative), asking him to support it, and asking him what he was doing to cut his own carbon emissions by 10%. I got a politician's answer from him - yes, it's a good thing; yes, we're glad lot's of people are signing up; yes, we in the government support it . . . but completely ignoring my question to him about what he was personally doing!

By the spring of 2010, similar campaigns in other countries were taking off, and the campaign name and website changed from 10:10 to 10:10 Global, with the UK organisation being 10:10 UK.

Later in the year, the campaign was given a boost by a day of action on 10 October - 10:10:10.

I had some interesting conversations with people who thought that 10% was all they had to do - they'd done their bit and now they could relax. There was dismay when I pointed out that what we need to do is 10% per year - year on year on year . . . 'But that's hard!' they protested. Indeed it is. The first 10% is the easy bit. The next 10% is harder, and progressively more so after that. Also hard is not lapsing. If one of your first 10% actions was, for instance, to stop buying pre-packaged ready-processed food, and cook properly, from scratch, from raw ingredients . . . then the moment you're tired, stressed, or pressed for time, it's all too easy to slip back . . .

The first 10% can usually be done by adjusting things that don't really have to make much difference to our way of life. If you do all the home insulation (see posts coming next week and the week after), then you can cut your emissions with no change of behaviour. Putting out the recycling, for the local authority kerbside collection, requries only a small change in behaviour. Changing our cooking and eating habits is a bit harder. Changing our travel and transport behaviour may be really difficult, depending on where we live.

In the UK about 27% of the nation's carbon emissions come from our housing stock (heating, lighting, etc); about 20% come from the whole food production and distribution system (this includes the food we eat, the food we waste, the packaging, storage and transportation); about 20% come from all transport emissions (including food transport emissions already mentioned). Of these transport emissions, about 0.4 - so about 8% of the grand total of emissions - come from private cars. These figures are a  few years old, so at a rough guess it's probably about 10% by now.

If you'd like to know more about your food footprint, you can calculate your food emissions.

The sum of the personal decisions we all take every day are estimated to account for about 40% of the total UK carbon emissions.

After food, housing, recycling and transport, our steps to our next 10% start to intrude further into personal behaviour. Recycling is all very well, but it's better not to create the waste in the first place - some people call this 'precycling'. A good way of reducing food miles is to grow your own veg; another way of reducing food-related carbon emissions is to eat less meat - or none at all. Beyond these, all our purchasing decisions are up for grabs - buy less, buy local; but mostly, buy less, of everything! And for what you do buy, use the LOAF principles (local, organic, fair-trade, animal-friendly).

But back to the specifics of the 10:10 campaign: Patrick Barkham had a feature in The Guardian at the end of December, reflecting on his personal 10:10 vow to buy no new clothes in 2010. For him this was a big deal! He writes:
I made a dramatic and almost total reduction in my consumption of new clothes in 2010. More importantly, I weaned myself off that shallow, short-lived buzz I once got from clothes shopping.
This last sentence is the important one - this is what will make new behaviours 'stick'. He also points to the significance of publicly visible accountability - because all his friends knew about his clothes pledge, they kept him up to the mark. He says that his more private pledges slipped much more badly - no-one could see. This is why this post follows on well from my previous one, at the end of last year, which was catching up with Lizz's year of eco-challenge. Lizz was working on the tougher challenges anyway, having already done most of the easy things in her life - and doing it all in public has kept her to her pledges.

So we all need help to make our intentions real and long-lasting. The 10:10 campaign continues into 2011 and beyond. They're starting up a new website called my10:10, to help people track their carbon emissions and compare themselves with their friends. They are testing it at the moment - if you'd like to be part of the testing and development, email them at They're also soliciting new campaigning and policy ideas - email them at ideas@1010uk.orgAnd they need donations to keep going - you can donate at

And most important of all, of course - make your own plans for your next 10% reduction in 2011, and tell all your friends, so they help you to keep it real!
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