Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Don't you just hate those people that when ever you try to talk to them about climate change or sustainability, they are totally convinced that what ever they do, somehow their actions don't count?

8:30pm on the 28th of March for just one hour, everyone can get to take part in a global demonstration that proves that individual actions do count. Earth Hour 2009. What's more you don't have to even leave your house and you could save money on your electricity bill. All you have to do is turn your lights off for an hour.

If you want some ideas about what you can do during that hour, with no lights or tv, watch the pandas...

Literally millions of people from all over the world took part in last years Earth Hour event. Even Google's home page was black for the day.

I wonder what Craig (Transition House) will want to do ...

Rubbish award

Rubbish Diet Awards 2009 - Rubbish NewcomerMay I accept this rubbish award for Rubbish Newcomer on behalf of the Transition House and this blog.

Thank you Mrs Average.

[takes award and studies it for a moment]

Gosh, it's amazing what you can do with a Pringles tube and a load of bits and pieces from the bin.

On that note, please accept these rubbish flowers on behalf of all the rubbish bloggers who have been inspired by your rubbish adventures and for hosting this great Rubbish Diet Awards 2009 evening.

Rubbish flowersThis bouquet was made, at great expense (to the housework), but you will be pleased to hear that not a single heated greenhouse was used or air mile flown to get these flowers to you today. All the items can be re-used, if you so wish, the stalks are plastic bag wrapped knitting needles and the flowers strips of plastic yarn (plarn). Oh, and a little photo jiggery-pokery. Well, plastic bags are so difficult to find these days!

It only remains for me to say, good luck with the MediaGuardian Innovation Awards (MEGAS). Don't stay behind too long after the event to help them sort their rubbish, we can't wait to hear how you got on.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Age of Stupid Premiere

We were there! It was fantastic.

We went to the people's premiere in Cambridge (the film was screened simultaneously in 60+ UK venues - world record!), with a couple of friends. The atmosphere was great.

The film was brilliant (I know, I would say that, but really it was).

I urge you all to go and see The Age of Stupid, when it reaches a cinema near you sometime after the 20th of March.

In the film, Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance? All the footage from 2008 and before is actual footage, ie real, happened, not made up. It is very powerful. The main focus is climate change, but it also weaves in other issues like peak oil, poverty and consumerism by focusing on people in different parts of the world and their various struggles to make the world a better place.

After the film there was a live hook up with the premiere in London where Franny Armstrong (director) and Lizzie Gillett (producer) chatted with Pete and others in the film and everyone gave Ed Milliband a bit of a grilling about doing the right thing at the UN Climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Pete declared passionately that he would hand back his OBE and ask the Queen to disband the government if the government are generally "Stupid" about all things climate change related, like the giving the go ahead for the coal-burning power plant at Kingsnorth and the 3rd runway at Heathrow airport.

All of which you can see here:

The President of the Maldives got a standing ovation for his speech. He stated (via video) that the Maldives will be carbon-neutral within 10 years. Wow. You can watch the video now:

Message from the President of the Maldives from Age of Stupid on Vimeo
or at

Tony Juniper and the Transition HousewifeThe evening ended back in Cambridge where Rosemay Randall (Cambridge Carbon Footprint) and Tony Juniper (FOI director for 8 years) gave a couple of excellent speeches. Then Craig (Transition House) persuaded me that I needed to have my photo taken with Tony for this blog so here we are! (and yes I am wearing a dress!! well it was a premiere).

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Guerilla bagging

My first guerilla bagI've made my first guerilla bag!! I know I should give it away, but I'm going to keep it. I figure it gets the message out whoever is carrying it. Plus I haven't sewn with a sewing machine in ages, so the stitching is a little wonky and I think, actually, I've sewn the wrong three sides together - I'll call it a "practice" bag.

The idea is to make a bag out of material that would otherwise be landfilled and give them away to shoppers so that they use that instead of plastic bags. I got the material for my bag from a local charity shop (St Elizabeth Hospice shop came up trumps again). The old blanket was in the "rag bag", which means that it wasn't good enough to be sold, but seeing as I was going to cut it up it didn't matter that there was a hole in one section.

A label is sewn onto each new bag so that people can go to and find out about why plastic bags are soo wrong.

More and more people are taking their own re-useable bags with them shopping, especially if (like in our town) the main supermarket no longer gives bags away for free. But there are plenty of people (and shops) who use plastic bags, so I think guerilla bagging is a good thing. If you have a sewing machine the bag is quick and easy to make, there are instructions on the website.

You need to register a "pod" if you want to get the morsbags labels. If you'd like to join my pod it's called "presents" - I'll just be making bags to give away as presents in the first instance (I'll put something wrapped and lovely in it too).

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Worm spaghetti anyone?

Yesterday was a bright sunny day, so I decided to sort out my worms.

Wormery, composting worms you understand.

The wormery has been sheltering from the harsh frosts in the shed all winter. The cold weather has meant that the worms really haven't been converting much of our food waste into compost, but the change in the temperature means that they'll soon be back to their composting best. They are on their third wormery tier, so it was definately time to sort the worms from the compost and make space for more food waste.

Sorting the wormery compostStep one

Get the wormery out of the shed and lay some plastic sheeting on the grass.

Step two

Take the top tier off the wormery and set to one side.

Step three

Tip the other two tiers of worm compost onto the sheeting and use the empty tiers to weigh down the plastic sheeting edges.

Step four

Get all of the worms out from the compost and put the worms back into the wormery and use the compost.


Only it's never quite as easy as that, especially if your not that keen on handling worms!

The trick to sorting the worms from the compost is to understand that worms do not like to be exposed to the sun or to dry out. So they will seek dark, damp places.

With that in mind, I put some dampened newspaper onto the worm/compost mix and pile the compost up. The worms work their way down and towards the moisture, so the compost can be skimmed off the top. I keep a small container near me to rescue any rogue worms.

Worm SpaghettiTowards the end of the sorting process my mind usually flits to a book I read as a child, The Twits by Roald Dahl. The worms have so little space to hide from the sun that they mass together in a wiggling, wriggling worm spaghetti.

If any readers have young children and are thinking about getting a wormery, I'm sure that kids would love to help you sort your compost.

Incidentally, the wormery we have is the Can-O-Worms. We bought it (3 years ago) for about a third of the normal retail price through our local council. So if you are thinking about getting a wormery check out your council for offers first.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The artful bodger

I have had the most brilliant weekend. My husband (Transition House) arranged for us to spend 2.5 days with Mike Abbott - master of green woodworking ( It was fantastic.

Transition Housewife making a stool leg using a shaving horse and draw-knifeI have never worked with green wood before, it was so much fun and, unlike working with seasoned wood, it was peaceful, gentle and not dry!! I'll explain (Skip this paragraph if you know about green wood!!). Green wood is wood from trees that has recently been felled. It has not been dried (seasoned) and so it still wet. because it is still "green" we could work on it with tools and machines that didn't need any electricity. The process of making things out of the wood didn't dry our hands, it didn't create dust (so no need for face masks and goggles) and there was very little chance of getting splinters. What's more, because no heavy machinery was involved, we could hold conversations whilst getting on with the work. I say "work", - we made a load of useful things.

Stool made from green woodUnder the expert and skilled guidance of Mike, we made a fabulous stool, froe handle, club, maul (huge great club for whacking onto axes into logs), and a shaving horse. We both got to have a go at using a load of different tools including (my favourite) a pole lathe.

We even had time to see the wood that Mike gets all his timber from (and runs his courses from in the Summer).

Hanging from the stoolProbably the most impressive thing about the whole green woodworking malarky for me was Mike's technique for joining the mortice and tenon joints in the stool. Basically it all revolved around the fact that the wood will dry as times goes by. Therefore you have to make allowances for the shrinkage. If the mortice (hole) is made slightly smaller than the tenon, the tenon should never come loose. Certainly, when we had cramped one side of the stool together my husband was able to hang from it and the joints didn't budge one millimetre.

So now we have a shaving horse and draw-knife, so if I can find a source of good ash, I should be able to make a matching stool. If I find a suitably long and straight piece of ash I will definitely make a pole lathe and then I feel that I will be on the right course to be a proper bodger (someone who works with green wood). The question is, how long and how much practice will it take before I am the artful bodger? I'll definitely need to finish reading Mike's books, Living Wood and Green Woodwork, (that he signed for me) first.

We stayed, by the way, at a fab B&B called the Old Cow Shed. Richard and Helen were great hosts and I would totally recommend it if you are ever near Bromyard in Herefordshire.