5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 006 – 20 May ’19]

Today got off to a buzzing start.

I started early and got a lot done.

But then I read this report on the BBC and I realised there is so much more to do.

Maybe I need to up my five a day to ten a day…

1. Moving to an ethical bank – Triodos

I currently have my business bank account with NatWest (RBS) and my personal account with Co-operative Bank.

NatWest has never made any great claims about its ethical or environmental credentials.

The Co-op has – but has rather fallen from grace in recent years.

It’s time for me to get my act together and move to a bank that is better fitting with my planetary aspirations.

I took a peak at the Ecology Building Society which I have used before but it is not a full bank and has a somewhat limited range of services.

Instead I chose Triodos Bank which has a very strong ethical and enviromental basis to all they do.

I have applied for a Personal Acccount in the first instance, but a business account may follow shortly.

2. Hey Tesco, can I get a plug-in?

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was contacting the supermarkets we use asking if they have plans to install electric car charging points at their stores.

We are getting an electric car this summer and I am really keen to see the network of charging points expand – particularly in Wales.

Today I got my first response from a supermarket. A very helpful customer services person called Jenny from Tesco actually called me this afternoon to tell me their charging point plans.

They have done a deal with Pod Point to install electric car charging points at their stores.

Tesco have recently put their first charging station in Wales at their Llansamlet store in Swansea.

They have plans now to install charging points at 600 stores over the next 3 years. This represents about a quarter of all their stores.

Three electric cheers to Tesco. Bring them on.

3. There’s no poo on my head

A couple of years ago I read an article on Treehugger about the ‘No Poo’ movement.

Seemed a bit weird at the time – I had used shampoo to wash my hair twice a week for the past 56 years.

But I decided to give it a go.

Twice a week now I just rinse my hair in the shower – nothing added, just eau naturelle.

For the first couple of weeks I wasn’t sure. How could I still be clean?

But then I just forgot about it and let the natural oils in my hair do their job.

Now it is doesn’t even cross my mind to use shampoo.

I’ve saved shampoo, I’ve saved plastic, I’ve saved money.

Nothing mind-blowing … maybe 6 bottles of shampoo a year.

But imagine if just 10% of the population of the UK joined the No Poo movement that could be 200 million plastic bottles of shampoo saved each year.

4. Search, Search and plant a tree

If you use the web and are even a little bit eco inclined you really ought to be using Ecosia (ecosia.org).

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees.

It uses the profits from promoted sites in its searches to fund tree planting projects around the world.

So far they have funded over 55 million trees.

I think it was @steevc who first alerted me to Ecosia.

I have been using it on and off for a while but today I installed it as my default search engine in Brave.

5. The Daily Donation – World Bee Day – Friends of the Earth

It’s been World Bee Day today.

Bees have been having a hard time in recent years – I figured they could do with a little help.

Friends of the Earth UK have been running a bee campaign – The Bee Cause – for a while now.

As part of their campaign FoE are offering a Bee Saver Kit.

So for today’s donation I gave £15 and a Bee Saver Kit is now buzzing its way to me.

I am getting a real buzz out of this challenge.

I am wondering where I can take this project.

I am already promoting it on Twitter.

All suggestions welcome for more ways to grow this…

[ all images from pixabay.com ]

5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 004 – 18 May ’19]

Motoring along to day 4 of the challenge.

I really feel I am getting the wheels rolling now.

Every day I dig a bit deeper and think a bit harder about what I do and the impact my actions have.

Can I do better?

1.  Electric Test Drive # 1 – Hyundai IONIQ

Today we had our first test drive in an electric car.

First up it was the Hyundai IONIQ at the Hyundai dealer in Aberystwyth – Shukers.

There are hybrid and full electric versions of the IONIQ. Unfortunately Shukars only had the hybrid version in stock but switched over to full electric mode this was just about the same as driving the full electric version.

The car drives super smooth and super quiet. It has a 170 mile range and an impressive array of electronic gadgetry onboard.

I certainly enjoyed driving it and it is definitely in the running. Although the split rear window and the 3 year age of the model do pop a couple of ticks on the negative column for this car.

Hyundai have another longer range electric model – the KONA with a more impressive 250 mile range – but the first batch has sold out and there won’t be any more available until March 2020.

Next on our test drive schedule before making a final choice are the Renault Zoe and the Nissan Leaf.

2.  Hey Supermarket, can you charge me up?

The big thing with electric cars is the range and the availability of charging stations.

There has been significant growth in the number of charging places in the past year but in Wales they are still pretty thin on the ground.

One obvious location for charging points is supermarkets. You could plug your car in while you do your shopping and it should be 80% charged by the time you come out.

I know a growing number of supermarkets in England are plugging in to the charging network but in Wales only a small handful are hooked up.

So I have started contacting all the supermarkets we visit across west and south Wales asking them if they would consider having a charging point.

I kicked off with Morrisons and Tesco this evening, more to follow.

Do the supermarkets around your area have electric charging points?

3. Too Good To Go is a super good idea

This is not something I have done as it is not available where I live, but my eldest daughter in Bristol used it for the first time today.

It is such a good idea I really wanted to share it.

Too Good To Go is a phone app where restaurants offer up at very cheap prices their surplus meals that will go to the waste stream if not used straight away.

My daughter loaded up 3 boxes of breakfast ingredients all for £2.50 (US$3.25) this morning from a hotel 10 minutes away. This was a great deal for a hard-up student – or anyone that wants to save money and save food waste.

It is mainly in the big cities but well worth checking out if you a city dweller.

According to the website Too Good To Go is already working with over 23,000 food donating partners in 11 countries across Europe. It has saved over 14 million meals equivalent representing a reduction of over 36 million Kg of CO2.

The app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

They also have a whole bunch of jobs on offer in case you are in Europe and looking for a job with a planet friendly company…


4. Organic, local, artisan bakery. Nail. Head

I visited a new bakery not too far from me today.

I knew they were setting up a while back but hadn’t realised how much they had expanded their range.

All sorts of loaves, buns, pastries and even some lovely cheese sticks.

It is organic, hand-baked on the premises, using artisan methods and not too far from me.

The prices are a good bit higher than supermarkets but in terms of quality and planet friendliness the products from this bakery are in a different league.

Definitely on the treat list when we don’t get round to baking ourselves.

5. The Daily Donation – The Soil Association

The Soil Association, based in Bristol, has been at the forefront of the organic movement in Britain since 1946.

They are the UK’s leading organic certification body and do sterling work promoting organic food production.

They were once on my target list of places to work, but that never came to pass.

Today to show some support I sent a £10 donation. I might upgrade that to a regular membership donation on the next round of donations.

Another great day on the planet.

I am feeling more fully charged up about this challenge with each passing day.

Maybe, just maybe I can make a teeny-weeny micro-bit of difference.

If I do, I’ll be happy. If I don’t – at least I tried.

[ header image from pixabay.com // other images by @pennsif ]

5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 002 – 16 May ’19]

So it worked, I’ve now completed Day 2 and done another five good deeds for the planet.

And number one on today’s list, for me is a pretty big score.

One million plastic cups saved. Bang. Armchair activism at its best.

Thank you Waitrose – good work.

Here comes five…

1.  No More Plastic Peach Tea

Last weekend we were in Abergavenny in mid/south Wales.

Abergavenny is one of the few towns in Wales with a Waitrose store – a more upmarket supermarket with a large range of organic products.

It also has a nice litte cafe and as it was lunch time we decided to have some refreshments.

I chose peach tea. It was served in a disposable plastic cup with an unasked for straw.

This rather suprised me as by the entrance was a sign saying that Waitrose are working towards eliminating disposable coffee cups as part of their progressive sustainability policy. They also have a specific policy section on their website entitled ‘Prioritising our plans for plastic‘.

I had seen in the cafe other drinks such as orange juice being served in glasses. The peach tea was an open and shut case. Ditch the plastic cup.

So Monday morning I went into action.

I tracked down the appropriate Customer Service department, explained the folly of the situation, and after one phone call and four emails I got the commitment I was looking for…

“We will be working hard to ensure all our cafes from now on will be serving peach tea in a glass with an optional straw.”

Waitrose have 123 cafes across the UK. If they each serve an average of 25 peach teas a day for 360 days a year…

That’s over a million disposable plastic cups saved each year.

Result! Back of the net. Job done. Armchair activism in action.

With all due smugness I am just a little bit proud of this.

Now I just need to follow up and check they follow through. If you are near a Waitrose with a cafe have a peach tea and let me know how they serve it…

2.  A Vegan Day

I’m not a vegan – I keep chicken keeping homesteader.

But I am a vegetarian. I have been since doing a Vegan special edition of The Alternative Lifestyle Show last April with @teamsteem, @ura-soul, @lenasveganliving, @choogirl, @krnel, @freedompoint and others.

And I am an ‘almost-Vegan’ – it is only a few eggs and a bit of cheese left to go.

I do like to have at least half the days of the week as totally vegan days.

Today was one of them.

And I ordered a new vegan cookbook too… ‘15 Minute Vegan: Fast, modern vegan cooking

3. Greening up the kitchen

There are quite a lot of throw-away cleaning items used in the kitchen – scourers, cleaning cloths, washing up brushes.

Many of them are plastic based.

While it is tricky to avoid the disposable nature of the items, at least we can make some amends if they are made of recycled plastic.

I have just picked up a range of items that fit the bill from Eco-Force.

The scourers and sponges are made of recycled plastic and foam, the cleaning cloths are recycled and washable.

The washing-up brushes (not shown in the photo) have detachable cleaning heads so you only throw away the heads and reuse the handles.

We will give them a go, and report back.

4. Little mouse – charge yourself

To cut down on wires on my desk I prefer to use a wireless mouse.

My most recent one used a single AA battery.

I could have used a rechargeable battery and even charged it in my solar battery charger. But that is a bit of a hassle and never lasts very long.

Now I have got a rechargeable mouse that just uses a usb cable to charge off the PC.

This is the Cimetech mouse I got today…


5. Donation to Denmark Farm Conservation Centre

I was going to donate to Extinction Rebellion today but my donation was blocked by PayPal.

I don’t know if this was a temporary glitch or PayPal not liking Extinction Rebellion. I will try again tomorrow.

In the meantime I donated £10 to Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.

This is an organisation in west Wales that does some great conservation and environmental education work.

They also run excellent courses – I have been on quite a few there.

You can combine their courses with a stay in their super eco-friendly Eco Lodge if you fancy a break in the Welsh countryside while you learn a new skill.

This is my second five for the planet.

I am not sure I will be able to repeat my ‘Waitrose Win’ too often.

But I will keep on trying…

[ all images by @pennsif ]

5 things I have done today to help the planet… [Day 001 – 15 May ’19]

Following on from my post yesterday about getting back into environmental campaigning I thought it best to start at ground zero.

Me, my family, my home. What can we do here, now, today that will make a little bit of difference.

It may just be a little bit, but a lot of little bits can make a big bit.

So I’m setting myself a challenge. Every day. To do five things that are ‘planet positive’.

Here goes…

1.  100% Recycled Toilet Rolls

I thought I would start at the bottom and work up.

It may not seem like much, but we all use toilet paper every day in every way.

Today we switched to Renova 100% recycled toilet rolls.

There are plenty of recycled toilet rolls on the market but this one is available readily in bulk on eBay or even better from the new Good Club – both at a pretty good unit price of 26p (USD 0.33).

2.  Electric Car

We are very keen now to switch to an electric car.

The ranges are getting better and the number of charging stations increasing – even in rural Wales.

We are looking at cars from Nissan, Renault and Hyundai at present as they have dealers within a couple of hours from us.

Today I called the Hyundai dealer in Aberystwyth to see if they have any electric cars available to view.

Hyundai have two fully electric models – the IONIQ Electric and the KONA Electric.

The dealer has the IONIQ in stock so we are going to take a look and test drive on Saturday. The KONA has a waiting list until next January – it must be popular!

3. Furniture Giveaway

Over the years we have collected a lot of furniture. We have too much – and are now trying to downsize.

Today we gave away two office chairs and two beanbags to a young couple just setting up home nearby.

Saves them buying, saves us taking to the tip. Saves the planet providing more precious resources.

We still have more to giveway – Freecycle here we come…

4. Ethical Consumer Magazine

Ethical Consumer is a great magazine that gives the low-down on the environmental and ethical performance of companies to help you decide who to buy from. They cover all manner of consumer products and services.

The latest edition includes guides on supermarkets, cat & dog food, cooking oil and paint. Coming up in future editions they will be covering toilet paper, nappies, over-the-counter medicines, laptops, toothpaste, email providers and makeup.

The magazine has been running since 1989. I let my subscription lapse some years back.

Today I re-subscribed. It costs £29.95 for six issues a year – available in both print and digital editions.

How we spend our money and what companies we buy from really is one of our most powerful personal campaigning tools. Be informed, spend wisely, help the planet.

5. Donation to the Centre for Alternative Technology

If I can manage it I am going to try give a small donation to an environmental charity or campaigning organisation every day.

This will be funded as far as possible from what I earn on these daily posts.

Today I donated £10 to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, north Wales.

CAT has a very special place in my life. It really is where it all started for me way back in 1974.

If you dig back in my posts you will find at least part of the story. It’s as important as penguins.

This is my first ‘five for the planet’.

If you fancy joining in this challenge I would love to hear from you.

Maybe we will even need a hashtag…

[ all images by @pennsif ]

Heading back to where I came from…

I’ve mentioned in several posts before my background in environmental campaigning.

I spent many years involved in Friends of the Earth from local volunteer to regional director with many roles in between.

They were great days in the 1970’s, ’80’s and ’90’s particularly. I enjoyed them immensely.

But life changes and I moved into other areas.

The issues that I was campaigning on then have, by and large, not gone away. The issues have become problems.

And now the problems have become a crisis. And that a crisis is becoming an emergency.

That emergency now teeters on the brink of becoming a catastrophe…

Climate, extinction, pollution, plastics, desertification, degradation.

Take your pick. They are all breaking bad.

My Personal Dilemma

This presents me with a dilemma.  Do I sit back and let the world go to pot.

Or do I stand up and be counted again.

Four decades have passed since I first manned the environmental barricades. A lot has changed. And age has left me less nimble than before.

But back in the day I was pretty good at what I did. And I have learnt a lot over the years that may come in handy.

Although I had retired from active service I have decided to re-enlist again and do my duty.

I have only have one life. We only have one planet.

Make it count.

Priorities must change.

[ image from pixabay.com ]

Pennsif’s Progress – Can Steem save the world?

As I mentioned in a recent post I am a utilitarian.

I have to find a use in everything I do.

Steem is no exception.

I have never been a social media person so that potential use of steem doesn’t really cut the mustard for me.

When I arrived on steem I thought I would just be writing about prepping and homesteading. And I did. And it worked. But the audience was small.

As a platform to disseminate ideas and spread the word it is very limited. The audience is just too small.

There had to be another use for steem to keep me steeming on.

Was it as a means to earn money, a secondary income steam?  Well maybe, but even after 16 months, and now earning moderately good post rewards, for the hours I put in I am earning less than a third of the national minimum wage in Britain.

So there had to be something more…

For me I have found that something with A Dollar A Day.

This has given me my purpose on steem. Through running this project and so far raising over $3000 I can help make the world in some modest way a better place.

Students are learning, children are being fed, women are learning skills, trees are being planted.

It is only small, but it is a million times bigger than nothing.

Now I want to go further. The power of steem is becoming clearer.

We have in our hands a tool that has never existed before in the history of humankind – the ability to send money anywhere, anytime, instantly and for free.

Steem is an equaliser, an amplifier, and potentially a powerful agent for change.

What more can we do with it?

How can we use it to make the world a better place?

We can provide good jobs at good rates of pay around the world like @oracle-d, we can fund projects that make lives better like @fundition, we can disseminate real news and spread the truth like @informationwar, we can clear rubbish and pollution like @cleanplanet.

I am pretty sure that most people on steem will agree. The world is far from perfect and it is a world that needs saving.

How can steem play a part in that?


Pennsif’s Progress #589 – Hothouse Earth – how can I prep?

Last night I read a headline on the BBC :

>> Climate change : ‘Hothouse Earth’ risks even if CO2 emissions slashed

It made me wonder, and it made me worried.

Some people dispute the science of climate change, many people don’t.

Either way, the hard reality is that weather patterns are wobbly, and the climate seems to be taking on a life of its own.

This summer for example has seen heat records broken with abundance across Europe. Even in my usually wet and windy Wales it has been super hot and super dry these past couple of months.

My neighbour came round last night and told me his well has run dry and he is totally out of water. Up on the hills his sheep are braking through fences trying to find water as all the springs that usually provide for them have stopped flowing.

On our homestead we are just hanging on, but our garden and our trees have been hit hard.

Whichever the climate science blows, as a prepper I need to be prepared.

I have a duty to my family, our animals and our homestead to ensure we are not put at any living disadvantage from our ongoing journey to an offgrid state of being.

First stop, water

As we have learnt this summer water is a key point of inflection as the climate makes its twists and turns.

We are not connected to the mains. We have a mountain spring that fills two 5000 litre tanks.

Alongside those we have an old well and a lake. While these give us some resilience it is not foolproof by any means.

I have long had plans to install two more similar tanks just below the first two. If we get another very dry summer next year these new additional tanks will have to move to the top of the investment list.

Having sufficient water is half the story. Getting it to the crops and the fruit trees is the more difficult part.

Hosepipes and watering cans are not an efficient way of distributing water over a large area. Installing some form of drip irrigation system, particularly in the polytunnel is a must.

Then comes winter…

While summers are likely to be hotter and drier, weird weather times will likely bring colder and stormier winter times.

Our house is a 200 year old stone farmhouse. It is not thermally efficient.

We need to continue work on the insulation for one part of our winter prepping.

More importantly we need to resolve our heating dilemma.

Currently we are using oil for our heating. But this is a costly, increasingly unreliable and environmentally inappropriate option.

With 15 acres of woodland some form of wood burning system will be our way to go for heating.

We have one woodstove and one open fire in our house, but we really want to move over to a full-on wood/biomass boiler solution.

We have had the quote for the biomass boiler installation but it is a big one, so we are not sure yet how and when that will come to pass. But it is on the shopping list and when steem moons to $10 I’ll be all over it.

And then there is everything else to do !

Prepping for climatic change is a big challenge. Will it come gradually or suddenly and catastropically?

I guess gradual, but if you watch the right movies you might think differentyl.

If it is sudden and catastrophic who knows what will go down. Mass migrations could become the order of the day. Crop failures and food shortages will become commonplace. Electricity brown-outs and power grid failures will be a regular occurrence.

There could be some rough times ahead…











Pennsif’s Progress #591 – Reducing my footprint, increasing my impact

As I get older and the days tick by I find I am increasingly refining my goals in life.

At a certain point in life one realises that the phrase “you have all the time in the world” no longer has any bearing. Time becomes your most precious resource. And every day counts.

So dreams of opening a restaurant, or building a house with a balcony, or learning six languages, or writing a science fiction novel, or travelling to every continent, while still valid and potentially possible, have to be filtered.

The realisation, and acceptance, that you are unlikely to achieve everything in life you had hoped to is harsh but necessary.

I have now signed that pledge of acceptance and am narrowing my life plan to those things I do so want to achieve.

In fact that want is more than just a want, it is a desire I am fiercely whipping up into a compulsion.

Compulsion can be read with a negative inflection but as I mentioned in a previous blog I only have two modes of operation – full-on or not at all. I don’t do half-ar$ed.

So what I am going to do, I am going to do to the biggest, the best and the boldest of my abilities.

I have now settled on my two remaining goals – to minimise my footprint, and to maximise my impact.

Minimising My Footprint

I live on a homestead. We have our own water supply and we deal with our own sewage, we produce much of our own food and the percentage increases year on year, and we have planted 10,000 trees on our property.

We have traveled some fair distance on our journey to reduce our footprint on the planet.

But we still have a long way to go.

Our electricity usage is one area we are really keen to cut down on. In fact as I wrote about yesterday our goal is to move towards going offgrid – but frustratingly steem’s low price is holding us back on that at present.

The second big area I want to deal with is our use of petrol for car transport.

Living in a very rural area, reliance on public transport is not viable, so getting an electric car would be the next best option.

And if we could charge that car from our own solar electricity even better still.

There are a thousand other ways in which we can, should and will reduce our ecological and carbon footprint. But we are on the right path and I relish the challenge of day by day getting better and better.

Maximising My Impact

I have always been an activist, campaigning in one form or another for a better world.

I think I got it from my mother. She wouldn’t take any crap, and she was always getting involved in local community activities.

Much of my early adult life was spent working, at various levels, for one of Britain’s major environmental campaign organisations.

Then I took a few years out to set up a business and raise a family. But these past few years I have been retracing my steps and rejoining the battle.

And in the past year steem, particularly through A Dollar A Day, has opened a new channel to bring about some worthwhile change.

Now I am ready for action and I want to do more.

And more.

And more.

I have just today launched a new @communityaction project where I will be focusing most of my activity bridging the on and the off steemchain worlds.

Hopefully this will give me one more route to make a positive impact on the world.

I don’t want to have my name in lights or on a plaque on the wall, but I do want to do my bit.

And one day when my grandchild asks that fateful question “What did you do Granddad to save the planet?” I will be able to answer “Everything I could”.




Pennsif’s Sustainability Curation Digest for MSP – week ending 24 June 2018

Another week as Sustainability Curator for the Minnow Support Project and another great bunch of sustainability related posts.

Keep them coming, I’m learning loads.

And it is great fun too !

So here are five more most excellent posts…

My Five Picks of the Week

How To Make Cold Without A Fridge by @taliakerch

What do you do in a hot country with no fridge, and you have fresh food to keep cold?

Nigerian teacher Mohammed Bach Abbah came up with a very clever idea… and won $100,000 for doing so.

@taliakerch reveals all in her post…

Emergency repairs on one of our milk goats by @wwf

What do you when your milking goat tears her udder, and you can’t afford an expensive vet?

You use good hygiene, your personal medical skills, the resources you have to hand and some accumulated knowledge to fix it yourself.

White Walking Feather @wwf tells how he and @carey-page overcame their fears and successfully treated their wounded goat…

Creating a Guinea Fowl Alarm System by @brimwoodfarm

How can you protect your chickens from predators when you can’t be there to watch over them?

You set up a guinea fowl alarm system.

Geoff at @brimwoodfarm tells us how he is rearing guinea fowl as guardians for his chickens…

Original Pictorial details of how I do my own outstanding rabbit barbeque (Step by step) by @matthewthonyit

Rabbits are a compact, low maintenance popular meat animal amongst homesteaders.

Once you have dispatched them what do you do next?

Matthew @matthewthonyit gives step by step instructions on how he prepares his outstanding rabbit barbeque…

Hot Process Soap Making – How-To by @powellx5

As a homesteader making your own soap is a great skill to learn.

It it definitely on my short list of things to learn as soon as I have time.

@powellx5 provides an excellent step by step on how to get started…

I will be on the lookout now for posts to include in this weekly Sustainability Curation Digest.

I am also always seeking out new guests for the Alternative Lifestyle Show that I host on MSP Waves Radio every Friday.

If you haven’t listened to the show before you can hear last week’s episode here :

If you are interesting in coming on the show, or if you have suggestions for suitable posts for this digest, feel free to comment below, or contact me on Discord @Pennsif#9921.

I also run a charitable giving project called A Dollar A Day – you can read more about that here :

I am looking for more projects to support with that and I am particularly interested in finding some sustainability / renewables related projects.

The Minnow Support Project has multiple curators that pick five posts from under-valued minnows each week to highlight through MSP3k. This way MSP and PAL can promote new writers and content creators on Steemit, and in effect reward them for doing a superior job.

[ header graphic by @pennsif // images from @taliakerch, @wwf, @brimwoodfarm ]

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