Connect with us


Earth Saver: part 12



After Clare’s Dad suggests giving Ben driving lessons for his next birthday the whole family end up discussing trading in their four-by-four for an eco-car.

It’s a wet day, and we’re driving into town to go shopping, when Dad mentions Ben’s 17th birthday, which is in November.

Since you’re going to be 17, how would like driving lessons for your birthday?” Dad asks, still watching the road.

That would be awesome!” Ben says, grinning.

I would’ve got you a car, but you know, with the job and everything…” Dad says, a little wistfully.

It’s okay”, Ben smirks, “I can learn in your car.

In the Jag!” Dad cries, “I think not, young man!

So if I want to drive into town or something, I’m going to have to drive this hunk of metal?” Ben cries.

I have to agree that I don’t like our 4×4 either, but not because of its speed, or handling, or whatever it is that Ben’s protesting about. We live on the edge of an upmarket town, with really good bus routes, and still Mum insists on driving us about in something that, according to Ben, was built for off-road. We’ve never been off-road, unless you count Mum backing onto the pavement. I really, really, hate this car. I remember reading an old article from 2006 saying that a quarter of Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions comes from transport, and that it was meant to rise. I wonder how much carbon dioxide is being given off now? As I listen to Dad and Ben discussing where the 4×4 is a good car to learn to drive in.

Dad…” I say, from the backseat, “I know I don’t know a lot about cars…. but couldn’t we sell this car and buy a more eco-friendly car, that would be easier for Ben to learn to drive in?

There’s a pause, as Ben and Dad seem to think.

That might, actually, be a good idea”, Dad says slowly, “This thing does guzzle a lot of diesel. Perhaps its time to switch to a car that’s a little cheaper to run.

Are you sure?” Mum says, “The reason we bought this car was to make sure the children were kept safe. And if Ben’s going to learn to drive I’d like him to be in the safest car possible.

I know”, Dad says, “But Clare has a point about it not being the most eco-friendly car, and honestly, we both know how much this thing costs to run.

Mum turns in her seat, to glance at me.

Clare, aren’t there any other ways of driving eco-friendly, without having to replace the car?” She asks, hopefully.

Well”, I say, “There’s lots of tips about how to save fuel, like avoiding short journeys and planning journeys so you don’t get lost and therefore waste fuel driving round in circles. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam you can switch off the engine, and make sure the tyres are fully inflated, because if they aren’t it can increase fuel consumption and emissions by 3%.”

See”, Mum nods, “Those are easy things we can do that’ll reduce the amount of fuel we need and the amount of pollution we create.”

But surely its a bit pointless if other cars are still going to be more efficient and eco-friendly”, I point out.

And cheaper to run”, chips in Dad.

And easier to drive”, Ben adds.

So what are you suggesting”, Mum asks, “That we swap the 4×4 for a hybrid?

What is a hybrid car, anyway?” Daisy suddenly pipes up, looking up from her phone.

Basically”, I explain, “It’s a car with two sources of energy, which are usually a normal engine and an electric motor.

Hold on, aren’t diesel cars just as efficient as hybrids?” Ben asks, “Compared to petrol cars.

I don’t know”, I admit, “But I do know there are now hybrid diesel cars.”

Could we even afford a new car?” Daisy asks, “I thought we were meant to be ‘saving’, isn’t that why I’m having to sew a pair of freaking curtains.

Daisy!” Mum warns.

If we sold this car, we’d have some money to buy a new one”, I say.

That’s a nice idea, but they’d be a shortfall”, Dad sighs, “We’d be selling this car second-hand, and buying a new car…

Who says it has to be a new car!” I interrupt, “Surely buying a second-hand car would be better? We wouldn’t be consuming new materials, we’d be re-using something, extending its life.

I suppose”, Mum says.

I think its a good idea”, Dad says affirmatively, “If we want to save money in the long term, and save the planet,” He adds, nodding at me briefly, “Then we need to do something big.”

You mean it?” I say excitedly.

If your mother agrees, then yes, I think we should start looking for a new car, and put this hunk of junk up for sale.”

I lean over to see Mum’s face. Mum looks uncertain for a second, then sighs.

It does make sense”, She concludes, “Alright.”

Trust me”, Dad smiles, “It’ll cut a load off our household outgoings. I mean, think of the amount we spend filling this car up? Think of the insurance we pay on it. And that’ll go up if we add Ben on as a driver.”

I’d forgotten that”, Mum says.

Insurance?” I ask, puzzled. I don’t really understand what insurance is. Only that the cars and house need it.

Actually, if you think about it”, Mum says suddenly, “Even if we bought a second-hand hybrid car, at 17, Ben’s insurance is going to be very costly. He won’t be able to afford it with just his weekend job and his allowance.”

Wait, aren’t you and Dad going to pay for my insurance too?” Ben asks.

No, of course not! You can’t expect us to pay for you forever!” Mum exclaims.

In which case”, Dad says, “Perhaps we should hold off on the driving lessons, for now…

Well, frankly, I think he should learn to drive once he’s a bit more mature anyway”, Mum says, “Like when he’s 21.”

What?!” cries Ben in disbelief.

How about a new computer game for your birthday?” Dad says.

Ben just groans. I just smile. We’re going to buy an eco-car!

Part one // Part two // Part three // Part four // Part five // Part six // Part seven // Part eight // Part nine // Part 10 // Part 11.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

Continue Reading


Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

Continue Reading