Low impact living in a town – what can be done?

We live in Blackpool which is a seaside resort in the Northwest of UK, population of roughly 142,000, so we are a large town. Contrary to popular belief from my photos, we live in a terrace house surrounded by neighbours and the normal trappings of large town life. So until we get our dream home in the countryside what do we do to have a lesser impact on the environment and to live a ‘back to nature’ way of life. A simple guide to our low impact living.

Things we do now:

Composting:

We have 2 large compost bins (the council was giving them away for free at one point) in the garden and 4 compost boxes on the allotment. We put everything in them except meat/fish/plastic/fabric/tetra packs/bread. You need a good mix of wet things like teabags and dry things like cardboard, depending on where the compost bins are positioned (in a sunny spot etc) will depend on how long your waste turns into lovely compost.

completeKeep chickens:

We have 7 chickens at the moment and we average 4-6 eggs a day depending on the weather, if the girls are feeling good and their not having any diva moments. After the initial cost of building a coop (or buying one) they cost very little to keep, its something minimal like 27p per chicken a week. We feed them organic layers pellets, kitchen scraps, weeds and veg I have grown for them, they also love nasturtiums.

936648_10204521434135791_574893396450696703_nGrowing veg/fruit:

We grow lots of things in our back garden, it’s not huge either and 1/4 of it is taken up with the chicken enclosure, I have learnt to grow upwards to save space and have lots of various tubs, boxes and containers all over the place to make the most of our space. I also grow herbs either side of the back door, one lot is stood on an old chest freezer and the other lot is on top of a 1950’s dryer I salvaged from a skip. This is really handy for cooking and it deters slugs getting them too. We do grow more on the allotment too.

trikTransport:

I have a tricycle which is great for getting the shopping in or taking stuff to and from the allotment, Tom has a bike and so do the boys although theirs have been stuck in the passage between the houses (where we store them) for a couple of years. If we are going any long distance we either car share or use public transport.

Recycling:

We recycle most things, the usual like cardboard, plastics etc get collected by the local council every fortnight, we take our tetra packs from rice milk to the park where they have a dedicated recycling point or I cut them up and use them as planters. Food scraps get eaten by the dogs or chickens, clothing, bedding and other textiles get repurposed or used in craft projects, anything that’s too decent to cut up gets sent to the charity shop, shoes go in the shoe bank. We take reusable shopping bags when we go shopping, if we forget or don’t have enough we use the plastic bags again as rubbish bags.

020Wild food and foraging:

Depending on the time of year, I take to the local areas and do some foraging and wild food gathering. I usually preserve lots of things for use in winter, wild garlic starts the foraging season for me, Elderflowers are in bloom at the moment so I am looking forward to going out and gathering some of those to make cordial. Grab yourself a copy of Alys Fowers thrifty forager book to start with, to learn the basics, there are plenty of local cheap courses available too where you can gain loads of valuable knowledge.

DSCF2924Heating:

We fitted an open fire in our living room for winter, our house is pretty cold despite the insulation and double glazed windows. I know there is a debate about open fires because you are burning fuel which gives of smoke, not great for the environment but its comparable to using the resources to have the radiators on, all I know is, it saves us a fortune in the winter, we use scrap wood from pallets and skips, sometimes we are lucky and someone has cut down a diseased tree so we get some stumps. There is something really homely and cosy about lighting a fire in winter and all gathering around it, watching the flames dance with a cup of hot spicy blackcurrant, that you made in summer.

Other stuff:

We do the other basic stuff that any green family do like choosing eco products for washing, laundry etc, use recycled loo roll, buy fairtrade/organic where possible, check lights are switched off, unplug etc. I also organise skill swaps and social’s for like-minded greenies to gather and share ideas and resources. On our allotment site there are bee hives and we take part sometimes in looking after them and gathering the honey (which is great for my hayfever). We only use herbal remedies for illness too.

Stuff I aspire to:

We rent at the moment and plan on moving abroad so haven’t made any big changes to our home, except put the fire in (read that crazy tale on my other blog here) so when we own our own home we want solar panels and a wind turbine. I would also like a filter system on all the water including shower and bath, at the moment we filter the water we drink and cook with only.  I want to grow mushrooms and go on a foraging course to learn about them, I want to gather and preserve more foraged foods than I do now (note to self by a chest freezer), I want to swap to cloth pads for periods, I use Naturcare at the moment which is a good alternative. I also want to get a co-op going to buy food in bulk, I have tried and failed many times to get people interested but it would benefit us all.

We would love to hear from you what you do or would like to do x

 

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