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I gave up hot drinks for the environment!

Habits can have long term effects...So what’s your new year resolution? Have you thought of one yet?

The turning of the year always provides us with a great incentive for a fresh start, but what is the secret to maintaining any new habits?

Well for me, it has to be something important, or I lack the helping hand of my conscience. Those past habits that I have successfully changed have been those where the benefits were to more than just myself.

Which is why last year I finally decided to give up hot drinks for the environment… A pretty contentious thing to do I know, especially at the time of year when a nice cup of tea is one of our favourite ways of getting warm. Why such a drastic step?

Putting on the kettle for a cup of tea has long been a British institution, but all our habits were once new behaviours. We probably started boiling water simply because it was the only way to be sure it was safe to drink. Tea (& later coffee) was a habit born out of British colonialisation, & one that was initially affordable only to the upper classes. No doubt, like those energy hungry & unproductive lawns we now all have, it was seen as a sign of affluence & so ultimately adopted by us all as a result. Indeed we have adopted a great number of energy wasting habits over the years. The big question (& one posed by transition culture) is ‘would we rather give them up one by one in our own time, or have a massive change forced on us at once?

I know which I would prefer & so have been downshifting for the last decade of so. Giving up boiling a kettle for a hot drink has been one of my more radical… Did you know that the amount of electricity used to boil a kettle each day (seven times is the UK average) is enough to light your whole home? Don’t just think about energy efficient light bulbs ~ kettles produce lots of CO2 too!

Brewing up a storm ~ a very efficient way to boil water

So it was clear that the habit that boiled the kettle would have to go. I pondered using some other way of heating the water & there certainly are options. Having a kettle on a woodburner or Rayburn already being used to heat a home was one. Those little one-cup kettles were another. The wonderfully efficient storm kettle was perhaps my favourite, purely for its clever design. But would I want to light it every time I wanted a warm up? Am I that disciplined? I know the answer to that, & that is why I chose to get rid of my TV about fifteen years ago!

So the habit just had to go… but I feel so much better for it. These days my way of warming up is just to get more active. And what is my favourite tipple? Just hand me a glass of local spring water….

Good to get advice...

So what is my resolution for this year? Well, actually I have two. One is to get an online permaculture course up & running for those who are unable to get to face-to-face events (more about that soon, though I will say it’s what’s been distracting me from posting of late). The other is getting the book written that’s been hanging around in my head for so long.

I’ve decided to have a go at writing a little of it every day. I started this blog in order to give me a reason to maintain that practice & gradually pull together the book’s content. So far that hasn’t entirely worked, but I am still here! Perhaps if you left me a comment it might provide me with an extra incentive? Thanks in advance!

I wake up most days with ideas in my head to share anyway, so the blog is just a good way to get them out there. Whether I manage to post every day is another matter, but I do intend to write something… I’ll let you know how I get on. Have a great 2009!