Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Do something clever with your rubbish, - The New Biotruck Pledge

Each of the sustainably fuelled expeditions I've done in the past have had a pledge that people have signed up to as a sign of support.

Take the new Biotruck Pledge;

"If these wombles make it past my country in a scrap-yard bus running on rubbish, I'll do something clever with my waste, and the energy I use."

Comment here to tell us what you'll do, or what you've done and where you are.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Education For All

I met with Neil last month and have been meaning to post about this since then.

Neil's company refurbishes schools, and rather than landfill all the old furniture, fittings computers, Neil has established a charity to warehouse them and then container them out to schools in the developing world on request.

When a school closes for refurbishment, the resources which were perfectly fit for purpose one minute, are suddenly classed as waste, and go from being an asset to a burden.

Neil's enterprising project works on an amazing scale.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Neat tweet

I'm now a twitterer; follow me @, and the holding page is now up on (soon to also be

Supermarket Sweep

While shopping at my local Tescos it dawned on me that the baskets would make great storage units for the bus. A chain of thought which set into motion an almighty chain of events.

I asked at the checkout if they could let me have some broken ones, and worked my way up the "food chain" til I got to the shift manager, who gave me the number of head office, who said they would look into it. And there I gave up on it, cos when someone on a helpline at head office says they will call you back, you know that's the end of it.

Less than a week later I got a voice mail from Tescos head office; they'd be delighted to give me two baskets. (- maybe one for each tonne of carbon?).

Armed with press cuttings I went to collect the baskets and managed to persuade the customer support manager that it was worth give me a few and out of the pile of 10 she had, she gave me half - so I am now the proud owner of 5 broken shopping baskets which will be cleaned and turned into draws.

Next Sainsburys, and Asda and...

There's a lesson in this about corporate recycling which is quite encouraging.

Tescos (and the others) are responsible for their baskets turning into waste, and as such are a bit scared to let any old Joe have them who might them rip them up (but for the Tesco logo on them) and leave them lying around the urban landscape. So they have a strict protocol and SLAs with contractors who dispose of their waste in a way which is no doubt the best way to do it (or the cheapest??). And unfortunately for me when curve ball idea comes along their strict protocol cannot compute.

5 down 15 to go.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Guilty Pleasures of a Working Holiday.

I realised today that I don’t feel guilty about my carbon footprint, insofar as I am not driven to try to reduce it because it’s naughty.

I do want to cut my carbon footprint, but it’s not guilt that’s driving this urge. Having spent this long researching the consequences of climate change and the link to manmade carbon emissions, I am now hyper conscious of the direct (albeit diluted) consequence of my actions.

During my first introduction to the 3rd world (that’s what it was called back then) when I was 21 on my first journey across the Sahara, I became conscious of my connectedness to the poverty and lack of opportunity that characterises the developing world (as we call it today), and that grew into a firsthand understanding of how the immigration policy, trade tariffs, and resource exploitation that protect my quality of life, make life shit for others on this same planet.

So as for my carbon emissions, it’s not that I feel guilty; I’d just get no pleasure from the activities that cause large emissions. I’d really like to go to visit Mexico and Belize; I’ve created this paradise image in my head of scuba diving and golden beaches. I don’t know if it’s really like that but last month an old friend offered a free holiday to Mexico and I didn’t take it for a number of reasons, but one of the top ones was that I knew how significant an impact of a long haul flight would have on my annual carbon emissions, (it’s massive). This makes me sound like a right tree hugger, but it’s not guilt that stopped me flying it’s a sense of how dirty air travel is, and I wouldn’t enjoy the beaches knowing those emissions were part of the experience.

Imagine you really need to pee, and the only place you can go (for some obscure reason – just humour me) is in your fridge, you wouldn’t enjoy the satisfaction of taking that badly needed pee.

Everyone draws the line somewhere. For me it’s work. If I had to fly somewhere for work I would, partly because I’d blame my employer for the emissions, and partly because in my head I justify it as being a necessary activity. My work has some value to the world, whereas my holiday doesn’t.

When I worked for the BBC there was this regular justification that because of the educational value of the films being made, and them reaching such a big audience, they didn’t have to concern themselves with carbon emissions. Now I work a lot with expert climate scientists. Its crazy how much they travel to conferences and exhibitions all over the world, but they use the same emission immunity of the “greater good”.

Those carbon dioxide molecules created in activities that have a greater good, convert just as much solar radiation into heat as my last holiday, so they shouldn’t be guilt free.

I worked in a chocolate factory, where I saw industrial scale waste (of energy and materials), and did nothing about it because I thought it wasn’t my waste, and I wasn’t responsible. But looking back I think I was responsible for being in a position to prevent waste and not doing it. It’s as good as my own personal waste.

Emissions created at work by individuals can probably make up a large part of the 80% cut needed to get to down to 2 tonnes per year.

Point 1 of the Contentism Manifesto: We won't be wasteful just because we are at work.