Tuesday, January 07, 2020


Last night we had a long conversation with our scientist son Peter about what we should be doing, personally, about global warming.  He, alongside 55% of the UK population according to a recent survey, is extremely concerned about it. You may well think, after reading about the apocalyptic fires in Australia that 55% is a poor showing.  Peter reads up a lot on the science and has done some sums on the effects of sea level rise due to ice melt and the potential effects on our island nation are not pretty to say the least.

Anyhow, much as I distrust empty New Years resolutions, we've decided there is more we can do in our personal lives to limit our carbon footprint.  There are some very simple things such as stopping our current habit of just popping out in the car practically every day for a couple of items for dinner when we could a) walk or catch a bus and b) plan our shopping and meals better.  We could I'm sure do a bit more to reduce energy use at home. Then of course we could try to eat less food that has been imported by air (stuff like green beans from Kenya for example) and we could cut back even more on red meat.  These are small things but they do add up, especially if millions of people do them.

Now I'll get to the point.  What can we as boaters do to reduce our impact?  Sadly we are pretty reliant on fossil fuels, but here are some of our first thoughts.

Engine running - One good thing is that when we're boating, we're not using the car. Also  we have solar panels which help reduce engine running for battery charging, we have led lights and all that, but what else could we do?  Well, move less would be one option.  I reckon we could enjoy our boating just as much by lingering longer in pleasant spots before moving on, so when we're out boating for two or three weeks, we could spend more days stationary.  Of course I recognise that the live aboard continuous cruisers already do this, so good for them.  I think we're pretty frugal on electricity on board, so I can't see us making much of a dent in that, except perhaps set the fridge a bit less cold.  Overall though I reckon we should set ourselves a target of using less diesel. Would a reduction 25% be possible?

Heating - this is a bit of a worry.  Burning wood and coal is bad, not only for releasing CO2 but also form a polluting point of view.  My only solution is to wear more warm clothes and to refuel the fire less.  Maybe trying to keep the fire in overnight is not a good idea.  What do you think?  We do have three radiators heated by an Eberspacher diesel heater - would we be better to use that more?  It does use electrical power too though.

Then for us there are the journeys between home and the boat.  Hmm, not ideal then that we are contemplating a mooring further from home.  I think our answer to that will be to cut back on short boating breaks in favour of fewer, longer ones.

Then I'm running out of ideas, except for one thing.  If I can encourage someone else to make similar efforts then that doubles my result, and if they do, then it goes up again.  So how about it?  Two questions

1. Can anyone suggest further things we can do as boaters to reduce our impact on global warming?  I'm all ears.

2. Would anyone like to join us by spreading the message amongst other boaters?


Mike Todd said...

Yes, do not buy air freighted food by all means but do remember the consequences: exporting cash crops to those who can afford them is one of the significant ways in which emerging economies have been able to improve the circumstances of their citizens.

When trying to work out the best thing to do it is always very hard to take into account the knock-on effects which may, in some cases, be more worrying than the initial change.

nb Chuffed said...

Production of plastics is a big consumer of fossil fuels, so we try to avoid single-use plastic. For example, I take old ice-cream tubs when buying meat and buy veg loose when I can. We don't use cling film or bin liners, and have a small container in a galley cupboard for kitchen scraps. If something came in a plastic bag, we re-use that (eg for buying loose veg) till it gets tatty then use it for rubbish, or wrap rubbish in newspaper like our Mums used to! We don't batch up our rubbish in black bags either – if we pass bins, any rubbish is disposed of straight away. It has meant more planning though - no more buying those convenient ready meals for the day we travel to the boat!
best wishes

Caroline and Martin said...

Food waste is quite easy to reduce, instead of peeling things like carrots, potatoes, try cooking with skins on, also if cooking look to combine items into one pan veg needs little water or add a steamer/s on top for fish. I plan all meals for the week and walk to local shops when we need to restock, that's usually planned into our route too.

Farm shops along the cut I'm sure would welcome you brining your own bags we do that on the Ashby.

At home we have some large water storage tanks for storing rain water, all our roof area water is saved, even off the outbuildings and used for laundry, flushing loos/watering the garden, filling ponds etc. Caroline