How to go eco – becoming eco-friendly

Going eco-friendly is something you can take one step at a time.

The DH and I were having another one of those discussions over the weekend – how to reduce our bills and at the same time go more eco-friendly.

We are all for being green, as I’m sure most people are, but the primary push is probably going to be forced on all of us. For instance, we stopped using our tumble dryer a year ago in order to reduce our electricity bill, and for the same reason, we now wash up by hand rather than using the dishwasher. (In any case, it broke, and the part was a fortune, and we can’t afford a new machine.) So back we are (or rather, the DH is) washing up with a bowl and soapy water. It is not so bad, really, and at least enables us to use our nice raku dinnerware, which was too delicate for the machine.

A bunch of us girlfriends also wanted to try soap nuts, so we split a 20-euro bag between four of us (giving each of us enough nuts for six months). The verdict so far is pretty positive – the soap nuts seem to get your clothes as clean as old-style washing powders or liquids, and leave no residue in your clothes to irritate sensitive skin. The only drawback is that the clothes don’t smell fresh. They don’t smell dirty either, of course, they just don’t smell at all. Perhaps this is something we’ll all get used to – you can put a few drops of essential oil in the dispenser if you want, but I don’t like to do it too often because we have a septic tank. 

Another thing that’s on our minds is lighting, because the old-style incandescent lightbulbs are being phased out now, and that will mean switching over to energy-saving bulbs, like it or not. Which is fine, even though they’re three times the price, because they last virtually forever and they use, say, 11 watts of electricity instead of 60, which will mean a massive reduction in consumption. But in our case, it also remains replacing all our light fittings, because our current ones won’t take eco-friendly bulbs.

We have a dimmer switch for the main lights, and that’s a no-no for energy-saving bulbs, so it will have to come out. This house is also French but the people who restored it from a ruin were British and they brought over British fixtures with them – crucially, these take bayonet-fitting bulbs. Try getting those in France. It’s hard enough to get incandescent ones, but in long-life, it’s virtually impossible. So every British light fitting in the house will have to come out and be replaced with a French one – that’s 14 fittings.

Oh la. It can’t be helped. It is what we call the Montcocher effect – we try to do the simplest thing, like put up a shelf, and it entails some massive palaver with drills and rawlplugs and special screws and I know not what. But once again, when it’s done, it will be done, and I’m sure we’ll be glad of it. 

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