Issue 21 : 22 January 2007  

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Come dancing: Dave’s 12-day quickstep for lighter feet

To help you get 2008 off to a great start, this issue is dedicated to my simple carbon cut-down plan. Spend just five minutes a day for 12 days and you’ll be:

• quids in
• happier
• ahead of the game
• more stylish

Ready? Great! Let's go...

Tell a friend your number

Get real about your contribution to the climate crisis. This means knowing your number – your carbon footprint. Are you a 4 tonner, a 10 tonner or a 40 tonner? Spend five minutes on the web at one of these sites and discover your personal impact on the planet in tonnes:

Arrow (Print it out and fill it in)
Arrow (The best online calculator)
Arrow (One that takes a bit longer)

Gulp hard. Have a drink. Then phone a friend – your best friend maybe – to tell them ‘your number’. Talk about it together. Then sleep on it.

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Carbon Detox by George MarshallDAY TWO
Buy the book Carbon Detox

Buy the amazing book Carbon Detox by George Marshall. It’s inspiring, entertaining, warm and human – almost as good as hiring your own carbon coach! Carbon Detox costs just £3.99 on Amazon:

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Love miles: think of those nearest and dearest

Grab a pen and paper and tot up how many hours you’ve flown in the last three years. Every four hours in the air is another tonne of greenhouse impact. Some say that one tonne per person is ultimately more than the planet can stand. So in just four airborne hours we burn one citizen’s annual carbon allowance. How many hours do you need to spend in the air? Maybe you have loved ones the other side of the world. How much are you going to allow yourself to fly in the next five years, say? Is it possible to blend carbon-lite thinking into life’s biggest plans, like where we live? Dare I suggest thinking about re-grouping some of those dearest to us, so they can become nearest to us one day?

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The wise Owl

If your true love didn’t give you one for Christmas, then make your entire year by treating yourself to an Owl. It’s for people who give a hoot about the amount of electricity they waste, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Did you know that a saving of just 1p per hour on the juice tots up to a very welcome £87.60 a year? (And half a tonne of CO2 in the global bank!)

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Click the green switch

Today I want you to make the switch to clean, green electricity. It only takes five minutes, either online at one of the websites below or over the phone, and it’s one of the most simple, yet vital, things you can do to reduce your impact on the planet. It also lets your wallet speak to the powers that be, letting them know you’re only interested in paying for clean energy now.

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Invest in the green best

If you’re lucky enough to have a stash of investments, review them all with a view to switching away from traditional funds to green, carbon-lite and ethical. It’s clear that the value of some traditional funds will fall in a low-carbon economy, while others that invest in renewable energy generation, for example, are likely to rise.

Why not throw a few quid at umbrella ‘new energy’ funds like Merrill Lynch’s, which invests in wind, wave and solar power. Who says you can’t do well and do good at the same time!? A note of caution though: I’m no IFA so be sure to do your own research before making any decisions.

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Heaven – more airtime, more passion

On the seventh day you deserve a rest! And some nice music. If you don't already own a lovely Pure DAB EcoPlus radio, then treat yourself to one. Or tune in to Passion for the Planet on the internet for a five-minute taster. Chances are you’ll love the great mix of world music, bright green ideas, and positive news coverage on the things that really matter. Once you’ve switched to Passion you won’t want to look back.

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Veggie boxDAY EIGHT
Earthy stuff: mud wrestle a jacket potato

At last, after all that internet shopping, let’s get out of the house and walk or bike to a local farmers’ market, farm shop, friend’s allotment... anyone offering you real locally grown grub with the mud still on it. Joy! Then slow cook it for a delicious, healthy jacket potato detox treat.

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Enigmatically ask for tap water in a top restaurant

This is pure top fun for next time you go out. Politely ask for a glass or jug of tap water. Give no reasons – be enigmatic – then savour the taste!

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Try the veggie option

When it sounds delicious, it probably is. I’m not going to suggest you stop eating meat (partly because I haven’t yet, though I know I should). In the meantime I resolve to choose the veggie option more often. At home and when eating out. Soon veggie options will be more a case of ‘me too’ than ‘meat too’.

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Four wheels bad? Slip into something more comfortable

If you’re going to dress to impress, then the designer label you need to look out for is the carbon (car-bon = good car) label in the car showroom. Trade up to a secondhand ‘band B’ carbon-rated modern diesel. As compact a car as you can manage. There are plenty of sexy little numbers out there: Polo, Clio, Mini, Corsa, Peugeot 207, Citroën C4, etc. Watch your savings on fuel, insurance and road tax add up. The even bigger saving is that small diesel cars depreciate less because they’re becoming such hot property.

‘Band B’ cars look likely to evade the congestion and carbon ‘C-charge’ in London soon (like ‘band A’ cars such as Toyota Prius and VW BlueMotion already do). They may also dodge local authority parking surcharges. But far more important – you’ll look good and feel good while doing good! 

If you can bike, walk, cycle, or join a car club, even better! Fossil-powered cars will soon be passé. How much of a leader are you?

Second car? Sure, but remember the two-Jags jokes? Well, they weren’t funny. I’m sure some of you will be shouting at me, “But I need a big car,” or a fast car, or a four-wheel drive, or whatever – and that’s fine too! It’s a common myth, but the act of owning a car doesn’t do that much damage. Burning loads of petrol or diesel does. Use the second car gas-guzzler when you have to, and use the smaller car whenever you can. You may find you only want to drive the small car! Watch out though – secondhand values on gas-guzzling cars are plummeting.

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Enjoy being a low-flying leader

Limit your flying this year – significantly, willingly and inspirationally. ‘Local’ is going to be the new ‘global’ boast in 2008. Don’t make the mistake of thinking long distance flights to far-flung conference destinations are going to impress anyone. Not any more. Not even Bali!

So, be a low-flying leader in 2008 and watch as the rest of the world starts to follow you. 

All this new resolve in 2008 gives each and every one of us the chance to say, by our actions – recycling the phrase used at Bali by the Papua New Guinea delegate:

“If you’re not going to lead, please get out of the way.”

And remember, as an eco ad campaign once warned, the chief executive can be recycled too!

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This 12-day quickstep plan was abridged and published in Observer Money as my 10 top tips: ‘Go green – you'll save more than just the planet’

Incidentally, if you’ve already taken most of these steps then why not use the list as a prompt for ‘carbon chat’ with someone you know who would welcome your help. Remember – friends with big footprints have the most to contribute. Rehearse your best ‘carbon coaching’ lines on the boy/girl next door. Everyone can ‘think on their feet’ this year!

Until soon

Dave Hampton
The Carbon Coach



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