15 ways non-cyclists can help cyclists

I am at present a ‘non-cyclist’ due to having a young baby to care for and no way to transport him around using a bike. I am missing riding my bike and have come up with ways that my current inability to cycle doesn’t make it worse for those around me who are still able to. I will hopefully be back on my bike soon enough, but until then…

I plan my journey

  • For almost every journey, I choose to walk or take the bus, coach or train instead of driving. I use the Traveline website or app (for use in the UK). One car off the road will make everyone else’s journeys a little bit more pleasant.

If I do feel I ‘need’ to drive…

  • I leave plenty of time for my journey to avoid the need to speed and to reduce my stress levels, which could impact my driving skills.
  • I drive at 20 mph or less in residential streets.
  • I don’t take the scenic route, choosing motorways if possible to leave the country roads for the cyclists.
  • I share my journeys with friends, but I could also use websites such as liftshare or blablacar to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

I look after my car

  • I clean the windows and ensure that all lights are working correctly, to ensure the safety of others and myself and passengers.
  • I get my car serviced regularly to ensure that it isn’t puffing fumes in to the faces of the people I pass.
  • I follow advice about eco-driving, such as getting the tires pumped to the correct level and anticipating the road ahead. This will save money by reducing fuel consumption, which will also be a saving in pollution from the exhaust.
  • I don’t leave my car idling in traffic. This just creates pollution and noise for the local area.
  • When we bought our car, I choose one with an exhaust on the side furthest away from the pavement. Some particulates will settle out on to the road, so even another metre away from people’s lungs will help.


I look after my street

  • If I see a pot hole, I report it using Fill That Hole website or app to reduce the risk of injury to anyone on a bike.
  • I clear drains and pick up litter outside my house and along my street. Not only does this make it a more pleasant place for everyone travelling, but it also reduces the risk of local flooding.
  • I make my front garden attractive. People drive along pleasant streets slower than uncared-for roads. Foliage will reduce the concentration of air pollutants and reduce the noise from passing vehicles.


I campaign

  • I let my councillor know that I am fully supportive of all measures to improve active travel in my city, reduce air pollution, and reduce the requirement for car ownership.
  • I am a member of a number of cycling charities.


If anyone has any additional ways that I can help people that cycle whilst I can’t cycle myself, please leave a comment below. Thanks!

What pet should I choose for a low-carbon lifestyle?

Pets can provide great solace and companionship, but they can also have a huge impact on your personal carbon footprint. The main reason for this is the huge volume of meat they can consume. When deciding on a pet, think about the pointers below…

  1. Choose pre-loved, rather than new. Pre-loved pets may be fed in a rescue or rehoming centre anyway, and so will already have their own carbon footprint. (The truth is that the rescue centre will very rarely have space, and so any pet that is rehomed just allows another pet not to be put down, so in reality, the carbon will not be reduced by rehoming, it will just save a pet from being put down.) 
  2. Choose a vegetarian, rather than a meat-eating animal. Rabbits are the perfect pets for being friendly, house-trainable but not too demanding on an owners’ time. Vegetarian pets can cost very little to look after. (Although I am biased, my pet rabbit is currently nuzzling his head under my foot as I am typing.) Gerbils, hamsters, rats and guinea pigs are potentials, or you could consider chickens, as they will provide you with eggs for the table with very low food miles and can be friendly.
  3. Consider their environmental impact. Cats will have lower carbon footprints than most dogs, but it can have a big impact on biodiversity by killing garden birds, amphibians and small mammals. Only choose a dog if you don’t have to drive it to go for a walk. My rabbit produces waste that can be added to the compost heap and is very good for the garden. They can also reduce how much you need to use a lawn mower.
  4. If you must have a dog, supplement meat dog food with some vegetarian foods to reduce its’ total meat consumption.
  5. Consider becoming a volunteer at your local rehoming centre before or instead of getting your own dog, as all those dogs need plenty of walks. If you can’t face going to the rehoming centre when it is pouring with rain and cold outside, then would you be wanting to do that with your own dog?
  6. Choose smaller breeds over larger dogs, to reduce the volume of meat required.
  7. If it is a choice between having children and having dogs, it is probably still better to go for the pet option.


BOOK REVIEW…This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the climate

This is the first book I have read by Naomi Klein and it came with a recommendation to stop reading everything and read this instead. The message she gave was too urgent and life-changing to wait. The lasting impression I felt is a feeling of appreciation for those who give their time to protest, and I was grasping the relevance of political participation more than ever before. Continue reading

What is the carbon footprint of drinking alcohol, and how can we reduce it?

Food miles for fruit and vegetables are widely discussed, but few people have the same perception of alcohol miles. Alcoholic drinks consumed in Britain have been calculated to be equivalent to 1.5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, through growing crops, preparing the product, packaging, transporting, cooling and consuming.

The types of alcoholic products we choose has significantly increased the carbon footprint of our drinking habits over time. Below are several ways of reducing the carbon footprint of consuming alcohol.

1) Drink it British-style…Enjoy it at room-temperature.

Almost 50% of the carbon footprint from beer-drinking is associated with storing and serving your drink in a pub or at home.

In 1960, 99% of beer drank in Continue reading

Is it possible to clean the house and the body without dirtying the planet?

I have now been trying to reduce the clutter in my house for over 13 months and I have started reaching the end of cleaning products, shampoos and make up. I had a drawer full of plastic bottles, some of them probably a decade old, plus huge amounts of cleaning products under the sink. The majority of the products I owned were transnational mega-brands, mostly owned by Procter and Gamble. From now on, I will be Continue reading

Grenoble bans street ads, to replace billboards with trees (RT.com)

Superb leadership for what a city really needs…

A post-automobile world?


The French city of Grenoble will become the first in Europe to remove all commercial advertising from its streets, with the city’s Green mayor promising to replace the signs and billboards with trees and community noticeboards.

“The municipality is taking the choice of freeing public space in Grenoble from advertising to develop areas for public expression,” the office of Grenoble mayor, Eric Piolle, is cited by The Local news website.

Between January and April next year, the city will get rid of all of its 326 advertising hoardings, including 64 large billboards.

“About 50 young trees will be planted before spring”
where the ads used to be, the mayor’s office said.

The Grenoble administration will also offer advertising space to local cultural and social groups for free.

Those signs will be smaller and aimed “not only at drivers, but also pedestrians,” Lucille Lheureux, deputy in…

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Reducing biodegradable waste… using a hot bin

Around a year ago, Cardiff Council seemingly ran out of money and most basic services were cut. There were no bags for compostable waste anywhere for months. I have a pet rabbit, so he gets through a fair amount of sawdust and straw. I had a compost bin, but it was constantly full and it couldn’t possibly process the volume of waste our house was producing, with all the garden waste too. Then a rat moved in to the compost. So I investigated online, and found a HotBin. This is a very well insulated compost bin that allows air to flow freely through the composting material, super-charging the speed that the matter composts down. It also stated the added benefit of being rat-proof, plus it could take all food waste, including cooked meats (which the rest of the household eats).

The price was a major consideration. It would mean buying when I’d promised to reduce consumption. However, I couldn’t bring myself to throw green waste in to the landfill bin, so I took the plunge and ordered one.

A year later, I still think this is the best thing ever. I now dig out the compost from the base every four months and move this to the old compost heap to finish maturing until I need to mulch the garden. (Digging out the hot bin would be a great task for any budding archeologists.) I spent the day yesterday spreading the best compost I have ever made, soft and black and crumbly, with evidence of crushed egg shells and dark brown meat bones as the only sign of food waste.

Setting up the bin was easy, with steam being produced within a few days. My only wish is that I had a greenhouse, as I reckon if this was located inside, the amount of heat this bin produces could keep a winter greenhouse or polytunnel a few degrees warmer to keep salads going for longer. (Although it can smell if it starts to go anaerobic, so it may make the greenhouse a less pleasant place to be. I just use a stick to stir holes through to keep the air flow moving.)

There is more information on the website, HotBincomposting.com

Seeing as my council may soon take all food waste for anaerobic digestion, and garden waste for composting, is it worth having my own waste treatment system? I would say at the moment, definitely. The cost to the council to treat the waste will be at least £35/tonne, but they will be able to generate power from the biogas. When they get the digester started, it may be different. But for now, I get superb compost and no hassles when the council don’t collect the waste.

How can I reduce the climate impact of a flight?

Firstly, don’t fly. All the good you do in the home or daily travel is absolutely dwarfed by carbon emissions from a single flight. Read up about holidays that don’t involve flying and try and convince whoever you normally holiday with that these are better holidays. Wherever you live, look up the best train journeys, (Deutsche Bahn for Europe) bus journeys, cycling journeys, or ferries, and aim to travel and experience, not just fly. Visit The Man in Seat Sixty-One for further guidance on planeless travel around the world.

However, if not flying is not possible, then try to… Continue reading