We are a recently retired GP and furniture maker/BBC Natural History Radio producer/science writer living in a flat in a Victorian house in Bristol, England. We’ve currently got 2 cars, a narrowboat and a dog, and in 2019 we set about trying to reduce the environmental impact of our life.
Climate change, species loss and pollution are global problems, and they will affect all of us and all our friends and all our families for generations to come unless we all work together now.
So we set up LivingGreener to learn from each others ideas and questions and experiences and support one another through the really significant changes that we’ve got to make if we’re really going to make a difference.R
For me, this is a return to writing about environmental issues. Back in the 1980s, at the time of the Ozone hole and rainforest-saving tree frogs on T shirts, I was a young writer and producer covering science and environmental stories at the BBC World Service. They were days of optimism, with growing individual, national and international recognition of environmental problems and what felt like a genuine will to do something about them. Then life happened.
The 80s recession and the collapse of the housing market seemed to wipe the environment off the news agenda, and wars, economics and party politics kept it that way for decades. I moved to Bristol to run the radio team at the Natural History Unit and do grown-up things like family, divorce and mid-life crisis. Life was just very busy. Although my work kept me in touch with environmental and conservation issues I personally lost faith in the fact that we humans would ever do anything about it before it was too late. When I changed track and retrained as a furniture maker I was hot on using sustainable timber, but making a self-employed living was such an overwhelming struggle that having the energy and motivation to look at the environmental impacts of my life was just too much. Then Sue happened.
Grant and I had known each other vaguely at University in the early 80s and had been in touch on and off since then, but when Grant was passing through Bristol in 2016 and we met to catch up, to cut a short story even shorter, we met, discovered how much we had in common, bought a narrowboat, acquired a lurcher puppy and got married! As a life long singleton, to find myself with man, dog, house and boat was both surprising and wonderful. I retired as a GP in 2019 and am still getting accustomed to a completely changed pace of life.
Although a keen cook, when living alone I often bought ready meals so I could eat soon after getting home. As a doctor I knew all about healthy eating but am a dedicated chocoholic and snacker. I don’t drink tea or coffee but the back cover of my retirement photo album given to me by my Practice said it all – “Time for a Diet Coke break…” I love travelling and have been on plenty of long haul flights. I love cycling but don’t like cycling in the city so would drive if I couldn’t walk somewhere. I’m sharing this to make it clear that there is huge “room for improvement”. I admire those who’ve been living in a way to help our environment for years, but what our planet needs is for all of us to do quite a lot better, not just for a few to do really well. I have already made changes and will write some blog posts of my findings about chocolate and Diet Coke. We now have the time to cook, to walk to the shop, to wash our plastic bags and so on. We want to see what would make it possible for over-busy people to live greener lives too. For that to happen, we need your help. While Grant is into the bigger picture, I’ll be curator of the small stuff and want to hear about your ideas. How do you get others at home and work to reduce, reuse and recycle?
Globally we are now at a stage where technology on its own will not avert climate change, individual action alone is not enough, political action can only work if it’s built on a groundswell of public opinion. So now is the time to act and to act together. We hope that you agree and that Living Greener can help.
with thanks, determination and optimism,
Grant and Sue
here’s more about the Living Greener project
Take me to the ideas