We are a recently retired GP and a former furniture maker/BBC radio producer living in a flat in a Victorian house in Bristol, England. We’ve currently got 2 cars, a narrowboat and a dog. In 2019 we started trying to reduce the environmental impact of our life and to research changes that would really make a difference. That led to the idea of sharing ideas and information beyond our immediate friends and neighbours through the website and a potentially global online community. So LivingGreener was born.
For me, this is a long overdue return to thinking and writing about environmental issues. Back in the 1980s – ozone hole, tree frog T-shirts, and saving the rainforest – I was a young science and environment producer at the BBC World Service. They were days of optimism, with growing recognition of environmental problems and what felt like a genuine will to do something about them. Then life happened.
The 80s recession wiped 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 conservation issues I personally lost faith in the fact that we humans would ever do anything about before it was too late. When I changed track and retrained as a furniture maker I was big 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 wider environmental impact 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, over a meal we 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.
Once we had both retired it was a natural moment to take stock and think about how we were going to live our newly liberated lives. A decision to do a bit of an environmental audit coincided with a growing number of climate and environment stories in the news, the inspiration of Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, and before we knew it the whole thing snowballed. An intense period of web browsing, podcasts,TED talks, and conversations with friends produced so many interesting ideas and a real sense that we are just two of many people trying to make significant changes. What seemed to be missing was a way to join all those ideas and people together, and making connections is something I love.
While Grant is into concepts and 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? We now have the time to cook, to walk to the shop, to wash our plastic bags and so on, but we haven’t forgotten what it was like to be overwhelmed by work. 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.
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 have already made some changes and will write some blog posts on my findings about chocolate and Diet Coke.
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 a lot better, not just for a few to do really well.
We hope that gives you an idea of where we are coming from. LivingGreener is free and volunteer-run, with no advertising and no ties. It’s just here to help. If you think it could help you then sign up, create your change list and share your reviews, ideas and suggestions.
We’re currently sorting the final technicalities and should be ready to go this Autumn. Click the button below and we’ll keep you informed.