Some videos

Today I am feeling both old and celebratory.

So I was delighted to find a couple of wry and amusing videos in my rss reader this morning – having been away all day yesterday.

Hope you enjoy them too – the second one is a bit sweary (in case you’re young).

ht’s to howies in the first instance, and various for the second.

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more low tech wonder

Just breaking my own holiday based embargo (I depart tomorrow – hooray) to mention some marvelous stuff again on Low Tech magazine’s site. This time its stationary bicycle based, absolutely wonderous.

Start here, then go here, and finish here.

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/05/pedal-powered-farms-and-factories.html

Vaude win award

The outdoor sports company Vaude has just been honoured for their commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

To be honest, I have been quite impressed by the commitment shown by a number of outdoor sports companies, to social and environmental responsibility. Patagonia are an obvious ‘name’ which has pushed the environmental agenda, Rohan are another big company which is making serious strides in that area too, and there are a number of others which can also claim to have pretty decent environmental cred.

But I am particularly impressed by Vaude, a German company whose reputation for social and environmental responsibility throughout their design and production is pretty much impeccable.

As I say, they have just scooped another award or two, this time at the ISPO, an industry trade show in Munich. They won an overall award for their company wide social/eco activism in regards to their production, and a product award for the Vaude Blue One tent – which is a two man tent I think, I’ve yet to see one. All I really know is that it’s made of a poly cotton, which is 65% organic cotton and 35% recycled polyester (PET1).

They are a pretty impressive company, the sort of people who remind you that there is really no excuse for other companies of a similar nature not to be walking the same path. Among other things they say about themselves:

“VAUDE is mindful in its dealings with people and the environment. Due to our constant inner reflection and unwavering idealism, we are quick and courageous to seek out contact with contemporary subjects and explore our own potential – leading to stories worthwhile in their making.”

Sport equipment and clothing is high specification stuff, the good stuff lasts a long time we still have a Vaude rucsac that has been going strong for some time, a veteran of a number of overland expeds and other voyages – other cheaper rucsacs have not fared so well. If you are buying new, which I accept with this kind of clothing or equipment is often the most effective way (ahem – unless you go on ebay – ahem) – then buying from the most responsible producer you can is important. Check out the maker before you buy, and dont let yourself be glitzed by the fashionable looks of a particular jacket or piece of kit, that look will be old in a year or two’s time, while the item itself should have many years of life in it.

So well done Vaude, I’m genuinely impressed. I have asked for more info about the Blue One tent, and if and when I get it, I shall share it.

should I care-less about going car-less?

Can we manage to live without a car?

Every month Kel and I have a ‘beginning of the month meeting’ – at a local coffee shop, where we discuss issues to do with our work and life in general. Top of the agenda at that meeting today, was the question of the car.

For a long time we’ve discussed the idea of going car-less. We’ve never quite plucked up the nerve to go for it, despite our supposed green credentials. There have always been too many cons opposing the pros – however I think the likelihood that petrol will soon reach £1.30 a litre, aligned with the need for a new cam-belt, the loud scraping noise we hear whenever we go over a bump, the need for a full service and the impressive  and growing collection of dents which adorn each and every surface of the car, from the roof to the bonnet, and each and every door  – have tipped the balance.

I’m half excited, half worried about the idea of getting rid of the car, concerned about the practicalities of doing the things we are used to doing with a car, but pleased at the idea of getting rid of the main thing which impacts upon our carbon footprint.

Realistically, the car is a burden, not just on the environment, but a financial burden too – we pay £100 per month just on insurance, plus tax, fuel, repairs – it adds up to a lot of money, and we scarcely use it, I think we make approximately three journeys a week, which means that if we pay roughly £40 per week on the car, we are paying approximately £12 per journey. Equivalent (return) bus journeys are about £2.50 per adult – the occasional taxi ride would be quite pricey, but pretty unusual. I personally do most of my around town commuting by bike anyway. Longer journeys will be more of a challenge, particularly with rail travel costs rising, but I think the savings we accrue should allow for a hire car when absolutely necessary.

It feels somehow like a backward step – and yet a step forward at the same time, I’m sure lots of other people manage very well without a car, its just not something I feel comfortable with yet. So, if you have any special tips or reccomendations about going car-less, please do share, and when we do make that final decision – which will have to be soon – I’ll share the details here. So that’s something for you to look forward too…

More low-tech madness

At the risk of provoking a similar kind of outburst as the post about humanure (poo) I am yet again inspired to link you – dear reader to the ineffable Low-Tech magazine, who this time have provided a lengthy treatment of the ‘Velomobile’.

There’s a velomobile user local to me, who rockets along the main road every day in his supercool recumbent. What worries me about him is that he is not very visible. As someone who has been hit by a car while riding a large, brightly coloured mountain bike, I am concerned that drivers are less likely to see the velomobile, and that they are at ‘crushing’ level – rather than bonnet ‘bashing’ level. In otherwords I’m concerned the car would actually go right over the velomobile, rather than sending the rider over the bonnet – the former seems to me to be a nastier way to go.

But that said, I’m very impressed by the energy saving stats, apparently it uses three to four times less energy- nice! Cruising speed of 25mph doesnt sound massively faster than my cruising speed, but I guess the issue is how long it can be sustained for.

On the other hand, one of the things I love about bikes is the ability to dodge traffic, to get round slow cars, to blast away at junctions and so on, I feel this would be less possible in a velomobile.

But if you are looking for a replacement to the car for a daily commute (I only have to commute to the spare room) then this looks like a good option.

Worth a read anyway, especially if you’re interested in bikes – my real burning question is not really answered: can you do stunts in them? Answers on a postcard please.

Daddy, what did you do in the bike wars?

I got this wound, my deary… when a car (remember them? They burned oil!) hit me and knocked me flying! Ah yes I remember it well, funnily enough it happened on almost exactly the same spot as the great seedling massacre of 2009…

“That must have made typing awkward daddy!”

It certainly did, and gardening, and cycling!

“Any other injuries?”

Yeah… rather embaressingly…

Not all glamour those bike war days…