Archive for the "dilemmas" category

What’s greener … centralling heating the whole house or warming one room with a fire?

A fireplace with gas fireJune. The month that starts summer. The month when we should be dusting down our sunglasses and joyeously celebrating the fine weather with picnics on the beach. And yet here I am, in a thick winter jumper and woolly socks, flanking myself with cats to keep me warm. Our house is north-facing so windchill aside, it’s generally warmer outside than in but this is getting silly now. JUNE.

In the evenings, even with jumpers and post-dinner warmth, we get rather chilly and start contemplating the options. Usually it suffices for me to just tuck my feet under a blanket and pile on another cat, but sometimes John starts pawing about turning on the fire or the central heating.

We usually stay together in the living room in the evening so it doesn’t seem to make sense to heat the whole (small) house with the gas-powered central heating radiators but the central heating is pretty efficient and it heats the room in a fraction of the time we would need the (also gas-powered) fire to achieve the same warmth. We’re not looking for a sauna, just something to take the chill off the evenings.

Any thoughts as to which is more energy efficient?

What’s greener … to buy local non-organic veg or ship in organic veg from around the world?

Vegetables on a chopping boardMost of the vegetable stalls at our local farmers’ market don’t advertise themselves as organic (possibly just because they’re not Soil Association-approved organic) – but most of the labelled organic veg in the supermarket has been shipped half way from Africa if not further afield.

I suspect this is a better-for-self versus better-for-planet question but I’m not sure – since the pesticides etc on the non-organic veg are damaging the environment in countless different ways anyway.

We can’t always go to the wholefood/organic shops in the city centre that offer local, organic produce (albeit at a price) and my own organic garden veg are currently just seedlings being eaten by slugs, so what is the better alternative?

What’s greener – buy a new green car or fix up an old one?

Toy carOk, so obviously it’s far greener to use public or human-powered transport but if you have to drive, what’s better: to drive a more-energy-efficient new car (I’m thinking a standard petrol/diesel car, not an electric or hybrid one) or fix up and use an old car instead?

I suspect it’s a balance of unnecessary consumption and waste versus ongoing inefficiency – but does anyone have any details about which is the better option? Are there any other benefits to a new car than that?

Does the amount of miles you do make a difference? And what about the electric or hybrid cars – do they swing the balance in the favour of a new car, despite the resources it takes to make them?

I would love to hear what everyone thinks about this.

(Photo by cwcav, c/o

What’s greener – baths or showers?

Shower head by Bharat TalrejaOk, that sounds like a bit of a no-brainer but let’s elaborate on it a bit:

What’s greener a bath – which allows the water to be recycled on the garden or into a grey water system – or a shower where the water just goes down the drain?

How about if the bath water is heated in a gas boiler and the shower is electric?

(photo by Bharat Talreja, c/o