Late last year I was selected to take part in a project run by IKEA called #LiveLAGOM (read all about it here). The aim was very simple; to take steps to lead a more sustainable life.
The first step of the project was to visit an IKEA store and select items that would assist my family to live more sustainably and reduce our impact on planet Earth. We’re now a couple of months into what is a long-running project. In the blog post and vlog below, I ouline how thing are going and the steps we have taken to improve our lifestyle
Participating has been a bitter/sweet experience. Bitter in that I was always someone who took their environmental responsibilities very seriously. Working on this project has made me realise just how low my standards had slipped since I became a dad and life got very, very busy.
Not, you understand, that I’m blaming the kids. Merely that priorities changed. To quote Paul McCantney “What does it matter to ya, when ya got childcare to do?” This was an issue for my wife and I to rectify.
Sure, I continued to recycle and regularly spoke to my kids about how we need to look after the planet. We also drive a car that can go from Surrey to Scotland and still have fuel in the tank. We also take steps to reduce our food kilometres.
That, however, was it. Involvement in the #LiveLAGOM project has made me appreciate there were so many simple steps we, as a family, could and should be taking.
Let me, however, rewind for a moment. Participation in the project has coincided with two other events in this family’s life. Firstly, we are getting a new kitchen installed. As part of this work, we have already had a modern, super-efficient combi-boiler and central heating system installed.
Having the boiler installed meant we had heating engineers in our house for several days. One of them inspected our loft and remarked about the appalling state of the insulation. I was informed the roof is the biggest source of energy loss in most houses. The engineer suggested I call British Gas, who will insulate your house for free if the present insulation is below the latest standards. I made the call and a British Gas surveyor is visiting next month to assess our situation.
Truth is, I knew the state of the insulation was very poor. I also knew there were schemes that could provide households with free insulation. I had never bothered to look into it as I merely assumed it would be assessed on income and that my family wouldn’t qualify. Participation in #liveLAGOM has got me thinking about these issues much more.
In addition to the new heating system, we also received an update from our energy supplier. It outlined our energy use for the previous year and predicted our energy use for the forthcoming 12 months. It was shocking. Within a year our electricity usage had increased almost 1.5kWh a day. This is enough to boil a kettle roughly 13 times.
Things have had to change. Thanks to my involvement in #LiveLAGOM, the entire house has now been fitted with super-efficient LED light bulbs. We’re also taking other steps to reduce our electricity use.
Our gas consumption was also unacceptably high. This, however, was largely down to the fact we were relying on the outdated central heating system that has been replaced. It was well beyond its prime and wasn’t working properly.
Even so, using steamers and saucepan separators from the IKEA range, we will be able to further reduce our gas use. We’re also reducing our water use and, by growing food to eat, reducing our reliance on supermarkets while also educating the children about food production.
So why has it been a sweet experience? I can see the error of our ways. We’re also taking affirmative action to improve our lifestyle and reduce our environmental impact. I feel guilty my family hasn’t made a greater effort until now, but at least we’re back on track.