Sarah’s quest for a sustainable, zero-carbon, wildlife friendly, waste-free existence;
‘In Search of the Holy Grail’
Hi everyone, I have decided to bite the bullet and try to retrofit my home so that I am no longer guilt-ridden that I am living at odds with my values and beliefs.
Extinction Rebels and other green activists are often called hypocrites… and the truthful answer is yes; we are – because it is almost impossible to live in this country and not to be a part of the problem, So we all grit our teeth and just do the best we can. But is that really good enough in the face of spiraling chaos and government inaction?
One answer is to escape and live in an ‘ecovillage’, or green commune, with like-minded people. A lifestyle of self-sufficiency that would be called subsistence living in developing countries (our language is inherently racist it seems). But what if we all did that, taking up additional land needed for rewilding and balanced food production, and leaving our cities as barren abandoned wastelands? I do like the idea of an English Amazon, recolonizing our crumbling Inca-like cities, but obviously we need a different answer and whilst we all pressure government and local planning authorities about ensuring all new construction is carbon neutral (including construction), clearly we need to take a long hard look at our existing housing stock.
Its true we will need government subsidies as very few people can afford the changes needed. This doesn’t need to drain public money if we simply redirected existing subsidies; e.g. from fossil fuels (about £10 billion a year according to The Guardian in 2019). In the meantime could it be economically viable to retrofit? I have a lot of questions to start with, no idea how to go about this or what it would cost, so I will really appreciate feedback and ideas as I progress.
My ultimate aim is threefold:
1. Take my house offgrid, offline, with zero waste and non-renewable inputs (2nd hand only).
2. Increase the biodiversity and green production potential of the garden.
3. Global and intergenerational equity - the property is far too large for my family of 3, so I will seek to find a way to share the space/produce.
I will try to document the whole process on a weekly basis. If its not possible, then (a) we are either all up the proverbial creek, (b) we need to lobby for more trained technicians and a thriving retrofit industry around the country, or (c) I will have to face the reality that my house is unredeemable and abandon it!
Wish me luck!