Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess
Thursday 06 July 2006
I've been talking for months about greening up my flat with wind turbines and solar panels and converting the loft using eco-friendly materials, and at long last work is beginning. My squeeze and his team are going to do the renovations. I wasn't sure if this would be a good idea, as our relationship is a bit volatile, a concern which, alarmingly, everyone else seemed to share.
My mother insisted it would "end in tears", Donnachadh, my eco-coach, asked: "Is it wise?", while Alex the architect's gloomy silence spoke volumes. I gave their advice serious thought - which I immediately disregarded and employed him anyway.
Work has been going on for 48 hours and, so far, we've only had one very small row - which I take as a good sign. The first job is to repaint my bright red flat with muted Swedish tones. What a relief! It was painted red four years ago when I was going through a flaky spiritual shopping phase and had become a slave to all of London's feng shui consultants. I even ended up dating one of them.
They all said wildly different things, the most plausible insisting the whole flat must be painted red, and, indeed, living in a crimson apartment is very energy boosting - if you go for the stimulating brothel look. But quite suddenly I just couldn't stand it any more.
As I write, my squeeze is poised with his brush, ready to repaint my crimson walls with a muted Swedish/Nantucket sort of colour. Or he would if I had been organised enough to track down some eco-friendly paints. Hence the very small row when I insisted it was his job and he insisted it was mine.
We both thought that at least one of the widely available poncy ranges of paints must be reasonably eco-friendly as they are so expensive - but no. Paints are definitely better than they were; many are now water-based and have lower VOCs (volatile compounds that create ozone, implicated in asthma and many health problems) than ever before. However, even these "purer", low-VOC paints still contain toxic ingredients and are pointlessly tested on animals.
Researches found no building shops that sell 100 per cent pure paint, but fortunately Donnachadh averted a domestic crisis by recommending Ecos Paints, which sells an extensive range of colours, available online. I'm realising that it's one thing to talk about eco building and another to actually track down all the bits and pieces a builder needs.
Good news! The doorbell has just rung and, judging by the grunts of relief emanating from downstairs, this can mean only one thing - the eco-friendly paints have arrived. I shall report back on their effectiveness in due course.
www.ecospaints.com 'Save Cash and Save the Planet' (Collins £12.99) is full of good advice on eco building that is simple enough for totally impractical people to understand.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island
Plastic rubbish heaps at sea pose bigger threat to Earth than climate change, claims ocean expert
Silence to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of last ever passenger pigeon
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer / J...
£35000 - £36500 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator (SharePoint) -...
£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently recruiting...
£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...