Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Confession time: I am a kamikaze cyclist - OK?

A A A

It's been an active week on the eco front. Having insisted that I was a born-again cyclist since selling my car a few months ago (OK, this is a slight exaggeration - let's just say I don't think radio taxis face imminent demise), and given the impression I had taken the council's cycling proficiency course, Donnachadh, my eco coach, has been threatening to take me for a spin to test my prowess.

I must admit that the only cycling training I've taken is when I accompany my squeeze (an enthusiastic occasional cyclist) down to the pub. Detached temporarily from his intravenous drip of Stella Artois, he demonstrates a reckless streak once on the road, seeing pavements, zebra crossings and one-way streets as his private fiefdom.

I fear I have developed a number of non-proficient cycling habits that Donnachadh might not thoroughly approve of. In fact I must come clean and admit I have become that scourge of Middle England, a "kamikaze cyclist". (Isn't it curious the word "kamikaze" is never attached to any road users apart from cyclists, in the same way that "bogus" is rarely attached to anything but asylum seekers?)

Anyway I simply can't understand why people get so worked up about cyclists dodging the odd red light, zooming over pedestrian crossings (let them wait!) and cycling on pavements. Don't they know how dangerous the roads are?

However, I was on my best non-kamikaze cycling behaviour when Donnachadh arranged to cycle with me to the Ideal Home Show. It was my longest cycle ride ever (one mile, I thought the journey would never end).

Still, I saw it as training for the London to Amsterdam cycle ride this June - although on my current fitness levels (one mile an hour, not including breaks for coffee) it will take me three years, but I shan't let this deter me.

The Ideal Home Show is a shrine to consumerism, but it was good to see it reflect the public's growing interest in green issues. We enjoyed a mini exhibition about recycling, which showcased innovative goods made from waste products such as mobile phones and plastic bottles.

All trade shows are incredibly wasteful, the exhibits being made and then discarded into landfill immediately afterwards, so it was good to hear that all the wood used in the show will be recycled or reused, while e-mail was used as much as possible to avoid the use of paper.

As we strolled around we couldn't help noticing that the few eco-friendly areas were completely deserted, while the endless Jacuzzi stands, home saunas and huge spaces devoted to the bête noire of the eco world, patio heaters, were chock-full of punters. These appliances, once the preserve of footballers' wives, are now being aimed at the mass market, resulting in an alarming rise in our domestic carbon consumption - one patio heater uses the same amount of energy as 15 solar-powered homes.

As we were passing the tenth Jacuzzi hot tub stand Donnachadh began to froth with outrage - how I wish I had brought my Bush Flower Emergency Essence brandy drops - and I had to drag him out. Trouble is, on the way we had to pass three more patio heater stands, each one selling vast heaters the size of rockets.

Then we furiously pedalled home to cook dinner for some pals who were pitching up to watch It's Not Easy Being Green, during which Donnachadh did an eco-audit on the telly family's lifestyle. I loved the programme - it was bouncy, educational and set in stunning scenery.

Let's hope it leads to more green programmes - perhaps one set in an urban environment. I know, what about one where a newspaper columnist is filmed going green in London?

Wind turbines, compost loos, solar panels, chickens on the roof (I haven't got much room out there so they will have to be battery unless they are very small chickens), the good life in Chelsea. Any offers?

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick