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?

Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?