Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

I'm in the dark about my eco credentials
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The Independent Online

I'm typing this wearing fingerless gloves from the freezing, stygian gloom of my sitting-room. A scented candle flickers, providing just enough light for me to peer myopically at my computer screen. In the dim distance I can just about make out Connie, my air-stewardess pal, furiously cleaning the kitchen in a vain bid to keep warm. I know this is very public spirited of her but I'm irritated she is wrecking my complex recycling system by chucking tea bags down the waste disposal instead of in my compost crock.

"Can I turn the radiators back on and put the lightbulbs back?" she shouts, deftly unpopping some biodynamic champagne (well, we need something to keep our spirits up). Before I switch my gas-guzzling appliances back on I must first lean out of the window to check Donnachadh, my eco-coach, has cycled out of range. He's just finished his second eco-audit so I was trying to impress him with all the planet-friendly adjustments I should have made since his first one.

Although I have made some improvements, my desire for dazzling lighting remains a (bright) black hole in my quest for eco-perfection. During the first audit, I declared I'd replace the bulbs with eco-friendly ones immediately, dramatically removing the worst offenders from their sockets and throwing them disgustedly under the sofa. Well, I didn't get round to ordering them straight away and a few days later I crept beneath the sofa, retrieved the bad bulbs and screwed them back in. They've been glaring guiltily at me ever since.

That was why I had to race round the flat removing the high-beam eco-offenders just before he arrived. I also turned off the radiators - hence the terrible chill and fingerless gloves.

Connie tried to get into the spirit by retrieving my bike-light from my bicycle and strapping it to her head "miner style" to help her find her way around. She even offered to find some flints to rub together to make a fire without the need for matches (ha ha!).

I fall down on water wastage, too. The patio is automatically watered morning and evening as I don't know how to turn the water timer off. And that's to say nothing of the washing machine, which I use too much.

Fortunately, I whisked Donnachadh past it too quickly for an in-depth examination of its contents - instead of an eco-friendly full load all it contained was one small pair of slippers - but the washing powder was Ecover and my electricity supplier uses renewable energy, so it could be worse.

The next day Donnachadh told me that by selling my car (something I thought I'd never do a year ago), moving to the ethically minded Co-op bank, composting my kitchen waste and automatically switching off appliances rather then leaving them on standby meant I'd made strides forward.

I know I'm a fine one to talk, but my new lightbulbs really are on order this time, promise. Till then, has anyone got some flints?

Environmental audits ( www.3acorns.co.uk); renewable electricity ( www.good-energy.co.uk); eco-friendly lightbulbs ( www.ebulbshop.com)

j.stephenson@independent.co.uk

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