Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

My plan is to green up my life - going from a light shade to deep olive

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The problems presented by global warming and the destruction of the natural world seem so enormous it's easy to want to hide beneath the duvet and try to forget about it. But, in the spirit that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, I'm going to do my bit.

The problems presented by global warming and the destruction of the natural world seem so enormous it's easy to want to hide beneath the duvet and try to forget about it. But, in the spirit that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, I'm going to do my bit.

During the next few months, I plan to green up my life. I currently stand at light green and still have some way to go before reaching eco-nirvana. I talk the talk, but I don't really walk the walk. Yes, I buy organic food from the farmers' market, which, I admit, is as much about catering to my middle-class, faux-rural Marie Antoinette fantasy as it is saving the planet. Indeed, my local farmers' market in Chelsea is full of Goldman Sachs wives wafting about before whizzing off to yoga at the Harbour Club.

But I do subscribe to The Ecologist magazine, I eat organic food, have drastically cut down on my personal rubbish mountain by refusing packaging, recycling and keeping a worm compost bin on my roof terrace, plus I am the Green Party candidate for Kensington and Chelsea. Actually, this is beginning to sound quite good.

But I conceal heaps of guilty green secrets in the depths of my reusable string bag, wardrobe and make-up drawer (I was given a jar of La Prairie "cell extracts" face cream - yes it is divine, but whose cells are they?), plus I keep forgetting to turn off my appliances at the mains, I drive a car and I fly in aeroplanes.

There are two types of green. Vanity "lite" greens buy organic food because it is better for their health. They are a slave to their Dr Hauschka rose face cream (made from biodynamically farmed roses which can only be picked when the farm workers are feeling happy), and they take ridiculous eco-holidays in obscure parts of the world that can only be reached by 16 hours in a gas-guzzling aeroplane.

Dark greens are motivated by a far more laudable concern for the planet, and I want to be like them. My plan is to switch from light green to deep olive.

But it's easier said than done. Eco-housing developments like the innovative BedZed in Croydon have blazed the way, but it is difficult for an ordinary householder to know where to start.

Fortunately, I have Donnachadh McCarthy's Saving the Planet Without Costing the Earth, which is packed full of gossipy, easy-to-implement eco-tips. I visited McCarthy at his cottage in Camberwell for some eco-inspiration. It is fascinating. A large tank on the roof collects rainwater, which is used for flushing the lavatory, bathing and watering the garden, and his high-tech solar system enables him to be self-sufficient in energy. His household bills are minimal and in summer he makes money from selling extra electricity to the National Grid. He recycles so effectively he has no dustbin.

McCarthy is keen to pass on his expertise and offers an eco-auditing service. He is coming round next week to do a 'green audit' on my flat and I can't wait to get started. The Good Life in Chelsea, here we come.

j.stephenson@independent.co.uk

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