I have always been a fan of discreet environmental design: products and buildings that do not stand out from the crowd but have unusually low environmental impacts. Such design has the potential to make sustainable living universal with a minimum of kicking and screaming. Yet in practice we often have to do the right thing as well as buy the right thing and the more we have to do, the sooner we are put off. Even simple changes can take a long time to adopt if they affect our familiar routines.
Take kitchen waste. Despite the apparent simplicity of home composting there are plenty of obstacles to trip up all but the most committed. So it's important to consider each one before you set out to change your ways. A lawyer for the Prince of Darkness might offer the following objections:
"I've only got one waste bin in my kitchen so there's nowhere to put my vegetable peelings." Then buy yourself another. If there's no room, get a small plastic bucket with a lid for your worktop. Compost caddies are available from Recycle Now (see Great Buys) and the Centre for Alternative Technology (www.cat.org.uk).
"But this bucket is beginning to stink long before it's full." So empty it regularly. More importantly, add egg boxes and scrunched up cardboard to your mix. This will bulk it up, keep it aerated and prevent it from turning into stinky, rotting slime. Compost needs a 50-50 balance by weight of nitrogen (from peelings) and carbon (from eggboxes) so don't skimp on the latter.
"I haven't got room for a compost bin." If you have no outside space call your council to see if they will remove your able waste. Otherwise find a quiet corner of your garden. Most compost bins sit on bare soil so that worms and other organisms can enter from below. If you've only got a yard or a garage use a wormery (www. bubblehouseworms.com).
"But I don't want rats in my garden." You won't attract them if you keep meat, fish and all cooked food in your landfill bin. Better still, deal with these difficult wastes using a semi-buried Green Cone (www.greencone.com) or a fermenting Bokashi bin (www.livingsoil.co.uk).
"When I open the bin I'm attacked by a swarm of fruit flies." Well you are Satan's solicitor - what do you expect? A sprinkling of earth will help to keep them down. Alternatively go out with a tin of Flyko (www.agralan.co.uk) and zap them. Made from natural oils, this spray will not kill off the good bugs doing your composting.
"I still can't be doing with all this compost-turning palaver every week." So don't bother, it's no disaster if you don't. The composting process will take longer but a good carbon content will help keep the pile aerated as it settles.
"I'll fill this bin in no time." Oh no you won't. Compost bins have good appetites and will swallow remarkable quantities of leek trimmings, tea bags and egg boxes. A decent bin will keep its innards warm and damp and so maintain the composting process. All you have to do is supply it with a well-balanced diet and add water if it looks too dry.
"But isn't it easier if this process takes place collectively at a landfill?" Regrettably it doesn't take place at all: landfills turn green waste only into methane and putrid slime. Good for nothing except cranking up global warming. I'm sure your client would be enchanted.
* GREAT BUY To find out what special deals on compost bins are available in your area, call the Recycle Now composting helpline on 0800 600 0323 or see www.recyclenow. com/compost. Prices start from £4
* GREAT WEBSITE To make sure your garden waste gets composted, visit www.gardenorganic.co.ukReuse content