Monday, 8 March 2010

A reminder of our eco-friendly side

OK, It's not like we're green warriors for Gaia or something, but we do think it's every citizen's duty to make an effort to help save the planet. In fact the very fact that I'm even writing a sentence including the words "save the planet" is - in my opinion - pretty damn frightening.

When we started planning the apartment, we had this great idea about doing the whole thing 100% organic, using organic paint, the whole shebang. When we checked the prices against our budget, it became very obvious very quickly that doing so would not be 100% possible.

And so, as in life, we made some compromises. Not too many, but a few. The efforts we have made (and continue to make) can be made by everyone. They don't take any time. They costs almost exactly the same amount. Here's how our apartment tries to be eco-friendly.

100% green electricity. All the apartment's energy is 100% ecological. I took a while fro France to have alternatives the the state-run EDF (which is highly invested in nuclear power) and as soon as we were able to change, we did. Poweo is a new operator with various offers available. In stead of going for their cheapest rate, we've chosen Poweo Planète which uses certified 100% green electricity from biomass, solar and hydraulic plants. Obviously this is not an excuse for turning the heating up and opening all the windows, but it's an important step. As 100% green electricity costs the same as the standard offer in France, and there's not costs for moving to a different company, I don't understand why everyone hasn't changed over.

Heating. We've mentioned our revolutionary 'plasma technology' radiator/mirror before here. It uses 30% less electricity (and saves quite a bit of space too). The manufacturer is Verelec. Oh, and we've changed all the windows in the apartment too for brand new double glazing.

Cooling. Some people ask us if we have air conditioning. We don't, and we won't. It's a terrible waster of energy and frankly not necessary in a temperate climate such as mainland Europe. The apartment is in a stone building and overlooks a courtyard that protected from the sun. Basically, the place cools itself, and if you're hot try opening a window. Magic.

Cleaning. If you've stayed with us, you'll have noticed that the cleaning products we supply for tidying up the apartment before you leave are all eco-friendly (erm, apart from a bit of bleach that we use for occasional cleaning jobs). These generally come from Monoprix or our local organic supermarket Emo.

Bedding and towels. Our quilt and pillows by Dodo are made from organic cotton and contain no feathers. Our towels are by Santens and partly made from bamboo fibre, a renewable source that is softer and absorbs more water. They've also just started an organic range that we'll be looking into.

And by the way, we wash all linen at 60°C using eco-friendly products. My current favourite is this humungous sachet from Rainett that has reduced packaging and lasts for 30 machines! Also good for building up my biceps when carrying it home ;-)

Coffee, milk, wine, cakey... We leave you coffee, tea and milk in the apartment as well as a couple of cakes so you don't have to get up the first morning and wander blindly round the area trying to find breakfast (although the following mornings you'll probably enjoy doing so!). Our coffee is organic and usually fairtrade. Our tea is... tea. Not sure why I haven't got round to getting organic. Must put that on my list. The milk is organic, and so are the cakes (usually). The wine is made from organically-grown grapes.

Paper. It goes without saying that we only use recycled paper. I've recently found this great paper called Rey EcoNautre which has a natural ivory colour and is produced in France (to limit transport) using wood from responsibly managed forests. The factory uses 85% eco-friendly biomass energy and no chemical are used in the process. We print on both sides of each page whenever possible and even use a staple-free stapler when attaching pages together. Less metal pollution!

And talking of paper, the toilet paper we provide is also 100% recycled. And so are our business cards (gotta love those guys).

The rest. Our eco-friendly habits extend outside the apartment. We travel everywhere in the city on our bikes, so no carbon dioxide emissions.We're vegetarians, which is probably the single most important thing you can do for the environment at the moment. We have eco-friendly power at home too. We buy carbon credits when we have to fly abroad. For example, I was horrified to learn that a short return flight from Paris to Seville generates 90% of the carbon dioxide that the planet can absorb annually for one person. Imagine how much a transatlantic flight must produce.

We encourage you - if you have to take a taxi - to use an eco-friendly taxi service from the airport (and to be clear, we don't earn a commission or anything like that) and can explain how to use public transport as an alternative (dead simple)...

We're not trying to boast, it's not a gimmick, and we don't feel we're doing anything extraordinary. We've just made small choices that everyone can make, and we believe that every little bit helps make a difference. We never tried to pitch the apartment as some sort of saintly venture, but hopefully people appreciate the trouble we've taken and perhaps will be spurred into making eco-friendly choices themselves.