It's Not Easy Being Green: Series One
Series 1 of the BBC2 series 'It's Not Easy Being Green' followed the Strawbridge family's move to Newhouse Farm. We were very comfortable and happy in our Victorian house in Worcestershire, yet we packed our bags and moved to a derelict farmhouse in Cornwall without electricity, heating, water or loos. I suppose that raises the question: 'Why?'
Cornwall is a beautiful place, and living by the sea sounds idyllic, so our choice of location isn't in itself surprising. However, losing all our comforts, and setting ourselves the enormous task of rebuilding a 300 year old property with holes in its roof might take a little more explanation.
Actually, it's not at all complicated. It simply dawned on us that we all wanted to live in a more environmentally friendly way.
'Dawned on us' gives the impression that we made a sudden, collective, coherent decision, but to be fair It was not exactly like that. Brigit had always made efforts to be frugal and environmentally responsible, but when the children came home from primary school and started lecturing us on turning the tap off while we brushed our teeth and only putting enough water in the kettle for the number of cups of tea we were going to make, we realised that there was probably a great deal more we could do to reduce our footprints.
The children's logic was unassailable and, from there, a series of small actions and a gradual awakening led us to the point where we decided to up sticks and find somewhere with a bit of land to grow our own vegetables whilst also looking at other ways to take action rather than just talk about green issues.
My aim was and still is: 'To live a 21st century lifestyle but to produce little or no waste and to remove our dependence upon fossil fuels'.
The decision to make 'It's Not Easy Being Green' was not an easy one and I should really point out that we all had our misgivings about how we would be affected by allowing television cameras into our home, so it definitely was not a 'quick chat'. We had many serious family discussions over a period of a few weeks and concluded that, with the assurances we had from the team at BBC Bristol, the project would be really worthwhile and could make a difference if viewers learned from watching. So we made the decision to go ahead and the rest, as they say... is history.
Sadly, the series is not available on DVD but it does get repeated on a variety of UKTV channels every now and then.
Some Useful Links
These links are just to let you know where we found useful information when we set off.
It is fair to say there are a lot more products and services available today and the It's Not Easy Being Green Forum rapidly built into a veritable hive of information.
All that information has been saved and is now included in the Newhousefarm.tv forum.
Why not join in...
Good luck with your research!
House & Home
Mailing Preference Service
Stop your junk mail contact the MPS Registration line
0845 703 4599
Telephone Preference Service
Stop people trying to sell you something just as you settle down with a cup of tea!
Telephone Preference Service Registration line.
0845 070 0707
If you need a green audit
Donnachah McCarthy conducted our audit during the first series.
Donnachadh McCarthy's book is 'Saving the planet without costing the earth' can be bought via his website:
Or you can go to the contact page and request an audit from Dick, Jim or James.
The company that was making the biggest investment in producing more sustainable power was 'Ecotricity'
(08000 326 100 - www.ecotricity.co.uk), but when you subscribe you are only actually getting 27% (correct at time of writing) green electricity.
That said, they are using all their subscribers to get a mortgage to allow them to build more wind turbines.
Initially I spoke to them to confirm why they only provided a 27% green tariff. I liked their logic which I have paraphrased below:
'Buying already existing green power is not reducing carbon emissions. It is only supporting the status quo. It is the investment in new sustainable power and a relative increase in the sustainable sector that helps reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions.
Ecotricity has committed to building more sustainable generators so that the proportion of green electricity increases'.
These are seriously efficient and extremely well made, apart from a very little maintenance I expect them to outlive me with no difficulties.
If you are serious about a woodburner they are definitely worth looking at.
First and foremost it makes sense to move the air around the woodburners so it circulates, enter the 'Caframo Ecofan' its a heat powered fan designed specifically to circulate the warm air created by a stove. This fan does not use any batteries or mains electricity and its not magic.
The larger older part of the house was insulated by Thermafleece, a British Sheep wool insulation that is suitable for a variety of roof, wall and flooring applications.
Heat Recovery Unit
For our whole house ventilation and heat recovery system we used Mike Routledge who can be contacted at
Brigit's favourite natural skincare ranges, in no particular order, are the following:
Small family company, products hand-made and certified organic by soil association. Include products specifically designed for skin complaints such as eczma. Make first ever soil SA certified organic shampoo. Very affordable. Love their hand & body lotion, and mini travel kit.
Tel: 0870 3459569
Rich, nourishing, especially good for dry skin, contains organic rosehip oil for renewal and repair, minimalist packaging. Especially like their pure rosehip oil which I use every night instead of night cream, and their lightweight energising face lotion.
Established for 80 years, affordable, huge range including many excellent products for specific skin complaints, fantastic company ethics, biodynamically farmed ingredients, easy to use, easy to find.
My favourites from this range have to be their Sea Buckthorn range (especially the hand cream) and also their rosemary shampoo and conditioner.
Tel: Weleda Direct 0115 9448222
Slightly dearer, chic packaging, biodynamic, holistic, high quality products and treatments, fast delivery.
I particularly enjoy using their face steam bath and mud pack
Tel: 01386 792622
Faith in Nature
Lovely soaps ever, shampoos and bath/shower products, also make household cleaning products, in-expensive.
Use their tea-tree soap bars and tea-tree & aloe vera hand wash in every sink in our house!
Tel: 01617 642555
Deliciously aromatic, pure and sensuous, absolutely yummy! small company, skincare products created using aromatherapy and herbalism, slightly dearer, mail order. Love all their products especially body polish and softening body butter, and their rose flower hand cream is divine!
Tel: 020 7359 1135
Absolutely gorgeous blends of essential oils for body, bath and burners, great mood enhancers, stocked by some supermarkets, reasonably priced, make wonderful gifts. Burn their oils pretty much everywhere in the house, and also love their massage oils.
Tel: 020 8206 2066
Hand made in Cornwall! Products are all 100% organic and SA certified, beautiful packaging, middle range prices. Face and body products deliciously self-indulgent, based on therapeutic oils, look good in any bathroom! Love their organic body oil and firming oil.
Tel: 0870 850 8851
There are some lovely books on the market today full of tried and tested recipes, my favourite is 'the ultimate natural beauty book' by Josephine Fairley
Brigit found 'Quintessential', (www.quintessentialtips.com)a little shop that specialises in alternative goods and has a great selection of hemp clothing.
Patrick Whitefield, author of the Earth Care Manual
(if you haven't seen it look for it in a bookshop/library it's worth a flick through before you decide to buy it - and you will)
So we managed to find a reasonably priced greenhouse that we felt we could attach to our wall.
Well done Richard at Greenhouses UK
Steve from Kysteline
(www.krysteline.net) a machine that imploded glass so that the bits that were left were not sharp.
Living Earth. The soil association magazine
tel:0117 314 5000
Ecologist. Its been around for a long time and is full of info www.theecologist.org
Permaculture magazine. Solutions for sustainable living; colourful, informative and inspiring
tel: 0845 458 4150
If you don't have the facility to feed leftovers to your pigs or chickens, there is something called a 'Green Cone' which looks really useful and should work anywhere (ie you don't need a lot of land to maintain it - just a sunny well drained site).
0800 731 2572
Animals & Livestock
How to rescue a Battery Hen
Jane and the rest of the ladies are lovely
Put a small contribution into a charity box for 'Wateraid'
(www.wateraid.org) every time they collected some water.
Why not take a look at www.frankwater.com which offers non-profit, natural bottled spring water.
It is possible to get the necessary information that will tell you what to expect in your area without having to try and understand it all.
Try the British Wind Energy Association at
www.bwea.com and follow the step by step guide.
Wind turbines really cheap and cheerful.
Ivan at www.navitron.org.uk came up trumps at just under £300 for a complete system (mast, blades, alternator, charge controller complete with dump load) it was a bargain.
Mains linked wind turbine contact Windsave (www.windsave.com).
The amount of energy you can hope to harness depends on where you live.
Scotland, Wales, and the SW can expect to get about 3000 hours of maximum operation per year.
Solar Thermal - we got ours from Ivan at www.navitron.org.uk