I have just bought a wonderful new device called a Kitchen Composter. The idea is simple enough: instead of throwing food waste in the bin you put in in the composter, add a handful of a substance called Bokashi bran and two weeks later, the material is ready to bury in the garden or add to a compost heap. As an added bonus, a liquid is also produced which can be used to feed plants or clean drains.
This isn't my kitchen but rather depressingly it's completely identical to mine, apart from the window design and lack of clutter. I must be very unoriginal. As you can see, the bin doesn't take up too much room.
The Bokashi bran comes from Japan and contains a mixture of bacteria and fungi which manage to accelerate the decomposition process without producing any horrible smells. It sounds too good to be true. I shall know the truth in two weeks time, which is when the process is supposed to have finished. If it works, I'll not only have reduced the amount of waste I send to landfill sites, but also have some useful compost and plant food.
Two other really useful products I've discovered recently are eco-balls - not a term of abuse, but a really effective alternative to washing powder - and an LED light bulb that only uses 1.7 watts per hour.
I would like to say that I'm doing this for altruistic reasons, but the truth is that my main motive is to save money and become more self-sufficient. In an ideal world I'd live off the grid, but unfortunately that would require more money than I have to either build or convert a home to meet the necessary requirements.
I would also love to think that my actions helped to contribute to reducing global warming, but I am pessimistic and believe that politicians and corporations will only address the pressing environmental issues of our time when it is too late. I agree with James Lovelock. The crisis is coming and it's naive to believe that we can still stop it. The real challenge is to manage that crisis effectively and move towards a society that is sustainable in the long term. But will that happen?
Perhaps I've been reading too many John Christopher novels, but at the moment the outlook is getting increasingly grim. However, there is also a glimmer of hope in the shape of kitchen composters, hydrogen-powered cars, LED light bulbs and solar heating. New developments like these may not stop global warming, but they might make us less vulnerable to its effects.