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52 ways to save the planet: No. 7: Woman in A Suitcase

(click here to download Ron Grainer's fabulous theme to Man in a Suitcase - try to overlook it was also the theme to TFI Friday)

So, yes, I've been living out of a suitcase a lot. An awful lot. Enough that I booked a week off work so that I won't even have to leave the house, let alone the city. Combined with work commitments and Easter, it means I'm spending a total of nine days at my desk in April (at one point it was down to six days, but I wrangled them back).

I am tired of living out of a suitcase. In theory, I have no problem with it. I like travelling. I am not bothered being a single female traveller because it means I read a lot of books. (BTW, if there are any men reading who don't already know this: if you see a lone woman in a hotel restaurant or bar and she's reading a book then she is signalling that she does not want to be chatted up.) I like not having to deal with inane calls. I am, however, mildly bothered that I can now look out of the window on the Exeter-Waterloo route and say roughly how many minutes we are from the next station without even thinking. I'm also tired of eating catering food, being lured into buying instant coffee on trains and never actually unpacking my overnight bag because I'll only be packing it again in a day or two. I have two toothbrushes, two hairbrushes, two pots of fishfingers hair putty, two pots of Lush Gorgeous moisturiser, two...well, you get the idea.

But my "really small ways to save the planet" is not about the problem of duplicating the plastic containers my Max Factor Colour Adapt foundation comes in, or what to do with the stubs of Rimmel's Dark Brown Kohl pencils (lid in the landfill, pencil in the garden recyc). And it's not about getting the train, although I do due to necessity not eco choice. No, it's about hotels. I must have stayed in half a dozen hotels in March. From swish boutique hotels in Birmingham, B&Bs in Oxford, crumbling Victorian Neo-Gothic piles in central London and converted hunting lodges in the Midlands. The smallest had about twenty rooms. The largest had a hundred or more. And in every single room, along with the "tea-making facilities" and the soap, is a tv with a remote control. On standby. Never mind the power, think of the cash being burnt every second.

So I've started to hunt for the ON/OFF switch, so the damn thing can be switched off. The problem with this is that the hotels themselves need to change policy. Given it would save them money whilst also reducing energy use, you'd think they'd go for it. It would be like the "green policy" over towel use, where there's a notice about how, in order to reduce the amount of detergent etc used, please put dirty towels in the bath. The real reason is so that they only wash the towels that need it and thus pay less in laundering costs, but it's something that has a genuine green spin to it. So it can't be a bad idea to switch the TV off properly and have a note saying "Please switch the TV on/off at the set: this dramatically reduces the amount of non-renewable energy used, and thus the carbon emissions from its generation." Only, you know, in hotel speak.

Meanwhile, I watched the first episode of It's Not Easy Being Green on BBC2. The first immediate thing that strikes you is that the house and land cost half a million. And that's before any work is started. So whilst there are segments when hubby visits urban green living, the overall impression from the programme is that you have to be middle-class to attempt such a life. It's Tom and Barbara but without the fabulous 70s wallpaper.


Tangenting totally, Paul Cornell just pointed me at this site. Obviously, Common People is the best one since the original was spoken as well but I have a liking for How Soon is Now. Wish they'd use some real mash-up software to mix the voice with the original music instead of a midi version though. Especially on Wish You Here.

Posted @ 11:21 am on Sunday, April 02, 2006
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