The links in this section can help your resilience planning in the Resources quadrant. Look for ideas, people to see, things to do!
Here are various comparisons of the energy use of household appliances. Keep in mind that this is a bit simplistic – the cost of replacement may not be factored in to cheaper, less durable items. Do more research to give depth to this information.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy site gives you useful background information about energy cost. Keep in mind when designing emergency systems that, although a kettle has a much higher rating than a freezer, the kettle is drawing that power for a much shorter length of time to do its job.
More information on domestic use at the Energy Saving Trust.
For graphs and figures, look at this PDF of energy consumption in the UK (1970 – 2000)
Over an hour of video on how to make and use a gasifier to make liquid fuel, run a fridge and generator, and heat water all at the same time
Bio char – hard to know if this is food or energy related. Small scale charcoal burning to fix carbon into soil conditioner.
Just found this fabulous resource for identifying edible wild plants in your garden (otherwise known as weeds). Based in North London, UK.
The Feed Bristol project, run by Avon Wildlife Trust, is an active example of community resilience gardening on a large scale; they have 8 acres of land.
Lots of easy to follow tips for the beginner on this gardening site, including useful information on growing food in containers.
A history of covered markets in Britain can be found here
Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens – This online resource is aimed at potential community groups, the public, local authorities, researchers, students and anyone else interested in this field, who want information on the complex variety of schemes and initiatives that are emerging as a result of the demand for local food growing. Covering topics from land sharing schemes to guerilla gardening, this resource provides an overview of the topic, plus useful tips on where to go for further information, case studies, expert advice and funding (where applicable). Some topics lack funding to update, but the news is still active.
And there’s the European Federation of City Farms of which the UK group is a member.
Locate farm shops and farmers’ markets in Britain with this website; it also has bed & breakfast places, recipes and turkey suppliers.
Find your nearest Veg Box Scheme; site includes vinyards and breweries, pick your own, and meat products.
Check out the product list at Shipton Mill to see the range of organic flours which are available. Stone ground flour is processed at a cooler temperature than flour milled using metal rollers. This preserves more nutrients and helps the wheatgerm stay fresh for longer.
Feel threatened by supermarkets? Check out the Tescopoly alliance for support materials.
Discover forest gardening!
A list of native trees; the edible properties are mentioned but not emphasised. Many other types of wildlife are also described in this comprehensive website with good illustrations.
Learn about bee-friendly gardening at the British Beekeepers’ Association or at Buzz About Bees
Find out more about growing herbs in containers or on your windowsill
The National Allotment Society can help you find and manage larger growing spaces. Did you know that private landowners can create allotments to rent out?
Here’s a really good guide to seasonal food in the UK.
The Rodale Institute is a long established American organisation conducting research into organic farming methods
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between farmers and the local community, providing mutual benefits and reconnecting people to the land where their food is grown
Fareshare collects waste food from industry and redistributes it to needy people.
Genetic engineering, selective breeding, what’s the difference? A populist explanation
A detailed description of how a water supply network functions from rain to tap.
Water saving tips for households, and more detail on saving domestic water.
“If the entire adult population of England and Wales remembered to turn off the tap when they were brushing their teeth, we could save 180 mega litres a day – enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes and fill 180 Olympic swimming pools! (One Olympic sized pool is 1 million litres / 1Ml)”
Using grey water, the pros and cons of installing a system, issues of retrofitting. Meanwhile, leave the bath water in and use a bucket to flush the toilet with it. About a third of domestic water use goes on toilet flush. Our household can’t afford expensive gadgets, so this is our main water saving strategy. We’ve cut our consumption down to 80 litres per day each now, compared to an average of 150 litres.
Remember full baths can be a hazard for small children.
Rainwater harvesting is a whole industry!
In 2008, the world’s first experimental wave farm was opened in Portugal.
Here’s an advanced evaluation of wave energy conversion technology, dating from 2013.
Watch this man build a hut in the woods. Starting with making his own stone axe. Once he has the framework up, including a raised bed and roof of leaves, he lights a fire by twiddling a stick and makes some pots. There’s no stopping him then – collecting water in his pots he mixes clay for walls and even adds a fireplace with chimney!
I’d show off too, if I could do this! With a stronger framed hut, he proceeds to build a kiln out of mud, fire himself a load of roof tiles and installs underfloor heating.
Bet he can’t make a pencil though. Neither can I. As a writer, that’s a bit worrying.
Back to more practical issues. Here’s a description of an off grid house in Britain, combined with a business model for the surrounding land.
Good insulation means that a minimum of heat, like that from a candle heater can keep the chill off.
Passivhaus is an ultra low energy design, where controlling air flow and using insulation means that the building is heated solely by the people and appliances inside. The design, first piloted in 1988, is suitable for commercial premises as well as houses, and over 20,000 such buildings have been constructed. Photo-voltaics or windmills can supply electricity, making these independent of the grid for essential power.
To add sustainable water and sewage facilities, however, really needs an integrated estate development, such as Eva-Lanxmeer in the Netherlands or Hockerton in Nottinghamshire. Each time a housing estate is built in the UK using current protocols, another opportunity is lost to create a resilient community.
Some improvements on the standard estate plan can be made though, such as the inclusion of large open spaces at frequent intervals for play areas, community gardens and even a covered meeting place which could house a shop or a residents’ co-operative. Car parking areas can be surfaced with grasscrete to allow rain water to soak away, reducing the danger of flooding.
There was a sustainable development planned at Kincluny, Aberdeenshire. If anyone knows what is happening with it, I’d be interested. They submitted a planning application in July 2015, but the project has been mooted since 2011.
Or build a house from sustainable timber
Some information on wood fired central heating systems
Twelve volt electrical systems can be run from most ordinary vehicle batteries, so the power source is pretty accessible. These batteries can be recharged by driving, or by solar panels. Looking at shops servicing the motor caravan trade gives you an idea of the type of appliances you can run quite easily. You need to get the travel versions, or use an inverter to run mains powered items; this will cost you energy.
Some useful advice on managing a weather crisis in your home – storm damage, frozen pipes, flooding. Can you use your heating system if there’s no mains water? It depends. You ought to know.
Try the Urban Route Planner where you can find a route map between any two points, including your journey time, calorie burn, step count and carbon saving. It’s quick, free, health and green!
Over seventeen thousand pages of information for walkers in Britain with descriptions of walks, photos from the walks, maps of walks, accommodation for walkers and the rest!
Cycling has many of the same advantages as walking. You can carry more, but have to consider a safe place to leave your bike when you stop. Many urban workplaces are now providing facilities for staff who cycle in; showers, lockers to keep dry clothes, a secure bike store etc
Cycling can be a competitive sport, or a holiday focus
Sharing the roads with motor vehicles can be dangerous and there is a plan to extend a national cycle network across Britain. This project is being promoted by Sustrans which was founded in Bristol in 1977 to help people travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment.
This cycle network is transforming everyday travel for many people countrywide, creating new bridges and crossings to overcome busy roads, rivers and railways, and linking these to networks of walking and cycling routes, making it easier for people to walk and cycle for everyday journeys. When complete, as many as six million people will live close to new walking and cycling routes.
Technically, you can still travel on horseback in the UK, but this is fraught with difficulty and for the true pioneer! There are no hitching rails outside shops, and the etiquette of tethering your animals in a public place is long forgotten. The only real guidance here are the rules of the road found at the government site dealing with the Highway Code.
General information on the subject of sustainable transport
Using the railway system in Britain, or plan your journey using a variety of transport including ferries. Go on an imaginary trip on cold winter evenings, looking at street view as you ‘travel’!
London has a journey planner of its own!
Car sharing, lift sharing and community vehicle ownership are some other options that can be explored
The Royal Aeronautical Society website is a useful resource when looking at the environmental impact of flying, and how it can be tackled. It also considers issues around cargo flights.
Cargo vessels, rail and canal are more sustainable and resilient methods of carrying goods than are road or air transport. The adventurous among you could explore these options on a barge or cargo ship holiday – or sail on a tall ship across oceans!
There are also the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation and the Clean Shipping Coalition, both co-ordinated by Transport & Environment, an NGO at the EU level in Brussels.
Waste and Recycling
Take a look at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) who work ‘uniquely and by design, in the space between Governments, businesses, communities, innovative thinkers and individuals’. You can find graphs and figures here, useful high-end information.
Rubbish can be incinerated to provide power, or just to dispose of it. Emission control, especially of dioxins and PCDFs, is an issue as is the disposal of the ash residue and the lorry traffic generated by the site. A well run facility can generate enough power for tens of thousands of homes though, as does this one at Colnbrook
Take cotton bags on shopping trips to support the drive to reduce plastic carrier bags. Stop buying fruit wrapped in plastic – or unwrap it and leave the packaging at the supermarket. You are not legally obliged to take it home! While you’re feeling militant, why not see about getting less junk mail as well.
To see where each type of waste goes for recycling, and what it may become, the short film clips on the Recycle Now website give a basic introduction.
The ink needs to be removed from paper during the recycling process; this can involve chemicals. Vegetable based printer inks are available which would reduce the toxic waste produced by your scrap paper. Less toxic ways of removing ink are being developed, such as those involving an electric current or enzymes.
Over 3 billion aluminium cans were recycled in the UK in 2011. They are shredded, melted and made into ingots for resale. Recycled aluminium only uses 5% of energy needed to process same amount from mined bauxite.
Cardboard is made from wood fibre; it can be pulped and remade up to 5 times. It can also be shredded for animal bedding and insulation, soaked and added to your own compost heap or reused to make your own greetings cards, decorative boxes or packaging
A vast amount of food bought in UK is thrown away, and most of this could have been eaten. Minimise shopping trips using lists, stick to what you need, target bargains instead of buying too much because it is cheaper than usual. Cook from ingredients rather than buying processed food; you will be bringing home less packaging as well.
Measure food properly for your needs. If the packet over estimates, use less. Keep an old fashioned kitchen notebook to jot down such notes and other ideas such as recipes for left overs.
Learn to store food well; you can use Fresh Pods in your fridge. These act by absorbing the ethylene gases which encourage fruit to ripen faster
Doorstep collections of food waste go to make compost. If you have your own plants to feed, you could get a wormery or a Bokashi bin for your kitchen.
Garden waste makes up 20% of the total rubbish collection. It is composted or made into mulch. Try swapping your surplus plants locally, on Freecycle or at local events.
Glass is crushed into ‘cullet’ which goes to make new glass, bricks, road surfacing, golf bunker sand and in pool filters. Glass is bulky to transport, and a great deal is still wasted from the business sector.
Plastic is made from oil, a valuable resource. There are about 50 different types, some of which don’t mix well, which has presented a challenge to recyclers. It is helpful to wash plastics containers before recycling, especially cleaning off food waste. The number of plastic bottles successfully recycled in the UK has risen rapidly since 2007.
Tetrapak cartons can be made into plasterboard and suchlike; the inner lining plastic can be recovered or used to fuel the recycling plant. The separation of the different materials used makes them harder to recycle than cans and glass so you should weigh this against their lighter weight and convenience; the firm offers grants to councils to support recycling their cartons.
Wash and squash cartons to take up one third of the space and save lorry traffic.
Choose quality clothes in the first place; check the seams and stitching before you buy, to reduce waste. Clean and dry clothes,with shoes tied in pairs, can be sold on or used by charities. Unwearable textiles are shredded and recycled.
Cut up old towels to make washable flannels, face cloths to clean off make-up, or cleaning cloths. Use scraps of nice cloth to wrap presents instead of paper.
Disposable nappies occupy up to half a million tonnes of UK landfill per year. Many people are returning to the use of washable nappies, supported by new designs and nappy washing services. More information can be found at the Real Nappy Campaign.
Books can be sold at car boot sales, donated to charity shops or, in some places, recycled through book skips. If you used them for a course, they are often important to other students.
In recycling disposable batteries, valuable metals are reclaimed, but the process must be carefully monitored for toxic wastes. Try and use rechargeable ones for your small electronic devices. They work out a lot cheaper in the long run. Have solar powered lights for your garden and shed.
Motor oil is very bad for the environment and needs to be disposed of properly. It can be used as fuel for power stations and quarries, or as a mould release in foundries. Cooking oil should not be poured down the sink where it will set and clog sewage pipes, but left to cool and tipped into the bin. On a larger scale, it is collected for industrial lubricant and bio fuel.
If you can’t sell surplus furniture through eBay or local advertising, then try Freecycle. It’s a national network; use the website to find your local branch. You can use it to post offers of free goods, or to ask for what you need. It’s strictly not for commercial use or resale of goods.
Or there is the Furniture Recycling Network which supports charitable re-use organisations across the UK. Some of their outlets can take electrical goods. If you are handy with tools or artistic, you could fix or decorate old furniture with stencils or decoupage.
The RePaint charity collects leftover paint to give to charities. Otherwise your local tip should have a collection point for old paint as it should not go to landfill. Remember that storing paint in a freezing shed will often make it unusable.
Recycle your old spectacles by donating them to Vision Aid Overseas. Print cartridges, mobile phones, used postage stamps can all be recycled. Separate UK stamps from foreign ones, and leave about 1cm of envelope around each. See what else you don’t need to throw out at the Recycle This website!
We create around 1 million tonnes of electrical and electronic waste in the UK every year, and the figure is getting higher. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations which came into force in January 2007 aims to reduce the amount of this waste going to landfill and to improve recovery and recycling rates. Retailers now obliged to dispose of your old item with a like for like purchase, regardless of who made the original one. There may be a collection charge.
Dispose of unwanted but still working items through ebay, car boots, for sale cards or to charities.
For every tonne of domestic waste, 6 tonnes are created by businesses. There is a growing understanding that this waste can be valuable as well as unsightly and sometimes toxic. Various policies and initiatives have been created to manage the recycling and disposal involved.
The European Union landfill directive aims to reduce biodegradable waste going into landfill and to minimise the impact of the process of decay on the environment. Recycling on the industrial scale needed to effectively reuse our throw away waste is a fast developing industry with many challenges.
Tips on composing and distributing a leaflet explaining your idea for a community project. Use local notice boards, or laminate posters and put them up in places where your neighbours are likely to see them.
How much energy does the internet use? A meeting that takes place by video-conference uses an average of one hundredth as much energy as one in which participants took a flight so that they could sit down together. Replacing just one in four of those meetings by a video call could save as much power as the entire internet consumes, according to this study.
Many servers, exchanges and relays could be powered by solar panels on the building roofs, windmills in the same area as masts. Currently, the batteries in base stations will become depleted within an hour of mains power loss. The ability to top them up with sun or wind power would extend the functionality of the network in an emergency – exactly when it is needed most.
Your mobile phone and laptop can easily be recharged using solar panels with a storage battery and a small inverter as they are low energy devices compared to, say, an electric kettle.
Although the electronic communication network is robust, it is not fully resilient. In an emergency, the mobile phone and internet networks can become overwhelmed by the volume of traffic, especially in the most troubled area. The authorities will restrict public access to these networks if this is likely.
Public announcements will be made via radio or television, and through government websites. Make sure you have a portable radio, preferably analogue and with large batteries. Digital radios use far more battery power. Find out about the difference here. For real resilience, use rechargeable batteries and a charger running from your inverter!
A very technical description of how emergency calls are routed.
Guidelines for providers of critical telecommunication services in the UK from the Electronic Communications Resilience and Response group (EC-RRG)
The Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network (RAYNET) was formed in 1953 after radio amateurs took a lead role in emergency communications during severe flooding. VHF and UHF radios are used, hand held or mounted on vehicles. They also help out at large community events, which is a good way to engage with the group and consider becoming a member.
If all else fails, Morse code can be transmitted with very basic technology, and semaphore or flag codes use none at all. These can be fun to learn and the latter is useful if stewarding small local events spread over a wide area. Be sure to learn the International Morse code (ITU) which was standardised in 1865.
We live in a ‘small world’ where at least one member of a social group will have long distance connections. Thus groups are linked together and news can travel fast. You can arrange for contacts when visiting a foreign country through your network, find work opportunities, solutions to practical problems and access a huge amount of information not available locally.
Clothing and Fabrics
Wool has a long history in this country. Recently most of it was being used for carpet or even burned because the price was so low. The drive for ethical and more natural consumer products has fuelled a new interest though, and industry is looking at its properties in a new light. For example, combined with the more expensive kevlar, it can improve the effectiveness of bullet proof vests.
Linen is a high quality cloth made from flax. Many household items were made from hand spun linen, which often lasted for several generations. Flax seeds are processed into linseed oil, useful in cattle feed and making paints.
Hemp produces a tough and durable cloth, often used for canvas and sailcloth. It was grown all over Europe until ousted by artificial fibres and the failure of joined-up thinking. Hemp has many uses, including as a soil improver and weed suppressant in agriculture. An acre of hemp produces 300 gallons of oil and 3 tons of protein as well as 30 tons of fibre.
Cotton doesn’t grow in Britain; it is all imported. Despite it being a very good material for clothes, there are concerns around the amount of water used in its production. It takes 8,500 litres to grow enough cotton for a single pair of jeans. Furthermore, it is the world’s dirtiest crop where agricultural chemicals are concerned, accounting for over 16% of global insecticide use. The extremely toxic nature of some of these chemicals endangers the health of cotton workers and pollutes their water supplies.
Artificial and synthetic fibres were first developed in the 1900s and there is now a wide range available. They are not dependent on agriculture, but made from fossil fuels. Their manufacture involves industrial amounts of poisonous chemicals and can do much damage to the environment. Although they are light weight, easy to dry and to style, they are a hazard to the environment throughout their existence and in their final disposal as they break down.
An article on plastic microfibres shed from synthetic fabrics, and the pollution dangers they present.
The British leather industry has declined over the past few decades, due to competition from imported leather goods and from artificial materials, and now concentrates on high quality products. The skins are obtained as a by-product of the meat industry and, if not turned into leather, would need to be responsibly disposed of.
There are a lot of websites giving instructions on how to spin wool into yarn; here’s one with photos rather than a video.
Learn to crochet, or knit – here’s a sock pattern!
Here’s where to find the British Invisible Mending Service Ltd
Forum reviews of Eco-balls, a detergent free way of washing clothes in a machine. If you are investigating a possible purchase of anything new, Google for reviews, read the comments, look at forums. Some people say Eco-balls are no better than water, some disagree. People with eczema appreciate the lack of detergent. Beware of cheap imitations.
How to recycle clothes.
Valuing our clothes; dealing with the large scale financial implications rather than suit care. More graphs and figures from WRAP.
Background information on Etsy, the e-commerce website specialising in handmade or vintage items – sell your own items, or buy interesting clothes there.
Resource intensity – what is it? How are ecosystem services valued?
For example, the River Thames was used to carry away all the sewage of London until it became a festering slime and people died of cholera in droves. Then money had to be spent on different strategies.
How many people live in cities? Here’s percentages for each country, as measured by the World Bank and the United Nations.
Circular flow land use management is aimed at reducing urban sprawl and restoring green areas by prioritising inner city development. There are moves to increase green infrastructure in urban areas.
The destruction of the natural environment was barely halted in time, as the benefits of nature to mental health were realised.
Old fashioned hedges supported a huge range of wildlife; the modern practice of flailing degrades even the few surviving miles of hedgerow. Wetlands – now frequently drained – were another important habitat area. The value of forested land in water management and soil retention is only now being acknowledged, despite the fact that nearly all ancient civilisations collapsed due to progressive deforestation.
The decline of the otter population in the British Isles; dramatic fall in hedgehog numbers; native mountain hares reduced by nearly half in the last 20 years; steady decline in all wild bird populations since 1970; even insects and other invertebrates have suffered drastic reductions.
The recent State of Nature report was a ‘health check’ on the condition of our native wildlife – it’s not good!
The environment not only sustains nature,but provides all of our resources too, including living space. Its welfare is closely linked to social and economic demands. If too many people rely on the environment for their basic needs, resources cannot regenerate fast enough and the eco-system is soon depleted. The Deep Ecology movement calls for a better working relationship with nature.
One of the barriers in achieving this is the debt based finance system, which you really need to try and understand.
‘The War on Cash’ is a good essay on the nature of money, especially contrasting the role of tokens (cash) and that of ledger money (electronic transfer)
Global movements promoting resilience include:-
The Sustainable World Initiative
Take a look at the disturbing pictures of ecological destruction on a colossal scale in the book ‘Over’ published by the Population Institute
The Foundation for Deep Ecology