Uppa Close tries hard to be an environmentally-friendly apartment.
How do we do this?
Well, let’s start with the fixtures and fittings. The flat needed extensive refurbishment when we acquired it, and as our budget was very tight, we did most of the work ourselves. And we scavenged! Are you old enough to remember the Wombles on 1970s TV? Wombling has always come naturally to me and my husband, and we put our skills to good use.
Our kitchen-and-bathroom-fitter friend told us of an entire bathroom he had just replaced for a client.
“The old one is now sitting in her garden. There’s nothing wrong with it. she just wants somebody to take it away.”
One trip in my trusty Toyota hiace van later, we were the proud owners of a new, free bathroom suite. My husband plumbed it in. (He also did all the tiling in the bathroom, but we bought the tiles new. No recycling credentials there, I’m afraid.) And I saw the big bathroom mirror leaning against a bin in the street, and with no shame whatsoever lifted it in broad daylight and made off with it.
The kitchen units were bought very cheaply on Gumtree. I painted the doors, and changed the handles. Our kitchen-and-bathroom-fitter friend fitted it for us, and he was able to reuse the worktop as well. (The sink, sadly, proved too shabby for reuse, so the kitchen sink is new – but was on sale, so still a bargain!) There were too many kitchen units to squeeze into the space, so a couple are now being useful in our workshop at home.
Gumtree also provided most of the furniture. The mid century teak sideboard unit was free: the woman needed rid of it and was reluctant to “just break it up”. I couldn’t take it for nothing so I gave her a tenner for it. She and I also gave ourselves minor injuries lifting it into my van: I had gone along on my own, not anticipating how heavy the thing was!
The best Gumtree acquisition was undoubtedly the leather sofa. It came from a house a few miles from our own, and when I went to see it I learned that the owners needed to find a new home for one of their cats. Our own cat had recently died, at the grand old age of twenty one, and we knew we wanted another cat at some point. So we ended up with a sofa and a cat: our beautiful new boy Jasper, who at the time of writing has been with us for almost ten months and has settled in perfectly to his new home.
But it’s not all just about furniture and cats. Our energy suppliers are ecotricity – providing green electricity and green gas.
Washing up liquid, soap powder and cleaning products are bunny-friendly: I mostly use the Co-op’s own brands, which have not been tested on animals.
The hand soap in the bathroom comes from Lomond Soap – a lovely wee enterprise in Cardross, just over the hill from the flat. Corrie makes the most beautiful soaps and body lotions, and not only are her products free from palm oil, for every soap sold she makes a donation to an Orangutan protection charity.
The toilet roll in Uppa Close comes from Who Gives A Crap. These amazing people donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for the estimated 40% (yes, 40%) of the world’s population who don’t have access to a toilet. (Poor sanitation is a leading cause of death from diarrhoea-related diseases, particularly among children.) Not only that, their toilet paper is either recycled or made from bamboo, which is highly sustainable.
I wash the bedding etc. at home (using Co-op bunny-friendly soap powder), and when possible it gets dried on a washing line in the garden, flapping gently in the breeze under the strong Scottish sun. (Ha! More often, it gets half-dry and then an unexpected heavy shower comes along. It frequently gets left out overnight. The neighbours despair of me.) If I really can’t get it outside, it goes onto a pulley (an airer) above our wood burning stove.
I do not iron sheets. It’s a waste of electricity (even though ours at home is green too!) and effort. Your bedding is clean. It has probably dried in the fresh air. You’re only going to sleep on it: why do you need it ironed?
There are limited recycling facilities in the communal back court of the apartment (i.e. sometimes there’s a blue bin, but it’s often full), so we ask guests to dispose of their normal rubbish in the communal rubbish bin, but to leave glass, paper, plastic bottles etc. in the kitchen and I’ll recycle them when I come in to do the cleaning.
So if you care about our collective impact on our planet, rest easy: here in Uppa Close we make an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle!