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The Independent


The Independent - March 2007

Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Some of you may remember this newspaper's charity auction before Christmas, in which readers could bid for the company and services of Indy writers. I was one of the lots - offering a green home audit to the highest bidder - and I was worried no one would bid for me.

Indeed, as I languished behind and other lots raced ahead, I considered bidding for the agony aunt Virginia Ironside to discuss my worries, but she soon escalated out of my price range. In desperation, I asked my father to bid for me. "I'd bid a grand for you not to green me up," he grumbled. But he forgot, so it was left to fate to decide.

Fortunately, a charitable benefactor stepped in with a generous sum. So I duly travelled to the frozen North to green up Chris Hasling, who sells a vast range of recycling bins and other products from his converted chapel in Hebden Bridge.

He sounded pretty green already, and I feared that my visit would be like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, so I begged S, a builder, to accompany me with a chainsaw. If I wasn't delivering value, perhaps he could knock something down or put something up.

As I suspected, Chris's outfit was pretty green. His stunning Victorian chapel was huge - and absolutely freezing. There was no central heating, which is very eco-friendly, and as nobody in the North feels the cold, appeared to be no hardship.

Although my bones were so cold I could barely move (I'm from Guildford), I was impressed by Chris's recycling bins. My father makes wastepaper tubs, so I know a bit about bins, and these were the sine qua non of bins.

I quite wore myself out with eco-solutions, but whatever I suggested, Chris had already done. Fortunately, I discovered that the deepfreeze wasn't full. A deepfreeze uses less energy if it's full, so if yours is half-empty, fill it with scrunched-up plastic bags or something, to reduce energy consumption.

Ferreting in my bag, I found some old crisp packets and started shoving them into Chris's deepfreeze. "What a great idea, let's go to the pub!" he cried, wresting my bag from me. S put his chainsaw down and we dashed up and down dales to the best pub in Hebden Bridge, and had a slap-up lunch.

"There's more to Hebden Bridge than lesbians, you know," said Chris, as he filled us in on local colour. The whole lesbian thing was news to me, but it's no surprise as the town is very environmentally aware. With the world's population at six billion, a sure-fire way for us all to halt the planet's demand for energy is to go gay. Or, if that is too drastic, take a leaf out the books of the denizens of Hebden Bridge and turn off our heating. Brrrrr.

j.stephenson@ independent.co.uk