Low-impact blog

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Aug
15
2021
Simon Fairlie

Can burning biomass be sustainable?

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“Burning biomass is just another path to environmental destruction,” claims a recent article in The Ecologist. Really? Simon Fairlie, who has blithely been burning biomass for the last 50 years, investigates.
Read more …

Aug
11
2021
Tim Padmore

£3.3 trillion fossil fuels subsidies by G20 countries since Paris Climate Agreement

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£3.3 trillion fossil fuel subsidies

All governments, including the UK, are telling us that they’re laser-focused on reducing carbon emissions. How are they doing? The chart above shows how they’re doing (source: Our World in Data). There’s a tiny flatline around 2020, but that’s because of the Covid lockdowns. Read more …

Aug
8
2021
Dave Darby

Our response to: “why don’t you start a political party?”

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“why don’t you start a political party?”

There’s a question we often hear: “why don’t you start a political party?” Sometimes this is genuine, and enthusiastic, but often it’s snarky, as in: “why don’t you stop sniping on the sidelines and put your ideas to the masses, who can vote for you if they like them? Then you can implement your proposals. We live in a democracy, after all.” Read more …

Aug
4
2021
Alice Brown

Want to work for a great veg box scheme in the south of England?

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Want to work for a great veg box scheme in the south of England? Actually it’s our veg box scheme. And it’s a bag not a a box. Each week we get a bag full of organic fruit and veg from Sutton Community Farm. If you live in south London, I really recommend them. Lovely delivery people, and the quality of the food is really noticeable. Plus we’re helping support a community-based business, swimming against the corporate tide. Read more …

Aug
1
2021
Lin Scrannage

Help Bridport Cohousing group build a community hub building

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Bridport cohousing

We’ve been following the progress of the Bridport Cohousing project for a few years. They’re interesting because they’re a community land trust, partnering with a housing association to ensure that their 53 properties remain affordable. Bridport is a nice place to live, and house prices have risen by around 15% in the last couple of years. Many incomers are buying properties as second homes – and a high number of second homes is guaranteed to kill any community. Read more …

Jul
25
2021
Tom Humphries

Career change? Making a living from making pottery

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Career change? Making a living from making pottery

At Lowimpact.org we’re interested in helping to bring production back to communities, and so we’re going to be talking with craftspeople, smallholders, natural builders, renewables installers and small business owners in our range of topics. I’ll be asking them about their jobs, and for advice for other people who are interested in doing similar things. Read more …

Jul
22
2021
Luci Edwards

Would you like to be an ecological smallholder?

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Would you like to be an ecological smallholder? The Ecological Land Co-op are looking for smallholders for plots of land in Devon and Cornwall. More below from Luci at the ELC: Read more …

Jul
18
2021
Jon Halle

Community energy, mutual credit and the mutualist economy

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Community energy and mutualisation

This is the third part of an interview with Jon Halle of Sharenergy, about the prospects for keeping energy production local and mutualised. Here we talk about community energy, mutual credit and mutualisation of the economy. Read more …

Jul
14
2021
Andy Reynolds

Building your own sustainable future

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Building your own sustainable future

Hi. I’m Andy Reynolds – author, instructor, forester, promoter of self-reliance, and for the last few years I have been reflecting on our project’s progression, as it seems to have reached the stage of early maturity. The project – rebuilding a home, and changing the surrounding fields from dead agricultural land into an oasis of natural life, and a delightful place to live – is something that many people may aspire to, or even dream of. Read more …

Jul
11
2021
Jon Halle

Keeping energy production local and mutualised: Jon Hallé of Sharenergy, Part 2

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Keeping energy production local and mutualised

This is the second part of an interview with Jon Halle of Sharenergy, about the prospects for keeping energy production local and mutualised. We talk about community energy, Energy Local and the Big Solar Co-op. Read more …

Jul
8
2021
SallyMorgan

In praise of parsnip flowers and seeds

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In praise of parsnip flowers and seeds

What are those yellow flowers?  Its a common question asked by visitors to the plot at this time of year. The eye-catching flowers that tower above everything else are parsnips.  It’s a shame that more don’t keep their parsnips in the ground overwinter and let them flower. Not only are they attractive plants with their clouds of yellow umbels, but there other benefits too.
Read more …

Jul
4
2021
Jon Halle

Jon Hallé: Introducing the Big Solar Co-op, and how you can help renewables and the co-op sector

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the Big Solar Co-op

Today I’m speaking with Jon Hallé. We go back about 20 years. You ran courses on how to make biodiesel for Lowimpact, back in the early noughties, and you authored a book for us about making biodiesel, that sold about 15k copies in the first year. It caught the zeitgeist then, but of course diesel vehicles have had their day now. Then you started Sharenergy, setting up community energy schemes around the country. Now you’ve founded the Big Solar Co-op. Read more …

Jun
30
2021
Rowan McOnegal

History of the use of medicinal plants

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History of the use of medicinal plants

This article explores the history of the legal rights of herbalists to practise, and looks particularly at the use of medicinal plants in wartime Britain. Read more …

Jun
27
2021
Shaila Agha

How ‘chamas’ and mutual credit are changing Africa: Shaila Agha of the Sarafu Network

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How 'chamas' and mutual credit are changing Africa

Today I’m talking with Shaila Agha of the Sarafu Network about ‘chamas’ and mutual credit, and how they’re changing Africa. Read more …

Jun
23
2021
Dave Darby

How you can help get solar onto more roofs in your community: the Big Solar Co-op

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Help get solar onto more roofs in your community: Big Solar Co-op

As it’s Community Energy Fortnight, I thought I’d have a word with my old mate Jon Hallé, who used to run Lowimpact’s ‘How to Make Biodiesel’ courses in the early noughties (and authored a book of the same title with us), and since then has gone on to found Sharenergy, who have helped over 100 community energy schemes to launch, using wind, solar, hydro and biomass. We’ll publish an interview with Jon soon, but first I wanted to tell you about his latest venture – the Big Solar Co-op (BSC) Read more …

Jun
20
2021
Dave Darby

What kind of work do we want to do? Is working with our hands passé?

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What kind of work do we want to do?

There’s an approach to life that sees craft jobs, or smallholding and food production, including baking, brewing and beekeeping, as well as any kind of job that involves manual work and dexterity as somehow retrograde and passé, and that ‘work’ now means mainly putting on a suit and travelling to an office to do something-or-other in sectors such as finance, advertising, sales, fashion or PR. Read more …

Jun
16
2021
Chris Smaje

Can organic farming feed the world?

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Can organic farming feed the world?

Now there’s a question – posed by Chris Smaje of the Ecoogical Land Co-op. Chris joined the board of the ELC as Dave of Lowimpact left, and since then Chris has produced a book called A Small Farm Future, which we review here. Members of Lowimpact have become involved in the world of mutual credit, while Chris has tried to convince us that the future of farming is mixed, organic smallholdings rather than giant industrial farms using pesticides. Read more …

Jun
13
2021
John Thackara

John Thackara: ‘Strange’ ideas don’t sound so strange in strange times

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John Thackara: 'Strange' ideas for strange times

This is part 2 of a conversation with John Thackara. In part 1 we talked about what the future might hold for humanity, and here we talk about what our responses might be. ‘Strange’ ideas might be required for strange times. Read more …

Jun
9
2021
Mitch Ison

How to build a bent willow chair

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How to build a bent willow chair

Complement your home or outdoor space with an easy chair, rocking chairs or a living willow chair! This guide should help you to build a bent willow chair – a fantastic piece of willow furniture. Building a willow chair is incredibly satisfying. Just imagine, when you’ve finished you can literally sit back and enjoy your endeavours. Read more …

Jun
6
2021
Dave Darby

A brief history of money

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A brief history of money, from 700 BCE to the present day

Here’s a quick and dirty history of money. Since I’ve been involved in the mutual credit world, I’ve been reading various ‘history of money’ texts, and so I thought I’d organise the notes I’ve taken into a blog article. It’s a half-hour read, to accompany our new ‘Low-impact money’ topic, and I think it gives a good overview of monetary history – but leaving out nonsense like ‘money evolved from barter’, or ‘Kings introduced coins so that their subjects could trade more easily’. If you think anything is wrong, missing or needs more explanation, do let me know in the comments. Read more …

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