‘We have to focus on alternative energy’

SWAP SHOP From left: Charlie Buckland, Kitty McGrath, Niall Dixon and Ruth Britton of the Portsmouth Clothes Swap scheme.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (121689-1)
SWAP SHOP From left: Charlie Buckland, Kitty McGrath, Niall Dixon and Ruth Britton of the Portsmouth Clothes Swap scheme. Picture: Paul Jacobs (121689-1)
The Bridge Tavern and Camber Dock''''Picture: Paul Simpso

LETTER OF THE DAY: Camber walkway ‘pantomime’ could run forever

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Chris Kennett can envisage a time when we’re cycling for our smoothies or simply to watch the television.

We’re running out of fuel, says the environmental campaigner, and we might end up having to generate power with, well, manpower.

IN THE SADDLE Cyclists at last year's Portsmouth Summer Fair

IN THE SADDLE Cyclists at last year's Portsmouth Summer Fair

To highlight the issue, Chris is setting up a pedal-powered cinema, stage and smoothie-maker at this year’s Portsmouth Summer Fair.

Using bicycle generators to power batteries and solar panels as extra energy back-up, the system relies on visitors getting on the bikes.

As they pedal they power the cinema, the stage that’s being used for entertainment and a smoothie-maker.

‘It’s bringing the issue to people’s attention really,’ says Chris, pictured, one of the organisers of the fair.

‘But actually we have a very real problem. Our resources are running out and there needs to be far more focus on alternative sources of energy. In 20 or 30 years we could have a real problem and maybe people will have to pedal at home to watch the telly.’

Chris is a firm believer that we should be moving far more quickly with alternative energy measures so that fuels can be saved for emergencies. It’s just one of the issues highlighted at tomorrow’s fair, organised by environmental group Portsmouth Climate Action Network and Portsmouth City Council. The event is also billed as a great day out with lots of free attractions for the family.

The emphasis is on fun with games, art and crafts, circus skills, land zorbs, hula hoops, bouncy castle, storytellers, and a wizard. And because there is a green message, you’ll find local, organic and homegrown food and drinks, money-saving tips, green fashion, the chance to swap/revamp clothes, local crafts, talks, energy-saving ideas, wildlife conservation and much more.

This year, the fair is linked to the Portsmouth Green Film Festival, a new venture by Portsmouth Film Society which is running until tomorrow. Films with a green message are showing at the Omega Centre in Portsmouth and there will be a programme of screenings in the pedal-powered cinema at the fair including a free showing of the Disney/Pixar animation Wall-E.

For information on festival screenings, go to portsmouthfilmsociety.org.uk.

The Summer Fair runs tomorrow between 11am and 5pm in Victoria Park, Portsmouth.

One of the purposes is to encourage us all to take planet-saving measures. Environmental campaigners have plenty of ideas about how we can live greener lives.

Here are some of their suggestions, ranging from simple changes to ideas that require a little more dedication.

Join the campaigners

‘I’d like to see more attention being paid to the impact of climate change around the world,’ says Sue James, one of the organisers of Portsmouth Climate Action Network’s Summer Fair.

‘It’s already threatening millions of people with disease, drought, flooding and other weather related disasters. It’s contributing to increased food prices which mean that more people go to bed hungry. This is such a huge problem and we need our governments to tackle it with real vision.’

She says there are good ideas around but is concerned richer countries aren’t taking the issue seriously.

‘It would be great if more people got involved with campaigning groups like Oxfam and the World Development Movement and kept reminding the politicians that this matters.’

Shop locally...

‘Rather than going to supermarkets for products like fruit and vegetables, it’s more environmentally sound to use local greengrocers, farm shops and farmers’ markets, ‘ says Christine Hinde, pictured, a member of Portsmouth Climate Action Network. ‘You’ll have a greater chance of finding organic and free range products.

‘Or you could check out one of the box schemes in which organic products are delivered to your door,’ she adds.

‘All of these are more likely to source their products from local farmers and suppliers and less mileage means less carbon used.’

Get on your bike and ride...

This week people are taking part in the Big Green Commuter Challenge, a Portsmouth City Council annual event that encourages drivers to try other ways of getting to work.

Working in partnership with other organisations, the council runs a competition for businesses and other employers, whose staff try walking, cycling, using public transport or car-sharing, instead of driving alone to work.

Organiser Amanda Morris says: ‘The challenge is a chance for organisations to do something real for the environment. Not to mention easing parking problems, encouraging a healthier workforce and cutting congestion.’

Why not get in practice for future events by trying greener ways of getting to work now?

‘We’re so wasteful with clothes’

It all started when Kitty McGrath bought a £3 pair of leggings from a ‘cheap retail chain we won’t mention’.

She says: ‘It really hit home that the business must have made money. I’d got them really cheaply and somewhere along the line someone wasn’t being paid fairly.’

That prompted the Portchester mum to set up Portsmouth Clothes Swap, which holds events where people can exchange unwanted clothes.

She says: ‘We all have things in our wardrobes that we’ll never wear. I’m guilty of it, I have dresses that still have the price tags on. We’re very wasteful with clothes. We buy things cheaply and then replace them in a few weeks.’

She says clothes swapping is an effective form of recycling, helping to cut out clothes miles and an answer to a wasteful and sometimes unethical industry.

Information on events is available on Portsmouth Clothes Swap’s Facebook page, or call (07858) 767819.

Run your car on cooking oil

Ever imagined running your car legally and free on oil from your local chip shop or restaurant? It’s perfectly possible.

Chris Kennett, treasurer of Portsmouth Climate Action Network, converts cars to run on cooking oil through his business Veggiepower.

He says: ‘We provide easy to install conversion kits or can do the conversion for you. Running your car on vegetable oil will help reduce CO2 emissions, cut running costs to you and help the environment.’

Conversions can only be made to diesel cars, but Chris says it’s an efficient way of travelling and cuts down on the use of fuels which are running out and harmful to the environment.

He’s also urging people to recycle their old cooking oil.

‘You can take it to the Port Solent Recycling Centre as we’re now working with the council and Southern Water to recycle it,’ he says.

Visit veggiepower.co.uk

Thinking of going solar-powered?

Most people know that solar panels are good for the environment because they allow householders to use the sun’s energy to power their homes.

It’s an alternative to fossil fuels which environmentalists warn are running out and are harmful when burned.

But what sort of system should you use if you are thinking of going solar?

Richard Weavis, a Petersfield-based specialist in sustainable design, explains the differences.

‘A solar thermal system produces hot water for washing up and showers etc. In a normal summer it means you can turn the boiler off from some time in April through to some time in September and the solar thermal system will supply your hot water needs. If there is a run of cloudy days the system will still work, but may need to be topped up either by the boiler or immersion heater.

‘A solar pv system provides electricity and displaces electricity you would have otherwise used from the grid, any surplus electricity you produce goes back in to the grid. It works even on cloudy days.’

There are government incentives for installing these technologies and the Energy Saving Trust has details. Visit energysavingtrust.org.uk

Power of trees

Portsmouth and Southsea Tree Wardens are volunteers who look after and promote the city’s plant life by holding walks and events, running planting programmes and helping to protect trees.

They are always encouraging people to get involved in the scheme.

Area co-ordinator Pauline Powell says: ‘Trees are incredibly important to the wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants. They act like the lungs of the planet, breathe in harmful gases and breathe out oxygen and so make our air cleaner. It is also thought that they slow down global warming. Trees enhance our streets and parks, act as screens which absorb sound, reduce noise pollution, provide shade and help prevent soil erosion.’

Visit portsmouthsouthseatreewardens.co.nr

Let’s compost!

Portsmouth Friends of the Earth would like to see more people composting their kitchen waste.

‘Organic material can form up to a third of our weekly waste and if we don’t compost, most of this goes straight to landfill rather than being recycled back to our gardens where it will improve soil structure and increase its fertility,’ says Friends of the Earth member Rachel Hudson, pictured.

‘What’s more, organic waste which is dumped in landfill stagnates and produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas.’

So Portsmouth FOE have a composting project to encourage composting, recycling and wormeries. They have a demonstration allotment and can arrange visits and demonstrations for schools and community groups, as well as offering speakers to visit schools and other groups. Visit portsmouthfoe.org