City Hippy

The diary of our struggle to live a green and fair life.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

REVIEW: Bristol Eco-Living Fair

After dusting down my neglected bike and ignoring some dubious squeaking en-route, I ventured to the Create Centre in Bristol on Saturday to check out the Eco-Living Fair. The fair was dubbed “Bristol’s Alternative Homes & Gardens Fair” and there was certainly an impressive turn-out.

I’ve never been to the Create Centre before, and it turned out to be quite an eye-opener. The Centre itself is home to a variety of organisations, some of Bristol City Council’s Sustainability teams, plus public resources such as meeting rooms, exhibitions & a cafe. The best part of the Centre itself was the Ecohome.

This is a purpose-built show home packed full with ideas of how to make your home more eco-friendly. It’s also got a brilliant resources room with a huge array of magazines, catalogues and other info about everything from green cleaning to how to build a house from straw bales. It’s open weekdays from 12-3pm and is well worth a visit for practical ideas & advise.

The fair itself boasted stalls covering a wide range of green issues, from architects specializing in green design, to plant sales and green gifts. Given my rather shaky bike ride earlier in the day, I made a beeline for the Lifecycle UK stall. This organization quite simply wants to encourage more people to take up cycling. They provide maps on all the cycle routes in and around Bristol, run cycle courses and, perfect for me, maintenance courses. I’m hoping to join a course which starts next week. Perhaps then I’ll know what to do next time the chain falls off.

I also spotted a couple of brilliantly simple ideas, including a toothbrush where you just replace the head, rather than throwing away the whole lot. Over a lifetime of tooth brushing, that’s saving a lot of plastic.

Another great idea is the Variflush, which can easily be retro-fitted to most toilets to save up to 50% flushing water per year. I really liked the Remarkable range of stationary. Ok, so there’s a limit to how exciting a notebook can be, but it’s cleverly branded to shout the fact it’s recycled. The company’s products are made from recycled car tyres, plastic cups and much more. They’d be ideal for getting across the message that recycling is worthwhile in schools and offices.

Finally, the Bristol Wood Recycling Project is a not-for-profit organisation which collects surplus wood, and then resells it at low prices. I think I’ll pay them a visit for some shelving – sold by the yard and fashioned from old floorboards and the like.

Having wandered round the stalls, it was time for a talk by man-of-the-moment, Dick Strawbridge. “Is it easy being green?” was a very entertaining whistle-stop tour of the Strawbridge’s quest for self-sufficiency. Dick was refreshing to listen to as he’s quite a departure from the stereotype eco-warrior. He points out that whilst everything they are doing has great environmental benefits, they have to make sound financial sense as well. This is especially true of saving energy (and generating your own) given the rise in bills we have all experienced recently. I bought a copy of Dick’s book which is packed full of information (it’s really for the boyf who I found cleaning his teeth in the shower the other day!! He needs some green encouragement I feel).

I left the Create Centre feeling very inspired indeed, and set off home on my squeaky bike.

Bye for now


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