Are you an Ecotarian?

An ecotarian is one who eats a diet based on the local environment or with the least impact on the environment. Ecotarians select food with consideration for all ecological factors, plus energy used to produce the food, with the goal of eating in a sustainable way.

However, being an ecotarian is not as easy as you think. Merely consuming the most local produce you can find will not always be the most energy efficient option. European Union bureaucracy often puts so many exacting conditions on food producers. For example, a carton of European fruit juice may have had more energy lavished on its production than a similar carton from South America.

More ecotarian food tips can be found in the following article.

Guardian - Should I become an ecotarian?

Joan Pick, ultra frugal

Joan Pick, a lady from South London, has only been in a motor vehicle twice since 1973 and never in an aeroplane since 1971. She prefers to run everywhere having given up her bike.

Her diet consists of raw food, namely seeds, nuts, fruit and wheatgerm. Joan doesn't have a television, listens only to the radio and only uses electricity for a single light and her kettle.

There are many aspects to Joan's life that we can learn from. Reducing consumption is the key to a frugal life. Many think I am over the top but I see that I have a lot to learn.

Guardian - The woman with a tiny carbon footprint

Pre-cycling?

We've all been told to recycle to save waste. Some of us are Freecyclers and give away things we don't need to others who might have a use for our junk. Now there is pre-cycling.

A lot of us bring waste home with us in the form of packaging. However, it is possible to shop without generating waste packaging. This is called pre-cycling whereby you reduce waste by bringing your own containers.

For example, you could bring your own containers to a fruit and veg sellers, delicatessen or butchers shop and buy loose produce. This produce can then be put into your own containers thus saving on waste packaging.

Guardian - Waste not, want not

Ultra-low temperature clothes washing

Washing machines can be an awful waste at times. They use a lot of water so make sure you have a full load before using one. Modern machines do judge the correct amount of water for a particular load but nothing is more efficient than filling a washing machine to its full capacity.

A lot of electricity is wasted in washing machines too. Many machines only have cold water inputs and that water has to be heated, via an electric element, to the chosen wash temperature. About 90% of the electricity used by a washing machine goes into heating the water.

A friend of mine decided not to bother replacing his old machine and now washes everything by hand. Suffering from a bad back I have to use a washing machine as hand washing would be agony. When using my machine I always wash at the lowest temperature programme at 30C. I have not had any problems with the quality of wash at that temperature, which means I use less electricity to heat the water.

Washing powder companies are now looking at ultra-low temperature powders to reduce further the need to heat water. Ariel's Excel gel can wash clothes in water at just 15C.

Guardian - Does washing at 15C work?

Getting colder

I have been burning wood to keep warm for almost my whole life. A few years spent in the city stopped me from heating with wood due to "clean air" laws. Not that there is anything clean about burning gas or oil to keep warm. Now, with the credit crunch biting into every pocket, there are many turning to wood to heat their homes this winter.

Wood isn't a dirty fuel. Coal is very polluting. Oil and gas, along with coal, are fossil fuels and so you are putting new carbon into the atmosphere. When you burn wood you are burning something that has captured carbon dioxide in our current century. So long as felled wood is replaced by new trees then we have a carbon cycle that does not add new carbon from under the ground.

Guardian - Home fires: Rekindling an ancient love affair

To bank or not to bank, that is the question

With banks going bankrupt our trust in the banking system is being tested. In the UK people have the first £50,000 in their account protected by the government. However, the UK government has reimbursed 100% of deposits in failed banks so far, regardless of how much money an individual had on deposit over £50,000.

If the banking system comes under more pressure, and many more banks begin to collapse, then maybe the government will struggle to honour its promise to ensure no tax payer suffers from the credit crunch.

Some might think of doing without a bank but these days it is hard to live without having a bank account. If you are legally employed then your employer will want a bank account into which your salary will be transferred.

Many utility bills are cheaper if paid by direct debit from a bank account so it pays to have a bank account. Telephone and Internet service providers require payment through a bank account as proof of address.

Some people prefer not to have a bank account so that they can avoid being monitored by credit companies or have their details on a database. It is a matter of personal choice. Privacy comes at a price.

If you fear what will happen to your money on deposit then make sure you deposit less than £50,000 in any one bank. That will ensure there are no difficulties in the future, should the government decide not to honour its promise to help everyone out. For joint accounts the compensation limit is £100,000 so a couple might want to take advantage of that.

Make sure that if you deposit money in many banks that each bank is working under a separate banking licence. The £50,000 rule is per banking licence. If you have two accounts, one with the Halifax and one with the Bank of Scotland then that counts as a single banking license as both banks have merged. If the takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland is completed by Lloyds TSB then you will have to make sure that you only have one account amongst the three institutions.

Take care also with overseas banks. They may have attractive interest rates but not all are covered by the government's promise. Only banks registered in the UK will have its depositors protected by the UK government. Some UK customers had online accounts with collapses Icelandic banks and will be reimbursed. However, customers with accounts in Icelandic banks based in the UK Crown Dependency of Guernsey are not covered.

Look after your money because you are going to need every penny you have. Life is about to get very hard. Trillions of pounds, dollars, euros, you name it will be borrowed to pay for this banking mess. Guess who is going to pay for it all? It won't be the bankers.

BBC - How do you live without a bank account?

Making money from waste

A couple collected waste for recycling in return for air miles. The air miles were then used to pay for a club class flight for their honeymoon.

The couple's local supermarket offered the air miles in return for recycling aluminium cans and glass bottles.

BBC - Recycling litter funds honeymoon