Sunday, 18 July 2021

A Net Zero Family

One family has taken on the net zero challenge in a big way. All four members of the Weeble family from Buxton have certainly pushed the envelope when it comes to net zero housing. The Weebles have abandoned their three bed detached house, turned off the gas, electricity and water and decamped to the garden shed which is now their new home.

It sounded incredibly radical and incredibly interesting so I had to visit them to see how their new net zero lifestyle is working out. Jed and Kaz now live with son Tommee (13) and daughter Toolah (11) in a large wooden shed in their back garden.

I knocked on the door and Jed and Kaz ushered me in with friendly smiles. Their new net zero home seemed a little cramped inside with only wooden stools to sit on, but Jed and Kaz have plans to expand the shed in a net zero and sustainable way using wood salvaged from a nearby recycling centre.

They have already added an annexe, although the kids are not allowed to go in there because it has turned out to be a little damp in wet weather and Kaz says the floor flexes more than it should. Still as Jed says – “it’s early days and we are learning all the time.”

The first and most obvious question which sprang to mind how the kids were adapting to their new lifestyle with no mobile phones, TV or video games. This is due to the absence of an electricity supply although the family expects to have a couple of solar panels installed within a week or two.

I should say at this point that Tommee and Toolah spent most of the interview scowling at their parents while huddled up in a corner. Toolah had what appeared to be an imitation mobile phone made from wood which she used to hold imaginary conversations such as –

“No I’m so sorry, we aren’t allowed to do that. You could come here but you wouldn’t like it at all what with the spiders and the draughts, not to mention the smell my dear. Oh yes my dear it certainly does smell…”

Jed and Kaz would occasionally throw Toolah a tolerant smile suggesting that all is well so I asked them about their abandoned bricks and mortar house standing empty. Wouldn’t it deteriorate and become derelict over the years?

“Oh yes,” enthused Jed, “we are rather looking forward to that, watching the old, planet-destroying way of life finally crumble into the earth.”

“The earth which will in the end receive it with love,” added Kaz. “The earth will take our house into itself and heal the wound we in our ignorance caused.”

At this point Tommee began tapping his forehead with a finger and pulling faces clearly intended to indicate that his parents are a little eccentric. Is that what he meant? I’m not sure.

It began to rain at this point and soon the rain turned into a regular downpour, hammering on the roof and drowning any further conversation. I decided to terminate the interview and leave as soon as the rain eased off. As huge raindrops splintered across the shed windows, the whole business felt more depressing than I’d expected.


DiscoveredJoys said...

Many years ago when 'The Good Life' was on the BBC (1975 - 1978, yes, the BBC did mock the middle class suburbia back then) I bought illustrated book about self sufficiency to see what was involved. It struck me that an enormous amount of time and effort would be involved.

It seems to me now that a 'net zero' lifestyle for the sake of the planet and survival of the human race is too distant an 'end' to justify the miserable 'means'. There has to be something in it for the individual to make the effort worthwhile - and that has not yet been articulated.

You mileage, on foot, may vary.

Sam Vega said...

Of course, if the Weebles had a wind turbine things would be (intermittently) better.

But to sustain their carbon neutrality the bloke servicing it would take ages to arrive (horse and cart, rutted roads) and you can't get the parts from China any more 'cos they grow their own turnips, thanks.

wiggiatlarge said...

A glimpse into a green future, you omitted the wood shavings and sticks to rub together to create a fire, are they an optional extra as fire gives off toxic emissions and may well be banned or can you get round that by using carbon credits.

Ed P said...

No mention of their, ahem, toilet needs. Or water supply. But mock ye not, our future is heading this way if we don't eliminate the climate freaks in control.

Sackerson said...

I like 'splintered'.

A K Haart said...

DJ - yes there has to be something in it for the individual and apart from spurious virtue there is nothing yet. At some point enough people to make a difference may realise that.

Sam - the Weebles' best bet would be to steal the horse and cart, eat the horse and burn the cart as winter fuel.

Wiggia - I've never actually seen a carbon credit. Maybe they don't give off toxic emissions when burned, but generate lots of hot air.

Ed - it is headed that way and a major issue is how close we get before the stupidity of it becomes sufficiently obvious.

Sackers - it's not original, but where it came from I'm not sure. A school English lesson I think.

Doonhamer said...

Why does poor harmless Carbon always get the blame.
It is that nasty Oxygen that is the problem. Those mean atoms go round in gangs of two and force a isolated Carbon atom to "bond" with them.
What we need is to suck up all oxygen and then, by magic, no more gaseous Carbon Dioxide, no more Warble Gloaming, no more over-population.
You know it makes sense.

A K Haart said...

Doonhamer - good point and one way to get rid of as much oxygen as possible is burn fossil fuels. Pesky plants keep making more of course but herbicides could sort that.

MalcolmCog said...

What if they have to visit a doctor and fall seriously ill ? Or the dentist ? Will they insist on carbon neutral fillings or carbon neautral cancer treatment ?

A K Haart said...

Malcolm - to be consistent they would have to insist on those things. Somehow I think the ideology would be set aside though.