"Reality Sustainability"

Grand Tours Project Team - Yvette Yeates

Nov / 18 / 2021

We live a comfortable lifestyle and recognise that “sustainability” is a word, a concept that is difficult to define. But rather than get stuck in the semantics of what it means, Grand Tours Project HQ (home) is taking steps to be greener, to be more aware of our impacts, to drag the business and family into sustainability practices! Some work, some don’t. We learn and change our ways.

Above: Green Grand Tours Project HQ

We have a house that is a passive solar design, we use wood pellets to heat the water and therefore our house. Most of the lights installed in 2010, are LED with exceptions and these are transitioning over to LED. Our appliances were the latest energy efficient in 2010 and when they reach their use by date (i.e. die) we replace them with the latest most energy efficient appliance.

Above: Our wood pellet furnace

Recycling is mandatory and efficient in Switzerland - and surprisingly easy. Glass, metal, aluminium, paper, batteries, cables, PET - everything is sorted at home and once a week we drive to the recycling centre to dispose of the items. Official white plastic bags for non recyclables and authorities will check and fine you if you are caught using black bags.

Above: Our recycling area

Our gardening equipment is slowly being replaced with electric motors...the lawnmowers, strimmer, hedge trimmer...only the ride-on lawnmower needs to be replaced and I envisage next spring/summer ...fingers crossed! Water from our roof is stored in an underground tank and used to water the vege garden. Our composting area is huge...at 1300m it takes a while for kitchen and garden waste to turn to compost, but when it does, it is beautiful. I have negotiated that some lawns become bee friendly with dandelions, daisies, wild flowers e.g. weeds!

Above: Some of our composting and our pile of electric gardening equipment

I sold the VW diesel multivan and bought a second hand electric car. It is a lot smaller (the teenagers fight over the space) but I was ok with making the sacrifice ...it's a nice car!

We eat less meat. I actively search the supermarkets for meat alternatives and some are surprisingly good. Even the teenagers are surprised and give thumbs up. I also try to buy local...Europe anyway.

Above: Seriously that's not salmon, that's carrot!

Meat alternatives are not cheap and occasionally, not successful. But we will continue to reduce our meat consumption and convince the teenagers and Uri that tofu and other alternative protein is ok.

Above: Mmm Uri's new snack :)

So what is not so successful to date?

Teenagers despite their proclamations about climate change, do not equate that to shorter showers! I think an automatic switch from hot water to icy cold after 5 mins in the shower is a possible solution.

My vege garden which aims to provide produce during summer...is inevitably attacked by evil slugs, or wet weather, or intemperate frosts and snow or the other extreme...no rain and hot summers - yes we get hot dry summers here and that is a major concern for our glaciers.

Back to teenagers...what is it about lights and teenagers!

Above: Gardening

Bees - we had a beehive and managed to persuade them to provide two summers of honey. However we had a hive collapse in the region, including ours. So beekeeping has been temporarily halted until a solution is found.

Above: Previous attempts of bee keeping

We have two electric cars...we soon learned that 2 cars charging at the same time is not possible, so it has been a trial by error process and negotiation as to who’s car takes priority!

I drove the electric car to Croatia and back during summer - my sustainability contribution. Let's be honest, it was an adventure but stressful. The teenagers have stated that they do not want to drive across Italy into Croatia in the heat of summer in an electric car with the air con off, the windows down, no charging electronics, cruising at 100km per hour in order to reach the next working charging station EVER AGAIN! I know that they will look back to that holiday with fondness when they are older!

The hot tub is not a green option...it was fun while it lasted, but it has died and will not be replaced. RIP hot tubs.

Above: Our defunct hot tub

And what are we planning?

Well the electric replacement ride-on lawnmower (or let the lawns grow wilder).

And we are currently receiving quotes for the installation of photovoltaic panels.

The reduction of meat consumption will continue.

What do you do?

Above: Dandelions are beautiful