Good green intentions

I have not considered my particular shade of "green" until recently. I've always understood the rationale and reasoning between the synergetic relationship of environmental, social and financial benefits – just never really thought about it on a personal level.

There are different spectrums of green, which I see regularly at Nelson Environment Centre. You've got your frog green, the lushest of greenness – I guess I considered myself more of an olive green, good intentions but perhaps a little bit musty.

I can talk the virtues of green business practice, predominantly from a savvy financial point of view. However someone recently asked me if I applied my green business sense to my home life. This got me thinking about my own values and those that I teach my kids.

For a start we have three containers in the kitchen – one for the chickens, one for the compost and one for anything that can't be stuck outside in our recycling bins (which we also have three of as one just doesn't suffice a family of four).

So, between the chickens, the compost and the dog we have little or no actual food scraps going in the bin. Good start, but to need three recycling bins requires a rethink about the food I buy – well it's packaging really. More bulk buying now on my shopping list.

During the summer we have our own healthy stock of fruit and veges.

My tomatoes took a battering during the Nelson December storms – they drowned. I had no idea tomatoes could drown. However the broccoli, cauliflower, spuds, carrots, host of herbs and fruit all survived and will keep us going well into April. From then on it will be pumpkin and spinach on the menu for a few weeks.

So between the vegetable garden and the numerous fruit trees, around a dozen various varieties, we keep them healthy with the home-produced compost and chicken poo. That is a closed loop process. Tick there then for us too.

We took the opportunity to install solar hot water through the Nelson City Council Solar City scheme a couple of years ago. We've noticed a reduction in our bills, and it's just common sense to use the sun to heat our fabulous power shower with its water-saving shower head.

We decided not to replace our wood burner, instead using a heat pump and having secondary glazing put on our windows. Husband also took down the walls and installed insulation to key areas. This was a messy process but resulted in a toasty warm house which suits me, coming from Scotland where double glazing and insulation is the norm.

I rarely use the clothes dryer – no need, with sun and a warm house, besides I hate static. The washing machine has four out of five energy-saving stars and, we turned off the second freezer a long time ago. Another tick.

However, I'll stick with my musty olive green shade of environmental "responsibleness" – being in the business I'm in I know there are a lot more things I could be introducing to my own home. What shade are you?

Kirsty Quickfall works at the Nelson Environment Centre and Sustainable Business Network.