The Lindell family have now spent just over two months living their carbon-lean life. They have experienced some trials along the way and learned a lot. We catch up with Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan to find out what they think thus far. Initially Nils felt a bit like he was acting in a film, he’s thought a lot about how to live a seasonal lifestyle, and he’s noticed the lack of climate-impact marking in shops.
What did it feel like when your emissions fluctuated so much after moving into the house?
“Well, I saw it as one phase leading up to the February break, during which we acclimatise to the house. We’ve had a lot of help thanks to all the technology but that will be followed by the next phase which isn’t going to work all by itself but where we’re instead going to have to make a lot more effort, take more considered decisions. That there would be something of a backlash during the initial phase was entirely expected, at least by me.”
How have the poor results affected you? How seriously do you take the challenge?
“Well, that was a bit annoying, quite naturally. But at the same time it’s positive too because that’s the way it often is in real life, you get the occasional rap across the knuckles. It’s like when you’re involved in sports and you do poorly in one match and you think “we haven’t trained properly” or “we didn’t prepare sufficiently ahead of the match”. If you get one poor showing after the next that’s not a lot of fun, but if you have just one poor result that just stimulates you to improve the next time, it’s a bit of an incentive to do better.”
What’s your strategy for forging ahead?
“There’s a whole lot of additional knowledge that we need. But then it’s a matter of putting all that knowledge to practical use. It’s about thinking of the whole, of systematising above all as regards groceries and commuting habits.”
Alicja said that you are going to have weekly meetings at which you will plan the coming week. Tell us more!
“That’s so we can update one another, so that we are in sync and have a shared view of the week ahead. For instance so we can plan our travel to work and can car-pool as efficiently as possible, that sort of thing.”
Do you plan your meals?
“Yes, you need to be in agreement. For my part food isn’t a major issue, I’m perfectly happy to eat vegetarian meals for two months without giving it a second thought. Well, that’s my version … who knows what I’ll feel if it actually came to the test!”
You’ve blogged about your improvised climate-smart dinners for the family. Do you always improvise in the kitchen?
“Yes, I see recipes as nothing more than good suggestions. I get a little bored with slavishly following recipes, I like to experiment.”
What were the meals like?
“The first was brilliant, carrot-salmon. The second was cod with cauliflower and that too was a success.”
Fish is quite a good alternative from the climate perspective. But do you think about other problems, such as depleted fish stocks in the oceans?
“That looks after itself. There’s a good, comprehensive guide at ICA, at least at the supermarket where we do our shopping. It shows which fish you can buy with a clean conscience, which is green-listed and so on. So that’s something we can manage, but you don’t get any help with the climate-smart aspect in the store. I’ve noticed that food is the one area in which we have least know-how, and it’s also the area where we get least help. Of course it’s difficult to mark the climate impact of each and every product, but the supermarkets could at least have this as an ambition. I also note there are no climate-smart alternatives for lunch. You can get GI-labelled (Glycemic Index) and “Krav” eco-labelled food, but not climate-smart alternatives. It feels as though guidance in the climate area is roughly where I imagine Krav was 25 years ago. Very patchy and uneven. But I have no doubt there will be swift and thorough progress once the process gets under way.”
Is there any specific event during the project that has been particularly enjoyable?
“I guess it’s our surprise over just how much interest this project has aroused. We felt like we were taking part in a film on the day of the launch when we poked our heads out the front door and saw a bank of 20 cameras facing us. Felt like an English feel-good movie. Popped our heads back in again, thought “Oops, what was that all about?” That wasn’t something I was expecting.”
What do you think your final emission level will be?
“Somewhere between 2.1 and 2.3 tonnes. That would make an average of 2.2 tonnes. That’s my realistic guess, but my optimistic guess is 1.7 tonnes. I’m going for 1.7!”
Anything else you’ve been thinking about during these first two months?
“Actually, yes, something I’ve realised increasingly clearly. It’s important to eat seasonal foods in order to be climate-smart. But when you have the type of technology we have in this house, it’s equally important to also live seasonally. In the summer months, we get free hot water from our solar heating system. Since the technology doesn’t allow us to save this energy for use later in the year, what it means is that we can use a lot of hot water in the summer and enjoy long showers, but take shorter showers in the winter. It’s important to live seasonally in a variety of ways.”