How big is your carbon footprint?

Every time I visit the UK I’m struck by the “greenness” and I’m not talking about the grassy fields and rows of hedges – I mean all the eco-friendly, earth-saving devices that help you use less of the world.

It all leaves me feeling terribly guilty, because while we re-use hundreds of plastic bags from the supermarket, never tumble dry clothes (the climate takes care of that) and do recycle some things, I drive a gas-guzzling 4×4 (show me a mum in Dubai who doesn’t?) and have little choice but to use air conditioning to cool our home for at least two-thirds of the year.

In fact, I read somewhere that UAE residents consume more natural resources than anybody else on earth, ahead of the US even, and that our per capita footprint is an ecologically embarrassing 9.5 global hectares.

Now you think we’re greedy so-and-sos, don’t you?

I have to confess I do love American Crate & Barrel’s eco-friendly Oasis sofa with soy-based cushions – so good you could almost stir-fry them – and those gas-sipping hybrid cars are pretty cool. But since conservation probably shouldn’t be all about buying more things, here are some of the planet-pleasing measures that impressed me on my recent trip home:

@RubyGingerBunty loved their Cozy Coop rain covers #scrambledplease

At my parent’s house: In line with the UK’s phase-out of traditional lightbulbs, the bulbs are all ‘green’ (not literally, obviously) and uncooked scraps are tossed in a tall container. When the pot’s full my mum empties it on the compost heap in the garden – the bag and all, because that’s biodegradable too.

At my brother’s: They keep chickens in a 5-star coop and in return are treated to a bountiful supply of thick-shelled eggs (the sign of a healthy hen). These aren’t just any old chickens – lovingly cared for by my adorable, seven-year-old niece, the hens have their own twitter account and ‘tweet’ every day. You can imagine the backtracking I did when I, without thinking, offered my niece a chicken sandwich at lunch. She eats duck wraps now instead.

At my cousin’s house: They’ve had solar panels installed on the roof and are actually selling electricity to the National Grid. I think they’ve made about 42 pence so far this winter.

Maybe it was pounds, but either way just think how much money we could make if we tapped into Dubai’s year-round sunshine and put solar panels on our villas here! Ker-ching! Not to mention the joy of charging Dewa*.

Next time I go to the UK, I’m going to see if I can bring a panel back as over-sized baggage.

*Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, whose billing system, as Dubaihousewife points out, is like being connected to a reverse lottery (4,000 bucks to water your pots, seriously?)

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