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Enviro-ettiquette

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Post by Dandelion on 12th September 2010, 4:36 pm

Something I have been pondering about recently is how much do we (or can we) impose our ideas and standards on others. This came about after a visit from my sister. We have always been very different people - my sister is a go-getter, with a high profile career, and has never been that interested in saving money/ saving resources. (When we were children, and we had been cajoled into sorting our bedroom out, my sister would empty drawers of stuff into the bin indiscriminately just to get it done. My mother would then come and pick useful things out of the bin, thus starting up further discord, because my sister would tell her that it was her rubbish to throw away if she wanted.) What I have been thinking about is how far is it right to go when we have visitors in getting them to recycle/not waste water/not put objects down the toilet/not leave all the lights on? (And was it OK to go through the bin and recycle all the paper after she had left??)
We have two adult daughters living at home with us, so this is something I think about on a daily basis. Having been brought up myself in a home where there were lots of rules I never want to make other people feel uncomfortable, or become a control freak, but it can cause minor friction when not everyone wants to reduce rubbish, or put on another jumper instead of turning the heating up.

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Post by Hairyloon on 12th September 2010, 4:50 pm

Unless you give your guests separate bins so they can recycle themselves, then of course you should sort it out.
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Post by Adrian on 12th September 2010, 4:58 pm

The way I think about it is, my house, my ethics, my rules. If you want to visit then you abide by them or go and stay in a B&B.

Harsh, I know, but I get tired of being a doormat.

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Post by Compostwoman on 12th September 2010, 5:29 pm

Pretty well same view here, Badger.

I make it clear there are ground rules and then if friends start to forget I gently remind them and yes, I go through the bin after and sort out any recycleables /compostables etc.

but apart from flushing the loo more, most guests are pretty good, as we have lots of labelled bins for different stuff and it ( hopefully) is all clear.

Maybe its just our friends are mainly like minded as well, which helps...


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Post by polgara on 12th September 2010, 6:24 pm

Agree with Badger, Hairy & CW, as far as water & lights go, you pay the bills & the meters sure whizz when people do not take care.

A jokey list in the appropriate places may be an idea, especially in the bathroom.

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Post by AngelinaJellyBeana on 12th September 2010, 6:48 pm

Is it really going to make THAT much difference for a few days? I'd want visitors to feel welcome and comfortable in my home rather than them worrying about whether they can flush the loo or not and it's easy enough to rummage through the odd bin to sort stuff out after they've left or pop back in a room to turn a light off.
At least that way I know I'll see people again rather than them be put off coming back.


If it's family living there (sons, daughters or whoever) long term then set some rules.


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Post by polgara on 12th September 2010, 7:01 pm

Yes you are right JB, but if these are frequant visitors, I think it is a different situation.

We are water metered, by choice, & people are really suprised when they see it whizzing.
Most toilets these days are the sort where you choose the short or long, is it really too much to ask people to choose the right one.

I also think it is reasonable to put on an extra layer if it gets a bit cool. Being diabetic it often happens that way for me.

Lights I am a bit more casual about, rather not have people stumbling too much.

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Post by Adrian on 12th September 2010, 7:05 pm

JB, because we are on a well (with a device for extracting the microbial iron) and a septic system, we need to be careful about our water usage and what gets flushed.

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Post by AngelinaJellyBeana on 12th September 2010, 7:36 pm

Fair enough, Badger, I can see your point with your water. And many years ago when I visited my chum on IOW she had a water meter so it was a case of "if it's yellow..."

Frequent visitors, I would expect, should know how you live and automatically be thoughtful.




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Post by Dandelion on 12th September 2010, 10:08 pm

AngelinaJellyBeana wrote:Is it really going to make THAT much difference for a few days? I'd want visitors to feel welcome and comfortable in my home rather than them worrying about whether they can flush the loo or not and it's easy enough to rummage through the odd bin to sort stuff out after they've left or pop back in a room to turn a light off.
At least that way I know I'll see people again rather than them be put off coming back.


If it's family living there (sons, daughters or whoever) long term then set some rules.



I think that bangs the nail on the head exactly - I also want visitors to feel welcome, but I suppose that after a fortnight there was bound to be a bit of friction when people living by different ideologies/ideas have been together for that long! Just wondered what others felt about this.

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Post by Compostwoman on 12th September 2010, 11:07 pm

Am on a bore hole and septic tank and soakaway as well so water use and what is flushed away actually matter quite a lot.

and while I hope that the hospitality here is second to none ( I am lead to believe we are pretty hospitable!) I do expect a few basic rules to be adhered to. It is my house, after all.

For example, I do not expect people to smoke in the house, and if we do have smoking, only in one room. I prefer people not to drop butts in the garden as I have had a hen die from eating fag butts. I do not, on the whole, allow smoking in the wood.

I ask people to not throw stuff away in the general rubbish unless they are sure it can't go in one of the various labelled bins for sorting...if in doubt I ask them to give me the item and I am happy to sort it for them.

I also ask people to turn off the lights when they leave a room and to shut windows they have opened. As we have cats I ask them to leave doors open so any cat who might have got in, can get out...

I don't think these are onerous rules and indeed I would do the same if I were asked when visiting.

I have been asked to do stuff like this in paying B and B's and didn't think it at all odd, so why not with friends....


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Post by Guest on 12th September 2010, 11:08 pm

Badger wrote:The way I think about it is, my house, my ethics, my rules. If you want to visit then you abide by them or go and stay in a B&B.

Harsh, I know, but I get tired of being a doormat.

I agree, completely. When I visit I try to abide by whatever goes there ... if I don't like it, I don't visit again.

And I don't think it's harsh. Just I'm gonna be me, especially in my own place. If you don't like it, you don't ave to cvisit me either :-).

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Post by Compostwoman on 12th September 2010, 11:12 pm

but yes Dandelion , I can see what you mean, what is "let go able" for a couple of days, might well be "last straw " stuff over two weeks... Shocked

If I had a visitor for weeks I would make it clear that I expected at least a genuine attempt to live by the basic rules, especially regarding water and flushing etc. Someone who you love enough to share your house with for that length of time, you should be able to have that level of conversation with...I guess? Shocked

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Post by mark barker on 13th September 2010, 8:59 am

Its a tricky one... I'd like to think that when visiting people you'd automatically abide by the house rules, but its probably not that simple. If they always flush using the full flush option at home, it is second nature to them now, and whilst they might remember on the odd occasion they will probably not give it that much thought. The same goes for lights etc. Imagine if you had to spend a week doing the opposite of your normal routine, how often would you lapse accidently?

The easiest way around this is not to invite them to stay! If they're anything like my family its no great loss to only see them for the odd day around christmas! Wink

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Post by Guest on 13th September 2010, 9:41 am

How much of respecting the people you are visiting comes into this? If you have respect for others you take note of how they live and work. If you care only for yourself you can't be bothered.

Children seem often to be brought up that they are god's gift to creation and the world revolves around them. This continues into "adult" life so they are boring and boorish creatures who are always pandered to. So we have a huge number of selfish, people who don't give a Damn ...

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Post by Hairyloon on 13th September 2010, 9:45 am

Elen Sentier wrote:I agree, completely. When I visit I try to abide by whatever goes there ... if I don't like it, I don't visit again.
How do you know?
Do you ask for the rulebook when you arrive?
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 13th September 2010, 11:33 am

Elen Sentier wrote:
Children seem often to be brought up that they are god's gift to creation and the world revolves around them. This continues into "adult" life so they are boring and boorish creatures who are always pandered to. So we have a huge number of selfish, people who don't give a Damn ...

do you think? I suspect just as many people are brought up in a sensible and balanced way but develop into self-important boors all by themselves.

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Post by Compostwoman on 13th September 2010, 11:46 am

I agree Billy

I think it is a matter of one's nature tbh.

Although a selfish upbringing might generate a selfish child, it equally might generate an unselfish adult reacting against their upbringing. Or vice versa.

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Post by Mike on 13th September 2010, 2:01 pm

We have lots of signs up and we go out of our way not to (as Penny says) "boobytrap" the place. In other words, try to keep at the minimum where carelss visitros could cause permanent damage* to something.

A careless visitor can cause a lot of work and the main problem is to decide how not to embarrass them (they wouldn't be frequent visitors anyway) or to let them see so they will remember next time (they will be frequent visitors so a real pain if they don't learn). By this I mean things like dumping out the burnable bag to go through and remove non-recycleable plastic "trash" (or even worse, recylceable plastic, but both have to be taken out of the burnables and put into the appropriate place).

And of course visitors from the city have to have it carefully explained not to put anything into the toilet that can't go to a septic system (this being a rural area, not something you need to tell guests who are locals -- even the most non-green of them know that)



* Make something ritually unusable and it can't be undone (depends on what sort of object and what made of -- so we don't have out/easily accessible objects we can't make fit for use again)

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Post by Guest on 13th September 2010, 4:58 pm

Wilhelm Von Rhomboid wrote:
Elen Sentier wrote:
Children seem often to be brought up that they are god's gift to creation and the world revolves around them. This continues into "adult" life so they are boring and boorish creatures who are always pandered to. So we have a huge number of selfish, people who don't give a Damn ...

do you think? I suspect just as many people are brought up in a sensible and balanced way but develop into self-important boors all by themselves.

Your experience is obviously different from mine ...

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Post by Dandelion on 13th September 2010, 5:10 pm

Mike wrote:

And of course visitors from the city have to have it carefully explained not to put anything into the toilet that can't go to a septic system (this being a rural area, not something you need to tell guests who are locals -- even the most non-green of them know that)


My parents used to live in a cottage in a remote place, and had a septic tank. When they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary they were faced with having to ask guests not to put anything apart from toilet paper down the toilet. Coming from the generation who didn't feel it proper to talk about tampons etc they put up a wonderful notice on the loo asking people to refrain from putting 'paper hankies' down the toilet. I'm afraid their three loving children made fun of this for some time!

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Post by Guest on 15th September 2010, 7:17 pm

I have the same problem with sister and brother and mother and some friends..."The feel welcome" side is ok if you can afford it, now I can't. So I probably come over as being mean but really I want them to respect my life; live more lightly on the earth when you are with me.

This year I have decided to have ethics that were visible. The idea of it being a centre of healing. I actually ask people not to shout too!

I'm trying to work on a solution to people not wearing their shoes in side the house...

I have designed a spiral house (not built!) where the path through the house becomes more "private". So the casual caller has an area where they can be accomadated, then there is the initial area (semi outside), then closer in (in my house but you are welcome) further in this is my space (please respect it)....


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Post by Dandelion on 15th September 2010, 10:01 pm

Yes, I could imagine living in a house like that. (I don't know much about him, but I like what I've heard about Hundertwasser's designs for houses, the way that he saw our houses as one of our 'skins') I do like my own space - I remarked recently that our kitchen is a one-person room because it's hard to work in without bumping in to people. My oldest daughter said that any kitchen I had would be a one-person room!! I just like to have space to think and be quiet (or listen to radio 4!)

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Compostwoman on 15th September 2010, 11:55 pm

I ask people who come on courses or workshops to bring recyclable/compostable food containers and food. My house ( wood), my rules.

If they chose to bring other containers , I will recycle it OR they take it away with them. I provide compost caddy and recycling bin for their containers if needed

I also ask for phones to be off and only checked at lunchtime ( unless very extenuating circumstances...ill relative or suchlike)

I am not agressive in enforcing my rules. But they ARE my rules. And if you want to come here, you stick to them.

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Post by Guest on 16th September 2010, 1:53 am

Hairyloon wrote:
Elen Sentier wrote:I agree, completely. When I visit I try to abide by whatever goes there ... if I don't like it, I don't visit again.
How do you know?
Do you ask for the rulebook when you arrive?


Yes, I do in a way. If I'm at all unsure. I'm very observant and try to feel what goes on. If you've read Dune you'll understand what mean about reading signs.

Do you ask?

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