We hosted my son's 18th birthday party at the weekend. A low-carbon occasion? Probably not. Much work went into preparing the house and garden for the influx of guests and we were so happy to be able to celebrate with most of our family and many of our friends.
Having finally completed the recycling I can confirm that we got through a fair few bottles and cans. The most important thing is that everyone enjoyed the party, particularly the birthday boy and his friends who stayed up most of the night.
I do think that our celebration had sustainability in mind, though. While we did have some gorgeous pastries made for us by Waitrose, the bulk of the catering was home-made: we enjoyed an extensive buffet (mostly vegetarian - there was no meat but we did poach a couple of salmon) and our daughter made several delightful desserts - some healthy, others less so. We had a spectacular birthday cake prepared and decorated by my wonderful Mum. Friends from the Windsor & Eton Brewery provided us with a firkin (70 pints) of "Knight of the Garter" - an irresistable, golden ale brewed within a mile of our house. Waitrose loaned us all the glasses and we borrowed cutlery and crockery from friends and family, to avoid all those disposable cups and plates. The solar garden lights and the LED spotlights in the marquee made for a great evening atmosphere. Fortunately, the only breakage of the evening was an exceedingly old deck-chair that gave up the ghost when three merry 18-year old girls tried to share it.
Although I seemed to be running the dishwasher non-stop throughout the party (about 6 "eco" cycles, I think), our annual electricity usage has slipped below 5,000 kWh for the first time today. This will help me on my way to my 10:10 target of 4,770 kWh electricity during 2010.
My other 10:10 target has been to sign up as many local people as I can. Last week, at Centrica's offices in Windsor, I was honoured and delighted to present 10:10 tags to 6 members of the Board of British Gas, all of whom pledged to sign up to the campaign. This took place during the final presentation of the Customer Panel, where we set out the challenges of our Customer Charter. I am sure that British Gas will work hard to publicise this in the autumn and they have promised to bring the Customer Panel back together some time in the spring of 2011, to tell us how they are getting on with implementing our Charter. For now, I will only say that it has been an absolute privilege to take part in the Customer Panel and I have complete confidence that British Gas have taken sustainability right to the heart of their business.