Kevin McCloud: Five things for the home that can save money – and help save the planet
For almost two decades, Kevin McCloud has been inspiring millions who dream of building their own home on his TV show Grand Designs.
Despite the fact many of the houses featured are extremely pricey, the host himself is a firm believer in the fact that you don't need to break the bank (or move to an electricity-free straw hut) to live sustainably.
Through his company HAB, McCloud has been building environmentally friendly, affordable homes. And now he is on a mission to show others that they can do the same.
"We need to change the way we live and consume," he says. "Not just to consume less energy but to generate it in sustainable ways. Every home can be a power station in the future."
If creating your own eco-community sounds like too tall an order, there are products to use and small lifestyle changes each of us can make.
McCloud has revealed his "green heroes", the best ecofriendly innovations of 2018, and will present them this weekend at Grand Designs Live at London's EXCEL Centre. Here are a few of his top tips.
Tala's mission is to elevate the humble light bulb into a thing of beauty, as well as be a pioneer of progress.
The company makes light bulbs that appear to have old-fashioned filaments, but are actually ecofriendly LED lights. McCloud describes the bulbs, for sale at John Lewis and Heal's, as "beautiful, energy-efficient and profound".
Tala's collection includes a light installation inspired by the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Inside the Voronoi II's droplet shaped bulb a glowing singular filament twines itself around a delicate central column.
The company donates some of its revenue to reforestation programmes around the world, and plans to plant 10 trees for every 200 lights sold.
A new life for plastics
Despite increasing numbers of us taking the time to sort through everyday waste, around two thirds of used pieces of plastic still end up heading for landfills or incineration.
Lucentia Design finds new homes and purposes for these plastics by turning them into sheet material with myriad uses.
The company transforms rejected acrylics, polycarbonates and vinyl into visually dazzling panels for partitioning, glazing, walls and facades. One of the polycarbonate sheets in its collection is made from decommissioned £5 notes that have been shredded, and then encased in glass from old drinking vessels.
These bespoke installations might be considered artworks in their own right.
It's not just our diets that are going plant-based, it's our building materials too.
"Agricultural cladding is very much architecturally of the moment right now," says McCloud.
His choice of "the coolest and greenest of them all"? The corrugated hemp fibres grown and manufactured at Margent Farm in Cambridgeshire.
Margent uses its own organic hemp crops to create carbon-negative building materials that have the added bonus of absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
Thanks to its naturally insulating properties, corrugated hemp is better for your household, your budget - and the planet.
The panels can be fixed with traditional screws and then put to a wide range of uses in construction. The farm is also working with institutions such as Cambridge University to create new materials.
Washing machines gobble up huge quantities of energy, driving up your household bills in the process.
Yirego has come up with a solution in the form of the Drumi, a washing machine that requires no electricity - just pedal power.
Someone operating the Drumi's foot pump
Yirego's Drumi takes just five minutes to wash, rinse and spin your laundry
The Drumi also reduces your water usage with each wash. Five minutes of pushing the pedal up and down is all it takes to wash, rinse and spin your laundry.
Yirego's nifty contraption won the 2017 Bronze Edison Award for Water Conservation.
The size of a small pedal bin, this pint-size washing machine is perfect for travelling or camping. "At last, the answer to your off-grid clothes-wash blues when holidaying in your shepherd's hut," says McCloud.