EU Vacuum Cleaner Regulations

EU Vacuum Cleaner Power Limits – Why the Outcry?

The EU isn’t quite the hot topic it was in the summer, but it’s still on everyone’s minds. How will it affect the UK? Will it be good or bad for the UK’s environment and conservation? When will Article 5 actually be triggered?

A Rule That Affects Us All

But something that’s slipped under the radar is the EU’s limits on vacuum power. When this was first announced a few years ago, it was met with the typical reaction you’d expect from many of the newspapers. What many people don’t realise is that the initial power reduction was to 1600W in 2014, but the next reduction will be to 900W and it’s happening in September 2017.

That means most of the vacuums being sold at the moment – including those from Dyson, Vax and many more which I found listed on Spotlessvacuum.co.uk while researching this post – won’t be allowed to be sold within the EU.

Of course, there is the question of whether this rule will still apply once the UK leaves the EU. I think it will, as UK companies will still want to sell their vacuums within the EU.

But a more interesting question is whether these changes are actually a good thing. And the answer, at least in terms of the environment, is a resounding yes!

Why Power Regulations are Needed

There has been such a fuss made over vacuums – mainly because people still believe that a higher wattage means a more powerful or just “better” vacuum. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the best vacuums already have a power rating that is close to acceptable under the 2017 regulations – and those that won’t will simply need to innovate.

Up until the EU rules came into place, brands couldn’t stop themselves producing more and more ridiculously overpowered vacuums. These didn’t provide any more suction or performance, but it looked good to say “2000W” vacuum on the side of the box.

This was far from harmless. The amount of wasted energy consumed by these vacuums was huge and it hurt consumers as they were paying more for their electricity bills without getting any better performance.

For these reasons, I welcome the power limits. Much more needs to be done in order to save our environment, but the amount of energy saved by these rules is huge, and it directly reduces the amount of fossil fuels being burned.

And to those who complain about this as just “EU busybodies interfering with our vacuums,” I suggest you read up more on the amount of energy wasted and fossil fuels burned simply as a marketing gimmick.

Example of a major food store

How I Reduced My Reliance on Store Bought Food

The modern world is a wonder – humans have never had it easier.

We don’t have to hunt to get food – we just pop down to Asda and buy what we need. We don’t need to find clean water – it’s pumped directly into our home. Most of us don’t need to fight to protect our land, worry about being homeless or dread the coming winter (aside from complaining about the cold and rain).

This is all a good thing for humans. Just look at our population growth if you don’t believe me. Whether it’s good for the environment is a different matter (it’s almost certainly not – but that’s a topic for an upcoming post.).

But I think we’ve gone too far. None of us know how to survive on our own – and we’d mostly die off if we were ever forced to live off the land. There are people today who don’t even know how to cook their own food, or if they know they don’t bother.

Sadly, I realised a few months ago that I had become overly reliant on grocery stores and easy meals. I occasionally cooked, but it was becoming less frequent. I had no idea which chemicals and additives I was putting in my body – nor did I have any inclination to find out!

I decided that had to change. I wanted to be free from a reliance on store food – if not entirely, then at least partly. Here’s how I did it.

  • Started baking my own bread. I have to admit that I cheated a bit on this one, as I bought a Kenwood Rapid Bake Breadmaker on a recommendation instead of baking in the oven. It’s still a wonderful feeling to eat bread you’ve made yourself though, I highly recommend it.
  • Began growing a small vegetable garden. This is a project that’s largely on hold over the winter, but I managed to get a few tasty veggies before the cold set in. I’ve realised growing your own food isn’t really cheaper than store bought, but it’s healthier, tastier and decreases my reliance.
  • Reduced meat intake. I’m not a vegetarian, nor do I have any desire to be. But I do think farming practices are cruel, and the constant supply of meat full of antibodies and other chemicals isn’t good for us anyway (plus it increases reliance on stores because most people can’t keep or hunt animals). I now don’t eat meat at home, although I’m happy to eat it when out for dinner or at a friend’s house.
  • Cook more meals from scratch. I now try to cook every meal from scratch. That includes snacks, main meals and starters. I still have to buy the ingredients, but I don’t have to worry about what’s in the meals, because I know exactly what’s in them.

My dream is to own a smallholding that has the potential to be completely self-reliant. I don’t think I’d ever swear off buying food or other items, but it would be nice to have the option not to.

Over to you now: what have you done to reduce your reliance on stores? Do you even think it’s a problem? Let me know in the comments.

 

An example of countryside in the green belt

The Big Question: Should We Build on the Green Belt? (part 1)

It’s become a political hot topic in recent years: should we start building on the green belt surrounding London?

As you’ve probably guessed from the name of this site, I’m not in favour of building on the green belt. I am, however, realistic about the fact that the green belt is unlikely to remain completely untouched.

So what are the arguments on both sides?

The main argument for pro-builders is that England, and especially Southern England, is running out of space for affordable homes. Housing prices have shot up, people are finding it hard to get on the property ladder, and the cost of land is so high that building companies are struggling (supposedly) to build anything that first-time buyers could afford.

I’m not arguing with any of that. We have a shortage of housing, and something needs to be done about it. Everyone is likely to say “yes, we need more housing, just as long as it’s not near me” – but it has to go somewhere.

But what really irks me is that the main reason there is such a clamour from home builders for new developments on the green belt is because it’s cheaper for them. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but what they fail to mention is that the green belt is more expensive to build on for everyone else.

Not only do we all stand to lose some beautiful countryside, but it’s the tax payer who will end up paying for new roads, train stations and other infrastructure. These are going to be expensive if you’re talking about building hundreds of thousands of homes, which is what’s needed, yet building on the green belt means that very little of the infrastructure is in place.

Field in the green belt
The green belt has some areas of outstanding natural beauty.

There is also the obvious downside, and a major one at that, of potentially losing some incredibly beautiful locations. One of the great things about London is that the green belt means you don’t need to go far to see some real countryside, but that could change.

It won’t be a problem straight away, as there are some neglected areas of the green belt that would certainly be built on first (I believe many of these locations are purposefully left in a complete state so that they are more likely to get future planning permission, although I can’t prove that!). But what worries me is opening the door to a continuous erosion of the green belt land.

I’m sure proponents of building in these areas will tell me this fear is unfounded, but is it really? It won’t take long before all the ugly areas of the belt have been built on, but without sorting the underlying problem of population growth in Southern England, what happens then? At that time, the obvious next step will be to build on the rest of the green belt – and much of the legislation protecting it will already have been removed. This is the true danger of the current political climate when it comes to the green belt.