Mayor Ken's DIY Planet Repairs Kit

Review by M V Smith

I could not say as to whether the “DIY Planet Repairs Kit” that is being sent out by the Office of the Mayor of London, is Mr, Livingstone's personal idea and brainchild (though I do doubt that), but then that is neither here nor there.

What, honestly, is supposed to be achieved by sending out, at cost to the environment and London Council Tax payers, a little kit in a cardboard box (recycled board???) consisting of a little A6-size booklet of 42 pages, though well written, with some suggestions (we shall look at one or two of those later on) on how to be a little green, a coffee mug, which could be suggested as a water measure for the kettle as it has the slogan “Only boil enough water for the cups you are making”, a 4-minute “egg-timer” intended to be used as a timer for the shower so you only shower for four minutes, some stickers and a button badge, beats me.

The suggestions in the booklet are OK and also well written, such as “waste not, want not” on page 7, as well as many other suggestions and pieces of advice. One did make me rather smile, as I assume that I will not have been alone in that respect, and that was on page 10 where it states “Don't rush to flush – if it's just a pee”, suggesting not to flush the toilet every time that one visits it for the “pee”. I am sure, though, that some folks may not have smiled that that suggestion but have thought it rather outrageous. I am in fact not among those but think of it as rather good advice, considering how much water is, literally, poured down the drain each and every time we pull that lever or that chain. However, might I ask as to whether the Mayor of London does follow this advice himself?

Though I do live just outside of Greater London I was nevertheless kindly sent the kit upon request, without mentioning the publication even, though it took about two months at least to arrive; I did get advised of the delay and the reasons for this and received updates on a regular interval by email. The reason given was that the demand had been much higher than anticipated and therefore there were delays in getting the kits out to those who asked for them. I must say that I find the entire thing quite cute, but... I do believe that the small booklet would really have sufficed, or better still it would have been had it been just a publication on treeless paper, e.g. downloadable as a PDF, on the website only.

I am not knocking the kit per se but, like mentioning the packaging on the “Bye, Bye, Standby Kit”, I am thinking about the cost of to the environment here. It is all supposed to be about reducing our carbon footprint and all that jazz but the government offices who thus advice the public churn our tons and tons of paper, etc. in the effort to tell people to not to use so much paper, to use virtual newspapers instead of paper ones, etc. Often it appears to be the old nanny-state adage “do as I say and not as I do”. That, in my opinion, is just not good enough.