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Reversing your carbon footprint

By: STUART MERELIE

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Stuart Merelie, owner of QM Crazy Golf, Garden and Leisure Centre, shares his passion for correct and sustainable landscaping in the Algarve and is The Resident’s permanent garden and landscaping correspondent. This week is the fifth in a series of six entitled Stunning gardens without water.

ONE OF the best things I like about summer is all the traditional fairs that are getting bigger and bigger each year. There is hardly a day in between them to keep me fleet footed in search of the tastiest honey or best homemade medronho or best jam (or the best homemade medronho…).

In Olhão last month, I visited the first Ecological exhibition and fair, which really pleased me in that if all the global problems we hear on the news are now being discussed at ground level in Olhão, then we are progressing.

By working with nature rather than against it, we end up working less and producing more. The area that is always covered by weeds in your garden isn’t a problem, it shows an area rich in nutrients. The weeds can be harvested for compost or, if you are lazy like me, instantly mulching the area where it was weedy will be good for planting. There is obviously moisture there and maybe it is where the dew runs off a terrace or the septic tank spills to the surface.

Keep observing the “hot spots” in your garden, the different types of weeds growing against walls or the weeds climbing up your fence, as they all give clues about the fertility of your land.

Great changes

For the first time, we can now speak of a common future to all men and women. Today, contrary to what always happened in previous historic times, technical, scientific, political and economic transformations do not take centuries or good old millennium to show or produce effects at a world scale.

Great changes happen in its positive or negative consequences in real time. Never before have we been so close to understanding the complex development of all human factors, mapping DNA and allowing man’s escape from hunger, disease and early death. But on the flip side, never have so many millions of people suffered so painfully from these factors. The most visible face of danger is the systematic environmental destruction perpetrated by the exponential growth and greed, funded by an irrational exploitation of non renewable polluting fuels and materials.

To you and me, this is what the man on the telly calls your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the direct effect your actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Travel and electricity are generally the biggest factors. I tested my output on a free website www.carbonfootprint.com and you will find it very interesting.

Even though I am below the UK average, my flying and driving (national ex pat pastimes!!) are double the UK average.

If I got rid of my car, moved to solar power and use greener renewable building materials it would be a lot lower. If I subscribed to tree planting projects in Kenya, it would cost me 300 euros a year to offset all that carbon.

Plant a tree

But haven’t I forgotten something? For my sins I am a landscaper! I spend all year long planting trees! My next bit of research was to see how many trees me and you would have to plant every year to offset our carbon footprint. Hang on to your hats ladies and gentleman. 1062 trees!

Now I might just scrape in through the door with my garden centre but, for the average reader, it might be easier to reduce your power usage. Why should we worry? Mahatma Gandhi once said: “One must care about a world one will not see”. Against this dark mortgage, there have been many actions on local, regional, national and international scale. It is only really since the environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 that global warming was even made aware of. We have time to stop it, but that time is now. Come on, plant a tree.

The great QM and The Resident tree giveaway!

QM, IN association with The Resident, is giving away one free tree to the first 1,062 readers.

To qualify, come to QM Garden Centre any time during the month of September with a copy of The Resident and collect your free tree. Choose from six different varieties of young nursery stock trees.

Offer limited to one per family and not to be used in conjunction with any other QM special offer running at the same time and valid while stocks last.

Stuart is stepping down as managing director of QM Garden Centre at the end of the year to give him time to study for a diploma in Permaculture design. He is currently building a low impact farm and his ambition is to live “off the grid” being self sufficient in water, light and heating systems.

QM Garden Centre is located on the road in between Sta Bárbara de Nêxe and Estoi. For visitors further away, leave the Algarve motorway at Junction 14 (signposted São Brás/Faro) and turn left immediately then after 500m left again.(direction M.A.R.F. past this and continue straight on) The 18 hole crazy golf course and lawn bowling rink are open all year round. QM is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 3pm Saturday. Telephone 289 999 613. With 23 years experience in garden design and construction, Stuart is available for design, consultation and construction of all types of landscaping. For inquiries please contact Stuart on 917 814 261.