cial fertiliser, and we will continue to pollute the seas with sewage sludge. Much work has
already been done on developing safe and effective compost toilets, and these can be com-
bined with reedbeds to make a comprehensive sewage system.
Recycling of other materials, such as paper, glass, metals and so forth, can be easier in
the city than elsewhere because people are concentrated into a small area, which reduces
the energy required to collect the materials. But recycling should only be our third choice,
after first reducing our consumption and secondly reusing things. Returnable bottles, for
example, are far more energy efficient than bottle banks and provide more employment.
This is another area where political action has a part to play. For example, in the state of
Oregon in the USA, beverages can only be sold in a container which is returnable and has
a deposit charged on it. We could have the same law here.
At least for the time being, a considerable proportion of the electricity supply to cities
must continue to come from fossil fuels. But this can be made very much more efficient
by using the heat produced by the process of generation as well as the electricity. This heat
represents the majority of the energy in the original fossil fuel and it goes to waste in con-
ventional power stations. Where small power stations are sited near where people live, the
heat can be used for space and water heating. This is known as combined heat and power.
It only works because of the relative placement of housing and power station.
By far the most cost-effective 'source' of electricity, however, is conservation. Reducing
consumption by any means, including installing low energy light bulbs and other efficient
appliances, always pays better and causes less pollution than generating more electricity.
Putting all the above ideas together would take us a long way towards creating a com-
plete package for sustainable living. This is likely to be more than any one person or family
can easily take on alone and the attitude of local councils and utility companies can range
from indifferent to hostile. The answer is for local people to get together and form their
own organisations for getting things done, and this is already happening in various parts of
Europe, indeed all over the world.