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Peter’s zero waste quest is a lifelong pursuit

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By Christie Breen
Peter’s zero waste quest is a lifelong pursuit

A MOFFAT man has been reflecting on his journey towards zero waste living that has spanned a lifetime.

Peter Dreghorn and his family been have moving towards zero carbon emissions, zero waste and zero biodiversity loss lifestyle for over 25 years.

But the decision to do so had dual motivations, as Peter explained: “Climate change can be mitigated against by individuals by living a life differently from the post war boom. It can be mitigated against with enlightened self-interest rather than direct action.
“I did not ‘start’ it at any point, it has been a gradual process. All my actions towards zero carbon and zero waste were because I needed to do things that benefited me.”

The family now live in an insulated 12 volt powered, six berth garden cabin in the Annan Water Valley north of Moffat. The cabin is heated and powered using air to air heat exchangers, wood fired central heating and photovoltaic panels.
Peter explained: “We installed air to air heat exchangers because of the difficulties of getting fuel to the house 13 years ago, which provide heat using only two kilowatt-hours of electricity to compress the fluids. It provides instant heat more efficiently than oil or gas and has no fuel input other than electricity.
“For much of the summer the house does not use electricity from the grid and some is sold back to the grid.”

Outside they have a fruit and veg garden that provides food for several months each year, reducing food miles with fresh produce. In addition, the family combat any food waste by using chickens and composting to the benefit of the garden so no waste is going out of the house to be processed elsewhere.

Peter first realised human waste was a resource 50 years ago when his son didn’t make it to the potty and his chickens used the result. Now they have domestic compost toilets which have been in use for ten years, providing compost for tomato plants and other secondary fruit and veg, saving 2000 litres of water a year and with no human waste going in the sewage works or River Annan.

Peter’s quest to live a zero waste life is also reflected in his hobbies as he has a ten acre wood near Dumfries that he plants and tends to provide wood for central heating, which complements the air to air heating. He is also chair of an organisation to restore the Annan Water with their efforts lessening biodiversity loss at Carrifran.

For all of his lifestyle changes and efforts, Peter does recognise that some of the changes he’s made may not be for everyone, but he believes his ‘enlightened self-interest’ way of thinking is a way forward. He added: “A whole range of activities have led me to think this way. I would recommend working towards zero carbon and zero waste and restoring nature.
“However, it is better for folks to do things which they enjoy and which benefit them when they make any changes.
“I would say it takes different effort but is hard work, but I might think differently if I had a young family.
“Even these seemingly virtuous actions are primarily done out of my self interest, albeit enlightened, to hopefully lessen my impact on the planet.”