Making the headlines

The Independent has a day in the life feature with Donnachadh McCarthy, local author and environmental guru. I don’t wish to detract from his achievements, but Mr McCarthy seems to be able to fund his ecologically pure lifestyle by writing about it, a path which is closed to many of us. Perhaps more information on how we non-environmental authors could achieve the same goals would be more salient.

A man who has been smearing faeces on trains across south London has been caught by police in Camberwell Green bus station. It’s nice to see our name connected with such a good-news story.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

20 thoughts on “Making the headlines”

  1. Hmm, I feel likewise Peter.

    Of course it’s a serious waste of resources to use drinking water for flushing peepee back into the river; and using a perfectly regulated 50hz electricity supply for light and heat.

    And while some of us might be able to have a greywater toilet, we can’t do much about the electricity. We can change our shopping habits, and we should, but tesco will continue to fly in your greens from africa. We do what we can.

    Is there any jobs in being a handwringing liberal freelance writer — oops yes the independent!

    Chin Chin


  2. Donnachadh was the third consultant I hired to do an environmental survey/audit at the pub.

    The others generated lengthy useless reports that said to the effect of “the building surveyed and its services are inefficient and in need of upgrade. We suggest a new central heating system, insulation, double glazing, blah blah grants may be available blah blah blah” .

    When I pointed out the reason for commissioning consultants was not to be told what I already knew about the building but to be given advice as to HOW TO CHANGE THINGS. Their answer was ‘that’s implementation advice, not consultation. Implementation is a different level of consultation (much more expensive of course) and falls outside of our remit on an energy / design advice survey of your building. When I suggested that a list of telephone numbers of people who might like to come and do the kind of improvement work suggested; profound silence ensued.

    Donnachadh provided specific advice that could be acted on within the business, met the whole staff and explained in detail the real value of improving energy and environmental efficiency, and provided numbers and contact details of third parties who could effect change in the building.

    At least while he’s writing he’s promoting what he does and encouraging others to look at things differently. The other advisors seem to spend a lot of time working and charging a lot of money to no practical end. And not evengelising about it either.

    The smearing faeces catch brings a warm glow to my heart.

  3. As I said, I don’t want to take away from his achievements; I’ve no doubt he’s extremely knowledgeable and sincere in what he does.

    My point was, he can go 100% ecologically pure because that’s how he earns his money, and the more pure he goes the more money he earns. That’s not a path that’s available to the rest of us.

    I live in a first-floor flat so I can’t flush my toilet with rainwater I’ve captured, for example; some more practical advice would be welcomed above showing me what I can’t currently achieve.

  4. “Shit happens,” said Bonney the faeces smearer when he was arrested. “How?” asked the filth. “How can you produce it at will in public vehicles?” By contrast, Donnachadh produces “negligible levels of emissions and waste” despite ingesting organic food deliveries. But how are they delivered? A fascinating issue.

    A friend of mine set up the business that shifts London waste in orange containers pulled on barges by tugs down the Thames to the landfill site at Mucking in Essex. The company was recently sold to a private equity predator on the lookout for such a “mature business”. My mate took retirement at 51. His achievement was take waste lorries off the roads — the stuff floated down the Thames instead. However, the landfill leaches all kinds of things into the water supply — including oestrogen from the pill which has sent men’s sperm count crashing.

    Your question, Peter, of whether it is right to make money from rubbish theory and carbon consultancy, smells keenly of the wit of Jonathan Swift. Maybe methane is the way ahead. Everyone could contribute. The buses that ran on it would be slow, but that would give the bodies on board more time to produce it. Verily, they could sit there and scoff.

    Camila was on the repeat of Discs this morning. She is such a breath of fresh air.

  5. Hi

    Thanks for the link Ben I’ll read that at leisure over the weekend.

    This all seems to have got q serious, although the death of the planet is q serious as a topic I admit.

    i wasn’t knocking Donnachadh at all — it looks like he’s a fellow scot for a start. I’ve always had huge respect for environmentalists, ever since I shared a house with someone who previously lived at CAT in Maccynlleth [all the celts on duty today!]He claimed to have designed a reed bed system that could remove dioxins from water but wouldn’t patent it as that would be “all about money, man”.Last time I saw him he was being arrested by four policemen on the last day of the Newbury by-pass protest after chaining himself to a tree. He was doing what I could only wish.

    But I still used to think he had a lot of the “Wilf Lunn“s about him.

    Doesn’t methane power smell…er…farty?

    Pardon Me


  6. Who’s gloating now? My commuting routine has always included a visual inspection of the upholstery on any train seat, first and foremost. A tactic which came about after sitting on a sodden tube seat on the misery line. Inconsolable, I was all but certain it was piss. Though i’m prepared to accept, several years later, that it may well have been half a can of Sprite.

  7. My reading of Donnachadh’s article is that he doesn’t expect us to go for the whole big environmentally-friendly deal all at once but wants us to be aware of the range of changes we could make to our lives: not just things like riding a bike and capturing rainwater, which might require a little investment, but changes as modest as using a local organic veg supplier rather than one of the nationwide ones (or buying out-of-season veg from Tesco), or buying goods secondhand rather than from the gleaming palaces on Oxford and Regent Streets. (I too have bought Denby china via eBay!)

  8. The Sun and Doves is having 100% of its food waste recycled into compost now. We’re hoping to be able to sell it to gardeners once it’s all loamy and lovely.

    And Peter — of course writing about it makes Donnachadh more able to be pure but as far as conserving your loo water is concerned my advice is this:

    If it’s yellow let it mellow;
    If it’s brown, fluch it down.

    And put a 500ml drinks bottle (or two if they fit) full of water (with the cap on) in your loo cistern so every flush is reduced by a half or a litre… Over a year that’s got to be a 1000 litres less down the drain.

  9. The previously mentioned excrement smearer is obviously mentally ill or well on the way down that path — as soon as I read about it I thought, yeah he’s not well at all is he? — So I’m not going to be too appalled at his actions…I’m more appalled at the system which constantly lets him and many others down…

  10. Maybe it’s cramped urban circumstances that alienate and derange people. The drift of Camberwell towards being a purely residential area is itself a sign of this, affluence on the cheap — more people crammed together without communicating with each other, buildings without civilisation around them, streets that feel dangerous.

  11. It so strange how newspapers frequently report on stories like these and NEVER mention the fact that the perpetrator may well be mentally unwell — They always want everyone to point their finger and go “What an animal! This country is going down the toilet” or some other simular depressingly banal comment…

  12. Yep.

    And that it’s all a result of Care In The Community — a sustainable long term care strategy if ever there was one. Good Skills.

  13. Wandering/staggering around streets full of ordinary peoople going about their business, mentally deranged, delusional, possibly hallucinatory, psychotic and paranoid, with no stable support network, loving care or any form of mental or physical pressure release = NO CARE IN THE COMMUNITY.

  14. It’s a good article, not too pious. I’m content for Mr McCarthy to make money from this because he’s dealing with the single greatest threat to the human race. He is helping to create a shame culture, where hopefully it will be more acceptable to defecate on the public highway than turn the key in a 4x4. But maybe not on public transport.

    To do something really useful, we need the statistics for large companies carbon consumption, to stop certain firms winning social responsibility awards.

    Then, an estimate of the average employee carbon emissions (directly as a result of the firm’s activity, including commutes), to make employees experience the shame directly and motivate them to lobby the company internally.

    It’s good that shitspreader was here to provide some light (if solid) relief, speaking as a cyclist commuter.

  15. I feel like I’ve been misunderstood on this issue; I don’t think it’s wrong for him to make money from this, I mean that it’s easy for him to push the envelope of the green lifestyle because the more he does, the more he earns. For those of us who have different jobs, it’s harder to spend money on things like this. I know we have to sooner or later (probably sooner), but it’s not just as easy as making the decision.

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