Today I’m putting the blog down for the Christmas holidays. Before I do, I thought I’d do a little review. 2017 has been the blog’s 10th birthday after all.
If you’re thinking that sounds like a non-essential read, you’d be absolutely right. But before you go, let me just say one thing at the top of the post: this is the first year that the blog has covered its own costs. It isn’t anywhere near covering my time, but it hasn’t been a net loss to our modest household budget. That’s entirely down to your generosity, to the people who occasionally hit that donate button, and the couple of you who give regularly. You know who you are – and in some cases I don’t, since you give anonymously. Thank you so much for your support, and for allowing me to keep adverts off the site.
For those interested in some highlights and observations for the year, read on below. For everyone else, thank you for reading, commenting and sharing. Let me wish you a happy Christmas, and I’ll see you again in the New Year.
I don’t have any stats or top tens for you in this review. It’s very bad advice to anyone trying to establish themselves in blogging, but I try not to pay too much attention to who’s reading what. If I did, I’d start chasing the traffic and before you know it the blog would be stuffed with gadget reviews and articles about Tesla. Ignoring the stats is a way of keeping things honest. It gives me permission to follow my curiosity, whether or not anybody comes with me.
One plan for this year was to focus more on sustainable transport. I was hoping to find 50 ideas to run on a Monday morning as transport innovation of the week, and 50 there are. The list has planes, trains and automobiles, bikes, boats and feet. There are big ideas and small ones, technologies and policies. In January I wondered if we’d see the first solar car announced that year, and it launched in August. It’s been nice to follow that emerging technology, although the one I’m most looking forward to is the African Solar Taxi.
Sustainable architecture has been a recurring series too, and I’ve featured 20 odd ‘buildings of the week’. They range from mud houses to Antarctic research stations, a three part series on zero carbon church buildings, and a series on the Active House concept. After mentioning EnergieSprong last year, it was great to be able to report on their first UK projects.
I think my favourite post of the year was The world’s first mall for recycled goods, not just for the post itself but for the experience around it. I was tipped off by a Swedish local named Lars Wiklund about a remarkable mall in Eskilstuna. When I Googled it I was surprised to find that no one had written about the project in English yet. So I got to break the story. It was picked up by all the major green websites, and away it went. The World Economic Forum championed it, it appeared on television in France and Taiwan, and the local papers in Eskilstuna wrote about how their shopping centre was getting global attention.
That’s the first time that something I’ve written has gone globally viral, so that was fun. Most of the green blogs that drove the story onto the next level neglected to credit me with the story though, so it wasn’t actually the most read post on the blog. That goes to Every town needs a remakery, which really captured people’s imaginations. The post was shared over ten thousand times on Facebook, and it drove lots of traffic to The Edinburgh Remakery, who got in touch to say they were getting queries from all around the world.
One thing I’ve learned in ten years of blogging is that these things are impossible to predict, and that the amount of work I put into a post bears no relation to its impact. I spent about an hour on the Retuna story and it reached millions of people. When I discovered that the world throws away 1.5 billion tyres every year, I put a couple of days into researching and writing a three part series on waste tyres. None of them made the top 200 posts of the year. This is why it’s best to ignore the stats.
The blog posts that generated the most conversations with friends this year were the ones on eating insects. Everybody wanted to know about it, and I was surprised by the general openness to the idea. ‘Got any insects we can try?’ people would ask at parties.
Outside of the blog, I’ve been working on a book that I hope to tell you more about in the New Year. I may have said that last year, come to think of it – traditional publishing is a slow business. I’ve been working with my brother to develop a pilot project for RSPB Scotland, which is due to launch in the Spring. I’ve done some research, some writing coaching, built some websites, and got to do some future scenario planning with the Royal Society, which was great fun. I’ve been helping to launch a new project called Joy in Enough, and there’s more in the pipeline for 2018. Not least of which, I’ve been trying to visit every playground in Luton with the kids, and we’re not done yet.
And with that, let me wish you a happy Christmas again, and thanks for reading.