The Green family

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Can vvc save our environment before it's too late? Who knows?

Well, let's do some guessing. We say that a person who cares about the environment is 'green'. Imagine a 'green' family in twenty years' time. Gary and Gail Green and their children Gavin and Grace live in an 'energy-saving' house. Most of their house is under the ground. This makes it easy to conserve heat and keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer.

Light comes in through the roof, which can open and close like a window. Special panels collect the energy from the sun. Pipes bring water to the house for drinking, cooking and washing, but there is also a big container which collects rain water. All water is recycled and used again and again.

Sewage from the toilets goes into another container. The waste water is recycled, and methane gas is produced from the sewage itself. A pipe carries the gas to a power station, which burns it and produces electricity for everyone. A machine chccks how much electricity and water each family produces, and how much it uses.

A long line of containers stands outside the Green's house. One container is for glass, which is collected every month for recycling. A second container holds steel cans. Another container holds aluminium cans and ring pulls. There is a big container for paper. The container for plastic is not very big, because plastic packing is unfashionable. There is another container for rags.

The government encourages recycling. Suppose that last year the Greens collected two tonnes of materials for recycling. Every tonne of materials that the Greens - and other families - collect for recycling saves energy. So the government gives each family the same amount

An electric bus

Solar panels

of electricity and water to use in their home. If they use more energy and water than they conserve, they have to pay extra for them.

The Greens have a garden, where they grow fruit and vegetables. They make most of their household waste into compost. They sometimes buy bags of fertilizer made from recycled sewage and animal dung. Nothing is ever dumped in the sea or rivers.

The Greens exchange clothes, furniture and many other things with their friends and neighbours. But they think carefully before they throw anything away, because they know they need to conserve money, materials and energy.

Recycling is fashionable. Everybody does it. Film and TV stars use recycled products. Many rich people drive old cars with new engines, which burn electricity instead of oil.

Mr Green works mainly at home. This, too, conserves energy and materials. He sends messages to his London office by telephone and by computer. When he needs to go to London, he goes by train. Train tickets are cheap and the trains arc clean and quiet.

All the Greens have bicycles, but they also have a family car. It is a big old 1995 Rover with a steel body, comfortable leather seats and a modern electric motor. The Greens recharge its battery at home every night. Mr Green often says, 'They don't make cars like this any more.' Modern cars are made of a special kind of papier mache. When they wear out, the batteries are recycled and bacteria eat the car bodies.

At school last week little Grace Green learned about the dirty, wasteful 1990s. It was a time when people dumped their sewage in the sea. They filled the earth, the rivers and the air with toxic waste, is it true?' she asked her mother. Gail Green was a child in the 1990s. 'Yes, dear,' she said, it's true.'

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