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Category: Eco Friendly Living

  1. 5 ways to save time and money in the garden

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    Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, or it can feel like a chore. Either way, it doesn’t have to be as expensive as it can first seem.  Sure there are lots of gadgets you can get nowadays and the gardening aisles in your local DIY stores are overflowing with tempting products. But, if you’re on a budget or wish to be a little savvy with your garden expenditure, then here are a 5 ways you can save money in your garden.

    5 ways to save money in the garden
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    Consider artificial grass

    Artificial grass from a supplier like New Lawn is becoming more commonplace nowadays as people realise not only the amount of maintenance and time this will save them in the garden, but also how much money it can save.  As the grass is artificial it will not grow, so you won’t need to invest in a lawnmower.  You’ll therefore use less energy to maintain your garden as you’ll not need to buy fuel or use electric to power this lawnmower.  Just imagine  never having the hassle of mowing the lawn again!

    Sow direct from seed

    When growing your own vegetables there are countless apparatus available to you such as starter seed trays, propagators, grow lamps and so on.  The idea being you sow your seeds indoors in tiny sections of a starter tray, then move these into a larger pot , then eventually move outdoors.  Whilst you can grow like this, it’s usually a lot of faff and to be honest, you’ll be spending a lot of money on various trays and pots when you really don’t need to.  Many vegetables are perfectly fine to be planted directly outdoors and will thrive.  I simply plant my veg directly in the soil, cover with fine mesh netting until they have grown a couple of inches, and then remove the mesh and off they go (or grow!).  To save money by planting directly outdoors, simply opt for easy to grow summer varieties and hardy winter vegetables.

    Plant succulents

    If you want to opt for something that requires very little maintenance, then opt for succulents in your border.  Not only are they unusual and instantly add interest, but they will save you a ton of money on water!  These plants are designed to withstand harsh conditions in deserts and thus need very little attention or watering.  Plus they are slow growing, so you’ll never need to expend energy cutting them back!

    Make your own compost

    Buy a compost bin or build a simple square structure at the bottom of your yard to start a compost heap.  Compost can be pretty compost when purchased from gardening centres, but it’s so easy to make your own from your left over scraps of food.  Plus, it’s sort of free!  You were going to throw this food away anyway, so now you’re using waste to create something that you would otherwise need to buy.  You’ll also save time and energy on making trips to the store to buy compost when you need it.  Win-win.

    Raid your recycling

    Instead of buying plant pots and seed trays when you need them, start keeping plastic packaging from your kitchen such as takeaway trays and margarine pots.  These make perfect seed starter trays if you stab a few holes in the bottom.  Cardboard egg trays also work perfectly for this and they can even be planted directly into the soil when the seedlings are ready to go outdoors, and the cardboard will naturally rot away.  Spray old tin cans in colourful paints for unique plant pots.  The possibilities are endless if you let your imagination run wild.  You’ll be helping to create a more sustainable world by reusing items and generating less waste.

    There we have it.  Five ways you can begin to save time and money in the garden.

    Related blog posts:

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    How to save money and future proof your garden
    6 easy ways to save money around the house (and be eco-friendly)

    5 ways to save money in the garden

  2. How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves you money

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    Last night I watched the documentary Plastic Planet on FMTV.  It was a real eye-opener!  It’s incredible to think that plastic was only first invented in 1907 and in just over 100 years it has become a huge part of our lives and society, even something we would now struggle to live without.  Of course I’m sure we could probably live without it, but it’s not like we could just cut it out and stop using anything with plastic.  New materials or natural materials would need to replace plastic.  Simply look around your house and even your car to see just how much we rely on plastic!

    Right now I’m typing on a laptop with plastic casing and walking on a treadmill that is made out of plastic.  I have a plastic pen and calculator next to me.  The blinds and voile on my window are made from plastic.  No doubt the photo frames on my wall have a plastic coating and my iPhone has a plastic case.  The list goes on.  That is simply the items within arm’s reach of me that I can see are made with plastic.  In the documentary I mentioned above there are a few families who empty their homes of plastic – they bring everything made from plastic outside and realise just how much they have.  Unless your clothes are made from natural fibres, then they are plastic too!  It’s everywhere.

    Whilst we certainly have come to depend on plastic and suddenly stopping it’s production in its entirety isn’t possible in this day and age, there are some measures we can begin to take to stop it’s damaging effects on the environment.  One of these is to reduce the amount of single use plastics that we are using and throwing away.  I believe the onus is largely on the manufacturers and people in power to seek environmentally friendly alternatives and I hope they are doing so, but we can take a stand as individuals by reducing the amount of single plastic we buy and use.

    While we all know it's a great way to reduce waste, cutting back on plastic isn't just something that we can do for the environment.  The act of cutting back on plastic benefits us in so many different ways, even personally.  Here’s how:

    How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves you money

    Photo by Jonathan Chng 

    It benefits our diet

    What comes in plastic containers? Convenience food. To cut back on these convenience food that come with so much plastic packaging, such as packets of crisps, microwave meals, bottles of pop and so on, we will see an upshot in the amount of healthy food we can cook at home instead.

    Water bottles are a very good example, because we believe that we're taking the healthier option, which naturally, we are. But if we buy a bottle of water every single day, it's not doing the planet any favours at all with all that one-use plastic waste. So instead of this, we could purchase a water container, like a Reefdog water bottle and just refill that with water. Water becomes one of those things that we can forget to drink an adequate amount of, and so, with a large water bottle, not only are you cutting down on your plastic, you are getting closer to your recommended amount of water every day.  There are even apps available that tell you where you can fill up your water for free, with registered businesses happy for you to do so.

    Plus, as we move on to the next point, just think of all the money you’ll save on all those bottles of water!

    It saves us more money

    As we cut down on the abundance of plastic, this means we have to develop ways to be more self-sufficient, especially when it comes to the foods we carry around with us. As our shopping excursions are reduced, we'll see the benefit in our savings. Because when you think about bringing your own lunch into work or cutting down on takeaways which can use a huge amount of plastic packaging, we're going to save so much more money that we can invest it into other more positive aspects of our lives.

    When we see such a significant amount of savings by cutting down on that daily shop bought lunch, it adds up quickly. And even that morning coffee on the way into the office can be easily substituted for a reusable coffee cup, where we can make our own coffee at home, which will save even more money!  You could buy a whole tub of coffee for the price of just one cup from a shop!  Nowadays, because life is so expensive, it is these little costs that add up over the weeks, months, and years.

    It can kick our social conscience into gear

    If you've got friends that are constantly going on protests, and fighting the good fight, but you have no idea why, something as little as reducing our plastic consumption can infiltrate into other areas of our lives. When we think about cutting down on plastic, we then begin to think about our paper consumption, our carbon footprint, how the food choices we make affect others and so on.

    Maybe you can't picture yourself as some sort of eco-warrior, but if we all get a better idea of how we are impacting the planet individually we can begin to care for things that wouldn't have factored in our lives before. While there are more people now going vegan for the purposes of cutting down on their carbon footprints, as well as other reasons, this is only one piece of the puzzle.

    If you want to take a more active approach to look after the world you live in, you've got to begin with the small things. If you know people who seem like they couldn't care less, then getting them to think about their own plastic consumption, as well as other lifestyle habits, might make all the difference. Blue Planet 2 was, for many people, a catalyst to truly cut down on their plastic consumption, because they finally saw how it impacts our oceans. So if we all get a better understanding of how our plastic use impacts other creatures in the world, it becomes a positive force for change.

    We are stuck with certain habits in life, and it can take a while to undo them. Using a huge amount of plastic is one of those things that, thankfully, many shops are now hot on minimising. But we can't just rely on food suppliers to minimise the amount of plastic so we benefit- we've got to take the initiative. And luckily, it begins with the simpler things. But if you have people in your life that have no idea why they should even bother minimising their plastic, highlight the fact that it's going to benefit them.  If they do eat fish then tell them that due to plastic pollution in the oceans, even the fish they eat are now poisoned with plastic which in turn poisons them!  The problem is much bigger than just unsightly litter.  And if we communicate this to the people who don't care, and make it about themselves, this is setting the wheels in motion.

     

    What to read next

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)
    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes

     

    How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves you money

  3. Creative ways to reduce waste

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    Annually, we produce 2.12 billion tonnes of waste which is becoming extremely damaging to our planet. Although authoritative bodies around the world have introduced schemes and initiatives to encourage recycling, sadly most of our waste still continues to end up in landfills.  This is leading to severe consequences for the environment. If this isn’t planet destroying and soul destroying enough then you’ll be shocked to know that this figure is also expected to rise to 4 billion tonnes annually by 2100.  This is a sorry reflection of our wasteful and throwaway culture and something drastic needs to change before it’s too late.

    However, waste is not only deposited in landfills and buried deep underground; some of it ends up in our oceans illegally. According to some studies, 1.4 billion pounds of rubbish ends up in our waters each year which is having a profound impact on marine life — so much so, scientists have estimated that the amount of plastic will outweigh the fish by 2050.  I’ve seen this myself in shocking documentaries where cruise ships were actually throwing bin bags of rubbish into the sea just so they didn’t have to pay to dispose of it when they reached their destination!

    The level of waste is a result of 99% of the items we purchase being disposed of within a six-month period. Because of this, more businesses around the world are looking at more sustainable ways to create their products in a bid to help better the world that we live in, as well as using traditional methods like caged tippers or skips to remove large waste.

    In this blog post we’ll look at some of the companies that are trying their best to be more ethical and reduce their impact on the environment.

    Creative ways to reduce waste

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    Traidcraft Shop: Recycled Tableware

    Since 1979, Ngwenya Glass has been handcrafting quality one-of-a-kind glassware that has real social and environmental impact on lives and landscapes throughout eSwatini. Originally set up as a Swedish Aid Project, Ngwenya Glass now trains over 60 people in the art of glassblowing to create one-of-a-kind pieces of ethical homeware.

    Every day, Ngwenya Glass prove that a commitment to protecting the environment can exist hand in hand with commercial success. All products are handcrafted from 100% recycled glass, sourced from throughout eSwatini by local people. Ngwenya Glass encourages communities to come together for clean-up days along main roads in the area to gather discarded glass. Most of the glass used to be soft drink bottles!

    Ngwenya Glass pay these glass-gatherers by the kilo, while empowering them to conserve their environment, too. The business also works with local schools to educate young people in the importance of environmentalism and recycling, and supports schools with building materials and learning resources.

    Fjällräven: Re-Kånken and Eco-Shell

    You may already be familiar with the Kånken bag which has recently caught the eye of British consumers. Originating from a small town in Sweden, the company focuses on outdoor clothing and equipment and is committed to making nature more accessible for adventurers alike while having a focus on the simplicity of their products.

    Although they pride themselves on simplicity, the crafting of the bag is much more complex. To play their part in helping the environment, they released the Re-Kånken bag which is made entirely from polyester recycled from plastic bottles. As well as this, it is dyed with SpinDye technology which ‘radically reduces’ the amount of water, energy and chemicals used.

    The Eco-Shell is another product from Fjällräven that avoids using materials that harm the environment. Eco-Shell is also made from recycled polyester and unlike many other products on the market, perflourinated chemicals are not involved in the creation.

    Wasteboards: Skateboards

    In a bid to make use and reduce plastic waste in Amsterdam, Wasteboards is a company that creates the traditional skateboard with an eco-friendly twist. Benefiting the environment as research has suggested that there are 20,000 plastic bottles are being bought every second, this forward-thinking company collect plastic bottle tops to create the deck of the board.

    Wasteboards also believe in helping out the local community and encourage people to collect bottle tops from a range of events to ensure they can continue the development of unique skateboards. As well as this, fishermen who use the canals in Amsterdam are also asked to collect as much as they can.

    One part of the appeal is that each board is handmade and moulded into a design that creates an aesthetically pleasing product for a young demographic. This company loves the idea of being sustainable and being able to sell a sustainable product, so even if your Wasteboard breaks — they’ll recycle the broken plastic and create you a new one!

    Lush Cosmetics: Naked Products

    Lush Cosmetics is often referred to as one of the most environmentally-conscious brands in the UK. So much so they claim to be 100% vegetarian, promote ethical buying, fight animal testing, craft their products by hand and offer naked packaging products which is helping reduce the chaotic packaging crisis Britain is now facing.

    According to some figures, each person uses around 200 pounds of plastic a year — 60 pounds of which is thrown away instantly. This has highlighted a huge problem and put great responsibility upon businesses internationally and through innovative design, Lush Cosmetics were able to develop several products that didn’t require packaging to sell.

    From shower gels to shampoos, there are plenty of naked products available. As well as this, all of plastic used by Lush is 100% recycled.

     

    Listed above are only a few of the many businesses trying to play their part in helping the environment. This proves that the ability to be creative and think outside of the box can truly have admirable benefits that help both people in the planet — could you become more ethically focused?

    Creative ways to reduce waste


    Sources:

    http://www.theworldcounts.com/counters/shocking_environmental_facts_and_statistics/world_waste_facts

    https://4ocean.com/blogs/blog/how-much-trash-is-in-our-ocean

    https://ngwenyaglass.co.sz/history

    http://www.artemisamsterdam.com/en/design-art/exhibitions/plastic/451-wasteboards

    https://www.shemazing.net/saving-the-earth-one-bath-bomb-at-a-time-lush-expands-naked-packaging/

    https://uk.lush.com/products/lushopedia/twilight-0

  4. 3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

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    Gardens are a lot of hard work.  We bought a house with a 90 foot garden and it’s a lot to manage.  We’ve changed it considerably, but there is still so much to do to make it look remotely pleasant.  We thought a large garden was a great idea for the kids, which it is, but we didn’t think about the ongoing maintenance of such a large space or the costs.  The lawn regularly needs cutting and grass seeds sprinkling.  We have around 30 fence panels that need treating and painting and many even need replacing.  The patio constantly needs cleaning as the slabs are cheap, light in colour and dirt very easily, so we really need to replace them when we can.  There’s also so much weeding!  I’d much rather a low maintenance garden and have some tips on how to achieve this below.

    Luckily there are lots of ways to save money in the garden in the long run and also to future proof it.  This is a particularly good idea for the older generations who may not be able to maintain a garden in the future, or just for us busy folk who don’t have the time to spend maintaining a garden on top of a busy work schedule and hectic lifestyle.

    Here are a few ideas of how you can save money and future proof your garden.  Some may require an upfront cost, but then will require little or no maintenance in the long run.

    3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

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    Artificial grass

    Back when I was younger the only place I saw pretend grass was the Astroturf at school!  But times have changed and there is artificial grass available that looks ever so real.  It requires no mowing, little maintenance and always looks great.  There’s no need to worry about installing it yourself either as there are plenty of professional artificial grass installers available all over the country who can give you a quote and answer any questions you may have about this booming business.  You’ll save money in the long run as you’ll no longer need to cut the grass which requires a lawnmower and the use of fuel or maintain it which could involve buying grass seed every year.

    Metal fences

    Don’t be put off by the word metal!  It’s now possible to buy garden fences made from metal that look like wooden versions, but require zero maintenance!  They can be purchased in all sorts of colours and can even have trellis at the top.  They never need treating or painting so whilst there is the upfront cost of buying the fences and installing them, there’s no more costs after this.

    Composite decking

    Decking is one thing on our never-ending list of things to do in the garden.  We have a roofed veranda that Ben built and we need a visually pleasing floor to complete the outdoor seating area and not the horrid slabs I mentioned in the introduction.  Wood decking can be high maintenance requiring regular treating and staining as well as it’s unfortunate ability to rot, but there is an alternative solution called composite decking.  This decking is also environmentally friendly as it’s made from recycled hard wood and recycled plastic, it also requires little to no chemicals to treat it once installed.  Because of the plastic content it is highly durable and requires low maintenance.  It needs a clean occasionally, but does not need painting or staining.  A bonus is it will not rot either.

    If you’re looking for a super low maintenance garden then these three tips will have you well on your way!

     

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    How to make your workout more eco-friendly and cost-effective

    3 ways to save money and future proof your garden

  5. How to make your workout more eco-friendly and cost-effective

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    When people talk about ways to be more eco-friendly, they usually say things like recycling, turning down the thermostat, and taking shorter showers. Of course, these things are important, but if we’re going to save this planet - and we have to try - then you’ll want to look at making all aspects of your life better for the environment. But good news: this is more than possible! Even when it comes to things like being healthy. Below, we take a look at several ways you can save the planet and be your fit and healthy best at the same time.  You can even save money too!

     How to make your workout more eco-friendly and cost-effective

    Source: Pexels.com

    Go to the gym

    We all need to start consuming less, and thus using up less of the earth’s resources. The best case scenario would be for us to have a sharing economy. Instead of everyone owning their own version of something useful, everyone in the street would collectively own one. Who’s using a lawnmower every day? No-one! Let’s share it. When it comes to exercising, we already have shared equipment - it’s called the gym. One machine, multiple people using it. It’s much better for the environment than owning your own equipment.  My gym also has some machines called Curve for walking and running on that require no electricity!  They simply move as you move and even burn more calories than an electric powered treadmill.

    Going to the gym for me has also saved money.  Before the gym I was splashing out on regular exercise classes and swimming sessions each week.  Going to the gym has saved me money rather than paying for these things individually each week.

    Correct clothing

    There’s no shortage of gym clothing available. But do you know the carbon footprint of the threads you’re wearing? It might not be all that good for the environment. The next time you have to replace your shirts, shorts, and shoes for working out, make sure you’re supporting companies that have the Earth at the forefront of everything they do. You might have to pay slightly more than you could find elsewhere, but it’ll be good clothing, and you won’t have to feel bad that you’ve harmed the natural world. For example, try H&Ms Conscious clothing range which features an active range made from organic cottons and recycled materials. 

    Buying higher quality clothing that lasts longer than cheaper items will save money in the long run.

    Use these tips to recycle or donate your old clothing: 13 ways to get rid of unwanted clothes (without binning them)

    Eating well

    What you do in the gym is only half of your workout. The other half is determined by what you eat. For most people, this is the biggest impact they have on the environment! The energy and resources it takes to one slab of meat or dairy products are monumental. So consider going vegan.  It uses less water, fuel, food and even prevents so much rainforest destruction.  Eating a plant based diet is the best diet if you care about the planet.  Despite what you’ve been told, you do not need to eat meat to get your protein fix. Load up on vegan protein, and you’ll be on your way to maximising the effect of your fitness regime. Just as healthy, much smaller carbon footprint. Perfect!

    Whilst the meat and cheese alternatives, as well as vegan junk food, can be quite costly, simply eating a more homemade diet rich in fruits and veggies can be cheaper than eating a lot of meat and dairy.  Good quality meat and dairy is pretty pricey!  It's totally possible to eat a vegan diet for less than the cost of eating a meat rich diet.

    Build it into your daily routine

    Want to get healthy and help the world? You can. It’s all about building your fitness goals into your daily routine, and you can do this by leaving the car at home and using your two legs to get from A to B, either by cycling or walking. This is an excellent way to beat the effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles too.

    Walking instead of driving will save money on fuel.  Using public transport is a greener option when possible, but the greenest and cheapest is to walk or cycle.

    Make the most of nature

    Want to see what you’re fighting to preserve? Then workout in nature. A run through the woods will be body-boosting, brain-boosting, and will show you just why you’re making the small sacrifices in your life.  Climb a hill and admire the glorious views from the top.  Even if you have young kids there are plenty of ways to get outdoors to exercise and enjoy nature.  Read 5 Fun Ways to Keep Fit with a Little One for examples!

    Exercising outdoors is the cheapest way to stay fit and the greenest!

    How to make your workout more eco-friendly and cost-effective