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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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5 Ways to Build a More Eco-Friendly Garden


spring daffodils

Your garden is your one-stop reliable shop to be at one with nature. It’s a place where you can really invest in the environment around you and build habits to live more sustainably. Even if you haven’t got ‘green thumbs’, here are some simple ways that you can be more eco-friendly in your garden.

1. Switch to Solar
Solar garden lighting has become more and more popular in recent years and there is a good reason why! For those pathways, gates, fences and patios, you can easily and affordably switch to sustainable lighting by opting for solar lights that store sunlight energy during the daytime and light their surroundings at night.

2. Collect Water
If you’ve never heard of a water butt, it’s about time that you did. Instead of filling up watering cans from the tap or hosing down the plants in your garden, use rainwater collected in a large bucket or ‘butt’ to save water and be a more eco-friendly gardener. Just think about it, if every household in the UK got a standard water butt, it would save around 30,000 million litres of water each summer!

bottle greenhouse3. Grow in a Greenhouse
We all know that greenhouses are green and allow an abundance of fruits, plants and flowers to grow in a controlled, optimized environment but have you ever thought of building your own? Greenhouses can actually be relatively easily made with plastic bottles and not only does this help recycle but it also cuts down the amount of land-space you would take up by growing outside in the open.

4. Plant Bright Flowers
Not all of us love bugs and creepy crawlies, especially when they end up chewing up your plants, but there’s a more eco-friendly way to keep them away rather than resulting to nasty pesticides. Plant bright flowers like sunflowers, primroses and marigolds as they will attract insects like ladybirds and lacewings that eat aphids who chew up your crops. Try and pick flowers that bloom into autumn too as this will allow more time for beneficial bugs to gather and for bees and butterflies to pollinate!

5. Create Some Compost
Making your own compost to nurture your garden is better than buying it and it’s so sustainable too. You’ll need to get a container or compost bin for the ingredients to ferment and you’ll need to sort your kitchen scraps to add to the mix. There are plenty of useful guides and tips to create the perfect compost to fertilize your garden so there’s never been a better time to get started!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Do You Have the Right Doors for Energy Efficiency?


french doors

Being energy efficient is not only about helping the environment by reducing your energy waste and carbon emissions but it’s also about saving money and making smart choices. Patio doors are a great way to bring light, space and warmth into your home, especially if they are overlooking your garden. But if you don’t have the right doors for energy efficiency, they can be a troublesome investment and may cost you heat and light waste as well as hundreds of pounds a year. Here are some tips on making the right choice.

1. Know Your Materials
Gone are the days of cheaply made patio doors. Make sure yours are an investment by choosing the right material to suit your home and budget. You can get uPVC doors that are extremely low maintenance as they can withstand even the harshest weather conditions and are even completely recyclable. Or you could go for hardwood doors made from timber and solid oak that insulate naturally. For the best of both worlds you can go for a uPVC option with a natural wood finish if it suits the theme of your home better.

2. What Kind of Glass?
Single pane windows are a killer to your energy bill, not to mention they keep things pretty cold in the winter! Make sure you choose some reinforced double or triple glazing, or you could even invest in low-emissivity glass that reflects heat back inside your home for superior insulation and cost savings.

3. Check the Seals
Another important factor to consider is the quality of sealing that you have on your doors. Draught-proofing ensures that cold wind does not enter your home when the doors are closed but also that precious heat doesn’t escape too! Look into the quality of the seals used so that you can be sure that they won’t need replacing or will wear away too quickly with continued use.

4. Don’t Forget Security!
Security might not be a major factor when it comes to energy efficiency but it actually helps considerably in conserving heat energy when your doors are locked tight and ensure that people don’t accidently leave them open. Make sure your doors have a trusted and advanced locking system like the ‘hookbolt method’ for sliding doors so that they can be easily secured on a daily basis.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Free Energy Saving Projects That Will Help Make Your Home Greener


green homeIt’s a sad fact that over 50 percent of the world’s forests are depleted and that within 30 years, there will be so much CO2 in the atmosphere that it will be deemed over the acceptable level. What this means is that as individuals, we now need to ensure we’re doing everything that we can be to ensure that our houses or apartments are as green as possible; after all, it’s important that we practice what we preach.

So, bearing in mind that for many people there’s still not a lot of spare money left in people’s pockets after they’ve paid their bills, we’ve created this short guide to how you can implement some straightforward energy saving projects that are completely free. Here are just a few of those ideas for you to try out yourself.

1 – Reroute Your Hot Water Pipes Under Your Floorboards
You might be surprised to know that one of the main ways your home loses heat is through the floor. Now you could have purpose build floor heating installed to help keep your floor nice and warm, but of course, this is bound to be expensive and use up precious electricity. Instead, therefore, we recommend that wherever possible you reroute your existing water pipes so that they take a short detour under your flooring.

2 – Check for Government-Driven Schemes for Free Loft and Cavity Insulation
Next, you should take your search for free energy-saving projects to the internet. There are plenty of government-led schemes for people on low incomes who can’t afford to simply pay for expensive home insulation outright. Thanks to sites like MyFourWalls.com, it’s now easier than ever to see what’s available to you for free, and to find the best providers near you to come out and do the work for you.

3 – Make the Most of Existing Technology
Finally, there are probably thousands of apps for your phone that are dedicated to helping you save energy, and they’re most likely either free or very inexpensive. Even your central heating might have its own app that helps you to keep track of your spending habits and your usage per hour, so make sure you’ve consulted the web to see what’s available to you.

Ultimately, there are plenty of ways that you can reduce your rate of energy consumption, and if you’re serious about doing so, you’ll follow some of the pointers above and make your house greener for free. If these ideas start saving you considerable amounts of money per month, you might even think about investing some of your savings into other not-so-free energy saving projects.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

7 Ways to Conserve Water


water droplet falling

Water is life. It is the single most important resource on the planet. Nothing that we know of can survive without it. There are many places throughout the world where fresh water is scarce, and people go without it due to population growth, longer life expectancies and pollution. That is why it is so important to conserve what we have for ourselves and for future generations. If we don’t, what else are we going to do?

There are so many ways the average consumer can conserve water, both on their own and with efficient energy saving products:

  • You can reuse grey water, like dish water and laundry water in your garden. This will allow you to reuse what you have rather than use new water.
  • You can collect rainwater in a cistern. It is amazing just how much water is wasted when they take a shower. All of that water going down the drain adds up to a lot more than you can imagine.
  • Using a low flow shower head and cutting down the time you spend in the shower is probably one of the best ways you can help the environment. It cuts down your water usage.
  • A shower and faucet flow meter bag monitors the flow of water in your shower and faucet aerators by actual gallons per minute. This can be essential to watching exactly how much water you use. It will serve as a healthy reminder to conserve and allow you to cut down your water bill immensely. Water leaks are not only wasteful, they can cost you more than you realize.
  • It’s always best to monitor your toilet for leaks. They can spring up anytime. One of the best ways to do that is with a LeakAlertor. A leak alerter detects leaks by monitoring the vibrations of your toilet and alerting you when they change. It gives visual and auditory alerts. You can’t miss when you have a leak. It works perfectly with faulty flappers and other leaks that can’t be heard.
  • A moisture meter is another device that can be really helpful. You stick it in the ground and it detects how much moisture is in the soil so you can avoid improper watering in the garden. It works at the root level where the plants soak up all the moisture that way you know just how much water is there and whether or not you are using too much or too little. It even comes in cute little designs, like a frog or ladybug. You can even customize it with your logo, company or program name.
  • We waste a lot of water by rinsing out dishes before we do them. There are dish squeegees that can avoid this problem. By squeegeeing your dishes you can get all of the caked on food off without having to use any water.

You’d be surprised how much water these simple changes can save. We can’t waste the world’s resources. They’re all we have. The environment is the single most important thing we have and water is an integral part of saving it.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Donate or Recycle Cell Phones


Since smartphone manufacturers are constantly releasing their newest and hottest smartphones with exciting features, consumers are buying phones more often. The average person upgrades their cell phone every 18 months, a cycle which results in many people throwing out their old phones. This has major consequences on the environment: experts estimate that an astounding number of devices are thrown out every year in the United States alone. This adds to our country’s growing problem with overcrowded landfills.

The Environmental Effects
cellphone-slaes infographicAccording to e-Cycle.com, Americans throw out 130 million devices every year, making up the majority of toxins in our landfills. Even though more than 70 percent of these millions of phones can be reused, it is believed that only 14 to 17 percent of mobile devices are recycled. The environmentally responsible thing to do is properly recycle any mobile device that you no longer plan to use. When enough people participate, it can have a tremendous impact on the environment, our energy supply and our landfills.

For example, e-Cycle.com points out that recycling one lithium-ion battery of a smartphone can prevent the contamination of 60,000 liters of water (the equivalent of three Olympic-sized swimming pools). And, if 1 million people recycle their cell phones, this will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 33 cars off the road for a year. Just 42 recycled cell phones save enough energy to power the average household for a full year.  (more…)

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Shoes that Sprout: Biodegradable Shoes that Grow Plants


OAT shoe with plant

When your trusty tennis shoes wear out, the fastest and easiest option to dispose of them – also the one that is not eco-friendly – is to pitch them in the trash. Once in the trash your old shoes find their way to the landfill where they remain for many, many years. If you think about how many shoes you and everyone else have tossed out over the years, it adds up to a lot of shoes in the ground.

OAT shoe

But with footwear from OAT shoes, your shoes will biodegrade in about a year’s time and plants might even sprout from them. OAT shoes are completely biodegradable and the shoes actually contain seeds in the tongue that can sprout if buried.  (more…)

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Exploring Eco-Friendly Glues and Adhesives – A Sticky Situation


arts and crafts

We all remember the days back in elementary school when we created cards for our moms, and posters for the holidays. All those lovely trinkets our moms still have stashed away somewhere were made possible with the aid of that good old Elmer’s glue. The fact is that in addition to crafting, glues and adhesives are frequently used in our everyday lives.

When you think about it packaging, grocery bags, wallpaper, laminating, envelops and paper towel roles all use some form of adhesive. What makes an adhesive green or not boils down to 3 issues:

  • What is it made of?
  • Is that material sustainable?
  • What environmental impact will it have when it is discarded? (more…)
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 ways to green your local environment


ecological footprint

Appropriately enough, living a more environmentally responsible lifestyle starts close to home. The place you can make the biggest impact on the environment is your local community. Here are 10 simple tips for leading a more responsible green lifestyle.

  • One of the most important actions anyone can take is voting. Don’t be beaten down by the deranged shouting voices of the climate change deniers and those who view clean water regulations and environmental oversight as inconvenient obstacles to business and development. Vote early and often
  • Join the local chapter of a green organization like the Audubon Society or the Sierra Club, or start a local one protecting your local parks, beaches and forests. Get involved. (more…)
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