Show our planet some love

Karen Neville

planet

Roses are red, violets are blue, ditch waste this Valentine’s Day, our planet needs you… as Dave Lamont from Plastic-Free Home explains

If you’ve left thinking about your partner’s Valentine’s Day gift to the last minute, there’s good news and a get out of jail card with your name on it waiting.

Every year in the UK we send more than 25 million Valentine’s Day cards and spend an incredible £650 million on gifts ranging from flowers to fragrances.

Here are a few ways you could mark Valentine’s Day a little differently this year…

Cards

If you are happy to live without them, job done. If you’re not, consider hand making a card. Not feeling crafty? Then aim to buy a card that’s printed on FSC (sustainable) paper, free of glitter and attachments and not wrapped in plastic. Even better if it’s from an independent retailer. The likes of 1 Tree Cards are also a nice option. Every card sold comes with a packet of wildflowers and sees a tree planted. Cards actually made from plantable seed paper are also a great option; we really like Eco friendly greetings cards & seed cards.

Flowers

At this time of year, Roses and other popular flowers are typically flown in from the southern hemisphere. They’re then delivered to your door in a refrigerated van. And, unless you’re very lucky, this time next week they’ll be on their last legs having gone through several pints of water. Consider if you can live without flowers this Valentine’s Day, or why not opt for a long lasting house plant (ideally grown in the UK) or something for the garden instead.

Chocolates

The cacao used to make chocolate typically have come from South America or Africa and may not be Fairtrade or sustainably and ethically produced. The majority of chocolates will also contain Palm Oil and of course they are often heavily packaged. Decide if you can skip the chocolates this year, or at least hold tight until Easter. If you can’t, consider eco-conscious options like Divine Chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely, Beyond Good and Traidcraft Online Shop.

Fragrances

Most scents are a concoction of dozens of synthetic chemicals, many of which are derived from Petroleum. Worldwide, over 4,000 different chemicals are used to produce fragrances and many of these are bad news for our bodies (some can be toxic), not to mention the planet. There’s nothing romantic about any of that. If you’re still on the lookout, aim to find a fragrance that’s made ethically and sustainably from 100% natural ingredients.

Gift an experience

Don’t splash out on generic or novelty Valentine’s Day gifts. Instead, plan a day out or a short UK break (revisit somewhere special or explore somewhere you’ve always wanted to go) go out for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, see a show or head to the cinema, do something sporty, book a surprise experience (the possibilities are endless these days), offer to do something nice for your other half like cooking a meal or chores around the house, have some photos professionally taken, great creative and write a poem or song, paint or make something. You get the idea!

Whatever you do, don’t forget who and what really matter this Valentine’s Day. And remember to show our planet a little love if you can.

Energy saving tips for your home

Ellie Cox

planet

Plant the equivalent of 136 trees and save up to £1,000 a year, with these essential energy saving tips from Worcester Bosch.

At this worrying time, when utility bills are set to hit many of us hardest, Worcester Bosch has shared its handy tips to help you save money and the planet.

Making changes to your heating set-up can help save you up to £1,000 throughout the year.

The carbon emission saving is the equivalent to planting 136 trees or driving a car 1,606 miles. The distance which is nearly a full trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End and back!

Making the planet a greener place to live for the next generation is at the heart of Worcester Bosch. By following these tips, you could play your part in reducing carbon emissions

There are several ways for homeowners to cut costs. Helping them save energy and to live more sustainably, several of which require minimal to zero cost or hassle.

Tip 1: Take control of your heating

– Annual saving = £105.
– Equivalent to planting up to 11 trees, or driving 129 miles

By turning down the room thermostat just one degree, you will net up to a £105 saving per year. The 200kg CO2 of emissions saved is equivalent to a 129mile trip, or a further 11 trees planted. Aim for 17°C when you’re out and about, and a cosy 18-21°C when you’re at home.

Martyn Bridges, director of technical services at Worcester Bosch, says: “You cannot underestimate how important it is to take control of your home heating. These simple but effective changes, such as turning your radiator down by a single degree, could have a significant impact on the planet and your savings too.”

Tip 2: Shower Time

– Annual saving = up to £70.
– Equivalent to planting up to 7 trees, or driving 86 miles

Nothing beats having a hot shower to ease the stresses of the day. But by following these simple tips, you can reduce your energy usage while still enjoying a relaxing early morning or late-night shower.

The biggest change you can make is cutting your shower time down, ideally to around four-minutes. A household could see up to £70 a year saved on their energy bill just from a speedy shower as well as significantly reducing the amount of water used.

Martyn gives the guidance: “We all love having a hot shower, but a significant amount of hot water is used, contributing to energy usage and your bills. Taking the steps to use showers instead of baths and using a timer to measure how long you are taking could be a simple step to lower your energy usage.”

Tip 3: Trap your heat

– Annual saving = up to £190.
– Equivalent to planting up to 19 trees, or driving 234 miles

Making sure you keep the heat trapped inside of your home is an easy, yet effective tip that you could put into place this World Earth Day. One super simple tip is to draft proof your windows and doors. You would be surprised about how much heat escapes through those tiny gaps which are found around your window, in your keyhole, and in your letterbox. Covering those tiny gaps could save you around £45 and saves the same amount of energy as planting four trees.

To take this one step further, you could add an insulated jacket to an uninsulated hot water cylinder. Insulating your hot water cylinder will reduce the heat loss resulting in the water remaining hotter for longer. This tip is a huge energy saver, which is the equivalent of planting 15 trees! Insulating your hot water cylinder properly could save you up to £145 which could make a huge difference as energy prices increase.

Martyn explains: “Trapping the heat in your home should be a priority. These small gaps needlessly bring the cold air in. Reversing all the changes you have made to keep your home warm. From little tasks like closing those gaps to slightly bigger tasks such as getting an insulated jacket, you’re not only protecting the planet, but helping lower your energy bills too.”

Tip 4: Small changes, big results

– Annual saving = up to £30.
– Equivalent to planting up to three trees, or driving 37 miles

Sometimes it is the smallest changes that have the biggest impact. Technology is a core part of our life but remember to put your devices on standby when not using them. Net an extra £30 saving by being savvy with your device shuts down.

“Although they may seem like unimportant changes, they could make huge changes to your home, the planet, and your bills.”

Martyn explains: “Switching off appliances once you use them is a small way to ensure that you reduce your energy usage. Although they may seem like unimportant changes, they could make huge changes to your home, the planet, and your bills.”

Tip 5: Upgrade your boiler

– Annual saving = depending on technology – up to £910.
– Equivalent to planting up to 96 trees, or driving 1,120 miles

A boiler replacement from an inefficient to a modern, more efficient model can be a major and immediate cost and environment saver. The EST figures show that making the switch could end up saving you almost four figures every year.

By upgrading from a G-rated boiler to a more sustainable A-rated model (including TRV’s and a smart controller) – working at 90% more efficiency and saving up to 1,630kg CO2 every year. You’re not only managing your energy usage more efficiently in the longer term, but also saving the equivalent carbon off-set as planting 61 trees would do. This upgrade could save you £580.

Heat pumps are a newer, efficient technology in the domestic heating industry. In simple terms they work by taking energy from outside and transferring it into heat for use in a heating and hot water system.  The product and subsequent installation are more expensive than a boiler upgrade. But once you paid out the initial cost – a change from a G rated boiler to a heat pump can save you even more – up to £910, with a carbon saving equal to planting 96 trees.

Martyn adds: “Upgrading a G-rated boiler to one which is A-rated can make a significant in your home. The A-rated boilers are an efficient choice which could ultimately help you save money on your bills. Not to mention help us to protect the future.”

To find out more about Worcester Bosch award-winning home heating and hot water products, visit worcester-bosch.co.uk/ or head to the YouTube channel.

A touch of luxury every day

Round & About

planet

Touch of Soap Luxury wants to give you just that – hand and body soaps with a touch of luxury and they’re not just good for you but they’re good for the planet too.

The range of vegan, vegetarian and cruelty-free produced soaps are all made in Great Britain and allow you to spoil yourself while being kind to the earth.

The range of products currently includes Wild Hare solid shampoo in Tutti Frutti to leave your hair silky and glowing; Happy Scrub soap in bubblegum is a loofah and a soap in one, the unique fibres mean it will leave your skin beautifully smooth.

Hand crafted from sustainable palm oil, age-old botanicals and pure aromatic oils, the hand-made soaps will make cleansing a sensual joy; Wild Rose guest soaps are a colourful addition to your bathroom while rejuvenating aromatherapy hand and body lotion can help with a variety of skin conditions.

And if you’re looking to pamper yourself, the aloe vera body butter will repair your skin and actively regenerate it for several hours after application.

These sumptuous products are all available from touchofsoapluxury.com

Baby steps to better world

Liz Nicholls

planet

Lucy Todd tells us about her journey from journalism to founding sustainable children’s clothing site My Little Green Wardrobe which has just turned one

Within a year, I went from being a mother of two with a steady job (and income), to the owner of an online business start-up in sustainable baby and childrenswear.

I have no background in fashion, sustainability or e-commerce. So what prompted such madness? Well, it started with a pair of wellies.

I learned of the impact the textile and fashion industry was having on the environment in my job at BBC News. The fashion industry is the third-largest manufacturing sector in the world, and one of its most carbon-intensive and polluting. It is also responsible for some of the most appalling working conditions, with child labour and forced labour among the litany of abuses. The change towards fast fashion over recent years has only made these problems worse.

While reducing my clothing consumption was fairly easy (after all, I already had a wardrobe of clothes that fit me), it wasn’t quite so simple for my children. They grow. ALL. THE. TIME.

My Little Green Wardrobe sells only brands that act more ethically than the current norm.

Deciphering the more sustainable brands from those that were greenwashing was hard. It took me a whole afternoon to buy just two products – a pair of wellies and a puddlesuit – from brands I was happy with. I’d gone down so many internet rabbit holes checking a brand’s ethos, where they manufactured, materials etc… Each time, I found the product or brand weren’t as planet-friendly as they made out. Why wasn’t there a website that sold only ethical and more sustainable kids clothing from pre-vetted brands? And when I eventually bought those wellies (from a lovely Swedish brand, by the way), I decided that’s what I’d do.

My Little Green Wardrobe sells only brands that act more ethically than the current norm. I’ve come a long way since buying those wellies, when I felt like I needed a degree in materials science to understand the info some brands were giving. I’ve tried to make sustainability accessible to explain what brands are doing to improve their impact across the supply chain.

And don’t just take my word for it. Whether it’s organic cotton or recycled materials, all the brands I work with are certified, or use materials certified, by third-party organisations that guarantee environmental and social criteria. There is no perfectly “sustainable” item. – we’re looking for progression, not perfection.

What I lack in knowledge, I make up for in passion. And, if in doubt, to fall back on my old journalistic training: to ask questions. That’s what I’d urge you to do of the ethical brands you shop from too. After all, without transparency, there can be no sustainability.

Find out more

To shop My Little Green Wardrobe see their website mylittlegreenwardrobe.com

Wheelyboat Picks the Litter

Liz Nicholls

planet

WOW-one crew stand proudly over their spoils of the Littler Pick

WOW! Wallingford Accessible Boat Club heroes support the Thames river clean-up with WOW-one wheelyboat

We thought we would share some heart-warming community news to add some light to what has been a very gloomy week for most.

Members of the Wallingford Accessible Boat Club (WABC), with their wheelyboat WOW-one, helped out with the Thames Clean Up in Wallingford today.  Bankside litter pickers, co-ordinated by local councillors and actively supported by the charity Wallingford 1155, passed the rubbish bags and other debris to the wheelyboat for ferrying downstream to the main collection point at Riverside in Wallingford.

WOW-one proved to be the ideal craft for the job. Its flat decking, designed for carrying wheelchair users, coupled with its shallow draft allowed it to get very close to the bank making it easy to load the rubbish.

Just some of the debris collected by WOW-one during the Litter Pick

Councillor Steve Holder, lead coordinator of the litter pick, said:  “Another great litter pick thanks to the 80 or so local people who turned out to help. We were very pleased to have the support of WABC and WOW-one which was invaluable for the river element of the Litter Pick which coincided with the wider South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse River Thames Clean Up event. It is great they were involved in this important community initiative.”

John Jenkins MBE, WABC chairman of Trustees, added: “The litter pick was all great fun and I am very glad that our involvement proved to be so helpful. After all, our wheelyboat operation is itself a community project and we are always keen to get involved to support local Wallingford initiatives such as this.”

For further information please contact John Jenkins on [email protected] or phone 07976 297835.

Tell us your local news here