Sunday 19 May 2024

Positive News Spring 24


Purple Daisy by Pixabay

Yay for Positive News!


Summer is just around the corner & I felt it time to bring some uplifting news onto your 'ickle screens! 

Check out our Positive News Section for some other Feel Good Stories too 😊

1) Plastics Ban 1st October 2023

The single used plastics ban has finally taken effect in England from Autumn 2023. 

Previous bans have been introduced in Europe, Scotland & Wales so we’re a little behind the curve ball but good news all the same. 

Some items are restricted rather than banned such as plastic containers for catering as long as it’s pre-packaged or packaged at point of sale.


20 useful tips on how to reduce your plastics can be found here at:


2) EU Vote to Reduce Plastic Pellet Spills

MEPs voted in favour April 2024 to place stricter penalties on plastic pellet spills. 

Plastic is frequently transported in small pellet form, known as nurdles which can be spilled during loading or shipping & can make its way into water ways. 

They can easily be mistaken for food by marine life & additionally add to our plastic pollution.

It's great to see that 538 MEPS voted in favour, with only 32 against the proposed restrictions. More details will emerge after the June sittings.

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20240419IPR20570/microplastics-meps-want-stricter-rules-to-reduce-plastic-pellet-losses

Read more about hidden plastics including nurdles in my blog post:

https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2020/02/beware-of-hidden-plastics.html

Dolphin Underwater by Pixabay

3) Cargo Ships Could be Powered by Wings?

A new wind powered cargo ship set off on its maiden voyage during Summer 2023. 123ft wings (made from the same material as wind turbines) are folded out to enable the ship to be powered by wind, cutting down its emissions by 30%.

This new innovation was designed by a team in the UK headed by John Cooper, who used to work with McLaren Team Formula One.


4) Textiles More Eco Friendly

Clothing can often be discarded when no longer used & according to this BBC article less than 1% is recycled into new clothes. What a shocking waste! Some natural materials will eventually break down however products such as polyester are synthetic & won’t easily decompose.

Items such as spandex are nylon (synthetic) based however the Lycra team are looking at ways to use corn based material to create a more environmentally friendly product in the future.

Other innovative ideas to reduce wasteful products include: A U.S. company using material made from the roots of mushrooms, a U.K. company taking advantage of soil based bacteria to help dye products, as it naturally produces rainbow colours.  

Plus a Finnish company using wood pulp which is spun into thread for making textiles. The only by-product from this process is heat which is pumped into the local heating system. Win, win! 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66985595

Meanwhile Alison Coomber a design graduate from University of Bristol has made highly colourful blinds using old Sainsbury’s shopping bags.

https://www.positive.news/lifestyle/the-green-grads-designing-the-future/


Aged Denim Photo by Julia Kuzenkov from Pexels

Additionally, Justine Aldersey-Williams, an artist based in the Wirral managed to create her own pair of jeans made from indigo & flax grown in her own allotment!

https://www.positive.news/economics/the-woman-who-grew-her-own-pair-of-jeans

If you have any clothes to get rid of & don’t have a clothes bank near you, why not order a free donation bag from Oxfam & bung it in the post free! 

https://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/donate-by-post-for-free/

5) Using eDNA to Track Biodiversity

The Natural History Museum are looking at innovative ways to track species in various environments using eDNA. This can help build up a picture of plants & wildlife that are in threat & need our help, whilst also tracking down where species may be thriving. Biodiversity is key to a healthy eco system.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/what-is-environmental-dna-edna.html

Check out this video to learn more: 


6) Renewables Reaching New Highs

The world got more than 30% of its electricity from renewables last year (in 2023). According to Positive News 'China, led the charge, accounting for 51% of additional global solar generation & 60% of new global wind generation'.

Let’s hope the momentum continues πŸ’š



What's Happening this Spring?

πŸ¦‹ No Mow May! 
- This is a campaign to encourage gardeners to leave their lawns un-mown each May, which is a great time to allow for lawn flowers to feed the emerging insects from their Winter slumber.

Councils are also joining the movement & wildflowers are becoming more abundant which is great for bees, butterflies & moths which ultimately helps with pollination. 
https://www.plantlife.org.uk/campaigns/nomowmay/

Did You Know 'We’ve lost approximately 97% of flower-rich meadows since the 1930’s'?

🌼 World Bee Day – Look out for World Bee Day on 20th May 2024

For stories, infographics & factsheets why not check out the following bee-lightful website! https://www.fao.org/world-bee-day/en/ 

Dandelions in Mug Photo by dagmara-dombrovska from Pexels

🌱 
World Biodiversity Day

The International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May 2024 (or World Biodiversity Day) is a United Nations international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues. 

The theme this year is Be Part of the Plan, encouraging all stakeholders to come together for a solution. https://www.undp.org/biodiversity-day-2024


🌍 World Environment Day

The World Environment Day will be on 5th June 2024. The theme in 2023 was on Plastic Pollution. 
https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/

Check out this video for 2024 - 'We Are Generation Restoration'.


____________________

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We have home made washing up cloths, wildflower seed balls, fabric crackers (more available at Christmas) plus upcycled fairy light bottles. Available at:


Wildflower Seedballs by Lovelier Planet

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Thursday 23 November 2023

Season's Greetings!

Christmas Ted photo from Pexels by Susanne Jutzeler

You could being saying, 'Ahh Christmas' or you could equally say 'Arghhh, Christmas' - either way I hope it's a joyous one for all my readers! 

It's a perfect time to snuggle up with your loved ones, but do we need the stress and does the planet need all the waste? An absolute no on both counts.

To take away some of the strain, I have written useful tips on how to have a green Christmas, how to reduce waste, some eco books to buy & loads more. 

(See Christmas links at bottom of page).

Meanwhile take a look at some of our hand made goodies, including:

Re-usable Fabric Christmas Crackers
Cracker Sleeves to make your own
Christmas Themed Washing Up Cloths
Home Made Wildflower Seed Balls 
Washable Re-Usable Face Wipes 

Christmas Washing Up Cloth Unsponges by Lovelier Planet

Stocks are very limited so grab 'em while you can!

For those with the Winter blues, why not check out our positive news section to give you a bit of a boost along the way? 

Meanwhile, for those forward thinking types (one step at a time) then why not check out my directory of all good things, to help you decide which charity you'd like to support, how you can volunteer and some good sites to browse for the New Year.

So put your woolly browsing socks on & enjoy the ride!

Woolly Socks in Front of Fire Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

πŸ’š
πŸŽ„
πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Useful links for an eco friendly Christmas:
πŸŽ„ Homemade Items for Sale πŸŽ„

 

Sunday 16 July 2023

Positive News for July 2023


Girl in a Meadow pic by Jill Wellington from Pexels

Positive News July 2023

This time of year is so uplifting but there’s always space for more good things so here’s our latest round up of good news 😊

1) King’s college Meadow - A New Study

We previously reported on wildflower meadows taking shape in Kings College Cambridge. As part of a study, King’s Research Fellow Dr Cicely Marshall, found that in spite of its small size, the wildflower meadow supported three times as many species of plants, spiders and bugs, including 14 species with conservation designations.

Terrestrial invertebrate biomass was found to be 25 times higher in the meadow, with bat activity over the meadow also being three times higher than over the remaining lawn. 

https://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/news/2023/study-shows-impact-kings-wildflower-meadow

I love the fact they use horses to harvest the meadow at the end of the season with the bales offered to locals to create a meadow of their own: 

https://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/a-greener-kings/kings-wildflower-meadow

2) Postcode Gardeners

Friends of the Earth & Co-Operative Bank have partnered together to place Postcode Gardeners into the most nature deprived neighbourhoods, helping to green the area & also bring neighbours together. Trial projects have taken place in Hackney, Chester & Bideford, Devon with more being planned in Birmingham, Bristol & London.

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/nature/planting-more-postcode-gardeners-create-greener-streets

Boy sweeping yard by Yan Krukau from Pexels

3) Chocolate Wrappers to go Plastic Free

For the first time since its launch in 1936, NestlΓ© is changing the packaging of their famous Mars bar wrapper. Traditionally wrappers are made from aluminium & plastic which are hard to recycle although they can be recycled via Terracycle collection points (if there’s one in your area) who shred the wrappers & melt the plastic element into pellets.

NestlΓ© are piloting a new recyclable paper wrapper which will be available at 500 Tesco stores in the UK for a limited time.

https://happyeconews.com/candy-bar-wrapper-plastic-free/

Have you seen the new Smarties packaging? Smarties was the first global confectionery brand to switch to recyclable paper packaging, removing approximately 250 million plastic packs sold globally every year.

https://www.nestle.com/media/news/smarties-first-global-confectionery-brand-recyclable-paper-packaging

4) How to Recycle Old Credit Cards

Credit Card Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

HSBC are providing a new drop off point in selected branches for people to recycle their old debit & credit cards. The recycling scheme is in unison with Terracycle. Old cards will be shredded & turned into plastic pellets.

https://uk.pcmag.com/e-commerce-payments/147433/mastercard-is-encouraging-us-to-shred-our-credit-and-debit-cards

5) Royal Mail Pledges to Achieve Net Zero

Royal Mail are hoping to achieve net zero operations by using 100% renewable energy, switching to more trains (& less planes) for the movement of parcels & using electric vehicles for deliveries.

According to their site ‘We have the UK’s largest electric fleet of any major UK parcel operator, with almost 5,000 electric vans in service today. We continue to trial other alternative fuel vehicles such as micro electric and hydrogen vehicles, as well as other delivery models – including delivery by drone!’

https://www.royalmail.com/sustainability/stepstozero/net-zero-operations

6) UK's First 100 Per Cent Sustainably-Fuelled Aircraft Takes to the Skies

The UK’s first ‘waste-fuelled’ aircraft piloted by the RAF took to the skies over Oxfordshire using 100 per cent sustainable fuel last year. Sustainable fuels using waste based fuels such as used cooking oil have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent, according to the RAF.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/uks-first-100-per-cent-200000100.html

7) Carbon Zero Fuel for Cars?

Former Formula One engineer Paddy Lowe hopes to start production of a new type of e-fuel this Autumn, which uses green electricity and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make a carbon-neutral alternative to petrol. The fuel is seen as attractive as it can be used in existing cars & passenger jets which could help reduce scrappage of usable vehicles.

https://uk.style.yahoo.com/british-lab-synthetic-petrol-race-065424482.html

8) Turning Carbon Dioxide into Cleaner Fuel

A team from University of Cambridge have discovered how to create clean, sustainable fuels using carbon dioxide captured from the air and energy from the Sun.

Passing the gas through an alkaline solution, the researchers were able to concentrate the CO2 to make it easier to convert into syngas fuel using sunlight. Adding plastic waste to the system enabled the team to create useful chemicals like glycolic acid, which is widely used in the cosmetics industry.

“This solar-powered system takes two harmful waste products – plastic and carbon emissions – and converts them into something truly useful,” said co-first author Dr Sayan Kar. 

https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/scientists-create-clean-fuel-thin-150153623.html

9) Electricity from Humidity! (Air-Gen )

Lightening over island by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have discovered how to generate electricity from humidity. The researchers claim that just about any surface can be turned into a generator by replicating the electrical properties of storm clouds. Sounds very promising...

https://happyeconews.com/the-air-gen-device-that-converts-humidity-into-energy/

10) Irish Native Bee Sanctuary

To save the bees it’s important to protect native wild bees including bumble bees & solitary bees. Paul Hendrick has set up a bee sanctuary with 55 acres of organic land in County Wicklow Ireland. They purposefully do not cater for honey bees (no hives) but focus on wild native bees using meadows, flowering weeds, wetlands + trees, bushes & hedgerows to give them places to thrive all year round.

https://www.positive.news/environment/the-worlds-first-native-bee-sanctuary-how-to-save-bees/

11) Earn Eco Rewards at Bracknell Forest

Choosing to walk, cycle or take public transport in Martins Heron (Bracknell Forest) just got more rewarding, with the introduction of new Eco Rewards QR codes around the area. Residents who walk or cycle to local amenities, such as the shops, parks, schools or station, will also be rewarded for choosing active travel routes.

The expansion of Eco-Rewards programme comes after the council secured funding through South Western Railway’s Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF). Points earned can lead to discounts, prizes, or cash-back rewards!

https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/news/2023/07/eco-rewards-expansion-martins-heron

12) Rewilding at Northwood – Nurturing Nature

The Northwoods Rewilding Network was set up in 2021 to harness the growing appetite for nature restoration among farms, crofts, smaller estates and community landholdings. Northwoods now consists of over 60 land partners stewarding 14,000 acres.

In their recent email they cited the following key points:

In 2022, Northwoods land partners planted 108,000 native trees and set aside 4,800 acres for natural woodland regeneration plus 70 new ponds & scrapes, 22 ‘leaky’ dams & 130 acres of restored peatland means more homes for wildlife and a reduced risk of flooding.

9km of new hedgerows were planted & 10km of redundant fencing removed, allowing wildlife to expand and disperse (all with the help of land partners & 500 volunteers!)

https://www.scotlandbigpicture.com/

Butterfly on Flowers by Pixabay from Pexels


What is Happening in July?

πŸ¦‹ The Big Butterfly Count is now on - Between Friday 14th July and Sunday 6th August, choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes. Then submit a record of the species you see!

An ID guide can be downloaded online or you can use their app to identify & report your findings. https://bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org/

🌞 Check out Plastic Free July – a movement that began in Australia which has since grown to 100+ million participants in 190 countries. 

Get some tips on how to reduce plastics at home, in the office or at school here at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/


Some Useful Apps For You to Try

If you’re out & about in the garden or nature reserve why not try these interesting apps that help you identify plants or bird song?

🐦 Merlin bird app helps you identify birds. I found the ‘record bird song’ element really helpful & manages to pick up bird song even when there’s traffic noise in the background. It highlights which bird is singing & keeps a record of your spottings you can refer back to later. https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

🌻 Plant Net app helps you take photos of weeds & flowers in your garden & instantly tells you what it may be (with a ranking so you can see other suggestions). I have found it to be user friendly - some weeds I have deliberately left for insects after learning more about them. https://identify.plantnet.org/

Check out our directory for lots more useful links - enjoy!

πŸ’šπŸ’—πŸ’œ

Wednesday 3 May 2023

The Carbon Cycle - Boom or Bust?

Is Carbon Friend or Foe?

Bluebells in Forest by Sarah Bignell-Howse

🌼 Carbon is a necessary part of the planet. Plants rely on CO2 for their ability to grow & the planet needs a certain amount of CO2 to trap in warmth. The carbon exchange between humans, oceans & plants is usually well maintained but with human intervention imbalances can occur.

The Carbon Cycle, A Foundation of Life

Carbon is stored in the ocean, rocks, fossil fuels & plants. In a carbon cycle, plants can absorb CO2 to survive (by way of photosynthesis) & release carbons when they rot down & die. 

Large forested areas can become carbon sinks and absorb more carbon than they release.  

Conversely, when fossil fuel such as coal, oil & gas (known as a carbon source) are burned they release carbon emissions high into the atmosphere causing untold damage to the environment, which then depletes the health of the planet & those who depend on it.

If trees are depleted by deforestation this adds to the problem of too much CO2 floating around in the atmosphere as they become less able to lock in carbon at ground level.

Land needs good peat cover & tree cover to help it keep carbon locked in. In oceans, plankton, mangroves & sea grasses can help keep carbon locked in too. When these natural environments are depleted they release carbons instead of locking them in creating the problem to escalate out of control.

An example is peat, which in good condition works exceptionally well as a nutrient rich, diverse landscape holding in both moisture & carbon. Peat bogs hold twice as much carbon as trees & are an important force in helping the battle against climate change. 

When they dry out the nutrients are lost & carbon is released back into the atmosphere. In dry poorly conditioned bogs, fires can also spread destroying the habitat & causing more damage to the environment by the release of warming greenhouse gases.

The National Trust are working hard to protect peat land areas & the government have stepped in too.

There are plans to invest over £50 million in peatland restoration as part of the Nature for Climate Fund, this will help to restore at least 35,000 ha of peatland by 2025.

According to the government, ‘In the UK it is estimated there are over 3 billion tonnes of carbon stored in peatlands, equivalent to all of the carbon stored in the forests of the UK, Germany and France combined.' 

The UK government are also banning the use of peat enriched compost products from 2024. This will help prevent the loss of this important carbon sink that has been around for thousands of years.

Did you know, the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world?

Moves have been underway to increase urban forests & encourage planting of hedgerows across the country. It’s awful to see the statistics in this BBC article showing the wildlife species being lost in the UK.

Sheep in Field Pic by thượng-nguyα»…n from Pexels

Farmers can help by changing their techniques for managing land to prevent over farming, which leads to soil depletion furthering the release of carbons into the air. 

A term called ‘regenerative farming’ may involve planting more hedgerows, rotating animal stock around different fields (so they’re not being over grazed) & planting wildflowers which help to add nutrients & lock in carbon. 

This can also encourage biodiversity in the landscape due to the additional tree, hedgerow & wildflower planting & may bring a return of our UK species most at risk.

It’s great to see that £500 million of the UK Governments £640 million Nature for Climate Fund will be dedicated to trees. 

Schools & local communities can also help by applying for tree packs & hedgerow packs from the Woodland Trust. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/schools-and-communities/

You can also do your bit in your own garden – check out this link for some tips on what you can do at home: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220610-how-to-turn-your-garden-into-a-carbon-sink

Blue Carbon - It's a Thing!

Another source of carbon sink often overlooked is sea grass. Projects have been underway to replenish much of the sea grass around British shores. This has an added bonus of adding refuge for fish & sea mammals which helps to add a diverse population. Diversity is key - if one plant or animal species dies out due to disease, others may be able to increase their numbers.

According to the Wildlife Trust ‘Seagrass captures carbon at a rate 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, and account for 10% of the ocean’s total burial of carbon (despite covering less than 0.2% of the ocean floor).’

Did you know that whales can also play a part in reducing global warming? Whale poop drops to the bottom of the ocean which leads to an abundance of vegetation helping to lock in carbon - the phytoplankton then feeds the whales in return – a win win!

Sequestering carbon & locking it into our seas is known as ‘blue carbon’. Helping to keep this carbon capture healthy is dependent on us looking after the oceans whether that be by protecting & planting sea grass or increasing whale & phytoplankton populations, they all have their part to play & so do we!  

For an in depth look at blue carbon & its various sources go to:
https://www.edf.org/article/what-blue-carbon-and-why-it-so-important

30 by 30 - The UK government have joined a global alliance of 73 countries to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030 - more in the link below: 
https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/global-ocean-alliance-30by30-initiative/about 

A Few Things Happening in May

Embrace No Mow May* – it’s a good way to let nature recover from our desire to manicure everything. 

Justin Moat, a researcher from the Kew Gardens Nature Unlocked programme quite rightly says "We need to put up with scruffy lawns!" 

I love seeing the small flowers pop up, a blast of colour sometimes – we have whites, blues, purples & yellow which is cheery in my eyes. Insects would agree.

Dandelions in Mug Pic by dagmara-dombrovska from Pexels
Dandelions for example create extra nutrients for the soil, food for bees & butterflies & you can even make a very easy cup of herbal tea.

*For more on No Mow May head on down to the link below: (it’s a good excuse to put ya feet up!)
https://www.plantlife.org.uk/campaigns/nomowmay/

Meanwhile in this year’s Chelsea Flower show – a third of the gardens will be show casing weeds!
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/apr/25/chelsea-flower-show-gardens-rebrand-weeds-hero-plants

🌳The National Hedgerow Week (8-14 May 2023) is another one to look out for this May https://hedgelink.org.uk/

Pus save 12% at our online shop throughout the month of May πŸ’š

Some terms explained

What is net zero? We can achieve net zero by reducing carbon emissions - those that are produced can be offset by planting trees, protecting peatland areas & improving the quality of the oceans, which will help to create a net effect.

Carbon negative – where more carbon is removed than created.

Carbon neutral – where the carbon emitted is offset by the amount absorbed.

Carbon intensity – a measure of how clean our electricity is (ie how many grams of CO2 are released to produce 1 kw hour). For example fuel from fossil fuels is much more carbon intensive than fuel from green energy.

dandelion head up close by anthony from Pexels

A ‘when to plug in’ app can indicate the best times to run appliances – 
for example weather is unpredictable & there may be more solar energy on sunny days or wind power on windy days! The app can help you find the best times.

During ‘high peak times’ of the day more electricity will be taken from fossil fuel supplies; running appliances at lower peak times may increase the likelihood of greener energy being used. 

Carbon sequestration – this can be biological sequestration (absorption & storage of carbon via trees & the ocean) or geological (via rock formations). We can also capture carbon using various man made methods below:

Carbon dioxide removalTechniques on the table include everything from direct air capture or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) to biochar or enhanced rock weathering. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230321-ipcc-the-rising-need-for-negative-emissions

Direct Air Capture (DAC) – removal of carbon from the air which can be stored underground or recycled. Check out some companies looking into direct air capture in the UK.

Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) – similar to above, carbon is captured within a production plant, for example in a pipeline before being stored or re-used.

Biochar – heated plant matter can be added to soil as a soil improver which enhances carbon capture & moisture retention.

Blue Carbon Carbon that is captured & stored by ocean and coastal ecosystems.

Green Concrete – building works normally emits carbon but some developments have been made in producing green concrete that may help to absorb carbon. Also plants in city areas can help cool the buildings down.

Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint totals how much carbon is released into the atmosphere as a result of your everyday activities. Check out this footprint calculator produced by the WWF.

 πŸŒ Some Useful Links Before You Go! 

Saturday 29 October 2022

Positive News Autumn 2022

 Positive News October 2022

Tree in Bubble Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Rest your soul a little by reading something positive
🌎

1.     Super Reserve in Somerset

In May 2022, Natural England announced a new 'super' nature reserve to be created in Somerset, protecting over 6000 hectares of precious saltmarsh, heath and wetland habitats, home to nationally significant wildlife populations.

The site will link six nature reserves and managed land in the Somerset levels, coast and moors and will join England’s developing Nature Recovery Network.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-super-national-nature-reserve-created-to-protect-rare-wildlife

Various Nature Recovery projects will extend across 99,000 hectares of land in total over time – this is equivalent to all the 219 current national nature reserves in England.

2.     Bee Numbers Increasing in Sussex

Community funded projects have led to an increase in bee numbers in the South Downs. Sussex residents raised £75,000 to help a young charity, Bee Lines, plant wildflower oases across the South Downs national park.

There has been a 72% rise in bees and other pollinators since the projects began.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/22/new-wildflower-havens-in-south-downs-national-park-boost-bee-numbers

3.     Large Blue Butterfly Making a Comeback

Large blue butterflies were previously very rare in the UK. During an re-introduction program, around 1,100 of butterfly larvae were released at West Country locations, with 750 butterflies successfully emerging.

It is the first time for 150 years that the large blue butterfly - the largest and rarest of all nine British blue butterflies - has been recorded at Minchinhampton and Rodborough Common (Stroud in Gloucestershire).
 
https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/53757437

It was also announced in March 2020 that butterflies have bounced back to the best levels in 20 years after a monitoring survey took place in the UK. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/51987691

4.     Bison to Help With Rewilding in Kent

The UK is one of the most nature depleted areas and to help with re-wilding the Wilder Bean project have introduced wild bison to England, for the 1st time in thousands of years. 

Their grazing can help bring light to young shoots, their poop fertilises the land and their rolling (in dust baths) can help create habitats for lizards, birds, insects and other animals.

Three bison have been initially released in Blean Woods, Kent. The wardens were delighted to find a new calf was born in September (see video below)!

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/wild-bison-return-uk-first-054502529.html


5.     George Ezra Donates to National Trust

Partnering with You Tube's Sustainability Fund, George Ezra has donated £85,000 to the National Trust which will help them plant 17,000 more trees.

The trees will create a new woodland that will lock in carbon, help reduce flooding and create homes for wildlife, the National Trust said.


6.     Fin Whales Returning in Large Numbers

A study published in July 2022 noted large numbers of fin whales in the Southern Ocean. Researchers estimate there could be at least 8,000 fin whales in the Antarctic, where they were hunted almost to extinction in the 20th century.

One group being spotted contained 150 whales - wowsa!


7.     Glastonbury Festival's Social Housing Pledge

Michael Eavis, the founder of Glastonbury Festival has donated some land just two miles from the Glastonbury festival site to The Guinness Partnership (who build affordable social housing).

The new houses, flats and bungalows will be built and equipped with heat pumps. Michael has also generously donated £275,000 to help with development costs.

https://www.positive.news/society/glastonbury-founder-digs-deep-to-build-affordable-homes/

8.     Glasgow City Emissions Continues to Fall

Glasgow City, which is historically home to some of Scotland’s most polluted streets due to traffic emissions, reported that their CO2 emissions fell by 13% since 2020 and 50% since 2006.

The Scottish Environment and Protection Agency (Sepa) said their latest statistics across Scotland follow a downward trend in emissions since 2007.

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/scotlands-greenhouse-gas-emissions-continue-171614944.html


9.     Salvaged Metal in Future Coins

A newly planned Royal Mint factory set to open in South Wales in 2023 will aim to use salvaged metals in the production of new coins. 

Precious metals (including gold) can be extracted from used mobile phones, laptops and circuit boards. They aim to process up to 90 tonnes of UK sourced circuit boards per week, to retrieve hundreds of kilograms of gold per year.

https://www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk/royal-mint-to-turn-electronic-waste-into-gold/

10.     Milestone Reached in Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Ocean Cleanup team released prototypes to skim plastics from an area in the North Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Their first ocean plastic cleaning prototype (system 001 Wilson), was launched September 2018 which collected a little over 7,000 kilos of plastic. 

The 2nd system (system 002 Jenny), was released August 2021 and has collected over 100,000 kilos during its 45 extractions, which is equivalent in weight to 2.5 Boing 737-800s - wow!



1,000 more extractions will be needed to complete the mission but they are delighted a milestone of 100,000 kilos has been reached. 

The Ocean Cleanup Team are hoping to release system 003 soon for more sweeps to take place at a faster rate (at 3 times the size of system 002).


11.     The Great Bubble Barrier!

Meanwhile, entrepreneur Claar-els van Delft in the Netherlands devised a clever plastic catching device to be placed in rivers. 

Known as the Great Bubble Barrier it uses compressed air to push up plastics and push them to one side to be collected. This will help reduce the number of plastics that make it out to the oceans!


Sun through the Trees Photo by Ray Bilcliff from Pexels

Check out our positive news section for more encouraging reads. 
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/p/lovelier-news.html

Enjoy!

🍁

Saturday 15 October 2022

Cost of Living Tips

Save Your Pennies & the Planet!

Piggy Bank Photo by Maitree Rimthong Pexels

The cost of living crisis has taken an all time high & set to get even trickier. What a tumultuous decade we've had so far, it just keeps on giving, doesn't it?

I've been reflecting on ways to save energy costs. The good news is that most of the tips below could also help save the planet just by using less of the Earth's resources.

I'm sure that many of the tips below are ones you already consider, but if I throw in one extra thing that you haven't yet tried it'd be worth me typing it all out! 

So here goes. 

Washing

Wash Less Often – I'm all for this - don't wash as often, embrace the smelly! Your best mate might not thank you for it but the planet will. 

Running hot water uses several things - electricity to kick start the boiler into action, gas to heat the water (if you have a gas boiler) and water costs (if metered) to run the water, until it finally gets hot. So washing less will save money on all 3. 

Get ya kids in the bath together, save left over bath water for plants and set a timer on showers (for those who can't get out once they're in!)

Here's a savvy tip from an eco forum poster, run the water into a jug while you're waiting for it to heat up. The excess water can be used to water a house plant. Water ultimately does get recycled, but if you get charged for each bit of it you use, it pays to reduce the run off.

Wear Clothes for Longer – If you regularly chuck rarely worn items straight into the wash, have a think and decide if it can last a day or two longer. Not only does it save on number of washes you have to do, but it can also make your clothes last longer, as washing regularly can degrade your fibres.

Wash at Lower Temperatures – I've wondered if washing at lower temperatures can really make a difference as I've always washed at 40 degrees. But lately I've started to take more notice, when I read you can save about 40% electricity, just by reducing your wash temperature. 

Washing Machine Photo by rawpixel.com Pexels

It makes sense to use full loads when you wash (forget doing little tiddly washes) and if your energy supplier charges less at certain times of the day or night, aim to do your washing then.

This web site has some handy tips on ways to save money on your washing: 
https://inthewash.co.uk/laundry-and-ironing/save-money-doing-laundry/

Plus a comparison of different brands of machine: 
https://inthewash.co.uk/laundry-and-ironing/cost-to-wash-clothes-uk/ 

(Savings may seem small but really do add up over time).

Recycle Your Water - Also known as 'grey water', consider using old water from washing up bowls, baths etc for watering outdoor plants. The RHS says that soap suds are filtered in the soil so shouldn't affect the plants too much. 

May need to avoid doing this with edible plants though in case of any contaminants. https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/gardening-in-a-changing-world/water-use-in-gardens/using-grey-water

Water Saving Devices - these devices can help cut down on your water consumption, such as the hippo for toilet cisterns and aerators for your shower. 

Some devices are free, so it's worth checking with your local water provider. 
https://www.reducereuserecycle.co.uk/greenfreebies/free_water_saving_devices.php

Cooking

Unplug Unused Appliances - Some items can continue to drain energy on standby, so consider unplugging to save some pennies. On a recent 30 Tips to Cut Your Bills program, aired on Channel 5, it was suggested that microwaves for example are just expensive clocks. I've now started to unplug mine!

Smart meters are excellent tools, so you can see which appliances use up the most resources. Switch lights to LED to make some savings on lighting too.

Boil Less in the Kettle - Most will have heard this, but boiling water in a kettle is energy consuming. Cut your costs by boiling only what you need. Some folks even use a flask and top up their cuppas using previously boiled water. I guess if there's any left you can use it to have a wash later, cool it off to water house plants or stick it in your dog's water bowl!

Baking Cakes in the Oven Photo by Cottonbro

Use Oven Less - The oven is an expensive way to cook. Heating food in faster ways is more cost effective - think stir frys, microwave meals or air fry machines. 

If you do need the oven, bake several things at once & consider batch cooking (cooking more than you need) so you can eat it during the week. Use residual oven heat to heat the room after (a good excuse to turn the radiators off!)

Left overs are a great quick meal for lunch the next day. Take it to work and use their microwave to heat it, using their electricity instead of yours!

Put your freezer to work - by storing batch cooked meals (remember to label them as once frozen it's easy to forget!) If storing cooked food in fridge/freezer, allow the food to cool down properly first. This will reduce your appliance having to work harder, trying to cool it down electronically.

They say a fuller freezer is more economical to run and stocking with frozen fruit & veg is fine, as they are usually picked & frozen quickly, meaning you can avoid food waste (as frozen food keeps longer) and still eat nutritional meals. 

If food can be defrosted, then cooking chilled rather than frozen will save on cooking times also, so remember to take it out for defrosting ahead of time.

Left over fruit & veg can be turned into homemade jams and chutneys to keep them going for longer. Check out some more great energy saving tips below:

Heating

Reduce the draughts - you've probably heard it all before but draughts will cause you to crank up the thermostat, so blocking the escape of heat you've already paid for will ultimately save ya pennies. Tips include lagging water tanks, adding extra loft insulation and placing draught excluder tape around doors and windows.

Dial it down - popping your thermostat down a couple of degrees can help with heating costs and turn off radiators in rooms where they are not needed. 

Place reflective material behind the radiator to help distribute the heat and if the radiators feel too cold or uneven, they may need bleeding to help get them working more efficiently. 

Individual thermostat radiator valves can also keep different rooms controlled as different temperature settings. 

Heat yourself up - rather than heat the whole house maybe put extra layers on yourself, embrace the warm blankie and fluffy slippers. I always find hot food warms me up, so a hearty bowl of soup is quick, nutritious and body warming too.

Puppy in Blanket Photo by Em Hopper Pexels

See this article below on six ways to keep your heating costs down:
https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/six-ways-to-keep-your-heating-costs-down-aD82Q4d0RDcQ

Buying Products

Get Cashback - consider using Cash back sites such as Topcashback for your normal purchases. I've managed to save over £400 doing this, so whether you get pennies or pounds back they really do add up. 

You get cashback on insurance, travel, home products, personal products and even sites such as Etsy & Ebay. I find their competitions and bonus cashbacks helpful too, so keep an eye out for those.

Free or Loan Products

Embrace Preloved Items - I'm always shocked when I hear how many clothes are thrown into landfill each year. It doesn't need to happen - there are so many ways to keep unwanted clothes going - donate to charity shops or place in charity collection bins (there's plenty in supermarket car parks or look out for when they next come around your street for collection).

Also place them online, Facebook market place, freecycle, eco trash forums, vinted, ebay etc etc. Or maybe have a swap party with friends.

Find a Repair Workshop - you may be able to save on the cost of buying a new item by having it repaired instead. Check out this map to find a repair workshop near you. https://www.repaircafe.org/en/visit/

If you do find your electrical item cannot be repaired, avoid placing them in the general waste. Council sites often have an electrical appliance section where items can be disposed. Check out: https://www.recyclenow.com/recycle-an-item/electrical-items.

Swap and Share Your Items - if you have an item you no longer want or need consider joining a Swap and Share group on Facebook or look up a local Eco Trash group or Items for Free Group. These are good ways to get a second hand item for little or no cost.

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Trade your Skills - maybe swap a homemade cake in return for a hair cut? Or walk a dog in return for a meal maybe? So many different ideas. 

Loan Something! - Why not check out the 'Library of Things' - a London group where folks post items available to loan - it could save you having to buy something if you just need it for a day. Check your local area for similar groups.

Find a Community Hub - if you need a moment to get warmth some community hubs are being set up by local councils and charities. You may find a community cafΓ© near you, some provide free hot drinks, low cost food, warm space and a friendly face.

Driving

Drive Lighter - extra weight in the car causes more fuel to drive so reduce your fuel costs by taking out heavy items that aren't needed. Those top boxes could be weighing you down and causing extra drag too, so if you have somewhere to store them take them off until you need them the next time.

Another tip I've never thought of doing until now is only half fill your car with fuel. Fuel is heavy, so less fuel means a more energy efficient journey. Drive more steadily too ie letting the car slow down gently (also saves on break pads) and get up to high gear as soon as you can.

Ensure your tyres aren't under inflated. Under inflated tyres can cost you £65 a year on extra fuel according to this article - lots more tips below: 
https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/know-how/30-money-saving-motoring-tips/ 

Landrover on Gravel Photo by Tim Compound Pexels

Car Pooling - if you notice your neighbour goes to the same school, workplace or shops on a regular basis as you, maybe pool together and share the driving. You can even rent out your drive these days to get some extra pennies!

Do It Yourself

Make Your Own Products - you can make cleaning and personal care products easily and cheaply too. Some ideas to get you started can be found at: 
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/p/home-made-section.html

Hobbies

Fitness - you can get fit for free by walking in the local countryside or find a local outdoor gym. This site shows some ‘fresh air gyms’ that might be near you. Or why not become a dog walker and get paid while you walk?

Consider volunteering for an eco group to help with litter picking, beach cleans or tree planting which will also help to keep you fit. Lots of ideas on volunteering can be found in our directory page.

Crafting - check out an eco trash group on Facebook for random bits you can use such as fabric remnants, buttons etc. or maybe join a local freecycle group.

Get Paid to Watch TV - Watching television of course uses electricity, but if there's a program you can't do without, then why not get paid to watch it? 

GFK Media view site lets you review your fave TV and Radio programs. You will randomly be selected to win rewards which you can cash in for a coupon to use against your favourite purchases online. I have made about £50 so far!

Christmas

Christmas Crafts Photo by Boris Pavlikovsk Pexels

Looking for an Eco Christmas? - support your local charity shop, grab their christmas catalogue or check out their online store (they'll love your support & you'll feel better knowing your pennies went to a good cause). 

Or support a local home crafter on etsy (did you know, we sell home made cotton washing up clothes and re-usable christmas crackers)? 

Maybe try your hand at making your own goodies? 

Check out Spruce Crafts for some great ideas: 

Some articles on going green at Christmas are listed below..πŸŽ„

Enjoy an Eco Friendly Christmas:
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2021/11/festive-dreamin.html
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2019/11/dreamin-of-green-christmas.html
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2019/12/less-waste-at-christmas.html
https://www.lovelierplanet.com/2020/11/how-to-have-eco-christmas.html


I do hope you enjoyed the article and thank you for reading! πŸŒž