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


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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!’

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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!

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!)

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.

🌞 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

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.

🌻 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.

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


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.

You can also do your bit in your own garden – check out this link for some tips on what you can do at home:

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:

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: 

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!)

Meanwhile in this year’s Chelsea Flower show – a third of the gardens will be show casing weeds!

🌳The National Hedgerow Week (8-14 May 2023) is another one to look out for this May

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.

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!