How to keep your personal environments eco-friendly in an urban environment.

Many cities (Including Leicester) have vowed to take the sustainable plunge and go 100% renewable by 2050. As a city is built up of thousands-millions of people, this can seem like more of a difficult task, but it’s important to work together and back each other up so that cities can hit this target.

However, in a fast paced built up city, it can be hard to stay eco-friendly whilst everything else bustles around you and busy lifestyles get in the way of what can seem like second thought decisions.

When it comes to being green, we instantly think of recycling or using less packaging in general; however you could be taking things to the next level without noticing a huge change in effort!

Outside

If you have garden space, even if it is small you can help it to thrive by choosing to make that space as habitable for birds and insects as possible, this doesn’t even mean doing that much!

Fill up a soil patch in your garden using this guide to see what type of plants you can grow all year round which will help with biodiversity https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/conservation-and-biodiversity/wildlife/rhs_pollinators_plantlist, whilst also helping to boost this biodiversity by putting up small bird baths, bird huts, bird feeders and bug hotels.

Bird House – http://www.birdsandblooms.com/backyard-projects/diy-birdhouse/

Bird Bath – http://theselfsufficientliving.com/20-homemade-diy-bird-bath-ideas-to-attract-birds-to-yard/

Bird Feeder – https://www.forestholidays.co.uk/forestipedia/build-a-bottle-bird-feeder

Bug Hotel – http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/thingstodo/inaweekend/bug-mansion.aspx

You can also keep a bucket lying about for watering plants on days of drought.

Not all of us have the time to spend pruning garden plants, so if you don’t have the time to tidy up your garden everything few weeks, that works out okay too! By leaving old plants to break down, it isn’t so aesthetically pleasing, but creates a great habitat for animals and bugs, but be careful not to let dominant weeds take over as they can steal nutrients from soil, which is needed by other plants.

Inside

By growing your own vegetables and fruits and then composting them, this creates a great circle of life, giving you less dependency on shops and helping to sustain the environment. To give your plants the possible quality soil you can compost waste foods which are no longer able to be eaten by you or by a dog/ cat etc.

When keeping areas clean, use eco-friendly house cleaners such as Ecover (http://uk.ecover.com/en/) who are a cleaning products company that use natural ingredients in their products.

House plants are a great way to keep the place looking cheerful, but also for keeping the air clean. With astronauts up in space on cramped aircraft that have little oxygen supplies, sustaining air quality is important; you can find out what plants NASA researchers have chosen as the best air cleaners here – https://www.lovethegarden.com/community/fun-facts/nasa-guide-air-filtering-houseplants

Keeping recycling bins in convenient locations will ensure that you can keep on top of recycling without having to trudge downstairs; stick up some signs above the bins so that you stay on track with what to put, where. You can find out what you can recycle here – http://www.sheknows.com/home-and-gardening/articles/803396/recycle-chart

By fixing problems in the house they you can keep your house running more sustainably; add insulation behind radiators and to your windows to keep the heat where you want it to be! (Tip: by turning your ceiling fan backwards you can push the heat that has risen down again)

Out and About

Getting involved with clean-up or planting projects around town are hugely beneficial for the individual and for surroundings; this not only means that you have the chance to help keep where you live looking and feeling good an, but it’s also a great opportunity to get out of the house and get your mind focused on something that isn’t work related. You might even be able to put together your own planting project!

 

 

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Get on top of those small not-so-eco -friendly habits.

 

Thinking generally, you could probably break your life down into a number of categories, this doesn’t stand the same for everyone, but helps to identify some main groups.

What many don’t realise is that when seeking ease and comfort, expenditure increases dramatically, but can in fact create less comfort in other areas of life. By thinking about how you consume, you cut out the need for relying heavily on others and also pressures in other areas of your life.

Study

Habits

Print off as little as possible, back up files and keep them online, this reduces waste and saves time, money and trees.

By using a laptop this will also save more energy than using a desktop computer, however keep it energy efficient with continued maintenance.

Long hours in the library mean food cravings and coffee breaks…keep a flask on hand and think ahead with a packed lunch of Fairtrade treats.

Research

Perhaps factor in some environmental issues, facts and figures into your studies, and spread the message to get everybody else on board. Many don’t realise the implications of long term habits until research is carried out which shows comparative figures, by researching into this, you can teach others to cut carbon footprints with the shock factor.

Job

Office

            Offices chuck out so much waste, from paper, to ink cartridges, to electricity; however, with long term rules and habits set in place, it’s difficult to make change happen. Unfortunately, not everybody will be as environmentally focused as others; however it isn’t too hard do to just a little bit that will make a great difference…

Ensure your office uses recycled paper, and also recycle your paper and other waste. Make sure everyone switches off their computer at the end of the day, even at the wall, install energy efficient lights and use other energy efficient electrical items such as laptops and kettles.

Health

Keeping healthy by getting up and about and cutting down on things like smoking, bad eating habits and generally being a couch potato, will help to put less pressure on your body and on healthcare services.

Hobbies

Many of us have been a bit guilty of slacking off or procrastinating with a hobby that keeps us happy, for instance, playing guitar, drawing or reading a book. If you’re into reading books, perhaps you can donate the ones that you have already read and have no future plans for, and switch to a hi-tech reading method such as using a kindle.

If you like to play guitar or the drums, keep it unplugged and use less electricity.

Home

Décor

Go zero waste…reuse, make and mend, recycle, compost and give to others.

There are some really simple ways to cut down on energy usage at home, such as using a colder setting on your washing machine (30 degrees) and doing a large load on a quicker was, unless clothes are really soiled they shouldn’t need any longer than 30 minutes. Refrain from using a tumble dryer by hanging clothes outside or on a rack.

Self

            5 minutes in the shower will use around 25 – 30 litres of water. Keep shower time to a minimum and use a water efficient shower head and instantly save money on water bills.

Ensure your clothes suppliers practice fair trading and equal pay for workers, and buy second hand, pass it down or go to charity shops wherever possible http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop

Get sturdy shoes made from natural materials, which will last a lifetime and when investing make up, make sure it is natural and kind to skin, but also not tested on animals.

Food

We live in a luxury world where we can get our hands on almost anything we want throughout the year even if it isn’t in season, whether that’s strawberries, or coconut. Growing your own vegetables and fruits cuts out the carbon footprint of transporting veg and fruit from other countries and also cutting the costs that you would pay for the product itself if bought from a store. A big plus is knowing that unwanted pesticides usually used on mass grown crops won’t be an issue for your health or the environment.

If you can’t grow your own and have to buy foods in, find a local market which sells locally grown produce and use a handy cotton bag to take it home in. If you have no market nearby try to buy Fairtrade.

Social

Nights Out

On a night out, try a microbrewery, where beer is made on site, this cuts out the need for transporting the beer from other places, microbreweries tend to cut the chemicals too, which means less of a hangover in the morning. (It usually tastes better too)

Gigs, Theatre, Clubbing…

Unless the walk to the strip is an hour away, walking somewhere will always be more energy and cost efficient and will also be better for your health. If you plan to go with a friend, you can share a car or a taxi to get there, or perhaps you could just take a taxi on the way back (when you’re less coherent) and walk to the club on the way there; keep some foldable flats in your bag if you’ve had enough of the heels…http://www.scholl-shoes.com/gb_en/ballerine-flats/pb-bow-syn-w-black-3.html

Nights In

Nights in give you the opportunity to choose exactly how your night goes, this means you can choose to have the most enjoyable eco-friendly night possible.

If you’re thinking about sitting down with a glass of wine, make sure it’s from the UK or France and is boxed in cardboard; not so classy, but you can fool people by decanting the wine. This chops a large amount off of the carbon footprint, by cutting out airtime.

Get your hands on a growler (reusable beer bottles) and fill them up at a local bar or shop, this way you cut out the packaging process and use of extra unnecessary materials.

Experiences

Choose to go to a festival that is environmentally conscious this year, make sure you pack waste bags, make good use of the recycling spots and take all of your stuff home with you.

2016 – To Expect, To Do, To Aim for…

The last post was about how to be more sustainable, but we’d also like to give you a few tips on ways in which you can stay healthy, sustainable and enjoy the natural surroundings whilst you do so in the coming months.

So as we are well under way into the New Year, I’m sure some great new year’s resolutions have been made, perhaps you’ve committed to no chocolate or being more healthy and happy. If your new year’s resolutions have been focused around being more environmentally friendly here are some ways which you can stay on track with being green.

What can you expect from the New Year?

Last year saw the 2015 21st Conferences of the parties, with an agreement drawn up to keep the attending countries on track; The conferences ran from the 31st November until the 8th of December, rolling on from these, 2016 will be seeing a major shift in attitudes towards climate change…it’s time to get mean and green.

What’s happening?

Here are some notable dates for your diary this year along with some sustainable tips and ideas which to help you to keep on track with eco-friendly new year’s resolutions.

January

Burns Night, held on the 25th of January, is a traditional Scottish day remembering the works of Poet, Robert Burns. Traditions include eating haggis, drinking whiskey and reciting poems and speeches. Perhaps this is a chance to turn all of the lights off and get cosy around some candles.

‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’ on January the 17th is the most common day to break promises that you made to yourself a fortnight ago on New Year’s Day. Will you pull through and stay determined to take on those sustainable resolutions!? We’re rooting for you!

For ways to keep on track check out our previous post.

February

Go Green Week – Go Green Week is an initiative that is run by People and Planet in Universities across the UK; it runs from 8th -13th February.

Get involved or run your own Go Green Week by organising events for staff and students, you can get help with this by getting in touch with People and Planet, or you could do your own Go Green Week later on in the year.

London Fashion Week on the 19th – 23rd will see newly inspired designs from high end designers from around the world. This spring/ summer we’re in for some nature inspired trends, here’s hoping they back it up with nature friendly materials and Fairtrade fabrics.

Valentine’s Day on the 14th, is a step deeper into a relationship or perhaps the start of a new one; make sure to choose Fairtrade coffee and juice for the morning breakfast in bed and also Fairtrade chocolate for your gift explain to your partner your thought process behind buying these items and they’ll seem all the more sweeter.

By picking flowers for your loved one that you can’t plant in your garden, you’ll also be helping to create a bio diverse environment for insects like bees.

Again, this could be another chance to ditch the fake lighting and dine romantically candle lit style, remember if you’re cooking to eat seasonably and buy local and organically reared/ grown produce.

Lent is a 40 day period in the Christian calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday (10th February) in preparation for Easter Sunday.

Most people use this period of time however, to give up something that they do not need like chocolate or cheese; some even use it as a means to get the ball rolling to quit a bad habit like smoking. Perhaps this year you could make your lent experience a sustainable one, by giving up using the car or by not using the kettle and drinking water instead of coffee.

March

World Wildlife Day on the 3rd is a day organised by the United Nations, which encourages people to get #seriousaboutwildlifecrime.

Get involved by sharing the hashtag and media material which you can get access to via this link – http://www.wildlifeday.org/content/social-media-images

This Mother’s Day on Sunday 6th, why not carry on a similar theme from Valentine’s Day and give your mother some well-deserved Fairtrade chocolates and some potted flowers which of course you will offer to plant in the garden as part of the present.

We all know Easter as a time for the Easter bunny to bring us chocolate eggs, make sure you helping those who grow the cocoa beans to put food on the table for their families by buying Fairtrade chocolate eggs. You could also create an orientation style game where you have to find a hint embroiled in a sustainable fact which will take you to the next egg.

April

Planning a trip – Those in jobs will be beginning to think about booking some time off for a well-deserved holiday later on in the year. This year, why not make it an eco-holiday by choosing to fly less and cut down on your carbon footprint and stay in the UK by going on a walking or cycling holiday; you could travel around the Yorkshire dales equipped with a tent or trail along the Whitby hills and experience Gothic week!

Many communities do however rely on tourism to keep afloat, so if you’re still considering a trip abroad, perhaps make it one where you can give something back into the community by giving a helping hand and getting stuck in or by choosing an area which will benefit from the tourism you will bring. If you’re stuck for ideas, follow the link for some examples and offers http://sustainabletravel.org/     /    https://www.gadventures.co.uk/about-us/sustainable-tourism/

Or even choose a rainforest alliance hotel which ‘benefit local communities, ecosystems and wildlife’ http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/travel

Fool family and friends this April Fool’s Day on Friday 1st by taking them on a ‘nice trip out’ to actually get stuck in with local eco and sustainable projects, they’ll end up feeling great about doing a bit for the environment. You can also serve up some great and tasty foods which look and taste like meat or disguise their most hated vegetable in a pie, and wait for them to chow down before you tell them what is actually inside…you never know, it might just make them realise what they’ve been missing!

Keep on your feet this World Health Day on Sunday 7th by choosing to break those lazy Sunday habits and go for a run, cycle or walk. Make sure you follow your exercise up with a healthy hearty dinner with locally and organically grown and reared food.

May

This Early May Bank Holiday on the 2nd, perhaps you could choose to get on top of those New Year’s resolutions you promised yourself in January or you may even want to create new ones.

On the 8th to the 10th are the European Clean-up days, all over Europe and in some non-European union countries. Over the course of these days groups come together to organise mass clean-ups which aim to help to remove the waste from environments that endangers eco systems and wildlife; you can get involved by following this link to find places near you who run campaigns and projects – http://www.keepbritaintidy.org/home/481

June

World Ocean Day held on the 8th is a day of celebration for our oceans and host of sea creatures that lie beneath, you could get involved by organising a sea theme celebration to raise awareness and have fun.

It is no secret that we are currently going through a refugee crisis, World Refugee Day on raises awareness about the poor conditions that refugees have to live in a stressful situations they go through,

This Father’s Day on Sunday 21st, treat your dad to a bit of know-how about being environmentally friendly.

Here are some ideas to keep your dad engaged with environmental issues:

Create a t shirt or a mug with eco-facts that he could use or wear to show his friends that he’s interested in a good cause or take him to a wildlife park and make a donation in his name to show support for endangered animals.

July

Festival Season! This summer pick a festival which prides themselves on being green, such as Glastonbury or Latitude. Large festivals already have a huge impact on the environment so give the organisers a helping hand by taking general waste, recycling and compost bags to reduce your waste.

Eat cold foods which you don’t need gas heat to cook with and remember give items to salvage if you don’t want them anymore, this way they will be donated to people in need.

There will be more information on how to stay sustainable in further months in time, we hopes this keeps you on track for now!

Here are some other environmental dates for your diaries.

New Year, New You!

Bratislava_New_Year_FireworksWe’ve successfully made it to 2016!!

What can you do in 2016 to cut down your carbon footprint!

2015 saw a lot of climate action happening, this perhaps was not taken as seriously by our government as we’d like for it to have been, but this doesn’t mean that we as individuals can’t take it upon ourselves to work towards a greener future.

A greener future is in fact within our sights, but not yet within our grasp, however unfortunately, if we don’t start to make changes now we could see dramatic changes to our world as we know it in just…years

So what new can you do!?

Here are a few really easy things that you can do all year round in 2016 to dampen the warming.

  • Try biking, walking or using public transport to get around, or perhaps someone else who has a car and is going the same way can car share with you.
  • Put on extra layers to raise your temperature by three degrees and turn your heating down to save energy and money, and add a layer of foil to the back of your heaters.
  • Become acclimatised to outside, this will make inside seem warmer.
  • Keep healthy we don’t just mean by eating great vegetables, but eating locally and organic grown food, the food in the supermarkets is much more likely to have been grown using harmful pesticides, which can have some seriously harmful effects on your body later on in life.
  • The cattle industry is one most carbon intensive industries, with red meat and pork at the top of the ladder, cut down on your red meat intake, and opt for chicken or even try going veggie or vegan, perhaps just for 2-3 nights a week, this will not only have a huge impact on your carbon footprint but is much healthier.
  • Switch on to switching off. Turn items off when you don’t need them, especially when going to bed, check things like kettles, toasters, cookers and Wi-Fi.
  • Kettles are one of the most energy draining electrical items in your kitchen; use only the amount of water you need in your kettle to cut down on how much energy you use.
  • Wash up sustainably; do you need a full bowl of heated water to wash up with?
  • Put a lid on it! Putting a lid on your pans whilst cooking will save 85% of energy!
  • Drink sensibly, by this we mean sustainably. Wine that is from England or France and is packaged in a carton is the most sustainable way to get merry.
  • Buy foods that are in less packaging. Packaging uses tonnes of water and plastic to produce, try local deli’s and support small businesses.
  • Perhaps you could think a about installing some solar panels, which could cut your energy bills by half!
  • Know your ingredients; a lot of products are made with ingredients that are not only bad for the environment, they are bad for you! If you wouldn’t water your plants with them, it’s probably not a good idea to use them on your hair and skin.
  • Care and repair; give your expensive electrical items the care that you took at the job you worked at to make the money to buy it! Repair it if it’s broken, or give it to someone else to repair or use for parts.
  • Spread the word and try to get others on board with being green.

 

By getting on board with some or even all of these points you can reduce your carbon footprints, impact others around you and create a much wider positive impact on climate change.

If you want to take a step further, there will usually be local campaigns and groups you can get involved with to help you in your journey to reduce your carbon footprint as well as to get the word out about climate change.

Some great and fun groups are –

The Real Junk Food Project – http://therealjunkfoodproject.org/

Leicester – https://www.facebook.com/trjfpleics/

Transition – https://www.transitionnetwork.org/

Friends of the Earth – http://www.foe.co.uk/

Green Peace – http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/