Whilst making a journey towards greener living we’ve found that we reflect on everything we buy. From picking up loose vegetable rather than plastic ones to changing the products we use which you can see across previous articles. We’ve had lovey weather recntly which mean we’ve had the luxury of drying washing outside (I know I’m a loser to be excited about this). Most of the pegs we had were either rusty, broken or a bit rotten in the case of the wooden ones. Again with my new green head on I researched into what I could buy.
I found these ecoForce pegs on ebay. Yes they are made from plastic which is not biodegradable but they are made from 93% recycled plastic. That’s less plastic going into landfill and interestingly manufacturing them from recycled rather than “virgin” plastic uses 70% less energy. They’re also made without a spring so last longer, thus less waste. They are also 100% recyclable and made in the UK. Buying local is always good when it comes to green credentials.
There are many other recycled products we have switched to such as ecoLeaf toilet paper, it turns out loo roll is responsible for mass deforestation and is one of the most wasteful products modern homes use, see more here. We’ve also changed to a recycled kitchen roll but are increasingly using reusable washable cotton cloths to reduce waste further. We use recycled sponges from ecoForce which manufactures sponge from off-cuts which would otherwise go to landfill. Ideally we’d like to find something which is biodegradable but thus far have found nothing in the UK that is fully biodegradable (w e will keep looking).
I appreciate I’ve just talked about the very non-glamorous world of loo roll, dish sponges and clothes pegs but these are all things we ALL use every day. It’s our everyday products we need to change to make big differences to the environment over time.
Do you have any household products that are green-minded? Have you made any eco-exchanges after reading our blogs? Do get in touch via our contacts page or in the comments below.
Long showers to timed showers
An average shower uses 7.75 litres per minute with power showers using 17 litres per minute. According to waterwise the average shower is about 8 minutes. This is about accurate for us. When I thought about it I realised I spend a fair bit of time dawdling in the shower. I really don’t need 8 minutes so I wanted to shorten this and searched for a solution.
I bought this handy easy to use timer from the Amnesty international online shop.
I know, I didn’t know they had a shop either until writing this article. They’ve got loads of ethical bits and bobs on there, well worth a look. Anyway I digress, the timer is really simple- you hold the respective button down for how many minutes you wish to shower and it beeps after that time.
It turns out with the pressure of knowing it’s going to beep I really get a move on. My morning shower is done in three minutes, and that includes hair conditioning. That’s 5 minutes less for Rick and I each day which is a staggering saving of 77.5L per day!
There are other things that could be done if you don’t fancy shortening your shower such as reducing the flow with a Waterwise shower head. The water is aerated thus they claim you don’t notice the reduced volume of water and could save 4L water per minute.
So there we have it short and sweet just like our showers!
A nice simple, nutritious and delicious breakfast recipe. This makes 4 huge portions if you’re greedy like us or 6-8 normal sized bowl fulls. We make a batch to last a couple of days. It reheats fine in the microwave.
150g porridge oats
40g milled linseed (optional)
1 can coconut milk
350-450mls water depending on preferred consistency
2tsp vanilla essence
2 bananas (optional)
Slick everything into a pan, slice the bananas and put them in too. Cook low on the hob stirring frequently. It’s done after 5 minutes!
Sprinkle brown sugar or maple syrup over the top and add your favourite fruit. We like ours with strawberry compote. This is simple: strawberries with a dash of water simmered on a low heat for a few minutes!
Easy-peasy and scrummy.
Shop bought to home grown
After last week’s stat filled article we’ve decided to keep it short and sweet. With everything that has happened this week we want to share with you something light hearted that you can do together as a family. It’s lovely and sunny out there which is perfect weather for a spot of gardening…
Buying any food from a shop has a carbon footprint from it’s packaging to it’s transport. You can lessen these but shopping for local, seasonal and organic foods but the greenest way to obtain food is with your green fingers!
Not only is it greener but it’s also immensely satisfying too. It’s a great way to teach little ones about where their food comes from and, in Kitty’s case, it’s great fun to “help” with the planting.
We’ve been growing our own beetroot and parsnips for a couple of years but this year we’ve been more adventurous! We’ve got a good selection in our garden of fruits, veggies and herbs. Kitty loves blackberries so we’ve planted a thorn-less bush which she’ll be able to pick at her leisure when the fruits come through.
A neighbour of ours had a tonne of strawberry plants going spare so they’ve gone into half a dozen spare pots we had.
There’s some aubergine seedlings in the porch and some sunflowers along the fence which will give us some tasty seeds to eat as well as the bees some tasty pollen. We use a lot of fresh herbs in our cooking and they are a staple in our garden. Bees and butterflies love them too. In addition we’ve created two veggie patches which have tomatoes, chillies, peas, lettuce, winter squash and potatoes all due in the next few months. Aren’t the leaves from the potatoes just beautiful? We can’t wait to sample the food!
The beauty of growing your own is you really don’t need much space. Cherry tomatoes and strawberries are happy enough in window boxes or hanging baskets. Herbs are content on windowsills (as long as you put them in a bigger pot than the ones you buy them in). You can even put herbs on a living wall as they like free draining soil. We’ve bought a patio cherry tree and pear tree which will happily live in pots or in borders so there’s plenty of options with planting whether you have a large garden, a small patio or just a window box!
I can honestly say as someone who’s been growing food for a few years, it’s much tastier coming straight from the garden and onto your plate. No matter how big or small your space is; have a go!
Meat to Meat Free
In honour of vegetarian week we’d like to delve into the reasons as to why one should consider reducing their meat intake, or stop all together.
“A meat-eater’s diet requires 17 times more land, 14 times more water and 10 times more energy than a vegetarian’s.” (Ref)
Over the last two months of writing these posts we’ve looked at little changes which can together amount to big differences. This week is a little different because this is a big change for some people but the genefits are huge. We may inspire you to give up meat with this article or even consider less meat- think “meat free Mondays.” You have the potential to make a huge difference. Here’s why:
“Animal products cause more damage than producing construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as burning fossil fuels” (Ref)
Let’s explore some of the facts together of the various environmental impacts of the meat industry.
The production of meat uses vast amounts of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. In fact according to another UN report cattle rearing produces more greenhouse gases than transportation. It produces about 9% of all CO2 produced from human activity but more significantly 65% of all nitrous oxide which has 295 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2, and 37% of Methane production with 23 times the GWP of CO2. (source UN.org).
There’s a lot of stats here but I think it is important to know the evidence, not hyperbole that one often encounters on social media. If you really love your meat you may well need a convincing argument to give it up (or cut back) and we’re hoping this is it.
Not convinced? Here’s some more facts; livestock use THIRY PERCENT of the Earth’s entire land surface, either for cattle or to grow crops to feed cattle. Land that was once rainforest, woodland, grasslands i.e. land that was once natural habitat.
Agriculture accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption. Run off from farm land causes the pouring of nutrient rich waste into the water system. If you recall from our soap nuts article this leads to eutrophication and therefore loss of rivers, ponds and lakes. The ways in which agriculture negatively affects the water supply and approaches to tackle it can be found in this very deatiled journal paper. One of the conclusions from this paper was that if we are to neutralise the effect of agriculture on the water supply would be to reduce the farm land to just 20% of what it is currently in the UK allowing the rest to undergo re-wilding. How can we feed ourselves with 80% less crops? Eat more energy efficient food. Ok so an 80% reduction is probably not feasible or realistic but a reduction is still wherecwe should be heading.
What about eating fish? There is an argument certainly for animal based protein to come from fish rather than land animals; fish are 6 times more efficient at converting feed than cattle and 4 times more efficient than pork. Efficiency means less waste. However fishing is having a huge effect on marine eco-systems. Trawling destroys the sea floor and habitat making it very difficult for fish populations to recover after fishing and over fishing is leaving larger marine life without food. Many people try to be more conscious about the fish they buy thinking about more sustainable breeds. The issue is that human appetite for seafood is growing and this can’t be sustained. The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Sofia report showed that fishing at biologically sustainable levels dropped from 90% in 1974 to 68.6% in 2013. So if everyone opts for a breed of fish that is more sustainable, it too will become over-fished and the problem continues. I found this speech from the incredible oceanographer Sylvia Earle both informative and certainly inspirational on the issue.
One last stat;
“Going vegan reduces your carbon footprint by, on average, 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year!” (Ref)
So why not give it a go? The added bonus for is as a family is that we save over £100 per month on food! Not sure where to start? Well we’re proud to announce that we’ll be sharing some recipe ideas with you on our new recipe feed as requested by some of our lovely readers! Watch this space.
This week we’re going back to the basics of environmentalism. We all know that plastic is bad for the environment from drilling of oil to plastic production to and end product that doesn’t biodegrade for hundreds of years. We all know we need to reduce plastic use, but it is hard. The stuff is everywhere.
In the UK tap water is safe to drink and used 1/3 the quantity of water to produce. Yes you read that right; 1L water requires 1/4L oil and 3L water to produce the bottle and the water inside it. Facts courtesy of Greenpeace.
Before writing this article we really needed to pin down our habits. We didn’t think we used many plastic bottles yet each week there would be a couple in the recycling- here’s what we were doing:
Most of the time we don’t drink bottled water, at home we can easily fill a glass from the tap. We were however, buying water when out and about. When we go out hiking/cycling we often remember to fill a re-usable bottle before we go, but day to day we wouldn’t always think about it. We found that if we were buying food from the supermarket, we’d just throw a bottle if water in at the till for the journey home- bad habit. When going to to a cafe we’d often ask for bottled water or juice just because we felt we should pay for a drink when buying food. There’s no rule about asking for a glass of tap water- it’s environmentally more considerate and it’s free! Even when going for a long drive to visit friend we’d stop at the petrol station and fill up with fuel and bottles of water.
We knew we needed to make some changes. One of the big things that has helped us with this is our Chilly’s bottle. By the way we’re not plugging anything for anyone here this is just the one we bought and like. It’s a steel bottle which is light weight and keeps water cold for up to 24 hours. This means that the water from the tap stays lovely and refreshing and doesn’t develop that plastic flavour bottled water does if it gets a bit warm.
There we have it, short and sweet this week? Do you like us have any bad plastic habits you hadn’t thought about until now? How do you keep your plastic use down? Thaks for stopping by.
Cows Milk to Dairy Free Alternatives
Hi, this article is not meant to dissuade you from having dairy and cows’ milk in your diet. It will show how you can cut down and by cutting down how that can positively affect the health of the planet and have a positive side effect on your health too. No dogma, just facts. This is a serious issue so we’re going to be serious for a minute.
With more and more dairy free, milk alternatives appearing on the shelves in supermarkets it a perfect time to change the habits of a lifetime and make the switch. Dairy free milk like Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Oat Milk, Soya Milk are not only better for the environment, they are better for human health as well.
I really want to avoid bogging down the article with information which can seem like anti-dairy trade propaganda, so it will only contain references to well supported studies and accepted facts about how cows’ milk adversely affects the environment, and what you can do to help that.
First, some facts about me, Rick, and my cow milk consumption.
Fact 1. Until January 2017 I drank cows’ milk, and a lot of it. I easily consumed over a pint each day and used whey protein powder derived from cows milk after long training rides.
Fact 2. The one thing I used to miss and crave the most when abroad on holiday was ‘proper’ milk.
Fact 3. As of 2017 Katey and I no longer drink cows’ milk and are both now totally dairy free. Kitty also enjoys some of the plant based alternatives. This change happened for 3 reasons:
Now for some facts about how Cows’ Milk production is adversely affecting the climate.
There are 1.8 million dairy cows in the UK. Most of them give birth to a calf each year and they all have to be fed and the farms need to be maintained using electricity, fuel and vast amounts of water. Dairy farming also means endless battles with slurry and continuous emissions of methane (one of the main greenhouse gases) resulting from cows’ digestion.
When it comes to milk itself, the chain beginning with the milking of the cows, storing and processing their milk and ending with a customer taking the finished product home, eats up large amounts of energy and fuel and is responsible for even more emissions of greenhouse gases.
The total carbon footprint of the UK dairy sector, including emissions from dairy farms, transport, distribution, processing and end use, is estimated to be 15.5 million tonnes of CO₂ per year (Carbon Trust, 2011).
Just for comparison, if you drive to and from work every working day for an average of 40km (25 miles) a day, your car’s yearly emissions of CO₂ will be around 1.35 tonnes.
That’s the equivalent emissions of 11.5million cars driving 25 miles 5 days per week.
Energy and Water Requirements of the dairy industry
Here are a few examples of the energy and water requirements and greenhouse potential of some dairy-related foods (CO2 eq has got methane and nitrous oxide factored in as CO2 equivalents):
|Food||Energy required (kJ/kg)||Emissions (kgCO2eq/kg)||Water (l/kg)|
|Beef (including veal from dairy farming)||44,000||16||15,415|
|Eggs (figures per 20 eggs)||20,000||5.5||3,265|
So, it takes on average 1,020 litres of water to produce one litre of milk, in contrast the total of 297 litres of water are used to produce one litre of soya milk (Ercin et al., 2012).
On average, cows’ milk has a CO2e emissions score of 1327g per litre. Keep that in mind.
There are negative arguments surrounding the amount of water required to grow the almonds, rice, soya, oats, and coconuts which make up the most popular milk alternatives. Whilst this is true, and soya milk is the worst offender, per litre of milk it is still less than a litre of cows’ milk, it is around 60% better. Crucially, the CO2 emissions are just not even close to that of the dairy industry.
CO2e Score for the Alternatives
1kg of rice on average generating 4kg of CO2e, you are looking at a carbon footprint of around 550g per litre. And if you purchase Rice Dream, then you are supporting a company that has an effective carbon footprint of zero thanks to their carbon offsetting scheme.
Finding the carbon footprint of soya milk was a simple process because Tesco produce their own brand versions which give the carbon on the label. The CO2e per litre is 400g, that is 70% lower than cow’s milk.
The oat milk we buy is delicious, it has a natural sweetness which tastes even sweeter when you know it takes 250g CO2e per 1 litre oat drink.
After much searching I found that Almond milk stands at about 110g CO2e per litre
Coconut milk takes only about 100g CO2e per litre. That’s because coconuts get abundant rainfall, and they’re organically grown and harvested with minimal mechanical inputs.
Hemp milk is one we have not tried. Hemp is a quite remarkable plant that grows in a great variety of conditions and because it is could rightfully be called a weed, it requires no or almost no herbicide and pesticide. And because the whole hemp plant can be used, the carbon footprint of hemp milk should be very low indeed. Based on everything I have read, hemp milk probably has the lowest environmental impact of any of these options.
How can you reduce your dairy carbon footprint?
OK, all of the above could be a bit heavy, so in a sentence you could reduce your carbon footprint by up to 145kg in a year just by using the greenest of these milk drinks instead of the usual semi-skimmed green top. This is the equivalent of boiling 2081 litres of water in an average electric kettle. Then reduce it further by having less milk in all that tea you’ve just made.
Most dairy free milk alternatives do not need to be stored in the fridge until they are opened which means your fridge doesn’t have to work so hard and that means less energy use and more money in your pocket.
Buy milk alternatives when they are on offer at the supermarket and stock up. Again, they don’t need leaving in a fridge. They are currently on offer at Booths Supermarket.
Swap your cappuccino for a flat white as it requires less milk, or even better, stick to an Americano!
Does that butter on your fruit toast really need to be so thick!?
Eat Nice Cream, not Ice Cream, it really is better! Nice Cream Recipes
Transition to Soy yogurt and other alternatives where possible.
Don’t worry about things like calcium and protein. No one in the western world will ever be diagnosed protein deficient, you will be reaching and exceeding the Recommended Daily Allowance/Intake with ease just by eating a healthy whole foods diet. And if you are worried about nutrients some milk alternatives are fortified with calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D etc.
In fact…The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 75,000 women for 12 years, showed no protective effect of increased milk consumption on fracture risk. In fact, increased intake of calcium from dairy products was associated with a higher fracture risk. An Australian study showed the same results. Additionally, other studies have also found no protective effect of dairy calcium on bone. You can decrease your risk of osteoporosis by reducing sodium and animal protein intake in the diet, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, exercising, and ensuring adequate calcium intake from plant foods such as leafy green vegetables and beans, as well as calcium-fortified products such as breakfast cereals and juices.
Further Reading with more like the above – Understanding the problems with dairy products.
You can make a difference by making small changes. See how you do!
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A couple of weeks back we went away for a long weekend to celebrate my birthday. We can never predict British weather but it can still get very cold in April so we decided to go glamping i.e. camping in a posh heated shed. We chose the National Trust Great Langdale Campsite for several reasons:
What we got was so much more. The views from our pod were nothing short of stunning. We felt very lucky to wake to the breath-taking mountains on all sides every morning.
The pod was certainly much more than a posh shed. It had a lovely quaint feel about it and had plenty of room for our beds and various bit of equipment. It was warm but not too hot and even had lighting. We made it very cosy with lots of blankets and pillows.
The campsite is divided into different areas: pre-booked areas, family areas, a section for yurts and a section in which people can arrive and pitch without booking. The pods were scattered across the site. Our pod was a short walk to the shop and facilities but far enough away that we weren’t disturbed by noise at night. Ideal what you’re camping with children.
The facilities were first rate. There was an area for laundry, dish washing and a shower and toilet block. There were plenty of showers to meet the needs of the site and we didn’t ever need to wait to use them despite the site being pretty busy. The water was heated using a bio-mass boiler i.e. renewable energy. There is also a recycling skip at the far end of the site so that glass, plastic and paper can all be recycled. We like a site with good green credentials!
In addition to the facilities there was a shop onsite which sold freshly baked bre, croissants and bacon butties for those who didn’t wish to cook their own food. It had some tinned food and also ice cream on offer- a popular option for Kitty. In addition they offered waterproof maps of local walks for £2.50.
In the family section of the campsite there was a play area. It was well away from the car park and is a very handy addition to any campsite as it distracts little ones whilst you’re trying to erect your tent/inflate air mattresses etc. For older children (and willing adults) there was a bouldering wall in which you could test our basic rock climbing skills!
We thought the campsite was great and on the first day didn’t need to drive anywhere, which was a good job given it was Earth Day. We were within walking distance to the hike up to the Stickle Tarn and to the Stickle Barn pub. The Stickle Barn pub is the National Trust’s only pub and is different to your standard pub. It feels very inclusive with activities on for children such as leaf printing and outdoor games. There’s even a menu and ‘beer’ for dogs! Even though the sun was shining we still appreciated the warmth from the outdoor fire. The menu had a good variety of vegetarian, vegan and meat dishes. This is something we don’t often find so was an unexpected bonus.
We had a truly fantastic weekend relaxing at the site, hiking and eating at the local pub. On the last day before heading home Rick had the small task of a 70 mile bike ride finishing on the notorious Hard Nott Pass.
We’d definitely recommend Great Langdale Campsite and the area of Great Langdale to visit. The Lake District is probably my favourite place in the world and I feel very lucky to live nearby. Watch this space for more Lake District adventures! Do you have a favourite walk in the Lakes, or a favourite area to visit? We’re always keen for new adventures so do let us know in the comments below.
Time flies doesn’t it? Week five already in our eco-exchange challenge and we’ve changed our toothbrushes, washing detergent, water supply for the garden and what we do with our food waste. Now we’ve turned our attention to products we use in the kitchen. When fighting climate change we think about the thee R’s;
Where possible recycling paper, cans, plastic and kitchen waste with the help of our compost article. Also think about buying products made from recycled materials or those products which are more easily recycled.
This looks at lessening the amount of products you buy, either by looking at buying things with less packaging or avoiding buying things you probably don’t need all together such as bottled water- tap water is fine in the UK!
This is where our latest eco-exchange comes in. Yes we are already re-using shopping bags, and if you’re not it’s time to change, but we need to be re-using more and more things in life.
In the kitchen we avoid wasting food. If we haven’t used everything then we store it to use in further cooking or, in the case of leftovers, as lunch the next day. By re-using food we reduce waste- two R’s in one!
The problem then comes as to how we store the food. We often wrap an onion in cling film to use the next day or cover a dish with tin foil ready to re-heat for a meal the next day. The film going into the bin and the foil for recycling. There must be a better way right? There is and it’s called bees wrap.
Bees wrap is a washable, reusable ad compostable alternative to cling film. It consists of organic cotton coated in tree resin, organic jojoba oil and bees wax. It is simply wahsed with cool water and soap between uses and good to go again. It can be used for up to a ear and after that it’s simply cut into strips and tossed on your compost heap. Every ingredient is sustainably sourced and even the packaging is plastic free. Yippee! You can find more information about the sustainability here.
So we ordered a three pack of large wraps and arrived in rather stylish paper packaging.
We immediately put it to the test with dinner that night. The usual left over half onion, easily wrapped and popped it into the fridge. It was completely fresh the following day for dinner and good to use. Then followed Kitty’s usual half mango. Again still lovely and juicy the next day. The stuff works hurrah!
Another small step towards plastic free living. Hers’s our 5 tips for eco-food storage:
We all like to idly gaze into the fridge to look at what’s on offer but it lets the cold out and the fridge light is on. Some sources suggest it could cost £18-£36 per year in extra energy. So stop it you naughty gazers!
Instead of recycling or, heaven forbid, binning glass jars, wash them out and use them to store food. Useful for left over soup, diced veg and anything else you can fit in. This helps to reduce your waste but also reduced the need for plastic tupperware.
Of course it is convenient to go to the shop and buy food for the week rather than make repeated trips, plus that saves on petrol too. But food is often wasted because we buy so much more than we need each week. We find planning recipies for the week and buying just the ingredients we need saves on a significant amount of watse. Buying without a plan often means some things don’t get used and we don’t like waste…spotting a theme here?
Not everything needs to go into the fridge. Unopened cartons of juice, eggs, most vegetables, bread, butter if eaten within a timely manner will all happily store in a cupboard. For every extra item in the fridge more energy is required to keep it cool so keep it to a minimum.
We can’t very well write an article on the marvelous stuff and not put it in our five tips now can we? Take a look at their website, they’ve got lots of lovely designs which will be out soon.
We hope you find these tips useful and feel inspired to see what changes you can make. Do you have any kitchen energy saving tips you’ve tried? As always please get in touch.