Posts in "Environment" Category

This blog is in the Top 20 Green Bloggers list from Greenmatch!

The other day I had a notification from Facebook to say that this blog had been added to a list of Top 20 Green Bloggers by the green energy quote comparison site, Greenmatch. It’s great for this blog to have this recognition, as I’ve been writing about sustainability, green design and technology  for a long time, and I was delighted to find the blog listed alongside so many others I respect. It’s also made me think again about whether or not I should shut down the blog now that Mimimyne, my online store for children and families, has ceased trading.

I closed down the store as now I am working in digital marketing (currently for the amazing charity Teacher Support Network) I don’t have the time necessary to run an online business.

But I think readers of this blog are still interested in knowing more about green technology, design and initiatives to help improve life on our planet generally, and I know I am still interested in writing about them! So I’ve decided to relaunch this blog, with a fresh new look, in 2015. I’ll be writing about things that interest me, anything from apps to recipes, with a particular interest in sustainability. I’m interested in ways to make greener lifestyles easier and more accessible for everyone.

Top 100

Think Act Vote ?!X launch their new book,The Future We Choose, on Wednesday 25th July

The-Future-Is-Beautiful-Front-CoverNow is the time to create the new future we choose for the World.

As we stand in 2012, many of the ideologies running our world systems have failed. Some of us fear there is no other belief system that has enough strength behind it to succeed. Yet, we have a plethora of solutions and ideas amongst us that could lead to a brighter future, argues Think Act Vote in their book ‘The Future We Choose’.

Now is the time to create the future that we choose for the world. New book launched by Think Act Vote (?!X) shows us how.
The Future We Choose brings together over 200 forward thinking voices, from the general public mixed in with those well known, from fashion designers to historians, campaigners to presenters. Here they share the vision of the world they want to live in with their ideas of how to create it.
The book revolves around ‘The Futures Interview’, which also asks for a Future Soundtrack and five all time favourite weblinks. Launched by radical think-tank Think Act Vote (?!X), it was founded to create a new conversation around democracy and how we create the future we choose.

‘An idea that could send a transforming fire to the future.’ Ben Okri, Author and Poet.

The Future We Choose features contributors including Wayne Hemingway, June Sarpong, Kriss Akabusi, Katharine Hamnett, Lynne Franks and Dan Snow sharing their answers to these questions. It is a personal, political exploration of what we value, and how we can live these values in our every day lives. It aims to provide a space for the reader to stop, think about the world they choose to live in and how we then create it. Input was gathered from music festivals, social media and the corridors of parliament. It ends with an afterword by campaigner and activist Sam Roddick, who poignantly encourages us to believe that anything is possible.

The project began with a fashion design competition back in 2010 in the run up to the UK general election. Think Act Vote founder, Amisha Ghadiali said: “If politics were a fashion brand, you wouldn’t wear it. We want to use creativity to create a community around the choices we make for our future.”

The book was previewed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the Rio+20 Earth Summit with an event at the Hub Culture Pavilion. In the UK, it launches officially on Wednesday 25th July with an event at The Arch Gallery in East London. This will bring together many of the contributors for an afternoon of talks, workshops and live music.

The Future We Choose is supported by a variety of people including Tim Smit from The Eden Project who said, “I feel a new form of democracy stirring and it is exciting and vital. Go make a difference I say. Read this book and start now.”

Want to find out more? Come to the Future We Choose Event on Wednesday 25th July – I will be reading from my entry in the book! The book will officially go on sale on the 25th July in the Think Act Vote Bookshop.

Update to this post: the book has now been reissued as The Future is Beautiful. You can download it as a free ebook or order it here

Time for the whole family to turn green

Good Energy, Wind Turbine
Good Energy, Wind Turbine

If you want to make a lasting impact on both your children and the world, going green is the way to do it. Transforming your household into a “no-waste” zone as well as reinforcing the importance of an environmentally sound way of life is a change that could benefit your family for generations to come. Are you wondering how you can get on the green train and then bring your family onboard? Keep reading to find out.

Going green: the basics

The great thing about making the decision to live a green lifestyle is that it is now so easy to do. Going green may mean more than separating your aluminium from plastic, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a hassle. Here’s where to start.

1. Energy-proof your home. The best place to start when going green is saving energy at home. Make small and inexpensive instalments such as fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow shower heads that save water, and a programmable thermostat that automatically shuts of the heating and cooling. These changes take only minutes to do but could bring your energy bills down significantly over time. There’s no better investment for your time or your money!

2. Start cycling to work. If you use a bicycle as your main mode of transportation, you can cut your carbon emissions to just a fraction of what they were before. You may also save on doctor’s bills; people who get regular exercise have fewer health issues and experience less sick days over the course of their careers. Cycling can also become a fun family activity that the kids can involved with when they are old enough. Plus, it’s free entertainment.

3. Switch to green electricity. Using renewable, sustainable power sources is one of the greatest impacts you can make to reduce your family’s carbon footprint. Luckily, green energy doesn’t have to entail installing solar panels or wind turbines on your family’s property anymore. You can go green (and stay on the grid) with a simple phone call to your energy provider to tell them that you want to switch. Research some renewable energy companies such as Good Energy, and then make your move.

4. Hydrate from the tap. Instead of throwing away thousands of pounds each year on bottled water, get your hydration from filtered tap water. Not only does this save you time and energy (no more driving to the supermarket to pick up a new case of water), but it also reduces plastic waste that takes generations to break down.

5. Eat green. If you come from a family of meat lovers, consider reducing your animal intake to just once or twice a week. This will give you the chance to try out some new and interesting recipes as well as the opportunity to infuse your family’s diet with more vegetables, fruits, and grains. For these items, consider shopping at local farmer’s markets so that you have the benefit of knowing exactly where your food is coming from and how it was raised. Eating local also cuts down on the carbon emissions that it takes to transport foods across vast distances.

6. Hold off on that upgrade. With a newer, faster version of every smart phone and personal computer released every month, it can be tempting to want the latest and greatest. But if you keep your electronics for longer periods of time, you can cut the amount of harmful chemicals that go into the trash along with them.

At its very core, green living is all about keeping it simple, which is a principal that works well for families. These tips are just the beginning, so find more ways to live green as you embrace the lifestyle!

Sponsored post by Leo Fisher

Mimimyne won the Greenest Trader 2011 Award from the National Market Traders Federation

Tabitha in Spitalfields Market with her award for Greenest Trader 2011

I had some wonderful news this year when I found out I had won an Award for Greenest Trader 2011 given by the National Market Traders Federation, the oldest trade body in the UK for market stallholders. I regularly run a stall at the famous Old Spitalfields Market on Sundays – it’s where the old fruit and vegetable market used to be, and I remember visiting it in those days when I was growing up in Spitalfields in the early 80’s. It’s a wonderful market to trade in as well nowadays as it’s enclosed, bright and spacious, has very enticing food stalls and restaurants and lots of exciting events and activities going on. The other stallholders are great fun and sell all kinds of interesting products, especially handicrafts, jewellery and clothing. I won the Award because of the nature of the products I sell and the fact that I transport my goods by bicycle – no carbon emissions there! I wasn’t able to go to the Awards Ceremony so the award judges were kind enough to visit my stall and present it to me in person this December: thanks again to the NMTF for doing that!

It’s Recycle Week 2011!

It’s Recycle Week in the UK and it’s a great time to revisit ways to help the environment and put a bit less strain on it by reducing, reusing and recycling. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I’ve been doing and plan to do this week, and some tips and ideas to help you cut down on waste.

I’ve been recycling batteries at my local Tesco; there are so many more places where you can do this now and it’s only a five minute walk for me to drop them off! The other thing I could do is cut down on the amount of batteries I use in the first place, I am thinking about buying a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries to reduce my impact on the environment.

I’m going to make a final decision about whether to get a wormery or a composter this week and buy one. My local council subsidises both so it’s really a question of whether I can face up to wriggly worms or whether it’s better to have a composter, even though my garden is very small. The council used to pick up my food waste from my previous address, but sadly does not provide this service where I live now.

I am going to recycle some clothes (too knackered for the charity shop) and a broken electric kettle. RecycleNow has a great list of retailers who will recycle old small electrical appliances but none of them are near me so I will be making a trip to my local recycling centre.

I recently recycled two mobile phones and was paid £45 for them – it’s so worthwhile. Mobile phones that go into landfill are toxic and are also a waste of the expensive hi-tech components that are used to make them. Recycle yours, donate them to charity or get money for them – it’s a really good idea! There are plenty of sites out there which will help you get your old mobile phones recycled, try this tool from Money Saving Expert to compare them.

I’m also using a Kindle to read books. This is great for the book club I attend as I don’t have to run around book stores looking for books at the last minute, I’m finding it hard to kick my newspaper habit though, even if I can read a newspaper online it doesn’t feel quite the same. If I do buy a paper, I recycle it (of course!) but cutting down on my newspaper and magazine purchasing is going to be hard. I’m also going to donate some books to a local charity to clear some space.

There is lots more information about how you can help the environment during Recycle Week at their website Recycle Now. You can also use the widget below to find out more tips about recycling in your area!

Find out what you can recycle at Recyclenow

Organic Clothes

The term ‛organic’ has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, from food to clothing. But what does it mean and do organic products really live up to the hype? Organic clothing is becoming more and more readily available and many parents are choosing it for their children, but is there actually a benefit?

To be certified organic, neither the growing nor the manufacturing process of clothes can use any harmful chemicals and none of the plants can be genetically modified. Cotton is one of the most common fabrics used to make baby clothes, however cotton production is one of the most chemically intensive processes in modern agriculture; because it is not a foodstuff there is no restriction on the amount and type of pesticides and herbicides used on it. Manufacturing cotton into fabric also uses thousands of tons of chemicals such as bleach, which in some cases can be poured back into the environment.

The result of this is that up to four kilos of chemicals can be used in the manufacture of just one t-shirt. But these chemicals do not just affect the environment – they can also damage the wearer, especially if that wearer is a baby. A newborn baby’s skin is thinner and more porous than an adult’s skin, so absorbs these chemicals more readily. From conception to age three is when babies’ bodies and brains grow the fastest, making them even more vulnerable to environmental toxins, which can stay in the body for years. Moreover, babies’ delicate skin is more susceptible to skin allergies, which can be caused or irritated by the range of herbicides, pesticides, chemicals and dyes used in the manufacture of clothes. Organic clothing is hypoallergenic and does not contain any harmful chemicals or toxins.

The amount of chemicals used to process traditional fabric also mean that it is less durable. Conventionally produced cotton is bleached, softened, dyed and coated in chemicals in production, all of which weaken the fibres and mean that a garment will begin to break down after 10-20 washes. The production of organic fabrics results in a product which is much more resilient, although no less soft and can withstand up to 100 washes before it starts to break down – especially important for messy babies!

Despite all these benefits, organic clothing is still seen by some as unstylish and boring. However, this is no longer the case. Organic clothing can be made from many different materials such as wool, cotton, hemp, soy and bamboo, so it is available in a wide range of styles and designs. And it is not all beige, either : safe dyes made from natural sources in a whole rainbow of colours are used to make organic clothing as colourful as any other clothing you could buy. Pregnant fashion is only one example of this new stylish organic clothing for babies.

To some, organic baby clothing may seem like a fad, but those who choose it can be safe in the knowledge that they are saving money with more durable items and protecting their baby from harmful chemicals and toxins in their clothes. The modern world is full of damaging pollutants, but organic clothing is one way that parents can protect their children.

(This is a Guest Post from Yummy Mummy Fashion)

This Sunday is 10:10:10! How Mimimyne is joining in the celebrations

10:10:10
10:10:10
This Sunday is 10/10/10, the tenth of October 2010. This is the date that many businesses, including mine, have pledged to achieve a 10% reduction of carbon emissions. My business is home-based, and I’ve done a lot this year to achieve my target:

  1. Mimimyne has switched the office energy supply to to 100% green energy with Ovo
  2. Mimimyne has moved to a new build home office which has a great energy efficiency rating, insulation and double glazing
  3. Mimimyne has been audited and accredited by Carbon Smart 2010 and set up a new energy saving action plan
  4. Mimimyne has installed a PowerDown energy plug to turn off all computer peripherals when the PC is turned off
  5. Mimimyne now uses only bicycles or Streetcar for personal use and only bicycles or public transport for business use
  6. Mimimyne uses reclaimed or vintage office furniture and has low energy lightbulbs throughout.
  7. Mimimyne uses recycled and if possible, recyclable packaging whenever possible. All business stationery is printed on recycled paper

Mimimyne has some outstanding items on our energy saving action plan, including installing an energy monitor and composting. However, I hope to work my way through these by the end of 2010 at the latest!

For my low-carbon lunch celebration, I’ll be roasting a Sunday lunch of UK organic beef with UK grown vegetables (I’m afraid my local sourcing didn’t get much further than my local Waitrose, but the Essentials range restricts itself to only UK farmers and producers who are accredited by LEAF and are committed to protecting the environment, which is great). I’ll also make apple crumble with home grown apples from my mother’s apple trees: you can’t get more local than that! I’ll post a picture tomorrow.

10.10.10 is also my tenth wedding anniversary, so it’s be a very memorable date for me!

Days 4 and 5 of Zero Waste Week

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I got a little behind on posts, so this will be a roundup! On Thursday I had a sandwich at the gym, as I hadn’t packed a lunch. For dinner, we had steak with left over baked potatoes, reheated. I cleared out my kitchen cupboards and found a truffle  I brought back from Italy so we ate some of that with the steak. We are not a vegetarian family, however I aim to have meat free days two or three times a week as I know that this is a more sustainable lifestyle. We also mainly buy organic meat.

On Friday we had our planned supper, lamb tagine and couscous. We still haven’t eaten our beetroot and cauliflower, do these need to be cooked today, and I am also going to try and pickle the fish!

What have I thrown away this week? A third of a loaf of bread which had gone mouldy, some grapes that had gone brown. I think this is definitely less than usual and menu planning has helped. It has made me think strategically about what needs to be eaten next and I think I have saved money by sticking to my list.

I have also been round to my mother’s house and was given two pots of her home made jam! I would love to make jam myself so once I have tackled the chutney, I am going to try this. Personally, I love cooking but find certain areas (baking, preserves) a bit challenging, perhaps because they involve measuring ingredients. Learning these skills would be fun and perhaps would tempt the children to try some new recipes!

Day 3 zero Waste Week

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We had fish pie last night using my mums recipe (she is the author of the Paupers Cookbook and taught me all I know about food!). This used up our home grown tomatoes and some frozen prawns which had been lurking for a while). I fried the beetroot leaves in butter with peas, they are delicious cooked this way).

Tonight we are having a frittata, essentially a fat omelette you cook in the oven. I substituted the grated courgette in Abel and Cole’s recipe for rocket which I had in the fridge and was getting close to its use by date. I also left out raisins, as I don’t think they would work.

I have discovered some frozen sardines lurking in the freezer so am going to try pickling them and have bought some pickling vinegar. I am also going to try and make chutney from some unripe green tomatoes from our home growing efforts so I will be using vinegar for that as well. Recipes coming soon!

Zero Waste Week starts on Monday 6th September!

National Zero Waste Week

It’s Zero Waste Week and although in my case that clashes a bit with “Back To School” week, I’m going to be making an effort to cut down on family food wasting this week. Firstly, I’m going to use my Google Calendar meal planning system to keep a beady eye on the family food shop. This is a great tip I got from Simple Mom. I don’t want to restate everything on the Simple Mom website, but essentially you set up a separate Google Calendar from your usual one and set each meal as an “Event” to recur every 2 weeks. I put the URL for the recipe (if I’m using one, there are a few dishes I could probably cook blind fold by now) in the Where/Location field and the text of the recipe in the Notes section. You can then email yourself reminders of what you’re cooking each day.

Why do this? The basic reason is that having a menu plan eliminates waste. If you know what you are going to cook for the week, it is a huge help when doing your weekly shop, stops you ordering too much food (and having to put it in the bin or panic eat it before it hits the use-by date) and helps you keep an eye on whether you are cooking nutritious food for your kids. You can plan things sensibly, for example if you are cooking chicken every second Sunday, you know you will have chicken stock and so make sure you have the ingredients for risotto, soup or whatever you usually make with it. I have now saved my shopping list for each scheduled week in my Ocado account, so all I have to do is bring up “Week 1 Shopping List” in my account and add all the items straight away when doing my shopping online. If you use Epicurious and some other recipe websites, you can also email yourself a shopping list.

Secondly, I’m going to try and use up everything in my store cupboards for non-planned lunches etc. I don’t menu plan for lunches so I am often tempted to go out to a cafe (very easy if you work from home and get fed up of the same walls) but this week I am going to concentrate on using up old ingredients and taking out packed lunches if I go out using leftovers.

Thirdly, I’m going to either see if I can persuade the council to pick up my food waste recycling (they used to at my old address) or get a bokashi bin or wormery that will fit into our small back garden.

I’ll let you know how I get on!