Posts in "Environment" Category — Page 2

A greener lifestyle: joining Zipcar

First of all, I hope you are all enjoying a lovely Easter break! I wanted to share with you what I’ve been doing recently to help me work towards my 10:10 pledge (as an individual, and as a business too!). My family recently moved to a car-free development so when our residents parking permit ran out, we had to sell our car (and the roof box) on Ebay. This was a relatively hassle-free experience in the end (Ebay is a very efficient process if you are a seller) and we were happy with the prices we got, but the next step was worrying about how we were going to get around on those unavoidable occasions when we will need wheels.

Step forward, Zipcar. We had researched some other companies but Zipcar is the only one that currently lets you take pets on board (in a pet carrier) so it was a no-brainer for our family. Also, I caught them doing a promotion outside Waitrose, so was able to join for £25 a year plus £30 free driving time – not bad! This meant I was able to scurry home with the Zipcar card in my hot little hand ready to activate, rather than waiting for them to send it.

My husband and I then had a look at the site, logged in and booked a car for a Saturday drive to Epping Forest with the kids and Dexter the dog. The site is VERY easy to use, it allows to you select your nearest car for the block of time you want. In our area, the nearest car (they all have names, bless) was very popular and seemed to be booked out for a whole week, so we had to choose one about ten minutes walk away. This is a tad inconvenient if you have a dog in a pet carrier, but my husband nobly went and fetched it. Wow factor? If you have an iPhone, you can UNLOCK the door with it once you’ve installed the Zipcar app and make the car HONK. It’s like being James Bond, or Knight Rider or something. The kids (and my husband) love this.

The car itself was a VW Golf, which seems to be a popular model. It was very clean, our only complaint was that it smelt very faintly of smoke. Possibly someone just used it who had been in a smoky venue, who knows. You pay for petrol with their complimentary credit card, but ours had a full tank anyway, so off we sped to Epping Forest. The dog thought that as he was in his crate, he must be on his way to the vet, and whimpered all the way, but hopefully he’ll get more relaxed about this! We had a lovely walk for an hour or two, and then faced a slight obstacle – muddy boots. In our old car, we’d have just hopped in merrily and lived with the dirt. However, we had brought a towel to clean the dog, luckily, with so put the boots on this and put him back in his carrier. My husband returned the car to its bay, with a farewell honk or too.

We’ll be continuing to use this service and are very happy with it – we may not use it so much for driving out of London for UK holidays, as it works out a little less economically, but in London and around I think it will be a lifesaver. And we are saving ourselves between £1500 – £2000 a year from our old car’s running costs – it will take a lot of Zipcar trips to get anywhere near that!

How we sold our family car on Ebay

I never learned to drive and as a result cycle, use public transport and walk everywhere, but until yesterday we had a family car which my husband drove at weekends, mostly for shopping and trips to the country. Recently we moved house into a car-free development, and as a result we decided it was time to say goodbye to the car. I must admit, as I typed its details into an Ebay listing I felt a little sad. We have had some great fun on family outings in our car, it was very reliable (only breaking down once in four years) and also was a useful receptacle for boots, surf suits and miscellaneous childrens’ toys and junk. However, look at the plus side. We can join a local streetcar service for essential journeys so that we are still able to make spontaneous trips when we can’t use public transport. We won’t have to pay for road tax, car insurance or the car’s annual MOT. Financially, we will be saving hundreds, possibly thousands of pounds. And environmentally, we will be practising what we preach. I think electric cars are great (at an event I went to recently, one person arrived in a G-whiz and another in a Lexus hybrid) but they are financially out of reach for a lot of people and they still consume energy. It is possible to take steps to reduce our dependence on cars, by sharing, renting and reducing use and and by getting rid of our car I feel that my family has taken a big step forwards. I’ll be posting soon with news about how we have found the car club: we are going to join Zipcar as it’s the only service which will let us take our dog Dexter on board!

Book of Green nominated for Eco Veggie Awards 2010

I just received an email from the Book of Green, which Mimimyne is in this year (we’re going to be listed in their free iPhone App as well – can’t wait to be in an App!) and wanted to let you know that Book of Green has been nominated for Best Media/Publication at the Eco Veggie Awards 2010!

Eco Veggie Awards 2010, honour the movers and shakers of the Green, Fair Trade and veggie circles – the people, organisations and products that are making a difference right now.

Awards organiser Tim Barford from Bristol based hemp firm Yaoh says: ‘The threat of Climate Change, and the reality of poverty, injustice and environmental destruction, are there for us to deal with – this is the challenge to the generations of today. We aim to focus on the positive, not the negative, it’s the only way forward to achieve solutions, and for this reason we are honouring some of the brightest and biggest achievers on the planet.’

Book of Green said: ‘We were delighted when we discovered we had been nominated for the award. We created the national paperback eco directory last year to promote a collective set of eco/ethical businesses. We made it free to enable the public to gain access the genuine green marketplace easily. We had such a fantastic response in 09 we’ve doubled our print run to 60,000 copies for 2010, and we are looking forward to launching our free iPhone app soon’

The awards are voted for by the public and winners of the ten categories will be announced on Sunday May 30th at The Bristol Eco Veggie Fayre. To vote for favourites (including Book of Green!) visit Eco Veggie Fayre Awards

Splat Chair by Spinifex (available at Mimimyne) will feature in the Sit Down exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood

Sit Down

Seating for Kids

V&A Museum of Childhood

6 February – 5 September 2010

Free admission

When is a seat not just for sitting on? When it’s a plaything, for eating, for transport or for a quick snooze. Sit Down: Seating for Kids, the V&A Museum of Childhood’s next big exhibition on design for kids, will explore the vast array of seating used by children in their everyday lives. Taking the children’s classic tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears as a starting point, the exhibition will invite the visitor, as Goldilocks did, to consider what makes a successful seat. Is it comfort? Is it style? Is it ease of use?

Sit Down will delve into the world of children’s seating with classic and more unusual examples. After centuries of traditional seating forms following accepted design conventions, the 20th century witnessed an explosion of creative solutions to the idea of seating, including those for children. This exploration of new forms, materials, and production methods, as well as technological developments, resulted in more colourful and innovative seating designs for children. Designs by Charles Eames, Vitra and El Ultimo Grito will be on display, as well as the Modernist high chair by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld and Spotty, a 1960s paper chair designed by Peter Murdoch.

The exhibition will use the term ‘seating’ in its broadest sense, encompassing a wide range of functional and playful objects designed to be used primarily for sitting upon. This will include chairs, benches, sofas, bean bags, ride-on toys, potties, highchairs and play equipment.

Sit Down will be set out in three main sections, each asking a question for visitors to consider: What is a seat? Who is the seat for? and How is a seat made? The first room, entered through a large, medium or small doorway, recreates the feel of the Three Bears’ cottage, with an interactive dinner table where visitors can vote for their favourite chair by placing a coloured spoon in different porridge bowls. Different examples of kids’ seating will be on display.

In the next room, the exhibition looks at how seating has been adapted for wellbeing, learning, play, resting and transport, again with the objects on open display. Visitors will see how these objects have developed and modernised over time, in particular developmental furniture such as highchairs and potties, where safety and hygiene have influenced new designs. Here visitors will be able to try out different seat types to work out their function and match the seats to the different room settings that will be illustrated on the exhibition wall. The exhibition closes with a timeline from 1600 to the eco-friendly designs of the present day and the opportunity for visitors to build their own seat.

Changes in the notion of ‘childhood’ have effected design for children throughout history. The exhibition will draw from the Museum of Childhood collection of furniture as well as selected loans to explore the range of seating made for or used by children. Issues including social context, how and why styles have changed and the growing popularity of designer seating specifically created to meet children’s needs are also considered.

The exhibition experience will be engaging and multi-sensory with images and hands-on activities and interpretation for a family audience. In addition, a group of students from Bucks New University’s Furniture Design course will look at how best to reinvent the school chair, which has barely changed from its Robin Day-inspired design. And Ercol’s school chair arch, unveiled for the London Design Fair, will be on display in the Museum’s central hall.


Musical Chairs Marathon – Saturday 6 February

How quick can you sit?  Celebrate the opening of Sit Down with a hilarious musical chair challenge. In the afternoon, design a miniature chair to take home.

Sit on it!  February half-term activities – Monday 15-Friday 19 February

Enjoy stories, trails and crafts about Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Plus Three Bears Storytrail

Who’s been sitting in my chair?  Search for clues in a Three Bears Storytrail for a chance to win a goody bag.  Make a bear mask and bear chair in a free, fun, drop-in arts session.

Notes to editors

The exhibition has been designed by architects Wells Mackereth.

Sit Down: Seating for Kids opens on Saturday 6 February and closes on Sunday 13 June 2010. Admission to the exhibition is FREE. V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA. Admission to the Museum is free. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green. Open daily: 10.00 – 17.45, last admission 17.30. Switchboard: 020 8983 5200 Website:

The V&A Museum of Childhood aims to encourage everyone to explore the themes of childhood past and present and develop an appreciation of creative design through its inspirational collections and programmes. The Museum is part of the V&A, housing the national childhood collection. The galleries are designed to show the collections in a way which is accessible to adults and children of all ages.

For further PRESS information or images please contact Rebecca Ward on 020 7613 3306 or email


Image below provided by Mimimyne

Splat Eco Friendly  Childs Chair by Spinifex available at Mimimyne
Splat Eco Friendly Child's Chair by Spinifex available at Mimimyne

I had a green energy audit today from LCRN!

Today I was lucky enough to have a visit from LCRN who help small businesses like mine audit their energy use and environmental policy. They went through my gas and electricity bills and had a look around my home office to assess my energy consumption. It was a bit shaming to admit I didn’t realise my boiler had a timer function but I was proud of the fact that I recycle absolutely everything I can (garden waste, food waste, plastic, tins, cardboard and paper) and have a low energy computer and low energy lightbulbs. They will tell me my carbon footprint and then I will be working on my environmental policy with them and building up a list of targets (which will also count towards Mimimyne’s 10:10 commitment as a business) on which my progress will be assessed in a year’s time.

I am a 10:10 person!

I just signed up for 10:10, both as an individual and as a company (Mimimyne. 10:10 is an ambitious project to unite every sector of British society behind one simple idea: that by working together we can achieve a 10% cut in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2010.

Cutting 10% in one year is a bold target, but for most of us it’s an achievable one, and is in line with what scientists say we need over the next 18 months. We now know for certain that unless we act quickly to reduce our use of dirty fossil fuels, humanity will face terrible problems in the years to come. Politicians have so far failed to do what needs to be done, so it’s time for ordinary people to step in and show that we’re ready to defend our children’s futures. It’s now or never for the climate.

Recycling Week: a follow-up post about batteries and electrical waste

As promised, a quick update on battery recycling. I used a handy battery recycling finder tool I found on the web, plugged in my postcode for battery recycling and there it was, Robert Dyas in Canary Wharf. Full of scepticism, with a heavy bag of 20 odd batteries, I set off: and there was a little box outside the shop, waiting for batteries to be recycled! I put them in and the job was done. There was even a Brita Water filter recycling box, as well. I was impressed that Robert Dyas are doing this (they also sell biodegradable picnicware, boys and girls, handy for the summer months and remarkably cheap) and can’t understand why more shops don’t. Yes, it’s extra admin and cost, but it can’t be much, and think of the goodwill they gain!

I’ve also tracked down about 5 more printer cartridges (I clearly had a large collection, this recycling business doesn’t half build up clutter) and sent them off to Comic Relief. With any luck, they’ll make another £2.50 for charity. I could also have swapped them for Nectar Points at Sainsbury’s, which is an option worth considering if you’re a coupon/points hunter.

While I’m being nerdy about recycling, I should point out I was in Muji today (another store that makes an effort to recycle, minimise packaging and use recycled resources) and noticed they will take your waste electrical items from you when you buy a new one as part of honouring the WEEE directives. Here’s what their website says: “Muji are offering free in store take back so you are able to take your items to our stores. You need not have purchased the equipment from one of our stores. If you are purchasing a product from our stores just bring your equivalent waste product with you when you come to purchase a new one….The products are sent to our recycling centre for processing”. I think this is an impressive policy and I hope many other stores will take it up and what is more, actively promote it.

And another general point on recycling: not everyone knows you can recycle clothes, ie the ones that are too tired/damaged to go to a charity shop. I recycled a whole bag (mainly children’s clothes) the other day and was thrilled to find the recycle point only a few minutes walk down the road. I also discovered my local Sainsbury’s will recycle CD’s and books, which is good news. All this does take some effort and research, but it is very rewarding when you manage to find a way to reuse something, instead of just dumping it in landfill. All in all, I enjoyed carrying out my Recycle Week pledge, have definitely got rid of some clutter and even raised money for charity ( if the Nokia is worth £30, I will have raised £40.50 by my calculation – not bad!). It’s been a useful exercise, and for someone who was (I thought) quite knowledgeable about recycling, I’ve learned some new things.

Days 4 and 5 of Recycle Week

So, I managed to post my old iPod (it was a 2003 model) on Freecycle and it was taken by Sam, who is pretty sure he can fix it and is going to email me if he manages to do it. I have also contacted one of the PC recycling companies on the list, but have not heard back from them yet, so have still to complete the task of finding a new home for my broken G3 Powerbook. However, the net result is that I have safely disposed of about 20 batteries via the local council and am going to recycle 20 more at the recycling centre I found online. I have donated 8 printer cartridges to be reused and raise money for charity and a Nokia mobile phone for charity.

My thoughts on this process so far? I don’t see why ALL computer shops and electrical goods shops don’t offer recycling of PC’s and electrical goods as part of the whole WEEE initiative. It would make life so much easier for the poor beleagured consumer: and if I didn’t have access to the Internet, I wouldn’t have a clue where to take most of this stuff. My own council has very good electronic waste disposal/recycling facilities but it is only accessible at the dump/recycling centre; it would be so much easier to do doorstep collection of these things, say once or twice a year?

And why are there no financial incentives for recycling these items? I know from living in San Francisco, where they pay a few cents for glass bottles to be recycled, that people will spend hours combing the streets in order to recycle these bottles. If there was a way of rewarding recyclers, you can bet a lot less PC’s, TV’s and so on would find themselves dumped in the street or in landfill.

Buying batteries that aren’t rechargeable is clearly daft, and I’m going to stop, because it’s landing me with a waste problem. I haven’t tried to recycle them at the recycling ‘point’ – in Robert Dyas in Canary Wharf, apparently – yet and will report back when I do – does it work? Will they accept them?

And recycling print cartridges, either by refilling and reusing them, or just sending back your once-used ones, is a no-brainer and can be very useful for charities. I’m going to get a collection box to help raise funds for the toddlers group I run and suggest doing it at my sons’ school too. And I’m going to add a banner for recycling phones and print cartridges to Mimimyne to encourage other people to do it and donate to charity at the same time!

Day Two and Three of Recycle Week

Life has rather taken over at this point, as I had to take my youngest child out on a school trip all of Tuesday and take him to a hospital appointment today! However, I did have time to put an old iPod (2003 model) on Freecycle. As the iPod is broken, I can’t sell or donate it, but Freecyclers are an enthusiastic community who are often able to mend and make use of older electronical items. I’ve also posted my ancient Nokia to Recycle4charity. Tomorrow, I’m going to try and donate an old PowerBook to a charity that recycles or mends old computers.

Mimimyne last year supporting Giving World Online

Last year I was asked to be a guest speaker at the launch of a Leicestershire-based charity, Giving World Online, who put businesses in the UK in touch with charities who can take their unwanted business surplus stock or equipment and redistribute it to those in need. The charity has been a fantastic success and the founders Rama and Sujata have just been given the Leicestershire Woman in the Community Award at the Leicestershire Women of Achievement Awards 2009 – well done Rama and Sujata! It was great to meet everyone and I was thrilled to be able to speak there and talk about how businesses can be more ethical in the products they well and how recycling can keep business waste out of landfill. It’s the first time I’ve spoken in front of so many people so I was a bit wobbly at first, but hopefully this video will interest you if you want to know about green business, or recycling!