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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

How do you charge your mobile phone?

Ofcom report some interesting findings in their UK Communications Market Review 2008.

The report tells us that :

"Although nearly three-quarters of consumers (72%) say that they care about the environment and take it into account in their personal lives, only 39% say that they compare environmentally-friendly aspects when purchasing communications devices."

The report suggest this may be because less than a third of consumers think it is easy to compare energy use of different devices. Ofcom say that Energy Saving Labels are an important way of trying to improve customer knowledge about efficiency, but 50% of consumers say they are not aware of energy labels.

The report says that " only 30% are aware of the obligation for retailers to take back and recycle old equipment free of charge when purchasing a new device under the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive, and only 7% appear to have taken advantage of this."

Source: Ofcom (2008), UK Communications Market Review 2008: Interactive Key Points available at:

Their findings also show that many consumers use unnecessary power by charging their mobile phones up overnight, not switching off broadband wireless routers when they are not in use, and not switching off Television set-top boxes.

I try to charge my mobile phone in the car using energy produced as a by-product. My children tell me they no longer charge up their phones overnight since they realised how much energy this wastes. However, my first New Year's Resolution for 2009 must be to turn off my router. Next on my hit list will be the Sky Box. Problem is I don't understand how it works – how many of us say that though, and it is no excuse. So 2009 will be the year in which I find out exactly when the Sky Box needs to be on and when it doesn't. It is not going to rule my life anymore – I will pull that plug.

Have a look at this:

Ofcom UK CMR 2008 Charts
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ofcom uk)

Friday, 12 December 2008

Stocking Fillers


I was thinking about Stocking Fillers this Christmas.

It is fun to open lots of little Christmas presents in our Christmas Stockings. Like me, you are probably being bombarded with emails about cheap stuff you can buy your loved ones this Christmas.

I am going to think about one thing when I buy my stocking fillers this year: where will the stocking fillers end up?

If it is something that will provide 5 minutes of fun and can then be passed on and on and on, then I guess that's ok. But is anyone going to want it? Is it really just going to end up in landfill by the end of March? Perhaps it will go via the Charity Shop in an attempt to appease your conscience – but landfill is landfill, rubbish is rubbish.

Have a look at The Story of Stuff!

I think these would make good stocking fillers though:




Friday, 5 December 2008

All Wrapped Up

I'm sure lots of people have been out buying Christmas cards and wrapping paper this week.

I like the range at Oxfam.

What I like about it most is that it is made from recycled materials and can be recycled again after use. The clear label tells me the wrapping paper I chose was made from 100% recycled paper. It also asks "When you have finished with this wrap please recycle it."

The Christmas cards told me they were printed on 50% recycled paper and FSC sourced wood pulp. What is more, the packaging is scant but robust with no plastic wrap.



Monday, 17 November 2008


It costs nothing to take your litter home.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Freecycle It

Freecycle is a great way to turn your rubbish into someone else's treasure. Found at this Internet based group has local branches so that people can give away unwanted items in their local area. In the past year I have parted with off-cuts of lead flashing, a big box of outgrown art materials, some large plant pots, a spare kettle, some black paint, a rickety pasting table and an old Dyson that I had stopped using because it was too heavy for me.

I have also parted with a television which although it worked some of the time, it didn't always turn on straight away. No-one in my household had the skills to fix it but someone locally who didn't have a television, gratefully picked it up from me. He thought he might be able to fix it, but even if he didn't he felt it would be better than nothing. We had been using it for over a year in the same state. Why would someone want to take on something that doesn't work?

Well, firstly, some people have the skills to fix things. Some people love trying to fix things even if they don't succeed. Some people just don't like the "I can't afford it at the moment, so I'll buy it on credit" culture.

The first television I owned was given to me by a work colleague who was getting a better one. This television also cut out at odd times. We used to joke that it would wait until the most dramatic moments to switch off, but we still used it for three years and then gave it away to someone else.

So before you bin anything at all, it is worth considering whether someone else may be able to make use of it. I have seen requests for old carpet for allotments, broken electrical items for spare parts, and amazing array of weird wants for fancy dress parties or theatre groups. There really doesn't seem to be anything that can't be re-homed this way. (Oh, except naughty children!)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Last night’s curry

I used to be one of many who felt the need to plan every meal for my family. I thought that in doing this I would make sure I only bought the food I needed, so saving money and saving waste. But I have come to realise that I can take an extra step.

Even though I planned meals, tried to only buy what I felt we needed in the quantities we needed it, I still found that I would end up wasting a shameful amount of what I bought. It is all very well carefully storing your leftovers in the fridge or freezer, but what is the point if we are just going to throw it away a few days, a few months, a year later?

I now plan into my week at least two 'unplanned' days. These unplanned days are the times when we will eat up leftovers, use up something from the freezer or get creative with anything that needs using up before it goes out of date.

The Lovefoodhatewaste website tells us that if we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 5 cars off the road. I like the sound of that. I also like the fact that in times like these, when everyone is saying their food bills have rocketed, it is a great way to save money too.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The humble sandwich

I was on a course today and arrived early in order to help someone with a computer problem. In return for my help he offered to buy me lunch. It felt rude to refuse and besides, even I will admit , it is not very hip to eat last night's leftover tea served out of an old ice cream tub in public. So I accepted the invitation and we went to Marks and Spencer for sandwiches (this was a working lunch).

I noticed that all the sandwiches were packaged in cardboard with a cellulose window made from 100% natural plant material.

Having eaten our sandwiches I folded my sandwich packet flat put it in my bag and suppressed the blush when my colleague commented on my 'strange' behaviour. I explained that I would take the packaging home to compost it.

Composts need a combination of green material, such as kitchen waste and brown material such as paper and cardboard so the sandwich package makes a good contribution to my compost heap or my wormery.

Before putting the packing in my compost caddy I read the recycling information and noticed the website link which gives lots of useful tips about recycling and composting, including how to set up your own office recycling scheme.

Monday, 13 October 2008


Did you know that you can use the water from boiling eggs for watering your plants? The water will contain valuable nutrients from the eggs that the plants will appreciate.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Recession Buster

In an attempt to reduce the number of miles we travel taxiing our children to and from their afterschool activities we decided to eat out in the hour and a half we had between dropping off one child and picking up another. So we picked a nearby hotel / restaurant which we knew did good, reasonably priced food.

When we checked with the landlord if he was serving food the reply was 'sort of'. He went on to explain that he really wasn't busy enough on a Monday and Tuesday evening to employ a chef so there was just him on his own to do everything. So he had set up a new initiative. On Monday and Tuesday nights he was serving what he called a "builders' supper" for the overnight guests. His guests would 'get fed' but they would 'get what they were given' so on the Monday night he had served cold beef, cold pork, bubble and squeak and salad to use up the meat and veg left over from Sunday's carvery. Last night's offering was spaghetti bolognaise served with garlic bread and it was going to be ready in fifteen minutes. Perfect! The upside for his guests was that it was just £5 a head. "And that," he said. "... is my recession buster."

Out came two large bowls – one of spaghetti, one of bolognaise - a smaller bowl with freshly grated parmesan and a bread basket piled high with garlic bread. The plates were in a pile by the side and everyone helped themselves to what they wanted and went back for more when they wanted. Delicious!

With the price of fuel these days and the hike in food prices I thought we probably couldn't have driven home and back and cooked spaghetti bolognaise for much less than £10. With the spotlight we've had earlier in the year on the 4 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK every year initiatives like these should be praised. Next week I will probably be eating pasta salad served out of an old ice-cream tub in the car reading my book, but I think before long I'll be back for a builder's supper.

Read more about food waste.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Bags more

When I went for a swim today I thought about how many people take a new plastic bag for their wet swimwear each time they visit.

I used to find that I was forever forgetting to put the plastic bag back with my gym bag. I had to make a conscious effort to think about putting the bag back each time, but I'm getting there!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Bag that news spot

From today Sainsbury's are removing their free plastic bags from the checkouts in the hope of encouraging bag re-use. Read more

Back in February this year Marks and Spencer introduced a 5p charge for plastic bags for their food shoppers.

Most supermarkets offer the 'Bag for Life' plastic bags which generally cost 10p the first time you buy one but can then be replaced for free when they wear-out.

I guess the problem is the spur of the moment purchases when you are out and about and just think of something. I always carry a couple of the old style carrier bags (because they fold up so small) and a 'bag for life' in my handbag. Each time I unpack the bag it goes straight back in my handbag. It has probably taken me about six months to get properly in the habit of doing this but I feel all these little changes in habit add up.

Supermarkets are now also giving customers loyalty card points for bag re-use. It pays to remember your bags.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

500 Trees

I read recently that it takes 500 trees to absorb the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted when a PC is left on all day over the period of a year, so switch it off when not in use.


So many people leave their computers on when they are not using them because of the amount of time it takes to load them up when they do want to use them.


You can cut down the amount of time your pc takes to load by having a good look at what you are loading automatically at startup. Many computers load more than one virus checker, when just one is sufficient - even if you want to have another one available it doesn't have to load every time you switch on. Do you really need to load MSN or iTunes for example every time you turn your computer on?


Friday, 26 September 2008

New EU laws for Recycling Batteries

BBC News reported this morning that Britons will be expected to recycle far more batteries under a new European law which is coming into effect. The EU batteries directive requires that an eighth of all portable domestic batteries sold are recycled by 2012, rising to a fifth by 2016. At the moment only 3% of batteries in the UK are recycled and the government will now be expected to ensure the necessary facilities are in place. Read full article


Our local council run kerbside collection takes batteries for recycling. They ask that batteries are kept separate from other recyclables within your recycling box.


This whole issue, though, made me wonder why we don't always use rechargeable batteries and this led to thoughts about the environmental impact of disposable versus recyclable batteries. Think I might do some research.


Last year I bought one of these Freeloader gizmos. It was quite expensive and I have hardly used it. Most of the time I can't seem to find the right attachment to charge what I need and annoyingly neither of my children's mobile phones would connect to it despite the multitude of adapters. But perhaps it is time to give it another try. Are there any success stories about these things?

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Night Visitor

Well I certainly never dreamt I'd be posting this!

My turn to do the lift share to football training. Rounding the last corner, we could see there was something looming in the middle of the road. As we approached we saw it was two badgers scrapping. As we edged forward gradually, they both looked up at us and ran up the lane. We followed slowly, expecting them to dart off into the hedge. They headed on up the lane, not seeming too worried that we were following them. Every now and then they stopped to resume the scrap.

One then swung a left and disappeared through the hedge but the other carried on running down the middle of the road looking like it had a firm idea of where it was going. On and on it went, until it too eventually turned off the lane - into our driveway!


101 ways to reduce your carbon footprint for free

As I was being 'dissed' yet again for my recycling habits, I came up with the idea of putting together a list of 101 ways to reduce your carbon footprint for free. Free? Yes, absolutely free.

I thought I'd have no trouble coming up with hundreds of little things that we could all do that would be more environmentally friendly but didn't cost a penny. Surely it would be a doddle!

Well, it wasn't.

The ridiculous thing about « going green » is that it so often costs more than not being green. It costs more in terms of time and effort, and all too often, it costs more in terms of hard cash.

There may well be lots of things with long-term savings, but realistically, for many of us on this planet cash-flow comes first. It is the initial spend that we think about, rather than the long-term cost saving.

This, to me, is an important issue governments face that they could do something about but don't. Would it really be that hard to structure all taxation, vat and so on, to always favour the green option?


That said, the list is growing …..