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  1. In today’s economy if you want to raise a family you need to learn how to do it on a budget, and that isn’t always easy. There are a number of different ways of living on a budget with your family, but the most effective ways are simply to save money wherever possible. This might be in the form of buying lower cost products, reducing spending on non-essentials and even recycling and repurposing items you already own so that you aren’t spending money on new items. Some families have proved that while it can be very difficult in the beginning recycling almost everything your family uses is possible and it is effective, not only in helping you save money but also in helping the environment. There are a number of more simple ways that you can start; simple things like teaching children about identifying recyclables and where to put them are a great start, given that just getting children to put their recyclables into the correct containers instead of the refuse bins can reduce your overall refuse on a weekly basis considerably. Other options include; keeping some recyclables for crafts. It doesn’t matter whether you just hang on to the empty toilet roll tubes and cereal boxes to make children’s activities later or you go all out to ensure that there are a lot of materials to work with when the time comes for getting crafty. You can make something with just about anything; old clothes, paper, card, boxes, tins, bottles – everything can be used – particularly when the creativity of children is involved, so you should have no trouble keeping aside some of your everyday items and making use of them. Particularly if you also happen to have been looking for a way to keep children entertained. Don’t have kids? No problem – do you have pets? I keep rats and dogs, and puppies and rodents alike love a cardboard box or an empty toilet roll tube to chew on and play with. My dogs have had a cardboard box bed cave for two months now and it’s still there! A free cardboard box that has lasted two months, they sleep in and play with. I’ve bought them toys and proper dog beds for small fortunes that haven’t lasted anywhere near that long. Paper can also be great, you can put down in place of puppy pads while house training, put it under water bowls to reduce spills (particularly if you have dogs that play in their water) and can be shredded to make bedding, great for rodents a similar cage pets. No pets either? No worries – you can use that stuff on your own too! Create things; make rugs out of old cloths, rags, patches for damaged clothes, make new clothes and accessories out of your old clothes. Get as thrifty as you like – and you can even get yourself involved in some online competitions for thrifty creations if you’re looking for a bit of incentive. Use old plastic containers to make jugs, dustpans, collection pots and just about anything else that you think you might come to have a use for. You would be amazed with how much of your stuff can be repurposed – and it’s okay if you don’t repurpose it because you can recycle it. Just to get you started – on this blog we all like to see some recycling going on; so I want to know what you recycled today! What was it, what did you do with it? Today I gathered up all the boxes and toilet roll tubes around my house and used them to make a castle / fort for my rats to play in – very entertaining! Kate Critchlow I am currently writing for R+R Packaging, and their blog has some great recycling ideas for you to try at home, and more scheduled for the coming weeks and months - keep an eye our for those!
  2. An Eco-Friendly Christmas

    Christmas is, for most of us around the world, a time for seeing family, eating good food and giving presents, but there is a catch. Christmas tends to leave us with a lot of waste materials. Wrapping paper, food, boxes, plastic packaging, and surprisingly quite a large amount of this is not recycled. Business in particular need to be doing more to ensure that their products are providing an effective solution for an eco-friendly Christmas, which can be worked in with all of your seasonal marketing to give an excellent result. For example; making packaging thinner, including less packaging, reducing the glossy effect on wrapping paper, reducing the use of hard plastics and so on can help to reduce the amount of waste that isn’t recycled. What a lot of people don’t know is that wrapping paper isn’t always recyclable, it requires more specific, high standard machinery to break it down and recycle it because of the glossy finish, and attempting to recycle it in an area unable to do so can result in a fine, and this fine isn’t exactly a small one – in some areas it can cost you £1000, just for your attempts to recycle your wrapping paper. So, before you try sticking the paper in the recycling bin you should check with your local council to ensure that they are able to process and recycle the wrapping paper, rather than you ending up with a problem. What do you do if you can’t recycle it? Well – personally I’m all for reusing, which is particularly easy to do if you have kids; after all they’re happy to do crafts with an bits of scrap paper or material you might have lying around; so giving them something pretty and shiny like wrapping paper will open a whole new range of creative possibilities for your children. Of course it isn’t great that more than half of our Christmas fails to be eco-friendly, and even if you are able to make up for the failings of the companies responsible there should be more done to ensure that our annual festivities aren’t creative a problem for our environment. Companies producing wrapping paper should be making moves to make them a more eco-friendly, biodegradable solution, as well as packaging companies doing more to produce environmentally friendly packaging and reduce the amount of packaging that their product do use. These efforts would help to reduce the amount of waste materials in our homes during the Christmas period, and drastically help to promote recycling during this period. There are of course things that you can do at home – keeping wrapping paper that is still usable and using it to decorate boxes, workbooks and so on, reusing it to wrap gifts or even shredding it to use as a protective padding for small or fragile presents during transit, and this makes for a more attractive solution than plain shredded paper, but is not as secure as bubble wrap. There are plenty of options for crafts using wrapping paper, with the range of colours, designs and materials offering a perfect and basic solution for decoration, with the material offering a generally more durable option than some of the alternatives. They make a great option for protecting workbooks, notebooks and sketchbooks as well as a selection of other things. Try creating some interesting crafts with your left-over wrapping paper this year and share with me what you’ve done – I would be very interested in seeing it!
  3. Eco-Friendly Packaging

    {Image Credit: https://flic.kr/p/38vqB8} Regardless of whether you run a business or your just work as part of one, there are a number of things for you to be concerned about, and the way that your business is perceived by environmentally friendly enthusiasts and parties is becoming an increasingly important aspect of your business image. This is particularly true of smaller, more locally orientated businesses, as the local community and most common target audiences are becoming more and more interested in environmentally friendly practices and green technologies. One of the prime targets of this are the cafés and eateries, where the need to provide an environmentally friendly solution for takeaway packaging is pushed more and more onto the establishments each year. Fortunately this is become an increasingly easy thing for such businesses to accomplish, thanks to the number of environmentally friendly options available for takeaway containers. One of the most popular currently, and in my personal opinion one of the most effective, is the ecotainer cup. These are a completely biodegradable solution, and unlike some ‘biodegradable’ options which are no more effective or beneficial to the environment than any regular material, these are completely compostable to the same excellent and quick standards as your food waste. Of course, these days there are a number of advances with regards to environmentally friendly packaging solutions, even outside of takeaway cups, and there are a number of businesses that are taking advantage of our interest in such matters in order to advance their business footing with exciting and interesting new concepts and designs for green packaging options. · Bioplastics Some bioplastics aren’t actually as biodegradable as they would claim; in fact in many cases no more so than regular plastics, the real eco-friendly factor of them comes from their manufacturing process, as they are produced using natural plant and food proteins, which means that they can almost be produced using nothing but natural food waste – a new and effective option for recycling. However – because people believe that bioplastics are biodegradable or even compostable they are often given a much more positive image than they perhaps deserve. · Compostable There are a variety of compostable options, which is of course the better option for biodegradable options. Compostable products are those that we would be able to fully biodegrade into compost waste in our own homes or gardens much like we would with any other organic matter. Most compostable packaging options are paper based. · Edible This is a new one, but arguably the most exciting option. It doesn’t just disappear in an environmentally friendly way, but offers a rather delectable option too. There aren’t too many edible options as of yet, and surprisingly it isn’t that much of a new thing. There was an edible option using corn starch bioplastics a few years ago, the problem was that it tasted terrible. A new competitor in the world of edible containers however is Loliware; the first to offer edible cups that actually taste nice – and they offer these in a selection of flavours too!
  4. Recycling your Clothing

    A little off topic on the business front, but something I thought may be convenient to those who happen to read it – the recycling of clothing. To be honest I hadn’t thought about recycling my clothes when I was younger at all, it wasn’t until I was already a university student that I wondered what my mother had ever done with all of those extra clothes my sisters and I always had that we had grown out of. So – mothers, newly independent young adults and curious ones alike; reflect upon this list. · Hand-me-downs I’m one of six children in my immediate family, with three older siblings, a twin sister and a younger sibling, as well as nieces, nephews and more cousins than I’ve even met. Hand-me-down clothes in a family of this size is not an unusual thing, and despite what my school mates seemed to think of it I didn’t mind at all. So long as the clothes are still in decent condition and a reasonable size they do the job, particularly for children who are just going to go out and mess them up anyway. · Rags You could go to the shop and pay for a bag of rags. Or you could cut up that ripped shirt you were about to throw out – now really, which sounds like more sense? Dusters, floor cloths, window cleaners; everything the house when I was growing up was actually just pieces of old clothes that had been ripped up. (A favourite of my mother’s was my father’s absolutely horrible Hawaiian print shirts.) · Crafts My sister got into sewing recently. But before she was willing to invest her money into purchasing materials for it she tried out a few things with old clothes. I have a shopping bag she made me out of an old owl t-shirt, it’s a favourite of mine. And her daughter loves to help – no skin off our back if she plays with some ripped old clothes, and it keeps her busy for a while. Two birds with one stone, right? You can even make hand-puppets out of them with younger children, they’re sure to love it. · Repair Ripped cloths are easy. If you’ve ripped the sleeve of a shirt try making it sleeveless. If you’re ripped or worn away the knees of your jeans (kids do it a lot) just cut them into shorts. Patching old clothes, fixing broken zips, replacing lost buttons, re-stitching torn seams; these are the kinds of things I was able to do by the time I was 16, yet I was surprised by the number of people who couldn’t do this and would simply throw out clothes that had these basic problems. · Recreate Create something entirely new! I’ve seen a lot of people weaving strips of old clothing to make bathroom mats and rugs, my sister makes beautiful patchwork throws and blankets, you can create cushions for your pets, covers for books – just about anything. When I turn ripped jeans into shorts I use the legs to create hammocks for my two rats, and rope toys (cute them into strips and plait them together) for my dog. If you have any more methods of recycling clothes or comments and questions regarding those I shared, go ahead and comment. I’d love to hear from you. Of course; clothes banks and charity shops are always an option if you don’t want to recycle your clothes yourself.
  5. The Population Problem

    I don't think there is any one way to look at this. No - it isn't considered a politically correct topic, but it really should be. Can you imagine the outrage if a political leader stepped forward and announced plans to introduce population control measures? But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be brought into practice, and ideally alongside environmental practices that would aim not only to slow the growth of the population, but reduce energy consumption for each person. Personally, I think we need to push for more technology and environmental education subjects in our younger generations, to encourage more scientists, engineers and developers who are going to go on to produce more energy efficient solutions, as well as better education for youngsters when it comes to having children. Not just teaching them about avoiding providing more information and resources for avoiding pregnancy in youngsters, but better outlining the costs and negatives of raising children, to discourage young people from starting families very early in life - this would help to reduce the size of families. Regardless of what measures a implemented the progress would be very slow, and it would most likely take many generations before any progress is seen.
  6. I'm advyl.

    Hi Advyl - nice to meet you. I'm pretty new myself
  7. {Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/demmbatz/3532646348/ } If you run a business there are of course no shortage of things to be concerned about; regardless of whether you’re worried about staff management, cash flow or any other business matters, the impact of your company on the environment probably isn’t particularly high on the list. However, the impact of your business on the local environment is of course much higher than the impact of your home, so you can make a difference. There are a number of things you can do that will make a difference to your environmental impact, but of course you are still a business and you do still want to do something that is of benefit to you, rather than something that will cost you and give nothing back. Simple is the key, go for the small changes that don’t cost anything but do make a difference, little by little. Why should your business go green? · Good Publicity People love a green business, it shows that you care about what your company does, you care about the world we live in and most importantly you care about the people and the future generations that your business aims to sell products or services to. There have been a number of studies which show up to 71% of consumers would prefer to make their purchases from eco-friendly companies. · Potential Saving Not all green tactics will save you money, but there are some that have the potential to, particularly if done right. Energy saving and the use of renewable energy sources within the business is a slightly more obvious one. For starters there are government schemes available that will provide you with funding to implement renewable energy alternatives within your business, such as some money towards the purchase of solar panels. Once that’s done you are able to produce your own power, which gives your company the opportunity to save on some of the electricity bills. · Benefits the Environment This is the much more obvious reason why your business should go green – it’s good for our environment. Regardless of whether you start recycling or take every possible step in becoming a green business it does make a difference and it does help. How do you go green without losing out? · Kaizen As a business you might have heard about the Kaizen method; sometimes known as the rapid improvement method. Basically this means that you should be doing things little by little. Implement small changes and monitor their effects, documenting the costs and results carefully, this allows you to understand what works and what doesn’t. Only when you have the first step in place and operating the way you would expect it to do you move on to the next step. · You’re a business, not a charity. In business the phrase ‘cut your losses’ is of big importance when it comes to going green. If something isn’t working don’t just hold on and hope that it eventually fixes itself, because it probably won’t. If it doesn’t work for you drop it and move on, especially if it’s costing you money. There will be methods that work for your business and those that don’t, the only way to find out which is which is to experiment with them. · Reputation Counts Work on your reputation as a green business. Do press releases, blog articles, interviews, podcasts, do whatever it takes to get people to recognise you as a green company, and don’t forget to register with any recognised associations for greener products and services, this will get you more confidence from your customers. How do you go green? · Bokashi or Compost Bokashi is an innovative indoor composter, however if you have the space outside your business you can always go for a full outdoor composter. Encourage your staff to put food waste and degradable containers into the composter and let them be. The Bokashi set up is particularly convenient, as there is no rancid odour, no attracting insects or rodents and you don’t actually have to do anything expect fill the bucket and leave it for a few weeks, then you can just bag it up and use it. This makes excellent stuff for replenishing lost nutrients in the soil around vegetable patches, flowers, trees and herbs. · Biodegradable Get yourself some biodegradable stuff. Not all businesses use stainless steel cutlery and ceramic plates and mugs, a lot of offices and businesses work primarily with disposable items for convenience, particularly those in the catering industries. Go ceramic and encourage your employees to clean their dishes, or go biodegradable. Of course when it comes to having meetings and offering company guests a cup of coffee it can be a nice touch to serve their drink in a biodegradable coffee cup. · Re-Use as much as possible Did you know that about 35% of wasted materials in the world is paper? Yep. Encourage your employees to keep a box of scrap paper around, so that the next time they go to make a note of something they can re-use scrap, rather than notebooks. Don’t forget; just about every business should now have at least one shredder, and of course a recycling area for used paper, such as those that have been shredded, newspapers, old documents etc. · Usage and Wastage Spend time around the areas of your business looking at what is used and what is wasted. Test your power outlets and equipment to ensure that nothing is using more power than it should be, check your faucets and pipes for water leaks that might be causing wasted water. Replace bulbs, start using rechargeable batteries and recharging them, look at how much equipment is purchased and wasted on a regular basis. This allows you to not only cut back on costs wherever possible, but cut back on the waste produced too. You may also want to install motion sensitive lights and timers on electrical circuits that will ensure power is not used where and when it is not needed. If you are planning to take your business in the eco-friendly direction don’t forget to get your employees on board with the change. Inform them of new procedures, such as recycling, placing certain items into composters etc. Take note of those who seem the most interested or enthusiastic about the plans and propose that they lead your green committee. Encourage them to come up with new ideas for greener business operations, and give them control of monitoring process. Don’t forget to give them an incentive for their extra work and don’t over-work them.
  8. Hello Katec, welcome to Green Blog! :)

    1. Katec


      Thanks Simon :)