The Food System

Fascinating stuff. Really makes you think.

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Soap: Liquid or Solid?

There is an interesting article on the BBC today about the reasons some people prefer bars of soap to liquid soap or shower gel. The five reasons given in the article are:

1) It’s what people have always used.

2) Solid soap is more luxurious.

3) The feeling of scouring away the dirt in the shower (not quite sure what this means).

4) Less packaging is better for the planet.

5) Bottles are fiddly.

I would add the following as advantages to using bars of soap:

6) Bars of soap are often cheaper. I can buy a bar of pure soap for a lot less than I can buy ‘pure’ shower gel. Also, household soap can be used to make laundry liquid. Soap can even be used to wash your hair, with a bit of effort.

7) A little goes a long way! A bar of soap in the kitchen or cloakroom lasts a lot longer than liquid soap. This saves packaging, transportation and energy (because the more of a product there is, and the more quickly it is used up, the more energy is used in its manufacture and transportation).

 

8) Soap lathers up just as well as shower gel. I like to use a scrunchie in the shower – is that what they’re called? One of those things on the right -> If I wet the bar of soap, wet the scrunchie and then rub the soap on the scrunchie, it lathers up really well but uses up very little of the actual bar. I was given a pile of shower gel for Christmas which my son won at the school Christmas fair so I am steadily making my way through that, but once it’s gone I will happily return to using my bars of soap!

9) You can make your own soap very easily using ‘melt and pour‘ soap and you can customise it to whatever shape, scent and colour you prefer. This cuts down on packaging and transportation, and is probably the best option for those seeking to be more eco-friendly.

What do you think?

GARDENING FOR DUMMIES, DECLUTTERING & UPCYCLED STORAGE BOXES

I have neglected this blog lately, although I have a lot of ideas in the pipeline. My health has been up and down, which of course affects blogging as well as my ability to be as actively eco-friendly as I’d like. I don’t beat myself up over it – what’s the point? If you’re not well, you’re not well, but you do your best and that’s good enough (why is that such a hard lesson to learn?).

I have, however, begun gardening for the first time in my life (seriously – I didn’t know a weed from a rake), and gobbling up gardening books. I was dead chuffed when I planted my first potatoes earlier this week. I highly recommend Geoff Stebbings’ Growing Your Own Fruit & Veg for Dummies, along with a book about tackling and identifying weeds, which are a big problem in our neglected Victorian garden, though even in its neglected state it is gorgeous. The cat which used to poop all over the garden seems to have gone, which is a relief. I am not a cat lover and I think anyone who is serious about the environment should give consideration to the fact that domestic cats are responsible for the deaths of millions of birds and thus have a huge effect on ecosystems.

I follow FlyLady and am making good use of her decluttering system. The first thing you need before you can declutter is a home for an item. This is rule no. 1. The home can be a shelf, a box, a wardrobe, a box of items for charity, a box of items for recycling or, as a last resort, a bin bag for things that have no use for anyone and cannot be recycled. Of course, decluttering only works if you then take the donations, etc., out of the house. I spent a long time thinking that putting things in charity bags or in boxes ‘for recycling’ was good enough. They still didn’t grow legs and walk out of the house! Decluttering is, in essence, deciding where something belongs. If you declutter for 15 minutes a day, as FlyLady suggests, you will soon see significant results.

While decluttering, I realised I have many items that are useful and reusable, but only at certain times of year, e.g. children’s birthday party items. It suddenly dawned on me that it would be useful to have all ‘birthday’ things in one place. I didn’t want to go out and buy more boxes, and was inspired by Alejandra’s tips on creating storage boxes from things you already have.

I do try to get the whole family in on the eco-friendly/FlyLady act. It’s no good if Mum is busily tidying and everyone else thinks there’s an invisible cleaning fairy who picks up after them and cleans all their messes. Hey, kids! There is no invisible magical anyone. You need to learn to pick up after yourself. I began by taking a used but sturdy cardboard box and sticking strips of colourful tape to one of the sides. It was then time for the school run and my excitable, creative 9-year-old, when she came home, wanted to help. I reassured her that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful and ta daaaa!

CAM00705

I plan to do a Christmas box as well, using washi tape with a reindeer design.

She finished off our very own super-duper upcycled ‘Birthday Box’ which now contains plastic birthday tablecloths, a ‘happy birthday’ door banner, some plastic cups and some cardboard plates and bowls. I admit these are not the most eco friendly items, but at least we will reuse them rather than disposing of them.What else could go in, I wonder?

NB. If you’re thinking of having a go yourself, I’d recommend gaffer tape or duct tape. I used washi tape and it’s really not very strong, although I won’t store anything heavy in this box. Gaffer tape would strengthen the box. 

All Aboard the Number Two

What a brilliant idea. That’ll get the job done. I was thinking only the other day how human waste is an unused, ever-renewable resource***. We must be able to utilise it more. Ingenious!

*** I really, really must get out more.

Hurrah for Public Transport (and Preparations for a Homemade Christmas)

There has not been so much blogging lately as I am snowed under trying to balance studying with sorting out our lovely new old house (if you know what I mean). An aged house such as ours has its own particular set of problems for any new inhabitants inheriting all the ‘quirks’ that the previous owners never fixed. But it’s fun o_O

I am also trying to make preparations for a make-do-and-mend, pre-loved, home made, Un-paving Paradise Christmas with all the family. I have already made a shawl, wrist-warmers, napkin rings and am onto the recycled cotton crocheted flannels (which will be wrapped with home made soaps and bath bombs) and pine cone decorations. Last year I made two pairs of these lovely slippers, and will also make a couple more pairs for friends and family for this year. It’s a simple, but very effective pattern. My middle child still wears them and loves the fact that they were created especially for her, which is as much the value of a home made gift as the gift itself 🙂

It being half-term here in this Lost Corner of Middleshire, we took the children to the National Space Centre. It’s a fantastic place. The planetarium alone is an amazing experience. A particular favourite was the ‘rocket’ in the cafe, which every so often would begin to rumble and emit vast quantities of dry ice lit by red lights, to much shrieking delight on behalf of the children stood underneath. Also, if you book online in advance, you get a free annual pass. Read more here.

We travelled by train and stayed overnight as it’s a long way away, which led to some interesting questions with regard to the eco credentials of train travel: why is it more environmentally-friendly to use the train, but costs more? Shouldn’t the fact that there are 100 people travelling in just one carriage be more economical for the traveller? Why, even when you have discounts such as the Friends and Family Railcard and you book weeks in advance, is rail travel in Britain so expensive?

Reblog: Crochet Coasters Tutorial

Just in time for Christmas! I have resolved to make as many gifts as possible this year and coasters may well be one of those gifts that I will duplicate for various different people. I’m already half-way through a shawl for my mother. These coasters look great and the pattern is simple. Win, win, win!

The Green Dragonfly

Crochet coaster free pattern I’ve had many, many requests for a crochet coaster pattern since I originally posted making coasters because the original pattern seems to have disappeared. If it does pop back up Ill link back to  it, but in the meantime, here’s a quick little tutorial for you to whip up some crochet coasters, for yourself or as a lovely gift!

To make these crochet coasters you will need…

  • DK (8ply) yarn – I like to use a cotton or cotton blend
  • 3mm or 3.5mm crochet hook – use a slightly smaller hook than usual because you want a nice firm fabric.
  • Needle to sew in ends

Crochet coaster free patternFirst up, chain 6 and join to form a ring:Crochet coaster free pattern

Chain 3 (counts as first DC) and DC 19 into the ring (20DC) Join with a SS into the top of the starting chain 3 to complete the round. Crochet coaster free pattern

Chain 3, DC in the next…

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Tackling Mount Washmore

I’m thinking of getting one of these

Ecoballs: simple, effective, eco-friendly and inexpensive

We have been attempting to save energy recently by hanging clothes up to dry instead of using a tumble dryer. Of course, this is nothing worthy of an Archimedes’ ‘eureka!’, but I have figured out that if I hang clothes in a certain way, they dry with far fewer creases and hence require little to no ironing and irons use an awful lot of energy (as well as being boring). My method uses lots of pegs, to ensure garments are drying as ‘flat’ as possible. I also have clothes hangers which I keep by the washing line so that anything that requires a hanger now goes straight on the hanger after drying and then directly into the wardrobe. I got this idea from one of FlyLady’s emails. We have two people in our house with bladder problems so we regularly have lots of washing. I do at least one load of laundry every day to stay on top of things, and I use ecoballs instead of laundry powder. This method saves time, money and electricity, so it’s win, win win!

The Italians have it right, but I doubt this would work in rainy, cold Brittania…