The Secret is in the Soil: The Importance Of Healthy Soil

We don’t give much thought to the soil under our feet but without it, we wouldn’t have food on our plates. It takes a lifetime to create the ideal soil conditions for plants and crops to grow, but no time at all to destroy it. For every plant to thrive, it needs nutrients. And these are found in the soil. With the right nutrients in perfect balance, a plant or tree thrives.

Healthy Soil = Healthy Planet

So how is Soil Made? And why do we need to keep adding organic matter and other nutrients to get the best from it? Does it mystify you as to why soil in one part of the garden is fine and dust-like but in another part, heavy and dense?

The soil is made from the earth’s crusts and its deposits being ground to a finer powder over thousands of years. The type of soil created, depends on the deposits that created it. The quality of soil also depends on how much life is in the soil. Worms, for example, are essential to mixing the soil as well as aerating it. Other soil-borne life forms are important too. Soil needs plenty of nutrients and water to offer the best growing medium, an increasing problem in a world with an increasing number of mouths to feed.

Do you know how to look after soil?

From adding organic matter to understanding the type of soil and what will grow best, this infographic has it all. Find out more and truly understand the ground beneath your feet. 

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*Disclosure: This post has been written in collaboration with Rattan Direct. 

World Oceans Day 2017 (and #30DaysWild linky!) 

We are now one week into #30DaysWild and so it’s time for a new linky! Thank you to everybody who linked up in the first week, I really enjoyed reading your posts and connecting with you. What has been your favourite challenge so far? And what ideas do you have for the rest of the month? I would love to hear from you!

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Today is World Oceans Day, so I would like to share some information about useful resources and how we can help to protect our oceans. Late last night, I wrote a post about current campaigns, which you can read here. Previously, I have also written about other ways you can protect our oceans and why microbeads should be banned. Last but not least, Marine Conservation Society have some great plastic reduction tips or share your own! Plus grab yourself some sustainable plastic alternatives from their store too.

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If you would like to read more about the wonders of our oceans, Global Guardian project have a free Oceans Capsule for download. Or read about the therapeutic benefits of water in the book Blue Mind by Dr Wallace J Nichols. (Amazon affiliate link). 

What are you doing to celebrate World Oceans Day? Tell me in comments!


Why We All Need To Stop Sucking and Go Topless (For Our Oceans)

Firstly, yes this is still a family blog! So, what am I talking about? The answer is the environment and our oceans of course! More to the point, this post is about all the single-use plastics that get dumped into the environment every single day – polluting our oceans and harming our wildlife – and what we can do about it. 

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Lonely Whale Foundation recently launched their Strawless Ocean campaign asking everyone to pledge to #StopSucking by refusing plastic straws and either go straw-free or use more sustainable alternatives. Between Brits and the US, we use 550 million plastic straws every single day. Each single-use plastic straw takes 200 years to break down into tiny toxic particles. Alot end up in the ocean. That is a huge amount of plastic pollution.

Share the video and pledge to ditch plastic straws!

Another great charity, 5Gyres, have also launched a campaign to address the use of disposable cups. Ideally the best thing to do is to take a reusable cup with you to cafes and coffee shops. However, if you don’t have a reusable cup available (and why not? There is no excuse – lots of places sell them!) then at least go topless, so that is one less piece of waste!

Did you know in the UK only one in 400 coffee cups are recycled? It is too difficult to separate their plastic coating and cardboard to recycle the card. Yet, as reported by Telegraph, half of people believe their disposable coffee cups are being recycled all or most of the time. As many as 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away in the UK each year – again, that is ALOT of waste. Invest in a resuable cup and remember to take it with you as a small commitment to protecting our oceans, and our planet.

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If you would also like other ideas about actions you can take, check out Clean Seas to see what others are up to and join in with their existing campaigns – or start one of your own! 

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Squiggle doing a quick beach clean-up during our last visit.

Happy World Oceans Day!

#WorldEnvironmentDay – I’m #WithNature

#WorldEnvironmentDay #WithNature

For my own favourite nature spot, I was torn between green and blue, so eventually decided I simply had to choose photos of both! 

The first photo is a local park that is one of my very favourite nature spots, largely just because I spend alot of time here. The tree in the photo is straight up one of my absolute favourite subjects to photo because it is so photogenic- it always comes out looking so magical!

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Highfield Park

The second picture was taken at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire last November for our annual visit during pupping season. Whilst not recent, or the best photo ever, it is one of my most favourite spots on earth for feeling truly connected with nature and wildlife. It is an amazing experience.

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Donna Nook

The final photo was taken a few days ago at Southend-on-Sea. I didn’t feel that I could possibly post about my favourite nature spots without listening to my #BlueMind and therefore including the beach that we visit most regularly! This isn’t my favourite capture of it if I am perfectly honest, there are more striking photos of it on my blog photo gallery, but this is the most recent so I stuck with that!

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Southend-on-Sea

Where is your favourite nature spot? Share it today to be part of World Environment Day!

World Environment Day 2017 – Connecting People To Nature 

Today, 5th June 2017, is World Environment Day. The aim of this campaign is to connect people to nature. Of course, for those of us who are taking part in 30 Days Wild, this is something that we are already doing throughout this month anyway!

However, I would like to set everyone a challenge to do today. As suggested on the World Environment Day website, share a photograph of your favourite nature spot using hastags #WorldEnvironmentDay and #WithNature to celebrate this event. Let’s create the world’s biggest nature photo gallery!  

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There is also an excellent app – inaturalist– that is using photos to carry out citizen science research. So do consider sharing your photos with the online community there too; you can learn something new whilst also taking part in this important research.

Do you have your own event planned for World Environment Day today? I would love to hear about it, please share in comments!

#WorldEnvironmentDay #WithNature #30DaysWild #LivingLifeWild 

Eco Travel: My European Bucketlist 

I admit that many of past travel adventures have not been organised with sustainability in mind. In my younger years, I was far less environmentally minded than I am now, so if I had ever used an eco- friendly company or visited a ‘green’ city it would have been nothing more than a happy accident to be honest! 

However, I do remember with fond memories one trip along the west coast of USA, which included a stay in San Francisco. Whilst I didn’t realise it back then, I know now that this consistently ranks high up in the greenest places within USA. This doesn’t surprise me with its sustainable food choices, a clear emphasis on the environment and clean transport system. Having reflected on the many places I have travelled, I think this is probably the one that was most eco- friendly. I would definitely love to visit again and see how it has progressed even further in the last decade!

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San Francisco, California

Of course times change and these days I am far more mindful of how my actions impact the environment. For future travel, it would definitely be a major factor in our plans. I would love to explore the world in the most eco-friendly way possible, maybe driving around in an electric camper, visiting beautiful scenic spots off the beaten track, as well as lovely environmentally-conscious towns and cities too. I have a long bucketlist of places I would love to visit all over the world, with Galapagos Islands (closely followed by Alaska) at the top of that list. Closer to home though, there are two places within Europe that are also high on my bucket list; Amsterdam (Holland) and Reykjavik (Iceland), both of which are very eco-friendly. 

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Reykjavik, Iceland 
Photo Credit: Beckie Gate

I have heard all about Reykjavik from various friends who have have visited this gorgeous place recently, and I admit that I have spent hours pouring over their stunning photos. As Green Tourist explains, a major source of the city’s power is from the geothermic activity in this area, which makes it very energy-efficient. Cycling and walking are the most popular forms of transportation, plus hydrogen buses are used rather than vehicles that rely on fossil fuels too.

The geography of Iceland is interesting and makes it a wonderfully unique and breathtaking place to explore, with the geysers and beautiful waterfalls, as well as the point where you can walk between two tectonic plates. I would love to stay in one of their glass domes and hopefully maybe even get to see the Northern Lights if we are lucky. That would be incredible!

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Solfar statue (sun voyager) 
Photo Credit: Karen at Tickets, Passport, Kids

The second on my European bucketlist is Amsterdam, Holland. I know a couple of people who have lived here and they have shared many stories about what a brilliant place it is! Most people either walk or cycle around the city, there are very few cars, making it a clean place to visit or live in that sense. Apparently most residential homes and businesses also use, and often generate their own, clean energy too. 

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Amsterdam, Holland 
Photo Credit: AF

There are lots of unusual places to visit in Amsterdam, such as the KattenKabinet (cat art gallery) and the Bloemenmarkt (flower market), as well as lovely quaint little cafes and eateries. I am sure visiting Anne Frank’s house would be a truly memorable experience too. Apparently there are also many wonderful outdoor walks to explore, taking in the pretty sites. And I personally would love to stay in one of the fantastic houseboats on the canal, that I have seen in many photos. They look amazing!

Of course there are many other European destinations on my bucketlist, as well as travelling the rest of the world too, but these are two places that particularly capture my attention – and my heart! Happy travels everyone!

Where is top of your travel bucketlist? Or have you been to an absolute dream place? Tell me your story in the comments!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Thank you to the friends who have contributed their wonderful stories and lovely pictures, fuelling my wanderlust further! 

Global Guardian Project

Global Guardian Project is an inspirational digital multimedia resource – called a learning capsule- designed to educate children (and adults!) about caring for our planet, and to empower children of any age to take action and be change-makers. 

“Our mission is to create learning tools that support the entire family in making simple, daily changes that will become positive habits.”

Each learning capsule is delivered monthly to your inbox. Subscription costs $14.99 per month and can be cancelled anytime. You will only ever pay for what you receive. You can also buy one-off capsules for $16.99. 

The capsules are beautifully presented, and contain a wealth of information and activities. They include things such as endangered species, interviews and spotlights, DIY and art projects, recipes, and guided meditations.  Each one focuses on a different country. The current one is about Sweden and coming next, on 15th April, it will be Israel. Here are some page samples from this month’s Sweden learning capsule…

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I cannot express how much I love the aim and approach of this fabulous initiative. As home educators, we are always excited to find awesome new resources. But this one is an absolute dream because it matches our own values so perfectly. So I am genuinely SO delighted to have teamed up with them to offer 10% discount on subscriptions using my code LIVINGLIFEOURWAY To subscribe, click here and enter the code at checkout. Remember you can cancel anytime. 

If you are not sure if you want to commit and would like to try it out first, you can get a free India capsule, worth $14.99, simply by signing up to the newsletter here. They send out useful emails once or twice per month. No junk. Promise.

You can also download the free Oceans capsule here. This is a mini capsule, about 50% of the content of the full size subscription version. But it gives you a great idea of what the capsules are all about. And I am so happy that this one is dedicated to the ocean!

Remember, if you decide to subscribe, my code is LIVINGLIFEOURWAY for your 10% off discount! I hope you love it as much as I do!!!

*Disclosure: I am an affiliate. This means I get paid a referral fee for each person who subscribes using my discount code. You save money, I receive a fee, Global Guardian Project gets subscribers and our planet gains a tribe of protectors. Everyone wins! 

Simple Ways To Reduce Energy Consumption In Your Home

Last week I posted about energy waste and how to save money on your bills. I mentioned briefly how to reduce energy waste within the home. However, I think these tips definitely deserve their own post! 

So here are some simple ways to reduce energy consumption in your home…

Technology Use

Leaving technology on standby or plugged in when not in use consumes small amounts of unnecessary energy that quickly adds up over time. Set technology to fully shut down automatically and/ or remember to turn it off properly at the socket. Unplug phones, tablets etc… as soon as they are fully charged then unplug the charger itself too. 

Small Appliances

Unplug small appliances at the socket when not in use to ensure they are not sneakily wasting energy. At the very least, ensure they are turned off properly at the socket. 

Smart Power Strips

Alternatively, a smart power strip is an affordable way to combat energy waste in your home. These clever strips cut the power supply to technology automatically when it goes into standby mode. Very smart indeed!

Lighting

The Lighting Superstore have created this useful infographic showing why LED bulbs are the way to go as part of their #LEDeasy campaign. In summary, LED lights use up to 90% less energy compared to incandescent bulbs. They also have a longer lifespan, are more environmentally friendly, are versatile in both style and placement, plus offer a wide range of lighting options in terms of brightness and colour too.

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Heating

Using your existing heating thermostat/ timer correctly to make sure your heating only comes on when you need it, as high as you need it and for as long as you need it, ensures you heat your home efficiently and only use the energy you really need. 

Water

Take a few moments to sort out any drippy taps in your home. Also switching your showerhead to an eco-friendly design is a fairly inexpensive way of saving water and energy consumption.

My top 5 personal energy-saving actions for my own home:

  • TV, console and freeview box are all on the same strip anyway; so easy to turn it off at the socket! 
  • Ensure other technology is also turned off at the socket or unplugged when not in use. This includes unplugging mobiles as soon as they are fully charged!
  • Unplug kettle, nutribullet and microwave (and any other small appliances) when not in use. 
  • Use LED lightbulbs.
  • Use heating thermostat effectively.


What are your top home energy-saving tips or eco-friendly actions you will take in your own home from now on? Tell me in the comments!


*This is a collaborative post.

Energy Waste: How To Save Money On Bills 

Energy waste is a huge problem – for everyone. It not only impacts our environment but it also costs money too. This infographic by Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies shows how much energy the UK wastes and how this compares to other countries. Perhaps more importantly, it also explains the ways we can save energy (and how much money this can save).

Did you know that the UK wastes a shocking 54% of its energy? Furthermore, the average UK household wastes a massive £250 per year just by not being energy efficient? EEK! Overall, in 2010 the UK used almost 330 billion kWh. For comparison, Africa uses approximately 19004 kWh annually.

Worse still, the amount of energy wasted in 2012 by the US economy could power the whole of the UK for 7 years. Now that really is shocking! The average American household also uses 2.7 times more electricity and 1.3 times more natural gas than the UK too.

So what can we do to reduce energy waste, and therefore also save money? Well, quite a few things actually! Simple changes can make a big difference; turn off technology properly (not just leave on standby!) and/or set them to auto shut down, unplug small appliances when not in use, use smart power strips, use LED lightbulbs and change air filters regularly.

To reduce energy consumption in your home you can make investments that will save you money in the longer run. For example, buy the highest star energy efficient appliances, invest in smart blinds and ceiling fans, install a dual flush toilet and water-saving shower head, and use light dimmer switches.

Underfloor heating is very energy efficiency. To maximise this, make sure your home is properly insulated. Also, use a heating pump. Last but certainly not least, use a smart thermostat to further save energy and therefore heating costs. Ideally this would be in conjunction with underfloor heating but either way it is well worth investing in. 

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*This is a sponsored post.

#LivingLifeWild Linky

Thank you to everyone who linked up last week. There have been some lovely outdoor adenture posts, such as Squished Blueberries sharing their experience of watching the sun rise on the beach. Mummahub did a wonderful job of reminding us how great getting outdoors is for our stress levels and restoring peace, and over on instagram Mammas School has some fantastic unique ideas so do pop over and check her out for inspiration!

I have chosen two instagram pictures to share this week…

This is a stunning photo by Dermot Cosgrove. Read about his adventures in an interview with Phonetic Planet here. I love the quote too!

The second one, I simply love the way the photo captures the sunlight…

Please do link up your posts below, old or new, and use the hastag #LivingLifeWild  For more information, read here.

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Happy wild adventures!