How To Make Your Bathroom More Energy Efficient

When we spend time in the bathroom, we often tend to be using energy. Therefore, when you are designing your bathroom, it is important to think about the energy that you are going to be using every day, week and year. This is something that a lot of people tend to overlook. We tend to focus on the functions of the bathroom first, and then perhaps luxury and relaxation after this. But we should be thinking about how to make our bathrooms energy efficient. With that in mind, no matter whether you are moving into a new property or you are looking to make improvements to your current bathroom, read on to discover lots of different ways that you can start to save energy in your bathroom…

How To Make Your Bathroom More Energy Efficient

Switch Your Bath For A Shower

There are some homeowners that have bathrooms that contain a bath and not a shower. While you may prefer taking baths, they use up a lot of water and therefore are much less energy efficient. This is why it is a good idea to replace your bath with a shower or indeed have a showerhead installed over the top of the bath. Nevertheless, there are plenty of walk in shower options that look amazing and would completely transform your bathroom, giving it a luxurious and spacious feel. If you already have both a shower and bath in your bathroom, make sure you start taking showers more regularly and start saving baths for rare occasions in order to save more energy and consequently more money in the process.

More Bathroom Water Saving Tips

Taking showers more regularly than baths is not the only way that you can save water in the bathroom. Aside from this, it is important to look out for dripping taps. Dripping taps are a common problem in any home and they cause water to be wasted. You may assume that not a lot of water is wasted via this issue. However, more than 5000 litres of water per annum can be wasted through a dripping hot water tap. Just think of all of the money you are spending on a water and gas metre. Therefore, you can save a considerable amount of water and energy usage by simply getting your tap tightened.

Other ways to save water in the bathroom include thinking about how often you flush your toilet. You should also think about installing a dual flush insert device. This is a device that is designed to reduce the quantity of water used in every flush by around 50%. You can usually get these devices free of charge from your local water company so it is worth checking with your provider.

Check Your Extractor Fan

When it comes to the bathroom and wear and tear, condensation is one of the biggest culprits. The moisture in the air, which lingers from the shower, taps and bath, can climb to the walls. As time passes, this moisture will start to eat away at your fixtures and walls, which can cause issues with both damp and mould. In the end, condensation will mean that you need to remodel or replace your bathroom, which has a significant impact on the environment and will cost you a lot of money too. An extractor fan will work by getting rid of some of the moisture in the air. Therefore, it helps to lower the issues that have just been discussed.

To add some extra energy savings to your bathroom, you need to purchase an extractor fan with care. Look for one that has capabilities in terms of recovering heat. These fans will pull some of the warmth from the air, and they will use it to heat up a bathroom that may be cold. This provides you with further energy savings because not only are you dealing with the condensation issue that has been mentioned above but you will not need to turn your bathroom radiator on frequently and so you will save more money too.

Clean bright minimilistic bathroom with plants on windowsill

Big Changes That Can Make A Difference

As you can see, there are a lot of little changes you can make to the bathroom that will make a big difference in terms of energy efficiency. However, of course, there are a number of big changes you should consider if you are in the process of planning or remodelling your bathroom. This represents the perfect time to make some significant energy efficiency improvements. There are a number of different ways that you can do this, including choosing a condensing combi boiler to replace your old boiler, cylinder and water tank, as well as installing low flow bathroom taps to both your bath and basin, replacing single glazed windows with double glazed windows, choosing a reduced capacity bath, and installing a low flush toilet.

Choose Energy Efficient Lighting

Of course, this is an energy efficient tip that you can implement all around the home, not just in the bathroom. Nevertheless, it represents an excellent way to make some further bathroom savings. Simply replacing your incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs or compact fluorescent lighting will make a massive difference. Yes, you will have to spend a little bit of money in order to purchase these types of light bulbs. Nevertheless, they cost much less to use and they last a lot longer, which means that you will save much more money in the long run by switching to this type of lighting.

Bathroom Insulation

Another way to make energy savings in your bathroom is with insulation. Next time you are thinking about getting new bathroom fixtures or tiles, you should insulate the walls in your bathroom. If you are currently living in a property that does not have cavity wall insulation, you will have no doubt noticed that your bathroom is not as warm as the rest of the house. If you add insulation it will make the bathroom as well as the rest of the house a lot warmer and more comfortable to live in. This means that you will need to spend less money to keep your house warm during the winter months.

Insulation is not only something that can be beneficial in terms of your walls. You can save money by insulating your hot water pipes as well. Plus, it does not end there, you can also use a jacket, so long as it is at least 75mm thick, in order to insulate your hot water tank. This is extremely beneficial because it will reduce your loss of heat by a massive 75%, which will save you a considerable batch of money every year. Not only this, but it means that your water will be kept hotter for longer and this means that you will use less energy overall and again save even more money.

High-efficiency Faucets and Shower Heads

Last but not least, you can also save a lot of money by investing in a high-efficiency showerhead. The vast majority of showerheads have a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute. You can reduce this amount by half or more by investing in a high-efficiency showerhead. High-efficiency faucets also provide you with a great way to reduce the flow of water that comes through your taps and again save energy.

As you can see, there are many different ways that you can make your bathroom more energy efficient. Some of the suggestions that have been provided require little effort on your behalf and, therefore, can be implemented today. However, there are some ideas that do require substantial expense and time, and so you may want to reserve them for when you are planning to remodel your existing bathroom. Either way, if you embrace a number of ideas that have been presented to you in this blog post, you will be able to save a considerable amount of energy in your bathroom. Not only is this a great way to help the planet, but it also means that you will reduce your utility bills by a considerable amount in the process.

*This is a collaborative post.

Green City Breaks: Guest Post by Sally – Life Loving

Hello all! I’m Sally and I blog over at Life Loving. My blog is my way to inspire others to get out and about and enjoy life more. I live by the motto ‘ketchup tomorrow, relish today’.

Sally at Life Loving outdoors

The lovely Katie has kindly let me put together a guest post about one of my favourite topics – travel. But today, I’ve given it a twist. I’m going to give you some inspiration for a green city break, so you can be a bit more environmentally-friendly, when planning your great escape.

Paris

One of the greenest options for travel is the train. We are lucky down here in Kent to have the Eurostar right on our doorstep. The travel time into Gare du Nord station in Paris is just over two hours, so it’s perfect for a day or two away. Eurostar trains also run regularly from London St Pancras. Paris is a wonderful choice for a city break. I love going up the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame. Paris is a city which you can easily take in most of the sites on foot. If you are visiting, I’d high recommend the lesser known Montparnasse Tower, as an option to see a different high-up view of Paris.

Paris arc de triomph

Venice

Keeping on the rail theme. Did you know you can travel all the way to Venice on a train? What’s even better is that you can travel overnight and wake up in your destination. You board a sleeper train at Paris’s Gare du Lyon. Your ticket will give you a bed in a cabin of either three or five other travellers. There’s also a restaurant and bar on-board. This will make the start of your city break really special, travelling in through France and Italy. Once in Venice, there’s a plethora of famous sites to take in including St Mark’s Basilica or heading up Venice’s tallest building, the Campanile, to take in the view. Whilst you are there, you must take a gondola ride – it’s iconic and if you go and don’t, you’ll regret it!

Manchester

Taking a coach to reach your city of choice is really good way of travelling greenly and cheaply. Coach operators like National Express have fares to cities like Manchester, Leeds and Cardiff starting at just £5 one way. Manchester is a great city break in particular. There’s endless shopping opportunities, including the huge Trafford Centre. Manchester is also known for its restaurants and nightlife, so it’s quite a grown up city break. You can add to your green credential by travelling around the city via its famous tram network too.

Copenhagen

This is a city which is famous for its investment into cycling. There’s plenty who would agree that the best way to see the city is by bike. Hire a city bike and you’ll get an electric bike, with built-in GPS and tourist information, so it’s really easy to get around and see what you want. It works out about £3.50 an hour to hire a city bike, but they are perfect to take in Tivoli Gardens or the Little Mermaid statue. If you are visiting in the summer months, make sure you head to the old port of Nyhavn. The surrounding houses are iconic as they have been painted in different colours. But it’s the restaurants you are after here. You can dine whilst enjoying great jazz music.

Scenic view of Copenhagen

Nice

For my final recommendation for a green city break, I will draw your attention to the French Riviera. You again can travel down on train. There’s a high speed service from Paris which takes just under six hours. You can be walking down the famous Promenade des Anglais before dinner time. The old town of Nice is great for exploring on foot or if you fancy a more leisurely option, the open-top bus tour will take you round the sites of the city. If it’s sunny, and it often is in Nice, you’ll be admiring the views from the top deck.

I’d also recommend hopping over to Monaco. The train ride takes about a quarter of an hour and you can take in some of the famous sites that you see televised on the Grand Prix – the harbour, the casino and the Palace. If you time it right, as we did, you can be there just in time for the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place just before midday.

A picturesque view of Monaco

I hope this has inspired you to look at some different ways to explore some of Europe’s most interesting cities. If you can, I’d highly recommend looking for alternative ways to travel, rather than simply just flying or taking taxis. You really see more of a place when you use the public transport, whether that’s a train, bus, boat or bike. You end up using your eyes more and really understanding how a city works. Plus you’ll know how to get around!

For more tips and advice you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Could You Conserve More Water At Home?

There are lots of regions around the world that constantly suffer from droughts and a severe lack of water. Even though most of this is all because of the hot climates in which these regions are, some water shortage is still down to bad management and use of the world’s resources. In fact, even we can help these struggling areas by trying to limit the amount of water use in our own homes. Not only will it help those who are a lot less fortunate than us, but conserving water also gives you a chance to cut down your monthly water bill, which can save you money off your utilities.

So, ready to try and save a bit more water? Here are some things that you can try…

Could You Conserve More Water At Home? Background image of flowing water from pipe

Fix All Your Leaks

If you have some leaks in your pipes, you should get these checked out by a plumber. Whether you need to get your toilet pipes looked at, or you need to call someone to take care of some drain repair outside, getting all of these pesky leaks looked at will help you conserve more water. It makes sense if you think about it – you won’t be losing quite as much of the blue stuff once the plumbing is taken care of and it all stays in your pipes rather than dripping out of them!

Take Shorter Showers & Get A Bucket

Showers conserve a lot more water than taking a bath, so it’s always a better idea to jump in the shower rather than taking a soak. But that doesn’t mean that water is safe in the shower! Try to cut down your shower time to under 5 minutes.

Also, most of us run the shower for a while, while we wait for the water to heat up to the right temperature. Sound familiar? Well, that will be wasting a lot of water – as it heats up, it will just be going straight down the drain. To put a stop to this, you need to collect all of this wasted water in a bucket. Then, once the shower is hot enough, you can move the full bucket to one side. All of this collected water can be used out on the garden, or even to flush your toilet!

Don’t Leave Taps Running So Much

Something else that I’m sure we are all guilty of is leaving the tap running too much. For instance, do you leave the tap on while you are brushing your teeth? If so, that’s not good for the environment as it is wasting quite a lot of water. Instead, turn it off while you brush. You can then turn it on again when you need to rinse your toothbrush.

Use Your Washing Machine Wisely

Clothes do not need to be washed as often as people think they do! Don’t throw every item of your clothes into the washing machine after every use; underwear yes, those outer layers no! Try to make sure you actually have a full load of necessary washing to do before you switch the machine on. And use the eco cycle if you have one!

What are your top tips for saving energy at home? Let me know in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Top Tips For A Plastic-Free Picnic

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the launch day events for Plastic-Free St Albans is a Plastic-Free Picnic at Highfield Park. This is also an awesome way to celebrate Earth Day too. So whether you are planning a picnic for this reason, or having one on any other day, here are my top tips for a plastic-free picnic…

Top Tips For A Plastic-Free Picnic

Shopping

Firstly, choose items that are sold loose or in recyclable packaging. Avoid plastic packaging as much as you can! It is hard to do, which is why there are several campaigns focused on holding shops and supermarkets more accountable for this too. If you are feeling abit rebellious, you could unpackage everything after you pay, before you leave and give the rubbish back to them… maybe it will help them to take the hint!

Better yet, head on down to your local eco store, if you have one, with your refill jars and avoid the supermarkets with all their unnecessary packaging full stop!

(Oh, and wherever you shop, don’t forget to take your reusable bags, obviously….)

Plastic Free St Albans eco friendly reusable bag organic cotton sustainable bag

Packing Your Picnic

Transporting

Use an old style wicker basket to carry your picnic! Or choose from one of the many reusable bag options available. This one is easy; just don’t use a plastic bag! Moving on…

Containers

Tuppaware containers are ok as they aren’t single- use plastic. However, there are even better alternatives! Stainless steel containers are more environmentally- friendly and will most likely last you longer too.

Keeping it Fresh

Rather than cling film, use sandwich bags or reusable wax wraps. These keep food fresh very effectively and are much kinder to the environment.

Reusable sandwich bag

Plates, Bowls and Cutlery

Taking your own cutlery that you use at home is a good choice. You don’t actually need different cutlery just because you are eating outdoors! But if you do prefer to use something else, invest in a reusable bamboo cutlery set if possible.

For disposable cutlery options, as well as bowls and plates too, choose eco- friendly items such as from The Blue Speck. They are 100% biodegradable and sourced directly from plants.

Drinks

Take a flask along with a reusable cup for hot drinks. For cold drinks, take along a reusable drinks bottle. If you need a straw, invest in a reusable one made from metal or bamboo, or buy disposable alternatives to plastic, such as paper straws.

Reusable eco friendly cup

Other Useful Info

Low Tox Box also has a fab zero waste starter kit. It contains several reusable bags, spork, cup and straw for £30 plus P&P. They also plant a tree for every box sold and send a certificate too.

Enjoy your plastic- free picnic!

Click here for more zero waste tips

Fun Family Activities To Celebrate Earth Day!

Sunday 22nd April is Earth Day. So here are some lovely ways you can celebrate, either then or any other day (because really, everyday should be Earth Day anyway!)…

Fun Family Activities To Celebrate Earth Day!

Nature Art

There are lots of fun nature art activities that you can do as a family. One that is particularly great for Earth Day is to collect some large pebbles, arrange them in a solid circle, then paint them with a map of the world (I decided to add a peace sign too!)

Earth day, world peace, creative, art, artivism, family fun, educational activities, home education, green living, global citizen, our world, environment

Get Crafty!

Make a paper mache globe – a project takes several days but is lots of messy creative fun – head on over to The Crafty Classroom to for a detailed tutorial. Or make an Earth Pom Pom, pop over to Monkey and Mouse for info!

Nature Walk

Use all your senses to explore the natural environment around you. Stop for a few moments, be still and listen. What do you hear? What do you see? What can you smell? Touch the bark of a tree, go barefoot on the grass. Take it all in and connect with our earth.

Earth Day, Living Life Our Way, nature, global citizen, green living, our world, natural environment, family fun

Complete a Challenge

Go from room to room to find ways to reduce energy consumption in your family home. Who can spot the most ways?

Give Earth a Helping Hand

Clean up your local environment with a two minute litter pick in your local park or nearby beach.

Earth Day, Living Life Our Way, litter picking, park clean up, activism, global citizen, green living, our world, natural environment, family fun

Family Movie Night

Watch an eco documentary such as A Plastic Ocean or Blue Planet 2.

Storytime Snuggles

Grab some books from your local library, such as Duffy’s Lucky Escape.

Duffy's Lucky Escape

Plastic- Free Picnic

Can you manage to hold a plastic- free family picnic? Which part is most difficult? How could you resolve it?

Take Part in a Project

Create your own family documentary about whichever aspect of green living you choose. Or make a poster about it. Or whatever format you prefer! The key is to engage with your ideas and share them with others.

What are you doing for Earth Day? Tell me in comments, I look forward to reading about it!

7 Simple Ways Kids Can Contribute to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle: Guest Post by Veronica – My Parenting Journey

Families often live wasteful lives, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle with children can seem like a daunting task. Little humans can create a lot of waste, but there are plenty of ways kids can contribute to an eco-friendly lifestyle. Now is the time to change your habits and set better habits for your growing kids.

Child outdoors exploring nature

Can Families “Go Green”?
A common assumption is that families can’t go green because children tend to produce a lot of waste. The amount of waste children generate depends entirely on the lifestyle you live.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that an average American family generates 4.4 pounds of garbage a day. That means each week your family puts out about 29 pounds of trash. Seems crazy, right? There are ways to reduce that output. Having kids doesn’t have to be wasteful!

● Use cloth diapers
● Try an eco-friendly laundry detergent
● Breastfeed
● Save clothes for other children
● Shop used sales
● Use stainless steel or glass bottles

Talk With Your Kids
Before you introduce an eco-friendly lifestyle to your kids, it is important to sit down and have a chat with your kids. Discuss with them why you want to make this change! Show them ways you may already be going green at home or school. Do their schools or classrooms recycle?

During your talk, encourage your kids to think of ways you can go green together as a family. Kids are creative and inventive, so give them this time to shine. Start with their ideas first to encourage them to keep going!

7 Simple Ways Kids Can Contribute to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle title with image of two children

7 Ways Kids Can Contribute to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

1.Start a Garden
Our family, kids included, gardens and grows a large portion of our food. You don’t need a large garden; growing any of your food is a step in the right direction. Gardening gets everyone outside, soaking in vitamin D, and it brings the food cycle to you! Kids make fantastic gardeners with a little direction.

2. Work a Compost
If you are going to garden, composting makes sense. Composting creates a source of free nutrients for your garden while eliminating your waste.

Your kids can collect items each day for the compost, such as the eggshells from breakfast and veggie scraps from dinner prep. Kids can also stir the compost and add in grass clippings or shredded leaves!

3. Sort Recycling
Reducing the amount of waste you generate as a family reduces your carbon footprint. All should do recycling. Create a recycling bin system and encourage your children to sort the waste throughout the day. They can rinse out milk jugs or put the newspaper into the right bin. Later, take your children to drop off the recycling and see if you can visit a recycling center!

4. Turn Off Lights
Make it a game to see who can turn off the most lights each day. Reducing your electricity usage saves your money and contributes to a green lifestyle. Children are sponges, and they adopt whatever lifestyle you encourage in them. Teach them to turn off the water as they brush their teeth and more!

Another idea is to have family nights when you turn off all electronics. Unplug the TV and spend time together reading or playing board games. If it is nice, head outside for a hike or a game of soccer. You are reducing your energy output while spending time together.

5. Bike Together
Cars are massive producers of pollution. Biking to places may not be easy depending on where you live. If you live in a city, biking could be a great opportunity for your kids to get exercise and to reduce pollution. Walking or riding bikes are great alternatives! If you have a baby, you can get a seat to put on your bicycle. Families with toddlers can attach a pull-behind seat!

6. Make Reusable Bags Together
Kids love to craft, so why not make a craft that has a purpose? Reusable bags are a staple for green families. You might end up with a small collection everywhere. You can find easy tutorials to make bags from t-shirts or old pillowcases. Be creative! It is also a great opportunity to teach your kids to use up what they have rather than going to purchase new.

7. Make Homemade Cleaners
Another easy task for your kids is to get them involved with making homemade cleaners! Working with vinegar, baking soda, and more is quite safe for your kids. Older kids can learn about the toxicity of harsh chemicals. Show them how to clean with simple ingredients. It is best for you to add essential oils if you use them rather than the little kids!
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle takes more than just one person in a family. It has to be a family effort. Teach your kids the importance of treating the earth with kindness and show them simple ways to do so. You are instilling values that will last a lifetime.

Image of two young children exploring a pond

About the Author
Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Chief Editor of My Parenting Journey.

Easy Ways to Cut the Amount of Energy You Use Each Month

Whether you want to do it for the good of the planet or the good of your bank balance, taking steps to spend less on energy is definitely worthwhile. It’s also a lot easier to do than many people think. We’re all guilty of wasting energy and using more than we need to. That’s just the way it is, but that doesn’t mean your habits can’t change. It’s more than possible to make changes to how you consume energy, and we’re about to prove that right now…

Easy Ways to Cut the Amount of Energy You Use Each Month title with image of house made of leaves

Go LED

LED light bulbs are so much more energy efficient than the vast majority of other bulbs out there. If you’re still using old halogen bulbs, that’s something that’s really got to change. They use a lot of energy, and all of that’s being wasted when you could so easily switch to LEDs without any drawbacks of negatives involved at all. Every light in your home should be an LED.

Shut Your Doors and Close Your Curtains

Heating is a major way in which people waste energy in the home. If you only focus on heating the rooms that you’re using, you will save so much money and energy during the winter months. And you can do that even better by closing the curtains to stop heat escaping and also shutting doors so that the heat doesn’t escape into the rest of your home.

When Dealing With Frozen Foods, Use the Microwave Less

This is a very simple but effective trick. When you have frozen foods that you need to defrost before you can cook, simply remember to take them out of the freezer and sit them out on the countertop about 8 to 12 hours before you plan on using that food for preparation. It’s so much more energy efficient than defrosting in the microwave because it doesn’t use any energy at all.

Install More Energy Efficient Windows

Your windows will have a big impact on how much energy you use on heating your home. By improving the quality of your windows, you will be able to get away with spending less on energy each and every month. Find a company that can offer you replacement double glazing as soon as possible and start reaping the rewards of these changes. They’ll pay for themselves in no time.

A photo of windows

Wash in Colder Water

Washing your clothes is obviously another necessity, and that’s why many people think that there is no way for them to save energy in this area. That’s simply not true though. By washing your clothes in colder water, you will achieve the same results in most instances, and you will use a lot less energy.

Everyone can use less energy each and every month if they’re willing to put in the work to make it happen. You don’t need to spend money on energy that really isn’t needed. As the tips and ideas here prove, there are alternatives to energy inefficiency. Why not start making these changes right away?

*This is a collaborative post.

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Simple

If you’re one of the growing numbers of people who are becoming more and more concerned about the use of pesticides in the food chain, and you’re thinking of feeding your own family by growing your own healthy organic vegetables, here are some tips that will make the whole process much simpler for you…

 Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Simple title on faded background image

Get Yourself in a Greenhouse

If you get yourself one of the greenhouses from https://www.swgreenhouses.co.uk/greenhouses-for-sale.html, you will be able to grow a wider range of vegetables for a long period of time. You may even be able to grow some of your favourite fruits and veggies out of season.

Prepare the Soil Carefully

If you want your vegetables to grow and thrive, then you need to ensure that your soil is rich in organic nutrients. That means, before you even think about planting anything, you should ensure that you have worked plenty of organically created compost into the soil. If you do nothing else, then do this because it will ensure not only a bumper crop but a tastier one too.

Delicious looking cabbages growing in the soil

Choose Foods That Will Thrive Where You Live

It’s an obvious one, but there is little point in choosing to plant vegetables that are unlikely to thrive in the kind of weather conditions you’re dealing with. If you’re unsure which veggies are likely to thrive in your garden space, ask an expert at your local garden centre, read a book like the one at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allotment-Almanac or talk to local gardeners in your area. They will typically know what’s best for you, and most will be only too happy to share their knowledge.

A bumper crop of fruit

Heirloom Veggies are Best

There are lots of things that get better with age – like fine wines and vegetables. No, I’m not talking mouldy old vegetables; but seeds! Heirloom seeds are seeds collected from older varieties of produce, and they are almost always cheaper and more flavoursome, not to mention nutritious, than modern versions. They can sometimes be difficult to find, but it’s worth the effort trying to source them.

Flowers are a Veggie Garden’s Best Friends

You might be wondering why you would want to take up precious organic veggie growing space with flowers, apart from the fact they’re pretty that is, but the fact is that flowers will attract bees and bees will pollinate your veggies, so that you don’t have to do quite so much of the work yourself manually. Plant them around the borders, and you will soon see lots of little pollinators coming to pay a visit.

Worms are Fantastic

When it comes to organic gardening, you should absolutely be creating your own compost, and you know what makes really good compost and garden mulch? Worms. Invest in a wormery, and you’ll never want for high-quality compost again. Seriously, they make way better compost than you’d get just by collecting your scraps in a bin.

Check Seeds are certified Organic

Not all seeds are organic, so when it comes to buying the stock you plan to grow in your garden and greenhouse, you should always seek to verify that your seeds are indeed organic. If you don’t do this, then your veggies simply won’t be organic, despite your best efforts, so it is important to do the checks.

A raised planting bed

Raised Beds Extend the Season

If you plant your veggies in raised beds, using the richest soil you can find, you can probably extend the season of your produces, sometimes quite dramatically. It’s also much easier to weed veggies in boxes because they aren’t as close to the ground. Of course, you need to make sure that any beds you use are made from natural untreated wood, or there could be some chemical leakage into the soil.

Alternatively, you might want to think about growing things vertically using cages or trellis, which means you have more space to increase your yields and better circulation that can help to prevent blight and other diseases.

Plant Companions

Nature is smart, and it creates plants that thrive well together. By identifying these companions and planting them close together, you can cut down on the amount of insects who attempt to lunch on your veggies, grow more volume and cut down on the risk of disease, to name but a few benefits. So do your homework, work out which veggies are best friends and plant them accordingly.

Time to get your wellies on and get gardening! What are you growing this year?

*This is a collaborative post.

Living Greener In Your House

Living a little greener throughout our lives is something we think is hard to achieve. Companies like to croon all the time about how energy efficient they are, and yet when you have all that money behind you it seems so easy to keep that up! However, a huge lifestyle change doesn’t have to be in swing here, and some simple changes are just as effective as taking to a cabin in the woods. We already know a child friendly home with a bit of flair is possible, but what about living as green as possible whilst still being comfortable?

A vase of flowers on a wooden table in a large bright room.

Check Your Appliances

Checking your appliances means going around your house in the last five minutes at the end of the day and making sure everything is turned off and unplugged. It’s something simple and yet so effective, and you’re not going to be donating valuable hours to it. You see, even when something is plugged in and switched off, there’s a very good chance it’s still using power, considering how popular the standby function is these days.

At the same time, make sure everything you use has a good energy rating. When something is in the A band for electrical use, you’re not going to be wasting any energy simply as a byproduct of chilling your food in the fridge for example. And that also ends up saving you some pennies, which all add up at the end of the month.

Start Recycling Everything

Of course, not every material out there is yet capable of being recycled. But recycling as much of your waste than ever before means you’re going to be doing a great bit for the planet.

Sort through your clutter! If something is using the space you need to live harmoniously, it’s definitely going to need passing on. Make some effort on reducing your carbon footprint; don’t throw away anything that could be avoided. Make sure any electronic waste you have laying around, either on the side tables or in the attic, are being disposed of or sold off. Those old laptops are never going to see the working world again anyway! Sometimes you can make some cash, sometimes you just have to part with an object responsibly.

Open Up Your Curtains

If you have curtains, make sure they’re open for as long as they can be during the day, and then close them at night. Keeping a room warm is a lot easier when you’re using the insulating material over the windows to full effect after all. You won’t have to turn on the heating so much when you’ve got your curtains on a tight schedule, and it just takes a bit of arm work to pull them open and closed when the time comes to it.

There’s a lot of little changes you can make to your daily routine to make sure your house is as green as possible. Try to incorporate these moves as soon as you can to save you time and money.

*This is a collaborative post.

Is Self-Sufficient Living Possible For You?

There has been a steep rise in environmental concerns and a deep uncertainty surrounding financial markets in recent years. Those who are recognising the difficulty in the financial markets are turning more and more to a life of self-sufficiency. The dream of being off the grid in a home that is free of a mortgage with solar panels to generate electricity and heat without being tied into contracts? That’s a big dream for a lot of people.

We used to live in a world where we made do and mended; people learned how to sew and cook and garden for themselves – these were not jobs that were outsourced to others. The conveniences of modern technology and consumerism have all but eradicated the want to learn how to mend something rather than throw things out and start again. Society is stuck in an endless cycle of spending money, getting into debt and an overall dissatisfaction with life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A photo of homegrown tomatoes growing.

Living a self-sufficient life can be busy, hard and labor intensive. However, the satisfaction you get from cutting down your expenses, changing your reliance on fossil fuels and even installing Cultivar greenhouses to grow your own produce is immense. It doesn’t matter whether you are already barefoot and farming or you’re living in a city tower block, you can take the right steps toward a life of independence and throw off the shackles of society.

Is Self-Sufficient Living Possible For You? Title on background image of bees.

One of the best and biggest investments that you could make toward a lifestyle that is independent is learning some DIY skills. The whole point of self-sufficiency is not relying on the professionals to repair your car, sew your clothes and grow your food. Learn how your home operates, from the pipes to the electrics. Learn with videos like this one how to rewire a plug and learn the basics of maintenance of your car. There are a lot of free classes you can take to learn how to fix things and use a thread and needle, and YouTube is a goldmine for things like that.

Gaining independence from your home includes generating your own resources, and that will mean learning how to grow your own food and collecting your own rainwater. This article can tell you the benefits of rainwater collection and what you can use it for. Having a wind turbine installed or adding solar panels to the roof gives you the chance to have the ultimate solution for moving off the grid. If the costs don’t allow for those things, checking out solar water heaters or even outside lights could really make a huge difference to the way that you live – and what you pay out on utility bills. You can make many home improvements to conserve energy, from covering the windows in a film to keep the heat in and installing skylights to bring in natural light. You can enhance your energy use by harnessing as much of the natural light and heat as possible.

i - robot plugged into wall.

The world is ruled by automation – everything that we do is now automated to be efficient and easier. While this is great in the business world and can make life a lot easier all around, opting for manual systems where you can is the best way to conserve energy. Turn off the Roomba and use the brushes and vacuum cleaner that you bought to clean the house. Utilise the clothesline in the backyard instead of using the dryer every day. Small changes like that – even ones that see you using a bowl and a wooden spoon instead of an electric whisk – can add up to the biggest savings. You don’t have to do much to change the way that you live, but the best change that you could make is to stop plugging in and start using a little elbow grease!

One of the biggest expenses – aside from a car and a mortgage – is healthcare and insurance. It would be stupid to cancel your health insurance altogether, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot take control of your health. Eating organically, reducing the use of toxic chemicals such as aerosols and bleaches and turning toward natural medicine solutions can make a difference to the spend on healthcare. You can use recipes like these to make your own household cleaners and you can start ditching the car and getting on your bike to improve your health. Taking the right steps to ensure you get a good workout in everyday can make a big difference to your overall health, which will save you money on what you spend in medicines and at the hospital.

Starting to learn how to grow your own food, and if you have the land, raise your own animals for slaughter can change the way you spend your cash on groceries. You get to know exactly where your food comes from, and you can learn to cook your own food from recipe books or classes. Growing and preparing the food that you have chosen to raise in your garden can save you cash but also save the number of trips to the doctor that you have each year. Home grown fruit, herbs and vegetables means no preservatives and no chemicals sprayed on them to get them to grow. Chickens could provide your family with eggs. A beehive supplies you honey and gives you the chance to have pollinators on site in a natural way.

A swarm of bees pollinators making honey

Being self-sufficient isn’t for everyone. We always become comfortable with consumerism and automation, and while that is okay to an extent, you do also have to look at the impact this has on your daily living and your budget. Take the time to shut things down and learn how to do it all for yourself. It’s not easy, it’s not light work, but it’s going to change the way you see the world. You can save a little piece of the world while you do it and you can feel good about that!

*This is a collaborative post.