Rockford’s Rock Opera Review & Giveaway Bundle

Rockford’s Rock Opera by Sweetapple is an ecological musical story about extinction, biodiversity, the value of the natural world and bringing endangered species back from the brink. It was created by a group of friends (Matthew Sweetapple and Elaine Sweetapple, husband and wife, and comedian Steve Punt) in an attic in Barnet, Hertfordshire and was first launched on the web in 2008. Rockford’s Rock Opera is enjoyed in 100,000 schools all over the world. This year it is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and is now in the process of being turned into a feature animated film! With a production budget of $38,000,000 it will be one of the UK’s
biggest-ever independent films.

Rockford's Rock Opera

The story is unique in it’s format and delivery; combining pictures, animation, songs and dialogue. It is a truly touching story with an important ecological message. In essence, it is a musical story about a boy from Battersea called Moog and his Dog, Rockford. The underlying message is that one day we’ll discover the greatest secret of all; how every species on earth can live together in harmony. The creators, who describe it as Jungle Book meets Jurassic Park, suggest it is aimed primarily at ages 6-12 years old.

I downloaded all four of the parts on my iPhone from the App store (part 1 is free, parts 2, 3 and 4 cost £1.99 each). Each app contains extras as well as the story itself; including the music, story background and useful learning material (did you know that 99.9% of all creatures that have ever lived may now be extinct?!) as well as links to environmental organizations and charities.

Rockford's Rock Opera app

The story itself is a good combination of stills and CGI (some quite psychedelic; it took me back to the Beatles yellow submarine), supported by clear narration and varied styled music – some with singalong lyrics (one of my favorite touches). Not wishing to give too much of a spoiler, the story centers around Moog and his rescue dog Rockford from Battersea Dogs’ Home, who find themselves travelling across the sea of tranquility to an island called Infinity; home to the last creature of all extinct species. Here they encounter many fictional creatures, including a small yellow sticky creature with a green stripe called a Cocklebur Ink, a ten tentacle octopus called a Dectopus and a menacing guitar playing mantis called The Registrar, to name just a few. Moog and Rockford must race to the centre of the island against the backward flowing river to stop the extinction of all dogs and humans on earth. But, given humans were the cause of many of the islands creatures’ extinctions, not everyone wants them to succeed.

Rockford's Rock Opera Island of Infinity

All four parts run to 2.5 hours in total but is divided into chapters, making it perfect for bedtimes or car journeys. It has no in app purchasing and does not require an internet connection, so it’s 100% safe for children to use unassisted.

I have to say I fell in love with this story. It really tugs on the heartstrings and inspires empathy in such an original way. It gets the message across very clearly, and is hard hitting, yet also simultaneously approaches it in a sensitive and tactful way; it is a delicate balance that has been achieved remarkably well.

The songs range from slow, emotional songs such as ‘This Tail is True’ to really rocky tunes like ‘I Am The Registrar’. My absolute favourite though, is the incredibly catchy ‘Tale of The Cocklebur Ick’. This one has literally not left my head! I think not least of all because it carries such a strong message and is so thought- provoking. That tale in itself can lead to many hours of valuable discussion; indeed there are entire lesson plans on the website to cover just that part of the story.

The website is filled with tonnes of useful information, from detailed lesson plans to practical ideas on how to protect our environment. It also has loads of other cool fun stuff too, so do check it out! RockfordsRockOpera.com

Giveaway!

I have an awesome Rockford’s Rock Opera giveaway bundle for one reader to win! Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Competition ends on 8th July 2018.

Rockford's Rock Opera giveaway bundle

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given free access to the apps for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Can You Give Up Plastic? (Just For One Day)

We can be heroes, just for one day…

Tomorrow, Tuesday 5th June, is World Environment Day. You will hopefully have already seen the global game of tag in action to help raise awareness of plastic pollution and to highlight how easy it is to switch from single- use plastics to reusables. And now for the real challenge…

Can you give up plastic on World Environment Day? Just for one day. #OnePlasticFreeDay #PassOnPlastic

Can you give up plastic completely, just for one day?

Take on the challenge and see how well you can do!

Use hashtags #PassOnPlastic and #OnePlasticFreeDay to share your efforts and achievements on social media, alongside #BeatPlasticPollution and #WorldEnvironmentDay too. Please also feel free to tag me if you wish – I would love to see how you get on!

And last but not least, one final challenge…

I have just set up a club on Litterati – simply search Living Life Our Way to join me. The idea is to document the rubbish we all collect – very simple – just take a snap, tag the pic, then bin/ recycle the item.

But this free app makes it an exciting challenge – we can track the impact we are having and see who is highest on the scoreboard for some fun competition!

Download the app here: litterati.org

Then remember to join my club! (Living Life Our Way).

Take action to #BeatPlasticPollution (and all other pollution!) in aid of World Environment Day. Let’s do this!

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, or better still shower cabins, 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.

Sustainable St Albans Week 2018 and Launch of Plastic Free St Albans!

There are only a few days to go now until Sustainable St Albans Week 2018, so I want to share with you some of the fab things that will be going on! If you are local, then pop along to some of the events to learn more about eco living and show your support. And if you aren’t local, maybe these ideas will inspire you to host your own event in your local town!

The week will be kicking off with an afternoon of talks to launch the event, as well as over a dozen activities on just the first day alone. Over the course of the week there is a massive range of fun, educational and inspiring activities for all ages.

Sustainable St Albans Week 2018 logo

Some of the highlights include the grand opening of our first ‘Little Free Library’ – where you can take a book and donate another, several guided walks and cycle rides, organised wildlife watch, vegan cooking demo and tasting (yum!), plenty of talks and workshops on various topics, eco tours, growing activities, seed swaps, clothes swaps, litter picks, poetry recitals and film screenings. The list goes on and on…! It is a jam packed week full of brilliant options to choose from.

Children can also meet Munch the recycling lorry and discover more about recycling, do creative activities using old items, take part in interactive storytelling, attend woodcraft taster sessions, and swap books, amongst other things. Lots of the other activities are very family- friendly and suitable for all ages too of course!

For the full event schedule visit the Sustainable St Albans website and download the booklet.

There is also a one day Know- How Festival, which sounds brilliant! I thought this was worth a specific mention as it has so much going on for the whole family. Here is further information…

Know How festival flyer - part of Sustainable St Albans Week 2018

As part of Sustainable St Abans Week, on Sunday 22nd April, which very aptly is also Earth Day, marks the official launch of Plastic Free St Albans. I am so excited about this, so let me tell you more about it!

Plastic Free St Albans is inspired by Surfers Against Sewage – an environmental charity who are leading a national campaign called Plastic Free Coastlines, to encourage communities to drastically reduce single use plastics – and is an alliance of several local activists. It was founded by Emma Tyers, who previously ran the hugely successful St Albans Refuse the Straw campaign and also has members from our fantastic local groups, Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth, too. What a team! The group aims to hopefully achieve S.A.S Plastic Free status eventually.

Plastic Free St Albans logo

The main goal is to work with local businesses, schools, and other organisations to remove, as far as possible, plastic straws and stirrers, water bottles and balloons from St Albans. These particular items are being targetted because they are so rarely recycled, and therefore form such a large part of our plastic waste and litter.

They are also working on St Albans Refill scheme, which asks businesses to provide free water bottle refills to anyone who asks, free of charge. Look out for other upcoming projects in future too!

Last but not least, check out their excellent interactive map of all things plastic free, so you can see how the campaign is developing and, more importantly, know where to head to avoid the plastic! Awesome initiative, looking forward to seeing the map grow!

You can also read more about Plastic Free St Albans in this Herts Ad article.

To launch this fantastic new campaign, there will be a plastic-free picnic at Highfield park on Sunday afternoon, followed by a screening of A Plastic Ocean in the evening, along with a panel of guest speakers, hosted at the beautiful Odyssey cinema. There are only a few tickets left, so grab yours now!

Enjoy what promises to be an inspirational and exciting week!

Handmade recycled silver labradorite stone ring image and giveaway wording

GIVEAWAY!!!

To help celebrate and support both Sustainable St Albans Week and Plastic Free St Albans, the lovely Sally from Leonard of London has offered us a stunning piece of jewellery to giveaway to one lucky campaign supporter! This gorgeous handmade ring is made from recycled sterling silver and has a beautiful labradorite stone.

The ring will be resized for the winner as per the measurements given before sending it to them.

Check out Leonard of London on facebook for more of her work.

Handmade recycled silver labradorite stone ring

The giveaway ends on 21st May 2018 and is open to UK residents only. Enter via rafflecopter below. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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.

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.

How To Renovate A House Sustainably

Have you ever thought about how to renovate a house sustainably and turn your home into an environmentally friendly palace? This post is full of ways to renovate a home more sustainably, with ideas such as building essentials, materials, energy saving design ideas and eco friendly finishing touches.

Renovating your home can be costly. But it is not just the financial cost of renovations involved; it can take its toll on the environment too. Yet it certainly doesn’t need to be that way. Renovating your house whilst protecting the environment at the same time is achievable, and the result can be a beautiful eco-friendly home. So if you are looking to renovate your house sustainably, here are some ideas…

A picture of a house with title of post written in sky next to it.

Building Essentials

Choose tradesmen who are environmentally conscious. Insist that they do what they can to reduce waste or recycle, minimising the amount that ends up in landfill. It is also absolutely essential that anything that does unavoidably have to be disposed of (as a last resort!) is done so responsibly.

If you are looking for an eco house refurbishment specialist in the London area, Twickenham based company Unique Design and Build offers energy efficient and green solutions designed to preserve the environment, and save money too. They understand that people might not have time to devote to labour-intensive projects or have a definite idea about how to make their ideas into a reality but still want the best results.

Materials

When choosing materials, try to use natural whenever possible. Alternatively, use recycled or reclaimed materials. Certainly make sure materials are non- toxic. Also try to source materials as locally as possible too, because of the environmental cost of transporting it.

As suggested in a Telegraph article “choose wood-framed windows rather than UPVC or metal. They are easier to repair, more insulating, last a lifetime and are less polluting than the cheaper UPVC (unplasticised poly vinyl chloride), from which many domestic window frames are made, which emits toxic compounds”.

A picture of architectural plans and colour samples.

Design Essentials

One of the key things to consider is insulation. Properly insulated walls, ceilings and floors help to keep heat in, which prevents wasted energy and also saves money. Fill cavity walls with insulation, otherwise they can be almost as wasteful as an uninsulated loft. On that note, ensure the loft is well insulated too! For all types of insulation, again use natural materials or recycled materials, if at all possible.

For heating up your home, underfloor heating is cost- effective and can be installed in older homes that are being renovated as well as new homes. Also, choose your boiler carefully. An energy efficient boiler that is regularly serviced will make a big difference to your energy bill… and the environment.

A picture of a room flooded with lots of natural light.

When designing your home, also try to allow for the maximum amount of natural light to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Install double-glazed windows, which are far more efficient at keeping in heat and therefore save energy, then team them up with thermal-backed curtains for even more energy saving.

For powering your home, rather than using fossil fuels, choose clean energy sources. It could well be a good investment to install solar panels for this. Alternatively, try to choose a clean energy company to supply your home.

Extra Considerations

Redecorating

Use water, rather than oil-based, paints with natural pigment as they are more environmentally friendly.

Furniture

Choose secondhand furniture, upcycle or select furniture made from recycled materials.

Fixtures and Fittings

  • Swap regular light bulbs for eco bulbs.
  • Fit a water-saving showerhead. You will save more energy if you opt for an aerated or low-flow showerhead. Same goes for sanitary fittings too.
  • Select appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings.
  • Install a rainwater collection tank.

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Unique Design and Build.

Shayna EcoUnified: Turning Plastic Waste Into Useful Architectural Tiles

Shayna EcoUnified is an innovative company that uses new technology to help tackle plastic pollution in the environment, by turning plastic waste into affordable yet high performance structural materials, in the form of tiles and blocks. 

A picture of the floor and wall tiles in a range of colours piled up with Shayna EcoUnified logo in the bottom corner of the image.
Floor & wall tiles available in different colours.

About The Company

Shayna EcoUnified are the first and only company in India and SAARC countries to have the technology to produce these. This has been achieved in collaboration with the Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR)- National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL), with whom this technology was developed, tested and certified for usage in multiple applications.

About The Product

The products have a range of qualities that have been successfully tested. For starters, they are incredibly durable; they are weather and heat resistant, acid and corrosion resistant, and chip resistant too. They are also hygenic, since they are both anti-bacterial and anti- microbial. Last but not least they are practical; they have anti- static and anti- skiding properties, and are ready to use with no drying required.

In summary, they offer better structural stability at a lower cost compared to conventional materials, as well as protecting the environment from plastic dumping. For example, 600 waste plastic bags are used to make one 12″ x 12″ tile weighing 900g. Each tile costs less than ‎£1.

Uses

The tiles have a range of uses such as wall and floor tiles, pavement tiles and structures such as public toilets, shelters, park benches and guard rooms. They have recently been able to produce a prototype of a roof tile and will be starting the production of it in a few months.

An image of the prototype of a roof tile with Shayna EcoUnified logo on the bottom corner of the picture
Prototype of a roof tile.

Process

The entire process of production is 100 per cent eco- friendly. The types of waste plastic that will serve as the raw materials are PP (Polyproplyene), LDPE (Low density polythene), and HDPE (High density polythene). It will be processed at a controlled temperature to ensure no hazardous gases are emitted. Furthermore, all the stages of production is largely mechanical, further ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

Ethics

Shayna EcoUnified are about to start fully fledged production in the next few weeks. The prototypes have been made by daily wage workers who they are hiring on full- time basis starting next month. The production site is adequately sized, the machine-run production area is covered, whilst the rest is open and full of greenery.

There are essential facilities provided on-site for labours, and filtered drinking water supply maintained. Health and safety measures are currently being installed. Also, they will be conducting training and capacity building sessions for women.

An image of three different colour interlocking tiles used for pavements. Shayna EcoUnified logo on bottom corner of image.
Interlocking tiles which are used for pavements.

Distribution

Once they become established in the Indian domestic market and are able to deliver maximum output, they plan to sell the product in other countries as well.

Find out more about Shayna EcoUnified on their website, twitter or facebook.

Eco- Friendly Gift Ideas (Gift Guide With Giveaway)

Do you want to find a gift with a difference? Then why not choose something that helps our planet! Here is a list of eco-friendly items to fill your (bamboo) stockings with…

Collage of all items featured in gift guide. Title written in centre.

Bamboo Coffee Cup Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) £12 each

This awesome 400 ml reusable bamboo coffee cup is dishwasher-safe, easy to carry around and lasts for years. It can be disposed of by crushing, soaking in hot water and burying with organic compost. The silicone lid and sleeve can be recycled.

A picture of SAS bamboo reusable coffee cups (boxed and stacked 3 x 2) in 6 different colours.

Annual Memberships

The Wildlife Trusts
The Wildlife Trusts do fantastic work, and annual membership is a lovely gift for eco-friendly nature lovers.

Wildlife Matters magazine and Go Wild leaflet by The Wildlife Trusts

Surfers Against Sewage
SAS works tirelessly to campaign for cleaner environments and supports the development of sustainable communities. Membership to this charity makes a great gift!

Image of SAS Pipeline journal

Homemade Soap Gift Set Living Naturally Cost: £26

This beautiful Soapnut Soap Selection Set is handmade in the UK from 100% natural, organic, vegan, sustainable, ethically-sourced & cruelty-free ingredients! They only use recycled/recyclable paper packaging, so you will not be contributing to landfill either.

A set of 7 beautiful vegan, eco, ethical, natural handmade soaps.

Salad Kit The Crop Club £30

These ‘grow your own’ kits are perfect for even small spaces and do their bit for the environment and sustainability. They include; 6 varieties of seeds, compostable cardboard and PLA pots, peat free compost discs, palm leaf trays for your pots, wooden spoon plant markers, bottletop waterer (80% recycled plastic, made in the UK) and coffee sack planter bags.

A picture of the contents of the crop club salad kit.

Every coffee sack is unique and different. They have already been used to transport coffee and are then upcycled. Due to this they can be a little dirty and messy but perfect for growing!

Eco Clothes (Custom and Various Designs including Charity Clothing) Living Life Our Way Cost: From £13

All Living Life Our Way clothing is made from 100% organic cotton, in a wind powered factory. Designs are printed using low waste, cutting edge technology. Furthermore, everything is ethically made and fully traceable from start to finish. Sustainable, ethical and good quality too. Choose from bags, sweatshirts, hoodies, tees and vests in a range of designs, or custom your own.

An image showing 6 of the different designs available from the store.

Mens Yoga Clothes OHMME 2- Dogs Yoga Shorts £45

OHMME is an eco- friendly athleisure slow fashion brand created as ethically as possible, who also donate to CALM Charity. They use GreenDefence, which incorporates a built-in antibacterial function to the garments that stops bacterial growth and reduces odors without using harmful chemicals. They also use bluesign® to minimise environmental impact and to help evolve towards a sustainable textile industry. It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for a safe production.

Image of a pair of blue Ohmme 2-dogs yoga shorts for men.

These 2-Dogs Yoga Shorts for men are stretchy and silky, lined with a soft compression layer for total freedom of motion. The material is stretchy; this tight but stretchy fit allows for excellent blood flow. The cut is fitted with an extra panel from the crotch all the way down the inside of the leg, removing the strain from the seams and keeping your shorts in place for maximum body mobility. They are made for all body shapes and types of workout allowing you to focus on your practice and forget about what you are wearing.

One lucky reader can win a pair of these brilliant blue 2-dogs mens yoga shorts! Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Ends 4th December 2017. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stocking Fillers

Do you have sustainable gift ideas? Please share them with me! I’d love to hear them.

This post contains affiliate links and is a collaborative post.

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. 

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic-free, #strawlessocean, #stopsucking, #topless4oceans, #cleanseas, #plasticfree, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, lonely whale, 5gyres, marine conservation society, plastic challenge, campaigns

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.

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic-free, #strawlessocean, #stopsucking, #topless4oceans, #plasticfree, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, lonely whale, 5gyres, marine conservation society, plastic challenge, campaigns

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! 

World Ocean Day, ocean, environment, plastic-free, #strawlessocean, #stopsucking, #topless4oceans, #cleanseas, #plasticfree, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 days wild, lonely whale, 5gyres, marine conservation society, plastic challenge, campaigns
Squiggle doing a quick beach clean-up during our last visit.

Happy World Oceans Day!