1. Starting off plastic free in 2020

    Posted on November 01, 2019 by Andrew

    Something must be done to reduce plastic use. Experts predict that if we don’t make an effort to reduce how much plastic we use, our oceans will have more plastic than fish in them within the next 30 years. Each day, over seven million plastic pieces and microplastics are released into the world’s oceans. Evidently, it’s time to take action and reduce casual plastic use for good. Environmental awareness has already increased and some changes have already been implemented, for example, the plastic bag fee of 2015 and the recent ban on plastic straws. Small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in the fight against plastic use.

    With the year almost at an end, it’s the ideal time to start thinking about what you can do to reduce your plastic use. Forget fad diets and gym memberships, reducing your plastic use is both rewarding and extremely easy to achieve. Booklet printing specialists Where The Trade Buys explore how you can start off 2020 plastic free:

    1. Invest in a reusable coffee cup and water bottle

    Takeaway coffee cups are a major source of waste material and plastic bottles take a shocking 450 years to decompose. With this in mind, it is more pressing than every to make the switch to reusable items. KeepCups and Chilly’s Bottles are popular brands that focus on sustainable products.

    • Say no to plastic bags and straws

    Luckily, these items are becoming less commonplace in the UK today. However, it can still be difficult to avoid them at times. When you pick up a takeaway for example, don’t be afraid to say no to the excess plastic bags your food is wrapped in. 

    • Only buy unpackaged fruit and veg

    Many supermarkets are now making switch to packaging free products. If you have the option, choose to load up brown paper bags with fruit and vegetables rather than choosing pre-package food.   Alternatively, you could grow your own veg in a greenhouse or allotment.

    • Get your hands on a bamboo toothbrush

    Plastic toothbrushes take 400 years to decompose, and if you consider how many you go through in a lifetime, the life span of them all is shocking. A bamboo toothbrush on the other hand, only takes five to ten years — minimal in comparison!

    • Switch to soap and shampoo bars rather than bottles

    Shampoo and hand soap always seem to come with excess plastic packaging. There is simply no need to coat these items in plastic, as they work perfectly well in bar form. This is another tiny switch that will make little difference to your daily routine but really help out the environment. 

    • Find a refill station for your laundry detergent and washing up liquid

    Instead of chucking out the plastic bottle when your washing up liquid runs out, hold on to it and get it refilled! Lots of sustainable shops now offer this service, making it easier than ever to opt for refills rather than wasting more plastic.

    • Shop at ‘zero waste’ shops

    Thankfully, zero waste shops are becoming far more common in the UK. The idea of zero waste shops is that they sell produce with absolutely no plastic packaging. Switching up your shopping routine and choosing a zero-waste shop would be a great habit to get into in 2020. You can find a list of zero waste shops and where to find them here.

    • Cut down on shopping and spending

    This last one is essential, although perhaps not as easy as the other lifestyle changes. Every time you buy something, especially online, it is likely to come swaddled in needless layers of plastic. If you cut down on this spending, you could make a real environmental change.

    • Up your sustainable Tupperware game

    Along the same theme, consider switching to sustainable Tupperware. There are plenty of alternatives to wasteful plastic Tupperware, such as bamboo, glass, or stainless-steel alternatives. Oxfam do a great range!

    1. Switch to beeswax wrap rather than clingfilm

    Sustainable food storage is another factor that people often forget to consider. We throw away single use clingfilm without a second thought, because it seems like such a necessity within our lives. Now however, there are plenty of alternatives to use if you want to go plastic free. Beeswrap, for example, is a ‘natural alternative to plastic wrap’ which can be used time and time again. Once you make an effort to change your routine, these changes will be easy to implement. They will soon become second nature! If everyone chips in and makes an effort towards sustainability, we will see a reduced amount of plastic pollution our oceans.

  2. Uncovering the most common energy saving myths

    Posted on October 15, 2019 by Andrew

    With climate change at the forefront of today’s issues, saving energy is more important than ever before. Whether we’re cutting down in order to save money, or to help the environment, we should all be making a conscious effort to reduce our energy expenditure. Here, we’re taking a look at some common energy saving myths, as well as the best methods for saving money on energy bills.

    1.    Fuel poverty

    For some of us, saving energy is crucial – especially if you suffer from fuel poverty. This is when a household spends more than 10% of its income on domestic energy use, defining them as a fuel poor household. Northern Powergrid, who can help with any new electric connection cost, has been a supporter of the fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA) for several years. The company’s head of stakeholder and customer engagement, Siobhan Barton, said: “Whilst we don’t sell electricity, as the company responsible for the power network which delivers electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, we do have a role to play in helping the industry tackle fuel poverty and encouraging energy efficiency.

    “We’ve reduced our network charges, which form part of domestic customers’ bills from their chosen electricity supplier, funded a Citizens Advice Bureau fuel debt advice service and helped kick-start a number of projects through our community energy seed fund.”

    2.    Myths surrounding energy use

    It’s important not to believe everything you hear regarding energy tips. A prime example is leaving your heating on all day is better than just turning it on high when you need it. According to the Energy Saving Trust, this is not the case. They confirm that, in the long run, just having your heating on when you need it will indeed save energy. The key focus here is knowing how much energy is actually required to heat your home. By leaving your heating on for the full day, you are bound to be using energy that you really don’t need to.

    In a similar fashion, some people still believe that leaving your lights on is better than turning them off and on again. Simply said, this isn’t true. Even if you leave the room for 10 minutes, make sure you get into the habit of turning the lights off behind you.

    It’s also believed in some quarters that electrical appliances don’t use any power when they are not in use. While technology is advancing, and energy-saving techniques are in place, some appliances draw energy even when they aren’t in use. A prime example is a phone charger. Did you know that leaving the socket switched on with a phone charger attached can cost you up to £80 each year?

    A rather bizarre claim is that you should put clingfilm on your windows to save energy. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that this one is actually true. Doing so can help you to keep your home warm, but it’s okay to use any material for the second layer of glazing so long as it’s airtight and transparent. Apply this technique and you can help to trap a small layer of air, which can prevent any heat from escaping. Of course, this should only ever be a short-term measure. If you need this second-layer, you should look into getting double glazing. By using this method to have a third layer, you may see a slight difference, but far less than if you had put it on a single glazed window.

    3.    How to save money on your energy bills

    Away from the myths, there are many tried and tested methods which you can rely on and are recognised across the board. Firstly, you should always be sure to shop around, especially if your energy contract is up for renewal. Simply staying with the same supplier as it’s ‘easier’ could see you spending hundreds of pounds more than you need to. There are many price comparison sites for you to benefit from, so make sure you log on and let them do all the hard work!

    While we’ve already quashed the myth that you should leave your heating on, did you know that by turning it down by just 1⁰C, you can cut up to 10% off your heating bill? On average, this could equate to a saving of approximately £75 each year.

    Elsewhere, tumble dryers are expensive to run, so try to air your washing whenever possible instead. If you do need to use a tumble dryer, make sure it’s full, as one full load uses less energy than two half-full loads. The same goes with loading your washing machine. Make sure you have a full machine and keep it to 30⁰C. Another simple energy-saving trick is to just boil the amount of water you need — especially if you are just making a cup of tea or coffee. While this won’t equate to huge savings, every little helps!

    Another handy tip is to spend a little to save a lot. If you are in the position to be able to invest money on insulation, upgrading your boiler, or even using renewable technologies, then you should do so. Sometimes you can benefit from a grant for these services, but even if not, you can often pay back what you’ve spent quite quickly and start to save money.

    4.    How to become more energy efficient

    Of course, while saving money is important, you should also be thinking about helping the environment. Britain is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% as early as next year. A key player in achieving this target would be by members of the public becoming energy efficient – both in the workplace and at home. Research has found that many power plants actually waste around two-thirds of the energy that goes into them. In our homes, we simply aren’t monitoring our energy use as closely as we should be, either.

    That is where a new app could aid you. In July 2018, Northern Powergrid revealed how it has collaborated with GenGame to trial a mobile game to demonstrate how gaming could incentivise households to reduce their electricity consumption at times of high demand. Players receive an alert telling them the game is starting encouraging them to consider turning off washing machines, televisions, lights and other home devices for short periods of time to earn points and stand a chance of winning cash prizes.

    For example, while pausing your washing machine may only be worth approximately 10p, if you include this in the game format, it gives players the chance to earn more money through prizes, which makes it a lot more interesting. Each month has hundreds of pounds worth of prizes available and each player reduces their electricity consumption by 11% on average.

    Andrew Webster, Northern Powergrid Innovation Project Manager, said: “Household electricity use will grow significantly as electric vehicles and heat pumps become mainstream, increasing demand on the network. Mobile games offer a fun solution to help manage this demand, rewarding our customers for reducing their consumption at peak periods.”

    There are, of course, many other tips and tricks that can help you to save money on your energy bills, reduce fuel poverty and help the environment, too. It’s also important to remember that if you are struggling to afford your gas and electric charges, your supplier should be able to help you come to a solution and negotiate a deal that helps both parties. Why not make sure you take on board some of the advice and do your part — both for your bank balance and the world you live in?

  3. How Can the UK Cut Their CO2 Emissions to Zero?

    Posted on September 13, 2019 by Andrew

    The UK is set on reducing its emissions of greenhouse gasses to nothing by 2050. Achieving this would make the UK the lowest emitters and cleanest country in the world. But is it a realistic proposal?

    It was recorded that in the UK alone around 500 million tonnes of CO2 is being emitted every year. The government has begun pushing to reduce this through guidance from the Committee on Climate Change. A huge motive for reducing emissions comes from a UN reports stating that CO2 emissions must be totally stopped to avoid dangerous changes to the climate.

    The UK’s climate minister spoke to the BBC News and shared: “The report was a really stark and sober piece of work — a good piece of work. Now we know what the goal is, and we know what some of the levers are. But for me, the constant question is: what is the cost and who’s going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?”

    Vindis, who offer VW service deals, has shared the extent of this issue and some of the ways emissions can be reduced.

    Improve home insulation

    BBC News stated in early 2017 that 80 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions had to drop between then and 2050. They recorded that a third of all of all the emissions had come from heating.

    The Green Building Council stated in Parliament that 25 million homes will not currently meet the standards of insulation being enforced in 2050, and will need to be replaced to a much higher standard. According to calculations, these findings mean that the rate of refurbishment stood at a rate of 1.4 homes needing to be worked on every minute as of the beginning of 2017.

    On top of cutting emissions, good insulation can lead to many more benefits. The Green Building Council’s head Julie Hirigoyen explains: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.

    “We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.”

    Utilise low-carbon fuels

    One method that is already being adopted it using low carbon fuels. It is dependent on the public and businesses to utilise this though, and it appears the nation is already assisting in this area.

    Imperial College London and The Guardian, reported that the amount of renewable energy in the UK surpassed the quantity of fossil fuels for the first time ever. With the amount of renewable capacity trebling in the same five-year period that fossil fuels decreased by one-third, the capacity of biomass, hydropower, solar and wind power hit 41.9 gigawatts and the capacity of gas, coal and oil-fired power plants recorded in at 41.2 gigawatts between July and September.

    The research, carried out by Dr Iain Staffell, noted that: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and [the quarter between July and September] saw a major milestone on the journey.”

    Once again, a record was also set in 2018 in the UK where they managed to be without coal power for three days, or 76 consecutive hours. This was before a report from Imperial College London which was commissioned by Drax suggested that coal supplied only 1.3 per cent of Britain’s entire use of electricity during the second quarter of 2018 — furnaces based at coal-fired power stations throughout the country were completely unused for 12 days in June last year too.

    Purchase fuel-efficient vehicles

    New diesel and petrol vans and cars will be banned across the UK from 2040.Despite many years still to wait before this is enforced, it seems many Brits are already exploring what alternative-fuel vehicles are out there e.g. LPG powered vehicles.

    Next Green Car reports that the registrations of new plug-in cars have jumped from only 3,500 to over 195,000 in just the six years from 2013. Furthermore, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders highlighted that electric car sales across the UK has shifted from only close to 500 being registered each month in the early part of 2014 to an average of 5,000 per month throughout 2018.

    The British road infrastructure is improving as well and is able to hold more alternative-fuel vehicles, thanks to ongoing private and government investment. While the UK’s network of electric vehicle charging points was recorded in at just a few hundred units as of 2011, there had been more than 5,800 charging locations, 9,800 charging devices and 16,700 connectors installed by June 2018.

    Despite only 6.84 per cent of the UK car market being alternative-fuel vehicles, it seems that the trend in their number is increasing. The UK is on the right track to heavily reduce carbon emissions.

    The ambition of reaching an emission count of zero is admirable, but a huge challenge too. Fortunately, some of the examples covered in this article do suggest that efforts are being made to ensure the nation reaches its goal.

    Sources:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45856377

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/target-zero-uk-aims-to-cut-all-emissions-by-2050-bddfcwmd6

    https://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/06/uk-renewable-energy-capacity-surpasses-fossil-fuels-for-first-time

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/24/uk-power-generation-coal-free-gas-renewables-nuclear

    https://www.newstatesman.com/spotlight/energy/2018/08/coal-supplied-just-one-cent-britains-electricity-summer

    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scottish-power-wind-energy-renewable-drax-gas-station-climate-change-a8585961.html

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/661933/tsgb-2017-report-summaries.pdf

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/26/carpooling-commuting-car-share-liftshare-uber

  4. The value of used electric cars

    Posted on July 29, 2019 by Andrew

    Electric vehicles have been becoming increasingly popular over the past decade. 2018 saw record sales for EV’s in the UK, with new registrations reaching 59,945 by the end of the year. In December alone, 5,500 new registrations were made, and EV’s gained a 3.8% split in the market share – this is up from 1.7% in 2016. Read more…

  5. 3 of the Most Eco-Friendly World Records

    Posted on July 05, 2019 by Andrew

    World records capture the public’s imagination. There is something quite magical about witnessing something that holds the world record for what it is trying to achieve.

    As we move to a more environmentally sustainable world many of the records we are seeing are focused on being eco-friendly initiatives. Read more…

  6. Petrol prices in 2019

    Posted on July 05, 2019 by Andrew

    Petrol prices in 2019

    In the world today, there has been a double in the amount of people driving cars. This may suggest that fuel prices will go up massively due to the increase in people driving, in order for everyone to be able to drive their cars. From some research, there has been in increase in 2018 where it was £1.21 per litre in the UK which is a significant amount. Over 10 years ago, this was £0.89 per litre. Evidently, that there has been an increase in more people driving which has caused the petrol prices to rise. So knowing that this will make people not very happy due to the fact that they have risen of their fuel prices. Here, with Lookers, who offer a range of car servicing plans, we delve deeper to see what  we can expect to see from petrol prices throughout 2019…

    Petrol around the world

    At the beginning of 2019, there were news reports about the ‘France yellow jackets’ protesters. These people were protesting purely because of fuel tax. This made people angry due to the rise in price which caused them to protest against the government. People who protested claimed that all people are the same and it does not depend on what job they have due to tax. They also say that they cannot rely on their cars to go the shops or to the country side because how high the tax is. Evidently, people cannot afford to run their cars due to the rise of tax and the lack of trust they have In their cars. There has also been the same in Australia where their tax has also gone up and has caused riots. This is evidence that the tax rises in petrol is not making people have trust in their cars and their council. These stories have reached news because of how much impact it has had on people and different families.

    Zimbabwe riots

    In January 2019, there was a riot in Zimbabwe due to petrol prices rising. Just overnight their petrol prices doubled. The people in Zimbabwe have been blocking bus routes with burned tires and protesting about these price rises. Many were arrested and killed for destruction and violence. Due to these price rises, Zimbabwe’s government are trying to end the economic poverty that they are suffering so thinking that raising the patrol price, this has caused a lot of violence and has cost lives which can have impact on friends and families.

    Conclusion

    Over the last 10 years fuel prices have gone up knowing that people driving has increased massively. Knowing that many prices have gone up due to poverty or increase of cars in the world, there has been many issues behind it. For example, the French yellow jacket riots where there has been riots about fuel tax’s which has caused violence and people becoming upset. This has been caused by the government making tax higher. Another issue is that the Zimbabwe riots by making fuel prices higher has caused for people to get arrested and even result in death. Fuel has increased to £1.21 per litre whereas 10 years ago, it was £0.89 due to the increase in cars, which is not in correlation to people earning more either.

  7. Save the Planet: Things That Can Make a Difference to Mother Earth

    Posted on June 26, 2019 by Andrew

    If you are thinking about converting to a green lifestyle, the good news is you are also creating positive changes to help save the environment. With technology and the current fast-paced lifestyle that most people have today, this also produces a lot of waste material. As a human being, it is your job to take care of the planet where you live, and you should consider it as a privilege. You can do many things to show that you care for the environment, and one of the options is to volunteer abroad with Frontier. Aside from that, here are some things that you can do to reduce waste production and make our world a better place to live in. Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings

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