Daily Tip Challenge 2020 – December
1st Rent your tree. Renting a Christmas tree is growing in popularity as people love the real tree experience but don’t like the idea of it being thrown out in January.
We have a small tree that has just been re-potted after being outside since last Christmas and we hope to be able to do this for some years. For many who don’t have the space or means to keep a tree all year then renting may be the way forward. There are many places offering this service where they will collect the tree and replant it to be used again by you or a different household next year.
2nd In season food – Apples, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chestnuts, Chicory, Cranberries, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Red Cabbage, Swede, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Watercress, Winter Squash
3rd Buy good quality decorations, and store them safely. Christmas can be a plastic overload with old decorations becoming easily damaged and thrown out. I have around 15 decorations that were my grandparents and that I now have. They are at least 35 years old and still look great as they are of decent quality and stored safely for 11 months of the year.
It’s great to open these each year and automatically have the memories of Christmas as a child at my grandparents. No reason why they won’t last another 35 years and be a nice thing to pass on so my children with have something of their childhood on their trees.
4th Gift an experience. If you are thinking about the waste and carbon footprint that may come with a physical gift (materials to make, shipping from China, over packaging by Amazon etc) then why not look at the hundreds of experiences you could gift? Some ideas:
Wine tasting experience
Session on the ice/roller rink
Tickets to the cinema/show
Tickets to a sporting event
Tickets to a museum/gallery
Crazy or normal golf
Picnic in the woods
Walk around an arboretum
Enter in to a marathon/sporting challenge
Out for brunch/dinner
Gym/yoga pass or vouchers
There are hundreds of options and an experience will be more memorable.
5th Reuse packaging. This time of year, if you’re doing online shopping then you are probably building up a lot of packaging. Have a think how you may be able to reuse it instead of putting straight in to recycling/bin.
We have a lot of our packaging donated to us from small businesses and as the clip shows even heavily branded boxes can be used again.
If you can’t find a use for it have a look on social media. There are Facebook pages dedicated to packaging where someone local may come and collect or there may be a local scrap store. We have one that will take all sorts and give to schools and groups for crafting projects.
6th Grow vegetables from scraps. With many vegetables, the bits we cut off and throw away have the capacity to be planted and grow a whole new vegetable. With some this process can be repeated a number of times.
We grew spring onions by the kitchen window, these are probably the easiest and quickest to regrow. For a full list of veg, including:
Go to rural sprout.com/regrow-vegetables/
7th Use orange peel to neutralise odours. If you want a general air freshener you can put some orange peel in a pot with boiling water.
If it’s a bin that smells, simply put some peel in the bottom to help neutralise smells.
Cut an orange in half, eat the inside, pour some salt in and put in your fridge. This should keep it smelling nice for a week.
You may have started exercising more during lockdowns and long runs are meaning smelly trainers. Just put in some peel here too to combat smell.
8th Preserve fruit and veg as long as possible. In the UK we throw away millions of tonnes of food each year (much of which is edible). Here are a few tips to extend the life of your produce to hopefully cut what you need to throw away/compost.
Many root vegetables will go soft over time, you have probably noticed it with carrots, celery and parsnips. This is more than likely just dehydration, simply cut the leaf end off the carrot etc and place in a glass or container of water. Check back every hour or so till the item has absorbed enough water to return to normal. It will look as new and even have the crunch.
Bananas release ethylene which not only speeds up them ripening it will cause other fruit to do the same. By hanging bananas there won’t be a concentrated area of the gas causing one part to brown earlier than the rest. Also keeps them clear of other fruit. Same is true for apples and avocados so try and isolate them too.
Wash berries in a water and vinegar solution and dry before putting in the fridge. This will kill the spores that cause the white fur that often appears after a couple of days.
Put mushrooms in a paper bag. In plastic they turn slimy much sooner.
Place leafy greens in Tupperware or the veg drawer of the fridge on an absorbent tea towel or similar. This will keep the leaves dry and extend their life.
9th Swap for a plastic free bath time. The bathroom is one of the areas where many non-recyclable plastics can be found. There is an alternative for everything you may have in your bath time routine.
Soap bars for general washing or cocoa and Shea butter for sensitive skin. Konjac sponges or bamboo flannels that are soft enough even for a baby’s skin. Shaving bars and plastic free razors. Shampoo and conditioner bars. Loofahs from large body sized to small packs of discs.
10th Reuse all types of paper. My daughter wanted to do an eco tip and came up with wrapping up Christmas presents for her friends with ‘who gives a crap’ toilet paper wrappers. Gives them an extra use before recycling and added bonus for her is that her friends will think it’s hilarious.
11th Rethink selection boxes. I’m sure many of you have seen this picture doing the rounds on social media. It perfectly shows the negative side of Christmas where non-recyclable plastic packaging hides the very small amount of product.
You could easily put your own set together and if not cut out all plastic you can certainly get rid of the tray and outer packaging. Make your own from a cardboard box, reuse a container you have or just loose in a stocking.
12th Compilation of water saving tips…
- Use a bowl in the sink when you wash fruit, vegetables or dishes. You can then use the waste water to water your plants.
- Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth. A running tap uses up to nine litres of water per minute!
- Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or dishwasher.
- If possible, take a shower instead of a bath. A 5 minute shower uses about half the volume of a standard bath.
- Use a water-saving device in your toilet cistern.
- Use a watering can in the garden instead of a sprinkler or hosepipe.
- Think about fitting a water butt to collect rainwater.
- Get leaking taps fixed!
13th Use banana skin as a teeth whitener. I first came across this some time ago but wanted to read up on it a little more as seemed a stretch.
From what I have read there doesn't appear to be any scientific research carried out in to this, which isn't surprising as who would fund it? This is something that Colgate point out on their website (before mentioning using a whitening toothpaste). There have been plenty of sites to claim this works though including the site Hoax or Fact which states that banana peel contains essential minerals like potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron and manganese which can be absorbed through the teeth.
The methods in applying also vary though, from just rubbing the inside of the peel over your teeth to:
1. Rub the inside of the peel directly on your teeth until it forms a thin paste. Leave for 10 minutes while trying to keep your lips away from your teeth
2. Now, brush your teeth like normal with toothpaste and water to remove the banana paste.
3. Repeat this same process once a day for up to two weeks
Seems like it's worth trying for something that would usually go straight in to food waste, be good to get any feedback from people if you eat a banana every day.
14th How to make cleaning solutions. We sell the Ocean saver range for refilling spray bottles. If you would rather make your own then try these:
1. Homemade washing up liquid
• 3 tbsp liquid Castile soap
• 2 cups warm water
• 2 tsp glycerine
• 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 10 drops lavender essential oil
2. Homemade glass/window cleaner
• 2 cups water
• 1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol 70% concentration to 2 drops of orange essential oil for smell (optional)
3. Homemade microwave cleaner
Mix up a small amount of table vinegar and the juice of one lemon, pop it in the microwave and switch it on for 2 minutes. Then, simply wipe down the inside with a damp cloth and dirt and grime will come away easily.
4. Homemade air freshener
• 3/4 cup water
• 2 tablespoons vodka or rubbing alcohol
• 10 drops wild orange essential oil
• 8 drops peppermint essential oil
5. Homemade furniture polish
• 1/4 cup white vinegar
• 3/4 cup olive oil
• juice of half a lemon
6. Homemade drain cleaner
Start by pouring a healthy dose of bicarbonate of soda into your plughole, followed by a good slug of white vinegar, and leave the chemical reactions to work their magic. Then, after about 20 minutes, pour some boiling water from the kettle down there.
7. Homemade oven cleaner (this one is multipurpose!)
• 3 tbsp. baking soda
• 1 tbsp. hydrogen peroxide
• 1 tbsp. washing up liquid
8. Homemade all purpose sanitiser spray
• 1/2 cup vinegar
• 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
• 2 litres water
• 20 - 30 drops of natural tea tree oil
15th Refill. There are so many food and general household products that can be bought by filling your existing containers. Most towns have refill stores and many have companies that run vans so you can refill using a home delivery service.
Imagine buying all the products in the list from the supermarket, so many of them are in packaging and much of it non-recyclable plastics.
16th Compilation of energy saving cooking tips (part 1)
1. The microwave is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food - it’s always quicker and its smaller size (as opposed to the oven) means that the heat is more focused on whatever’s being cooked. Opt for this appliance whenever possible.
2. If you have an energy efficient kettle then boil water with that and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling vegetables or pasta.
3. When using water to boil anything in a pan, make sure that you only use as much water as is needed to cover the amount of food you’re cooking - one of the most common forms of energy wastage is the energy it takes to boil water you don’t need.
4. Slow cookers are also an energy-efficient cooking appliance - they use just a little more energy than a traditional light bulb, and you can leave your food to cook slowly throughout the day while you’re at work or when you need to get on with other things.
5. Cook as much as possible in the oven in one go to make sure all the space and heat is being used. If you make lunches for work, do them all at once - you can always keep them in the fridge or freeze them to warm up when you need them.
6. Keep the oven door closed while you're cooking. Each time you open the door, the oven loses heat (sometimes as much as 25 degrees) and requires more energy to get back up to temperature. On a similar note, try to keep the oven door clean so you can look in, rather than having to open it to see how your food is doing.
7. Defrost frozen food in the fridge overnight or while you’re at work during the day. Defrosting food in advance not only typically halves the cooking time but also means that you don’t need to use the energy of a microwave to defrost more quickly - you just need to remember to take the food out of the freezer well before you need it!
8. It’s helpful to know how long your oven takes to pre-heat, so you're ready to start cooking as soon as it's up to the correct temperature.
9. When cooking potatoes, boil them in a saucepan before roasting them in order to reduce the amount of time they take to cook in the oven.
17th Energy saving cooking tips 2.
1. Use glass or ceramic dishes in the oven. They retain heat better than their metal counterparts, making them the most efficient to use in the oven. You can even set the heat lower than needed (if you’re confident enough to do so) because of the increased efficiency provided by these dishes.
2. Invest in a fan-assisted or convection oven, which uses fans to circulate heat around the food as it cooks. This is a more energy-efficient way of cooking because it means the heat doesn’t have to be as high as it would in a conventional oven.
3. When using an electric oven, turn it off ten minutes before the food’s finished cooking. The oven temperature will remain the same so the food will still cook through to completion without the oven using energy.
4. Sometimes the instructions on a recipe may mean that it’s not a good idea to put lids on pans but, if not, use lids in order to keep the heat in.
5. Use a double steamer to cook vegetables so you can layer vegetables on top of each other and still use one ring.
6. Turn down the level of the ring or burner once the cooking temperature or state is reached; most dishes need to simmer, not boil.
7. It can often be worth using a pressure cooker to cook beans, meats, whole meals or stews. The pressure cooker’s sealed lid traps steam and ensures that the food cooks more quickly and efficiently than it would in a pan, therefore saving energy.
8. If you're using an electric hob, choose flat-bottomed pans so the pan is in full contact with the ring and the heat spreads through it as evenly as possible.
9. Certain pan types are better at conducting and retaining heat. Copper-bottomed pans heat up more quickly than stainless steel, and cast-iron pans retain heat more efficiently, so you won't need the heat to be turned up so high.
18th Compilation of driving tips. If you are off for longer car journeys over Christmas to make the most of the 5 day window to see family then some of these may help you to save emissions and money.
1. According to tyre manufacturer Michelin, underinflated tyres can increase a car’s fuel consumption by as much as six per cent. With the average tank of fuel costing around £70, pumping up your tyres could bring a saving of around £4 per fill-up.
2. Try not to be too frenetic when you’re behind the wheel. Maintain a good distance from the car in front to avoid last-minute braking and get up to speed as smoothly as possible.
3. The Energy Saving Trust advises drivers to take their foot off the gas when they travel downhill. In most modern cars, this stops fuel being sent to the engine, keeping consumption to a minimum. Remain in gear though.
4. Another tip from the Energy Saving Trust is to skip gears when conditions allow. By shifting straight from third to fifth, say, you’ll reduce wear and tear on your car’s transmission and save on fuel. Similarly, when slowing down, avoid shifting through each gear in turn. Drive in the highest gear possible that is suitable for the road and conditions.
5. Air conditioning is great but it uses fuel to keep you cool. Be sure to switch it off when you’ve achieved the right temperature, especially in the winter months when a quick blast is often all that’s needed to clear the windows.
6. You know those roof bars you attached for your summer holiday? Remember to take them off when they’re not in use to make your car as aerodynamic as possible. You’ll be amazed at the difference it has on fuel economy. Also remove items from the boot you don't need.
7. Avoid driving at excessive speeds, using speed limiters or cruise control if your car has them.
8. Don’t bother warming up your engine – modern cars don’t need their engines warmed. Doing this will just waste fuel and wear out your engine.
9. In the winter, scrape ice and frost off before you start your engine- idling will just waste fuel
19th Food waste tips.
- most of the vegetables found in a Christmas dinner can be grown in the UK at this time of year (potatoes, sprouts, carrots, parsnips, swede) so check before you buy that they have been to keep your carbon footprint low.
- when buying produce, especially bananas, pick up all the single ones. These are often overlooked and end up in the food waste.
- buy the ugly produce, for the same reason as above and when prepared will taste no different. Better option is going to a greengrocer as supermarkets may reject imperfect food before it reaches the shelves.
- if carrots, parsnips or other similar veg are feeling limp then it’s probably just dehydrated. Put in a glass of water to restore.
- keep your vegetable shavings. The potato skins can be roasted as a snack, others can be saved for stock or soups
- use the water from cooking vegetables for either the gravy or your plants
20th Look for eco cleaning products. Probably a big plastic waste area in many households, there have been loads of products come to market over the past few years to reduce this.
Some people will make their own solutions and use old fabrics they have which is great. If you’re not at that stage and want eco products then we have a great range on our website.
Cloths and sponges which can be washed in the washing machine or dishwasher and home compostable. Galvanised steel pads and the Ocean Saver range of refillable capsules for all areas of the house.
21st Embrace your biophilia. The biophilia hypothesis is that humans possess an innate affiliation with nature. Studies have shown that just looking at pictures of nature can reduce stress and improve mood. I have put a couple of lists together if, like me you are spending so much more time inside and would like to bring nature to you.
22nd Look at silicone wraps. This is a product I have been looking at closely with a view to start stocking.
I know silicone wraps are partly plastic which is why I am taking my time before committing to stocking them. There are many advantages though over the beeswax/vegan wax wraps. Due to the silicone being a rubber/plastic blend it is much more durable and can withstand high temperatures unlike the natural wraps. This means it can be used in microwaves, ovens and dishwashers so allowing additional uses as well as easy to clean and a longer lifespan.
They are also free of BPAs and there are recycling programs in place for them so can’t see too many negatives.
23rd Seek out companies utilising non-recyclable products. The pictured is actually a speaker made from plastics that can’t be recycled so would ordinarily end up in landfill.
The company that made these are called Gomi and if you look at their website you can see they have also made trophies for an award ceremony and soap dishes.
24th Make the most of food waste. With us all spending a lot of time at home over the coming weeks we will generate a lot of food waste that you can get another use out of before composting.
For those who have followed for a while have seen posts for uses for banana skins from teeth whitening to plant fertiliser, citrus fruit skins for cleaning and odour neutralising, egg shells and coffee grounds for plant nutrients etc.
As there is limited character usage for these posts I have found a website that lists 101 ways to use food waste that you can get further ideas from. Pastemagazine.com/food/zero-waste/101-ways-to-use-food-waste/
25th Save wrapping paper. Merry Christmas all, hope you are all enjoying your day despite it may not being the ideal day with all going on in the world.
It’s not easy with kids but salvage any paper you can, especially if it’s the shiny type that can’t be recycled. I have a stack which will be used again next year and much of it has already been used for previous years.
26th Eco dishwasher tips.
A modern dishwasher saves time, water and money, especially if you have a modern machine with an eco setting which can save you up to 5000 gallons of water per year compared with washing up.
If your dishwasher is starting to smell do a quick cycle with half a lemon at the top, this will neutralise any smells as well as giving the interior a clean
Always fill the dishwasher to avoid wasted heat and water, don't overload though or items will not clean properly and still require cleaning
If you run out of dishwasher tablets then use normal washing up liquid with an equal measure of baking soda. This will clean as well and the baking soda will stop the liquid from oversudsing.
If you want to make you own then add half a cup of water and liquid castile soap together and mix. Then add 1 teaspoon of lemon extract, 3 drops of Teatree extract and 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar. Mix well and that's it!
27th Make your clothes last. If like most people you received clothes for Christmas or plan to buy some in January then take some steps to ensure they last.
Read the care label. The washing symbols can be confusing if you are not used to them. Checking what fabric the garment is made of, is the first step in being able to care for it. The care label should give information about the washing, drying an ironing of a garment.
Wash your clothes less. Washing clothes is the quickest way for them to appear faded, worn and past their best. Fabric sheds every time it is washed, causing it to weaken over time – the less clothes are washed, the longer they will last. The constant motion and rubbing of the clothes cause fabric to shed. For natural fibres like wool – it is not necessary to wash every item after each use and jeans don’t need to be washed very often. Treat stains as a separate issue. It is possible to treat a stain without washing the whole garment.
Wash as many clothes as you can inside out. This prevents colour loss when the clothes rub against each other. It can also prevent the deterioration of embroidery, printing or external parts
Reduce the water temperature. You might have heard this before as a response to saving on the electricity bill or saving environmental pollution. However, it is also an excellent way to keep clothes looking new and fresh for longer. Hot water wears out clothes more quickly and fades fabric colours.
Use less detergent. The box will usually tell you the correct amount to use. It can be fine to use less than this if your clothes are not super dirty. Using too much detergent will make it difficult to remove afterwards. This means it will build up in the clothes, leaving it dull or even marked with white stains. Some detergents can be incredibly harsh so try swapping to a gentler alternative.
Air dry if possible. Using heat to dry – whether it is a tumble drier or an electric heater – cause fabrics to shrink and the elastic to break down.
28th Look at soap alternatives. Switching to a bar of soap doesn’t need to just replace the plastic dispenser for hand washing. The Friendly Soap range has a shampoo and conditioner to replace plastic bottles for hair care. There is also a couple of shaving bars to replace the aerosol cans that are often difficult to recycle (if recycled at all). The bar I use to replace shower gel, which can be used all over, is the travel soap. Some easy small changes to remove a lot of bathroom plastic.
29th Compilation of banana skin uses. The more I look in to uses for banana skin uses the more I find so although I have mentioned a couple of uses previously I will list as many as Instagram will allow.
Shine your shoes: rubbing a banana peel on your shoes can help instantly shine them.
Polish silver: polish your forks, knives, and spoons till they sparkle
Plant fertilizer: Put banana peels in a glass jar and add water or slice the peels and place them on top of the dirt in a flower pot.
Aphid repellent: cut small pieces of the peel and bury it near rosebushes and similar shrubs.
Attracts butterflies: if you love the beauty of butterflies in your garden, sprinkle bits of banana peel in it. They love the sweet smell!
Cleans plant leaves: scrub plant leaves with the inside of a banana peel to keep them clean and beautiful.
Purifying water: studies have shown that banana peels absorb toxins in rivers with contaminated waters, especially if they contain heavy metals.
Attracting birds: birds love the sweet taste of bananas. Leave a peel on your windowsill, garden, balcony, or any other place the birds can land to have some of this treat.
Rub the banana peel (the inside) on your teeth periodically to help whiten them.
The nutrients in a banana peel have enzymes that help give you much healthier skin. Wash your face well with a neutral soap. Apply the peel over the whole face and let dry, then rinse with lukewarm water.
If you get bitten by a mosquito or ant, leave a banana peel on the bite for several minutes. You can also use it for minor scrapes or poison ivy or poison oak.
Place the banana peel tightly over the wart and secure it with something, changing it frequently over a few days’ time. The wart can fall off in just a week!
Extract splinters: Repeat the same steps as with the wart remedy. The enzymes in the peel can help extract things that don’t belong in the body.
Eliminate acne: every night, rub your face with a banana peel. Don’t wash it off. Sleep with it just like that. In the morning, rinse it off.
Can also prevent wrinkles, repair damaged hair, reduce under eye puffiness...
30th What’s the best way to be more eco? This is a question I get asked a lot as people are looking for some easy wins to reduce their environmental impact.
I struggle to answer this as it really depends on your lifestyle. The big wins are to fly less, eat less meat and dairy (providing the alternative doesn’t have a big impact) and buy less.
There are hundreds of small changes that can be made that can accumulate with enough people doing them to make a difference. This has the impact by getting big businesses to change who are ultimately the far bigger polluters.
Just follow the Rs in order and that will get you on the right path:
Rethink - is there a better option?
Refuse - things you don’t need
Reduce - make what you have last
Reuse - bags, packaging, jars...
Refill - cuts out so much packaging
Refurbish/repair - self-explanatory
Repurpose - get creative
Recycle - if none of the above is viable
I have learned a lot over the past year of researching tips and will try and get all of these compiled as a quick reference ebook or similar.
31st January in season produce – Apples, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Squash, Swedes, Turnips
That’s it, I actually completed my goal of uploading an eco-tip every day for 2020 and although this tip is the same as tip 1 of 366 it kind of works to go full circle as very few of you were following at the start of the year. An extra 700 followers on Instagram and 1500 on Facebook!
Hope you all found 1 or 2 useful tips you could implement and especially thanks to all those who engaged with posts and offered additional tips and shared experiences. With your help the content has been shared all over the world and 1 post was viewed by over 50,000 people.
Have a great new year all and I look forward to sharing new tips, news and products in January.