Daily Tip Challenge 2020 – October
1st In season food – Aubergines, Apples, Beetroot, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chestnuts, Chicory, Chillies, Courgette, Cucumber, Elderberries, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Marrow, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rockets, Runner Beans, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Swede, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms, Winter Squash
2nd Invest in a smart thermostat. This is not only a money and energy saver it’s more convenient.
They can learn heating preferences and habits and self-adjust to suit you. You can also make changes from your phone if you’re away for a few days and forget to turn the heating off, some even use Geofencing so will automatically turn on when you’re at a certain distance away to have the home at your preferred temperature when you arrive.
By adjusting the temperature and not heating when it’s not required you will save energy consumption which is better for the environment and lower bills.
3rd Switch bulbs to LED. I was going to do a post about switching lights off, it’s easy to leave them on when you leave the house as it can be light by the time we go out and not obvious they are on. After some research it turns out the average LED bulb is so efficient that a 5W GU10 uses so little energy that it would cost 0.07p per hour. Obviously still switch lights off as all energy saving helps but an average 2 bed home with just LED bulbs costs about £27 to light per year. This assumes kitchen and bathroom spotlights and a total of 26 bulbs on for 4 hours a day.
In contrast to this, the same lights having halogen bulbs would cost £267 per year to light, that’s 10 times the energy consumption.
If you have a bigger house, children who don’t switch them off and have them on a lot more than 4 hours in winter the cost in energy and money could be significantly higher.
4th Look at alternatives to plastic toothpastes.
Most toothpaste you see are in plastic tubes, which although is recyclable there are very few places that have the means to do it. We have a range of alternatives in either fully recyclable packaging that all councils have the means to do or home compostable. Georganics offer a tooth soap in a card dispenser, toothpaste in a glass jar and tooth tablets. Although none of these contain fluoride they have other minerals that have the same effect. We also have the eco living range of tooth tablets for those who want fluoride.
All tooth products are vegan, made in the UK, cruelty free and fully recyclable/home compostable.
5th Plug/cover gaps around windows and doors. Colder weather is on the way so now is a good time to do an audit of your house to see where you are losing energy. Doors and windows can be a source for cold air coming in and resulting in your heating working harder than it needs to. Invest in draught excluders for doors and check the caulking around windows for another small win on money and energy saving.
6th Don’t throw leaves in to landfill (1 of 3). Many people see the dropping of leaves this time of year as a nuisance rather than a free resource. There are a few uses that can be applied. While the lawn is relatively short spread the leaves over the grass and then mow without the collection attachment. This will cut them up in to small pieces and they will quickly decompose in the ground giving some additional nutrients to the lawn.
7th A second use for fallen leaves. Layer fallen leaves directly on to flower beds and vegetable gardens. This will help create a barrier against the elements and an extra layer against weed growth until they decompose and add additional mulch to the soil.
8th Make leaf mould. Leaf mould is the end result for letting leaves sit and decompose over time and is an excellent way to add organic matter to your soil resulting in better soil structure. This makes a better habitat for earthworms and beneficial bacteria as well as increasing water retention.
To make leaf mould you can either pile them in a corner, wood or wire bin, check monthly and add water if they appear to be drying out. Or you can put them in a large plastic bag, seal the bag and the make a few holes to allow air circulation, check the bag every month and add water it they appear to be drying out.
These methods can take from 6 months to a year to get the desired leaf mould but there are ways to quicken this process up:
Run over the leaves with the lawn mower, the smaller the bits the quicker the process will be.
Turn the pile every few weeks or shake the bag to allow more air in to speed it up.
Cover the pile with a plastic tarp to keep the leaves warm and moist.
9th Use conkers as washing detergent.
Conkers contain saponin which is found in tradition soap nuts, these are still used for washing clothes in many parts of the world. There are a few different ways I have read on how to prepare the fallen conkers. Have a search to see which method you may want to try but the main options:
Chop the conkers in to quarters or blend in a food processor, place the bits in a muslin or similar and put in with the clothes.
Or soak the conkers in jars of hot water to release the saponin and use the liquid from this.
10th Join a litter picking group. Check with your local council or social media pages to see if there is an organised group. In Bristol, @bristolwastecompany will loan out litter picking kits to small groups so may be initiatives in place in other areas.
You can still do it without the organised groups. I attached a garden bin to an old pushchair so can easily pick up rubbish on the streets while jogging.
11th Revive stale bread. I have posted before a list of recipes that you can use stale bread for. If you really want bread though you can run under the tap of a few seconds and then place is the oven for a few minutes at 200 degrees.
I am yet to try this as we go through bread pretty quickly so be interested in any feedback from people who try it.
12th Use pencils where you can. Everyone likes a highlighter but pens are very difficult to recycle and there are few places that will take them.
Have a look at the plastic free options if your household or office goes through a lot of pens.
13th Look at upcycling. There are thousands of different upcycling projects you can undertake ranging from the really simple to about as complicated as you can manage. Have a look through the hundreds of dedicated websites and you will get some inspiration. This could give you some ideas for items you may come across in the future that save something from landfill, saves you money and the carbon footprint on acquiring something new and give you a unique personal item.
14th Make your own candles. A very basic tip that may come in useful if you plan to do any decorating for Halloween.
Simply cut an orange in half and scoop out contents but leaving the centre stem in place. Pour in a small amount of vegetable oil and light the stem. Should last a few hours and will smell nice
Probably put on a saucer or similar (or in pumpkin), I haven’t read that it will leave a residue etc but just to be safe.
15th Turn the thermostat down. Probably not even worthy of a dedicated tip as it seems so obvious. Only reason I have is that I have just read if your home is heated by gas then heating will make up around 75% of your gas bill. Decreasing the temperature by just 1 degree can save an average household £80 a year on their bill. Worth wearing the extra layer at home and the more money you’re saving on heating the lower your carbon footprint.
16th Watch an environmental documentary. There are plenty on Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services and not only might you learn something I think seeing the problems on film really brings home the issues we face.
I watched the new Attenborough documentary last night and it really helps to see the problems we have caused in just one person’s lifetime to further motivate us to make changes. If you have a spare couple of hours over the weekend then watch something that could inspire you to make changes and recommend to others. If you sit down with your family then The Lorax or Wall-e perfectly capture the issues too.
Please share those you have seen that you’d recommend, need some ideas? Try:
A Plastic Ocean
17th Uses of apple cider vinegar. There are so many uses ranging from health benefits to household cleaning. This is some of the known uses:
All purpose cleaner
Clean off rust
Washing fruit and veg
Soothes sunburn and bites
In addition to these there are loads of health benefits attributed to it as well as uses in cooking and food prep. A bottle of this could save on all sorts of other purchases
18th Add a bit more efficiency to clothes drying. In the UK the weather is deteriorating fast and many of us will now be having to do much of our clothes drying inside. If you use a tumble dryer then try these tips:
-Put a dry towel in with the load and remove after 20 minutes and place on radiator, this will remove some moisture and reduce the cycle time required.
-Clear the lint filter after every use. This helps with air flow and reduces energy required
-Dry clothes of the same materials together. Cotton clothes will take longer in a mixed load so choose the relevant setting for the material to be washed
-Don’t overload, this will leave some items still damp.
-Untangle clothes and put everything in loose rather than the whole load from washing machine straight in. This will help with drying.
-Using an extra spin on the washing machine may mean you can tumble dry for a much shorter time. A spin dry should be more efficient than the equivalent time tumble drying as heating requires more energy.
19th Repurpose household items. If something breaks, think how it may be utilised to fulfil a completely unrelated job. We had a hanger where one of the clips had broken. Simply cut the good clip off and that can be used as a peg on food packaging.
20th Ideas to use all of the broccoli. For years I used to throw the stalk away and as you often buy it by weight you are throwing money away as well as edible food.
If you are left with the stalk and want to keep it for later use then peel the stalk and keep in water in the fridge to keep it firm (the peel can be frozen with other vegetable scraps for making stock).
After you have peeled the stalk you can:
-add to salad
-cut into batons and use with humus/dips
-grate for coleslaw, fritters, sandwich
-spiralise and add to noodles, salads, stir-fry
-use whole for soups, stock, broccoli humus.
21st Keep costume waste to a minimum. Getting to that time where we are thinking of costumes for Halloween. Probably not going to any parties this year but if you have kids you will probably try and do something to mark the day. It is estimated each year in just the UK 2,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated from Halloween costumes alone. So, if they are dressing up then think how it can be achieved with minimal environmental impact.
-use old existing clothes that can be adapted/decorated
-look in charity shops
-swap with a friend with last year’s costume
-pick a theme based on what you already have.
22nd Make your own decorations. Most of the decorations pictured can be made with items that would go in to household recycling so you can give it one more use first. The website does use a few plastic items like the eyes but these can easily be removed and kept or just use paper instead. For the full list and instructions go to diyandcrafting.com/eco-friendly-diy-halloween-decorations/
23rd Swap from tea bags to loose leaf tea. It’s no surprise if I say that we like tea in the UK, so much so that we drink approximately 100 million cups daily. What may surprise you is that the majority of tea bags contain plastic, this is needed to stop the tea bag breaking apart in hot water. It’s only about 1% of the weight of the tea bag but accumulates quickly when you think about how many we go through.
Have a look at loose tea options, there are many types of tea straining devices ideal for making a single cup, as pictured. The one we sell is quick and easy to use and plastic free. Loose tea also tastes so much better.
24th Offer plastic free treats. A lot more difficult than I thought. Only one pack of sweets out of hundreds in my local shop are not in plastic wrapping, frustrating as there are others in card but also have unnecessary plastic as well. I am aware that Smarties are made by Nestle and they are one of the biggest producers of single use plastic in their other products.
25th Look up your local TerraCycle drop off points. There are many things that local authorities can’t recycle but TerraCycle have the facilities to cover a greater range of plastics. In our house crisp packets have always been an issue. If you go to the TerraCycle website, type what you want to recycle and where you are and it will show you the local drop off points for that location. For us there are two local schools that have a drop off point for all brands of crisp packets.
I know recycling is not an ideal solution and avoiding plastic packaging wherever you can is far better but it is still preferable to landfill.
26th What to do with pumpkin contents? In the UK it is estimated that the contents of over 12 million pumpkins will go straight in to the food waste. There are a few options which I will post over the next few days. The classic one many people will think of is pumpkin pie.
Remove the contents of your pumpkin, put the seeds to one side (see tomorrow’s tip) and cut the flesh into cubes. Put in large saucepan of water and boil for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain the water and purée the chunks in a food processor. Mix with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, put in to a pie crust and bake for 30 minutes. There are loads of recipes on line so choose the one to suit your taste.
Simple and maybe better received by kids than pumpkin soup or curry.
27th Save the pumpkin seeds. For years I threw the seeds out not realising how nice they are as a snack and that they are full of nutrients.
To prepare them, clean the seeds from all the pumpkin and boil for 10 minutes. Then spread out on a baking tray with a little oil and cook for around 10 minutes at 180. Keep checking and mixing them to make sure they don’t burn.
Alternatively, if you don’t want them just separate them from the pumpkin, leave to dry and put out for the birds.
28th Use pumpkin in skin care. Really don’t like the taste of pumpkin, what about homemade skin products? Pumpkin contains vitamins A and C which soothe the skin and help collagen production. This website has different options for making pumpkin body scrub and lotion. brit.co/things-to-make-with-pumpkin-guts/
29th What to do with old pumpkins. The last few days have been giving options on what can be done with the contents of pumpkins but what about the rest after Halloween?
Check with local farms or even zoos, many animals will play with and eat pumpkins. Or you may have somewhere you can leave it out for local wildlife?
30th Switch to a card that plants trees. Many of you are aware of Ecosia, it’s a search engine that plants trees just by using it. They have brought out a wooden debit card which you pre-load with money. When you use the card the transaction fee paid by the retailer is used to plant more trees. The card is completely free to get too, just quite a long waiting list at the moment.
Head to the site to order yours. If you do want one then if you use my referral code then they will plant an additional tree https://vrlps.co/l1UpZ3h/cp
31st Get the most from your toothbrush. The usefulness of a toothbrush doesn’t end when the bristles are too worn for your teeth. On the back of our toothbrush boxes we have these tips printed to help you get the most of the product. I know some people choose to stick with plastic toothbrushes but as many of the tips will work for those too it’s worth sharing them so all brush types can be maximised.
- Use with water and bicarbonate of soda to remove stains from clothes or trainers
- Clean hard to reach places eg. Behind taps, vents, car wheels, bicycle components, car interiors
- Revive grout between tiles, old jewellery, the dog’s nails and feet
- When the brush is beyond cleaning, remove the bristles with pliers and then use the bamboo stick as a plant marker