Where growing, making & good living come together

If you go down to the woods today…

Posted by on Tuesday 24 January 2012 in green, growing | 1 comment

You might find a pretty much brand new collapsible garden bin.

That’s what I found on my walk with Lily-dog today.

When I first saw it a little way up the hill from the path, I thought it was one of ours but when I got closer, I saw it was bigger and frankly better quality than the ones I use. That part of the woods, which isn’t very popular with dogwalkers but is very popular with Lily-dog, isn’t really near any houses so I didn’t know who it could belong to so … yoink!

Coincidentally, the one I use for cleaning out the chicken coop (carrying the wood shavings from the coop to the compost heap) is just about on its last legs so this was a very well timed find indeed.

By way of thanks to the woods for their offering, I filled it with all the litter I came across on the walk out and back. It was mostly carrier bags, crisp packets and a couple of cans/bottles, but there was also an unused rubble sack which I bet someone lost in the recent high winds. Inspired by Su’s “goals for 2012” comment on Recycle This the other week, I’d been thinking about doing a litter pick in the woods when the weather got a little better – I’m glad this forced my hand sooner rather than later :)

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Book review: Garden Eco-Chic by Matthew Levesque

Posted by on Tuesday 6 December 2011 in green, growing | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, I was sent a couple of gardening books by Timber Press to review here and on Recycle This. This is the first one – Garden Eco-Chic by Matthew Levesque.

I’ve reviewed it in full on Recycle This but in brief/tl;dr –

The book does look nice: it includes lots of great pictures and aside from being overly wordy, is well laid out. It also includes plenty of creative, inspiring ideas and information about sourcing materials and working with them. I imagine it would be useful if you’re interested in garden design theory too as he explains a lot of his choices in great detail.

But if you’re looking for a practical guide or want to create a garden with the emphasis on practical rather than pretty, I don’t think this book is for you.

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Are you still as frugal and green when you’re away from home?

Posted by on Wednesday 19 October 2011 in frugal, green | 9 comments

This question has been buzzing around in my head for a few weeks but a comment on someone else’s blog has driven it to the surface:

are you still as frugal and green while you’re out & about or on holiday as you are at home?

A few miscellaneous ideas that created the initial buzz:

  • At home, I rarely use hot water to wash my hands/face (the boiler takes a few minutes to heat up) but away from home, in semi-public toilets, at work or in hotels etc, I almost always use the on-demand hot water every time, whether I really need it or not.
  • At home, we have a recycling bin and a compost bin in the kitchen, so recycle & compost as much as possible. Away from home, where there aren’t convenient recycling/compost bins such as at work (we borrow rooms so can’t made demands) or in hotels, I just use the regular bin.
  • When I’m staying in a hotel, I take more, longer showers/deeper baths than I do at home – before we got a good shower at home, hotel showers were a luxury activity, not just about getting clean!
  • When I’m on holiday/having a day trip somewhere a bit different, I’m more likely to buy something I don’t need as a treat or souvenir (not a tacky plastic Eiffel Tower per se but, for example, the £17 of yarn I bought in Whitby the other month or similar amount of yarn I bought in Madrid when we were there for a conference in 2009). This is also the nature of the comment I read on the other person’s blog: essentially “frugal goals be damned, you were on holiday”. I don’t generally have a problem with proper holiday treats – especially of this productive rather than purely novelty nature – but if it extends to all days out, which it has done with me in the past, it can get very expensive for little reason.

I find it strange how careful am I concerning energy/water usage at home etc, then I leave home and I’m Little Ms Wasteful! I’m not all bad – if I have a choice in the matter, I don’t leave lights/heating/air-con on when I’m out of a room at work or in a hotel etc – but my naughties are definitely something to address now I’ve consciously identified them though.

Are you as good away from home/on holiday/visiting friends & family as you are in your normal day-to-day home life? If you are, how do you deal with the lack of recycling/composting facilities etc?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or examples of this!

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Yesterday’s consumables and their packaging

Posted by on Tuesday 17 May 2011 in frugal, green, zero waste | 15 comments

Last week, I saw this post over at Not Dabbling In Normal as part of Real Clean month over there – Xan had listed every cleaning product she’d used before 7am – noting any packaging involved and the presence of synthetic chemicals where applicable. She does a lot of cleaning before 7am!

I thought it was a really interesting exercise because it’s so easy to become blind to the things we do/use on a daily basis – and you can’t take steps to cut back from an environmental/chemical-reduction or frugal point of view until you know what you’re using. I couldn’t repeat the exercise exactly (because I’m not generally awake by 7am let alone having done any cleaning!) so I decided to track all the consumables I personally use/waste I produce during the day, so see where I can make changes.

Yesterday was a slightly unusual day – I went to the theatre in the evening (so I didn’t have a proper meal and wore a little make-up — very unusual for me!) and I didn’t actually do any cleaning/laundry except for washing some cutlery at lunchtime. I’m going to repeat this exercise offline on random different days over the next fortnight to hopefully get fuller picture – then I’ll use that information to cut down. I can already see some areas where I could easily reduce our contact with synthetic chemicals and packaging (eg, make liquid hand soap, use a washable dish cloth, make more of our own cakes/sweet treats, and reassess my face “cleansing” routine).

All the consumables/waste I produced yesterday

In order of use – grouped together where applicable to make it easier to read and I’ve only listed things the first time they were used.

Things in bold and italics were single-use items, immediately heading to landfill. Things in italics were multiple-use/bulk-bought items that would eventually even up in landfill when the pack/bottle was finished.

Everything is shop-bought unless specified otherwise.

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The rubbish people give us

Posted by on Tuesday 25 January 2011 in green | 12 comments

Colette from the Permaculture Cottage blog mentioned yesterday that she returned from a visit to see her mum with jam jars, newspaper and “other bits and bobs for recycling”.

We collect “rubbish” from friends and family too – we brought back a box full of trash from visiting my mum & dad in Southport in November, and over the last month or so, we’ve been given all sorts of things to reuse, such as:

  • Screw top bottles from our party-hearty neighbour (he uses our glass recycling bin as overflow for his own smaller bin so he’s bringing them around one way or another) – John will use these for his homebrew wine when he finally bottles it up
  • Some old (chip board) shelving units from the same neighbour – will become shelving in our garage-ette
  • Glass jars from Strowger – he brings some nearly every week, the star – used for my marmalade and lemon curding antics over the weekend
  • Egg boxes from John’s mum and John’s brother & sister-in-law
  • Plastic food tubs from John’s mum
  • Newspapers from John’s dad – old newspapers for starting our woodburner or lining the chicken coop to make it easier to clean
  • Wood from John’s dad for burning (although I do save the best bits for making stuff with)
  • An old wine rack from John’s dad – which will also be used when John bottles up his wine

I was also going to get a going-to-the-tip kitchen cabinet from our next-door-but-one neighbours (to turn into a cold smoking cabinet) but John’s dad got their first — you win some, you lose some ;)

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Winter preparations now it’s winter – things still to do

Posted by on Thursday 25 November 2010 in frugal, green | 2 comments

We’ve had our first snow of the winter today – quite heavy flurries but not sustained. There are few snowy patches around the garden but the sun, which is shining brightly in between the showers, is quickly turning the snow to transparent ice or melting it all together.

Or at least that looks like what’s happening from up here. Even before I knew it was going to snow today, I’d decided to do the frugal thing and stay in bed for as long as possible. I’m still there now. I’ve got up for a few dashes around the house – feeding the animals & myself, a wee run, a delivery arriving – but other than that, I’ve stayed under the duvet and not had to use any form of heating for five hours and counting. (John’s out at his office today, I’ve got all the cats & dog as mobile heaters up here with me.) I will have to get up soon to take the dog for a walk and probably won’t return to bed again after that but until now, *warm*. My view has been of tree tops not trunks today:

This weekend is supposed to be a very cold one. Around here (Yorkshire), it’s not supposed to get above freezing at all on Saturday – and that’ll be positively tropical compared to other parts of the country. It’s the first time I remember it being this cold in November – the colder weather has usually waited until late December (as happened last year) or well into January or February (as is more typical). It’s made me realise how far behind I am on my “things to do for winter” list… I’ve done some of the stuff on it – some important stuff like curtains for our office, which makes a considerable difference down there – but not other bits.

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