Ditch the Six and Make the Switch

I have been meaning to do this little home task for a while and I finally got round to doing it this week. I changed my energy supplier from one of the big six energy companies to a small independent eco friendly supplier. This winter just gone has seen a great deal of focus in the media on the problems of the largest energy companies that dominate the market, known as the big six, and it has been niggling me for ages to get something done and change my supplier. So I am going to walk you through my reasons behind it and why I think you should do the same.

Independence

Personally I believe that the energy companies should be nationalised as we all need gas and electric to warm our homes, cook our food and keep the lights on and believe it is something our government should provide rather than private companies. Those are my political views but the reasons behind me switching is something I think everyone should hear no matter their political persuasion.

  • The big six (British Gas, N-Power, EDF, Scottish Power, E-ON, SSE) owns 90% share of the energy market and have been subject to an inquire by the monopolies commission because this percentage means they can control the prices between them and thus have been accused making deals together to artificially inflate prices for their customers
  • The high prices affect those with pre pay meters the most as the unit price and standing charge are often higher and the ones who often have pre pay meters are the poorest within society.
  • They have blamed the rise in prices on green levies (see below) but if you look at their profits they are astronomical, if they cut their profits they wouldn’t need to charge people the amount they do.
  • As profits are all these huge companies care about then why should I trust them with something that is an essential part of my life and a substantial amount of my bills. I place more trust in smaller companies that have time for their customers

Big Six

Environment

As you probably are well aware if you read this blog often, I am very interested in protecting the environment through doing stuff in our own lives. It is part of humankind’s  problem whether climate change is our fault or not and I think that positive steps towards a more environmentally friendly economy.

  • Non of the big six have invested sufficiently in green energies and it is something I think we need to do as a country to help the environment. Green energies are very varied each with their own qualities and problems but with one uniting idea that we don’t need to burn away resources when their are other options.  I am not going to discuss their merits here but some of the major ones include: Solar, wind, biofuels, hydro power, anaerobic digestion and several less known but equally important ones.
  • Even though we are out of the recession there are still plenty of people in the UK and across the world without stable employment and investment in new green industries would provide thousands if not potentially millions of new jobs in just this country.
  • We need to avoid carbon based energy and nuclear power not only for the environments health but also our own. We will run out of oil and natural gas eventually and messing with nuclear energy has already proved that it can go terribly wrong.

Money

Maybe not everyone cares whether their energy is from a national or private company and i know many people doubt climate change but one thing I know most people will agree on is that they want to pay less for goods and services and want to save where they can

  • Green energies are always accused of being too expensive for ‘normal’ people and I can understand these reservations. All energy industries are expensive to set up, so when we start investing in green energy to start the prices will be higher but after time they will pay for themselves resulting in cheaper prices for all (I say this for the major two as the sun and wind are free commodities ….currently)
  • When I chose the company I wanted (Good Energy) I worked out the cost for both my current supplier and Good Energy on the average usage basis. In all fairness H and I probably use a lot less then most people but makes more sense for what the average is. Turns out that per year I would be £20 better off with Good Energy. Not a big difference but when you consider all the other factors why wouldn’t you switch.

I implore you to take a look at your current energy supplier and research the other independent ones to see if you could be making a difference to your bill and the environment at the same time. As a side note I am not affiliated with Good Energy they are the one I chose for their clear goals and straight talking about what everything costs (another problem I find with the Big Sixes websites). Take a look at the others too. Good Energy, EcotricityGreen Energy UK

Lorna

x xxx

On Happiness

happy

This blog post has been inspired by A) I finally got a job last week (obligatory happy dance) and b) A reminder for myself on how to be happy. The first thing I want to say is that this post isn’t about money as the key to happiness but I completely understand that in order for us to live in this world and be happy we need a basic amount of income to remain sane and explore our own happiness. Having been unemployed for just over 6 months, until last week, was such a struggle both financially, emotionally and physically and it is a sad truth but a real one that we all need to pay our bills, buy food and spend our money on necessities whether we have the cash or not. So with this in mind the musings below are generally for when you have the ability to pay your bills and don’t have the pressure on as much but at the same time I believe lots of these ideas can be applied for when you don’t have any disposable income either. The part B of my inspiration is because naturally I am a very anxious person and when the chips are down my anxiety can knock me for six. Though I have come on leaps and bounds when it comes to dealing with my worries and fears I still feel like I need help along the way sometimes. Having a check list or a cheat sheet for happiness may seem like a strange thing but it can help you focus on positive rather then negative aspects of your life and even change the way you think about your individual life. I hope that by writing out how I try to be happy it may help some one else as it helps me.

Anna LappeKnow why you are unhappy

If you know why you are unhappy you can fix or change it. Unhappiness can be bred from many things and with the exception of relationship problems/ loss of loved ones/serious mental health issues , which is totally understandable, I believe that changing our mind set is more important most of the time then what we are actually unhappy about.

Worry– I often worry when I am I get into bed probably because something is weighing on my mind and I can no longer do anything about it but these feelings can strike throughout the day at any time. I find that I worry more and more about something because I am putting off  a task or need to chase someone else up to resolve the problem. Procrastination is the real problem here . As soon as I do the task I don’t want to do I feel so much better

Want– Once our bills and necessities are taken care of, any money is ours to spend on what we want but if you don’t have enough money to buy what you ‘want’ then maybe it is time to re-evaluate what we want and think more about what we need.  Not living within your means is the real problem here.

Health– Now I am no way any kind of health professional but when we do not feel our best physically that can affect us mentally as well. Taking care of your health can make all the difference when It comes to illness relating to lifestyle choices and your environment which are minor but can have a bigger impact then you might realise.

Loneliness- Humans are sociable creatures and they need to interact. When I wasn’t working I found it incredibly lonely and isolating as I couldn’t visit friends and family or even go out to the pub to socialise in my new city. You cannot rely on even just the people you live with as you need interactions from different sources. Getting out there is hard but key.

happiness stop worrying

How to combat unhappiness

Worry– For me when worry strikes it can disable me. It creates such an anxious feeling, my chest can tighten, I feel sick and I can get into such a state as my worry comes in cycles. I understand that I create worry cycles and often, as I said, it’s because I am not doing the right thing to resolve the issue that is worrying me. Recognising that I am in the middle of doing this is the first and biggest step because then I can speak my little mantra.  ‘Can I do anything about it now?? ‘ if the answer is yes = do something, if the answer is no = forget it and stop worrying till you can do something about it. A simple phrase but it gives me the  control to stop worrying and get on with what I need to do.

happiness in gift from a loved one

Want– We want lots and lots of things in life but it’s not always possible. As someone who does want this and want that but is really against the rampant consumerism which is encouraged in our society It can be challenging to balance these two sides of myself. I try and step back and think whether I really need the item, whether it will improve my life, improve my happiness and what it’s effect on others could be. I know not everyone thinks about these issues when it comes to consumer goods but for me it makes me really think about what I want in life. The second point I want to make is that if you can’t afford something that is a ‘want’ rather then a need you shouldn’t feel unhappy. Instead you should look to the things in your home and life that you really love, mean something to you or just make your life easier which you already own. The big French poster we have in our living room H gave to me when he lived in France, it is a beautiful poster which makes me smile everytime I look at it, it reminds me of H obviously a lovely person to be reminded of and links the great times we have in France when we visit.

happiness in food

Health– When I am stuck in a rut I find it hard to look after myself and will not make healthy choices. If you see yourself doing this you should try and stop it but as with all good health, preventative measures are better then the cure. We all know that exercise, good diet, sleep, water and de-stressing can prevent illness and improve our happiness but we seldom stick to it. Making a conscious effort to improve at least one aspect of your health is definitely the way to start. When I am really focusing on improving a part of my life I feel so much better and it makes it easier to implement the things you need to focus on. I love food and I believe this is the easiest way to improve our health and happiness because we all have to eat. Good food=Happy people. As an added note I think keeping your house in a clean and tidy order really helps to improve your mindset, plus housework counts as exercise ;)

Loneliness– Whether you are lacking money, feel too busy or out of touch with people, you need to get up and go. Simply having someone round for a cup of tea or coffee, lunch or dinner doesn’t have to cost alot as you will be enjoying a homemade meal anyway, and means you can really connect with someone by having a really good chin wag. Make your family and friends aware that you want to see them and are feeling a bit down in the dumps. Your loved ones will always do what they can to make you feel better but they won’t if they think everything is fine. There is no need for false pretence so let people into your inner circle and enjoy them. Sharing problems and joys is part of the human life so find people you can share them with. Finding people as crazy as you also helps ;)

happiness in crazy people

I hope this has been an interesting read and has helped someone thing about happiness that we all deserve and can have. Please leave a comment of anything that helps you stay on the happy train.

Take care and smile

Lorna

x xxx

Asbestos Awareness week 1st – 7th April

asbestos awareness week

Being green isn’t simply about changing your own habits, your home or even your work place, it’s about encouraging others to do the same either actively by campaign or making others aware of the benefits your life has. One the biggest ways we can develop a greener and healthier society is by changing government policy that encourages or forces large businesses and public sector services to rethink the way they do things. A  great example of this is the UK government’s ban on the use of Asbestos from 2001. Asbestos is a set of naturally occurring minerals which the building and construction industry having been using since the 19th century. They have lots of properties and different uses that can be applied in many ways throughout buildings but unfortunately it is an incredibly toxic substance that if inhaled can lead to an array of nasty illnesses including lung diseases and cancer. We had been aware of its risks for several decades, reducing the amount and types of asbestos we used until it’s complete ban for all use in new builds and all refurbishments. Britain is still full of asbestos and it now heavily regulated and controlled to maintain it in existing buildings without risk to the public. This is a brilliant thing and an effective foot forward for how government policy can really implement change. Unfortunately however we still have around 4500 deaths a year due to asbestos related illness and probably will continue to do so till the full effects of the ban are felt well into the 21st century benefiting future generations.

did you know this about asbestos

So why asbestos awareness week? Well it’s not for us Brits, it’s for our friends across the pond. The US government still has not banned it’s use, and it is estimated 30 million pounds are used each year. It is the biggest cause of occupational cancer in the US and if the continue to use it the problem could easily get worse. It seems ridiculous to me that they still haven’t banned it but I was equally shocked that the UK hadn’t till 2001 even though the health problems had been clearly visible for decades. We need awareness to be spread so the American people can understand the danger their construction workers and the wider public are in by it’s continued use throughout all types of buildings. If it was raised to the top of the political agenda if only throughout the awareness week it might encourage politicians to act upon the overwhelming evidence against asbestos and ban it’s further use and enhance the regulations surrounding it’s maintenance. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as a figure head for the current campaign, Heather Von St James (pictured in the top) was diagnosed with mesothelioma (A exclusively asbestos related cancer) and given 15 months to live, she and her husband Cameron fought the odds and with treatment beat the cancer! It always makes me so happy when people survive cancer and so pleased that Heather and Cameron can continue enjoying life together with their daughter. They now spend their time raising awareness about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure.

Please spread the word to others to educate them and encourage those in the US government to take notice of a practice that must be stopped for the goodness of society and the world as a whole (only 55 countries have banned it’s production and use)Find Heather and Cameron’s wonderful website here, along with websites relating to asbestos in the US. For more info  about asbestos and the law surrounding it’s use visit HSE and how to manage it here.

Lorna

x xxx

p.s. Up yours cancer!

Compost DIY

compost binI am always looking at more ways in which I can reduce the waste coming out of the home so that the fullest bin is the recycling ones and the black bin is never full. Depending on your local council,l recycling can be easy but a lot of councils including our own no longer do green recycling so we have to get rid of it in another way (or pay for the privilege). If you have a garden the best way to get rid of your organic waste is to compost it and reuse it on your own garden once its matured. The process is slow but it means you can give back to the earth Lion King style as the circle of life. Here is a little guard to how and what to compost.

I was wrongly informed once that a compost bin needs lots of air and holes in the side, this does not work in my opinion. You need a bin of some kind which is well insulated especially in the winter and has a lid on the top. You can buy one, make your own or sometimes you can get one free from your local council. I like the standard black ones with a lid on the top and a small door at the bottom to get the finished compost out. As they are black they absorb the suns rays and keep it warm which is key to producing compost quickly.  The compost bin should be in a sunny or partial shaded spot so it gets the most sun and kept warm. It should be placed on open soil or turf and away from water courses or standing water

whats in my bin, with an added dose of beer dregsNow for the fun part, what to put in. There are a two basic rules to follow if you want to create the best compost and get rid of your organic waste in a sensible way without adding to the landfills.

1. Add anything that was once living- but avoid cooked foods, meat and dairy as they can attract vermin

2. Make your pile a mix-  you should use roughly equal parts brown and green mix

Green mix are used as activators to give life to the compost and break the mix down quickly, these include: grass clippings, leaves, young weeds, vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, animal manure

Brown mix creates the bulk of the compost but breaks down slower then green, its best shredded and broken into smaller pieces before being added, it includes: untreated woods, hardy weeds,  newspaper, brown paper and cardboard

A few added tips I found is to keep the compost moist but not sopping. My favourite way to add moisture is with the dregs of a beer barrels which I have lots of access to :) The nutrients in beer add to the compost and get it going again, it definitely improves the quality of your heap. Crushed egg shells are another good additive, rich in nutrients and hair & nail clippings are gross but great for it. No point in adding anything to your bin if you could add it to your compost instead. one last hint is that once your bin gets noticeable full (our compost bin was there when we moved in and was already pretty full of garden waste) don’t worry that you won’t be able to fit any more in. Our compost bin is full every time we put a bag of waste in (about once a week) but there is always room the next time we put it in so you can see that the waste is slowly degrading into the heap so keep topping it up.  Compost takes a long time to make but if your in it for the long haul it will result in a wonderful mulch for your garden and the perfect way to get rid of your organic waste.

Lorna

x xxx

p.s. One last tip, stir the mixture up with a stick every once in a while it aerates it which gets it going again

Bringing in a little Green

Christmas basket close upJanuary is always a time to re think and reorganise your life and for me this year its no exception. I have signed up for Apartment therapy’s January Cure which helps you with little prompts throughout January to complete projects you want to get done and organise your house after the craziness of December holidays. As part of the cure each weekend they say you should buy flowers to enjoy. I love flowers but I do find I feel bad for wasting money on what isn’t an essential item. Instead of buying flowers I’ve decided to buy living plants as an alternative. Each plant or collection of plants cost the same price as a simple bouquet (for smaller plants) but it will last as long as you take care of it for. I am also quite interested in the health benefits of having houseplants, as an asthma sufferer (though not totally convinced of the diagnosis nowadays) and general sniffler I want to see if having air purifying plants and therefore more oxygen will improve my respiratory health. herbs

Beautiful

I got both these for Christmas, I got the herb planters from my mum so hopefully they will start sprouting soon and I got this gorgeous basket from my sister in law Verity and her boyfriend Johnny! These definitely inspired my green start

Dracena Little Cacti

This palmy dracaena is suppose to be a brilliant air purifier, taking up all the nasty chemicals that can be present in our house and the set of three cacti are just the cutest little things ever! I had to get them. They will be moving home to the bedroom once I have made some planters for them. more to be revealed soon.

Lorna

x xxx

15 uses: A plastic Christmas

Plastic is incredibly bad for the environment, to produce it and when it’s thrown away. I sometimes imagine the whole world choking under a blanket of plastic, which isn’t too far from the truth since thousands of animals, if not millions, are killed by tossed away plastic each year normally through strangulation or choking. There are lots of environmental programmes out there at the moment that are attempting to find ways to replace plastic with an eco alternative, I recently heard about one using a type of fungi. For the most part however plastic is here to stay so we need to make sure we dispose of it responsibly or better yet not at all and make it in to sometime useful again. So here is my little collection of upcycling plastics into a wonderful and eco conscious Christmas!

Plastic Christmas tree ornaments

Plastic Tree Ornaments

1. Rings of cut plastic can easily be transformed into simple ornaments by wrapping round colourful wool or ribbon until the entire surface is covered. Add a loop to hang and you have some mini wreaths for your tree.

2.  I love the look of these plastic toys spray painted in different colours. Toys like this are so easy to find at charity shops and jumble sales, just drill or screw in a little hook into each back, add ribbon and you can hang them. Really light weight too.

3. A collection of plastic bottle tops can be strung together with ribbon and extra beads to make an easy and green ornament as always spray paint is your friend

4. The bottom of soda or pop bottles are often used for creative crafts for their flower like shape but in this case I think they are more like snowflakes. A fun craft for kids to decorate but make sure an adult cuts off the bottoms of the bottles

5. I had to include my own yoghurt pot lid creations from last year. I will be using mine again this Christmas and I still love the personal touch it brings to your tree. Here’s the tutorial.

plastic christmas trees

Plastic Christmas Trees

1. Plastic spoons- I have actually come across large sets of plastic cutlery in charity shops before so I think they would be easy to find and glue to a paper cone, but don’t go out and buy them new! We don’t want to encourage any more plastic consumption.

2. Another one for soda bottles- This tree uses the top end, with the neck used to add more to the tree with the sides cut to flay outwards.

3. This crazy tree appears to use everything and anything plastic, not quite my style but amazing recycling credentials, 5 star!

4. This green plastic bottle tree is beautiful as its the closest to the real thing. It looks like it would need a firm base and structure though.

 5. A plastic bag tree, Once again a structure looks like it is needed to stuff the plastic bags in but I’m sure you inventive crafty lot will be able to think of something.

plastic wreaths and other ornaments

Plastic Wreaths and Other Christmassy Ornaments

1. Not a decoration but using plastic packaging to organise your Christmas decorations will mean a stress free time for next year and protect your more delicate ornaments

2. Cute little festive penguins- made out of two soda bottle bottoms glued together and painted. I’m sure you don’t have to stick to penguins they probably make really good roly poly santas too.

3. Another use for soda bottle bases- glued together and spray painted they make a unique but wonderful wreath for any door, but you probably need quite a lot so start saving now for next year.

4. An upturned clear plastic pot makes the perfect cover for a wintery scene, find small figurines or make your own and create a snow scene a lot less messy then your classic snow globe which often end up leaking everywhere.

5. This wreath is much easier to do. Plastic bags shredded and strung together into a ring makes a snowy style wreath and you can always spray paint it a different colour to match your theme especially if you don’t have just plain white bags.

Have fun crafting and don’t forget to check out the pinterest board for more ideas.

Lorna

x xxx

Everyday Etsy: Green & Clean

This is a lovely collection of beauty and bath products from Etsy that are all eco friendly and eco conscious. As I said in my last green everyday Etsy, It’s hard to change everything in your day to day straight away to get to a more green life,  so replace one product you have when it runs out with a green or ethical alternative and do that for all your products and you’ll soon have the best items that are good for you and the planet.

Green & Clean

I personally have stopped buying face wipes and instead bought crocheted wool pads like these from Deer Season and a cleanser from Lush Fresh Farmacy which is brilliant and gets my skin really fresh and free of makeup. When you’ve used the wool pads a few times just chuck them in with your wash and use again.  Though I love Lush i’d love to try the make up remover from Conscious Skin Care, I love their packaging and the information about the products. It’s sometimes hard to decorate in the bathroom as it always seems such a functional room so this beautiful soap dish would be a lovely little edition from Prince Design UK.

Go green and stay clean

Lorna

x xxx

Everyday Etsy: Going Green

I recently haven’t done any shopping posts and I want to refresh them a little before I got back to posting them. I feel I got too obsessed with the look of them and create a cohesive board with simply colour was a sure fire way to include items I may not of whole heartedly loved. For my next shopping lists I am going to focus more on products that are great and fit for use as well as gorgeous and this starts with a list of products to help you move towards a greener life.

 

Its not always easy being green and sometimes you might feel you don’t know where to start when it comes to helping the environment out. You can’t simply change everything you do in your day to day or chuck out all  your household goods and replace them with eco alternatives. I think I much better way to tackle environmental problems in your home is to take one step at a time. This green shopping list shows you normal everyday items but the eco alternative. Swap your usual product for one of these every week or month and eventually you will have transformed your home into a green haven. My favourite idea from this selection are the reusable paper towels by MamaMade which are wound up in a roll and have snap on poppers so you can rip off each section as you would traditional Kitchen roll. Just whack them in the wash after use and you’ll save money and the planet. Click on the photo to see the full list.

Lorna

X xxx

 

A Little Bit of Green

a little bit of ivy greenMy favourite thing i have been doing for my home has been bringing in more plants. A little bit of green in our lives soaks up nasty chemicals from  cookers, fridges and general air pollution anbd the chuck out lots of lovely oxygen in return. They also make me happy just looking at them. It’s a sense of wholesomeness and a healthy home.leafy greens

There are also the benefits of having edible plants in the kitchen for fresh flavour hits. When i got to aldi (our fav supermarket) i buy a herb pot everytime we shop there. If i buy one every couple of weeks its a little price rather then buying lots of plants in one go which can end up pricey. So far we have a basil and mint, soon to be added, chives, parsley and coriander which will fill my window sill up nicely and i’ll have lots of tasty herbs to add to our meals. I have also started growing little bits of veg from kitchen scraps, the stumps/roots of spring onions and lettuce hearts have been working great and now i have no need to keep buying then, just pick off what i need.brightens up my daybeautiful blooms

I also like having freshly cut flowers to brighten up corners and add colour throughout the house. It is luxury which i can’t always afford but they are worth it when ou do buy them. Failing buying a big bouquet i will cut a few flowers and greenery from the garden to make little arrangements for around the home. A little bit of green goes a long way.

bouquet

Lorna

X xxx

Doing up the Garden

little gardenThough it’s not the perfect rolling garden that i’ve dreamed of, a little bit of green for you to while away a sunny afternoon in is way better then nothing. Having lived in back- to back houses or flats throughout uni, i haven’t had the chance to get my hands nice and dirty, though i’ve always mangaed to have a herb pot or too on the windowsill.

IMG_5006

The place was a big mess to start with, lots of random bits of junk hanging around and a general untidiness about it. However we have vastly improved it but it is still a slow process when it comes to juggling work and home. There is still lots of rubbish to get rid of, a skip will be needed, and a general tidy up. I want to plant more flowers, refresh the wall with a whitewash, stain and protect some dusty looking garden furniture and make the place more welcoming for summer.

IMG_5013 IMG_5010

I’ve alread started planting seeds and bulbs to come up when the last of the spring flowers die back and i am planning on growing a small salad garden, use creeping peas and beans on the walls and of course have a classic herb patch. It’s already  a nice place to sit out in, even in the winter as we have a shelter and a fire made out of an old propane tank.fire area IMG_5014

There is a messy patch in the corner of our car park which seems to have become a dumping ground for wood for the fire but also broken tellys, bags of rubble and strangly several mens jumpers. Once that is all cleared i can use the flower beds behind them to plant more veg and beautiful flowers.,

IMG_5001

I also want to bring some colour to the front of the building too with hanging baskets and some patio plants to make the place more inticing as a friendly place to drink and hang out and show we are a well run family pub compared to some of te scraggerly ended places that let thir properties go to rack and ruin. I will be posting updates on my progress so wish me luck, hopefully i can transform it in to my own little paradise.

Lorna

X xxx