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

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15 uses: Dresses

This week I am flipping 15 uses on its head and finding different bits of rubbish that could all be used to make one thing. I’m starting off with upcycled fashion and to begin with I’ve chosen dresses. So instead of thinking what do I do with all this (insert rubbish you have copious amounts of) be thinking I want (insert hearts desire) so what can I make it from. I’ve found a brilliant collection of dresses made from other fabrics, papers and some more unusual finds.

dresses fabric

Fabric

The most suitable way of making an attractive but comfortable dress is to delve into old and tired fabrics  to create new life

1. I love the skirt on this made entirely from old ties. There are plenty of these languishing in charity shops and your dads wardrobe, make use of them.

2. There are plenty of army surplus or fake camouflage to get you hands on, just depends if you want to sport the army look or not. *note probably not good for running in.

3. A classic item that is always getting chucked out is denim, so keep its life cycle going with a cute summer dress

4. Patch work is the original of upcycled fabric crafts, using spare bits of fabric or cuttings off old items to create a whole new one. Normally reserved for bed spreads I think I dress would look equally cool

5. Men shirts are another charity shop staple and should be used more often to create new things

dresses paper

Paper

Plenty of it so use it though I see these all for statement pieces rather then general ware, though depends on your fashion

1. Books are a joy but there are endless amounts piling up in our homes, create your own masterpiece with a show stopping dress.

2. Maps are beautiful and would make a brilliant design for a dress

3. Fashion magazines display the best of designers skills but they themselves could be transformed into brilliant dress designs

4. The easiest paper to get hold of and the most flexible but watch out for tears

5. Strips of cardboard packaging, in this case cereal boxes, could make a fun dress and it appears to have more structure to the other paper ideas making it probably the most viable design. I like the belt to make it look more natural dresses unusual materials

Unusual Items

Bizarre ideas but ones that could definitely work as a statement piece. I would advice a fabric lining for all of these to maintain modest and comfort

1. Plastic rather then paper this time. Fused grocery bags in different colours could make a simple dress. Once the plastic bags are fused together they can be worked just like fabric

2. A collection of bottle caps, metal wire and tin plating creates this strange piece though can’t imagine it being a very comfortable experience. How would you sit down?!

3. I like this one made from lids and tops. Its like a colourful flapper dress but once again I can’t imagine its comfy to sit down in and a light slip would be needed underneath unless your super racey.

4. This police line dress looks amazing but where would you get such materials, I’m sure the bobby’s wouldn’t be too pleased if you started snaffaling their tape

5. Using packaging of any kind looks fun and quirky but make sure they are all washed out thoroughly or you’ll start to smell like a rubbish tip

 

So would you dare to go for the outrageous dresses or stick to the plain and simple fabric ones?

Lorna

X xxx

Lets talk about toilets

lets talk toilets

We all have to go to the toilet. FACT, but is it something we think about when it comes to our Eco credentials. We have heard about composting toilets and camping wild aided only with a shovel and disregard for cold bottoms but i could understand that not everyone want to poo in a hole in the ground nor wipe their behind with a leaf. Whats the problem with normal toilets i hear you say? Well, potential they can be quite sh*t!

loo rollSo what’s the problem?

-It can be a massive waste of water, 30-40% of household water is used flushing the loo, which can really top up if your on a water meter, plus it is just plain waste especially since in 2012 we had droughts throughout England

-Toilet paper is an everyday essential but the cost to trees could be huge if we don’t encourage recycled brands and tree replanting. Even recycled paper can be potentially bad for the environment as new wood pulp needs to be mixed with it if it becomes to filmsy (most paper can only be recycled 5-6 times as fibers weaken) and some pulp can come from damaging and sometimes illegal deforestation *

– Standard Bleach, limescale remover, toilet fresheners can all contain chemicals that can be both bad for the environment and for yourself. We all know that bleach can burn if you leave some on your skin, but its doubtful that any chemical product is good for your complexion and artificial fragrances have significant impact on pollinating insects as they get confused trying to find flower through these smells.

ecover toilet cleanerAny solutions?

-There are several water saving devises that reduce the amount used when flushing. Save-a-flush, The Hippo and The Interflush are some of the readily available device and this article from the Ecologist compares their benefits/costs among other alternatives.

– Recycled paper is best as it reduces landfill waste and the process is less intensive then virgin paper. However, look at the label and choose one that is made from paper waste not pulp and free from chlorine. Another rule being that the whiter and brighter it is the more chemicals and processes, so technically the browner the better. (please no jokes about second hand toilet paper)

– You can buy eco toilet cleaners and fresheners from all over now and cost the same as your big named chemical brands. Ecover is my fav green cleaning company. Better still you can make your own with household ingredients, Bicarb mixed with water can whiten and giver a shine, lemon is antibacterial and freshens and chuck a bottle of cheap sugary cola down in the bowl over night and it acts like a great limescale remover.

There we have it, just a few simple steps to take and you can feel nice and green next time you pop to the little boy’s/girl’ room. Have you ever thought about your toilet in this way or is it something we forget about because it is such an essential?

Lorna

X xxx

A Malt Sack Journey

Upcycling is such an important part of my life, both for Maker’s Meadow as a shop and within my home life. ‘Going green’ is a journey for me that will continue for the rest of my life and it makes me so happy to be able to reuse and remake items for another use. Today i will show you the journey of the malt sacks i use to create our shop items from origin to product, including a little bit of info on malt and brewing. I use any waste materials the Geeves brewery supply me with and any new item always brings on a spur of inspiration and imagination as to what i could use it for.malt bags

As i have said the malt sacks i use come from our local brewery but before that they come from Fawcett & sons Maltsters, in Castleford, West Yorkshire. A maltster prepares the grains/malt for brewing, they do this by first soaking the grains and then drying them out using hot air, this changes starch in the grain in to sugars which in the brewing process will be turned into alcohol. The grains are then packed into sacks and delivered to the brewerymashing in

When brewing a mixture of grains are used to give different characteristics to the beer. The grains are added to what looks like a giant pot called a mash tun, they are slowly added to it along with very hot water, this is called mashing in. They are left in there for an hour+ till the sugars are extracted into the water (now called liquor) and this is transferred to the next part of the brewing process.Once the mashtun is empty of liquor and the grains have been washed to get out the remaining sugars, the malt is put back in to sacks. Our brewery gives these sacks to a local farming college for composting and to a local venison farmer who feeds his deer with it, making sure there is nothing going to the landfill. They then collect the malt sacks and give them to me at Maker’s Meadow, reducing their waste further.

malt in bag

The first step before making a product is the worse and that is cleaning it.Soapy hot water and alot of elbow grease generally does the job. I then cut out pattern pieces from the sacking, using it just like i would a piece of material, as well as any other fabric pieces i need for the design. I then construct the product using mainly my sewing and overlocking machine, as well as some glue and hand stitching. Each product can be completely different, depending on the sacking design position, color and any warping so each piece is unique.

sew sew sewing

I then photography each product and list my items on Etsy or Folksy. Once a customer orders an item i package it in recycled brown packing paper , sewing together the edges after inserting my business cards, a few freebies and special offers. I then trot down to the post office and send it off, happy that some one has brought from me a handmade and eco friendly product. Its not just malt sacks that i reuse though, i also use the packets that their hops come in for my cool bags, plastic wrap for packaging, and i get oodles of string which i will be using i a new project ( i’ll keep you posted). If you want to know more about brewing check out CAMRA for a guide and to see the rest of our products check out our Etsy or Folksy shops.

green geeves

Don’t forget to give us a tweet on Twitter if your over that way!

Lorna

X xxx

Shop News: Donation December

veggySince it is the season of sharing and giving i shall be donating 75p from each purchase from the shop to a charity i have only just found but who share an ideal which i fully support and believe in. This crazy idea they have is that every one deserves to eat and eat well, and furthermore that the excessive food waste in this country can be distributed to those who need it rather then give it to a greedy landfill. Crazy idea right????fareshare

The Charity is Fare Share, a UK organisation that provides quality food to those who can’t afford it and training and education on food and cookery. They also campaign about food waste, the worst of which comes from supermarkets and food outlets like restaurants and cafes. Last week i blogged about finding out some astonishing facts about the affect of austerity Britain has had on UK diets. I decided to do a little bit more research and came across Fare Share. I can not stand waste, not only money wise but also the effect on the environment, and their message really spoke to me. Why let people go hunger when there is plenty to share around and that is what Fair Share is all about.

To sum up, buy anything from Maker’s Meadow whether from Folksy or Etsy this  December and i will donate 75p in your name to Fare Share via Just Giving or donate personally using my Just Giving page http://www.justgiving.com/makers-meadow

Seasons Greetings
Lorna
X xxx