Author Archives: enform

Why Is It More Important Than Ever To Reduce Global Emissions?

Guest post by Christina Woodard*

A conscious effort is needed by everyone to reduce our impact on the environment. Climate change will be one of the most serious issues facing us over the next few decades, with CO2 one of the key contributors. The negative impacts include:

  • coastal erosion
  • flooding
  • loss and change of habitats
  • drought
  • increased ranges of infectious diseases
  • destruction of coral reefs
  • increased extreme weather events

to name a few.

Reducing deforestation, finding efficient and alternative energy sources that are sustainable and placing limits on current emissions are all key to reducing global emissions. There are already several countries leading the way having 100% of electrical generation from renewables with others rapidly following in their footsteps. Improvements in the UK are already underway, with the contribution of coal to electricity generation down to just 9% in 2016. On April 21st 2017, Britain had its first period of 24 hours with no coal fired generation.

Aware of the threats which face us all, 200 parties signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015. Unfortunately one country has already pulled out and many are not likely to achieve their pledges. It is also thought that currently only 3 European countries are truly meeting their pledges. Unfortunately, the agreement is non-binding and has no penalties in place for not trying hard enough. The USA ,with 10% of the world’s population but contributing approximately 50% of CO2 emissions, made a decision this month (June 2017) to pull out of the Paris agreement – as they ramped up oil production to 9.1 million barrels a day. Unless these countries can look at the wider picture, it makes it difficult to suggest using or investing in renewable energy sources when there is a cheap energy source available in the form of oil.

2016 was the first time the annual atmospheric carbon levels exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm). This historic event was the globally agreed ‘tipping point’, where, like a glass of red wine spilt on a new white rug, the atmospheric changes would be irreversible. A shocking monthly high of 410 ppm in March 2017 indicates that we are not heading in the right direction.

Global levels for carbon dioxide (CO2) have always naturally fluctuated but the increased level of CO2 caused by humans since the industrial revolution is the main cause of anthropogenic climate change. The 400 ppm levels mentioned above are 25% higher than the levels measured 50 years ago.

Since then, our ever-growing population, with its ever-growing demand for food and energy for homes, vehicles, businesses and cities have resulted in exploitation of our fossil fuels. When coal, oil and natural gas are burned these release high levels of atmospheric carbon. Deforestation by humans for mining, agriculture, ranching, infrastructure and settlements has exacerbated the issue as the earth’s ability to remove carbon dioxide naturally via plant respiration is depleted.

reduce global emissions graph blog jun17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Global atmospheric temperatures and extreme weather events are increasing, climatic and local weather patterns are changing, oceans are warming causing thermal expansion and coastal flooding, frozen water stores are receding or thawing. In permafrost, this is a big problem as trapped methane (a greenhouse gas and big contributor to climate change) is released.

In 2010, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level. This figure was revised to 1.5 °C in the 2015 Paris Agreement but the current trajectory of emissions is not in line with limiting global warming to below 1.5 or even 2 °C. We have already breached the 1°C mark in 2015, and many feel that it would be difficult to maintain a temperature rise below 2.7°C even if the climate pledges were adhered to.

Whilst we can’t reduce the level of atmospheric CO2, in our lifetime at least, we can mitigate the climatic effects by lessening the emissions we each produce. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) stated in 2014 that “Mitigation is a public good; climate change is a case of the tragedy of the commons. Effective climate change mitigation will not be achieved if each agent (individual, institution or country) acts independently in its own selfish interest”. Clearly, the for need mitigating emissions needs to start with all humans, at an individual level, working collectively with other humans to do the same.

But what are our individual emissions? World bank 2013 data cites the US at 16.4 tons per person per year, and the UK and Tanzania at 7.1 and 0.2 tons per person respectively. Researching your carbon footprint based on your own energy use is the first step towards educating how we as individuals can mitigate against climate change. Examples include:

  • Choose energy that comes from renewable sources for your home and/or business
  • Reduce your water usage
  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – Reduce food waste for example, buy less or use scraps as compost rather than sending to landfill sites; reuse packaging whenever you can, recycle plastics in particular as they derive from oil, a carbon source.
  • Increase the energy efficiency in your home and place of work; for example, improving insulation, remote heating, energy efficient bulbs and draft excluders.
  • Change from use of gas for cooking and heating to use of electricity ???? (this is only the case if electricity is produced using renewable sources. If using coal powered energy generation it is not as environmentally friendly as using mains gas in the UK.
  • Increasing afforestation by planting more trees and plants.

This isn’t the usual ‘save the planet’ rhetoric. Our planet has been around for 4.5 billion years and has endured hotter and colder periods than in the present day. What is at stake is life on earth as we know it. To preserve both human life and biodiversity, every human must commit to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions (and not just 180 small countries/states). The Doomsday Clock is an analogy for the likelihood of human-caused global catastrophe, and was largely represented as nuclear war, however, in 2007 climate change was added (nuclear war or climate change beginning seen as the two biggest threats to humanity). It was reset in January 2017 to 2½ minutes to midnight, due to the rise of nationalism, the Trump Administrations view of climate change in the US, and the current nuclear modernisations. The only other time that it has been closer (2 minutes to midnight) was in 1952 when both the US and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear weapons.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

Author Bio

Christina Woodard is a highly knowledgeable environmental writer who enjoys writing informative posts on climate change, global worming, rising temperatures, and constantly increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Apart from sharing the latest information on environmental problems she enjoys reading and traveling.

For more information on all of these issues, the author recommends readers visit Envirodat.

#30 Days Green

This July, we challenge you to go green or at least a bit greener!

Admittedly we have stolen this idea from the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days of Wild but good ideas need sharing.

Its a very simple idea. Can you do something green every day throughout July? That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting (OK so some of them wont be that exciting) Random Acts of Greeness. We know. There are 31 days in July but you can have a rest on the 31st and reflect on all your good and positive actions and bask in your feelings of satisfaction.

What is a Random Act of Greeness?

A Random Act of Greeness is about implementing some easy, small changes to your lifestyle to help make the world a slightly better place at the end of the month. All you need to do is to take a simple, small Random Act of Greeness everyday in July for 30 days. You can have a rest on the 31st day and reflect on your achievements safe in the knowledge you have made the world a slightly better place.

You can use our ideas as inspiration (bear with us, we haven’t thought of 30 yet) or better still get creative and use your own. Please let us know your ideas so that we can share them.

Take the #30DaysGreen Challenge with en-form!

Keep up to date with our ideas and help us by making up your own simple, easy, green, eco friendly Random Acts of Greeness to inspire you and others throughout July (and beyond). Share them with us by leaving your ideas in the comments box and on our Facebook page using #30DaysGreen.

 

 

Planning an Eco-Friendly Home Renovation

Guest post by Stacey Cooper*

If your home is in need of an update, investing in environmentally sustainable or eco-friendly upgrades is not only good for the environment, it can be good for your wallet too – especially when you consider that over time, eco-friendly choices are likely to increase your home’s value too.

eco renovation

CC0

Choose Your Flooring Carefully

One of the most costly areas of your home to renovate is flooring. Hardwood floors are amazing, but they are often expensive and could require a lot of maintenance in the long run. Rather than opting for expensive wood, which can also be a contributing factor in deforestation, go with bamboo flooring. Not only will you end up with high quality floors that are easy to take care of, that feel comfortable during summer and winter alike, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that the bamboo harvested for your home is a much greener option that hardwoods.

Opt For Planet- Friendly Paint

Repainting a room is not much work, if you prepare well and if you buy good quality paint, but have you ever thought to check whether your paint is eco-friendly or not? Low-VOC paint is perhaps a bit more expensive, yet it will protect your home and help keep the environment safe too. VOC – or volatile organic compounds in paint are not great for people in your home either – the fumes can cause dizziness and nausea, and it is not recommended for use around children or pregnant women.

CC0

CC0

Pick Pre-Loved

Buying new furniture can be an expensive endeavour, but cheap furniture is not a good solution either – you will inevitably have to invest in it when it breaks, or replace it sooner than you would a quality piece of furniture. A good solution is to either upcycle and make your own reclaimed wood furniture pieces, or find pre-loved items at garage sales or in antique stores.

Let the Sunlight In

If your home is dark, you can either install more lights and lamps, which will up your energy usage and your electricity bill, in or you could install new windows, and skylights to use daylight as much as you can. Do be aware that windows are a major source of heat loss in the cold weather, so invest in “smart” windows. These use a small amount of electricity to control the nano-crystal coating which can be used as part of your climate control system.

CC0

CC0

Insulation Is Essential

Even if you live in an exotic part of the world, you need insulation to help maintain the temperature of your home. If it is too cold, you need more energy to warm it up, and vice versa. With good insulation installed you will reduce your energy consumption on climate control, and save money!

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

Author Bio

Stacey Cooper is a business consultant with a genuine love for the environment and living in balance with nature. She is a full-time mom with a passion for writing and providing useful tips on how to stay healthy in unhealthy times, as well as how to be more green. She also enjoys reading and cooking for her family and friends.

3 Ways To Mitigate The Impact Of Plastic Waste – A Leading Cause of Ocean Contamination and Global Warming

Guest post by Erich Lawson*

Image provided by Author Erich Lawson

Image provided by Author Erich Lawson

Waste management is a major challenge. One of the biggest contributors to ‘waste’ is plastic. A majority of our day to day products are either made from plastic or are packaged with plastic. However, a major consequence of this is, plastic waste has become one of the prime pollutants of our oceans and one of the major causes of global warming as well.

The plastic waste on land is carried to the seas with the help of winds and rains. Given its low density it easily travels from beaches to gyres, which is a type of system of revolving ocean currents. The number of plastic pieces in the oceans is in trillions! The waste plastic can be seen floating on the top of the sea water as well as lying on the sea bed. And, not just the ocean waters, the marine wildlife is equally suffering terribly, thanks to this waste created by mankind.

“every life form ingests plastic particles and even waste plastic products.”

The plastic debris in oceans is ingested by oceanic animals across the food chain. From smallest life forms like zooplanktons to the biggest ones like whales, every life form ingests plastic particles and even waste plastic products. Sea birds’ mistake floating plastic remains for food and feed these particles to their chicks, and hence the chicks frequently starve. Abandoned fishing gears often end up entangled in whales that as a result have to suffer a slow and painful death. You can find limitless stories on the internet today, about how this man-made contaminant is destroying the only planet fit for living in the universe.

Plastic is also one of the primary causes for global warming. It takes a lot of energy to produce packaging plastics as their core ingredient is made from non-renewable resources. The use of plastic releases tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year.

Appropriate awareness and action, even at small levels can bring about a sea change over a period of time.

We can mitigate the impacts of plastic waste by undertaking the following measures:

  • Banning and Cleaning – Coast cleaning programs which are already underway need to be transformed to become more inclusive and rewarding to yield maximum outcomes. Strict and effective measures should be taken to ban plastic and replace it with green products.
  • Reduce – We can reduce the demand for plastic in any form, by opting for eco-friendly options. This will eventually help curtail its production. This can gradually make a huge difference to the amount of plastic that is introduced in the ecosystem.
  • Recycle and Reuse – Most plastic products are suitable for recycling and reusing. This can minimize the adverse environmental impacts of that plastic product. Also, even though our intent for recycling plastic has strengthened over the years, the processes undertaken has many deficiencies. Hence, the overall quantity of recycling has been poor. It can be overhauled by improving awareness, systems for identification and ease of access to recycling units in public spaces.

Thus, let’s not abuse the power we have been given by nature; that of being the most intelligent creatures in the food chain. We can all make a huge impact with even the smallest of alterations when it comes to using plastic in our lives. Let’s keep our oceans clean and planet healthy by reducing, reusing and recycling plastic.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

 

Related links:
Beachwatch

Beachcare

Let’s work together to turn the tide on pollution

Plastic from tyres ‘major source’ of ocean pollution

Plastic ‘nurdles’ found littering UK beaches

Plastic oceans: what do we know?

 

Author Bio

How Can We Mitigate the Impact of Plastic Waste AUTHOR BIO PIC

Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment through effective recycling. He has written a wide range of articles on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly waste bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.

Last Chance To Grab Shares in Lauriston Farm Community Share Offer!

lauriston farm logo
There are just a few days left to help a local Social Farming Initiative secure £40,000 of matched funding from the Just Growth Programme

This could be your chance to invest in the local economy, support conservation friendly farming and natural beekeeping, and become part of a vibrant social farming community. All you have to do is become a member and pledge to buy shares in this amazing community.

Lauriston Farm, near Goldhangar in Essex, is looking for more people to invest in their Social Farming Initiative, and join the members who have already pledged to buy over 60% of the shares on offer. Time is running out though – there are just a few days left to reach the target of 20,000 share sales to secure £40,000 of matched funding from the Just Growth Programme. The farm champions Biodynamic farming methods, creating a self-supporting farm organism that works without the use of chemicals, and it also values the input of people, providing life experiences and education opportunities.

You can find out more about what you’ll be supporting here if you become a member.

Details on the share offer can be found here.

Share Offer Closes On 08th April 2017!

Become a member and own shares in this amazing community!

  • 210 acres on nationally important Blackwater Estuary wetland
  • 80% of farm is SSSI, and home to endangered farmland and insects
  • Conservation Farming Through Biodynamics
  • Educational opportunities
  • Life Experiences
  • Social Farming

For more information visit lauristonfarm.co.uk

Recycling education: are we in need of a new curriculum?

By Dr. Aidan Bell, director at EnviroBuild.*

In 2015, the ‘waste from households’ recycling rate for England dropped below 44% for the first time since 2011. The latest statistics from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that the amount of household waste being recycled by English homeowners dropped from 44.8% in 2014 to 43.9% in 2015.

More worrying still is the fact that the amount of household waste being rejected for recycling in England has increased by 84% over the previous four years, according to a BBC Freedom of Information request. Local councils were unable to recycle 338,000 tonnes of waste in 2014-15, a jump from 184,000 tonnes in 2011-12, due to so-called contaminated recycling bins, which are expensive to re-sort.

As a result, 270,000 tonnes of rejected waste was incinerated in 2014. These numbers suggest that while the UK public has increased the amount of waste that they intend to recycle, we are falling at the final hurdle because of incorrect sorting by homeowners: a direct result of a lack of recycling education.

Scotland and Wales both increased their household recycling rates by around 1% in the same time frame, so what’s going wrong in England?

Our map visualises the latest data from Defra and illustrates which English local authorities made an improvement in their household recycling rate between 2014/15 and 2015/16 and which didn’t. Why is there so much disparity between the local authorities?

Envirobuild Recycling Map En-form

 

Uncertainty and a lack of direction

While the responsibility for collecting and managing waste lies at council level, these decisions are influenced by government policy and funding, so let’s start at the top.

The current Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has spoken little on the topic of recycling and waste management since assuming her position in July 2016. This raises questions about the fate of recycling policy going forward. If the localism and the lighter regulatory approach established by the previous government are lacking in effectiveness, what will be done to resolve this?

There is yet to be an announcement on the direction of waste policy for the UK during and after Brexit. A recent report from The House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee found that the EU has helped to shape ‘over 80%’ of UK environmental legislation on issues including agriculture, air quality and waste; when the UK leaves Europe, will this legislation still apply, and to what extent?

This uncertainty surrounding Brexit was addressed by a cross-party group of MPs at the start of January with a push for a new Environmental Protection Act to be passed before Brexit is completed. This would maintain the UK’s environmental targets and ensure that existing EU environment law does not become ‘zombie legislation’ after the UK’s exit.

Waste management decisions made at local authority level are currently being influenced by government policy that lacks strong direction in its approach of localism, and funded by a centralised budget that is ever-reducing.

Inconsistency

The result of this is an inconsistent approach to waste and recycling across England, as demonstrated by our map.

The government and local councils can put the infrastructure in place, however, ultimately, it’s down to the individual homeowner to complete the circle, to recycle the correct plastics and cardboards for their area. In other words, it seems that the British public understands the need to recycle, but that many people do not know how to do it correctly.

Segmentation

It’s no wonder that the homeowner is confused: recycling in the UK is coordinated by more than 300 different recycling schemes, which each have their own list of what can and can’t be recycled, and their own way of educating the public about this.

The result of this is, the so-called contaminated recycling bin that is rejected and redirected to landfill if the local council cannot afford to resort the bin. A lack of clear education for homeowners is preventing England from making recycling progress and contributing to continued damage to the environment.

The drop in the household recycling rate could also suggest that homeowners’ attitudes are changing due to the lack of education: without clear direction, the public will become disillusioned and disengaged with the recycling cause and either recycle the wrong materials or opt to not recycle at all for fear of getting it wrong.

Who’s getting it right?

Happily, this isn’t the case all over England, as our map illustrates. There are some English authorities that are bucking the trend and that have managed to increase the amount of household waste that they are recycling by a considerable amount. Indeed, residents in the ward of Colchester Borough Council increased the amount of household waste that they recycled from 23, 702 tonnes in 2014/15 to 29,661 tonnes in 2015/16.

How are these local authorities improving their residents’ recycling habits? Education.

A quick look at the Richmondshire District Council website demonstrates that recycling and waste management are clearly at the top of this council’s agenda: a scrolling banner informs residents of this local authority that recycling days are changing. It’s not surprising that residents in this ward increased its household recycling rate by 14.7 percentage points between 2014/15 and 2015/16, this was the greatest increase seen in England.

Next to Tameside MBC, which improved its recycling by 7.8 percentage points in the same time period. Again, ‘Refuse & Recycling’ takes pride of place as the first homepage menu tile.

It’s the same story on the Colchester Borough Council website where a ‘Greener Living Newsletter’ is advertised to residents on the first page of the website. Those councils that are making recycling important news in their local area are hitting the national headlines for the improvements that they achieve.

It’s clear to see that those who are educating are winning! These councils, and a number of others, have made information on recycling clearly accessible to their residents, who are in turn recycling more of their household waste.

At EnviroBuild, one of our central aims in supplying a recycled, sustainable product is to boost the demand for recycling. However, increased recycling will only happen if the homeowner receives enough education on how to recycle correctly.

A solution?

An increase in education needs to be at the top of the recycling agenda at both government and local authority level. Recycling needs to be made news, or at least make it into our newsfeeds. Luckily, it would appear that communication with the general public has never been easier thanks to social media.

This communication would be most effective if nationwide recycling guidelines were introduced, with a single scheme in place for the whole country. It would be much easier to publicise a nationwide scheme, and to promote changes and updates, and there would never be area-by- area confusion as to what can and can’t be recycled.

However, a nationwide approach is much easier said than done. Existing infrastructure isn’t identical across England and so proposed unification would call for conversations with the businesses responsible for recycling the waste to decide on an optimal process and to ensure the convergence of a system. With the government determined to continually reduce the budget for environmental issues, it is unlikely that the resources would ever be invested into a unified recycling system. There would also likely be pushback from councils who may feel suspicious of central control and implications on their budgets.

These obstacles mean that for the foreseeable future local authorities need to take it upon themselves to improve their communication with their residents using social media, information on the council’s website and even recycling events.

This increase in activity will require increased budget and this is where the government needs to step up. If localism in recycling and waste management activity is here to stay, then the government needs to provide more budget to enable much needed educational activity to be successful.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Organic Food

Written by Joe Thomas*

enform-organic-food-box-image-by-jill111-cc0

Image by jill111 CC0

Surprisingly, considering information is widely available, a lot of the population is still confused about organic food and its benefits. Organic food, be it plant or animal based, is anything that conforms to organic farming standards. These vary worldwide of course, but in the United Kingdom they are set by organisations such as the Soil Association. A study conducted by this association shows that half of the people buying organic food do it for the health benefits and lack of chemical residues, while others do it to protect the environment and support animal welfare.

Organic = Flavour

Apart from all the potential health benefits and nutritional value, the first thing that springs to mind when talking about locally grown organic fruit and vegetables is flavour. Nothing tastes quite like strawberries bought at a Farmer’s market in June or Cox’s apples in October. When grown organically, fruit and vegetables are only available at certain times of the year due to their natural seasonal cycle. Eating seasonably ensures you get the most natural nutrient packed food that hasn’t required excess energy to grow, which also significantly improves the carbon footprint. The reason organic food tastes better might be down to lower crop yields and higher levels of antioxidants. There is more nitrogen available in the soil for fewer fruit and vegetables resulting in crops densely packed with flavour and nutrients.

Organic = Happy Farming

When it comes to choosing between a smaller free range chicken and a steroid fed monster I would choose the former every time. Organic meat comes from freely reared, stress and chemical free animals – all of which which has an impact on taste, texture and of course delivers various health benefits. Farmers let these animals develop naturally without the use of growth hormones – this cannot be said for large scale meat farms. The organic food standards cover meat quality, living conditions, use of antibiotics and hormones, transport and slaughter. By choosing to buy organic meat you are actively helping animal welfare and getting the best produce available.

Organic = Conservation

As well as helping the animals on the farm, you are also taking part in preserving British wildlife. Because of the restricted use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides, organic farms are safe havens for a variety of local species. Organic farmers go that extra mile in helping preserve the natural habitats by maintaining hedgerows, planting flowers and managing grasslands and ponds. By supporting these fragile ecosystems, they are ensuring that important species of bees, butterflies, birds and small animals are not driven to extinction.

Organic = Sustainability

Organic food is sustainably farmed. This means resources are recycled to minimize waste. This is becoming increasingly important in a world where finite resources are disappearing by the minute. There are a lot of problems associated with large scale industrial farming such as soil erosion, chemicals leaking into biosystems and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic farmers avoid all these issues by using natural fertilizers (like manure produced by farm animals) and choosing crop varieties with natural resistance to particular pests and diseases. They also rotate crops to keep the soil full of nutrients. Despite popular belief, soil is a non-renewable resource and preserving it for future generations is of paramount importance.

Organic = Ethical

There are other less obvious factors to consider when buying food. The amount of time required for your dinner to arrive at your table is often measured in “farm-to-fork” hours or food miles. A lot of fruit and vegetables, especially when out of season, are imported to the UK which is not surprising given the climatic conditions. The transportation required however, is what contributes to the carbon footprint. Think of all the miles bananas have to travel from countries like Africa and the Dominican Republic, and the emissions cargo vehicles produce. Although buying local seasonal fruit and vegetables is normally the answer to the food miles problem, certain fruit like bananas do not naturally grow in the UK. In cases like these look out for the Organic certification on the packaging. Not only will this food be nutritious and flavoursome, it will help the economy and environment in other countries. We are all in this together after all!

Joe is a writer from the UK, who creates articles on a range of subjects, including health and nutrition, sustainability and environmental issues. You can contact him on joe@allgreenpr.com

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

What is a smart meter? How do I switch to one?

Smart Meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters being rolled out across Great Britain. They will have a number of benefits, the most useful of which is that they will show you the amount of energy you use in near real time and how much you are spending in pounds and pence. It will also bring an end to estimated bills.

Every energy supplier will be providing smart meters at no extra cost to their customers between now and 2020. How soon you can get one depends on your supplier’s plans. In the Eastern Region E.on and British Gas are installing them now.

Smart meters will provide you with the information you need to work out whether you are getting the best energy deal, or if you should switch to a different tariff or supplier.

Once the national infrastructure is complete, smart meters will operate between all suppliers which will make it quicker and easier to switch.

How do I switch to a Smart Meter?

Smart Energy GB is the voice of the smart meter rollout. It’s their task to help everyone in Great Britain understand smart meters, the national rollout and how to use their new meters to get gas and electricity under control.

Smart meters are paving the way for a smarter, greener and more energy efficient future. Visit the Smart Energy GB website for further information and advice: www.smartenergygb.org

7 Steps to Stop your ‘Junk’ Mail 

Many of us receive unwanted junk mail these days. Astonishingly it is thought to make up to 4% of household waste.  However, it is very easy to reduce this waste with minimum effort and at no cost by following these 7 simple steps.

1.  Register at the mailing preference society. This will remove your name from up to 95% of mailing lists used by companies who send out direct mail. The easiest way is to register online at www.mpsonline.org.ukMake sure you register everyone individually who wants to be removed in your houehold. Also dont forget to register anyone who is deceased or no longer living at your address to stop this unwanted mail as well. Mailing Preference Society, Freepost 22, London W1E 7EZ. Tel 0207 766 4410. Fax 0207 976 1886.

2.  Return junk mail unopened (write please remove from mailing list on the envelope and post back. You do not need to use a stamp for gone aways) or use the freepost envelopes inside the mailings with the request to remove you from the mailing list. Enclose original documents to enable the organisation to trace your details.

3. Return items as gone away or deceased when you receive mail for previous occupants or if the recipient has died or you will continue to receive mail.

4. When you apply for, or buy any service such as a bank account, if you do not want to recieve mailings from the organisation, make sure you tick the mailing opt out box normally located on the bottom of the form. Or if you have ordered items on the internet make sure you opt out of paper mailings.

5.  Stop unaddresed mail and leaflets delivered by the Royal Mail by opting out at this website However, if you opt out you may not receive government or local authority leaflets distributed by the Royal Mail either. 

6.  To stop mailings from any company with whom you have – or have had – a customer relationship such as your bank, credit card company, insurance company, phone supplier, for example, you will need to request them not to send you anymore marketing mailings. Do this either by returning their mailings marked “No more marketing mailings please” or by emailing them. 

7.  Putting a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker on your letterbox can cut down on flyers, leaflets and newspapers coming through your door.

To order a free “No Junk Mail” sticker, email waste.management@essex.gov.uk or call 0345 603 7625.

Save Energy (and Money) in your Home – 40 Amazing Tips!

Heating

Central Heating & Thermostatic Controls

  1. Turn your thermostat down by just 1 degree centigrade. This will cut 10% off your heating bill. You should normally set your central heating thermostat between 18 & 20 C. If you are not at home turn the thermostat down to a low setting such as 10 degrees centigrade just to protect your property from the effects of freezing. Cost : £0. Annual saving: up to £60
  2. Let the sunshine in. On a sunny day, opening your curtains will let warmth into your house, but when it’s colder or the sun goes down don’t forget to close them to keep that heat in. Cost : £0
  3. Keep your radiators clear. For example, don’t put a sofa in front of your radiator, because it will absorb a lot of the heat. Cost : £0
  4. If your radiators are fixed to the outside wall, put radiator panels behind them to reflect the heat back into the room.
  5. For properties with high ceilings, placing a shelf just above the radiator helps to deflect the heat into the centre of the room rather than it drifting straight up to the ceiling.
  6. Fit thermostatic controls to your radiators and a timer to your boiler to ensure heat is provided when and where it is needed.
  7. Get cosy. Wearing more jumpers, socks and slippers around the house, and putting an extra blanket on the bed means you won’t be tempted to turn the heating up.

Hot Water

  1. Most people have their hot water setting at too high a level. Set your hot water to 60 degrees centigrade. Cost : £0. Annual saving : £15 per year
  2. And dont forget to use a plug in your basin or sink to prevent a wasteful use of hot water. Particularly when washing up. Cost : £0. Annual saving £15 per year.
  3. Insulate your water tank to keep your water hot for longer.
  4. Keep your showers to less than 10 minutes – or invest in a shower monitor to keep an eye on how much hot water you’re using.

Appliances

Electric appliances

  1. Switch off electric appliances (this includes TVs, videos, stereos, computers, cordless phones, electric toothbrushes.) at the plug when not in use. Switching off by the remote control and leaving appliances on standby or on charge when not neccessary wastes energy. However, make sure your appliance does not need to be left on to operate or maintain memory functions such as a Sky box. Cost : £0
  2. Don’t forget also, to switch off lights when not in use. (It has been estimated that if everyone did this it would save enough energy to power a town like Colchester.) Cost £0
  3. Whenever you buy a new appliance, first of all make sure you need it and make sure it is suitable for your needs. If you do need to buy an appliance make sure it is an energy efficient one. An ‘A’ rated appliance tends to use only half the energy of a ‘G’ rated model.
  4. Laptops typically use 85 per cent less electricity over a year than desktop PCs. Choosing a laptop over a desktop and reducing standby could save up to £17 per year.

Electric appliances – Fridges and Freezers

  1. Check door seals. They should be able to grip a piece of paper tightly If the don’t they need replacing.
  2. Keep the fridge at 2-3 C and the freezer at -15 C . Use a fridge thermometer to check the temperature
  3. Load and unload your fridge as quickly as possible and don’t leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to.
  4. Keep the fridge away from any other heat sources such as a cooker, ideally near any outside, cooler wall
  5. Make sure the air flow at the back of the fridge is not blocked or limited.
  6. Get the feather duster out from time to time.  When dust gathers on the condenser coils at the back of your fridge, it uses more energy.
  7. Defrost the fridge regularly.
  8. Keeping them full means they don’t have to work as hard and therefore they use less energy. Empty space in your fridge or freezer wastes not only space but energy too.
  9. Don’t put hot food in the fridge, it messes up the temperature inside. Leave it to cool naturally first.

In The Kitchen – Cooking

  1. Only heat the amount of water you need. Use boiled water immediately rather than leaving it for a while and then re-boiling.
  2. Use the kettle to boil water for cooking, instead of heating a pan on the stove. It’s quicker and uses less energy.
  3. Put well fitting lids on pans.
  4. Don’t have gas flames so high they lick the sides of pans.
  5. When using an electric cooker use absolutely level bottomed pans or pots which are the correct size to cover the rings.
  6. Try using a pressure cooker. Cooking a roast chicken in a pressure cooker takes approximately half the time it would need in an oven, and it’s especially good if you like your roast falling apart. As an optional extra you can crisp it up a bit by putting it in the oven for around 15 minutes afterwards.
  7. Use the microwave instead of the oven – it cooks food quicker and so uses less energy. Microwaves often provide a much more energy efficient way of cooking food than in the oven. This is because microwave ovens use energy to directly heat your food, whereas electric ovens must also heat the air inside the oven.
  8. Heat your home with cooking. Leave the oven door open after cooking to let the heat warm your kitchen. The oven might give off enough heat for you to adjust your thermostat, a far more efficient use of that stored heat than throwing it out of your home with an extractor fan.
  9. Save time and stock up. If you’re going to use the oven, bake a few meals at a time to get the most out of having your oven on. After all, oven’s allow us to heat more than one shelf at a time so why waste your heat?

In The Kitchen – Washing

  1. Try to ensure the washing machine is full when you use it. If it isn’t use the half-load setting. If you can, do the week’s laundry in one go and put a full load into the machine.
  2. Use low temperature washes whenever possible.
  3. Hang up your laundry. Try to air – dry clothes naturally on a clothes line or clothes horse, rather than by a tumble dryer, particularly if there’s warm or windy weather. What’s more nothing smells fresher than air-dried clothes.
  4. Use ecoballs in the tumble dryer. They spread out your washing so your clothes dry quicker.
  5. As tempting as it is, don’t dry clothes on the radiators. It makes your boiler work harder than it needs to.

Other Energy Savers

  1. Use your curtains wisely. Open your curtains to let more light in instead of switching on lights. Close your curtains at dusk however to prevent heat escaping through your windows. Cost : £0. Annual saving £15 per year
  2. Stop draughts. Check out our top ten tips to preventing draughts