The Rubbish Side Of Christmas

This Christmas will likely produce around 3 million tonnes of Christmas related rubbish in Britain – enough to cover an area twice the size of London, including 4,500 tonnes of tin foil, 12,000 tonnes of dead Christmas trees and 9,300 tonnes of sprouts. There will be enough wrapping paper ripped to shreds on Christmas morning to circle the equator nine times. Whilst a degree of the various packaging and wrapping can be recycled – much of Christmas’s beautifully presented packaging and frills will head for the landfill and pollute the environment.

pic3Things that are hard to recycle include glittery cards, dirty foil, ribbons, soiled napkins, parcel tape, plastic wrapping and plastic bags.

There’s the packaging for 10 million turkeys and 25 million Christmas puddings to dispose of and cutting toys out of packaging has become an art form on 25 December – often responsible for delaying Christmas meals.

Friends of the Earth have set out some tips to encourage people to stay Green-minded advising they buy artificial trees or potted trees that can be reusable, make food gifts and engage in craft making – for homemade gifts.

But it’s not just the consumers that are accountable for the waste produced this Christmas, retailers and manufacturers have a hand to play – as the source of over-doing and under-thinking their packaging and presentation.

There are regulations set-up, intended to ensure packaging does not spiral out of control, like the 2003 Packaging Regulations Act – where retailers and manufacturers are told not to use excess packaging, so they only use the minimum required for safety and hygiene. Just how well enforced the rule is, is questionable. That mound of packaging on your lounge floor on Christmas Day indicates that some manufacturers and shops aren’t aware of it or are not bothered. Plastic – whether the ‘action figure’ wrapping or the infamous plastic bag, is one of the least environment-friendly substances you can dispose of and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose whilst potentially leaking contaminants into the environment.

pic2“For retailers this Christmas period – it’s important to consider recyclable or reusable materials at Point of Sale and for packaging,” suggests Jon Marling, Director of The Paper Bag Company in Wiltshire. “For instance, whilst attempts to phase out the use of plastic bags are in action, some retailers haven’t considered offering an alternative. It’s worth investigating materials used in everything from packaging of products to the bags shoppers use. There’s enough choice that is competitively priced now when it comes to environment friendly materials that those responsible for buying in stocks of bags or packaging their products, should look at all the options.”

With some councils in the UK saying that they will factor for more than the usual allowances for household recycling collection this Christmas period, there are some moves to manage the excesses it seems. For the outfall of Christmas however, it will take a lot more accountability from manufacturers, retailers and you and I before the mountains of rubbish are reduced at this festive time of the year.



Saving the planet… and your pennies – tips for keeping warm this winter

With winter now officially here, you may be wondering how you can save money while keeping warm. A lot of people struggle to afford the rising energy bills and they have to resort to putting extra clothes on rather than turning on the heating.

If this sounds like you, the good news is there are a few simple tips that can help you to stay warm without it breaking the bank. What’s more, they are also good for the environment too.

Only heat the rooms you use

picThe two rooms you need to focus on keeping warm in winter time are the bedroom and the living room. You can switch all of the other heaters off. This can save quite a lot of money on your energy bills but it is something many people don’t typically think of doing.

It may be cold as you walk out of the living room but the majority of the time you’ll be snug and warm. Using fewer radiators in the home is great for the environment as well as your wallet.

Invest in insulation

Newer homes, such as the retirement properties from McCarthy and Stone, tend to come with insulation already installed. However, it is always worth checking.

The initial cost of insulation can be pretty high but the good news is that thousands of homes are eligible for free insulation under the ECO scheme. If you are elderly or you are receiving certain benefits you could be entitled to free loft or cavity wall insulation so it’s worth investigating.

pic3Not only will they stop heat from escaping but insulation can also have huge cost saving benefits; particularly if you own or rent a large home. Furthermore, insulation can be cost saving in terms of pest control. Mice and other rodents struggle to get through well-fitted insulation. Therefore, companies that offer pest control belleville way, or wherever your home might be, have fewer calls regarding rodent infestation in well-insulated homes compared to those who have bad insulation. Not only are you saving money, you’re saving yourself from a lot of nuisance and stress that comes as a result of unwanted rodent visitors.

Keep doors open

This is likely one tip you didn’t expect to see on the list! Surely keeping the doors open will make it colder? Well if you left your front door open then it would, but certain rooms provide more heat than others.

When you’re having a bath or shower for example, leave the door open and the steam will travel through the rest of the home, keeping it warm.

These are just some of the tips you can follow to keep warm this winter. You don’t have to suffer with the cold no matter how low your budget is and there is always something you can do to lower your energy bills and help the environment at the same time.

How to Prevent your Laptop from Overheating

While laptops are faster and sleeker than ever before, the increasing demands we place on modern machines can lead to overheating. This has the potential to seriously affect your machine’s long-term performance and, in a worst-case scenario, even fry your beloved components.

The likelihood of your laptop overheating will depend on what you’re using it for. Serious gamers demand higher performance from the CPU and are therefore more likely to encounter problems than those who solely use word processors. Thankfully, we’ve put together a handy guide with some quick and easy fixes to prevent overheating.

laptop1Power = Heat

The more electricity your laptop uses, the more heat it will produce. The following tips therefore focus on reducing the power output by tweaking your power settings and maintaining relevant hardware to ensure the fan is working optimally.


  • Vents

The vents on the bottom of your laptop are vital for sucking in cool air and preventing your motherboard from getting too hot. Clean them regularly to stop dirt from clogging the heat sink. For more information on keeping your tech clean, there are plenty of product guides (check out the manufacturer’s website) and cleaning tips online.

  • Surface considerations

Do not rest your laptop on soft cushioned materials for extended periods of time. When using your computer on your lap, placing it on an empty cardboard box rather than your clothing can prevent spikes in temperature.

  • Laptop cooling pad

For a sturdier and altogether more professional solution, consider investing in a laptop cooling pad. Simple but ingenious, most models plug snugly into your USB port and use built-in fans to draw more air into your machine, improving ventilation and temperature control.


Note: Before changing your settings, check your laptop’s temperature using third-party software (widely available online) as feeling the heat on the exterior alone isn’t a true test.

  • Power-saving modes

As mentioned, the less electricity your laptop is using, the less heat it will produce. Stick to power-saving mode to reduce the chance of overheating. Some Apple products are set to ‘quiet mode’ as a default, which limits the fan and can lead to a rise in temperature.

  • BIOS

Some PC laptops will allow you to access the BIOS and alter your T-MAX setting, the temperature at which your computer automatically turns off to avoid overheating. Finding a balance between temperature and performance can be a case of trial and error, so reduce the temperature incrementally

  • Defragment your hard drive

Defragmenting your hard drive is a great way of reducing the amount of work it has to do to locate files, saving power and keeping your laptop cool.

Remember:  If you suspect that your laptop has overheated, don’t be tempted to get out the screwdriver and attempt to fix things yourself. As well as likely voiding the warranty, home repair jobs can often do more harm than good. For more laptop maintenance and cleaning tips, check the manufacturer’s instructions and expert guides online.


Upcycling Tips to Decorate Your Home

There are many fabulous home décor applications for upcycling, and it doesn’t always have to be about saving the environment, or penny pinching to offset rising housing costs like home insurance.

Those serious about preserving the environment, creating healthier living spaces, living more sustainable and money wise, have found upcycling not just smart, but a lot of fun too. Not everyone has to live in a shipping container home, or forego all modern conveniences to do their part and flex their creative side. However, it has just become common sense to look for ways to upcycle, before the waste involved in sending things to be recycled.

So what are some items you can have fun with upcycling, and turning into useful and decorative objects at home?

  1. Cans & Jars

One of the most common items that get tossed in the rubbish or take up room in the recycle bin are glass jars and tin cans. Instead turn your glass jars into fun and useful items such as romantic bathroom, patio or garden lighting, desktop and kitchen utensil organizers, and even planters. Paint and punch holes in cans to make decorative hanging planters, birdfeeders, lamps, and more.

jam jar vase

  1. Upcycled Clothing

Few think of repurposing clothing, yet with the emotional ties and amazing memories they represent, upcycling just makes sense. With so many upcycling ideas for clothing there is no more pressure to cave into giving up those faded retro t-shirts or Christmas sweaters. Turn worn clothing into throw pillows, furniture covers, and even wall art by folding them over frames or putting them in your empty frames. How about turning your old festival gear or wooly sweaters into a quilt or blanket for reminiscing on cold nights?

framed t shirt

  1. Corks

Find yourself tossing out corks galore? Stop. There are many highly useful and money saving ways to upcycle your corks. Save them up and put them together as desktop protectors, hot mats for the kitchen, pin boards on the walls, safe flooring for young ones, and maybe even entry mats.

  1. Skateboards

For those that have children, and even spouses that refuse to grow up, the pile of old skateboards can stack up quickly. That can add up to a lot of awkward, but memorable scrap, yet precious trees and other resources that shouldn’t be treated frivolously. Instead of constantly tripping over old skateboards or being driven mad by the mess why not explore new ways to upcycle these fun home décor materials? Skateboards can be repurposed as unique shelves, children’s chairs and toddler’s picnic tables, step ladders, and even long lasting sports themed headboards for kids’ rooms.

skateboard shelf

Small Upcycling Projects with Big Results

Saving energy, fuel, waste, and budgets is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the big potential even small upcycling projects can add up.

Offsetting home insurance costs, being able to use more home insurance money for necessities rather than frivolities in the case of disaster, saving to go on holiday, or even finding the surplus to build a new green, completely sustainable home, with lots of fun, memorable, and educational quality moments with family and friends on the road all come as significant perks.

If this sounds like too much work – recycle, offer your items to neighbors who are into upcycling, or save in other ways such as moving your home insurance to Shield Total Insurance.

Tips on Travelling with Your Kids this Christmas

Travelling can be stressful at the best of times, but throw in a couple of children, a hectic festive schedule and the Christmas traffic and it soon becomes a complete nightmare – but it doesn’t have to be. So, round up the kids, pack up the car and follow these top tips for travelling with your kids this Christmas:

Be prepared

No one likes to think the worst, but as the old saying goes: if something can go wrong, it probably will– so always prepare for the worst case scenario. If you’re driving cross-country, make sure you pack some blankets, spare clothes, bottled water, non-perishable food, a fully-charged phone and a torch. In case there are any accidents along the way, it’s also a good idea to take a child-friendly first aid kit, such as those available from Steroplast Healthcare.

packing car


Take it easy

It’s all too easy to get swept along in the Christmas rush and try to pack as many things as possible into each trip – but you’ll get far more out of your travels if you plan ahead. Try to take things at a slower pace and be realistic about how much ground you can cover.

The less you feel you have to cram in, the less stressful and more enjoyable the trip will be.

Know your place

If you are travelling with another family, make sure each adult has a their own task or responsibility, such as minding the kids, making sure certain things are packed or taking turns at the wheel. Sharing the load will make the trip far more enjoyable for everyone.

And, if you’re traveling by bus or rail, work out who’s getting on first, who’s getting on last, where everyone is sitting and who is storing the luggage to make sure no-one gets left behind.

Eyes in the back of your head

kids in car

If you’re traveling with kids alone, it may be worthwhile investing in an extra rear-view mirror pointed towards the back seats so you can keep an eye on the kids without having to turn around.

If possible, you may also want to think about bringing along a selection of books, toys or portable game consoles to keep your youngsters entertained while you concentrate on the drive.

Take a break

You will also need to plan regular stop-offs along the way. Children always need plenty of toilet breaks and it’s important to take time to rest and eat, especially if you’re tackling a long journey.

Do the packing for them

Although you might think it’s a nice idea to let the kids pack their own rucksack, particularly if they’re getting a bit older, you should always do the packing for them. Unless you want bags full of teddies, comics and trading cards, you will need to ensure that all the kid’s essentials are ready and waiting for you when you reach your destination.