Saturday, February 28, 2015

CATEGORY - Fashion


Clothes 1

Clothes and linen can reused many times, and many of us take our old clothes to the local charity shop, or make rags out of them for dusting. There are some other uses for your old clothes, and you can be really creative with old clothes. You can revamp them by dying them a different colour, or by adding sequins etc. Take a look at some of these ideas below:

* Make washcloths or hand towels from worn bath towels just by hemming them.

* You can make napkins from the backs of worn shirts. Just cut a square and hem it.

* Shirt pockets make neat holders for bathrooms and bedrooms. Sew them onto strips of hemmed material, or glue them to cardboard or plastic. Fill a stand-up picture frame with them for handy storage.

* Soft materials such as knitted t-shirts make excellent, washable substitutes for 'facial tissues'. Remove makeup with them and quit staining your washcloths.

* Save buttons, zips and trim for other projects- even if you can't sew. They can be used to make earrings, cuff links or lapel pins.

Clothes 2

* Woven cotton is great. Hem it and use it to clean windows and mirrors, or to polish chrome or dry dishes and countertops.


Eco Fashion

Environmental fashion. Many have felt these two words didn't belong together. Just like chalk and cheese. But unlike chalk and cheese, eco fashion is fast becoming the latest trend. Gone are the days where 'hand-me-downs' were classed as uncool. (Although my canary coloured wool jumper from my sister will always be uncool!) Gone are the days where being trendy costs you œ300 a t-shirt too.

Why the big trend?

There are a number of factors. Many consumers are becoming more and more aware of where their purchases come from and what they are made of. Consumers are making more ethical decisions in every part of their lives, so why not express themselves in what they wear too? People who choose to eat organically may prefer to wear organic clothing, and vegan's may prefer to wear vegan made clothes. Designers such as Stella McCartney have firm ethical principles behind their designs. Some people hate waste so will rather purchase fashions from eBay or go to a charity shop. Vintage clothing is a timeless trend, and also eco friendly as it is preserving clothes that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Even period costumes are sought after. People have always been eager to express their individuality/personalities/feelings through clothes, and many people feel that through eco fashion they can do that. After all, every woman's nightmare is turning up to a party/ball/dinner and discovering someone else is wearing the same outfit.

So where can I find some great new clothes and accessories then?

There are loads of places online you can check out. Here is just a selection for a variety of tastes:

General Stuff

Check out this website for organic sportswear clothing:

Check out this website for trendy eco fashions:

Check out our article on organic clothing here:

Recycled Stuff

Check out TRAID for unwanted clothes that have been turned into funky fashion items:

Emmeline 4 Re is a label available at Topshop's Oxford Street branch. These clothes are reworked from old clothes donated to the Salvation Army. We think this is for a limited time only, so be quick! 
Call 0845 121 4519

Vegan Stuff

For vegan shoes and other interesting items check out:

Vegan fashions:

Further Information

Eco Fashion in the News
Brooklyn Eco Fashion in the Moutains for Telluride AIDS Benefit Free Box Fashion, Reused Bike Tires, and Habana Eco-Eatery Hit the

Making Your Clothes Last For Longer

The fashion conscious people amongst us all may feel that being fashionable and eco don't really go hand-in-hand. Well, it can. Here are a few tips to stay trendy, and still be eco at the same time!

* Fix fallen hems with Wundaweb Invisible Hemming Tape (sold in many high street shops), which irons and bonds the hem. We have tried it here at, and it really works well. Chief of Stuff at saved her favourite pair of jeans by using this stuff, and that was almost two years ago, and the jeans are still going strong!

* Some people may prefer the ripped trouser look, but if you don't, Vilene Softline Superlight Iron-On Interfacing (sold in many high street shops) can be used to temporarily fix the problem. All you need to do is iron it on from the inside.

* Spare buttons tend to come with new garments, so remember to keep these and use them whenever another button falls off and gets lost. To get a new button in the same position as the rest, fasten up the other buttons and lay the garment on the floor, flat out.

* Have you got clothes where the colour has faded, or you just want to change the colour? Then use Dylon Machine Dye (sold in many high street shops, or check out for further information). It costs approximately œ4.80 for a pack that will dye 500g of clothes in a washing machine. Again,'s Chief of Stuff has also tried this out, and it works brilliantly. And don't worry about ruining the washing machine - she didn't have any problems - just follow the instructions on the pack.

* Have a clothes swap party with your friends - trade unwanted items for items you do want! Or buy and sell items on eBay (not as much fun!).

* Straight line dresses can be made into tops simply by cutting off the skirt and hemming.

* Wash your clothes less! Items such as coats/jackets/jeans etc, which do get smelly when worn in a smoky pub, need not be washed to get the smell out. Hang out on the washing line for a couple of hours or spray with Febreze (sold in many shops). Alternatively, make you own by putting a cap full of fabric Softener like Ecover into a spray bottle (reuse one you already have), top up with warm water and shake, and you have your own! Not recommended to use on dry clean only garments or silks, or anything other than fabrics/carpets etc.

* If you have stained a garment, and the stain just won't budge, take a good long look at it. Can you cover it up with something? You don't have the world's best seamstress, but with a little creativity you will go far!

* Darn your socks! It is quite simple to do. Not sure how? Check these instructions out here:

How to Darn Socks

Further Information

Join in the discussion here about Eco Fashion (need to register first) here:
Eco Fashion Forum Thread

Organic Clothing

Most of us enjoy buying clothes. Many people use clothes to express their identities, their feelings, their individuality. So what about 'eco' clothing? Currently there doesn't seem to be an official organic standard for organic clothing. Natural clothing may consist of cotton, hemp and linen, but these may not always be as green as people think. Here is a low down of the advantages and disadvantages of 'organic clothing'.


Cotton is produced very intensely. There are a lot of the pesticides used in the process. Chemicals are needed to scour off the fibres waxy layer to allow dye retention. Raw cotton is also bleached white with chemicals such as chlorine. Some crops are 'organic' and these are free from pesticides and other chemicals. Unbleached cotton may have been grown with pesticides, so this label doesn't mean as much. Organic cotton is produced in 15 countries, but that only represents 0.6% of overall production.
PAN UK is a organic cotton project for further information check out:


Hemp is the common name for a tall annual herb (Cannabis sativa), and is used for non-drug production. Hemp has natural strong, durable fibres, which has made it popular. Although there has been some stigma surrounding hemp due to its links with marijuana, but these crops are grown contain virtually none of the active substances that are found in marijuana. Pesticides aren't used in the production of hemp. Hemp has a multiple of uses, in food, (hemp seeds) clothing, fuel, and beauty products.


Linen is fabric made from yarn or flax, which grows much quicker than cotton, and also needs much less chemical weed control. Linen is great for the summer months as it has a cool effect. Linen can be found in many qualities from lightweight sheets, to strong sacks.


Silk is a very lightweight, fine, yellowish fibre produced from the silkworm. Fabrics that are produced are satin, crepes, ribbons and taffeta. It is another natural product, but can be treated and soaked in chemicals during the production process.

Other fabrics

Not strictly organic, but still good for the environment as it is less going into landfill - clothes are now being made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles or tyres.

Further Information

Here are a few alternative clothing companies you can check out.

The Natural Store - a mixture of organic clothing
01273 746781

Green Baby - organic clothing and green nappies for babies and children
0870 240 6894

Eczema Clothing - 100% organic cotton clothing, specialising in people with eczema
01524 730093

Yaoh - organic vegan hemp products
0117 9239053 


Shoe Recycling

Golf Shoes

Approximately 300 millions of shoes are purchased each year in the UK. Shoe prices have decreased in recent years, due to lower costs of production (unfortunately sometimes slave labour in other developing countries). This has made it more unlikely for adults to buy used footwear. Young people in particular will buy shoes and then throw them out when they become 'unfashionable' rather than because they have worn out. Charity shops tend to be given more shoes than what they can sell. Many shoes also end up in the bin. Shoes are made out of a variety of materials, so when burnt, they can release harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Did you know that over 2 million shoes are thrown away every week in the UK?!

Where can I take my shoes to be recycled or re-used?

Shoes, in reasonable condition, can be taken to either a textile recycling bank, or a separate shoe bank (these are usually situated together). Alternatively, take them to your local bring bank, where many have recycling facility for shoes. Make sure you pop the shoes, tied together, into a bag before taking them.

Alternatively, if your shoes are in good condition, get your mates together and have a shoe and clothes swapping party. Save some money, bag yourself a new wardrobe, and save the planet too!


What happens to these shoes?

Once these shoes are collected and sorted for suitability, they are usually sent to developing countries around the world. They are sold to l9ocal tradesmen who then refurbish the shoes and then sell them on. This creates much needed local employment and a supply of shoes for people who need them, at affordable prices.

Further information

Check out Fashion UK, which is a funky fashion website that regularly features recycled shoe and textiles information.

Fashion UK

Nike also has a Reuse-A-Shoe program, check out the link below for more information on this.
Little shoes


Textile Recycling

Textiles are made out of fibres, or extended linear materials such as thread. Materials can include wool, silk, linen, alpaca, cashmere, mohair, cotton, hemp, grass, nylon, acrylic and polyester, to name just a few. Methods used in making textiles include knitting, weaving, bleaching, dying, carding, braiding, crochet, and embroidery.


Textile recycling started in Yorkshire over 200 years ago. The rag and bone man would come and collect unwanted textiles (amongst other items), and would sell them on, or reuse them for something else.

Textiles include clothing, bags, furnishings, towels, carpets, nets, rugs, and flags. 3% of textiles end up in the household rubbish.

Where can I take my textiles to be recycled?

It is quite easy to recycle your textiles. Pop your unwanted goods into a bag, and pop to your local supermarket car park (many have textile recycling banks now) before you do your food shop, or check with your local council where your nearest textile recycling bank is. Many textile recycling banks can also be found in your local amenity centre. Clothes can also be donated to charity shops. Make sure they are in reasonable condition before taking them to the shop.

How are textiles sorted and recycled?

Textiles are sorted by hand into over 100 different categories and grades. This is done with a lot of care, as many of these items will be reused again, rather than recycled. Some textiles such as cotton rags are recycled into industrial wipers for cleaning purposes. Garments in good condition will be resold. The rest will be recycled into other things such as sound insulation panels, roofing felt, and upholstery.

Further information

Check out the Association of charity shops website to find the nearest shop.

The Textile Recycling Association is the industry body for people/organisations working in this area. Check out their website here.

Closer to (our) home are RE:threads, which we had a small part in, naming the company and designing the logo

REVIEW - The Greener Homes & Building Show 2006

The Greener Homes & Building Show 2006

Dr. Larch Juckes Maxey of Sundance shares his alternative fuel wisdom...

May 20 & 21 - Royal Welsh Showground, Bulith Wells, Powys

Getting there was half the fun. And quite the adventure. Bulith Wells is in the heart of some gorgeous Welsh countryside, and as the crow flies seemingly not to far from our Ross-on-Wye base. But as the Volvo meanders, it did take some reaching, along with a certain amount of motion-related issues from the kids in the back. For this was a weekend event, and where Dad goes, so must the whole tribe.

At first I thought I was in the wrong place (and have the brochure to prove it), because as we entered we found ourselves slap-bang in the middle of a vast and sprawling agricultural show - the 2006 Royal Welsh Smallholder & Garden Festival - of which the one I had come to review was a small part.

But everything is relative, and the Green Homes and Building Show occupied a fair sized space in an indoor hall, around which I spent a most worthwhile period whilst the family enjoyed the various flora and fauna elsewhere outside.

A window on what's available in the world of greener homes...

Set around a central area set aside for seminars and demonstrations there were about 50 stands, in a more freeform arrangement than the more traditional trade show. There was a lot of free space, which in one way was nice, but I could have hoped for more, and perhaps more variety. It certainly left me kicking myself that there was not a stand, as the rates were very reasonable. And remember we're still sore from our outing to the Ideal Home and the recently cancelled MAD* shows.

Of course, thanks to its location, there were not as many visitors as at a major London or NEC event, but by golly there were a lot of folk, showing how hungry for such things people are.

The exhibitors covered a fairly broad range, from the hi-tech to the crafty. Other than admiring the quality and styles, I must confess to being less than interested in high-cost construction stuff, of which there were a fair number. Where I did get interested was with the alternative energy sources, such as solar and heat pumps. The thing to bear in mind is that these guys are there to sell, and it is always best to get a spread of advice and quotes before rushing in. There were also some fun, and highly topical, stands, with one favourite being 50 Cycles, which is an electric bike. One of these recently won a hill-climb event I blogged on recently, and I was impressed at the endurance and performance figures.

As it was a relatively short visit (and frankly the show stands really only could sustain a few hours tops), I sadly missed a few very worthwhile seminars over the two days, but did catch one on Biodiesel which was well worthwhile.

Was it worth it? At about an hour plus from us, I'd say very much so. A bit of a trek otherwise. But don't forget that by being part of a bigger family-friendly event it is actually a great day out all round. And professionally I met a few potential gurus for's category sections.

And I'm very encouraged by the interest being shown by the general public in such issues and those offering solutions.

A showcase that's catching a lot of attention!

Review by Peter Martin, Junkk Male


(Ok, this one can go up, stay up a while, get promoted and even re-cycled soon - the stores already have all their merchandise in!)

Easter Time

It is traditional to give Easter cards, eggs and flowers around Easter time. Unfortunately, these gifts also create a lot of waste. Here are some different ideas for Easter gifts, which also benefit the environment too.

Easter Eggs

* Instead of buying flowers, buy a plant from your local garden centre - it lasts longer!

* Send a E-Easter card. Check out this website for some freebies.

* Recycle your cardboard and foil from your chocolate eggs. Cardboard can be used to help make your compost.

* For low packaged or organic eggs go to

* For luxurious chocolates that come in a pretty recycled box, check out

* For an alternative gift, œ15 can buy 20 chickens for farmers in developing countries.

* WWF have gifts for all occasions, including Easter. Check out

Chicken with her Chicks

For the Children - Making an Easter Bonnet

What you need:
* A2 paper or a broadsheet newspaper
* Yellow and green tissue paper
* Selection of coloured papers and cards (you can use old birthday cards etc.)
* PVA glue
* Scissors

What to do:

1. Take two sheets of A2 paper or four double pages of a broadsheet newspaper and divide into pairs.

2. Lay the pairs across each other in a cross shape.

3. Place the centre of the paper cross onto the head of the person whom the hat is for and press it down over their head.

4. Ask your model to place their hands on their head underneath the paper (to ensure the hat is not too tight), while you run masking tape around the outside - several times - to form the crown of the hat.

5. Remove hat from head and trim brim to desired size.

Decorating the hat

1. Using PVA glue, stick yellow tissue paper to the outside of the hat and underside of the brim. Leave to dry.

2. For a grass effect, cut strips of green tissue paper and stick to brim with PVA. Leave to dry.

3. Cut out a selection of paper flowers, stems and leaves from card and coloured paper.

4. Cut out leaf shapes from green tissue paper.

5. Stick petals to stems and arrange round the crown of the hat.

6. When in desired position, stick down with PVA.

7. Glue leaves onto stems.

8. Cut out more small flower shapes in matching colours and stick around the brim.

Easter Bunny

Bird's Nest

What you need:
* Plastic food containers, 8 and 15cm diameter
* Elastic bands
* Twigs and grasses
* Unbleached greaseproof paper or tissue paper
* Scissors
* Ribbon
* For large nest: 2m of narrow brown ribbon (4 colours each 2.5mm wide)
* For small nest: 1m of 4x2.5mm ribbon in orange green, yellow and red
* Easter chicks

What to do:
1. Place two strong elastic bands around a 15cm diameter circular plastic food container (the container needs to have flattish sides, otherwise the elastic bands won't grip).

2. For the smaller nest, use an 8cm diameter container and only one elastic band.

3. Cut twigs of differing thickness and dried grasses into varying lengths (these need to be longer than the height of the container).

4. One by one, carefully place the twigs side by side underneath the elastic bands. Ensure that the twigs are close together so that the plastic underneath is hidden, but do not squeeze in too many or else the elastic band may snap or slip, sending the twigs flying!

5. Place grass or bamboo leaves between the twigs to create a feathery effect.

6. Tie ribbon (approx 1m) around the middle of the nest to hide the elastic bands.

7. Scrunch unbleached greaseproof paper or brown tissue paper, and put into nest.

8. Fill with a variety of small Easter eggs, sweets or biscuits and some Easter chicks.


Easter Day

It's that time of the year again. Its been a pretty cold and gloomy winter, so here at the Towers we are looking forward to Easter as it really symbolises spring. As many of you know, Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus 3 days after his crucifixion. Many people now feel that Easter like many other important days of the year has become over commercialised, and this in turn goes hand in hand with creating more waste. Easter Day doesn't have to be about unwanted packaging and waste. It is quite easy to give and receive gifts that have a low impact on the environment. We have a few suggestions that may just give you some inspiration to have a greener spring.

Alternative Cards

Why not make a card using scrap material around the house? Not only is it more fun than buying a card, it is also cheaper and more thoughtful too!

Eco Friendly Cards have a range of handmade cards made from recycled materials. Check out the featured Easter Card below of the nice little chick:

Moon Dragon Card provides a range of cards made from sustainable materials and are also free from chemicals such as bleach. Check out their range here:

And lastly, and we always suggest this: send an e-card! Check out 

Alternative Gifts

World Vision provides a range of alternative gifts in their catalogue. You can send anything from sheep, organic crop production, solar panels for a clinic, a fish farm, to a heard of goats! Check out the website here:

Okay so you still want an Easter egg this Easter? Well check out Green and Blacks. They produce great tasting organic and Fair Trade chocolate. So you may feel guilty about your waistline, you won't feel as guilty about the impact on the environment. Check out the website below:

Fancy getting away from it all over the Easter period? Well check out Natural Discovery, which provide alternative more sustainable breaks where you can stay in green accommodation providing a range of difference experiences. Check out the website:

Alternative Activities

Easter holidays are an ideal time to spend time with the family. To keep the children busy with a few of these alternative activities if they get bored.

Easter Egg Dyes

Painting eggs is an Easter tradition. Why not try natural homemade dyes instead? Check out this website which can provide instructions on how to make homemade dyes and how to paint your eggs:

Easter Basket Idea

Make your own Easter baskets. This can be done in a number of ways. Here is one example to get you started:

Step One
Find a decent sized empty tissue box. Cut the top off, and trim the sides. If you use the square size, the only thing you'll have to do is colour the insides if you want to make it look prettier, punch three holes on the centre of two sides and attach a piece of ribbon (or whatever else you have around the house) for a handle.

Step Two
You need to make three holes otherwise it will be too flimsy. Glue the ribbon to the inside of the basket on the bottom, and then bring it out through the first hole, in the second and out the third one near the top.

Step Three
If you use the rectangular size, cut it in two and slide the two pieces together to make a square basket, trimming as necessary. Glue the pieces together, and then finish as with the square basket. You can then add your gifts to it. (Source: Frugal

Tuna Can Bunny Rabbit

You will need for this: a tuna can (or alternative). Some scrap material, markers, glue, paper, and some cotton ball.

Step One
Cut a piece of scrap material to cover the outside of the tuna can, and glue it in place.

Step Two
Use your imagination, paper, scrap material, markers, and anything else you want to decorate the can to look like a bunny. Glue on the cotton ball for the bunny's tail.

Step Three
Once finished, let the glue dry, and then fill will goodies. Maybe handmade chocolates?

For further craft ideas check out these websites:

Further information

Got any Easter tips you want to add to the forum? Check out the forum thread here (you need to be registered first):

Easter Tips

Do you feel that Easter has become too commercialised? Do you feel that it has a negative impact on the environment? Add your thoughts to the forum here:

Easter - A Waste?

CATEGORY - Valentine's Day

History of Valentine's Day 

Every year on February 14th, cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts are exchanged between loved ones and secret admirers. There are a number of versions of the history of Valentine's Day, and its patron saint. hearts

* Some experts state that it originated from St Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14th 269 A.D. Legend says he left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, and had signed 'from your Valentine'. * Valentine's Day started during the Roman Empire. In Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno, the queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The feast of Lupercalia followed the day after. During this time, boys and girls didn't mix. Although one of the customs was name drawing. During February 14th, the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Every young man would draw a girl's name from the jar, and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl he had chosen. More often than not, they would end up falling in love and marrying. Saint Valentine had served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius had trouble finding soldiers and believed it was because young men didn't want to leave their loved ones or families, so he banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine still married couples in secret. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14th to honour St. Valentine. 

Valentine Facts 

* In the 19th century, printed valentine cards were on sale and became very popular. In 1825 the post office handled more than 200,000 letters on Valentines Day. * British people spend around £34 million on flowers to say 'I love you' (Source: Flowers and Plants Association). * Approximately 1 billion cards are sent every year. * In America, Valentine's day is the second most celebrated day of the year (after Christmas day). (Source: Kids * Over a million people give fresh flowers (Source: Flowers and Plants Association). * Worldwide, over 50 million roses are traded on this one-day alone. (Source: Flowers and Plants Association).RosesHow to be Green this Valentine's Day Here are a few suggestions to win someone's heart this Valentine's Day. Less waste in the landfill, less harmful and the environment! And here a little tip for the men - it makes you look more thoughtful and considerate too! A winner with the ladies! 

* Send an e-card to your loved one (or yourself!). There are lots of websites that let you send e-cards for free. Try some of these links: My Fun CardsBHF Yahoo 
* Save on packaging, and by an 'experience' like a spa day Sanctuary .  
* If you buy chocolates then buy them from Fair Trade. Traid 
* Name a star after your loved one, try out Stars 
* For a quirky gift you could buy two goats for an African Orphan's Dowry Good gifts 
* The WWF have some great gifts for Valentine's Day, ranging from a heart trinket box, to chocolate foam bath (no you can't eat it!). WWF 
* Buy a plant instead of flowers, it lasts longer! If you do buy flowers though, make sure they get up in the compost bin, rather than the kitchen bin! 
* All cards can be recycled either through your kerbside collection or the local bring bank. 

Valentines Day - The Most Romantic Day of the Year?

Its that time of the year again. The shops are stocked with lots of red and pink fluffy gifts and cards for lovers to give to each other on Valentines Day. But what do you do if you want to be romantic but in a more sustainable way? Well we have some suggestions below. You will win your loved one over with some of these ideas because it also shows you are being thoughtful and considerate about the environment too!

The Card

There are many pretty cards in the shops, but producing them uses a lot of resources. And around 24 million Valentine's cards are sent in the UK each year. But there are alternatives. Why not send an e-card? There are many free e-card websites on the Internet. If you have time, then make your own card. This adds a personal touch, and you can use lots of materials that you have lying around the house. You can be as creative as you want. The team at usually make their own Valentines cards, and it goes down a treat with loved ones. If you end up buying a card, then check to see if it is made from recycled paper. Here are a few suggestions:


Find a wide selection at My Fun Cards:

Devil Cards has some great cards too:
Devil Cards

Making your own cards

Check this out for card making:

This website will give you inspiration for making cards:

Buying a Card

Check this site out for eco friendly cards with unique designs:

Eco Maximus provides greeting cards and other gifts made from elephant dung!

The Gift

Sending a gift to a loved one doesn't have to be bad for the environment. Here are a number of alternative gifts ideas that may inspire you. Just remember to use minimal packaging and if you are wrapping something up, use recycled paper and string, or even newspaper! If you do want to send flowers, why not buy some flowers locally and get them wrapped in paper, and hand deliver them yourself? This is better for the environment than getting a company to deliver them for you. If you still want to buy chocolates then why not try out organic chocolates, and watch out for the excess packaging. If you're any good in the kitchen you could make your own!

Send your love a tree at the Tree to my Door website:

WWF again have some lovely gift ideas this year:
WWF Shopping

How about giving an acre of rainforest to your loved one?

Check out the chocolate truffle recipe here:
BBC Food

Short on money? Then send Virtual Cyber Hugs on this website:
Virtual Cyber Hugs

If that really doesn't inspire you, and you still want to send flowers and chocolates then check these websites out:

Organic chocolates:
A lot of Chocolate

Interflora now does a range of plant gifts:


Planning on bending down on one knee? Well you have probably given some thought about the ring! (We hope so anyway!) Diamonds, a girl's best friend or silver and gold jewellery have a considerable impact on the environment. Consider some of these alternatives:

Based in America, but will ship to the UK, (although you need to think of the environmental aspects of shipping) check out this website that do eco rings:

Alternatively think of buying an antique ring, or ask close family if there is a 'special ring' that has sentimental value that can be used. Finally, good luck! 

Most of all have a happy Valentine's Day!

CATEGORY - Christmas

(No way I'll remember to come back to this nearer the time, so best to get it logged and up now)

Santa's Green Christmas


Christmas is a great time of the year for most of us. And also an extremely busy time. Running around buying presents, wrapping them up, making last minute preparations, and putting up the decorations. Christmas time is also a busy time of the year for waste. An extra 3 million tonnes of waste is produced over the festive period, and this includes up to 1 billion Christmas cards. Ever wondered how you could be a bit more 'green' over Christmas, but also save a bit of time and money too? Well this section explains how to do just that. Read on and be inspired..

Green Santa's Top Festive Facts

* Royal Mail delivers approximately 150 million Christmas cards and packets during the run up to Christmas. If all the Christmas cards were laid end to end they would span from London to Sydney and back more than five times! (Source: Spelthorne Borough Council).

* It is estimated that during the Christmas period over 83 square km of wrapping paper will end up in UK rubbish bins, that's enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey. (Source: Waste Watch)

* During the Christmas period we use between 20-30% extra glass and cans than at any other time of the year.

* Over six million trees were bought last Christmas in the UK, most of which were thrown out after December creating over 9,000 tonnes of additional rubbish, almost five times the weight of the London Eye. (Source: Spelthorne Borough Council).

* The waste produced over Christmas is the equivalent to 400,000 double decker buses, stretching all the way from London to New York City. Half of this waste can be recycling, but only 10% of it is.
(Source: Spelthorne Borough Council).

* Santa Claus was originally green, and not red. Coca-Cola bought the rights and changed him to red in 1931 (source:

What's the Point?

There are a few advantages of re-use and recycling, apart from the obvious one of it being good for the environment!

* It can save you money. Yup it really can! For example, re-using old Christmas cards for name tags for presents, or doing your Christmas shop online can save you money. By doing little things like that, the pennies will add up!

* Doing things such as food shopping online saves you time. You don't have the hassle of finding a parking space, then lugging the kids round the aisles, and then spending half an hour to queue, then there's the packing and trying to get it all home again. Shopping for your goodies can be done in the comfort of your own home while drinking a cup of tea.

* It gives you a sense of satisfaction. Many people feel particularly bad about throwing so much stuff away and this gets highlighted at Christmas when you're stuffing 6 black binliners full of wrapping paper, ready for the dustbin men to take away.

* Finding a second use for something that has been cluttering up your storage space for the past six months creates more space. It is amazing what junk can be turned into. And in many ways everyone does reuse and recycling a lot more than what they think. People who love antiques are basically keeping old material out of the landfill. Car boots sales and garage sales are another example.

I'm dreaming of a Green Christmas.

There are lots of ways to make your Christmas a bit greener this year. These are tips, which will also save you a bit of time and money too.

Christmas cards and Gifts

* If you do want to give out cards, then make sure they are from recycled material. Alternatively, save some money and send e-cards instead. There are plenty of websites that let you send free e-cards.

* An alternative to giving Christmas cards is to give the money to charity instead, which many people do.

* Keep the Christmas cards that are sent to you. They make name tags for Christmas presents for next year.

* Alternatively, recycle your Christmas cards. Retailers such as Tesco and WH Smith do Christmas card recycling during January.

* Shop online or buy most of your Christmas presents from one place. This helps cut down on emissions and pollution, and it also means you get to miss the Christmas rush!

* Try and avoid sticky tape when wrapping presents, use ribbon or string instead. Sticky tape doesn't biodegrade, so can only be used once. Ribbon and string can be used again.

* Buy greener gifts for you friends and family. There are many online stores that sell some fabulous presents that are ideal for Christmas. Alternatively buy from charity shops or buy gift vouchers or tickets. Some of the websites you could try are: - Which gives you a good in-depth guide to a wide range of gifts. - For organic lovers. - Some good ideas here. For alternative Christmas gifts. - For something a little different.

* Take unwanted gifts to charity shops instead of throwing them away (like Aunt Ada's knitted pink jumper that is ten sizes too big for you) or sell it on eBay! One man's junk is another man's junkk.

* Buy presents that don't require batteries.

* Buy presents that are going to last all year rather than until Boxing Day!

Food and Drink

* Do your Christmas food shopping online, or buy fresh produce from local shops. This reduces the amount of packaging that is used.

* When going to the Christmas and January sales, take your own shopping bags with you.

* Write a list of what food you want to buy, so that you don't over spend. It is easy to buy lots of food at Christmas that you never get round to eating so it ends up in the bin. If you have a garden, compost your Christmas leftovers, including potato and carrot peelings.

* Buy food in refillable containers.

* Buy foods that are packaged in material you know that you can recycle in your area.

Wrapping and Decorating

* Use alternative methods of wrapping paper such as newspaper, or old fabric instead. Or simply put gifts into bags, as this reduces the amount of wrapping needed. If you do decide to se wrapping paper, make sure it is 100% recycled. One idea is to keep wrapping paper from this years present and save it to wrap next year's presents up.

* There is a bit of debate about what type of Christmas tree to go for. Artificial ones have been made with various chemicals, and plastics, which in itself isn't too good for the environment. On the other hand, they can be reused year after year. A real tree can only be used once, but doesn't contain harmful chemicals, and of course was not made from plastic. We recommend that if you buy a real tree, go for one that can be re-potted into the garden after, so that it lives. If you prefer to stick with artificial trees, then buy one that is made from eco-friendly products. Of course you don't even have to buy a Christmas tree at all.

* Check out your local council to see if they are running a Christmas tree recycling scheme. Many councils now provide this facility over the Christmas period.

* If you buy your Christmas decorations, make sure that they are durable, and will last you for years.

* It is much more fun and better for the environment if you make your decorations. There are a few decoration ideas on this website, to help you get started.

Christmas Decorations - a few ideas to get you started

The Glitter Angel

You need:
* A one litre soda/lemonade bottle
* String
* Craft glue
* Glitter
* Small ball ornament (alternatively a widget from a beer can for example)
* Piece of gold tinsel
* Waxed paper lined cookie sheet

Step one:
Cut the bottom off the bottle. Dip the pieces of string into the craft glue and water solution. This needs to be the consistency of thick cream. Then coil the string around the bottle starting from the bottom. Cover the whole bottle like this.

Step two:
On a waxed paper lined cookie sheet, shape a long piece of glue soaked string into an outline of angel wings. Fill in the wings with dipped string coiled into lacy patterns. Before the glue dries, sprinkle with glue.

Step three:
When the wings are dry, glue them to the body. For the head, glue the ball on top of the bottle. Crown the angel with a gold tinsel halo. Use glue to stick it down.

Paper Chains

You need:
* Left over clean tin foil
* Christmas wrapping paper from last year
* Another other scrap bits of paper and card
* Glue

Step one:
Cut the card, tin foil, and paper into strips.

Step two:
Stick the two ends of the strip of paper together with the glue. With the second strip of paper, link it through the first one before you glue it together. Continue until the paper chain is to your required length, or you run out of material!

Glittery cones

You need:
* Pine cones collected from your garden
* Flour and water (optional)
* Glue
* Glitter
* String (optional)

Step one:
Mix the flour and water together to form a paste. Paste this on the pine cone.

Step two:
Sprinkle the glitter over the pinecone and let it dry. The flour and paste acts like glue. If you prefer, use craft glue. Either place on your tree, or tie some string to it and hang on the tree.

Seasons Greetings

It seems like only yesterday that we were writing the last Christmas feature. Well here we are again, full of new ideas, (and some old ones just to remind you!) to have a fantastic Christmas without costing the earth.

Some Festive Facts

* Around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away over Christmas - that's the equivalent weight of more than 50,000 festive polar bears!!! When buying gifts, try to avoid items that are excessively packaged. (Source: Durham County Council)

* Around 4,000 million sprouts are bought in the week before Christmas (Source: Friends of the Earth)

* An extra 500 million aluminium and steel drink cans will also be used over the festive period - vent your festive frustration by crushing your tins before placing them in the recycling banks. (Source: )

* More than 80,000 tonnes of old clothes are thrown away over Christmas - if you get a whole new wardrobe, donate your unwanted clothes to charity shops. ( )

* More than 10 million turkeys are bought each year at Christmas time. (Source Friends of the Earth)

* One of our favourite facts from last year is that Santa Claus was originally green, not red. The guys at Coca-Cola bought the rights and changed him to red in 1931.

Reduce your festive footprint this year

* Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables and meat from the local farm shop/high street shops. This reduces food miles, and your food will also taste fresher. It also reduces packaging waste.

* Make a handmade recipe book. Gather family recipes that you enjoyed from childhood, or recipes from your friends, and give it as a gift.

* Dedicate a tree to someone. Check out 

* Check out for gifts to benefit third world countries. You can purchase a goat, a donkey, and school dinners for 200 children, trees, essential medicines, toilets, and many more items.

* Adopt an animal from the WWF. Animals include dolphins, pandas, tigers and elephants. Check out 

* Check out for some fair trade gifts.

* Make a fair trade/organic/local food hamper as a gift to friends and family.

* Check out for some funky recycling handbags which will make great presents.

* Combine a practical gift with a love of music and buy a vinyl clock artists include Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Kinks, REM, Oasis, and many many more.

Just a festive reminder

* To reuse cards from last year for gift tags.

* Use string/ribbon instead of sticky tape for wrapping presents.

* Buy everything in bulk so that less packaging is used.

* Make Christmas decorations from stuff in your home, it will save you buying more decorations!

* Compost food leftovers.

* Instead of sending Christmas cards, send E-cards instead. 

The team would like to wish everyone a Merry Green Christmas and a Happy New Year.

CATEGORY - Entertainment

(Working my way through the article archives steadily. One great thing is I have found that the formatting on the site pages is 'read' here on Blogger... text, images, links. Great stuff. I have 'updated' a few, but this one needs a bit of attention. Sadly Blockbuster didn't make it this far. I know there are other donation or swap opportunities. I'll leave it up as is as VHS tapes still lurk in lofts and do offer potential in reuse)

Own up. Are you one of the millions of Britons who have shelves full of VHS or DVD movies which you never watch, that are now just gathering dust?

According to industry estimates,* there are over a billion VHS movies in British homes plus nearly half a billion DVDs. That's around 75** per household and the equivalent of over 350,000 years of movie watching pleasure.

With this growing mountain of movies, Blockbuster UK believes it's high time that film fans gave their movie collections a bit of a spring clean and brought unwanted or unwatched titles into their local Blockbuster to trade them in for store credit or cash. They can also use the visit to check out some movies they haven't seen.

The company recently launched a nationwide service that offers customers the chance to Trade-In unwanted movies, games and games hardware. One Cambridgeshire woman has already traded-in over 2,000 titles from her 6,000 strong collection, simultaneously clearing her loft and loading her wallet!

Up until now, the most traded-in movies have tended to be the big budget hits including The Matrix, Independence Day, Men in Black and Titanic. Even some of Hollywood's less than successful films like Heavens Gate, Cutthroat Island and Howard the Duck have a place in someone's collection or are on another fan's waiting list.

So whether it's streamlining a movie collection for a bit of extra cash or clearing out a few completed computer games, Blockbuster has the answer.

According to Alex Sparks, Managing Director of Blockbuster Entertainment Ltd, "With the success of DVD, many people have cupboards full of old videos that they'll never watch again. Conversely, there are movie buffs who can now at last afford to add 'hard to find' VHS copies to their film collections. So everyone benefits."

*The British Video Association estimates that VHS volume sales between 1985-2004 were 1,135,000,000 and DVD sales between 1998-2004 were 494,000,000.
**Calculations based on 2001 Census showing 21.7 million households.

Friday, February 27, 2015



The team at are always on the look out for new and creative ways of turning everyday waste into something more useful and appealing. Imagine our delight when Jason Bottomley contacted us about his creations!

Jason makes contemporary products and furniture out of containers and ready made products i.e containers, bottles and other everyday items.

Here are a few examples of his work.

The pendant lights are made from Perrier Bottles.

Perrier Cluster

The Storage Pods are made from office water cooler containers.
Storage Pods

as are
the Jack & Jill Stools.

Jack and Jill Stools

The 117 Peg Light speaks for itself really!

Peg Light

Jason has kindly agreed to become one of first 'guru's', providing us with expert information to any questions our readers may have! If you have any queries or want further information about Jason's work then send us an email and we will make sure he gets it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Going to try and do at least one a day, porting over from the site, I guess, just starting from the top of the list.

Arts & Crafts

Arts and Crafts Information

The term 'Arts and Crafts' means a host of activities and hobbies that are related to making things with ones hand or skill. Arts and crafts can be in the form of knitting, weaving, patchwork, card making, scrap booking, collage, beadwork, and decoration. 

Arts and crafts often play a big part in a child's development. It helps develop and encourage imagination, creativity and skill. Nowadays you can buy many craft materials from shops. Glue, glitter, beads, cardboard, paint, paper, ribbon, stickers, paper, pens, plastic etc. It can all add up. Alternatively why not take a look at some of the items your about to throw away. Everyone remembers the classic washing up advert when the child is waiting for his mother to finish the bottle so that he can use it to make something. Here are a few examples of potential art and craft materials:

* Washing up liquid bottles - make the robot body, or a water pistol

* Plastic milk bottles - great for making ships and robots

* Toilet rolls - great for a number of things such as decorations on the Christmas tree

* Ready made meal trays - pirate boats

* Caps off plastic drinking bottles - various colours can be turned into board games, into robots, used for building ships etc. 

* Shoelaces - used to tie things together (not to tie up a brother and sister!)

* Newspaper and magazines - for paper mache

This isn't just for children though. Many people make a living from making things such as cards (quite popular in card shops) patchwork quilts to handmade candles. 

For community groups such as brownies, scouts, or schools, why not take a visit to a scrap store to get art and craft material? A scrap store is where people can donate material they no longer want, for community groups and schools to use. Sometimes a small fee is involved.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015



(Note: as we re-design the site these will crop up here on the blog, erring more on being just sources of further info - never claiming to be exhaustive. Happy to add to main text if advised of anything interesting or worthwhile in comments below)

Certainly the option of creating a low footprint appeals, and if the opportunity to endure is presented in nice ways too, well why not?

Ported over from one of's soon to be parked Article pages:

Environmentally Friendly Funerals

So planning your own funeral is probably the last thing on your mind right now, but it is something that perhaps people should give more thought it. After all, planning a funeral for a loved one can be very traumatic, life changing and expensive.

Traditionally, a funeral is a ceremony that marks someone's death. Funerary customs comprise of beliefs and customs used by a culture to remember the dead, from the funeral itself to prayers, songs and other rituals undertaken in their honour.

What is a traditional funeral?

Although in different cultures and religions the service maybe different, traditionally in the UK, a person's death is usually marked in two/three stages:


Once the person has been placed in a coffin (or casket), close relatives and friends can go and give their last respects, and say goodbye. Alternatively, the person can be laid out at their home until the service takes place.

Funeral service

Traditionally mourners will be dressed in black as a sign of respect. A clergy from the decedent's or bereaved's church or religion conducts the service. A service may include readings from the bible or other sacred texts, hymns, prayers, songs. A eulogy is usually given by a relative or close friend to highlight happier times.


This service happens after the funeral service where mourners can give their last respects before the decreased is buried or cremated


After the funeral and burial service there is usually a gathering of the deceased's family and friends, which gives the chance for the mourners to recall memories of the decreased. Sometime a buffet and drink is provided.

What is an Eco-Funeral?

Some people want to be remembered by having a less traditional funeral, and it is more common nowadays for people to have 'eco-funerals'. Although some of the stages of a traditional funeral may remain the same, more environmental choices can be made in regards to the type of coffin you have and where you are buried.

Eco Coffins

There are many types of environmentally friendly coffins, which people can choose from. These may include bamboo, wicker, cardboard, wood from sustainable forests, biodegradable, to name just a few.

Alternative transport

The hearse that traditionally carries the coffin can be replaced with horse drawn hearse, or even a motorbike hearse.

Woodland burial

As the grave is in a natural setting, it is envisaged that as the woodland matures, it will be a haven for wildlife and flowers, which can the mourners a sense of peace. Many people like the idea of this. Many woodland burial sites will not supply double graves because it means unearthing and disturbing plants and wildlife. Some may feel that this isn't as environmentally friendly as cemeteries whereby arrangements can be made to have several people buried together, creating more space. A few months after burial, a tree can be planted to help encourage the woodland to grow. It is also important to know that many woodland cemeteries will not allow spots to be reserved.

Taken from the Blog (And added to ITanic Vs. until we know)

Cremation or burial?

Despite most in the eco-sphere on this topic surrounding casket design (Cardboard, bamboo, etc), I must confess to having treated it as a bit of a niche thing, despite death, along with taxes, being a bit of a growth industry, along with the global population.

And that is a key consideration. Because if there's more and more of us standing on top of the earth, there's an ever more limited series of places to stick folk under it. And once we start fighting with the guys planting bio-fuel crops, it could get ugly.

Of course it already has to an extent. When I lived in Singapore over a decade ago, large numbers of ancestors were quietly, if rather unceremoniously JCB'd from their eternal slumbers and popped in an urn in a wall if they were lucky.

So pretty much my whole experience, including personally with my Dad, has been cremation.

But in the whole dental filling (mercury) pollution and simple combustion products (heat, gas) scheme of things, is it a good idea?



For more information about alternative funerals, and advice on how to arrange funerals, please check out these organisations:


We opted for a wicker version for my Mum, and it was a beautiful creation that I am sure she would have approved of.



Ok, hubris is a capricious mistress.

That should be 'Breakthrough?'

We're creeping towards slimming the site down to move it to the new platform... a lot, but as an inveterate hoarder (how else would have been created) I was/am loathe to lose neat stuff, and opportunities to share.

Currently, beyond 'IDEAS' (ironically, or in protest at what we propose, not working yesterday and on go-slow today), there is:


Most look simple enough to move to a Wordpress format, with the possibility of interactivity retained.

But I was looking at ARTICLES and thought it a pity that all the great work Chief of Stuff Emma would get lost, and all the bits 'n bobs I stumble across in my travels would not be collated and archived any more. Well, beyond the FaceBook group, which few are aware of and is not searchable.

But... of course it can be! Here!

I just need to create a Page Label and category, and away we go. Then link the new ARTICLES page to it.

Whenever I see a new story I can just call it up and update. No idea when, but of course all the old material can also simply be ported across in this way too.

Ironically, and with dark humour, thanks to the latest share on the FaceBook page, the first to be created is likely to be CATEGORY - FUNEREAL, with info and links on eco-funerals, etc, of course inspired by and based on this page.

Seems apt as we design away on the new site Phoenix to rise from the ashes of the old.

Well, that's the theory. Here's hoping!

ps: Also, as a plus, it means we may still snag a few pennies from Google adwords by not sending visitors away elsewhere:)