Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thanks for all the support...

Don't worry, that does not mean what such a headline can usually mean!

Though of course we are always grateful for anyone taking the time to swing by and see what's here and on itself:)

However, the eagle-eyed may have noticed that of late that has not been much... at all.

Simply pressures of work and responsibilities elsewhere... plus costs.

Running a site, finding content, etc, even writing a blog, all takes time, and there has simply been none for a while.

With luck things are starting to settle, and when that happens a little can be put aside to get back in the saddle up-loading ideas and other stuff.

There will be changes, and some are sort of happening, if in limbo, now, and have been for months.

The main aspect is the moving of the site from a dedicated (expensive) server with major hosting costs to a much cheaper WordPress version.

Sadly this will mean some loss of functionality, so we're looking at what people never really were bothered about, and dropping all that simply to keep the bits that are liked.

This may... almost certainly, also involve a massive amount of transcribing to get the data from the old site over in a from the new whiz-bang stuff can read. We're talking converting a hand-illuminated script Guggenheim Bible to Google. Not easy.

But we are going to try.

Oh, and that thanks? It's to David Jenkins at who took over a clunker decades ago and have nursed it along ever since, and are now helping us as we port over as and when we can.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Got something that's too good for the skip but not going to get a bean on eBay? And at last has filled the last iota of space in the loft? Give it away! What you need is a nice e-way to do it.

There are LOTS. And as most, if not all, are free, I think it's worth giving 'em all a go.

So, in no particular order (well...):'s JunkkYard - a bit buried away, but does have some nice features. As you need to be registered, and that involved your postcode, it will tell you how far away 'it' is. Which can be handy. And you can select the radius of how far you want to travel.

2 - to be reviewed - clothes related - to be reviewed
craigslist - has a free section
Note (US-based):
ecofreek - (US based) - NEW - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - Or .org. The Daddy of us all. You'll have to burrow a bit to get 'your' area. - A freecycle spin-off - all a bit political, mind
Guardian - The top 10 swap websites - If they say so
GreencycleSussex - - to be reviewed - barter of services
Times - Online swap shop Freecycle booms as middle class feels squeeze
Times - Freecycle: the big green giveaway
Times - Something for nothing - they are keen at the Thunderer! - to be reviewed. I'd guessed that it's fridges, but as I'd hoped there is now some feedback to say that it does more.
Furniture Reuse Network - - to be reviewed. Great name! - to be reviewed - to be reviewed
gumtree - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - Music to my ears... they pay. All things CD & R. - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - Hat tip: Dave of Solarventi - to be reviewed
vskips -
whatsmineisyours - to be reviewed

Not Free - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - US-based (we do get readers there)
eBay - to be reviewed.. like I need to! - to be reviewed - to be reviewed

Swap - to be reviewed - to be reviewed
iswap - - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - books - to be reviewed - Gardening focus - to be reviewed - staff time!
swapcorner - to be reviewed - to be reviewed
swapandplay - More IT
swapshop - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - to be reviewed - houses

Borrow - to be reviewed. It's US-based, but hey, it may catch on

Charities (who will take stuff, often quitebig)

Oxfam -

There'll be more. And I'll add 'em when I find 'em.

Or you could tell me about them too. Many are 'too be reviewed'. If you know something, good or bad, add to the comments and that'll prompt me to check and highlight.

Articles - Junkk - Hat tip Ecologist - What went wrong with Freecycle in the UK?

Guardian -  Fed up with Freecycle? Try these top 10 alternatives - One person's top 10 is another's grist to a growing mill. One day I'll add any in the lists to make my list bigger:)

Guardian -  Accusations of very tight control split UK recycling network from US parent - Blimey, who would have imagined a free reuse initiative could end up so 'political'. Good job Junkk is benign... {Homer growl} for now:) Actually, as JunkkYard is pretty much left up to the users, I'd be hard pressed to figure how I'd influence anything. Maybe I should, as it is kinda languishing.

But it seems some just can't resist trying to 'take control', and that is not my style.

Medical Product-related (A new category)

Friday, June 19, 2015

There Will Be Blood - Or... 'RE-evolution, read in tooth and claw'

(Note: In the spirit of reuse, no fingers were harmed to make this post, at least recently - 
we just used a shot from a while ago)

There Will Be Blood.

Likely a lot of sweat, too.

Most certainly a few tears.

For sure fingers getting raw as keyboards are pounded.

Because big changes are afoot with

Many, most... hopefully for the better, but there are going to be some compromises.

It will not have escaped the notice of many that, whilst once buzzing, the site has languished a bit, along with this blog.

Sadly the hoped-for revenue streams to hire the staff to run it have not materialised, and while much is on 'autopilot', a lot still needs human TLC. This always costs, in time and hence money. Just keeping it open has annual fees that were proving hard to sustain in its original configuration.

Time To Evolve

We have also reviewed the site to see what has worked, what has not; what has been used... and what has not. And then looked at what exists now that did not when it was created. So much now free that cost and arm and leg back in the day. Plus a quaint glitchiness that could often task the most patient IT guru to track down.

So we are 'evolving' it, and moving the site to a WordPress platform that is going to be a lot cheaper, easier to use (for admin and visitor) and, we hope, bring back up to date.

However, there will be sacrifices, sadly.

Less Is More

A lot is going to go. Frankly much was outdated and/or simply unused by even us, much less anyone else.

Already the trusty home page is gone... though that was by accident! In moving server it vanished and we can't seem to get it back. No more updated links to latest ideas or blogs, and banner advisories (though with luck the new design will permit such things to return).

So, taking the current sections, what's likely in & out?


Every site needs and has one. So there will be something like this, if updated.

Probably no longer needed. The legal protections are covered by sensible disclaimers common to any free info site, and we are parking facilities that needed anyone to register.

There was also a cost to registering under the DPA with the ICO. We'll probably remove the database to save on the cost this incurred. Betting a large chunk are hotmails long since changed and now ineffective to access the site or the site to access the users.

No names; no need. And, looking at the dates... no loss.

To be fair, there were a bunch more, but they did dry up a long while ago.

We were (still do; there will likely be one last hurrah to advise of all these changes nearer the handover day) using a very ethical mailing system, that even on 'mates' rates' as they liked our style was 1p a pop. When you are in tens of thousands of mailings that adds up.

Again, it's possible that WordPress and maybe Mailchimp might one day allow something to be re-instituted.


We really let this go once Chief of Stuff Emma departed. Is a forum necessary when we have this blog? We'll see. They are not quite the same, and WordPress may make running one easier than it was before for those left (well, Junkk Male and First Lady PJ).

Also WordPress is up to date on integrating with all the social media tools we can with luck engage with on site and interactively: twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest, etc.

JunkkYard will likely bit the dust. Pity. It was an idea ahead of its time and did a bunch of things even Freecycle didn't when it started. Still a few nice aspects compared to many exchange sites still.

One deciding factor will be if the registration goes too. That was needed to locate the swapper and swappee.


Definitely going. Oh, there'll be some means of getting in touch, but given the spammers of Eastern Europe and the Far East were all who got in touch to sell their handbags and Viagra... we'll pass.

With luck WordPress has a nice, free 'Captcha' verification script to ensure we only deal with humans in future.


Never say never, but likely toast. Even when businesses had it for free, and were handed their own admin. privileges, they never updated their own pages.

In fact the only use seemed to be people getting in touch to say links are dead, etc.


Here's hoping. Chief of Stuff Emma put a lot of work into these, they are useful, can be updated and it's a pity to lose it all. We've found it all ports easily enough over to here on Blogger, so Wordpress should work too. There was a concern on images, but with luck these can be stored on the new site and work still. Definitely a 'spare moment' task as we create and populate the new site pages over the coming months.


Hey... one day. Never opened for business 'til now!

And then, last but most certainly most...


The BIG one, in all sorts of ways.

These are what made, makes and will make special.

But clearly WordPress can't handle what we envisaged and created decades ago, and still serving as we speak. 

Hence a lot of the functionality will sadly need to be parked if not lost. Such as the data sections. No great loss, as apart from JunkkMale it looks like few used it anyway.

We're looking at how best to port over the best ideas in ways so they can still be searched and shared, and of course such that new ones can be imported.

Mostly this will be another cut 'n paste job from the old site to the new, and more bleeding fingers.

Of course, if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions (preferably not involving more time or money) to help, we're happy to hear them!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grrrrrrr..... and stuff

OK, it has been a while.... too long.

Yes, I share and post fairly regularly on the FaceBook page, but I have neglected the main site, I admit.

No excuses. Just... stuff. Money, work (that pays), more stuff, IT matters....

Big changes afoot. Our sons are all grow'd up and take their 'A' levels in a few week's time, then are off abroad for two years to do National Service in Singapore.

Which makes where we are too big and a very expensive proposition to keep running. And at the same time as a physical move we need to look at saving money everywhere we can (those boys are coming back with luck to 3 years' Uni, and while abroad no parent ever has not found the need to send a care package of dosh). 

One area is the site. It may have been designed to run ad infinitum without human intervention, but that is not really the case. She is a grand, glitchy old lady and needs constant TLC. Maintenance. And there are operational costs, from email to site hosting to server fees.

So we are actively looking at paring down. Easier said than done when all the modern, cheap ways of doing things (look at this on Blogger... images, video... in one click!)  take one look at the scripts was written with (especially the core searchable Ideas database) and run away gibbering that they have found evidence of an older lost civilisation. At least they still talk... sort of (hold that thought).

Which brings me to my actual Grrr as a relevant post for JMR on an 'eco' topic, as it is all run on a whirring grey box on a desk, after all.

I am a Mac person. I started with an Amstrad about 35-40 years ago and then some DOS PCs, but as soon as I got my first 128k (which I still have, in its box, along with G3's and all manner of colourful jobbies) in the mid 80's that was me hooked. Been with 'em ever since, for writing, graphics and all the rest.

My needs now are simple(r). Mainly eMail, surfing, watching videos, social media and some .doc stuff. Plus a few desktoppy apps, like iPlayer, Calendar, Address Book, etc.

And to do this I have been happily using a succession of Minis (currently I do most on a £60 Android tablet, for heaven's sake!). For the money not too powerful, but a nice small footprint... does the job. 

Then the rot started. I started finding little warnings popping up, that stuff I was using couldn't now be used, unless I upgraded my OS. But... to upgrade the OS I needed to upgrade the hardware. 


I have a 500GB hard drive. With all my photos and music and decades of writing it is only half-full. I need a C-130, not an F-35. It works just fine.

First it was my Final Cut Pro, then it was my FileMaker, and Bento....

Next up Flash, and Firefox, and Chrome. 

The latter are free, but I paid for the former. All, useless.

And now, as I decide to back up the last month from my tablet...

'Beginning March 23rd, 2015, the Dropbox desktop client will no longer be available for download on OS X Tiger 10.4 or OS X Leopard 10.5. If you are currently running the Dropbox desktop client on these versions of OS X, you will no longer be able to sign in to your existing account or create a new account through the desktop client.

You may be signed out of your account on the desktop client as early as May 18th, 2015, and will not be able to sign in again until you update to OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.'

Like I say... Grrrrrr.

I would dearly love Apple, and all those who write for them, to explain to me why I should ever invest several hundred pounds on a not very high spec piece of IT kit that clearly is designed around early obsolescence more as a primary requirement.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

CATEGORY - Pooh Corner

It seems I was once ahead of myself, and stories under this heading already exist.

However, in keeping with the new system, let me formally establish this as a category, with this one:


There are a few too many 'coulds' & 'mays' to be totally reassuring, plus I am unsure quite what happens if a person caught short is moved to progress from No. 1 to a higher order of waste management, as it were.

The comments to the piece are often robust and raise various questions and offer a few answers.

POOH (watch this space - from a distance)

Monday, March 02, 2015


So there you are driving along.

The sun is out; the sky is blue.

All is well.

Then, suddenly, ahead you see a honking great sinkhole take out the road ahead.

So you make that sound in the headline, stop, and thank your lucky stars it did not present a little later while you were over it.

Some may have noticed I have been trying to upload here the Articles on various topics Chief of Stuff Emma created many moons ago, as these will be lost once we move from the IT equivalent of Illuminated Script to more contemporary versions.

First Lady PJ had already asked why we would be on WordPress when I was moving yet more to Blogger, and whilst true I thought I had a top answer, namely the rather fortuitous coincidence that whatever was written in was the same as Blogger, so I literally could highlight, copy and paste all her work en masse... text, links, images.

However, it has now dawned....

Because the whole point to the move is not only to move to a more modern format, but also try and save running costs too.

And when Classic gets parked, so too will its databases, including all those lovely royalty-free images that pretty up the articles so well.  It goes off line, I'm guessing more 'X's than a Castlemaine stand at a porn conference.

So... if not return to drawing board, at least a short further pause for thought. But at the end of the rainbow there is always light, right?

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!