How to expand your living space and limit your environmental footprint

There’s been some really interesting coverage lately of ‘tiny homes’. They’re frugal, sustainable and use fewer natural resources than their larger equivalents. Nevertheless, most of us at some stage in our lives want more space – an overspill area for children, hobbies, or a home business; a few more square meters of space that can make all the difference to family harmony, career aspirations or general well being.

House extension versus timber garden room

Building a traditional extension is expensive and time-consuming. And if you’re using concrete, cement and other new materials, it’s not particularly eco-friendly.

An alternative that’s easier on your wallet and the environment is a timber garden room. DIY titans may be able to build their own with recycled and salvaged materials. The rest of us, with less time, skills and DIY self-confidence, have a huge choice of flatpack garden rooms and summer houses.

If you can’t use reclaimed materials for your garden room, buy it from a company that uses wood from sustainably managed forests. Online suppliers such as GardenLife Log Cabins have a wide choice of garden buildings using sustainable timber, to suit all budgets and plot sizes.

You should also look out for businesses and products with the FSC certification, as these comply with high environmental standards for growing and harvesting forests and woodlands, ensuring they are not cut faster than they are replaced. FSC certification also requires companies to meet social and economic standards, designed to maintain local communities’ rights of ownership and long-term economic well-being.

As well as choosing a garden room over a bricks and mortar extension, there are othergreen choices you can make when constructing and maintaining a timber garden building:

What about environmentally friendly foundations?

Rather than using a concrete base, consider an eco-friendly gravel grid system. These use recycled plastic grids for the base of the building, with gravel providing extra stability and drainage. They allow excellent ventilation and water drainage, so they’re very low-maintenance as well as green.

Using FSC-certified timber decking for the base of your garden room is also a green solution. However, decking may not be suitable for larger buildings, and, even when pressure-treated, requires regular maintenance and wood treatment.

Are eco-friendly wood treatments available?

Living Large! The Tiny House Advantage: Tiny Home Living (Self Sustained Living)

Living Large! The Tiny House Advantage: Tiny Home Living

All timber buildings need wood preservative treatment to protect against insects, UV rays and water. However, there are concerns about the possible side-effects of conventional solvent and oil-based wood treatments, including harm to bees and other wildlife, and contamination of plants. Whilst there are a number of suggestions for natural wood protection, including linseed oil, salt, soy and alcohol, there is much debate about their efficacy – for example, they may protect against insect attack, but not mildew.

There are however commercial water-based wood treatments, which are friendlier to plants and animals than petroleum- and metals-based preservatives. Hannants and Valhalla Wood Preservatives, for example, both market non-toxic water-based wood treatments online (which are available in ready to mix powder form).

What about heating a garden room?

The traditional British summer house can be damp and draughty in winter time. But that’s the traditional version. Many garden rooms are nowadays intended for all-year-round use. Look for the following features, which will greatly reduce the need to heat the building, and therefore keep down energy usage:

  • timber walls with a log thickness of 44mm (or more) offer excellent insulation against heat loss and draughts.
  • slow-grown Nordic timber offers greater insulation and durability than fast-grown timber because the wood is denser.
  • double-glazed windows greatly reduce heat loss and draughts
  • positioning the cabin to catch the low rays of the winter sun will also make it warmer all year-year-round.

The perfect finishing touch

A timber garden room is a clear winner when it comes to adding space and value to your own, and it’s definitely a much greener alternative (not to mention considerably cheaper) that a traditional house extension. For the perfect finish, you should consider a sedum, or living roof. A living green roof can reduce heat loss, take CO2 out of the air, and provide a habitat for insects. It can look amazing too, however, please do check with the supplier whether your chosen garden building would be strong enough to support one.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - September 20, 2014 at 6:59 am

Categories: Eco Home   Tags:

Climate Change and Making Your Home Eco-Friendly

A neat infographic from www.darioinspects.com

Darion

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Posted by Eco Warrior - September 20, 2014 at 6:16 am

Categories: Eco Home   Tags:

Top Five Must-Visit Eco-Friendly Destinations in UK

Ranging from rugged mountains, dense forests and tranquil waterways to the stunning beaches, cliffs and coastal paths, the UK has something for everyone. Have a sneak peek at the five most eco friendly places in the UK.

If you are planning a trip with family and friends then United Kingdom is a great place to visit. England, Scotland, Wales and the Offshore Islands all together form a great vacation and holiday spot. Beside, the most incredible cause which will pull you towards UK is its eco-friendly environment. The mountains and ranges of majestic hills, exquisite lakes, the rolling farmland, wild heaths and moors, lovely valleys and streams proffers it a healthy and green atmosphere to live in.

Read on to learn more about the most eco-friendly destinations in UK:

#1 Brighton

It has been known as one of the most eco-friendly places to visit in the UK. The reason behind calling it a green city is that it was the first place to install a Green MP, Caroline Lucas, in the Parliament. So, make sure you visit this amazing place on your next trip. Being located on the East Sussex coast, Brighton features a blue flag beach and picturesque landmarks such as the Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion, making it certified clean.

#2 London

tower of londonThe capital of the UK is a beautiful place to travel as well as home to a sixth of the population. Despite of being crowded, London has made progress across the green board. It is an eco friendly destination; the adoption of ‘Boris bikes’ and the construction of the Barclay’s Cycle Superhighways make it so. Secondly, it possesses excellent strategies for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, making the air more fresh and lively. The city has proved this with their success in getting people out of their cars and onto public transport and reducing pollution to a great extent.

#3 Edinburgh

edinburghThe reason behind making it a third to this list is that the entire city centre of Scotland’s capital has been designated as World Heritage site by UNESCO. The next to add, is the Zero Waste Scotland program which is aimed toward creation of carbon-free Edinburgh. This marvelous place is fully loaded with historical buildings and monuments. You will fall in love with the healthy environment of this place.

#4 Leicester

leicesterAlthough, it is recognized as one of the oldest cities in the UK it holds a futuristic approach of a hale and hearty environment. Therefore, it has been added fourth rank in the list. The exponential increase in walking, cycling and usage of public transport are the few initiatives by the citizens to make it an eco-friendly place. Adding more to its greenery, the vast biodiversity of Leicester have stride out in the environmental arena. The beautiful period architecture, the Curve Theatre, National Space Centre, etc. are added attractions to it.

#5 Plymouth

plymouthThis place has turned itself into a green space with an astounding climate change action plan. The plan was focused towards the reduction of the city’s carbon emissions. Moreover, this city has set an example for other small cities stating that even they can build up a healthy and green place. Its higher recycling rates and the first class waste management program are inspiration for others. The city council’s ‘Green Infrastructure’ plan which makes a check on the future developments is also remarkable attempt. You will love exploring the lovely Dartmoor, the peaceful Tamar Valley and the beaches of south-east Cornwall.

Hope you enjoyed the article contributed by Green Energy Scotland. Taking a ‘green’ holiday seems to be a good idea this time! Plan a trip to United Kingdom and feel the immense pleasure visiting the most eco-friendly cities across UK, contributing a bit toward mother earth. You can get more updates by following us on Twitter.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - September 15, 2014 at 7:40 am

Categories: Eco Travel   Tags:

Scrap Car Network

Recycling Lives’ Scrap Car Network is the largest charity-operated scrap car collection service in the UK. Our nationwide service offers the best prices for end-of-life, old or written-off cars, motorbikes and vans, and releases value from them by recycling and reusing as many parts and materials as possible. Thanks to our nationwide network of partners, we can obtain the best price possible for your vehicle.

There’s no need to worry about towing, as we offer a totally free collection service throughout the UK. If your car is newer/still in a roadworthy condition, we will aim to resell it (reflected in the price we pay you) and make sure the vehicle continues to serve low-income families. We take care of all the DVLA paperwork for you, including the V5 logbook and de registration of the vehicle where necessary, and we issue you with a Certificate of Destruction after your vehicle has been scrapped.

We Scrap Any Car

We pride ourselves on recycling any vehicle, regardless of age, registration or condition. Every car we recycle is processed at an authorised recycling and waste management site, so you can be sure that your car will be disposed of ethically and in an environmentally friendly way. The Scrap Car Network couldn’t run without our many collection partners across the UK, all of whom share our commitment to corporate social responsibility.

To get a quick, no-obligation quote, simply head on over to scrapcarnetwork.org and enter your vehicle registration and postcode.

The Recycling Lives Charity

The Scrap Car Network is run by Recycling Lives, an award-winning social welfare charity based in Lancashire. The charity combines a commitment to recycling with helping vulnerable and marginalised people get back into work, training and education. Placements on Recycling Lives’ residential programme are offered to people battling homelessness, unemployment, addiction and mental and physical health problems, supporting them to build up the skills they need to return to independent living.

As well as providing financial support to Recycling Lives, the Scrap Car Network offers work placements to Residents, allowing them to gain valuable employment experience, new skills and most importantly, regain their self-confidence. Many Residents undertake work placements with Scrap Car Network during their time with Recycling Lives and a significant number go on to secure long-term employment as a direct result of our work experience placements.

A car scrapping scheme that helps people, the environment and gives you the best price for your unwanted vehicles? We think that sounds like a pretty good deal.

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Posted by Guest Author - September 11, 2014 at 7:03 am

Categories: Recycling   Tags: ,

Introducing the spectacular Western Australian rainforest

Surfing, barbecues, Neighbours… think about Australia and rainforests probably aren’t the first thing to spring to mind. But there are pockets of ancient rainforests scattered throughout the Kimberly Region of Western Australia, home to an astonishing collection of creatures, many unique to the area and so well suited to the conditions that they can’t survive anywhere else. If you hadn’t realised Australia even had rainforests, here’s an introduction.

An introduction to Western Australia’s spectacular rainforests

The Western Australian region gets anywhere from 400mm to 1400mm of annual rain, depending on the area. The Mitchell Plateau, for instance, is on the wetter side but the closer you get to the Great Sandy Desert, the drier it gets. Average temperatures soar to more than 35C nearer to the coast but can drop as low as 5C inland. And 90% of the rain falls during the wet season, which lasts for around four months.

Like travelling back in time

It takes three hours or so to get from Cairns to Queensland’s primeval Wet Tropics rainforest. The forest is one of the planet’s most ancient, rich in species of conifer that evolved more than two hundred million years ago, plus a huge variety of flowering plants that first appeared between 60 and 120 million years ago. At 1200m above sea level you reach the cloud forest, a truly remarkable landscape, home to unique creatures so finely tuned to life in this particular forest that they can never leave.

Incredibly rich and diverse

Fifty million years ago two thirds of the continent was covered with rainforest, making ancient Australia an incredibly verdant place. Now, the continent having drifted into warmer latitudes, there’s only a tiny 450km strip of it left, along the remote far north east coast, covering just 0.1% of Australia’s landscape.

This little jewel of a forest is home to two thirds of the nation’s butterfly species, a third of their mammals and half of their birds. Plus over 100 vertebrate species, most of which are not found anywhere else, including the incredibly rare white lemuroid ringtail possum, a ghostly creature seldom seen and known to be seriously threatened by ever more frequent climate change-led droughts like 2005′s record-breaker.

Threatened by climate change and political indifference

The current Australian government isn’t famed for its commitment to conservation. Far from it. Tony Abbot, the Prime Minister, is better known for his climate change scepticism, an increasingly anachronistic attitude that doesn’t bode well for the country’s natural treasures. Let’s hope all the dedicated Australians who do care about their unique rainforest manage to protect it the best they can, despite the political odds being stacked against them.


Guest post by The Rainforest Foundation. Stunning image by  Mark Wassell.

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Posted by Guest Author - September 9, 2014 at 7:32 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

Ethical Holidays

Is it possible to live by ethically driven and environmentally considerate values, such as buying fair trade or having a low carbon footprint, while still enjoying life to it’s fullest? Can we still go on holiday and have a great time? Well the answer is a resounding YES. It is certainly possible to relax and enjoy yourself whilst ensuring that your fun is not at the expense of the planet, the local community or the wider global community.

In terms of the environment, the most ethical way to travel is by not travelling very far. Sometimes you need only travel to the next county to discover a history and culture you never knew existed. Using public transport where possible, or taking advantage of car share schemes, are two ways to lessen the environmental damage of your travel. An increasing amount of self catering, b&b and hotel owners are looking into ways to make their property more environmentally friendly, for example by using sustainable energy or by employing water saving devices.

To be ethical, a holiday will often include some activities that are beneficial to the people who live in the area as well as being enjoyable for the holiday makers. An ethical holiday does not mean that you have to spend a week harvesting someone else’s farm, but instead can be an opportunity to engage in exciting and interesting community or conservation projects.

Let’s not forget though, holidays are a time for indulgence and maximum relaxation. Holidaymakers who tend to buy fair trade products do not need to stop doing this just because they are not at home. Thanks to the increasing availability of fair trade items throughout the UK, luxury products such as chocolate and coffee can be bought in outlets the country over. For goods that can be easily produced in the UK, it is also important to try and buy local produce.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - September 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Categories: Eco Travel   Tags:

Fundraising Against Global Warming

Raising funds and awareness is a key part of fighting ignorance and damage to our eco-system and environment and it’s heartening to see how many people are taking the cause of global warming to their hearts and helping tackle it at grass roots levels. The annual racing calendar has always been a great one for fund-raisers and charities and it looks like this year will be no different. Once again, record numbers of charity runners, triathletes, cyclists and walkers take to the streets as part of the vast number of fun-runs, half and full marathons, sponsored cycle rides and iron-man challenges, both across the UK and abroad.

Certainly fund-raising and sporting events are a fantastic way to raise awareness and interest in the fight against climate change. As well as raising much needed funds for the charities that fight against destructive practices, legislate for change and work to educate the current and future generations about the human impact on the planet, it helps with PR. PR can be as simple as speaking to friends and family about the cause and gaining their interest. It can be by having branded and sponsored run-wear picked up by news coverage or reporters covering events and help raise awareness and, of course, it shows the commitment of the runner to their chosen cause within their local community and this can help build bridges for education and local support.

It’s important that we never lose sight of the value of grass routes promotion, activity and fund-raising in the fight against climate change and these examples remind us very strongly of the power in numbers.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - September 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

Categories: Issues   Tags:

Aga takes corporate social responsibilities and green issues seriously

Everyone’s heard of the Aga range cooker. They’ve graced the kitchens of all sorts of people, from ordinary folk to celebrity chefs, farmers to the rich and famous, for generations. But rocketing fuel costs, green issues and rapidly-changing lifestyles mean more and more people want to dig out the ins and outs of the cost of running an Aga and its environmental impact. At the same time, corporate social responsibility is high on the list for most companies these days. So how are the manufacturers of the world’s favourite range cookers doing their bit for the communities they serve and the planet we live on?

You’ll be pleased to learn that modern Aga heat storage cookers can be just as efficient as ordinary, everyday cookers. Once you get to grips with the way they work, Agas also play a valuable role in cutting your fuel bills. The company’s special Aganomics guide illustrates how.

The Aga has excellent green credentials too. You won’t see one on a landfill site because all Aga’s cast iron cookers are 90% recyclable. In fact a whopping 70% of every new Aga is made of reclaimed iron, that was once something like a drain cover or an iron lamp post. Waste not, want not!

You probably already know that Agas come with a choice of fuel options. That’s because, with most fuels rising in price and increasing in scarcity, it makes sense to be able to choose the fuel that suits your location, lifestyle and pocket best. You may find propane, kerosene heating oil, natural gas or electricity is your best bet. But Aga is also focusing hard on developing innovative micro-generated electricity by bringing new wind power, solar energy and heat pump technologies into play.

The Complete Book of Aga Know-how (Aga and Range Cookbooks)

The Complete Book of Aga Know-how

In the wider community, Aga is the proud sponsor of the Aga Total Control Lady Riders’ championship, creating a strong and popular presence at point-to-point meetings right across Britain.

In a world where throw-away goods and products are still far too prevalent to be sustainable, an Aga quite literally lasts a lifetime, at least three times as long as a conventional appliance. Many thousands of beautiful old Aga range cookers are working away, quietly and efficiently, after fifty or more years of loyal service. And a surprising number of people, when moving house, take their beloved Aga with them.

There’s an impressive array of touching stories about the Aga to be found online, everything from people whose pet goat sleeps next to the Aga in winter to folk whose Aga helps keep pain at bay with its lovely, gentle warmth and people whose range cooker provides a great place for happy cats to doze.

The Aga sits at the heart of many a home as well as helping care for the environment, cutting waste and bringing joy to thousands of keen amateur chefs. You can’t go far wrong with an Aga!

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Posted by Eco Warrior - September 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

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Rainforest Destruction – the Problem and the Solution

The Congo and Amazon Basins make up the largest area of rainforest on this planet, home to approximately 60 million people, including several million indigenous peoples (IPs) who are dependent upon the forest for their livelihoods.

In some areas, the very existence of rainforest is evidence that forest communities are not only effective forest managers, but have skills and familiarity with environmental protection that others could learn from. However, such skills and knowledge are frequently not recognised and these peoples are often wrongly accused of being responsible for forest degradation. Industrial logging, agricultural clearances, oil and gas exploration, government policies and even nature conservation efforts are evicting the very people from the forest who have been its custodians for centuries, displacing and marginalizing forest dwelling communities.

Lacking official identity papers, forest peoples are often not recognised as citizens. Without this recognition it is hard for them to even claim the most basic rights. Most indigenous and other forest communities lack secure rights to the lands they have inhabited and protected for hundreds, even thousands of years. Where they do have rights on paper, they’re rarely implemented in practice, meaning that crucial rights of communities to own lands are not recognised at all.

Consequently, decisions about the forest are often taken without any thought on existing rights, and communities are marginalized and excluded, frequently losing land, homes and livelihoods in the process. Many suffer genocide, land theft, high mortality rates and human rights abuse; and have been pushed out of their rainforest homes and now live on the side of roads.

It has been well documented that forest communities’ knowledge and practices of managing their environment and natural resources are among the most effective means of forest protection. But, without effective and secure management arrangements that allow for this to take place, and without the empowerment and education of forest communities themselves, forest protection cannot be achieved in a sustainable manner.

The solution

The Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK) actively works to reduce the rate of rainforest destruction and disenfranchisement of indigenous and forest communities, primarily in Central Africa’s Congo Basin, and South America’s Amazon region. RFUK is one of the few organisations linking human rights and the environment. We support forest peoples in exercising their rights which contributes to reducing rainforest destruction.

The Vanishing Rainforest

The Vanishing Rainforest

The role of rights in forest management is crucial. Many forest conservation or extraction projects are planned and managed by the state or other external institutions; the final decisions are rarely within reach of communities. These processes often ignore a crucial point: forest people are dependent upon and have rights to the forests in a way that other actors do not.  Forest-dependent peoples’ rights as decision-makers must be recognised.

Instead of purchasing land or conserving forests purely for their biodiversity-value, RFUK works to promote respect for community rights and use of those rights, tackling the root of problems related to deforestation.

RFUK takes on the challenges of forest communities’ lack of management of lands and resources through assisting forest peoples to map and demarcate their lands and resources, and to make use of this information as a basis for advocating for their rights. This work is developed based on participatory processes to ensure that communities are adequately informed to decide what they need and how they want the information to be used.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 27, 2014 at 7:27 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

Adopting energy saving measures in the home

Today, most households are keen to adopt energy saving measures in the home to tackle soaring energy bills and help the environment at the same time. One of the easiest and quickest ways to incorporate energy saving measures at home and in the workplace is with low energy lighting. The cost of lighting can contribute as much as 8% towards a home’s electricity bill, yet a simple step such as replacing a traditional tungsten bulb with a fluorescent bulb can save around £3 a year, amounting to £35 over the lifespan of the bulb. Similarly, replacing a 50W halogen bulb with a 6W LED bulb can save £4 per year, or £70 over the lifetime of the bulb. Multiply this by all the bulbs in the home and the savings really start to mount.

Low Energy Lighting

Low energy bulb technology has made some great advances to enable you to give your home the effect you want with different types of lighting, whether it is a homely cosy atmosphere or bright light for close up work in the study or kitchen. Many people complain about how slow some energy saving bulbs are to light up to full brightness and when they do, they say they are still much dimmer than a traditional tungsten bulb. Compact fluorescents do take a little longer to light up because there is a coating inside that takes time to begin fluorescing to full brightness. Developments have led to some improvement in this time delay and it is sure to improve further in the future. The other most common low energy lighting on the market is the LED, which replaces halogen down lighters. They are a little more expensive but the energy savings are greater in the long term. If you do prefer your halogen bulbs, you should look for ones that come recommended by the Energy Saving Trust as these use 30% less electricity than the equivalent standard halogen bulb.

The Eco-Design Handbook: A Complete Sourcebook for the Home and Office

The Eco-Design Handbook: A Complete Sourcebook for the Home and Office

Low energy lighting wattage equivalents are vastly different from what we are used to with 40, 60 and 100 watt tungsten bulbs. Wattage is not an indicator of brightness but lets you know that the higher the wattage, the more light it produces and therefore it consumes more energy. It is not, however, a precise indicator of how bright a bulb will be. As a rough guide, the commonly used 60W tungsten bulb will require an 11 or 12 W energy saving bulb and a 100 W standard bulb is equivalent to an 18 or 20W energy saving bulb. This is where manufacturers of low energy bulbs have been misleading in the past, stating that their bulbs were the equivalent brightness to a 100W tungsten bulb and the consumer is disappointed when they try them out at home to discover they are no where near the same brightness.

Fortunately for the consumer, choosing an energy saving bulb should be made much easier as all manufactures must now state a bulbs output in lumens, a unit of measure that can more accurately indicate a bulb’s light output. For example, the 100W equivalent in lumens is approximately 1200 lumens, a 60W is 700 lumens.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - August 17, 2014 at 10:05 am

Categories: Energy   Tags:

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