World Car Free Day 2017

This Friday (22 September) is World Car Free Day, a day where many cities across the world encourage people to not use the cars for a full day, swapping them for greener alternatives like walking or cycling.

World Car Free Day in Kuala Lumpar. Image Source: thesundaily.my

Last year (September 2016) Paris joined the list of cities involved in World Car Free Day, alongside Jakarta, Brussels, Kuala Lumpar, Copenhagen and Bogota, who totally ban cars from certain roads in their city centres. This allows them to see what their cities could be like without cars, and with significantly less pollution.

Following the recent announcement of banning the manufacture of petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK from 2040, perhaps days like World Car Free Day will be introduced to London, something that was hinted at by Mayor Sadiq Khan according to an article in the Guardian a year ago.

A poll by YouGov in 2016 showed that 63% of Londoners were supportive of motor vehicles being banned from the central third of the city, and 58% were supportive of having a ban every month! Sadly, London has yet to get involved, but smaller areas across the UK are having their own World Car Free Day, including Shoreditch, London and Cardiff, Wales.

Is your local area taking part in World Car Free Day? How will you be getting around?

Easy ways to cut the cost of your transport

Drive more efficiently


Next time you get in the car, think about the way you drive. Do you accelerate hard after stopping, or do you gradually increase your speed? Do you brake late when approaching congestion and red traffic lights, even though you’ve seen it coming from far away? Do you check your tyre pressure regularly or only inflate when they’re noticeably low? Do you have your car regularly serviced or do you just do the bare minimum legal requirement?
Driving efficiently could save you money. If your car has the functionality, change the settings so you can monitor your miles per gallon (mpg) so you can get an idea of how efficient your driving is.
The MPG of a car varies depending on several factors, but you can increase the MPG by driving more smoothly (slowing down by allowing the car to come to a stop rather than braking – if safe to do so), accelerating slowly, and regularly servicing your car so that it’s always running in good condition.
For cheaper fuel, use websites like petrolprices.com so you know which is the cheapest garage in a certain area, and remember that motorway service stations tend to charge more than local ones. Filling up in the town near you might be significantly cheaper than pulling into a services (if you can wait!)

Split Ticketing


Use split ticketing apps for your train journeys to find the cheapest way to get to your destination. Split ticketing works on the concept that many journeys are actually cheaper by buying separate tickets for parts of the same journey, rather than buying one ticket for the whole journey. For example, sometimes it may be cheaper to buy a single from London Euston to Milton Keynes and a single from Milton Keynes to Birmingham rather than a ticket from London Euston to Birmingham. There are a few apps and websites like Ticket Clever and Train Pro that can automatically work out the cheapest ticket combinations without affecting your journey. Give it a go next time and see how much you can save.

Use cashback/reward sites


If you do end up paying more money than you’d like for your transport, you might as well be rewarded for it somehow. There are several credit cards that reward spending, like the British Airways AMEX card or the Virgin Atlantic White card. There are also cashback websites that give cashback when booking through companies including National Express and Virgin Trains like TopCashBack and QuidCo to make your purchases work harder.
Supermarket loyalty schemes Nectar and Clubcard also allow you to swap your points for non-supermarket related benefits, like giving you money off train or coach tickets.

Good luck and happy travelling!

Food and plastic don’t have to go together

Plastic is a hot topic at the moment. One of the ways to cut down on plastic use is by minimising how much plastic you use when it comes to food. Do you order a lot of takeaways/deliveries with lots of plastic tubs? Do you take restaurant leftovers home in plastic? There are some simple ways to keep enjoying your food without increasing the amount of plastic that’s contributing to the mountain of tupperware and ‘bag for life’s stacked up in your kitchen.

Eco your containers

Image source: elephantbox.co.uk

There are companies popping up everywhere now that are focussed on cutting down our use of plastic. Elephant Box is a company that makes metal lunchboxes and related products, so you can take your lunch to work without using plastic in a container that’ll last longer and is easy to clean and chuck into a bag. Putting your sandwich in there means you won’t need to keep replacing your less durable, plastic lunchboxes.
Plastic water bottles are a menace to the ocean, and are also said to be a bacteria-fest if reused too many times, too! To avoid getting in situations where we’re thirsty when we’re out and about and have no choice but to buy one, it’s worth carrying around a metal or glass water bottle that you can take with you everywhere and can be used safely time and time again.

Take a leftovers box with you

Image Source: packagingenvironmental.co.uk

If you often end up unable to eat your entire meal in a restaurant, consider taking your own container in case you need to take some leftovers home. Otherwise you might end up with yet another plastic container to add to your already large stash. If you’ve got a few to spare, take one with you and ask the serving staff to put it in your own container. A bonus is that you’ve already got your lunch packed for the next day!

The UK Government’s 2040 Ban

The Government announced last week that no petrol or diesel cars will be made from the year 2040, as part of the £3bn clean air strategy. This is part of a longer term goal for almost every car on the road will be zero emission by 2050.

At the moment, many cities in the UK are constantly breaching the legal limit of nitrogen dioxide levels (which is 40 micrograms per cubic metre), with air pollution believed to be the cause of premature deaths totalling around 40,000 every year.

Unfortunately there are no plans to introduce scrappage schemes to eliminate current diesel cars on the road at this stage, which has come as a bit of a blow to diesel drivers.

Hopefully in the near future electric cars will be more affordable than they are now, and that there will be more of a suitable infrastructure in place to allow drivers to charge up during long distance journeys. There have already been significant upgrades to the possible distances that current electric cars can travel (The Tesla Model X can reach up to 295 miles on one charge!*). Although, even the most enthusiastic about electric vehicles may struggle to afford the high price tags of the vehicles currently on offer.

Image source:autoexpress.co.uk

What do you think of the 2040 cut off point?
*https://www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/electric-vehicles-with-the-longest-driving-range.html/?a=viewall

 

Cutting Down our Environmental Impact

With new stories like the one last week reporting the huge piece of Antarctica called A-68 breaking off, it’s difficult to see how reusing our ‘bag for life’ at Tesco is really going to make any difference in minimising humanity’s impact on the environment. But don’t give up! Scandinavian countries are leading the way in reducing their nations’ carbon footprints, and we hope it’s only a matter of time before countries closer to home toughen up on their promises to the environment. Before that happens, there are quite a few things we can do to minimise our impact on Earth, and we’ve listed a few here to get you started.

Recycling

Image Source: kidactivitiesblog.com

Buy second hand – More often than not, a new version of something isn’t necessary, and will cost you more. Consider whether a brand new sofa is really worth it, and check local sites like Gumtree for any second hand ones up for sale. You’ll bag something with a bit of history and will almost certainly save money too.
Mend, don’t throw – If something is particularly cheap it can be tempting to throw it away if it’s no longer looking its best, but try where you can to reinvent rather than send it to landfill. You might even learn a useful new skill like sewing.

Try a different commute

Image Source: bbc.co.uk

Try and ditch the car – If you automatically jump in the car whenever you need to go anywhere, having a think about different options every now and then could bank balance. In an ideal world we’d cycle and walk everywhere, but in reality we know that’s not always feasible. Next time you’ve got a long journey, consider getting the train or a coach. You’ll have more time to admire the views, catch up on reading, or do some work on the go.
Find a carshare – If you have colleagues that live near you, try approaching them and seeing if you can alternate driving during the week. There are also lots of websites for carsharing for long one-off journeys, like Liftshare or BlaBla Car – if you’re driving a long way with a car full of spare seats, consider offering them out.

Shopping

Image Source: totalmerchandise.co.uk

Buy higher quality that’ll last longer – Cheap fleeting fashions come and go and are a false economy. Spend a little more on the things you use all the time and wardrobe staples that will always be needed like vests, jackets and jumpers.
Considering hiring, not buying – If you’ve got a big event coming up, websites like hirethecatwalk.com allow you to hire designer outfits for a while which saves you splashing out on something new you’ll only wear a couple of times.
Take a bag – Carrying a fold up bag when you’re out and about avoids adding to your existing plastic bag collection when an unexpected purchase is made.

We hope you try out a few green ideas and let us know if you think of any new ones too!

UK Summer staycation ideas if you’re on a budget

If going abroad is too costly to do this year, don’t worry. Staycations are getting more and more popular, and gives you the opportunity to see your home in all it’s glory during the summer. You won’t need to recover from your holiday, and you can do all the things near home that you never get round to doing. Whether you’ve got one day off or one month, there are lots of things you can do on a budget in the UK for you or the whole family.

 

Visit friends and family

We all have people we say we’ll visit or we’ll invite round one day. Staying in the UK for your holidays means you can keep your promises and know that you can spend quality time with loved ones without needing to rush back for work.

 

Take advantage of local events

There’ll be so many events going on near you that you’d not known about. Look at local websites and see what’s going on near you. By not going abroad, you should have more spare cash to splash out a little more on things nearer home to make it that bit more special.

 

Do some work on the house

Do you always say you’re going to fix that hob or paint the living room? If you’ve got Make sure you plan things in advance though to avoid leaving it half-done when you go back to work!

 

Have people round

Why not host a summer BBQ and invite loved ones or neighbours over? If you’re on a budget, try inviting guests to bring one dish for everyone to share. You’ll have great fun swapping recipes and will get to try a good variety of dishes.

 

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Should you get a Dash Cam?

 

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk

If you’re involved in an accident, and there are no witnesses (perhaps in a rural environment) it’s your word against theirs. A frustrating situation if you’re genuinely in the right. Dash cams could ensure that the correct person is held accountable for their role in an accident, and help insurance companies get a clearer picture of the incident.

We typically see dash cams being used for recording what’s in front of us, and it’s obvious that this type of footage would be helpful to consult in the event of a road accident, whether you’re involved in it or not. BUT there are a variety of extra functions that could come with a dash cam, so think about what you’d like yours to be able to do:

Functions:

– GPS tracking – this can vary from plotting entire journeys to recording the location of the accident only.

– Multiple cameras – you might want more than just a view of the road ahead. There are also options with an additional rear windscreen camera, or an internal camera (good for monitoring new/learner drivers).

– Sensors – you might want yours to be constantly measuring your speed, or the level of acceleration. Others detect g-force levels to accurately detect when a collision has happened, and therefore determine the collision’s seriousness.

– Parked car cameras – if you’re worried about your car being vandalised or broken into while it’s parked, a camera that works with the engine turned off might be something you’d like to consider.

– Audio recording – if a verbal dispute breaks out at the scene of an incident, you might feel better in the knowledge that you have the heated discussion on record.

You don’t necessarily need to buy one

Think about what you’re looking for in your dash cam. You may want to consider using an app on your smartphone instead, some of which can do one or more of the more premium features listed above. If you’ve already got a cradle for using navigation while driving, you’re already most of the way there – many of these apps run in the background, and allow other apps (including navigation) to be running at the same time. Some will have adverts (which won’t affect the recording), and others can connect to your car’s computer via bluetooth to share information.

Have a think about whether you could benefit from a dash cam. You could even try out a free app if you’d like to give it a go without paying out any money upfront. Get experimenting!

Websites for buying second-hand homeware

If you’re looking to save some money, or are looking for something with a little history, giving a second life to somebody else’s unwanted items is not only a great way to recycle, you might even find something a little bit different, that gives more character to your home.

Here are some useful websites for buying second hand household items that you might not have known about:

 

Furniture recycling shop

This shop in Buckinghamshire buys furniture (if you live within 20 miles, they’ll also come and collect it for you), upcycles it, and resells online and instore. They have a huge variety of vintage and hand-painted furniture so if you want something unique or with a story to tell, this is the perfect place.

 

Secondhand-catering-equipment.co.uk

This is actually a site for more commercial catering products, but some of the items could definitely be used in a domestic kitchen, including crockery or knife sets,  microwaves and mixers. It’s certainly worth a look, and you never know, you might find your perfect coffee machine!

 

Community websites: preloved.co.uk, gumtree

There are many sites now where you can buy or sell items. Sites like this have all sorts of things for sale, from houses to pets, and all for much cheaper than buying new. Many of the sites can be set to your local area, so you can narrow your search and avoid having to travel too far to collect your items.

 

 

 

 

Oxfam

This is more for smaller items, but if you would like unique decorations for your home, this is an excellent place to look. There are ornaments, curtains and artwork to add a touch of something extra to your home.

 

Next time you’re thinking of buying something new for your home, why not try one of these websites and see what you could find. Whether it’s a sofa, a microwave or a painting, you can buy it second hand to save some money and do your bit to recycle other’s unwanted items. Happy shopping!

Summer days out for car lovers

If you’re struggling with ideas for what to do for your car-loving friend or partner this summer, here are some ideas for activities or gifts that’ll give you and them a fun day out.

Go to a car festival

There are loads of car festivals out there that enthusiasts will love. The name the big ones, Goodwood Festival of Speed runs from 29 June to 2 July, CarFest (north) from 28-30 July and CarFest (South) from 25-27 August.

Image source: carmagazine.co.uk

Try a supercar/rally driving experience

A popular gift for car lovers and one that they won’t forget! Prices vary depending on the time spent in the car, so do some research before making your purchase. Many companies will specify the type of car that’ll be driven so make sure it’s one that they’d like to drive – they might even be able to drive their favourite car!

Image Source: buyagift.co.uk

Visit car museums

There are museums up and down the UK dedicated to cars, and many have regular events. Brooklands museum in Surrey is a great example, which hosts regular events including Auto Italia, Double Twelve Motorsport Festival and Motorcycle Day. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Image Source: brooklandsmuseum.com

 

Go Karting

If you can get a group together, you can book a go karting day where it’ll be just your group on the course. If you’d rather go alone, many companies let individual drivers do laps of the course against the clock and you can take home a print-out of your lap times.

Image Source: explorebuxton.co.uk

Have fun!

 

 

Eco Father’s Day Gifts for an Earth-loving Dad

When you’ve got a dad that’s difficult to buy for, you might feel that you’re buying father’s day gifts year after year that are ending up in the bin, or put in a drawer indefinitely. For those wanting to give their dad something a little different, that’ll last long after father’s day has been and gone, below are some ideas that’ll not only last the distance, but will also appeal to your environmentally-conscious dad.

 

1. Refillable drinks cup

A must-have for every commuter, or anyone that’s always out of the house. A refillable cup/flask can keep hot or cold drinks for a long time, and is much more environmentally-friendly than having to wastefully throw away a paper/plastic cup every time your dad visits his favourite coffee shop. Many coffee shops have also recently started offering discounts to those that bring their own reusable cup, so it’ll end up paying for itself in no time.

Image Source: uk.keepcup.com

 

2. Grow-your-own veg kit

For the dad that’s always in the kitchen, why not get him started on growing his own veg or herb garden? Many companies now offer home-growing starter kits, and there is a lot of information online to get him started. The RHS have a list of veg perfect for beginners, so he can get started on low maintenance produce first.

Image Source: howtoculinaryherbgarden.com

 

3. Recycled material wallet/clothes

There are so many recycled products you can buy to give materials a second life. This wallet from Etsy is made of used bicycle inner tubes and tarpaulin, perfect for those that hate waste and like their accessories with a bit of reincarnation.

Image Source: etsy.com

 

4.Elephant bike

For a present with a story, the elephant bike is a fully-refurbished ex-Royal Mail bicycle, which posties used on their routes up until a few years ago.

For £250, you get a low-maintenance recycled bike in a choice of three different shades of green, and a bike is sent to be refurbished and sold in Malawi, where it could bring a host of new income opportunities for a local family.

Image source: elephantbike.co.uk

5. Sponsor an animal

You can sponsor virtually any animal online or at most zoos and animal shelters, from an aardvark to a zebra. Bonus points for adopting one near him – that way he can go and visit his adoptee regularly! There are some places where adopting an animal can give you a discount off an animal experience too, such as a llama trek https://goo.gl/eldfYV

Image Source: support.wwf.org.uk

 

6. National Trust Membership

For the dad that loves castles, gardens and wildlife; for £64.80 a year, he could really get his fill of them. A National trust membership will allow him access to hundreds of locations across the UK with a gift he can use again and again. 

Image Source: nationaltrust.org.uk

Happy Father’s Day!