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!

Top Tips for Festival Travel

Top Tips for Festival Travel

You’ve managed (often by some miracle) to get yourself a ticket to one or more of the big music festivals of the year. But how are you going to get there? Here are some travel tips for whichever method of transport you choose, or if you haven’t decided, might help you make your decision.

Coach/bus

Pros – Direct to the festival entrance, can sleep on the journey, no stress of driving
Cons – Can be a long journey, limited to what you can carry

Image Source: boardmasters.co.uk

Package deals – Coach/bus tickets are often sold in a package deal with your festival ticket, and in some cases, coach + festival tickets are released to the public before standard tickets. Even if the coach might not be your first choice of transport, you may prefer to tactically get a coach+festival ticket as this gives you two chances to get those must-have tickets. Remember though, if you do buy a coach+festival ticket package, you do actually have to travel this way as they often do not give you your festival ticket until you’re on the bus.

Research – If you decide to take a coach/bus later in the day, you will need to find companies yourself. Big companies like National Express or Big Green Coach offer festival-specific services, but others may only go to the nearest town. Make sure you do your research to have a realistic idea.

Hand luggage – You’ll often be on the road for a long time, so make sure you’ve got a smaller bag for journey essentials like your phone, snacks, earphones and anything else you think you’ll need easy access to.

Travel as light as possible – Easier said than done, but if you can minimise your luggage you’ll make your journey a lot easier. If you’ve still got too much, try asking friends in advance that are travelling by car if they can take some of your items, but be prepared, as this may involve multiple treks to the car park!

Train

Pros – Speed, can sleep on the journey, no driving
Cons – Often expensive, rarely gets you the whole way

Image Source: mirror.co.uk

Think about timings – A lot of people will be travelling to the festival this way and your train ticket does not guarantee you a seat. You may want to delay leaving until the crowds have died down. Book the train as early as you can to avoid disappointment and price hikes. Look out for cheaper off-peak times which could save you a nice amount of money.

There will often be more parts to your journey – The nearest train station could be right near the festival, or an unwalkable distance away. There will often be shuttle buses running between the station and the festival entrance, but if not, you may need to fork out for a taxi ride or a local bus. Make sure you know what to expect and if it involves a lot of walking, make sure you pack as lightly as you can.

Car

Pros – Often cheaper, not governed by timetables
Cons – Driving can be stressful, long queues

Image source: express.co.uk

Choose your parking location strategically – If your friends have a camping area in mind, try and drive to the closest car park. This might not always be feasible, but the closest you can get to where you’re actually camping, the lower the stress levels will be when dragging all your stuff back and forth to the car.

Use apps to pinpoint your car’s location – If you’ve got your smartphone with you, pin your car’s location on Google maps. This will help you find it again, whether it’s on the way home, or whether you need to make multiple trips to the car throughout the weekend. This tip is also useful for your tent location and could save you a lot of time wandering around a field of similar looking tents in the early hours of the morning.

Don’t forget parking tickets/prices – Car park tickets/stickers are often sold separately, so make sure you’ve got yours stuck on the windscreen before you arrive. It also acts as a cool souvenir that you can keep in your car until the next festival

Try not to overfill – It’s easy to get carried away by packing everything you *might* need over the weekend. Be realistic about what you and your passengers can carry before stuffing the car full of gazebos, camping chairsand the kitchen sink.

Have a campervan? – Campervans are the ultimate festival swiss army knife as they are your transport, tent, and canteen, all rolled into one. Festivals will likely have a separate campervan ticket price, so make sure you buy the correct one. The only other thing you need to worry about is brushing away the envy from the other festival-goers!

Image source: loveglamping.co.uk

In summary, thinking about your transport options in advance can save you a real headache (and often a lot of money) than arranging it nearer the time.

Happy camping!

Top 5 Ugly Cars on the Road

If you watched the latest episode of Top Gear (Series 24 Episode 7), you will have seen the yacht-inspired SsangYong Rodius, a car that has been subjected to insults about its appearance since it’s launch in 2004, and described by BOAT magazine as the ‘World’s Ugliest Car’.

This inspired us at Shiply to write a list of what we think are the 5 ugliest cars on the road today:

5. In fifth place is the Suzuki Wagon R+. Not only does it look disappointing, reviewers also report its performance outside urban environments as a little ugly too…

Image Source: parkers.co.uk

4. In fourth place is the aggressive-looking Nissan Juke. A small SUV made to rival conventional hatchbacks. We’ll stick to the conventional ones thanks…

Image Source: nissan.co.za

3. In third place is the Smart Roadster. We’d only just got used to the quirky, standard Smart Car, then this came along. It looks more like something out of the Legoland driving school than fit for a real road!

Image Source: parkers.co.uk

2. Our runner up is the first generation Ford KA, which despite its ugliness, sold extremely well following its release in 1996. Thankfully the newer versions are easier on the eye.

 Image Source: johntopley.com

1. In well-deserved first place has got to be the Fiat Multipla. That crease below the windscreen looks like a pimply furrowed brow. The sooner it’s off our roads, the better!

Image Source: cars-data.com

 

Do you agree with our list? Let us know!

 

Should Diesel Vehicles Be Banned In London?

Have you been keeping up to date with the news surrounding London’s air pollution? After just 5 days into 2017, one road in London (Brixton Road in Lambeth) reached its maximum annual allowance for levels of nitrogen dioxide. Yikes! 

This has now sparked major discussions on how we can work towards reducing air pollution in the capital.

One possible solution is to ban all diesel vehicles from the roads in London. This campaign is greatly backed by medical professionals (surgeons, doctors and nurses alike) along with the mayor of London, Sadiq khan.

“Doctors Against Diesel claim 9,400 Londoners per year die prematurely from breathing in toxic fumes from diesel engines.”

Did you know that pollutants such as diesel contribute to health problems such as asthma, heart and lung diseases?

In the news, this week the mayor of London has come out and said: “motorists should be given up to £3,500 for them to scrap their old diesel cars and vans and replace them with cleaner vehicles”.

As it is from October onwards, diesel vehicles that enter the congestion charge zone in central London will pay an additional T-charge of £10 on top of the £11.50 congestion charge.

Image Source: The Jakarta Post

Other cities who are working towards a ban on diesel vehicles include Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens

Is banning diesel vehicles completely the answer to the problem? Or will it create new problems?

Let’s wait and see whether the government acts and puts into place a national diesel scrappage scheme.

Source: BBC