Tips for drivers as the colder weather approaches

Image Source: consumerreports.org

Consider getting your vehicle serviced

If there’s something wrong with your vehicle already, the cold weather may exacerbate an existing problem. If your MOT is due soon, take a close look at the advisories and think about what effect that colder weather could have on them if left unfixed.

Keep warm clothes in your boot

If you’ll be driving a lot of long-distance journeys in the next few months, you might want to keep a bag in your vehicle with a change of clothes, or an extra jumper or blanket. This will keep you warm if you were to break down as you wait for a recovery vehicle to reach you. This is particularly important if you’ll be driving through rural areas or on days where there may be limited recovery available (eg. Christmas Day).

Consider getting a dash cam

Even if you know you’re a careful driver, there could be a time where you are involved in an accident and there are no witnesses, and it’s your word against theirs. Having recorded footage on a dash cam could help to allocate accountability with confidence. This is something to consider using all year round, but icy or slippery conditions can make accidents more likely and dash cams more likely to be needed.

Check your tyres regularly

Tyres should always be checked regularly, so make sure you keep this up. Tyres without sufficient tread depth will be especially unhelpful in snowy or icy conditions and it’s good tyres that prevent slipping and sliding.

Stay safe this winter!

Watch out for the T-Charge!

Image Source: independent.co.uk

On 23 October, the T- Charge (Toxicity Charge) will be introduced in London for certain vehicles. Any vehicle that doesn’t meet the minimum euro emission standards will need to pay an extra fee of £10 when entering the congestion charge zone in Central London (unless you are a resident, where a discount is available).
The T-charge comes as another way to tackle air pollution in central London, by discouraging those with older and more polluting vehicles adding to the poor air quality that current exists in the capital. The pollution level is currently much higher than it should be, and considered to be a ‘health crisis’ by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, with forty thousand deaths in London per year linked to emissions from traffic and factories.

The T-charge kicks off the move towards London becoming an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which, when has been implemented, will mean the end of the T-Charge.

How can I avoid the charge?
Check your vehicle’s V5C to find out your Euro emission standard and once you know, take a look at the table on the TfL website to see if you’ll be affected. If you’re going into the T-charge/congestion charge zone regularly for work, you may want to consider changing your vehicle (if possible), which may work out cheaper in the long run, or you may want to consider taking a different route that avoids the central area.

If you’re driving into the T-charge zone for leisure, public transport is a much better option (if you can). It’ll work out much cheaper, will lower your emissions and you’re likely to get to your destination(s) much faster.
The T-charge will be in operation on weekdays 7am – 6pm.

Will you be affected by the T-Charge? What changes will you be making to avoid the charge?

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.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin