What is the Circular Economy?

In a circular economy, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, maximising their lifespan (and therefore their value) before the materials are eventually reused and recycled. Unlike the traditional linear economic model in which raw materials are mined, processed to develop a product and then disposed of, a circular economy has several essential benefits such as reducing waste, preserving resources and driving a more sustainable production process. The short-term consumption associated with the linear model contributes to an unsustainable society where materials are used for one purpose and waste is an inevitability. On the other hand, the cyclical nature of the circular economy allows for longer-term growth and maximisation of value by using resources more efficiently.

In 2019, the European Commission adopted a report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, a 54-action package aimed at helping the EU transition to a circular economy. This includes measures such as improved labelling on electrical appliances, encouraging remanufacturing of waste products and economic incentives for innovative product design that enables better recycling opportunities.

Other services such as WRAP are aiming to support organisations in their efforts to improve resource efficiency by providing advice and tools to help businesses make necessary changes.

No-fly holidays in 2020? Staycations in the UK, there’s a lot on offer

There’s no question that Brits love a holiday, with data from the international trade body for aviation reporting that British passengers made up 1 in 12 of all international travellers in 2018. While many of us are seeking the warmer climates of Caribbean shores or the bustle and buzz of a European city break, staycations are proving to be just as popular. As awareness grows over the impact of air travel on the environment, the choice to holiday at home seems set to increase.

Hazardous holidays – the rise of Flugscham & Flygskam (flight shame) 

 As one of the fastest-growing causes of pollution, aviation is responsible for up to 75% of the tourism industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. Making up 2% of all emissions globally; however, in the UK this figure rises to 7% of the country’s emissions – indicating a need for change in our holiday habits. A roundtrip flight from London to Berlin generates around 290kg of CO2 per passenger – more than the average person in Somalia emits in an entire year. It’s no wonder frequent flyers are starting to feel Flugscham (what the Germans call “fly shame”) or Flygskam if you’re Swedish. 

The staycation nation – no-fly holidays the greener choice 

While more people are vowing to give up flying altogether, even taking just one flightless each year could significantly reduce your carbon footprint. That said, limiting your Airmiles doesn’t have to stop you from getting some much-needed R&R. More Britons are favouring breaks at home as an impressive 3 in 5 of us opt for summer breaks on our doorstep over trips abroad.

The ease of hopping from city to sea to countryside escape all within a short drive offers a variety that’s hard to find elsewhere. With 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, over 7,000km of walking trails and some of the best beaches in the world, it’s no surprise our passports are gathering dust.

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fantastic destinations within a stone’s throw of our front door. So we’ve run through some of our favourite staycation spots in the UK to help you make the most of your no-fly holiday.

There is an abundance of accommodation, beaches and scenery in the West Country 

You don’t need to travel across the globe in search of relaxing beach getaways. Visit Dorset’s Durdle Door for an escape to one of Europe’s best beaches, tucked under the impressive cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seaside charm meets golden sands and turquoise waters in Cornwall where the cheerily coloured buildings light up the seafront in Kingsand. Or, head further along the coast to Kynance Cove whose white sands and lush rocky landscape give Greece’s coastlines a run for their money. For year-round water sports and the UK’s best surfing, head to Devon. Woolacombe and Croyde see some of the biggest waves, though there are beaches to suit all levels of expertise – why not try something new?

Family-friendly holidays in the North of England

Britain is known for its lush green countryside – and there’s no better place to explore the beauty and variety of England’s rural landscape than Cumbria. Home to the Lake District National Park where sparkling lakes and rolling hillsides have inspired literary greats since the 19th century. Here you can experience some of the best scenic walking trails in the UK. Stay near North Yorkshire’s Yorkshire Dales to enjoy picturesque vistas and engaging experiences, such as family-friendly Forbidden Corner or the dramatic formations of Brimham Rocks. In South Yorkshire, a cottage stay around any of the chocolate-box villages puts you in the proximity of the historic industrial city of Sheffield as well as the beautiful moors and dales of the Peak District – all within an hour’s reach.

Holiday in Scotland – breath-taking natural beauty

From Dumfries to Dundee and Aberdeen to John o’ Groats, Scotland is bursting with breath-taking natural beauty and plenty of lively burghs. Home to Britain’s oldest ski centre. Glencoe has a variety of runs to suit all abilities, though more seasoned pros will be eager to tackle Fly Paper – the steepest black run in Britain. Stay in nearby Argyll, only an hour’s drive to the resort, and warm up in a cosy log cabin set within the tranquil highlands of Loch Lomond. Venture north to the archipelago of Orkney and unravel the mysteries of its great historical sites, such as the towering prehistoric stones of the Ring of Brodgar and the Stone Age ruins of Skara Brae whose history dates back even further than the Pyramids.

Wonderful Wales

What could be better than a cosy staycation in Wales? With three National Parks – the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia, to choose from and miles of genuinely stunning Heritage Coast a weekend Wales won’t be long enough. It has so much to offer. For the thrill-seekers, there are some fantastic zip-wire experiences – such as in Penrhyn Quarry, North Wales. And who doesn’t want to say they’ve climbed Snowdon? There are opportunities for coasteering, canoeing and horse-riding. Or for something more sedate plenty of castles to visit and fabulous walks to take.  

Explore more of what Britain has to offer with a staycation at one of over 54,600-holiday cottages, log cabins and apartments across the country. Find the stay that works for you.

‘Slow furniture’ – long live ‘shabby chic’

Since my student days of ‘skip raiding’ I have always favoured second-hand, pre-loved furniture over new stuff. Apart from a few beds and a sofa 30 years ago, most of our furniture, and some of our curtains, have been acquired gradually from charity or second-hand shops, given by family, or bought at local auctions. We’ve got an old school art cupboard still smelling of pencils and a dressing table with drawers lined with 1950’s wallpaper. I like that these pieces have ‘lived’ in other places.

Why buy second-hand furniture?

Buying second-hand also avoids the ‘off-gassing’ (VOCs) of new furniture. Utilising natural materials rather than the flat-packed chipboard option. The furniture is better made: more joints and fewer screws! There is pride in the work and craftsmanship. That well-worn phrase of William Morris “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” is part of the appeal. You have theability to create different looks; bespoke looks without bespoke prices! Okay it takes more time, but that becomes part of the fun.

Buying at auction is a lot easier now that you can bid on-line and e-bay has helped revolutionise the second-hand market – whether it’s cars, clothes or cupboards! Sites such as Freecycle link those wanting ‘stuff’ with those looking for it! Auction sites such as Easyliveauction and saleroom websites make finding second-hand gems at local auctions a breeze. All helping re-use items, which in-turn reduces the demand on resources and lessens the amount ending up in landfill or worse still ‘fly-tipped’.

Help charities raise money and help the enviroment

Local furniture recycling projects are great for feeding into the circular economy – often offering training and employment opportunities. Upcycling is fun. Charities such as the British Heart Foundation, the YMCA, and Oxfam have separate shops to sell furniture and electricals. Although a word of caution here – second-hand appliances may not always be as efficient as they could be, so could end up costing more in running costs. Old fridges and freezers, because they are on all the time, can be problematic.

Slow food, Slow fashion… perhaps we need a new movement supporting Slow furniture!

Interior design obviously goes in trends and glossy magazines and social media sites such as pinterest seek to persuade us to get the current look; Stripped pine, minimalist, post war utility, scandi, urban chic, ‘shabby chic’, Bo-Ho, opulent, funky, 50’s, 70’s … we are sold an image – and it’s obviously a growth area as fashion retailers such as H&M and Zara have moved into the homeware market. So just like ‘slow food’ and ‘slow fashion’ perhaps we need a new movement supporting ‘slow furniture’! Who knows what the next trend will be – maybe dark brown antique furniture will come back, or it will be painted white as they did in the seventies, as they say “What goes around comes around”!

Counting the cost of clothing – Slow fashion to save the planet – Green Choice’s tips

Waking up to the news that we all need to wake up to the urgency of climate change was unpleasant but not surprising. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C. It urges rapid action, yet we all twitter whilst the planet burns!

We know that there are many factors contributing to climate change and the report calls for significant action in the four big areas – energy, land use, cities and industry. So is fashion that much of a problem? Well, yes. In the same way as choosing what to eat ultimately determines land-use – what we wear has an impact too. My first thought when seeing a glossy mag full of models wearing the latest trend of oversized jumpers and coats, was “what an unnecessary waste of materials!” And the disgraceful practice of burning of clothes and products by Burberry and the like to protect their ‘brand integrity’ is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg of environmental impact.

The concept of ‘slow fashion’ takes its inspiration from the ‘slow food movement’ – the antidote to ‘fast food’. ‘Slow fashion’ attempts to make us consider the impact of fashion on the environment and the people employed in the industry. It’s staggering to learn that Fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry! So what can we, as individuals, do about it? Here are some tips to reduce the impact our clothing has on the environment.

Buy less and buy better quality

I find it staggering that you can buy a T-shirt for the same price as a sandwich! It is tempting to buy more than you need and to easily chuck them away when they disintegrate after a few washes. Go for fewer, better-made items that will stand the test of time, but remember that just because something costs more doesn’t mean that it is made ethically or will last longer. Look at the label, and check out it’s credentials using the app ‘Good on you’.

Buy second hand

Pre-loved, vintage, charity shop or jumble sale – even e-bay – shopping can still be fun, just in a different way. Create your own style and work out what suits you. Did ra ra skirts suit anyone?

Keep classics

Keep any classics in your wardrobe, but give anything not needed to charity shops but be aware that a lot of items can end up in landfill or shipped out to developing countries for them to dispose of.

Natural or man-made?

Both have environmental issues. Cotton production uses a staggering amount of water and pesticides, according to WWF cotton accounts for 11% of worldwide pesticide sales and 24% of global insecticide sales. Polyester has another problem in that it sheds microfibers when washed which enter our water systems – so it goes on polluting. Dyeing fabric has implications for workers and for the environment. Organic natural cotton is better but it still requires a lot of water for its production.

Make do and mend

Instead of throwing damaged clothes away, check if you can repair them. Or look out for brands such as Nudie Jeans who offer a lifetime guarantee and repair service.

And finally don’t buy – ask yourself do I really need it? Can I make do with what I have?

What’s really happening to our planet? New book by Tony Juniper

whats-really-going-on-book“What’s in the package?” my teenage daughter shouted excitedly as I opened the envelope containing a copy of Tony Juniper’s ‘What’s Really Happening to our Planet?’ book. And as she feigned interest before returning to the computer to play Sims with her friends I was struck by the irony that Dorling & Kindersley had published this book. Back in the 90’s DK’s educational CD-Roms – known as DK Multimedia, had fascinated and excited my older children. They could get information, on such topics as the human body, without needing to read too much and what’s more they could interact with it! So nearly 20 years on a book, even one with lots of interesting infographics, has to work hard to capture a young audience.

That said, pulling together the complexities of the issues that affect our planet is no mean feat. There are some alarming facts in the book, such as ‘Energy use up five-fold since the 1950’s’; not surprising given our growing population. And in DK style the information is presented crisp and clearly, with bright charts and colourful graphics to communicate the woeful state of our planet.

As well as the changing climate, the rising sea levels and resource depletion, the author covers the problems of world debt and wide spread corruption as well as the rise of consumerism and challenges of the waste we produce.

It’s a great resource to dip and out of for snapshots of the threats posed to our planet. I can see it being useful in schools and colleges.  What’s good about having a good old fashioned book  is that you can flick through and find things without being led by specific Internet searches. Perhaps that’s why sales of books are on the rise.  However, I hope that it will be available in app format too.

whats-really-going-on-book-

It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by all the fact and figures and to feel powerless to change anything. Some sections of the book do include what individuals and society can do, but I had to look hard to find them. There are simple things such as eating less meat, using energy efficiently; recycling and using greener forms of transport that could help reduce the impact on our planet. But the really big dilemmas such as population expansion, the impact and needs of the developing world and squaring economic growth whilst sustaining a healthy planet, require more than us making green choices.

Perhaps persuading the games developers Maxis that Sims 5 should be ‘Sims Save the Planet’ could help influence the decision makers of the future. If we don’t look after it, mankind and the planet will die.

What are microbeads – is a ban on the way?

What’s the issue with microbeads?

It might only be a small success of President Obama’s reign, but on his checklist of achievements he can include getting microbeads banned from ‘rinse off ‘ cosmetic products. So if the U.S. can do it why can’t we? Well, a UK ban might well be on the way – even if it doesn’t include all our European partners, as the Environment Minister Rory Stewart recently told the Commons “If we cannot get a common position out of the European Union, we are open to the possibility of the UK acting unilaterally.” This will please campaigners such as the Marine Conservation Society who have been urging governments to act, following many years of evidence gathering by themselves and others on the harm caused by microbeads.

What’s the issue with microbeads?

Microbeads – sound a bit cute, they are anything but – they are small bits of plastic added to face washes, body scrubs, toothpaste and the like to help buff and exfoliate our bodies. The problem is that once they are washed down our drains they can’t be filtered out and end up in our seas, rivers and lakes, absorbing toxic pollutants as they go. Looking yummy to fish, they then enter the food chain and potentially we eat plastic! Excellently explained by this video by the Story of Stuff Project.

How can I avoid them?

Check the label – plastics are called many things, and listed in very small print, so if you can read it it’s best to avoid anything listing Polyethylene / Polythene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), – Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), – Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or Nylon. Alternatively, a handy app has been created see beatthemicrobead.org. You just need to scan the barcode and it tells you if the product contains microbeads. What can I do to help?

What can I do to help?

Vote with your pocket, and choose alternative products that don’t contain plastics, try Fauna & Flora International’s Good Scrub Guide for suggested alternatives and take the Microbeads pledge to stop using them. Greenpeace were successful in their petition calling for David Cameron to ban the use of polluting plastic microbeads in cosmetics. Perhaps the Prime Minister can add it to his ‘Things I’ve achieved list’ like President Obama!

More information on Toiletries & Cosmetics

A big thumbs up for Scotlands all-electric car club

Electric car sharing clubs in towns and cities have got to be the way to go haven’t they? Coupled with good public transport and safe routes for walking and cycling.

So it’s great to see that E-Car Club, in partnership with St Andrews University and Transport Scotland, has launched an all-Renault fleet of eight 100 per cent electric ZOE hatchbacks plus two all-electric Kangoo Van Z.E, it’s first club in Scotland. The aim is to cut congestion and reduce air pollution. The 10 EV fleet will be available to hire around St Andrews, with the 100% electric ZOE hatchbacks and Kangoo Z.E. vans available on hourly or daily basis – great if you don’t own a car for those journeys that simply can’t be done by public transport.

The ZOE is a good looking car so it’s no surprise that E-Car Club chose the ZOE Dynamique and Kangoo Z.E. Maxi after they proved reliable and popular with its members elsewhere in the UK.

Renault UK’s Electric Vehicle Product Manager, Ben Fletcher, said: “This deal confirms Renault’s status as a major player in the EV market. We value the importance of electric car sharing in helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality in our towns and cities.

“Local residents and tourists alike can now take advantage of these schemes knowing they are benefiting the environment around them and saving money at the same time.”

St Andrew’s faces the same challenges as many UK town and cities in addressing congestion and air pollution, the introduction of a totally electric car club is a step in the right direction to help reduce the town’s carbon emissions. It also supports St Andrews’ goal of becoming the UK’s first carbon-neutral university. The scheme hopes to improve local mobility, whilst reducing parking and congestion.

It is important that the scheme is affordable, particularly with a large student population. Hire rates in St Andrews are £4.50 per hour – or £35 per day (24 hours) – for the Renault ZOE, and £6.50 per hour – or £50 per day – for the Kangoo Van Z.E. The price includes power and insurance.

Chris Morris, Managing Director of E-Car Club said: “E-Car is a low cost, flexible and environmentally sustainable transport option which we are confident will prove popular with the local community, university students and tourists alike.”

It’s good news for Renault to as sales of their electric vehicle range, comprising of ZOE, Twizy and Kangoo Van Z.E, rose by 90 per cent in 2014 compared to the previous year.

Climate Change: The science

The so-called greenhouse effect is essentially the trapping of reflected solar energy (infra-red radiation) by ‘greenhouse gases’. We actually need greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, otherwise the average temperature on earth would be about -18°C and so too cold for life. Unfortunately, in the last 200 years or so, human activities like the burning of fossil fuels have pumped huge amounts of extra greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, enhancing the greenhouse effect and so warming up the planet. Continue reading

Wash day blues – Getting the washing dry when it’s raining

getting-washing-dry

I know I’m not alone in loving a dry day when I can hang my washing to dry outside on the line. There is something satisfying in seeing towels and sheets blowing around and not using any energy other than the wind or sun.  It makes me feel happy!  So what happens when it’s pouring with rain, just drizzling or is damp and foggy and nothing will dry?  The options are:

a) get out the clothes airer turn on the heating and load all your radiators with wet washing. – Clothes might dry a bit stiff,  and can create a damp atmosphere and associated health risks particularly for those with asthma or other allergic conditions;

b) Use a ‘Sheila’s maid’ or retractable clothes line in the garage, carport or porch – clothes might get a dry eventually!

c) Load it all into the tumble dryer, if you’ve got one, and worry about the energy costs later. (Check the running costs on Sust-it)

There are other options such as plug-in airers – however these potentially have the same issues as drying clothes on radiators – the moisture has to go somewhere.  A Rotaire Dryline (a rotary washing line with a cover), might offer a good solution if it the weather is initially dry but rain is forecast. You could also bag your washing up and take a trip to the local launderette – remembering to take a bag full of coins to feed the dryer.

Whatever, it’s a dilemma and I can understand the wash day blues, (cue Dolly Parton), and really admire how past generations coped.  Perhaps we should put more emphasis into designing clothes that need washing less or that are quicker to wash and dry.  Never mind Smart TVs – Smart clothing is what we need!

Climate Change Summit

Here we go again – another summit on Climate Change. This follows a day of action yesterday, The People’s Climate March, that saw street protests in London, New York and a staggering 2,000 locations across the world, all demanding urgent action on climate change. Reportedly attracting hundreds of thousands of marchers.

The UN will host a climate summit at its headquarters in New York with 125 heads of state and government to be present. This is the first summit since the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, which was not successful in securing progress on a universal agreement on emissions reductions. Let’s hope this time the science is listened to too.