Blog: 2017

Turn small empty bags into lavender bags to thwart the evil moth
By Coco Piras

If moths are the bain of your life because they eat your jumpers and cardigans, and quite possibly your wool carpets and rugs, you need more lavender in your life. And before you complain about the price of lavender bags, there is a much more obvious and cheaper  solution.

Which is to keep any little fabric bags you get when you buy jewellery or make up and to fill them with loose lavender...which is widely available of course - I like the organic lavender offered by Greenfibres in Totnes..

Or make your own lavender bags using spare bits of fabric..just sew two squares together by hand, leaving the top open of course for the lavender, then tie it shut with string. Simply tuck bags into drawers, pockets of cardigans, or hang them on the tops of hangers and munching moths will be thrown off course. A few drops of lavender essential oil on the bags can ramp up the scent which moths find so loathesome -  and also remember to squeeze the bags each week to release the perfume.

Then in a year's time, empty the bags, compost the old lavender and fill with new fresh strong smelling lavender.  The highly fragrant Lavendula X Intermedia is the best for this purpose as the fragrance contains elements of camphor which is what moths object to. A softer fragrance such as Lavandula Angustifolia will be less effective.

250g organic French lavender from Greenfibres cost £15.90
1kg lavender costs £30 at Shropshire Lavender

 
Tags:
Hygiene, eco friendly, eco home
Want a secure job? Then train in a trade

Recent research shows a worrying dearth of young people coming into the trades, as our skilled workforce of plumbers, electricians, builders and carpenters are ageing and will be retiring in the next decade.

So young people, if you don't have that Oxbridge first in maths needed to get into Goldman Sachs and you worry about robots taking over loads of desk jobs, just as they've taken over many of the roles in car factories, the trades still look like a good bet for fairly long term employment. After all, try to imagine robots building the Shard, plumbing it and fitting out its electrics.. Exactly. 

So which trades are the best paid and indeed which countries pay the best? Because if you're a plumber or an electrician, your skills will be welcomed wherever you want to go and live.
 
Electrical Direct have created an infographic that focuses on salaries within the construction industry. In the visual, electricians, plumbers and carpenters are the key focus within five different countries. It also drills into the specifics on which region within each country offers the best pay and what qualifications you'll need.  
 
Electricians in the UK
Here, an electrician can earn a good £30,500 a year, though a newly qualified electrician’s salary usually falls between £19,000 and £22,000. The hourly rate outside London usually comes in at around £25 to £50.

Top five regions with the highest salaries for electricians:

London - £36,028
Bristol - £32,669
Portsmouth - £32,364
Brighton - £32,058
Glasgow - £32,058

Education is important to start a career in this industry. Qualifications you might need:
National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Diploma at Level 3 in Electrotechnical Services.
National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Diploma at Level 3 in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment.
Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installations – if part of an apprenticeship.

Plumbers in the UK
People who progress to a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 3 can around £18,000 pa and after five years expect to be on  £25,000. Those who are self-employed and very experienced tend to earn £30,000 to £40,000 - and more in the big cities.
Education requirements
City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification at Level 2 (England and Wales).
Scottish Vocational Qualification at Level 3 (Scotland).
You can start work as a plumber straight after leaving school if you can find an apprenticeship. These are a good idea as you're being paid as you learn on the job and you'll work for around 30 hours a week over a two-year placement.

Carpenters in the UK
The average salary for carpenters falls between £25,000 - £40,000 — those who work as team leaders/project managers can earn considerably more though. However, those who begin as an apprentice will usually have a starting salary of around £16,000.
Educational requirements:
Level 1 Award in Basic Construction or Wood Operations.
Level 1/2 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Wood Occupations.
Level 1/2 Certificate/Diploma in Construction Crafts.
Level 2 Diploma in Site Carpentry.
 
To find out more about pay around the world, check out the infographic. 
 
 
 
Tags:
Careers, Construction, Development, Jobs, painting and decorating, self build, eco home
Ocean plastic eco pants

If your home is eco you're no doubt zealous about wearing eco-friendly clothes too, non? So organic cotton, organic wool, linen, hemp.. and, er, dare we ask about your underwear?

Natural sustainable yarns are brilliant, but you could also introduce ocean plastic into the mix when it comes to buying pants. Because ocean plastic is being heavily fished and turned into pellets that can be extruded into fibres that make super softy silky fabrics - among them one called Smoothshell.

And you can buy Smoothshell underwear from Nordic fashion brand The Other Danish Guy, whose Ocean Discovery range includes boxer shorts and trunks for the man with an environmental conscience.
 
We like the sound of this - it's a range of underwear that's not only helping to clean up the oceans but is also sending a message to the fashion world to get with it and use high tech recycled yarns in its products.
 
The Other Danish Guy ships to the UK
Tags:
Environment and ecology, Lifestyle, upcycling, eco friendly, eco home
Standing up desks
By Abby Trow

I am at my desk as I write this...but I'm not sitting, I'm standing. After a morning of sitting, my restless legs started driving me bonkers so I've put the desk that sits on my desk into stand up mode and now I'm happily typing away as I stand. So much more comfortable than sitting.

Here at the Deco offices we're all clamouring to work at the Varidesk desk. It's a substantial piece of kit that sits on your desk and looks like a desk. But it's got a lever on each side which you pull forward and the desk rises to standing height. 

It's not often we go mad about a product but this desk is a fabulous thing and a wonderful addition to the office. Because sitting all day is uncomfortable and we now know, unhealthy. With the Varidesk you can be up and down like a yoyo according to how you feel... legs feel tired, pull the levers and lower the desk. Legs feeling restless..pull them again and you can work standing up.

Standing up desks are becoming easier to find and we've tested only the Varidesk. But boy do we like it!
 
Varidesk is based in Texas and its products are manufactured in Southeast Asia. Desks are made from wipeable PVC-coated MDF with metal hinges and the company says the materials are recyclable. They expect with daily use the desk will give decades of use.

My own feeling is they're not kidding when it comes to longevity. It's a really strong product - you can lean on it and there's no sense at all that it could buckle. In fact when it arrived I was here alone and could barely lift it into place.. so if you're a tiny lady, or indeed chap, you may need a strong person on hand to lift it onto your desk for you.

In short...if you find sitting at a desk all day a nightmare because your legs get restless and your bum goes numb and by midday you just want to run out of the office screaming, then get a stand-up desk. Thumbs up, smiley face... it's time to join the stand-up-to-work revolution.

 

Tags:
Furniture, Health, Lifestyle
Street smart: the rise and rise of informal eating
By Coco Piras
Gone, it would seem, are the days of families sitting down together at the dining table every evening to eat dinner. Research suggests we don't do that very much at all - and those of us who do tend to sit down together in front of the telly, plate on our lap.
 
Dinner trends are evolving – and this applies to both eating out as well as in. Overall, there's been a shift away from formal dining to a far more casual dining experience, allowing for the rise of what you could call a street food lifestyle. Homewares retailer Oldrids and Downtown has been taking a closer look at what's happening on the dining scene. 

Formal v casual dining: the waiting's over
Restaurant dining has traditionally been fairly formal - a restaurant has almost always referred to an establishment where you go to sit at a table and enjoy a meal cooked for you with table service. 
A recent survey suggests 70 per cent of adults are frustrated with...wait for it... the aspect of waiting in a restaurant. Indeed when 18-34 year olds were asked about their biggest frustrations, 42 per cent cited waiting for food to arrive and 30 per cent said waiting for a table was a drag.
 
In recent years the shift has been towards a more casual dining experience.  We've all been influenced by the proliferation of now pretty good fast-food and take-away restaurants, and a formal or fine dining experience isn't people's number one choice when it comes to eating out. Restaurants offering buffet style food, street food and outdoor eating spaces are what we want, especially if we have kids in tow. 
 
What about cost?
According to a report by Trajectory, the affordability of eating out is major consideration for families. Chains such as Wetherspoons, Nandos and The Harvester offer casual, comfortable dining experiences that are moderately priced and tend to offer us a more relaxed atmosphere. Nandos, in particular, has been voted the UK's favourite restaurant chain on Ranker.com - proof that what we really want our restaurants to be is casual.
 
The rise of the pop-up restaurant
We've become a nation eager to try new experiences when it comes to food. A survey by Eventbrite of more than 2,000 people who've attended pop-up dining venues found 75 per cent of them believe a unique dining experience is worth paying extra for. And having looked at 40,000 plus pop-ups, Eventbrite found this is the fastest growing dining trend — recording 82 per cent growth over the past year. With 66 per cent of us Brits describing ourselves as passionate about food and drink, the UK is really has become a foodie nation.  Also, 74 per cent of people attending pop-up dining experiences say they like interacting with the chef and seeing their food cooked in front of them. With figures like this, could traditional formal dining now be a thing of the past? 

Food on the street
Street food used to mean grimy white vans selling chips and greasy burgers. Today's street food however has gone gourmet and it's international, taking influence from Asian countries, where everyone eats street, so to speak. Street food caters for every taste, whether you want Thai, Chinese or Indian, or juicy burgers or pulled pork baps. And younger people love it because it's like no other dining experience - there’s no dinner table, no fancy cutlery...it's quality casual - and it tastes even more delicious when you're eating together with friends at a music festival or market. 
 
We all seem to feel time is precious and sitting waiting for a meal in a formal restaurant is something fewer of us are prepared to do. We're the 'I want it and I want it now' generation when it comes to food, so no wonder quality street food vendors are doing such a roaring trade.
 
 
Tags:
Lifestyle
Eco friendly holidays
By Abby Trow

The desire to travel is innate in us so how to do it more responsibly?

If you live in Europe and you're travelling in Europe for holidays, then take the train if possible - this could well be viable option for the two-week summer vacation. But eco travel isn't just about transport, it's also very much about the places we choose to stay in. Are they sustainable, do they have renewable energy, do they use organic cotton bedlinen and towels and source their food locally, etc etc?

A green travel business Deco loves is Germany's Green Pearls, which is full of recommendations of green hotels/lodges/spas, as well as tips of being a more eco traveller. Take a look... we certainly like the look of the hotel above, the Hubertus Alpin Lodge & Spa in the German region of Bavaria. Actually, that was what the place looked like a few decades back. It's bigger now with lots of mod cons, but it meets PassivHaus standards and waste isn't a word the owners are familiar with...

Tags:
Environment and ecology, Lifestyle, eco friendly
The carbon cost of our internet addiction
By Hari Alexander

Web hosting service Kualo has an eyeopening infographic showing how all those hours we spend surfing the net are leaving one giant carbon footprint. See it here:

https://www.kualo.co.uk/blog/the-environmental-impact-of-the-internet

Green hosting for charities

And if you're a charity, and an environmental one in particular, you may be interested in a green offer from Kualo: it's offering charities free web hosting using its servers that are powered by renewable energy - find out about the offer on Kualo's charity hosting page.

Why is green hosting Important and how does it work?  
 
The internet is a carbon-emitting machine - and it’s growing. It produces as much carbon annually as Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangladesh, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia combined. Green webhosting represents the first steps towards reducing its impact. By powering its operations with emissions-free renewable energy, hosting services reduce the impact of their energy use – and therefore the energy use of all the websites it hosts. Electricity generated from renewable sources creates less environmental waste and pollution and displaces other non-renewable sources from the electric grid.
 
*Kualo says its hosting infrastructure is also designed to be as energy efficient and eco-friendly as possible, featuring free cooling technology, hot-aisle containment, water based chillers and virtualisation technology that makes better use of its infrastructure capacity.
 

 

Tags:
Environment and ecology, eco friendly, eco home
The psychology of colour
By Gerard McGuickin for LZF wood veneer lighting
Our world is ablaze with colour and colours provide the bedrock and building blocks of our emotions: think about ‘seeing red’ (angry), ‘feeling blue’ (sad), and being ‘in the pink’ (healthy). Both consciously and unconsciously colour is integral to how we feel and how we view the world.
 
When we're very young we're taught about the rules and foundations of colour: how mixing equal amounts of the three primary colours—red, blue and yellow—will produce three secondary colours—orange, purple and green. We learn about warm colours, cold colours and colour combinations, depicted on a colour wheel.
 
As we grow we identify colours that please us and those we want to avoid. We start to understand the many nuances of colour and how colour affects us. We recognise the perceived meaning of colour in clothing: the authority of black, the steadfastness of brown, the discipline of blue and the power of red. We see the influence of colours in action: we stop at a red traffic light; environmental groups are termed green; and for lots of us yellow doesn't just mean daffodils...the ‘yellow (golden) arches’ of a certain fast food behemoth lure us in.

When unpicking the psychological aspects of colours, we tend to find dissimilar traits. For example:

Red is a physical and visceral colour: one whose properties include strength and stimulation, fire and passion, energy and warmth. But too much red can be too bold and overbearing. Red is the colour we see first and it's used to convey caution and danger.
Blue is a strong and emotive colour. Regarded as an intellectual colour, blue tends to affect us mentally as opposed to physically. A serene and calming colour, blue tones can stimulate thought and promote concentration. But blue is also used to convey coolness and aloofness as well as to distinguish boys from girls.
Yellow is an emotional colour that buoys mood and temperament; it is optimistic, outgoing, friendly and creative. A strong colour, yellow should be used sparingly: too much yellow can give rise to fear and anxiety.
Green is a mix of blue (intellectual) and yellow (emotional), and represents balance. A restful colour, green is easy on the eye, it's the colour we associate with nature and it promotes a sense of harmony and reassurance.
Pink has positive virtues, from feeling rosy to reaching the pink of condition. But of course while pink is often used to define femininity, it was once seen as a masculine colour. Pink may stink to those who rail against gender stereotypes but pink is embraced as a neutral hue and is associated with balance. 
Grey is another neutral colour that's come back into fashion, having previously been seen as a dull miserable colour best left for school trousers. But there are many shades of grey and greys that tend towards the green and blue provide a sense of calm, of restrained elegance with a solid grounding. And as fans of Farrow & Ball paint will concur, a warm grey can alleviate tension and anxiety.
Tags:
Decoration, Garden, Lifestyle, painting and decorating, eco home, art
What makes you buy new furniture?
By Coco Piras

How often do you think about buying new furniture or decorative accessories? and how often do you actually change things like sofas, beds, blinds - or even cushions?

New research from an online furniture company suggests loads of us go for well over 15 years with the same mattress and sofa while things like carpet stay with us for decades...even when worn or very grubby.

Obviously big ticket items can be very expensive and we don't want to rush into a purchase. And of course it's not remotely eco friendly to keep replacing old with new - although if we recycle items by selling or giving them away that lessens the impact of the new puchase deed.

But some general pointers seem fairly universal, so which of these resonates with you?

More than 2,000 UK adults were asked what motivated them to change their soft furnishings:
 
It looks worn or tired – 65 per cent
It is broken – 53 per cent
I was redecorating and it no longer fit with the style/colour/look of the room – 39 per cent
It is no longer comfortable – 36 per cent
I was bored of its appearance and wanted something new – 30 per cent
It is unhygienic – 19 per cent
I saw a new piece of furniture that I liked more – 14 per cent
I got a bargain on a new item that I liked more – 14 per cent
 
The Deco verdict is that seems fairly encouraging - we're not a nation of rabid neophiles who buy new because we're bored and surprisingly few of us are tempted by bargain marketing. 
Tags:
Decoration, Furniture, Hygiene, painting and decorating, eco home
How clean is your bathroom?
By Adam Moore

Do you find yourself drawn by a certain prurience into watching those hilarious programmes about people who either clean obsessively or live in filth thanks to their hoarding problem? If you so probably find that you involuntarily shriek either 'how could anyone be that weird about cleaning' or 'how can anyone be so disgusting'. And then congratulate yourself on living in clean and tidy conditions that make you a normal civilised person.

Ah, but your bathroom...you may think because it's a room where water's always flowing..from taps, showerheads and loos..that it's a kind of self cleaning place and everything in it is sort of inherently clean. How wrong you are because an organisation called the National Sanitation Foundation (no, we'd never heard of it either..) does research and testing that would suggest many of us take our lives into our own hands each time we visit the bathroom...

This is another of those survey stories but this one's quite fun. An online seller of showers questioned 1,200 Brits recently and found..shock horror...that:

48 per cent of respondents HAD NEVER CLEANED THEIR SHOWER HEAD (that's me)

12 per cent USE THE SAME TOOTHBRUSH FOR A YEAR (er..that's me)

32 per cent HAVE NEVER CLEANED THEIR TOOTHBRUSH HOLDER (that's me)

Just 36 per cent wash their towels after 3-5 uses (that's not me..I go for months withouth washing my bathtowel)

And apparently, 65 per cent of us are not cleaning our bathrooms with sufficient vigour or to a sufficiently high standard!

So, we may be leaving our bathrooms dirtier than before we went in and that's because the bathroom is regularly filled with moisture, hosting a variety of potentially harmful bacteria. 
 
Change your toothbrush!
Only a quarter of those surveyed replace their toothbrush the recommended (by dentists?) every three months, and 12 per cent use the same toothbrush for a year. Your toothbrush can host up to 10 million bacteria, including e-coli and Staphylococci, and some research has even found fecal germs on the toothbrush from when we flush the loo – yuck!

Toothbrush holders are the third most germ-ridden household item, says the National Sanitation Foundation, behind dish sponges and kitchen sinks. Of those tested, 27 per cent had coliforms, 64 per cent had mould, and 14 per cent had Staphylococcus.
 
Clean your shower head (with hot water and vinegar)
 
No less than 29 varieties of microbes live on your shower head, we're told. The fact they are moist, warm and dark means they are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria to thrive and when water passes through, they blast out the bugs onto your face and body (keep your mouth closed next time you shower..)
 
The bath mat is also a breeding ground for bacteria, as once it is damp, it comes into contact with bacteria from the floor. Many do not give their bath mats enough time to dry thoroughly, leaving bacteria to linger. This survey found that almost under half of respondents wash their bath mat on a weekly basis, with 32 per cent of respondents saying they wash theirs only once a month.  
 
The survey also points out that our towels are full of dead skin cells and bacteria and health guidelines say it's advisable to wash towels after every 3-5 uses – something done by just 36 per cent of those survey respondents.
 
Over 50 per cent of people questioned say they don't clean much in the bathroom and only when it 'seems dirty'. 
 
The moral of the tale - be a bit more like those obsessive compulsive cleaners. But if you want to be eco friendly, don't use chemical cleaning fluids...use a good steam cleaner instead.
 

 

Tags:
Bathroom, Cleaning, Health, Hygiene, eco friendly, eco home

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