Blog: 2019

Great ideas for cherishing grandparents
Grandparents and grandchildren have a very special relationship. And because grandparents are so special, it's important to encourage children to show their appreciation.
Painted craft piece
If your child is small, then a hand and feet printed piece of craft is ideal. Why not help your child make a “LOVE” plaque with the handprint representing the “O” and the two footprints making the “V”. The plaque can be made out of any material such as a finely polished wooden plank, a canvas that you can frame or even some manila paper. 
A gorgeous bouquet
Flowers are universally treasured as they're the perfect gift for all occasions. Once in a while get your children to present their grandparents with a beautiful bouquet.
A special hug
Encourage your children to be generous with hugs and affection as the older generation love to feel loved and needed.
Personalized butterfly art
Mess alert... get the kids to stand in waterercolour paint and make footprints on paper. Then turn the prints upside down and you'll get a perfect silhouette of a butterfly. Colour it in and write a message to granny/grandpa.
Stone cactus
This is a truly unique gift. After collecting stones of different shapes and sizes, your child can have fun painting them in different shades of green using non-toxic acrylic paint. With some white paint they can then add some details such as dots and lines to represent thorns. Next, fill a planter with pebbles and small rocks and the painted cactus is placed inside and held in place with the small rocks. Your child can paint a message on the planter.
Planter with photos
If you have a large family, this is the perfect gift for your children to give their grandparents. You will need to get photos of each  family members' face. After cutting out equal sized flowers from different coloured pieces of manila paper, stick one photo on a flower. After sticking each flower/photo to a skewer or similar stick, place some floral sponge at the bottom of the planter and fill the planter with anything fun like some coloured confetti or pieces of wrapping paper. Finally, stick your photos into the sponge so that you have the faces of your family members smiling back at you.
Hand card
Children seven years and above will love making this. Younger children can still make this gift with a little more help from you.  You will need a soft cardboard paper of a colour of your choice. Fold it in half, and with the folded edge facing you, trace out your hand with your fingers splayed out. Cut out the hand shape and you can then open the card which will join together at the wrist. Your child can write their message and decorate the card as they desire. A twist to this is to have the card joining at the thumb and index figure instead of at the wrist. When the card is opened it will have a cut-out at the centre in the shape of a heart.
I Love …Cards
On a dark coloured stiff paper which will act as your frame, stick a different coloured paper which will be your base. Cut out a big circle in a different colour and write the words “I Love Grandpa because…” Stick it on the base paper, this will be the centre of your flower.
Cut out big oval shapes and on each of the petals write one reason you love grandpa. Stick around the flower centre to represent the petals. Next, add a long green stem with leaves to the flower. Do the same with grandma’s flower.  
Lifestyle, art
Travel: be an ecofriendly overlander

Overlanding - taking a 4x4/large vehicle into the wilds to experience nature in the raw so to speak - is very popular in the US and is gaining traction, ho ho, in Europe.

It would be much better if the vehicles were solar powered of course, so it's hard to make a case for overlanding as an environmentally-friendly activity. However, overlanders point out they are not using all the facilities of hotels/motels/B&Bs - energy, water, breakfast tables groaning under the weight of food that may well go to waste - and as with anything we do, we can do in a more eco way. Overlander is an online mag for those who love to drive off into the wilds and it has a useful piece on how overlanders can reduce their carbon footprint 

Travel, Lifestyle, Outside space, Environment and ecology
How Small Businesses Are Pioneering A Circular Economy
Why is a circular economy important to today’s shoppers?
A circular economy is one that doesn't produce waste. What that means is when a product reaches the end of its life, its component parts can be separated and re-used; or at the simpler end of the spectrum, when someone wants to replace something, they take it to a charity shop or recycling centre instead of putting it in the bin so it can be taken to a landfill site. A circular economy is sustainable and it abhors the notion of built-in obsolescence. And sustainability has, at last, become a mainstream concern. Global warming, climate change, Greta Thunberg, David and campaigners are driving home the message that we have urgently to reduce CO2 emissions if we're to live comfortably on this planet. As shoppers, more of us want to see words such as recyclable, ethical, eco friendly, biodegradable on packaging and we do read the labels in a effort not be conned by corporate greenwashing. 
What role do small businesses play in pioneering a circular economy?
Small businesses are uniquely placed to surge forward with circular economy models because their size means they're more agile and able to adapt to changes in consumer demand. And new companies are very aware of the need to have sustainability at the core of their business model for many reasons: it can be cheaper in the long run, it makes it easier to meet regulations and they will appeal more to customers. Shoppers are increasingly choosing sustainability over price.
How do small businesses incorporate a circular economy into their business models?
One company incorporating a circular economy model in an interesting way is Baroc Jewellery and Homeware. Founder James Rees, says they work with designers who make bespoke jewellery from recycled material such as tin. 'In this sense we incorporate a circular economy model through our collaboration with designers.' And he points out that jewellers have, of course, been pretty green in their working methods for millennia, as they've always re-used gold and silver - two precious metals that never have and never will be sent to landfill. 
Envirobuild is another company with a circular economy model at its heart. As a producer of high-end home and garden products such as decking, fencing and garden furniture, an eco-friendly approach to their products was always a priority for co-founder Aidan Bell: 'Our aim is to make products that not only create value from recycled materials but can also be recycled at the end of their life. We also use FSC-certified packaging and paper for our brochures, and re-use second-hand office furniture. We give it new life and save it from landfill.'
Jonathan Wilkins, director of industrial automation parts supplier EU Automation, advocates a system of reuse, remake, recover as an alternative to the traditional linear model of make, use, dispose. 'We live in a throwaway society and this isn’t just the case with consumer goods, it also applies to industrial parts, especially  parts prone to quick obsolescence such as electronics.' By upgrading and repairing parts rather than purchasing an entirely new system, companies significantly reduce their waste and keep costs low.
Toby Heelis, CEO of Eventopedia, offers another take. He believes when it comes to sustainability, people often get caught up in the production side of things. 'But if we look at the fact that one of the most polluting industries in the UK is transport, it’s important not to forget the environmental impact of other huge lifestyle industries related to these, such as travel and events. To create an economy that's fully circular and sustainable, it’s not just about tackling tangible waste materials.'
How does following a circular economy model benefit small businesses?
Catherine Weetman, of Rethink Global and author of A Circular Economy Handbook For Business And Supply Chains, is an expert on the circular economy and knows just how beneficial using a CE model can be for small businesses. 'Shoppers are looking for more sustainable options, so providing high-quality products and services that last longer and perform well helps create stronger, deeper customer relationships.' She also points out that people who love a brand will help to spread the word about it, providing a completely free form of marketing!
But a CE conomy model isn’t just an advantage from a customer perspective. Karen Bird at sustainable catering company Catering 24, says their environmental focus is a great draw for recruitment. 'Putting green issues at the heart of what we do is one of the things that really attracts young people to want to work for us. We can attract and employ a team of passionate, enthusiastic people who care about environmental issues, and they help us to develop our sustainability offer as the company continues to grow.'
How can consumers find ethical brands using a circular economy?
Word of mouth has traditionally been the best way to find businesses and brands that align with our own moral compasses. But more recently marketing strategies have started to focusing on environmentalism and sustainability. It can be as simple as performing a quick online search to find an ethical version of what we want to buy. But when in doubt remember some golden eco rules: shop locally, prioritise ethics over convenience and support small businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. 
Trades, Lifestyle, Jobs, Careers, Environment and ecology, Development, recycling, eco home
One Green Thing: what can you do?
One Green Thing: what can you do?

To support Earth Week 2019 US TV show Today has a short quiz it's asking people to take to see how they can do just one small thing a day to help save our planet from climate change before it becomes irreversible.

Gardens, Environment and ecology, eco friendly, eco home
Top five key elements in a beautiful living room
By Noah Dugall

Living rooms are one of the most popular, versatile spaces in our homes - they're where we chat, relax and entertain. And they're the space that can best show off our personal style and creativity.

Main image: A Victorian fireplace has pride of place in this sitting room designed by Paul Warren Design
For these reasons we're happy to put time and effort to making a room that's stylish, comfortable and inviting. So if you're embarking on operation living room update and want to create a space you'll be happy to return home day after day, consider these five key elements that make a sitting room appealing:
A Coherent Colour Scheme
The colour scheme you choose will determine the look and feel of your living room, as different shades can have different psychological effects. For example, if you want to feel calm and relaxed, blue is an ideal colour to choose. However, if you want a living room to lift your mood and increase your energy levels, incorporate yellow into your interior design. While those who want cleanliness and purity should keep things simple and chic with white. Choose colours within a colour family, so a dark blue, mid blue and a complementary shade such as a soft green. But avoid clashing colours at all costs and feature walls have had their day! 
A Comfortable Sofa
Tricky because while a lot of sofas might feel comfortable when you sit on them for five minutes in a showroom, when you spend a lot of time on them you find they're anything but comfortable. So the moral of the tale is sit on a sofa you're trying out for at least 30 mins and adopt various off of course as you won't want to annoy the shop staff! Remember while the style and colour of your sofa can help to bring the interior design to life, it is crucial to consider comfort. A cosy sofa will provide the perfect welcome after a hard day's work, as it can help melt away stress once you settle down for the evening. So always test a sofa thoroughly before to avoid making a choice you later come to regret.
A Focal Point
Every living room needs a beautiful focal point that will grab everyone's attention. To make your visitors fall in love with your décor, pick an impressive piece that will draw their eye each time they step inside a room. For example, you could hang a chandelier to add luxury and elegance to your interior design, or you could showcase your eye for detail and tradition by incorporating one of the many sophisticated Victorian fireplaces available. 
Good Lighting
Lots of us are guilty of overlooking lighting when redesigning the living room. If you're lucky enough to have a room with feature large south-facing windows, pull back the curtains and pull up any blinds as high as possible to allow lots of  natural sunlight in. But if your living room isn't awash with natural light, aim to layer lighting across the room. For example, illuminate dark corners with a stylish floor lamp, brighten up the space with ceiling LED spotlights, and switch on a table lamp to create a cosy, inviting atmosphere. And do ensure you invest in energy-saving bulbs as they do reduce your electricity consumption and help save the planet! As well as LEDs look at CFLs - compact fluorescents. 
To inject personality into your décor you need art. So consider hanging a painting, a big framed photograph or vintage poster. Pieces of sculpture or ceramics are also great artworks and it's fun to build up a collection. Choose a work that reflects your taste .. and do bear in mind how it sits in your colour scheme. So if your painting is predominantly yellow but your room is cerise pink, it may not work so you'll need to put it in another room. Artworks shouldn't stand out because they clash with what's in the room. 
painting and decorating, Original style, Victorian fireplaces, Furniture, recycling, eco friendly, De-cluttering, eco home, art
Stop the microplastics
By Jo Mansfield
There's a lot we can do to help cut out the microplastics if we understand some of the main causes of this pollutant:
Paint – Dried paint sheds microplastics through deterioration. Apparent in road marking paint, and paints used for ships and houses, they are known as ‘secondary microplastics’ that result from wear and tear. Eco-friendly paints are available as an alternative to help reduce your plastic footprint - for example Edward Bulmer Natural Paints and Graphenstone Paint.
Car tyres – Looking for an incentive to drive less? our vehicle tyres are constantly releasing microplastics into the environment and the small pieces of plastic debris then contaminate soil and are washed away with the rain into waterways. A report by Friends of the Earth found an astonishing 68,000 tonnes of microplastic is released by UK vehicles each year, with between 7,000 and 19,000 tonnes ending up in UK waterways. Let's do our bit by taking public transport or dusting off the bicycle in the hall. Or walk. Keep moving..using the power of the human body. 
Teabags - Sad isn't it, but not even the beloved teabag is safe from being a microplastic contaminator. And just how do teabags contain plastic? The answer is in the paper - plastic is added to help heat seal teabags during manufacture so that they don’t open and release tea leaves in your cup. This means that when pouring away the dregs, or even composting, you’re releasing microplastics into the environment. To avoid this, try loose tea leaves with a tea ball – they make a great cup of tea! As do those two-in-one teapots with cup. Perfect for a quick cup when you're home alone. And invest in a beautiful teapot for when folks cover round for tea.
Clothes – According to Friends of the Earth, up to 64 per cent of are new fabrics are made of plastic such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide. Every time we wash these clothes, they shed millions of plastic fibres – which end up being drained from your washing machine and heading to wastewater treatment facilities and into our seas. To avoid this stick to materials like cotton and silk and wash synthetic clothes as little as possible. Fill your washing machine and do one big wash every week if possible, not quick washes every day for a pair of socks, one shirt and a T-shirt.
Facewipes – As well as finding their way onto beaches after being flushed down the toilet, facewipes are also releasing microfibres, which in turn are being ingested by marine life. Made from plastic, facewipes never disappear – they are simply broken down, becoming microplastics. But this can be easily avoided, simply use a reusable face wipe, otherwise known as a cotton flannel or a piece of muslin. 
Bathroom, Cleaning, Environment and ecology, Hygiene, Lifestyle, painting and decorating, Wildlife protection, eco friendly, eco home