Upsobags: Now why didn’t I think of that?!

I’ve never met David Chadwick of Upsobags but I’m sure we’d get on. If we had no common ground other  than our hatred of throwing things away then we then we’d have the foundations for a bonding session right there. He is a man after my own heart and when my friend Heather sent me a link to his site Upsobags I clicked on it and was duly filled with a sense of ‘Ah drat, why didn’t I think of that?!’

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Dispatch Bag

Well, why didn’t I?! I have recently learned how to use a sewing machine and was racking my brain for a great recycle project/business that I could get stuck into. It never happened, but if it had, I would’ve liked something similar to  Upsobags to have been it. A great recycled range of products made in a sustainable way and retailing at incredibly competitive prices.

David Chadwick, founder of Upsobags is a bag manufacturer. Like myself, he hates throwing things away and coupled with a need to maximise resources and minimise waste he discovered that the old tarpaulins used for Lorries made great bags. They are waterproof, durable and unique. Old fire hoses and seat belts are also re-used as leather and webbing substitutes as other components of the bags. Based in Lancashire in the North of England, this business is not just about recycling materials into great products. They are about running a business in as sustainable manner as they can manage. The sewing machines in their factory are solar powered and every bag is hand cut sewn, bears a unique reference number and is signed by the maker. Because each bag is unique it created a challenge for online orders but they got around this by setting up a photo booth on the production line so that when a customer clicks on the photo of the bag they want to order, that very item is the item you will get. When the item is sold, the photo goes offline.

 

pannierThey remind me of the ‘Courier’ Bags that were so popular particularly in London in the 1990’s. They are hard wearing and practical and no one bag is ever quite the same.They now produce a large range of bags from ‘bum’ bags or ‘fanny packs’ as our American cousin’s hilariously call them to back packs, dispatch bags and panniers for bikes. I love this approach to waste and recycling and well just business in general.

bumbag

Bum Bag (Fanny Pack)

Visit their website HERE for more information and online ordering.

 

 

 

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September’s here……..

 

 and the kids are back at school. Yesterday it was just me and our dog Bella for our walk and we had the entire stretch of beach to ourselves. Green Bee Blogger - September

Some things money can’t buy. This is one of them. There really is nothing like having access to some out door space. Whatever that may be. I am so lucky to be living by the sea. Our beach is not the most beautiful in Ireland (or even in our neck of the woods), but yesterday because the sun hit the sand and sea in the right way and it was all ours with no distractions, it was. It’s a natural remedy for well being.

Just watch how it affected Bella.

The Great Bulb Exchange

The Great Bulb Exchange


The Great Bulb exchange

There is nothing like a free giveaway and to be fair it’s not often that happens, well not here in Ireland anyway. This doesn’t even have a catch! Weee Ireland are offering everyone in Ireland flowering bulbs for their garden in exchange for their old CFL lightbulbs. It’s a simple as that. Free bulbs and your old lightbulbs will be recycled. Go online to www.weeeireland/bulbexchange and find your nearest participating retailer.

The Great Bulb exchange

What you really need to know (& do) to conserve water.

This morning I noticed that even my other half is embracing my water bucket approach to showering and without being nagged, I may add. So terribly proud!!!

I’m all about the little things that make big changes especially in matters of the environment but sitting smugly back on my laurels would be a massive ‘fail’.

Water conservation is complex and employing a bucket to catch water from the shower and NOT watering the lawn is really not close to doing enough…….although it is a good place to start.

So where can you go from here? Continue reading

Water-Saving Bucket Challenge

DIY Water-Saving System

Low-Tech Water-Saving Device

 This is not the most glamorous bathroom accessory but water-saving isn’t in the glamour business. Buckets of any colour are generally (and if I’m wrong please correct me) functional and this orange plastic bucket is no exception. With that in mind I thought I would try a more hands-on approach to conserving water. Myself and this bucket enjoyed a hot solar-powered shower together this morning. A 10 litre orange bucket is generally not my first choice of shower companion but since water charges have been introduced here in Ireland and our 3bar water pump installed, I haven’t really been able to enjoy a shower the way I could in years gone by. The guilt of watching that precious resource run down the plug hole detracts from the overall experience. The solar panels now heat the water which has helped ease the burden of guilt I feel somewhat……but it’s not enough. While the hot water travels through the pipes to my shower, a good 5 litres of cold water is wasted. Well not any more. Today I simply placed a bucket under the flow of water and by the time the temperature was ready for me, I had half a bucket of water. When I got into the shower I moved the bucket to the side and it collected the water that missed me.

Continue reading

‘Green’ Sweet Home: Part Three. The end of the beginning.

We are home. Finally. On December 25th 2014 we celebrated our first Christmas in our ‘new’ home.

Eight weeks ago, we arrived, hot on the heels of our retreating Builders. I say retreating as they haven’t fully departed but we can live with that as occasionally they return to finish off odds and sods. In my reckoning we are 98% finished.

The plaster dust has pretty much settled but I like to think we still have that ‘new house’ smell. Our Solar panels went up three weeks ago and despite being the darkest days in Ireland this time of year we are definitely noticing their benefit. The panels are heating our water and storing it in our solar tank houses in the attic. We do need to use our gas to additionally boost the heat of the water for a short time each day but by April I feel confident that all of our hot water will be heated by the panels right through hopefully until the end of Autumn. That is no mean feat by the way. There is five of us living here (seven if you include the dogs) and between us we have three bathrooms all with a 3 bar pump attached. The Irish Government haven’t implemented water charges yet but even with the ‘free’ solar water heating we are still mindful of conserving water.
The benefit of our insulation is also the other stand-out technical feature for us and our triple glazed windows. We have not hit the coldest part of our winter yet, but the house, despite a largely open-plan living space with elevated ceilings, is beautifully warm. While the threat of a Polar Vortex has, much to my dismay, been concocted by the media, we are hopefully going to experience a ‘cold snap’ to which we can put our insulation to the test.

This is a ‘sealed’ house. Not passive but sealed, without even letterbox or chimney to allow heat to escape. To ensure we don’t suffocate in our smug/snug bubble we have a cleverly designed demand controlled ventilation system Aerco. It is powered by two units in our attic that require a minimal amount of electricity. The house is divided into two zones, living and sleeping, and the units detect changes in humidity levels throughout the day and night. As the humidity rises during the day with cooking and living the units focus their energy in the living part of the house. At night, while we sleep the focus is on our sleeping quarters. Simple and proving to be very effective. Condensation was a huge problem for us in the house prior to our retro-fit. During our first few weeks in the house we were very dubious. Our windows dripped each morning with condensation. The Aerco system initially had a lot to cope with; huge amounts of moisture are present in the new walls and floors as a consequence of plastering and layers of concrete screed. It has been eight weeks since we have moved home and the ventilation system is now coping beautifully. The evidence clear in our moisture-free windows each morning.
It has been a long, inspiring, educational and often painful journey. A six month build that initially left us with just three walls of our original house is not for the faint hearted. It was an emotional roller coaster of an experience that I can only compare to childbirth. We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for but we muddled our way through it. Sleepless nights, difficult choices and pain in many guises were part of the experience but in the end we were handed a treasure that is ours.

This is not the perfect home. There are many many more ‘Eco’ methods or solutions we could have employed but without a doubt we did all that our budget afforded us.
I love our new space and love that we pushed ourselves (our Builder and Architect!) and our savings much further than we in all honesty thought possible.

Happy New Year.

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A special thanks to Caitlin from Flat Rate Cleaners for this post and Info-graphic on the dangers of PERC and the benefits of using an eco-friendly alternative.

The Dangers of PERC in Dry Cleaning

We strive to create a healthier, greener, more ‘pure’ life for ourselves, eliminating processed food, buying organic, and recycling as much as we can, but few people stop to think about the negative impact products that are supposed to help make our lives ‘cleaner’ actually have. We have begun to make the shift toward greener businesses and products for environmental reasons, but have you ever considered the impact that conventional cleaning products have on your own safety?

In dry cleaning we have come to associate a certain smell with a ‘clean’ shirt. Bring a soiled shirt to the dry cleaners and they will make it sparkly clean and smelling ‘fresh,’ but that ‘fresh’ scent is actually the byproduct of chemicals used in dry cleaning that are absolutely toxic, not only to people who have direct working contact with them, but also to you as a customer for breathing it in and wearing it in close contact with your skin.

One of the most toxic chemicals in conventional dry cleaning is PERC. Our friends at Flat Rate Cleaners have made an infographic explaining the dangers of PERC in dry cleaning. So if you haven’t made the switch to green dry cleaning for environmental reasons, perhaps this infographic can convince you to make the switch…

The Dangers of PERC in Dry Cleaning Infographic

As provided by FlatRateCleaners.com

Irish company produce a water filter that removes 98% of fluoride

Living in Ireland, after years of living in London, I have become increasingly concerned about the quality of the water that is running through our taps. Physically it took myself and my family a few years to adjust to the levels of chemicals that are present. For the record I haven’t done research into the quality of the water in London but I think your body doesn’t lie and when it’s telling you something isn’t right, you should listen. Myself & my husband both suffered badly with dermatitis particularly on our hands and my eldest child’s eczema was no longer manageable with over the counter remedies. But the truth is in the pudding and it was the highly chlorinated taste that got us! Despite living in a beautiful seaside village with plenty of fresh air, our water tasted, well, bad, to be quite frank and I longed for a glass of Thames Water.

Asides all of that, the mandatory fluoridation of water in this country appalls me. While other countries are removing it from their water supply due to health concerns over the effects of fluoridation on the body, the Irish Government don’t think the subject even warrants a debate.

Until that debate occurs, an Irish company called Aqua-nu have run tests which prove their water filtration system removes 98% of Fluoride from water along with a host of other chemicals. Check out their Facebook page for more details

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National Tree Day: October 9th

Green BeeEverybody loves a gift especially one without any ‘strings’ attached. The Tree Council of Ireland in association with Coillte and Tetra Pak Ireland is offering a free Alder tree for every school in Ireland to help encourage bio-diversity and celebrate Tree Day this October 9th 2014. This is such a wonderful way to encourage tree planting and to get children and schools involved in a project that benefits the whole community. There is nothing like getting soil beneath the nails and nourishing and supporting a young sapling so that year after year and through the seasons, the Children and Teachers alike can see the fruit of their labour. What’s not to like! Log onto the Tree Day website now to register your school for your free tree. Or register your  School’s details at http://www.trees@treecouncil.ie