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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Is So Good About Trees?

I was reading another blog and came across an article where the writer wanted to know what was so good about trees and expressed that we should stop planting them. I decided to write a piece about the benefits of trees. In my opinion, the advantages the trees provide far outweigh their disadvantages.

So, what is so good about trees.....
  1. Trees provide shade and shelter for humans, birds, insects and other wildlife animals. Some houses are built with the wood from trees and logs.
  2. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce fresh oxygen for us in its place and in turn help to balance the ecosystem.
  3. Trees absorb excess water to prevent flooding.
  4. Trees help to stop or slow down the effects of soil erosion.
  5. Trees help to protect houses from wind and other severe weather conditions and also provide shade and shelter for houses. We had two huge trees in our garden and they both protected the house from gale force winds and also provided shelter for birds (you could hear them singing in the morning). About 3 years ago, one of the trees fell down, closely missing a neighbour's house. The cause of the tree falling was very strong gale force winds. Fortunately, it fell onto the perimeter fence around the garden and was supported by my neighbour's apple tree. It would have caused a lot more damage had it not been for the apple tree. next door, ironically. Now that the second tree has been cut down (we had to cut it down because it was taller than the house and had become dangerous to surrounding properties), you can feel the house shaking when there are gale force winds. Those two trees actually protected the house and provided a cool shelter, which you could sit under, in the summer. They were huge Conifer trees also known as Christmas trees and their leaves hardly shed.
  6. Trees provide paper for us to write on and write with in the form of pencils, crayons etc., toilet and kitchen paper for personal hygiene.
  7. Trees provide furniture in the form of beds, chairs, tables.
  8. It's a natural sustainable resource, and it is very important that we plant trees to take the place of the ones that have been cut down.
  9. Trees (well some plants) provide food for us and other wildlife to eat.
  10. Trees provide fuel and energy.
  11. As the old saying goes "money does not grow on trees" but it is made from trees, however.

Related Blog Topics

The Garden - Nature's reserve on your doorstep

What is deforestation?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Weeds - Mulching helps to control them

You learn something new everyday, and today I have learned that I can buy mulch and use it to cover and protect the top of the soil in the garden in order to keep the weeds out. The weeds seem to love my garden, I'm constantly pulling them out and a few days later, they are back again...So, mulch to the rescue....

Also weedkillers are expensive as well as dangerous and can irritate your skin so using mulch will replace the need for dangerous weedkillers.

Did you know that mulch also helps to keep the moisture in, helping to reduce evaporation from the soil.

Gardening for fun - Trying your hand at growing your own fruit and vegetables

Roosemary growing in a front garden
If you are lucky enough to have a backyard garden or even space in your front yard such as flower beds, instead of letting this luscious green area go tot waste, why not try your hand at planting a few crops and vegetables that your whole family can enjoy. 

You can buy a few seeds from your local garden centre, throw in a few potatoes, fruits and vegetables that will grow in no time. In a matter of weeks and months you can be eating your very own gardening delights.

I am a bit of a garden enthusiast (I studied plant physiology with a little horticulture as part of my course at college), I have also grown a number of vegetables and fruit over the years, a few of the things I have grown in the past are potatoes, spinach and onions. My neighbour has successfully grown a large apple tree (cooking apples) , strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and a number of other things in her little garden. My other neighbour has successfully grown tomatoes in pots. We actually live in the city and it's not so hard to try and grow your own vegetables. My best friend has thyme in her garden, as well as pumpkin.

 Vegetable grow bags

The thing I like best about the whole project is that it's quite easy to grow a few things here and there for fun and you know exactly what your plants have been grown with by eliminating the pesticides that give us allergies and harmful side effects.

As a gardening enthusiast, it's quite easy to grow your own vegetables (no I'm not trying to put the farmers out of business, we can never grow enough to live on anyway) all you need are a few seeds from your local gardening centre, or in the case of potatoes, just put a few in the ground and in no time at all you'll have a few buckets full of potatoes that you can share with your neighbours.

It is a good hobby and will help to keep you fit, healthy and supple. Gardening is also great for relieving stress, and allows you to see the satisfaction of your hard work come to fruition.

You can also grow a number of plants and flowers which will make your garden look beautiful and smell wonderful with all tghe plant aromas.

 Grow your own - Backyard Farming

Related Blog Topics

Reduce the volume of your waste and save landfill

A few ideas on reducing the volume of your household waste are:
  1. Use kitchen waste to make compost with the skins of fruit and vegetables such as potato peel and the rind of fruits such as oranges. You can also use your garden waste to make compost as well. Take a look in your local garden centre and invest in a small domestic compost bin.
  2. When recycling plastic bottles or water bottles, collapse the bottles by taking the lid off and squashing the bottle down, the grooves on the bottle will help with this. Once the bottle is fully collapsed, put the lid back on and it will stay in place allowing room for other materials.
  3. Don't throw your old clothes or shoes away, give them to charity or take them to a clothes or shoe bank in order to be recycled or re-used by someone who needs them.
  4. Cut up and collapse cardboard boxes so that they use up less space. You can also do this to small boxes such as pizza and other food packaging.
  5. Re-use your padded envelopes and use them to send fragile items in the post.
  6. Look for products that contain minimal packaging instead of unnecessary and excessive packaging, which only serves to drive up the cost of production anyway. Also look for packaging that can be recycled or re-used.
  7. Re-use the packaging from products around the house, for example use empty ice cream containers to store food in the fridge or freezer or re-use plastic containers from takeaway or for storage in the fridge or freezer.
  8. Instead of throwing out old cupboards and wardrobes, check to see if other people can make use of the wood in a building or DIY project. There are a number of websites online where you can exchange, swap or giveaway your unwanted items.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Save Water - Ways in which you can help to conserve water

About 12 years ago, Thames Water sent a free Water Hippo in the post with the water bill and this is how I came to know about this water saving device. The Water Hippo is a little water saving device, which you put into the toilet cistern, and helps to save approximately 3 litres of water on each flush.

I am always amazed by the amount of water that is wasted each time we use the toilet, and I think everybody should have one of these water saving devices. They are quick and easy to implement and very effective with very little effort.

The free Water Hippo from Thames water is effective because:
  1. Your toilets will flush as normal wasting less water
  2. By putting the Free Water Hippo into your toilet cistern you will reduce the amount of water used
  3. It will save you money if you use a water meter, with significant savings on your water bills.

Another water saving device that will save you 1 litre of water per flush, which I have just discovered on the Thames water website is the save-a-flush, it works in a similar fashion to the Water Hippo. To get your free save-a-flush from Thames water or to order your free save a flush from Severn Trent Water, you can visit their websites and request for your free water saving devices and help to save water each time you flush the toilet.

Other water saving methods:

Toilets with dual flush - flush once and half the cistern is used, flush twice and the whole cistern is emptied, this depends on what you have used the toilet for.

Use a water butt - This collects rain water which can be used to water the plants in the garden, saving you money and at the same time helping the environment. Natural rainwater is better for plants, therefore your plants will get all the benefits of natural rainwater, just fill up your watering can and you're ready to go. A water butt is handy and convenient for you when there is a hosepipe ban.

Turn the tap off - when you're not using the tap, please turn it off, especially while brushing your teeth and when cooking.

Dripping tap - Make sure you have fully turned off the taps. A great deal of water is wasted by a dripping tap.

Use a shower - Taking a quick shower instead of having a bath will help you to save water.

Don't overfill the kettle - When you're treating yourself to a nice cup of tea, use only what you need and don't fill the kettle to the brim.

Useful External Links

Thames Water - Order a Water Saving Device

Hippo and Save-a-Flush bags - London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames

The Future for Energy Efficiency - Solar, Wind, Hydro?

Solar powered homes - Buildings made with solar powered panels to trap daylight and use its solar energy source to heat the home. Electrical cars running on batteries recharged by solar energy from the sun.

Solar powered garden lights are an excellent way to bring some light to your garden at a very reasonable cost, the only problem with solar is that you need major sunlight or daylight in order for them to work very well. Solar powered lights would be excellent in places where there is constant sunshine and light, many places spring to my mind.

We are already using this. The picture below was taken on the evening of a very hot day in May this year. See my solar lights in the picture below which was taken after sunset when the lights automatically switch themselves on....

Solar garden light

Wind Energy - In many countries, they are making use of wind energy, through the use of wind turbines. Wind energy can be used to pump water, take the old windmills as an example, and provide electricity using this natural energy resource. On a website I visited recently, I saw a Home Wind Turbine kit. In my opinion, this kit would prove very useful in some developing areas of the world where power cuts and outages occur frequently.

Hydroelectric power - The kinetic energy from flowing water is used to generate electricity and power houses and businesses.

Electric vehicles - The future for saving the world's oil resources and at the same time dramatically reducing pollution is the electric car. Many London boroughs and Transport for London are currently in the process of gradually introducing the electric car. They say it will improve air quality with zero emissions and owners of these green vehicles will be exempt from paying road tax....Sounds promising, since we are already highly overtaxed over here.

Electric car I spotted parked in London

Above you can see a picture of an electric car that I took, this was at London Bridge. It looks kind of small and funny, but hopefully this design can be improved upon. I have seen a lot of stylish electric cars that I certainly would want, but at present I do not have a car, the old banger that I had was stolen about 9 or 10 years ago, never to be seen again.

Gases from animal waste - Pig manure and other animal waste for energy recovery, although these methods have their pros and cons.

Related Blog Articles

Green Architecture and renewable Energy Buildings, An Ideal Home Scenario

More ways to save energy.....

Go Green - Become More Environmentally Friendly

Spotlight on the energy saving lightbulb

Video: Recycle your old batteries

Related External Links

Electric cars drive investor interest

Electric hire car scheme spreads

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Please take your rubbish with you

After visiting several European Countries over the years including Belgium, France, Spain and Ireland, the first thing you noticed was how clean these countries are, you can't see any rubbish on their streets. You also notice that people do not spit all over the streets (I cannot stand this). The other thing you notice is you never actually see the cleaners, while I certainly did not....

Taking your rubbish with you, instead of throwing it on the floor, will not only keep Britain (or wherever you live) tidy, it will also help to lessen infestation by rodents. It is not so hard to keep your crisp packet, chocolate wrapper or small bits of rubbish in your pocket or bag until you get to a bin.

Apart from attracting rats, mice etc, throwing rubbish on the streets can have a negative effect on the drain system, blocking it up. When it rains the water stays on the road causing floods, especially during periods of heavy rain.

Also, the streets look a lot nicer without all the rubbish littering them, nobody likes to live in a mess, and our surroundings play a part in our wellbeing and how we feel and behave.

If you live in a wheelie bin area, putting the rubbish in the wheelie bin and keeping it closed, instead of throwing the black bag on the floor, will help to prevent rodents which carry diseases and spread germs.

Please be proud of your country and keep it clean.


Ahmad said...

I TOTALLY agree with u, it all comes from respecting your country or respecting this lovely planet we all living on, iam from Egypt and we have the same problem u r talking about but iam sure it is on a VERY much wider scale, i hope ppl would care about such things.. Thank You so much.
Monday, January 22, 2007 10:41:00 PM

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Go green - Become more Environmentally Friendly

One of my passions has always been green issues and finally I have created this blog to write about ways that we can all go green. One of my pet hates is going shopping and seeing customers taking all the shopping bags that end up in the bin afterwards, an unnecessary waste, it's funny but at Lidl's, where people have to pay for the bags, you notice that they bring their own bags....LOL

Re-use - Take your own shopping bags when you're going shopping or get the stronger re-usable cloth shopping bags, organic shopping bags or hard wearing bags available from Tesco, Harrods etc or look out for the 'Bag for life', an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic carrier bags. If you are going to use plastic bags, look for biodegradable bags that will eventually decompose when exposed to the environment.

Go Green - Energy and Water Action Sheet

Put all recyclable materials you don't use into recycle bags, boxes or take them to a recycling bank.

Give away or exchange your used furniture if you no longer need it and have bought a replacement.

Save energy - Turn off electrical items and appliances not in use and don't leave them on standby.

Conserve - Don't waste water, electricity or food.

Leave your car at home - If you are travelling a short distance, try cycling, walking or getting a bus instead.

Recycle your old printer cartridges, clothes, shoes, bags, paper and all items that can be recycled.

Unplug appliances and mobile phone chargers if not in use, this will also help you to save on your energy bills.

Use energy saving light bulbs, these will use less energy and will also save you money in electric bills. Apparently, some people are allergic to these energy saving lightbulbs and they contain some harmful chemicals, so I have been reading, so these would have to be disposed of and recycled carefully after they have been used.

At work, turn off your computer and printers when you're leaving, also don't forget to turn off the lights.

Related Blog Links

Lambeth Country Show Saturday 18th - Sunday 19th July 2009

Related External Links

Electric cars drive investor interest

Electric hire car scheme spreads

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Recycling your Christmas cards and other materials

Lambeth council and many Councils in and outside London introduced the orange recycling bags a few years ago and these have proved to be very handy and convenient for residents to recycle items such as card and cardboard and other re-usable, recyclable materials.

Christmas is now over, but don't bin your Christmas cards. You can recycle your cards by putting them in these recycle sacks provided by the council or drop them off at your nearest recycling bank.

Other materials you can put into these orange recycling sacks or recycle banks are:

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Directories - Yellow pages, Thompson Local and other advertising books
  • Card and cardboard - collapse big boxes to save space
  • Paper (a shredder is handy for documents containing any personally identifiable information)
  • Glass bottles
  • Jars (jam, marmalade, chutney. All colours all sizes)
  • Plastic bottles and containers
  • Aluminium cans
  • Aluminium Foil
  • Tins (baked beans, soup cans)
  • Empty aerosol containers - including all deodorant bottles

PS: Don't forget to rinse out food containers

Greenpeace - Making Waves

Earthquake Report