The Earth-Friendly Changes You Won’t Even Notice

Becoming more environmentally friendly is something that most of us are keen to do. We’re all finally becoming more aware of the damage that we, and our bad habits, have been causing our planet, and that we need to make some changes. Some of these changes are big. Some are global in nature and affect every single one of us. But, there are plenty of changes that you can make yourself. 

Some of these changes are still pretty significant. You’ll undoubtedly have to put a little effort in if you want to give up your car and start walking more, and your bank balance will notice a considerable expense, like an electric car. But, not all changes come as such as shock. If you are in the habit of either saying, “well, nothing I could do will help enough” or, “I don’t want to change the way that I live.” Then these changes are things that you should consider at home. If we all did them, they’d make a substantial difference, but when it comes to your day to day life, you’ll barely notice. 

Solar Panels

Having solar panels installed can be an expense, but many of us are entitled to grants, and you’ll save a lot more money over their lifetime once they are in place. Yes, there may be some disruption as solar installers work, but once your panels are operational, you’ll start to enjoy their benefits, without noticing any change to your home life or power supplies. 

Reusables

For the first few weeks, remembering to take your bags to the store, or to fill up your reusable bottles in the morning, can be tough, and many of us are guilty of forgetting. But, once you do get into that habit, you’ll soon start to resent having to pay for bags or bottles when you are out and about. 

Switch to a Renewable Energy Provider

Many energy providers today claim to supply 100% renewable energy. But, not all of them actually do. Check out your current provider’s policies, and consider a switch if necessary. You shouldn’t notice any difference, and most green providers now offer very competitive rates.

Unplug Devices and Skip Standby

Your devices might stop charging when they hit 100%, but they still run on the mains power. Unplugging them when they are fully charged, and turning appliances like your TV off, instead of on to standby, won’t affect your life, but it will save energy. 

Let the Sun Heat Your Home

The sun is exceptionally powerful. Even on a colder day, when the sun is out, shining through your windows, it can help you to keep warm. Follow the sun around your home, opening curtains when the sun is shining in, and closing them when it isn’t. This can help you to turn your heating off a few weeks earlier. 

Swap Your Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies can contain harmful, unfriendly chemicals. We don’t need these. It’s perfectly possible, and safe to clean your home with natural products, which still kill germs. You can also switch to washable cloths instead of disposables. 

Kombucha: A Health Tonic You Can Make at Home

At this point, most Americans have probably heard of kombucha. The beverage has been getting a lot of press in recent years thanks to its numerous health benefits. For some folks who want to enjoy the drink, however, the cost may not be justifiable. While most bottles go for around $3, some of the fancier varieties can get up to around $5 or even $6.

Fortunately, kombucha is something virtually anyone can make at home. But before we get to kombucha homebrewing, let’s cover some of the basics.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea. It is typically prepared with black or green tea leaves, or with a blend of the two, and a large amount of sugar. Don’t worry, the end product isn’t sugary — the sugar is added to feed a SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. By the time the batch is finished fermenting, an eight-ounce serving of kombucha will typically have only a few grams of sugar. This is great news for those who are trying to replace sugar-laden energy and sports drinks, which can cause a 1.5% to 3.1% loss of your tooth enamel. By making the switch to kombucha, you can preserve your tooth enamel and keep your oral health in tip-top shape.

Kombucha was reportedly first brewed over 2,000 years ago in China. In the past few years, it has exploded in popularity in the United States, with Nielsen pricing the industry today at roughly half a billion dollars. The effervescent probiotic beverage has enjoyed such broad appeal due to both its taste and health benefits.

What are the health benefits of kombucha?

Drinking kombucha is believed to have a positive effect on digestive health. While there needs to be further study, it is thought that the bacteria present in kombucha serve as probiotics, which can contribute to a healthy microbiome. Of course, kombucha is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are key — unfortunately, only one in three children get physical activity every day.

Since it’s a tea, kombucha also contains all the beneficial compounds we associate with unfermented tea. The most notable of these are polyphenols, antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body.

Does kombucha contain alcohol?

Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol. Unless it is specifically labeled as 21+, kombucha has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. Thanks to tight regulation, any kombucha with an ABV that exceeds 0.5% requires valid identification with purchase. Given that 11% of all alcohol in the United States is consumed by people aged 12 to 20, it is good news that this industry is carefully monitored and regulated.

How do you make kombucha at home?

To make kombucha at home, first brew seven cups of tea. Then mix in half a cup of sugar and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Put in a SCOBY and some starter tea from a past kombucha batch, and wait one to two weeks. Once the batch has fermented, you can either drink it or bottle it in airtight containers for a second fermentation which will add effervescence. This is also the time to add any fruit, juice, or other flavors you want. Give another week for a second fermentation to occur, then enjoy.

Have fun exploring the tasty world of kombucha, and happy brewing!

Eco-Friendly Tips For House Hunters

If you’re looking for a new home, or you’re preparing to relocate, there are several steps you can take to embrace greener living and protect the planet. As more and more of us look for ways to reduce carbon emissions and waste, here are some top tips for house hunters. 

Choosing a location

Many buyers prioritize location as a result of wanting to be close to relatives and friends or to be in the catchment areas for good schools. While these factors may be critical to you, it’s also beneficial to consider location in terms of your carbon footprint. If you can buy close to your place of work or your kids’ school, for example, this will enable you to save money on commuting and travel costs and to embrace greener ways of getting around such as cycling and walking. If you have an area in mind, look for properties that are available within your budget, and consider nearby neighborhoods if you can’t find exactly what you’re searching for. The smaller the search area, the lower the probability of securing the property of your dreams, especially in sought-after suburbs and streets. 

Focusing on energy efficiency and cutting costs

When it comes to your finances, it’s important to be aware of how much you’re spending up-front, how much you’re borrowing and how much you’re going to spend running your new home. As well as looking for the best home loan, it’s wise to consider ways to lower longer-term living expenses. Check energy efficiency certificates and take a look at building projects that have already been completed. There are all kinds of incredible eco-friendly homes popping up all over the world and you could take inspiration from them to increase energy efficiency and create a greener home. Look into possibilities like building and decorating with sustainable materials, adding insulation and using green weather-proofing concepts. You could also consider adding solar panels to switch to renewable energy. 

In years gone by, you might have been greeted with a confused expression when asking real estate agents about finding a green property, but today, the world is a very different place and demand for eco-friendly homes has soared. If you do have designs on a property that is sustainable and energy-efficient, it’s beneficial to discuss your preferences with your realtor and to outline the issues that matter most to you. 

Size and space

Many of us have got used to living in houses that are too big for us. We have living rooms that we use once a year, attics that lie empty and more bedrooms than we know what to do with. If you are moving, be mindful of how much space you actually need. Bigger homes take more energy to heat, so consider downsizing. Think about how often you use each room in your current home. If you don’t need five bedrooms or two formal living areas, look for a smaller property, which will cost less to run. 

Recycling

If you’re planning on taking on a project, and you’re preparing to get your hands dirty and carry out renovations, try and recycle as much as you can. Take old furniture to salvage yards or donate it to charity if it’s in good condition. You could also consider embracing the upcycling trend and using your creativity and DIY skills to create new pieces. Separate recyclable materials when you’re clearing out the property and take them to a plant. When redecorating, look for furniture made from sustainable materials and opt for eco-friendly paint.

Outdoor space

For many house hunters, outdoor space is an essential. If you’re looking at gardens and backyards, consider the level of upkeep required and look for potential to create vegetable patches and wildlife-friendly zones. You can use your garden to provide a safe haven for feathered or furry friends, to add greenery and to provide food for your family. Even if you’re not a green-fingered guru, you should be able to grow your own produce, provided you’ve got a sheltered area you can turn into a designated vegetable patch. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to start with salad leaves, peas, runner beans and radishes. 

If you’re concerned about the environment, it makes sense to think about how you can embrace greener living when buying a new house. Most of us will move a few times in our lifetimes, and it’s beneficial to consider these tips if you are house hunting, and you’re keen to do your bit. Think about the location carefully, figure out how much space you really need and look for ways to create a more cost-effective, energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly home. 

Stylish and Sustainable Ideas For Your Home

Get your place up-to-date by making it sustainable, yet as stylish as possible. Don’t worry you don’t need to spend a fortune re-doing up your living space. In 2020 it’s more fashionable to minimize your consumption and in turn your spending. You can give your place the refreshing touches it needs to reflect your character while reducing your carbon footprint at the same time. Have fun with your decor and create a more unique, yet timeless look with a combination of vintage and more personal additions. 

Art Attack

Have a look online or in vintage or second-hand shops for unique pieces of artwork. Choose the ones that best reflect your sense of humor and personality. Vintage posters are in style and always create a timeless look if you’re stuck for ideas. Vintage advertising can be really fun and quirky. 

If you’re feeling brave enough, why not create some art yourself? You can go to a painting or drawing workshop to learn the basics if you’re not an expert. If you don’t feel up to it yourself, why not ask a friend with a more artistic touch? Something more personal will definitely add a lot of character and sentimental value. You could create a piece out of recycled materials again, or photos, if you’re not feeling very inspired. 

Collectors’ Items

Collecting is actually considered pretty trendy nowadays. Pick something that interests you. There are many cool things to collect this year such as old tech, vinyl and music memorabilia, toys and basically anything vintage. You can set up areas to display your collection, for example, an old record player in the corner displayed next to your collection of vinyl. Bookshelves are also a great way to display your collection of books and these familiar reads will make you feel more like yourself in your home. Hipster-types tend to go for old video consoles and technology, such as typewriters and other household machines. Go for something that reflects your interests, however, and don’t worry about following the crowds. 

Lighten up

Nothing is more important to interior design than light. Learn how to use light to your advantage, both natural and artificial. This year it’s all about staying as sustainable as possible, this will more often than not, also save you a lot of money. Replace your existing lightbulbs with LEDs as these will last you a lifetime. Stick to white or lighter colors for the main walls and ceilings. This will help to light the room. Put up wall lighting or sconces to highlight more artistic features. These could be interesting artwork for example, or parts of the architecture, such as naked brickwork. Lower hanging ceiling lights are trending at the moment, these can also be used as a feature piece. Look for some cool lampshades in a second-hand shop near you, for a cheaper and more individual look. You don’t need to worry about matching as you can get a collection of feature pieces and fun items. 

Throws and Pillows

Add some comfort to your living room and bedrooms with second-hand rugs, carpets, pillows, and throws. This can help to create insulation and warmth as well, particularly carpets as you won’t lose as much heat through the floors. Again you can go for the second-hand option and find some cheap bargains. Choose patterns with white or lighter lines to help to throw light around the room. Color schemes trending this year are navy against white, natural blues and greens and soft pinks and peaches. Go for as wild a pattern as you like. As for patterns in 2020, anything goes so choose whatever best suits your personality.

The only way is upcycling

Overspending on lavish or ostentatious furniture is not the done thing anymore. If you really wanna show off your living space, you’ve got to decorate it yourself with recycled materials. Get creative by refurbishing with used fabrics. Choose your favorite designs to spruce up your chairs, sofas, bedding, and cushions. Upcycling is trending massively this year. If you’re feeling able to pysch yourself up for a bit of a project why not give it a go? Get your friends to join in or look for a group or a workshop near you, if you need a little bit of help or inspiration. 

Here are just simple ways you can make your home match your environmentally-conscientious life changes this year. Now you can get back to your ev trip planner and mapping out your next big journey as an eco-warrior. 

Be More Self-Sustainable by Creating a Vegetable Garden

Be More Self-Sustainable by Creating a Vegetable Garden

Imagine being able to harvest over half a ton of beautiful vegetables from a garden that is only 20-foot-long. Yields like this are far easier than you think to achieve and the secret lies within the strategy you use. If you want to make sure that you get the best result out of your garden, then take a look below.

Plant in Raised Beds

Expert gardeners all agree that it’s super important to build up the soil.  If you are able to have a deep and organically rich soil then this will encourage the growth of extensive roots. These roots then have a higher chance of being able to reach a lot more water and nutrients. The vegetables that you can then harvest will be extra tasty and way more productive. If you want to be able to take advantage of this then you need to make sure that you have some raised beds. Raised beds are able to yield up to four times more produce when compared to plants that are in spaced rows, not to mention that you have way more room to grow them as well.  When you do have a raised bed, you will also find that they can save you a lot of time. Your plants will grow much closer together and this will crowd out any competing weeds. That means more produce for less time! If you are wondering what you are going to do with all of your extra vegetables then why not grow tomatoes and make this sugar free tomato sauce recipe? You can also plan out a home-grown thanksgiving dinner if you start early enough too.

Round out the Soil

The shape of your beds can make a huge difference. If you want to make more room, then try and gently round off the top of your soil so that it makes an arc. A rounded bed that is just 5 feet wide then becomes 6 feet wide.  This might not seem like a lot but when you do it across all of your beds, you will soon find that it makes a huge difference. You can expect to gain around 20% more space when you do this, and if you want some plants that are good to sow on the edges then simply focus on spinach, lettuce and other greens.

Pay Attention to the Arrangement of your Crops

If you want to get the maximum yield from every bed that you have then you need to pay attention to how your plants are arranged. Try and avoid planting in a square pattern or even in rows. Instead, try and stagger your plants by arranging in triangles instead. If you do this then you may find that you can plant up to 10% more plants in each bed. Be careful though because you don’t want to pack your plants too tightly. If you do, then you will compromise the yield.  If you crowd too tightly then this will also stress your plants out, making them way more susceptible to disease.

Grow Climbing Plants

It doesn’t matter how small your garden is because you can grow way more if you choose to grow vertically. Grow-hungry crops include peas, tomatoes, melons, squash and pole beans. Growing vegetables vertically will save you a lot of time because it makes maintenance way easier too.