The Nappy Decision – “Cloth” or “Disposable”??

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When I became pregnant on my first baby over 4 years ago now – without hesitation I decided I wanted to use cloth nappies! At the time I was living in a basement apartment that didn’t have great washing line facilities and I knew one of the main things for cloth nappies was the benefit of wind drying otherwise the benefits of using them in the first place would be greatly reduced if I had to go down the tumble drier route.

With statistics such as in the UK alone each year there are over 3 BILLION nappies ending up in ladfill taking between 50-100 years to breakdown – never decomposing just getting broken down into smaller bits! Scary thought isn’t it, and the length of time is longer when you wrap the nappies in non biodegradable plastic bags.

When I did go about having a look at cloth nappies I got a sample from a company called – Little Comfort – they made nappies from bamboo. All I can remember is the negative reactions from everyone that I suggested it to – it was so extraordinary that people had such an aversion to something so simple and environmentally friendly. Well I have made up my mind that if I have another, and please God I will,  I definitely will be using the cloth version without doubt – I have my washing line in place and even in the 4 years since I researched the quality and advancement in the cloth nappies has been amazing.

I am starting My Waste Free Home next Monday 1st of July where all my waste will be processed on-site/at my home sending nothing to landfill, using a Hot composter and a Pet Pooh Loo. For the mums who are interested in the concept of My Waste Free Home but would struggle with the problem of disposing of lots of dirty nappies on a weekly basis, cloth nappies would solve all of these problems. It may sound crazy but one of my favourite green companies in the world – TerraCycle actually have developed the method of recycling disposable nappies!! Check out more about it here.

Follow my blog and LIKE my Facebook page to follow what I am up to – Making it cool to care about the Environment!!

Useful Links:

http://www.realnappiesforlondon.org.uk/

http://www.thebabyplanners.co.uk/category/cloth-nappies

http://www.rollercoaster.ie/Discussions/tabid/119/ForumThread/141267651/Default.aspx

The Claire Lewis ‘Trashed’ Film Review

Trashed

What an AMAZING thought provoking and sometimes chilling film. I received the DVD copies sent so kindly by the film company behind the movie. One as a gift for me and to make sure I was practicing what I preached when I suggested as part of The Less Is More Challenge to watch the film ‘Home’ and the film ‘Trashed’. I also received two other copies one which went straight to Ms O’Keeffe and the students of Coachford College, Coachford, Co Cork, Ireland for their amazing participation in The Less Is More Schools Challenge for 2013.

The third will be part of a competition I will be running for My Waste Free Home – I set this up the day after watching the film – powerful viewing!!

The film was so chilling because it encapsulated the fact that we have reached the point of no return. The problem now goes back to each and every one who has a trash can and a recycling bin in their homes – we need to reconnect with the fact the when we throw something “out” or “away”, these terms just basically mean we are dumping the trash in our lands or burning it and will in turn eat it in some form or another.

Jeremy Irons was so perfect for the role as he was on point, funny and could deal with the crap that gets churned out by official people and people of power and he was not intimidated by anyone. He just wanted to find the facts about TRASH. What it is? What it does to the human body? Why are we leaving this happen? And What can we do about it?

The Film in my opinion is something that as a part of the consuming population it should be MANDITORY that you watch this. People historically dont care once the mess is not on their door step!! Well we now know that the mess is not only on your door step it is everywhere and is getting worse.

Check out the Trashed website Here.

BIKE WEEK – Two wheels, Two Legs, ZERO CO2.

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It is Bike Week, well we are nearly finished Bike week actually – In Ireland it began on Saturday 15th and will end Sunday 23rd of July. My blog on last years bike week was one of my first ever blog posts – Yay I am the proud mother of a 1 year old blog!! So my yearly report of bike week also marks my Blogbday, I couldn’t think of a better week to share it with. To cycle is such a positive experience on so many levels, physically, environmentally, financially, emotionally and socially. The one major negative is the safety aspect of cycling and in Ireland this is one of the major reasons why more people do not participate, but it is getting better. In my town in Co Wicklow we recently got a new cycle network which is brilliant. I used to cycle to work and bought my bike on the cycle to work scheme in Ireland – it is a tax break on your biking purchases and it has gone down a storm. My experience of cycling as a mode of transport was such a positive experience, I had muscles where I never knew I could 🙂 I had to give up the bike and catch the bus when I became pregnant on my first child – I just wouldn’t take the chance. But, I do use my bike to run my dogs (it does the job in half the time) – I don’t use it as much as I want to, I always seem to have my daughter to bring along and I would be nervous on the main roads with a three year old in tow. BUT, if there was a cycle network  in Ireland similar to other countries where cycling is one of the main forms of transport – I would 100% use my bike more and bring my daughter along with me.

From my research into this post I will definitely be looking into cycling in the Netherlands as a holiday option – amazing that there are cycling maps for the whole country!! Ireland, unfortunately is a long way off this, but we can live in hope, and I know the cycling community in Ireland are so passionate and forward thinking they just need the governments support.

But one thing in Ireland we are good at is sayings and one of these is “On your bike”  – meaning get out of here!

Useful Links:

http://www.bikeweek.ie/

http://www.nederlandfietsland.nl/en/online-cycle-route-planner

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2007/07/the-new-suv-ame/

Marks & Spencer’s Plan A is inspirational…

planA M&S

I had never heard until recently, about the inspirational approach, efforts and achievements of Marks & Spencer’s Plan A.

I Love M&S. I love their clothes especially for kids, their food…yummy yum yum and they have the most amazing flowers, cards and of course Percy Pig! I don’t shop much at M&S anymore as I do not live near one, but when I did, I used to shop there all the time and loved it. M&S always struck me as a very organized company, run as efficiently as the top corporate companies, saving money but also saving on CO2 and all of the other environmental negative impacts to manufacturing and retail. My sister used to work for M&S while in college many years ago and even then they used to sell off the display by date products to the staff for half nothing.

So, What is Plan A?

M&S launched Plan A in January 2007, setting out 100 commitments to achieve in 5 years. We’ve now extended Plan A to 180 commitments to achieve by 2015, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer.

Through Plan A we are working with our customers and our suppliers to combat climate change, reduce waste, use sustainable raw materials, trade ethically, and help our customers to lead healthier lifestyles. Explore our Plan A commitments for 2010 – 2015, and watch our Plan A film for 2012 here.

I love what M&S are doing so much so that I will be emailing them to tell them how amazing I think they are. They get it – that the only way to do business in today’s world is sustainably and environmentally responsibly. They also are leading the way for other retailers to shape up and follow suit because the next time I need supplies I will be going straight to my nearest Marks and Spencer!!

My Waste Free Home Ireland – Starting Monday July 1st 2013

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After watching the film Trashed starring Jeremy Irons – I first felt a mixture of emotions such as rage, sadness and a huge drive to follow out my dreams of making a difference in the world. The idea for A Waste Free Home became more apparent. Sorting out my own trash problem,  and my families trash problem out in my own home. Reverting items that were usually sent to landfill because I have no where else to send them – partly because I too have relied on the convenience of paying someone to magically make my trash problem disappear – the term “throwing things OUT” comes to mind.

People need to take account for their own trash problem and governments need to step up and start following San Fransisco’s zero waste model. In San Francisco it is a federal offence not to adhere to the 0 waste model and sort out your trash, even if you are visiting the city!

My Waste Free Home will be a home where I have NO Trash Bin going to Landfill or Recycling bin that costs me money. I will sort all of my own recycling and deposit for FREE at my local recycling facility. I will also have to really get to know the products and produce that I can buy that will allow me to recycle EVERY part of the packaging. This will probably be the most difficult part as we all know packaging is confusing and sometimes excessive and I have no idea how some companies get away with producing a product that majority of the time is worth LESS than the packaging. I also am not alone in my home I have a hungry (not so green) husband and a three year old (going to be very green) little girl, both of whom love items already that come in not so recyclable packaging that I will need to find a way to either 1) Hand Back the Packaging when I purchase it or 2) Find a replacement product that comes in recyclable packaging…..!

I am lucky to be able to get great green companies to support my endeavours such as Great Green Systems who have kindly donated a Green Johanna and Original Organics who donated a Pet Poo Loo Wormery . I am now all set to deal with the waste that I was usually sending to landfill – with two dogs and a daily poo to clean from each I used to send them to landfill in biodegradable bags. And the only other items to go into my trash bin was food waste and some packaging that couldn’t be recycled.

I will be dedicating a section of my home to a recycling depot. My local authority recycling centre will receive my recycling waste on a weekly basis. I will also be visiting my local authority recycling centres around the country and documenting my findings, bringing you as much information as possible to help you make informative decisions about YOUR waste.

I am not saying this will be easy – it would if I lived on my own, but I have to coax the whole family into my way of thinking. I my mind my way of thinking is the correct way in terms of the environment and how we can do our bit. I am putting it down as a family carbon offset – if we work hard all year on My Waste Free Home we can cash in on our family holiday!!  Not only the money we save on our bins but also the CO2 saved on the following:

1) Landfill not only the physical space the waste would have occupied but also the environmental lechet and other nasties that would follow.

2) Transport from the waste truck pick up at our home going all around the city back and forth and the machinery at the landfill needed to burry and dig – big diesel guzzlers!! Lots of CO2 saved here.

3) The purchase of bought Compost – No need to purchase this as I will be making my own very excellent two varieties of compost. One from the pet poo (perfect for the non edible plants) and one from the Hot Composter (perfect for the veggies).

4) I will be cutting back completely on items that are packaged in non recycling packaging and emailing the company to tell them so! This can only be good for the environment and not so good for the company – named and shamed also!!

My motto is to ‘make it cool to care about the environment’ and I also hope to drive you all to make simple, manageable, informative steps to change towards living as Environmentally Responsible as possible.

If you would like to know more or get involved please contact me below:

email: mywastefreehome@gmail.com

Facebook: My Waste Free Home 

Instagram: /clairelewisco

Twitter: @claireLOK

Linked In: http://ie.linkedin.com/pub/claire-o-keeffe-lewis/24/782/4b7

A Blogalist Piece by Josie Yorgason – Homemade Paint

MPC-Stock-Phote-Abstract-Paint-Can-Art

Prior to the 1970’s paint used in countless homes worldwide contained harmful and in some cases toxic levels of lead. When the lead paint began to deteriorate this created dust and paint chippings that were ingested, predominantly by toddlers and small children – due to their nature of crawling and ingesting items at floor level.  Just to put it in perspective one small chip of lead paint contains tens or hundreds of milligrams of lead. This was a worldwide problem and as we all know elevated levels of lead in the body causes a whole range of deadly effects and even death.

In light of this, through time and technology, paint is now a much less harmful material to work with than it was in the past.

Through an environmental scope, modern house paints break down in a much faster and greener fashion than do paints created previous to the 1970’s. Commercial paints are now starting to integrate natural and biologically derived substances into their formulas. On this note, many consumers have sought an alternative to commercially produced paints, turning to the greenest option on the painting market: homemade paints. At the most basic level, wall paint consists of a pigment and a binder a.k.a. the glue. While the majority of paints also include fillers, solvents, and other drying agents, homemade paints can be made simply with a pigment and binder.

The pigments in commercially produced paints are often artificially created chemical compounds that may be toxic. In homemade variety paints, pigments can be derived anywhere from organic sources like plants, insects, minerals, and powdered oxides. When these pigments are mixed with a binder, which have natural sources like starches, casein, and seed oils, a basic natural and organic house paint is created. Additional substances like fillers and solvents can then be added to create any desired paint. Fillers are responsible for giving the pain body and bulk. In homemade paints, fillers can be derived from chalk, limestone, sand, clay, silica, marble, and a plethora of other materials. Organic thinners in commercial paint can often outgas, causing harmful and noxious VOC gases to build up in an unventilated area. Theses VOC gases can cause headaches, blurred vision, and nausea. In homemade paints, organic thinners that release very low levels of VOCs can be citrus thinners and natural turpentine.

The next time you have a big painting project to tackle, I encourage you to think about your environmental impact when you introduce new paint to your home. Creating your own unique colors and textures with paint is also a great way to add charm and personal touches to your home. Take a look at some of these great paint recipes, courtesy of MotherEarthNews.com, and have fun with your painting ventures!

Basic Flour Paint

1 cup flour
5 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup screened clay filler (clay can be purchased in a wide variety of colors)
1/2 cup additional powder filler, such as mica

  1. Mix flour with 2 cups cold water, whisking to remove lumps.
  2. Bring 11/2 cups water to boil, then add the flour water from Step 1.
  3. Turn heat to low, stirring until thick paste develops. Remove from heat.
  4. Dilute the paste with 2 cups water, a little at a time.
  5. In a separate work bowl, combine clay with powder filler.
  6. Add filler mixture to diluted flour paste until desired consistency is achieved.

Yields 1 1/2 quarts

Basic Oil Glaze

An oil glaze can serve many purposes. Sometimes you will want to put a glaze over flour or milk paints to increase water resistance. Oil glazes also make nice wood stains, with or without added color.

  1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon each pigment and whiting (powdered chalk) in approximately 1/2 cup linseed oil.
  2. Stir in an additional 1/2 cup linseed oil.
  3. Add 2/3 cup natural solvent and 2 tablespoons whiting, whisking to remove lumps.

Yields approximately 2 cups.

-Josie

Happy Father’s Day all about the LOVE not the STUFF!

Happy Fathers Day to all the dad’s, granddad’s, step dad’s, godfathers, and any other father figures out there. Tomorrow is a day that you all have to take a break and get some recognition for your endeavours.

It really is lovely to get some love especially when you have children, if they are old enough to do something nice all on their own it makes it even more special. Just remember it is about the LOVE not the stuff to buy. You just have to look around the shops to see the crap that is manufactured just to make money and has no real use.

88% of men surveyed said that the best present for Fathers Day would be a holiday from the kids….sorry kids!! Dad in our house got a free pass today to play golf and watch a rugby match which he was delighted with. I also bought a shaving soap and brush that will tie in with My Waste Free Home – thinking ahead but I like nothing more than practical, needed presents. He will also get a lie in tomorrow on Fathers Day – breakfast in bed will be served with this really lovely, simple, heartwarming list of things about Dad through the eyes of our three year old. Eabha’s crèche The Park Academy were doing these with the kids on Friday and the simplicity and honesty was better than any gift.

Try it out if you have young children and want a simple loving gift that Dad’s heart-strings everywhere will be pulled 🙂

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