Have more sex, and other eco-resolutions from 2015

Last year, I wrote some ‘alternative’ green resolutions for myself and hopefully to inspire others. They were a little silly, but were all good for the environment. I wanted to show that being green isn’t all about deprivation and discomfort.

As we approach the end of they year, I thought I should revisit them. I’ll let  you know how I performed soon.

Kate’s alternative green resolutions from January 1st 2015

  • Forget your manners

When Christmas is over, but the aftermath of presents remains, be honest. How many do your really like or need? Get on eBay and sell the things that don’t bring you a smile, far better to rehome than hide them in the cupboard.

  • Have more sex

As activities go for all you consenting adults, it is one of the greenest there is. No electricity is required and it warms you up. It’s also good for your relationship – so decreasing the risk of divorce which is very un-environmentally friendly (suddenly two houses, two cars and two of everything are needed).

  • Don’t go to the gym

Avoid being a hamster on a treadmill, burning carbon to get fit. No, just go outside instead. It is better for your mind and more challenging and varied for your body. Free too.

  • Get a new hairstyle

Ladies – take two inches off your hair and you’ll save minutes and carbon every day by reducing the blow dry time and the amount of product you need to use.

  • Don’t eat salad

This is a silly time of year to stick to lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes. These are in season in the summer so instead of buying tasteless imported versions now, save them for June. If you want to eat healthily this month then choose cabbage, root vegetables and spinach.

  • Celebrate breasts

Everyone knows that breast feeding is best for the baby, but it is also the very best choice for the environment too. Formula feeding has its place, but it comes with a massive carbon footprint and lots of packaging. Make sure you smile at nursing mothers and give up your seat to mums with babies in crowded cafes.

  • Don’t do the washing up yourself

Instead, put the dishwasher on eco-setting, use a marine safe powder and let the machine get busy – it will use less water and energy than you.

  • Don’t get up so early

These dark winter mornings mean two things are guaranteed – lights are on and so is the heating. Could you stay in bed for twenty minutes more and then just rush? More sleep is a good thing and so is saving energy.

  • Ignore the garden

Leave any seed heads or piles of leaves – they are providing food or shelter for wildlife. Keep your hands off until early springtime when you can go crazy with the secateurs.

  • Don’t go to work

In the absence of a lottery win halting all work, why not discuss a work from home day with your employer? This won’t be appropriate for all jobs, but if yours is mainly desk based then a regular day at home can help you be more productive as well as slashing your transport related emissions.

Look out for my update on how I did early in the New Year!

My very own X Factor

The People's book prize

With non-fiction writing, it all starts with the idea. Then you take your half-formed thoughts to a publisher (or many) and see if it captures their imagination too. If you are so lucky as to get the go-ahead, then the writing begins.

For me, working very part-time, with my daughter at home most of the week, this took a while – about a year and a half. This included working with photographers Phil Barnes and James Williamson, as well as my illustrator, Stephanie Laurence, to get all the beautiful photos and drawings done.

Next the detail bit – painstaking editing with my editor Sadie Mayne and then the design and the proof-reading. I’ve probably missed out lots of behind the scenes stuff that Green Books did for me too. Simultaneously, the sales and promotion kicks in. All before the book even hits the shelves.

It’s a long and fascinating road and I’ve enjoyed it all and learnt masses, but the reality is enough to put thoughts of best-sellers, glamorous book tours and black-tie awards ceremonies to the very back of my mind.

But then I heard that my book had been nominated for  The People’s Book Prize. This is an award that is given by the public, who simply vote for the newly published book that they love. It’s all about discovering us newbie authors, all passionate about our subjects and on the exciting journey of working out how we tell the world about our books.

It’s a bit X Factor style (although luckily without Simon Cowell or singing) because the public vote is what counts. The top three books from each section (I’m Non-Fiction) will go through to the next round. Best of all, there is a posh black-tie dinner in London for finalists to attend, which could just be the hint of razzle dazzle that I need.

So, without further ado, the voting lines are now open… will you, please?

Give a first time author a small taste of the glamour by voting here.

Thank you 🙂 xx

 

 

Eco-gifting for the family

Are you one of the smug people who has nearly finished their Christmas shopping? Or are you a last minute, dash around the shops type? Either way, you are currently being bombarded by marketing galore.

Constant emails and cutesy catalogues will try to persuade you that all women desire purple silk underwear or fluffy ear muffs. Meanwhile, the man in your life absolutely requires a designer leather iPad cover embossed with his initials and the children will have a Christmas to remember ONLY if you buy them their own body-weight in overpriced, branded plastic.

We will all receive items that we don’t want or need and we will all spend a bit more than we should have done. Whilst our bank balances can hopefully recover in the New Year, it’s not so rosy for the environment because all consumerism has a direct impact on the planet. Now I’m not so mean as to suggest we don’t give presents, my children would still be crying by New Year’s Day if I was that horrible. However, burying them in an excess of new possessions doesn’t do them any favours.

Over-gifting your kids can result in them acquiring a spoilt, entitled attitude, not looking after their new toys properly and expecting even more next year. You know what over-gifting looks like: the child is swamped by presents which they open in an increasingly mechanical, zombie like way, finding it hard when the supply eventually stops.

To try and rein myself in (because it is so easy to get carried away) I love the gifting advice that goes ‘Want. Need. Wear. Read’ and try to apply it to shopping for the kids.

Want
A present is never wasted if it is what someone really, really desires. If you have no clue, then ask, or at least give vouchers rather than buying them the thing you secretly want. Yes, Dads with that Star Wars Lego, I’m talking to you!

Need
So it’s a little more on the boring side, but for children this is where the more sensible purchases come in, such as a new duvet set, furniture for their room, hairbrush or swim kit. Although my cousins were given toothpaste every year – I think that may be taking it a bit far.

Wear
Much as I love a festive jumper, giving it on Christmas Day means it is hardly going to be worn. If you must, then size up so growing children can wear it the next year too. Onesies, special dresses and organic cotton pjs make excellent choices here.

Read
The gift of a book is the most wonderful of all. What could be more perfect than giving them a whole world, for you to read together or for older children to discover alone? I don’t think anyone can have too many books.

Stockings
What about stockings? That’s helping Father Christmas plan your child’s stocking obviously. I try and keep to the above rules when, er, suggesting ideas to the elves. That is, something from each category of: want, need, wear, read – but we do have a whole stocking to stuff.

Eco-friendly ‘consumables’ are great filler options, such as Fair-trade organic chocolates, dried fruit, an all-natural bath bomb or lip balm, or shower gel. I also feel Santa should always provide useful items such as pants, tights, vests and socks.

When you are tight for time, it is easy to just grab the nearest available items, however eco-unfriendly. Don’t worry though, I’ve collated some green and thoughtful stocking ideas that will help!

Baby and toddler stocking ideas
I honestly wouldn’t go crazy for this age group – a couple of nice, eco-friendly toys and then a few practical items will be plenty.

I love these lovely sustainable wooden grasping toys by EverEarth.

A gnome leaf stacking toy.

Felt animals (3+).

Wooden letters for the bedroom door, like these.

Wooden cars (these mini ones are 3+).

Cutlery and plate sets.

Gorgeous Stockmar beeswax crayons.

Primary age stocking ideas
Eco action trump cards – a fun way of learning about taking care of the environment.

Mini boxes of a favourite ‘treat’ cereal.

Learn about natural energy sources with a potato-powered clock.

A new water bottle – this one is made from recycled plastic and has a charcoal filter.

A wind-up torch.

Wooden jewellery.

A flannel with their favourite character on.

A grow your own carnivorous plants kit.

Lavender and wheat filled teddies, that can be microwaved and will make the bed all cosy (so you can turn the heating down).

Teenager stocking ideas
A bead and hoop necklace, fairly traded and made from all natural materials.

Star wars origami.

These gorgeous birch candle holders.

Vouchers – probably iTunes.

An adult colouring book inspired by nature.

Pretty glass earring dish.

Slightly crazy, but low eco-impact, face drinks mats.

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees? Grow your own money (plant).

I also enjoyed these eco-gift suggestions from River Cottage HQ, and don’t forget second-hand items are perfect too. Now is also a great time to take any outgrown toys to the charity shop so someone else can benefit!

Above all, don’t go overboard on the pressies, do get out for some fresh air and do remember that possessions don’t bring happiness, it’s all about being together in your very own crazy, unique way.

Kate Blincoe is the author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting (Green Books) and is a freelance writer.