Tag Archives: garden

Environmental Awareness Days 2021

Everyday there seemed to be an ‘International day of xxx’ or ‘National day of xxx’ and in 2020 there were quite a few that I had missed. So I thought I would do a calendar for 2021.

Although, this isn’t a complete list, I’ve tried my best to include awareness dates for when they would be usually be held but with coronavirus, these could be delayed or even cancelled until next year.

January

  • Veganuary 1st January to 31st January – This has been going for a few years now and the idea is to only eat vegan food throughout the month of January. This is a good opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint, see how you get on being a vegan for a month and to try different foods.
  • Big Garden Birdwatch – 29th January to 31st January – Organised by the RSPB, you can spend an hour in the park or garden, making a note of the birds and how many you see. By submitting this information to the RSPB, it allows them to monitor the challenges faced by wildlife and whether the population of a particular breed is growing or in decline. Click on the link and you can sign up.
  • Houseplant Week UK – 11th January to 17th January – Houseplants are brilliant at purifying the air, this week is a perfect opportunity to find out which houseplant to buy. A good place to start is a blog I wrote last year about houseplants.
  • Big Energy Saving Week – 18th January – 24th January -This week is dedicated to cutting your energy use and how to save money lead by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in partnership with the Energy Saving Trust and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The website is full of tips and ideas.

March

  • Compost Week – 15th March to 21st March – As the name suggests, this week is dedicated to composting and its benefits. Composting is becoming quite popular and it’s really healthy for your garden.
  • The Great British Spring Clean – Usually around 22nd March to 23rd April – Encouraging you to pledge whatever time you have, even if its an hour, and use that time to go litter picking or join a litter picking group. Keep an eye on their website for 2021 dates, it’s usually held in March/April but in 2020 it was held in September.

April

  • Discover National Parks Fortnight – Around 4th April – 19th April – There are secret coves and ancient forest to explore all around the UK. This is a brilliant opportunity to discover a new place and get some fresh air into your lungs.
  • Community Garden Week – 5th April to 11th April – This week takes the opportunity to celebrate school and community gardens up and down the country. Working together and inspiring each other, what’s not to love?
  • Earth Day – 22nd April – The Earth Day network is a global effort to work together and their mission to ‘To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet‘ (https://www.earthday.org/about-us/). This movement has been going since 1970. You can sign up to their newsletter and keep up to date with their progress and campaigns.

May

  • No Mow May – 1st May to 31st May – I found out about this campaign last year and it’s a fabulous idea. The idea is that you don’t mow your lawn for a whole month, allowing flowers to bloom which is vital source of nectar for bees and other insects. You can even construct a ‘scaremow’ – click on the link to the National Trust Website to find out more.
  • National Children’s Gardening Week – 29th May to 6th June – What better way to get your children interested in gardening. It’s fun for all the family and gets you out into the fresh air, what’s not to love?
  • Bike Week – 30th May to 5th June – In partnership with Cycle UK, this is a campaign to celebrate cycling and the benefits. Also, a fabulous way to reduce your carbon footprint!

June

  • World Environment Day – 5th June – ‘The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.’ (https://www.un.org/en/observances/environment-day). This year’s theme is biodiversity and with everything that is going on with the planet, it’s very appropriate.
  • World Oceans Day – 8th June – Raising awareness of the vital importance our oceans play and how it helps to sustain a healthy planet. There is much in the media about plastic in the ocean and the effects our choices have on the oceans. Sign up to get involved.
  • National Refill Day – 19th June – I remember this from 2020. In an effort to prevent plastic pollution, this campaign encourages us to make the switch from single-use plastic bottles to reusable ones. I, for one, am already on board and have quite a few reusable bottles already!

July

  • Plastic Free July – 1st July to 31st July – I love this global campaign which encourages us to make changes to reduce our plastic use. I even wrote a blog about what I did for 2020. Small changes make a massive difference and I would encourage everyone to make a change. Their website is full of ideas.
  • Plastic Bag Free Day – 3rd July – This is a global campaign to eliminate the use of single-use plastics which is part of the Break Free From Plastic movement. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a plastic bag! Their website also has some interesting facts about the different types of plastic used in bags.
  • Don’t Step on a Bee Day – 10th July – Bees are so crucial to the ecosystem that I’m in the process of writing a blog about why they are important and what they do. Bees are precious and need protecting.

August

  • National Allotments Week – 9th August to 15th August – This week is to celebrate the importance of allotments and their benefits; growing and cooking your own food should be a life skill. The theme for 2021 is ‘plotting for the future’ highlighting how allotments contribute to a sustainable future.

September

  • Organic September – 1st September to 30th September – This campaign aims to bring awareness by trying organic food and to educate people about farming practices in growing organic food.
  • Recycle Week – 20th September to 26th September – As the name suggests, it’s a week to promote and encourage recycling. Full details are yet to be released for 2021 so the dates could change, last year’s theme was ‘Recycling. It’s in our hands’.

October

  • Unblocktober – 1st October to 31st October – This was one I had never heard of before. This campaign promotes awareness for our drains, sewers and waterways by changing your habits at home. The amount of things people put down their drains that can cause blockages is alarming. I remember watching a programme last year about the damage baby wipes can do to drains. Their website has some brilliant ways to make these changes.
  • No Disposable Cup day – 4th October – as the name suggests, it asks everyone not to take a disposable cup for that day. Personally, I think everyday should be disposable cup day!
  • National Clean Air Day – 8th October – Their website states 36,000 a year in the UK die from air pollution, that’s shocking! As well as stats, their website provides information on how you can get involved.

December

If there are any other events that you feel should be mentioned, please do let me know 💚

Goodies from My Garden

Back in March, I wrote a blog called Busy in the garden where I intended to starting planting in the garden. Even though I had planted potatoes last year, I hadn’t watered them enough and most of them grew with small holes in them, they looked like blocks of cheese…lesson learnt for this year.

I also purchased some strawberry plants a few days before the UK was placed on lockdown due to Covid-19. I had never planted strawberries before and was reliably informed that this is one of the easiest things to grow. For someone who has killed a cactus, that’s quite reassuring!

So, how have I been getting on? Let’s start with the potatoes

Check these out!! I have to say that there is something very satisfying about growing your own food. It was like finding treasure! We mainly have mashed potatoes and they tasted delicious.

Onto the Strawberries, how did we get on?

Check out the size of these? Just to clear things up, I didn’t just get two, these were the first ones I picked. My little one and I love strawberries so we have been eating a few every day. As well as being able to nip into the garden to get some strawberries, we don’t have to buy them from the shop anymore (I will only eat them when they’re in season and from my garden), one thing that always bothered me was the amount of plastic packaging that comes with strawberries. I appreciate that they bruise easily but there must be another way. Anyway, for us, that’s not a problem anymore!

Growing this food has most definitely given me a confidence boost to grow more food next year, I was thinking about giving cauliflower a go and maybe spring onions.

I have to make sure I don’t go nuts; I don’t have a particularly big garden!

Things I No Longer Buy

Over the past year, I’ve become more aware of my carbon footprint which has made me make some changes in my life. The things we buy have a carbon footprint; production, transport etc so I’ve stopped buying certain items I realised I personally didn’t need anymore

Plastic Bottles

I’ve actively refuse to buy drinks in a plastic bottle. I have quite a few reusable bottles and when I go out with my daughter, I make sure I fill up a bottle for her. She also has a water bottle she takes to school everyday. When my partner comes home from a football match after eating his fried chicken on the train, he always buys a plastic bottle on water. I’ve used this bottle for things like watering the plants in the house. Ideally, I would prefer if he took a water bottle with him…I’m working on it!

Shopping Plastic Bags

Reusable bags can be bought from anywhere and there is no excuse to have to purchase plastic carrier bags from the supermarket. It helps if you have a few bags in your handbag, car, workplace desk. They will always come in handy.

Strawberries

I know this is going to sound like a weird one but I love eating strawberries and they are always sold in the plastic tub with a sheet of bubble wrap at the bottom. I know strawberries can be easily bruised and need protection but this packaging really irks me. I started growing strawberries in my garden and although I won’t be able to eat strawberries all year round, when they’re in season, I nip out to the garden and pick what I want.

Clothes

The only time I buy clothes brand new is when I need underwear, which isn’t that often anyway. Some friends and family turn their noses up at charity shops but it’s never bothered me. Quite a few months ago I needed a hat a scarf, I washed my hat and shrunk, a lot! I found a hat and scarf for £2 each, bargain! I bought a pair of jeans for £3. I even buy furniture too.

Cling Film

I’ve stopped using cling film a while ago and I’m trying to get my Mum to do the same. For leftover food, I put the food in reusable plastic containers or reusable wraps. There are plenty on the market to choose from.

Dishcloths

I don’t buy new dishcloths anymore, I just chuck them in the washing machine with the rest of the washing.

Loose fruit and veg

I make a conscious effort to buy loose fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. I will never understand why buying four apples loose costs more than buying four apples in plastic wrap. I think it’s something to do with the grade of the item but I think it’s just a cop out. Give us more choice.

Making changes to our habits takes time, when we realise we’ve changed your shopping habits, we need to keep adding more. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What things have you given up?

Are we really killing the planet?

Before you start attacking me, just hear me out.

Due to human activity, we are accelerating climate change, I believe this to be true. Global warming has occurred in Earth’s history, the difference is that we, humans, are accelerating it. But I began looking at it differently since I started studying for an BSc in Environmental Science.

We aren’t killing the planet; we are killing life on the planet. Two very different things but just as serious.

The earth is 4.6 billion years old and has survived five mass extinctions:

  1. Ordovician–Silurian extinction – 439 million years ago
  2. Late Devonian extinction – 364 million years ago
  3. Permian–Triassic extinction – 251 million years ago
  4. Triassic–Jurassic extinction – 199 million to 214 million years ago
  5. Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction – 65 million years ago (Asteroid)

From my studies, the third mass extinction, Permian–Triassic extinction, which was the deadliest, wiped out about 75% of life on land and 95% of life in the ocean. 95%, that’s huge! Especially since life actually began in the oceans and made its way onto land. Despite this devastation, some form of life was still able to continue and evolved. The fifth mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs wasn’t as devastating as the third one and that was due to an asteroid colliding with earth.

Whenever the planet has experienced an extinction, Earth has always been able to regenerate itself and there is no reason to believe it can’t do that again. However, I do wonder whether humans will be part of the future. Although we are an arrogant species wielding the superiority sword, we are also incredibly fragile. A little fact I learned during my studies; 95% of ALL life that has EVER lived on earth is extinct.

It is believed by some that we are in the sixth extinction event, Holocene extinction. As our CO2 parts per million is at the highest level than at any recorded time in the past, something has to give. We are on a path of destruction and the crazy thing is that not everyone is on board with this.

We humans really do need to change our habits instead of playing lip service. I don’t believe we, humans, can stop the sixth extinction. However, we do have the capability to slow if we all worked together. The painful truth is that the officials we elect have so much power and are able to make colossal changes but they just aren’t doing enough. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to in the world to pass a law requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and we’re not even the richest economy in the world!

I believe in science, and no one knows how this is going to play out. Scientists are providing us with their best predictions based on various models but these are being readjusted because certain factors are accelerating the problem. There will always be variable factors; number of people living on the planet, the next pandemic and the resulting loss of life.

I’m still at the early stages in my educational journey, maybe my views may change along the way. That’s what I want out of my education; learning, listening to different opinions and forming my own conclusions based on the facts in front of me.

Geologists can tell a lot about history from rock layers built up over millions and millions of years. In the very distant future when more intelligent species start investigating the planet’s past, they will find our legacy in the rocks, a thin layer of plastic pinpointing the age of humans.

Will The Coronavirus Make Us Think Differently About Our Food?

The coronavirus or COVID-19 has gripped the world changing all aspects of society; school, work, visiting friends and family, and even just going out for a walk.

When we started learning about the effect this pandemic was having on the citizens of China, there was fear that this virus may spread. Why wouldn’t it? We are a global society. We are always on the go, whether it’s commuting to work, travelling for business or going on holiday, we don’t stay in one place so something like spreading a virus is always a strong possibility. Each country has been handling the crisis in the best way they know how, although, this has differed between countries.

If a county you rely on for exports are having a problem and affects the supply chain, especially in terms of food, this can be disastrous. Not just for economies but for people too. People start to panic.

As well as many other countries, people in the UK started panic buying. Before we knew it, you had more chance of seeing a Unicorn than a pack of toilet roll and shortly after that other products were proving difficult to come by; flour, eggs, bread and pasta. Supermarkets just couldn’t cope with the demand.

Since supermarkets finally limited the number of each item per customer was allowed to purchase, the shelves seem to be stocked although some products are still hard to come by.

A local service I signed up to in January was for milk delivery from a local dairy. I had always thought about having my milk delivered, purely as a way to reduce my plastic and someone knocked on my door offering this service. Having milk delivered twice a week is a real benefit to us (they’re in glass bottles too, no plastic!) and as they are a local business, the service has been unaffected. If anything, I think they’ve become busier since the coronavirus outbreak as they offer fruit, vegetables and bread. Demand for services like this has skyrocketed.

Fifty or so years ago, towns and cities had a local food supply infrastructure; butchers, family dairies, greengrocers but in that time majority of these services have disappeared as products offered by these businesses can be found conveniently (and cheaper) at supermarkets resulting in small family run businesses shutting down.

It's time to support local businesses

When normal services resume, and they will resume, I really hope this will encourage consumers to change their buying habits as well as their mindsets and purchase food from local businesses. I hope #SupportLocal takes on a whole new level and consumers will do this automatically.

Will this encourage us to look at maybe growing our own vegetables in our back gardens, will the waiting list for allotments become longer? Will we start eating food that is in season in the UK rather than shipping in strawberries from Spain all year round?

I hope this will make us look at our food and allow us to do things differently.

How to be eco-friendly during a lockdown

This coronavirus pandemic has resulted in people ditching the cars they used for the commute and school run. This has led to empty roads and less air pollution.

We are all isolating at home and using this time could really benefit the environment allowing you to make eco-friendly choices during this lockdown.

Grow your own vegetables

If you have an outside space, growing your own veg isn’t as difficult as you think. There is a wealth of information about how to grow veg; potatoes, carrots, spring onions, lettuce can all be grown in the UK. This is also a good way to support your local garden centre as some of them are still doing deliveries. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating something you’ve grown yourself. If you don’t have a garden, the kitchen windowsill also works well.

Explore your cupboards

This is a great time to see what you have in the back of your cupboards, what’s the point in buying lots of new products when you’ve got food already at home and also means you don’t have to queue for the supermarket. If you found something you don’t particularly like (and it’s in date) donate it to a food bank so someone else can use it.

Zero waste Shops

These shops are popping up all over the place and you are able to buy food without the packaging. The food is usually stored in large jars and you only pay for what you need, kind of like the old fashioned sweet shops (showing my age, aren’t I?) and you may find a lot of these shops are better stocked than supermarkets so why not take some empty clean Tupperware boxes with you and see what they’ve got. Most of these shops are independent businesses so you’ll be supporting a local business too. Win win!

Cooking

This is a great time to start cooking again. Dust off those cookbooks and give a new recipe a whirl. If you’re anything like me and are rubbish at cooking, you could try an app called Supercook where you add in the ingredients you have and it comes up with a recipe for you. Why not try something new for dinner? Cooking also reduces waste because you’re not throwing away packaging you would get from a microwave meal. Anything you don’t eat, you could put in the fridge and eat the next day.

Ditch the car for a bit

As the only reasons we would use our car is to commute (for key workers) and shopping, if the supermarket is within walking distance, why not try walking to the shop instead of taking the car? This will contribute to your daily exercise too. A bit of fresh air, exercise, pop in your headphones and catch up on The Archers, what’s not to love? Also, if you filled up the car before the lock down, imagine how long it will be until you need to fill up again! You’re saving money too.

Make do and mend

I have to say, I do love this one. Do you have a top or shirt that has lost its button an you never got the chance to repair it, now’s your chance. If you don’t have a sewing machine, get your needle and thread out and make repairs to clothes that are sitting in your wardrobe you can’t wear because a button is missing or a part of a hem has come undone. Have you been meaning to finally put the new kitchen cabinets on or do the weeding in the garden or change one of the spotlights in the kitchen that stopped working a year ago. Have a wander around your home and look at what needs fixing and try to fix it.

The Paddling Pool Water Problem

It’s Easter Weekend and the weather is glorious. The only problem we have is that the corona virus pandemic is stopping us from going about our normal lives. We are on lock down and we must stay indoors. Of course, when the weather is as lovely has it has been today and yesterday, staying indoors is a shame but we are in exceptional circumstances and must collectively do what we all can to ensure this virus doesn’t spread any further.

For those who have gardens, this is the next best thing. Having an outside space is a wonderful thing to have. And if you do have one, this is your chance to make the most of it and do something different with the people who live in your household. Enter…the paddling pool.

I’ve never had a paddling pool before as wasting the water was always an issue for me. However, it’s quite a challenge trying to explain that to a 4-year-old. She just wants to have fun, especially as her school has been shut for 3 weeks now and you can’t deny that a paddling pool is an amazing source of fun.

I knew the weather was going to be nice for two days so we set it up on Friday, covering it Friday night to enjoy it on Saturday as well. I have to say, it was a great success. My little one absolutely loved playing the water and I have to admit, I enjoyed it too. Hopefully all the excitement tires her out for bedtime tonight!

Now the question, what do we do with the water?

I decided to save as much water as I could find containers for and use the water to water the plants over the next few days/fortnight. I would’ve used the water directly from the tap to water my plants anyway, why not try to save what I could from the pool? The water has just taken a slightly little detour.

So, I tried to find as many buckets and tubs from the shed filling them with water until I ran out and had to let the rest of the water go to waste. I can only imagine what the neighbours thought I was doing but I didn’t care. I managed to find enough containers for half of the water from the pool. Maybe I should invest in a water butt?

This lot will keep me going for a bit.

This is a good opportunity to update on my potatoes and strawberry plants. I was a little concerned about the strawberries a few weeks ago as we had some frost but I got a fleece blanket and ‘put them to bed’. I never thought I would be doing that for strawberries but there you go. There’s a flower on a strawberry plant so I’m guessing that’s a good thing. Also the potatoes have just started to sprout. I’m making a extra effort in watering them a lot more than I did last year.