Thursday, 5 November 2009

X-mas eco craft project II


One shallt taketh ones cereal box ;) 
My boyfriend likes his posh cereals and mueslis - so there is never a shortage of fancy boxes in the house
You can of course use any card-board box and if you aren't a cereal person - get your friends/neighbors to give you some. This is also a great craft project to get the kids involved.

What you will need:

- Card-board container (cereal box)
- scissors
- glue
- old magazines (again ask your friends to donate)
- cinnamon stick (optional)
- red ribbon (optional)
- christmassy decoration, like small stars
- glitter glue (optional)
- old wallpaper/craft paper
- hole puncher (optional)

Decide which cardboard container you want to use and dismantle it on the glue lines gently... as we will be using almost all of the material for different things.

Cut some of the cardboard to the size you want your xmas card to be (ensure it fits in some standard envelopes)

If you have craft scissors like me, it's nice to use them on this project. 
You can also use small scissors and just do a wavy pattern... 

From old christmas cards (donated by friends) I cut out the text and re-use it
(you can also handwrite this or cut out something from a magazine that fits the occasion)

Glue your text/wishes onto your card

We also need a back for the card - use the rest of the box to provide that. And with whatever is left, we make some other neat things like
place-cards, gift tags .... the opportunities are endless :D

from an old magazine - I selected a festive theme that fit nicely in my pre-cut shape

Take some glitter glue or other festive stickers or craft left overs & decorate your card 
(I used to get a whole set of 5 colors of glitter glue for £1 from 'The Pound shop') 

LET THE GLUE DRY - meanwhile get crafty on the rest of the cardboard and make some matching gift-tags or place cards

Get your cinnamon stick (a short one) 
Once the glitter glue and decoration is dry - use a puncher, punch 2 holes in the top of your card (as we want to be able to hang it) 

Now feed a  ribbon/string through the cinnamon stick, then through the holes to fix the stick to the card ... and tie a knot about 3 inches from the card top - so you can hang it.

AND voila your card - gift tags - place cards are ready to create the ahhhhh effect --- and all out of a cereal box ;) 

As it is christmas, I am showing you a x-massy design - but you can of course adapt this project for all sorts of occasions :)

In order to cover the back of the card and the rest of the things made from the cereal box - use wallpaper samples, or some foam sheets (they come in many colors and can be used for lots of other crafty projects)

Have an 'eco-friendly X-mas ho ho ho :)

Hello and welcome to a series  of eco-craft tips and projects.

Find below some great ways to not only recycle some of your rubbish into neat xmas gifts and cards, but also get the kids or friends involved, it's great fun !

Eco-craft project 1 > recycle your Zip & CD cases inovatively

You'll need ... 

> A stack of old Zip drive/CD covers  
(thanks to my boyfriends hording, there were many for me to snatch) LOL 
> christmas ornaments (I used flat straw stars, see pic) 
> glue 
> scissors 
> card paper 
> old xmas cards or festive decorative stickers 
> white/gold pen (optional) 

Step 1
Ensure that the ornament or whatever you want put in the Zip-cover does not obstruct or crush when the case is closed. 

Step 2 
Use the paper sleeve inside of the zip-case as a guideline on how large to cut your decorative cover. Or measure the plastic and just cut paper to size 

Step 3 
Decorate your cut-to-shape card paper in a festive style. I re-use motives and words from old christmas cards for this. Have your friends donate their old xmas cards this year and you'll have a stock of great material for next year to come :) 

Step 4 
Once the decorated paper square is in place, add the ornament to the zip-case and 

VOILA ....a neat way to re-use those plastic covers and make a unique and personalised xmas gift. 

NOTE: This idea can of course be used for many other occasions like birthdays, Valentines ...

Enjoy and get eco-crafty 

Best wishes 

Friday, 19 June 2009

News - let's celebrate

A good day today for me, as I  just published my first eco-article for a local magazine!! So with no further ado, here is the story:

'Crunch-time' (by Iris von Brandstatter / Maybe Magazine June/July 09)

Local Authorities across the country have stepped up a notch this year tackling even more of their carbon emission and recycling issues. The ‘Cash for Trash’ initiative in Milton Keynes is a leading example to spur this recycling boom. Anyone putting out pink sacks and blue boxes stands a chance of winning one of two weekly £100 prizes, thus helping to close the loop of the re-cycle and producing and end-product of value.

But much more needs to be done. Compared to other European countries, the UK falls embarrassingly short in it’s recycling motivation. Figures suggest 60% of all household waste could be recycled or composted, but the UK appears to be only reusing 17.7%. There is still too much complacency in the shires when an: ‘I recycle everything that’s possible!” should be the norm by now.  

By 2011 Bucks council aims to have reduced the total amount of CO2 produced by its services by 4% - an ambitious aim indeed.

A look at the forefront of regional carbon-cutters and better information they can provide is a vital part of continuing progress to demystify the last smelly grey areas of how to deal with our waste management issues. Rubbish! - Yes, exactly!

Community Waste Ltd., Director Richard Cutts, gladly gives an insight into the future and points out how much commercial sense recycling makes. “Recycling doesn’t only make sense for the environment. We derive economic benefits too; for example by ‘piggy-backing ’onto empty cargo containers to ship our recycled raw materials to manufacturers abroad, thus keeping our own carbon emissions down.”

On a community level, more and more schools & social enterprises join the green revolution proactively and truly walk their talk. They approach the topic with amicable commitment and creativity. Many have made their first steps by switching to eco-friendlier products and some are tailoring their curriculums to focus on environmental education for the next generation of our wee eco-warriors.

As recently announced, £1.1 million has been awarded to the county council by the Carbon Trust's 'Salix Finance' to reduce its CO2 emissions. One million pounds of the total funding award is an interest-free 'energy efficiency loan’. This money will be put to good use to also make schools more energy efficient. Wolverton is involved in a new scheme called ‘Transition Towns’, focusing on making communities more sustainable in energy consumption and general supplied goods.

Also their finger on the green pulse in Buckinhgamshire have:

-       Swanbourne House School and their eco-friendly fire engine - Head of design technology, Colbert Shepherd, said: "Several issues we have been looking at and which have also been on the news is being eco-friendly, trying to conserve fuel and how to run diesel engines on vegetable oil.

-       Grenville Combined School in Buckingham have made good use of plastic carrier bags by creating a rainbow – an eco art work spanning 3 m, displayed on the school grounds. Head Teacher Anne Brown: "We are on the way to becoming an eco-school and the project was to teach children that plastic bags don't biodegrade."

And a true innovative example is set by ‘Brill Church of England Combined School in Bucks’ who not only have set out on a ‘Greening Brill School’ project, including their own organic vegetable garden, but also installed a wind turbine and a ground source heat pump.

The motivated kids set up an Eco-Charter initiative in 2008:

~ We will compost and recycle as much of our waste as possible

~ We will not waste energy

~ We will use rainwater for watering our plants

~ We will try not to use plastic bags and will take a more sustainable alternative when shopping

~ We will try to help local or world-wide neighbor by buying local or Fair Trade produce

~ We will calculate our Carbon Footprint for our family and try to reduce it

~ We will encourage our friends to become eco-friendly

Bless their fair-trade cotton socks! That’s the spirit we need to follow! And what better way than to lead by good example.

Talking to site managers from community waste centers it becomes clear that councils still are seen as too complacent regarding re-cycling issues.

Want to get more involved or inform yourself in more depth? Here are some useful resources:

Recycle for Buckinghamshire

Transition town Wolverton:

Recycling Lives

Friday, 20 March 2009

Sustainability revisited

In 1987 a new concept in environmental and human affairs was introduced with the Brundtland Declaration: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Implicit in this often-quoted definition is the idea that the natural environment faces stress and overexploitation and will not be able to indefinitely meet escalating human demands.

Even before that in 1985 The Vienna Convention refers to the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, adopted by the governments of the world.

So where do YOU think we have we come to in those 14 plus years since in regards to rescuing our little planet? (yes this is meant to stirr up a conversation as I am truly keen to find out where you stand in all this)

Interested to hear your opinions and ideas ...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

From Workplace Unwellness to Workplace Wellness

As a small business I feel rather privileged to have more freedom choosing which areas I want to improve regarding my own business sustainability. But how do large corporations cope? Aside from imposed legislation, what about staff, who needs to be 'converted' in order to make even small steps towards a greener future possible? What if those people - due to a history of workplace unwellness - have not much motivation or loyalty to step up and be part of the change? Successful sustainability depends on corporate culture change. Ergo - HR needs to step up a gear and become truly pro-active and a green leader to facilitate a deep impact.

But no matter if you are a large or small business, here are some of my staff-engagement initiative Tips that might help:
  • Create a 'Green event' calendar with different awareness days/week each month and put together 'sustainability brunches' ever so often, to bring staff together and debate the issues at hand - make collateral vibrant and relevant.
  • Make it personal! Yes, even in the workplace - why not ask staff to bring in their kids for a 'green week initiative' and let the kids assess what they find not ok with the company's green-status... it might even tie in with a school project.
  • Motivate, persist, persist, persist in your green efforts, it needs time and endurance and repetition for these things to sink in and be taken on board.
  • Find free wall space and create a 'Green Wall campaign' (print rooms, canteen etc. where staff are frequently passing through) Stimulating pictures and info should reflect realistic goals, NOT that the whole world is in a dilemma because of global warming (we know that) it's too intangible - but rather make it 'Local' - something staff can relate to easier... and do ensure that whatever you print is eco-friendly, non-toxic or recyclable & mention it, internal PR is essential for this
And here a few more resources reg. HR and sustainability:

1) Sustainability an HR issue - a blog as relevant as ever
2) Human Resource & Sustainability (a work-paper PDF by Ina Ehnert)
Time to give a green light to a sustainable future (article from

Saturday, 14 February 2009

♥ ♥ Have a happy - 'green' valentines day ♥ ♥

A special day today - especially for retail who has been gearing up for weeks for the big cash-in of ... tataaa Valentines day!
I saw tons of stressed consumers grabbing whatever had a heart or love printed on it, rush for the flower stands or the chocolate isle... but hey, hey, hey ... STOP - do you think they are concerned about the environment at all on that mad dash? And what about you? Does your love go that step further and try to encompass the love for fair-trade goods, eco-friendly packaging for special occasions like Valentines??

Well here are a few sources to make your special occasions the 'greenest' they will ever be:

What I personally do to 'green' my Valentines is, make really funky handmade cards from recycled magazine pictures, rest paper and other crafty material lying round the house... Or design special gifts and ask friends to donate material they don't use anymore. It's great fun getting crafty!!

And if you are too late for eco-wooooing your Valentine, well there's always next year ...

So Happy Valentines day - oh and there's Easter & Mothersday coming up soon too - why not make them more eco-friendly :)?!

PS: just found an article of 'green' love from the Guardian if you want to explore more:

Nothing says I love you like a fluffy toy or silver foil balloon, but this Valentine's Day why not try to eschew the usual romantic trappings and look for a greener alternative?

Forest gumption
If your partner likes trees, they'll love a gift from the World Land Trust. It is offering a range of packages for suitors who want to buy their valentine a chunk of rainforest. If you're still not sure your current beau is "the one" just £25 will secure them a whole acre of rainforest, plus a certificate and regular newsletter. If you're more convinced of true love, £75 buys two acres, a plaque and a bar of Green and Black's chocolate. And if you're totally committed, £20,000 will buy him or her their very own reserve - plus a guided tour of the area, a plaque with their name on, a certificate and, yes, a bar of chocolate too. Okay, so £20,000 could buy you a lot of bling, but how many people can say they have a rainforest named after them?

Pining for you
Maybe a whole chunk of rainforest is a bit flash - how about something more understated and closer to home? Pine trees may not be the glamour players of the forestry world, but according to Trees for Life they have some "celebrity" fans, including Muriel Gray. If your partner is also a pine fan, the charity is offering the perfect gift - the chance to dedicate a Scots pine in the Caledonian forest for just £15. There are no glossy cards or chocolate with this one, it's just good honest pine.

I just crawled to say ...
Here's an idea for lovers of conservation - on a small scale. The World Museum Liverpool is offering people the chance to make a rom-ant-ic gesture while funding a new home for some creepy crawlies. For £5 you could name one of the museum's leaf-cutter ants after a loved one and tomorrow instead of pieces of leaf it will carry a romantic rose petal. As if that wasn't enough, you can send your partner an e-card showing the ants carrying flowers and enjoying each other's company at romantic destinations around the world, including Venice. Visit the World Museum Liverpool website for more details.

Roses aren't green
At this time of year, most flowers - including red roses - are shipped or flown to the UK from overseas, making them a gift with few green credentials. A more environmentally friendly alternative would be to buy flowers grown locally, either by visiting a producer directly or a farmer's market. You can find local suppliers on the Big Barn website. Alternatively, you could cut the carbon footprint of your bouquet further by sending a virtual version. Virtual FlowersCanada Flowers has some really striking bunches of roses. Who would have thought that not buying flowers could transform the romance-criminal in an eco-hero? Just remember to send the email.
has a good selection, from the traditional dozen roses to jauntier sunflowers and irises.

Green beans
As a gift, you can't really go wrong with chocolate, but if you want to be green you may need to go out of your way to find the right stuff. Ethical Consumer magazine's ratings of the greenest and most ethically sound chocolate bars on the market puts the brand names usually found in the local newsagent or garage at the bottom of the pile. Far better than a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk or Mars's Galaxy are slabs of chocolate from Plamil, Malagasy and Divine, it says.

You've dung it now
A box of elephant dung heart-shaped paper isn't just for Valentine's Day - which is just as well because you've left it too late to get this gift delivered in time for tomorrow. However, order now and it could be with you by the end of the week - and who could say it wouldn't be worth the wait. As well as reminding your valentine of your love every time he or she takes a phone message, the stationery set allows farmers in Sri Lanka to earn money from what would otherwise be waste and encourages them to protect the elephants they live beside.

Say it with flower essence
Valentine's Day is traditionally an opportunity to make your partner smell better, and being green shouldn't deter you from your mission. Neal's Yard's ranges of toiletries for men and women are made from mostly organic ingredients in an eco-factory in Dorset. Alongside rose-scented shower gels and moisturisers, the company is also suggesting its Bush Flower Essence for a loved one. It apparently, "Enhances the quality of your relationships. Helps you express your feelings," and with brandy the first ingredient listed, who could doubt that? Find your nearest store or stockist, online.

Offset for love
The debate over carbon offsetting goes on, but if you subscribe to the idea that it's better to reduce emissions somewhere in the world than not at all, you may be interested in the Carbon Neutral Company's valentine green box. The box, which costs £12.50, offers the recipient a month of carbon neutral driving - that's 325kg of carbon emissions reduced by investment in a community project in Jamaica. It also includes a heart shaped key fob made of recycled leather and four mini Green and Black's chocolates. You could be even greener if you opted for the Carbon Neutral driving pack which offers a certificate, which can be sent by email, as well as offsets. Persuading your other half not to drive for a month would be greener still - but possibly not conducive to a happy Valentine's Day.

Nothing says lovin' like ...
If you've got time to get to the shops to pick up some ingredients, a homemade cake could be a good, green way to say "I love you". There's no packaging, you can make sure the ingredients are bought locally, where possible, and - barring any kitchen disasters - there's unlikely to be any waste. If you need inspiration, try our recipe from Gaia's Kitchen by Julia Ponsonby.

Monday, 9 February 2009

The green nitty gritty

NEW GREEN LEGISLATIONS - ohhh the word alone let's CEO's shake in their loafers...

There is still so much misinformation or lack of info when it comes to green topics that the novice easily gets a rather sustainable headache and ---- may give up in the maze of the green jungle of 'eco-not-so-userfriendly-ness'.

But it need not be so daunting. It just needs more of a 'Sherlock Homes' approach, become more inquisitive, ask questions, be nosy (and sometimes irritating) and make sure you get the information YOU need to cover your sustainability issues.
Now where to get it, that's the next hurdle. Googling alone might not produce the results - it's not structured enough to get info about topics accurately. It produces a mere :P
9,710,000 entries when searching for 'business sustainability' - do you want to scroll through all those??

So here is what you can do to 'optimise' your time searching when you already online:
Use Clusty - it's my secret weapon pssst - (a very different kind of search engine that clusters search results intelligently by topics you searched for) - it's worth a try, as it cuts down my time drastically and gives much more accurate results.
I also introduced this AI-search-engine to CEO's I trained in internet efficiency and 90% preferred it after test running it to other, more popular ones.>>> - you got to try it out to experience the difference...!

But there are other ways then online to get the green info:
a) get in touch with your local environmental agency or council and see what they can offer you in regards to literature, web-links and advice.
b) then take initiative to let them know, if they don't cover what you need or ...
c) share the info you find valuable with others & join a green business network in your area
d) if there isn't one, then why not start one yourself :)

  • Time for a tea-break (today it's a cup of lovely organic Earl Grey ... be right back) *************** ok back!

So let me hear your barbaric YAWP and let that pioneer spirit soar high above the smog covered landfills!

But where was I?? Oh yes, nitty gritty ....
Over time, and with my natural inquisitiveness, I have gathered together a multitude of helpful resources which I want to share with you today and I hope you will do likewise, pass them on! We need to get a bit more of a dynamic going here and live by the spirit of: Sharing is caring.

Feel free however to contact me if you have a specific request and feel stuck!
  • 1) General Guides UK (also one to get the kids involved)
ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY (a great first step for information)
UK RECYCLE GUIDE (all you need to know about recycling, for private or business)
  • 2) Sustainability advice (for businesses in the UK)
ENVIROWISE (valuable business resource + webinars, legislation info etc.)
PLANETFRIENDLY (global resource on sustainability and CSR corporate social responsibility)
  • 3) Greener Life-style help
GREENFINDER (for products that are green, eco & ethical)
HOWTOGOGREEN initiative (a great portal for everybody to get a first taste of going greener)
  • 4) Water Management UK
SUSTAINABLE WATER MANAGEMENT CENTRE (an excellent rearch material offering)
  • 5) Waste Management UK
DEFRA-waste management
  • 6) Current legislation list
NETREGS (a portal for detailed legislation, acts of orders & regulations info)
  • 7) Sustainable innovations

So... that's it for the moment, but watch this space, soon more to come.

1-on-1 with sustainability ...

For many years now I sincerely 'walk-my-talk' in regards to running my own business as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. Here is a list of things I integrated, which might also give you inspiration on what steps to take:

- I operate a paperless office policy where possible

- Paper resources, if needed, are 100% recycled or from sustainable forests

- Other resources, where possible, are from recycled materials or fair-trade, that also goes for my coffee, juice, teas n' biscuits :)

- Post & courier services are kept to a minimum, I use an online FTP service for large file/media transfer, get on my bike or bus to deliver by hand if it's local business post

- My website is hosted by a "Green-Internet Service Provider" and runs purely on solar-energy

- I use public transport wherever possible

- All bulbs are energy efficient

- Waste is re-cycled meticulously: tin, plastic, paper, industry, organic, e-waste etc.

- Printer cartridges are refillable ones or low toxic

- Batteries are rechargeable (I have a solar charger also for my mobile phone & digi-cam)

- Stationary is mostly of recycled material -if not made by me from recycled components

- I work mainly from my home-office, this keeps clients overheads & carbon emissions down

- I reuse newspapers, cards, magazines etc. in a creative way and run 'eco-arts &craft work-shops' - great to de-stress and do something good for the environment having fun

- Most books needed are sourced 2nd hand or from libraries

- Things which I don't need any longer go to charity

Would be interested to hear your feedback on how you cope with the new demands on going green and sustainable... so don't be shy!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

There is no other way out - but to create a sustainable future now...

NOTE: 25th Feb - 9:00 onwards GMT
Practical Approaches for Eco-Design
register free

Over 20 years ago I made a conscience decision to do the best I can to keep this planet clean and join the eco-friendly revolution. In those days it meant sandals and eating bird-food for most.

But I have since made a career as a consultant with a focus on sustainability and am as ever on a mission - these days, to help businesses large and small to become more environmentally aware and learn how to create an efficient, sustainable environment :)

So this blog will be an eclectic mix of green ethos and sustainability topics, expert advice, resources, tips and sometimes maybe a few rants (apologies in advance).

It is intended to help you & businesses see through the maze of legislation, help you to cope with new demands and generally try to create more awareness for you/staff (and of course all readers) to take action!!

Awareness is the first step to knowledge, knowledge is the opportunity for change - change happens if you truly walk the talk. ---Iris von Brandstatter