Green news and views relevant to our community
Author: Holly Ivaldi | Date: 5th March 2020
by Karen Langridge
I am ever the optimist. With all the rain that has dumped on us over the last few months, I am sure that the flowers are more abundant and colourful this year than previous years. The daffodils are raising their nodding heads everywhere around the Village.
Eynsford is such a beautiful village and it’s great to be able to contribute to the wonderful look and feel of the village. The first of March brought a day free from rain; there were clear skies and a bit of warmth in the sunshine. With the better weather and longer days my mind turns to our garden. Here are a few ideas on how you can make your own garden ‘greener’.
Grow your own
Our seed potatoes are already chitting on the windowsill ready to be planted out in our allotment in mid-March and the first seeds have germinated (sweet peas, onion, leeks, and chillies). We try to be as ‘green’ as possible with our gardening. Growing our own vegetables, in raised beds in the back garden and at the allotment is hard work, but you cannot beat the satisfaction of harvesting your own crops. We usually try growing a new vegetable each year and last year we tried Mexican Oregano, Tomatillos and Okra.
Compost bins provide a simple pleasure in my life. We currently have five! Compost bins are a simple and natural way of getting rid of waste material from the kitchen and garden. With a correct mix of greenery (grass, plant foliage) and ‘browns’ (leaves, newspaper), a little turning to aerate the mixture and a few industrious worms, a fine compost mix is formed after about a year. It is magic! This can be returned to the garden and, hey ho, happy plants. Some worry that compost bins attract rats. I have never seen rats around the compost heap, although I did find a nest of mice keeping warm in there one year. Compost bins can be built sustainably using crates and chicken-wire.
There are ways to encourage creatures into your garden by providing food, water and shelter. Birds love the food provided by bird feeders and I love to see them ‘play’ in the bird bath. A natural pond is the best thing for attracting all sorts of creatures. The pond can be really small (we have a Belfast sink sunk into the ground filled with water). Creatures are attracted to some types of flowering plants more than others. Single flowers are better than double flowers as the insects find it easier to reach the nectar. Winter flowering plants such as honeysuckle (Lonicera x purpusii “Winter Beauty”) and pyracanthus (Pyracanthus coccinea “Red Column”) are good for birds and insects as they provide nectar and berries throughout winter.
Leaving parts of the garden a little neglected will be beneficial to creatures. Don’t rush to tidy the garden borders and shrubs after winter as shelter can be provided for insects. I often leave piles of leaves so animals can hide, rest or hibernate, and some fallen apples on the ground for creatures to eat. Last year I left our small front lawn un-mowed for the summer to benefit creatures but also to see if any orchids might appear (as they are appearing in a number of nearby front gardens in St Martins Drive and Pollyhaugh). Unfortunately no orchids appeared in our garden last year, but maybe this year…..
The Royal Horticultural Society provides more information about the benefits of ‘greening your garden’ on their webpage: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/greening-grea...
Author: Holly Ivaldi | Date: 20th February 2020
by Michael Barker
Plastic gets everywhere, doesn’t it? It hangs around in the trees and bushes, it lurks in the undergrowth, plainly visible at this time of year, it floats in the river, getting caught up on fences, branches etc. and it piles up on beaches around the world, bags, cartons, bottles, plastic rope, toothbrushes and more.
(Plastic bottles, for example, take 450 years to biodegrade and in the UK we collectively dispose of 350 million bottles per year.)
That’s only the visible debris. Microparticles of plastic are in all the oceans from the surface to the depths and are even in polar ice. A recent sample of fish from the English channel showed that 30% had plastic microparticles in their digestive tracts. Birds and other marine species have ingested larger items of plastic to the detriment of their health. None of this is good for the abundance and diversity of life on this planet. So, what can we do?
Plastic can be recycled and if you visit the Sevenoaks D.C. website you can find details of what can be recycled locally. Many plastic bottles can be recycled, including drink bottles (not if they have a plastic sleeve e.g. lucozade) and bottles that have contained household cleaning products, including the pump action nozzle. Bottles that have contained hazardous chemicals, including engine oil cannot be recycled.
Not all plastic bottles are equally recyclable, clear bottles have more recycling value than pigmented ones, so it’s better to buy drinks and cleaning products in clear plastic bottles.
Better still is to avoid using plastic in the first place; recycling uses energy and creates greenhouse gases. Reusable drinks bottles are easily sourced and will keep your drink cool. (As far as I know there is no evidence that bottled water is more healthy than tap water). Shopping “bags for life” obviate the need for carrier bags, as long as you don’t leave them in the drawer when you go shopping! If you enjoy takeaway coffee, buy a reusable takeaway cup (responsibly sourced fairtrade cups are available from an Oxfam shop near you!)
So, reusing is better than recycling, recycling is better than sending to landfill or carelessly discarding, but check the Sevenoaks D C website to be sure of what you can recycle locally.
Author: Holly Ivaldi | Date: 3rd December 2019
Have Yourself A Very Greener Christmas!!
by Theresa Durrant
Its that time of year where planning for the Christmas festivities gets underway, but have you stopped to think about how much waste is produced? For example, we dispose of about 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year; around 14% of fake Christmas trees go into landfill every year and 300 tonnes of card packaging end up in the bin. Whilst we can incinerate some waste to produce electricity, with a bit of planning we don't need to add to landfill in the way that we do. Making small decisions before Christmas about our purchases can have a massive impact, for the better, on the waste we bin after Christmas.
Here are our top tips to be a little bit greener over Christmas:
1. Choose paper over foil wrapping paper. The laminate that goes into making our Christmas wrapping paper shiny, isn't recyclable and ends up in landfill. If you're not sure, try the scrunch test. If the paper unfolds after scrunching it up, then it is likely to be covered in laminate. Plain paper wrapping paper without glitter, shiny pictures and writing are more friendly for our recycling bins. In addition, choose paper based ribbon over, fabrics or shiny foil for the same reasons.
2. Make good use of your Christmas cards, by upcycling over recycling them. If you remove the pictures carefully using pinking shears, you can turn them into next years present labels. Otherwise if you do need to recycle cards, then remove foil pictures, glittzy extras and recycle just the paper section. You can then either add the glittzy bits to a hobbycraft box for children to use on their school projects, or dispose of them with household waste. Alternatively, you could opt for eco-friendly paper only cards.
3. Don't fake it at Christmas. To avoid filling landfill with fake trees, you could buy a real tree from a sustainable source, such as Forestry England. Local authorities generally run a collection service in the new year, or offer a local service to recycle your real trees into compost: https://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/info/20000/rubbish_and_recycling/360/christmas_waste_and_recycling_collections. Or better still if you buy trees with their roots, you can always plant it in your garden after Christmas. If you do have to fake it, try to keep using the tree for as long as possible and don't be tempted to upgrade it each year.
4. When it comes to food. Only buy and cook what you really need. So many of us go overboard entertaining friends and family, but only buying what you really need for Christmas, will not only save you pennies, but means you don't have to worry about what to do with the endless cooked left overs. With a bit of careful planning, you don't really need to feed the bin for Christmas. For example did you know that some hard cheeses can be frozen. You can also turn turkey carcasses into scrumptious stock and left over vegetables can be used to make winter warming soups. For ideas on how you can turn leftover into delightful dishes to tempt the tastebuds, take a look at the BBC Recipes guide here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/christmas-leftovers.
5. Composting raw food. You can also easily compost raw vegetable peelings, paper, tea bags and egg boxes etc. at home. In fact there are probably more items than we realise, that we can compost, as this article demonstrates https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/what-can-i-compost, which will be great for the garden come summertime.
6. We've all bought those novetly gifts at Christmas, but the truth is, they often end up in landfill. Sevenoaks District council have a number of sites where you can recycle items, such as: glass bottles and jars (with metal caps and lids), books, magazines, cardboard boxes, clothing, textiles, shoes, CDs and DVDs etc. The nearest recycling spots to our village are the A225 layby by the train station, Sainsbury's in Otford or Swanley. To locate other recycling sites visit: https://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/info/20000/rubbish_and_recycling/165/recycling_sites_for_glass_textiles_and_cardboard. And if you share recycling drop-offs with neighbours and friends, it will cut down on the number of journey's needed.
7. Christmas wreaths are very similar to Christmas trees, in that it is better to go real. Natural materials can either be put out with your garden rubbish to be collected by SDC, or you can put it into your own compost bin. Remember to keep back ribbons and baubles to reuse the following year.
8. Bauble and tinsel unfortunately are usually made of plastics and are therefore not recyclable. However, a number of companies are selling eco-friendly baubles made of wood, that can be decorated yourself, or made from recycled yogurt pots and therefore have very little carbon footprint. You can use dried fruit, such as orange slices and cinnamon sticks, or edible biscuit decorations to create homemade eco-friendly tree decorations, that smell great too.
9. Going plastic free at Christmas is tough challenge, but there are small changes we can make to help reduce wastage. For example; buy a reusable advent calendar over shop brought ones; buy loose fruit and vegetables and of course homemade mince pies are just a few tweaks you can make to reduce plastic coming into the home. You could also opt for mixer drinks that come in glass bottles, rather than plastic. You can even buy plastic free Christmas crackers online, eco-friendly stocking fillers and wooden toys are also making a come back. Another option for friends and family are to make up your own gift boxes, rather than shop brought ones, that come with plastic inserts and cardboard sleeves.
Please feel to share your ideas around going greener at Christmas!