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Earth Saver: part five

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The fifth chapter of Earth Saver sees Clare and her Mum introduce new rules to use the washing machine, as well as start to think about dumping the dryer.

It’s two days later, the weekend in fact, and Dad’s finally fitting our new energy efficient bulbs. Mum forgot to buy them on the way back home from school – twice. Not her fault though, apparently she has a big divorce case to deal with that’s driving her up the wall at the moment.

All the bulbs that can be replaced have been, and we even popped into Ikea yesterday and took a look at the solar lamps they sell. Mum was so impressed she’s bought one each for her and Dad’s desks, and she gave me my allowance early so I could get one too – hooray! No more history papers written in the semi-dim of my wind-up torch. Dad has also bought a new solar powered light to put by the front door so we don’t have to use the outdoor electric lights. It turns on as soon as it senses movement in front of the door.

So everything’s coming along nicely. Until I walked into the utility room today to find Daisy had decided to put one T-shirt and a pair of jeans in the washing machine for a complete wash cycle, on their own and at fifty degrees!

“Daisy!” I cry, finding her in the living-room playing a dance game.

“What?” she asks, not looking up from the screen.

“Why did you only put two things the washing machine?”

“Because that’s all I needed to wash. I’m wearing those tonight.”

“But it’s wasting water”, I point out, “Do you know an average person in England uses 150 litres  of water a day?” She probably uses about 300 litres, the way she goes through water. Who needs to shower everyday before school, and then take a bath before going out?

Daisy looks at me like I’ve gone crazy.

“You’re quoting figures now? That’s sad.”

I ignore her, and continue.

“Look, why didn’t you just toss in some of Ben’s stuff?”

“I’m not touching anything Ben wears at the moment. He has a serious smell problem.”

She has a point, you’d need a radioactive suit to deal with most of Ben’s clothes.

“Fine…” I sigh, “But I’m telling Mum…”

Who has just appeared in the doorway, I notice.

“Daisy?” Mum says, “What do you think you’re doing, washing just one outfit?!”

Daisy groans and stops mid dance move. I just smile, whilst Daisy gets a lecture from Mum too. Minus the well researched statistics.

However, it turns out Mum’s wish to conserve energy isn’t just down to saving the planet. There’s something going on with water meters.

“Goodness knows how much water we use at the moment”, Mum cries. “But I bet it won’t become cheaper if our water company decides to switch us to a meter.”

“If you want a good estimate”, I tell her, “We could go on the Energy Saving Trust website. They have a calculator so you can find out. It also tells you how much energy and carbon our household uses a year.”

“Alright”, Mum nods, “And in future Daisy, full loads, okay?”

“Sure, yeah”, Daisy says and restarts her game.

I join Mum in her office and watch as she uses the calculator on the website. At the end she nearly screams.

“19,000 litres per year! 130 litres per day per person? Is that right?” she cries.

“It’s below average”, I shrug.

“It says here that if we were on a meter that would be £651 a year!”

“Oh, Mum, I think that little symbol means we’re using 2, 377 baths of water a year.”

“Right!” Mum cries, typing furiously. “What do we do to save water?”

“Well, baths waste a lot of water.” I point out.

“Of course. Simple”, Mum says,  opening up a document and starting to type, “Right, new house rules. Number one, no baths.”

“Forever?”

“Yep.”

“What will we do with the bath though, if we stop using it?” Mum shrugs.

“I don’t know. Perhaps we can start making wine in it. What else?”

“Well, there’s loads of simple stuff, like turning off the tap whilst brushing your teeth or shaving. But I bet you and Dad already do that.”

Mum looks sheepishly at me as she types it onto the list.

“Okay”, I say spinning on Mum’s spare office chair, “Always put full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine. Use a water butt to collect rainwater…”

“Ah…we have one of those at the allotment. We were going to collect rainwater in it and water the veg.”

“What veg?” I ask, thinking of the three manky tomatoes we had this summer.

“Exactly”, Mum says, “We can bring it back here and use it to water the flowers. Maybe we can even wash the cars with it!”

“Do you think Dad would really do that?” I ask.

“Hmmm…” Mum says, “I suppose he does like to use the hose on the car, though.”

I am suddenly struck by an idea. Or rather two or three.

“You know there are other ways we can save loads of water, and no-one would notice”, I say with a grin, “At least, not much.”

“How do you mean?” Mum asks, intrigued.

“By reducing the amount of water that comes out of the shower, tap and toilet.”

“If you’re suggesting we replace our taps, shower and toilet…” Mum cries.

“No, you don’t have to replace anything!” I say, “You can buy aerators you can fit to your taps and shower heads. For example there is a shower head called the Eco Camel that has air mixed in with the water that’s meant to save you 70% of your water when you use it.”

“70%?” Mum says, “Now that does sound like a money saver!”

“Then”, I continue, “There’s these special bags you can buy to put in the top bit of the toilet to reduce the amount of litres released with each flush. But it depends on when the toilet was made.”

“Hold on, hold on”, Mum says furiously typing, “Right, aerators for taps…” She clicks the mouse with a confident snap, and then winks at me.

“At this rate we’ll be completely eco-friendly and carbon neutral by Christmas!” She grins.

“Trust me Mum”, I reply seriously, “Water and lighting are only the tip of the iceberg…”

Next Sunday:

It’s Daisy’s birthday, and as usual she wants a party. So Clare starts researching eco-parties and birthday gifts.

Part one // Part two // Part three // Part four.

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Features

What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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