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Earth Saver: part four

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In this, the fourth instalment of Earth Saver, Clare and her Mum form a plan to eco-transform the house.

I am so happy! It’s half past nine at night and instead of finishing my hated maths homework, I’m sat with Mum at the kitchen table with a pile of books on eco-living. Mum has her laptop on and I have the old eco list I started writing, which we’re going to adapt into a step-by-step plan to turn the house one hundred percent carbon neutral – or thereabouts. In short, we’re going eco-friendly!

We’ve already agreed that we should concentrate on one thing at a time, since becoming carbon neutral covers everything from clothes, to insulation, to holidays. So I suggest that we start by reducing the amount of energy we use. First step, and what I wanted at the start, is to turn off lights we’re not using and replace the normal bulbs with low energy ones.

“Doesn’t switching lights on and off all the time waste electricity?” Mum asks.

“Nope”, I reply, “It shortens the bulb’s life a bit, but it only uses the same amount of energy as if you’d left it for one or two minutes, so it saves more than leaving it running.”

“Okay”, Mum says, “We can pop into town tomorrow and buy some new bulbs.”

“Which type?” I ask.  Mum looks faintly puzzled.

“Is there more than one kind?”

“There’s CFLs or LEDs”, I explain, “LEDs are more expensive but they’re more efficient and last longer.”

“I see”, Mum nods, and starts searching on the internet for energy efficient lights.

“And we have to replace some of the lampshades too”, I add, pointing at my list.

“What?” Mum says, “Why? They’re not exactly eating electricity.”

“But dark lampshades absorb light”, I point out, “So what we really need are more transparent lampshades.”

I can see Mum wincing slightly. I thought this may be a problem. Mum loves interior design. She can literally not walk past Laura Ashley without going in and drooling over wallpaper.

“I don’t know if we need to do that”, Mum says suddenly. “As long as the lamp is giving off light, it’s fine.”

“But if all your lampshades are dark”, I complain, “Then you’re losing up to more than half the light, which means it isn’t efficient!  And ours are black!”

“They are not black, Clare, they’re mulberry coloured”, Mum retorts. “And I am not changing them again.”

I know she will, so I shut up, and drop it.

“Can I borrow the laptop for a second. I want to look something up”, I say, leaning over to the laptop. “I want to see if we can recycle our old light bulbs.”

“Oh, now that’s an idea. I hadn’t even thought of that”, Mum says approvingly.

“Reuse, Reduce, Recycle”, I tell her.

I quickly find a link to light bulbs on a ‘Can you Recycle it’ list on the Recycle Now website, but I am disappointed to find out that old light bulbs can’t be recycled, only energy efficient ones can. Mum starts scrolling down the list, obviously a tad surprised at what you can recycle. Fridges, old VHS tapes (though there is a charge) and mattresses – which makes her starting tutting about fly-tippers. Browsing the recycling website reminds me of something.

“Mum, you know all kitchen things we don’t use, like the toastie machine and the muffin maker?”

“Yes”, She says, in a weary ‘how can I forget’ kind of voice, “I don’t know why we bought half of those gadgets.”

“We should recycle them”, I suggest, “Then we’d have a cupboard to put all the cleaning stuff in, and the cupboard under the sink would be empty and we could put a set of recycling bins in there!”

Mum does her raised eyebrows. She obviously hadn’t realise the extent to which I’ve thought this through. I did show her my eco-friendly list – but perhaps the glittery ink distracted her from the actual content.

Mum is looking a little uncertain.

“It’s a nice idea Clare”, She says, “But those gadgets cost quite a lot when they were new. Let me try and sell them online first. Is that okay?”

“It’s still recycling”, I say.

“Good. So let’s”, Mum says turning back to the computer. “Is that everything covered on the lighting front then? What about solar? Can you get solar lights for indoors? Are they hard to find?”

“Well it depends”, I reply. “Most solar lights I’ve seen are for outdoors, I haven’t seen many indoor ones. I found a solar light you can stick to windows that you can use indoors, which lasts about eight hours. Then there’s this really cool solar lamp from Ikea with a little solar panel in you can pop out and put on your window sill.”

“Is it really bright enough?” Mum says, “Because there hasn’t been much sun about.”

“That’s the good thing – it charges even on low light levels, though it takes time. As for finding them, everywhere does solar now in some form. Even John Lewis.”

Mum’s eyes light up.

“Though”, I continue breathlessly, “if we’re really serious about going eco and we really want to save money, then we should go for solar PV!”

“What?” Mum asks.

“Solar panels!”

“You mean, as in big, proper ones? On the roof?”

“Yes.”

Mum frowns, and chews her lip in thought.

“I suppose, if we’re going to take this seriously, we should look at solar panels.” She grimaces though, “But they’re going to be so expensive, and they look awful on roofs, and this house is an old Georgian one. We may not even be allowed.”

I’m obviously looking disappointed, because Mum looks at me and immediately smiles.

“But I guess we can look into it. Just not tonight. It’s late. You’d better head for bed.”

“All right”, I shrug, remembering I still have homework. “But don’t forget, we’re buying the light bulbs tomorrow.”

Next Sunday:

Clare and her Mum introduce new rules to use the washing machine, and start to think about dumping the dryer.

Part one // Part two // Part three.

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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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