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Earth Saver: part nine

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Clare’s mum starts planning for Christmas, and Clare has a whole list of eco suggestions. However, her mum has some bad news.

It’s the end of September, the day after our school’s Harvest Festival in fact, which means traditionally, Mum has started planning Christmas. It may seem a bit early to be thinking about it, but you have to remember that my mum has to organise – the Christmas dinner party she always throws for her colleagues, clients and neighbours, organise travelling to the big extended family do and then planning our actual Christmas – and we usually go abroad, normally to the Dolomites, to ski and enjoy the snow. This means, that from the Harvest Festival onwards Daisy, Ben and I will all go to Dad if we want anything or have got into trouble of any kind, as Mum’s stress levels  start to increase as Christmas draws closer.

This year Mum seems particularly stressed, and strangely, so does Dad. He’s normally quite laid back about everything, but since last week when he had a ‘discussion’ with Mum, there’s been an odd tension about the house, even Ben and Daisy have noticed. So far though, none of us have mentioned it.

In the meantime, instead of keeping clear of Mum when she holes up in her office to start planning the family Christmas, I take a deep breath and walk in.

Hi Mum”.

Clare, I’m a tad busy at the moment”, Mum replies, not looking up from the multiple windows she has open on her computer, “I’m trying to find a reasonably priced chalet.”

For our Christmas holiday?” I ask.

Yes”, Mum says, “And for some reason that nice place we went to the year before is booked solid!”

Mum”, I say, taking the plunge, “You do know we can’t go away this year.”

There’s a pause. I think I see Mum’s back tense, and then she swings round in her chair to face me.

I’m sorry?” Mum cries puzzled and stressed, “What do you mean, we ‘can’t’ have a holiday?

Because we’re trying to be as carbon neutral as possible! Think of the carbon dioxide we’ll create for one week in Italy!

Oh Clare,” Mum smiles, “Don’t worry, I’ve already taken that into consideration. I’m going to look at environmentally friendly airlines and carbon offsetting, so we can go.”

I should be glad that Mum has already thought of this solution, but in fact, I’m not really. I had been looking forward to doing an eco-friendly Christmas at home. Energy saving Christmas lights on a real tree, with presents wrapped in pieces of cloth, Japanese style, below, beeswax or soy candles on the mantle piece, a glass of organic milk for Santa….

Then there’s the obvious thing that, despite carbon offsetting and eco-friendly airplanes, surely just staying home and not going is better in the long run? What about all the carbon dioxide involved in driving to Heathrow? Has Mum considered that? Or the rental car we’d probably hire there?

Mum obviously senses I am not happy with her suggestion.

Don’t you want to go?” Mum asks.

I was kind of looking forward to an eco-friendly Christmas”, I explain, “And you’ve forgotten  all the driving we do on holiday.”

Well…

And…” I continue, without even realising I’ve been thinking it, “Couldn’t we stay at home and have a lazy Christmas for once? Instead of a five in the morning start, and tons of travelling and you stressing for two and a half months over Christmas?

Oops. Darn, darn, darn. I shouldn’t have said that. Mum just gives a sharp hollow laugh.

I wish it was just Christmas I was stressing over”, Mum says bitterly, “Look, Clare, your father. Your father…has been given two months notice.”

To do what?” I ask.

Nothing. Your Dad’s been made redundant”, Mum says quietly, “The finance company are cutting back on advisors, and your Dad has been let go. Next year we’re going to have to cut back, dramatically. We didn’t say anything to you, Daisy and Ben because we didn’t want to upset you.”

I stare blankly at her, as I take this in. It explains why Mum and Dad were acting so odd.

Look, perhaps you’re a bit young, and don’t understand how important this is at the moment”, Mum sighs, “But it’ll mean some changes. We won’t have as much money as before, we won’t be able to afford everything we used to.

She falls silent for a moment.

I just wanted to give you one proper holiday”, She finishes quietly, “Whilst we could still afford it.”

I don’t know what to say. There’s a long pause.

We’ll be okay though.” I say slowly, “We won’t need as much money, now we’re going green. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, remember?

You haven’t seen my credit card bills  Or the mortgage repayments. It’ll take more than compost to fix this problem.”

Then why are we spending money on a holiday?” I ask. “Let’s do an eco-Christmas! Listen, I found solar Christmas tree lights, in yellow or red, that charge up and stay lit for three days running. It’ll save electricity, and we could even earn some money by selling our old lights online! And instead of buying a really expensive Christmas pudding, we could use all the old dried fruit and left over sherry in the back of the cupboard and make our own! We could even make Christmas presents for each other! Like I made Daisy that jewellery for her birthday.”

I’m starting to sound a little desperate as I rattle out my ideas, and then suddenly everything  sinks in, including the worry. I stop.

Unless we’re not going green anymore. Will we have to stop now Dad doesn’t have a job? Can he get another one? We won’t have to move house will we?” I cry, “They don’t still have workhouses, do they?

Mum gives a small smile and comes over and gives me a hug.

No, they don’t. Not that it’s that bad anyway. We’ll still have the house, and we’ll still be going green. We’ll just have to be more careful with money”, She says, “Which means you’re probably right about the holiday. We should save that money instead. Just in case.”

She sighs.

But then we may not have another chance to have a holiday for months. I think we need to ask Daisy and Ben what they think about the whole idea. It’s about time the whole family knew. I’ll go tell your father we need to break the bad news.”

She straightens up, and heads towards the door. I still feel uneasy.

And in the meantime”, She says kindly, “Why don’t you find those Christmas lights for me on the internet?

I smile. Everything is going to be okay. I hope….

Next Sunday:

It starts snowing, and Clare realises they’re wasting heat, and starts looking at ways to help insulate the house.

Part one // Part two // Part three // Part four // Part five // Part six // Part seven // Part eight.

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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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