Green your tech.

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credit to my sister 🙂

I’m not gonna lie, technology is a hard one to get around. Without it, we wouldn’t create nearly as much energy waste as we do. And yet, we can’t live without it now (or at least I couldn’t). I thought I’d share a few ways that I know about, that can help to cut down on electrical/technology waste, that aren’t “change to LED light bulbs”…

Cor(d) Blimey! (I’m so sorry)

One of the many things that really bug me about chargers and earphones (Apple are the worst from my experience, but most phone brands tend to be terrible) is that the cords come loose at the base or split at some point after a few months. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of ‘planned obsolescence’: manufacturing a product to deliberately last only a few months or years. Nowhere is it more rife than in the technology industry. One way to avoid replacing these cords with yet more tat, is to invest in ones that are designed to last.

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House of Marley – I bought a pair of /house of Marley earphones a few months ago and there’s no looking back now! The wire is covered in a fabric cord rather than the rubbery plastic tube they are usually enclosed in. Not only does this mean that it is likely to be more durable over time, but you don’t get those awful tangles every time you put them away! They use recycled materials and wood where they can as well, so that’s a plus.

Syncwire – my brother bought himself a pair of phone charging cords from this brand and I thought they looked cool with the mesh-like, thick casing around the wire. He told me they had lifetime warranty too and he needn’t say any more! I love products that guarantee themselves, because it says something about the quality. They do cords in a variety of lengths for Apple and micro usb port phones (most Androids).

Phones

As far as perfect solutions to the phone problem goes, there are next to none. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t try to resist the current trends and vote with our wallets.

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Fairphone – this brand speaks to me on multiple levels. Firstly, they are basically the only brand I know of that sources its materials fairly. That in itself is amazing and commendable. Considering that the minerals used in phone manufacture are likely to be contributing to conflict in countries across the planet, hence the term ‘conflict minerals’, this represents probably the best way to show that you are against profiting from that situation. Besides that, Fairphones are modular and easy to take apart. The idea is that when one part of the phone reaches the end of it’s life or breaks, you can simply purchase that one bit and replace it yourself, diverting a whole phone from landfill which is what usually happens. Normally when a phone breaks, it costs almost as much as the selling price to replace, or there is no option for repair and you have to buy new. Fairphone does things differently and restores the power back to the consumer and it’s awesome.

Another cheaper option is to buy a phone secondhand. Due to contracts, meaning that customers upgrade their phones annually or bi-annually (basically before it reaches the end of its shelf-life). technology moves fast, and the temptation to have the newest model is strong in much of the population. It’s just a waste of materials and energy and is a symptom of today’s consumerism which produces and sells new things at a rate that the planet can’t keep up with. You buying secondhand is obviously cheaper than buying new, and often you can find a phone with little to no problems (because it was likely just discarded due to an upgrade rather than fault). You would be using something already in circulation rather than encouraging the production of more new things. Here’s an example of a UK shop shelling refurbished phones.

A deceptively simple tip

buy only the gadgets you neeeeed – I used to have a phone, tablet and a laptop which was just silly. I’d also casually own a billion chargers and accept more willy nilly. There is no need to own more than one of something, and while we’re at it you probably don’t need all the gadgets you have. The less you have, the less you’ll need to use, charge and replace. Simple.

Cut down on that usage – I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of an internet addict. I check my phone way more than I should, and sometimes I just open my laptop and do absolutely nothing cos it’s comforting. But you know what else? Whenever I find myself checking Facebook more often or mindlessly surfing the web, I also realise that I am bored or sad or in some way dissatisfied. It’s emotional! Whenever I think ‘ooh Netflix will make this better’ I find myself 3 hours later feeling exactly the same (unless I watched something depressing in which case I feel worse!) I could’ve done something helpful like spoken to a human, gone for a walk, or read a book- all of which waste no energy or money, people- but that would’ve been too easy! Anyway, what I’m saying is I’m working on it, and you should too.

Unplug – when you go on holiday, unplug everything that doesn’t need to keep running while you’re away. Try plugging things in, or switching on the socket just for the time that you need whatever it is you’re using. The little things add up in money and energy terms. Same goes for just going to work, or out for the day; if you can unplug/switch it off without anything getting messed up, do it 🙂

Alternative energy

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Energy providers – Sorry, I live with my parents so I don’t know about all this stuff yet, but you can switch to renewable energy providers and it makes a big difference. You can make a substantial monetary saving whilst doing your bit and all it takes is switching providers and carrying on as normal! The easiest thing.

Rechargeable batteries – I know, who even uses batteries anymore?! (except people with children and/or TV remotes, so almost everyone) Rechargeable batteries used to be a faff, but you can get USB ones now! They’ll save you money, and they’re better for the environment than single-use ones.

Solar- my sister just got a solar-powered portable phone charger. She’s gonna try and see if she can power her phone off the sun alone. That’s awesome. Imagine using the sun to charge your phone forever! It’s free! I found this brand which seems good quality and is a B Corp, meaning it uses its power to do good in the world. The profits from Waka Waka solar chargers (above) are used to provide power to those who do not currently have the option of electricity worldwide. The price would make it a bit of an investment, but it would pay for itself after that…

Review: Before the Flood (2016)

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I recently watched this documentary and I was blown away. I mean, I’m pretty open-minded, and I like to try and see the best in things anyway, but I really just loved every part of it. It follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels all over the world as a UN representative on Climate Change, uncovering the effects of our consumption so far, as well as the struggles and triumphs of efforts to combat global warming.

I found it really interesting to hear about China. They have serious problems with air pollution in their cities from factories and power plants, but at the same time China is leading the way in developing green energy and practices. It was sad to hear people talking about their health worries caused by the smog, but the overall message was hopeful. The people are beginning to realise how powerful they are, and hopefully companies and the government will listen. Protests by citizens directly and quite quickly forced the government in Sweden to commit to becoming the first fossil-fuel-free nation- there’s hope for all of us!

A massive lesson I got from the documentary was about palm oil. I’ve spoken to a few people about it and read a little about the harmful effects of its extraction, but to see the reality  was a different story entirely. They told us that 80% of the forests in Indonesia have been taken over for palm oil, destroying the wildlife. Leo met an organisation that was looking after orangutans, saved ‘from forests that no longer exist’. Our demand for palm oil has killed off an atrocious amount of animals, and the lucky ones have been made refugees, homeless. The reason they continue to burn down forests is because we keep purchasing products that use it. Now that I really understand importance of not buying into that industry, I now have a renewed enthusiasm to try and avoid palm oil as best I can.

‘Before the Flood’ also reiterated what I know already about how much of the world’s land is used to raise cattle or grow food for cattle. One of the experts they interviewed said that the best way to make a difference to the planet without getting involved in politics is by changing your diet. I can attest to the fact that making better food choices 3 times a day is a good start to feeling like you’re changing the world (and you are!)

The filming is amazing, and you see so many incredible images of animals, past and present, whose lives are or will be in grave danger if their habitats aren’t protected. DiCaprio is very honest about his personal failures and hypocrisy as well as that of the US in particular. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect or to have all the answers. What he does have is an eagerness to learn and an accurate sense of the urgency required if we want to protect and restore this world for the future.

Let me know what you thought of this documentary if you’ve seen it. If you haven’t it’s available to rent or buy here

 

Dinner.

Since I moved to France and especially after I went vegan in January, I’ve been turning into a foodie. The kitchen has become my favourite place, and whereas a year or two ago cooking was a chore and a source of stress in my life, it is now what I look forward to most days!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty abysmal at following recipes. But that’s okay, because it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re happy with the result. Here are a few meals that I’ve made recently:

 

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Broccoli and lentil soup – My hand blender was on the blink which I only realised as I got it out to blitz the broccoli up for this soup, so it ended up having some quite large bits of broccoli in it! But it was actually really nice to be able to taste all the elements and them not to be blended together. The key was putting onion and garlic in and seasoning it well.

Ingredients:

Broccoli

Green lentils

Onion

Garlic

Sea salt, black pepper, coriander

 

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Rice, plantain and lettuce – This one was easy. I am obsessed with plantain. Maybe it’s because it’s sweet and I’m a sucker for anything sweet. Maybe it’s because I fry them in oil, who knows (coconut oil is perrrffecct for this as it brings out the sweetness!). Also, brown rice is great. I made the switch a few months ago and I do not regret my choice one bit.

Ingredients:

Brown rice

Onion

Lettuce

Plantain

Coconut oil

 

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Roasted yellow peppers with quinoa РThis one was a fun one. I started off by boiling the quinoa, then mixed it in with some black beans, chickpeas, tomato pur̩e and some spices then filled a hollowed-out pepper and whacked them in the oven! It turned out really yummy.

Ingredients:

Yellow pepper

Quinoa

Tomato purée

Black beans

Chickpeas

Red onion

Sea salt, oregano, black pepper

 

As you can see, most of my dinners aren’t that fancy. They don’t involve too many ingredients and usually include at least one vegetable and some kind of grain. They are filling and pretty healthy, and it’s exciting to keep experimenting every day with new ideas. I haven’t included directions on how to make these, because I am basically just making it up as I go along, or I look it up on Pinterest and follow someone else’s recipe 🙂

Overnight oats.

There was a time not too long ago when I could forgo breakfast (and sometimes even lunch as well) and get through the day, but everything does catch up with you at some point- less food in the morning would mean a humongous dinner and ravenous evening snacking. That almost feels a world away now, as I can’t really leave the house until I’ve well and truly fuelled up.

My fuel of choice is overnight oats. As the name suggests, it involves pouring your oats into a bowl making sure to cover them with your choice of milk or water, (I tend to opt for almond or hazelnut milk) and leaving the bowl in the fridge overnight until breakfast time. By the morning the oats are lovely and soft, and the cold nut milk makes it so refreshing! I like to add a banana and one other fruit just to give it a bit more flavour and pack in the energy. Here are the most common combinations I go for (pictured above)…

  • 1 banana + 1 clementine (+ dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 banana + 1 kiwi
  • 1 banana + 1 date (+ vanilla)
  • 1 banana + 1 handful of raisins

Note: if you forget to prep your breakfast overnight, try and leave the oats to soak for as long as you can, as they taste better and are absorbed into the body easier the longer you leave them (ideally at least half an hour, but even 5 minutes is better than nothing!)

I find overnight oats to be both light enough to eat first thing in the morning, and filling enough to energise me for HOURS! Seriously, it’s crazy.