Monday, 26 July 2010

Working from home

Working from home, either permanently or just one or two days per week is an inherently green decision. The emissions reduction from travelling is the most immediate benefit, and is one of many that become apparent over time.

Decorated Shed garden offices are built to be energy efficient and deliver phenomenal insulation performance, meaning that you need minimal heating and cooling all year round.

However, being a green homeworker doesn't end at simply working from home. There are several simple practices that can be incorporated into your working day that help to minimise your impact on the planet even further. The good news is that they’re all simple and easy to implement into your routine, and will bring tangible benefits to both your work and your pocket.

Here are some green office tips for homeworkers;

• Buy eco-friendly office products. Recycled paper is the commonly-known product here, but almost every other office item has a recycled version available. Pens, pencils, mousepads, calendars, almost every item of stationery imaginable… all available in eco-friendly variants.

• Recycle! Be a part of the process by recycling your recycled office products when you’re finished with them, and give them yet another chance to be used in a new life! It's a sad fact that while 80% of the office products used in the UK are recyclable, a pitiful 8% ends up being recycled*.

• Buy FSC-certified or second-hand desks. If you're buying new office desks try to make sure they’re from FSC-certified sources, which means they’ve come from responsible and sustainably managed forests. Alternatively, see what's available locally second-hand. As many companies regularly re-fit their office spaces there are often some impeccable quality office furniture items available second-hand, and this removes the need to buy a newly produced item.

• Buy an energy-efficient computer and other electronics. Laptops usually use less energy than computer and monitor combinations, and the eco-friendly options for these are improving on an almost daily basis. The situation is similar for printers and fax machines, with many energy efficient options widely available.

• Go easy on the print outs. "Don't print this out unless necessary" is a well-worn office mantra, but for good reason. Printing things out to read them is really unnecessary, especially considering they're on the screen right in front of you, and the process wastes paper, ink, energy, time and ultimately money - quite a lot of valuable resources.

• Switch off. If you're not in the office, it doesn't need to be on. With the possible exception of the fax machine, every single energy-using item in your office should be switched off and shut down at the end of the day. Computer, printer, scanner, copier, lights - all off.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Logicor launches a new way to cut energy bills with its Green Plug

Logicor have just launched their Green Plug, which is an energy saving plug that automatically shuts off the power to appliances that they are wired into. The plug enables families to reduce energy bills and save on carbon emissions if used with appliances that are accidentally left on, or on stand-by, for long periods of time. The plug also reduces fire hazards around the home by turning off devices that have the potential to start fires if left on unattended.

The Green Plug contains an air driven timer to switch off the power supply after a pre-determined amount of time. The device itself does not use any electricity and can be attached to any household appliance with a standard three-pin plug.

UK homes spend an average of £365 per year on unnecessary and wasted energy caused by accidentally leaving appliance plugged in or on stand-by when they are not in use, according to a recent report compiled by Professor Martin Crowder of Imperial College London using the data from a recent ComRes poll. It is this aspect of energy bills that the Green Plug is able to reduce when attached to devices that are frequently left on, indeed it has been proven that the Green Plug can reduce energy bills by as much as 33%.

Using the Green Plug also has environmental benefits. According to the UK Government 27 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions are generated by the housing sector so by reducing energy wastage in the home the Green Plug also makes a positive contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions.

The plugs are available in a variety of different time ranges suitable for a variety of different devices. Plugs with a shorter time range, between five and ten minutes, are suitable for appliances with a high fire risk such as hair straighteners or irons, whilst those with a longer time range, between 30 and 50 minutes, are suitable for bedroom lights.

Logicor also has a complimentary Wall Socket, which can be retro-fitted or used in new builds. This device also contains an air driven timer and automatically switches off power supply in the same way that the Green Plugs do. The socket differs from the plug because the timer on the sockets can be set and changed by the user.
The plugs cost £5.99 and the wall socket £9.99. The plugs are available now the wall socket will be available from November 2010. Both are available through CEFCO in the UK.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

50,000 people a year are dying prematurely due to poor air quality

Did you know that as many as 50,000 people a year are dying prematurely due to poor air quality? That’s more than 20 times the number that die in road accidents in the UK each year! Whilst other factors are to blame, road transport is the worst offender at putting ‘nasties’ (NOx, Hydrocarbons and Particulates) into the air.

Pollutants like these can cause asthma, skin and eye irritation, poor lung development, heart disease, cancer and lung disease. All of these could be cutting people's lives short by as much as nine years.

Volvo Cars UK wants to do something about it, and this is how:

They are developing an iPhone app, which will let you search a vehicle’s make and model, and delivers easy-to-understand information that clearly illustrates the Nasties coming from the exhaust pipe of the car you drive, or are thinking of buying.
They want to launch an environmental label (just like the one you see on cars and fridges now) that will be used alongside the CO2 label displayed in new and used car showrooms. The label, like the app, will tell you just how many Nasties are emitted by a particular car's exhaust.

They are also setting up the Emissions Equality Think Tank, which will help keep people talking about air quality so governments and decision-makers take notice and do something about cleaning up our air.

To support the campaign they have developed a great animation which helps explain the issues in an easily to understand way. You can watch the video here!/insidevolvouk?ref=ts.

A Sensitive Subject

Sarah Heenan, natural beauty therapist and founder of online organic beauty boutique,, takes a look at the issues around skin sensitivities.

The last decade has seen a dramatic rise in sensitised skin and allergic reactions. This is mainly due to pollution, environmental factors and altered immunity. Most skin responses to cosmetics are a result of skin sensitisation. This happens when the ingredients penetrate the skin too quickly and the skin’s natural barrier function is impaired. Once the product is removed from the skin the reaction will subside.
In most instances of skin allergy, the skin can become itchy, inflamed, red and sore. Many main stream products made with harsh chemical ingredients and synthetic compounds will exaggerate these symptoms, so it is good to search for products with organic and natural ingredients which will help the skin function correctly and not just provide a short term fix.

Quite often you can be happily using a high street product and then, out of the blue, will start to have skin sensitivity. This could be down to a change in ingredients in the product or it could be a result of the body reacting to a combination of products being used.

Three Reasons to go Natural
· We find one of the biggest reasons people turn to organic and natural products is because they have sensitive skin and are finding high street products over-fragranced and too harsh. With organic and natural products there are no harsh chemicals, no artificial fragrances, quite simply the ingredients are all chosen to be effective, gentle and help the skin work naturally.
· Organic and natural brands are very transparent in their communications and include a comprehensive list of ingredients on the product, so that you can see clearly what it is made of. If you do have allergies to a certain ingredient, it is very easy to check this.
· It is also the case that an individual can be allergic to a completely organic ingredient (for example, people can be sensitive to some of the Essential Oils) so it is important to be able to see at a glance what is in the product you are using.

The Ingredients Minefield
Where there is sensitivity to Essential Oils it is important, when checking ingredients, to check out the source, especially with fragrances. For example, Limonene is the term used for the synthetic fragrance, Lemon, but is also the name for Lemon Essential Oil. In order to differentiate, there is usually an asterisk or a comment next to the ingredient, stating ‘from natural essential oils’.
Cosmetic ingredients really can be quite confusing and sometimes totally innocent natural ingredients can sound like a harsh chemical, for example Methylglucose Sesquisterate is simply a plant emulsifier, or some ingredients which sound almost identical can be completely different.

The deciding factor can normally be found in the source, the preferred one being from an organic source. Again with organic and natural companies you will normally be able to check these ingredients quite easily and quickly.
However, there are now many ranges which are free from fragrances and herbal flower extracts. These include the Lavera Neutral and Green People’s Organic Base No Scent collection.

Everybody is Different
It is also important to remember that each of us are individual and hence our skin requirements are also very specific. Just because the product is natural and organic and has worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you, so it is important to try and test the product first and find the best product for you. At Lucy Rose you can receive one-to-one advice either over the ‘phone or via email, and just to be on the safe side, there is a free sample service so that you can try first.
Be Prepared for a Skin Detox
A few people find that when switching to more natural ingredients they experience a detox period of maybe a week, where the body adjusts and the skin may feel uncomfortable or may ‘break out’. This usually lasts no longer than a week and once the skin has adjusted it will feel better than ever.

It Really Works
We recently exhibited at the Allergy Show in Olympia and the response was overwhelming. We met a lot of people who for years had not been able to wear make up, use sun cream, or have spent hundreds of pounds trying to find a product that does not cause sensitivity. After trying some of our products and testing them over the 2 days, we had fabulous feedback and many happy customers who have been able to find something that actually works and does not cause the symptoms they had previously experienced.
At Lucy Rose we are very aware of our customers as individuals and are always here to help. We offer services such as the free ‘try before you buy’ and also personal consultations. As an independent retailer of organic and natural beauty products we only stock the very best brands and can give independent advice so you can find the right product for you.