Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A late night chat with Graham Torrington!

Last night I was interviewed by Graham Torrington on BBC radio - the show was broadcast from Birmingham over 8 BBC Radio Stations in the middle of England including BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, BBC Hereford and Worcestershire, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Leicester, BBC Radio Nottingham and 3 more.

If you didn't catch it, for the next 29 days you can listen to the interview here: . I am 1 hour 21 minutes in and the interview is about 20 minutes long, with lots of questions about the why's and how's of my eco-friendly money saving journey.

If you are visiting after listening to the show then welcome to my blog - it's great to have you here. If you want to get more of an idea of some of the ways I have saved money take a look at this recent post about some of the highlights of the blog over the last 5 years and if you have any questions about the interview or my blog feel free to ask! You can comment on this blog post or get in touch on email at, via Twitter or via my Facebook group. You can also follow my Facebook page and keep up to date with all my latest blog posts!

Thanks for visiting and listening! If you have any feedback about the interview I would love to hear it!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Wildlife in our garden and easy ways to help your local wildlife!

My reasons for being eco-friendly mainly centre around wanting a healthy and happy future for myself and generations to come and my way of approaching it so far has mainly involved thinking about reducing the rubbish my household produces, trying to source sustainable products and trying to make the most of everything I have.

I've never really felt that connected to local wildlife though or quite got what direct impact I can have on it, but things are starting to slowly change. We have a lovely butterfly poster in our kitchen which identifies local butterflies and I was really excited that over the last couple of weeks there have been some red admirals (which I identified via the poster) fluttering around our garden one of which is pictured above.  

Every so often I do a bit of bug hunting with the kids and we find ladybirds, woodlice, ants, beetles and other bugs.

I started to learn about hedgehogs and their needs when a local lady asked if we would have a hedgehog tunnel in our garden for a few days, but sadly we didn't spot any. More recently though, we also took part in a university study where they put a night vision motion sensitive camera in our garden for a week and it was really exciting when they spotted these animals:

I also grow lots of bee friendly plants like lavender and I have taken the kids to a local museum called the Booth museum quite a few times. It is full of stuffed birds and a few other animals and some animal skeletons. It was only after a few visits that the birds finally got to me. I started to realise some of them were supposed to be local and I had never seen them before and a friend of mine told me they went on a bird song walk with someone identifying all the different bird songs, which I would really love to do when I get a chance. Apparently there are loads of bats in my local area too, which I have never seen.

Like I said I never really quite got what I could do for my local wildlife, but I started to realise that although it might seem insignificant just learning a little about and looking out for sightings of your local wildlife can actually be really helpful because:

  1. If you don't know it exists then you can't do anything to help it!
  2. If you have a garden there are lots of small changes you can make to help the wildlife including planting flowers that attract bees and butterflies, to making holes in the perimeters of your garden so hedgehogs can access them to installing bird baths or bat boxes and more!
  3. You can help contribute to local studies and national data. There are lots of wildlife websites where you can sign up and share your sightings and you don't need a garden for this! This can then help identify trends in increase or decline in species and where efforts might need to be focused to help species in trouble.
  4. It can increase your enthusiasm about it! I found that when I started to try to spot hedgehogs I became more interested in them and it was really exciting to finally see that one had visited our garden. When I planted a load of lavender because the bees liked them it made me more excited about seeing bees on them and every so often I count how many bees we have on the lavender plants and feel a bit miffed if there aren't enough bees on them!
Another benefit of wildlife spotting/ learning about local wildlife is that it is a great source of free fun! I didn't have to pay to go into the Booth museum or to join in with the local studies and I got the butterfly poster for free a few years ago when it was being given out at local libraries. It's well worth finding out what is going on in your local area and having a look online for things like bird, bug or butterfly identification charts and it is a great activity to get kids involved in (if you have any!). 

I've really enjoyed getting to know more about the wildlife in my garden and finding out about some of the visitors it has in the middle of the night as well as in the beautiful sunshine! I also would really like to learn more! How about you? How do you feel about your local wildlife?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

5 years of Eco Thrifty Living!

This day 5 years ago Eco Thrifty Living was born! I'm feeling very Victor Meldrew about the whole thing i.e. 'I can't believe it' and I know it is a total cliche, but I really can't believe I've been blogging for 5 years now. I can believe it because obviously I knew I've been doing it for a while and I've enjoyed blogging so much and had such great adventures along the way, so it makes sense that I have kept going with it, but somehow I'm still surprised.

To celebrate this momentous occasion (well momentous to me!), I'm going to share some of my memories from each year of my blog

Year 1 - 2011/12

This was the year that it all started and that I went back to work after maternity leave with the aim of saving enough money in eco friendly ways to quit my job!

This year I discovered the joys of second hand furniture. I went from being a lipsalve addict to never needing a tube of the stuff again! I invested in a menstrual cup, gave daffodils from my garden as a gift rather than walking past them and buying some from a shop! I started thinking about food waste and came up with some ideas for what to do with bananas that are past their best

Year 2 - 2012/13

In November 2012 I quit my job. It was a bit of a scary decision to make but I'm glad I did! I wrote about all kinds of things this year, constantly on the look out for how to save and make money in eco-friendly ways.

I discovered Freegle and Freecycle and realised that not only could I get things cheaper secondhand, I could also sometimes get them for free via these site. We got given the scooters pictured above for free, which my children are still using now! They are also a great help when decluttering and I found lots of good reasons to declutter. To start off with I was pretty into baking and started adding the crumbs from baking I had made to yoghurt and found various other ways to save money on baking. Then I quit sugar and my baking efforts became sugar free! I rethought wrapping paper and wrapped up gifts in fabric and I upcycled some broken toddler books into wall art.

Year 3 - 2013/14

When I quit my job I knew there were lots of ways I could save money, but I wanted to have a bit of an income as well. Year 3 was the year that we had our first foreign student come to stay with us. We have continued to rent to students and currently have two staying with us! In this year I had my first cup of home grown camomile tea, I saw the the Clean Bin Project and took part in Zero Waste Week , which both massively inspired me in a zero waste direction. We grew our own garlic, waved goodbye to our microwaveditched clingfilm and started visiting our local toy library. This was also the year that I started My Year of Eco Challenges.

Year 4 - 2014/15

I continued with My Year of Eco Challenges and finished it! I blogged about how we buy onions each year from a local farm and usually last us until we can pick more/ grow our own! We did our first (and only so far :)) house swap in a beautiful area of Southern France. I spent a day gleaning in some corn fields, made some upcycled dish cloths and had my first interview on the radio! I started up the Sustainable Book Club and challenged myself to earn £10,000 in a year without getting a job.

Year 5 - 2015/16

Earning £10,000 in a year without getting a job didn't work out and for various reasons I quit that challenge. I had lots of other fun this year including learning how to make lavender wandslooking out for hedgehogs in my garden and saving over £500 by avoiding waste on an overseas trip. This year my blog hit national and global news and I had a tv interview for the first time! My blog was also deemed worthy of the Rubbish Hot 100, I met up with some real life people into zero waste and was introduced to the joys of sugar free banana icecream. I will also never be wasting cold chips again!

What does the future hold? Honestly I have absolutely no idea! Will I still be blogging in 5 years time? It is very possible! I am still extremely slowly writing a book and my hope is that when I do get around to publishing it that I manage to sell a few copies!

No momentous occasion is complete without a few thank you's so thank you to my husband, my mum, my dad and my friends who have supported me along the way! I couldn't have done it without you guys!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

How to transform wrinkly kiwis and mushy avocado's into a delicious dessert!

I don't know about you, but I struggle to work out when kiwis and avocados are ripe. To stay on the safe side I leave them out in the fruit bowl until the kiwis have gone wrinkly and the avocados are a bit squishy. Unfortunately by this time they may have gone too far the other way and become over ripe. Luckily this isn't a disaster as wrinkly kiwis and mushy avocados make a perfect pair!

The first time I made this dessert I happened to find both an over ripe kiwi and avocado at the same time. I blitzed them together with a hand blender and then froze the mixture, forgetting to take it out and stir it every so often as it froze to stop it from going rock hard. It was less than ideal, but tasted really good.

The next time I made it I chopped up an over ripe avocado, froze the chopped up pieces and left it there until an over ripe kiwi came along. It worked out much better as when I blitzed the two together I had an immediate sugar free, zero waste, plastic free, vegan sorbet! It is also a great way to get fussy people to try avocado if they haven't before!

My kids have become so used to my experiments now that they have begun suggesting a few of their own, but I have to say mixing a small amount of honey with raw grated and then blitzed carrot is not something I will be doing again!

If you like this sorbet you might also like my other avocado sorbet recipe!