Friday, August 31, 2007

Eco-disposable Nappies

I've mention a couple of times that we've switched to a mix of reusable and disposable nappies for practical reasons. While I believe the former are more eco-friendly, you need access to a washing machine & somewhere to dry them. So if you do go disposable, what are the choices?

Moltex (right) claim to be the only eco disposable nappy with an unbleached cellulose core. They are produced from 50% renewable resources, are 100% chlorine free and made with 20% biodegradable absorbent granules in the core. The outer film and the packaging are 100% biodegradable

Nature Care (left) are apparently made from 100% GM-free natural maize film and have a unique channel construction which reduces the volume of super absorbents by 50%. They got the Mother&Baby Silver Award for Best Disposable Nappy for 2006/7.

It's very difficult to choose between them on eco-grounds - both are chlorine free, have mainly natural materials and are almost totally biodegradable - what is not biodegradable is the absorbent gel which allows them to compete with their conventional equivalents.

So which to choose? We use Moltex for one very, very good reason. Whether it's the shape of the wee fella's bottom or not I don't know, but we've found the Nature Care nappies have let us down several times on the 'containment' front. Makes the decision very simple, I can assure you!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Those Cologne Cycling Facilities in Pictures

If you're a UK cycle obsessive like me, wouldn't it be great to see proper cycle paths like these in Cologne (right)? I know we do get bits and pieces like this in the UK, but on the continent these paths are everywhere, connect together, have good destination signage and, as a result, are very well used.

Aha, you say, but these are big wide streets - how would you do it in the narrow inner city roads of many British cities?

Well they have narrow streets in Cologne too, but the roads are one way for motorised traffic, but two way for cyclists (left). Again you do get this here, but in Cologne every street was like this, not just the odd one the local authority had scraped together some cash for the signs, paint and legal orders.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Green Vibrations...

This is my favourite silly season story with an eco-bent:

The new Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive requires all WEEE, as it is delightfully known, to be collected separately for recycling rather than being chucked in landfill. Not a very sexy subject you might think, but, as WEEE includes 'pretty much anything with a battery or a plug' according to my local Environment Agency office, what do you do if your, ahem, marital aids wear out?

Well the good people at LoveHoney will give you a new 'rampant rabbit' for half price if you send back your old one for recycling and will make a donation to charity to boot. Top effort - and better than running the risk of ridicule down at your local civic amenity site.

Begs one question - just what do they turn the old rabbits into?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Greetings from Cologne

Finally got the hotel internet access to work, so here are my first impressions of Cologne. Coming here by train (Eurostar to Brussels, express train to Cologne passing some impressive wind farms en route) was great, but the boy managed to pick up gastro-enteritis the morning we left so our enjoyment was curtailed by some top puking. He's now shared it with the rest of the family...

The big thing is cycling. There are bikes everywhere and shops even put cycle stands out on the pavement for their customers. There are some colosal cycle paths, loads of crossings and many of the one-way streets around our hotel are two-way for bikes (without any extra markings, just signs).

Apart from that, I was a little surprised that the green produce thing isn't more prevalent. I had to go to the Bio-markt for eco-friendly disposable nappies, but couldn't get them in any highstreet store. There are marginally more organic products around than in the UK, but not much.

I'll keep my eyes peeled for more.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Holiday Season

Postings have been a bit few and far between in August, I'm afraid, as holidays keep getting in the way. We spent last week in Buttermere in the Lake District (right), which was lovely and rates as follows on the eco-living swingometer:

Good: no flying, plenty of walking, self catering.

Bad: disposable nappies on the nipper (no washing machine), coal fire (yes in August... see hat & coat in pic), little/no recycling facilities (shock at return to one wheelie bin of rubbish in a week), supermarket shopping.

Tomorrow we're off to Cologne by train (hurrah!) for ten days. I hope to be doing some posting on what I find there eco-wise, web access permitting.

Oh, by the way, my no-fly record of 16 months will end mid September. I must say I haven't missed flying at all and I'm going to have to get my head around the "new" security arrangements re liquids and all that malarky.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Off on holiday for a week...

... in the UK - no flying!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Could you bin your bin?

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Betsy Reid who is rumoured to be the UK's greatest recycler. Then I got my copy of Clean Slate, the CAT magazine, which had an article on what you might call extreme recycling - giving up your residual waste bin altogether. The idea is simple, but extremely challenging - you buy nothing that you can't recycle.

I'm tempted to give it a go, but I can see immediate problems. While we mainly use real nappies for our little boy, we do use one 'eco-friendly' disposable overnight as they're more absorbent so he will sleep through the night OK. This is the single most important thing for our quality of life at present and I really don't want to risk disrupting it. Another problem is that we're omnivorous so meat scraps can be a problem - not ideal for the compost heap. So I'm wimping out.

Another new idea, which is used in the construction industry, is to become 'waste neutral' - in other words you make sure that the amount of stuff you do throw away is matched by the amount of recycled/reused material you purchase. I'm not entirely convinced this adds up as it might encourage you to buy more stuff just to cover your increasing waste which may in turn increase the amount of stuff you buy - not really going in the right direction.

BTW Clean Slate suggests you convert your old wheelie bin into a water butt using a special kit, but I rather think your local council (which owns the bin) may have something to say about that.

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