Despite the economy growing and Mary Portas being tasked with breathing life back into our high streets, the ever-growing trend of online consumerism continues to see high numbers of bricks and mortar retail stores close.
According to accountancy firm, PwC and the Local Data Company there were still some 16 stores closing per day in the first half of 2014. An improvement on 20 stores a day that closed during the same period of time in 2012, but still a clear sign that our love for high street shopping is waning.
But what can we, as consumers, do to help our high streets thrive, support our local economy and retain our local village, town and city centre’s heritage and character? The answer, of course, is to shop locally.
Here are 3 reasons why I believe shopping locally can make a real difference:
1. Builds strong communities
Locally-owned businesses win hands down when it comes to knowing what their communities want. Instead of the generic ‘one solution fits all’ approach of national retail chains, local businesses understand the distinct needs of and deliver exactly what their customers want. Also supporting neighbouring businesses, organisations and contributing to community causes, independent locally-owned businesses help support and build vibrant communities for all.
2. Keeps money in the local community
By choosing to spend your hard-earned cash with independent, locally-owned businesses instead of a national chain, rather than money going straight to High Street Chain PLC’s head office, the money stays local and is recirculated into the local economy, making it a win-win for the whole community. This in turn helps independent businesses create more local jobs, offer competitive wages and best of all, a better service for you. A high street full of thriving small businesses means competition, resulting in improved deals, broader, superior choice and lower prices.
But how can you be sure a locally-owned business will offer what you want, at a price you can afford?
One solution is Rock Pamper Scissors an innovative web-based solution to put you in the know and get you spending on the high street. Developed specifically to take the guesswork, stress and time out of choosing the best salon for your next pampering session, Rock Pamper Scissors is a one stop salon booking website. Listing local salons which do everything from cuts, blow drys, facials and holistic therapies, Rock Pamper Scissors gives you the low down on everything you need to know before you book, including services on offer, price range with up to date price lists, special deals, meet the stylist profiles, cool gallery shots of the salons and customer ratings and reviews. It’s the perfect partnership for those who appreciate the qualities of individual service delivered by talented, local independent beauty professionals.
3. Environmental sustainability
With transport infrastructures already in place and compact town centres within walking distance, supporting local businesses ensures our town centres remain a hub of activity which can be easily accessed and enjoyed by all. Reducing the need for out of town shopping malls, which as a consequence means loss of vegetation, increased pollution through vehicle usage and urban sprawl, smaller, local stores work well within existing infrastructures making use of the public services already in place and improved sustainable transport options offering a cleaner, greener environment with thriving community spirit.
Do you shop locally? If you do, what do you love about locally-owned independent shops?
‘Whatever I need I need Spain’ Turespaña is Turespana’s latest initiative and as you’ll see when you watch the video, Spain offers the eco-tourist the adventure, dramatic scenery, cultural heritage and world-class food of far-flung places, whilst being an accessible, low impact holiday.
Oh yes, Ohyo! If you’re a fan of the super clever collapsabottle that you can refill on the go, you’ll be pleased to hear that they have just launched their biggest bottle yet – the Ohyo 1000.
Complete with a sturdy metal hanging clip, the extended Ohyo holds over 1 litre of water, making it perfect for camping trips, sports and picnics.
Squishing down to one third of it’s size (collapses to 7cm) the reusable Ohyo bottle can be popped in your pocket or bag, so when you’re thirsty, rather than buying environmentally-damaging plastic bottled water, you can top up for free wherever you may are. Just type your location in www.findafountain.org or download the free app ‘findafountain’ and it’ll tell you where your nearest tap or water fountain is.
To celebrate the launch of their new bottle (which would make a perfect stocking filler) I’ve joined forces with Ohyo to offer all Queen of Easy Green readers a 10% discount on the Ohyo 1000 (RRP £12.99).
To claim your discount, just enter the code QOEG10 when you buy online from Ohyo (offer ends 31st December 2014)
That’s not all, I’ve also got TWO Ohyo 1000 bottles to give away!
For your chance to win one of these cool, BPA-free, eco-friendly and, not to mention, stylish reusable water bottles, simply complete the Rafflecopter box below.
When it comes to recycling most of us want to do the right thing, unfortunately despite our best intentions too much of our waste is still ending up in landfill.
Confusion as to what can be recycled, storage issues and lack of time are major barriers that prevent many of us from being committed recyclers.
Other reasons that hinder most from regular recycling, particularly with bulky waste, are difficulties with the physical removal of items, lack of transportation and unreliable collections.
Although some local authorities do offer bulky waste collections, these can be limited for up to 5 items a time, a maximum of 3 times a year. Similarly, charities also offer collection services for large preloved household goods, which is a fantastic way to ensure reuse, but they will only accept excellent quality and good working order household furniture and electrical goods, for obvious safety reasons.
But what if your furniture is damaged, broken or is not able to be reused or you have an old electrical appliance that is just too heavy for you to move or you have so much unsorted waste to clear that you’ve just not got the time or energy to do it yourself? How can you clear your clutter and be sure it will disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way?
One answer is, AnyJunk.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing AnyJunk and am delighted to report that from start to finish the environmentally-friendly rubbish removal service they deliver is first-class.
The eco-friendly alternative to skip hire, AnyJunk are a man and a van service who will remove and dispose of all sorts of bulky waste from your home or garden without you having to lift a finger.
How does AnyJunk work?
To book a free no-obligation visit, just head to their website and fill out the easy to use questionnaire. Using the information you supply, including what type of junk you have, how much there is, where it is located and an appointment time etc., a member of the AnyJunk team will follow up with a call to confirm details and clarify any questions you may have.
Then, on the date you have booked, AnyJunk guarantee they will be at your property in the agreed 2 hour arrival window and, just to make sure you are ready for them, they will give you a call 30 minutes in advance of their arrival. Once there, the friendly 2 man crew will provide you with an exact quote for the removal of your junk and if you’re happy they will clear it there and then. If your not, that’s fine, because all visits are ‘no obligation’. Once the team has cleared your junk, you simply pay them by card. Job done!
Finally, before the AnyJunk crew leave, they email the all important Waste Transfer Note direct to your inbox, confirming that your junk had been collected by a licensed waste carrier and guaranteeing you that it will be disposed of properly.
Where does the junk go?
So what happens when the junk is cleared, where does it go? AnyJunk guarantee that 88% of the waste they collect will either be reused, recycled or used in ‘waste to energy’ incineration. Good quality furniture, textiles and electrical appliances are passed onto reuse organisations and charities, such as Oxfam and the British Heart Foundation. Recyclables like wood, metal, WEEE are separated at dedicated recycling facilities and general waste, which cannot be easily separated, is taken to Material Recovery Facilities for use as ‘waste to energy’ incineration.
How else is AnyJunk an eco-friendly business?
In addition to reusing and recycling your waste, AnyJunk’s green credentials also extend to minimising the environmental impact of their fleet of vans. As well as guaranteeing your junk removal time slot, AnyJunk’s sophisticated routing system also means that each team’s specially designed, low emission vehicle is carefully mapped to ensure all journeys are as energy efficient as possible – reducing unnecessary mileage, fuel consumption and it’s carbon footprint.
Why would I recommend AnyJunk?
Having hired a skip and also used a skip bag, what I most love about AnyJunk is that it is fast, stress-free and very efficient. In a fraction of the time that it would usually take me to hire a skip (and arrange a permit if it was sited on the road) or book a bag, load the junk into myself and then book a collection time to collect /dispose of my rubbish, AnyJunk would have done it all AND in one visit! Plus, they did all of the hard work on my behalf, meaning I was free to do other things. Both on the phone and in person all of the guys I dealt with at AnyJunk were incredibly professional, polite and efficient – they did exactly what they said they would, when they would. Did I mention they even swept my drive when they had finished too!
To find out more about AnyJunk’s eco-friendly rubbish removal service head over to www.AnyJunk.co.uk. With Christmas just around the corner, there couldn’t be a better time to have a green declutter, just in case Santa’s got some eco treats in store for you.
It’s funny, but, the more I chat with my elderly friends it’s apparent that despite having more spare time on their hands, there still doesn’t appear to be enough hours in the day in which to fit in all of their new hobbies.
With many of them taking up new hobbies in recent years, it’d seem that being retired can be more exhausting than working full time and not surprisingly some hobbies can put a strain on the purse too.
It got me thinking, how can we enjoy the thrill of starting a new hobby whilst keeping the costs in check? Well, the obvious answer is to keep it green, of course.
Try to think outside of the (canvas) box when it comes to your artwork base. Instead of buying new blank canvas, have a rummage around your home (and recycling bin) to find an interesting alternative. The reverse of cereal boxes or wallpaper leftovers would make an inexpensive and interesting base, as would an off-cut of wood or old magazines. You could even go 3D and use old glass jars or even plastic containers for your artwork. Give it a try, you may be surprised just how beautiful upcycled art can be.
Save money and reduce waste by switching from knitting with new yarn to using recycled. Unravelling outgrown knitted garments and re-knitting them into some new is a fabulous way to fashion a new garment with yarn you love. Another alternative is to knit or crochet with strips of fabric cut from old clothes, or why not try crocheting with strips of plastic grocery bags to create a reusable shopping basket that can be used time and time again?
Instead of buying a new book from the supermarket, why not support your local library by borrowing a book or choose a secondhand book from your favourite charity shop? With the arrival of e-books many charity shops have a huge choice of titles to choose from, including new releases and old favourites. Don’t forget to recycle by donating them when you’ve finished!
If you’ve got the time and inspiration to start a new hobby but lack of mobility in your home is holding you back, have you ever considered installing a stairlift? You may be surprised to learn that the cost of stairlifts is not as expensive as you might first imagine. Indeed, Stannah Stairlifts, the granddaddy of stairlift manufacturers, cost as little as £7.26 per year to run. That’s the same price as 8 pints of milk or one English Breakfast!
To show you what else £7.26 could buy Stannah have created with this fab little infographic:
Stannah are a British family run business based in England, making lifts of all types since 1867 and stairlifts from 1975.
Did I mention Stannah Stairlifts are going green too? From new environmentally-aware products, switching from polystyrene to recyclable cardboard, energy efficient vehicles and their options for customers to purchase pre-owned, reconditioned and refurbished stairlifts Stannah are setting the industry standard in sustainability whilst helping those with mobility issues enjoy a better quality of life.
To find out how Stannah lifts can save time and provide mobility for the disabled or elderly at an affordable rate, check out their website, www.stannahstairlifts.co.uk