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MAD Blog Awards 2011

green hobbies - reading

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.

Eco-friendly art

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.

Recycled knitting

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?

Green reading

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:

stairlift prices

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,


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how to make an up cycled scrap paper light

One of the huge upsides of years spent self-building and renovating my home, is the time when I can start getting creative and filling these new spaces with lovely stuff.

A big fan of show-stopping, eco-friendly, innovative lighting that makes a real statement, I have fallen in love with and have been inspired by the stunningly beautiful upcycled artichoke-like light created by graphic designer, Gabrielle Guy.

Made simply with strips of scrap paper, glue and an old paper lantern, this gorgeous environmentally-friendly light costs pennies to make but looks a million dollars.

So, armed with some old, but beautifully photographed Christmas magazines (mine where Marks and Spencers’ catalogues which, incidentally, are printed on FSC paper), an old paper lantern and some PVA glue, I got busy to create my own upcycled centrepiece.

How to make an upcycled strip paper light

Here’s how I made it:

1. Using my recycled magazines, I cut strips of paper into long, triangles approximately 3cm at the widest edge, tapering to a point.

2. Working from the bottom of the lamp, I folded each strip of paper about 1cm from the widest edge and then glued the folded edge to lamp, following the spiral support. (The fold ensures the strip of paper hangs vertically).

3. I then repeated the process, fixing each strip of paper side by side.

Upcycled paper strip light

4. When half way up the lamp, I discontinued folding the strips of paper and simply fixed them straight to the lamp – at this point the strips of paper naturally hang vertically.

upcycled paper strip light

5. Upon completion, I checked along the top edge to ensure the lamp was completely covered, for the best effect none of the paper lantern should be visible.

6. After a few hours of cutting and glueing, my beautiful upcycled paper strip light was ready to hang in my new entrance hall. Voila!

upcycled paper strip light

Here are two pictures of my upcycled lamp in place, the first, lit up at night, the second, how it looks in natural daylight.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

*Safety note:  Only use the appropriate bulb as recommended by the paper lampshade manufacturer and ensure the light bulb does not come in contact with the paper. If in doubt, ask your local electrician for advice.


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Tetra Pak Recycling map

As a nation we hold recyclers in high esteem, with two fifths (45%) of Britons suggesting those who recycle are ‘better people’. As a result, many confess that they over-egg their own recycling habits, with one in five people (21%) confessing to exaggerating about how often they recycle.

The new research, commissioned by Tetra Pak, uncovers the nation’s recycling habits, with the aim of finding ways to help us all recycle more.

The research also reveals that more than half (51%) of the population think it is important to appear to be doing the right thing in front of friends, colleagues and family members. A further 84% of people confess to taking note of their neighbours’ recycling habits.

Additionally, the research shows that many of us are willing to stretch the truth when it comes to recycling. Over half of those surveyed (57%) admit to doing things to make themselves look more environmentally friendly. This includes putting the recycling bin out when it’s empty purely for show, instructing others to use recycling bags when they don’t themselves, and telling people they recycle when they don’t.

The research also uncovers confusion when it comes to recycling. Almost one-in-five (19%) of those questioned a. In fact, it seems a lack of understanding about what to recycle has resulted half the nation (55%) skipping a recycling opportunity. Another third (33%) say uncertainty has led to occasions where they put all of their waste into the recycling bin without really knowing what can and can’t be recycled.

To help remove some of the questions around recycling and make it easier to recycle cartons, Tetra Pak has launched a new interactive map to help people find information about the carton recycling facilities in their local area.Tetra Pak recycling locator map

Gavin Landeg, Environment Manager, Tetra Pak UK and Ireland commented on the research and launch of the new interactive recycling map: “We undertook this research as we really wanted to understand the nation’s recycling habits so we could help people recycle more. What is clear from the research is that we all have the best intentions to recycle. We deem it an important part of our everyday lives and see it as a sign of being a good person.

“However, there is uncertainty when it comes to how, where and what can be recycled, with the options available for recycling cartons and other packaging not always being obvious to the general public. Tetra Pak has an objective to double carton recycling and we’re working hard to help make it easy for consumers to do this. As part of this effort, we’ve developed an easy to use interactive map which allows Britons to quickly see how and where they can recycle their cartons in their area.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of people polled said they think the focus on the environment and climate will become more important, which is why we want to enable consumers to feel confident they are doing all they can when it comes to recycling.”

The study also highlighted that our dedication to the recycling cause wavers from home to the office, with over half (57%) of Britons admitting to recycling more in the workplace than they do at home. Peer-pressure in the office also appears to be felt most acutely by men – with 67% of men claiming they are more likely to recycle in the office because they are surrounded by peers and want to be seen as a responsible recycler, compared to 51% of women.

Tetra Pak’s recycling map can be found at


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Eco-Filament low energy bulb

Energy saving lightbulbs are a lot like marmite, don’t you think, you either love them or loathe them?

We know they are good for the environment and that they save us money on our energy bills (replacing just one traditional light bulb with an energy saving one can save you around £3 a year) but they’re just not, well, as nice looking as the old ones used to be.

Well, not anymore. Thanks to a collaboration between Dutch medical, aerospace and avionic lighting specialist, NDF Special Light Products and Urban Cottage Industries, the leading UK manufacturer behind Factorylux light, the most stunning CFL lamp has been created, the unpretentiously named Eco-Filament.

The Factorylux Eco-Filament, which I was sent to review, combines the delicate beauty of Edison’s classic squirrel cage filament light bulb, with modern day energy and ecodesign standards to produce a lamp that not only looks stunning but is long lasting and low-energy too.

eco-filament bulb, close up

A straight replacement for traditional E27 60W pear shaped lamps, the dimmable Eco-Filament is the same bulb size, same cap and same light output, but lasts 5 times longer and consumes just one eighth of the energy of a 60W bulb. To put that in context for those number-crunching lovers amongst you, an Eco-Filament lamp last 25,000 hours, or 20+ years (3 hours a day) or 11 years (6 hours per day).

Exquisitely designed, the vintage Thomas Edison style lamps look fabulous both off, during the day and on at night.

On their own they would look stunning in bare bulb industrial style light fittings, which are gaining in popularity in many homes, as would they in interiors influenced by the Steampunk movement.


When on, (the dealbreaker for those opting for low-energy bulbs) the lamp gives a warm familiar glow of a traditional bulb, creating a beautiful, cosy ambience.

At £30.60 a bulb they are, of course, more expensive than their Edison Squirrel Cage Filament lamp counterparts (which start at £9.00), but when you calculate how much longer they last AND how much energy you save during use, you don’t have to be too bright to see that the Eco-filament puts the alternatives in the shade.

For more information about the Eco-Filament, head over to Urban Cottage Industries.


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Urinetown The Musical
The ripples of revolution are now reaching the shores of the West End!

URINETOWN, the satirical musical comedy that was a sold out splash hit at the St James Theatre has arrived in London’s West End at the beautifully refurbished Apollo Theatre.

Award-winning director, Jamie Lloyd (Richard III, The Commitments) directs this sharp-witted rampant riot of a show that tells the tale of a town fit to burst; spending a penny can prove problematic in a place where the privilege to pee has become a punishable offence. There is no such thing as rent free relief until our young hero, Bobby Strong, appears – with more than a good set of pipes – and starts a revolution!

Urinetown The Musical

Receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, there will be a special charity performance gala on Monday 20th October to support, Matt Damon’s nonprofit organisation who work on water and sanitation issues internationally.

Through this collaboration, Urinetown hopes to raise awareness about the global water crisis, and raise money for those who are working to improve it.

To find more details about the show and book your ticket, head over to the show’s website

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