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MAD Blog Awards 2011

The Cup of Tea challenge

A little ago I had the pleasure of meeting artist Andrew Martyn Sugars to discuss the Eden Project’s Big Lunch Extra’s event that we’re taking part during the Bank Holiday weekend, 23rd – 24th May.

As well as the BLE event we talked about many things, including his inspiring green innovation challenge, the Cup of Tea challenge.

I think it’s a brilliant idea, I’m sure you will too, so over to Andrew to describe the challenge in his own words.

When I met the wonderful Queen of Easy Green, the Cup of Tea Challenge was very much in it”s planning stage. We’d met to discuss a regional event for Big Lunch Extras and I just got carried away waving my arms and enthusing about an idea based on making a cup of tea.

It’s evolved out of the discussions with members of a transition group exploring ideas of how to engage and involve the residents of Belper with something fun. The group invited me to get involved as I potentially had a solution to a problem they had. In discussing the problem we actually evolved something else we’re calling the Big Energy Project. The cup of tea challenge is the first activity of this project.

The Cup of Challenge

According to the UK tea and infusion association 165 million cups of tea are consumed everyday in the UK. That”s about 3 cups a day for each of us.

The cup of tea challenge follows a journey of arriving at a cup of tea. The twist for the journey and where the challenge originates is to find an alternative method to heat the water, the challenge being to use something other than mains gas or electricity. The journey could also be to make cold brew tea.

taking on the Cup of Tea ChallengeI’ve taken the cup of tea challenge in our back garden. using a converted gas bottle as a wood burner we heated up enough water for two cups of tea. the effort was filmed and it’s viewable on Youtube.  I found doing the challenge with the children to be quite fun and encourage you to consider attempting the challenge with your family and friends. It’s a simple idea and fun to do with the potential to inspire others through the sharing of the results.

Social media has established itself as a means of communicating ideas and we’re interested in using it to share what we do so we can see other solutions to the cup of tea challenge. I used the hashtag #OurCupOfTea so it’s easy for others to find.

Ahead of the launch in June, the project is looking for early adopters.

Do you have an idea for how you would make your cup of tea ?

Whatever your idea might be I do urge you to remain vigilant about being safe.

The challenge is open to everyone to have a go and share their story via social media. To help you to get started I’ve some questions for you to consider. Think of them as guidelines:

  • Who can you ask to help you?
  • Who will document and share the story of your cup of tea?
  • Do you want to safely heat up enough water to make a cup of tea or make cold brew tea?
  • When are you going to attempt the challenge?
  • Where are you going to make the attempt ?
  • Can you extend your method to make cups of tea for those with you?

I hope to have whetted your appetite to have a go and look forward to seeing your most excellent solution to the cup of tea challenge.

Andrew Martyn Sugars lives in Derbyshire with his partner, three children and dog called Maybe.

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Longer Lash - natural eyelash conditioner

As a child I was really fortunate to have the longest, lushest eyelashes, the envy of my mum and her female friends.

However, with age that honour is no longer bestowed upon my eyes, but annoyingly has transferred to my young boys, whom, of course, do not appreciate it one bit!

Not a fan of false eyelashes and as a contact lens wearer weary of filament-loaded eyelash extenders, my options for recreating my once luscious lashes have been limited, but hopefully not anymore. There may be hope on the horizon in the guise of Green Esthetics’ natural eyelash conditioner, Longer Lash, which I was sent to review.

A blend of all natural ingredients plus polypeptides, Longer Lash claims to help lashes grow longer and thicker by encouraging growth on a cellular level within 4-6 weeks.

Applying along the lash line and brows to condition and stimulate growth, Longer Lash is paraben-free, fragrance free and does not contain propylene glycol and phenoxyethanol, a preservative that has been linked to dermatitis and which has quite recently been banned from organic products by ECOCERT.

Paraben-free Longer Lash - natural eyelash conditioner

Recommended for use on make-up free, oil-free eyes the clear serum is easily applied to the base of the upper eyelashes with the delicate applicator brush. Upon application a very slight tingling sensation can be felt, more of a warmth, than an irritation, which disappeared within seconds. After which make up could be applied as normal, when the serum had completely dried and absorbed into the skin.

Two days in have a noticed a difference? No I haven’t, but of course it is far too early for Longer Lash to have worked it’s magic, that’s why I’ll be posting my update in a month’s time. So, to find out how I get on, keep your eyes peeled!

In the meantime, to find out more about Longer Lash and Green Esthetics other products, head over to their site


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Soft & Gentle's new Skin Science compressed deodorant

‘For every million cans produced there’s a saving of 7.7 tonnes of aluminium, that’s equivalent to 4,000 aluminium bicycles!’

Just one of the many incredible statistics that I was sharing at Soft & Gentle’s Skin Science product launch in London yesterday.

As their Eco Expert, I had the pleasure of explaining to a host of beauty journalists and bloggers how Soft & Gentle’s new Skin Science compressed can range is significantly reducing the environmental footprint of aerosol deodorants whilst helping consumers make a greener, more sustainable living choice – all without compromising on performance and price.

Green living expert, Lyndsey Young at Soft & Gentle product launch

Reducing the gas propellant by 54% and aluminium packaging by 29% per compressed can (compared to Soft & Gentle’s standard 150ml aerosal anti-perspirant deodorant) Soft & Gentle’s compressed cans are half the size and much lighter than their original counterpart, yet offer the same level of protection and last just as long.

Soft & Gentle Skin Science compressed can product launch

Using less aluminium, less waste and transport savings, 39% more compressed cans can be loaded on one pallet compared to 150ml aerosols, Soft & Gentle’s compressed aerosol deodorants offer positive environmental benefits across the lifecycle of the product.

Indeed, we’ve estimated, if all of Soft & Gentle’s customers simply switch from 150ml to 75ml compressed cans, a staggering 1647 tonnes of CO2 could be saved in just 12 months!

An outstanding achievement which is not to be sniffed at!

To find out more about Soft & Gentle’s new Skin Science range and their compressed classic range visit


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Vitabella - natural beauty products

Cold weather, central heating and let’s face it, being the wrong side of 40, means my once youthful skin has lost some of it’s suppleness to make way for a few more wrinkles and, dare I admit it, chinkles (chin wrinkles, for the uninitiated).

As I have always done, I apply my daily moisturisers morning and night, I drink plenty of water, eat fresh fruit and vegetables and exercise daily, but unfortunately the fact remains when nature decides you’ve reach a ‘certain time’, no matter what you do, your skin will get drier and wrinkles become, well, more prominent.

One way to give my skin (and mood) a little boost is to treat myself and what better way than to indulge in a spa treatment. But rather than don a fluffy white robe in day spa, I’ve enjoyed the indulgence of a spa, courtesy of VitaBella’s Spa treatment in a box.

VitaBella is an award-winning green beauty brand that prides itself on creating natural anti-aging skincare products based on organic aloe vera gel infused with essential oils.

Vitabella - natural beauty productsMade in southern Italy, VitaBella has been inspired by and is created using aloe vera plants which grow amongst century old olive groves, lavender, rosemary and orange groves, which form the basis of their organic, handmade skincare range.

The Spa treatment in a box, which I was sent to review, is quite a treat. Containing a soft fabric beauty mask, hydration complex and hydrating face cream, the kit had everything you need to give your skin a boost. Using the easy to follow step by step instructions printed on the inside of the box lid, I poured the aloe vera, argan oil, hibiscus seed and wheatgream complex over the fabric face mask and carefully placed it on my face.

Vitabella - natural beauty facial

After 10 minutes, the recommended time, I peeled off the mask to reveal a fresher and slightly plumper skin. I then applied a small amount of the very light hydrating cream, which quickly absorbed into my skin and my treatment was complete.

With only one application, I have been very impressed with VitaBella. Not only is it a totally natural way to hydrate your skin, it is simple, mess-free and it completely works.

The biodegradable face mask is a pleasure to wear, unlike some masks which ‘freeze’ your face, it lightly, yet securely stayed in place whilst my skin absorbed the complex. The solutions also smelt divine, the fresh scent of the hydration complex added to the overall pleasure of the mask experience and the light, floral, slightly yogurty hydration cream smelt good enough to eat.

VitaBella has left my skin feeling softer, more supple and hydrated. Visibly refreshed my skin looks plumper and also, to my delight, my fine lines and wrinkles are not as prominent.

With 9 out of 10 women who have tested VitaBella concurring that the hydrating face mask is good or very good for effectiveness, at just £20 a treatment VitaBella’s beauty facial in a box is a must-have for those of us who want to naturally fight the aging process.

For more information on VitaBella and to see their full range of natural beauty products head over to

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donate unwanted outdoor clothes

Give your unwanted outdoor gear a new lease of life. Gift Your Gear, an award winning nationwide initiative asks us all to look around our wardrobes, attics and garages for any unwanted outdoor clothes.

Partnering the unwanted with the needed

Gift Your Gear provides outdoor clothing and equipment to organisations encouraging the next generation, especially youngsters, to get outdoors.

Gift Your Gear - donate your unwanted outdoor gear

“Young people need to get outdoors for their physical and emotional well- being. The sun doesn’t always shine the gear you donate will help ensure their early experiences in the great outdoors are safe and enjoyable.” Sarah Howcroft, founder Gift Your Gear.Gift Your Gear - an eco-friendly initiative encouraging more young people to enjoy outdoor activities

Having the right clothing and equipment helps to ensure that outdoor experiences are safe and enjoyable.

The outdoor gear you donate will make a real difference to the UK community organisations, youth groups and charities who receive it. Enabling others to benefit from life changing experiences in the great outdoors regardless of their circumstances.

Gift Your Gear gratefully accepts all unwanted waterproofs, fleeces, outdoor trousers, insulated jackets, gloves, hats and boots that are gathering dust in wardrobes, attics and garages. When they could be gathering mountain miles.

Gift Your Gear - donate your old outdoor clothes

Donate your unwanted outdoor clothing

Gift Your Gear has partnered with Rohan, the award-winning outdoor and travel clothing company. This March drop off your unwanted outdoor clothing at any Rohan Shop, that’s all outdoor clothing and rucksacks regardless of brand including children’s clothing and in return Rohan would like to offer you 15% off a full priced purchase made the same day as a qualifying Gift Your Gear donation.

Gift Your Gear it belongs outdoors

To find out more about Gift Your Gear and to see who they support, check out their website


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