Posted 6 days ago

21st November 2023: Glaswegian community exchange charity, Recycle Room, has received crucial energy saving support from B&Q. The support came after Glaswegian locals nominated the community space to win some ELC (Energy Loving Care) as part of B&Q’s Energy Savers initiative.

B&Q colleagues alongside Nichola Mable, Founder of Recycle Room, following a £2,000 donation, plus a washing machine and tumble driers. Glaswegian community exchange charity, Recycle Room, has received crucial energy saving support from B&Q. The support came after Glaswegian locals nominated the community space to win some ELC (Energy Loving Care) as part of B&Q’s Energy Savers initiative.

Based in Clydebank, Recycle Room was founded in 2015 to help locals recycle unwanted household items, from clothes to curtains, and donate them to those in need. The charity serves as a ‘community laundry’, which sees people travelling from all across Glasgow to use, with items given away for free to people in need. Recycle Room also runs different programmes throughout the year, such as providing free school uniforms to those who struggle to afford them ahead of the start of the school term.

B&Q Energy Savers was set up in the midst of a period of rising energy bills earlier this year, following an “urgent plea” for help from the Prime Minister amid the difficulties that community spaces have faced in recent months. Higher energy bills and potential funding cuts have posed a threat to the ability of community spaces to provide much needed services to their local area. B&Q’s initiative aims to support these spaces across the UK to become more energy efficient and showcase how easy it is to save energy at home.

B&Q called on the nation to nominate community spaces in their local area that they felt would benefit from the help and advice of the B&Q Energy Savers team. After being selected as one of the winners, the B&Q Energy Savers worked with Recycle Room to help cut their costs by installing new energy efficient washing machines and tumble driers, along with a £2,000 gift card. The donation will allow Recycle Room to keep serving the local community, thanks to reduced energy bills.

Nichola Mable, founder of Recycle Room, says:We’re thrilled to have been nominated by our local community as part of B&Q’s Energy Savers campaign. We’re really grateful for the appliances donated by B&Q, which are crucial to the charity’s work. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as we have been rebuilding the space after an awful flood last Christmas, which damaged multiple appliances and clothes bundles. The donation means we can continue to serve our local community and help those in need.”

B&Q colleagues alongside Nichola Mable, Founder of Recycle Room, following a £2,000 donation, plus a washing machine and tumble driers. Glaswegian community exchange charity, Recycle Room, has received crucial energy saving support from B&Q. The support came after Glaswegian locals nominated the community space to win some ELC (Energy Loving Care) as part of B&Q’s Energy Savers initiative.

Paul Carroll, Head of Services Development, said: “We’re pleased that through our energy savers campaign we were able to play a part in supporting Recycle Room in their efforts to help their local community.

“Both community spaces and households have felt the pinch when it comes to rising energy bills, so now is an important time to become more energy efficient. To support with this we launched our energy saving service so customers can have access to free, personalised energy advice and a 1-1 consultation with an energy saving advisor, available at diy.com.”

In March, as part of the launch of the Energy Savers initiative, B&Q teamed up with ex-England football player and presenter Jermaine Jenas when he visited Southeast London football club, Welling United, to help show them some easy and efficient ways to save energy. These energy saving tips can be viewed here.

B&Q has everything you could need for those energy-saving jobs in-store and at diy.com. Earlier this year, B&Q also launched its Energy Saving Service, offering personalised guidance to customers and making it easier to establish which products and tips they can use to help save energy at home.


Posted 1 week ago

Independent, contemporary art shop National Park Print Shop is shunning Black Friday this year to help clean up the Lake District National Park by picking litter. Instead of offering discounts, the Windermere-based shop will pick 1lb of litter for every order placed in their online store nationalparkprintshop.com over the Black Friday weekend. By helping keep the Lake District beautiful and litter-free the Black Bin Bag Friday campaign aims to stand up for small, local businesses and highlight the unsustainability of mass consumerism.

“As a local, independent business we can’t compete with the massive discounts that big brands throw at us for Black Friday, but we can compete by giving back to our local community,” says National Park Print Shop owner Ian Battersby. “By picking litter for every order made at our online store we can make a real difference to our local environment, making the Lake District a more beautiful place for everyone. Black Bin Bag Friday is our version of Black Friday, but better.”

Shoppers at National Park Print Shop’s Windermere store and studio can also get involved with the campaign. Says National Park Print Shop owner Ian Battersby: “For anyone who would like to help us clean up the Lake District, come into our Windermere store over the Black Friday weekend and borrow a litter picker and bin bag. We will be handing out ‘Leave It Better That You Found It’ stickers as a thank you and as a way to encourage everyone to keep our national park tidy.”

National Park Print Shop is an independent art shop and studio based in Windermere specialising in affordable, contemporary prints with an outdoors twist. Says Ian Battersby: “We love getting out on the fells and swimming in lakes and tarns. Time spent in the outdoors is vital for our physical and mental well-being so it is important that we look after our natural environment. We are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and litter doesn’t just make our national park look untidy it can damage vulnerable habitats and endanger wildlife. We live by the ethos ‘Leave It Better Than You Found It’ and through the Black Bin Bag Friday campaign we hope to make a real difference to the Lake District. Even one bag of litter removed from the national park is a positive step!”

The Black Bin Bag Friday campaign will run from Friday 24/11/23 to Monday 27/11/23. National Park Print Shop will pick 1lb of litter for every order placed at nationalparkprintshop.com. Litter pickers and collection bags will be available from the National Park Print Shop in Windermere over the Black Friday weekend.


Posted 2 weeks ago


  • Traditional roast dinner named as the nation’s favourite winter warmer
  • Brits spend an average of 72 hours in the kitchen during winter compared to 55 hours in the summer
  • 25% of smart meter owners will be monitoring their in-home display more closely while cooking during the colder months
  •  Smart Energy GB has partnered with TikTok ‘Potato Queen’ sensation, Poppy O’Toole to help Brits cook more consciously this winter with a range of energy efficient recipes

As the weather sets in and Brits look for more comforting meal choices, new research from Smart Energy GB reveals the UK’s top 10 winter warmer dishes with the traditional roast dinner landing at number one (55%).

The roast is closely followed by shepherd’s pie (39%) and sausage and mash (33%), with beef casserole (33%) and lasagne (28%) also bagging a spot in the top 10.

Poppy O’Toole partners with Smart Energy GB for its Super Smart Home Hacks campaign to help Brits reduce energy usage and save money cooking their favourite winter dishes – all using a smart meter’s in-home display to monitor energy use in near real time. CREDIT: Smart Energy GB / PinPep

Despite energy bills rising for many in the colder months, 40% of Brits spend more time cooking from December to February than any other time of year – spending an average of 72 hours in the kitchen during winter, compared to 55 hours in the summer.

And as the nation swaps salads for stews, many are keeping an eye on their energy spend, with 25% of smart meter owners taking to monitoring their in-home display more closely while cooking during the colder months.

Top 10 winter warmer meals as voted by Great Britain

  1. A roast dinner (55%)
  2. Shepherd’s or cottage pie (39%)
  3. Sausage and mash (33%)
  4. Beef casserole (33%)
  5. Fish and chips (28%)
  6. Lasagne (28%)
  7. Chilli con carne (26%)
  8. Jacket potato with toppings (26%)
  9. Spaghetti bolognese (25%)
  10. Steak and ale pie (22%)

Proving it’s still king of the kitchen, the oven is voted the winter appliance of choice (43%) despite record sales of energy efficient air fryers, which also feature in the top 10 (27%).

In fact, the average household’s oven is on for a staggering 64 hours over winter, while the hob is on for 46 hours. Together this rise in energy use in the kitchen adds upwards of £18 to Brit’s energy bills, data from Smart Energy GB and Energy Saving Trust reveals.

Following a turbulent two years for fuel prices, smart meters in homes across Britain are helping households to better understand their spend on energy. Four in ten who have one say monitoring their smart meter display gives them a greater sense of control (42%), and helps them implement small changes to reduce their energy use when cooking (40%).

Poppy O’Toole partners with Smart Energy GB for its Super Smart Home Hacks campaign to help Brits reduce energy usage and save money cooking their favourite winter dishes – all using a smart meter’s in-home display to monitor energy use in near real time. CREDIT: Smart Energy GB / PinPep

In fact, over half (51%) of respondents are concerned about the impact that more time spent in the kitchen will have on their household bills, while 79% of people are interested in more energy efficient recipes when it comes to winter.

And just as Brits’ culinary cravings change with the seasons, so do their cooking methods with 39% using a greater number of kitchen appliances than ever before.

Being mindful about energy use when cooking is high on the agenda for over three quarters of Brits (77%), with one in five (20%) searching for more energy efficient cooking methods.

And it turns out the main motivators behind the rise in time spent cooking up Brits’ favourite feasts are a craving for more hearty, comforting dishes (65%), wanting to feel warm and cosy (42%), and the kitchen being the warmest room in the house (32%).

In response, Smart Energy GB has teamed up with the Michelin-trained Chef, Poppy O’Toole to help the Brits cook more consciously this winter. Affectionately dubbed TikTok’s ‘Potato Queen’, Poppy has crafted a succulent selection of energy-efficient recipes and hacks for some of the nation’s favourite winter warmers.

Poppy O’Toole partners with Smart Energy GB for its Super Smart Home Hacks campaign to help Brits reduce energy usage and save money cooking their favourite winter dishes – all using a smart meter’s in-home display to monitor energy use in near real time. CREDIT: Smart Energy GB / PinPep

Poppy O’Toole, TikTok Chef says: “Winter is one of my favourite seasons when it comes to the wealth of hearty, comforting recipes you can create – especially if they include potatoes! And when the weather is colder and the days shorter, what better way to spend time than cooking your favourite winter warmers? These dishes can take more time and energy to make, which is why I’m excited to show it doesn’t always have to be this way. I’ve developed a recipe range of energy efficient takes on classic favourites – all with the help of a smart meter.”

Victoria Bacon, Director at Smart Energy GB, says “It really is no surprise that we Brits love a roast dinner. As we head into the colder, winter months where we spend more time in the kitchen cooking up cosy classics, small changes in our cooking habits can make a tangible difference to our energy usage.

“Using a smart meter allows you to track your usage in near-real time and ensures you are left without any unexpected bills. The recipes created by Poppy will help households rustle up hearty winter warmers, while keeping an eye on their energy use.”

Looking at Poppy’s recipes, Energy Saving Trust has estimated that the alternative recipe for veggie toad in the hole reduces energy costs by 28% compared to the traditional method and a further 21% for the cottage pie meal.

Each recipe can be found at SmartEnergyGB.org/cooking along with more information on the Super Smart Home Hacks campaign. To find out more about getting a smart meter installed, search ‘get a smart meter’.


Posted 2 weeks ago

Dive into the coastal charm of our Woven Lobster Cushion, where every thread tells a tale of sustainable luxury. This exquisite cushion is more than just a home accessory; it’s a work of art, a conversation starter, and a testament to our commitment to eco-conscious design.

Intricate Woven Details: Each cushion features an intricate lobster design carefully woven into the fabric. The lobster’s vibrant colours and delicate details make it a captivating centrepiece for your living space.

Sustainable Craftsmanship: We believe in weaving a better world. That’s why our Lobster Cushion is crafted from rescued and repurposed materials, reducing textile waste and minimising our environmental footprint. Everything is woven, sewn and finished in Brighton, UK. 

Soft and Luxurious: The front of the cushion showcases the lobster’s elegance, while the back features plush, soft fabric for ultimate comfort. It’s the perfect combination of style and cosiness.

Versatile Home Decor: Whether it graces your sofa, adorns your bed or finds a spot in your reading nook, our Lobster Cushion brings coastal elegance to any room in your home.

“Shiv Textiles was born in my bedroom in 2017. As an intern for big-name brands in the textiles and fashion industry, I’d been shocked by the amount of perfectly good materials going to waste. And I knew there had to be a better way. Fast fashion needs to take its foot off the pedal.”

Since 2021 Shiv Textiles has rescued 1073KG of industrial textile waste!

“Buying with thought and care has never felt so important and I hope you’ll join me in honouring the lifecycle of our precious materials. And enjoy my textiles too.”



Posted 2 weeks ago

Ninety degrees, parched in downtown San Diego after devouring half a pizza with my friends, my frugal student mind was focused on searching for a public water fountain or just something to quench my thirst that wasn’t ridiculously priced. Josh Cliffords, Founder of Free Water, might help me avoid a scene I’m all too familiar with. His Austin-based company provides a solution for frugal students like me and people in real need everywhere: naturally spring-sourced water at the price of – free?

Meet Josh Cliffords. As an 8th grader who once held $30,000 worth of Microsoft in 1995, saying Josh is an intelligent entrepreneur would be an understatement. You’d think that investing in Microsoft in the 90s would’ve set him on a path to become the next business-obsessed prodigy, but Josh’s path was anything but that of a typical CEO. A brief stint owning a gym for athletes in Los Angeles. A quick trip in an RV traveling the United States. Another stint trying to become a Green Beret in the Army before being honorably discharged. Josh was uncertain which path he’d like to commit to, and like many today, he was unsure how to do it. “My goal was 100 countries in 4 years”, Josh remembered in the Blake Zonca Podcast. Josh never ended up hitting all 100 countries. He only made it about a quarter of the way through before his trip came to a halt. Throughout his journey, Josh helped over 10,000 refugees in 18 months. His efforts in assisting refugees and realizing that more than 20% had left their countries because they couldn’t access basic human necessities were enough for Josh to cancel his trip and lease an office building in Austin, Texas, for his new startup. “That’s how FreeWater began”.

FreeWater started by handing out prototypes and collecting consumer feedback in the lines outside of Josh’s local Walmart. However, fast forward two years, and some of you may have been on Instagram or TikTok and seen Josh’s company pop up. “FreeWater?” is the line uttered by the team’s content manager. A consumer hesitantly grabs the environmentally friendly aluminum can, examines it hesitantly, then hounds, “Is this water? What’s wrong with it?”. “Nothing’s wrong with it. It’s all-natural spring water. The water is free because it’s paid for by the ads.” the FreeWater’s content manager tries to reassure him. The consumer tries the rebuttal, “What if I don’t want to read the ads?!”. FreeWater’s content manager quickly replies, “You already read them!” and the viral clip ends. While it may leave you with more questions than answers, the clip from TikTok that has been replayed over 35 million times explains FreeWater in a nutshell.

“How does a company selling a free product even survive?” That was the question I was met with when I told my family I was interviewing FreeWater’s Founder. Whether you realize it or not, there are a plethora of companies that live off free products. Pornography, Google, YouTube, and complimentary newspapers have all been around for years. Those industries and companies survive off selling a free product; why can’t the sectors that provide human necessities do the same? That’s Josh Cliffords’ aim with FreeWater. The sourcing, shipping, and distribution of FreeWater’s products are all covered by the revenue from their ad space. They can do all this while operating off what Josh calls a “negatively priced” product, as FreeWater donates 10% of its revenue from each water to charity. However, it doesn’t stop there, for more background information and to see what Josh’s future FreeWater plans were, I contacted him and organized a sit-down interview.

With a glass of iced water next to my right and my notes highlighted, I was primed to make a personable impression with the 15-minute interview I’d been anticipating all week. Except it wasn’t 15 minutes. And Josh wasn’t the stern, time-crunched CEO who I had imagined him to be. Without asking, Josh expanded our 15-minute window into an hour, and the scheduled interview felt more like an intimate conversation. I wasn’t prepared for the revolutionary topics he began to discuss with me.

Free products will be done differently,” began Josh, leaning forward with a confident yet enigmatic smile while introducing a revolutionary step for FreeWater. The goal for Josh was more than just a free beverage company. “I’m going to invent a new industry that’s so large financially that if I take a slice of that and give it to charity, we can solve [these] issues without the government.” Josh articulated as he unveiled FreeWater’s plan to begin the release of FreeWater’s free vending machines and, ultimately, free grocery store. I know what you’re thinking: free vending machines? Free grocery stores? How is this possible? Not only is it possible, but as Josh went on to explain, it’s profitable. “[Coke] can’t make $1,000 per can, but there are more than a hundred ways to do this with our platform,” Josh explained after my initial skepticism. He then further expanded that FreeWater is evolving its business model. When FreeWater initially launched, it just sold its ad space as marketing for companies like NBC and American Ninja Warrior, but now they’re moving onto something more profitable – charging a commission from their ads. “$1,000 from one can of water“, Josh explained how FreeWater recently earned a substantial commission after one of FreeWater’s ads led to the sale of a Jeep Wrangler. As I began to notice the scalability of this model, I tried to catch Josh off-guard and ask what would happen if a large beverage company like Pepsi or Coke were to adopt this model from FreeWater. “You can’t make $1,000 from a Desani Water. It’s going force them to copy us.” Josh replied before starting again, “But I want the world to copy us. What are they going to do? Put me out of business by opening a better free supermarket that donates more money to charity than us? We’ll throw the biggest party in all of Austin the day that Pepsi or Coke copies us”. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t a ‘try to change the world’ mission. This is essentially a ‘charitable social experiment.” his closing statement rang in my head, and I realized Josh isn’t simply trying to manage a business that turns a profit, he’s trying to play his part in positively impacting the world.

When was the last time you accessed free content online? I’d be willing to be that it was today. There’s no denying that the free content and products industry is exponentially growing. Numerous companies survive off free products, yet only FreeWater envisions a sustainable future without the expense of exploiting the customers of its products. The question is, will free products and content get implemented for sustainability and societal improvement? Or will it be used as a vehicle for corporate profit and consumer data collection? Amid a day and age where customers need to be wary of the beneficiaries of free products and content, FreeWater and its ambitious CEO lead the way to utilize these free products to create a tangible, positive impact on our world. 


Posted 2 weeks ago

I sometimes have mixed feelings when friends introduce me as the author of “the bee book.” On the one hand, I’m touched that they’re so eager to be supportive. But then I have apprehensions over what’s going to happen when someone has a look at Paths of Pollen and finds out my “bee book” has a bat on the cover.

This was not a design error. The furry flying mammal, a common fruit bat, wonderfully demonstrates the book’s main topic, pollination. The bat’s face is caked with pollen after gorging on pollen and nectar from some Central American plant. That pollen will journey with the bat to another flower, which it might possibly fertilize. This will consummate the sex act between two plants, and generate seeds and fruit. Voila, pollination! Many popular fruits come from bat pollination, such as mango, banana and guava fruits. Bats also pollinate agave, the botanical source of tequila.

Of course bats don’t know they’re pollinating fruit trees or advancing the liquor trade. Pollination is a trick played by plants to make small flying creatures transport their sex cells. Flowers entice pollinators with bright appealing colours, intoxicating odours and the promise of sweet rewards. Sometimes it’s a false promise. Certain flowers offset the metabolic cost of producing nectar by simply not making any. Lady’s slipper orchids resemble pink ballet slippers, with dangling straps. These sweet-smelling, whimsically beautiful flowers, are dirty tricksters that promise nectar they don’t have. When little buzzing creatures, like bumblebees, fall for their ruse, the flowers trap them, forcing the pollinators to squeeze out through narrow openings, which press sticky packets of pollen on them.

Not perfect but good enough: Some species, like this common drone fly (Eristalis tenax) are less exact copies of what they imitate. These flies look “sort of” like bees, but their “imperfect mimicry” is probably good enough, since their small size makes predators less interested in them. However, this approximation can sometimes even fool humans. (Credit: Stephen Humphrey)

Despite my protests at the start, it didn’t take me long to bring up bees, did it? And no wonder. While fruit bats move prodigious amounts of pollen in parts of South and Central America, bees pollinate plants on every continent but Antarctica. They’ve had a close connection with flowering plants since 130 million years ago, only 10 million years after flowers first evolved. Certain wasps, carnivorous cousins of bees, discovered pollen as a protein source, and became the first bees. Bees, and their flower-focused food gathering, along with other pollinating species, helped flowering plants conquer the world so quickly that Charles Darwin called their precipitous rise an “abominable mystery.” Bees have also diversified. There are currently more than 20,000 known species.

Just as Darwin freaked out over the rapid radiation of flowers, I was initially shocked to find out bees were so diverse. Like many people, I spent most of my life thinking there was one, maybe two kinds of bee: bumblebees, honeybees and that was it. When my mother married a beekeeper in western Canada, I developed a fascination for honeybees—their social sophistication, their improbable dance language and their reputation as skilled pollinators. I longed to write about bees, especially when, all of a sudden, the news was saturated with headlines about a honeybee apocalypse, or more accurately, a honeybee rapture. Workers were disappearing from hives en masse in Europe and the United States, leaving behind helpless queen bees and untended larvae.

I managed to get a substantial grant to learn about bees—not even a science grant, but a writing grant. I quickly found things were more complicated. Only ten or so bee species out of 20,000 are honeybees. Nor are honeybees native to North America. They’re exported livestock, shipped all over the world to make honey and pollinate crops. The global honeybee trade has introduced pathogens, such as varroa mites, which played a big part in headline-grabbing honeybee die-offs. But while commercial honeybees have largely weathered this blight, native bees are also vanishing, such as Franklin’s bumblebee and the rusty-patched bumblebee, two bee species once common in North America.  

Strange bee: This oddly long-faced bee is Xeromelissa rozeni, a solitary bee in Chile’s Atacama Desert. This bee uses its lengthy, folding proboscis (tongue) to feed on deep-down nectar from flowers from the genus Nolana. (Credit: Sheila Dumesh)

Worldwide there are 250 bumblebee species, such as Europe’s buff-tailed bumblebee, but 250 hardly makes a dent in the grand total of 20,000. So what are all the other ones? Most bees, it turns out, are small, dark and nondescript. They resemble ants more than any popular conception of bees. This comparison is not unfair, since bees (and wasps) are related to ants. But then we get the weird ones. Bee scientist Laurence Packer travels the world, seeking new and exotic bees. One time, Packer showed me Xeromelissa rozeni, a stretched-looking bee with an odd, elongated head he found in a Chilean desert. This strange bee’s body evolved for crawling down into desert flowers, which hide their nectar deep. Forget bumblebees or honeybees buzzing through pleasant, rustic meadows. Some bees live austere, solitary lives in the world’s harshest deserts, like the Atacama.

Most bees, Packer explained, don’t have hives, queens or honey reserves. They dwell alone in hollow stems, holes in the ground or cavities in human structures. Luckily my friend, installation artist Sarah Peebles, created a structure that allowed me to view solitary bees, as well as film and photograph them. Sarah’s “bee booths” have Plexiglas panels to watch solitary bees (and solitary wasps) at work in their tunnels. One can also hear them with specially designed microphones. I have hours of footage from these miniature studios, of leafcutter bees, which fashion leaf pieces into objects like hand-rolled cigars. These single mothers of the bee world pack pollen into those leaf cells, with enough protein for their offspring to grow from larvae to adult bees. Seeing is believing, and I finally believed the existence of solitary bees.

But what about pollinating flies? One day I sat with pollination biologist Peter Kevan, as he broke down the not-so-basic basics of pollination. Before he even mentioned bees, I heard about butterflies and moths, hummingbirds and wasps, flower-feeding beetles (potentially the earliest pollinators) and all kinds of flies. Kevan’s graduate work in the 1970s concerned hardy little flies that pollinate Arctic plants. Later, I spoke to Jeff Skevington, an expert on “flower flies,” about pollinating flies that look like bees, such as Narcissus bulb flies, which are dead ringers for bumblebees, and drone flies, which remind me of common flies hand-painted yellow and black. One of these bee mimics was mistakenly featured on the 2014 cover for Bees of the World.

But then we have plants with no pollinators at all. About 20 percent of plants spread their pollen by wind, such as grasses, birch trees and pines (which mate using cones, not flowers). It finally dawned on me, you can’t tell the story of pollination without knowing plants and flowers, their reproductive engines. Flowers are far from simple. They’re complex living contraptions, designed for polyamorous sexual escapades involving multiple genitalia and hermaphroditic parents, which sometimes pollinate themselves. These biologic machines have a crazy range of methods to get pollinated. Just look around and see how many different flowers there are—their different sizes, smells, colours and shapes. Some species are immense, such as the Indonesian corpse plant. The plant’s enormous, bruised-coloured flower, has a three-meter cone growing from its centre. This structure broadcasts the smell of rotting flesh to entice beetles, flies and other carrion feeders. Different plants have tiny flowers, like those in the spurge family, which accommodate Perdita minima, the smallest known bee. Some flowers have incredibly simple, bowl-like shapes, while others, like blue flag irises (which can service three pollinators at once) are positively baroque.

At some point, during this mind-expanding course of learning, I realized complexity was not just unavoidable, but necessary. I started to see things at the scale of ecosystems. Go look at a meadow, a jungle, or even a so-called “barren” place like desert or Arctic tundra, and just take in the variety of things growing and blooming there. This picture is not complete without mobile organisms, the pollinators that visit all these flowers. In the Chihuahuan desert, which straddles the American southwest and northern Mexico, tiny bees from the species Perdita portalis sleep in cocoons, not hatching out until globemallows bloom, which only happens after one of the desert’s infrequent rainfalls. Every blooming flower has some story like this, perhaps not involving such epic patience, but certainly of longstanding connections between pollinators and plants. Nor does the story end with pollination. Outside the plant-pollinator loop, other species feed on leaves, fruits and seeds, depend on plants for cover, shelter, or places to mate, sleep and find prey. The web of interdependence is vast.

Leaf collector: Leafcutting bees use their serrated mandibles to scissor circular pieces out of leaves to build single-occupant cells for their offspring. Here a bee stuffs pollen into a nearly completed leaf cell. Next she will lay an egg, cap off the cell, and start the next one. (Credit Stephen Humphrey)

I still haven’t found an endpoint for the story of pollination. It keeps revealing more complexity—necessary complexity, to sustain multiple, interconnected lives. Sadly, the world’s ecosystems are also losing diversity. This trend includes plants and pollinators. In 2019, scientists announced 571 plant species had gone extinct over the past three centuries. A European study published in 2017 warned the world has 75 per cent less insect biomass since 1989. Species of our beloved fruit bats range from “threatened” to “critically endangered” (which is fancy talk for close to extinct).

The more biodiversity suffers, the more fragile ecosystems become. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology worried over deficits of “landscape resiliency” in ecosystems they studied. The longer plants reside in places, the more diverse they become and the faster they recover from disturbance. Sadly, say the scientists, too many habitats are too young. We have forests, but not as many old forests. There are grasslands, but those grasslands are less biodiverse. It is harder for younger, less diverse ecosystems to build back up when they’re knocked down. The scientists warn of “foreboding potential extinctions to come.”

At this point of my learning, I can see it’s not enough to know about one narrow subject, or one species, or enough to try and save just one species. A botanist I interviewed told me, “It’s complicated man,” referring to plant sex. So is ecology. Vive la complexité. It’s the thing we need most.

Author Bio

Stephen Humphrey is a writer, radio contributor, and citizen naturalist, based in Toronto, Canada. He has worked on audio documentaries, which include “Planet You,” about the human microbiome, “Generation Mars,” concerning space travel, and “Dancing In The Dark: The Intelligence of Bees,” which was short-listed for the prestigious New York Festival Award. His five-line bee poems, accompanied by videos, are part of the living art project, Resonating Bodies. He contributes to pollinator conservation projects such as South Parkdale Community Pollinator Gardens and Project Swallowtail.

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Posted 3 weeks ago

As the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow, so do the concerns about their batteries’ fates once they reach the end of their lifespan. While electric vehicles can bring many environmental benefits while they’re on the road, both the production and end-of-life processes could mitigate the positive impacts that they’re designed to have. In this article, we explore exactly how long electric car batteries tend to last and what happens to them when they’re no longer functioning, so you can make an informed decision on whether an electric vehicle is right for you.

Battery lifespan

A big concern for many potential EV buyers is having to replace the battery in their vehicle, as it can be pricey to do so. Exactly how long an EV battery will last will depend on the type of battery and the manufacturer that created it, but on average, an electric car battery should last between 10 to 20 years with typical usage. Of course, this can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the climate, the technology used and the number of miles driven.


Fortunately, even after electric car batteries are past their prime, they continue to retain a significant amount of their original capacity, making them useful in a variety of other applications.

A common use for old electric car batteries is for energy storage. They can be easily integrated into renewable energy systems, such as solar panels or wind farms, optimising the power generated while also retaining any additional electricity. Having a battery as part of a renewable energy system means that power will always be available, even during times when it isn’t being generated, such as during the night or on days with little wind.

EV charging station for electric car in concept of alternative green energy produced from sustainable resources to supply to charger station in order to reduce CO2 emission .


While repurposing is always the first port of call when a battery is no longer suitable for powering an electric car, not all batteries are able to be repurposed. Some batteries may be damaged or degraded beyond the point of retaining a significant charge, making them unsuitable for further use.

In these cases, recycling is the next stage in the end-of-life process. Battery recycling is a complex process, particularly for the kind of batteries that are strong enough to power a car. Fortunately, there have been many advancements in the recycling of EV batteries, and the UK is now home to multiple dedicated recycling plants.

These facilities use advanced technology to extract valuable materials from the battery, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, which can then go on to be reused in other capacities. This can greatly reduce our reliance on mining these precious materials in order to manufacture EVs, making the process a lot more eco-friendly.

Technology is helping batteries to go further

The manufacturing of EV batteries can be tough on our environment, but with technological advancements happening every day, the process is gradually becoming more eco-friendly. By repurposing them where possible and recycling the precious materials when they do reach the end of their lifespan, we can help to minimise the impacts of any future EV production.


Posted 4 weeks ago

Award-winning dynamic smart charging company Ohme is the new official home charging partner for Polestar in the UK. The agreement will see Polestar recommend Ohme chargers for all its sales supporting drivers who need an EV charging solution with an Ohme Home Pro charger in its spaces locations for customers to view. “Our new collaboration with Polestar underlines Ohme’s position as one of the UK’s fastest growing dynamic smart charging companies,” said David Watson, CEO at Ohme. “Polestar has revolutionised the introduction of EVs to the UK and with Ohme’s technology giving drivers the control to get more from their EVs, Ohme and Polestar are a natural partnership. Smart charging with Ohme could cost a Polestar driver just over £100 for an entire year of motoring.” 

“We are delighted to be working with Ohme as our recommended home charger supplier,” said Jonathan Goodman, Head of Polestar UK. “Polestar is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and Ohme’s ability to charge when the National Grid has the highest levels of renewable energy while providing customers with a significant cost saving on charging makes this an ideal collaboration. Ohme’s professionalism and excellent approach towards customer service also align with Polestar’s core values and culture.”

Ohme’s dynamic smart chargers can connect with the National Grid in real time with their unique software able to automatically adjust their charging for drivers to take advantage of all the times of low price charging with smart off-peak tariffs.

Running a Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor with its 82kWh battery (WLTP range: 406mls) and an Ohme smart charger on Intelligent Octopus Go*, could cost £103.02 for a year for an average UK driver doing 6800 miles. By comparison, charging on the Standard Variable Tariff would cost £384.58 for the same distance and an equivalent petrol car would be more than £1200 For a limited time, Polestar 2 buyers will also benefit from a package deal that sees a complimentary Ohme charger with standard installation included in the list price of the car. Ohme has just been named as Fast Track Company of the Year in the 2023 UK Green Business Awards as well as Best Electric Charging Point Provider by Business Motoring. In September, Ohme was also named as Polestar’s official charging partner in Ireland.

* Intelligent Octopus Go at 7.5p/kWh for 23.30-05.30am, Standard Variable Tariff – 28p/kWh


Posted 4 weeks ago

Clean air is a fundamental cornerstone of a healthy and thriving society, with far-reaching implications for human well-being and the environment. It’s about more health; clean air is about social justice and equality.

A recent study from HouseFresh looked at which cities are providing that precious clean air to their residents and which cities need to do better. Using data collected from the World Air Quality Index database, it ranked all the major global cities based on how many good air days they get per year.

Here’s a round-up of the results

10 Cities with the Most Good Air Days

There are five cities in Australia where citizens enjoy good air days all year round. They include Perth, Sydney, and Adelaide.

Auckland, New Zealand, is another Down Under city with excellent air quality. The large metropolitan city on the north of the island has good air to breathe every day of the year.

So why is the air so good in this part of the world?

Both countries have low population density, vast open spaces, and strict environmental regulations, which play a significant role in maintaining pristine air quality. Their extensive natural areas, including forests and wilderness, also help to filter pollutants and keep the air clean.

Cities with the Most Bad Air Days

The list of cities with the most bad air days is dominated by those in the developing world. Sadly for the people living there, there are nine cities where there isn’t a single good air day all year.

They include Baghdad, Uganda’s capital, Kampala, and two Iranian cities, Isfahan and Tehran.

Four Indian cities made it into the list of places with zero good air days per year. They are Patna, Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Gandhinagar. The air quality across India is poor due to vehicular emissions, industrial pollution, and a combination of rapid urbanisation and high population density.

Europe’s City with the Most Clean Air Days

Zurich and Reykjavik are the only two European cities where the air is clean every single day. It’s one of the main factors why both cities are home to the happiest and healthiest people in the world. The Swiss capital and the Icelandic city regularly appear at the top of global health and well-being charts.

The citizens of Pristina in Kosovo can only breathe clean air for 27 days of the year. Again, it comes down to industrialisation. Although, in this case, it’s more like a lack of industrial regulation. City officials are notoriously lenient on the businesses pumping pollutants into the atmosphere.

Air Quality in US Cities

The air is always clean in Honolulu.

Honolulu’s excellent air quality is linked to the city’s proximity to acres of lush vegetation and greenery. The nearby ocean brings fresh, clean sea air, while prevailing trade winds carry away pollutants. The city has also done a great job transitioning to clean energy sources over the last decade.

Los Angeles sits at the bottom of the US clean air scale. The “LA smog,” is a notorious air pollution issue that has affected the city for decades. Characterised by a visible haze hanging over the city, it’s a collection of automobile emissions and industrial pollution. The city’s unique geography doesn’t help; LA is surrounded by mountains that trap pollutants in the basin.


Posted 1 month ago

We don’t know about you but stats like that keep us up at night. So we’ve come up with a pioneering solution… a pillow with superpowers if you will.

The Biosnooze Original Pillow has one mission. To save the world, one good night’s sleep at a time.

Our innovative new Luxury Bio Down Pillow offers the luxurious feel of down without a feather in sight. We carefully blow a unique blend of silky-soft, virgin and recycled polyester micro-denier fibres to create a beautifully sumptuous pillow that offers exceptional comfort and support and the same luxury deep fill feel of a down pillow, without ethical compromise, because luxury doesn’t need to cost the earth.

It all began with a dream…a dream to help the world, one good night’s sleep at a time. The perfect balance between feel good for you and for the planet. Our Biosnooze pillow has been created using pioneering technology to finally offer the first & only UK manufactured, vegan, polyester, down alternative pillow that won’t end up in landfill.

The planet-friendly pillow harnesses, the first ever biodegradable* technology that enables man-made fibres to return to materials found in nature. Polyester is a complex molecule that naturally occurring microbes have a hard time digesting, which is why standard polyester, found commonly in pillows, does not biodegrade. Biosnooze optimises the polyester or fabric fibre with a simple sugar, making the fibres easier and more pleasant for microbes to digest.  In accelerated test conditions, Biosnooze fibres reach near complete biodegradation* in under two years, while standard polyester remains almost completely intact.

Independent testing has also shown that the soil left behind from the degradation process contains no plastic and remains perfectly suitable for plant growth.

“Around 61,900 tonnes of duvets and pillows enter the waste system in the UK each year. That’s not a number we are comfortable contributing too. So we set about designing a pillow that strikes the perfect balance between feeling good for our customers and being good for the planet.”

Made from a unique blend of virgin polyester and recycled water bottles, which have been given new life as finely spun vegan down, the Biosnooze pillow offers a super soft, yet supportive sleep experience.

It feels like down – “We decided early on that we wanted our pillows to offer the luxury deep fill feel of a down pillow but without the questionable ethics” Whilst many retailers will endeavour and claim to only use down and feather naturally ’gathered’, several reports have uncovered an alarming rate of down and feather used in bedding is still obtained by methods including ‘live plucking’. “Our innovative new Biosnooze pillow offers the sumptuous feel of down without a feather in sight.”

The Biosnooze pillow offers all the benefits consumers should expect from a luxury down alternative pillow. It’s hypoallergenic, temperature regulating, luxuriously soft yet supportive and machine washable. 

Made in Britain – The Biosnooze pillow is the first and only 100% biodegradable polyester pillow made in the UK.

Manufactured in Nottinghamshire and shipped directly there’s no confusion about origin or concern over transport related carbon emissions, just trusted British manufacturing. Packaged in industry leading compostable packaging made from potato starch, Biosnooze have considered every element to reduce their environmental impact. “We’ve even removed the traditional sateen care labels from our pillow and instead printed a scannable QR code using vegetable dyes that takes our customers to a dedicated ‘Care Page’ on our website.”

The technology in our pillow might be new, but we’re old timers. Biosnooze is brought to you by the multi award winning makers behind the pioneering sustainable bedding brand, Penrose Products. We’ve been making bedding for years and whilst our products have evolved, our commitment to manufacturing the most sustainable bedding that doesn’t compromise on comfort will last forever…unlike our biodegradable pillows. All of our pillows are made right here in the UK, so there’s no confusion about origin or concern over transport related carbon emissions, just trusted British manufacturing, delivered directly from our door to yours.

Manufactured in Nottinghamshire and packaged in industry leading compostable packaging made from potato starch, Biosnooze have considered every element to reduce their environmental impact. “We’ve even removed the traditional sateen care labels from our pillow and instead printed a scannable QR code using vegetable dyes that takes our customers to a dedicated ‘Care Page’ on our website.”

The Biosnooze Pillow is available to ‘Pre-Order’ online now for £49.00.

EXCLUSIVE Get £10 off with discount code ECONEWS

Website: www.biosnooze.com

Social Media: instagram.com/biosnooze