5 Great Land’s End Walks

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Image via Flick creative commons from Janet Ramsden

As well as being a tourist attraction due to its location at the south westerly most point of Great Britain, Lands End offers a diverse selection of things to see, all set in picturesque surroundings. Lands End was the location for the start of the Summer Olympics torch relay in 2012 and is also a fantastic place for walking as it boasts many breathtaking and unspoiled sea views along dramatic coastlines, cliffs, and open country.

Lands End is an area of outstanding natural beauty and it is no surprise that thousands of people every year decide to go walking and exploring there. One short yet visually stunning walk begins at Lands End and ends roughly a mile away in beautiful Sennen Cove, a settlement with a population of only 180 people and a renowned surfing resort. On this easy going walk you can expect to take in views of the ocean from staggering vertical cliff faces, stumble across the remains of an Iron Age fort (Maen Castle) and gaze across the beautiful beach of Whitesands Bay. Although the distance from Lands End to Sennen cove is only short, this walk is packed with beautiful scenery and incredible surroundings. Anyone looking for tourist information about Lands End walks can visit the Penzance tourism site.

For those who like lengthy and scenic walks, the historic town of St. Ives is a fantastic end point to a beautiful 24 mile walk from Lands End. Whilst exploring Cornwall’s unspoilt beauty, walkers can enjoy many of the counties landmarks such as Pendeen Lighthouse, Whitesand Bay and even the remains of a 2nd century BC Iron Age castle at Gurnards Head. Zennor village and other hamlets dotted along this route provide stops for food and refreshments and are ideal places to rest whilst enjoying the history of this amazing county. Animal lovers should make sure to pay particular attention near Kenidjack rocks as this is a brilliant place to spot wild seals in Britain. Long walks such as this can be enjoyed over a couple of days as there are numerous hotels and B&B’s along the way to cater for tourists and walkers visiting the area. For help planning or navigating a walk you could visit the Lands End tourist office.

A popular beachy walk in South West Cornwall begins at Lands End and finishes in the beautiful village of Porthcurno. A sandy beach and turquoise sea awaits walkers and tourists at the end of this route, along with the incredible Minack theatre, an open air, stone built theatre looking out over the English Channel and is one of Cornwall’s most well known landmarks. On this walk you will come across incredible rock formations, most famously Enys Dodnan and the Armed Knight. This interesting and relaxing walk offers lovely sandy beaches and even a view of Longships Lighthouse, originally built in 1795. At the end of your walk a handy bus service runs hourly between Lands End and Porthcurno which provides a scenic trip back to exhausted ramblers.

If you are looking for an easy going walk along Cornwall’s coastal footpaths then a trip between Lands End and St. Just might be ideal. Originally a busy mining centre, the historic village of St. Just still retains many of its original buildings and features, making it a must see for any history fanatic. Only 6 miles long, this route takes walkers across golden sands, low cliffs, through grassy meadows and offers stunning westerly views out across the sea. Passing through many idyllic areas such as Porth Nanven, Sennen Cove and Cot Valley along the way, this unchallenging walk is ideal for families and older people, while still being picturesque and full of history.

Finally, the most famous and challenging walk in Great Britain has to be the walk from Lands End to John o’ Groats. Although there is no set route, many walkers enjoy the challenge of setting their own route and being able to visit hundreds of amazing places, exploring the entire country along the way. The idea of walking ‘end to end’ is one that attracts many avid walkers every year but with a distance of 874 miles, this isn’t a walk for the faint hearted! The Long Distance Walkers Association website has information about this walk along with news and reviews from walkers who have previously completed this daunting but immensely rewarding trek. The record for completing this route on foot is held by Andi Rivett who took 9 days and 2 hours to run the entire length of Britain. If you plan to take on the challenge of walking from Lands end to John o’ Groats then be warned that if you walk 22 miles a day, the route will take you 40 days so make sure to book some time off work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping your electric car well maintained

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Image via Flickr creative commons from motorblog

If you’re a keen motorist then you’ll probably be well aware that electric cars have really gained rapidly in popularity over the last decade or so. There have been experiments with electric cars for well over a century – in fact, at one point they were the most popular cars on the market until petrol-powered vehicles took over – and after some ill-fated attempts, electric cars have started to gain mainstream popularity more recently. Electric cars have fallen in price in recent years – but if you’re still a bit strapped for cash, you may be interested to learn that you may be able to buy used electric vehicles with second-hand car finance from ACF Car Finance.

However, there are a number of questions which deter many people from opting to buy electric cars. One thing that puts some drivers off is maintenance – what sort of maintenance electric cars need, how much this is likely to cost and so on. An article from eHow.com offers some pointers when it comes to electric car maintenance. It notes that, in fact, electric cars are mechanically considerably simpler than vehicles with internal combustion engines. However, while electric cars generally require fewer parts than their petrol or diesel-powered counterparts, it is still important to maintain them properly so that you get as much mileage as you can out of them.

Obviously, both electric and petrol/diesel-powered cars have certain maintenance tasks in common – so it’s important not to neglect these if you do opt for an electric-powered vehicle. Make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly, have your brakes serviced at regular intervals and ensure your shock absorbers, struts and other parts are given the once-over every so often. This might sound like an obvious point to make, but nonetheless you should bear it in mind.

Also, electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries. It should stand to reason that the more regularly you use your electric car, the quicker its battery will expire. Batteries only have a limited cycle life, so after they’ve been charged and discharged a certain number of times, they’ll no longer work and will need to be replaced. If you start to notice that your electric car’s battery needs charging more frequently, it may be worth taking it to the mechanic so a professional can take a closer look at it. Nevertheless, you will need to replace your car’s battery every few years – this is, as things stand, unavoidable.

You may also be wondering just how much it’ll cost you to maintain your electric car. An article from HowStuffWorks.com provides us with some insight in this regard. It points out that new battery packs can costs thousands of pounds, although manufacturers are looking to develop cheaper and longer-lasting batteries. It also observes that so long as their battery continues to function normally, electric cars should require less maintenance than petrol or diesel-powered cars. This is something you should look very carefully into before you make the decision as to whether you’re going to buy an electric or fossil fuel-powered vehicle.

 

What Are The Greener Options For Charging Your Phone Or Tablet?

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Image via Flickr creative commons from markguim

Gadgets can suck up a fair bit of energy over their lifetime and it is unsurprising that more and more people are looking for ways to reduce their energy spend and bring down household bills at the same time as doing their bit for the environment. The good news is that there a number of ways that you can be more environmentally aware when it comes to charging up your gadgets such as smartphones and tablets. Charging them is easy, especially when you have covers from the Snugg UK that allow easy access to all of the ports. What is not so easy is remembering to be green – here are a few helpful tips!

Think carefully before charging overnight

One of the best and probably one of the simplest ways to save money and energy when it comes to charging gadgets is to make sure you think carefully about when you do it. Something that many people do is charge their smartphones and tablets up during the night when they’re not in use. Unfortunately today’s gadgets don’t actually take that long to charge up and so they remain plugged in and drawing down electricity even after they are fully charged. While you’re very unlikely to notice a spike in your electricity bill from doing this now and again, it’s important to remember that you are wasting electricity which is not only costing the environment but also hurting your wallet.

Don’t leave your charger plugged in at the wall

Taking appliances off charge once the batteries are full isn’t the only thing you’ll have to remember. It’s also important to make sure that you have turned off the charger at the socket once you’re done. Even if the device has been unplugged, a small amount of electricity can still be used by the plug. Cut out waste – turn it off.

Go for a timer

If you really don’t have the option of charging up your tablet or phone in the daytime or during the evening, then consider investing in a device to cut off power after a set period. It is possible to buy low-cost outlet timers that will automatically turn themselves off and stop drawing down power after a fixed period – perfect if your device will only take four hours to charge but you’re going to be in the land of nod for eight hours!

Harness the power of the sun!

If you’re not too keen on drawing down power from your home’s electricity supply then how about harnessing the power of the sun and getting some juice for free. It is now possible to buy solar-powered phone and tablet chargers that will drink up the sun’s rays and then dispense it into your gadgets when you’re ready. This type of device can be great for when you are travelling and don’t have a mains power source handy, or alternatively, is just a fab way of staying powered-up without harming the environment. Everyone wins!

How to Make Sure your Home is Properly Insulated

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Red Moon Sanctuary

If your home is not properly insulated, you could be using about half of the heat your boiler is producing. Lost heat is wasted money and rather than having to turn up the thermostat on those long, cold winter nights, make sure you’re properly insulated. There are many ways this can be done, a lot of this is DIY, other times it can be done as part of more extensive work such as with a loft conversion from Econoloft.co.uk.

Proper insulation can save you hundreds of pounds a year, and over time will soon pay for itself. At the same time, the size of your carbon footprint will plummet significantly. Your first port of call should be the doors, fit a few draught excluders around the house. This will probably not help with retaining heat everywhere besides the external doors. But if you are sitting in the living room with a fire on, it will stop head disappearing in the cracks between the door and its frame. Don’t forget to add a trim to your letterbox.

Next, make sure the windows throughout your home are well insulated. Beyond the obvious double glazing, the cracks in the corners, between window and frame can be a place for hot air to escape. The best way to check for this is run the palm of your hand around the window – without touching it. Feel for the bits of cold air. The weaker parts can be bunged up with sealer or putty. If you don’t have double glazing, it is definitely something you should investigate. It is a little more expensive, but will pay for itself sooner than you think.

Keeping your house insulated can also be as simple as changing little habits. Close your curtains as soon as it gets dark, or sooner. It may seem insignificant but they can act as an important barrier between you and huge heating bills. For added protection, invest in curtains with a thermal backing.

One of the best ways to save on your heating bills is with loft insulation. You can reduce your carbon footprint by a huge one tonne a year. You don’t even need an expert to come and do it for you – most of, if not all, is DIY. When you see homes in winter following snow, you will notice there will be a few which lose the ice from their roof almost immediately. This is a sign of how effective proper loft insulation is.

Choose between man-made insulation and natural fibres such as sheep wool. The former is cheaper than most other alternatives and the most common material is fibreglass. If you opt for sheep wool, prepare to pay a little more. The cost is worth it as this wool is much more effective at keeping heat in than anything made by a human being.

Finally, take a look at your boiler. If you have a water tank makes sure it is not left exposed to the elements. You may think it is fine sitting in the middle of your house, but it can still lose a lot of heat. Wrap it in an 8cm think jacket – these can be bought from most DIY stores and will pay for themselves in around six months. They will cut heat loss by around 75 per cent.

This year’s most important new environmentally-focused books

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Image via Flickr creative commons from anselm

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the defining issues of our time, and quite possibly the single most important of them all. Politicians the world over have spent decades trying to get to grips with the problem, although it has to be said that their lack of progress is starting to attract ever closer scrutiny from activists and other observers. As you might expect, there have been a raft of books over the last few years debating and scrutinising the issues surrounding climate change and the environment more broadly – and 2013 has already seen a whole host of new environmental books hit the shelves. Here are five titles you might want to consider delving into, which you shouldn’t have much trouble finding at a Book people nature and outdoors section.

1)      Hungry Capital: The Financialization of Food – Luigi Rossi: Published by Zero Books, Hungry Capital sees Luigi Rossi examine the rapid restructuring of the global food chain in recent decades. The financialisation of the global economy more generally has had a significant impact on the way the international food chain operates, with the influence of multinational firms and large retail chains fuelling extensive changes. Hungry Capital looks specifically at the influence of financial experts on the worldwide food economy, and questions whether the edifice can hold for much longer in an increasingly unstable, interconnected global economy.

2)      Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science – John Berger: According to USA Today, Climate Myths is a study of the global fossil fuel industry’s attempts to obfuscate and undermine the science associated with the processes of climate change. In the book, John Berger compares the modern-day anti-climate change lobbying efforts of fossil fuel firms to the propaganda disseminated by tobacco firms in earlier eras, aimed at downplaying the mounting – and now widely accepted – evidence that cigarettes posed various health hazards to smokers.

3)      Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change – Andrew Guzman: This book looks at the likely consequences of allowing the planet’s temperature to rise by another two degrees centigrade. Andrew Guzman, a law professor in the US, warns that further warming is likely to cause widespread instability – fuelling increased conflict as nations squabble over increasingly scarce resources, destroying island nations and leaving millions of people around the world displaced from their homes.

4)      Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent – Gabrielle Walker: Having visited Antarctica five times, Gabrielle Walker takes the opportunity to show us just what the continent is like in this book. She describes in unflinching detail the minus 60 degree temperatures, the months of darkness and much more besides. She also looks at what the future holds for Antarctica as climate change takes its toll.

5)      High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Levels and the Coming Coastal Crisis – John Englander: In High Tide on Main Street, John Englander warns that regardless of what how global temperatures rise over the coming years, higher sea levels are now an inevitability – and he points out that this could endanger coastal communities, driving millions of people further inland.

Why Fashion Shouldn’t Cost The Earth

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Image via Flickr creative commons from rubinowicz

The impact a business as huge as fashion can have on the planet and its people is well documented – both anecdotally and in the news. Sweatshop scandals of the 1990s have lest a strong impression. When you buy a new dress, chances are you don’t think twice about where it came from, who made it and what it’s made from.

Earlier this decade, figures from Verdict Research showed that £1 in every £5 spent on fashion in the UK was going to low cost shops. More recently, some of the biggest high street brands have become embroiled in ethical trading scandals.

But the past decade has seen an increase in the globally-conscious shopper – especially in the UK. A chocolate bar, for example, may cost a little bit more when it’s fair trade, yet many will happily pay extra in the knowledge cocoa farmers in the developing world are not being exploited for a desk worker’s sugar fix.

That eco-friendliness also extends into organic fashion. The developed world may not mind suffering for fashion once in a while, but there’s no reason the entire planet should. Organic cotton, for example, should be grown from non-genetically engineered seed and developed without the use of synthetic fertilizers or toxic herbicides and pesticides. It experienced a sales growth of 35 per cent between 2008 and 2009.

The people who make our clothes often work in terrible conditions. Many garments purchased in the ‘Western World’ are imported cheaply from the South, where they are made by sweat shop workers (often children) who work long and hard for very little money.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was developed with the aim of defining world-wide requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles. It covers everything from harvesting of the raw materials through to environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing. All clothing covered by this must also be labelled in order to provide credible assurance to the consumer.

GOTS requires safe, humane working conditions (including regular employment, fair wages and working hours) and specifies that employees cannot be underage or forced labour.

Eco-fashion clothes are made using organic materials – such as cotton grown without pesticides and silk made by worms fed on organic trees. It can also include recycled and improved second hand clothes. Clothes can even be made from plastic bottles. Post-consumer resin (PCR) can be spun into thin fibres that are then used to make a form of polyester. This becomes the fabric to create any type of clothing including exercise outfits, casual shirts and jackets.

It may not seem obvious when you see a bargain sweater or maxi dress, but the products used to make clothing can cause a great deal of damage to the environment. Pesticides used by farmers can harm wildlife, contaminate other products and even get into the food we eat. This is especially true with the chemicals used to bleach and colour.

Thinking about the environment even extends to the clothes we throw as away – which can take up valuable space in landfill sites.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint When You Travel

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Elsie esq.

Awareness of what effect our travel habits have on the environment has increased considerably in recent years, and now most people will understand what’s meant by terms such as carbon footprint and carbon offsetting. There is no getting away from the fact that a plane produces emissions, but there are steps that travellers can take to help negate the impact.

Carbon and flights

Holiday charter flights, business flights, luggage shipping even medical repatriation flights –they all have an impact on the environment. When fossil fuels are burned, by-products known as carbon emissions are produced. These gases, such as CO2, are already present in the atmosphere but as more fuel is burned, their concentration increases. CO2 is believed to be a major factor in global warming, which is why efforts are being made around the globe to limit the amount being released into the earth’s atmosphere.

Average footprint

Research has revealed that the carbon footprint of the average household is about 10 tons per year and much of this comes from transport use. For example, a return flight between London Heathrow and JFK airport in New York will result in 1.16 tons of carbon dioxide being produced per person.

Concerted efforts

It’s not just environmentally-minded travellers that are thinking about the impact that flying has on the atmosphere. Governments around the world are making concerted efforts to cut carbon emissions and reduce pollution. The UK for example has signed up to the Climate Change Act and as a result is committed to cutting all its climate-changing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, based on 1990 levels.

Carbon offsetting

It is possible to limit the impact that taking a flight has on the environment by joining a carbon offsetting scheme. They work by the traveller paying a certain amount of money depending on how much CO2 they expect to produce. This cash is then used to pay for projects elsewhere in the world that will result in CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. An example of a scheme could be a factory in India switching from the use of fossil fuels to solar power, or perhaps the construction of a wind farm instead of a new coal-fired power station. Such schemes have proved to be especially popular with businesses that have a strong social conscience and realise they need to play an active role in helping to combat climate change.

Advances in aviation technology

Cutting back on flights and offsetting the release of carbon dioxide is not the only answer. Tackling the heart of the issue and coming up with more sustainable methods of travel is also key. Boeing for example has come up with a design for a hybrid plane that runs not only on aviation fuel but also on electricity. The result is an aircraft that produces considerably lower emissions when it is in flight. It is these kinds of advances in technology that are set to play a key role in the fight against global warming over the coming years.

Your Guide To Buying With A Conscience

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Wonderlane

There is a lot to be said for the personal benefits of buying healthy. A selection of fresh, locally grown fruit and veg can work wonders for your well being but it can also be great for the environment. This, if you think about things in the long run, can also be good for you.

There are the simple and obvious things you can do to help make the world a better place, buying fair trade products is one. But if you’re interested in making your lifestyle greener there are a number of small, almost insignificant changes you may not have thought of.

You can look for ways to reduce and recycle in almost any regular activity, but grocery shopping is one of the easiest. By making small changes and eco-friendly purchasing choices, your shopping routine can be an easy way to reduce your impact on the environment.

Shop local

This can help in a number of different ways. When you jump in the car to nip to the supermarket, you impact the environment in more ways than you might imagine. Often, it can be more convenient to order shopping online while sitting on the rather than heading back out again to the supermarket. New research shows it’s also much more environmentally friendly to leave the car parked and opt for groceries delivered to your doorstep.

“A lot of times people think they have to inconvenience themselves to be greener, and that actually isn’t the case here,” said Anne Goodchild, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington. “From an environmental perspective, grocery delivery services overwhelmingly can provide emissions reductions.”

Shopping local should also include buying produce grown nearby. Many will tell you that local food tastes better, which may or may not be true. It is also up for debate whether or not food that has not had to travel as far has higher nutritional value because of its freshness. But with food from further away, details about pesticides, land use, and working conditions are hard to come by. You will also know that it has not had to travel for miles, cutting down on emissions and you will be supporting a local farmer.

Serve seasonal produce

Items such as strawberries and asparagus have to be transported great distances to reach your table in the winter. Because of this, seasonal foods tend to be cheapest – and, when thinking about your green credentials, reducing air and ground transport for food cuts our use of fossil fuels and alleviates air pollution.

Buy food in recyclable containers

If it’s a toss-up between one or another punnet of grapes – go for the one you know is best for the planet as different materials are easier to recycle than others. For instance, all paper and cardboard can be recycled whereas with certain types of plastic it can be more difficult.

It is very important to make sure you don’t just throw them away along with your regular rubbish. If you have to use plastic, such as bags, make sure you’re recycling them. Take a plastic bag back to the shop with you, save having to buy or take another one.

Also look at buying food that is not individually packaged. Aim for loose items to cut down on unnecessary packaging. A lot of the time a pack of, for instance, onions can seem like they are half empty. In this case, go for the loose onions.

Don’t buy more than you need

Being frugal protects your pocket and the environment. Food waste disposed of incorrectly can be a nightmare when it comes to landfill. Around 40 per cent of food produced in Europe is wasted. Methane, a greenhouse gas estimated to be 20 times worse for the environment that carbon dioxide, is created by rotting food and emitted from landfills as food rots. Avoid this by buying less and disposing of everything you don’t use properly.

Free range animals raised for meat also put less strain on the ground where they’re raised and do not require as much in the way of antibiotics. Animal waste that is free of antibiotics and chemicals is friendlier to groundwater, plants and wildlife.

Tips for making sure that your footprint is as green as possible

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Lauri Vain

As you’ve probably noticed, environmental issues have steadily crept further and further up the political and social agenda over the last quarter of a century or so. This is in large part because of climate change, which has generally come to be regarded as one of the most pressing issues currently facing humanity. Although it’s important to remember that the vast majority of carbon emissions are produced by large industrial concerns rather than households, that’s not to say that there aren’t steps we can take to reduce our impact on the planet. It’s important that we all pull together and do our bit – because if we don’t, the consequences don’t bear thinking about.

One of the most commonly-used environmental buzzwords of recent years is “carbon footprint”. This particular phrase refers to the amount of greenhouse gases each individual, household, business or other organisation is responsible for emitting – so when people talk about reducing their carbon footprint, they’re talking about emitting lower amounts of greenhouse gases. There are a number of steps that each of us can take to reduce our carbon emissions, and it’s worth carrying out a thorough assessment of what pollutants you’re responsible for releasing into the atmosphere as part of your everyday routine. When you have an idea of what your individual carbon footprint is, you’re better placed to work out how you can reduce it.

As an article from eHow.com points out, you can reduce your carbon footprint making relatively small-scale adjustments to your lifestyle. Perhaps the first thing you should consider is whether or not it could be a good idea to buy a more environmentally-friendly car. Many of us have been driving the same old gas guzzlers for years, spewing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In recent years, a number of more eco-friendly models have come on to the market – such as those produced by Dacia and other manufacturers – and so it’s well worth looking at what these vehicles have to offer. Many eco-friendly cars also happen to be cheaper to run, as they’re more fuel-efficient. At a time when so many of us are facing financial uncertainty, this could turn out to be a wise investment.

You can also reduce your carbon footprint – and save money – by thinking more carefully about when you actually need to use your car. If you can walk instead of driving, then why not do so? Not only does this save on unnecessary fuel consumption, but it’s also good for you as it helps you get some useful exercise. It’s easy for motorists to get used to driving anywhere and everywhere, but there will be times when you simply don’t need to drive.

There are also a number of other things you can do to cut back on your personal carbon emissions. It’s worth keeping a close eye on when you use electrical appliances, for instance. An article from Yahoo suggests that instead of leaving them on standby, you should make sure they’re properly turned off. Likewise, don’t leave lights switched on when you don’t need. Insulating your home can also help you reduce the size of your carbon footprint.