5 Eco-Friendly Ways To Recycle Old Clothes


Image via Flickr creative commons from net_efekt

There comes a time in every person’s life when they are just fed up of wearing the same old clothes and desperately wish for new ones. However, in order to make room in your wardrobe for all of your brand new threads, you’ll need to get rid of the old ones first. No doubt you’ve heard of the saying, out with the old and in with the new? Well I am going to show you just how you can do that and help the environment with five eco-friendly ways to recycle your old clothes.

1.      Donate to charity

It may sound obvious but one way you could put your old and unwanted clothes to good use is to donate them to a charity shop. By doing so, somebody else will be able to make good use out of your old clothes and you will create sufficient space in your wardrobe and drawers to put your new purchases. The great thing about donating to charity is that you will be helping a good cause and someone else will be able to get their hands on top quality clothing for a fraction of the usual cost. Just make sure your clothes are still in tip-top condition before you bag them up and take them down to the store. Nobody will feel inclined to buy dishevelled clothing that is ripped or stained.

2.      Clothes-swap

Your clothes don’t have to be damaged or necessarily old and worn for you to want new ones. Sometimes you may have been given clothing as a gift and you find that you don’t like it or that it doesn’t fit you. Rather than seem ungrateful, graciously accept the gift in the knowledge that it will come in handy for your next clothes-swapping party. Invite all of your friends round to your house and tell everyone to bring an item of clothing or some accessories that are unwanted but still in great condition. Then take it in turns to pick out an item from the pile. You may find that your best friend has a gorgeous green dress that suits you while she may covet those red beads that you no longer wear.

3.      Fashion your clothes into new pieces

Perhaps your old M&Co blouses have seen better days but you just can’t bring yourself to throw them away? In that case, you will be pleased to know that you can take cuttings from your old clothes and fashion them into fantastic new pieces. That sheer blouse that you love the colour of can be used to make a sheer denim button up tank top. Simply chop the sleeves off your old, non-fitting denim jacket. Next chop your jacket up just below the front jacket pocket flaps and retain the button section but discard the rest of the jacket. Chop off the top section of your sheer blouse from underneath the arm upwards and se to the top of the denim jacket. Finally sew on the button section to complete the top.

4.      Sell your old clothes

Another ingenious way to pass on your clothes, i.e. recycle old clothes, which will make you a bit of money at the same time, is to sell them via an online marketplace. You may not fetch an awful lot of money for your old and unwanted clothes, but you will be doing your bit for the environment and at least someone else will have the opportunity to wear them, rather than having old clothes cluttering up your drawers at home.

5.      Use old clothes for cleaning cloths

On occasion you will have a collection of old clothes that are so worn and tired that they are unsuitable to be sold on or given away to charity. In such circumstances, you can still re-use your old tops as cleaning rags. Simply cut them up into medium sized pieces and you will save money on having to buy expensive and overpriced cleaning cloths.

The evolution of the electric car


Image via Flickr creative commons from exfordy

One of the most striking automotive technological developments of the last few years has been the electric car. At a time when the need to take decisive steps to tackle the growing problem of climate change is becoming ever more apparent, there are those who hope that the electric car will eventually come to supersede petrol and diesel-powered cars. However, it has to be said that electric cars are yet to make the break into the mainstream and so remain relatively niche. However, it is interesting to look at just how the electric car has evolved over the years. Contrary to being a brand new innovation, its history does in fact back well over a century.

According to an article from About.com, it is still disputed as to just who invented the first-ever electric car, but Hungarian Anyos Jedlik did invent a small-scale vehicle powered by an electric motor he designed himself as far back as 1828. Another electric-powered carriage was invented by Scotsman Robert Anderson as some point between 1832 and 1839, while a Professor Stratingh of Holland and his assistant Christopher Becker designed a small-scale electric car of their own in 1835. In that same year, another small electric car was created by American blacksmith Thomas Davenport.

Around 1842, both Davenport and Anderson devised improved electric-powered road vehicles, powered by non-rechargeable electric batteries. Frenchman Gaston Plante developed a more effective battery in 1865, while his compatriot Camille Faure improved on Plante’s battery in 1881. Because the newer generations of batteries provided more effective storage and were longer-lasting, they therefore enabled electric cars of the era to become more practical. Of course, it would prove to be some time before the electric car truly made an impact on the mainstream consciousness. Nevertheless, there have been experiments with electric vehicles for many years.

By the turn of the century, electric, steam and petrol-powered cars were available in the US. As we now know, it was the latter which went on to be comfortably the biggest seller and remains so to this day. However, electric vehicles did still have selling points over and above their gasoline-fuelled counterparts in the early 20th century. They were free of the not-inconsiderable noise, grime and pollution associated with petrol-powered vehicles, for one thing. However, by the 1920s, the need for longer-range journeys lent the gasoline car a crucial advantage over its electric and steam-powered rivals. Charles Kettering’s invention of the electric starter in 1912 also eliminated the need for the hand crank. By the mid-1930s, electric cars had almost disappeared entirely.

As an article from the Guardian points out, it wasn’t for another three decades that the electric car would resurface. The oil price spike of the late 1960s into the 1970s would prompt a global economic crisis which took more than a decade to play out. While Ford, GM and AMC all started to carry out tentative experiments with new electric cars, the eventual decline in oil prices brought this phase to an end. It wasn’t until the 1990s that electric cars once again started to attract the attention of the dominant car manufacturers.

GM’s EV1 attracted a great deal of media attention, but was eventually widely derided as a failure – and within a decade of its appearance, more or less every EV1 had been recalled or destroyed. At around the turn of the millennium, however, manufacturers such as Nissan and Mitsubishi had more success with their own electric cars and in 2011, it was predicted that electric cars would account for 20 per cent of all vehicle sales come 2016. If you’re thinking of buying a used car – and there is used car finance available from ACF Car Finance, incidentally – then you’ll find there are a lot of models to choose from. But don’t overlook the electric car right away, because you could be surprised at what you find.

What is fracking and why is it so controversial?


Image from Flickr creative commons via Franziska Lux

Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – in its simplest terms is the process of extracting natural gas from layers of rock deep within the Earth. It is a relatively new process in the world of fossil fuels and has allowed gas extraction at depths that were previously unreachable.

It is estimated that at least 60 per cent of all new oil and gas wells worldwide were being hydraulically fractured. Most commonly, the process involves drilling a horizontal hole into the rock layer – sometimes it is also done vertically. A high pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals is then injected into the rock, allowing the gas inside to flow out.

Its first experimental use was in the late 1940s and fracking was first commercially successful in 1949. By 2012, 2.5 million hydraulic fracturing jobs have been performed on oil and gas wells worldwide.

But, it is not as simple as that. It is a controversial process. Much of the water used is collected from the well and processed but there are concerns carcinogenic chemicals can escape and find their way into drinking water. It has also been reported by NBC News in the US that tap water becomes flammable as a result of nearby fracking.

Tim Yeo MP, chair of the energy select committee, has refuted some of these claims. He told the BBC in 2011 that problems experienced in the States could be overcome with tight regulation and practice.

He said: “We can’t see any evidence that UK water supplies might be at risk from shale gas – if it is done properly.”

Perhaps predictably, the industry itself also denies that shale gas is unsafe and similarly declares incidents of pollution to be examples of bad practice, rather than of a risky technique.

Some will also claim that the gas extracted through fracking presents a danger to the environment. As a cheaper substitute for renewable energy sources, it is easy to see why certain companies with more of an eye on their wallets than on the planet would go down this line.

However, emissions from natural gas are a small proportion of those emitted from other fossil fuels like coal and oil.

An imminent report by the British Geological Survey is expected to announce that shale gas deposits are far larger than previously predicted. Experts say we could be sitting on enough gas reserves to supply the nation for more than a century.

It has also been suggested that two small earthquakes in Blackpool in 2011 (measuring 1.5 and 2.2 on the Richter scale) were a result of nearby fracking operations. Drilling was suspended while an investigation took place. When the company in charge of the project, Cuadrilla, returned to a second site in Fylde in May 2013 they were greeted by hundreds of protestors.

Protestor Max Walton, told the Blackpool Gazette: “Fracking will not bring gas bills down, will damage our countryside, and will not provide long term jobs to help counter unemployment… Camp Frack Two [the name of the protest] is designed to help local people learn more about fracking.”

Talking about its potential to cause earthquakes, Professor Ernie Rutter from the University of Manchester said: “It’s always recognised as a potential hazard of the technique… But they’re unlikely to be felt by many people and very unlikely to cause any damage.”

A conclusion, though, seems far from close. Professor Richard Davies from Durham University’s Energy Institute led an investigation into the process of fracking which concluded in April of this year.

It found the tremors caused were the equivalent of someone “jumping off a ladder” and that is was it is “extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking”.

Prof Davies said: “In almost all cases, the seismic events caused by hydraulic fracturing have been undetectable other than by geoscientists. It is also low compared to other man-made triggers… whereas, most fracking-related events release a negligible amount of energy roughly equivalent to someone jumping off a ladder onto the floor.”

The Durham University team collated data on all earthquakes caused by human industrial activity since 1929. The largest tremor due to the fracking process was at Horn River Basin in Canada in 2011. It measured 3.8 in magnitude, something they said would feel like no more than a shudder to most people.

Earthquakes caused by activities such as mining can measure as high as 5.6 on the Richter scale, while reservoir filling can measure up to 7.9.


Welcome to Gotta Be Greener


Gotta be Greener is my new blog looking at green issues and technology. It aims to take a calm, fact based look at many of the great issues of the day.

For the first article I’m going to take a detailed look at shale gas extraction and fracking.

So stay tuned, and don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any more topics that you want to see covered in depth.