Make you own hanging basket liners

Make you own hanging basket linerYou can make an efficient, hanging basket liner, white or whatever color, that costs next to nothing.

This kind of hanging basket liner will keep your plants in place and moist and it, generally, comes for free, and will last for years, unlike the coir, moss, or even fake moss ones.

You can choose to make drainage holes or not, depending how well your plants may like having their “feet” in water. Considering, however, that generally, hanging baskets, when with bracket attached to wall of house, are in the so-called rain shadow, and thus do not get watered naturally by the rain having no drainage holes in the liner saves you watering on a daily basis.

There are many options for recycling plastic bags for use as handing basket liners. Compost bags of various sizes, as well as others, are suitable and the colors may vary from white, to blue or black. It all depends. On the other hand, other bags you can use might be transparent, which even allows you to see the growth of the roots and thus can see whether plants may get root bound. Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) is a candidate that gets root bound in pots or handing baskets quite quickly, which then meas either re-potting or splitting.

As the bags you may be using will not be designed to fit a hanging basket as a liner you will have to do some cutting and some folding and tucking, but it will be worth it alone for the fact that (1) you don't have to buy a liner every year and (2) you keep some plastic out of the waste stream (for some years at least). The important thing is that it works and well worth it. A win-win on so many levels.

© 2018

Huskup – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Huskup imageReusable and plastic free, Huskup brings takeaway coffee back down to earth

Durable, biodegradable and entirely free from plastic, Huskup is tackling the UK’s disposable culture one flat white at a time with a brand new reusable coffee cup made from rice husks. Using the outer hull of the rice grain, a natural and robust material that would otherwise be burnt at the mill, Huskup is harnessing an abundant waste product and giving the planet a helping hand even before the first coffee is poured.

Responding to the disposal of 7 million takeaway coffee cups every single day and the nation’s ever growing commitment to cut plastic waste from their lives, the Huskup takes the humble rice husk from earth to earth. Each cup is dishwasher safe and tough enough to withstand temperatures of -30c to 120c, yet the reusable cup can ultimately return to the soil at the end of its life and biodegrade naturally.

Free from melamine and BPA, Huskup is setting a new standard for reusable coffee cups and is ready to make every hot drink on the go that bit greener, from coffee shops and canteens to the workplace and beyond. Saving energy, materials, money and waste using an all-natural bi-product of one of the world’s most prolific store cupboard staples, the Huskup is set to make a big impact with one small change to the morning routine.

The Huskup comes in 12 different designs and can be purchased from www.huskup.com, priced at £10.95 each. Cheap they are not, in comparison to other reusable coffee cups, that is for certain, but then they are also made from a different material in a different way.

Bath-based Huskup was founded in 2018 to harness one of the world’s most abundant food waste materials, the humble rice husk, and begin a new chapter in takeaway coffee with a cup that is both durable and biodegradable. Entirely plastic, tree and toxin free, the Huskup contains no melamine or BPA, meaning that no nasties can make their way into drinks. These eco-friendly cups are also tough enough to take on the dishwasher and safe for reheating coffee in the microwave, but will simply decompose and return to the earth at the end of their lives. Launching with 12 designs, having teamed up with like-minded independent artists to create products that represent the Huskup ethos, these reusable cups are ready to bring takeaway coffee back down to earth.

While the material of the Huskup is free of melamine it has the feel of that plastic material, or that of Bakelite, for those that remember that material, but the material is not even, actual plastic. In my opinion the scope for this material itself, a plastic-like substance that is made from natural ingredients which harmlessly return to the soil, goes beyond just coffee cups.

As far as biodegradability is concerned Huskup are certified to the compostability standards, European EN13432 including the following elements:

1. Biodegradation - materials turn to soil through microbial action

2. Disintegration - the materials fall into small pieces

3. Eco-toxicity - seeds can germinate in the resulting compost - i.e. it is useful for plant growth

4. Heavy metals - the compost is safe to go onto land

The manufacturing process takes the waste rice husk and mixes that with some natural starches – and those are, alas, trade secrets. The cups are then molded and formed into the huskup. No melamine or other plastic binders are used.

The lid and the band around the body of the cup are made of, what in my opinion, would appear to be silicone.

The cup appears to be extremely sturdy and, as I said before, feels like a melamine or Bakelite product, but is neither. It should last for many, many years and when it finally has to be replaced you do not have to have a guilty conscience as to its disposal. That still does not mean that you should thoughtlessly toss it at the end of its life into the countryside.

The only, for some it sure would be, major turn off is the fact that the product is “Made in China” while the company is British. The reason, though, probably is that rice husks are more common in China (and elsewhere in Asia) than, obviously, in Britain and hence the product is Made in China.

Web: www.huskup.com

Twitter: @huskup_eco

Instagram: huskup_eco

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/huskup/

© 2018

Why children benefit from fewer toys

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Children play better when they have fewer toysRenown child educator, Maria Montessori said “Play is the child's work.” With that she meant that children are not just playing when they play, but they are working. Play is an important part of child development, and the types of toys that a child interacts with shapes their understanding of the world around them. Toys are the tools children use to accomplish their work, but it is best for the amount of toys that a child has to be limited.

Through play, children practice cooking, cleaning, going to work, fighting, taking care of the baby. I other words every adult activity they see around them. This kind of playful practice, performed over and over, makes them more confident. Play also helps children cope with problems ranging from big traumas to little upsets and helps them process the new information they receive every day.

Toys help children play. They also help children self-entertain and become independent. Therefore it may seem logical to assume that more toys provide more entertainment and help the child work, but that is, apparently, not the case.

Here are reasons why it is best to keep toys minimal and simple:

Children with less use their imagination more. Without many toys, children use their craft of pretending to imagine the scenario in which they are working. Studies show that Einstein was right when he stated that “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” They also, might, make their own toys. We certainly did as children.

Children maintain focus. Fewer toys mean fewer distractions teaching the child to focus on the task at hand. Toys that provide excess stimulation have been linked to various attention deficiency related problems.

Children interact more with others. Communications skills are not innate; they are learned. Having less stuff allows for less to get in the way of social interactions. When children pretend together, they communicate together and pretend play is the most beneficial play.

Children learn to respect what they have. A child is more likely to value their work when they know they do not have replacements.

Children are more educated. When you choose toys like books, blocks, art supplies and puzzles, children work on skills like reading, building, drawing, and writing. Such toys can incorporate lessons about the world that the child is immersed in rather than distract them from it.

Children become resourceful. Kids learns to use what they have to get the job done and to make things and toys up as they go along.

Children learn to share and share. As parents, we want our children to put people over possessions and to not be greedy. Interacting with others without objects coming between them allows children to value people over things.

Children learn mastery. As a child focuses on a certain toy, they learn to master it and to be proud of their accomplishments.

Children realize they cannot have everything they want. As it goes, “you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need.” Parents may worry that not giving their child what their peers have may make them unpopular or feel under privileged, but it teaches them that a persons identity is built by character, not possessions.

Children appreciate nature. Children have tons of fun outdoors once they are out there, but it may be hard to get them outside if they have endless entertainment inside the home. Outdoors also the building material for homemade toys can be found.

With less, as in fewer toys and games, children learn to be happy with what they have. What a child needs most is love, and they will learn that love and happiness cannot be bought.

Fewer toys also means less clutter in the child's room or the playroom, or wherever they play with their toys and it is all easier for them (and you) to clear up after.

If there are a few toys too many then put them away and only let your children have a certain number. If and when they get bored with them you can circulate them around and refresh with the others.

When I was a child toys, much like clothes, were very much in short supply growing up relatively poor by most standards, even back then, but it did not matter to us. As far as toys and play was concerned we made many of our own toys or had them made for us, from wood, mostly, and much of that wood “natural”, that is to say it cam from the woods and hedgerows. Other “real” toys were those that we found lost or thrown away by others, whether toy cars, stuffed cuddly toys, or whatever. But most fun, I seem to remember, we had with those toys that we made ourselves and such and with the imaginary play using sticks, for instance.

© 2018