Green Your Life

Talking about amazing eco-friendly products and access to my online Wikaniko shop.


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Loom Bands – an eco rant

imageI am the most horrible mother around.  I have banned loom bands from the house!

Ideally I would ban them from everywhere, but sadly realise this is impossible.  My daughter recieved a box of 100’s of the things for her birthday.  It is sitting on top of a cupboard, unopened whilst I try to figure out the best way to dispose of it!

So what is my gripe with this fashionable craze that has boys and girls happily sitting ‘looming’ fantastic creations?  It is the little bands – they get everywhere.  They do not biodegrade and they look remarkably like small bits of food to many birds and small mammals (most of whom don’t see in colour).

So these bracelets, necklaces, key rings and other loom band accouterments are carried around and the little bands break and drop wherever their owner is passing…..

Children sit and loom in the shade of trees or in playgrounds.  They drop a few bands….  They drop the box – pick most up, but not all….

image1They make a skipping rope from the bands, it breaks….

The little bands and their tiny plastic hookie things end up all over the place – they get blown by the wind, swept by gardeners or grounds people, they end up where birds and small creatures are looking for food.  They end up in rivers and lakes, in the sea where aquatic animals are looking for food.  They get eaten.

Now, I am presuming that you don’t eat much plastic or rubber bands – I strongly advise against it.

Animals (and that includes humans) cannot digest plastic or rubber bands.  Some may pass through the gut, but most sticks around making it hard for the animal to digest other food.  The smaller the animal, the smaller their guts and so the more likely it is for the loom band or bits of loom band to get stuck.

Yes, there is a great educational lesson to be had with children about picking up the dropped bands and putting them in the bin.

My daughter is quite aware and does pick up the rubbish she sees!

However, despite the fact that we have none at home, I still find the pesky things in the house and garden.  She is given a bracelet, a friend comes round wearing a loom band something, it breaks or just a band or two breaks.

There are many worse things.  But with just a little forethought loom bands could have been a great toy and had no impact on wildlife – if only they were properly biodegradable.  Apparently they break up in to smaller pieces in sunlight – great even more little bits for animals to try and eat!

And yes, of course as they are made from synthetic rubber, there is a huge climate impact too!


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Wonderful Wildflowers

Animals 056Spring is really here!  It was so wonderfully warm today, my two children spent most of the time in the ‘not-a-lot’, we even got the sun cream on them.

Now is a great time to be thinking about wildflowers – or at least it is in my mind!  There is still time to be planting wildflowers to get great summer blooms and give fabulous colour to your garden – no matter how big or small.  I do admit that wildflowers can be a bit hit and miss – sometimes they take more than one year to grow and flower, but once you have created a mini-meadow, then it will bloom year on year with relatively little attention from you (compared to a lawn that is!).

So one good reason to have a wildflower meadow – reduce the mowing!  Fabulous if like me, this is not a great way for you to spend a dry day!

Why else do I plant native wildflowers over ornate blooms or tropical imports?

Well, a major reason is bees, bugs and butterflies and all the things that rely on them for food (including us!). Without bees and other pollinators, our food supplies would dwindle dramatically so, in my mind, it is essential to do a little to give the pollinators, decomposers, seed disperses, predators, and yes, even slugs, a helping hand.  So gradually I am turning my front lawn into a wildflower meadow.

I have removed a 1x 3m rectangle of grass and a large number of flower-seeds have gone into this.  Some are growing, but not all (yet).  There is only about another 4x3m section of grass left to remove and I already have lots of flowers starting to grow indoors – all ready for planting out.

Seed ball tinsMany wildflowers are not so keen on really fertile soil, preferring fairly nutrient poor ground.  They are not good in heavy competition either so it is good to remove the turf and top-soil prior to planting.  Depending on flowering time, once the meadow is doing well you can get away with an early spring mow (for summer flowers) and then a mow after the flowers are over and seeds are set.  But don’t do really short mows as this may damage the plants too much.

Also, when you do mow, do remove the cut grass – perhaps after a day or so, so any seeds can drop off seed-heads and into the soil for next years flowers.

Planting is best in spring or autumn and now we have a great, hassle-free way to plant using seed-balls.  The range is fabulous and we even have sets for your own table!

 

 

urban_meadow_2We have

Salad Mix – an easy way to get a mix of salad greens, just plant one ball every few weeks for salad all summer long.

Herb Mix – with basil, marjoram, chives, dill and parsley, you can get many of your cooking herbs from these seed-balls, and provide wildlife with fabulous pollen!

Cloud Meadow Mix – a range of white blooms that go on throughout the summer

Urban Meadow Mix – hardy plants that will survive even in fairly polluted areas, providing pollen for bees and butterflies.

Poppy Mix – lovely poppies add beautiful colour to your garden and attract a whole host of wildlife.

Butterfly Mix – flowers that butterflies love including red campion, forget-me-not, yarrow, purple loosestrife and musk mallow.

Bee Mix – attract a wide range of bees to your garden with these pretty flowers, including foxglove, vipers bugloss, birds foot trefoil, wild marjoram and red clover.

Sky Meadow – give your garden a wild blue make-over with these seed-balls.  A mix of early and late summer flowers including forget-me-not, meadow cranesbill, cornflower, self heal and wild clary.

Tea Mix – flowers for the bees and butterflies and leaves and flowers to make your tea!  Includes chamomile, mint and anise.

So what are you waiting for?

Time to get planting.