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Archive for September, 2014

Could Recycling Food Waste Reduce Rubbish Collection?

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Food WasteRecycling has become common across the UK, but there is one potentially recyclable type of waste that is usually still thrown out with the rest of the rubbish. Food waste is one of the biggest components of our household rubbish, and while some of us do compost vegetable peelings or feed used tealeaves to our garden roses, a lot of it ends up in landfill.

Efforts to increase recycling seldom focus on this problem. For example, a new £5 million fund has been made available for initiatives to encourage people to recycle more, but rather than focusing on food waste, it has been linked to regular collections of non-recycled waste. The funding will only be made available to areas that commit to weekly bin collections, despite the fact that reducing the frequency of rubbish removals can actually increase the amount that people recycle. A less regular collection makes people more likely to separate their waste into the different boxes or bins provided in order to avoid ending up with an overflowing bin. Some areas have switched to fortnightly, or even three-weekly, collections, and the Chartered Institution of Waste Management suggests that monthly collections might become a possibility if we start separating out food waste.

Taking food waste out of our bins would have an even greater impact than removing any other type of recyclable waste from the general rubbish. Not only is food one of the largest components of our waste, but it is also the one that attracts pests and decomposes most easily. If we were no longer throwing out food waste in our main bins, we probably wouldn’t need them to be emptied every week.

A monthly collection of non-recyclable waste might work well if it is only picking up small amounts of waste that will not rot while waiting to be collected. It is food waste that we need to be collected on a weekly basis, so if we can convince people to keep it separate, we might be able to come up with a system that keeps everyone happy. We would be able to recycle more rather than sending food waste to landfill, without any of the problems usually associated with less frequent rubbish removals. We could even start creating more power plants to use the collected food waste to produce renewable energy.


Do We Need a Permanent Help to Buy Replacement?

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Help to Buy logo web fileThe Help to Buy programme has assisted many people to become homeowners, often for the first time, but the scheme was never intended to be permanent. However, the success of Help to Buy has convinced many people that a new, permanent scheme to help people to become property owners is needed.

A report recently released by mortgage insurance company Genworth is among the calls for a new replacement scheme to be initiated once Help to Buy ends. According to this report, there are still huge numbers of people who would like to become homeowners but who, for various reasons, have not yet been able to do so. Many of these potential buyers have been thinking about buying since before stricter regulations were introduced in 2008, barring them from many mortgages.

The tighter controls on who would be offered a mortgage shut many of these buyers out, particularly through requirements for people to provide larger deposits. Mortgage lenders have been more reluctant to offer mortgages with high loan to value ratios, and they have been charging much more to those customers whose applications have been accepted. Thanks to these kinds of difficulties, the number of first time buyers getting onto the market today remains low compared to historic figures. Genworth estimates that there have been at least 1.8 million aspiring homeowners who have been unable to buy their first homes since 2007.

Although Help to Buy has been focused on helping exactly those buyers who have been closed out of the market because of difficulties raising deposits, there are still many people who have not yet managed to take advantage of the scheme. It is expected that Help to Buy will enable nearly 300,000 first time buyers to become property owners by the end of 2014, but that there will still be another 200,000 people who have been unable to fulfil their dreams of becoming homeowners this year. If these buyers are to make it into their own homes, continued help from a scheme like Help to Buy is needed to enable purchases to be made by people who can only manage a small deposit.


Junk, Memories or a Work of Art?

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Andy Warhol wax workThe buzz over the recent opening of one of Andy Warhol’s mysterious Time Capsules has been intense, but the revelation of what lies inside the last of these thirty year old boxes is enough to make many of us think about more than just art. We all have our own time capsules, of sorts, shut away in attics and cellars to gather dust. Their contents can become just as mysterious to us as the insides of Warhol’s artworks, but it is important that we don’t just leave our memories there to gather dust.

Warhol’s project has provided a unique doorway back into the past, revealing myriad items that Warhol chose to preserve, from old junk mail and invitations to photos and original artworks, packed away and until now, unseen. We can experience a similar, more personal, time shift when we look back at the items that we, or our relatives, chose to pack away, often many years ago. The fun of finding out what has been preserved is a good reason to start clearing out those parts of the house that you keep meaning to organize, but there are also some more practical reasons to look through those old boxes.

An unopened box is not just a waste of space or a cause of ugly clutter. It could also be a treasure chest, hiding memories that need to be brought out into the light, enjoyed, and preserved properly. When we leave our old family photos, letters, and other memorabilia tucked away in dusty boxes, we risk not only forgetting what we have kept, but also losing them to damp, mould and other forms of damage. Unless we are to lose these memories forever, we need to make the time to sort through the boxes and make sure that our most precious items are properly stored. Once the unwanted junk is out of the way, we can make sure that the items we want to keep are put away carefully into safe, dry homes where they will be preserved. The hard work will be worth it if it ensures that those old love letters or childhood photos will still be there to enjoy for many years to come.

Image by JStone / Shutterstock.com


How Easy Is It To Get to Your New Home ?

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Everyone knows how much location matters when you are choosing a new home. The right neighbourhood can make a big difference, particularly when it comes to the services and amenities that will be available to you. The right transport connections can also make a big difference, and not just during the removals process. A recent study conducted by Nationwide suggests that having a location that will be convenient for commuters can have a significant impact on a property’s value.

The impact was strongest in London, where being within 500 metres of a station could add as much as £42,000 to a property’s asking price, but similar findings were reported from elsewhere across the country. Homeowners as far apart as Glasgow and Manchester could expect to earn many thousands of pounds more for their properties when they were located near to a station.

Although this research focused on rail connections, other forms of transport are also likely to affect property prices and choices. We might not place much importance of making the removals journey easier or on finding locations close to transport options that we will seldom use, but if we are going to spend a large part of our lives commuting between home and work, we are going to try to make that commute as quick and easy as possible. An extra ten minutes in bed and a leisurely family breakfast every morning could be worth quite a lot.

Having the right transport links can also make it much easier to make other kinds of trips, as well as ensuring that our removals trucks and other deliveries can easily find their way to our new addresses. Being on the right bus route to make a direct trip to our favourite theatre or cinema can make life much easier for us, while an easy road link to the routes that we often follow to visit friends or relatives can prove to be a real time saver. Transport links can have a significant effect on property prices, but only because the location we choose to live in can have such a big impact on our everyday lives.


Recycling Plastic to Save Sea Life

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washed up sea wasteIt is natural to feel a little curious about what happens to all of our waste after it has been collected from the kerb or we have sent a load of unwanted items away with the rubbish removals team. Sometimes, the end of the story is positive. People are recycling more, and many rubbish removals companies take a responsible approach to disposing of waste safely and protecting the environment. However, there are still too many examples of poorly handled disposals and environmental damage caused by rubbish.

One of the most shocking of these is the impact that plastic waste is having in the ocean. Plastic is a very durable material, which makes it very useful, but also very slow to break down when it is no longer needed. It floats and swirls around in the sea, gradually accumulating in five vast masses of drifting plastic spread out around the world.

A new survey of one of these areas, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, has revealed that the problem has gotten much worse over the last five years. All kinds of plastics, from the small beads that are used by manufacturers to remnants of everyday household items like food packaging and toothbrushes are found in the garbage patch, which is now hundreds of miles long. The plastic that gathers here does not float around harmlessly. It can kill sea life, either by entangling them or by being mistaken for food and swallowed. Animals that try to feed on the plastic can choke or be killed by the toxic chemicals it contains.

The vast amount of plastic in the ocean and the terrible harm that it is doing to wildlife emphasizes how important it is to reduce the amount of plastic that we use and to make sure that we are recycling as much as possible of the plastic that we do have to throw away. We all need to make sure that we are all doing our bit to dispose of our plastic responsibly, and to ensure that rubbish removals companies, manufacturers and governments are all making their own efforts to reduce waste and recycle plastics too.


Could Buying a Home Save You Money ?

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save moneyWhether you are moving into rented accommodation or into a property that you have just bought for yourself, you can be sure that the removals process will involve many of the same activities and financial considerations. You will need to work out how you will afford your rent or mortgage payments, how much you can spend on your utilities and other bills, and how you will manage the actual packing and removals process. However, there will be some significant differences between buying and renting, including in the financial impact.

Although renting might seem like the more affordable option, a report recently released by Halifax suggests that buying a home could actually be cheaper in some cases. According to the report, the typical first time buyer might actually be able to cut their expenditure by nearly £110 a month by becoming a homeowner. The cost of buying a three-bedroom family home could be substantially cheaper than renting a similar property, even when utilities bills and other monthly living expenses are taken into account.

However, while the current situation seems to be making it cheaper to buy than to rent, this is not always the case. In some parts of the country, renting may still be the more affordable option, and in the past, it has sometimes been cheaper to be a tenant. Five years ago, for example, buying cost on average £37 more every month than renting. The current shift in favour of the homeowner has come about due to a rise in rents and a drop in the interest being charged on mortgages, and it could change again in the future.

It is also important to remember that while some of the other moving costs, such as hiring a removals van, will be the same whether you are planning to buy or rent, there will be some additional financial considerations when becoming a homeowner. It will be necessary to pay extra fees and stamp duty, and to come up with a substantial deposit, so buying a property may not always be the best option for your finances.


Zero Waste for One Week

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waste We produce a lot of waste in our everyday lives, from the food wrappers that we throw out when we make a meal, to the larger items of junk that we need to get rid of when a piece of furniture wears out or an old appliance fails. It is impossible to prevent waste production altogether, so we rely on the recycling and rubbish removals services provided by our local councils, along with the extra help we can call in from clearance teams, to remove all of this waste and dispose of it in a safe and environmentally sound way. However, while we cannot eliminate the problem of waste, we can help to reduce it. We can try to cut down on the amount of rubbish that we throw out.

Choosing to buy items that come with less packaging, reusing items rather than throwing them out or replacing them before it is absolutely necessary, and repairing broken items rather than giving up on them, can all help to reduce the amount of waste that we are producing. We can also donate old, unwanted items to charity, or even sell them on to someone who does want them, rather than throwing them out, and make sure that we avoid buying items that we aren’t going to use. Far too many items get thrown out without ever being used, or while they are still in perfectly good condition, adding unnecessarily to the task faced by rubbish removals services, and contributing to the vast amount of waste that needs to be accommodated in landfill sites.

The amount of waste that can be avoided when you take these kinds of steps is amazing, as demonstrated by the Zero Waste Week challenge, an annual campaign that encourages people to try to reduce their waste production, or even to spend a week without generating any waste that will end up being taken by the rubbish removals lorry to landfill. Recycling is allowed, but finding ways to reduce waste is the main goal. The official Zero Waste Week is being held during the first week of September this year, but you can easily start your own Zero Waste Week whenever you like, or make a longer-term commitment to reducing the amount of rubbish your household produces.

 
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