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How to have a green Halloween

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'This is Halloween. This is Halloween'. Oh yes, it's almost time to glue those fangs on, invest in some fake blood and press play on your iPod to hear Marilyn Manson's haunting voice sing about Halloween - one of our favourite holidays.

Sadly All Hallow's Eve also means lots of individually wrapped chocolates and sweets and last minute investment in horrific costumes that most likely will end up on some landfill near you by next November because someone forgot to keep the box/lost part of it. Why not start early this year so that you can prepare an eek-o-tastic green Halloween for you and your friends and family.

Here are some tips on how to make your spooky celebrations more sustainable without losing any of the fun.

Create your own costumes
Yes, the totally wicked costume from the fancy dress shop may be all you ever wanted, but there are other ways to dress up that being a slutty nurse/nun/pumpkin/bat. Look for inspiration in your wardrobe, or go to a second-hand shop to pick up some gems. And if all else fails, find an old white sheet and go as a ghoulish ghost.

Use social media to issue party invites
We all love a good old letter in the post, but unless you're Queen Elizabeth herself drop the handwritten card invites this year. Send out invites by email or simply create an event on Facebook and start inviting people. Not only does it save the environment, but Facebook Events is a great way of keeping on top of who can make it and who can't.

Source your pumpkins locally
Pumpkins is a must-have for Halloween: you can eat them AND make them into great decorations! Get your pumpkin(s) as local as possible to ensure that it has as low carbon footprint and you're supporting local trade.

Use carved pumpkins as lanterns, and decorate with twigs, leaves, and other spooky woodland finds. Alternatively, pop down to a charity shop to see if they have any decorations for sale.

Keep the Trick or Treat sweets Fairtrade or make your own
Everyone wants chocolate for Halloween. If you must, invest in Fairtrade certified chocolate. But why not make your own syrupy delights such as toffee apples or make homemade cakes - here's a recipe for vegan cupcakes.

This is the time many of us look to spring clean our wardrobe and perhaps add a few items ahead of the summer season. But how can you do it on the cheap? Let's introduce you to swishing.

The term 'swishing' was first coined by a sustainable PR agency based on the noise of rustling clothes from your friends make as you swap old clothes for new. And how we like to swish!

Clothes swapping parties have increasingly grown in popularity worldwide over the past couple of years, and there are now several websites dedicated to the activity that will give you advice on how to host your own swishing party, where you can find out about forthcoming events and even swap your unwanted clothes and accessories online.

How to host swishing party

With Facebook it has never been easier to organise a swishing party for you and your friends. Just pick the day, create an event, invite those you think would be interested in coming and start going through your wardrobe.

As your friends come around with items they'd like to pass on, serve some refreshments and get browsing. The swishing etiquette is to bring items that are in good condition and to take away the same number of items as you bring to the party.

Sometimes you could get lucky - I got a wonderful Jaeger dress once. It all depends on where your friends like to shop...

Reasons to start swishing?

Every year in the UK we buy around 2 million tonnes of clothes and throw away approximately 1 million tonnes. Just think about all the energy, water and toxins that have been used to produce and get rid of these items.

Chances are also that you have several pieces of clothing in your wardrobe that have never been worn, bought with the intention to fit into them once those last stubborn lbs had vanished or it was such a great deal in the sales that you simply couldn't not buy it...

Swishing is like a car boot sale with better things, more fun and none of the bartering.

Going to swishing events can be a lot of fun - I once had the beautiful Kelly Brook bag my finds - and it is the greenest, most sustainable way to update your wardrobe out there.

Find out more about swishing here:



[Image source]

Top tips for saving energy at home

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green-house.jpgWith news that several energy providers going to increase their electricity prices, it's time to have a look at how you can save energy - and money - at home. It doesn't take much to save a little here and there, and in the long run all small energy savings can help you reduce outgoings - and it is greener too!

Take a good look around your house or flat and note down where energy might be wasted on a piece of paper - that's your to-do list. Now you can reduce your energy usage in workable steps, and not get overwhelmed by everything that needs to be taken care of. First do something about obvious energy wasters (no, that doesn't include the cat that does nothing else than sleep on the sofa and eat): leaving the light on; heat escaping through the windows; a flat as hot as a sauna. Then work your way through the to-do list towards a more energy efficient home life.

Top tips for saving energy

1. Is your home hot as a sauna? Turn your thermostat down. Reducing your room temperature with only 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%. Put any saved money towards your next holiday or a girl's night out.

2. Wear slippers and add another layer of clothing before you turn up the heat.

3. If you can, set your heating on a timer to go on an hour before you have to get up in the morning and off when you actually get up. The flat will then slowly cool down, and you'll be out the door before it cools completely! Do the same in the evening. Heating on for a few hours, and let the flat start to cool down 30 mins before you go to bed.

4. Check all windows and doors for drafts and place draft excluders wherever possible. Make it more fun by making your own unique draft excluders! If you don't have double glazing, invest in thick curtains that you can close at dusk to stop heat escaping.

5. Always leaving your TV / Kinect on standby, or laptop and mobile phone charging unnecessarily? This actually draws more energy than you may think, and will add up over the months. Flip the switch and you could end up saving pretty pennies.

6. Turn off lights when you're not in the room, and use energy saving lightbulbs wherever possible.

7. Love a cup of tea? Only boil enough water to fill the cup or cups of tea you're making.
If you like feeling toasty once in bed, swap the electric blanket for a hot water bottle and wear socks to bed.

8. Set your fridge and freezer to the right temperature. Not too cold and not too warm, just right as Goldilocks would say. Defrost food in the fridge overnight instead of microwaving it.

9. Only wash clothes when you have enough for a full load. Two half-loads uses more energy than one full load. And line dry whenever possible.

10. Towel dry your hair as much as possible. This will cut down the time you need to use your hairdryer for.

Got any helpful energy saving tips for Hippyshopper? Get in touch!

Read on for tips on how to reduce your household waste.

Source: Energy Saving Trust

Image: Home Gas Services

Tips on how to reduce your household waste

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Emilie-Record-Reuse.jpg'New year, new beginnings', isn't that what they say? How about starting the new year with a look at our own consumption and how we can reduce waste on a daily, weekly and yearly basis?

In 2009/10 each household in England produced an average of 1,036kg of rubbish, of which 411kg - or 39.7% - was recycled, reused or composted. Almost 40% isn't bad, but what about the other 60%, could more be salvaged from the landfill?

There are many ways that you and I can help the environment, and the below are just some ideas to help you have a less wasted 2011.

A lot of household waste comes from packaging: plastic film, pizza boxes, milk cartons, glass jars and so on. It might not be convenient all the time but use reusable containers when you go shopping. Need meat? Head to your local butcher with reusable containers, and ask him to put the meat directly into these. Not only will you reduce waste from excess packaging, your freshly bought products will be ready to go into your freezer!

Some 13billion plastic carrier bags are used in Britain each year, so do your bit and Invest in a couple of solid reusable shopping bags to carry your groceries in. Not only will they make Mother Nature happier but are also much comfier for carrying heavy items.

Plan a massive spring clean of your life. That unworn dress you bought for when you finally slimmed down or the porcelain figurine from your old aunt, which is still in its box in the back of your wardrobe... Someone else might have better use of them, so find some jute bags and head to a charity shop near you with donations - they're always welcome!

Alternatively, use services like Freecycle. Find your local group and list any unwanted items. You never know who might be needing that old chair.

Only by refills of your most used items. If you switch brands, only buy a refill pack and keep on use the old bottle/jar.

What are your best tips for reducing your household waste?

Source: Defra

Photo of Reuse bag by Juliette McCawley via Shanghaiist.com

GreenHome.gifA hefty chunk of our carbon footprint originates at home, particularly during the winter months, so now's the time to look behind your front door and find out how it's all looking. Is your home part of the problem or can you do a bit of tinkering so that everyday your life actually has a positive impact? A few changes you might consider making include:

• Switching to a greener energy tariff like Good Energy's 100% renewable option. This is helpful because not only are you avoiding relying on energy derived from C02-producing methods, you're also investing in renewable energy, which will ultimately make it available to more people and drive costs down.

cat bed-thumb-200x153.jpgAre you anticipating an influx of gadgets this Christmas? Many people will be ditching their old kettles, toasters and radios when relatives helpfully gift them new ones, while no self respecting teenager would keep hold of his or her old stereo when a new one appears under the tree.

This could all lead to a terrifying mountain of toxic rubbish, but fortunately there are plenty of ways to deal with e-waste, and we've summarised a few for you after the jump. There are money making options, good recycling karma options, options for those with a crafty finger - we've got it all.

button table.jpgBuying new furniture is not a fun experience. You can either go down the IKEA route; herded through a vast warehouse full of people and myriad identikit shelves, cupboards and tables, or seek out more unusual pieces, navigating between the fiendishly expensive and the decidedly naff.

If you've got pots of money, it's a different story, of course. But these days that's unlikely to be the case, and the green and thrifty world of repurposing starts to look very attractive. You could buy ready-repurposed furniture from Baileys, whose range is well worth checking out. But for inspiration, follow the jump for some creative ways that internet dwellers have spruced up old junk to make unique and useful furniture.

Related: Hippyshopper guide to the repurposed home: lighting

knickers 2.jpgIf you're a bit of a lingerie lover, you'll probably have picked up on the fact that underwear seems to have become more cheaply produced in recent years than many other products, using poor quality, mass produced fabrics you'll be hard pressed to do anything with but junk at the end of their lifespan. I know I have: all shop-bought knickers seem to look exactly the same and shrink in the wash.

It's probably no coincidence then, that I've seen loads of classes and tutorials for knicker-making recently, as so many others are clearly drawn to hand-made, sustainable undies.

Follow the jump for a cheeky list of knicker-making patterns and classes!

green_halloween.jpgDetermined not to be out-done by our American friends, we've really upped the stakes on Halloween here in the UK, and what was once no more than a bit of fun for the very young has now become a major highlight of the year. And like any other event on a large scale, that means a lot of potential for waste.

Follow the jump for a few tips on greening up your spooky celebrations without losing any of the fun.

make your own moisturiser.jpgWe're used to skincare being presented as a complex science, so at first glance, making your own potions and lotions sounds like a daunting idea. But skincare is really very simple, and you can make a very versatile day to day moisturiser using just three ingredients. In an age of ruinously expensive skincare products and obscure additives, there's no surer way to avoid putting unneccesary junk on you skin than going down the homemade route, so here's a basic 'recipe' to get you started.

Follow the jump for instructions.

Related: How to make an all-natural headlice remedy | How to make your own natural cough remedy

draught.jpgIn most corners of the media, money-saving has already eclipsed planet-saving, which has suddenly become yesterday's news, leading many to believe that the two concerns are worlds apart. But they couldn't be more wrong, because being green is all about resourcefulness, economy and frugality -- and not necessarily about buying expensive organic chicken. Follow the jump to find out some really useful ways of saving money and the environment at the same time.

leaf mould.jpgIf you're the proud owner of an organic veggie patch or like to grow beautiful plants, leaf mould is an excellent natural soil improver, lawn conditioner and mulch that you can start making around this time of year. You can't buy it anywhere in the shops, so if you want to give you garden an advantage, read on over the jump to find out how to make your own.

pasta sauce jars.jpgThe guys over at Recycled Crafts posed a very good question today when they asked "what can you usefully do with old pasta sauce jars?" Despite never really eating the stuff, I personally seem to have amassed a great number of them, and was asking myself the same question only this afternoon. Being made from glass, they take up a fair bit of space and are quite heavy, so having empty ones about the place is no use to anyone...

Follow the jump for some top ideas

repurpose an old photo frame.jpgPhoto frames can look decidedly naff after a while (see 'before', above) and are therefore prime candidates for being sent straight headlong the wastebasket. Not a good solution in these planet-saving times.

Tea for Bini has a great tutorial here for turning a clapped out old frame into something far more funky that can be used for displaying photos, clippings or whatever you want on your wall in style. It's a surprisingly simple technique that can be applied to most styles of frame, so next time you think about binning one, why not see if you can make it into something far more stylish instead? [Via Crafty Crafty]

yoga_mat_sandals.jpgOver on Crafty Crafty, I've stumbled on so many exciting and inventive items made from re-used materials this week that I can only assume this trend has now got bigger than ever. Is the green message finally hitting home, or is this a sign of the credit crunch taking hold!?

One of the coolest things I've seen come from this explosion of creativity is this pair of sandals made out of a yoga mat that had seen its last sun salutation. Flickr user Sami Sue made them, following this tutorial on threadbanger, with a few of her own alterations. The shoes not only look stylish, but are hard-wearing, too. A winning combination when you're talking footwear!

Related: How to recycle a cup into a plastic bag keeper | How to make recycled newspaper beads

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