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The Eco-friendly Christmas Guide

The Eco-friendly Christmas Guide 1020 1020 Liz Schultz

The festive season may not be filled with the sparkles you envisaged but not all is lost. 2020 might just be the perfect opportunity to realign your conscience with an eco-friendly Christmas and a more mindful celebration. Christmas is saturated by a throw-away culture feeding on excessiveness and indulgence. It is time to hit the pause button and seriously consider the impact your Christmas choices have on others and the planet.

We’ve created this comprehensive eco-friendly Christmas guide to help you enjoy a greener and cleaner festive season. It covers everything from: sustainable Christmas trees, stocking-fillers, and gift wrapping, to crackers, and decorations. We hope you can put some of these handy eco tips to use, and limit your carbon footprint at an otherwise environmentally taxing time of year.

 

1. Sustainable Christmas trees

‘Tis the season for the great annual Christmas tree debate: do you fake it with the perfect artificial pine, hauled from the shed on the 1st of December? Or, do you venture with the entire family to the local tree farm  – a thermos of mulled wine in hand – to find a fragrant fir to fill the house with nostalgia and festive cheer?

In the proverbial debate of real verse fake, one study concludes you’d need to commit 20 loyal years to your fake fir for it to be greener. That said, approximately 7 million trees will be dumped in January opposed to being recycled. So, it really comes down to making informed choices. And whatever your preference – fake or real – there are some superb sustainable options out there.

Rent a living Christmas tree

Give a beautiful Nordmann Fir a home this Christmas and it will express its love by absorbing Co2 and emitting oxygen, taking the edge off any holiday hangover. When the new year arrives and your celebrations are done and dusted, simply undress your tree and prepare it for collection. It will then return to the farm and replanted, ready for next season. What’s not to love about that?! Best of all, prices start from a respectable £20!

Below are some enivornmentally conscience tree rental companies, or check whether your local tree farm offers a rental service:
londonchristmastreerental.com
loveachristmastree.co.uk
cotswoldfir.com
forever-green-christmas.co.uk

Buy a living Christmas tree

Forest Stewardship Council Badge, FSC, responsible forestry Minimise the carbon footprint of your Christmas tree by ensuring it is sourced locally. Pay attention and do not purchase a tree that has travelled miles across Europe on the back of a truck. Find a local grower at growninbritain.org or bctga.co.uk.  Or alternatively, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) badge as assurance that your tree is grown to set environmental standards. 

It is not for everyone but buying a living tree is good green thinking. Honour your tree’s seasonal service with a post-Christmas re-planting ceremony. You could even reuse the tree (or a pruned clipping) the following year.

If opting for a Christmas tree cut at the trunk, recycling it is obligatory. And do your research. A responsible collection service will have a plan for how your tree will be recycled. You can find an appropriate drop-off point in your area by checking at recyclenow.

Fake Christmas trees

Driftwood Christmas tree, sustainable Christmas tree, eco-friendly Christmas ideas, starfish decorationsI am a Christmas snob and the word fake sends shudders up my spine. However, there are some eco-friendly artificial tree solutions that could be a better deal for your wallet and the environment. If random pine needles appearing around the house come Easter does not appeal to you, try making your own tree from driftwood.  There is an entire site dedicated to DIY driftwood projects. Not only can you purchase driftwood, but the site also offers handy instructions for a tree assembly. If Scandi minimalism is more your style, Cox and Cox sell this classy blonde wood for £175. Etsy and  Not on the highstreet also offer a broad selection of options. 

If your heart is set on a fir replica be mindful that the majority of fake pines are made using highly toxic plastics. Consequently, most recycling centres do not accept them. Ultimately, this means one day your tree will end up as landfill. If you are still interested in the idea of a lifelong commitment to plastic, the best alternative is an Oncor Christmas Tree made from recycled materials.

 

2. Eco-friendly Christmas cards

eco-friendly, plastic-free, homemade, Christmas cards, craftA recyclable card is relatively harmless, right? Eco and beyond completed a fascinating read into the environmental impact of the Christmas card market, and it’s staggering. The UK are avid card writers and purchased a jaw-dropping 1 billion Christmas cards in 2017 (UK Greeting Card Association). Many Christmas cards are covered in glitter, plastic coatings and use harmful coloured dyes. To put it in perspective, 10% of the VOC emissions produced in the UK come from the printing industry. Given 85% of cards are bought by women. Ladies, this is largely directed to you: be mindful of the cards you’re purchasing! 

Christmas card alternatives

One solution is to opt for plantable cards. Come spring, your season greetings will sprout into a fresh salad! Wildflower Papers stock a beautiful range of seeded cards. Etsy and Not On The High Street also offer a varied selection. It is also time to cull the list of recipients. Be ruthless, do you need to send a  card to your 3rd cousin whose children you can never remember the names of? 

Try getting crafty and make your own cards. This gives you full quality control over glues, glitters or harmful bling. If you’re not feeling creative, rope the kids in. You could even resort to bribery and pay £1 for every 30 minutes spent on a card. Trust me, this is money well spent and will occupy dark winter afternoons. If you don’t have any children, just rent some! Any parent who has survived consecutive lockdowns will love for you to distract their kids with a project

If time and money are of the essence, keep it simple and go virtual! I can already hear reluctant sighs but the pros are your list can be as large as you like. If nothing else, it might be an option for those extended relatives whose children you can’t remember the names of!

 

3. Creative Christmas decorations

Christmas Trees should tell a story; a private collection of personal treasures and family heirlooms. Every time our family decorates the tree, we take a heart-warming amble down memory lane. Consumer culture reinforces that ‘new and shiny’ is better. However, tensile and cheap glittery decorations use highly toxic materials. Try to dress your tree with a colourful display of your history and personality, using things you already have around home. It will give a whole new meaning to how you collect and care for your decorations.

foraged, Christmas, centrepiece, decorations, nature

Protect the Planet‘s curated catalogue of decorative eco supplies is a one-stop destination. Here you will find stunning candle holders, baubles, name place holders and plenty more. Better still, save some pennies and head out in nature to forage for holly, pine cones and berries to create your own garland or table centrepiece.

Of course, you could always rope the kids in again for a craft session. There is something special about homemade decorations to mark the years.  Wholefully have a salt dough recipe and some colourful design suggestions for ornaments.

 

4. Mindful gift-giving

If you haven’t guessed, Flow tips electric scooters as one of the hottest Christmas gifts for 2020. Electric scooters are the perfect gift for the eco-minded. Not only do riders contribute to cleaner air, but this personal mode of transport is also convenient, stress-free and hygienic. There is no question about it, electric scooters are the future! Browse Flow electric scooters here>> 

For sustainable stocking fillers, Protect the Planet has something suited to any budget. This site truly has everything you need for an eco-friendly Christmas, including Secret Santa presents, children’s gifts and his and her treats.

 

5. Recycled wrapping

Disturbingly, Christmas paper wastage mounts up to 12 million litres of biofuel. This is enough to power a bus to the moon 20 times! 

Santa's sack, eco friendly Christmas ideas, gift wrap alternativeFor children, the best option is to scrap wrapping altogether and go for a reusable personalised Santa sack.

Some Google searches suggest fabric wrapping as an alternative to traditional paper. Unless you are upcycling your own fabrics be wary of this. The production of cotton, denim and many other fabrics weighs heavily on the planet.  

Old newspaper jazzed up with some holly bodes well as wrapping. Another option is to make use of all those infant drawings you feel too guilty to throw away; grandparents will love this personal touch!

If you have nothing to upcycle, a biodegradable option is the only choice. It is also important to limit unnecessary waste by steering clear of additional paraphernalia like ribbons, stickers, labels, and pointless trinkets. Check out Re-wrapped, their beautiful products use 100% recycled unbleached paper and earth friendly vegetable-based inks.

 

6. Turn the lights off

Christmas lights are an environmental and safety point of contention! So, turn your Christmas lights off when you are not at home or go to bed. It should go without saying, but to drum the point home, do not embark on light display extravaganza like Chevy Chase in Christmas Lampoons Vacation!

via Gfycat

Studies by Nasa have revealed that some parts of the world are 50% brighter over the Christmas period. There is no need to scrooge on festive spirit but here is some food for thought; if for the 12 days of Christmas, every UK household traded incandescent bulbs for the LED light equivalent, Co2 production could be curbed by 29,000 tonnes, saving the economy a hefty £11m.

So, from all us at Flow, have yourself a very Eco-friendly Christmas and a sustainable New Year!

Flow scooter on grass

Why buy an electric scooter

Why buy an electric scooter 1531 1020 admin

Why buy an electric scooter

Electric scooters are quickly gaining momentum as the sustainable urban personal transport solution of the future. They have already proven to be hugely popular across the globe and in the UK where scooter rental schemes are being trialled throughout the UK. With the correct legislation, they have the potential of solving so many of the issues our cities face today, not least, toxic emissions, inefficiencies and overcrowding of our public transport networks and roads. So, why buy an electric scooter? Is it worth investing in your own scooter or should you rent one?

Renting an Electric Scooter

One of the greatest benefits of using an electric scooter is the ease and flexibility of transport, saving you both time and money – as well as doing your bit to save our planet! You can get from A to B significantly faster with average speeds of 14mph and due to their small size and portability, you can avoid the congestion that often builds up in cities throughout the day. Once you have reached your destination, you can park the electric scooter in a safe place and pick one up when you need it again. However, there are also some downsides to renting.

In recent months, rental scooters have developed a somewhat negative reputation. It has been reported that many residents in Silicon Valley (where electric scooters have been used since 2017) are not parking their rental scooters responsibly but instead leaving them on the side of the road or other areas where they risk becoming a hazard.

Another problem with rental scooters is that you may find yourself having to spend time hunting one down near you and when you do it may not be in the best condition, be fully charged or you may be restricted by the zone you’ll be allowed to park it without receiving a penalty.

And with the personal hygiene concerns due to Covid-19, you don’t know who’s used it previously so you’ll likely want to give it a good wipe down before hopping on.

Why Buy an Electric Scooter?

When it comes to buying your own electric scooter, on the other hand, you can enjoy all the benefits that a rented scooter brings without any of these cons.

Firstly, you won’t have to worry about damage from another user or low battery. With full control of the scooter, you can make sure it’s continuously maintained and fit it with or select an electric scooter with a larger battery to reduce the number of times it requires a charge. The customisation options available for scooters you buy are vast and allow you to own a scooter that works for you. You can pick a brand of your choice, which all vary in their weight, top speed, suspension, wheels size and tyre type and much more!

Once you have finished riding your scooter you can also park it responsibly where it is convenient for you – rather than being restricted to the zone defined by the scooter sharing app. You’ll never want to leave your own scooter lying around in the streets which reduces hazards for pedestrians, and you’ll benefit from having a fast and efficient transport whenever you need it.

So, what is the best option for you?

Whether you want to rent an electric scooter or buy your own, you’re looking at a win-win situation. Electric scooters are likely to be the game-changing solution for the future of sustainable and zero-emission personal transport. The more people who take part in this movement the fewer cars there will be on the roads of tomorrow. While riding personal electric scooters on public roads or pavements is not currently legal in the UK, electric scooters can be enjoyed on private land (with permission) so you can still enjoy your electric scooter while we all wait for the big change in legislation we’re all hoping for.

How Electric Scooters Can be Used to Transform Cities

How Electric Scooters Can be Used to Transform Cities 1530 1020 admin

How Electric Scooters Can be Used to Transform Cities

Over the past few years, the use of electric scooters has grown significantly around Europe. Countries such as Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland have all legalised electric scooters for use on both public roads and pavements. However, in the UK the use of privately owned electric scooters is currently illegal on public highways. As a result, they are confined to private land with permission from the landowner.

From May 2020, the use of electric scooters was legalised but limited to approved hire schemes in Portsmouth, Southampton, Derby, Nottingham, the West Midlands and Wales only. This provided individuals with the ability to use an electric scooter in public with some restrictions and rules in place to ensure the safe trial of these schemes and has since expanded to cover more UK cities. As of June 2019, the electric scooter has proven to be extremely popular within these areas and for many, has already become a popular form of transport.

So, what does this mean for the future of the electric scooter not only in the UK but around the globe? If electric scooters were legalised in many more European and global cities, what impact could they have on the way we use transport and our environment?

Currently, road transport (cars, busses and trams) account for a third of all NOx emissions in Europe. They are the dominant source of such emissions in urban areas. On top of this, the European Environment Agency has estimated that road transport contributes to around 70% of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) production and an estimated 30% for particulate matter (PM). These statistics alone are a clear indication of the unsustainability of current transport methods. Would it be possible for electric scooters to become the new norm for transport within cities?

With the current public transport methods, we see vast inefficiencies leading to unnecessary emissions and pollution. Outside rush hour the majority of public transport remains relatively empty; we see large busses, trains and trams carrying only a handful of passengers. This leads to unnecessary pollution, congestion and particulate matter building up in larger cities, and as a result, there are many areas in which locals are suffering as a result. Electric scooters may prove to be a fantastic alternative for a number of reasons.

Firstly, they’re extremely efficient at transporting a single person. This would allow individuals to travel from one location to another, without waste. Should a person travel from A to B using their scooter instead of a bus, they will reduce the demand for busses and ultimately reduce the number of buses on the roads. Scooters can also replace cars in built-up, already congested areas. In these areas, cars are consistently stuck in traffic, wasting fuel and causing frustration for drivers. Being small and agile, multiple scooters could be used as a replacement for a car for many inner-city journeys. They can then be folded up and placed under the desk at the workplace, also reducing the demand for car parks in built-up areas.

This solution would help to improve the efficiency of our cities, allowing them to develop into thriving hubs in which sustainable living has become the new norm. With the right government policies, they may one day become the most common mode of transport in many modern cities.

Flow Electric Scooters in park with people having pick nick

When will electric scooters become legal in UK?

When will electric scooters become legal in UK? 1400 933 admin

When will electric scooters become legal in the UK?

In early 2020 it was declared by the UK Department for Transport that electric scooters will now be allowed on public roads for the first time. Although a common sight in many countries around the globe, electric scooters have not been legalised for use on UK roads, being deemed a potential hazard to both pedestrians and vehicles.

The legalisation of electric scooters is part of the UK Governments plan to revolutionise transport. The aim is to move towards a cleaner, more sustainable mode of transport and poses a range of benefits on otherwise crowded roads that we often see throughout London and many other areas of the UK.

Current Trials

As of May 2020, the use of electric scooters is limited to Portsmouth, Southampton, Derby, Nottingham, the West Midlands and Wales. On top of this, only rental scooters are allowed to be used, however, several reports have emerged of individuals using their personal scooters. Should the use of these alternative transport methods prove successful, they have the potential to completely overhaul how we use transport throughout the UK. As of currently, the speed of electric scooters is capped at 15.5mph and a provisional or full UK driver’s license is required for use on roads and pavements. On top of this, the user must have full insurance for the scooter and be aged 16 or over.

When it comes to safety, there is some confusion around wearing a helmet and additional protection. The latest Government guidelines state that it is recommended that individuals wear a helmet, however, this is not legally required. On top of this, additional protection that we often see on motorcyclists is also not required. It is predicted that the appropriate legislation will be created following the trial period, in which ministers will have a greater understanding of the danger hazards involved when using the electric scooter.

A Potential Future Mode of Transport?

Due to the current climate and social distancing measures, these scooters may actually provide individuals with the ability to travel to and from the workplace whilst maintaining a safe distance. Individuals using a scooter can avoid the risks of public transport altogether, as well as keep a safe distance throughout their commute. This will help to avoid mass build up on trains and busses, whilst also providing an eco-friendly mode of transport to and from the workplace.

In other countries throughout Europe, electronic scooters are commonly used by individuals through rental apps. Apps such as Lime, Bird, and even Uber have made the jump to these alternative travel methods. These companies have expressed their interest in developing their apps within the UK and have also presented the idea of using bike lanes for their scooters. Should a deal be reached between the UK Government and these companies, the use of the electric scooter could become a norm throughout society and a common method of transport within larger cities. In June 2020 the trial for electric scooters is set to be evaluated by the government and may be the first step for these vehicles being used in the UK.

Man on Flow Scooter in a park

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