Saturday, 23 March 2013

It's raining again

Back to Eco matters this week, specifically : Rainwater harvesting, yes I know there's boatloads of info already on't t'interweb about using little plastic water butts that you can buy from just about every hardware shop on the planet but I'm talking SUPERSIZE and a super cheap way of collecting your own rainwater.

Who has seen the 'thing' sat in the top left corner of this blog...... Go on, you must have done ! In a farmers field maybe, taking water to the animals, on the back of a truck transporting liquids, there's loads of them around certainly where we live in the Yorkshire Dales.

Anyway's called an IBC, an intermediate bulk container, used for delivering intermediate bulk, I suppose. The point is these things are readily available, cheap and plentiful and hold a whopping 1000 litres of water. Ask around, you can pick them up second hand for about 30 quid. I've got 4 so far. Great form of recycling.
Granted they're quite big and you need space to put them but if you can divert even one of your roof gutters into it with an overflow into the nearest drain, then you've got a supply of you're own stock of FREE water. If you're on a water meter this can turn into a valuable resource and bring your water bill down at the same time.

To get the water out to use it, there's many options but 3 are:

1. Sit it up on bricks or brieze blocks high enough to put a watering can or bucket underneath.

2. Buy a submersible pump ( the Clarke Hippo from Machine Mart is a good one for not a lot of money,.....Machine Mart, You owe me one for the advert! ) and attach a hose to it that you can fit a connector to and Hey Presto ! switch it on and you've got a hose pipe that you can wash your car with, water your garden or whatever you like. AND you are completely immune from any hosepipe ban that we now have on a regular basis because all the rain seems to fall in the wrong place !!

3. Now it gets clever, join 2 or more together, raise them off the ground by at least 1metre and the gravity alone is enough to run a conventional cold water tap on a sink. or  you can do what I've done and run the supply to a small single shower pump and run your washing machine, spare cold tap, dishwasher, toilet etc off it.

Once you've started with these, it gets obsessive.... trust me.. it breaks my heart when mine are full and it starts to rain again.

Our system, which has only really cost me a few quid to set up now accounts for 23% of our total water useage and since May 2007, we've used over 145,000 litres of our own free water collected from the roof. How do I know, you ask ... I told it gets obsessive, I've even fitted a secondary water meter that I picked up for a few pounds specifically to measure it.

Without spending alot of money on specialised systems to harvest the rain, you can make a massive difference to how you use your water and cut your bills. Water is becoming a precious resource even in this country and this is a cheap easy way to harvest your own and help conserve that resource.

If you are sufficiently interested in this idea and want to know more, leave me a message below or email me on: and I'll sort you some info out on our system and see how it can be adapted to suit your situation.

Water conservation ..... it makes so much sense and it really does make you look hard at how much water you're wasting on a daily basis. You get quite protective of your "stock "


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Disabled kitchens .. No such thing !

From time to time, you see 'disabled kitchens' advertised. I wouldn't buy one, the reason being who wants a kitchen that's disabled ??  What have they done ?....  taken the appliances out, .... taken the worktops off, that would certainly disable a kitchen !

How about "kitchens for less able bodied people" .... A much better description ! !

We've recently carried out some work for a couple where the husband has MS, he knows it's not going to get better but he's a great bloke who just wants to be able to work better and easier in his existing kitchen and we were able to make a significant difference to his ability to use areas of the kitchen that were causing problems. The key factor for them was to keep the kitchen looking like a standard kitchen so as not to affect  resale value when they move house ..... Fair point !!

People with disabilities are generally people who just want to do what they can to be as 'normal' as possible and will often try harder to achieve this. Look at the spectacular success of the recent Paralympics !!
We've looked in the past at design specific products for equipping kitchens for less able bodied people to use them but have you seen the cost !! , some of the items are astronomically priced. We're talking thousands of pounds. Folk with disabilities are not rolling in money and even with grants available, sometimes it's still a struggle and I feel that there's a lot that can be done for sensible costs.

There is much that can be done in any kitchen to make accessability and everyday use much easier using readily available components and internal fitments ( even if you're not necessarily using them in quite the way intended, my speciality, by the way ) and this was the approach we took with the kitchen in question. All you need is the ability to think laterally, listen to the problems being encountered and come up with solutions. It's not rocket science a lot of the time but you need to have the desire to help which is where a lot ( but not all ) of kitchen companies fall down. They simply don't want to get involved because it involves thinking outside the box.

This is where you hit the all too familiar statement " I'm sorry, if it's not in the brochure, you can't have it "...... I'm sorry too, not acceptable, find a different brochure, you muppet !

People who are disabled in some way often need to take a different approach to everyday tasks and from personal experience rising to that challenge can be very rewarding for both parties.
I'm not saying that every problem can be solved easily and simply but we are more than happy to tackle any challenge that may be set because it's great to make that difference to someones life.

I'm a great believer in "Roman engineering", ask anyone who knows me ! Solutions to problems don't have to over expensive, over technical and over priced. Throwing large amounts of money at a problem doesn't always make it go away.

Subscribe to the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid ! A well known acronym for choosing simple effective answers to seemingly complicated problems.

If you know people in this position, we'd love to talk to them. We're totally confident we can make a difference.


OK!, I know this has nothing to do with Eco principles but I felt it had to be said.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Inside info for Blog readers

First of all .... Thank you. There are now a good number of you reading my blogs, it cheers me up to think that you feel I've got something interesting to say.  And thank you Joelle, ..... (just though I'd name drop my biggest fan !)

Now to business, those of you who read my ramblings might appreciate a bit of inside info prior to updating the website

Firstly, trying to get our own industry interested in what we do and spreading the Eco message is a bit like plaiting fog (pointless) so therefore we only have 1 showroom displaying our wares, our base here in Ilkley.
Now .... a thought occured, steady on !, for folk who can get to our premises to learn about our wares, that's brilliant, but for those who can't, lets bring some of our showroom to you.

OK, logistically not perfect, I'll admit, shipping a complete display kitchen to your home just for you to have a look at would be just the wrong side of bonkers to even consider ..... BUT if we could send a small bit for you to see then you would be able to do the 'touchy-feely' thing, get confidence in our quality and see for yourself that we are good at what we do !
So the Mini Cab was born .... no ! not the taxi, ..... The mini display cab shown on the scrolling banner on our home page.

These are something we can make using offcut material not big enough for a full size unit ( recycling again ! ) but big enough to make a small cabinet and door that accurately represents what we do.

They are also sized to make a great bedside cabinet ( you see .... there is a plan ! ), they come in Oak finish and we can send them to your home address anywhere in the UK.
We ask for a small charge, payable when you ask for one ( this just covers our costs ) and we send it out. If you like it, keep it and when you order a complete kitchen from us, we'll refund the cost in full off your order.
If you don't, send it back and as long as it's gets back to us in perfect order, we'll refund you in full.
In fact, if you do want to use it as a bedside cabinet and you want a pair, we send you another when you place your kitchen order.

Now .... how's that for a great idea, no risk to you for having a look and a fab free gift if you have one of our kitchens.
What a winner, ... well, time will tell, we think it's a great idea, let's see how many of you agree with us.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Eco Top Tips from our own household

As we're an Eco Design company, I thought I'd pass on a few Eco top tips that we've learned along the way, not the usual drivel that you read in the papers but meaningful stuff you might appreciate. Some you might be able to use, some you might not, see how you go !

This weeks is all about log burning stoves.

If you have a log burning stove, and if you don't .... why not ? they're brilliant, eco friendly using a sustainable fuel and let's face it, if there's woodland near you, you can go scavenging for firewood that's free.
(  I should put in the bit about first checking if it's OK to take the wood, I suppose !)

But have you considered a couple of very important secondary uses for it.

Firstly, my good lady wife insists on buying either locally produced or organic food and it's quite suprising the amount of good 'one pot' meals that can be produced seasonally and cooked, quite literally, sat in a pan on the top of your log burner. It makes a great slow cooker. I appreciate you can't do this every day but on the days that you can it's wonderful ... try it ! It's great for warming bread, slow cooking fish in a fish kettle (look it up !), if you have a perforated metal stand that fits in a pan, when you put the lid on it makes a great pie warming oven, warming up and cooking pans of veg, beans, anything really.
In fact, depending on what you have, you can pretty much cook your entire Sunday breakfast / brunch on top of  your stove.

Secondly, If you have either a heating system with a hot water cylinder or a combi boiler coupled to a solar hot water cylinder then you have the ability to couple your log burner into the same system. This does require  either retro fitting a back boiler to your existing log burner or buying one that has a back boiler built in to start with but once sorted all the time you're heating your room and cooking on your stove, you can be heating up oceans of lovely free hot water at the same time. How good is that ?

A tip concerning lighting your stove that's ideal for DIY types.
If any friends offer you a sack of plastering laths where they've been ripping out an old ceiling or wall, take them to use for kindling but you can also make your own recycled firelighters out of them.
I mentioned DIY'ers because if you do your own painting at home and use white spirit to clean your brushes, don't tip your old white spirit down the drain, polluting the rivers & killing fish etc. break up the laths, soak them in the old white spirit and keep them in an old sarni box with a resealable lid.
NB: You only need soak them for 10 minutes or so and then drain off the excess to use for another batch.

Hey presto !! fantastic free recycled firelighters and you can make as many as you like and store them, as long as the boxes are sealed they last for absolutely ages. If you've got a mate who's a builder, he could keep you supplied for ever. Make some for friends and family and if you have elderly neighbours who have fires, they might be glad of a box too.

My last top tip on this subject is cleaning your window of your stove.
Please don't buy those nasty, environmentally damaging acid based glass cleaners but try this instead. Take an old pair of socks that you're going to throw out, wet them under a tap, dip them in the ash in the bottom of your stove and just rub the glass with them. You'd be surprised at how quickly and safely you can get your glass clean and sparkling again. No cost, no mess, no acids, ..... no brainer !

If you've got some benefit from all this ... then that's great, if you're doing all this already then I'm preaching to the converted.

If you would like more top tips, let me know !

I'll sign off with a thought for the day relating to the holiday season:

" If you actually look like your passport photograph then you're probably too ill to travel"