This is an archive of our past weekly tips which still have relevant links. If you have a tip/s you’d like us to share with the world, please get in touch.
Get composting (ongoing)
Want to start composting your food and garden waste but don’t have the equipment? Local councils are offering reduced price composters via GetComposting.com – just punch your postcode in and see what’s on offer in your area. In York you get a ‘dalek’ composter for as little as £8. If you need advice on how to get started, we can help – just get in touch.
Clean Air Day 21st June 2018
Air pollution is a serious health risk and York is possibly one of the most polluted cities in the UK despite long-term efforts to clean up. As our air filter photo on the right shows, more needs to be done but we can all help York clean up. For example, we use electric vehicles and load-bearing tricycles to collect recycling from the city centre. For more info see https://www.cleanairday.org.uk or City of York Council
Storing potatoes (May 2018)
Did you know storing potatoes in the fridge can stop them sprouting? Eggs on the other hand should be kept at room temperature! Knowing how to store food properly can save you money as well as reducing food waste. You can find more information on the Love Food Hate Waste website.
Condensation & insulation (April 2018)
Condensation can be a sign of an underinsulated house which loses a lot of heat and costs the earth in both carbon footprint and high energy bills. There are a number of ways to tackle it as clearly described in the video by the Energy Saving Trust (below). Even just a thin plastic film over inefficient window glazing can help reduce condensation as well as the mold attracted to it which can lead to health problems. Other low cost ways of improving thermal comfort in your home will be covered in the Super-Insulating talk on 26th April – come along!
Plastics (January 2018)
David Attenborough with Blue Planet II has recently opened many people’s eyes to the beauty and fragility of the marine world as well as the plastic pollution that threatens it. So what can we do in York, away from the sea? It will take time to phase out single use plastics and see the results of national efforts to bring about a circular economy but there is plenty we can all do in the meantime. From joining the discussion at the One Planet Mingle on plastics on Wednesday 17th January to learning your plastic types, having a go at your own zero plastic challenge and supporting national campaigns to bring about the end of plastic overuse. We are here to help and hope to see York declared a Plastic Free Community one day.
See the heat disappearing from your home (winter 2017)
Cold winter nights are perfect for finding out where your home is losing heat and thus costing you in energy bills as well as increasing your carbon footprint. We have a library of thermal leak detectors which will show you where it’s draughty. If you’d like to borrow one, get in touch.
National Tree Week (week of 27th November 2017)
It’s National Tree Week between 25th November to 3rd December 2017 — the UK’s largest tree celebration annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season. Trees are amazing, as shown in these fantastic photos of ancient trees by Beth Moon, and a vital component of a healthy temperate climate landscape. In York, Treemendous and groups like ours help increase the numbers and quality but a lot more could be done both here and nationally. If you love trees as much as we do, please sign the Tree Charter which the Woodland Trust launched this year, marking the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, with the aim to recognise, celebrate and protect the right of UK residents to the benefits brought by trees and woods. And if you fancy planting some trees at St Nicks, join for the February 2018 Eco-Active Day.
World Mental Health Day (week of 9th October 2017)
10th October is World Mental Health Day – it is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. If you are amongst those, ecotherapy may help improve your wellbeing so get in touch to find out more. But as Nature-Rx cheekily remind us, being outdoors in nature is good for everyone! Pop along to our Autumn Fayre on Sat 14th, or visit our nature reserve any other time, to enjoy it too.
Waste tackling tips (week of 11th September 2017)
September is also a great month for tackling waste – we’ve had the Zero Waste Week which is full of great tips on how to achieve producing no landfill, Planet South Bank is having its annual Street Re:Cycle event on 17th September where you can pick up pre-loved items and the national Recycle Week is coming up on 25th September. We’ll be sharing our recycling tips on social media so stay tuned!
Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (week of 7th August)
Remember the Inconvenient Truth about climate change? Al Gore revisits the topic in Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power in which he tutors eco-activists as well as demonstrates to his global warming-denying critics that his original, dour predictions are already proving correct – from Miami Beach’s regular floods to Hurricane Sandy having put Manhattan’s Ground Zero underwater. Picturehouse York is showing a special preview of the film on Friday 11th August, followed by a live satellite link with Al Gore.
Butterfly Count (week of 31st July 2017)
It’s the second week of the Butterfly Count – take part in this annual national event endorsed by David Attenborough. Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment and their declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses – apparently, more than 75% of UK’s butterflies are experiencing population decline. Will you help check on their numbers by taking part in the count? Over 38,000 counts have been submitted so far; see on the results map how many have been made in York. Please let us have your sightings if you do the count at St Nicks!
National Garden Scheme (week of 10th July 2017)
Want to grow your own organic fruit & veg but not sure how to start? Get inspired by visiting the Nursery in Acomb on 16th or 19th July, as part of the National Garden Scheme. It’s a fantastic and productive organic garden whose friendly owners runs a small veg box scheme, supply Alligator Wholefoods, are crucial members of York Organic Gardeners Association and supporters of St Nicks. They even featured on BBC Gardeners World recently!
26th June has been declared the Climate Hope Day by 10:10, which offers inspiring stories of people taking positive action on climate change – you can sign up to Climate Hope and get the latest good news from around the world. The 24th June-9th July Community Energy Fortnight has just started which showcases communities taking on local renewable energy generation or actively reducing their energy demand and carbon emissions. This year they also partnered up with the Climate Coalition to amplify the impact by coinciding with the 1-9th July Speak Up week of action – an opportunity to catch up with your newly elected representatives to push for national climate action. As 10:10 says: “Climate change sucks. Let’s do something about it.”
British Science Week ( week of 13th March 2017)
It’s the British Science Week – although primarily aimed at young people, anyone can take part in events thinking about and investigating the changes happening in the world around us; from seasons and climate, to materials and energy. In York this Saturday 18th March you can try to see “Amazing Askham Bogs through the eyes of experts” or find out more about the impacts of air pollution and what you can do about it. You can even become a citizen scientist yourself by joining the PenguinWatch 2.0 run by Zooniverse. While talking science we also recommend watching the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series 2017, especially lecture 3 by Kevin Anderson (see below) who is very good at explaining how scary climate change is but also how we can address it – if we all act now or very soon.
Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen (week of 27th February 2017)
Tackling climate change is a huge task which requires everyone to get on board. The Centre for Alternative Technology has just published a new report calling on psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, activists – not to mention engineers, architects, farmers, and everyone else – to work together to reach zero carbon. Download ‘Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen’ to explore some of the ways that people from all backgrounds are already helping make the shift and what barriers need to be overcome to achieve a Zero Carbon Britain. Paul Allen’s short introductory video for the report, which you can watch below, features York’s very own Bike Belles!
Time to show the love (week of 13th February 2017)
It’s Valentine’s tomorrow and time to show the love for all we don’t want to lose to climate change. There is still time to protect the world we love and plenty of ways in which we can do so. Talking to others about it, especially politicians, is a great first step so please do join the campaign. We also need to invest in renewable energy (instead of hindering it by e.g. the new proposed tax hike on solar energy which would affect schools and businesses – you can sign a petition against it here) while cutting energy use. We could even use the urgency of climate change to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Whatever you choose to do, for the love of humanity we urge you to act now.
Thin Christmas waste-line tips (week of 19th December 2016)
Want to keep a thin waste-line at Christmas? After a careful gift and food selection, you can further reduce the amounts of rubbish generated by using one of these eco wrapping techniques suggested by Olio – an app that lets you give away surplus food and thus helps fight food waste. Even better, why not give an experience instead of an item?
Making homes cosy and cheap to run (week of 7th November 2016)
As it’s getting colder it’s a good time to look at how to improve energy efficiency in our homes to make them warmer and cheaper to run. The Centre for Alternative Technology has published a good top tips guide to eco refurbishment while the Energy Saving Trust can provide further advice. For inspiration it’s also well worth visiting a Passivhaus – a building designed to provide lots of comfort while minimising the energy needed for heating and cooling it. This week sees Passivhaus open days around the world and as it happens the first certified Passivhaus Plus home is in Fulford which you can visit over the weekend of 12th-13th November. If you miss it, we hope that the owners will take part again in our next York Open Eco Homes.
Try Veganism (week of 31st October 2016)
It’s the World Vegan Day on 1st November and November is the World Vegan Month – a great opportunity to explore the benefits of a vegan or plant-based diet which avoids all animal foods. The Vegan Society website is full of good information and resources including recipes. Eating less or no meat is good for both our health and the health of the planet because meet production has a high environmental footprint. Cutting out all animal products is not possible for everyone but most of us could easily try Meat Free Mondays or Flexitarianism. Let us know how it works for you!
World Mental Health Day (week of 10th October 2016)
It’s the World Mental Health Day on 10th October and this year’s theme is ‘psychological first aid’. Mental Health First Aid England offer training as well as a toolkit to help spread the word about the need to look after each other – each year 10 million people in the UK will experience a mental health issue so we should all know what signs to look out for and help those in need. Getting outdoors into nature is a proven way to improve mental and physical wellbeing, which Mind UK calls ecotherapy. St Nicks’ Ecotherapy project has just expanded to 5 days per week – come to our Autumn Fayre on 15th October or check out the project page to find out more.
Waste less, Live more week (week of 19th September 2016)
We are currently living in a world that is stretched beyond environmental limits and failing to support the health and wellbeing of many. The Waste less, Live more week Challenge invites you to join the dots and see how what is good/bad for the environment is also good/bad for us, humans. Oceans of plastic are just one of many issues that we can all do something about. To mark the week, our Recycling Co-ordinator Sam will be on twitter answering your waste-related questions live 2-4pm on Wednesday 21st September.
Zero Waste Week (week of 5th September 2016)
It’s the Zero Waste Week and the campaign’s website provides lots of tips on how to reduce waste, such as nine ways to shop for food without excess packaging. Waste doesn’t exist in nature so zero waste thinking is something that we can all adopt to make better use of resources and reduce our negative impact on the world around us by preventing landfill.
Renewable energy is unstoppable (week of 29th August 2016)
Did you know that the largest Archimedes screw turbine to be installed in the UK, with a 280kW capacity, is heading to a site near York? You can go on a free tour of the Linton Hydro scheme on Sunday 11th September with York Community Energy – book your place here. As the t0:10 campaigners say, the shift to clean energy is finally happening and we can all join this unstoppable movement.
International Bat Weekend (week of 22nd August 2016)
It’s International Bat Weekend this week which celebrates the only true flying mammal. Bats are a sign of a green and healthy environment so creating a garden that’s good for bats is also good for people and other species. You can get gardening tips from the Bat Conservation Trust and learn more about these fascinating creatures this Thursday at our Introduction to Bats event.
Hugh’s War on Waste continues! (week of 8th August 2016)
Hugh’s War on Waste continues! If you’ve missed it, you can catch his latest battle report on BBC iPlayer to find out what’s changed since he’s pledged “to put an end to the needless waste of perfectly good food caused by UK supermarkets”. This time he’s also looking at coffee cups and overpackaging of online purchases. More than 300,000 people have signed Hugh’s first pledge but a lot more are needed to stop waste mountains growing in the UK – are you in?
Act on plastic microbeads (week of 25th July 2016)
Keen to minimise waste? Some manufacturers are approaching the issue from the wrong end by making it minimal in size rather than volume. Plastic microbeads are now found not only in many cosmetic products, but – since they are too small to be filtered out by sewage works – they are also increasingly more often found in the oceans, as well as seafood eaten by people. Check out Greenpeace pages to find out more about the impacts of microbeads and how you can avoid causing this unnecessary pollution.
Big Butterfly Count (week of 11th July 2016)
The Big Butterfly Count starts on 15th July – use this great opportunity to learn which butterflies flutter around your home or favourite green space by downloading the ID chart or free smartphone app from the website. You’ll be contributing to national records of how butterflies are doing around the UK and have fun with activities for the whole family. If you do the count at St Nicks, please let us know what you’ve seen! Or if you need another excuse to be outdoors this weekend, why not explore Edible Open Gardens on Saturday 16th July – more than a dozen gardens around York will be open for visitors.
30 Days Wild (week of 30th May 2016)
June is a great time to be outdoors enjoying nature and St Nicks is a lovely, lush place to be – this leaflet can help you find your way round and suggests what to look out for. You could use St Nicks as a base for going 30 Days Wild with the Wildlife Trusts’ challenge for anyone and everyone who would like to “feel happier, healthier and more connected to nature by doing something wild every day”. If you love wildlife, you might also like to join this year’s World Environment Day campaign which asks us to Go wild for life and show zero tolerance to illegal wildlife trade.
National Vegetarian Week (week of 16th May 2016)
Celebrate the National Vegetarian Week – share stories and recipes, or be inspired by what’s happening and try out some meat-free dishes. As the People, Plate and Planet report by the Centre for Alternative Energy shows, our diet has a big impact on both our health and the environment. Every meal counts so we can all do our bit one delicious spoonful at a time.
Earth Day (week of 18th April 2016)
It’s Earth Day this Friday – an annual reminder that this planet is the only one in the known universe suitable for human life and it’s down to every single one of us to protect it. One Planet Living, which St Nicks is keen to promote, is just one of many guides which can help individuals and organisations to adapt to using no more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources. This Friday you can also see whether some resources, such as fossil fuels, are better left untouched – Frack-Free York invites you to the screening of ‘Living with Fracking’ film at its AGM.
Do you dig peat? (week of 11st April)
Gardening, especially when based on permaculture principles, is a good way to protect wildlife. At the moment, however, a lot of gardeners are uknowingly helping to destroy peatlands – some of the most fragile ecosystems in the UK. More than 24 million wheelbarrows of peat are dug up every year for use by amateur gardeners (according to Garden Organic), and this also releases vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Find out why we need to stop using peat and join the fight for peat-free gardening. Compost labelling in garden centres can be misleading so the surest way to avoid using peat in the garden is to make your own compost.
Creating habitats for frogs (week of 28th March 2016)
Frogs are an important part of our ecosystem and you don’t need a huge pond to make your garden a great place for them. Click here to find out how you can create habitats like mini-ponds and bog gardens. If you are interested in learning more about frogs and other amphibians why not come along to a course at St Nicks?
Help Bees in Your Garden (week of 21st March 2016)
Bees and other pollinators are in decline. Now that the sun has started shining why not help them out? Click here to watch a great instructional video by Eco Sapien and learn how to make a simple home for bees for your garden.
Reduce Your Food Waste (week of 14th March 2016)
Did you know that for every 2 tonnes or food eaten in the UK, another tonne gets wasted? Simple steps like planning meals before you shop and using up leftovers can help to reduce this. Click here for some more tips on how to reduce your food waste and help the environment whilst saving yourself some money on your shopping bills.
Make Your Garden a Wildlife Haven (week of 7th March 2016)
With spring just around the corner and the weather improving, it’s a great time to get back out in the garden. Click here for some tips on how to increase bio-diversity in your garden and make it a haven for local wildlife.
Zero Carbon Yorkshire launch (week of 8th February 2016)
“After Paris – Where Now?” – join Zero Carbon Yorkshire on 27th February to help create a vision for a better, cleaner, greener Yorkshire that will be free of fossil fuels in the shortest possible time. To achieve this, everyone is needed – from individuals to activist groups, local authorities, businesses, public sector bodies and universities in every Yorkshire city, town and district. The aim is to design local Zero Carbon Plans (much like the one for Britain), and combine these into a regional strategy. You can book your place via this link. If you’re not sure that you are needed or you can’t make it, please watch this moving short film from the Climate Coalition (featuring Jeremy Irons and Maxine Peake) and show the love for this planet.
Eco Homes Show & Tell (week of 18th January 2016)
Struggling to keep warm? See if items from our Eco Show & Tell event, organised and written up by Tomas of Little Eco Terrace, could help make your home cosier while reducing the heat needed to warm it. Tomas’s blog is a great source of tried and tested ideas which helped him and his partner turn an old terrace house into an A-rated eco home – here’s a blog post about how they’ve done it. And remember to mark the weekends of 14th and 21st May 2016 in your diaries when you can visit Tomas’s and other York Open Eco Homes!
Paris agreement (week of 14th December 2015)
Is the Paris agreement a historic deal which will lead to the curbing of climate change? After two decades of negotiations global carbon emissions are up so any agreement may seem a good way forward. If you take a closer look though, there isn’t much to celebrate – the deal is not legally binding or consistent with climate science, there is no mention of fossil fuels (their phasing out is only implied), or of reducing energy use. The New Internationalist Magazine analysis calls it “Epic fail on a planetary scale“. Not all hope is lost though – the key question is what happens next. The civil society needs to pressure politicians to turn nice words into real actions and plug the gaps by reducing energy use while adopting renewable energy.
The Impossible Hamster (week of 9th November 2015)
Heard the one about the Impossible Hamster (watch the video below)? The “Growth Isn’t Possible“, a report by New Economics Foundation, provides an interesting read in the run-up to the climate negotiations in Paris. A similar argument is made in ‘This Changes Everything‘ – a film based on Naomi Klein’s bestselling book of the same name – which asks the intriguing question: “What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?” If you’d like to be part of the answer, help put the film on in York by booking your ticket before 15th November. If enough people book ahead, it will be shown at City Screen on Sunday 22nd November.
Big Energy Saving Week (week of 26th October 2015)
It’s the Big Energy Saving Week: follow the link to see how you could save energy, reduce your bills and make your home more comfortable. Tips include taking a Home Energy Check and saving money by switching supplier (we would encourage switching to one that supplies clean renewable energy). Even small changes can lead to big improvements so come to our Eco Homes Show & Tell event on 3rd December to be inspired even more.
End of free plastic bags? (week of 5th October 2015)
As of today, free plastic bags from shops should be a thing of the past as the 5p charge comes into force. However, there are exceptions and the cost of plastic bags for the environment is much higher, especially when it comes to oceans. Some scientists even say that plastics visibly mark the beginning of a new geological era – Anthropocene. We can all make a difference by reducing our use of plastics and recycling as much as possible – St Nicks can help you recycle more.
Greener ways to get around (week of 14th September 2015)
Finding it hard to switch from driving to greener ways to get around? Add up your car costs and see if joining the City Car Club would be a better alternative to owning a car. They have a wide range of vehicles of all sizes, including an electric one, dotted around the city. i-Travel could then help you plan other journeys.
Better Homes York (week of 17th August 2015)
Is your home cold, damp and expensive to run? Better Homes York can help York residents and landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, make them nicer to live in and lower the bills. There is financial support available for a number of measures from insulation to renewables installations, which is not means-tested. You can apply for a personalised offer via this page. The demo home of the project on Carnot Street has had its energy efficiency improved by 44% and heating & water bills cut by 31%. Even more importantly, it feels much warmer and, according to the home owner, the slight loss of internal space to insulation is well worth it. You can get further inspiration at our Building Low Energy, Healthy Homes presentation from Native Architects on 10th September.
International Year of Soils (week of 10th August 2015)
It can take up to 1,000 yrs to form 1cm of top soil but it only takes minutes to destroy through unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future generations – in the UK alone we lose 2.2 million tonnes of valuable topsoil every year. You can celebrate the International Year of Soils by learning more about their importance, joining the campaign to help protect healthy soils led by the Soil Association, or by starting to compost your food and garden waste (if you’re not already).
The Salt of the Earth (week of 3rd August 2015)
The Salt of the Earth is not just a documentary about one of the best photographers of the 20th century – Sebastiao Salgado – it’s a tribute to the planet and humanity. Salgado’s stunning black and white photographs document life on Earth in all its harshness and beauty while raising awareness about pressing issues such as people’s working conditions and climate change. Salgado is more than just a photographer though – with his wife Leila, he founded Instituto Terra which has turned 17,000 acres of deforested and badly eroded land back into a thriving rainforest. The documentary about this inspirational man is coming to York this weekend and it’s worth watching his TED talk too.
Butterflies, David Attenborough & Barack Obama (week of 20th July 2015)
Time to count the butterflies! Besides being lovely to look at, butterflies are good indicators of how ecosystems are doing because they react fast to environmental changes. Join in with the Big Butterfly Count (running until 9th August) to help create a national picture of how they are doing. If you’re not sure which butterfly is which, come to learn at our Summer Nature Walk this Saturday. One of the big champions of the Butterfly Count is David Attenborough and his recent interview about the state of the planet with Barack Obama is well worth watching (short 5min version here or the full 21min interview).
Solar Independence Day (week of 29th June 2015)
It’s the Solar Independence Day on Friday 3rd July and Saturday 4th July – UK’s annual solar celebration showcasing solar homes, solar schools, commercial solar rooftops and solar farms. See the map of places taking part and use #SolarIndependence hashtag to tweet your own generation data or to follow others.
Nature is good for us – are we good to her? (week of 11th May 2015)
Nature is really good for us humans – a recent study shows how our brains are refreshed and work better after just looking at it for a short time – but we have not been good in return. The EU is currently looking at revising its Nature Directives which have protected vulnarable habitats and species for over three decades. Join the RSPB and others in responding to the consultation by the European Commission on the issue.
Time to divest from fossil fuels (week of 9th February 2015)
Climate change can and has to be tackled by everyone; this weekend you can do it with love or money. On Friday you can join the Global Divestment Day to show the companies which invest in fossil fuels that money can be used to do better. Afterwards come to celebrate at our Ceilidh and show your love for things we could lose to climate change.
Common Cause (week of 26th January 2015)
Booking is now open for the Common Cause workshop on 28th February, organised by Planet South Bank. Based on the research and work of the Common Cause network, the workshop will provide a hands-on approach to exploring the importance of the values that underpin concern about many social and environmental issues. Recommended for anyone wanting to make a positive difference in their community.
Buy Nothing Day & give away advent (week of 24th November 2014)
As Christmas lights come on a bit earlier every year and it’s hard not to be cynical about it all like David Mitchell, it’s worth stopping to have a break from the frenzy. Buy Nothing Day on 29th November offers just that and is celebrated around the world. If that doesn’t appeal, why not try joining Kate from Streetbank who has vowed to give away one thing per every day of the advent.
10 reasons for switching to LED lighting (week of 17th November 2014)
Lighting accounts for 20% of the world’s electricity usage and switching to light emitting diodes (LEDs) could reduce this to a mere 4% (source – BBC News). Missed our November talk on the topic by Randall Ghent? Read our 10 reasons for switching to LED lighting blog or download Randall’s info sheet to find out more.
We must phase out fossil fuels (week of 10th November 2014)
“We have the means to limit climate change,” said R. K. Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has just highly recommended that fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100. Mal Chadwick of the 10:10 campaign says: “Right now, the biggest threat to progress isn’t climate scepticism. It’s cynicism – resigning ourselves to climate change because we don’t think we’re up to the task of fixing it.” If you need advice on how to start cutting carbon, get in touch, register with 10:10, invest in renewable energy or get inspired by positive examples, and let us know about your own ways of facing up to climate change.
York’s Green Places (week of 22nd September 2014)
Winter salads time (week of 1st September 2014)
Now is a good time to think of growing winter salads – try it the permaculture way or follow BBC Gardening advice. For more inspiration on growing your own fruit and veg, pop along to York Open Edible Gardens this Saturday 6th September 1-4pm. The list of open gardens is being updated on Edible York Facebook and St Nicks Square Foot Garden is just one of many on it!
Take climate action, for the love of… (week of 11th August 2014)
It can be disheartening and overwhelming to think about climate change and how it affects our lives. The short video For the Love of demonstrates links between people’s favourite local activities and the global picture. Once you’ve watched it, why not head over to the Climate Coalition to join campaigns calling for climate action, work out your carbon footprint and start reducing your carbon emissions with advice from 10:10.