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More accessorising opportunities part 1: camping equipment

July 26, 2010

Modelling our Big Agnes Copper Spur 3-man tent... Photo by R M R McIver

Go on, admit it: one of the best things about finding a new passion is all that acquisition. I don’t just mean acquiring knowledge and expertise (and there’s nothing like stretching an under-used brain to make you feel alive). I’m talking about suddenly ‘needing’ to buy loads of new stuff. Read more…


Nothing like a heatwave to make you abandon your eco principles

July 6, 2010

Chicago City Hall's green roof, which reduces the surface temperature by up to 80°F compared to normal buildings

Last month, I had one of those moments that makes you realise that how much you’ve changed without even noticing. I was talking to a London-based friend who was worried about how much worse the summer would make her baby’s sleep habits (or lack thereof). I suggested they get a window air con unit – the kind that cools pretty much every apartment in NYC that doesn’t already have central air. “We could never get one of them,” she said, almost shocked. Her reason? Not money, or the fact that you hardly see them in the UK, or worries that the wooden frame sash window wouldn’t hold the weight. No: because they’re bad for the environment.

And she’s right. Today, temperatures have officially topped 100°F (nearly 38°C), and the power companies are worried about blackouts as everyone cranks up the AC. I try not to have it on too much (unlike when my other half is home, who insists he is a heat-making machine and I just don’t understand what it’s like, etc). When I do have it on overnight, I set it to 77 or 78°F (25°C), which is cool enough for me to get to sleep under a sheet, and still a hell of a lot warmer than whatever bone-chilling temperature most offices and stores are set to here.

But there are some less energy-demanding things you can do to reduce your environmental impact (and your electricity bills). For one, you could buy some of these hardcore light blocking blinds, which the lovely people at Home Depot cut to size for nothing, as they’ll be doing for me tomorrow afternoon. Want to go further? Paint your roof white to reflect heat, as Obama’s Nobel-winning energy secretary has suggested. Even better: turning your roof green with a roof garden, or even just a hardy kind of moss, will not just keep your home cooler in summer but also insulate in winter. As with so many eco-innovations, the Germans are already at it in droves. Yet another thing they’ve beat us at.

Debenhams exposes the art of Photoshopping

June 19, 2010

A body to die for, before...

...and after some dodgy airbrushing

A few years ago when I was working on a fashion magazine, I got forwarded an email. It was two images of the same TV actress, before and after airbrushing. They’d changed everything: from the colour of her skin and bikini to the size and shape of her breasts. Most strikingly, they’d totally changed her body, from fairly slim but quite normal to model-thin and super toned. The person who’d emailed the picture was, it turned out, a staffer on a lads mag, who had sent it to a few friends. I forwarded it on to a few of mine, to show that they shouldn’t always believe what they see in magazines. By the end of the day, everyone in the industry had seen it, and, apparently, the person who originally sent it had been fired.

I tell this story because the pictures attached here won’t be that shocking to anyone who’s worked in the industry, except that it hasn’t actually been done that well. Read more…

Tech meets fashion in a nice pair of wellies

June 10, 2010

Charge up your phone with your sweaty feet, via the Orange Power Wellies

Yet another in my mini-theme of multi-tasking fabulousness: wellies that charge your mobile. Not solar powered these – instead, they convert the sticky heat of your feet in rubber boots in the summer time into electricity. 12 hours of walking around converts to an hour of battery time, but the hotter your tootsies get, the more juice you’ll create. In more senses than one.

Obviously, there are a couple of flaws in this genius idea. Read more…

A dress that works (at least) twice as hard for the money

June 3, 2010

I’m a huge sucker for multipurpose products, even those that aren’t marketed that way. Shampoo, for instance – whenever I’ve bought one that doesn’t quite work for my hair, I stick it under the bathroom sink and use it for washing delicates. I’m told it also doubles as bubble bath, but no one’s had one of those since 1983, so I haven’t tested that theory.

Spotted this today on The Cut (which is an excellent blog, you really should subscribe if you don’t already): Read more…

Bathroom storage: is there an eco solution?

May 27, 2010

In our last place, we had cupboards coming out of our ears. The bathroom had more built in storage than some entire studio apartments, and lordy do you notice the absence of it. Even though these days, I hoard a fraction of number of the bottles and jars I used to buy for nothing in magazine beauty sales, there’s still a few things that need organising.

But what does Target have to offer me? Plastic, plastic, and more plastic. And some cloth-lined baskets made of plastic. Call me a hippie, but plastic messes with my zen. Read more…

Can you move house in NYC without spending a fortune?

May 20, 2010

There is nothing like moving house to make your wallet leak cash. It’s astonishing: not just the movers, but the moving boxes. I spent over $150 on ours, and I shopped around. Staples was the best option – not the cheapest per box, but free next-day delivery, so it balances out. (For a moment, I considered getting second hand boxes off Craigslist, which would of course be the most wallet- and eco-friendly way of doing things. And then I remembered that New York is in the middle of a bedbug epidemic and realised some things are worth spending money on…)

And then there’s all the stuff you suddenly realise you need, not to mention all the excess junk it makes you realise you’ve been hoarding… Read more…