I said right from the outset when I started this site that I was going to plant a tree once the site reached 10,000 visitors. Well, that moment has arrived, so I remained true to my word and planted a tree!
I said from the outset that I wanted this site to be as Green as possible, so I feel that doing this is one way that I can give a little back. I couldn’t have done this without you, so thank you 🙂 I’m hoping to do this regularly, so keep coming back!
I don’t want to advertise Starbucks too much here as, well, I hate them and I hate their coffee, but I like free stuff. Starbucks were giving away free coffee today as part of their The Big Picture initiative. They are giving anyone who brings in their own flask a free coffee to promote recycling and re using cups. Supermarkets want you to reuse plastic bags, so why not re use cups? I have a travel mug that I have anyway. It cost me £1 about a year ago, and it’s had some hammer over the last year. I’m not a massive fan of their coffee as it always tastes burnt to me, but I went and got my free coffee while I went round town this afternoon. I also stopped by on my way home to get another freebie 😉 The cup I’ve bought is only big enough for a small latte, but still, I’ve had two free small lattes today.
Their must be millions of Starbucks takeaway cups thrown away every day, and the reason they have these cups and don’t like you using your own mug is so that you become a walking advert and get free advertising. I would get a takeaway coffee more if I could use my own mug. Their cardboard ones just don’t keep the heat in and are a pain in the arse to carry. I used to pick up a coffee in the mornings whenever I had to walk through town to get to work when my car broke down. By the time I got to work (which was about a 3 mile walk) it was stone cold, my hands were frozen to the shape of the cup and the back of my hands burnt of spillage. Also, a Bus driver once had a go at me and wouldn’t let me on the bus with one as it could spill or cause some damage. I told him to bollocks and got on anyway.
Starbucks can afford to give up a days profit, but it’s still good to see them doing something responsible and ethical instead of ruthlessly globalising their evil, greedy corporation. I hope they carry this on and let you use your mugs all the time and not just on a gimmicky day.
After writing an article on recycling and saving electricity whilst still using my many nerdy gadgets, I thought I’d go a step further and buy a solar charger to see if it could keep me going without the need for my mains chargers.
Can it power all of my gadgets? Well, straight out of the box, No. The product information does state what adapters come in the box, and I knew before I bought it that it wouldn’t support my BlackBerry Storm. It says it supports BlackBerrys, but as the Storm uses a Mini USB instead of Micro USB charger, it wasn’t compatible. A little annoying, but there are extra adapters available to buy separately. I bought the adapter (and a handy carry case) from the Freeloader web site and arrived within a couple of days.
One thing I found a little disappointing is that it doesn’t work in Winter. Which when you think about it… makes a lot of sense. I’ll have to wait until spring before I can properly try using it as a solar charger, but until then I can charge it via USB. One thing that concerns me about doing this, and I couldn’t find any figures to prove otherwise, is that wouldn’t it put an extra drain on your laptop battery? Therefore you’d have to charge your laptop more, therefore cancelling out the… um… goodness?
I must say I’m really impressed with it in general. It’s a little clunky removing and attaching the solar panels, but I think the sexy overall design and the fact you’re saving the planet makes up for that.
My Freeloader now charges my Blackberry Storm, iPod nano, and my Bluetooth USB handsfree device. It doesn’t have an adapter to connect to my laptops, but I suppose that’s just wishful thinking.
It will charge my iPod and my handsfree in the same day no problems. It does have a little difficulty charging my BlackBerry though. It will charge it half way, but then not charge it any more. The instruction book says that this is because the battery in the phone is more powerful than the Freeloader battery. I suppose half full is better than nothing.
Once fully charged, it holds its charge for around 3 months, which is really impressive considering its size. As it holds its charge, you don’t have to worry about it going flat on you if you keep it in your car or backpack for a long period of time.
I reckon this would be really useful if you are the outdoorsy type, if you’re planning on going to any festivals this year, or just want something that will give you power in case of an emergency. I also think this will be great for someone looking to help the environment (slightly).
120mA premium quality crystalline solar cells
1000mAh environmentally friendly Li-ion battery – typical battery life is 2 years.
Freeloaders solar panels can charge its internal battery in as little as 8 hours or 3 hours when using the supplied USB charging cable
Supplied with a computer USB charging cable
Supplied with a power master cable and 11 adapter tips to fit the following:
Nokia phones old 3.5mm jack and the new 2mm jack
LG Chocolate, LG shine and Prada phones
Samsung D800 and G600 current series phones
Sony Ericsson K750 and K800i current series phones
Nintendo DS Lite
iPod (compatible with most iPod devices including iPhone and iPhone 3G)
4mm jack for Sony PSP, Tom Tom, most digital cameras, PDAs, 2-way radios
Mini USB for Motorola, Blackberry, Qtec, Smartphone, iMate, most digital cameras and Bluetooth headsets
USB female for PDAs, mp3 players, most digital cameras and most devices which can be charged through USB
NOTE – devices using the USB adapter tip to charge will need a synchronisation cable/plug (not supplied). These are usually supplied with the original device.
Impact resistant, rust free aluminium body.
Freeloader holds its battery charge for up to 3 months
I put in a Water Butt at my girlfriend’s house at the weekend.
It’s not fully connected up as I had to modify the part that connects it to the guttering. It needed some sort of bung in it to stop it pouring out the bottom, so I stuck in a bath plug with bathroom sealant! I’ll be fitting that this weekend.
I’m really proud of it as I don’t usually do things like this. I would say I’m quite good at DIY, but I’ve just not had many opportunities to do any. When ever something needs doing, it’s either my brother or my Dad that does it.
So a good weekend in general: I did some DIY and helped save the planet at the same time!
A few of you may have noticed that the Meat Free Monday’s posts looked a little, well, dodgy. Anyone that follows me on Twitter or Facebook will have noticed that I was posting what I’d eaten that day for dinner at 9am. I can explain this. Each of those was one the week before. That is how I’m able to do the “Next week: ” section. This week, however, is live, and yes, I have written this today.
Branflakes and Banana
Nandos hot sauce (Naturally)
Breakfast and lunch were quite boring as I’d not had the time to whip up anything substantial the night before. So I had to look under my desk and use some old cereal I had lying around.
The Spaghetti was amazing. I thought I’d go all out and make everything from scratch. I didn’t use a jar of sauce, I actually made it myself! It took a long time to make though, but I think the end result was definitely worth all the effort. I bought a living Basil plant and trimmed off some of the leaves to put in it. It tastes a lot better than the dried herbs I’d usually use!
Meat Free Monday conclusion:
It’s definitely doable. The hardest part I’ve found about the whole thing was coming up with new and interesting ideas each week. I’ve come up with 4 different meals to each on Mondays. If I ate each of these every day of the week, it’d drive me crackers. I’m not sure if it’s something I’d carry on with as it’s just too much hard work, and I have to hand it to Vegetarians (and vegans) who manage to make their food interesting and enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed some of the things I made, but some really could have used some meat in.
I was a little disappointed with my lunch. I’d completely forgotten and not planned anything, so ended up eating rubbish instead.
My dinner was really nice! It was very spicy though. The instructions on the hot sauce I added says to add one drop at a time. I like things spicy, so I put a cap full in! I think this was where I went wrong. It was that hot it gave me a nose bleed! Honestly! I don’t think at any point during the meal that I actually thought about meat. It was obviously lacking in a pound of beef mince, but I can’t say I thought about it.
2 large Portobello mushrooms
Hand full of spicy chilli wedges
I’ve had Red Lentil Soup 3 weeks on the trot now and it’s still yummy.
I thought my dinner was pretty good! A lot better than what I was expecting! I thought it was going to taste a bit bland, but actually it was pretty flavoursome. I thought it had a bit of a bitter taste, but I think that was down to the rocket salad. I’m thinking about making this at the weekend for the missus as it was that tasty!
Cheerios / Honey Nut Shredded Wheat (I had about half a bowl left in both boxes. So thought I’d mix them)
Red Lentil Soup
After my disappointing attempt at cooking something veggie last week, I thought I’d cook something I knew I was 100% Guaranteed to enjoy… Home-made Penne Pasta. I’ve cooked this quite a few times before, but I’ve always used either bacon or chicken when making it. I thought I’d give it ago without any meat what so ever instead of using a meat substitute.
Tin of Tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
Good old glug of Nandos Hot sauce
2 cups of Penne pasta
1 Yellow pepper
1 Red Onion.
The red lentil soup was brilliant as always.
My dinner was brilliant. Everything was very tasty thanks to the garlic, and their was just the right amount of spice in it. This is the first time I’ve ever made my own tomato sauce from scratch, and I think I pulled it off. I’d bought two Dolmio sachets just in case, but I definitely didn’t need them.
I would definitely have this again if I were to carry on having Meat Free Mondays and I can honestly say that I didn’t miss the meat.
I thought I’d kick start my Meat Free Monday challenge by making one of my favourite dishes: Spaghetti Bolognese.
I love this dish. If their were such a thing as “Desert Island food”, this would be the dish I would take with me. Of course, Desert Island Food sounds like a stupid idea, and in practicality, you’d be better off taking CDs rather than food. At least you can use the CDs more than once and use then as a mirror to flag down passing planes. The way I’ve made Spaghetti Bolognese has changed quite a lot in the last few years as my tastes have changed, and simply because I don’t want to get bored of it. I used to used beef mince, but instead I now use Pork mince. Partly because I prefer the taste and it’s a little bit leaner than beef. I no longer put sweetcorn in it as I’ve kind of gone of sweetcorn recently. I never used to mix the pasta into the sauce, but now I find I enjoy the pasta more when it’s all mixed together and not just I’ve also added more vegetables and reduced the amount of meat I actually use to make it a bit more healthy.
I really enjoyed my lunch. My girlfriend made the Red Lentil Soup at the weekend and she uses all sorts of spices in it. Perfect after a long cold walk.
I’ll break my dinner down into categories to make it easier… Smell: Quorn doesn’t really smell of anything. On opening the pack of mince, I was expecting something quite potent to come rushing out of it, instead of the dull, slightly musty smell that did eventually come out of it. Taste: Non-existent. It doesn’t taste of anything either. It does however absorb what ever it is you are cooking it in. I used quite a lot of spices and a tomato sauce, but still it didn’t taste of anything. Texture: Like polystyrene balls. I found the mince quite rubbery and didn’t disintegrate when you chewed it. I kept finding bits in my teeth and in the crevices in my mouth for a good while after. Comparison to meat: It doesn’t compare. Full stop.
I would say this wasn’t a very successful first attempt, as I found it disgusting, bland and just generally unpleasent. It’s rare for me to leave any food on my plate, but I left the majority of it. I think I had around 3 mouth fulls, then found myself picking at the pasta before leaving it. I wish I’d not have bothered putting the Quorn mince in to be honest. I should have just stopped and left it when it was purely vegetables. I think I might try this again on the last week. I might make it again but without any mince and see how that goes.
I read an article recently about a campaign called “Meat Free Mondays”. It’s pretty self explanatory as to what it involves, so I won’t dive into too much details. I thought I’d give this a go and see how it works out for me. I’m not a vegetarian, I love meats and most of my dinners do involve meat in some way. I can only think of one thing that I cook regularly that doesn’t have any meat products in. It’s been on the news a fair bit recently as a means of reducing the countrie’s overall CO2 emissions. Apparently, more CO2 is produced from the meat and livestock industrys than from transport.
I’m very doubtful it’ll be something that I would be willing to adopt long term, so I’m willing to give this a go for 1 month (5 Mondays). As I say, I’m not a vegetarian, and I’ve not been forced into this by any pushy vegetarians. I’ve simply decided to try and see if Meat Free Mondays were, for me, a good idea or not. As a devout meat eater, I will be finding it harder to come up with recipes and ideas for meat free meals, so if you have any recipes or suggestions, please post them below and I’ll give them a go.