Wednesday, 18 May 2016

What we’ve learnt by Living Lagom with IKEA

We’ve been part of the Live Lagom sustainability project with IKEA for six months now.

The project is intended to engage with customers, and working on the idea of not living without, but living with the right amount.

It’s designed to encourage people to discover how they may live more sustainably but without real compromise.

The plan isn’t to turn everyone into eco-warrioring vegans with up-cycled bicycles, but for people to go about their everyday in the best way possible.

Wasting little or less, consuming less energy or more efficiently and by saving time and money for the forever pressured family.

The Lagom mantra translation is that the right amount is the best amount, or that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn from my limited grasp of general understanding.

We were generously given a £500 budget to spend in IKEA on their most sustainable products, or products that allow households to live more sustainably.

I’m unsure if as consumers we generally think of IKEA as a store that can help us by more sustainable, but there’s a vast array of products within IKEA that do just that.

It’s a range they are keen on expanding, which they’ve done recently with the launch of the IKEA Advänbar range.

Max enjoying the Advandbar workshop 

We had good fun learning all about it at a recent workshop, as well as having fun building,and finding homes for, our own little terrariums.

So what have we learned, or earned more like?

We are now recycling more.  It may sound daft, but by buying a Humlar bag that made filling our recycling bin much easier, resistance to recycling has been removed, and as a result more makes its way to the recycling bin.

Our cooking is more efficient.  Our new pots and pans work really well with our induction hob, and we literally don’t waste any heat.  Veg is steamed over potatoes boiling below, and heat is trapped in by brilliantly fitting together accessories.

We’ve stopped buying batteries.  As a relatively modern family we have the common battery chomping devices.  I have a wireless keyboard and mouse, my son his Xbox controllers and night-time reading head-torch, but now these are replenished with rechargeable batteries rather the less environmentally and pocket friendly consumables.

We use less electricity lighting our home.  This project finally prompted us to get of the remaining non-energy saving light bulbs in our home.  And such is the improvement in LED technology some of our ‘old’ energy saving bulbs have been replaced with bulbs using 80% less energy.

I’ve created a spreadsheet (of course he has) of the energy usage change and the monetary savings we’ve made as a result.

I’m happy to share that will you, and it’s very easy for anyone to use who is considering changing bulbs.

You can download the extended working spreadsheet - complete with instructions of how to use - by clicking here.

Basically it illustrates that for a £111 investment we will be saving £84.85 per year (at current electricity prices).  By changing the details to your own, the spreadsheet will show how much money you will save, and also how long it will take to recoup the cost of new bulbs.

If you need help accessing it, or getting it to work for you, please do get in touch with me.

And if you're worried about the bulbs expiring before they should, and not really saving you money, then IKEA LED bulbs are guaranteed for an age, and as they include IKEA branding on them there’s no real need to retain receipts in the unlikely case they need to be returned in the future.

Overall we've loved Living Lagom with IKEA, we hope the influence of which stays with us for a more sustainable future.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Help finding quality family films on Netflix

I’ve written before about how much we enjoy our Netflix nights in.  Family movie night is often the highlight of our week.

I’ve also banged on about how hard it is to agree on a film that we are all going to enjoy.

We ask for movie advice from friends and folks of the internet all the live long day.  You can’t beat a personal recommendation from someone with similar tastes, plus it gives you something to bash them with if their suggestion ends up being crud.

Netflix also does a brilliant job of running a combination of algorithms and people (yes, they use real people) to analyse your viewing history to recommend other things you may like.

Rather than get a random recommendation, or receive generic lists of all the movies the actors or directors you’ve watched have also been involved in.

And it’s for that reason, when we’re asked “Who’s watching?” when logging in to Netflix, we now have a family profile.

Ingenious use of Netflix profiles

Netflix is so easy to use, and like I’ve said above there’s a real advantage to having individual profiles.

And I think that’s how most people use profiles, for individuals.  They are brilliant when you are binge watching individually, and I’ve always got on eye on my personalised recommendations when I’m nearing the end of a series.  The profiles fall down a little when we are watching together, as our taste vary so much.

For family movie nights, we were using one of our individual profiles and then searching for a film title to watch as a unit.  But because viewing history is dominated by one individual, lots of the suggestions weren’t really valid, and it was taking a little longer to find something to watch.

Not a massive first world problem, but one we think we’ve solves with the genius of a family profile.

For the eagle eyed, you’ll also note we’ve added a profile for our nephew, Bertie.  After I found recommendations for Peppa Pig based on my viewing history.

They are so easy to create, and even useful for only occasional use, like in the case of our favourite little Netflix loving visitor.

Nephew Bertie in full Netflix mode

So that’s our recommendation, if you have a Netflix account, add your family as a profile, so when you’re watching together you build a viewing history that will get you superbly qualified recommendations in the future.

It may* even stop me bothering the interweb for movie ideas.

*Probably not


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The best thing about Sats testing

“Eurggghh, we have got a whole day of maths reasoning testing today.” My boy told me this morning.

To which I asked, “What’s maths reasoning?”

“You know Dad, questions like; 
If Johnny has so many balls, why doesn’t he have a girlfriend?”

Guess it means essay style answers then.

I love my kid.