What to do with…

the ashes in my fireplace?
According to the Royal Horticultural Society, wood ash incorporated into your soil can improve its structure because of the large particles it contains and it will also raise the soil’s pH, if you need to make your soil more alkaline. Although many plants, such as tomatoes and potatoes, prefer a slightly acidic soil (pH6 to pH6.5), others such as brassicas (broccoli family) can thrive in alkaline soil.

When applying ash, a shovel load per square metre once a year is enough. Make sure to dig it into the topsoil so that it doesn’t blow away. You can also compost wood ash, says the RHS, as long as you apply it in thin layers that way it can blend with other compostable materials.

energy-saving light bulbs?
Government plans to phase out traditional bulbs. However, new, energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs) contain tiny amounts of mercury (which are classified as hazardous waste under the EU directive, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). DO NOT drop them in your normal bin. Retailers and manufacturers are supposed to share responsibility for what consumers do with their electrical waste…but we know how that goes. Mother Nature News lists 5 different ways to dispose of them properly. My mom said her neighborhood Target had a bin for recycling them. We can only hope that they actually do! Remember, if you have an LED bulb, like the Pharox bulb, which contains no mercury you can recycle it or find a neat way to reuse it.