Why I’m Participating in Earth Hour 2018

The short answer: because we only have one planet.

In case you may not know, Earth Hour is where, around the world, people, workplaces and organisations voluntarily turn off their lights and electronics for one hour on 24th March at 8:30pm. The aim is to raise awareness for environmental issues and encourage people to participate in the solutions.

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Personally, I’ve not known much about Earth Hour before. I heard something about it last year or the year before, but this year I’ve become a lot more invested in all things environmental, and I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to reduce my waste. I’ve bought myself a filter water bottle and I’ve been using that for basically all my water intake since; I have four reusable water bottles in total – one for the gym, two 500ml bottles for everyday use (although one’s at home 200 miles away right now), and my filter bottle which is 1 litre.

Other easy steps I take while out and about at uni include making use of the different bins in university buildings; Liverpool is actually good in that we have, in the main, a mix of general waste bins, paper bins, plastic/cans/recyclable bins. In the student guild, there’s even an electricals bin. I also try to take my lunches with me in lunch boxes, one of which has cutlery in it, so I don’t need to use disposable cutlery while I’m out.

I’ve been on the lookout for other ways to make a difference, and while I was scrolling through social media last month, I came across Earth Hour – I think from a WWF tweet. Because I’ll probably not explain it as well, I thought I’d leave this video here to give a better idea of what it’s all about:

Earth Hour is a great way of people banding together in support of the planet and to raise awareness for the problems of climate change and human activity, and with all the conversation regarding plastic and its effects on our environment which has been on the rise in 2018, this year seems like a brilliant time to get involved.

Currently, WWF is encouraging people around the world to get involved in the switch-off, but they’re also asking people to make a promise to the planet. I mentioned this on my blog last month, but I thought I’d mention it again because it’s such a good cause. WWF is asking for people to promise to do simple things, like turning washing down to 30 degrees, aiming to only use reusable water bottles, or refuse plastic cutlery out and about. For every promise made, Ariel is donating £1 to environmental causes.

Over 25,000 promises have been made so far, which is already £25,000+ that Ariel is set to donate. If you’d like to join me and thousands of others in making small but impactful changes, click here to make your promise.

So, to sum it up, I’m participating in Earth Hour 2018 because it may be a small step in the fight to save our planet, but I think it’s an important one. And if I can persuade anybody else to take part in it too, and to make their promises for the planet, all the better.

It’s International Women’s Day!

Today it is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women and their achievements across the globe. But what is it and why is it still significant today?

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By Molly Adams from USA (International Women’s Day March) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
A Brief History

International Women’s Day’s origins lie in the early 1900s – a time we all recognise as historically significant for gender equality around the world. According to the official International Women’s Day website, the day marks a “call for gender parity” as well as general celebration of women’s “social, economic, cultural and political achievements”. The first recognised Women’s Day was in the USA in February 1909, after women in New York marched for better pay, voting rights, and better working hours in 1908.

Later, in 1910, Clara Zetkin suggested an International Women’s Day while at the second International Conference of Working Women. The idea was that on this day, women could raise awareness and push for their demands to further equality. In 1911, following this suggestion, International Women’s Day was celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19th March. Two years later, in 1913, the date was revised to 8th March – which has remained the same ever since.

Come 2001, International Women’s Day was in need of a boost against late-20th century complacency, and internationalwomensday.com was born. It became a place to find out what was on, how to participate, and a place to celebrate the achievements of women more publicly.

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By Molly Adams from USA (International Women’s Day March) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
IWD Today

More than 100 years on from the first International Women’s Day, huge leaps have been made to put women on more equal footing with men. The 20th century saw countless countries give women the vote. Women in many countries are far more free to follow careers, but can still choose not to. Education opportunities in the western world particularly have evened up. Many of the biggest names in the creative arts are female.

But that’s not to say that our work is done. Equal pay may be required by law, but that’s not to say it always happens in practice. Equal rights may be allowed by law, but that’s not to say there is no more sexism. Gender discrimination in employment may be banned by law, but that’s not to say it doesn’t still exist.

Protests across the globe today are fighting for still more progress: the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are popular. Women are also raising awareness of women in work, such as the work women do in the armed forces, and the difficulty women in the technology sector have in such a male-dominated industry. A quick look at the #internationalwomensday2018 and #IWD2018 hashtags on Twitter will show you what women and organisations everywhere are doing to celebrate the day.

So what can we take from International Women’s Day 2018? First off, that women are amazing, strong, and great multitaskers. Second, that there’s always room for improvement. And third, that while we lucky women in certain walks of life have it pretty good, there are women in many other countries who are still fighting for basic rights like an education. We have voices, so let’s use them.

Road to Publication

On 23rd January 2018, I was sat in a Caffé Nero attached to the Blackwell’s book shop on campus, and I finally wrote the final words of the book I’d been working on since October 2014.

Between those two dates, I’d completed both years of my A Levels, moved to uni 200 miles away from home, gone through about five different hairstyles, and completed the first half of my degree – it’s safe to say it’s felt like a very long time coming.

I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it; the story isn’t over, because I want it to be a trilogy. But it was undeniably weird to think I’d actually finished writing a book. I’d done the thing I’d wanted to do since I was about four years old.

I did a typical millennial thing when I finished: WhatsApped a friend about fifteen times until she replied, and took a shot of it for my 1 Second Everyday. Sat there for a few minutes with not much thought in my head besides a continual “whaaaaat”. Compiled the file and saved it on about four different platforms – I’m not taking any chances, especially with a laptop that’s died on me three times in the last few months. (Please hold on a little longer!)

A Snapchat I took shortly before I finished writing the book…

Since then, though, I’ve read it through. Finished tweaking it. Sorted out one particular scene which had been bugging me for far too long…

… And started sending it off to agents.

Okay, I’ve only sent it off to one agency so far – I happened to finish writing the book the day after my final semester one exam and six days before semester two began, so once the semester picked up again it was a lot harder to find time to research agents and send things. A lot of literary agencies want different things in your cover letters, and different parts of your manuscript – 10 pages, 3 chapters, 10,000 words… If it wasn’t for my first deadline of the semester being just two weeks in, and the next only two weeks after that, I would have sent it off to more at the same time.

I’m going to try sending it off to more agents in the next few weeks. I haven’t got another university deadline for six weeks, accounting for the next three weeks of term and three weeks of Easter break.

It’s surprisingly intimidating, thinking about somebody else reading, or even talking, about a book you’ve written. It’s been something I’ve kept (very) private for a long time. Private to the extent that my friends and family don’t actually know what it’s about. I felt like I needed the privacy to write the book that was mine, not mine-with-other-people’s-interference. I had a very clear idea of the nature of the world I was building, and I wanted the space to put it into words on my own.

Now, though, I have to relinquish that privacy, and that’s somewhat terrifying. Exciting. But scary.

I’m expecting rejections. I’m very aware that that’s just part and parcel of the creative industries – you’re going to get a lot of nos and, if you’re lucky, a few yeses. So here’s to the determination to keep on trying.