10 Tips to be Kind to the Earth this Summer

Our environment is screaming for help at the moment, and it’s within our power to help it. I want to help, and so should you.

I’ve seen so much on the news over the last few months about how our actions are destroying the environment we depend upon, and there have been some positive reactions – Iceland is going to stop putting palm oil in its own brand products, Tesco is banning non-recyclable plastic packaging – but none of that will be enough if we as individuals don’t do something to help, too.

With recent reports including stories of seals with plastic in its stomach and a whale with 80 plastic bags in its stomach, it is far past time to make some lifestyle changes.

Here are some of mine.

1) Stainless steel bottle

Okay, so this is a brilliant thing to own, because not only is it environmentally friendly but it keeps your water cold! I’m one of those people who’s never been the greatest water-drinker, but I’ve been making way more of an effort in recent years. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that cold water is millions of miles better than warm water. I have a few reusable bottles, to tell the truth: a gym bottle that lives in my gym bag, my stainless steel one for daily use, a litre filter bottle, and two others. You never know if a friend will need one, right? But the point is, I haven’t bought disposable bottles of any drink in months.

2) Stainless steel straw

This is a fairly recent acquirement on my part – I’m fine living a life without straws on the whole. I don’t see them as a necessity. But every now and again, you just… fancy one, y’know? I grew up with plastic reusable ones in my own house, so the idea is old hat by now. But the grand thing with these is they don’t squish when you gnaw on them. (Don’t lie, we all bite straws!) And they’re easy to wash – most come with a little pipe-cleaner brush, to get any remnants of smoothie out. Personally, I think all restaurants should invest in these – it’s surely no different to using stainless steel cutlery.

3) Spork

Who doesn’t love a spork? The fork/knife/spoon combo that looks oh-so-dorky but is oh-so-good. I’ve had a spork for years, I used to take it to school on occasion and it’s just so easy to shove in your bag, maybe in a little pouch so it doesn’t get dirty. But if you suspect you’ll be grabbing some food while out that would usually come with plastic cutlery, just whack that in your bag and you’re all set. Guilt-free munching is the best type of munching, after all.

4) Lunch boxes

We all ought to be familiar with this one. Who didn’t walk to primary/secondary school, lunch bag swinging in the wind? or tucked in your backpack? If you didn’t personally, I’m certain you had friends who did. But lunch boxes are the best way to avoid wrapping sandwiches etc. in foil or cling film, particularly if they’re partitioned. Just pack it tightly enough and nothing will go rolling around!

5) Flannels

The most popular methods of taking makeup off, at least that I’ve encountered, are with cotton pads or wet wipes. Both of these produce tonnes of unnecessary waste for something that can be achieved so easily with flannels. I personally use the Garnier Micellar Gel face wash with a wet flannel to remove my makeup every day – just chuck ’em in a bowl until you get a chance to wash them with your regular towels (the makeup comes out with no extra effort, though add stain remover if you wear liquid lipstick a lot!). But this is both cheaper, because I rarely need to buy cotton pads, and more environmentally friendly. Plus, the flannel gives you a bit of an exfoliation while you’re there.

6) Bags for Life

You’ll have heard about these to no end over the last year or so if you live in the UK, ever since the government introduced the 5p charge for disposable plastic bags. But I’m gonna go into it anyway! I have a variety of these types of bags – from totes, to hessian, to some indescribable fabric and more. And it’s so easy to fold up a tote bag or another bag of thin fabric into your handbag (or pocket, if you’re a dude). Just keep one there. Permanently. If you take it out and use it, put it back as soon as you’ve emptied it. Be like me and my lip balms – have one on hand 24/7! Even if you don’t need it during the day, a friend might. And it’s worth lending it to them if it means one less animal accidentally swallowing a disposable one, right?

7) Sign petitions!

If you sign one, you’ll get emailed about more. That’s the general rule with petitions, as far as I’ve found – I reliably sign Greenpeace ones, which pop into my inbox every now and again, but if I stumble across any on social media I’ll usually pop my name on those too. But recently it stopped Holland and Barrett selling krill, which is whales’ main food source and vital for ocean health, so they do work if enough people pay attention! And you can easily share them around, as me and a friend frequently do to each other.

8) Reusable baking sheets

It’s beyond easy to just wrap something in foil and shove it in the oven, but in many instances, it’s just as easy to use a reusable baking sheet. Just give it a good scrub each side between uses and you’re good to go.

9) Go for glasses and cans

When you’re doing your weekly shopping, or just decide you need some drinks in, try to go for the ones that come in cans or glass bottles, rather than the ones in plastic bottles – they’re easier to recycle and won’t contribute to the plastic-in-the-ocean problem. This works for things like coke, lemonade, tonic and other juicy drinks. It’s not always possible (you rarely find water in glass bottles, but that’s what tip 1 is for), but it is a lot of the time.

10) Watch out for palm oil products

The tips I’ve given so far are pretty quick and simple, I should think, but this one can be trickier. So many products on our supermarket shelves include palm oil, and I try my best to stay away from as many of them as possible. Take peanut butter, for example – this is something that definitely doesn’t need palm oil in it, and there are some brands I can tell you are 100% palm oil free: Sunpat, Tesco’s own (a new range that I am thrilled about!! they now do a variety of nut butters which only contain the nut, nothing else), and Meridian (more expensive). If you’re unaware about the problems with palm oil, click here for an overview.

So there we go! 10 easy ways to start being a little kinder to the earth this summer. Why not switch it up?

2018-06-08 07.06.41 2.jpg

 

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?

Image result for international women's day
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.

File:International Women's Day March (35430412582).jpg
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.

A Changing World

A lot of things have happened so far this year. The year kicked off with the launch of Time’s Up, which has basically been in the media ever since. There’s been a huge upsurge in the awareness of what plastic has been doing to our planet, a huge part of which was spurred on by Blue Planet II in December. The #NeverAgain movement taking off in the US as we speak, after the Valentine’s day shooting in Florida, is moving at an unbelievable rate, and I hugely praise every single teen standing by it.

Something feels different about the world stage this year. After the disaster that was 2016, and the year of disbelief that was 2017, 2018 appears to be the year we’ve had enough – especially the youth of the world.

Every awards show so far this year has been incredibly political – they’re usually at least a little political, but Time’s Up has taken over, and with good reason. It is time we called out sexual harassment, worldwide. The UK Justice and Equality Fund has just been launched as a UK version, and it’s already had a donation of £1m from Emma Watson.

Times_up_small

I’m avidly keeping up with the #NeverAgain protests, demonstrations, walkouts and upcoming march on Washington, because I think it’s incredible how these teenagers have organised themselves and are standing up for what they believe in. I’m not surprised by it – anyone who doesn’t believe that teens have this kind of power is sorely underestimating the younger generations – but watching everything unfold is mesmerising. They shouldn’t have to fear getting shot in their own schools, and really, they shouldn’t have to wander around their own streets in such fear either.

The environment, and more specifically how to protect it, is something I’ve felt strongly about for a long time now. Coming up in March is Earth Hour – where at 8:30pm, people are encouraged to turn their lights and electronics off for one hour. I won’t go into much detail now, so click here to read more about it. WWF is also encouraging people to make a promise for the planet this year, little things which collectively will make a difference – again, click here to read more. I’ve already made mine:

… it says ‘Eleanor’ because I used Google AutoFill for my details.

To think we’re only less than two months into this year, and with so much energy for change having built up already, I’m looking to the rest of the year with anticipation. I think if enough people pay attention, if enough people use their social media to spread awareness of the movements they’re passionate about, and make even little changes, the potential is endless. I’m not saying the world’s problems will be solved by year’s end by any means, but it could be a turning point – if we let it.