The Importance Of Being Kind In An Unkind World

Hi, loves! Happy Sunday!

I feel like the world we live in is constantly throwing out negative thing after negative thing; topics such as climate change, natural disasters, illness and pollution are inescapable to anyone who pays attention to the news or even social media. Add in other horrible headlines that we see on a near-daily basis; murders, animal cruelty, sexism and poverty, and it’s no wonder the world struggles to be kind and positive. Now, this blog post is not at all to put a downer on your Sunday, but it’s to show you that in my opinion, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and each other is to be kind.

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I have been thinking a lot recently about the way I act towards others, and the way others act towards me. I really wanted to write a somewhat chatty blog post about this as it’s something I think we can all struggle with sometimes. I know personally if I was having a bad day, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought about how my mood can affect others, but that’s something I’ve really been working on the past few months. I find that my mood is often brought down if someone else is taking their bad mood out on me; if someone is snappy or rude, I feel like it’s contagious and it makes me feel miserable too. However, when someone is kind and friendly towards you, this also has a contagious effect and the smallest thing can make my whole day.

Another thing that has got me thinking about kindness, is After Life, a Netflix show created by Ricky Gervais, who is also the lead character. Matt and I are only five episodes in and I’ve cried seven times already, it’s moving, incredibly sad, witty, and so emotional. The story is based around a man called Tony, who recently lost his wife Lisa to breast cancer, and how this affects him and everyone around him who just want to help. He’s struggling to deal with all of the emotions he feels since her death, and contemplated taking his own life as a result. There are funny parts in there too, and without giving too much away it is a perfect example of the fact you don’t know what other people are going through. Kindness is sometimes the only thing we have, and it’s truly important to spread and share with everyone you meet.

Being kind is honestly one of the best traits in a person in my opinion, and I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many kind-hearted people. I know I talk about my boyfriend approximately 24 hours a day (sorry not sorry), but he’s really just the best thing in my life. He is without a doubt the most hard-working, generous and kind man I’ve ever met, and he makes me so proud. His kindness is endearing; he always wants to help, he makes other people feel good about themselves, and he is such a happy person. He genuinely inspires me to be a better person every day! My mum and dad are so loving and kind; they help anyone in any way they possibly can, and they never expect anything in return for that. My family and close friends are a great bunch of kind-hearted people, and I know how lucky I am to have this kind of inner circle.

This past week I was in Asda picking up our dinner ingredients, and an elderly lady was struggling to reach something on a lower shelf so I grabbed it for her. I didn’t think about it, and I’m sure this is a pretty natural reaction for anyone, of course we’re going to help people when we can, but she was so grateful and happy that I’d done such a simple thing. She stopped to chat for a little while, and explained she had lots of problems with her hip and could no longer do everyday tasks the same way. We spoke for only a few minutes, and when we said goodbye she thanked me for being so kind to her, which naturally made my eyes fill with tears. (I’m a crier, lol). I’d had a long day at work, was feeling a little stressed out and was wishing away the hours until Matt finished work so I could curl up with him. It was a great reminder of how much our actions can directly affect those around us, even people we don’t know, and why being kind should not depend on your mood. I felt so happy to have this little exchange with the lady, and it gave me all the warm fuzzies to see how happy she was from stopping for a quick chat.

Being kind is not exclusive to people of wealth or people without, it’s something inclusive to all and I think it should be a higher priority for people, myself included. Organise your day or week, and make sure to take time out each day to carry out small acts of kindness. Kindness may not always be the most important thing in our lives, we all have different priorities at different times, but I truly think if we all focus a little more on it, the world would be a much better place.

As I said above, kindness can be contagious and that is one of the best things about it in my opinion. How many times have you seen a stranger smile at you, smiled back and instantly felt happier? Or recieved a hug at the end of a long day that just felt like heaven? Or given a gift and seen the joy on someone else’s face? Being kind can be a truly selfless act, of course, but it’s lovely that it has a boomerang-like effect; we get a buzz from making others feel good, and I think that’s pretty special.

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Fifteen Easy Things You Can Do Today To Be More Kind:
Smile. It’s really such a small thing, but how good do you feel when a stranger smiles at you randomly? Or you’re being checked out at the grocery store by a smiley cashier? Be generous with your smiles, they’re free!
Make dinner for your partner. Cooking together is always our preference, but Matt loves when I make dinner for him coming home from work. He sees it as such a nice gesture and I love to do it for him. He repays the favour on his days off when I’m at work and makes dinner for me coming home, I appreciate it so much too.
Donate to a charity. As little as £1 can make a huge differnce to those in need, you don’t have to think big to donate. Whether you’d like to give money, old items you no longer benefit from, canned foods (always needed at the homeless shelters!) or your time, give generously.
Pay for someone’s drink in the line behind you. I love to do this for someone from time to time. It’s so apparent how out-of-the-blue it is, and how flipping happy they are at the prospect of a free drink! You can also try this out at the drive thru, which Matt told me I need to stop doing or people will be following me through like I’m the Pied Piper. LOL.
Look for the best in situations. Being kind to yourself is just as important as being kind to others, and watering your (metaphorical) little garden to help it grow and flourish, is up to you. Don’t get bogged down with whatever is going on in the world whether it’s personal or in general; embrace it, and find the positives. If you look really hard you’ll find some!
Visit with family. They love to see you, and they want to hear about all the stuff you’ve been up to. Matt and I try to visit with our grandmas as much as possible, and we know how much they appreciate that. We see both our families so much and we love it, we’re super family orientated and thrive off quality time spent with them.
Make someone a cuppa. Whether it’s your partner in the morning, your co-workers throughout the day or whilst visiting your mum in the evening, making someone a hot drink is one of the sweetest things you can do. And, very British.
Text a friend and ask how they are. It’s so important to check in with your friends, and it’s something I’m really working on doing more often. I’ve never been great at replying to messages (sorry!) but I’m trying to be intentionally quicker and better at replying, and planning in catch ups.
Let the person behind you with less groceries cut infront. I’ve been allowed to do this so many times as I’m forever popping into Aldi for just a packet of bacon and brioche bread buns (Matt’s fave for a weekend morning, LOL) when people are doing their weekly food shop. I always feel a little awkward pushing in, but it’s a sweet gesture that always makes me smile.
Be thoughtful. Did your boyfriend have a bad day? Does your mum feel poorly? Has your friend been going through something rough? Run them a bath, bring them their favourite treats, or spend a little extra time with them.
Tip good service generously. Matt and I always tip when we receive good service in a restaurant, and I think it’s so important to show gratitude for this. In England it’s a little different than in other countries, as waiters and waitresses get paid a fair wage (generally speaking) so do not ‘rely’ on tips the same way as they do in, for example, the US. It’s not expected here per se, and it’s a lovely treat for someone’s hard work.
Hold the door for the person behind you. One of the most simple gestures you can do for someone but I can’t tell you how much this one can be appreciated.
Leave nice comments on social media. Whether it’s on your friend’s Facebook status or an accquaintance’s Instagram photo, share the love! It takes literally seconds from your day, and it’s always so nice to receive lovely comments. I love receiving blog comments SO much and I’m actively trying to comment more on the blogs I read and love.
Watch whatever your boyfriend wants to watch on TV (without complaining). Who cares if you’ve watched every televised football game for the past three weeks? Who cares if you still have no idea what’s going on in Corrie and you’re hiding from seeing any spoilers? Making sacrifices, as small as watching the football, is so appreciated by your partner, just make sure you get to watch your show next time!
Compliment a stranger. If you like someone’s top, hair cut or just the way they acted towards you (or someone else), tell them!

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to know your thoughts on kindness in the comments below. What was the last ‘random act of kindness’ someone did for you? Or what did you do for someone else? Do you have to sometimes make a conscious effort to be kind too?

-G x

How Can We Live More Sustainably?

*This post features a gifted item, which I was not paid or asked to feature*

Hey, loves!

Sustainability. It’s a word that is everywhere at the moment – on social media, in magazines, on TV and even on the sides of busses. A little ironic, but whatever. It makes me happy that everyone is becoming interested in the topic, but it can be a little overwhelming having so much information thrown at you. It’s almost become a buzzword; people are either very concerned, or know they should be, but what does it actually mean to be sustainable? The definition from http://www.dictionary.com reads “sustainability is defined as the quality of not being harmful to the environment, depleting natural resources and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance”. Erm, yeah. Basically, stop treating our planet like it’s a cat with nine lives; we need to be pro-active at reducing waste, emissions and protecting all living species, and that’s just the basics.

I seen a quote online that said ‘There is no Plan(et) B’ and it really struck a chord with me; we’re literally destroying our planet and a lot of the damage is preventable. The reality is, we need to do a lot more than we currently do, and that can start with just the most simple things. We can’t take on the stress of our broken planet on our own, but in today’s post I’m sharing with you small changes you can easily make, to live a more sustainable life. These small changes actually can create huge impact, and within no time at all you’re helping not just the planet, but the people and animals who live on it. In my opinion, I think we should all begin with little changes in our day-to-day lives, and encourage others to do the same. Collectively, we can make a difference and work on building up to make even bigger changes. It’s genuinely amazing how all of us doing one little thing can make such a huge difference!

Also, I’d just like to re-inforce that my blog is a safe space. A no judgment zone. This post is not at all to cause offence or shock people, it’s literally a way to raise awareness, and to encourage people to see the bigger picture when it comes to the ways in which we can all make a difference.

Purchase makeup and skincare from cruelty free beauty brands. This was one of my resolutions for 2019, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve stuck to it 100%. There are so many of your favourite brands already ticking the necessary boxes, it’s really not as difficult as you think. Look for organic ingredients, the leaping bunny logo, PETA certified stamp and items that state they’re anti-animal testing! There is a slight grey area here, in my opinion, as lots of brands are cruelty free in the sense that they do not test on animals themselves (so they’re ‘good’ in the UK market), however they allow testing to be carried out in countries that require it by law. A general rule of thumb is if a specific brand sells in China they knowingly allow animal testing – as all beauty products sold in China require animal testing by law. Lots of companies are working with authorities to try to phase this out, but I’m not sure on the practical or ethical implications of this. I’d love to know any thoughts you have on this in the comments.

Buy from zero waste shops. Anybody else constantly frustrated with how much plastic is in the normal supermarkets? Thankfully, a brand new innovative way to shop is upon us! Your proximity to one will vary on wherever you live, as I know in London they’re seemingly popping up everywhere. We have one in Tynemouth that just opened last month, and it’s such a breath of fresh air to the area. Matt and I are hoping to visit very soon, and I’m so excited! The whole concept is that you take your own bags, pots, jars or containers to fill with whatever dry goods you need. You only pay for the amount you’re buying, there’s no waste from these items (hence the zero waste label) and you’re also supporting local businesses.

Save water. Shower together. Sorry, I had to. But seriously, cut down on your shower times, take less baths and never leave the water running whilst washing your face or brushing your teeth. Matt and I are bath obsessed (literally, we spend so much time in the bath and so much money at Lush, HAHA) but we’ve definitely cut down on our water usage in recent months.

Invest in re-usable bags. Since the UK implemented a charge for using plastic bags, our consumption has gone down 86%*, yet I can’t believe how many people I see still using plastic bags in supermarkets on a daily basis. Buying fabric, re-usable bags (that you can forever get replaced if broken, as they’re bags for life!) is such an important thing we should all be participating in. My re-usable bags live in the boot of my car, meaning I always have one to hand and I’m never caught out. Trying to get my boyfriend to do the same is a work in progress – I’m forever buying more when we go shopping! I also have a small canvas tote bag in my boot for when I go clothes or toiletries shopping and I’d definitely recommend this. Also, when buying individual fruit or vegetables in the supermarket I never pick up the plastic bags – they’re so unnecessary! You can buy produce bags (these ones look pretty good) but in my opinion they aren’t a necessity.
*Information from gov.uk

Stop buying fast fashion pieces. I’ve already talked about this in so much detail in this post, so I’m not going to bore you too much here. Buying less clothes, of better materials from sustainable, ethical brands is the way forward in my opinion, and I’m so happy to see so many people changing their thought process. I will be sharing with you some of the fashion items on my Spring/Summer wishlist in the next few weeks, featuring lots of sustainable brands! Again, I highly recommend the Good On You app for all the basic information you need on your favourite brands, and background on their part in becoming more sustainable. Also, I mentioned this briefly in my post all about fast fashion, if it’s something you’re interested in I highly recommend joining the Slow Fashion Exchange Facebook group, run by the wonderful Venetia Falconer.

Take re-usable water bottles and coffee cups out with you. This takes a little forward planning, but if you already have a container to fill, you’re certainly not going to go for the plastic option. General water bottles and coffee cups are not recyclable, and all head straight to landfill. Often, they find their way to our waterways and into the ocean, causing mass-scale pollution. As pretty as a Starbucks cup may look on your Instagram feed, you’re so much better off investing in a re-usable cup you can take anywhere with you. Also, most coffee shops offer discount when using your own cup as an incentive to stop people buying one-use options. I love the KeepCup and Stojo options personally, but there are SO many out there and prices start from just a few pounds!

Invest in re-usable straws. When bars and restaurants around the UK began to filter out plastic straws in early Summer last year, I was not a happy bunny. However, after finding out that one plastic straw takes FIVE HUNDRED YEARS to decompose I was so shocked, and totally understood the move to stop selling straws. As an avid straw user, it makes me feel a little bit sick to think how many plastic straws I’ve sent to landfill. A lot. I’m really not a fan of the paper straw alternatives as they literally turn to mush mid-drink not using a straw doesn’t work for me because my teeth are super sensitive to cold. Last year I purchased metal re-usable straws from Amazon that come in so handy, and I use them at home and work. Recently I was very kindly sent these pasta straws by the amazing guys over at Stroodles… straws made from pasta?! What?! I was so intrigued by the concept; they’re perfect for taking on the go as they’re single use, yet completely bio-degradable and compostable. I love that 25p per straw is also donated to local charities! Matt and I love to use these for homemade smoothies especially as they’re the perfect size.

*Use code GF10 for 10% off your first purchase at Stroodles*

Save electricity by turning off items you’re no longer using. Anyone else guilty of leaving lamps on when you pop out of the room? Or even the house? Yep, I was too! If you’re not using an appliance, switch it off at the wall, and only switch it back on when you’re going to use it. This is an easy one and something we should all be doing out of habit by now.

Sell and donate items that no longer benefit you. If we’re ever going to encourage others to purchase second hand, there has to be a continuous supply of goods to purchase. It’s important to pass on items that no longer have a purpose to us, a) to reduce the likelihood of becoming a hoarder and b) to encourage the cycle of donation/second hand shopping. Charity shops, eBay, car boot sales, Depop, Vestaire Collective etc are all great places to sell your unwanted items, and as the old saying goes, ‘one man’s tat is another man’s treasure’! Also, this is a great way to add extra pennies to your pocket.

Make use of technology. It’s one of those tasks you’ve probably been meaning to do for a long time, but change your mailing preferences once and it’s done forever. To reduce the amount of paper sent your way, opt out of any post unless it’s something you absolutely need (I can’t think of any instance of this, to be honest!), and instead direct everything to your email, or turn on notifications via the app.

Eat less red meat. Eating less red meat can be good for your body in lots of different ways, which you can read about here. Matt and I are big fans of #MeatlessMondays, and over the past few months I’ve generally eaten less meat each week. I feel better when I eat more vegetables, and I’m enjoying experimenting with different vegetarian and vegan foods. Matt and I love cooking, so changing up our diet has been fun and we’re finding out what works for us and what doesn’t.

Save up your plastic closures to recycle. Lush UK have an amazing recycling program where you can take in your plastic bottle tops, caps or lids, which they recycle and create more of their black pots. The pots are also recyclable; every time you return five pots you get a fresh face mask for free! (They’re the best face masks too, and made from all natural ingredients – I talk about my favourites in this post).

Grow your own herbs, instead of buying pre-packaged ones in store. I can’t wait for Matt and I to buy our future home for approximately 10,000 reasons, but this is one of the top ones! (He’s not as excited HAHA). Growing your own herbs ensures you know exactly where they’ve came from, you have much less wastage and they’re always to hand. They also would look so cute in adorable plant pots along your kitchen windowsill. This point could be applied to vegetables and fruit also if you have space to do so!

Recycle, recycle, recycle. Separate your household waste, recycle clothing that cannot be donated at clothing banks and recycle used beauty product packaging separately. L’Occitane are running a program with TerraCycle, ensuring those hard-to-recycle products are disposed of properly. They accept items from any brand, and there’s locations all over the UK – this is a fantastic initiative and I hope more brands develop a similar system. There is an incredible contact lens recycling program, also with TerraCycle, for any of us daily lens wearers. Of course a better alternative is to wear monthly lenses but they just don’t work for me, which annoys me so much. I also seen a recent campaign to recycle old mascara wands (washed in warm soapy water) to animal sanctuaries, so many across the UK are appealing for more, so be sure to get in touch with local sanctuaries to see if you can send yours their way.

Carpool when necessary, and drive less. The reality is it’s not feasible for many people to walk to work (it’s certainly not for me!) but little things like carpooling with your friends can make a huge difference. During the week, Matt and I always use both of our cars as we work in different directions, however during the evenings and on a weekend if he’s off work we only use one as we’re together anyway. Walking more, or taking up cycling is a great option if you live in a close proximity to work.

Buy zero waste beauty products where possible. It’s a little harder than it may seem, but it’s definitely do-able in time, and remember, every little thing helps. Lush have an amazing selection of zero waste products, their shampoo bars are incredible, in design and effectiveness. Buying re-usable ‘cotton pad’ alternatives is something that’s been on my mind for a while, I’m just unsure on how well they will work as I’ve seen very little people recommend them. Do you have any thoughts on this or have you tried them?

Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of these tips helpful? I’d love to know any extra things you do to live more sustainably? Remember, the little things make a huge difference!

-G x