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

My Handbag Essentials This Winter

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I don’t know about all of you but it’s my first full week at work this year and I’m so over the week already. BUT, I’m hanging in and I can’t wait for date day on Saturday! It’s been a long week, including renovations (literally got our windows replaced and when I got home from work yesterday it looked like a tornado had passed through!) and I’m generally just exhausted. I picked Matt up late last night from a football game and felt so lucky we got a little lie in this morning. I’m feeling super grateful for all of the cosy evenings we get to spend together every night, and I’m excited for us to cook up a storm the next few nights! Matt’s had lots of late shifts so we’ve been living off pizzas and pasta bakes when he gets home (around 9pm) and we miss cooking together SO MUCH. We’re having chicken fajitas tonight, so I’m sure I’ll be feeling approximately 10,000 times happier HAHA. We’re also hoping to book our Summer 2019 holiday this week which is sure to put a smile on my face, I can’t wait for a week in the sun with my love!

Today I’m talking through my must-have handbag essentials, specifically during the Winter months. This is based on what I carry in my day-to-day work bag which is a large tote, as generally on the weekends I take my small Kate Spade crossbody out with me with just the (real) essentials. I wrote a What’s In My Bag post back in July (I can’t quite believe that was six months ago) which you can check out here if you missed it! I’m not going to go through everything I carry – it’s safe to say I will always have my purse/card holder, car keys and medication with me!

Mini Perfumes
I’m obsessed with perfumes! I take pride in my little collection and I’m forever wanting to add more. One of my favourites, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet comes in the cutest travel-sized rollerball and I always have it with me, it’s perfect for date nights! Recently I’ve been really into Glossier You, which comes in the cutest millennial pink packaging. This is a solid perfume, which was a little bit of a weird concept to me, but now I’m fully converted. It’s so flipping handy! I couldn’t resist picking it up during Glossier’s Black Friday sale – when it’s 20% off at Glossier you just have to, right? Also, both of these perfumes layer so well with anything I’ve already put on earlier in the day.

Re-Usable Metal Straws
I love my re-usable straws, and I always have at least three in my bag. I have some at work, my house and Matt’s, then anywhere else I have a drink I can use these! My teeth are super sensitive to cold drinks (and I love my drinks with tons of ice!) but I’ve sworn off using plastic straws forever. Did you know they take FIVE HUNDRED years to decompose?! My mind was blown, but I’m just not a fan of the paper straws given out in restaurants. I found these on Amazon and I love them so much, I bought three sets and I’m probably never going to have to buy a straw again!

An Umbrella
So, it’s England in January… the chances of me needing my umbrella at any given moment are incredibly high. I love this one so much, Matt bought it for me because I used to always buy cheap ones, and wonder why they’d break after two uses. The yellow handle makes me feel happy, and it’s nice to not have a boring black umbrella!

My 2019 Planner
I couldn’t live my life without my planner! I am so forgetful, I like to plan out my weeks, in writing, and then I can always refer back/add things in as and when required. Matt and I meal plan in here, I write any grocery shopping lists and I also plan out my blog posts week by week – from idea, to fully published post. The one I use is from BoxClever Press, you can pick it up here, and it’s perfect for my needs. A post about how I plan my week will be up in the next few weeks!

Emergency Chocolate Bar
Yep… emergency. I get very hangry, very quickly, so it’s better for all involved if I have a chocolate bar (and usually a granola bar too LOL) for those emergency times. I also have another chocolate bar in my car that is always replaced once eaten, although this Oreo one is not my first pick, Cadbury’s is forever my favourite! Matt and I crack open my emergency chocolate bars open in the car all of the time, every time we’re going somewhere further than a few minutes drive HAHA. So, yeah you could say healthy eating in the new year isn’t going too well..

A Bobble Hat & Gloves
If I’m not wearing my hat and/or gloves during the Winter, they for sure are in my bag! I am always cold, even in the Summer, so you can bet I try to do everything I can to stay warm and cosy. I picked up these gloves from Topshop a few years back, and the hat was a Christmas gift from Matt from The North Face (he’s the cutest ever). I live for bobble hats during the Autumn/Winter months; they add so much to an outfit, they look super cute and they’re great for hiding hair that may need washed HAHA.

Kate Spade Travel Mug
Since it began to get chilly at the beginning of October, I’ve been more obsessed than ever with cups of tea, chai tea lattes and hot chocolates! Most mornings Matt and I enjoy a cup of tea together before heading off to work, and I’m trying to get in the habit of taking one to work with me on the super cold mornings. I got this travel mug last Spring, and I just think it’s so cute! You really can’t go wrong with anything from Kate Spade, every piece they make is so beautiful. I keep a few Swiss Miss hot chocolate sachets and tea sachets in my bag too, so I can make my favourite drinks wherever I am.

Beauty essentials
I always carry a few more beauty products than are actually necessary, but my essentials include spare invisibobbles and bobby pins, MAC Next To Nothing powder, Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lip cheat and lipstick, and of course a few lip balms. I always carry hand sanitizer and hand cream with me, which is essential during the cold months! I’m one of those weird people that uses hand sanitizer like my life depends on it, which Matt always makes fun of me for (BUT, he always asks to use it too)! These are the main things I often reach for throughout the day, and are transferred into any bag I use. Glossier pouches are my favourite for separating bits and bobs in my bag, I also use them when travelling and can’t recommend enough!

Thank you so much for reading! What are your handbag essentials during the Winter months? I’d love to know!

-G x