Why Supporting Small Businesses Is Extra Important Right Now & How You Can Help

Hi, loves! I’m so excited to share today’s post with you all because whilst we’re all having a really hard time right now, this pandemic is really hitting small businesses hard. I’m so passionate about supporting the small businesses I love and I really want to share what I’ve been doing recently to help and show support, even in the smallest of ways. I love so many small businesses and I’ve always admired people who can create something from nothing. From your local salon, to online boutiques to florists and everything in between, all of these businesses need your help and support more than ever right now.

Coast Candle from Our Lovely Goods, a fantastic small business; this is is one of my favourite ever candles and I’m so happy to support them!

Shop local
There’s a reason the #shoplocal has over thirty MILLION tags on Instagram… it’s super important to people! I love to browse local shops whenever I can; they often supply goods you’d never find anywhere else, support local artists and have a little bit of that ‘home’ feeling in them. I think local stores also make wonderful gifts, especially if you have family or friends who love where you live but maybe live a little further out. Have a look on social media and maybe a little google search to see if you can support any of your favourite local stores online, or maybe just get some ideas of where you’d like to visit when this is all over and we’re able to explore again.

Talk about small businesses you love!
If you love a company and their products, now is the time to shout it from the rooftops. I love to share small businesses I find, especially on Instagram stories, and I’m so happy to promote products that make me happy. Ask your family members and friends which small businesses they support and branch out to new businesses too! Word of mouth is how a lot of these businesses began and it’s something they’ll always appreciate. 

Buy goods online if services are still running
If there’s one good thing about a pandemic… it’s online shopping has never been more fun. Right?! I honestly haven’t purchased very much since lockdown began, but I have ‘window’ shopped online A LOT; I love adding things to my cart and then making a mental note of things I’d like to buy next time I need another *insert product here*. Websites always appreciate an increase in traffic as it really helps out with SEO – this even works for my little blog too. I love seeing little notifications from WordPress that my stats are ‘booming’ when you guys really love a blog post! Mail services are all running, albeit a little slower than usual, so there’s nothing to stop you ordering online. Be sure to check the company’s social media pages for discount codes too, it kinda seems like every website has some kind of deal on right now. 

Share their social media pages or enter competitions
I’m very aware that not everybody is in a place where they’re able to online shop right now; many people have been laid off or furloughed; and it’s an incredibly sad time for so many people. If you don’t have the means to spend physical cash to show your support, that is just fine. Sharing your favourite brands’ social media pages or entering competitions again drives traffic to their pages, and in turn boosts their SEO. When you’re in a position to purchase from them again you can, but make sure to look after yourself right now! 

Take the night off cooking and order in from your favourite family run restaurant
It’s slightly different than shopping local, but all of those local (often family run) takeaway places, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops etc are going to need your custom more than ever right now. We’ve ordered takeaway food around once per week during lockdown – our go-to is always Moti Jheel, we swear it’s the best Indian food in the North East – and I’m so happy to support a business we love so much. Although drive-thru’s and dine-in restaurants are completely closed in the UK at the moment, lots of takeaway services are running and I really encourage you to take advantage of a delicious meal you don’t have to put the work in for!

Tip the staff who are still working
Tipping food places is pretty common in the UK – although unlike in other countries it’s not mandatory or even expected – but Matt and I always tip our delivery drivers! Those people are possibly working much more hours than usual or could have picked up delivering as an extra job if they’ve been laid off or furloughed during this pandemic. I think the kindness people are showing right now is such an unexpected blessing to come from a horrible season of life.

Leave positive reviews
Similarly to sharing your thoughts and comments on social media, leaving reviews on the brand’s website, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor etc really helps to drive traffic their way and encourage others to purchase, or at least browse too. Make sure to set your reviews to public so you can ensure other people can read them!

Order a gift card for future use or for a gift for a friend/family member
Many small businesses who are unable to offer their services right now – whether they don’t have the means to deliver, they’re a salon that rely on hands-on treatment or any other reason – are offering gift cards to their customers. This is a fantastic way to show your support, and get a little treat in a few months’ time when things are (hopefully) heading back to normal! You could also buy gift cards for any family or friends who love a specific store or salon, and give them a little pick-me-up during this time. 

Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to share your favourite small businesses in the comments so we can all help to support them too 🙂 do you have any other tips on how we can support small businesses? I’ll see you on Sunday for a super exciting post… my at home pamper routine! It’s perfect for a pick-me-up especially during this time, and I can’t wait to share it with you! 

-G x

Feelin’ It Friday

Happy, happy (black) Friday, loves! Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and I’m sure if you’re on the internet today, you’re shopping… not reading my blog. *Cries* but if you did take five minutes out of your jam packed shopping day to come see little old me then THANK YOU. I appreciate it! I hope all my American readers had the best Thanksgiving celebration with family yesterday; it’s such a sweet tradition and I so wish we had something similar in the UK. I mean, we did steal Black Friday, why couldn’t we steal the part with all the yummy food?! I was drooling over all the photos of amazing food like I do every year, I’m so jealous! There’s a lot packed in today’s post, so let’s get going!

What I’m wearing:
I am genuinely obsessed with my new scarf from Tartan Blanket Co. because it makes me feel like CHRISTMAS. I feel like it’s just what Mrs Claus would wear! Seriously, how can you look at that and not feel immediately happy? I purchased the Stewart Royal Oversized scarf in the shade Red, and I’ve worn it every day since I bought it. It’s 100% wool so it’s super warm and worth every penny; it is so well made and will last you a lifetime. I really want to get another scarf in a more muted, neutral tone (maybe this one? Thoughts?!) so I’m hoping I’ll be able to snag one with a little Black Friday discount today! If you’re looking for a Christmas gift one of their scarves would make a beautiful gift, and they have options for men and women. They shipped super quick and my scarf was packaged beautifully too, so you don’t need to worry about that! I’m also so beyond happy with my new Winter coat but I love it so much it’s getting it’s own post soon. Be sure to come back to hear my thoughts on picking a new Winter coat that’s cute and also practical!

What I’m watching:
Hahahaha. That meme is ME!!! Holiday movies! Last weekend Matt and I went to see Last Christmas which you need to go see, it’s amazing! Although, consider this your word of warning because I didn’t realise it was a sad movie and I SOBBED in the cinema hahaha. Cheesy Christmas movies are my very favourite, and it’s got to the time of year I want to snuggle up in bed with Matt and watch Hallmark movies on repeat. I also love that everyone wears plaid shirts in these movies ALL THE TIME and I feel like my wardrobe is seriously lacking in the plaid department. Also, I love the classics just as much! Home Alone, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street etc… you all have my heart. Is it acceptable to take a whole day off work to watch movies? Pretty please tell me it is? Matt and I of course still watching Strictly each week and we’re SO HAPPY Chris is still in the competition (well, Matt isn’t such a fan of the show but he watches because he loves me!) and we’re loving I’m A Celebrity this year, it’s great reality TV!

What I’m worried about:
So I didn’t have a photo for this one and decided to share this festive photo of the restaurant Matt and I had lunch at this past weekend. We LOVE going out to eat because we get to totally relax and it’s so nice to enjoy food we haven’t cooked ourselves :). I just feel worried in general! For a long time I felt really good and like myself again, but this past week or so I’ve slowly began to feel anxious and ‘off’, hence not posting on Wednesday. I hate missing posts, I’m so sorry! It’s not a constant feeling and it’s not completely ruining every day but I’m just feeling really anxious and not myself. I think I may be suffering a little bit with SAD which is strange because I don’t think that normally affects me, at least not yet. I love Autumn and the build up to Christmas so I feel rubbish that I’ve not been enjoying it as much as I usually do. Matt and I have so many fun plans coming up and we just had the best weekend so I’m really hoping I can put aside any more anxious feelings and fully enjoy the Christmas season. January is going to be the start of a serious Self Care Month for me, and I’m hoping to do a few things to change my mindset and stop me feeling so anxious all the time. I’ll be sharing everything on the blog in time!

What I’m buying:
Almost everything Matt and I have purchased the past few weeks have been Christmas gifts for our families (and each other) – thanks to the early Black Friday discounts we’re so close to being done with our holiday shopping and just have a few more things to buy next month! – but I did just pick up this beautiful lip balm last week and I’m already obsessed with it. I’ve never had a Fresh lip balm before as they only have become available in the UK fairly recently, but I’ve seriously been missing out! This lip balm is so pigmented and leaves the best pop of colour, as well as being so moisturising and not at all sticky. It’s literally my perfect lip balm! I highly recommend picking one up if you’re wanting to treat yourself to a little something this Black Friday 🙂 I also really would love that scarf from Tartan Blanket Co, but we’ll see!

What I’m listening to:
I’m of course listening to Shagged, Married, Annoyed every week because it’s my favourite podcast ever. 🙂 I started listening to Office Ladies this month too and it is so funny! I love hearing more about the behind-the-scenes element of filming, and they have had guests from the show too which is great. I love love love Jenna Fischer, she is so different than Pam! When you watch a person in a show you kind of just assume the character is like the actor… or is that just me?! I really wish they didn’t call each other ‘lady’ so much though, haha. This week I listened to a podcast Shay Shull was a guest on recently and I so enjoyed hearing more from Shay. I wish she’d release her own podcast already! I don’t want to name it because honestly… I didn’t love the girl whose podcast Shay was a guest on. She came across kinda rude to me and I felt a little awkward for Shay even though she did a great job. I just want to be Shay when I grow up. Hahaha.

What I’m excited for:
The whole month of December!!! There’s so much to look forward to this month and I’m giddy about it all. I’m super excited about a few things in particular; Matt and I are going to see Jack Whitehall next week, my mum and I have a shopping day planned in town, Matt and I are going for our annual festive trip to visit the Christmas markets in Edinburgh and before we know it, it’ll be CHRISTMAS DAY! I can’t wait for all of the fun festive things in between and I’m always so aware and grateful for all of my blessings this time of year, especially. I’m also recording a Week In My life from the middle of next week, so you’ll get to come along to lots of fun things with us! 🙂

What my favourite Lush product of the month is:
I thought I’d start a fun little *extra* segment to my Feelin’ It Friday’s, because so many people ask me what my favourite products are from Lush and what I think are worth the money! If you fancy treating yourself before Christmas a few Lush goodies is one of the best things in my opinion, and they also make for perfect stocking filler gifts. This month my most recommended product just has to be the Snow Fairy bath bomb! It is the perfect fun bath product for this time of year, and I’m a sucker for the Snow Fairy scent. I don’t often buy bath bombs because you only get the one bath out of them and that’s a pretty expensive bath (compared to getting at least four from a bubble bar) but I like to treat myself around the holidays!

What I’m eating:
Matt and I are officially enjoying ALL of the Christmas treats, especially Christmas chocolate! I love love love the big tubs of chocolates at this time of year and we’ve started sneaking a few when we watch I’m A Celebrity in the evenings which has been so fun. Each night we’re really enjoying eating more hearty dinners; soups, pasta bakes, rice dishes, pie with mash and veggies… pretty much all the good stuff that you just have to eat when the weather gets colder!

What I’m recommending for Black Friday:
Okay so I’ve already shared Christmas gift ideas for the ladies and the men in your life, and also a round up of stocking fillers/Secret Santa presents under £20, so be sure to check those out if you’re struggling for gift ideas. Shopping the sales is so great because you can find some incredible discounts! Also, remember if *the item* you’re looking at is something that wasn’t already on your radar or is not a great Christmas gift this year, you don’t need it. Set yourself a budget and don’t go too crazy – impulse purchases are not your friend!

John Lewis – 20% off almost everything. If you’re buying Ugg slippers this year for a loved one or yourself, don’t wait any longer and get them TODAY! This deal is so good and your feet will be forever thankful, I wear mine that Matt bought me two years ago all. the. time. to the point they’re gross, hahaha. My mum and dad just purchased this pair for me for Christmas, I can’t wait to have pretty new slippers on December 25th!
Amazon | Argos – SO MANY GREAT DEALS. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (my gift from Matt this year that I am so excited about!!) and all Amazon products are super discounted, get them while you can.
Topshop | ASOS – at least 20% off both sites and the perfect time to buy that Christmas Day outfit. Lots of items are reduced by more than 20% off so be sure to check out your favourite brands!
The Body Shop – anyone who’s ever read my blog KNOWS I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop! My sweet friend Shannen recently became a consultant for them and is able to offer deals that you can’t find in store or online. You can email her at shankellyx@gmail.com or check her Facebook page for great deals every day, not just Black Friday!
Boots | Feel Unique | Look Fantastic – so many varying deals. I recommend all of these place for EVERYTHING beauty related. Gift sets, perfume, aftershave, makeup, skincare, body products, bath products. Everything! There’s amazing deals on all sites, but if the price is the same I tend to buy from Boots because I also get my points! Just a little tip in case you’re caught up in the Black Friday madness.
Missoma | Monica Vinader | Astrid & Miyu – up to 30% off across the three sites. Beautiful, delicate jewellery for an incredible price! I wear my Missoma initial necklace every day with this little moon charm on the same chain and it just makes my heart happy. People ask me ALL the time which necklace I‘m wearing, and that’s always it!
Space NK | Cult Beauty – varying discounts and so many limited edition/exclusive deals on beautiful items. Perfect for those last minute Christmas gifts!
Figleaves – 20% off site wide. I love love love Figleaves underwear, their Juliette balcony bra is my all time favourite and is SO COMFY!

Be sure to search thoroughly online before buying anything to find the best deal today (and through the weekend into Cyber Monday). Happy shopping!

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂 thanks for always being the best support to me and my blog, I appreciate it so much. I hope you all have a great weekend and have so much fun with your loved ones! Don’t forget to get your advent calendars ready for Sunday… I can’t wait to eat chocolate every single morning 🙂

-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