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Ethical and sustainable living, Life

Three ways to begin clothes shopping more ethically on a budget

July 5, 2017

hanging clothing rail

Priscilla Du Preez

When I first began researching ethical clothing I was very daunted by the price of ethical clothing. While I wish I could solely buy from and support ethical clothing companies, it would cost me a small fortune – and I don’t even have a miniature fortune. Thankfully, there are other ways to begin shopping more ethically and consciously for less.

The initial surprise we have at the price of ethical clothing is a huge indication of the problem we have with understanding how our clothes are made. The reason we consider ethical clothes to be “expensive” is because ethical clothing companies pay their workers a fair wage. Whereas, that is not the case for cheap clothing we see in supermarkets or high street stores.

I used to primarily shop in Primarni or H&M because I’ve always been able to find something I like there and I’ve never actually had a problem with their clothing being poorly made. I’ve got Primark and H&M clothes in my wardrobe that I’ve had years.

Earlier this year, I began to learn about the impact fast fashion has on the people who make our clothes and the environment, and I was not happy about it at all. I began researching ethical clothing companies and was surprised when I began comparing the prices of things made ethically with things that aren’t. When you see a t-shirt being sold for Β£6 on the high street and a similar one going for Β£40, that indicates a serious problem with the fast-fashion system. If you want to learn more about fast-fashion, I highly recommend watching The True Cost. It really opened my eyes and demands we pay attention to the horrible truths we try to ignore.

 

Charity shops

Charity shops are a great place to begin shopping “ethically”. The chances that you will come across something from an ethical brand are incredibly slim but you are preventing a piece of clothing from going to landfill and sitting there for years. Your wallet will thank you kindly, and you’re giving your money to a worthy cause rather than supporting an immoral company. So it’s win-win-win all round.

I do feel like UK charity shops are not quite as awesome as Americans make their thrift stores out to be. I have ventured in all the charity shops in my town many times and the truth is that there is very rarely anything I like (I am particularly fussy, mind). This is always pretty disappointing because you read American bloggers who say “I went to the thrift store and got something I’d been looking for for aaaages”, and I’m thinking “well unless it’s the Twilight Saga (why are they in all charity shops?!) and an ill-fitting sequined dress, our charity shops are not as awesome as yours”. Americans, are your charity shops also filled with the Twilight saga and dresses that resemble 1920s lampshades?

Maybe it’s just my town. I don’t know. However, we do have a “charity superstore” which receives donations from high street retailers / supermarkets of clothes that might be missing a button, are slightly damaged, or are end of season. The place is amazing and it is always packed; you go in that place on a Saturday morning and it’s like Black Friday all over again.

It actually reminds me of the scene on Friends where Monica, Phoebe and Rachel go wedding dress shopping. Despite the terror of going in there when it’s busy, you can often find exactly what you’re looking for there.

 

eBay / other resale sites are available

It took me a while to dip my toes in eBay and it turned out to be some kind of quicksand because if I need something, my first port of call is now eBay. I am also trying to sell anything I don’t want or need anymore on eBay as well. I think I’m addicted, someone help.

It’s much easier to find exactly what you want, you might even be able to find ethical clothing on here too, it’s cheaper, and you can do it in your dressing gown while eating a pizza (which is probably frowned upon in charity stores).

There are of course other websites, such as Shpock (that advert annoys me a lot), DePop, GumTree, etc.

 

Clothing swaps

This is something my sister has been doing for years. That girl buys a lot of clothes, but guess who gets to inherit that stuff? Me. Whenever she has a clearout she offers her family and friends first pick before sending things to the charity shop. (I suspect this might be the reason charity shops in my town are full of things I don’t want.)

I have, over the years, gained some brilliant things from her; Adidas trainers that were in perfect nick and a barely worn comfy a-f gilet are my favourites.

If you’re due a clearout, why not encourage family or friends to do the same and then you can sift through each others stuff, have a swap and then donate what’s left over.

 

This list is definitely not exhaustive but for me it was about changing habit, because I’ve grown up with fast-fashion, and these three things were the easiest ways for me to change. As well as shopping more consciously, saving money, and supporting good causes, it can be a nice way to find unique items of clothing. It’s also worth shopping your own wardrobe from to time to time because you might find something you forgot you had.

 

I want to talk about your shopping habits; do you shop consciously? Do you have anything to add to my list?

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Life

My summer to do list

June 8, 2017

Pastel sunset sky

Daz and I could barely believe our eyes when we saw this at work a couple of weeks ago.

With my last exam over, and daily refreshing of the results page in full swing, I find myself faced with what might be the last summer break I have. 

Minimise

For years I have loved the idea of being a minimalist but it wasn’t until I moved in with Daz that I realised I had a lot of things I just didn’t need. I have zero plans of taking things I don’t need to Edinburgh with me so one of my main missions this summer is to donate or sell things I don’t use or need. My bookshelf has already taken a battering (I never thought I would say that) but I have a lot of books that I honestly won’t ever read to start with or won’t read again. I have discovered and become a little obsessed with eBay; though I do hate the trips to the Post Office, which I’m pretty certain is actually inside a sauna not at the back of my local WH Smiths.

 

Read more

University made reading for leisure pretty hard. I’m not going to lie, I actually do enjoy reading journal articles about the chemical composition of soil in and around gravesites but it’s not quite as relaxing as reading Harry Potter. Plus, your friends look at you a little odd when the answer to “what did you do last night” is “read about how nitrogen levels in soil changes when bodies decompose in it.” It’s a touch darker than “watched Orange is the New Black.”

 

Exercise more

At the beginning of the year I really got into hot yoga, and my back loves it, but my work schedule at the moment makes it really hard for me to go, unless I want to get up at 7am and I just don’t. I’m trying to get into the habit of practicing yoga at home and want to get out and go for pokemon walks walks more often. That last one really isn’t hard since we live so close to a forest.

 

Spend more time with friends

When you’re at school, you don’t even have to try to spend time with your friends. And then, all of a sudden, meeting up with your best friends requires military planning. Since I’m really going to struggle to see my friends regularly while we’re in Edinburgh, I want to make as much effort as possible to spend time making delicious cake and playing Pokemon Monopoly (it’s so much fun by the way) and Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.

 

What are your plans for this summer?

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Life, University

I finished university!

May 18, 2017

I finished university

On Tuesday, I sat my final undergraduate exam (providing I haven’t miserably failed and have to resit, of course), which means I have completed my undergraduate degree.

I remember writing a post a couple of years back about me starting back at university and I can’t believe how fast those two years have gone. I’ve worked damn hard, racked up some government funded student debt (woop!), and I have everything crossed for a first. I will be truly gutted if I get anything less than a first.

At the moment, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I am relieved to be able to let my brain relax for a little while, for sure, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I think part of that is because I am refusing to get excited until I see my dissertation results, and also because I can’t go to graduation. For some reason, my university does graduation in September which is of absolutely no use to anyone who is going on to further education elsewhere. I have no idea why, most other universities manage to hold graduation in July.

It feels almost surreal to look back on where I was two years ago; I was still working in marketing and had decided I needed to be out of it by the end of the year and wanted to go back to university. I was really nervous about applying to go back to university and was worried a university wouldn’t want to accept me because I’d dropped out after a year and a half. (Jokes, they just want your money ;).) I’m so glad that I took a deep breath and went for it because I love where I am right now.

This summer is shaping up to be a hectic one, but not before a much needed getaway for Daz and I. We’re both looking forward to escaping to campfires, cooking under the stars, falling in love with and dragging ourselves up mountains.

How’s life?

Life, Scotland, University

We’re moving to Edinburgh!

April 27, 2017

View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

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Life

Hard times, gonna make you wonder why you even try

April 20, 2017

Waves at Llangrannog

I’m pretty sure most bloggers can relate to feeling like they’ve got nothing to say and the frustration you feel because you  enjoy blogging and you want to say something, but have no idea what. 

A few weeks ago, I was feeling really positive and had a load of ideas but this week I find myself wondering what I have to say at the moment. I know it’s a temporary feeling that will pass with time; I’m just frustrated by a situation I’m seeing a close family member go through and a load of anxiety and nerves brought on by masters applications and waiting and waiting and waiting. It feels a little bit like living in limbo; if we are moving away, we need to know so we can prepare because August is not that far away really, and if not I need to figure out what to do next.

I feel like this is all a load of pointless rambling but it helps to get it down or to talk about it sometimes. What has been helping a lot though is Paramore’s new single Hard Times. I am hooked on it; it makes me want to dance badly in my car, which I promise I will not actually do.

For me, the lyrics have come at the right time; it’s kind of a variation on “this too shall pass”.

How is life with you right now?

Life

I am a chronic phone checker

April 13, 2017

Lake Minnewanka, Banff

This is not a post where I’m going to denounce technology and social media, or say that it’s everything that’s wrong with the world, because it’s not. I find it very useful in moderation; my problem is I’m not very good at the moderation part.

I’ve noticed recently that I really struggle with doing nothing. If I’m waiting for someone, I have to get my phone out; for no real reason. I just aimlessly scroll through Facebook and think “well, this is all a load of rubbish.” I can’t just be.

Since the start of the year, I’ve regularly being going to yoga (yeah, this is the bit where I get all “hippy dippy”) and I feel like I’ve learned a lot about just being present; one of the main things being that I’m not actually very good at it.

I’m not giving up social media at all, but I am making a conscious effort to stop checking my phone every two minutes. I mean, phones are pretty good at notifications so if someone has sent me a message I could just wait for that rather than checking Whatsapp or Messenger “just in case”. Ironically, my social media checking has recently turned into constant email checking as I want for universities to get back to me about my masters course applications.

How do you feel about your relationship with your phone & social media?

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Life, Photography, UK

Going up the Wrekin / aka how unfit I am

April 11, 2017

View from the top of the Wrekin

In the Midlands, we have this saying "going around the Wrekin" which we use when someone is doing something a really long way, or if someone is rambling and taking forever to get to the point. It's based on a hill in Shropshire, called the wrekin, which provides amazing 360 views across the area.

Last Wednesday, the weather was looking pretty good and we decided it seemed almost criminal to stay indoors, especially now that my dissertation is done and I don't need to spend all day staring at a screen. We've recently been joking that we need to practice climbing hills and mountains because of all the hikes we want to do in Canada, so the Wrekin seemed like a good place to start.

This way or that way sign post
The summit of The Wrekin
View from the top of the wrekin
Don't get me wrong, at 407 metres high it is hardly Snowdon but I felt so incredibly unfit. My state of fitness (or rather absolute unfitness) is not a joke now; if I want to tackle some Canadian mountains I need to do some exercise because Daz says he won't be giving me a piggyback.

The climb up is fairly steep and took my breath away pretty quickly indeed. In about five minutes I was wishing I could transport into the bodies of all the happy excited looking dogs that were running up the hill.

The view from the top was well worth it though. I have always felt there is something really calming about being up a hill, a mountain, or even a building, and enjoying the view around you. Everything seems literally and figuratively small. Interestingly, there are also a lot of Pokemon up the wrekin so, y'know...Pokenerds, go! (Yes I am still playing it.)

The view over Shropshire from the top of the Wrekin

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The view from the Wrekin

The top of the Wrekin

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I'm trying out a different style for the format of blog posts, doing away with the sidebar and trying out different styles with the images. I've seen it on a couple of blogs recently and it's a style I really like in posts which have a lot of photos; what do you think though? You're my readers, do you like it? Is it a pain to find the copy amongst all the images?

Life, University

I did it; my dissertation has been handed in!

April 6, 2017

Dissertation

Any third year / former university student will know how good it feels to say “I handed my dissertation in.” To paraphrase about 80% of young adult books released a few years back, “when I handed it in, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.” (Why did anyone thing that was a good phrase, seriously?!)

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the challenge; I reveled in it. I actually looked forward to writing my dissertation because if there is one thing I enjoy doing, it’s research and then writing 10,000 words about it. And also analysing where I messed up because I am always analysing where I messed up. Heck, I have had 24 years practice at consistently analysing everything I do, so I figured writing a dissertation would be pretty fun. And it was. I truly enjoyed it. I’m hoping all my hard work paid off because I honestly did my best. If there was something else I should have done I do not know what it was, so here’s hoping.

Also, if anyone wants to know anything about nitrogen and pH of gravesoil, I am a walking-talking bank of knowledge about that stuff. I want to see it come up as a question on Pointless.

Writing my dissertation has taken up the majority of my time since the end of January really so it is nice to relieve the pressure a little and not feel guilty about having a day off and doing nothing. Hopefully, I will get that duvet day I was longing for a few weeks ago, but I doubt it will happen before May.

It’s not like I have nothing to do; I’ve got a couple of presentations to do, an exam to revise for, emails to check 300 times a day hoping a university has made a decision about my masters, and just be.

This week has been pretty relaxed so far. I have done a bit of university work but there’s not rush so I’m not putting pressure on myself and that’s pretty much how I want to rest of the semester to go. I’ve done a bit of reading too (hallelujah!); I’m currently reading Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World by Kevin Bales; it is pretty horrifying and eye-opening, and I will definitely be doing a review or roundup of horrible facts I have learned as a result of reading it.

How has life been for you recently?

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