8 ways to be more eco-friendly in the bathroom

One of my ongoing goals is to be more eco-friendly, which means buying products with less wasteful packaging, products that last longer, products that don’t harm the environment, or contain toxins.

I feel like more and more people are sharing similar goals of being more eco-friendly. Knowing where to start can be a bit overwhelming and baffling.

This blog post was first published last February and I’ve learned so much since then, so I wanted to update the post to share some more eco-friendly awesomeness with you.

 

Get rid of single use products

Rid your bathroom of face wipes, cotton pads and cotton balls, and replace them with long-lasting washable and reusable versions. If you’re feeling particularly crafty there are even tutorials for making your own face scrubbies.

I have a serious issue with plastic waste. It doesn’t degrade and it pollutes every inch of our planet; it litters forest trails, is destroying the ocean, and is in our drinking water. A photographer recently shared this saddening image of a seahorse holding onto a cotton bud. This should not be happening. 

 

Never buy a plastic toothbrush again

Every plastic toothbrush that has ever existed is still sitting there in landfill. That shiz has not biodegraded. Get yourself a wooden toothbrush; it’s exactly the same, only it won’t sit in landfill in and haunt the planet for years to come. If you’re looking for recommendations, we have used Hydrophil and Humble Brush

 

Toothpaste

When I started this journey, toothpaste was perhaps the most bewildering thing for me. Why would toothpaste contain toxins? That did not compute for me.

A quick search online will produce more natural toothpastes, toothpowders and even recipes for making your own toothpastes and powders. As for personal recommendations, I really liked Ecodenta’s charcoal toothpaste. I’m currently trying out toothpowder from The Clay Cure. It’s definitely messier but I feel that it cleans my teeth just as well as toothpaste; whatever works best for you though.

FabLittleBag

FabLittleBag

Sanitary products

We’ve got to talk about it. I was surprised to learn that 60% of tampon users in the UK flush tampons down the toilet. This causes blockages in sewers and can lead to them ending up in rivers and oceans. On top of that, your “standard” tampons and sanitary towels contain a horrendous cocktail of chemicals, including bleach.

I don’t know about you, but I have never considered the need to stick a load of chemicals in my insides. No ta.

Luckily, there are eco-friendly alternatives such as fabric sanitary towels or menstrual cups. While the initial cost is probably more than you would spend on your period in two or three months, you will save money in the long run because you won’t have to repurchase each month.

If you’re too squeamish or grossed out by the thought of getting a bit too hands on or washing sanitary towels out, look for organic cotton products, with biodegradable packaging. And if you’ve been flushing your sanitary products, stop. Should you find yourself worrying about what to do in public toilets without bins, FabLittleBag’s* oxo-biodegradable bags are easy to use and are discreet so you can slip it in the bin outside the stall.

 

Eco-friendly & toxin-free skincare and cosmetics

If your Pinterest page is anything like mine, you don’t have to look hard to find recipes for DIY skincare and makeup.

Unfortunately, our skincare and cosmetic products can be bad for us and the environment due to the array of toxins inside them. I could write an entire blog post on the toxins in skincare and cosmetics (and maybe I will?); if you’re interested in learning more I highly recommend reading There’s Lead In Your Lipstick by Gill Deacon. It’s an eye-opening and seriously informative read that will change the way you look at the contents of your makeup drawer.

There’s good news though! You can make your own skincare and cosmetic products, there are so many recipes floating around the internet, and it’s really fun to make things yourself. There are also a load of companies who sell eco-friendly and people-friendly products. A few of my favourites are;

Toilet roll

Trying to buy eco-friendly toilet roll is one of the biggest headaches of my shopping trip. Primarily because everything seems to come wrapped in non-recyclable plastic packaging. Daz came home from the supermarket the other day and told me he’d spent ages squishing toilet roll packaging in Tesco trying to figure out which wrapping was recyclable. The Padawan is learning. 

Actually finding eco-friendly toilet paper isn’t that hard though, it’s the packaging that’s the issue. Look for recycled toilet roll with the FSC logo and paper made without dyes. Mindful Mum has a really good UK-specific guide for buying more eco-friendly toilet paper.

 

Eco-friendly cleaning products

I actually like cleaning, what I don’t like is the stench of cleaning products lingering in the back of my throat for hours, unnecessary harsh chemicals, and warning signs all over the bottles. You just don’t need it.

If you live in the UK, you might well remember Kim & Aggie’s How Clean Is Your House and their obsession with baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice, and that’s because it works. A quick search on Pinterest for DIY bathroom cleaners will give you plenty of inspiration and recipes.

I’m yet to actually make my own cleaning products because I can buy eco-friendly cleaning products fairly easily. The two cleaning brands we use in our house at Method and Ecover. You can find both in Tesco and Asda (I think I’ve seen them in Sainsburys too) and they work just as well as the ones full of harsh chemicals.

 

Use less energy and water in the bathroom

Most new toilets are low-flow. You can also install low-flow showerheads, cut down on the time spent in the shower, turn the tap off when you’re not using it, switch to LED lightbulbs, and fix any drips.

 

Have you got any tips for being more eco friendly in the bathroom?

*PR sample – this does not affect or sway my opinion because I cannot be bought! (This was from the original post in 2016.)

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The view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Today marks two weeks since we moved up to Edinburgh and it still doesn’t feel entirely real; it feels like we’re on the laziest holiday ever and might return to our “old lives” at some point.

It’s been just over four months since we found out we were moving up to Edinburgh and it has gone so fast. Thankfully the move, sorting out a flat, and getting jobs went very smoothly. Both of us have just started work but I don’t think it’s going to feel like this is our actual life until we settle into a work and university routine.

I was expecting to come up here and end up writing a really deep or meaningful post about what it’s like to move 270 miles away from the place you lived your entire life but I can’t. At the moment, it just hasn’t sunk in yet, so instead I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve learned since being up here.

 

There is so much going on & to see

Neither of us are big city people, but I don’t feel like Edinburgh is a big city; geographically, sure it is, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or stressful. I think the old buildings make it feel a little cosier and less imposing too.

We arrived at the end of the Fringe Festival and managed to see Thrones! The Musical Parody which had us all in stitches – GoT fans, if you ever have chance, see it. We spent a couple of days walking around the city and making mental lists of the museums and exhibits we want to see, and record stores we need to keep out of because money.

 

Bands don’t play Edinburgh

WHY?! Why don’t bands play big venues in Edinburgh? I have three gigs booked over the next few months and they are all in Glasgow.

Buses are cheap as

Where we used to live, public transport was a bit of a nightmare and was pretty impractical the majority of the time. Around here, it’s easier to hop on a bus than to try and drive around and park in the city; buses are £1.60. ONE. POUND. SIXTY. Damn, that is cheap.

Is it really sad that I’m excited about that?

 

Damn, Scotland is beautiful

Edinburgh is a beautiful city itself, and wherever you seem to look you can see mountains in the distance and you can be up in those mountains in no time at all. Last weekend, Daz and I took a drive around the Highlands and I was reminded of how stunning Scotland is. And, in case you’d missed it, Scotland has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world, and Canada came in second – can you believe that? Am I going to end up in love with Scotland more than Canada? Perish the thought.

 

We can’t understand everyone – and they can’t understand us

You never think you have an accent until you’re surrounded by people with completely different accents. A chap came out from OpenReach to sort our internet out last week and when he started talking fast we were not entirely sure what he was saying.

On the other hand, people haven’t always been able to understand us either. We went out for dinner last week and I ordered macaroni cheese but ended up with a beef burger…

 

Veggie haggis might become 70% of my diet

I’ve tried vegetarian haggis before (it’s delicious) but now I’m living here and I can buy it in Tesco I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with it. Most restaurants or cafes you go to have some kind of veggie haggis on the menu too; it is a delightful change from the standard tomato sauce and pasta.

 

It’s nice having a smaller place

One of the biggest things I was worried about was downsizing. We moved from a good sized two-bed terrace to a two-bed flat. While I’m still trying not to walk into the corners of the bed when I walk around it, it’s nice to have a more compact space. Truth be told, we didn’t need all the space we had before and cleaning is easier and faster – go, lazy me!

What did you learn when you moved to a new place?

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Organisation tips to help you survive the final year of your undergraduate degree

Before I started my third year of university, I heard from two former students who had just finished the same course. They had two completely different opinions about the final year; “it’s really easy if you keep on top of stuff” and “it was horrible, I was so stressed, and it was really hard.”

I was determined not to be the latter and I wasn’t particularly, apart from that one time our lecturer told us we should have been laying our assignment out differently eight hours before deadline, when I was at work all that night too. Great. I survived relatively unscathed and came out with a first class honours, so I can share a thing or two about keeping on top of things in your third year. I’m not saying it was a walk in the park but my third year was easier and a lot less stressful than it was for some students on my course.

This post is almost a year in the making because I started it at the beginning of my third year as a “quit dicking about” note to myself. I’ve split it into two sections; a “general” and “project / dissertation” section since not all courses involve final year projects.

General third year survival tips

Be prepared

The Lion King, be prepared

You’re a third year university student; you tell yourself every semester that you’re going to be more prepared. In fact, you’ve been saying it since you were in year 4. Well, third year is the time you actually do it and stop lying to yourself about it.

Whether you prefer paper planners or online ones, take some time each week or every day (whatever works for you), to review what you need to do this week, when things are due, what classes are on, and what you can start on now. If you like printouts take a peek at these three polka dot timetables.

I know that sometimes it’s actually quite daunting to look at what you’ve got to do, especially if you know you have a lot to do, but it’s better to know what mountain you’ve got to climb this week, right? It also means you can avoid saying horrifying things like, “we’ve got an assignment due next week?”

 

Assume that at least one person in group work is going to do nothing

Again, you’re a third year; the idea that there is one person in your group who you didn’t know was even on the course and / or isn’t going to do any work is nothing new. Assume that at least one person is bone idle and is more than happy to coast through their degree based on other people’s work and plan that in to your timeline.

Ideally, you and the rest of your group want to plan to be finished at least a week before the deadline in case you have to re-write something that’s been copied and pasted from Wikipedia, or if you need to pick up their slack. It’s ok, you can slate them in the peer review later; though we all know they will still get the same grade as you…I’m not bitter, honest.

How to survive your third year of university

Break it down

Something I found really useful was breaking down my assignments into smaller tasks. That way, I could trick myself into starting and finishing assignments early because I would think, “ok, I have a couple of hours, I can start doing some research on this specific thing,” rather than “ok, I have a couple of hours and need to start this assignment.” Being able to tick little tasks off was quite motivating because it looked like I was making progress faster and I think it definitely kept me on target, instead of feeling overwhelmed.

I found some of the printouts on The Organised Student really helpful for breaking assignments down, and making sure I was hitting all of the assessment criteria. Take some time to look at your assignment brief and write down exactly what you need to do to finish it and get the grade you’re after, and remember to be specific.

Don’t just say, “do research,” be specific, so for my dissertation one of my tasks looked like “research how long decomposition fluids affect soil.” It seems like more work but believe me when I tell you that the extra time planning will make things easier for you and might even help boost your grades.

 

Give yourself some time off

At the start of third year, our course leader told us to prepare “not to sleep or do anything fun during second semester.” That sounded pretty dull to me; I like sleep and doing things I like. No dissertation is going to get in the way of that!

We have all spent hours and hours working on something, only to find that it’s a load of rubbish when you come back to it with a clear head. Or, you end up feeling mentally exhausted and say things like, “I don’t even care what grade I get, I’m just glad to have handed it in,” and you know in your heart that you haven’t given 100%.

Studying all day long without breaks is not beneficial to you or your grades; take breaks, unwind, recharge, and go back to studying refreshed and focused.

 

Find your place / yes, you can study in bed

I really struggle to get much done sat at a desk; I find it too uncomfortable. My little study fort is on the sofa, so I can sit back comfortably, and when I’m there I can get loads done. If you stick me at a desk, I’ve probably got 30 minutes in me before I’m uncomfortable and trying to find an excuse to get up, like a three year old that doesn’t want to stay in bed.

Study wherever you feel the most comfortable and productive. And if that means studying in bed, do it.

 

Planning & organisation to help you survive your third year of university

Bribe yourself

By now you should know what you can bribe yourself to get work done with. Whatever it is, do it. What works well for me is doing an hour of work for an hour of doing something I want to do. That way I know I can get work done ahead of time (because it’s pretty hard to leave it to the last minute doing it that way) without feeling really stressed or mentally drained by it.

Just make sure you keep yourself in check though. Set a timer on your phone and don’t let one hour of playing games turn into two days of obsessively playing LEGO Jurassic Park…I speak from experience.

 

Accept help

I think it would be incredibly difficult to get through the final year of your course without any help. If someone offers to cook dinner while you’re furiously typing away, say yes. If a friend offers to read something over, let them because they might spot something glaringly obvious that you’ve missed, and sometimes a new perspective can involve new suggestions. If your university offers tutorials or workshops on how to revise efficiently, how to write scientifically, or how to write up your dissertation, go to them.

 

Get competitive

Feeling a touch unmotivated? Get competitive with your friends. My friend, Sophie, and I had a little dessert-based competition for each of our exams; whoever got the highest grade got dessert brought for them by the other. That is honestly what kept me revising over the Christmas break and even when I was on holiday in Iceland. It also got me off Youtube or pulled me out of Pinterest rabbit holes and got me back on task so many times. Friendly competition works.

 

Do not give up

We had a period of about six weeks between handing our dissertation in and our final exams. During that period, a lot of people’s enthusiasm went MIA. Somehow, it seemed hard to keep motivated knowing we were almost at the finish line; I think the dissertation took a lot more out of us than we expected.

If you’re sitting there, wondering whether to revise or do something else, revise. You might honestly feel like you can’t be bothered or you’re so tired of university work right now, but don’t give up now. Once you’re finished, you will soon forget about feeling lethargic and will be proud of yourself. And if you do give up, you might have to resit exams or entire modules, and that’s just dragging things out further.

Do not give up and end up wishing you had tried harder when you see your results, it’s not worth it.

 

How to survive your third year project / dissertation

See your project / dissertation supervisor regularly

My project supervisor once joked that he quite looked forward to my daily emails and only sounded mildly sarcastic about it. If you want to get a good mark on your project / dissertation (whatever your university calls it) you best get to know your supervisor.

I met with my supervisor at least once a week and it was a really good way for me to keep myself on track. I knew that if he’d been too busy to get back to my emails, he could answer any questions I had in our meetings. It was a good way for me to learn more because we discussed things, fell down little rabbit holes, problem solved, and he pointed me in the right direction a lot. It also meant I couldn’t be lazy with my project because I’d want to get things done before our next meeting.

I have heard some horror stories from people on my course who had supervisors that weren’t that useful at all or who were impossible to book meetings with. I hit the jackpot and had a great supervisor. I did go through the list of projects and rule out lecturers I thought / knew would be hard to work with, so do that if you can. 

 

Organisation tips to help you survive the final year of your undergraduate degree

Contemporaneous notes!

As a forensic science student, contemporaneous notes were drilled into us from day one. Though, I’ll admit I didn’t really do it until I learned the hard way during write-ups in my second year when I had no idea what my random comments in my lab book meant. Never in my life have I wished so hard that time travel was real than when I was reading those notes. 

Get a notebook you can use to write down all your thoughts, questions, results, notes from meetings, or anything to do with your project. Planning what you need to ask and find out, and writing a detailed answer about why will be really helpful when you come to writing up.

 

Start writing up from day one

Throughout the whole of my project, I had a working document that I regularly updated with my experimental, references I’d found, ideas for the discussion, and my introduction underwent many transformations as my understanding of my project improved.

If you start writing up right at the beginning, it will make your life a lot easier. I’m not saying you need to finish your introduction or literature review in the first week, but if you write down why you’re doing it, your hypothesis, and how you’re going to do it, that’s some groundwork laid already.

 

Tell your family, friends & anyone who will listen about it

I found that my family and friends (and even some of the customers at work) were really interested in what my project was about, and they would regularly ask me how it was going. Discussing and explaining my project to non-scientists was really helpful for me because they raised questions that I hadn’t thought of, and it meant I really got to know the topic well to be able to explain it to them. If you’re a fellow science student, you know that you can sometimes blag explaining something if you can hide behind scientific words but you really need to understand the topic if you’re explaining it to someone who doesn’t know much about it.

An additional bonus was that they kept me motivated because they wanted to know how it was going, and I felt bad when I had to say things weren’t going great or I’d not made much progress.

 

Get to know the lab techs / whoever is helping you

My project was based in a lab that was understaffed meaning the lab technicians were often a lot busier than they wanted to be. That said, they would always go out of their way to help students as much as they could. Obviously, they were not going to do work for you, but they would show you how to use machinery, help you find things, take you to restricted areas, get equipment if it was already in use.

For me, the lab technicians were godsends and not once did they make me feel stupid about asking what I thought was a stupid question, such as “how do I calibrate a pH meter?”. They were busy and stressed, I was busy and stressed, and it was good to talk and joke about that, and get to know them a little bit. Plus, we all know that people will go further out of their way to help people who are nice to them / they like.

 

To conclude, your third year requires you to actually start being organised and keeping yourself in check; but it’s also about being kind to yourself to prevent being so stressed you want to rip your own hair out, stick your fingers in your eyes, and hide under your bed. You’ve come this far, you’ll survive your third year, graduate, and feel proud of yourself, and you should do.

 

If you’re heading into your third year, I wanna know what you’re studying! Feel free to share any tips & ask questions in the comments.

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How to survive your third year of university; organisation & survival tips

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DIY midcentury hairpin leg nightstand

My forte is not DIY or building furniture. My forte is eating cake, stroking cats and dogs, and crying about not living in Canada, it is not building furniture; and yet I somehow built two hairpin nightstands.

Honestly, my DIY skills are woeful. I am better suited to providing refreshments, unless you want me to have to reassemble a TV stand three times because I keep putting bits the wrong way round (that happened once).

I fell down a Pinterest hole one day while looking for bedroom inspiration and saw a mid-century hairpin nightstand that I fell in love with. When I did some research I found some beautiful ones on Etsy, but I can't justify well over £100 for someone to stick our phones, books, and TV remote. I skulked back to Pinterest and ended up finding a tutorial for a hairpin nightstand which looked doable even with my poor DIY skills.

Luckily, my Mum was having a clearout and was getting rid of a big piece of wood that she'd used as a desk top. It was in perfect condition and was exactly the right size to make two matching nightstands; winner! I'm so pleased with how they turned out. I had this vision in my head of what they would look like and I didn't really think they would live up to it, but they surpassed it.

If I can make hairpin nightstands, anyone can, trust me. It required a handful of skills and the guidance of my Mum, who I swear can do pretty much anything (I would not be surprised if she told me she was secretly an astronaut).

Old piece of wood from a desk

Waxing the wood

Materials & cost

  • Wood: free (140cm x 57cm, which made two nightstands 45cm wide, 25cm deep, and 15cm tall)
  • Legs: £66 for 2 x sets of 4 black hairpin legs 35.5cm/14inches tall from The Hairpin Leg Co. on eBay (they appear to be more expensive on their own website for some reason.)
  • Wax: Colron medium oak wax - £14.99
  • Corner braces: 16 for £15.34
  • Screws: this will depend on the thickness of your wood and whether or not your legs come with screws. My legs did, but they were a a couple of mm too long for my wood, so I had to buy more screws. I used 32 screws for attaching the legs and 32 screws for attaching the brackets.
  • If you don't already have a saw, sandpaper, and a screwdriver, you will need those too.

All in all, I spent about £120 on the materials and tools for two nightstands. No, that isn't super cheap but it is cheaper than paying over £150 per nightstand. Plus, I have tools for any future DIY endeavors...and the wax will be used again to polish the nightstands. And honestly, the feeling of walking into a room and seeing something you made sitting there is priceless. The biggest cost by far were the legs, which you might be able to save some money if you shop around but I didn't see anything much cheaper.

Two mid-century hairpin nightstands DIY tutorial

Hairpin nightstand tutorial

Hairpin nightstand tutorial

  • Decide how big you want your stands to be and the best way to cut the pieces of wood from the wood you've got. Ours are 45cm wide, 25cm deep and 15cm high, which is perfectly big enough to put things on and for our cat to sleep inside...
  • Mark out your pieces and saw them out.
  • Sand the edges until they're smooth. If you're re-using wood like I was, you might need to sand off any marks or old wax.
  • If you need to remove any old wax use some turpentine in a well-ventilated area; it might smell nice, but y'all don't need to get high off it.
  • Decide which pieces will be top pieces, bottom pieces, and which way you want the side pieces; this probably isn't a big issue if you're using new wood, but it's important if you're re-using wood that might have scratches, holes, or marks on it.
  • Apply whatever wax, varnish or paint you want; or leave it plain.
  • Mark out where you want to place your corner braces; we marked ours 6cm from the front and back edges to make sure the corner brace screws didn't get in the way of the leg screws.
  • Attach the corner braces; if you have a small screwdriver this will be really easy because you'll have no problems attaching the top. If you don't, it is a little trickier, but it is doable.
  • Mark out where you want the legs to go and screw them in.
  • Put your table in your bedroom and drool over how beautiful and Pinterest-worthy it looks.
  • Put the kettle on, have a cup of something hot and eat cake, you've earned it.

DIY hairpin leg nightstand

All in all, it took my Mum and I about six hours to finish two nightstands. The longest part was prepping and waxing the wood; screwing it all together and attaching the legs probably took about an hour. If it's nice outside, you could easily finish this project off in a day and go to bed with a beautiful hairpin nightstand next to your bed the same night. It was seriously easy and it's so satisfying to 1) get to use up something which was going to landfill otherwise and 2) to see something you've made getting put to use in your own home.

Have you ever made any furniture?

Fancy making your own hairpin nightstand? Pin me for later!

DIY hairpin leg nightstand tutorial

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Share The Love July 2017 collage

I really missed not writing a Share The Love post at the end of June, but I was jetlagged and unhappy about being back in England so, I’m sure you can forgive me.

July seems to have whizzed by and at times I’m left wondering whether it was only last month that we were chilling by lakes in Canada. I got confirmation that I am now the proud owner of a BSc (Hons) first class in Forensic Science, *does a little happy dance*. I’m pretty proud of myself for that one. A couple of weeks after we got back from Canada, we spent a few days in Edinburgh, searching for places to live and Daz got himself a job!

Last Monday, my friends from work threw me a surprise leaving party, which was so sweet and I really didn’t know what to say. I was lost for words. We had a brilliant night, played Cards Against Humanity, and ate some delicious brownies one of my friends made, and it was wonderful. I truly am going to miss them so much; I think I might leak from the eyes on my last shift, which will be terribly undignified because I ugly cry.

I’ve also finally plucked up the courage to begin editing our photos from Canada and I immediately realised I was not strong enough because I WANNA GO BACK RIGHT NOW. I’m not going to lie, I fall in love with a lot of places I visit (for a while I was seriously going to Sweden to do a masters, but money) but Canada is like nothing else; it felt like home straight away and England doesn’t entirely feel like home now.

 

BLOG – Hopscotch The Globe

This is one of my favourite travel blogs and YouTube channels. Kristen and Siya are an adventuring couple who produce some of the best travel videos and blogs I’ve seen, and what I think makes them even better is how friendly and chilled out they come across. It feels like you’re listening to friends when you watch their videos. 

Last year, they brought an Airstream and started renovating it. I’ve been eagerly following their progress videos and they finally revealed their incredibly beautiful and spacious looking Airstream in July. I challenge you to watch it and tell me you don’t want to live in an Airstream right away, because I do. I want to move to Canada, renovate an Airstream and explore Canada, and wake up to new forests and mountain views whenever I fancy it.

 

LINKS

 

LISTENING TO

July was an amazing month for new music. While Daz is slowly being subjected to a little less Paramore than in June, it’s still popping up in my playlist a lot. Also popping up is new music from:

  • Kesha; damn, can we talk about how amazing Rainbow is going to be? She has released three singles off her upcoming album and they are all incredible. Take a listen to them here: Praying | Woman | Learn To Let Go
  • LIGHTS; Skydiving is so darn catchy.
  • While we’re talking about eagerly anticipating, I couldn’t not mention that SHANIA TWAIN IS RELEASING A NEW ALBUM IN SEPTEMBER. I cannot wait. I grew up on her music and I cannot wait to hear Now.

I also got into two podcasts this month:

  • Estee Lalonde released the pilot episode of her podcast, The Heart Of It. In the pilot, Estee spoke about protests and I absolutely loved it. I’ve watched her videos for years and her tone of voice is really similar to how she is in her blog and videos, only she gets into important topics.
  • I finally got around to watching Anna and Lily’s podcast, At Home With and it was just so easy to sit down and relax to.

 

WATCHING

All I need to say here is that Game of Thrones is back.

 

POPULAR POSTS ON GIRL IN AWE

 

Now I want to hear about your favourite things from July; send me all the links!

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Driving down the Icefields Parkway
 

Today is Earth Overshoot Day; the point in the calendar whereby we have used more natural resources than the planet can renew throughout the whole of the year. That’s a pretty sobering thought when there are almost five months left of 2017.

The Earth Overshoot Day website goes into more detail about what August 2nd represents and some of the things we can do to push that date back. It even allows you to calculate your global footprint. While it isn’t 100% perfect as it doesn’t include many countries on it, you can pick the one closest to you and it gives you some indication of what you could do to reduce your global footprint. According to my results, we would need 4.9 planets to support a world living the same way I do. That was a pretty surprising result as I thought I lived fairly greenly.

A couple of days ago, the UK government announced that it plans to cease sale of petrol and diesel cars (though not hybrid cars) by 2040. In comparison, India wants the same by 2030, and Norway only wants zero emission cars on their roads by 2025. Last month, Volvo announced that they will only introduce electric or hybrid vehicles after 2019. While it requires more work and money for a country to support that kind of change than for a company to stop producing a specific type of car, why is our government planning to fall 21 years behind Volvo, 15 years behind Norway, and 10 years behind India?

No, it’s not as simple as us replacing petrol and diesel cars with electric or hybrid versions, it will require culture shifts and a lot of investment in energy and public transport, but why are we aiming to fall behind?

The government estimate that air pollution is linked to 40,000 premature deaths per year, though it is hard to verify that figure. We know that air quality in some areas is poor, it can make existing conditions worse, and no one really wants to breath in dirty air, period. We know something needs to be done, but are our government doing enough, fast enough? These are just some of the issues that need to be tackled to change the way we think about travel.

Green energy

It’s all well and good harping on about how green electric cars are, but how green are the energy sources charging that car? If an electric car is charged using electric from fossil fuels, it isn’t truly emission free; albeit, the emissions are being emitted from a power station, not the car directly.The UK government is woefully behind other European countries in terms of green energy. A few times a year, stories pop up about the likes of Germany or Sweden generating enough green energy to power the entire country for a day or two. It’s not perfect, but they’re on the right path and we need to follow suit.

The problems with UK public transport

If you’ve traveled to Europe, you will know how inadequate and expensive the British public transport system is in comparison. The UK rail networks are in need of upgrading but that isn’t a priority for the government, who recently scrapped plans to electrify key lines. It seems the only public transport system the government are interested in is HS2, which will tear up parts of the British countryside, will cost £55.7 billion (way above the £32.7bn originally estimated), and will probably be the rail equivalent of the M6 toll; that is, barely used.

We are moving to Edinburgh soon and our friends and family have been doing some research into the easiest and cheapest way to get to Edinburgh, which is about 270 miles from where we currently live. In my car (a 0.9l Renault Clio), it costs less than £30 in fuel one way. The train? Costs over £100. Where is the incentive for people to take public transport instead of their cars when it is so expensive? What’s worse is you could fit five people in the average car, which would drop the cost to £6 each in fuel, but everyone would still be paying £100 on the train.

On top of that, our networks need to expand their reach to encourage more people to take public transport. It takes me just under 20 minutes to drive 7.5 miles to work, but what if I wanted to take public transport? I can’t, safely. I would have to walk a couple of miles down an unlit country lane with no footpath, and it’s doubtful buses would be running when I finish at 1am.

That leads us nicely to cycling. To a lot of motorists, cyclists are considered to be a pain because UK roads aren’t quite wide enough to safely pass. This is even more problematic in rural areas. The Netherlands is a country we really need to learn from because it has been estimated that up to 70% of journeys in Amsterdam and The Hague are made on cycles.

Changing how we travel

Helping our environment does not just require a change in how our government thinks and our infrastructure works, it requires us to change our mindsets. We need to change the way we think about travel. While that does go hand in hand with improved public transport, we need to start walking or cycling more.

I include myself in that category. When we’re living outside Edinburgh, we probably won’t need the car much at all but it seems hard to give up that sense of freedom that comes with owning a car. Conversely, if public transport was better and cheaper, it wouldn’t be as hard.

It isn’t going to be completely pain free and easy, but we haven’t done our fair share in terms of protecting the world we live in for long enough and it’s time we step up and take responsibility.

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