Sustainable Sports Stadium

The amazing London 2012 Olympics took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The Park was developed with a very sustainable vision. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the Olympics back in 2012, however on Saturday I was lucky enough to be at the World Athletics Championships held at the Park and managed to see first hand how the sustainability legacy of the games was holding up.

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The first thing I noticed when walking to the Park from Hackney Wick station was the area’s development. There were loads of brand new residential areas which I am told are low energy, low water and made from non-toxic materials. They were surrounded by cycle lanes, a pretty canal and plenty greenery supporting both sustainable transport and biodiversity.

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Arriving at the Park I was astonished by the organisation. Every block of seats had toilets and a food stall. No queues in sight! Most corners hosted bins which were clearly labelled for either general or recycled waste. There were plenty of points to refill water bottles encouraging the reduction in single use plastic bottles and when I treated myself to a tasty hot dog I was pleased to see that the packaging was fully recyclable.

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Once the morning athletics session was over I ventured over to the ‘Hero Village’ which was full of fun activities. One activity really caught my eye. The ‘Blue Badge Park Tour’ gave children wheelchairs and tasked them to navigate ramps, doorways and corners to become more aware of what it is like for those with disabilities.

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From what I can see the sustainable vision for the Park is still going strong.

Did you know?

  • By 2025 there will be 15,000 jobs created
  • More than 5,000 people (30 per cent from the local area) worked on the Park during its transformation – including 60 apprentices
  • Planning permission has been granted for 6,800 homes
  • There are 525 bird boxes and 150 bat boxes
  • Over 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 240,000 wetland plants have/will be planted
  • The venues use 56% less drinking water than equivalent buildings

After the athletics I headed to the ArcelorMittal Orbit for a look around and a journey down their world’s highest and longest tunnel slide (178 metres!). Designed by sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is just outside the Park. It’s made of 60% recycled steel, including washing machines and used cars. At the top of the building you get a 20 mile view of the Olympic Park and the London skyline. Once at the top you can either walk down the outer staircase, abseil down or do what I did and slide down. It was so fun!!!

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Whilst the likelihood is very slim that an Olympic Games or World Championship will ever be at the Park again in my lifetime it is still worth a visit as there is so much to do in the area. You can take a stadium tour, go for a walk or bike ride, check out the Energy Centre, take a boat ride, have some delicious food or drinks by the canal, see some art… the list goes on and on!

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things

Writing an ethical blog is sometimes difficult. There is a massive conflict of interests; aiming to consume less but then needing things to review and write about. So here is a list of my top 5 favourite ‘non-things’…

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  1. Travelling, experiencing different places, having new adventures.
    • Already this year I’ve been lucky to visit Warsaw, Cervinia and Berlin and at the end of September I’m off to Dubrovnik (any tips on where to go, what to do are welcome!). My travelling bucket list is constantly growing, every time I tick a place off, another destination is added. There’s a big world out there to explore, experience new cultures, do fun things. Next year I’ve got a lot of travelling lined up, and I just cannot wait!
  2. Seeing friends and family.
    • Living away from friends and family does have it’s perks. When I do see them I appreciate it much more than if I saw them every other week. Last weekend I visited my friend Grace in London, it was great to catch up over a lot of beers, Turkish food and a play. This weekend my Grandparents are visiting and we’ll be having a BBQ (British weather depending). I love having visits lined up in my diary, not great for the bank account, but great to see those you love.
  3. Reading a book, watching shows, films or a series and listening to music.
  4. Preparing and eating food.
    • If it didn’t have such negative consequences, I would probably spend all of my time eating. My days tend to revolve around what I’m having for my breakfast, dinner and tea (a.k.a lunch and dinner for you Southerners). At the moment my go to meal for breakfast, dinner or tea is avocado and eggs on toast. Just cannot beat it!
  5. Exercising.
    • It’s not only good for you, but it can be fun and pushing yourself is very satisfying. My favourite ways to exercise are going for walks, doing a pilates or spin class or going for a run. The best ways to keep motivated are by doing it with a friend, listening to a podcast or signing yourself up for a race or challenge.

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With resources depleting and waste piles increasing it is more important than ever to consume less. Spending your money on ‘non-things’ is much better than buying something you don’t really need.

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Women in Football

Unfortunately our Lionesses were knocked out last night in the Euro semi-finals by the Netherlands. But regardless of that ‘failure’, they still reached their second semi-final in three years. They should be proud of this. We all should be.

“If the men’s team were doing this well, they’d have changed the name of our currency to Raheem Sterling.”

But our country should also be ashamed. Ashamed of the state football is in today, the inequality and the large sum of unsustainable money in the game.

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Over a hundred years ago we invented the glorious game, but in 1921 the FA banned football for women. A couple of weeks back Clare Balding hosted a great programme on Channel 4 – ‘When Football Banned Women’ . If you’re into football and or a feminist, get it watched.

During and after WWI women’s football was very popular but then all of a sudden they were banned from playing the sport for a whole 50 years because fuddy duddy men in the FA did not want women getting paid for playing football. Outrageous!

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As much as women’s football is now legal, the game is still far from being equal. Just this week Neymar was sold to PSG for a record breaking £200mil, he’ll be earning £782k a week! Compare this to the highest paid female footballer, Steph Houghton who earns roughly £60k a year… again… outrageous!

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In Clare’s documentary she visited a girl’s team, when asked who their heroes and heroines were they replied Stevie G, Jagielka, Joe Hart etc. Not very many heroines, and why would there be? Women’s football gets very little coverage. The past few weeks the Euro’s have been taking place in the Netherlands, I’ve seen very little of the tournament on the back pages of newspapers, I’ve not seen one St George’s flag in a super market, or dangling off people’s car. How can the future stars of England’s women’s team have a heroine role model when the media don’t cover their game?

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The FA have set a target for 2020 to double the number of women and girls playing football, they have also been running a girl’s football week (16th July – 6th August) with the aim to raise the sport’s profile. It would be great to see at the next women’s World Cup held in France a bigger hype, helping improve equality and respect in the sport.

Good luck to all working to achieve that, and chin up Lionesses! x

Save Our Seas

It’s pledge time again!

This time it’s to pledge to help marine wildlife. Every year The Wildlife Trust host National Marine Week and this year it is running 29th July until 13th August (right now!).

If you have seen Chasing Coral you will understand the devastation our every day lives have on our seas. If you haven’t seen it… you really should! It’s a great documentary, just head to Netflix and press play.

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Fishing, waste, pollution and climate change are all contributing to major issues with our waters and the life that lives there.

Did you know?

  • The oceans have absorbed a third of all the carbon dioxide emitted since the Industrial Revolution, causing seawater acidity to rise faster than at any time in the last 55 million years
  • Sea levels really are rising. Over the last 50 years they rose approximately 1.8mm per year however in the 90’s this increased to 3.1mm per year
  • Plastic is often mistaken for food by marine animals. Plastic material has been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of many species, including whales, dolphins, seals, puffins, and turtles
  • Fertiliser runoff creates eutrophication that increases the amount of algae in the water which depletes the oxygen content, suffocating marine wildlife
  •  Eating contaminated seafood can cause serious health problems such as cancer

The list of shocking facts could go on and on and on, you simply just have to google ‘ocean’ and the top story found is about a rubbish patch in the Pacific that is bigger than Mexico…

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What can we pledge?

  • Stop using single use plastic like bottles and packaging
  • Pick up litter and put it in recycling or a bin to stop it drifting into the ocean
  • Watch out for microbeads in products such as tooth paste and exfoliators
  • Reduce your carbon footprint; walk more, eat less meat and switch lights off
  • Eat less fish and ensure the fish you do eat comes from a sustainable source

It may not seem like a lot, but if many of us make little changes there is a possibility we can reverse some of the effects our planet’s actions are having on the seas.

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Music Festival Essentials

Right now I’m so excited! Tomorrow I’m off to Truck Festival in Oxfordshire.

I really just can’t wait to get there, put the tent up and crack open a can. Aside from the general festival atmosphere and discovering new bands, I’m really looking forward to…

  • Libertines – even though I’ve seen them so many times before, nothing beats singing along to the Libs
  • Cabbage – after seeing these previously in a small venue in Leicester I can’t wait to see how they perform to a big crowd, bunch of mad-eds
  • Slaves – I’ve loved their work for a few years now, be great to finally see them live
  • Reggaerobics – does what it says on the tin… good little reggae dance along
  • Idris Elba – what a man, need I say more

I love festivals, and over the years through trial and error I’ve managed to get festival packing down to a tee. Here are my festival essentials…

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  • Glitter – These days, such a festival essential. But did you realise most glitter is made from plastic? Do not worry though, Eco Stardust are here to save the day. They sell beautiful biodegradable glitter.

Did you know? 8 million tonnes of the stuff end up in the ocean every day – the equivalent of one rubbish truck of plastic every minute.

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  • No rinse shampoo & dry shampoo – Not showering for a few days takes it’s toll. Luckily there’s fantastic inventions to help out. Lush’s No Drought dry shampoo is made from natural ingredients and as always is not tested on animals. The grapefruit and lime oil in it makes your hair smell amazing! All you do is dash some powder onto your roots, let it soak in, then brush out. Another hair saver is Zerreau Towel Off Shampoo made in the UK, again animal testing free and they use recycled materials for their packaging. All you do is put it onto dry hair, lather up like you would normal shampoo and then towel dry.

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  • Wipes & hand sanitiser – The shower and toilet situation is never great at a festival. A wet wipe wash and constant application of hand sanitiser is essential. I’ll be taking Earth Friendly Baby Wipes with me which are 100% biodegradable, made in the UK and free from parabens, SLS and animal testing. My go to hand sanitiser is Nilaqua. Made in the UK with fair trade ingredients it is free from palm oil, parabens and SLS. It’s cruelty free, suitable for vegans, biodegradable and has recyclable packaging.

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  • Poncho – First making its appearance at Glasto 2011, it’s been an essential for every muddy UK festival since, it tucks neatly away into a bag ready to be pulled on when the heavens open. Mine regrettably was bought from Primark back in the day, but I really have gotten wear out of it.

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  • Dr. Martens – Sometimes, just sometimes, festivals aren’t one big puddle. This is why I ditched wellies years ago for my Doc Marts. They work in both bad and good weather (saving on packing), they are stupidly comfy and provide more support than wellies.

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  • Sun cream & insect repellent – There is very little escape from the extremes at a festival. For suncream I use Jason SPF 30 as mentioned in my Summer Essentials post and for insect repellent I use Incognito Anti-Mosquito Spray. Last year I was eaten alive at Isle of Wight. This year I won’t be making that mistake again.

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  • Milk thistle – Part and parcel of a festival is alcohol. Massive consumption of the stuff. To ease the effects of alcohol I take milk thistle, courtesy of Brainfeed. Milk thistle is a traditional herbal medicine used to relieve the symptoms of alcohol consumption, several scientific studies suggest that the compound silymarin in milk thistle can protect the liver from toxins. I’ve been using it for nearly two years now. This is definitely a festival essential!

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Other essentials include; something to drink from (water bottle, reusable cup) as suggested in my last post, camping chair, music speakers, sunglasses (check out Monkey Glasses), mirror (for that all-important glitter application), recycled bin bags (always clean up your mess) and clothes for every occasion!

One last crucial essential (that my sister managed to forget last year for T in the Park… sorry Fi) – your ticket!!!

I’m now all packed and raring to go. If you’re off to a festival I’d love to hear what your essentials are. I’m always up for new ideas to make the experience easier.

Ciao x

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My Plastic Free Struggle

Somehow we’re now mid way through the month, and as promised in my previous post here is an update on how my Plastic Free July is going…

Truthfully, it’s not going very well.

I’ve had some successes…

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I’ve been shopping from my local greengrocers and taking reusable bags with me, this massively cuts down on plastic packaging and carrier bags.

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I take my stainless steel One Green Bottle everywhere with me.

I received a Lush delivery with plastic free packaging. Eco-flo chips were used to protect the product, simply run the chips under water and they biodegrade.

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I now buy baked beans in single cans, not multi packs of four which are coated in plastic.

But also some failures…

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I ran the Great North 10k the other week and it was scorching, so I ended up grabbing a plastic bottle from one of the water stations on the way round, drinking it and then tossing it to the ground.

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I’ve been on the road alot this month. Up to Durham, down to Bristol, up to Yorkshire, back to the Midlands… and unless you are very organised it is nearly impossible to not use plastic when stopping at a service station. Even with the best intentions of using my One Green Bottle I struggled to find somewhere to refill.

Dauntingly, round the corner may lie my biggest challenge yet…

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This weekend I am off to a music festival. However I am very determined to try and use as little plastic as possible.

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I will be taking my ‘pimp cup’ and asking the bar staff to serve me my pints in this instead of a disposable plastic cup. I’ve also got myself an Organic Humble toothbrush, which is made from bamboo, to take with me.

Did you know? More than 2 billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill sites every year.

How is your Plastic Free July going?

I’d love to hear about your struggles, and even better, your hints and tips!

The Monthly Gift

My first ever blog post back in December last year was about Monthlies, a period subscription box. Their boxes are filled with sanitary products, all organic and plastic, chlorine, animal testing free. For every box you purchase, 20% of the profits will go to support women and girls in the UK and abroad. I still use Monthlies, they are amazing, but over the months I’ve managed to accumulate quite a stock of excess sanitary products.

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A few weeks ago in Nottingham I stumbled upon The Monthly Gift who are a campaign that donates sanitary products to homeless women and those who have limited access to them. This was a perfect solution to my ever increasing pile of pads!

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Periods are annoying on a good day. But they are a whole lot more difficult to deal with when you don’t have a home or a bathroom or money and that is the reality for thousands of homeless women everyday.

The issue even goes beyond the homeless, girls in the UK are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary products. Female pupils could be skipping up to a week of school every single month because they can’t afford sanitary products and they’re too afraid to ask for them due to the ridiculous stigma and shame still attached to periods.

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You can help.

If you don’t live local to Nottingham there is also a Monthly Gift Manchester  and many other charities that help provide period support to those that need it such as; The Homeless Period, Action Aid and Irise. Food banks are also a great place to donate.

Give it a go!