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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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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Weekly Dose of Avocado

At least once a week I have avocado. Absolutely love the stuff. I have it in many shapes and forms. For breakfast, dinner or tea. Sometimes in a smoothie, with eggs on toast, in a wrap, with chili con carne or even just to dip some crisps.

Did you know…?

  • They’re are a fruit, and where most fruit is high in sugar, avocado is high in healthy fats (aka monounsaturated oleic acid)
  • They hold a wide variety of nutrients, including 20 different vitamins and minerals
  • They contain more potassium than a banana!

Tonight I’m having my weekly dose in the form of guacamole with poached eggs on toast.

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Here is the guac recipe courtesy of Rob!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ripe large avocado
  • 1/4 large red onion, finely diced
  • 2 beef tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
  • Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 red chili, finely diced
  • Pinch of salt

METHOD:

  • Mash the avocado up with a fork
  • Add the onion, tomatoes, coriander and chili then mix
  • Season with salt and lime juice, and voila! Done.

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Easy, healthy and scrummy! If you want some more avo-inspo head to @bestofavocado on Instagram.

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!

The Beauty of Simplicity

About a week ago I was well excited to receive my first ever monthly delivery from The Natural Beauty Box.

The Natural Beauty Box is a monthly subscription box of natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare and beauty products. It’s a great way to try out new things and discover different brands.

Box subscription is only £24.95 per month (which is a bargain as boxes have an actual value of £50) and for every box sold there is a 50p charity donation. Also, with my promo code “BELLA3” you can get £3 off your very own subscription.

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May’s box “the beauty of simplicity” contains six super products which I’ve tried and tested over the past week.

Balm Balm Coconut Cleanser

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC COCONUT OIL

I’m already a lover of coconut oil and have found this spray cleanser is great for a deep facial cleanse and to remove eye make up. To use it as an eye make up remover all you have to do is spray a couple of squirts into the palms of your hand, rub onto your closed eyes and let it soak for 30 seconds. Then use a warm, wet cotton pad or muslin cloth and the make up just slides off. Unlike other eye make up removers using coconut oil does not sting and leaves the eye area nice and moisturised.

Balm Balm Little Miracle Rosehip Serum

INGREDIENTS: ALL ORGANIC – ROSEHIP, JOJOBA, BORAGE, FRANKINCENSE, ROSE GERANIUM, PALMAROSA, JUNIPER BERRY, MANDARIN

This serum smells amazing, just look at the ingredients, is there really any wonder?! I’ve been using a couple of drops of this every other night before bed on my face. It’s a little oily, so maybe not great for people with oily skin, but after a few days of sunshine the past week this deep moisturising serum has been perfect.

Alchemy Oils Grapefruit Hair Remedy

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC CASTOIR OIL, COCONUT OIL, ORGANIC AVOCADO OIL, SWEET ALMOND OIL, GRAPEFRUIT WHITE ESSENTIAL OIL

Again, like the serum, this smells great. Fruity and fresh. I’ve only used this once as my hair tends to get greasy with too much product, but it was a lovely treatment. Using a couple of drops to massage into the scalp and through to the ends, then leave in over night. The next day my hair didn’t just feel in better condition but also cleaner.

Kathy Sue-Ann’s Organic Lip Scrub

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC PALM SUGAR, COCONUT OIL, SWEET ALMOND OIL, VITAMIN E

This little pot is brilliant. Not only does it really work on removing dry skin from lips, but the little pot will last forever as all you need is a tiny dab to do the job. Basically all you do is get a smidgen of it onto your finger and massage onto your lips for about a minute, wash it off and put on some lip balm. Super soft.

Skin Elixir Frankincense and May Chang Moisturiser

INGREDIENTS: ALL ORGANIC – SWEET ALMOND OIL, SHEA BUTTER, BLACK SEED, FRANKINCENSE, MAY CHANG, VITAMIN E

I’ve been alternating this moisturiser with the rosehip serum on an evening as a face cream, but it can also be used on your hands and body. It smells exotic and a little goes a long way. You wake up with your skin feeling totally refreshed.

Indigenous Beauty Uplifting Natural Deodorant Cream

INGREDIENTS: BICARBONATE OF SODA, ARROWROOT, COCONUT OIL, SHEA BUTTER, VITAMIN E

I’m not yet fully convinced on natural deodorant. I do a fair bit of sports and with hotter weather on it’s way I’m not entirely confident that it works. I feel I need to be able to do some more research into natural deodorants to be able to form an opinion on this product. Possibly a future blog post on the horizon…

If you’re thinking of transitioning your beauty regime to more natural and ethical products then The Natural Beauty Box is a great way to start (don’t forget with my promo code “BELLA3” you can get £3 off your very own subscription).

Personally I’m already looking forward to the June delivery, thanks TNBB! x

Asquith – Yoga

I usually do yoga at my local leisure centre and recently they’ve added some extra sessions of piyo and pilates which I can’t wait to get stuck into.

I’ve also started going to an outdoor yoga session which is held at Whistlewood Common (a community-owned area of land in my parent’s town) one Friday a month. Typical UK style – this month’s session was held inside a yurt because of the rain…

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For yoga I used to wear old leggings and a scruffy t-shirt, but since I’m doing it more and I’m getting slightly better at it, I decided to invest in some proper gear and headed to Asquith.  They specify in yoga clothing made from bamboo and organic cotton at a family run factory in Turkey.

Bamboo is a sustainable and environmentally low-impact fabric, it grows faster and absorbs more carbon dioxide than hardwood trees (always a positive!). It is ideal for activewear as it is naturally anti-bacterial and breathable.

All Asquith’s fabrics are Oeko-Tex certified which means they have a low carbon footprint and biodegradable fibres. Their cotton is also GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified meaning it is ethically grown, chemical free and responsibly manufactured. It keeps it shape, doesn’t fade, bobble or stretch unlike other activewears.

This morning I wore my new clobber to a Sunday session at the leisure centre. As soon as I put them on they felt much more suitable to yoga than what I was previously wearing. They felt like a second skin, gentle and breathable. I might not yet be able to do ‘floating lizard’, but at least I look the part!

Even if you aren’t a yoga/pilates/piyo goer I’d recommend these clothes for loungewear. Proof – I’ve still got mine on now 4 hours after my session this morning!

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Ethical Food Shop

As someone who absolutely loves food, but wants to buy and eat a product that is sustainable and safe, is from a company that looks after its employees and does not damage the environment, I was very much looking forward to Ethical Consumer Magazine’s latest issue.

Every issue Ethical Consumer focuses on a specific area, in which they investigate brands and products and publish their findings alongside an ethical rating. Their May/June issue brought focus to supermarkets and food.

I am under no illusion that supermarkets are an ‘ethical’ way to buy food. Personally I try where possible to buy from the local grocer, market, butcher or baker. However sometimes, for convenience and cost there is simply no other way to do a food shop than to head to the nearest Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Aldi.

supermarkEthical Consumer assessed the supermarkets on environment, animals, people and politics to generate an ethiscore. Their full range of products sold, company policies and strategies were reviewed.

As you can see, none of them scored very highly.  The highest being the Co-op with 5.5/20.

Specific findings on animal welfare, climate change, cocoa, cotton, fish, palm oil and timber were detailed in the article.

Did you know that all the cocoa in Co-op brand products will be Fairtrade by 27th May?

Did you know that only 2% of Morrisons fish is MSC-labelled compared to 72% at Sainsbury’s?

As their findings are pretty disheartening Ethical Consumer goes on to explain what the alternatives are. Shopping at a wholefood shops, farmers markets or ordering veg boxes.

If we are to keep shopping at supermarkets, the next best thing to do is buy ethical products from their stores.

Here are some of my favourite products with an Ethical Consumer review:

  • Baked beans – I count myself as abit of a baked bean conosoir. I just love em! Branston tend to be my go-to. And that is why I was gutted to find Branston only have a 4.5 rating. Geo Organics and Mr Organic were found to be the best with a score of 17/20! I will be giving these the taste test and let you know how it goes.

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  • Bananas – I eat a banana every day and always buy Fairtrade. Ethical Consumer’s ‘best buy’ is to go to supermarkets that only sell Fairtrade (Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s). For non-supermarket bananas Eko Oke is the best as they are Fairtrade and Organic, however I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in an independent shop. Below is a ‘banana split’ showing where the sale of a non-Fairtrade banana is distributed, shockingly workers only receive 7% of the bananas cost. For me, the best advice is to carry on buying Fairtrade.

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  • Coconut oil – I use coconut oil for all sorts. Not just for cooking but for my nails, face, hair and teeth. The brand I use is Lucy Bee’s (scoring 18/20). Sourced from Sri Lanka the oil is unrefined, extra virgin, Fair Trade, organic and raw. And personally, I love it.

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I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any suggestions on how to do an ethical food shop, please comment! x