8th August 2019No Comments

Plastic Free July – There’s more than meets the eye

I'm quite a few days beyond July, but wanted to wrap up with some thoughts on Plastic Free July and beyond. There's definitely more to it and lots of layers, so wanted to share that with you. Some rambling thoughts, so let's get to it shall we?

Plastic is for sure a massive problem in our world. It pollutes our oceans, water systems, food and is one of the biggest nuisances the world has ever had. BUT - it's just one part of an overall web. Everything is connected in some way or another.

You can't support plastic free living without thinking about sustainability. For example how our food is grown and how we consume, to then thinking about carbon footprint (hello meat and dairy industry), to then ethics. How people in the supply chain are treated and animal welfare, how transparent is the production? Oh so many questions.

As we all become increasingly aware of the various environmental and sustainability issues in the world we live in, we try to learn and do our bit right? The first thing to realise, is that being completely plastic free or zero waste is actually impossible in the current linear economy and way of living. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try - do what you can whenever possible.

For so long, big corporates have got away with keeping their production processes a secret so allowing them to keep standards low and mark ups high. What we don't know won't hurt us right? But what about when it's micro plastics in fish or chemicals in the water we drink? Those are things we know to be true now. Netflix has some pretty special documentaries about the meat and dairy industry and food so definitely worth a watch to swot up.

Luckily as consumers we hold a lot of power in how we buy and how much we put pressure on brands and companies to clean up their act. The more we become aware of our habits, spending and educate ourselves, the more they have to change. Change in society sure takes its time but it can happen. With this in mind, you might have seen lots of brands pop up with a solution - reusables, ethically made fashion, plastic free alternatives. It's pretty amazing that individuals have taken it upon themselves to create a solution to help people buy better and change habits.

So why haven't we changed as quickly as the solutions have become available? Well, here's where things get messy... Societal change is a big shift that needs to take place which involves both individuals and big organisations to be on the same page. On one hand, we should keep piling on the pressure so that big corporations have to change. But the majority of the population are none the wiser about the problems or solutions because these ideas aren't so freely available everywhere. Or publicised.

On the other hand, the big corporations need to fix their consumption and ways of production to stop hurting both people and planet. But guess what? That's the more expensive and cumbersome way. For too long, it's been about having the most speed and cost efficient way to make something. The disregard for Earth's materials and thinking that human kind is more important is part of the reason we are in this mess. So in short, it comes down to money, money, money. Profit is the name of the game at any cost. Quite literally.

By covering up production processes and material sourcing, we've never thought twice about it and neither are these things ever talked about or shared. Until you dig deeper and educate yourself. This is also why the mass majority of people don't question it. Here's where another layer called privilege is added. By me being able to talk about these issues, address them and provide solutions is for sure a privilege. There's been some articles and writing around the zero waste movement being quite a privileged thing and I have to agree to some extent.

The knowledge is freely available if you've gone out to make a change yourself and become part of the bubble. But what about those that are limited to their lifestyle or don't have access to the same things both material and financial? How can we make it so we can spread the awareness? For some, there's certain health conditions that limit the types of food they can eat, disability can limit consumption or mobility, so sometimes it's not an option to go plastic free. Living a low impact lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive, you do what you can that's all. The small changes often make the biggest difference.

I've seen another side to the various movements with a lot of shaming around not doing 'enough' or having flaws in the way you consume or share your views. But the truth is no solution is perfect, no one knows everything there is to know and neither does everyone have the access to things that ensure the perfect zero waste, low impact life. So what I mean to say, is that we should most definitely try, but not feel bad for when we can't get it all right.

Aside from educating ourselves on the problems and their solutions, it's also about a mindset shift. We can take action by buying better, reusing and so on, but you might find that it takes a bit of getting used to. A bit like building a good habit, it's about training yourself and you will forget in the early stages - I know I did! From remembering to take your reusable cup and ordering your first pack of reusable wipes, to taking reusable bags to the food shop. We've been so used to one thing that it takes a bit of work to rewire ourselves! Just taking a second before making a decision can be all it takes.

Phew that was much longer than I had expected! These thoughts are all off the back of my own reading, education and hearing from others. I don't claim it to be perfect or right, but this is my understanding. I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts, comments or questions!

8th August 2018No Comments

10 reasons why travel is nothing but good for you

What do you think of when I say travelling? Is it images of far flung places of paradise? Young backpackers across Asia? Living humbly for 6 months in printed harem pants and flip flops? It can be all of those things but so much more. In the last two years me and my husband have travelled quite extensively, alongside full-time jobs for most of it but we did it in shorter, more frequent stints. We travel intentionally after knowing the transformation that can take place, no matter how long you’re away.

When I say travel, I mean exploration, curiosity and not necessarily the conventional idea of a ‘holiday’. I have guides on Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo over on medium if you fancy a read, but here’s ten reasons why travel of all kinds is nothing but good for you!

1. Inspiration

A change of place triggers so many new feelings and ideas and you will always come back with an abundance of inspiration. Sometimes whilst you’re exploring somewhere new, solutions to a problem can come to you, or the beginnings of something exciting can start to bubble. Either way, something is unlocked just by changing the space you’re in.

2. Perspective

Taking in a new city and people-watching you realise how big the world is and how small you are. You have all these things going on in your life but yet, here are thousands of others potentially feeling the same or living it totally differently to you. In Scandinavia for example, sustainability and environmental responsibility is a deeply ingrained value. Whereas in the UK this is still growing.

3. Personal development

No matter how long you’re away for, there’s always something you have the challenge of; learning a few words in the native language or navigating your way to the nearest supermarket. These seemingly little things are what push growth each time you do it. Taking the time to learn about the history of a place can help you understand the culture, and its reason for being.

4. Connection

If like us, curiosity gets the better of you, you can learn so much from a short conversation, with the guy making your coffee for example. It gives you an insight into how other people live and what factors might have shaped their life. Just by asking for recommendations on somewhere to eat or a gallery to visit, you’ll almost always get more than that. We got so many little snippets of how Norwegians live, just by talking to our waitress at dinner one evening.

5. Prioritisation

If you go on short trips quite regularly, look at the items you take with you every time, as well as the things you start to leave behind. I noticed I always packed the same three trousers and two pairs of shoes on every trip we took. But I started to leave behind a lot of jewellery and extra makeup. Packing more minimally really takes out the stress of all the extra clothes and accessories you know you won’t use, plus it clears the space for any goodies you want to bring back with you!

Scottish coast, Gifford

Rialto Bridge_Venice

6. Memories + Stories

Without sounding cheesy, this is the most priceless part of travel. For so many of us, our dream is to be able to see the world. The people you both travel with and meet, the smells and feelings in a particular place are all what you end up remembering the most. These memories stay with you forever.

7. Food

Food has such a deep meaning amongst all cultures and can speak more about people and history that a lot of other elements can’t. Again, by being curious and understanding how a dish is made or why there are certain flavours used, you learn so much. We found when we asked about food on a menu, most people are actually quite proud explaining the reasons behind them.

8. Finding yourself

Do you find yourself going out of your way to do something different when you go away? We do too. Similar to personal growth, doing something new in a new place can spark a sense of evaluation within yourself. Recently, after going on a tour of some wild beaches and caves in the Algarve, all by kayak, I started to feel more confident with my ability of navigating deep water and my overall sense of taking risks.

9. Gratitude

Travel has really opened my eyes to how lucky I am to have seen different parts of the world we live in. Every time I see a beautiful landscape or a city from a high viewpoint, I feel so grateful to be there at that moment in time. For some, regular travel isn’t an option or easy to do, so it’s an even sweeter experience when you do finally get to be somewhere else.

10. Anxiety + Stress

When we’ve been away in an intense period, being forced to step back from it has done wonders for anxiety. When you’re in transit there’s a limit on what you can do, especially if your Wifi connection is bad. So you’re forced to take a pause, do something else. You want to make the most of your new surroundings, so it doesn’t leave much room for anxiety.

All this goodness from travel, there’s a whole world to see and one life to do it in! (Next port of call is to see how to do it more sustainably)

On the steps in Venice

3rd August 2018No Comments

A round up of thoughts on Plastic Free July

So July has been an interesting one hasn’t it? We’ve had an actual summer this year, to the point of having to do rain dances to bring some moisture back, the World cup and.. #PlasticFreeJuly. As I continually tweaking my lifestyle to be more mindful so joining in was a natural next step. However, it did throw up some thoughts and realisations as you’ll see…

It requires a bit of planning

After looking at my daily habits I knew coffee and water were absolutely something I needed to sort, so a Keepcup and Bobble were in my bag at all times. But, on the days where I was going to be out all day, I had to plan ahead to see whether I could eat lunch out or had to pick something up on the go. Our weekly grocery shop had a full overhaul too; we split our shop between three places to eliminate plastic which was a struggle to say the least

It’s not easy when travelling

We were away in Portugal for nearly two weeks so we took our coffee cups, bobble and steel straws which really helped keep us in check! Unfortunately, any supermarkets we went into, everything was covered in some kind of plastic packaging. Apart from the fruit and some veg. But anything that needed to last in hot weather was in some kind of plastic.

You will be on autopilot one day!

It wasn’t perfect every day and yes, I did end up with something plastic a couple of times. There were days I didn’t prepare in advance and found myself having to grab something in between meetings or appointments. Or I didn’t have time for breakfast and was starving and needed something quick before hangry set in. Sometimes it just wasn’t avoidable.

There’s not enough alternatives – yet

The beginnings of plastic alternatives like recycled outer packagings or compostable plastics are being introduced (Teapigs use one to package their teabags in). Lots of new materials are being developed that are biodegradable, but like anything new and different, it’ll be a while until it’s adopted into mainstream industries.

Convenience is a working progress

Finding plastic free products daily, generally hasn’t been too pressing until it came to replacing things around the house like foil, sandwich bags, laundry items. Local supermarkets or grocery stores didn’t readily have these, so I had to go on a hunt for them separately. It wasn’t ideal in busy periods when we didn’t have time to go and physically buy them from the handful of places we found. Convenience is still something that needs to be worked on, but I’m sure it’ll be come easier as the demand grows.

Take action no matter how small

One of the biggest things I realised, is that taking action and making even a small change will make a difference. I’m not sure why, but there seems to feel like a need to have an overnight change in our habits, but changing a behaviour takes time. Especially on a mass scale. Through education we can all make choices daily to lessen our impact.

There’s still plastic in my life

I’m far from waste free and still have products that are plastic, especially beauty products from my days in the industry. It’s just not practical for me to just throw things out – they’ll still end up in the same place whether I use them or not. Instead, I’ve taken the approach to do things bit by bit and use them all up, then replace with better choices as I go along.

This is a much bigger issue

The more I’m investing myself in altering my habits, the more I read and see that this is so much more than me. We’ve all seen the distressing videos of a sea of plastic, but we also see local supermarkets still receiving plastic bags. The production doesn’t seem to be slowing down and it poses the question – what exactly needs to happen for a lasting change? What part of the chain needs to be broken for it to be better?

13th June 2018No Comments

5 things I learnt from goal setting

You've probably heard the key to success, or at least part of it is to set goals. As I went freelance this year, I knew I needed to keep organised and have something to work towards. So I invested in a journal to track my progress in the form of the Best Self journal. There's a tonne of productivity and goal setting planners on the market but I just happened to pick this one to have a go.

Best Self is set out over 13 weeks to work on shorter term goals and really detailed down to daily timings, weekly schedules and even helps you build in good habits. This kind of in-depth detail was new to me so I wanted to see how well I got on. It was intense but here's 5 things I learnt from setting goals.

1. Clarity on my goals and achievements

Having to write down at least two main goals with 3 progress goals for each, really made me think about the most important steps I needed to take to achieve them. Setting them out like this gave me more manageable actions to spread out across the coming weeks.

2. Tracking my progress is motivating

Although the initial groundwork took a bit of time, the journal encourages you to reflect on the week gone and what could be improved before planning the week ahead. My daily habits like meditation and fitness were being tracked too so the more I did them the more I wanted to carry on.

3. Feeling guilty when I slipped up

There were a few days throughout this time that I wasn't as productive or didn't complete my target of going to the gym that week. This made me feel terrible that I'd been doing so well and I'd not achieved the thing that week. This feeling was probably a self inflicted pressure to be honest and that on top of all the productive people I was seeing on social media smashing it.

setting goals

4. Getting better with managing time

Having reflected on the weeks where I felt I could have done better, I looked at my time management. There were definitely some parts of the day that I wasn't being realistic about like travel times and allowing for a proper break in the day. I was also taking too long completing certain tasks and I had to assess whether I should allow less time or speed up. It didn't help that procrastination played a part too!

5. Life doesn't work like clockwork

Having silly expectations of myself and how much I can achieve in a day or a week were one thing. I realised that it's ok to 'slip up' and not be 100% productive all of the time. I'm only human and I also have a life to live and enjoy. I know that's easier said than done when you're still trying to find your feet in the freelance life! Something small like a walk in the park, reading a book or going to an exhibition is all it takes to refresh.

How do you set your goals and what tools have you found effective for you? I'd love to know! Drop me a line or DM me.

14th March 2018No Comments

A vision for 2018: Goals and habits

New Years resolutions aren’t for me, plus they’re not really all that effective. You can make change any time of the year right? However, this January for me marks the start of a journey I chose to take, shaping my life the way I want it to be. It started by quitting my job before Christmas — a nice shock to the system. Once that hard decision was made, I set about making some lifelong habits and goals.

After thinking about going freelance again and giving it a good go (along with various pet projects on a slow burn). Why not now? Planning and visualising has been the key thing to help me feel some kind of balanced so here we are. The year ahead looks scary and challenging but also exciting and promising.

To top it off, I turn 30 this year so it’s even more prevalent that my life is mine to live, so take it by the horns and go! I made a list of goals before 30 as well as a Vision Board for the year ahead.

Travel takes a firm position with Cuba, Mauritius for Rav’s birthday, the Algarve and Florence. Then there’s the goal of being as fit and healthy as I can be through exercise, working with Social Impact businesses and getting further into Fragrance.

2018 Goals and habits

However, there are lifelong habits I’m looking to make which will help improve my overall wellbeing;

  • Meditate each morning and make it a ritual — when I’ve consistently done this it’s really helped to keep my busy brain calm! I’ve used apps like Headspace and Daily Calm as I never have much time.
  • Make sure I have a better quality of sleep — I’m a bad sleeper. Stressful periods will keep me up, my brain won’t stop wanting to reflect on the day. Sleep is so crucial and proven to be the secret sauce to productivity, so more of that please.
  • Read, read, read — I haven’t finished a book for what feels like years. I love the physical feel of books so have been slowly stocking up and now I really need to get a move on! I prefer to read non-fiction — marketing, productivity, fragrance, blogging, psychology. Anything I can learn something.
  • Create — I used to paint, draw, you name it and I’m determined to get back to my creative self. So I want to create, anything and more often.

So here’s to 2018 — spreading my wings and hope to fly!

14th March 2018No Comments

Pause. Take five. Have a breather.

Hello. Hi. So we have a new camera and the husband wanted to have a go so here you’ll see various images of my face, but the lovely lavender fields make it kinda nice no? Plus, he did a pretty good job on the Lightroom action don’t you think? Anyway, whilst you remember the feeling of calming lavender, hold that thought… doesn’t it feel good to just pause for a second and feel the silence?

The epitome of modern life is pretty much the word ‘busy’. That’s all we ever are and that’s all everyone else is. Too busy to enjoy the time spent with loved ones, too busy to make time to eat well and too busy to just — be. We’re all so blinded by our own ideas and thoughts of what life should be that we forget to actually enjoy it. That’s not to say doing life is easy, oh no. I know it’s not. The amount of choice, freedom and reach we have is actually crazy— we can do anything, now that we have a mini computer connecting us to the world in our pocket.

Mayfields Lavender farm Banstead

We all want to do more, see more, be more, whilst keeping an eye on what our peers are doing but always being ‘on’ is exhausting. You can’t always have your shit together, it’s not sustainable or healthy. When you have a large majority of people realising that it’s all getting too much and even getting ill from stress and anxiety, the world of wellbeing and mindfulness was born. Now, the ideas are not in any way new or revolutionary (a conversation for another day) but simply updated to fit our modern world.

Sometimes, its just difficult to manage everything whilst keeping a composed exterior let alone interior. I’ve struggled for many years managing my stress and anxiety levels — it really doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist by nature and a lover of order. There’s plenty of tactics and tips to help manage our daily lives so I’d like to share a few that have really helped me that may help you too.

Neom Organics — I love everything about this brand from the branding to the transparency in everything they do. My favourite items are the rollerball treatments; Intensive Stress Relief and Intensive Mood lifting. They’re perfect for keeping in your bag to use on your pulse points and take a deep breath. It’s the best for when you have one of those days when you’re literally up to your eyeballs and feel like it won’t ever end.

Headspace — When I’m extremely stressed or have a lot on, I tend not to sleep well at all. No amount of pillow spray will work so Headspace has really helped to calm my mind before bed. I know it’s more of a guided meditation app that most people use for ten minutes of calm during the day but I found focusing my mind when I can’t sleep just helps put everything back in it’s place if that makes sense. Download it and have a try, another app called The Daily Calm is good too.

Fitness — I hate to say it, but a good sweat is the best thing in times of extreme anxiety and stress. I can’t recommend enough that when you’re going through something hard, an intense workout consistently, like HIIT (High intensity interval training) is the closest to medicine. Going to the gym almost daily helped me to focus on a goal I had complete control over and helped me overcome a period of depression. So yes, I seriously recommend it, especially when you think you can’t.

The great outdoors — By outdoors I mean out of a city environment and into somewhere open, preferably with lots of green and trees around. The easiest thing is to head to your nearest park. Take your shoes and socks off and just stand barefoot on the grass. Not only does this ground you, it just brings a sense of calm that only being like this can. Obviously, when it’s raining a simple walk in the park is just as good.

Mayfields Lavender farm Banstead

The most important thing I’ve learnt is to have self-awareness. By listening to your body and your feelings, you’re better equipped to manage yourself and ultimately everything around you. It’s easy to snap at someone if you’re feeling particularly under it that day, but the minute you’re more open to being aware of what you’re feeling you can stop it in its tracks by helping yourself. Self-awareness takes time to develop because it’s about listening to your body and reacting in a way to manage your feelings, but also to assess your thoughts before they become words you can’t take back. But if you’ve read this far, I’m pretty sure you’re already on your way to figuring this out.

What helps you keep calm and feeling well?

Mayfields Lavender farm Banstead

13th March 2018No Comments

Living a minimal life

Since leaving home a few years ago and riding the rent wave with my now husband, it’s fair to say we’re more than accustomed to moving. For the average person I’m aware that I had a lot of ‘stuff’ — bags and boxes of it. The first time round it was about getting used to having an extra person in the bed and their way of living. But moving a couple times more is where it got real — er why do we have so much stuff?

Rav and I are all for efficiency and simplicity but it seems it wasn’t being applied in our living space. So first things to go were clothes and shoes. This started the bug and we were throwing things left, right and centre. Even then 10 laundry bags, countless boxes and storage later…

I’ve actively been trying to streamline my wardrobe for a while now to have just good quality staples and build on that. But being someone who likes colour and the odd print, it’s been really tough choosing which ones to keep! Black, white and grey are my go-to colours that always make up at least one part of an outfit so a pop of colour never hurt anyone. The Minimalists have also been a huge source of this change and thinking.

I digress — the point here is that chaos ensued because of all the ‘things’ we’ve accumulated for mostly no reason. Plus, irritable is an understatement when I can’t think straight because of the mess! (Sorry husband). It feels so good to get rid of unnecessary items that I just know I have no use for — Will I really miss a pair of 3 inch gladiator heels I haven’t worn since university? I think not. Heels are a rarity now.

Living a minimal life storage
So now the resolution is to keep everything minimal from how everything is stored and what I wear, to how admin is organised. Being creative helps — just because a shelving unit might be designed for living rooms, what’s to say it can’t be an alternative to a chest of drawers. Technology and contemporary design has made our lives so much more efficient so the less stuff I have the better! After all, it’s all about collecting experiences and not things right?

13th March 2018No Comments

We only have each other to help

This is Palo. Palo lives in Punjab, India in a village near the city of Ludhiana. Strict society and cultural ideals see her as the bottom of the pile because of her caste on top of being female. She was married young and so was never able to study or get a regular job. The same fate applies to her daughter and now daughter in law. The only job she is able to get is to wash, clean and take out rubbish in other peoples houses for food and a little money in return. That might not sound that bad, but in a village in India its very different.

This reality check was all on recent trip to India. Now I know this realisation isn’t new or a surprise, but it hit home so hard I had to take notice of the changes it brought about in me. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting involved with or starting something to support women like Palo. This experience cemented my feelings and urged me to do something to help.

I’m not sure how this will all manifest and grow but for now I’m doing my research. I'm looking to other brands that are doing similar. Looking at how brands are helping others through their business is so encouraging and inspiring me to do the same. Most of us are so lucky to have had an education, jobs and a roof over our heads whilst so many don’t. So why not help if we’re able to?

So now is the time I’ll throw my fear out of the window and enjoy the ride this takes me on and the wonderful people I know I’ll meet.