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June 28, 2018

Book Club No. 15



Hey bookworm gang, I hope you're all having fantastic weeks and have been reading some good books. In this Book Club post, I'm going to share a variety of books with you that are all works of fiction and some that I very much enjoyed and others that were just okay but might sound appealing to some of you who enjoy that particular sort of fiction. So let's get into the reviews:

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
The Lie Tree is a book I hadn't even heard of nor had come across, but after a visit around some local charity shops doing some book-spotting, Matt handed this to me as he figured I would like it after reading the blurb. The title of this book gives some strong indication as to what it's about so I know by giving you a brief description, I'm not going to spoil anything for any of you who might want to give it a read in the future! The Lie Tree follows the main character Faith as she deals with her father's mysterious death after the family (herself, her parents, and younger brother) relocate to Ireland. Faith's father is a renown natural historian as well as being a Father of the church and thus has an interesting life. When he mysteriously dies, Faith is the only one who seems to be concerned by the possibility of foul play and thus makes it her mission to find out just what happened and why. Upon rifling through his notes, journals, and countless collectables and oddities, Faith discovers a strange plant which she comes to discover is much more than your typical plant.

When I first started reading The Lie Tree I thought it was just okay. The story was easy to follow and it was an easy read, but it just wasn't grabbing me for some reason. But after Faith's father dies, the plot truly comes to life. It has a wide range of quirky characters who range from the stereotypical to the outright bizarre of the Victorian, "explorer" era. The frustrations of being female and therefore shunned from certain lifestyles and activities is peppered throughout the story too which I really liked. Although it's easy to guess the general storyline as you continue to read, there were some occasional twists and turns that I wasn't expecting that helped the story take a darker course and also throw some curve balls into the mix. The story definitely has some of those classic murder mystery vibes, but it also has a uniqueness as it's a story about growing up, being a strong woman, and wanting answers.

Although I initially wasn't totally sucked in by this book, I can honestly say I was by the end. It's high-action and it has you rooting for particular characcters whilst hating others. It makes you empathise, question, feel utterly frustrated, and curious all at once. One thing I liked about this story especially was the level of description Hardinge shares in her writing. This is the first book by Hardringe I've read and I'm certainly going to check out more as I find her descriptive language great for setting the scene, but she doesn't over describe so it gives you wriggle room for character appearances, buildings, landscapes etc. that is never contradicted or comprised further into the novel. Faith is a strong main character and whilst a little predictable, still a good protagonist to follow. Hardinge totally won me over once I got the "dreams" Faith has and I'll leave it there before I tell you all too much! You can pick up a paperback copy of The Lie Tree for £6.49 here



Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Back around this time last year, I raved about the first novel in this triology and for my birthday this year I was kindly gifted the final two books so I could continue reading this epic story. For those of you who don't want to read my last review of the first book, Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children follows the lives of just that - Miss Peregrine and the peculiar children she has in her care. They each have weird and wonderful abilities and have been alive for hundreds of years. Due to things that happen on their quiet welsh island home (I can't say anything more than that without ruining the first book's plot for you all!), the peculiar children and Miss Peregrine start the arduous journey to London, seeking answers, allies, and friends.

This second novel was so *so* enjoyable for me. I really loved the first book and was keen to get stuck into this next one and I'm so pleased I did. I enjoyed Hollow City so much more than the first and that is a huge rarity for me with trilogies. The action, drama, and anticipation is stepped up a notch in this novel and feel like the doom and gloom is stepped up too which makes the story all the more heart-racing to follow. Despite a year-long gap between reading the first novel and the second, as soon as I picked up Hollow City I was instantly reacquainted with the characters and their personalities and it was as if I had read the first novel yesterday. Riggs is a brilliant storyteller and the life he gives to each and every character is palpable and really immerses you in the story. So many additional and new characters are brought into this second novel and each of them are as unusual and unique as the original troop and thus make it just as exciting to read.

I'm making sure I read the third and final book in this series ASAP because I don't want to wait another year to see how it all pans out, but I can't urge you all enough to give this book a try. You feel part of the main group in this tale of adventure so much so, I found when they were discussing their next plan of action and taking into account everyone's thoughts and opinions on each matter, I was thinking to myself "well I'd agree with Bronwyn in this case because..." and that's exactly the sort of level of lost I want to feel in a book. Grab a copy of Hollow City here for £7.83 in paperback



The Red House by Mark Haddon
The last book to mention is the one I've finished most recently and that is The Red House by Mark Haddon. You will possibly recognise Haddon's name as he is the author of the very popular (and one of my favourite books) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which I have to be completely honest, is the sole reason I picked up this book in the airport. The Red House sounded kind of interesting from the blurb as it made it seem like the book would reveal some sort of dark secret and it would take a dark turn at some point which, let's be real, are my favourite kind of books. Unfortunately I didn't quite get that dark reveal but weirdly, I didn't put this book down a lot either.

The plot of this story basically follows an estranged brother and sister agreeing to go on holiday together in a remote Welsh cottage with their partners and children. The storytelling does not have one sole narrator and is instead shared through a stream of consciousness from each and every character. This sort of storytelling can work and often reads so much better aloud or as poetry but for this book? I just don't think it worked. The paragraphs jump from one character to the next throughout the week-long story and whilst its obvious which character is which and it's easy to make the transition as a reader, it just seems forced and can be jittery and disjointed. I feel like this stream of consciousness could have been executed in a much cleaner way if Haddon didn't spend a lot of the time describing things found in charity shops or the colour of the coffee in the café. The over description throughout this book meant I often got bored of what I was reading, but the relatable characters that are mirror images of anyone and everyone's family members are what kept me hooked. They each go through real-life events such as thoughts about divorce, pregnancy, teenage lust, discovering yourself, and even the small thoughts of an 8-year-old which feel huge at that time, making it a very relatable and comforting read if only Haddon didn't flit from character to character in such a jerky fashion. The more you read the book, the smoother the ride gets, but it's unfortunate that it reads as mismatched as it does as it ruined the actual storytelling element of it for me. If you enjoy books that have that stream of consciousness, very contemporary almost poetic vibe to them, you can grab a copy of The Red House for £8.46 here




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June 24, 2018

Sustainable Sundays: Making an Eco-friendly Home



Hi folks, and welcome back to another Sustainable Sunday. This week I thought it was high-time that I shared some more ways in which you can be a bit more eco-friendly and green by simply changing some small things in your day-to-day life that will help you ultimately become a more green person overall. Back in December, I shared with you all a variety of ways I try to be more eco-friendly but of course, there's many more I didn't mention especially when we consider our bad habits around our homes. So if you want to make some small changes that will have a big impact on how green your home is, keep on reading!

Stop buying one-use batteries. And switch to rechargeables! I'm in the process of doing this myself because unfortunately, most single-use batteries end up in landfill and are obviously not the cleanest things for the planet to be left festering in landfill. Some supermarkets and high street stores do provide a recycling station for batteries, but for the cleanest and most effective way to use batteries, investing in a rechargeable set will always win hands down. There's also the Brucey bonus of it being a one-off payment so it will save you money in the long run!

Switch off your electricals. This one might be obvious to some or new to others, but making sure you actually switch off electrical items at the socket can make a huge difference to how much energy your home uses. Leaving items such as laptops, TVs, consoles etc. on standby whilst plugged into the mains can use a surprisingly amount of electric and means that you're paying extra in your electric bill too. When you're finished using an item, make sure to fully switch it off and see the difference in your energy consumption and your spending over time. Also linked to this might again be a little obvious, but you'll be surprised with how often we all fall into bad habits and leave every light on in the house. If you're from the north of the UK, a parent or family member might be rather fond of saying "what's this? Blackpool illuminations?!" if you're notorious for switching every light on where ever you go, but just be sure to switch it right back off again as soon as you don't need it.

Check your thermostat. Gang, how easy is it to turn up the heating when you get a little chilly and then kind of just forget about it? I know I know, I used to be guilty of this exact thing but programming your boiler/thermostat to only come on at certain times of the day and/or turning down the minimum room temperature to prevent the heating kickstarting too often can make a huge difference to the energy your home consumes. This doesn't mean you have to live in an ice box and be uncomfortable (lordy knows I can't due to my Raynaud's disease making me need heat), but try doing things like putting on a thick jumper or cardigan if you're feeling chilly or popping a blanket over your lap whilst you're watching TV etc. before reaching for that thermostat and see the big differences it makes.



Buy fruit & veg that is in season. I've talked about the benefits of buying loose fruit & veg if this is an option for you before and also mentioned how great it can be to eat less meat & consume less dairy too but another food-related tip is to buy what's in season when it's available. Depending on the time of year, certain fruits and veggies will be more readily available in green grocers, supermarkets and at farmers markets too. Buying these products when they're in season means that not only are they easier to get your hands on, but they're often at a bargain price too. I can remember working in the Co-Op supermarket when I was younger and the rock-bottom prices strawberries were sold at during summer was ludicrous. They're often sold cheaply because fruit & veg have a short shelf-life due to their freshness so supermarkets for example become overrun with the same products from their suppliers. Take advantage of the great discounts not only to benefit your own pocket, but to benefit the farmers those products have come from too.

Cold washes of all kinds. We all know running the shower for a long time costs you more money and more electric, but using eco-modes and a colder temperature can also help. Eco settings do exactly as you'd expect and are more eco-friendly as they use less energy. My shower has this setting and the only noticeable differences in the temperature is lower on the same number as the "normal" setting and the pressure isn't as strong. Eco settings are also available on many washing machines now too and again, are an easy way to earn that "eco-friendly warrior!" badge. If you don't have such a setting on your machines, try simply washing both yourself in the shower and your clothes in the washing machine on colder rinses. It's a myth that you need to wash your clothes in hot water and actually washing them in colder water will not only save you money, be kinder to the environment as you're consuming less energy and thus reducing your carbon footprint, but it will also help the longevity of your clothes increase. What's not to like?!

Speaking of clothes... Stop tumble drying. Tumble dryers are common - particularly in family homes where it seems someone constantly needs a certain item of clothing immediately like, yesterday - but they're also notorious for bumping up your energy usage and bill. Hang your washing out if it's an option (weather and space permitting) but failing the luxury of outside space, purchase a clothes horse or two and you'll be all set to go indoors. I managed to live in a studio flat with Matt for 4 years and we found space for 3 clothes horses for air-drying our clothes so if we could do it, anyone can.



Use energy saving lightbulbs. The clue is definitely in the name with these products, but energy saving lightbulbs make a world of difference to your energy consumption and bill. They have greater longevity than non-energy saving bulbs and save you money and keep you greener the longer you use them.

Actually recycle & compost. You're probably rolling your eyes right now like "really, Amyleigh?" but taking the time out to recycle thoroughly is something not all of us do. It's great to see how much England has started to recycle more with more focus on packaging from various brands encouraging it and local borough councils enforcing it too, but make sure you're really doing it. It's really easy to glance at an item and assume it can't be recycled when it's possible just a part of it can't be. Some items that come to mind are things like hairspray cans with plastic lids, yoghurt pots with cardboard covers, and your dirty used ear buds can 100% be thrown in the recycling, just make sure you're really separating what can and can't be chucked in there. It's worth taking that extra little bit of time as every small step has a ripple effect on the planet. I've mentioned composting here too as this is something I want to look into more myself. Composting your food waste is an option and can benefit your garden or simply just give you another avenue in which to be more eco-friendly and I'm all for it.

Ditch the shop-bought household products. You heard me - make your own cleaning products! Many household cleaning agents have tons of chemicals added to them that are entirely unnecessary and not only that, have a tendency to come in plastic packaging - no matter how eco-friendly branding tries to be! Minimise your plastic pollution and buying into harmful chemicals by making your own cleaning agents at home. You can reuse old cleaning product bottles etc. once empty or purchase glass bottles such as these if you want to make a true eco-friendly switch and then it's simply a case of making your own home remedy. I will be publishing a post soon on my fave homemade cleaning product "recipes" so keep your eyes peeled for that if you want to make this zero waste switch!



Toilet roll, kitchen roll, cotton pads... Change it all. The last one I'm going to mention here gang is all of the things the majority of us definitely do need to use and have available at home, but can switch to more eco-friendly and/or zero waste options. I'm pleased to say that my home only ever has toilet paper made from recycled materials, kitchen roll which is made from bamboo that can be reused (so it is *extra good* in my opinion), and reusable "cotton" pads made from fabric. These small changes mean I don't waste half as much materials as they're part of a recycling system, are reusable, and aren't clogging up our planet with more throwaway items. If bamboo kitchen roll doesn't float your boat, simply use fabric cloths instead as they are just as good for absorption and cleaning as they were originally intended for such a purpose. Having reusable cotton pads/rounds has been a massive game changer for me as I feel I'm not only pampering my skin, but I'm not being as wasteful, I am more in control of them as I am aware when I need to wash them etc. and they are *so* much easier to pack if I'm staying overnight somewhere or going away on holiday.


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June 17, 2018

Love Yourself, Not Love Island



Hang on, don't frantically search for any web address other than this one in horror at this title... I promise you it's not what it seems. Nope, I'm not going to write about how much I love Love Island. Quite the contrary (but I also promise I'm not shitting on it for all you outward and inward lovers of it, so hear me out). Love Island is popular. It's the show that I'm finding I'm "muting forever" on Twitter yet again this late spring/summer because it's just not my cup of tea, but I know many of you out there really love the show. The reason I can't get with the programme is because honestly? I know if I watched it I'd pull a Legally Blonde moment and be eating my weight in chocolate shouting "liar!" at the TV. Not at the show in particular, but more the beauty of every individual on the show.

Anyone I know who loves the show always say these same two things in this order when trying to tell me how much the show is worth a watch:
"Omg I love it - I don't even care!"
"Everyone on it is so fit and beautiful though so it makes you feel disgusting haha"


It's a show that works on the basis of beauty standards and it's worth reminding ourselves that it's not realistic and that "us mere mortals" shouldn't try to draw any comparisons from it. We're very much a gossip and drama consuming species as much as many of us would like to say otherwise, programmes like Love Island (and many others such as TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, the 'classic' soap operas, Big Brother etc.) help feed that hunger for many of us as it gives us a glimpse into others lives, emotions, the rollercoasters they go through and more with no consequence for us and no need for us to make difficult decisions.

The fact that everyone who's mentioned the show to me points out how beautiful the individuals are on it and instantly compare themselves to them is sad to hear each and every time. The people chosen to participate are chosen for their appearance and most of the time? Their appearance alone. That's not me shitting on any of those individuals at all, but it's worth remembering when you sit down to watch it that many of them are people who's jobs and lives revolve around image. Modelling, personal training, sales, social media... Many of the roles of the contestants either involve strict regimes for the body, hair, makeup, skincare etc. or at least include the pressures of making positive first impressions which let's be honest - your appearance can more than help with. Of course there's some contestants who work in completely unrelated roles so I'm not tarring all with the same brush, but many of them have pressures of looking a particular way that is not reflective of day to day life for the millions who tune in to watch the show.



With that in mind, it's *so important* to remember that Love Island focuses on beauty standards. In fact, the show focuses on one - the one that the beauty, fashion, even the food industries thrive on. We have one beauty standard that is widely accepted and so many businesses and brands push this ideal onto us as the only acceptable way to look, act, or be. Think about how many skincare items you buy because they promise X Y & Z that your skin doesn't do (I know I buy into it a lot). Then think about how many of those skincare items get sent out to your favourite celebrities and influencers to test out and promote yet those particular individuals already have the high skin standard that the brand are trying to promote as the result of their products. It's clever simple marketing at its finest and all of us collectively are suckers for it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I as much as the next person like trying out new skincare for just this one small example, but we do consume *a lot* in the hopes that it will make us richer, thinner, prettier, etc. (sweeping generalisation, I know). This one beauty standard for all to meet is ridiculously unattainable but it's always parcelled up as completely feasible if you just work hard enough, spend more than enough of your money, and expect instant results. Seeing it perpetuated through entertainment on TV isn't groundbreaking nor new or different, but it is having somewhat of a desired effect, but don't ever let it lead you to putting yourself down.

One beauty standard fits all just doesn't logically work and oh, think how bloody boring the world would be if it did. Although many of us roll or eyes at this phrase, our imperfections are what make us beautiful. They make us unique, they make us desirable, they make us *us*. Not everyone should be a model who looks A+ in a bikini in the entertainment industry standards because that "A+" rating is subjective. One man's trash is another man's treasure and one person's beauty preferences and expectations are not another's cup of tea. Being happy and whole in your skin can be tough and many of us - including myself - find it to be a constant battle to feel remotely "okay" on a day-to-day basis, but you are loved, lusted over and most importantly, valued for being exactly who you are no matter you shape, size, colour, skin conditions, hair, lack of it, or anything else you can see or feel that makes you, you. Love Island might promote the contestants' worth based solely on their looks, but your worth in reality does not reflect that as you're not objectified, you have more to give and offer than that diluted entertainment focus, and your beauty in all realms of your life make you a unique and beautiful character both inside and out. Fight the good fight and ignore the one standard we have - fight it with acceptance but an educated mind. Enjoy it in consumerism, in media, in entertainment, but don't compare yourself to it. It's not realistic, you have more value, and any flaws you're led to believe that you have? They're the treasure in many other people's eyes, you just need to see them with fresh eyes.

I'm fully aware that many of you will love this show and be completely comfortable and happy within your own skin and that's exactly how things should be, but I do just wish that this show - due to it's popularity and therefore ability to affect a lot of the population - would include a wide variety of "beautiful" people. Have contestants who meet and advocate a variety of beauty standards: people of different cultural backgrounds, races, shapes, and sizes. As this show could have such an impact on viewers, it's a shame they don't utilise that to promote a healthy view of beauty of all varieties.


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June 14, 2018

It's Okay to have a Bad Day



... week, month, or year. Something I feel like many of us are starting to realise over the past couple of years is just how much pressure we are all putting on ourselves all of the goddamn time. I'm as much to blame for this as the next person, but particularly recently, I've realised just how much of a front I can put on - especially on social media. For those of you who follow this blog and my Twitter, you will no that I'm no stranger to being honest about how I'm feeling (if I'm in a foul mood and there's a certain reason why, y'all best believe I go on a Twitter thread rant,) but I've noticed that I don't always do it. Sometimes I will gloss over how I'm feeling and just say "I've been feeling down" or "I've been quite negative lately but it's A-Okay now!" and that's not the honest truth; truthfully sometimes I've been hitting rock bottom. So, why do we hide it?

It seems that especially with this social media-focused world we live in, we like to show face and pretend everything is hunky-dory. We will purposefully filter what we want others to see and tailor our personalities, thoughts, feelings, and appearances to portray either our best selves or the preferred self. I'm definitely guilty of this on the likes of Instagram where I will share my real life and photos, but I won't necessarily have it in order, have it reflecting my true self, or sometimes even giving the whole story. We all seem to be competing to have good lives and living up to this "success society" we millennials have developed. We also seem to see it as a weakness to say "hey, I'm not having a good day" and take time off, slow down, or ease off the pressure - it's okay to have a bad day and more than okay to share it all however you see fit, and here's why:



You're Not Alone
First and foremost let's state the obvious. Absolutely everyone has bad days at some point in time. We can have bad days, weeks, years and more. It can just be from things seemingly snowballing in the luck department and just irritating you for a day, or it can be something deeper than that causing issues such as mental health, bereavement, relationship problems, money worries... there's so much to consider but to coin a cliché, everyone is going through shit. Always. People are always dealing with a variety of things and you should never feel you need to hide it or smooth over it. You're as entitled as the next person to feel how your feeling and sharing can help as someone else can vent about it all alongside you and you both will feel a load lift from your shoulders.

It Won't Always be an Easy Fix
The reason I think so many of us hide our bad days as sometimes going to bed early and thinking "tomorrow is a new day" won't fix things and I know I worry about sounding like a broken record - so it's much easier to just say nothing at all, right? No! Speak up. If I'm having a particularly bad time with my anxiety for example, I tend to share this with my colleagues and students because I don't know if the feeling will improve in an hour or in several months. I find being honest about it helps those around me understand what headspace I am in so things run a little smoother. It stops me from losing my patience with someone or snapping and that really helps things. Although I would never say "I'm having a hard time right now" is some sort of *get out of jail free* card or an excuse that should be thrown around, admitting it can be the first step to getting on to the right track, however long that track might take to improve to a satisfactory level. Sharing how you are can help with the fixing as it can take a long time or several steps may need to be taken to reach that end happiness and stability once again, but outside help can always be welcomed.

Know Your Bad Day Comforts
As no one is a stranger to bad days, I think many of us have therefore developed coping strategies and comforts for when those bad days roll around over the years. For me, music always helps, tea heals a lot, and having a cry in sheer frustration often lifts the hazy mist that clouds my judgment and logical, problem-solving thinking. I am one of those people who go into complete melt down when I'm having a testing time and that can be catastrophic for my mental health, my sleep pattern, my friends and family, my job, and diet. It can effect it all so knowing how to intervene to soften those blows really helps me. If I'm particularly strung high about something and panicky about it, I find making a cup of tea will calm me down and make me start to think "right, what am I actually going to do to get A to B?" and that can help me form a plan of action. It doesn't always work and you should never beat yourself up about not being able to form a plan of action as sometimes? It's just the way life is panning out and there's sweet FA you can do about it, but if you think it's a tangible problem you can solve, know how to improve your mood to snap you back into problem-solver mode, seeking the joy and happiness for your soul once again. If I'm just in a terrible mood as I mentioned before, having a good cry or listening to music (certain bands/singers/songs for certain moods) can also help. If you coping mechanism tells you to sit in bed all day watching Netflix - do it. If it tells you to get your butt to the gym and to punch the living shit out of the punch bag - do it. It's your bad day, you decide how to deal with it in the best way for you.



Start Over. No, Really.
This might sound silly to some, but if your bad day is just stemming from that "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" feeling, literally kickstart your day again. If you have time, take a couple of minutes to just lie on your bed, close your eyes, take in some deep breaths then get the F back up. Hop in the shower, clean your teeth, get dressed in new clothes, do your hair, makeup again etc... Starting all over again is like wiping the slate clean and giving yourself a second chance. I have very rarely taken this approach myself in the past but I'm trying to adopt it now as it really helps the mind get refocused, re-energised, and realigned to take on the day. It can halt things before they get out of hand and stop a whole day being wasted or ruined.

Appreciate that it's Never Forever
Not only does every single person go through bad episodes, but you should always remember they are just that - episodes. They might have longevity but they never last forever and that makes you appreciate the good times *so* much more. Think about that relationship break up that tore you to pieces as a teen - you got over it. Think about that awful job with the bullying manager that you used to hate going to everyday - you change your situation and things got better. Even if you're sat reading this right now, and you're in one of those positions and it feels like it will never end, I've never promised anything more than I will right now: everything will be okay and things will always get better. I know some situations may never seem like they have a light at the end of the tunnel, but they will and it might be only small, be bittersweet, or maybe even not the outcome you were expecting, but things do change and "this too shall pass".


If you're someone like who likes to think that everything happens for a reason (whether it's fate, divide intervention, cosmological, or something even beyond our philosophical thinking), bad days can just be blips in the road that are there to test us, make us more resilient, make us good at making decisions, and making us the people we are today. If we didn't have bad times, we wouldn't appreciate the good we have, we wouldn't exercise all of our emotions and honestly? I feel that life would be kinda dull. This isn't meant to make anyone feel terrible for having a bad day or make people think "yeah but you've no idea what I'm going through!" because of course I don't - every bad day, feeling, or more is subjective to the individual experiencing it. It's unique to each person but as I've promoted throughout this post and will continue to do so in life, talking about it and getting it all off your chest is healthy and helpful for many. Don't feel pressurised to having a seemingly perfect life that is only filled with joy and laughter. Tears, tantrums, pain, suffering, and guilt are all feelings that are just as valuable to our existence and should be exercised as so.



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June 05, 2018

Green Beauty with Green People



Hello wonderful people, today's post is all about a fantastic organic, eco-friendly, cruelty-free and more skin/haircare and makeup brand. Of course I'm talking about Green People who have specialised in organic natural beauty products for over 20 years and are advocates of using sustainably-grown ingredients in their products, waving goodbye to harsh chemicals and colourants, and also promise to never test on animals. The brand are the UK's favourite natural beauty brand and it's easy to see why when you see how much research, love, and passion goes into making their products. Green People are a brand I've always wanted to dabble more into - especially since switching to strictly cruelty-free beauty products this time last year - so when they got in touch and offered to spend some products over for me to review, I was over the moon. As the brand have such a range of products from makeup to toothpaste to haircare and sunscreen, I realised the reason I hadn't tried anything from the brand yet was because I just didn't know where to start. Being sent these products gave me an opportunity to try out a variety of items, gauge how much I honestly liked using them or didn't, and it has meant that I know what I want to buy from the brand in future (spoiler: I really did like the items). So let's get into it:



Before I talk about the products themselves, I have to mention the packaging. The parcel arrived in a recyclable cardboard box which I was relieved to see and on the inside of the lid, the brand have listed all of their promises and ethics and it's a really nice touch - especially for a newbie to the brand like myself. It was great to see that they also pledge 10% of their net profit to charity as this was a fact about the all-round fab brand that I did not previously know! The products inside were all quite uniform in their style and very simple which I personally like as I feel that money is not being spent on branding that is unnecessary which could then up the prices for customers or worse, mean focus has been taken away from the actual products themselves. All of the squeezy-tube products were safely lying in a nest of packing peanuts which I was more than happy to discover dissolved in water. Many brands are using these dissoluble packing peanuts now but when a brand promote zero plastic and eco-friendliness, it's always good to see that ethic stretch to their external parcel packaging too!

Daily Aloe Shampoo | 200ml | £12.50*
Recommended by Kate Moss, the Daily Alow Shampoo promotes itself as a gentle, non-irritating product that can be used by all hair types and is listed as being for "normal hair". This product has the main organic ingredients of aloe vera and lavender which gives the product a mild fresh but sweet fragrance which is really nice to use. The actual product itself feels very much like pure aloe vera gel mixed with oil when in the hands and is quite thick in consistency. Green People claim that this shampoo is longlasting as it can last up to 3 times longer than your average 200ml shampoo from the drugstore or high-end is something I would actually agree with. I've been using this product every single day for the past 4 weeks and I've learned that I can use two pea-sized squeezes and that lathers up in my hair brilliantly. Therefore I'd say this shampoo is well worth the price tag as it will last me longer than my bigger bottles of say Mane & Tail ever do.

The Daily Aloe Shampoo is comfortable for everyday use too and doesn't build up in my hair or make my scalp itchy at all which is a welcomed change compared to my usual favourite shampoos. Washing your hair daily is never recommended but unfortunately my hair is so thin I have no choice as the oil build up can be horrendous. Using this shampoo consistently has really helped with my oil production though and has minimised it so I feel comfortable to wash my hair every other day now and just use a little dry shampoo on my "no wash" days. I definitely need to use conditioner after using this as it makes my hair so naturally clean and purified that I need to add in some moisture and shine afterwards, but I really like this product and will continue to use it.



Daily Aloe Conditioner | 200ml | £12.50*
Speaking of conditioner, I also tried out the Daily Aloe Conditioner from the same "normal hair" gentle and purifying line. This conditioner has the same subtle aloe vera and lavender scent as the shampoo and works wonders on my thin, fine hair. Rich in natural vitamin B and proteins, it conditions the hair to leave it feeling silky and soft but manageable. A huge problem for me and my thin hair is that some conditioners are so good at leaving the hair soft that my hair can become unbearably fly-away and hard to style. The amazing thing about the Daily Aloe Conditioner is that it does condition and soften my hair, but it does it naturally and doesn't create that artificial shine that leads me to over wash my hair due to oil build up. This conditioner naturally cares for the hair instead and helps seal my split ends and leaves my hair feeling cared for but not heavy with product which is such a rarity for me. Yet another winner from Green People!



Vitamin Shower Gel | 200ml | £13.Oo*
Now let's talk about my most favourite product out of the bunch. Shower gel is something I'm always on the hunt for as my body acne can react badly to shower gel for a multitude of reasons therefore when I saw that Green People had included this vitiamin shower gel in my package, I was super excited to test it. The main ingredients in this shower gel are olive, mandarin, bergamot, avocado, and almond and it is suitable for all skin types as well as being suitable for those who may suffer with eczema or psoriasis. This shower gel is much like the shampoo in the sense that it quite an oily, aloe vera gel sort of feeling product in the hands but wow oh wow, is it nice to use.

My skin instantly feels moisturised after I've used this in the shower, it hasn't got a strong scent so it's not irritating on my skin at all, and it doesn't seem to flared up my acne as the ingredients are very natural. A little goes a long way with this product just like the shampoo, as it lathers really easily and a 200ml bottle would easily last quite a while due to this! Green People's shower gels include a foaming agent that bubbles and lathers up so well that the they can double up as bubble bath creams too which is such an added bonus. I definitely want to try more of the shower gels now having tried this one, but I have a feeling this one will remain a favourite now.



Organic SPF15 with Tan Accelerator | 200ml | £21.Oo*
The last product I tried out from Green People is something I feel is essential in a good skincare routine and that is sunscreen. I wear factor 15 every single day and will use higher whenever the sun is shining brighter and if I go to a hotter climate on holiday. Sun protection is so important to fight wrinkles, premature aging, sun spots, and more serious issues such as skin cancer. This particular sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB damage with its antioxidants and increases collagen production as well as accelerating your tan?! I know, that's what I first thought when I read the packaging. But it's true, this product claims to help you tan 25% faster and also keep your skin moisturised so you retain your for 50% longer. Bold claims right?

I've got to be completely transparent here and say that you should all know how much of a pale princess I am. I'm usually the girl in the makeup aisles of high street, staring blankly at all the makeup counters trying to find the one "porcelain" or "ivory" concealer that's actually light enough for her skin, but as I started using this product after returning from a week in Greece, it did seem to help hold onto the small amount of colour I did catch. I don't keep "tan" well on my skin at all and it tends to fade back to normal after a couple of days but my arms are still looking quite brown for me and I can only assume that's down to this product. It's a really nice sunscreen to use that has a nice natural scent that isn't overpowering like most sunscreen brands and it is very quick absorbing making it perfect for beach or pool holidays and also for applying to the face. I've tried it under makeup too and it doesn't seem to make my face any more oiler than it does to itself naturally which is also a win for me. The sunscreen is also water repellent and is ideal to use in prickly heat. With wonderful organic ingredients such as avocado, green tea, and aloe vera, it's no surprise that it leaves the skin feeling soft, supple, and cared for even on hot sunny days.



Overall I really like the products Green People sent over. Having fallen in love with the haircare and the shower gel in particular, I will certainly be ordering some more amongst some other products once these have ran out. In the haircare stakes, I'm really intrigued in their Quinoa and Artichoke Shampoo and Conditioner duo as the pair promise to thicken hair shafts and create shine which are two things I love for my thin hair, and I'm 100% repurchasing the Vitamin Shower Gel too. Another couple of products I really want to try too are the Eco-Certified Minty Cool Toothpaste, Damask Rose Matte Lipstick, and the Rosemary & Prebiotics Deodorant.

With a wide range of their products suitable for vegans, ranges for men and for children as well as teens, Green People cover almost every need and are a great option not only for those of us who are conscious of the impact beauty products have on the environment and in the long-term on our own skin, but also for those of us who have sensitive skin or skin issues that can lead to sensitivity or skin upset. If you're interested in picking up some products from Green People, you will receive 10% off your first order with them or using the code 'SUMMER15' will get you 15% if you spend £45 at the moment. The brand always promote free delivery too and I can't recommend them highly enough.


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June 03, 2018

Sustainable Sundays: Thrifting & Slow Fashion In-store



Long time no see Sustainable Sundays! It's been a hot minute since my last post so I thought I better inject some newness into this little section of the blog and talk about thrifting and second-shopping (particularly when it comes to fashion) some more today.

Back in January, I talked about why I think thrifting and second-hand shopping is so important and enjoyable and of course, my attitude hasn't changed one bit since then. So today that led me to think about what pointers and tips I can give to make the whole experience more smooth sailing if shopping slow fashion or sustainably is becoming a thing you're interested in. For me, shopping both in-store and online works and means I sometimes get the best of both world's as both have their strengths and weaknesses, but this post will focus on what good things you can get out of shopping physically in-store and the positives of doing so. But keep your eyes peeled in future weeks for my tips on doing the whole thing virtually online instead. So let's get to it!



Make a list of what you need/what you're lacking
Shopping second hand can sometimes be hit or miss as they're not as reliable as many high street stores as they don't have a constant stock etc., but having a list to refer back to can be really helpful. It can help you go in to stores with "tunnel vision" so you focus on finding what you need rather than getting sidetracked by all of the other goodies that might be on offer. Keeping a list that also includes rough prices can really help you shop effectively too. As shopping second-hand and particularly vintage fashion is growing ever-popular, prices can sometimes reflect this popularity rather than the item's true value. Having a rough maximum price can help you put items back that you just don't think are worth it or make you really assess how much you wanted/needed *that* item if you find it and it's above your price limit.

Search everywhere - not just the women's sections!
Charity shops are not always the most ordered stores and they also can have many items of varying old vintage sizing so it's always worth checking out the whole store each and every time. Whenever I've went vintage shopping in Brick Lane for example, every single item I've purchased has been from the "men's" section, so just have fun with your shopping experience and make sure you're really playing detective for those items you're lusting after!

Visit regularly for two major reasons
Visiting your local second-hand stores not only helps you keep an eye out for any new stock that has made it's way onto the shop floor, but it also helps you to create a rapport with staff. Having a friendly face working in your local stores can be really handy as they might let you have first peek and dibs on new stock that hasn't yet made it to the shop floor, or they might be more likely to keep an eye out for you and keep items aside for you to check out on your next visit. Creating a solid friendly relationship with second-hand store staff can pay off for you in the long run plus, they're usually extremely helpful, lovely people, so it makes the shopping experience more enjoyable too!



Don't be shy to try things on
I am 100% *that guy* who used to buy most of their clothing online and just pray for the best in terms of whether or not each item was going to fit me. The lucky thing about fast fashion is that it can always be returned, but when shopping second-hand, that's not always a possibility. Therefore I believe it is paramount that you try things on. Of course if you purchase something and it doesn't quite fit, it's not the end of the world as you can always donate it again, but if you're spending quite a bit of money on an item, it adds up quick if you keep making the same mistake. Most charity or vintage shops have changing rooms that you can use but if you're going somewhere like a flea market or car boot sale, taking a maxi skirt with you or wearing one can be a life saver. A maxi skirt can make trying any trousers etc. on *so* easy without flashing everyone walking past and it can also just be be pulled over the top half of the body to try tops on too - amazing. People sometimes worry about the cleanliness of items when it comes to charity or vintage shops but honestly? Most places steam clean items and if you're that worried, try things on over the top of your own clothing to get a rough idea or wear socks with all shoes you try etc. Once you get home, simply make sure you clean anything you purchased before wearing - it's as simple as that.

Don't be put off by sizing
Adding on to the advice to try things on, don't be put off by sizing, especially if it's a vintage item. Often vintage sizes run smaller than contemporary fashion sizing so for example a dress labelled a UK size 12 might fit a modern size 8 very nicely. As you're in store and can physically see, touch, and try on the item, use this to your advantage! You can make a judgement call on whether or not you think something is going to fit you and can just roll with it. Most vintage items are also very well made which is why they've lasted as long as they have already and thus can be altered for a small fee at a tailors or by a family member if you're lucky enough to have someone who can sew in your clan. If it's a one off item or if you want something to fit you like a glove - make it so.



Know your limits
So I've already mentioned expectations with pricing, but another thing to be comfortable with is your personal limits with which items you buy second-hand. I personally will buy anything and everything as long as it's not underwear or hosiery. I know many people feel uncomfortable buying shoes second-hand or earrings and that's absolutely fine - just because others might buy those items doesn't mean you should feel pressured to. Buying second-hand is so beneficial to the environment, to charities, to your wallet, but if you have limits and have some items you just know you need to buy brand new, that's fine and you don't need to feel guilty for bypassing a section in stores.

Make a note of your favourite stores
Everyone has certain shops they like for certain items (I was a massive H&M fan girl but loved Topshop for "occasion wear") and the same can be true for thrifting! I know my local British Heart Foundation always have a great selection of women's dresses and if I want knitwear or more "trend" pieces, I have The Sailor Society to rely on. By visiting regularly, you will become familiar with which spots are good for which items and which stores tend to be hidden gems because the cohort of customers are a different age range, style, or size to you. Keeping note of this can help you narrow down searches for particular items and can help you avoid any stores that you just never have any luck with.


There's no hard and fast rules to shopping second-hand fashion but hopefully this might have proved that it's not a daunting task and is just as - if not more - enjoyable as shopping the high street! Keep your eyes peeled for my tips on shopping second-hand online which will be landing on NB very soon.


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