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An Eco-Friendly/ Sustainable Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is such a lovely, wonderful time, and I love gifting things to my my family and friends, and I find I get inspiration from so many places, which is why I wanted to create a gift guide for Christmas 2019. Unfortunately, Christmas also creates a lot of waste - in the UK alone, we produce nearly 100 million tonnes of waste, including enough wrapping paper to go round the equator 9 times! So, I thought I'd use my platform to create an eco-friendly version of your usual gift guide, to encourage environmentally friendly buying through independent retailers. It's important to remember this time of year that shopping independent is helping to support families and businesses all over the UK - by shopping independent, you're not fuelling the pocket of a CEO of a huge corporation, you're helping to fund a family's Christmas dinner and presents, and their ability to close their business for a couple of days to visit their families.

There are various places that you can buy cruelty-free and sustainable beauty and skincare. If you're looking for something on the high street, Lush and the Body Shop are good options as they're both cruelty free and vegan, and they both also participate in recycling schemes, which help the environment. In terms of indepdendent shops and businesses, Soap Daze Devon sell lovely, vegan, sustainable gift sets with face cloths, soaps, deodorants and other nice bits with beautiful scents such as frankincense, patchouli, oatmylk, lavender and mandarin and ginger. Scence skin care sell individual items and gift boxes with lip balms, moisturisers and hand balms with decent pricing, and they're very eco friendly, use reusable packaging, are vegan and paraben, aluminium and plastic free. I also have these reuseable face pads from etsy and I would recommend them to anyone as a gift; they're great quality, and a very good price and you can even choose what fabric they're made of and they come in a little bag!

Day-to-day reusables make great gifts as they're often something they don't think to buy themselves and they do a little bit to help the environment! This elephant lunchbox is perfect for meals on the go, and works perfectly with this reusable cutlery set, which even comes in a perfect little carrier. I have this Built NY thermos (I generally don't support amazon, but Built NYs website doesn't currently work) and would highly recommend as it can be used to keep drinks hot or cold! I've had it since August 2018, and use it at least once a week and it still looks great and works perfectly. An alternative might a keep cup, I've never owned one, but I've heard nothing but great things about them, and they're a great idea for keeping coffees, teas and various other hot substances warm on the morning commute - I LOVE this pink colour, but they do a variety, and you can even design your own!

Through WWF's website, you can adopt an animal for yourself, or on behalf of another for as little as £3 a month. My boyfriend (Sam you better not be reading this) is absolutely aquatic animal obsessed, and so I've adopted a turtle on his behalf for Christmas this year. I'm currently a very poor uni student, and so I'd prefer to make my money go further by paying for something monthly, whilst still doing some good for the world, and for the price equivalent it would barely buy m a tiny little something that he probably wouldn't even look at. In the welcome kit, you get a cuddly toy (although this is optional if you want your donation to go further) and a fact pack, and you'll get regular updates about your adopted animal. What's happening to our planet and the animals in it is so concerning, so why not spend your money on something that'll make a difference to the planet this Christmas?

If you can't think of something material that you would want to give to someone, or it's for a friend that you don't see that often, it may be a better idea to go for a meal or do an experience with them. These are great ways to spend quality time with your friends and loved ones and reduce the amount of material waste you create. Going to the cinema and for some food is one idea, or if you live in a city, an air bnb experience (like this one of learning to make an authentic sourdough pizza) or other similar kind of thing is a great idea! It could be cocktail making or pottery or an art tour, and can easily be tailored around your common interests!

I think one of the most eco friendly things to do is just to buy your family or friends what they ask for, or something you know they'll definitely use! In my opinion, it reduces the risk of your present being thrown away. You may think they'll love anything you buy them, but if you're worried, its much easier to know that they'll actually use and enjoy whatever you get them, rather than it just sitting gathering dust in a cupboard or being thrown away. A good example might be nice tea/ coffee/ hot chocolate that you know they'll drink but wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves, a book they've had their eye on or if you're looking for something to spend slightly more money on a coat/ pair of shoes they've been dreaming about.

What will you be getting your friends and family this year to try and have an eco-friendly Christmas?

Have a wonderful day,

Em x

November Favourites: What I've Read, Listened to and Watched

I love those posts you see from bloggers and all of a sudden you find a new favourite band, netflix show or book, and I'm hoping you do too. I'm not sure how many people will actually find something new through this, but even if one person does it's definitely worth it! I also plan to use this as a way to look back in a couple of years at what I've previously loved and want to rewatch/ reread, and bands I've since forgotten about.

'Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas' - Adam Kay 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I've been pretty busy with university work, and so haven't read as much as I normally have, but I absolutely adored 'Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas' by Adam Kay. I read his first book - 'This Is Going to Hurt' in summer 2018, and was beyond excited when my flatmate lent me his new book to read (thanks Jas xxx). I read it cover to cover in less than two hours on the train on my way home from university, and just really enjoyed it, and if anything, just wished it was longer!

'The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton' - Anstey Harris 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I'm not going to lie, I barely read the blurb of this when I bought it - I picked it up in my local sainsbury's because I loved the cover (and the fact it was rose gold), and it did take me a while to get into, it probably took me over a month to actually finish it. However, once I got into it, I couldn't put it down! It's one of those books that's just about day-to-day lives and relationships and every single character is relatable and likeable, which I find makes a book really easy to read!

If you want to follow everything I read, and have ever read (including really fun uni books and the twilight series) you can follow me on goodreads.

If you're interested in what I listen to everyday, you can follow me on spotify, but please don't judge me on my love of terrible 2000's hits and 80's tunes. For this edition of monthly favourites, I've decided just to include individual songs because I haven't really heard any new albums that I've loved.

Tokyo Drifting - Glass Animals & Denzel Curry

Everything I Wanted - Billie Eilish

Hot Girl Bummer - Blackbear

Helsinki Art Scene - Satellite Stories

Run Wild - Thutmose, NoMBe

Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) - Florence + The Machine

This month I've tried really hard to cut down on my netflix-watching in the hope of getting more uni work done (it's not been entirely successful), and so have only been really watching it over lunch breaks, so I've not watched a lot, but here's what I have loved.

Atypical - Season 3 (and rewatched seasons 1 & 2) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Ask anyone I know, and they'll tell you that I'm atypical's biggest fan - I rave about it 24/7 and have recommended it to literally everybody I know. I rewatched the first and second series before I started the third series as I last watched it in April and wanted a refresher about everything that had happened. Season 3 did not disappoint - Casey and Izzie are my most favourite couple ever (although I do wish they didn't include Casey in a cheating storyline) and I just generally love the programme and the soundtrack is the best thing ever.

Joker 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I went to watch joker in the cinema last week with my boyfriend and really enjoyed it. My mum had been the week before and enjoyed it, but said she found parts scary and that it was quite depressing, so I was a bit worried about how I would find it because I really don't like scary things - surprisingly, although I hid behind my hands a couple of times, I thought it was actually okay. It was a close second to Heath Ledger's joker, but a really good film (and I think I may well be in love with Joaquin Phoenix).

What have you read, listened to and watched this month that you've really loved? Since I'll be home for 4 weeks over the Christmas holidays, I'll have more time to watch and read things than usual, so I'd appreciate any recommendations!

Have a wonderful day,

Em x

Get to know me! - a Q&A

Welcome to my first (of hopefully many) blog posts! In order to get to know me, I asked for some questions about anything and everything on my instagram stories - I've sorted them into categories for easy reading(?).

How old are you?
I'm 20, I'll be 21 in March!

Where are you from?
I was (confusingly) born in Taunton, Somerset, have lived in London and Essex, but I grew up in South Lincolnshire, and still live there with my family, and I study in Durham!

What tattoos & piercings do you have?
I have 6 tattoos and 4 piercings. My tattoos aren't very exciting and are mostly floral pieces, and none of them actually mean anything special or significant to me. Piercings wise, I have my nose, right helix, lobes and seconds pierced.

Favourite films/ tv shows?
Right now, my favourite TV shows are Atypical and The Good Place on Netflix, and my all time favourites are probably Grey's Anatomy, Mindhunter and Jane the Virgin. I'm not generally a film person, but my favourites are probably The Breakfast Club, Girl, Interrupted and Lost in Translation.

What kind of music do you listen to?
I generally listen to anything, but my favourite artists at the moment are Glass Animals, Hozier, Two Door Cinema Club, The Smiths and Clueless Kit.

What and where do you study?
I'm in my first year studying Psychology at the University of Durham.

What's your favourite thing about university?
This year, my favourite thing is definitely being able to live with my best friends, and the general feeling of independence you gain at uni. My parents have always been very chilled out about things in general, but being able to do what you want when you want (i.e. eat toast at 3am) is really fun, and I strangely enjoy shopping/ cooking for myself too.

Any tips on applying for psychology?
I actually went down a very non-conventional route to studying Psychology - I completed a year of studying Biology at Durham before changing courses (I'll do a separate post on this) and then internally transferred within the uni to study Psychology. It's been 2.5 years since I actually applied to uni, but my general advice would be pick the right uni for you, and be realistic about the distance you want to be from home, and to be authentic with your personal statement. I found that the uni's I applied were interested in me, my previous work/ volunteering and hobbies and what I could bring to the uni than, as well as my grades. Since Psychology degrees are fairly broad, you generally don't need to worry about specialising whilst doing undergraduate study.

What's your student house like?
I actually don't live in a student house - I chose to live in college based student accommodation with my friends this year because when house hunting, we found that the houses in Durham aren't fantastic quality, for what seems like a lot of rent money.

What's Durham like?
Not sure whether this is a question about the city or the university, so I'll just answer both aspects! The city itself is beautiful, with lots of very old and lovely buildings and bridges. For me, it's the perfect compromise for nature and greenery with the obvious practicalities of being a city. The nightlife isn't fantastic, but that's not really why I chose to come to uni. My experience with the uni so far has been great, I think the collegiate system works really well here and the support within colleges has been really easy to access for me. I love my course, and I think the lecturing quality and content is really great and interesting.

(you can find my instagram here if you don't already follow me)

What made you want to become a blogger?
I wouldn't classify myself as a 'blogger' necessarily, but I started my blog as a place to ramble about things in the hope that someone else feels the same way/ enjoys reading my weird rambles. I'm passionate about quite a lot of things, and this seems like a good way to combine them.

When did you start your instagram?
I started my instagram in 2013(?) and was really into it for a couple of years (the weird flatlay and heavy filtering days) but it took a backseat during my GCSEs and A-Levels, but I started being active and putting time into it just before I came to uni in 2018.

How long have you been vegan? Why are you vegan?
I've been vegan 8 months now (since March 2019), and before that I was vegetarian for just over a year. I went vegetarian because of the animal rights and environmental aspects, and then in March I decided to take the plunge to become vegan after watching Madeleine Olivia's youtube videos and realising that being vegan was much easier than people make it out to be. I'm lactose intolerant anyway, so cutting out the dairy from my diet was fairly easy as I'd been drinking soya milk for a couple of years. If you're thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, I'd definitely recommend Madeleine Olivia's videos as a starting point, or documentaries such as The Game Changers or Cowspiracy.

What do you eat?
I feel like I get as this a lot as a vegan and a student, and I generally have no clue how to answer it! I eat what most people eat; a lot of pasta and toast. My go-to meals for cooking dinner at uni are pasta bakes, curries, stir fry's or if I'm feeling extra lazy, chips (with gravy, obviously). For lunch I normally eat a sandwich/ bagel of some kind with hummus and salad or vegan ham/ chicken, and yoghurts or biscuits or cakes or fruit or something snacky. I'm generally not a breakfast person, but if I'm particularly hungry before work or a lecture I'll generally go for banana and peanut butter on toast or a naked bar.

That's it for this Q&A, I hope you enjoyed reading it and learnt a little about me! It would be great to get to know all of you, so leave a fact about yourself in the comment section! Since this is my first blog post, also let me know in the comments if there's anything you'd like to read.

Hope you have a wonderful day,

Em x