Easy Ethical Swaps to make & not just for Earth Day


earth day

We all know we need to make small (and big) changes to become more eco friendly as our planet earth simply cannot sustain the amount of waste and plastic humanity is currently creating and while big business & government policies across the world have a large part to play in helping to repair the earth, we also as individuals need to do what we can, within our financial means (for some it is without a doubt easier to be more ethical than others due to where you live, income etc) but there is usually some steps we can all make and many in fact can save you money in the longterm.

Here are a few doable things we should all be working towards changing

In the kitchen

An easy swap is ditching the tin foil and cling film and switching over to wax wraps - they last around a year, are easy to use and clean and do just as good of a job plus they are perfect for sandwiches, packed lunches and keeping things fresh in the fridge. There are plenty of indy makers on Etsy selling starter packs from around £5-£6

bees wax wraps

Ditch the straws - we all know straws are needless plastic we can do without and while some are willing to never use a straw again others are less inclined to give them up all together (my son being one of them) so having a reusable stainless steel pack in the kitchen is really useful. I got mine from The Clean Market which currently has them on sale for £5.50

Get to grips with food recycling - while I like to think most of us use our recycling bins for paper, cardboard etc, I'm always surprised by how many don't do food waste recycling. Did you know left over food that ends up in landfill rots, causing a negative impact on the environment by releasing methane however if can be put to good use if you recycle properly, just contact your local council for a free food waste bin. 

In the bathroom

Switch to reusable period products and make your periods a zero waste affair. I use a combination of reusable and washable pads from Bloom and Nora and wearable and washable leak free pants from Wuka, I find combining these two works well for me as some days I am more active than others and want more protection. I also occasionally used a reusable menstrual cup and this is the thing about reusable period products it's finding what works for you personally and while it does cost to purchase enough to get you through a period they last a very long time and save you from having to purchase monthly pads. Hey Girls make a very reasonably priced menstrual cup for £8 which I can personally recommend. 

Wuka wear

Make the switch to plastic free shampoo bars - not only are they zero waste but they last much longer than shampoo bottles saving you money in the long run. I made the switch a couple of years ago and won't go back, shampoo bars are also usually less filled with chemicals and not only better for the environment but also your hair. My personal favourites are Six foot and Clean and KinKind

Swap to a more sustainable toilet roll and buy in bulk to save money. While opting for recycled paper toilet roll in supermarkets is a step forward, there are a few companies that offer more sustainable and plastic free options in bulk, which makes them just the same or if not cheaper when you buy a box. The Cheeky Panda is a great bamboo based option & you can buy in sizes of 24 or 48 rolls all at less than £1 per roll. 

Switch to ethical skincare and perfume. While it can be tricky to go completely zero waste when it comes to skincare, what you can do is focus on switching to products that use less plastic packaging, are made in the UK, are vegan and cruelty free as well as trying to focus on products that use more natural ingredients are organic or palm oil free. A few I can recommend is upcircle and Green people and for a more accessible and budget friendly option I also love Botanics which can be found at boots. 

Dolma perfumes

When it comes to fragrances it can be tricker to find "kinder to the earth" options as may contain nasty chemicals, palm oil and unnecessary plastic packaging but I recently tried Dolma and it's a great alternative that offers high quality scents but in a more eco friendly way. All their fragrances are vegan, cruelty free, paraben and palm oil free and made in the UK and use minimal plastic packaging - I tried the Women's Discovery Set and it comes in cardboard packaging with small glass containers (they do have recyclable plastic lids but that was all). I am genuinely impressed with this brand so if your looking for a eco fragrance swap it's worth checking out Dolma. 

In the home

Reduce fast fashion purchases for thrifted ones. With more and more websites and apps offering easy ways to pick up vintage and thrifted clothing it's easier than ever and what one person may have worn only once means you can pick up a bargain and prevent it going to landfill. I love using Thrift+ as it has so many options - I've bought a jacket from their recently and I also send in my clothes I no longer need and when they sell they donate money to your chosen charity as well as gaining credits that you can use towards purchases. 

Swap to more energy efficient light bulbs, not only is this a more eco friendly choice but as we are all seeing our utility bills shoot up it's also a way to curve that as the less energy you use the better for our home and our pocket. 

Earth Breeze

Swap to a more eco friendly zero waste laundry products. There are a few really good options out there now, I've tried a few with one of my favourites being Earth Breeze biodegradable liquidness eco sheets as they come in zero waste packaging, is vegan and cruelty free and offers an effective plant powered clean and I've been really impressed with them.  Another great 100% natural option is Soap nuts (or Indian soap berries) which have an amazing natural detergent and cleaning essence contained in their shell - you can find them in most whole food type stalls. 

In the garden

If space allows why not have a go at growing some of your own veggies this year, not only is it a great way to use outdoor space but it feeds back into the environment, creates bee friendly spaces and is very rewarding for both adults and children. 

Create a wildlife friendly garden but hanging up bird feeders and bird boxes, creating bug hotels and some micro wild areas where you let the grass grow longer and leave undisturbed. 

Stop using harsh chemicals such as weed killer and slug killer, there are plenty of wildlife friendly natural alternatives that work just as well. 

grow your own

When out and about

Most of us have already taken these steps but always having a reusable water bottle, coffee cup or both on you will directly reduce your use of single use cups or bottles and most independent coffee shops offer a discount for those who use their own cups. My favourite are Keep Cups as they last a really long time and are light to carry. 

I also carry a small jute bag or small shopping bag in my daily backpack or bag, meaning I am never caught out when I pop into shops. All supermarkets here in Wales charge for shopping bags in the hopes people re-use them. It's so easy to forget so having one in your bag or the boot of your car means you will have one close at hand. 

Have regular car-free days. My kids and I try to reduce our use of our car, sometimes that's impossible as public transport near us isn't always the most reliable but we walk and cycle a lot and if you drive to work maybe try form a carpool or shared lift scheme - not only does this reduce the amount of cars on the road but will also help the huge increase in petrol prices. 

ethical swaps

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How to get the right work life balance as a remote worker


work from home

* This is a collaborative post

I've been working from home as a self-employed freelance for a decade now and as many people who had the opportunity to work from home as a remote worker or swap to the freelancer life during lockdown had a taste of what it's like and its positive to see many have made this a more permanent switch. However, working from home isn't always plain sailing and while naturally it can feel chaotic to start with if you don't find a workable way forward it will start to affect your productivity, stress levels, creativity and even relationships. 

Of course, there are major benefits to working from home like saving money on petrol as you no longer commute as well as saving you time, time which can be better spent elsewhere. Many workers also note they have great job satisfaction as well as offering a more flexible approach to those juggling roles outside of work such as parenting as remote workers can often be more present for their kids as well as things like the school run. 

So what are my main tips for getting a good work-life balance when working from home.

1. Dedicated work space

The most important thing is to take the time to create a dedicated workstation that is separate from your normal living space. Of course, this isn't always possible depending on the size or layout of your home but finding even a small nook you can set up that isn't your bedroom or living room makes for a more defined workspace which can improve productivity. It also means that during your lunch breaks you can move away from your workspace and give yourself some time to recalibrate. 

2. Make sure to switch off

Once your working day is done you need to learn how to really switch off otherwise you will feel like you are always "on". Make this clear with your employer or your clients that you are not available after working hours unless it's an emergency. I've found that because I am on social media clients often feel they can get in contact with me at any time of the day, including 8am on a Sunday. Boundaries have to be set. 

3. Make use of communication tools

Communication with co-workers, your employers and clients are so important, especially when you are all in different locations working on a collaboration type project or need to make amendments, change deadlines etc. Getting to grips with things like Goggle Calendar, Zoom and Microsoft teams is essential. Another fantastic tool is Blink, an all-in-one frontline employee app that gives access to applications, communications and the right people they need for the job. 

fresh lunch

4. Eat a proper lunch

I know first-hand how easy it is to skip meals or not eat properly when working from home, it's so easily done especially when you are dealing or are dealing with a packed schedule. You need to prioritise at least 30mins to an hour to take time off for lunch, to make a decent meal and also step away from work for a minute to nourish and recharge yourself, just as you work if you went back to the office (or most working spaces). Here are 10 work from home lunch ideas

5. Plan post-work activities

To ensure you get the right work life balance you need to prioritise time away from your home, that allows you to completely switch off. These can be small activities such as daily walks with your kids, dog, partner etc, hitting the gym, going for a bike ride, visiting your local library etc to making sure you meet up with friends regularly, go for coffee or a nice meal out. It's important that you get out of the house and to ensure you have some down time after work. 

As i've said before, working from home has massive benefits, for me personally it really works but it can take time to find the right balance and sometimes I don't get it right but it's a learning curve. I've also written about how ways to enrich your time at home so do check that out. 


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Ways to access mental health services in 2022


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mental health

*This is written in collaboration with Responsival

Life in 2022 can feel rather overwhelming, we have all been through an incredibly trying time, from lockdowns and coming to terms with living in a pandemic, to being unable to spend as much time with family and friends and now readjusting to this new normal, it can be a lot and for many of us, it's had an impact on our mental health. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also had a ripple effect on our health care facilities across the world, with waiting lists being longer than ever, this has been extended to mental health providers as well and I've felt this first hand.

My anxiety has flared up and I felt I needed to talk to someone, my first stop was my GP who was impossible to see in person and again waiting lists for therapy or counselling are months (if not years) long so seeking alternative services has been the only viable option. My son also had an accident earlier this year which has caused him some anxiety so getting the right support regardless of your age is important. 

There are a few different recommended and professionally approved online platforms offering virtual therapy sessions with qualified medical healthcare workers and while you need to pay for these services they are the quickest way to get in touch with someone and a few platforms offer discounts or take health insurance. 

Your first stop should always be your GP, there are free talking therapies and mental health support via the NHS although waiting times are long right now so here are some alternatives. 

mental health services

Reasonably priced private options

In the US, Headway is a great online platform that can connect you with the right therapist to talk to, often local, they offer online therapy that takes insurance and can also organise in-person sessions. 

In the UK we have Betterhelp which is an online service that matches you with a UK based health care professional for one to one virtual therapy sessions. You do need to pay for this service (around £40+ per week) but it can offer you the support you need while waiting for help via the NHS

Government-subsidised charities 

Mind.org.uk offers an array of information when it comes to finding the right support and putting you in touch with the right people. They also have hubs across the UK and there will usually be one fairly local to you. Many of their local hubs also offer free or subsidise counselling services so it's really worth getting in touch with them if you're looking for free or affordable talking therapies that may offer a quicker option than the NHS.

Local community groups

Many local communities organise events such as mental health walks and wellbeing mindlessness sessions. While it may take a little research to find one, places like Facebook and the Nextdoor app can be a good place to start to find local events taking place that can also offer a space for talking and meeting up with others. 

Free Silvercloud course

italk offer SilverCloud free of charge which is an interactive online course offering guidance and tools to help you. think and feel better. SilverCloud is based on CBT therapy and offers many activities to hlpe you make practical changes to your mood. It's aimed to help individuals suffering from mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression and is designed to be able to fit in with your lifestyle. 

Free Helplines

In times of crisis, getting in touch with someone straight away to talk through a problem is essential and there are plenty of free helplines that are accessible 24hrs a day. I will put a list of a few of them below and remember if you need help don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask.

mental health

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Getting on top of my health with a Superdrug Health Check


Superdrug Health Check

*AD I was kindly invited to try out the Superdrug Health Check free of charge in exchange for sharing my experience. 

A few weeks ago I was invited to try out The Superdrug Health test which is like a mini MOT for your body and involves a quick assessment with a Nurse and blood taken to help you discover more about whats going on inside your body. The sample is sent off to the lab the very same day and I actually received my results in around 30hrs which was incredibly quick! But before I get too much into that I thought I would walk you through the whole experience. 

Firstly you can book your Superdrug Health test online and it costs £159 which includes a health questionnaire with the nurse and a blood test that will be analysed against 44 common health markers including Kidney and Liver health, Cholesterol status, Iron Levels, Vitamins including B12, Vit D and folate and also checks for inflammation. 

The online booking process is fairly easy and you will be given a date and time and will have a reminder email before your appointment. My test took place in the centre of Cardiff which was easy to get to and the staff instore were very friendly and helpful, showing me the way to the small nurse's room at the back of the store.

nurse check

It is still preferred that everyone wears a mask, especially indoors and I would also advise taking a bottle of water to help keep you hydrated. 

Once it was my turn I was called in and sat down to answer a few questions with the nurses as well as discuss anything I was worried about. As I was feeling a bit nervous (I don't have an issue with blood but the last time I had an injection I felt faint) I let them know they were both very supportive and in fact, I didn't feel a thing when it came to taking the blood, they were very fast and efficient. 

The whole thing only took around 15 minutes and I was made to feel comfortable throughout. 

As I said I received my test results the next day which was incredibly quick and the test results are broken down into clear and straightforward summaries along with advice from trusted medical experts. The test showed that my Vitamin D was very low (which isn't that surprising living through a cold and long UK winter) as well as my Iron being under the ideal range. I have been advised to make an appointment with my doctor which I have done and I'm hoping that both my energy and overall wellbeing will improve now that I know exactly what I need to work on. 

The whole experience was really insightful, I feel I have a much clearer view of my overall health and how to improve it and I cannot fault the staff who were friendly and professional throughout. If you have niggling questions about your health or just want to have a more thorough check then this could be what you are looking for and is available to anyone over 16yrs old.

health check

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