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Category: Healthy Living, Health, Food and Fitness

  1. How to make Christmas dinner on a budget

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    Christmas can be a really expensive time of the year for families with travel costs and Christmas food shopping to take into account.  And that’s completely leaving out the stress of preparing for presents for the kids and gift exchanges! This can potentially wreak havoc on your wallet if you don’t plan accordingly, which is why this article exists – with lots of tips to help you make a delectable Christmas dinner and save money in the process.

    The key points involve reducing the cost down enough to make a fulfilling meal for everyone. In this current digital age, you can use the services of a grocery app to find the best values for the myriad of ingredients you might need. Then, gather up a handful of loved ones or friends who will be at the Christmas dinner party, and go value shopping for all the necessary ingredients.

    Here are some tips on how to make Christmas dinner on a budget:

    Vegan roast dinner 2017 - Lylia Rose - Victoria Sully

    My vegan Christmas roast dinner 2017 - a sprinkle of dried mint and lashings of gravy were added after the photo.  Yum!

    Decide on a budget

    Decide first of all either what your total budget is or how much you want to spend per head.  With Christmas Day lunches at pubs costing around £60 per head, your at-home meal should be an awful lot cheaper than this!  Once you have worked out your maximum expenditure, and then make sure you stick to it and are careful with your spending.  It can be tempting to buy a lot of treats at Christmas, but if you are on a budget and money is stretched, then you’ll have to hold back.

    Make a shopping list

    Instead of aimlessly wandering around the supermarket aisles choosing as you go, have a meal plan and write a shopping list for exactly what you need.  This should help stop you overspending as you know exactly what you need to buy and you just need to have the willpower to stick to your list!

    Choose organic

    Whilst you may think that choosing organic is expensive at first, some of the online veg box deliveries offer really good value and you can be sure you are getting high quality ingredients. Plus they deliver to your door which will save the time and money spent travelling to the supermarket. 

    Go to a farmer’s market

    A great way to support local farmers and also to save on produce is to pick up everything you need at a farmer’s market.  They often have great deals on fresh produce and can be really competitive on price with supermarkets.

    Choose value

    If the organic boxes and farmer’s markets are out of your budget, then go with the value brands.  You’ll be surprised at how amazingly cheap supermarket own brand vegetables and value ranges are, even at Christmas.  Often the supermarkets will have lots of offers on the fruits and veg you need to make Christmas lunch as they want to win your custom for your Christmas food shop.

    Get everyone to chip in

    Not with money, but with the food.  If you’re making the main meal, then why not ask some family members to bring desserts, others to bring drinks and another to bring the starters or canapes?  Make it a family affair and don’t feel pressured to have to provide for everyone if you can’t afford to.  Your loved ones will understand and be more than happy to chip in and bring a part of the meal each.

    Make everything from scratch

    While it might be tempting to buy ready-made canapes, desserts and frozen yorkies or potatoes, it’s often much better value (and tastier) to make your own homemade versions.

    Control the portion sizes

    Be sensible with the portion sizes.  Ensure that everyone has enough, but don’t overfill plates and end up with a lot of food waste which is wasted money also.  Cook enough for each person to have a good sized portion and a perhaps a tiny bit extra for those who will want seconds.  Leave the extra off the plates and in the kitchen so if it’s not needed it can be saved and eaten as leftovers instead of wasted.

    Keep it simple

    Have the star of the show (usually meat, but in my household a nut roast), potatoes, stuffing, yorkies and three or four veg.  Some condiments such as dried mint and cranberry sauce and of course gravy.  You can go all out and start creating cauliflower cheese and so on, but you can also keep it much simpler and choose a couple of tasty steamed veg that will do the trick and keep costs down.

    Check apps for money off coupons and cashback

    Make sure you make the most of every supermarket shopping trip moneywise by following these tips and also remember to check the Shopmium app for coupons and cashback in all the popular supermarkets.

    Use what you have

    Before writing a shopping list and buying anything, check your cupboards to see what you already have.  You might have some jars of condiments in there, packets of stuffing and a tub of gravy granules.  Don’t go out and buy it all again if you already have it at home.

    There we go.  Whatever your budget this Christmas for your dinner, make sure you don’t break the bank and follow these tips to be a little savvier with your festive food shopping.

     

    Related blog posts

    Making Christmas magical for your kids this year and affordable for you

    How to Save Money on Shopping All Year (not just in the Boxing Day sales)

    How to earn cashback on things you already buy!

    5 ways you can reduce your kitchen waste today and save money

    How to make Christmas dinner on a budget

  2. Discovering if I have any hidden talents with Genesis DNA testing

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    Genesis DNA testing kit review

    You may remember that a short while ago I posted a picture of myself on my Instagram holding a DNA testing kit from Genesis DNA.  I’ve popped the image below to jog your memory if you don’t recall…

    View this post on Instagram

    ??‍♀️What are my secret talents? Who am I? Ever wondered if you have secret skills you don’t know about? I’ll be reviewing the @genesisdnalab DNA Talent Test at a blog near you very soon! ? I’ve just received it and will do my swab in the morning. You have to not eat or drink for 30 mins before, so I think first thing is the best time for me! ?? The results should reveal my full physical, mental and intellectual potential according to their website ??‍♀️ Being someone who has not yet discovered that one hobby or skill that I have mastered, I wonder if it will reveal to me a talent I haven’t yet even thought of that I will enjoy ??‍♀️ I have become so passionate about healthy living, plant based diets and exercise in recent years so perhaps that’s my calling? I will reveal the results when I get them! ?? Have you ever considered doing a DNA test? . . ✨ Get 20% off DNA tests at @genesisdnalab with code LYLIAROSE10/18 ✨ . . #ad #dna #dnatest #dnatesting #dnatests #genesisdna #genetics #decoded #dnakit #biotechnology #lbloggers #lifestylebloggers #whoami #curiosity #hiddentalent #genes #health #hbloggers #science #talentDNA #genetictesting #review #blogreview #ukbloggers #uklbloggers #reviewer #knowyourself #knowingyourself #knowyourselfbetter #biology

    A post shared by Victoria: UK Lifestyle Blogger (@lyliarose) on

    I received my results today so I want to share with you my thoughts and a review of the Genesis DNA Talent test.  Firstly, though, let’s start at the beginning as you may be wondering what completing a DNA test involves.

    How to complete a DNA testing kit with Genesis DNA

    Usually you would register and order a DNA testing kit from their website directly, but as I was sent the kit for the purpose of this review, I didn’t order online.  I guess my process is the same as if you receive a kit as a present.  It comes with instructions to register your kit at their main website using the special ID number unique to your kit.  You simply fill in a few quick details such as your name, age, email address and sex along with the box registration number to ensure that your results are sent to you when ready.

    The kit comes with everything you need to take two DNA swabs and clear instructions so you’ll know exactly what to do.  It’s totally pain free and you simply need to pop on some gloves and take a swab with an extra-long cotton swab in the side of your cheek.  You twirl it round whilst coating it for 30 seconds or so and then pop it in a test tube.  Then you repeat with a second swab.

    There’s no need to worry that you’re doing it wrong as they’ll send you a second kit if for any reason they can’t extract your DNA from your two swabs.

    Simply send the test tubes back in the envelope provided and await the email of your results!

    Genesis DNA testing review

    Why choose the Genesis DNA talent test

    I was at first offered an immune health DNA test which is very appropriate for this time of year, but my immune health is not something that concerns me.  I eat a plant based vegan diet full of superfoods, fruits and vegetables every day and exercise several times a week.  I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke.  Whether it’s my lifestyle choices or a strong genetic immune system, I rarely get ill - this entire year I’ve had one migraine and one day where I was feeling under the weather, but that’s it.  I never get sick or ill.  It’s very rare for me.

    So I decided the immune test might not be so beneficial to me and they offered a talent test instead.  It definitely sounded intriguing as it promises to reveal:

    • Your physical, mental and intellectual predispositions
    • Which activities and professions could be your most successful
    • What potential talents you haven’t yet tapped into
    • How your genes affect your personality

    This certainly interested me as perhaps there is a hobby I have not yet realised I am good at or a profession I have never considered.  Maybe I’d have a light bulb moment in my head and realise my future career and potential. 

    genesis dna testing

    Through my twenties I never had a hobby or interest and always felt I was lacking one.  I wanted so desperately to be good at something and to have a talent.  I tried a few things and nothing ever stuck.  I was always so envious of those who had a skill or talent, especially those who had perfected their skill from a young age. Why didn’t I know what I was good at?

    It was the same with career choices.  As a child I never knew what I wanted to be. I never had a focus or set dream.  I flitted between wanting to be a teacher, a firefighter, a radio presenter and more.  I never knew what my skills were or what I wanted to be.  I had no set direction and this continued into adulthood.  I never had a set career in mind.  I was always hardworking and worked my way up in a company I was loyal to for 9 years before having children, but once I left to start a family I again realised I did not know what I wanted to be.

    I knew I didn’t want to return to the same job as it was demanding and full time hours, when I wanted to be with my new daughter more, and so I trained to be a childminder.  I think I was more passionate about running my own business and having more flexibility than the job itself and it never materialised as a house move took a lot longer than anticipated.  In this time I had already started a jewellery business and from this a passion for writing was rediscovered and I turned to blogging as a hobby and future career choice.  I am now a full time blogger - a blogger because I love to write.

    Yet I always wonder how long the blogging bubble will last and if it bursts, then what will I do next.  I have no idea.

    Perhaps my DNA test will help guide me to a suitable career choice or suggest a talent that I could be great at!

    genesis dna testing kits

    A breakdown of my Genesis DNA talent test results

    When my results were ready yesterday I was sent an email notification.  I had to login to my account and download the results – a 36 page A4 booklet!  It can be viewed online, but as it looked quite extensive I printed it out and read the whole thing.  Sometimes I find a huge amount of information easier to process on paper instead of staring at the screen for a long period of time.  But there’s no need to print and you can access everything totally online.

    The results are broken down into an overview, main recommendations and then detailed recommendations.  Let’s look at my results and my thoughts:

    Personality

    Apparently due to my variant of the COMT gene I have an increased level of dopamine and adrenaline which help to shape my personality.  I was somewhere on the middle of their scale which meant I was a ‘sensitive discoverer’ as well as a ‘warrior’.  I definitely like being called a warrior!

    My personality traits were a bit hit and miss to be honest.  It was a bit like reading a horoscope where some I could really relate to and sounded just like me, but others were nothing like me.  Perhaps genes aren’t always conclusive or maybe I’m not interpreting them correctly.  Here are some of the interesting points:

    • It says I can easily lose my temper which is true!  Not with friends though, but more with my kids! There’s only so many times I can repeat myself and ask nicely before I do lose my mind… put your socks on, put your socks on, put your socks on, put your socks on, put your socks on, can you please put your socks on, PUT YOUR SOCKS ON.  Job done.
    • It does tell me to break away from my professional life or else it will have a negative effect on my lie.  I’m certainly a workaholic and even more so since running my own business.  It’s important to take breaks and not let it take over your life, but that is sometimes easier said than done when you work by yourself and can only rely on yourself to get the work done!
    • It suggests I work on my creativity by listening to classical music.  I’ll just leave that one there…
    • It does say I can easily break addictions which I think is very true.  Some people are terrible at breaking an addiction, but I am strong willed and if I want to do something then my will takes over!  I also love an experiment and see anything such as giving up added sugar for a year (which I did in 2017) a challenge and one that I will succeed in!  Turn giving up something into a challenge and I bet you’re far more likely to succeed.
    • For my professional career, seeing as I have traits of both a sensitive discoverer and a warrior, it displays a whole host of varying career ideas: writer, fashion, artist, lawyer, nurse, waitress, broker, manager, lifeguard, the list goes on.  It’s not very specific, so at least now I can blame my genes for my indecisiveness when it comes to a career path!  It does say I need to decide which personality prevails in me to make a career choice, so can I be a warrior?
    • Pressure at work is apparently good for me and I agree.  I hate twiddling my thumbs and I need a lot of work to keep me engaged, so lots of deadlines and pressure – yes please.  I work best when I’m fired up with lots to do.
    • But then it says I need greater self-discipline which I disagree with as I am highly self-motivated and work well by myself, at-home, where others often say they’d be too distracted or procrastinate too much!
    • It says as I’m a warrior then if I’m not satisfied with my career then a change won’t be challenging – ‘hear hear!’ This should so be true for everyone!  Isn’t it so boring to hear those people moan constantly about their jobs they hate, but they don’t do anything about it?!  Life’s too short to keep working a job you detest – do something about it!
    • The diet section is probably relevant to everyone –consume more magnesium, don’t drink sugary drinks, do drink green tea.  Sensible advice for all I’d say.

    Genesis DNA testing review

    Memory and spatial orientation

    I have a high level of the BDNF factor so I’m predisposed to faster transmission of information from short term to long term memory.  This must be before I had kids and suffered baby-brain and mumnesia…

    It goes on to say I gain motor skills rapidly and memorise them even after a few days.  I’m a fast learner and can learn pretty much anything I set my mind to, especially anything academic.  Here are some of the points that are interesting from this category:

    • I might be a good driver.  We’ll have to ask my husband Ben’s opinion on that…
    • I may be good in maths, geometry and geography.  Yes I am!  Or at least I was!  I got an A in GCSE maths and GCSE geography and loved the subjects.  I ummed and arrrred about taking them at A-level, but was trying to release my more creative side and took drama and philosophy instead.  Doh!  I 100% should have continued with geography and maths and then who knows what career path this could have led me down.
    • It reminds me that cortisol is increased in stressful situations and also too much working out and lack of sleep… I know, I know.  I’m working on it.
    • I’m also predisposed to high blood pressure which is interesting as my Grandad has hypertension and my uncle did.  I’m hoping my lifestyle choices will help to keep mine down.

    Verbal skills

    I have high levels of the protein KIBRA which means I have high verbal communication skills:

    • Written and spoken communication isn’t a problem for me so it suggests a career with these.  This is good as my current career involves a lot of writing!  I love to write and hopefully I communicate well through my writing.  I’m always told everything reads well.
    • I don’t have problems with written work at school or work.   I’ve always loved writing, spelling and reading and always enjoyed writing essays!
    • I shouldn’t have a problem learning foreign languages.  Well I learnt German at school and found it relatively easy, so I took up French as a second language and struggled!  I don’t think I’m great at languages, but I just don’t have the time to learn one currently.= or the need.
    • Apparently public speaking and presentations are not difficult for me.  But they so are! I hate talking in front of large groups of people.  I hate the attention and all the eyes on me.  I went to a yoga class recently and had to introduce myself in front of around 35-40 people and my heart was beating so fast and palms sweating.  I’m definitely not comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people I don’t know.  I prefer small groups or 1-1s.

    Genesis DNA testing review

    Interpersonal relationships

    I have a higher sensitivity of the oxytocin receptor which means having a higher resistance to stress, emotional, optimistic and empathetic.  I don’t think I do have a higher resistance to stress.  Maybe more than others, but I still get stressed on a regular basis.  But perhaps we all do?

    • ‘Stressful situations aren’t problematic for you’… until I had kids…!  (Of course I’m always saying this in jest, but parenting is stressful!)
    • I find it easy to recognise lies and manipulation – yes I think I do.  I’ve known a few liars and manipulators and I can see straight through it, even when others can’t.
    • I’m kind.  Why, thank you :)

    Type of muscles

    My muscles contain an additional protein – alpha-actinin-3 (ACTN3 gene).  I may be good at sports that require high dynamics, muscle contraction and anaerobic effort.

    • Because I have an additional protein in my muscles I should be able to take part in sports that require high dynamics and strength.  I love to run 5km-10km and I also love the step machine at the gym and yoga classes.
    • I can easily build a muscular silhouette.  Ooh I’d better try this!  I do need to work on my bingo wings!
    • I’m apparently more suited to sprinting, but I never got on with sprinting.  I’ve always been good at and enjoyed long distance running.  I do 5km runs at the gym a few times a week and sometimes go up to 10km.  For 5km I run 1km per 5 minutes which I don’t think is bad.  I could push myself to go faster if I was racing.  I do sometimes sprint for a minute or so at the end of my 5km to really get my adrenaline pumping!

    Energy metabolism

    My energy is efficiently transported during physical activities, meaning I get fatigued slowly during exercise.  This definitely rings true and is why I like long distance running over sprinting and can sometimes keep going and going…

    • I am apparently talented in ‘sport’.  I’m not sure I am.  I enjoy running to keep fit, but I don’t think I’ve ever been talented in any other sports.
    • This section tells me to choose long distance, whereas the muscle section said short distance.  My genes are conflicted!
    • It tells me to include dark chocolate, green tea and cocoa in my diet to improve performance.  All things I love and all things that will give me more energy and also contain caffeine.  I use cacao rather than cocoa as it is less refined.  I choose dark chocolate that’s without added sugar so it’s healthier.  Anyone who knows me will know how much I love green tea!  These three foods could benefit everyone.

    Final thoughts (and save 20% off Genesis DNA tests)

    Wowsers, that’s only a tiny snippet of the comprehensive DNA report I received!  There’s a lot that I feel matches me and some that really doesn’t.  Overall  I found the process of completing the test and receiving the results a fun thing to do.  It was definitely interesting to see what levels of certain genes I have and what this should mean for my personality and health traits, even if they weren’t always accurate. 

    I’d definitely do a DNA test again, but I think I’d opt for something more specific like a health DNA test or even a food intolerance DNA test if I thought I might have intolerances to something.  I think DNA testing for health reasons is great to pinpoint a specific health problem or issue and could really benefit someone’s life.   For recreational purposes or for a nosey insight into your genes it can be quite expensive, so I think it’s more valuable if you have a specific purpose in mind.  That said, it does make a modern and unique gift idea!

    If you want to discover your hidden talents then you can find the DNA test I took here: https://www.genesisdna.co.uk/product/dna-talent-test/

    Save 20% off any of their tests with my promo code LYLIAROSE10/18

     

    “We focus our tests only on areas where we, with proper counselling, could change our existence positively and thereby achieve a stronger, longer and more quality-filled life.”
     - Genesis DNA

     

    Related blog posts
    How to go refined sugar free
    Why you need to reduce your refined sugar intake
    5 tips to get a better night’s sleep naturally 
    Your ultimate inspirational guide to being truly healthy
    3 reasons we get adult acne  

     

    Discovering if I have any hidden talents with Genesis DNA testing

  3. 3 reasons we get adult acne (including 2 natural and free ways to combat it)

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    Typically, acne is associated with teenagers and young adults, but unfortunately, some of us are unlucky enough to get it even after we have crossed into our thirties! It doesn’t seem fair to have to battle signs of aging and teenage pimples at the same time, but it isn’t that uncommon either. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when suffering with adult acne though.  I have suffered my fair share of adult acne since I hit my late twenties and it’s only now I’m 33, five years after it got really bad, that my skin is finally beginning to clear thanks to some natural solutions that I’ve recently discovered.

    To understand adult acne and to find ways of reducing and treating the problem from the root, take a look at the following four common causes of adult acne and their respective solutions.

    3 reasons we get adult acne (including 2 natural and free ways to combat it)

    My skin is getting better all the time - read my natural solutions in points 2 and 3 below.

    1. Hormones

    Let’s get the obvious out of the way first because we all know that it’s the hormones that are primarily responsible for not just zits, but a bunch of other skin problems as well. Spikes in certain hormones usually make the skin susceptible to pimples, but shouldn’t the hormonal imbalance of the teen years stabilise by the time you reach your thirties? In a majority of the cases, that is true, but that is not what always happens and there is also another common cause for hormonal imbalance that often plagues women well into their forties, which is menstruation.

    While hormonal fluctuations before and during menstruation is natural, sometimes, a spike in the androgens, aka male hormones, is usually what brings forth those nasty cystic pimples on your chin, back and neck. Even though the hormonal imbalance will likely stabilise soon after, by the time the acne starts to clear out, it’s already time for another period! As you can imagine, this is a painful and seemingly never-ending cycle that you do not have any control over, and can only be countered with specialised medical treatment.

    For example, The Dermatology Clinic specialises in acne treatment by countering each symptom of adult acne separately. First, they will treat the painful outbreak to minimise the chances of scarring and then oral and topical medication will be prescribed to prevent the spots from breaking out in the first place. If you have adult acne that breaks out just before your get your period then you may wish to get it treated by a clinic like this to prevent permanent scarring.

    Sometimes it’s not hormones, but some lifestyle factors that can cause our adult acne.  There are also some natural ways to help combat acne and they don’t involve spending money either.  Check out the next two points.

    2. Stress

    Stress causes pimples, irrespective of our age because stress induces the secretion of cortisol and testosterone. Our bodies are programmed in such a way that when we get stressed, adrenalin is released into the blood stream as a natural reaction to that stress, alongside a small amount of testosterone which is the primary male hormone responsible for causing adult acne. In other words, the more stressed an adult is, the higher his/her chances are of developing acne issues during both their teen years and during adult life. Try to avoid stressful situations in general, but since that is not always an option, consider some of the common stress busting techniques, as mentioned below:

    • Meditate and practice breathing exercises for relaxation
    • Try yoga or Tai Chi
    • Run, lift weights, or play a physically demanding sport on a daily basis
    • Take frequent breaks during a long day of work
    • Sleep for at least seven hours a night

    I’m certain there are a wide range of reasons for my acne and hormones definitely play a part around my period date, as well as stress on a daily basis.  I’ve been practicing yoga much more for over a year now and find it very calming.  I also run several times a week and do my best to get a good night’s sleep.  I still do get stressed each day and really need to work on reducing my stress levels more as I know they are not good for overall health or acne.

    3. Sugar consumption

    The only difference between a child’s sweet tooth and that of an adult is that the child can be restricted, but an adult can pretty much eat whatever he/she wants to! Most adults who have a nagging acne problem that just won’t go away usually have high blood sugar levels, which leads to excess insulin secretion. Insulin directly affects the secretion of androgens, which are all responsible for boosting excess oil and sebum production in our skin. Of course, the high blood glucose levels could also be caused by conditions such as diabetes, in which case, management of the sugar and insulin levels with medication would be necessary. In general, though, most people with acne benefit from reducing or even eliminating refined sugar consumption completely.

    When my adult acne was really bad, my diet was really bad.  When my eldest turned one I got a job working from 6pm until midnight and so I ate my dinner really late, at around 9pm.  I chose a meal deal at the place I worked and made really poor choices.  I also carried around sweets in my pocket which I ate on my shift!  I’m sure the late nights, lack of sleep and terrible eating habits made my acne so much worse.  I ate really bad foods back then as it was just before I got really into healthy eating and returned to vegetarianism.  I was veggie for five years and now for the past year I have been vegan and consumed no animal products at all.  I also hate refined sugar and rarely eat anything with added sugars.  My acne has cleared up so much and I’m sure that cutting out sugar and dairy has made the biggest difference. It got so bad before this, especially when I was working late shifts and munching on sweets that it was all over my entire face.  Now I have a few pimples which is even so much better than say six months ago, when my husband Ben so lovingly shone a light on my jawline to enquire about my 50 or so spots under the skin!

     

    In spite of being extremely common, adult acne does cause severe self-confidence issues and it does affect one’s social perception as well. This is all the more reason to understand the causes and treat them before scarring can occur, which is even harder to get rid of than acne.  Try some of the tips we have discussed to help combat the problem.  For me the biggest improvement to my acne has been a move away from consuming animal products and sugary foods, as well as more exercise and yoga to help with stress relief.  It’s not an instant fix, but almost a year after making these changes I am now seeing massive improvements.

     

    Related blog posts

    How To Go Refined Sugar Free

    Why you need to reduce your refined sugar intake - the dangers of added sugar and its health consequences 

    5 tips to get a better night’s sleep naturally 

    Fighting Spots Naturally with Salcura 

    Your ultimate inspirational guide to being truly healthy

     

    3 reasons we get adult acne (including 2 natural and free ways to combat it

  4. How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves you money

    Posted on

    Last night I watched the documentary Plastic Planet on FMTV.  It was a real eye-opener!  It’s incredible to think that plastic was only first invented in 1907 and in just over 100 years it has become a huge part of our lives and society, even something we would now struggle to live without.  Of course I’m sure we could probably live without it, but it’s not like we could just cut it out and stop using anything with plastic.  New materials or natural materials would need to replace plastic.  Simply look around your house and even your car to see just how much we rely on plastic!

    Right now I’m typing on a laptop with plastic casing and walking on a treadmill that is made out of plastic.  I have a plastic pen and calculator next to me.  The blinds and voile on my window are made from plastic.  No doubt the photo frames on my wall have a plastic coating and my iPhone has a plastic case.  The list goes on.  That is simply the items within arm’s reach of me that I can see are made with plastic.  In the documentary I mentioned above there are a few families who empty their homes of plastic – they bring everything made from plastic outside and realise just how much they have.  Unless your clothes are made from natural fibres, then they are plastic too!  It’s everywhere.

    Whilst we certainly have come to depend on plastic and suddenly stopping it’s production in its entirety isn’t possible in this day and age, there are some measures we can begin to take to stop it’s damaging effects on the environment.  One of these is to reduce the amount of single use plastics that we are using and throwing away.  I believe the onus is largely on the manufacturers and people in power to seek environmentally friendly alternatives and I hope they are doing so, but we can take a stand as individuals by reducing the amount of single plastic we buy and use.

    While we all know it's a great way to reduce waste, cutting back on plastic isn't just something that we can do for the environment.  The act of cutting back on plastic benefits us in so many different ways, even personally.  Here’s how:

    How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves you money

    Photo by Jonathan Chng 

    It benefits our diet

    What comes in plastic containers? Convenience food. To cut back on these convenience food that come with so much plastic packaging, such as packets of crisps, microwave meals, bottles of pop and so on, we will see an upshot in the amount of healthy food we can cook at home instead.

    Water bottles are a very good example, because we believe that we're taking the healthier option, which naturally, we are. But if we buy a bottle of water every single day, it's not doing the planet any favours at all with all that one-use plastic waste. So instead of this, we could purchase a water container, like a Reefdog water bottle and just refill that with water. Water becomes one of those things that we can forget to drink an adequate amount of, and so, with a large water bottle, not only are you cutting down on your plastic, you are getting closer to your recommended amount of water every day.  There are even apps available that tell you where you can fill up your water for free, with registered businesses happy for you to do so.

    Plus, as we move on to the next point, just think of all the money you’ll save on all those bottles of water!

    It saves us more money

    As we cut down on the abundance of plastic, this means we have to develop ways to be more self-sufficient, especially when it comes to the foods we carry around with us. As our shopping excursions are reduced, we'll see the benefit in our savings. Because when you think about bringing your own lunch into work or cutting down on takeaways which can use a huge amount of plastic packaging, we're going to save so much more money that we can invest it into other more positive aspects of our lives.

    When we see such a significant amount of savings by cutting down on that daily shop bought lunch, it adds up quickly. And even that morning coffee on the way into the office can be easily substituted for a reusable coffee cup, where we can make our own coffee at home, which will save even more money!  You could buy a whole tub of coffee for the price of just one cup from a shop!  Nowadays, because life is so expensive, it is these little costs that add up over the weeks, months, and years.

    It can kick our social conscience into gear

    If you've got friends that are constantly going on protests, and fighting the good fight, but you have no idea why, something as little as reducing our plastic consumption can infiltrate into other areas of our lives. When we think about cutting down on plastic, we then begin to think about our paper consumption, our carbon footprint, how the food choices we make affect others and so on.

    Maybe you can't picture yourself as some sort of eco-warrior, but if we all get a better idea of how we are impacting the planet individually we can begin to care for things that wouldn't have factored in our lives before. While there are more people now going vegan for the purposes of cutting down on their carbon footprints, as well as other reasons, this is only one piece of the puzzle.

    If you want to take a more active approach to look after the world you live in, you've got to begin with the small things. If you know people who seem like they couldn't care less, then getting them to think about their own plastic consumption, as well as other lifestyle habits, might make all the difference. Blue Planet 2 was, for many people, a catalyst to truly cut down on their plastic consumption, because they finally saw how it impacts our oceans. So if we all get a better understanding of how our plastic use impacts other creatures in the world, it becomes a positive force for change.

    We are stuck with certain habits in life, and it can take a while to undo them. Using a huge amount of plastic is one of those things that, thankfully, many shops are now hot on minimising. But we can't just rely on food suppliers to minimise the amount of plastic so we benefit- we've got to take the initiative. And luckily, it begins with the simpler things. But if you have people in your life that have no idea why they should even bother minimising their plastic, highlight the fact that it's going to benefit them.  If they do eat fish then tell them that due to plastic pollution in the oceans, even the fish they eat are now poisoned with plastic which in turn poisons them!  The problem is much bigger than just unsightly litter.  And if we communicate this to the people who don't care, and make it about themselves, this is setting the wheels in motion.

     

    What to read next

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    3 Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    13 eco-friendly ways to start saving money in the kitchen
    Get 100% renewable energy with Bulb and save lots of money (over £250)
    Plastic is not fantastic – the dirty secret of where our recycling really goes

     

    How cutting back on plastic benefits your life and saves you money

  5. 3 ways to help those in need this Christmas

    Posted on

    The month of festivities is upon us and most of us will soon be taking some precious time off work to enjoy the holiday season with loved ones and to overindulge in good food and gifts.  Unfortunately for others, this is a desperately sad time of year as they struggle to make ends meet and be able to afford clothes and foods for themselves and their families.  Christmas is a time of giving, not just for ourselves and our families, but also a time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves who need our help.  Of course, we should support those in need all year round, but whilst we are busily splashing our cash on gifts and food shopping, it’s a great time to also splash some of our cash on worthwhile causes too.

    Here are three ways you can help those in need this Christmas:

    1.     Support the homeless with a sock subscription

    3 ways to help those in need this Christmas

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    Society Socks is helping put an end to the homeless crisis by offering a handy sock subscription service with a social cause.  With every pair of socks sold, they will donate a pair to charity.  Why socks?  Because socks are the least donated item at homeless shelters, yet the most needed.  Shelters are only able to accept new socks and so they rarely receive donations, yet for obvious reasons they are very much needed by the homeless.  Society Socks aim to change this by donating a brand new pairs of socks every time they sell a pair.

    There’s nothing better than a fresh pair of socks, so if you’re looking for a unique subscription that saves you the hassle of buying new socks each month and that also supports a great cause, you’ve found it right here.  It’s also the perfect unique Christmas gift with a difference – the socks that keep on giving!

    2.     Support the food banks with a reverse advent calendar

    3 ways to help those in need this Christmas - reverse advent calendar - uk

    My little helper!

    We have just handed in our reverse advent calendar donations to the food bank at the weekend.  You can still help others this Christmas with your own reverse advent calendar – it’s never too late to start.  It’s organised by the UK money bloggers and aims to bring awareness to the food banks who so desperately need donations of suitable food and hygiene products all year round, but particularly in the weeks leading up to Christmas when they see a 40% rise in their services. 

    Help local people who desperately need food donations by donating an item of food each day for 24 days.  Instead of receiving something from an advent calendar each day for 24 days, the idea is you give each day instead.  We started ours in November and handed it in at the weekend so as the food banks have time to sort and distribute the items, but they are always in need so don’t feel like it’s too late to start.  Donate as much as you can and there’s no need to do one item a day if you want to just give a lot in one go.  We saved ours up each day in November and took it all in to our local Tesco drop off point when we had filled two carrier bags full.  Even if you don’t want to take part in the reverse advent calendar idea, please do pick up an extra item with your supermarket shopping when you can and donate it in the food bank collection area.

    3.     Support those in poverty with unwrapped charity gifts

    3 ways to help those in need this Christmas

    These are a great gift idea for anyone, but especially for those who say they want nothing or older family members that you simply don’t know what to buy.  They are also the perfect gift to ask for yourself if you don’t want a gift and instead want to help someone less fortunate than yourself.  The Oxfam unwrapped charity gifts start at only £5 and you choose which cause to give your donation to.  You’ll be sent a card explaining where the donation has gone which you can write out to your recipient so they know you have donated on their behalf.  It’s the perfect way of giving at this time of year.

     

    There are lots of ways to give to those in need this Christmas.  Hopefully this blog post has inspired you to think about ways you can give back this Christmas, even when doing your Christmas gift shopping.

    Related - Lylia Rose supports The Grand Appeal, Bristol Children's Hospital Charity

    3 ways to help those in need this Christmas