“We’re livinggg in a material world and I am a material girl…”
Well Madonna, the materials are slowly but surely being sorted out! If you haven’t noticed, as of October 5th 2015, shoppers in the UK are being charged 5p for every plastic bag given out by supermarkets/large stores. The UK have been quite behind in implementing this change, but it is one that is much needed for our environment and resources.
As the BBC discusses the aim is to “cut the 7.6bn bags given to shoppers at major supermarkets every year, and retailers are expected to spend the money raised from the charge on good causes”. The latter is obviously dependent on the supermarket and as we know, [here comes the cynic], big corporations often have other plans or hidden agendas.
Astonishingly, last year witnessed 7 major supermarkets giving out over 7.6 billion plastic bags. This is a phenomenal, jaw dropping amount which the BBC equates to 140 per person and 61, 000 tonnes in total. Think of how many football pitches that could fill!
So, is this a welcome change?
Since this charge has been introduced I have heard a lot of mixed views, from colleagues to friends, to fellow food shoppers browsing the grocery aisles. Some people feel that if they buy something from the supermarket they expect to receive a bag [free of charge] to transport it home. People can’t always be expected to carry plastic bags around with them, can they?
On the other hand some people feel this initiative is well overdue and it will hopefully undo some of the damage we have inflicted upon our environment. As well as:
- Save money clearing up litter
- Save money in carbon savings
- (Hopefully) reduce the number of animal related injuries and deaths with plastic bags
People may ‘umm and ‘ahh but the bottom line is plastic bags are not biodegradable and this is a problem (and always has been).
What do you think?
When will you have to pay for a bag?
The 5p charge only applies to shops with 250 or more full-time employees.
The Association of Convenience Stores, which represents over 33,500 local shops, reports that only 8,000 of these were planning to charge for plastic carrier bags. We may see this fluctuate in the next few months.
When will you not be charged for a bag?
Free bags are provided when buying uncooked meat, poultry or fish, prescription medicine, some fresh produce (flowers/potatoes), live aquatic creatures in water, and unwrapped ready-to-eat food such as chips.
Most home delivery services are also giving consumers an option to opt for a ‘bagless service’. Morrisons and Ocado in particular are still charging 5p per bag for deliveries but will return this cost when customers return the bags back to them to recycle.
Although it may still be confusing to know exactly when you will be expected to pay for a bag, this change will hopefully shift people’s way of thinking. It is early days and all changes require time. In my opinion, this will hopefully encourage people to look at their behaviours and promote sustainable actions. It isn’t hard to be prepared and have bags at the ready, whether that is kept in a handbag or in the boot of your car.
A resourceful and renewable outlook is one that we should transfer to other areas of our lives. Food waste, recycling etc. Sustainable living is something that needs to be practiced as well as preached and I am pleased to see this change. It is just a shame it takes a law to make obvious changes that benefit our world…
If you still haven’t got your bag’s worth, check out these interesting related articles:
I am all for New Year resolutions. I think this “idea” provides a safety blanket, a bravado, a ‘fake motivation’ that somehow spurs us to really fulfil our year like no other. Cliché as they may seem, paper filled with endless lists and top tens, how useful are they to us?
I for one like the belief and drive they instil in some people (myself included), and though some may mock people’s unachievable goals I think it is important to remember that having aims in life, or for the foreseeable months is never a bad thing.
Last year I over ambitiously set out to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I may have failed to read that number (due to some books being 700 pages) yet I still left 2014 with a sense of real accomplishment. It was not tainted by one of my friends continuously emphasising how I had totally failed this goal of mine.
However that should not have mattered to them and nor to me as I did succeed: I attempted my goal and reshaped it as I went through 2014 realising my page heavy books would slow me down and mean missing my ’52 target’.
This feeling of self-accomplishment isn’t necessarily one found at work or shared with others; it is an emotion felt at a very personal level.
A similar thinking blog caught my eye the other day as the author mentioned how she is focusing on one word to take her through 2015. This isn’t a new idea by any stretch of the imagination but it is another way to concentrate on your mental attitude. A way to feel ‘refreshed’ in your body, mind and attitude.
It can also be very therapeutic to list your dreams or aims no matter how farfetched and in turn, you can then plan how to meet these. I think the biggest obstacle in making changes, whether that is changing your diet or exercising more, is rewiring your mental state. Blocking out negative hurdles before the race starts.
Stop and think – how do you really feel about this goal? Is it one you really want to do – is your heart, mind and way of thinking in this one hundred per cent? It goes hand in hand with the saying, if you think it you can do it. It is without a doubt, our biggest strength and power is our mind. It goes further than even we know and is always two steps.
Do you have your own resolutions? How do you find they help you?
Art has no limit or boundaries and I am always to intrigued to get inside artist’s heads to find out what makes them tick. I actually came across freelance illustrator, Nick Willis of nick’s fault, as he entered my herbal tea competition on my other blog. Working in a funeral directors during the day and freelancing at night, I ask Nick more about his creative skill and dreamy, hypnotic drawings.
Where did your love of art come from?
My love of art is an old and deep-set feature of my childhood; my brothers and I would sit backwards on the pews in church as kids and spend the whole service drawing batman and cars – My dad used to pitch in (presumably if he wasn’t all that taken with the message!) and always managed to create really brilliant pictures in an incredibly short period of time, usually of steam trains and the like. I think I always just wanted to emulate him – What young boy doesn’t want the approval of their father? I also had a very immersive experience of picture books as a youngster; a story was never as good if it wasn’t filled with full colour, lucid illustrations. From then on, I always described the world to everyone around me through pictures.
Is illustrating your full-time job?
Sadly, illustrating isn’t my full-time job yet – I try to get as much freelance work as possible and am always working on my own projects but that isn’t paying the rent just yet, so I work full-time as an in-house desktop publisher for a funeral directors, of all places!
What or where do you draw inspiration from?
I try to escape reality in my work and always have. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of interesting stuff to draw from on earth, it’s just that I prefer to study it, learn to draw it and then take it apart, using various elements from everything that I’ve ever seen to create worlds of my own. I look at new and exciting science articles, hand drawn maps, old writings of explorers and biologists anatomical drawings – All of it end up influencing my work one way or another, albeit indirectly.
What materials do you use for your illustrations? And what computer programs?
I try to mix up my working methods but always have a safety net of ink pens and Photoshop – I’m always playing around with printing inks and lino cutting, as well as good old colouring pencils, but when I need to produce a professional final piece of work it tends to be rendered on paper and then coloured on the computer; it just means that I know I can make it print ready for my clients!
If you had to pick one of your illustrations, which has been your favourite to date?
Choosing one of my own illustrations as a favourite is really tough! I think I can pinpoint one which signifies a point at which I started to really raise my game in a technical sense and that’s an image called “Flying Inventions” – It’s just a bit of fun but it reflects my style and desire to create new things, as well as tapping to some more detailed colouring skills. I think I’ve probably created more detailed work since then but, for me, this image reflects my style and captures the fun I have while drawing.
What advice would you give someone trying to get into illustration?
It’s hard to give advice to would-be illustrators because I really still class myself as one too! For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to find your own style and go for it, unrelentingly. Anyone can follow tutorials of how to perfectly render a million photorealistic images online but it’s the people who create their own style from scratch and find a voice through it that have always made the biggest impact. Also, don’t give up if you haven’t made it in a year, 3 years or even 10! If you love it, keep doing it – Make ends meet however you need to but never let go of that small part of your soul that wants to draw something.
Sum up your design style in 10 words.
Escapist, skeletal-free whimsy in a world that’s too serious.
So I constantly come across blogs that feature these ‘about me’ sections that like to prove that they really are the most interesting person since sliced bread AND online. I will hold my hands up and admit that my ‘about me’ pages are probably cringe-worthy and make me wince every time I read over them; as well as those biography pages that float around the internet.
I tend to edit them every couple of months and always stop and think; what on earth was I thinking when I wrote this? 9 out of 10 times it sounded good in my head but on paper or on the dub dub dub it doesn’t sound as impressive. In answer to this I am sharing my top tips on what not to include on your about me page.
What to avoid on your About Me or Bio Page
- Top 10 facts you didn’t know about me. These lists come in various numbers; top ten, twenty and sometimes even fifty. Yes it may be great learning new things about people online and secretly we all like a good nose, though it is important to remember everyone can see these lists. Most importantly, future or prospective employers can cast their eyes over this list so make sure it is either professional or extremely interesting. Interesting and relevant enough to get you hired.
I think these lists also can be a moment of narcissism for some people and it sure does come across that way in their writing. If you want to be taken seriously don’t be too driven by your online persona.
Some points that make the list just aren’t worth reading. “Billy you’re a contradiction; shy but happy, quiet but loud in private. Hates office jobs but loves the routine of 9-5.” Interesting stuff, huh?
- Videos. I won’t dwell on this point too long but badly filmed videos with cheap effects and not much to go on are so cringe-worthy. It is like You’ve Been Framed meets Take Me Out and trust me it really is “no likey, no lighty” with this one.
- Choose your photos carefully. Okay I am very hypocritical on this point as some of the photos featured on my other blogs and sites are not strictly what may be deemed professional. I think your online personality has to complement any photos you post. In this retrospect I know ‘glammed up’ photos of myself are not taken too seriously.
As a general rule of thumb, keep any harmful photographs of yourself under lock and key. They are not for the internet (or the world) to see. I don’t think you have to always feature clean-cut photographs but be wary of who can see these and what impression you want to make.
- Timelines. I think timelines are meaningless unless you are a real figure in history and have lived long enough to have a story behind you. I am talking about memorable people such as Mandela or Rosa Parks. Please don’t spend your time telling us just how long you have studied that photography course for and been an online blogger sensation for x number of years.
- Be you. I couldn’t finish on another negative so I thought it only appropriate to end with my best piece of advice which is be yourself. Make sure you inject your personality into your website and don’t try to be like anybody else.
If you have any other ‘no-no’s’ to add to this list then leave them below!
Bang. It’s time to make your content explosive and engaging; the big event that everyone wants to read. So how do you do it? After being on the ‘blogging scene’ a little while, I thought I would share what I find interesting on blogs or sites; the pieces that really work. Here are my top blog post ideas:
1. A picture paints a thousand words. Photographs can be just as, if not more effective (sorry writers), than words. They stand alone and do not need to be supported by any lengthy explanations or superfluous information. Some of the best food and fashion blogs I read are those with high-quality images and nothing else. This prompts readers to interact with the site and leave comments. You leave them wanting to know more.
2. Interview other bloggers or experts. As with any industry you have to know your field, therefore it only makes sense to collaborate with people in the same circle. I love teaming up with other bloggers or companies when possible. For example on my beauty blog I am taking part in the Valentine’s Day blogger swap. This is the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded bloggers (in beauty and fashion) whilst exchanging gifts!
3. Create a weekly, fortnightly or monthly post. I am starting that this year with my beauty blog, by creating a fashion wishlist every month (this coincides with the date of payday, forever imprinted in my mind. A welcome distraction.). This structure lets readers know exactly what to expect from your blog on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
4. Run a competition. This can be a great way to reward readers of your blog. The prize does have to be of value to the readers (not necessarily in monetary terms) and has to be worth the engagement; answering a question, going on social media etc.
5. Write a ‘How to’ post. These instructional and often informative articles will never become old in my eyes. People are always searching for help and as long as your site provides a new angle then your content is worthy of a read (or a skim read at least!) For as long as the internet is around, bloggers and writers will continue to provide answers as best they can.
One tip that I haven’t mentioned but have often read is be controversial. I think this can often be misleading to the extent that writers think they have to be extremely opinionated to strike up a conversation or to gain new readers, however this is not the case. I would say it is important to use a blog or site to offer your opinion or value but not just to gain attention; be you. You also have to take into consideration who is reading your blog i.e. employers can see what you say online.
I hope my five blog post ideas can provide you with some form of inspiration for the year ahead. If you have anymore ideas that I haven’t covered then feel free to add your suggestion(s) below. I know I will certainly be referring to this in the coming months.
The English language is an extremely powerful tool and we are continually reminded of this weapon with social platforms such as Twitter. What can 120 characters do?
In one tweet alone someone can go from being hired to fired. This was certainly the case with Justine Sacco in December (2013) who got sacked over her racist tweet which went viral.
It just goes to show that no matter what you say or do in life, there are always consequences.
Having said that there are of course positives. Ying wouldn’t be complete with yang. Twitter can of course be a way to show your employability; showcasing your up-to-date knowledge or skills within a particular area and linking through to your own website or pages online. It can be a great place to extend your job search as opposed to solely relying on recruiters or job pool sites. You can contact the people you need to get in touch with in real-time rather than through your CV or a representative.
Make your personal Twitter account be about you and your interests or views but of course be vigilant. Bear in mind anyone can read what you write. As a company you can communicate with your target audience, though remember that everyone is human, be personal. Companies should expect a (small) backlash of replies. Though not nearly as bad as British Gas received.
If you are handling a Twitter account then get someone to check over your scheduled tweets. A second pair of eyes is always a good idea and this helps you to keep in line with the brand voice and image.
My advice: think [and check] twice before chirping.
Useful Twitter and employability articles
Guardian Careers – Twitter tips: how I used social media to find jobs
Forbes – 4 Ways To Use Twitter To Find A Job
Mashable – 6 Ways to Score a Job Through Twitter
Even though we are now 8 days into the new year I hope it is going well for you (happy New Year!) The classic ‘New Year’s resolutions’ come into play so I thought I would share mine with you (and more to the point, to help me keep on track):
- Keep fit and healthy – I am making sure I go to the gym a couple of times a week, drag myself out jogging and swimming. I would like to try a 5/10km run this year too. Since the beginning of November I have been experimenting more with veggie inspired dishes and following a pescetarian diet.
- Blog at least once every two weeks – I will try to blog more this year! As well as on my other blog over at beccasbeautyblogging.wordpress.com I always come across lots of other well-written blogs or engaging topics and never give my opinion; therefore I will aim to comment more.
- Travel – last year I managed to travel a lot in the UK but not abroad. This year will be different.
- Learn at least one new skill – for me, this is to play the guitar.
- Lastly, but not least, make good use of my time – 30 days might just persuade you to too!
Goals can help you remain focused whilst (without you knowing it) bring great happiness and success.
What are your aims for this year?