Second Hand Shopping Guide

In the past few months I’ve really got into using alternative shopping channels to buy things either brand new or in good condition, which has not only meant I’ve saved money but has also meant less is likely to have been thrown away due to lack of want – fitting perfectly with my zero waste mindset.

Whether they’re second hand or new things people don’t want – that they’ve won, recieved as a gift or are no longer wanted but unreturnable, the internet makes buying and selling things easier than ever before.

While I’m not advocating mad shopping sprees (following a more minimalist approach) , if you do need or want specific new things, these sites and places are great ways to start and are likely to save you lots too! A large part of what I own is second-hand, and this is something I love, the idea that things are being reused and thus giving value to more than one person.

You could also use this list the other way around – as a list to get you started selling your own things that you no longer want, and maybe earning some money too while decluttering.

Depop – I often buy second-hand clothes, books and jewellery on here, and sell my own things I no longer need too. The fact that it’s an app means it’s easy to check while I’m out and about, so feels less effort than perhaps listing things on ebay does.

Ebay – often branded things are easily findable and sellable

Gumtree – this might be better for more expensive and bigger things maybe, I bought my camera and 2 lenses on here brand new from someone who no longer wanted it – and for under half the price they should have been from a shop!

Etsy – for second-hand and vintage clothes, books, jewellery etc.  (as well as much else that’s new and handmade!)

Car boots and fairs are less likely to be fruitful if you’re looking for something specific, but can be a great way to declutter yourself or have a browse for second-hand gifts and things

Events like vintage sales done by weight or for £1 per item are also good for cheap, second-hand (and often vintage) clothes

Charity shops – possibly my favourite form of second-hand buying, but again not so much for specific things. I bought my mugs, purse and many of my clothes from charity shops, all in great condition and for cheap! Some charity shops like Oxfam also have online shops, which make finding things really easy

Vestaire is also a shop I’ve recently come across, and is a way to resell higher-end fashion, which looks interesting

Amazon also often sell used books, which are great and of course easily accessible

Sites like Asos Marketplace also do a range of vintage clothes, which, while expensive, are still second-hand and thus reducing waste

Happy second hand shopping! x

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2018 Zero Waste Checklist!

Recently I’ve been getting much more into zero waste, and have made a few transitions already to products that are much more sustainable, as my instagram shows. The opening of 2 bulk and zero waste shops accessible to me has really urged me on, as well as hearing about lots of shops like Iceland starting to consider using less plastic packaging.

However I feel that I can make even more transitions to sustainable products once my current items are used up – so I’ve made a list of things I already do and a list of things I would like switch to this year!

For a free printable download of my 2018 zero waste checklist head to the bottom of the page!x

Things I already use or do:

  • Period Cup & Reusable Period Pad
  • Block soap with paper packaging/unpackaged
  • Bamboo Biodegradable Toothbrush
  • Handkerchiefs where possible over tissues. Tissues in a cardboard box are also better than ones in plastic wrappers!
  • Body Brush and salt scrub rather than microbeads or a plastic loofah
  • Using re-selling sites like ebay/gumtree – I found my camera and lense on gumtree brand new for far cheaper than normal!
  • Using charity shops – how I’ve bought my purse, many clothes, some of my mugs
  • Using a refillable water bottle rather than buying single-use ones. Mine is metal & a fun pattern which I love
  • Reusing gift wrap or using recyclable gift wrap
  • Using a reusable coffee cup instead of single use ones
  • Having online bank statements and shop updates rather than paper ones
  • Using more glass than plastic, e.g. buying honey in a glass jar not a squeezy plastic bottle
  • Using a cafetiere (french press) rather than one-use coffee filters
  • Keeping a scrap paper pile + use both sides of paper/receipts etc. before recycling. This also means less notebooks/pads/sticky notes to buy!
  • Using tote bags/bags for life/making bags out of old fabric or t shirts to do groceries
  • Walking or using public transport instead of driving
  • Washing things when they are actually dirty, not every time I’ve worn them

Things I would like to look into using or doing:

  • Reusable cotton wool pads, e.g. for makeup removal
  • Using biodegradable or reusable cottonbuds instead of plastic ones
  • Going to bulk supermarkets and stalls more frequently, and bringing my own containers
  • Using coconut oil from a glass jar as a makeup remover
  • Finding recycled and plastic free toilet roll, maybe from Who Gives a Crap
  • Using glass spray perfumes rather than aerosols/plastic sprays
  • No straw! I’m also looking into metal/glass ones
  • Swapping things with friends/family and taking them to car boots before donating them. Charity shops are great, but often things don’t get sold – for example coats/socks might be useful at a homeless shelter, or a local playgroup might want second-hand toys, instead of everything ending up in one unspecific shop
  • Scrapping plastic packaged face masks and opting for ones in glass jars, or better still, diying them. Same with things like lip balm
  • Carpooling is also rising in popularity and is something I’d like to look at
  • Buying things in paper if I can’t buy them in my own containers – bread and mushrooms are some examples
  • Adopting a much more minimalist approach when buying – do I really need 25 t-shirts?
  • Getting rid of single-use kitchen items: cling film, single-use washing up liquid bottles, cleaning sprays, paper kitchen towel
  • Making my own or bulk buying washing powder

A downloadable checklist: 2018 Zero Waste Checklist

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The Gambia (in brief)

This Easter (April 2017) I went with my girlfriend’s family to the Gambia for a week, where they sponsor 2 boys for their education and help to support their families.

While out there I got to see so many different things and meet so many lovely people – a week just really didn’t feel enough. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before and despite not being there for long, I feel it was somewhere I truly fell in love with.

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April Favourites

This month has been super duper busy, but here are a couple of favourite things from it:

Book: The Sound and the Fury for sure, as it baffled me for the most part until the end where everything became much clearer. I thought the use of narrative and switching time periods was really clever and unique, and I truly loved Faulkner’s descriptions. The book follows a group of siblings, with 3 brothers all who have slight obsession with their sister Caddy. There are sooo many metaphors in it, the title comes from a soliloquy in Macbeth (‘Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury’) and it was a really emotionally charged book so it’s definitely worth a read.

Something I’ve worn: Back in December I bought a really pretty necklace with a dried (I think it’s dried) forget-me-not in it… and then forgot about it! I’ve recently found it again and started wearing it more, and really love how simple yet lovely it looks. It’s from Shrieking Violet, which you can find here :)))

Forget-me-not necklace
Forget-me-not necklace

Thing I bought: I bought an aloe vera plant for my room! Given my track record with killing plants, I’m not sure how long it’ll last, but I love how aloe vera looks and apparently it’s a really good air cleaner.

Thing I did: I tried some mindfulness (again), and loved it. It felt a bit funny at first but I love the focus on the present and how still and peaceful it can be. Definitely something I want to explore further and continue to do.
I also went to the Gambia for a week (hence why so many shells in the necklace photo), and it was amazing – another post will be on that :)

Things I’m looking forward to: the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American God’s is something I’ve been excited about for over a year now – and it’s just come out!!!!
I’ve also discovered some of Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry (honestly I don’t know how I’ve been missing out this long), and I really want to get into it a bit more.

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Sri Lanka Trip

Back in October (2016) I was lucky enough to travel to Sri Lanka to volunteer for 2 weeks on a programme with the company Projects Abroad. Our group was based in Kolonnowa, Colombo, in the west of Sri Lanka.

During this time, we volunteered predominantly in primary schools, and focused on teaching them about their community, highlighting the roles of doctors, fire fighters, the police and so on. We were also around to more generally help the teachers with their own planned activities, like arts and crafts, or to help at breakfast time, which with 3 and 4 year olds could get a bit messy! We also painted an alphabet mural for one of the primary schools so that the children could walk along it following a painted ladder along the ground, hopefully having fun while trying to learn it!

The alphabet mural we painted
The alphabet mural we painted

On some of the weekdays we also volunteered at a secondary school and a local community centre teaching English to a wide range of ages, often making up games and teaching songs to try and help with memory and pronunciation of English words.

While volunteering and teaching was really fun and so different to anything I’ve ever experienced, I did find it challenging at times, especially not being the loudest of speakers. However by the end of the trip I’d become much more confident and felt so inspired seeing all of the children’s progress.

As well as the volunteering, on the weekends and a couple of weekday evenings we also had trips to see Sri Lanka more and explore the country’s culture and heritage.

Some of the sights we saw:

Temples: On one of the weekends we travelled to Kandy, where we visited the Temple of the Tooth. This houses the hugely important relic of tooth of the Buddha and is super extensive – even with a couple of hours we didn’t even have time to go around it all. Near to here we also saw some traditional Kandyan dances, such as the famous ves dance. We also saw a couple of temples in Colombo, as well as one pagoda, which were beautiful and really interesting.

Inside one of the temples, and part of the pagoda
Inside one of the temples, and part of the pagoda

Tea factory: we also went to a tea factory, and learned that green and black tea essentially come from the same kind of plant! It was really interesting to learn about the different collecting, drying and sorting processes that occur within the factory. During this trip I also must have drunk my entire weight in Ceylon black tea, and brought some back as well as some lychee black tea, both of which I’m such a fan.

Elephant Sanctuary/Paper factory: At the Millenium Elephant Foundation, we got to see and actually wash the elephants!! which was just surreal and amazing. We also ‘adopted’ 4 of these elephants for a year, contributing to the work the sanctuary does in caring for the old and sick elephants. Alongside the sanctuary there is also a paper factory which uses the elephant dung to make paper, even feeding the elephants leaves and bananas to get naturally green and yellow paper. You can buy products and find out more about the processes here

Feeding an elephant!
Feeding an elephant!

Turtles! On our first weekend we travelled to Galle and visited a turtle hatchery in Bentota. Here we saw tiny baby turtles as well as some truly huge ones, and the centre explained how they care for the turtles and release them into the wild when it’s safe, also helping out when new turtle hatchlings are trying to get to the sea. The beach this was situated on was also beautiful, so we took loadssss of pictures here too :)

Holding a turtle!
Holding a turtle!

We also went to a couple of beaches in Galle, more specifically in Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna. These were really pretty, and Unawatuna isn’t far from Galle fort, which is interesting to see.

Almost-sunset on one of the beaches
An almost-sunset on one of the beaches

On our first night it was also a festival, so we were lucky enough to see a procession all the way down the road, wreaking even more havoc than normal Sri Lankan roads can appear to be in…
Drinking from King coconuts (which are orange!) were also a new experience, and going around various markets was really fun and we managed to buy some cool things, such as traditional batiks, elephant statues and even more tea!

Food:
I absolutely loved all of the food, in particualar egg hoppers are really good and were something I’d never heard of, but are a bit like basket-shaped pancakes with an egg in the middle. String hoppers were also a new and enjoyable experience, and are a kind of noodle. We were also lucky enough to have best pancakes I’ve ever had which were kindly made by the parents of the children we were teaching. These I think are called pani pol (or pol pani, I’ve seen both :// )and were very sweet, with coconut and jaggery (a type of sugar) in them.

While having some truly amazing experiences, we were also often reminded of the effects of the 2004 tsunami. Visiting a local museum with some truly devastating images of just what happened really shocked me and showed that how even more than 12 years later the country is still trying to repair itself, something I wasn’t half as aware of previously.

Charlotte x

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March Favourites

March favourites
March favourites

Some favourite things from March!

Production: Although the production of William’s ‘The Glass Menagerie’ that I saw in February at the Duke of York’s Theatre set a really high standard, and was both stunning and heartbreaking, the production of Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ at the Harold Pinter Theatre that I saw this month was no let down. All of the cast were fantastic, particularly Imelda Staunton, and I left almost in shock from how tense things got. Definitely a production I’d wholeheartedly recommend.

Film: definitely Moonlight. I loved it. It was beautiful. Go and see it. The cinematography and colours alone were breathtaking.
Also the documentary 13th (on Netflix UK at the moment) was eye opening, and made me even more concerned about the state of our societies (woop!). In all seriousness however, it looks at the idea that slavery has been perpetuated through incarceration and the prison system in America, with a particular focus on the war on drugs fronted by Reagan and Conservatives in the 1980s. The documentary is named after the 13th Amendment, the Amendment freeing slaves in America yet not if slavery was as punishment for a crime – therefore a loophole in the slave emancipation and thus one of the reasons a legacy of slavery has essentially been able to continue in the modern day.

Book: My favourite non-fiction book this month was Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein, which loked at different ways choices can be suggested and the impact these suggestions can have in the wider world. I found this really interesting as I hadn’t previously given much thought to this and it highlighted just how much we do that can be affected by choices from other people. One example was the the impact of health plan options suggested by a government in various ways, each way giving better or worse choice outcomes. I also found this book really accessible to read, as although I don’t study economics at all I could understand all of it.
My favourite fiction book this month was Naive.Super by Erlend Loe, as I loved the simplicity of it and really enjoyed the narrative. Overall it was such a lovely small read with so many big, often philosophical, questions.

Something I bought: I bought a waterbottle which I’ve been meaning to do for ages as I never drink enough water and I’ve become really conscious of wasting so many plastic cups when I’m out. I bought a stainless steel marble-effect bottle from Typo, and although more expensive than I had originally planned, it seems particularly durable and I absolutely love the pattern!

A bath product!: I’ve really enjoyed Molton Brown’s Ylang Ylang body wash this month, which I was bought as a gift. It smells absolutely wonderful, creates loads of bubbles in the bath and is a really pretty shade of purple :)
(Molton Brown is also certified cruelty free and this body wash is vegan as far as I can tell…)

Music: I’ve been ridiculously excited by Alt J’s release of new music this month, and need to get round to really experiencing it as I find Alt J is always super layered and interesting to listen to. However something I can’t stop playing is the band Decade’s new album Pleasantries, and honestly they’re still so underrated. My girlfriend and I also went to their show in London at the beginning of the month, which I loved and it was really cool to hear the album live

Charlotte x

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Copenhagen Trip!

Copenhagen
Last summer (2016) I spent 5 days in Copenhagen with my girlfriend, and loved every minute of it.
We got ourselves a fairly tiny airbnb in Amager Vest, south of the centre of Copenhagen. This was perfect as from here we could travel around Copenhagen without much difficulty and it wasn’t too expensive either :))

What we saw:

Christiana
I found going here really interesting, and doesn’t take long to go around at all. Christiana is it’s own neighbourhood in the middle of Copenhagen, with its colourful murals everywhere as well as it’s atmosphere of autonomy and liberation making it really stand out from the rest of the city. The green house mural was one of my favourites.

Christiania mural
Christiania mural

Copenhagen’s Aquarium, Den Bla Planet
Like the zoo, this was something I was really excited about. The aquarium is also divided into zones around the world so I felt not only was I seeing cool fish but I was learning a little about the geography of them too :)) Particular highlights for me were the sea otters, the shark tank/tunnel and the turtles! The aquarium also has a rainforest bit with other animals like birds which was fun too (the colourful pigeons walking around were super cool)

Museums
We only went to 2 museums in Copenhagen, however these had so many cool things and interesting exhibitions (we even managed to get lost in one it was so huge…).

The first museum we went to was the National Museum of Denmark (free for U18s) This had a huge collection on Danish history from the prehistoric ages up until the 1950s as well as a smaller exhibition on people around the world and a more recent exhibition on manga and cosplay. Definitely worth looking around however it did take us quite a few hours looking at it all!

A reindeer in the museum
A reindeer in the museum

The second museum we went to was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, (free for U18s and on Tuesdays). This has a focus on art and objects that are Danish, Mediterranean and French, and includes collections from Egypt, Greece and the Roman period right up to the 19th century.

It was particularly interesting to see specifically Danish art and artefacts in these museums as I hadn’t previously seen a lot of this elsewhere.

The Botanical Gardens

These were really pretty to walk around and super interesting with thousands of different plants, some outside and some inside in glass hothouses. One of these also had a walkway around the top of it, giving a view over the trees inside which was interesting. Definitely worth a stop at especially as it’s free and is also linked to the Natural History Museum of Denmark which may be worth a stop at too.

Copenhagen Zoo
This really excited me as I have little memory of going to a zoo before this. The zoo took us a good four hours or so, however could be done quicker as we stopped to see everything! A few highlights for me were the see through butterflies, the huge elephant house and seeing tiny baby flamingos!!! The churros sold inside the zoo were also really good :)

See-though butterfly!
See-though butterfly!

Canal/Streets in general
Copenhagen is also a lovely city to walk around without having too much of an aim, the more touristy (at least in summer) canals are really pretty and we came across a number of quieter streets with some smaller shops like secondhand/vintage ones which were fun to explore.

Along the canal
Along the canal

Food!
We didn’t have a huge amount of traditionally Danish food as we bought much of our breakfasts/dinners from the supermarkets (noodles every night!!!), however Danish beer from the supermarket, copious amounts of liquorice and hot dog sausages were definitely different to what we usually might have. Waffles in a small cafe near Christiana were also a highlight as were the blue and pink slushies found in the many 7/11s and ice cream from Paradis further into the city. Copenhagen’s small Chinese scene was also fun to explore, the Chinese restaurant we ate at one evening was super good.

Would I go again?

Definitely! Although small enough to get a good feel for the city and enjoy much of it in 5 days (and potentially less), Copenhagen always seems to have something on and there are hundreds of places to visit, both more touristy and not. While I’m always looking to explore places I haven’t yet been to, I’d love to come and see Copenhagen again, perhaps during a different time of year like winter, and to explore the parts we didn’t get to see this time round.

Charlotte x

The view from a park we found :)
The view from a park we found :)
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Wellcome Collection: Bedlam

The Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition, Bedlam, follows the history of mental institutions and different attitudes towards mental illness up to today, using a variety of artwork, artefacts and writings informed by patients of such institutions, doctors, artists and those today with mental illness to name a few.

The institution of Bethlem Royal Hospital in London provides the basis for the exhibition, which widely became known as Bedlam in the 15th century, even it’s nickname giving an idea of the social attitude towards those mentally ill at the time. Bedlam explores what the institution, and others in Europe represented, and the ideals they held which changed throughout history as scientific and therapeutic practices and ideas evolved. The exhibition also explores widely the experiences of those who lived within these institutions and those either caring for them or setting up alternatives.

It could be said the exhibition lacked a little in detail on some topics and jumped around a bit, or put things together that were not fully explained, such as pharmaceutical medicines and the idea that they should not be the only way of helping mental illnesses. However I felt that given any more to look at and I would have been swamped in things to read and think about. I greatly enjoyed the layout and it’s chronology, as well as the variety of sources and types of contributions that each part was made up of. The pharmaceutical drugs and ideas against them was the only place I felt a little more explanation would have been helpful, however perhaps this would take away from people questioning the debate for themselves.

I personally hugely enjoyed Bedlam, particularly after the Wellcome Collection’s States of Mind series of exhibitions which I feel were a great precursor. Having mental health and it’s history, largely a history of misunderstandings, as the focus of an entire exhibition was fascinating but also felt liberating, possibly due to mental health being something often only briefly mentioned throughout today’s general history and learning, perhaps due to the still lingering stigma of mental illness.

I also liked how the exhibition didn’t just leave me wondering over past happenings but at the end of it, with the help of Madlove: A Designer Asylum (http://madlove.org.uk/), it tried to ask what we should do going forwards, with contributions from a number of people with or affected by mental illness. This made Bedlam feel even more relevant to modern day issues and not just a particularly interesting history exhibition, but relevant to further understanding people and society today.

Overall, Bedlam was extremely thought -provoking and something I’d really recommend to anyone, especially as it does not take hours to go round, is completely free and there’s late closing on a Thursday :)

The Bethlem Gallery also has events throughout the year (http://bethlemgallery.com/whats-on/), collaborating with organisations and artists-in-residence, as well as the Bethlem Museum of the Mind (http://museumofthemind.org.uk/)

Where: Wellcome Collection, Euston
When: Nov – Jan 15th 2017
Cost: Free :)
Long to go round?: Took me about an hour, reading and looking at everything

bedlam2

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DIY Dino Planters

Silver Stegosaurus Planter

Seeing some of these on Etsy and loving both dinos and plants, I decided to try and make some of my own :)

Materials:

  • A hollow plastic dinosaur (I found mine at Hawkins Bazaar)
  • Spray paint
  • A craft or similar knife suitable for cutting the dinosaur
  • A plant (I used succulents and cacti)
  • Soil

I cut a small rectangle into the back of the dinos carefully with a craft knife, making sure that it was big enough for the plants to fit into

Cutting into the dinos
Cutting into the dinos

 

Using newspaper or something to cover your surfaces, and preferably outside, spray paint the dino. A few coats from different angles worked best for me, but for one I was a bit too enthusiastic and trigger-happy with and so layered it too thickly and it took around 5 days to dry (!) – so that’s something to be mindful of!

Make sure to check your spray paint directions but mine were mostly dry after a couple of hours and definitely completely dry within a day

I then potted the plants into the dino once the paint had dried and… a dino planter!

You may want to poke with a needle or drill some small holes into the bottom of the dinosaur for drainage, however I haven’t and so far they seem okay (just don’t over-water!)

Dinos

Happy crafting!

Charlotte x

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