10 Ways To Prepare For Back To School 2020 | Refresh, Revive and Rethink

The new school year. A fresh start. The final few months of the last academic year fell to pieces, so having this new chance is very exciting! Although it will be scary, re-entering school after 6 months away from it, I am remaining positive. These are 10 simple things you should do before heading into the new school year to help you feel refreshed and ready. Some are more simple than others! Even if you’re not going into education this September/Autumn time, it’s always worth detoxing before a new month begins. Hope you enjoy!

1. Clear out your camera roll

I would like to say I stay on top of this, but I honestly don’t. There is so much random stuff that builds up in my camera roll, both on my iPad and phone. Sorting through this and filing it into albums takes a lot of time but seeing it cluttered stresses me out even more. Put on some tunes and set to it. You’ll feel much better afterwards.

2. Set up your bullet journal/planner for September

Setting up a new month in your planner is such a theraputic process. Translating all the random sticky notes into one place lifts a weight off your shoulders. When it’s just a month I am planning, I can go into detail which is very helpful. I highly recommend this, especially if you are starting back in September!

3. Write in all the events and tasks in your annual calendar 

I don’t know about you, but there are some things going on in months to come that I need to jot down (because by the time that month has arrived, I will have forgotten). I have a calendar up on my wall that I like to add all of my events too. It’s similar to what you might do at the start of January! An academic year is a new year too – remember?

4. Plan meal ideas

Quite a lot of us take packed lunches or some sort of transportable meal to work. To avoid last minute ‘unhealthy’ choices, write down a few ideas of things to put in your lunch box. Eg. hummus and salad wrap, vegetarian chilli, leftover pie from the previous night. This saves time and energy when it comes to making your lunch in the morning/night before!

5. Get in touch with friends

I hope you’ve been doing this already! Text your friends, maybe go deeper and ask them how they feel about the new academic year. Most of my friends are anxious, so I do my best to reassure them that everything will be okay. Just check in with them, and maybe help each other out with revision.

6. Make sure your schoolbag is ready

I love doing this! Sharpening pencils, washing out last years pencil case, cleaning my bag. Maybe putting in new organisation systems for the new year! For example, last year I bundled all subjects into one big folder, but this year I will separate them. Find out what works for you.

7. Revise last year’s material

This doesn’t have to be an intimidating thing to complete. I didn’t take my books home this year, because we had to leave because of coronavirus (unannounced!!!). However, I’m going to a new school so I doubt my old things will be that useful. Still, I’ve been revising French and a bit of maths. If you have your books, read through them. To take it a step further, answer questions related to the subjects your struggle with (for me that’s index notation).

8. Sort out your damn sleep schedule

You admit your sleep schedule has been a bit haywire in lockdown! So get it sorted. Two weeks before starting back is ideal, but I’ve not done that. A week before school begins is slightly more reasonable! Wake up at the time you would need to for work.

9. Make your workspace an ideal place to study

Some of you have online school, meaning this is crucial. I would highly recommend watching Ruby Granger’s video on how to make the perfect workspace (linked here). I will be making a variation of this video in a blog format soon, I hope! I’m returning to school full time in September, but I’ll still have masses of homework to complete on my desk at home. That’s why I set mine up with a cute vision board beside it – full of my goals and aspirations. That helps me stay on track with my studying, so then I have in mind what I’m working for.

This desk drawer needs some attention!

10. Do nothing 

It sounds counter-productive, but doing nothing is the best way to refresh and recharge. After a few days of doing nothing (whatever nothing means to you) you’ll become so bored that you can’t wait to hurtle into tasks again. I also find my best creative ideas come while I am on a break!

I hope, through completing this mini checklist, you feel ready to conquer the next academic year! Let’s try our hardest, fall on our backsides, then pick each other up again and keep going. This year is so different to anything I’ve experienced before. But different doesn’t mean bad. Through lockdown I feel that I have changed a lot, for the better (I hope). And no doubt this coming year will see a lot of personal growth too. I am so excited for you, and us!

What are your goals for September/the coming school year?

Sending you all the best,

catherine x

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Answering FAQ About Sustainable Fashion… From Someone Who Doesn’t Buy Fast Fashion

Hello! Ever since boycotting fast fashion I have heard the same questions over and over. Today’s post is an effort to clear up any of your questions and it will hopefully be educational! I asked you over on Instagram to submit these questions. So if you want to be involved in the next post like this, please follow me over there. Ugh I actually hate promoting my Instagram – it feels like such a cliche. Anyway, on to the important stuff:

What about trends?

Trends are the food that fast fashion feeds from. The trends that are going around now seem to be recycled bits of old fashion, meaning the charity shop is the place to find all of the hidden gems. Buying into trends is a waste of money anyway, because they will disappear as soon as they came into fashion. Buy things that you know will last a long time, or won’t go out of style any time soon.

How do you get socks/underwear?

This is one thing I have to source from fast fashion brands, but rather than support the big high street retailers I pop into Peacocks or M&S.

What if someone gifts you fast fashion?

Of course, by refusing it you are contributing more waste to the world. If you can, try sending it back. If it is a close family member/friend explain why you don’t buy fast fashion. Exclaim that you love the thought behind it but you would prefer something else next time. Be gentle, but don’t stay silent.

Are you ‘uncool’ at school for only having second hand pieces?

I honestly don’t know. I haven’t been into school since March, and it was during lockdown that I researched the horrors of fast fashion. I never bought many clothes before hand, and that was never regarded as ‘uncool’. I did feel a bit stupid wearing the same jumper on every school trip but no-one seemed to mind, If they did, they didn’t voice their opinion. It’s not uncool to save the planet.

Will you ever buy fast fashion?

Sadly, in the last few days, I’ve had to purchase some school uniform. I’m moving schools so it requires a whole new set of clothes! It is unfortunate that I have to buy from fast fashion brands in this instance, but it’s the only time of the year that I do so. I will research how my school uniform is made, that could be an interesting topic of research.

If you don’t buy from garment workers, how do they get paid?

There are a few charities I have discovered that help garment workers and their families obtain necessary goods for living – such as food, water and safe housing. You can give a bit of money towards them, or support larger charities in the country of concern who will give help not only to garment workers but a broader reach of workers. Buying second hand is cheaper than fast fashion in many cases, so with the extra dosh you’ve saved you can donate towards a charity you believe in.

Have you ever bought from a sustainable brand?

Never! I find they are way out of my reach in terms of cost. I just visit the charity shop if I need anything (that’s a British equivalent to a thrift store, except money spent goes to NGO charities)

Do you think everyone should stop buying fast fashion?

Not if you cannot afford it. Fast fashion, such as Primark, is cheap and cheerful and often the only option for struggling families. There’s also an amazing convenience paired with fast fashion. For parents it’s easier to just get the specific item from a shop. Charity shops are a bit hit and miss, and they require more time to shop. So if you have a lot to juggle around, it simply isn’t possible. If clothes can be manufactured in better ways, perhaps I would buy fast fashion. However my main concern is the sheer amount of waste. If you cannot afford thrifting/sustainable shopping please do not feel inferior. Don’t feel any pressure from me to buy clothes in a certain way. Do what is best for YOU!

Hope you found this post useful and informative. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to be involved in The Plastic Plan series, or if you have any other requests for sustainable fashion related content. 

What are your plans for the weekend?

Guess who’s birthday is next week? Hopefully I’ll make a monster sized cake to share with you either on here or Instagram haha. I’d love to know what you’re up to this weekend!

catherine x

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Why You Should Start A Blog | Guest Post By Zainab Chats

Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog. Today is a bonus post, since I don’t usually post on Thursdays. However, I was offered the chance to be interviewed for my lovely friend Zainab’s ‘Blogger Confessions’ series. Therefore I thought it was appropriate to share Zainab’s corresponding guest post on the same day. Hope that made sense, it is a little hard to explain! Today Zainab is taking you through Why YOU Should Start A Blog. This seems very appropriate for my Pinterest audience. I am bombarded with DMs on Pinterest daily ‘what advantage is a blog to my business’ ‘how should I start blogging’. To clear up those frequently asked questions, Zainab took it upon herself to write a guest post summarising it all.

If you are interested in beginning a blog, I’m always here to offer assistance. A DM on Instagram is the easiest way to communicate with me. I also have a ‘blog strategy’ section on my website. Need some tips to help grow your blog? Look no further than over there! 

This is supposed to be a guest post, so I’ll shut up. Hope you enjoy Zainab’s, quite literal, chats!

Hello, everyone! My name is Zainab, from my blog Zainab Chats! I was so thrilled when Catherine asked my to guest post on her blog, so I thought what better post than telling you why any of you should start a blog! I’ll be going through some post ideas and the best platforms to begin blogging with.

Why Should I Start A Blog?

So one of the questions I get a lot is: why did I start my blog? The answer always is, blogging is a way for me to express myself! It can be a way for you to express yourself too, writing things down always helps me to clear my mind and I know it’s a great stress reliever for other people too! So, if you ever feel stressed, you can write a blog post and that could benefit your mood. Another reason why is the community. I guarantee you, once you start blogging you’re going to see a lot of positive comments or DMs from people saying you’ve inspired them or helped them with something, that’s how lovely the blogging community is and you will meet so many amazing people that can help you with your blog or give you some great opportunities!

Where Do I Start A Blog?

Okay, now that I’ve convinced you to start a blog, let’s get into the fun! How do you start a blog? Well, there are so many blogging platforms to choose from! I started off on Blogger which is free and all you need is your Google Account. While Blogger is great for beginners, as I got more serious about blogging I found that there were many issues: I couldn’t customise how my site looked and as not many people used Blogger, and I never got a comment! So, if you’re looking for somewhere to just put your writing, Blogger is the platform for you.

However, if you’re looking to share your tips with people I would definitely recommend WordPress! WordPress is one of the most popular blogging sites out there, and it really focuses on community. Even if you don’t advertise your blog, people can find it through the WordPress Reader and you can find new blogs to read too. WordPress also offers a free plan for beginners as well as a paid plan if you’re looking to be more serious!

Get Started! 

Okay, now that you have decided to make a blog and you chose your platform, get writing! Use your blog to express your ideas, thoughts and feelings! Everyone loves reading new blog content so I can guarantee you will find some loyal readers, so keep persevering and trying to grow your blog. 

Thanks so much to Catherine once again for letting me write my guest post! Bye everyone!

That’s it from Zainab today. If you enjoyed, please do continue reading Zainab’s blog for similar content (just click here!). She also owns a stunning Instagram, which I will link here. Zainab never fails to make me smile, and I hope you could see her positive vibe through today’s post. 

I’ll see you back again tomorrow with another post!

Why did you start a blog? Who is your biggest blogging inspiration?

catherine x

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How I Avoid Instagram Consumerism | 5 Ways To Spend Less In 2020

This will be a long post, so let’s just get straight into it!

What Is Instagram Consumerism?

This is a term I think I made up myself, but it could well be used elsewhere. Instagram consumerism, in my eyes, is the way Instagram affects how/when/where you buy your products. It is especially prominent in the influencer space, more specifically, brand deals and collabs. However there is also pressure around all of social media to wear a different outfit every day. This first harms our mindset towards clothing, and leads to consequences of buying more clothing to adhere to the expectation. 

Why Is It Bad?

First and foremost, the easiest ways to purchase clothing is via fast fashion brands. That is a problem in itself, which my friend Ava did an amazing guest post about on my blog. Secondly, the most advertised clothing on Instagram is fast fashion. To those who are not educated on the subject, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fast fashion.

Before we go ahead, I’d like to add a disclaimer: not everyone can afford sustainable fashion. It disappoints me that less advantaged families have to buy from fast fashion brand without choice. If you are included within that bracket, please do not feel pressure from me. You do not need to switch to sustainable fashion if you can’t afford it.

However, so many people with enough money to buy slow fashion decide to still go for the fast fashion option. That disappoints me beyond belief. Seeing influencers on YouTube with millions of subscribers do a Primark haul that gets over 500k views is scary. Unless they’re putting the revenue from that video towards charities that help garment workers in Bangladesh (where Primark’s clothes are made), I’m not going to support it. I’m scared because they have power, they own the label ‘influencer’ for a reason. They influence those people who watch the video to buy fast fashion. 500k views. That has an impact. 

How Do I Avoid Instagram Consumerism?

Now to the main part of this post. This section goes for any product you see promoted on Instagram, or YouTube. Not just clothing! 

1) Read The Facts

If you see a book on Instagram, made from paper that is not FSC approved, look into how harmful that can be for the planet. Read information on deforestation, learn about why you should just buy second hand. Even better, an independent book store. Although they are expensive, they have plummeted into financial decline since the Covid-19 outbreak (like many other businesses). Support small. Rather than just buy on a whim, wait a few days. Find other buying options.

2) The Influencer Is Only Going To Hype The Brand Up, They Would Never Advertise a Product They Do Not Like

Okay, so this is an obvious one. If an influencer has been sent a gifted item that they do not like, they wouldn’t post it on their Instagram. It’s gifted, they’re not paid for it. They might send a critical review back to the seller by email, but they wouldn’t share it with their audience. Next time you see a gifted item on someone’s feed, remember that everyone is different. Just because they love it, doesn’t mean you will. Plus, this influencer didn’t buy it with their own money. Everyone loves free things! They might not have bought it if it weren’t free. 

3) Make a Wishlist

Make a wishlist of all the physical items you desire in life (a book, a cactus and a blanket are on mine). Next time you want to buy something from an advertisement, glance back at your wishlist. Do you really want to spend your money on this, or should you put it towards something you have wanted for a while? If you decide you really love the advertised product on Instagram, write it on your wishlist. Come back a few days later and rethink. Do you still want this?

4) Did You Want This a Few Weeks Ago?

This is similar to the wish list idea. At the moment, razors have been gifted to a ton of creators in my Instagram feed. They’re cute, pink and, for some people, essential. Did you need a new razor a few weeks ago? Do you need a razor now? Probably not, because you already have one. Wait until you need a new razor before buying a new one! Don’t just buy one now, and then not get full use out of your old one. That’s wasteful.

5) What Purpose Does It Serve?

Book = happiness, education. Cactus = room decor. Blanket = keeps me cosy in the evenings. Everything serves a purpose. Some, however, will be more important than others. List out, either on paper or in your brain, the purposes your desired product serves. This simple practise will define what you should be spending your money on.

That’s it for today’s post! It was a little all over the place, wasn’t it? Hope you all don’t mind. Don’t forget that this post is a part of my series The Plastic Plan. It’s ongoing series, where every Friday either myself or a guest writer blogs about climate change, fast fashion and plastic. If you’re interested in educating yourself on those very important subjects, please do head over to The Plastic Plan category on my blog!

Let me know in the comments which tip you found most useful! 

What was the last thing you bought after seeing it on social media?

catherine x

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10 Reasons You Should Wake Up Early | How To Be An Early Riser When You Really, Really Don’t Feel Like It

Whether it’s summer, the weekend or still lockdown where you live, sometimes waking up early can be difficult. Without the incentive, you can easily lie in bed for a couple more hours. This post is not only to help you, but also myself. There are many perks to waking up early, and I want to compile them all in a post. So, whenever you’re contemplating a lie-in you remember how good an early start makes you feel.

1) You have some alone time in the morning 

This one appeals to me the most. As someone who enjoys quiet time, in a busy house it can be hard to find. Especially when your brother plays guitar non-stop all day (I’m surprised his fingers are still intact!)

2) Bird song

Maybe the city gals don’t relate to this one, but since I live semi-rurally bird song is not hard to find. If you do live in an urban landscape, I’d recommend turning on bird sounds just to feel more at peace. It’s one of my favourite sounds and it’s always best in the early hours.

3) Early morning sunshine!

During winter and summer, early morning sunshine is at its best. I love the golden glow it emits on to the garden and through the kitchen window. It makes me smile every time I see it!

4) Head start on the day

While everyone else is asleep, you can be cracking on with your to-do list. I always have an afternoon slump so I rely on the mornings to get things done. Then later on, when you hit that wall, you don’t have to fear. You’ve already got a lot of shiz done!

5) Ability to stay off screens for longer before work/school/blog begins

I like to spend time off social media in the morning. However, if you wake up later (say 9am) and have a meeting a 9:30, you won’t have much time to detox from screens before launching yourself straight into work. Wake up early, spend less time on screens in the morning, feel better.

6) Time to meditate (no interruptions)

I’m not the sort of person you’ll find cross legged completing a guided meditation. But meditation is more than the trendy kind you see on YouTube. My form of meditation is journaling. In the morning, not only can I get journaling done and dusted, but I can journal for longer without interruptions.

7) Less time wasted

If I wake up late I feel as if the day has slipped away already, so I don’t force myself to complete much. Whereas when I wake up early I launch into tasks and get much more done. In the evening I’m never productive, so that’s why I like to sleep earlier then I can make the most of my time.

8) The afternoon slump… it’s not as bad for a morning person!

If you wake up earlier, the afternoon slump tends to fall around lunchtime. Therefore you can take your lunch break while you’re feeling a bit demotivated, then refresh and launch back into work. But when I wake up at 8, my slump tends to fall around 3pm.

9) Going for walks while it’s not busy/no screaming children

Dear children, they’re sweet little people but they’re so damn loud. Getting out for your walk early has many benefits: you avoid the blazing sun, it’s nice and cool, no-one is about, children are still in bed. I love quiet so getting out early means there is more tranquility. The only people you encounter are similar minded people! Therefore interaction is avoided at all costs… except for maybe a smile or an awkward ‘hello’.

10) Feels like an accomplishment 

I hear people moan about how they ‘can’t possibly get up so early’. So when I get up early, I just feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post! It’s a little different to my usual, but self-growth is a niche I would like to delve into more. 

Do you enjoy posts like this? What is one thing I’ve mentioned that you relate to?

Have a lovely week everybody! 

catherine x

(I swear I’ve not written such a short post since my six word stories)

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