7 December 2015

The 'Doing Good' Christmas Guide


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Holiday season is well and truly here and for many of us gift buying is in full swing. As well as buying for your nearest and dearest, there are many easy ways to help out strangers.
I've put together a few quick and easy ways you can help others this festive season- and you don't even have to wrap the presents...

Give as You Live: I've talked about Give as You Live on here before but it's such a simple way to make your online shopping do good all year round. Basically you download their toolbar, choose your preferred charity and then shop as normal. For any purchases made through an affiliated website, a percentage of your spend is given to the charity you selected. Using sites you already buy from, you can raise money with no extra cost or effort- it's that easy.

Refuge's Christmas Appeals: Refuge are my chosen charity on Give as You Live. They, along with many other charities helping women and children escape domestic violence, are facing huge funding cuts, which means it's harder than ever for them to carry out their crucial work.
This Christmas, you can help support them by donating via their Christmas appeal or buying a parcel to help women and children fleeing abuse.
You could also help brighten up Christmas Day for a Refuge resident by purchasing an item from the charity wish list (enter code 651468) and picking a gift to be sent out to them.
Something so simple can have a huge impact on the life of someone in a difficult and upsetting situation

Crisis at Christmas: Homelessness is sadly on the increase, with a 55% rise in the number of people who slept rough on any given night since 2010. Crisis aims to help homeless people all year round, delivering services to help them and campaigning for changes. By reserving a place for a homeless person at a Crisis centre, you'll not only be providing them with food over Christmas, but also giving them access to healthcare, the chance to shower and change clothes and giving them the opportunity to access dedicated support and advice, which could provide lasting benefits beyond the festive period. It costs just £22.29 to reserve a place, but to someone in need the opportunity could be priceless.

Hive Minded: I mentioned in a recent post that I’m starting to evaluate the choices I make more critically, and as part of this, I no longer buy from Amazon.
An alternative site I found recently is Hive, which allows you to support independent shops with every order. You can also opt for your favourite bookshop to receive part of the total cost of your order and you can collect your order from your local shop, rather than having it delivered to your house.
I’ve ordered from there a few times now and delivery is fast (and free) and in some instances the items are actually cheaper than Amazon.
I’ve chosen to support the amazing Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester with my purchases, and love the idea that everything I’m buying is helping support a local business.

What tips have you got for giving back this Christmas? Will you be using any of these ideas?

2 December 2015

Going Cruelty Free


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Recently I've been analysing the choices that I've been making and their impact on the world around me.
One of the main decisions I’ve made after some evaluation is to stop purchasing make up that’s been tested on animals. Simply put, I can't justify the pain of animals for something so frivolous and unnecessary (patriarchal expectations of female beauty aside, and that’s a story for another day)

The things that cosmetic animal testing involves are hard to stomach.  Equally hard to justify is the fact that it's not remotely necessary anymore and has its limitations so it's not even that useful. The EU has banned cosmetics testing in all its member states and New Zealand instigated a ban this year, and it's great to see . Companies that state they only test on animals ‘where required by law’ really mean ‘we want to sell our products in China', where animal testing is mandatory. I don’t know about you, but the thought of testing mascara on animals purely to earn more money is pretty difficult for me to support.

It hasn’t been entirely easy to find out what brands I can continue (or start) to buy from. I’ve been researching various companies and their ethos before I spend my money with them. One of the main issues is where a brand is owned by a parent company. This is especially true in the case of The Body Shop and Urban Decay, who are both cruelty free but both owned by L’Oreal. The Body Shop especially is renowned for campaigning against animal testing, but L’Oreal continues to test on animals. Although I've heard rumours that money spent at The Body Shop doesn’t go to L’Oreal, I’ll be steering away from this one because I’m just not sure how much I believe them… Nestle are also a main shareholder in L’Oreal and I categorically do not want any of my pennies going in their pockets!

Luckily, some brands I already love, such as Barry M and Soap and Glory, are cruelty free, and Superdrug’s own range is great for toiletries. I’m also excited to dive into some new ranges that I haven’t properly tried before, like Illamasqua and Pixi. There’s been some surprises as to what I can use too- for some reason I was sure Bare Minerals and Charlotte Tilbury would test on animals but now I know they don’t I’ll probably be giving them a try very soon.

I’m not here to judge anyone who buys tested makeup because that’s obviously a jerk move, but for me there's no excuse to continue to sanction cruelty.
One bonus I’ve found is that I can’t always take advantage of the offers Boots and Superdrug run, and I’ve noticed a marked decline in the amount of makeup I’ve accrued this year which is great for my bulging makeup bag.
I’ll be honest- I’m not going to throw out the make-up I already own that isn’t cruelty free because I just can’t afford to replace it all in one go. However, anything I finish up that is tested on animals I won’t repurchase and anything new I buy will be cruelty free.
I’m looking forward to exploring new brands and products and finding new staples and dupes to replace my current items (if anyone has a good cruelty free dupe for Double Wear then please send it my way!) 

There’s still a lot of research for me to do and I’ll probably need to draw up a list of brands I can buy from to help keep myself right, but to me it’s becoming increasingly important to make purchases that only damage my bank balance and not the world around me.

What cruelty free products do you love?
You can find more information on going cruelty free here and a useful infographic here.