Change and ‘The Power’

I’ve been feeling pretty rotten over the last couple of days. Had episodes of probably what is vertigo, essentially, dizziness and that run down- bleurgh feeling. Feeling sea-sick as I woke up at 6:45 and as I tried to get out of bed the, ‘why am i doing this?’ question came to me and I got back in and emailed to say I wasn’t coming in. I have spent most of the day reading ‘Power’ by Naomi Alderman. I finished it. And i’m quite confused by how I feel about it.

I’ve had a look at other reviews of the book to get some other insights.

It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and I gorged on the first 100 pages or so because of how inventive it was . I think as the story developed it did lose some of it’s realistic appeal to me. Yes, the story is pretty fantastical but I feel it wasn’t supposed to be just that.

I really enjoyed the first 100 pages because I really felt a lot of aspects were covered by Alderman. It felt like there was a lot of clear messages to be taken from it. How different people coped and reacted to the changes that happened. I think it wasn’t what I thought because it wasn’t actually as nice and successful as I’d hoped. I think the idea that women are more powerful than men, to me, would mean that greater, fairer things would happen. This wasn’t the case and my naivety has been put to shame!  It isn’t power over another that is successful… Ever. It’s not dominance and submission (oi oi) but being on the same level and this is what this book shows. Too much power in any hands can be a bad thing.

The particularly poignant part in the book is quite early on and it is when women start rioting and cannot be controlled and are feared because of their power. There’s a dialect something like “what do we do?”,  “we kill them.”,  “But we can’t kill all the women in the world”

At this point it very is man vs woman. Which actually is totally pointless because both need each other.

And  it makes you think about other riots and wars. And you think, this is pointless too? We are at war against each other. It’s pointless. It’s power not wanting to be lost. But what are we actually fighting for? Those at the top already, what are they actually defending that’s worth defending anymore? Are we asking to be heard or asking to take over and be in charge?

Most minorities just want to be heard and to have fair treatment. That’s what the women’s marches, the LGBT marches that i’ve been on have been about. They were for me anyway.  How can humans be so anti-eachother? Just seems like such a daft concept when you take a step back and look and what we’re doing now and what we’ve done for ridiculous numbers of years. And for what?

I dunno, all I want is to achieve a couple of things that I’ve always wanted to achieve. Do good where I can and use what I have. Power has never been something I have been after so I wouldn’t know! #simplebutcompletelife 

I lost the flow of the book by the end. I don’t think I quite caught the point of some of the character’s stories, maybe I haven’t digested it well enough yet. I thought the book was very honest and fair. There wasn’t an agenda to the book I think apart from a look into power and where we are at the moment. I think I wanted Alderman to talk more about the injustice in parts of the world but she didn’t go into too much detail. Having read a book recently which I reviewed a lot of the countries talk about – India in particularly the reactions really resonated.

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So I’m moving out this weekend back home for the year. I’m on placements all over the UK and in other countries come next week so I’m pretty much going to be living out my car, Betty.

I’ve been in this little room for two years and It hasn’t dawned on me that I’m saying goodbye to it yet. I was reading and it’s been raining all day and with my cup of tea I saw a photo opportunity. My phone never sees what I see but it got close enough.

I’m half packed. It’s going to take a couple of trips. You can see the magazines i’ve yet to read and leaflets about jobs and careers on the side. You can see flowers that Rosie bought me. They’re probably past their best now but i’m not ready to let them go. There’s a half empty box for packing, my keyboard which was fun to play for the four weeks that it fitted in with my routine. My wooden post from one of the marches I went on. I intend to use it again at some point.. It did have a poster on it..

I do and don’t like the idea that I don’t know where I’ll be in a years time. I think I am naturally a home maker and I do want a home or nest of my own. My own nook. Makes travelling all the more special because you have something special to come back to. 

 I suppose I have just been in so many places that I’m just looking forward to not having too much upheaval for a short time. Until I get bored and a wandering eye ;).. 

Rebecca x 

 

 

 

My completed Plastic Free Month!

This month!

I have to say, this month has been fantastic. I would never have been so strict or researched so much if it wasn’t for doing this for charity. I wouldn’t have felt so bad when I made the mistakes either though! I don’t think food or clothes shopping will be quite the same again. It has been really hard, but would have been boring if it wasn’t! I’ve seen a change in myself and even my friends in what they’re buying too…. and sending me photos of ridiculous packaging.

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I am looking forward to having my spice rack back… but I’m googling where I can get them in bulk/fresh in the future etc.

I have realised that I need a lot more space than the one freezer drawer I have at uni to help not needing packaging. Picking up fresh herbs and freezing them has been fantastic this month and would be great to have more space to freeze more.

I’m still getting used to shampoo and conditioner bars, I’m either using too much or too little and having to deal with the consequences. But it’s a no brainer that I’ll  be sticking with them. Shops like Lush are pretty much all around me so I have no excuse to be going back to liquid forms. They’re also easier to carry with me and are probably (though will need to do more googling)  gentler on the environment too. They aren’t particularly expensive and mine have lasted well over a month so far.

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Above is a photo of my deoderant and toothpaste & brush. I bought them from Boobalou. I really like the deoderant, worked really well for me. And the tin, when finished will come in handy for carrying my conditioner bar when i’m not using it. The toothpaste, i have liked. It took a while to get used to it and my teeth feel clean after it. I am hesitant to use products like this long-term in case they aren’t as good as the standard toothpastes. So i think I’ll do some more homework before re-buying it but i would definitely be happy to otherwise. My bamboo toothbrush is great. Again, it’s soft and took a bit of getting used to but would definitely buy it again. The deodorant and toothpaste i have been using for over a month too… just to show that they have lasted a really decent amount of time.

Washing up liquid. I’m going to trial around. I generally wasn’t very keen or impressed with the homemade washing solution. Left all of my stuff feeling grubby. But it’s definitely worth considering for the benefits. It made me clean my dishes straight away or use the power of boiling water a lot more…. So swings and roundabouts.

I have rediscovered my love for creating and baking my own things. Baking bread and making humus in particular. When they’re created by someone else they will always, to me, be loads nicer, but that could definitely be more of a treat than rather than how regularly i was buying them in before.

As long as I can get to a wholefoods/bulk buy shop I will definitely try to buy dried foods and pulses from there. Really it’s a no brainer again, when I already have containers, why not? It’s just the practicality of getting to the shop. The prices were not bad at all.

Eating out. This is where plastic free becomes impossible really. You have to assume that in a standard restaurant your food would have been packaged in plastic at some point. But arguably perhaps it was packaged in bulk.. So not as bad as buying the ingredients individually if cooking for yourself? I don’t know. But fast food is definitely something I’ll try to keep avoiding though I do have a massive craving for Pret’s herb wrap. If only they could come in paper! But equally, I bet I have saved a fair chunk of money by eating before I head out anywhere or bringing my own lunch. And healthier almost certainly too!

There were impractical things such as pens and highlighters that I really needed this month so I have used them occasionally but also had pencils to hand for when I could use either.

Drinks – I have made the mistake twice of turning away at the wrong moment and my drink been poured into a plastic cup or a straw being put into my drink. Pure, pure accident and so annoying because it was so unnecessary.

Reusable water bottles. Easy! Definitely worth it. Bring one around with me all the time now.

Medicines. – I doubt I can get around buying ibuprofen / anti-histamines differently. But certainly some come in less packaging than others so maybe it’s compromising and finding what does the least damage.

Clothes – I was able to get shoes without plastic in the end! Excellent. Its just the little tags you get in clothes. I read an article (link below) about the problems with polyester clothes. Subtly terrifying!
I think what I have learned is that actually stripping back and being able to only use the bare basics can be really liberating. It’s been quite fun thinking of alternatives.

It’s been so much simpler to basically say..

“well this is what I have, so this is all I can do”

and so rather than getting everything I want I have to make the best of what I have.

Not wearing make up has been easier than I thought. Not that I really wear a huge amount anyway. But any time that I need to look reasonably presentable I would normally wear something. I have missed it in a way but definitely something I’ll use less often… To make the occasion.

So what I’ve taken from this month is that it’s almost impossible to be totally plastic free unless you’re totally self-sufficient.. BUT, you can do so much to reduce what you do use! It’s just a simple seconds thought to look around in a shop and think what else I could use instead? Or if I could make this myself etc.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated this month, all the money will go to HIS-India and I am planning to do more things this year to raise a little bit more. And I want to thank everyone for their support and not finding it all too weird!

Below are some articles that I found throughout the month that I found to be worth a share

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40498292

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/commentisfree/2017/jul/07/plastic-free-july-cutting-down-single-use-plastics-is-easier-than-it-seems?CMP=share_btn_fb

A lot of people end their ‘giving up for charity’ month with a selfie of them having a drink, or eating the chocolate they had given up. I don’t think it’s quite appropriate in my case!

I know it’s going to be difficult without the encouragement to not just buy everything in plastic again, especially when time is short or i haven’t had to chance to get organized. But I hope i keep it up from now on and remember the impact it has and why I did it in the first place.

Definitely recommend giving this challenge a go!

Thank you,

Rebecca x


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Plastic Free Month: 15 days in!!

Hey!

So the 2nd week has gone much better. I’m getting used to not being able to use plastic and how to get around it.  I have accepted that it just takes a bit of extra organizing and a bit of compromising.

Carrying water with me, eating before I head out, picking up fruit and veg and always carrying a bag, finding time to cook a big batch. Cleaning is easy, though I do want to order a scour sponge i’ve seen online that’s plastic free and friendly etc, cloths just aren’t cutting it! Carrying deodorant, toothpaste and breakfast with me when I stay elsewhere, it’s not actually that hard.

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I went to the opera at the weekend and because I can be a bit of idiot and forget things, I ended up arriving a lot later that i meant to. Worked out fine for the opera but meant we didn’t have time to grab some proper food. We had to pop to a shop to get some sandwiches/on the go food. There was absolutely nothing that I could eat in any of these shops. I did however find a bar of chocolate in only cardboard and foil! Bingo!! It was beautiful!

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I have definitely been eating more healthily again. (shes says after talking about chocolate). Although I have started buying things in jars, such as jams, chutneys and honey, peanut butter. I don’t usually buy them (to be a little healthier and because they can relatively expensive..ish.. and i tend to eat a lot in a short space of time) but they’re great for adding a bit of extra flavour to things.

I had a massive craving for cheese (again with the healthy eating?!) while I was shopping the other day. I had a tupperware on me and the guy behind the counter agreed to fill my tupperware up with cheese!! Best day ever! Only down side is that I did have to have a sticker. So not plastic free. However it did made me think about the benefits of buying in bulk. I could have bought a packet of cheese half the size and used more than double the plastic. This will definitely be something I’ll be keeping up after this month is over.

 

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One issue that I’m having at the moment is that I could really do with some new shoes and a new blouse or two. I keep going to have a look in shops and online and am either unsuccessful or see the plastic tag and just think.. I cant’!! So in that respect I’m saving quite a lot of money. And actually it really is making me use what I already have and is encouraging me to think about what I have and what I could do instead. It’s also encouraging me to not really care either.

The photo with the chocolate bar you can see my shoes, I’d have loved to wear sandles with that outfit. Those shoes were the daintiest/ not over the top and kinda smart? things I could justify wearing. I got to the point where I was running out of time and just said bleurgh who actually cares and walked out wearing them. And you know…nothing bad happened! Excellent!

I have also realised how much I’m starting to do by myself again. So I go through phases of trying to be self sufficient, i grew some vegetables and herbs a couple of years back when I was living at home and I loved it! Can’t do that at uni. But what I have started to doing is making my own bread, vegetable stock, crisps, meals from scratch, buying bulk herbs from markets and freezing them, buying fruit from markets and dehydrating, freezing them. I’m hoping to make some jam or use them in cakes as well as eating them for breakfast.

As well as food, I wanted to buy some flashcards for studying the other day, but obviously they all come in plastic packaging. I realized that actually i already have tons of card and could make my own.

I am just naturally thinking of alternative things I could do. And it’s been a really cool couple of weeks. Really difficult in some respects. I went to another BBQ on Sunday but this time bought frozen veggie burgers in cardboard with me and that was fine. I could have made my own! But didn’t have enough time haha.

There are definitely cons!

For example, all the dried food I bought from wholefoods came in paper bags and when tired I keep forgetting to double check what I’m actually pouring on my porridge….!!

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Also, I can’t easily receive flowers as a gift this month because they all come in plastic packaging. Quite gutting really !!  😉  … it also means that I can’t buy any too so i’m saving a small fortune in gifts xD

Rebecca xx

P.S loving all the Pride stuff coming up in London!! ❤


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The problems with plastic

Like most of us, I try to do the best I can for the environment. But I drive A LOT. Most of the time I don’t really have a choice and I’ll try to avoid as much as possible. I’ve been vegan, vegetarian, meat eater and everything in between. I’m currently neither, more just a flexible vegan who eats cheese and meat as a treat….

I usually recycle plastic and paper where I can. But I never really paid much attention to the plastic I was buying and using, especially the disposable plastics that are used once and thrown away.

The problem is how much isn’t actually being recycled or can’t be recycled.
Non-recyclable plastics are separated and landfilled. Often it can be quite misleading. It’s easy to assume that most are recyclable but this isn’t the case. And for the plastic that is recyclable it can only really be recycled once. Not many companies are willing to use recycled plastic too!

Burning plastics creates toxins which is one of the big reasons that India decided to ban disposable plastics! Bags, cups and cutlery. India is currently responsible for 60% of the plastic dumped in the oceans every year. 8.8million tons of plastic !

India’s new rule was brought into action after the illegal mass burning of plastic and other waste which has been blamed for the air pollution. Recycling glass and tin doesnt have such a toxic release. It was calculated that Theresa May’s trip to Delhi shortened her life by several hours. The pollution is 36 times more toxic than London!

 1.5 million tonnes of recyclable plastic is used and thrown away by consumers in Britain.  In 2015, only 500,000 tonnes was recycled which was 45% of recyclable goods are recycled each year… and that’s not even the non-recyclable stuff.

Where’s it all going?

A lot ends up in the oceans.

Seabirds are attracted to plastic debris because it smells like their food. The waste accumulates algae and gives off a smell similar to the krill that many marine birds feed on. Albatrosses and shearwaters rely on their sense of smell for hunting so are particularly at risk.

One study estimates that yearly about eight million tons of plastic enters the oceans annually. (enough to cover every foot of coastline in the world)..!!

It is known that birds, turtles and fish, ingest plastic. It causes damage to internal organs, gut blockages or build-ups of chemicals from the plastics in the animals’ tissue. Some birds even feed their young bits of waste.

This also happens on land in India. Cows free to roam in India scavenge and often eat plastic along with the food left out for them. Like turtles and fish it blocks their stomachs and they often become malnourished and starve because they can no longer digest efficiently enough.

More facts!

People recycled 7.5billion (57%) plastic bottles used by UK households each year. However, only about 30% of all plastic pots, tubs and trays were recycled.

The least successful recyclable plastics are plastic film products, which include carrier bags, pasta and rice bags, and the film on ready meals, only about 3% of which were believed to be recycled in 2015. 

Recycling is working and will be successful! But it needs to be done more and encouraged with less plastic used where possible. But also, some alternative ideas being raise are to create plastics that are less toxic and easier to recycle, or biodegradable. We can still have convenience but need to think more long term as well!

If we can find better alternatives, why not use them?!

Rebecca x

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https://greenallianceblog.org.uk/2017/03/14/cleaning-up-the-oceans-is-not-a-solution-to-the-plastic-problem/h ttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/21/only-a-third-of-uk-consumer-plastic-packaging-is-recycled
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/09/seabirds-eat-floating-plastic-debris-because-it-smells-like-food-study-finds-algae-sulfur
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-delhi-bans-disposable-plastic-single-use-a7545541.html
http://ecologycenter.org/plastics/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/05/plastic-waste-dumped-in-uk-seas-carried-to-arctic-within-two-year
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/theresa-may-india-trip-air-pollution-shorten-life-hours-a7405201.html
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/21/only-a-third-of-uk-consumer-plastic-packaging-is-recycled
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/21/only-a-third-of-uk-consumer-plastic-packaging-is-recycled

Book: The War On Women

 

I bought this book at the The Hay Festival a couple of weeks ago. I’d just been to a talk with Christina Lamb, Helena Kennedy, Rachael Jolley and Joan Bakewell discussing the author – Sue Lloyd Roberts who passed away recently and before properly finishing this book. Helena Kennedy really impressed me.

It has probably been bad timing. With the recent terror attacks and general fear and worry and pain in the world this book has certainly not lightened the mood.  I’ve really struggled to read this book, but it’s been equally as captivating. It makes daily activities like my studying and aspirations feel null, void and in vain when there is so much work that needs to be done elsewhere.

Sue Lloyd Roberts was a TV journalist and I knew very little about her before the talk. She sounds absolutely brilliant. She traveled around the world videoing and interviewing the people she met with stories to tell. She seemed to get really involved with cases and helped where she could.

So the book talks about how women are treated throughout the world, in cultures, during war, in wealthy and in un-wealthy areas.

The first chapter is on Female Genital Mutilation.

“In Britain our tradition is to respect local customs and not to insist on integration. We respect tolerance and accept cultural differences but it allows abuse to take place behind closed doors.”

I think what I found most exciting about the way Sue went about her work was that no-one seemed un-interviewable. I feel her quote above is right regarding British people. I wouldn’t feel comfortable stepping into someone else’s culture and telling them their practice is unethical, mutilation, appalling and not at all beneficial. The chapter and a chapter on arranged marriage goes on to discuss how the British government tries to avoid doing too much to stay liked or because it doesn’t see the consequences.

With FGM, Sue was not afraid to go directly to the women who carried out the cutting. It was well described in this chapter, It was an uncomfortable read (and the books carries on like it). In the past, reading about the practice I guess I just hoped it wasn’t quite the butchery I imagined.  No, it’s entirely butchery.  A shock to me was that 90% of Egyptian women have had FGM (at the time of the book being written).

The book made me think about how it is all so well hidden and going on without anyone knowing (or with everyone knowing but allowing it!). As I’m sitting here writing this, I naturally  assume other people next door, or down the road or in the next town are doing similar and just unwinding before bed. But are they? There is so much going on right this second and I’m so entirely oblivious.

Before reading the book the word rape would just resonate with me as a horrible word, meaning abuse and dark and twisted, impact, devastation. But the word appeared so often among so many chapters that by the end of the book it was almost tiresome. As if to say to men ‘can you get a hobby and find something else to do please’.  There are no words. There is no respect for women.

In the book it explains that in cultures where women are absolutely objectified, rape is commonplace and rarely punished. Something so horrendous to me and many other women and men can become the norm it appears when it is not actively taught as being wrong. It’s portrayed in the book as being a right of men to be able to, an entitlement. Over and over the same picture is shown in the chapters.

The book has a very big running theme in that all of the acts carried out against women were caused or could be prevented by men. A lot of it is dominance, submission and control of women. I really got the impression that many of the men don’t seem to think twice about what they’re doing. Like there is no conscience because they never developed one. They were brought up to think a certain way.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the criminals in this book, most of them know exactly what they are doing and deserve all the punishment coming to them but it was a question I asked myself. “How much are they actually to blame if that’s all they know and that’s what they’ve seen and been taught?”

I think it’s even sadder in many ways that in these cases these victims could have been spared if the the men had been brought up differently. The amount of pain suffered and lives wasted because of essentially a simple thing. It’s hard to find enough appropriate descriptive words. But it’s heartbreaking to read about. While reading the book I felt very much like I wanted to stand up for women and help make the world better. But then you think yeah, well, it’s all well and good me going to try and help when I’ve never experienced anything even remotely close to what was in the book. But that is what the author did.

One of the last chapters on India chilled me to the bone. I don’t often get angry but I could feel my blood boiling. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to do something. It covered the 2012 Delhi Gang rape. I think it was so poignant that after Jyoti Singh’s uncommentable ordeal and while she was in hospital before she died she apologized to her parents for causing a fuss. The idea that the victim caused the attack or is at fault runs throughout the book too.

I’m so sheltered by most of the brutal acts that happen in the world. This book has well and truly opened my eyes to a couple of them. I could talk about the book for a very long time. What Sue found out and got out of people ( The good and the bad) she interviewed is remarkable. Her ability to understand and delve into the minds of men and women has been really well emphasized. I will just heavily recommend that you read this book. And be prepared to be shocked.

Rebecca x

The stories spread so vastly over the world. I have always said to myself that I wouldn’t travel to countries that allow or don’t certain things which i disagree with. Reading the corruption that is everywhere including here in Britain of course it makes me wonder whether I ever could justify traveling again. The India chapter made me consider whether I would want to go to the tourist areas and spend money there when I visit the country. I feel like actually, I’d rather only give money to the charities there, to the people directly and not to the government that does little to help the suffering that is going on.

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