The Christmas Cup-Off

Well lads it’s that time of year again, C H R I S T M A S (cups) – get your Mariah Carey playlists pumpin and dig out that Christmas tea towel you’ve lying at the bottom of your third drawer. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear Michael Bublé doing his warm-up.

First of November marks the start of the countdown, and what better way to start than with beautiful festive coffee cups??

Me and my ma had a competition going to see who could spot and photograph (trust no one) the first Christmas cups of the year. The prize (aside from the pleasure of winning) was the winner got taken out on a coffee date by the loser. And there’s me always say I’m strictly anti-gambling, I know. The HYPOCRISY of me.

Well – I won. I saw ELEVEN Starbucks ones in town on the 1st but couldn’t whack out my phone in time, but finally captured the red cups in action on Tuesday (thank you, Caitlin for bringing in your Starbucks to the lecture).

But me and Claire aren’t the only ones having a Christmas cup competition, the coffee shops are, too.

It’s like a Christmas cup-off in the coffee shop world; if you don’t have them, you could be losing out on customers. Let’s be real, we all go somewhere purely for the novelty of the cups this time of year. People go into cafés and ask for a takeaway cup even though they’re sitting in (and not just because the takeaway’s are bigger) and parents ask for cups for their children (I know this is true because my ma does it for me). Little do the baristas know that “my wee girl” is 21, not 5.

It’s a race to see who can release them first (usually Starbuck’s, and Caffé Nero last) and who can do it best. Yeah, fair, people actually want the drinks inside, so I guess nailing the menu is important too, but the real winner is the winner of the cup design.

Not a fan of Starbucks but their cup game is strong

See, you don’t have to go for a fancy festive drink, you can get your bog standard americano, but give it a wee bitta razzle dazzle with a Santa cup. It’s a simple way to get in the holiday mood, without having to drink an eggy, cherry-y or gingerbread sugar-bomb concoction. Dentists, rejoice.

Companies need to NAIL their Christmas drinks campaign, and not just to attract customers with their coffees and cups. What’s the whole point of branded cups – Christmas or otherwise? Brand reinforcement. You need a distinctive cup so when people see that cup on the train, in people’s hands or used as an ashtray on someone’s windowsill (classy), they know who’s it is.

See a Costa cup, *subliminal message received*. Want a coffee? You didn’t but since you saw that woman with one, you’re kinda in the mood for one. Sure why not nip into the Costa round the corner there, you deserve it. Don’t want one? No problem. Sure just REMEMBER that Costa cup, retain the brand name and place it at the forefront of your mind so when you think coffee, you think Costa. Just visualise that cup, v i s u a l i s e.

So having a Christmas cup that really grabs attention is ESSENTIAL. Why do you think there’s so many ads for them? Companies need to shout about their fabulous crimbo cups (and drinks, I guess) so that when you see a wee Rudolph, Santa or Christmas tree cup, you know where it’s from. Christmas cups aren’t normally in the brand’s colours or style, so they need to make people aware that “hey, we look different, but it’s still us”. Not that Clements need to do that because the grinches that they are keep the same grey cups all year round – bah humbug.

So, lads, the Christmas cup-off is ON – but only one can win. Who are you voting for?

Coffee Doesn’t Costa Thing

Well lads, in case you haven’t heard, Costa are giving people FREE COFFEE today  at all of their Costa Express machines. Can I get a ‘yeo’?

Not the type of Yeo I meant, but ok Google, cheers.

That’s right, pop into any wee garage or shop with one of these ‘Costa Express’ bad boys and grab yourself a free coffee. And, this is available all day (1st October). No conditions and no hidden charges. Except you’re only allowed one per person, but sure there’s nothing stopping you caffeine junkies doing a wee tour and hitting them all up. #RoadTrip. Not that I would condone such behaviour. Not at all.

So, why is Costa doing this? Well, to celebrate National Coffee Day and promote their snazzy machine coffee. But, why this specific tactic?

Well, to raise awareness. They want to shout about the fact that you don’t have to visit a Costa to get Costa coffee. There’s the sort of assumption that machine coffee isn’t as nice as the “proper stuff”. So, they want to tell everyone that you don’t have to choose convenience or good coffee. So, good news for people who like Costa coffee but don’t live or be near one. And of course, good news for Costa who are able to ‘go’ to those who aren’t ‘coming’ to them. But, the thing is, you no don’t have to want to go to Costa or have a Costa coffee. You just have to want a coffee. Being realistic, if you’re driving about at 8 in the morning in rush hour traffic, you’ll probably take any brand of coffee you can get your hands on. “There’s a garage, I’ll pop in there while I get petrol”, “There’s a shop at the top of the road, I’ll pop in there while I grab a meal deal”. Whether it be Frank and Honest, Barista Bar, Centra’s own or Costa, you’ll most likely buy it.

The point is, Costa aren’t restricting themselves to deliberate purchases. They’re increasing their convenience and impulse sales, too. More people are buying and drinking Costa coffee, whether or not they intend to.

So, where are these machines? Which shops or garages? Well, you can figure out where your nearest one is today, can’t you? “We’ve got decent machine coffee at selected retailers” doesn’t exactly motivate people to jump to Google and see where, does it? “We’ve got FREE COFFEE at our coffee machines” does. I’m guessing Google’s got A LOT of recent searches asking where these machines are. So, Costa doesn’t really have to promote where exactly the machines are, because customers are hella motivated to figure it out for themselves. Then they’ll know for future where they can get this decent machine brew. It’s a wee coffee-fuelled treasure hunt. Move over, Easter bunny.

Normally, the point of offering ‘free’ things is that you’re hoping people will buy other items off you while they’re there; but, it would be the retailers benefiting from this, not Costa. If they offered free coffee at Costa cafés, people might buy biscuits, buns or food while they’re there, so Costa can still make money. But, in an independent retailer, Costa won’t reap the benefit of any add-ons. Unless they’ve agreed to get commission for every Kit-Kat sold or something, I don’t know.

They’re probably hoping for repeat purchases and loyalty. Once people try Costa machine coffee, they’ll never go back to anything else. Well, in theory, that’s possible, yeah. But there’s always gonna ‘brand switchers’ who just want the freebies or whatever’s on offer, regardless of the brand (@ me). This is always the case with this type of marketing promotion, but maybe even more so because of the ‘convenience’ nature of these coffees. Like I said, it’s not just people who want a Costa coffee, but a coffee in general. So, they’ll likely buy whatever the quick and handy option is.

The thing is, whether people decide to be brand loyal to Costa Express coffee or not, depends on if they reckon the taste and quality is worth the price. The fact is, once the offer’s over, you have to pay the same price for the machine coffee as you would a barista one from a Costa café. So people need to decide whether they’d rather have a Costa machine one for like £2.50, or if they’d be happy to go back to their regular 99p or £1.79 or whatever they normally pay. If it’s a small price difference to their usual, standard machine brew, chances are yeah, they will become loyal. But again, this mightn’t be through specific intention.

“£3 machine coffee?” Costa’s dream customer^

So, it’s a bit of a risk for Costa, and an expensive one at that. So, what else is in it for them? Well, they’re getting people talking. They’re getting free publicity. Everyone will be saying, “Here, did ya hear there’s free coffee at the garage down the road?”, “Costa are doing free coffee, Google the closest one for us there”, I can’t even mentally prepare myself for the cued Insta stories “Thank u @Costa!!!”. We all know how powerful word of mouth is, you trust your mates more than ads, so if they like the coffee, chances are it’s good. They’re not being paid to say it like. Plus, not to state the obvious but Costa have managed to get ME to write about them so they MUST have hit the jackpot. Lucky duckies.

So, Costa can sit back while consumers spread the word and promote the offer, their brand, the machines that do NICE coffee (I didn’t know it was possible either) AND the location of them, for free. Maybe that’s worth more than the £2.50 coffee is.

“Free publicity?” ^Costa

A wee downfall is that Costa cafés might get fewer sales, but, mostly for takeaways or pre-planned visits. People who are passing by and aren’t near an Express machine will still call in. People who wanna sit on comfy seats and leech off their wifi and electricity for a few hours will still call in. People who take a wee notion for a coffee will still call in. Plus, it’s national coffee day so they should be busy enough like. So, it’s good news for them. But, bad news for baristas who were hoping to skive for the day. Sorry, mate.

But, this tactic doesn’t just benefit Costa, it potentially harms competitors, too. Double whammy. If Costa are serving more, then, their competitors might be serving less. Costa could benefit from ‘sales’ from those who would usually get their coffee elsewhere. Just say you go to Caffe Nero or Starbucks normally (even though they leave their water taps running CONSTANTLY), would you not be more likely to give the Costa one a go since it’s free? You never know, you might actually prefer it. There’s not much in the price anyway. So that’s another thing, Costa are able to encourage consumption by those who would otherwise not be motivated to switch brands. They could become some people’s “new favourite”. So, increasing consumption of your own brand while possibly reducing that of your competitors, not a shabby idea, lads. Chapeau.

So, go forth and enjoy your free Costa coffee (unless you live in the north of Ireland of course, SHOCK we’re oppressed excluded).

*Not sponsored by Costa. Although, if you want to repay me in cappuccinos, that would be nice 🙂

The Rise of the Millennial

Millennials: we’re the generation of avocados, fancy coffee and brunch. We’re also the generation of being blamed for pretty much any issue in society. Lucky us!!!

There’s constantly reports and headlines online about how millennials are ruining the economy (oh, the IRONY) because we’re spending all of our money on frivolous things and going out. We’re not saving. We’re not ‘contributing to society’. We’re not buying houses or diamonds (even though there’s a 5000% mark up and it’s not the most ethical industry @blood diamonds). And we aren’t buying those fancy cloth hankies (yes, apparently we’re killing that industry too). Basically, we’re not “investing our money”.

But we are. We’re investing it in ourselves. We’re paying like £4,000-9,000 a year for a uni degree which we then spend decades paying off and can’t get a job with anyway. That’s an investment. We spend our money socialising, to keep strong emotional connections and improve our mental health. That’s an investment.  We’re paying a bomb for gym memberships, dance and yoga classes (which we never go to, but the option’s there) to keep ourselves physically healthy so we’re around for longer. That’s an investment. We spend our money on things that make us happy, to help us have a better quality of life. That’s an, you’ve guessed it, i n v e s t m e n t.

Apparently we’re not buying enough houses. And we all know the housing market is a GREAT one, it’s never collapsed and there definitely isn’t a housing crisis on at the minute anywhere. Sounds very secure and low-risk. And sure, why get a house if you don’t know where you’re going to live?

Thanks to there being like 0 jobs and a lil disaster called Brexit (THANKS for that, by the way), we have no idea where we’re going to settle. We can put our foot on a plane and travel around the world in search of a job or a nicer place to live; and having no houses, mortgages, families or commitments tying us down means there’s nothing really stopping us. Apart from VISAs and emigration laws of course, but you get the picture.

We aren’t saving our money, but what would we be saving for? Let’s be real here, the planet is literally dying and thanks to past generations completely murdering it, we have no idea how long it – and we, will be around for. Like my granda always said, “You can’t take it with you, there’s no point being the richest in the graveyard.” Wouldn’t you be raging if you spent your life saving and deliberately not buying things you wanted, and then the planet kicked the bucket before you’d a chance to spend it?

Let’s be optimists and say that we are going to be around for like 100 more years. Being realistic, the retirement age is probably going to be around 75 for us, so we’ve loads of time (in theory) to make more money. Is that £7 brunch really going to affect my financial situation so much that there is no chance in hell that I can earn it back in the future? That’s literally an hour’s wage, so unless I never work another hour in my life, I think I got this one covered.

Plus, a very important lil note. It’s our money. We earned it, and we spend it. We can do whatever we want with it, and it’s nobody’s business.

All the focus seems to be on millennials ‘destroying’ current industries, but what about the new ones we’re creating and supporting? Vegan products, those weird stick on handles for the back of your phone, Dragon Soop and succulents – how are they any less important than cloth hankies?? Other generations aren’t supporting these industries as much as us, so why is no one saying “baby boomers are trying to destroy the avocado industry”? We aren’t ‘ruining’ the economy, we’re simply changing it. Lifestyles have changed, needs have changed, money has changed – and the economy should reflect that.

Millennials:  we’re a “live in the moment” kind of generation – and we spend accordingly; because thanks to previous generations, we’ve no idea how many moments we’re going to have.

12 Days of Placement

Well it’s Christmas Eve Eve (yay) and I thought it’s about time I posted something a bit festive.

Covers of Christmas songs are very in, and although this is no lyrical masterpiece like “we built this city on sausage rolls”, I hope you enjoy my attempt of making “12 Days of Christmas” a little relative to my placement experience. Although there are no partridges on sight, there is a rather aggressive pigeon that sits on my windowsill if that counts?

Anyway, eh em. Silence please.

On the first day of Christmas, my placement gave to me:

1 mid-life (optimistic I know) crisis about how bad I am at my job

2 weeks of scrimping thanks to “make it rain” mentality on payday

3 emails sent without attachments (oops)

4 voicemails left (I think they might be avoiding me)

5 cups of coffee-eeeeeee

6 FUN patterned blouses (thank God animal print’s back in)

7 broken “we HAVE to meet up!!” promises

8 hours of sitting (I really should start the gym at some point) *key word: “should”.

9 precious days of annual leave left to use

10pm bedtime – judge me all you like but ya gal needs her 8 hours. And it gets dark at 4pm anyway so it’s basically midnight, right?

11 “are anyone’s emails down or are people just ignoring me?”s – emails are rarely ‘down’.

12 months of being an actual adult ?? No thankU

*Ho ho ho-ld for applause*

I reckon if I released this a week ago I too would have beaten Ariana to Christmas number 1. Just saying.

Confessions of a Placement Student

Well, here I am, 5 months into my placement year, and I thought I’d share some home truths with you.

I never really knew what to expect out of doing a placement, I mean my brother did his at an IT company (he’s super smart) and didn’t really talk about his work (he’s also SUPER quiet). My sister on the other hand, went to Korea (the South, before you make a witty “the North? Ha ha” joke) for hers, so I somehow think her experience in Jeju is a tad different than mine in Belfast.

Which brings us here. I’m going to let you in on a few things I learnt when on my placement year. Disclaimer: The following may be experienced by other readers, and is not me saying that they are the case for everyone going/on a university placement. I.E – It could just be me and I’m doing it all wrong. But nonetheless, enjoy.

 

1. 11pm is LATE.

I’m in bed by 10:30pm most nights; partly because I’m knackered after working 9-5, and partly because I now know the importance of getting 8 hours sleep*. Plus the fact it takes me around an hour to get to sleep no matter what time I go to bed at- isn’t that a fun and not at all disruptive trait??

*I am determined to get this amount some day.

sleep

2. Weeknight nights out – please don’t

Working at 9am the next day isn’t the same as a 9am lecture the next day. Save your nights out for the weekend, when you can properly enjoy it without checking the time and thinking “I have work in x hours”. I also wouldn’t advise doing a university student’s Fresher’s week, because you will in no way be “fresh”.

 

3. Coffee becomes less of a treat and more of a necessity

I need my daily coffee, not because of a caffeine boost (although it definitely does help), but because it’s important to start the day off with a little treat or “pick me up”. Don’t like coffee? Oh you will, all in good time my friend.

 

4. “I’ll start the gym” – You probably won’t.

I had so many plans to start the gym when I started working full-time, because “I’ll need something as a wee distraction” and because I don’t do half as much exercise as I used to. There aren’t very many ways to make sitting a desk an ‘active’ task. But well, who was I kidding really, the gym isn’t for me – when it comes to choosing between going to one or going for coffee with friends, it just so happen to lose the coin toss every time!!

gym

 

5. “After work drinks” – the only thing I drink after work is coffee.

“We should SO go for cocktails after work sometime!!” We all know where cocktails lead and it is NOT a pretty place. *See number 2.  After a day at work, I want to sit down and have a chat with my friends, in a comfy chair, and be home by 9pm. Call me a granny all you want, but I am a content granny.

 

6. You DO get used to it.

I worked in retail for years, and found I could work a 9:30am-6:30pm on my feet rushing around all day no problem; but sitting down for 8 hours at a desk somehow exhausted me? My friend who was working full-time before me had promised me “Don’t worry, you get used to it”. 2 months in I realised that either she was lying, or was coping better than I was. But behold, I am now a machine (sort of) and I promise, you do get used to the change of routine. You too, will become a machine.

 

7. Your employers know you’re a placement student.

I know that one really knocked you for six. The point is, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you’re not expected to crack the code and master all aspects of your job within the first few months, let alone weeks. Don’t compare yourself  to the other people in your office who have been doing the job for years. Of course they’re going to be “better” than you, but Michael Jordan’s better at basketball than you too – sorry, I’m not trying to lower your self esteem, I’m simply saying you can’t compare yourself to professionals.

 

8. You’ll make (in my case, loads of) mistakes.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OKAY. If you don’t do something wrong, you won’t learn what you shouldn’t have done and what you should do differently next time. It’s not so much a mistake as a “how to” for next time. As Hannah Montana said “everybody makes mistakes” and “nobody’s perfect”, what more inspiration and motivation do you need? So, next time you make a mistake, have a wee Hannah Montana sing-song (in your head preferably) and you’ll definitely feel better.

giphy.gif 

 

9. You will meet some of the most amazing people

Those memes on the internet about having work friends who know your whole life story are scarily accurate. You’ll have so many weird conversations and debates about food (we had a very heated one about whether it was candy apple or toffee apple), and you’ll find yourself weirdly invested in your colleague’s dinners. You really do lean on and support each other, as well as get all the scoop on their best friend’s pyscho-ex. Brilliant.

*It’s toffee apple. Not up for discussion.

 

10. You might not figure out what you want to do – but you might figure out what you don’t.

Even if you realise what you’re doing on placement isn’t what you want to do in life, that’s okay. You can rule it out, and you’ll still have learned so much; about the industry, yourself, and working full-time in general. I mean, would you rather do a job you don’t exactly love for a year and never have to do it again, or end up stuck in one after graduation for the foreseeable future? The job’s only for a year, not forever, so  b r e a t h e .

11. Prepare for pensions and National Insurance

I’ll never forget the horror of seeing some of my pay going into a “pension pot”, I remember thinking, “I’m only 20? And saving for a pension??” Well, it’s okay, I’m over it now. Plus I’ve a nice wee £80 cushion to fall back on, so I’m currently deciding between early retirement or buying a villa in Spain…

images
Me celebrating my glorious £80

12. You will get excited about new work clothes

I used to go into Primark and think “Okay, why is there a whole floor of blouses and blazers? This would be so much better used for guddies.” Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as “too many” work clothes. Patterned blouses? Hated em. Blazers? Hated em too. But now, my friend, ain’t nothing I love more than a nice wee print blouse and some fitted trousers. So, you may laugh now, but soon you too will be BUZZIN to hit up the town and buy blazers, just you wait.

 

I had a lot more but didn’t want to bore anyone (might be too late though). I hope this list helps anyone on or going on a placement; you’ll either relate to some/all of these, or you’ll not experience them and then feel a lot better about yourself. Either way, you’re welcome.

If you have any questions/ queries or just want to talk about going on or preparing for a placement, please do get in touch! I’m more than happy to instil my pearls of wisdom and give advice and share my experience! I may not have many pearls, but I’d say I have at least 2.

How Coffee Shops Saved My (Social) Life

This morning as I was on my way to get my daily coffee before work, my brother said something so outrageous that shocked me to my very core. “There’s too many coffee shops in Belfast.” It pains me to even type the words.

Once I had a chance to gather myself, I replied “Ammm, ain’t no such thing” (I’m very street like that).

He then went on to list some: Caffe Nero, Hotel Chocolat, Tim Horton’s, Bob & Bert’s, Pearl’s, Clements, Costa, Starbucks (all of which I’ve got loyalty cards for) as if that was too many?

It got me thinking, where would I be without all of these coffee shops? A lot better off financially yes. But also a LOT more tired, and a lot less social.

I’m a placement student, which means that my schedule doesn’t really sync up with any of my friends who are still at uni. They’re free during the day and out at night, I’m in work all day then in bed by 10pm most nights.

But there’s that glimmering, cappuccino coloured window between 5 and 7pm, after I’ve finished work and before they’ve to go home and start preing.

I mean, what can you do at 5pm? No one under the age of around 60 (no offence) has dinner that early, and going for “a drink” isn’t really an option.

Coffee. That’s what you do.

What do you do at 8am, when the shops are all still closed and you can’t exactly sit at your desk for an hour before work?

Coffee. That’s what you do.

After lectures and seminars to procrastinate actually doing uni work?

You guessed it- el caffe. (See how I’m mixing things up?)

Don’t get me wrong, I do love coffee. But for me its not about the drink; I go for coffee because I want to go somewhere nice and sit and catch up with my friends. Even those who hate coffee love going for coffee; there’s steamers, tea, weird flavoured lattes and those ridiculous drinks in Starbucks with a mountain of cream on top and another mountain of sugar inside.

I must admit, Belfast doesn’t have much when it comes to nightlife, everything sort of closes in the city centre at around 7pm (except the glorious night that is Thursday). But there’s always a light on in that Starbucks opposite Europa, or Tim Horton’s (yeah, we’ve got one of those now). Well, until 10pm when they close, but you know what I mean.

All of these coffee shops have actually really shaped my (and Belfast’s) social life.  They don’t just provide us with my daily dose of caffeine and free wifi (yay), they give us a place to sit with our friends and catch up on everything going on each other’s lives.

 

And it’s not just big multi-national chains, it’s wee small independent coffee shops and chains throughout the north of Ireland like Clements and Bob & Bert’s. I always try to go the local shops and give them a turn instead. If you think about, I’m basically a caffeine-fuelled modern-day Robin Hood.

I’m helping support the local high street -which God knows it needs all the help it can get after the Primark fire reduced footfall by 30%. And with amount of money I spend a week on a coffee, I’m probably single-handedly sustaining the local coffee industry.

Coffee shops are so important to Belfast. We need somewhere to sit have a good chat- and God knows we need caffeine. Coffee’s what we drink, it’s what we do, it’s who we are.

So, I’ll raise my skinny cappuccino and toast to the coffee shops of Belfast, “thank you”.

Eco-Friendly Swaps That Won’t Cost You The Earth

Those of you who have me on social media will already know that I am pretty passionate about saving the environment (imagine wanting to protect your own planet??) So, I have compiled a wee list of easy ways to be green that don’t cost much.

And yes, I have made all of these changes myself so you can trust that they are actually worth making. After all, the Black Eyed Peas always said to practice what you preach…

 

  1. Reusable Cotton Pads

What? As the name suggests, these are an eco-friendly version of that beauty essential. Made from cotton knit rather than traditional cotton, these bad boys can be used and washed again, and again, and again…and once more for good measure.

Why? Cotton is one of the “dirtiest” materials, with the non-organic cotton farming industry using nearly ¼ of the world’s insecticides. These leach into the ground and water supply, harming the natural environment and cotton farmers. This cotton is then dumped after one use and ends up in either landfills, or clogging pipes and the stomachs of sea creatures in our oceans.

How much? They’re around 60p each, with discounts for bulk-buying. I got my 4 for £2.30 including postage, which works out at a cheerful 57p each.

Where from? These are widely available on www.Etsy.com (I found they had the largest selection online).

Are they any good? Yes, I actually prefer these to traditional cotton pads. Because they are less absorbent, you need to use less product on them. So you save product and the environment, sounds like a win-win to me.

 

  1. Bamboo Toothbrushes

What? These toothbrushes are made with a bamboo handle, rather than the traditional plastic. The bristles still contain plastic, because apart from using horse-tail bristles *shudders*, there aren’t really many non-plastic alternatives yet.

Why? As you’ve probably seen all over the internet recently, there has been a massive movement to reduce the amount of single use and non-recycled plastics to reduce the amount of plastic dumped in the ocean. Bamboo is biodegradable, meaning it breaks down around 150 years faster than plastic and so is more environmentally friendly, and it helps keep sea life’s stomachs plastic-free.

Are they any good? Yep, they last just as long as traditional plastic handled toothbrushes, and they look pretty cool too.

How much? I got mine for 99p each, but got a wee 10% discount for buying six. Cha-ching.

Where from? These are widely available online, but they are cheapest from either Amazon or eBay. There are some independent online stores too, but they’re around 5x dearer.

 

  1. Bar Shampoo

What? Basically like a bar of soap, but with shampoo instead. Pretty self-explanatory really.

Why? Traditional shampoo bottles are another example of single-use plastics, with few being recycled. These are packaging free, thus reducing waste.

Are they any good? To my shock I must admit, they actually are. I thought that bar shampoo would dry out my hair or make it greasy and full of residue, but it doesn’t. I’m not going to say it made my hair silky smooth and so shiny it was reflective, because no product on this earth could perform that miracle on my frizzy mane. But, my hair feels the exact same as it did with normal liquid shampoos. LUSH has a range of bar shampoos to suit different hair types, and they all smell AMAZING too. *smells hair* Yep, deffo worth getting.

How much? LUSH ones cost around £7.50. This may seem a bit steep, but they last around 4-6 months depending on your hair length, so how many bottles of shampoo would you go through in that time? Now, add that up.

Where from? I get mine from LUSH because I love the smell, but they can also be found widely online.

*A more obvious suggestion would have been bars of soap instead of liquid soap but I’ve already written about bar shampoo so I’ll have to roll with that. But yeah, buy bars of soap too.

 

  1. Burt’s Bees ‘Bring Back the Bees’ Lip Balm

What? This is a strawberry flavoured lip balm by beauty brand Burt’s Bees, which, for each of these lip balms sold will plant 5,000 bee-friendly wildflower seeds.

Why? As you are probably aware, there has been a huge ‘Save the Bees’ movement as the population is declining at an alarming rate. Basically, bees are the goodies that provide us with crops, flowers and honey; wasps are the baddies who fly in your face and just sting you for the fun of it.

Is it any good? It’s just as good as any other lip balm, and it smells (and tastes) amazing too.

Where from? This special Bring Back the Bees one is only available online, from either Amazon or Look Fantastic. Not to be confused with Burt’s Bee’s normal strawberry one!

How much? It costs £3.99 on both online outlets, but Look Fantastic has 10% student discount and its postage is cheaper than Amazon (unless you get it for free with Amazon Prime).

 

  1. Sell Old Clothes

 

What? When you’re doing one of those “I need to bin some clothes so I have excuse to buy new ones” clear outs, don’t just chuck your old stuff in a bin bag and dump it. Have a look at what you’ve got, and see if there’s anything you could get a couple pounds for online.

*Alternatively, you can donate these to charity shops, and for things that you don’t think people will buy, donate them to a clothes bank!

Why? Too many of us just bin old clothes, leaving them to lie for around 100 years in a landfill before they ~eventually~ decompose. This led to over 300,000 tonnes worth £12.5 billion being dumped last year from Britain alone (I couldn’t find any Irish statistics but that doesn’t mean we aren’t guilty too). Plus, the money’s dead handy for when that student loan runs out and you’re resorting to Super Noodles for dinner every night.

Is it any good? I tried this out a few months ago when I was moving into a smaller house with a lot less clothes room ( 😦 ) and ending up pocketing just over £60. Not too shabby eh?

How much? You make money! Only thing you have to pay for is the postage – if selling on eBay, there will a small selling fee from eBay and PayPal.

Where? I sold mine on eBay, but Depop is another really popular marketplace too.

 

  1. Reusable Coffee Cups

What? Do I really need to explain this? Might leave you to decipher this riddle for yourselves.

Why? Around 200 million disposable coffee cups are thrown away in Ireland every year, with 99.75% NOT being recycled. A study by Recycling List Ireland found that 528,000 are thrown away every day which works out 22,000 an hour or 366 every minute. Although made of paper, these are lined with plastic which makes them basically un-recyclable and thus adding to the overflowing landfills. Bringing your own reusable cups therefore reduces this, and you can buy pretty ones with cool designs too.

Are they any good? Most reusable coffee cups are insulated, meaning they keep your drink hotter for longer. And, many coffee shops (for example Starbucks, Costa and Greggs) all offer a discount of 20-25p off every hot drink when you use one. Other brands like Caffe Nero and Clements offer double loyalty card stamps. Yay.

How much? This depends where you buy them from, with prices ranging anywhere from £2 to some coffee shop’s own brand ones for £12.

Where from? They can bought in LOADS of places, from B&M to Tesco and Primark to coffee shops and online.

 

  1. Ecosia

What? This one isn’t so obvious. Ecosia is a search engine which uses its profits to plant trees around the world. It works the exact same as Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines, but for around every 45 searches you do, a tree is planted.

Why? Ecosia has planted over 38 million trees already (16 thanks to me and my 700 searches so far). Deforestation is a global problem, and trees are essential- we need them to breathe (oxygen production), grow foods, make paper, home natural wildlife, and for soppy romantics to carve their initials into. Ew.

Is it any good? It’s just as good as other popular search engines at providing me with important information and statistics, or tell me the name of that short bald actor and my daily horoscope.  (It’s Jason Statham BTW).

How much? Same as Jennifer Lopez’s love – it don’t cost a thing.

Where from? www.Ecosia.org

 

So there you go, 7 simple ways to help save the planet without having to splash the cash!

Feel free to comment if you have any questions, experiences of any of these you’ve tried or any suggestions of other eco-friendly swaps!