Three years ago in my old job, I remember my then-boss calling me whilst I was cooking dinner. It was 7.30pm. I turned off my podcast and put him on speakerphone whilst chopping garlic. He started speaking about a conversation he had just had with his senior. What he told me was an important update but not vital, and could certainly have waited until the next day. He did, of course text me first to check if it was okay to call me, but did not wait for a response. When he’d finished speaking, he asked me to make notes of everything he’d just told me. I was trying to concentrate on two things at once, the timing of the pasta I was halfway through cooking, and trying to listen to everything he was telling me. Cooking is my happy place. Not that night. For the rest of the evening I found my mind wondering to that conversation, wondering if I had caught everything on paper and then wondering why he has asked me to make notes when he has probably the same access to a pen and paper. It was this that irked me the most. And it is not the first time throughout my career this thoughtlessness has left me frustrated.

 

I have worked with a lot of dickheads. I have been working since I was sixteen and I have had more jobs than I can count on two hands. These jobs have varied greatly, from working as an au pair in Switzerland to a sweet wrapper for a famous chocolate company (FYI you can get sick of chocolate pretty quickly when faced with an unlimited supply). I was even dressed as a giant Volvic bottle for a promo job in Brighton, and my most glamorous job yet has been a hand model for a TV advert and no, the hand-job jokes never get tired. There has been one constant thread throughout all of these vocations. Working with dickheads. Some people are lucky, and work in a dream team, the type of people that gets shit  stuff done, will have your back in a meeting, will help out with the little tasks and not take all the credit for your work. These people are keepers and general all-round babes. I am fortunate enough to have worked with a few of them in my time, and still count them as friends. With the right team, working with others can be the can the most wonderful inspirational experience. But let’s be honest, there’s a lot of professional idiosyncrasies that can drive you crazy.

There’s a lot of dickheads in the workplace.

I worked with for one dickhead who used to ask me to go and pick up her dry-cleaning or chicken for her dog (FYI I was not hired as a PA but was the youngest in the team and consequently had to pick up the passive aggressive errands), I worked for another dickhead who was a downright bully and who would pick out one person in a meeting and ridicule them to the others as if there was a private joke between everyone. I worked with another dickhead who decided that getting hit by a car did not warrant me to take three days off, but elicited not to tell the owners that this was why I was reason for my absence from work and I received a notice of dismissal on my return. I worked for a micro-managing dickhead who would correct me on everything I did as a waitress, made me cry twice and was the most miserable person I had ever met. I worked in a pub for another dickhead who used to openly rate the women who applied for a job on their looks, and mark that rating on the right hand corner of their CV.  Another dickhead once scratched his groin whilst talking to me and when I pulled him up on it told me he was sorry but needed to do it. The same person picked his nose constantly when we had conference calls. I even had one dickhead who kept “forgetting” to pay me when I was working in a little coffee shop in Canterbury until I refused to come work until I got paid. He did pay up, eventually.

Let’s just say I have worked with all kinds of characters over the years, so much so that I feel I can impart some wisdom on anyone who currently has a work dickhead, or plural if you are really unlucky.

  1. Try to look at it from their point of view. This is something my mum always tells me, and 8/10 it helps. Are they under a lot of pressure? Are they going through something personally? Can you be a little kinder in your assessment of them? Take a breath and count to ten.
  2. Stay out of the politics. For some reason we love to unanimously moan about work, particularly we love to bond about how detestable we find someone at work. Whilst I do encourage confiding in someone, make sure you don’t make the behaviour out to be worse than it is, something I have been guilty of in the past.
  3. Is the juice worth the squeeze? Think about what you can learn from these people.  Working for dickheads has taught me to speak up a bit more and call out behaviour that is not okay.  I am also a bit more aware of when it is time to move on and look for another job, for my own mental health.
  4. Speak up. Whilst it is difficult, if you or someone else in the workplace is being bullied or harassed,  speak up. Speak to their senior, or HR if they are available. Ideally, if you feel comfortable, speak to the person in question first, and tactfully point out what you find frustrating. If they throw it in your face (and be prepared for that) at least you have tried to discuss it with them first. Keep a record of the dates things have been said/done, so that you can at least build a case on paper.
  5. There will definitely be more dickheads along the way. The grass is not always greener. Look at the good parts of your work.  My current boss definitely has his perks; he  can be very kind, he lets me get on with my work, he encourages me to take courses to develop my skillset.  I am also very aware that I can probably be difficult work with.

Most of all, call a dickhead out when they are being a dickhead (in more polite terms).

There is nothing they hate more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shoes found on ebay

Okay, spending too much time on your phone is not really great for the planet, but some of these apps have really helped me to rethink and reduce my consumption.

Fashion:

ebay: An oldie but a goodie.  These guys are still the best and were pioneering for online reselling way before it was cool

Vinted – I have raved a lot about this app as ebay is not really prevalent in the Netherlands. It allows you to buy sell and swap clothes. I am currently on the peruse for some very nice boots and have my eyes on a couple of pairs

Nuuly: Fashion rental that is €80 a month for 6 items? YES PLEASE. This is probably my favourite of the rental platforms and can help to feed the “new” addiction, also great for wedding season

United Wardrobe: 

A great re-selling clothes platform, lots of nice finds on there.

Good On You:

Good On You simplified sustainability goals and calls out  which clothing brands are really not making enough effort in this field in a really simple way. They also speak very clearly which materials are detrimental for the environment and which you should favour. They also offer sustainable alternatives to the damaging highstreet brands.

Other sites/ apps worth knowing about that I don’t use; DePop, Frankie Collective.

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Furniture:

Facebook

Finally something Facebook is useful for! Facebook Marketplace is the only reason I still have my Facebook account. Okay that and the thousands of old pictures I occasionally have a scroll through, plus who doesn’t love a daily update from your auntie on what they had for dinner?

Here are the groups for buying secondhand stuff  in the Amsterdam area:

Fashion for Sale Amsterdam, Amsterdam Yard Sale, Amsterdam deelt/geeft (all free stuff) and I always check Marketplace if I need something before buying it new.

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Rug and sofa both secondhand finds

Food:

Too Good to Go:

Pretty much the best idea anyone has ever had for an app. This app allows you to buy food from restaurants that they would otherwise throw out at a fraction of the price. My favourite places are Le Pain Quotidien and Marqt (Netherlands only).

Olio:

A similar concept to the above but more for consumer to consumer. Say I make a giant cake and cannot finish it or I am going on holiday for 2 weeks with some food leftover in my fridge, just put it on Olio and let someone else make use of it.

Love Food Hate Waste:
This app will give you ideas on what to do with leftovers and how to reduce waste, and taught me how much is an average spaghetti serving per person (nobody likes cold spaghetti).

Travel:

ViaVan

Okay we all need to use a taxi or car occasionally. ViaVan allows you to share your lift with others, and it makes it really cheap. A bit like UberPool but they pay their drivers a lot better apparently.

BlaBla Car:

I used to use this and it cost me 5 pounds to get all the way from East London to Canterbury. It meant we all saved money as well as emissions. If you are taking a long journey by car , consider posting it on here and sharing your journey!

Litterati 

Is worth checking out, this app makes picking up litter into a game, and identifies which companies are the worst culprits for their packaging.

Any apps or websites you think are worth a shout out in helping to share/ swap/resell? Let me know!

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IMG_1905There is nothing more the human soul could want.

I am surrounded by mountains with the sparkling sea lapping close to me and two of my favourite people in the world (my parents) just a few metres away. This is my happy place. I ignore texts from friends, blissful in my detachment from the everyday life. My phone being the last attachment anchoring me to reality is untouched.

And then, after a few days weened off, I return like an addict and through a few simple touches I am returned to world of social media. A quick scroll through my personal account and I notice myself physically deflate. The familiar and unjust feeling of FOMO trickles in and I have funny feeling in my stomach.  The banality of Instagram stories, the narcism of the selfie is alarming yet alluring, and I find myself going down the rabbit hole that we all know too well until I catch myself and toss my phone away, furious at myself for allowing something so fickle affect my mood.

We all know the weird dopamine highs and lows that social media can release in us. It ain’t natural, and it ain’t mentally healthy. I think deep down we all know this, but we there is also a wonderful feeling of being connected to others. That being said, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom and I have a lot to be grateful for from social media. I do feel like I have found my happy medium.  I have an account that only a few close friends know about, and I am part of a community that gets excited about sustainable innovations, about secondhand finds and about package-free market shopping. Yes, we’re a niche and the Instagram algorithm diligently echos the message of the bubble of algorithm back to me, becoming like my own personal social shopper, but I have found other people that feel enthusiastic about clothing swaps, or using up the last of a moisturiser. I freaking love you guys. There is no way I would have been able to find you people and messages without it. Would the message of the climate strikes been shouted quite as loudly and fiercely without social media telling us when and where?

Because of social media, I have  avoided the eye-roll of my boyfriend every-time I comment on the amount of plastic used in a documentary we are watching, or a plastic bottle by someone being interviewed. I have my own personal outlet. I don’t need to “lecture” other people on the emissions of a transatlantic flight quite so heavily. Sustainability has become more of a sexy topic so now it is something people want to talk about at the dinner table, but I am sure it has helped other people to find their “group”. It’s helped single mums find a vocation, it has made the consumer a dictator and it has helped us to call out something that is morally wrong, to offer another discourse to the media’s point of view. I mean, it’s invented the vlogger/ blogger. A whole new career path that did not exist a few years ago.

So yes, like a lot of things we need to treat it responsibly. Scrolling through Instagram for hours on end won’t do much for your mental health, just as eating two packets of crisps for lunch won’t do much for your heart. If people make you feel crappy we have the power to unfollow. Or mute. Curate what you see and protect yourself. I also have to remind myself that underneath every picture of someone #livingtheirbestlife, there is another story, another narrative.

 

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I dread to think how many pairs of tights I’ve been through, my Granny ostensibly even stuffed her pouffe with all her pairs of old tights (yes I have a strange family). After I left home and stopped getting my usual stocking supply of M&S tights (Christmas was an exciting time), I used to buy my tights cheap, real cheap. Those tights that are less expensive than a cup of coffee for a pack of 3 and snag as soon as you look at them? Yep that was me. Euugh!

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I tried two pairs of the Swedish Stockings the Hanna Premium Seamless Tights in Black and the Olivia Premium Tights in Black (slightly thicker) and I am VERY impressed. I went for a size Medium, and they fit well, though next time I will go for a Large as the tights don’t sag at all (my dear old Mum used to call me Nora Batty when I came home from school). I prefer the Olivia simply due to the thickness of the tights, and they are pretty warm so I think they will be perfect for the upcoming colder days.

Wear:

Firstly the durability. I ride a bike to and from work and they haven’t even snagged yet, I’ve been wearing them for a couple of weeks now.  The Swedish Stockings just feel nice and well made. They also have a nice waistband that stays up, and did I mention they don’t sag?

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Sustainability:

These tights are made from recycled nylon. For anyone who is not familiar with the nylon scenario, it is derived from crude oil and the chemical and water intensive process to make nylon is releases nitrous oxide. Basically it’s one of the worst culprits out there and is used a lot throughout the fashion industry, particularly hosiery.

Swedish Stockings created the worlds first fully recycled pair of tights, including the elastane. You can send them 3 pairs of your old tights for a discount on their products. Their production is powered by renewable energy including solar power, the water they use for the dyeing process is purified after use and their factories are zero waste. They even give you a little instruction manual on how to make your stockings last longer.

These are a little more of an investment piece, (around 22- 29 euros a pair), but I do think these tights will last you a lot longer than most pairs of other tights out there. I will keep you posted!

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IMG_3662Once you start reducing your single-use, it gets a bit addictive. I have now started storing the cold water whilst waiting for the hot taps to come out, reusing and saving any plastic packaging and generally trying to avoid anything going to landfill. This is usually sometimes at my own expense, and drives my cohabiting partner mad. Saving the world was never going to be easy right?

Here is an update on the bathroom swaps that have worked for me (and those that have not):

  • Reusable cotton pads. Why are these only materialising now? Super easy swap that I just bung in the white wash each week. I bought bamboo and organic cotton ones, but theres lots of different ones out there, keep in mind they are cheaper online.
  • The reusable mentstrual cup. This simple little piece of magic has changed my life. I have been using it for 2 years and will not go back to tampons. It’s perfect for trips away too, because you don’t have to rush around trying to find tampons. Even if you’re not ready for the reusable. Please PLEASE look for organic cotton tampons. There are currently no restrictions for the materials used to make tampons and this can lead to cervical cancer. Yoni is a great organic tampon provider in the Netherlands.
  • Reusable razor. Apart from anything else this is SO much cheaper. And a better shave. I use the Bambaw razor which was around 20 pounds and change the razor every month.
  • Soap and shampoo bars. I have been using the Lush volumiser shampoo bar and experimenting between L’occitane en provence (post payday and Alterra when the wallet is a bit light)
  • Natural products. Using a few more natural remedies on my skin such as a bulk buy Shea butter and , I have been loving the Susanne Kaufmann skincare products for something a bit more luxurious as well as We Are Paradox Game Changer hair mask.
  • Toothpaste. I have tried Georganics, toothpaste tablets, and even tried making my own but none of them feel like their working, do you have a recommendation? The natural toothpaste part is something I can’t get on board with.
  • Deodorant. I have been using the Mamalin very easy homemade recipe for a while now, and loving it.
  • Cotton buds. I tried to give these up completely, but let’s just say it didn’t go well. I’ve started getting the wooden cotton buds from The Humble Company
  • Recycled toilet roll or The Good Roll. Sure, the recycled stuff might not be as soft as the bleached Andrex stuff, but honestly it’s a small price to pay.
  • Bamboo toothbrush. No brainer.
  • Using stuff up. Okay this sounds simple but I realised I was saving fancy toiletries, and they ended up just going off. I have started using stuff, and when the bottle cannot be reused or is not included in a take-back scheme I cut it open to be properly used up. And boy is it satisfying.

I would love to hear about what has been working for you, what hasn’t. If anyone has toothpaste recommendations let me know!

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