Minding Your Mood: Mental Health Awareness Day

 

On October 10, World Mental Health Day, many people took to their social media to share a quote or inspirational story to advocate and honour mental health.

However, this year, I noticed the prominence of poor mental health within young people, and more specifically, young people I knew. I was shocked to read and see the abundance of them taking to their Instagram or Twitter to share their own stories, which discussed their own personal battles with their thoughts. I did some reading, and saw “half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14“, and because I was fourteen almost nine years ago (pls), it made me think that so many people I’ve crossed paths with over the years could have a mental health issue that they don’t actively talk about.

So, what can we do to assist our friends, or even strangers, that are suffering from poor mental health?

Well, after I read a splurge of stories on my timeline, it began to resonate within me that there shouldn’t be just one day in the year where people are more empathetic, more considerate, more pleasant or more compassionate. I realised that we just need to be more, and we need to be it more often.

  • Being compassionate: When someone experiences misfortune, there is solace for them in knowing somebody is trying to understand and sympathise. It’s easy to forget, but a simple text to say you’re thinking of your friend can go a long way in times of their struggle.
  • Being empathetic: Following sympathy, there is comfort in knowing you’re not alone, especially when your mind is tricking you into thinking you are. Empathising with people when they’re in situations you have previously been, or are currently, in, can be extremely beneficial to mental health. For example, sharing advice and understanding when someone has lost a family member.
  • Showing consideration: Be considerate in your actions that are going to affect people around you. Even after a stressful day at work, always remember to consider how other people are feeling. In a LinkedIn article I read online, it discussed how a man had jumped off The Golden Gate Bridge, leaving a note at his home which read: ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I won’t jump.’ Our smallest actions can have the biggest impacts on another person.
  • Being pleasant: Being a pleasant person is the more obvious example of how we can benefit the people’s lives around us. However, being pleasant can also benefit our own mental health: “It can reduce stress, improve our emotional wellbeing and even benefit our physical health.” It’s a win-win for everybody involved!

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Now, it’s early days yet, and I don’t want to jinx it, but I would say 2018 has been my year (finally, says I to you). However, that’s because I’ve actively took the bull by the horns and did what I had to do to make myself happy. I am refusing to sit in the backseat of my life, and instead I’m upfront steering it in the pursuit of happiness.

I noticed that happiness comes from within, and usually is either environmental or situational for me. Below are some brief tips on how you, too, can make a change.

Exercise

Exercise. Sweat. Run. Sweat. Dead lift. Sweat. Squat. Sweat.

Your mum, doctor, and the internet were all correct. If this was a physical piece of paper I would underline that word so many times. Exercise. It is the cheapest form of therapy you can provide yourself with. Exercise has obvious physical benefits, but also positive effects on: our mood, our stress, our self-esteem and “can be an alternative treatment for depression”. After getting a personal trainer at the beginning of the year, I have found the benefits have went far beyond my physicality.

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Eating the correct foods

Eating sugary foods causes our body to have initial ‘high’ or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving you feeling tired and low. Therefore, the consumption of whole grain foods is more important, which lessens the chances of mood-swings and lethargy. Start each morning with a healthy and nutritious breakfast – it takes only 21 days to form a habit, and by doing this you’re less likely to “fall off the horse”. Enhancing your knowledge on nutrition is also vital to enabling your change of diet and lifestyle – I’ve come a long way from Pot Noodles in the Holylands, or rolling out of the Hatfield and into Together Chinese.

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Prioritising your own happiness

I love the craic, but over the years it has left me in positions where I’ve been swayed into doing things I actually have no interest in doing (serious FOMO, y’know), and I’ve then been left mentally unsatisfied and usually out of pocket. This year, I made an oath to put myself first and no longer entertain the idea that I’m missing out on things I actually don’t like doing; whether it be going to clubs that I secretly loathe, working in jobs I have found mind-numbing, or even watching things that I just don’t enjoy (and so far, so good). If you feel like missing the Bot for some down-time watching Netflix – you should. We all need time to recharge our batteries.

Moreover, it is important to understand your body; what causes your stress and discomfort, and then face them head on. With this, you will feel in control, and this will have a positive impact on your interpersonal communication and confidence.

Communicate & seek help

Talk. Talk to your friends, your family, a stranger or a doctor. Just talk. There is nothing more mentally liberating than expressing what is getting you down. It can be the most daunting thing, and probably sitting firmly at the bottom of your list; but it will help – a problem shared is a problem halved. There are people literally at the other end of the phone during times of distress.

 

 

Mark Daly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/markdaly123 or Instagram at @markdaly2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banksy: King of PR.

We all know the name, we all know his work but we have no idea who he is. How does someone anonymous become one of the most famous names on the planet?

Effective Public Relations.

As an artist, Banksy is undoubtedly talented but his artistic skill isn’t the reason people are so intrigued by him. It is more so because of the messages of his work and the way in which they are portrayed. Unafraid to challenge social norms, political agendas and current affairs it seems as though Banksy’s “muse” for most of his pieces are what some may see as the obvious problems in today’s society; matters that a lot of us can understand and agree with, but never really address. For example, relationships:

Image result for Mobile LoversThe piece above, appropriately named “Mobile Lovers” explicitly illustrates the reality of how mobile phones and social media is consuming our real life relationships. By creating such outspoken and quite often controversial art, Banksy speaks to his publics in a real, raw and honest way – something that we are not accustomed to in this day and age. As more and more organisations attempt to place themselves in a positive light through PR, the more saturated their methods become; we, as consumers have become very aware of what is realistic and what is a mere attempt to come across as “relatable”.

In a definition by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. And if you ask me, Banksy is a PR genius.

His most recent “PR Stunt” occurred at Sotheby’s Art Auction in London, where one of his most famous pieces of artwork “Girl With Balloon” was sold for over one million pounds. As the gavel went down on the auction, the famous painting began to “self-destruct” as attendees looked on in complete shock. Within a few minutes, Bansky posted a photograph on his Instagram page of the shredded picture with the caption “Going, going, gone…”.

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A few hours later, the anonymous street artist then posted this video to his Instagram account showing how he created the shredding frame ‘in case it was ever put up for auction’.

So, what did Banksy achieve from destroying his own work and why was it effective in terms of PR?

Well firstly, he got the people talking – which is ultimately the aim for every PR Image result for just got banksyed tweetStrategy right? Almost immediately, social media was bombarded with images, status’, tweets and stories about the unexpected event. From celebrities to news outlets to the general public, everyone was fascinated with the unknown figures’ latest actions.

Secondly, he got the people thinking – what was the purpose of it? Although he is well known for creating thought-provoking work, the shredding of a one-million-pound painting is certainly one to think about. I suppose there are many ways in which it could be interpreted. As an activist for the people, it could have posed as a rebellious act against the extortionate amount of money spent at these auctions. Maybe it was to give a new meaning to the piece, now named “Love is in the Bin”. Perhaps, it was just purely for the publicity. But whatever the reason, it certainly raised some questions.

And thirdly, whether he meant to or not, he upped the value of his work. After the shock of the stunt started to fizzle out experts began to discuss the new perceived value of the auctioned piece, which evidently got higher, although we are not yet sure by how much. The lady who made the final bid of £1.4m decided to go ahead with her purchase as she now felt that she had a “piece of art history”.

As a former art student, I admire Banksy’s work. And as a final year PR Student, I am in complete awe of his Public Relations methods. It is clear that nothing about Banksy’s reputation is an accident and he knows exactly how to get the right reaction from his publics; that is why Banksy is the King of PR.

 

Shannon Hegarty – final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-hegarty-594193172/ and Twitter: @shannonhegPR

An Average Blog – More or Less

So, as you have probably read on several other blogs within this site, the whole my name is ____ I am studying ____ and basically only posting on here because my lecturer told me to do so in order to achieve my grade in his or her module. I don’t think anyone will actually admit that but we are here now, so buckle up.

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Fresh out of a riveting lecture on my dissertation on a chilly Friday morning at Jordanstown campus, unsure of what I actually wanted to write about I thought it would be a good idea to write about myself.

If you are still with me at this point I commend you, I will admit my vocabulary isn’t overly diverse or sophisticated. Having read some other blogs, I think if I use big words I will get a higher mark, photosynthesis.

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Having completed GCSE and A-Level (which seems like an eternity ago) I had the option to part ways with education and work for my father in his shipping company. Making which I would consider decent money for my age and maybe even getting a split of the profits without having to put myself into debt. I did not at the time see this as a very attractive option for some reason, so I opted for a place at university. Thinking back on it I do sit and wonder if I did the right thing, others that were in my class at school went travelling, moved to the other side of the world, had children and some even work in the local cinema. Dreamers.

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The first two academic years of university are over me and counted for absolutely nothing. All the stress and worry about assignment deadlines and exams seems a bit silly right now because now in final year I suppose I am in “the business end of the season”. Keeping the football analogy going, it’s week 3 and I just conceded a first half penalty, down to 10 men and the referee seems to be against me. If you aren’t into football talk I’m basically saying I am finding it difficult.

Last summer my girlfriend and I traveled around Europe for 16 days, this really opened my eyes to how big the world is. It made me wonder if I had chosen the correct pathway in my life, surely there has to be more to life than sweating out a dissertation or sitting in heavy traffic at 8:30am to arrive in late to a 9:15 lecture that I don’t have a lot of interest in listening to. Maybe there isn’t and I’m just a dreamer, your guess is at good as mine at this point.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, stripes and outdoor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were over half way through our travels, staying in a campsite near Venice when I had received the long-awaited phone call to say I was offered an interview for my optional 3rd year placement. The interview was going to take place the morning after I got home, me being me I wasn’t overly on the ball researching the company for the interview because I was inter railing around Europe “living my best life”, enjoying myself and experiencing new things with someone I care about.

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Once I landed in Dublin airport I got the bus back to Belfast and stayed with my granny. My mother had my suit prepared and I researched the company when on the way home as my girlfriend drooled on my shoulder exhausted from endless hours of travelling.

I don’t want to keep you here all day, but I got the placement. I spent six months working for this company in South Belfast as a “Communications and Public Relations Officer”, a very big title for a pretty medium sized guy.

I really enjoyed several aspects of this placement opportunity, however it was a big culture shock going into a professional office environment for the first time. The work load at the start wasn’t really a problem because my colleagues didn’t really expect too much of me.

But soon after I had started I got my “big boy pants” for lack of a better Image result for captain underpantsdescription. I knew the company, traveled around the different offices, met with several directors and managers, attended events and I feel that I grew up a lot in such a short amount of time simply because I had no choice. This is why I feel that doing a placement was absolutely fantastic for me, I got a lot out of it and it helped me think about what I want to do once I graduate.

Yes of course I want to do well in life whatever avenue I decide to go down, but I think it is even more important to be happy with what you are doing. Maybe I will get a very professional job as a Public Relations Practitioner or even a Marketing Executive. Maybe I’ll go on to work in Politics, or maybe at the end of these 90 minutes I’ll take it to extra time try to sneak the win on penalties.Image result for man united win on penalties

 

Eoin Crossan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eoin-crossan-848a30171/

Controversial Advertising: Stupid or Strategic?

Have you ever seen an ad and thought “who thought that was a good idea?!” And no, I don’t mean those corny ads like something you’d see on The Apprentice. I mean those ones that make you think “who approved that?” or “umm why?”

I’ve always thought the whole “all press is good press” notion was a bit, well, stupid really. I mean, I never really saw how negative publicity and consumer backlash could be a good thing for a business?

 

 

Well, today I saw this NHS ad campaign for breastfeeding on my LinkedIn feed. The only reason that I saw this ad was because a connection of mine shared it and expressed their outrage at the nature of the ad. Then I realised that I probably never would have seen the ad if it wasn’t for them sharing it. I mean, I don’t exactly strive to keep up to date on the goings on of the parenting and baby world (well not yet anyway).

This got me thinking though, what if Eminem was right? *gasps in background* What if we do need a little controversy? These ‘controversial’ ads do get people talking and raise awareness about the brand/product after all. So what if all press really is good press?

 

  • To clarify, I’m not saying “let’s go out and offend everyone in the name of free publicity” (or, “let’s listen to Eminem” – I’m definitely not saying that). I’m simply saying that maybe there is method in the madness. And I’m not talking about ads that violate the principles of the ASA and have to be taken down either.

 

Marketing and advertising teams depend on people talking about products, companies, shows- whatever they’re trying to promote; and what better way to get people talking than to start a good old fashioned debate?

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Take the latest Cancer Research campaign – informing consumers of the link between obesity and cancer. Many people complained, stating that it ‘fat shamed’ individuals and lowered their self-esteem.

This sparked an online debate, with people vouching for both sides, which led to the ad being shared and talked about all over social media.

Think of how many people have now seen the ad. So, think of how people are now aware that obesity contributes to the development of cancer. Do you think an ad showing a microscope and cell would have had the same effect?

Whether or not they agree with the ad is irrelevant; these people still shared the ad with hundreds of people. What is relevant, however, is that the aim of the ad was to educate and inform consumers. Which it has.

Those who were so opposed to the ad, were the ones who actually promoted the campaign. Doing Cancer Research a favour. I mean, if you hate the ad so much, why are you giving the company free advertising space on your social media platforms?

Cancer Research essentially got free advertising and discussion about not only their organisation, but the message they were trying to spread.

 

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In a similar way, Netflix’s show Insatiable got slated online with a large amount of viewers complaining about it. I had never heard of the show, but decided to watch it to ‘see what the fuss was about’; I ended up watching the whole series. If the show hadn’t been featured on the likes of Buzzfeed and social media, I probably would never even have heard of it, let alone watched it.

What people don’t seem to realise is that “hate watching” is still watching. Do you think a series which follows the social norms and is 100% politically correct would have been renewed for a second series? Doubt it.

 

Let’s be real, we’re all (I hope it’s not just me) guilty of being attracted to a wee bit of scandal and  the chance to give our opinions *has flashbacks to whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black* and companies know this – they have to get us talking after all.

(it was white and gold btw- just saying)

 

EPSON scanner image
EPSON scanner image

Advertisers love pushing boundaries. They have to think outside that clichéd box and come up with new and imaginative ideas for campaigns. If they didn’t push the boundaries, people wouldn’t react; and the whole point of advertising is to get a reaction from consumers. Yes, ideally you want consumers to actually like you, but, it’s a gamble that I guess can pay off. I somehow doubt that Cancer Research will have a tough time weighing up the cons of a few angry people vs the pros of raising awareness and saving lives.

The thing to note is the status of the company being controversial – the NHS can afford to be because, whether or not people agree with the ad, they’re most likely still going to avail of the NHS’s services. I doubt people would rather fork out a few grand for private healthcare than get it for free from a health provider that ran a questionable breastfeeding campaign.

Similarly, do you think consumers are going to ‘boycott’ a cancer research charity because they don’t like their ad? Don’t think so. So, whilst being controversial can be a good thing, it’s important for advertisers to think of the potential consequences of annoying consumers.

Advertisers also need to be aware of the fine line separating ‘controversial’ and just downright offensive. The last thing you want is for the ASA to be on your back, or having to withdraw a campaign you spent a hell of a lot of money on.

 

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Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

So, next time you see an ad and think “what the hell were they thinking?!” Maybe now you know.

Or, maybe they’re not the strategic marketing geniuses we thought they were and it really is just be a poorly thought out ad. Who knows?

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/

Dunkin’ Drops Donuts

Who says Dunkin’ Donuts anyway?

My name is Gianna, and I am fully aware that we do not have Dunkin’ Donuts in Northern Ireland. But I’m pretty sure that 99% of us know what it is, and I think that’s enough to write about this piece of news.

The fast-food chain announced the news on September 25, 2018, that it would be dropping the ‘Donuts’ from the name for customers to be aware that they sell more than just donuts.

It’s not a surprise that they are dropping the ‘Donuts’. Their slogan is “America runs on Dunkin’” and their logo is a coffee cup. Both aspects of the brand image lack emphasis on the sugary treat; rather it directs the audience’s attention to coffee, which coincidentally is what the company will now focus on in the New Year. A former CFO of Dunkin’ Donuts even stated in 2013 that the company is, in fact, a “beverage company.”

Fear not to those of you who have tried Dunkin’ Donuts, the company will continue to sell those original glazed donuts and other flavours you may have tried when you went to America for your holiday. They merely want to focus on beverages such as iced coffees, cold-brews and teas; a cheaper alternative to the iced salted caramel latte macchiato with two shots of espresso and no foam at Starbucks.

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Though change is coming to the company, the font and brand image will remain the same. With its infamous clashing of colours of orange and pink. This new logo will be rolled out in all the company’s advertising, packaging, social media and website once the New Year begins.

People’s responses are not always the most positive. Everything and everyone has a doubter. Meryl Streep has at least 5 people despising her work, the Pixar movie Up is perhaps not the most loved movie of all time and the new Dunkin’ name will have people associating it with basketball, as a Twitter user suggests. This new name change could spark inspiration to other American fast food chains to change their brand to make it more catchy. The Chinese takeaway Panda Express could change to just Panda and maybe the Instagram-worthy fast-food burgers In-N-Out may drastically change to In/Out.

The social media team at Dunkin’ Donuts have been continually rolling out the new name via Instagram posts. Even though the company does not officially change its name until January 1 2019, bittersweet goodbyes have been already said by the company. Their Instagram bio cleverly states “We’re on a first-name basis with America” and a sentimental post stating “Dunkin’ means donuts. Always has, always will.” Tissue anyone?

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This name changing trend is not unusual when you want to promote more than what the name states. Recently, Weight Watchers also changed its name to “WW” because in our body-positive, love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin era, the company did not want to be associated with the notion of dieting, therefore the emphasis of watching your weight has now been dropped. The marketing stunt of IHOP changing to IHOB was smart, but that is for another story.

Change can be useful for a company and it can also be terrible. But we won’t find out if the outcome of this name change is good or bad until the New Year. I don’t mind the name change, considering that I lived in America for a year. I did notice that not a lot of people said: “Do you want to get Dunkin’ Donuts?”. So when I heard the news about Dunkin’ dropping the Donuts, I thought to myself, Who says Dunkin’ Donuts anyway?”

Now, onto more pressing news; petition to get Dunkin’ Donuts in Northern Ireland?

Gianna Pornasdoro is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gianna-pornasdoro/ 

The PR Diaries: Part I

Fast Fashion & the ‘Material World.’

 

I cannot believe that it has been eight months since my last blog post, time really does fly!  As I embark upon my final year of studying Communication and PR an aspect of life has my creative mind ticking. Not much has changed over the last eight months, in fact I am pretty sure that I still adore Cacti as I outlined in my last blog and I am 100% certain that my love for food, coffee shops and fashion has not changed either (throwing that out there).  I will also just add that my love for Instagram and taking aesthetic photographs still consumes me- shocker.  What has changed the most over the past few months is my outlook in life.  My outlook on how we are guilty of trying to constantly pursue the latest trends, desperately wanting to live a life full of hope and false fantasies.  Now, you may be giving me major eye rolls right now and as cliché as it sounds I genuinely believe that most things happen for good reason. We do openly follow our passions and there is nothing wrong with that. We are all a little guilty of wanting more than what we already have and if you are reading this thinking, hold up.  I do enjoy following trends, then you are not alone.  However, what happens when we place all our focus on only the most attractive and aesthetic aspects? Are you that material girl, living in a material world?

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Fashioning the self

A recent trip to London Fashion Week inspired me to think about the pressures to conform to the latest trends- let’s not forget that both leopard and snake print are dominating the population of Belfast.  So much so we could to create a second Zoo (90% of my wardrobe).  We are each guilty of religiously following others who inspire us or those who we believe to be ‘role models.’  I believe that there is a negative stigma around the material items in life and rightly so.  When we think of material items our minds wonder to Gucci, Prada and investing in luxury fashion brands.  We may even think of our favourite online influencers and how they fashion the latest trends- not to mention the ‘social influencers take on cycling shorts’ wave which left us feeling a little Tour de France/ Bradley Wiggins (Sorry, I had to).

 

Behind the seams of reality

Our Instagram platforms have become a playground for flashing material items.  It almost feels like an online shop, yet we are sucked in by aesthetic travel photographs that surround these gorgeous clothing posts.  For me, this all feels a little wrong.  I am growing tired of the volume of ‘fast fashion’ brands that are so cleverly luring us in.  Only to try on the dress to discover that it works better as a boob tube/ crop top and the material is as thin and see through as clingfilm.  On another side note, I can openly admit that I am a keen consumer of fast fashion. As much as I try to avoid it the student life really does force us to swap luxury for affordable, with little thought about the materials used- here lies the problem.

In this digital era, I believe that there is a greater pressure to showcase our lives on Instagram.  We almost use it as a mirror, reflecting an articulated image of how we wish to be viewed by our followers.  This is not healthy.  When I buy a new item of clothing I appreciate how it looks and feels, not only on the hanger but how it fits my body.  This is the beauty of fashion as it enables us to appreciate colours, prints and textures as a form of visual communication.  Taking Fashion Week as an example, I was in awe of the array of designers showcasing garments that communicated their brand story- this is the value that is important.  Designers invest time and creative effort in developing a brand, which is why following ‘fast fashion’ can defeat the purpose of buying clothing to keep in the long run.  If your closet is anything like mine, I can put my hands up and admit that I am awful for hoarding clothes.   Regardless of how many times I have tried to flog my clothes on Depop- it is a vicious cycle!

 

‘Keep the snakes away, unless they’re Gucci

The truth is that nothing should be ‘fast’ about fashion.  Investing in luxury does not consist of spending all of your pay on expensive designer gear either, nor does it mean flashing these items online.  From a student’s viewpoint, I do not believe that it is realistic for us to splash out on luxury brands, or to try to prove to others that we can afford this kind of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ lifestyle- we are only kidding ourselves really.  The purpose of this blog post is to prove that life is far too short to worship designer brands and materialistic items (Ok, life is also too short not buy shoes, keep it on the down low).  Think about the long run.  These items will never truly matter to us, they may only influence how we feel at the time of purchase- that feeling is short-lived.  Think about the real bodies in our lives, the ones who invest in us and bring us joy.  People that are relentlessly by your side and will be a lot longer that a bottle of Gucci Perfume.

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Gucci Gang

 

It has become extremely difficult in society to identify the true value in people, especially with online platforms concealing our true selves.  In reality we are crying out for authenticity. All too often we are told to ‘get out there, follow your dreams and afford that fancy car alongside that high-powered job.’  Is it any wonder why students and young adults in their 20s feel obliged to conform to such ideas? The pressure is all too much to afford life’s ‘little luxuries.’  To live in a society that tells us how to ‘work fast and live fast’ is becoming a challenge and I can admit to feeling overwhelmed by how I should live my life. The bottom line is to work hard enough that success becomes your noise but equally to have the time of your life.  How does that saying go? Work hard, play harder.

 

Does my environmental impact look big in this?

Delving deeper into this topic I discovered that ‘fast fashion’ has received a lot of negative media coverage recently.  Our love for fashion is taking its toll on the environment as in the UK alone we are consuming 26.7kg of new clothing per head each year.  It is not only fast fashion brands that are to blame as it is also expected that 3,781 litres of water is used in a full lifetime of a single pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.  This is just a  snapshot of how our fashion consumption is spiralling out of control.  I guess we could say that having something at our disposal only devalues that item, it is all too easy to make an online purchase without adding any genuine value- a theory that applies to a lot of aspects of life.  When something is readily available, we take it for granted.  Investing in statement items that are durable, high quality and affordable is the best method.

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As I draw my fashion ramblings to a close, I want to stress how easy it is for us to feel pressured by clothing brands.  Being lured in by marketing and influencers online has a  negative effect on our mental health.  This concludes why materialistic items will never maintain true value.  Yes, clothes are beautiful, they are powerful but they will always be around for us to purchase.  Ask yourself this, if everything you possessed was striped back, what would we be left with? We may be cold and a little naked, but we would be guaranteed to be surrounded by those we love.  So, sorry Madonna, living in the material world is not all that it would appear to be!

 

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K x

 

Kathryn Bigger is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be contacted on: Instagram – the_fashion_fairypr / Twitter – @KatieB_05 / LinkedIn- Kathryn Bigger.

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

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

bamboo toothbrush

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

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

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

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

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!

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/