I went to a farm animal rescue, and it gave me a bit of an epiphany. There's nothing like hanging out with 40 pigs and an alpaca to remind you who you are!Read More
Animals are one of the best things about this little planet we live on. I'm fortunate enough to work in the pet insurance industry, and the company I work for donates pretty big chunks of money to animal charities on a regular basis. It also means we're allowed to bring pets to work, as you may have seen from my "Dogs in the Office" threads on Twitter. I'm also the proud caretaker of four rescue bunnies, who all come from pretty terrible backgrounds.
Working with animal charities, I've learned a lot about how they operate and what the average person can do to help wild animals and homeless pets. If you're on a budget, but still want to do something, here's a few things you can try to contribute to the wellbeing of animals for cheaps, or even for free.
1. Feed your garden visitors
We're heading into the cold part of the year, where wild-growing food is in slightly shorter supply and wild birds and animals start to struggle. Nuts, seeds, dried fruit and mealworms left on the ground or on bird tables can stave off hunger for birds and squirrels. If you have spare dog or cat food going, then foxes and hedgehogs would enjoy it, though meaty types are better than fishy types. If they aren't eaten within a few days, you should make sure to throw them away before they go rancid. Leaving out water dishes is also a good idea, especially when ponds, lakes and rivers start to freeze.
2. Leave your leaf litter and log piles
If you have piles of sticks or logs lying about in your garden, consider leaving them where they are over winter, and tidying them up next summer. These piles may look a little untidy, but they provide great shelters for little creatures. Throw some leaf litter over them to attract bugs which'll help feed the residents. And, if you're having a bonfire, be really, really careful and make sure there are no chilly animals hiding in your log piles before you set them on fire!
3. But DON'T leave any other litter
Making sure to get rid of your rubbish appropriately costs nothing, but can quite literally be a matter of life or death for an animal. It's scary how even a paper cup in the wrong place can be a deathtrap for an unsuspecting fox or rabbit, and discarded plastic inevitably ends up in the ocean, destroying ecosystems. I'm making an effort to generate less waste, but I make sure to recycle what I can. If you want to go above and beyond, you could go litter picking in your local area and take care of other people's careless rubbish. It's not a particularly fun job, but you'll feel good knowing you could have saved an animal's life with every piece of rubbish you collect.
4. Get educated, and educate others
I am a bit of a liability in pet shops... I'm surprised I'm not banned. Call me a killjoy, but I take pride in deterring people from buying rabbits. Having owned rabbits for three years, all rescued from homes who abused them or just got bored of them, I feel very strongly that rabbits shouldn't be housed in or sold from pet stores, especially while there are an estimated 76,000 rabbits in rescue centres, looking for homes. If I see people shopping for a bunny in a pet shop, I tell them this. I also tell them that they are terrible pets for children. They don't really like being held, they live 8-12 years, should be kept in neutered, opposite-sex pairs, need daily attention and can cost around £11,000 each to care for over their lifetime. If there is an animal you care about, you'll also feel like you need to protect them. Knowing about their needs and sharing the info with others can only help, and with the popularity of social media it's easier than ever to help inform people. Even just sharing videos from animal welfare content creators like The Dodo can help spread awareness.
5. Maybe try not eating them
I'm not suggesting that everyone must immediately go vegan. As much as I think that would be a good thing for the planet and for the animals, I also know it's just not possible for everyone. However, if you do eat meat/animal products, if it's possible to cut down even a little then you will make an impact. Similarly if you currently use products tested on animals or made of animal products then you could consider switching them out for cruelty-free alternatives. It's a small change for you, but a huge change for the lives of animals.
There are plenty of other ways to take care of animals without just donating to a charity (though, of course, you could do that too!) If you'd like to see more posts like this, let me know!
I wrote a while back about how I used to be racist, and how I grew up and, through my life experiences and because of wonderful people I have met, my worldview drastically changed. Living with white privilege (or any privilege) means constantly adjusting to be the best ally you can be, and I don't always get it right.
What does coffee have to do with being a bad person, you ask? Read on!
Taking a hard look at your own behaviour can be really difficult. Facing up to your own bad habits and mistakes isn't an easy task, but sometimes it's the first step to making improvements to your lifestyle and the way you treat the world around you. I know I don't tread as lightly or live as nobly as I can, or should. So, in the interests of becoming a (slightly) better person, here is a list of reasons that I'm a bad person, and how I plan to better myself.
(Ok, maybe "bad person" is a bit strong, though maybe it isn't. But whether you think these things make me objectively a "bad person" or subjectively "morally wobbly" that's your call.)
1. Using non-cruelty-free makeup
If you asked me how I felt about non-CF makeup I'd say "There's no real excuse for using makeup tested on animals, especially if you call yourself an animal-lover. There are so many options and awesome CF brands, there's no reason to support brands that are complicit in animal abuse." Yet, if you looked in my makeup box or even my handbag you'd find a ton of lipsticks from Rimmel and Maybelline and Urban Decay, which either sell in China (and therefore their products are tested on animals) or are owned by parent companies which do the same. If I think about someone forcing my animals through the torture of cosmetics testing I fill with rage and sadness, so the fact that I've knowingly supported companies that pay for animals to be used in this way actually makes me feel a bit sick.
BUT I've fully committed to only replacing my used makeup/cosmetics/bath and beauty products with cruelty-free, vegan alternatives. I haven't totally settled on whether I'll continue to use CF brands owned by non-CF parent companies, but what I can say is that I won't be buying from brands that sell in China and therefore allow mandatory animal testing of their products. I've already ordered some stuff from Tarte! What's more, when I've finally moved into my own house, I also plan to use CF and vegan cleaning products in my home.
2. Using an ad blocker
This might not sound like a "bad" thing on the surface, but using an ad blocker means that the producers of online media you consume, from news sites to blogs and YouTube videos don't get their ad revenue. Some creators rely on these paychecks to survive, particularly YouTubers. If I think about it, it seems unfair that I'd undercut the earnings of people whose work I enjoy and admire for the sake of saving 30 seconds, or avoiding a banner here and there.
BUT when I can afford it I do contribute to content creators whose work I regularly watch/read via Patreon or other similar schemes, and I plan to get organised so I can whitelist certain sites to allow their ads. I also buy merch that my favourite musicians/YouTubers bring out, and retweet/share sponsored posts that my friends do. In fact, my beautiful new header was done by my blogging friend, Kelly. Check out her work and hire her, she's awesome.
3. Contributing to "fast fashion"
I think it's fair to say I'm not very "trendy". I mean, I'm secure in my sense of style, but my style isn't exactly stylish, if you catch my meaning.
If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me rant recently about how modern life prizes convenience over ethics, and this is very true of the fashion industry. Most of us know that in order to produce large volumes of clothing very cheaply, companies rely on exploitative working environments for their factory labourers. In short, this means sweatshops, pitifully low wages, dangerous working conditions and, in some cases, slave labour and the forced employment of children. If this is something you care about on any level, I highly recommend you do some research - it really is eye-opening. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I put my disgust at the abuse of vulnerable, impoverished workers aside for a cute, cheap item of clothing.
BUT I'm trying really hard not to let consumer culture get the better of me, and to only buy clothes from charity shops or ethical companies. I also want to try my hand at making my own clothes and I want to focus on being more inventive with clothes I already own instead of feeling a constant need to buy new things.
Yes, my beloved car is also part of the problem...
In all fairness, this is not on purpose. I am a fairly new driver, and a generally absent-minded person. Now and again if I'm driving alone, or it's night time, or there are no other cars on the road, I just don't pay as much attention to my speed as I should. This may sound like pretty average behaviour, but really there's no excuse for it, especially when you bear in mind that excessive speed is the 2nd most common cause of car accidents. Every time I get in the car I think to myself "remember your speed" and yet on most journeys I find myself at least a couple of miles over the speed limit.
BUT fixing this bad behaviour is simply a case of paying more attention. Apple's new update even means that the Maps app shows the speed limit of whatever road you're on, which will be a help. Considering how anxious I used to be about driving, careful motoring should be in my nature.
5. Wasting resources
Laziness isn't an excuse, but it is the reason. I leave things plugged in, I leave the tap running while I brush my teeth, I leave the shower running while I condition my hair, I drive when I could feasibly walk or take public transport, I don't use food in my fridge and have to throw it away, I use plastic straws... the list is, to my shame, somewhat endless.
BUT, first things first, I've ordered these reusable straws so I can stop using plastic ones, and plan to take my reuseable coffee cup with me when I go to coffee shops. I will start turning the tap off while I'm actually brushing my teeth or conditioning my hair, and I'll try and be more organised about making food, using food scraps and turning appliances off at the wall when they're not actually in use.
Ok, so maybe doing all of these things just means I'm a fallible, lazy product of consumer culture. But I don't have to be a fallible, lazy product of consumer culture. I hope that writing all this down and owning up to it is the first step to making myself accountable and doing a better job.
He needed me for more than just food, water and shelter; Dexter made it clear that he needed my love in a way no other rabbit ever has. Losing him has left a weird hollow feeling in my chest, and I've been crying so hard over the last few days I've actually made myself ill.
I know part of the grieving process is trying to make some sense and meaning out of the lost life, especially when the death was so sudden and unexpected. This is definitely the case here. I want to do something to remember my tiny boy, something good and important. And, after a little thought, I think I know what it is.
I've been toying with going cruelty free with my choice of hair/beauty products and cosmetics for a long time. I've been vegan and vegetarian previously, though I'm currently omnivorous, and I plan to spend this year re-aligning my life to a fully vegetarian diet, if not completely vegan.
While Dexter was never a lab-rabbit, he did experience a lot of suffering in his early life, and if my actions can go even a small way to help prevent animals going through unnecessary pain then it's something I have to do. So, I'm going to start eliminating all non cruelty-free products from my life. So, if anyone had a dupe for MAC's "Men Love Mystery" I'm all ears.
So, in a few months' time if someone asks why I only shop cruelty-free, I'll tell them I'm doing it for Dexter.
Microbeads have been banned from cosmetics in the UK, which is a fantastic move. But other beauty trends could be contributing to the breakdown of ocean ecosystems...Read More
|I went to Build-a-Bear and made a bunny. A Star Wars bunny. I'm so on-brand.|
Some of you might remember me from Wild Bear, and while I'm still proud of everything I did with that site, it's sort of deviated from who I am as a writer and a human, so when the domain expired recently I took the cue to reinvent my web presence to reflect my life a little better. For this, my very first post as Elena the Mermaid, I figured I'd reintroduce myself for those of you who've never "met" me, and anyone who wants to know more.
|I found him!|
1. I love aquariums and the sea
This fact cannot be overstated. I am at my absolute happiest when I am in the presence of animals, and marine life is way, way up there with my favourites. When I was little I used to spend a lot of summers at my aunt's house. She had a swimming pool in her garden, and I spent hours swimming underwater, floating about and imagining I was a mermaid. This was partially inspired by Ariel from the Little Mermaid (I'm a child of the 90s, of course I'm a Disney fan) but there was also a Pokémon book I owned where Misty goes back to her sisters' gym and performs in a mermaid display with a load of water Pokémon which sounded like my dream job.
2. I have blue hair (usually)
This year I finally took the plunge and bleached the hell out of my naturally dark brown hair and started the arduous task of dyeing it blue. There have been some teething problems, from initially having to wear a wig to work, to accidentally splattering most of my bathroom in Directions Midnight Blue, but most of these are resolved now. I love having blue hair, and it makes me feel more myself than I ever did as a brunette, despite the multiple chemical processes it takes to make it this colour.
3. I'm in a band called Trash Panda.
Earlier this year I met up with these boys and we formed a band called Trash Panda. We're sort of alt-rock, a little bit goth punk and we're in the process of polishing out 10-song set of original music. Hopefully 2016 will be the year of the Panda, but honestly playing and writing music with these boys is usually the best part of my week.
Sometimes I look cracking and sometimes I say stuff that's cracking. The stuff I say lasts longer. #uglygirlsclub pic.twitter.com/xstAPnlPVU— Elena the Mermaid (@BraveMermaid) December 1, 2014
These five points just scratch the surface, but they give a bit of an insight to some of the lego bricks I'm built from. Why not tell me a few facts about yourselves in the comments?