What’s Mine Isn’t Yours

For the one or two people that regularly read this blog (shoutout to my mum and my boyfriend), you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while—nearly a month and a half, to be exact. There were a few reasons for this: uni becoming overwhelming, working, getting into new routines. I’ve had a lot on my plate and needed to cut a couple of things out for a little while to focus on what’s important.

But one big reason I took a small break from blogging is because I felt as though I was turning my personal life into a commodity. Looking through my previous posts, I realised just how much I shared about my personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And I realised that despite the varying reasons that I post those things, anyone who reads them views them simply as entertainment; as a way to pass a little time while they’re waiting for the bus or bored in a lecture.

Maybe that’s a totally wanky thing to say seeing as very few people, if any, are actually truly invested in this blog and ever give it a second thought. I don’t have a crazy amount of followers and the things I post aren’t ever going to go viral (nor are they intended to). And, of course, I realise that in some way or another, everybody has turned their personal lives into commodities through social media, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

But for me, writing—and by extension, blogging—has always been an outlet not just for my creativity, but also for my mental health. Angry? Write. Stressed? Write. Need a rant? Write. Happy? Write. Learned something new? Write. I have dozens of drafts saved and hundreds of ideas swimming around in my head. But how much of that does everyone else need to know?

I get so fully immersed in every post I share. Of course I don’t expect anyone else to feel quite as invested in my blog as I am, but to share such deeply personal feelings and experiences is often a tough thing to do; by turning those feelings and experiences into commodities, I began to feel as though I was cheapening them. I’ve always valued everything tough that I go through as a lesson to be learned, but constantly sharing my personal life online made me see those experiences as stories to tell instead of lessons to learn. It can also be disheartening when you share something intimate online and receive a reaction that’s different than what you had (maybe naïvely) hoped for.

So to realign my priorities and check my mental health, I took a little break. By no means do I plan on stopping sharing my life. But I’m going to focus on giving each experience and feeling that comes my way the weight and attention it deserves and requires; blogging is—and will always remain—a creative outlet, not a means of processing my emotions.

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2018 Book Recommendations

I’m a huge bookworm. For me, books win over movies and TV every single time. My favourite smell in the entire world is the smell of a new book (as my boyfriend so eloquently put it, “I got that when I noticed you sniffing your books like a crackhead”). The worst thing is being unable to find a good book to read; it’s so frustrating getting halfway through a book and realising it just isn’t your cup of tea, or searching for ages in a bookstore only to come out empty-handed.

So for anyone else who despises that lull between good reads, here’s a list of my current favourites. I’ll update this list as new books worth reading hit my shelves, so check back if you need fresh reading inspo. Note—these aren’t all new releases! They’re just my current favourites and books that I’ve finished fairly recently.

If you have any books you think I should read, please shoot me a message or comment on this post; I’m always looking for something new!

Happy reading!

Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling

Duh. This one is a total given and anyone who knows me knows that this will always be top of my list. I always feel like I need to defend Harry Potter, though, because I think people tend to be under the assumption that you have to be into the fantasy genre to like this series. This is so far from the truth! I didn’t get into Harry Potter until I was in high school, the year the final movie came out in theatres. I had literally zero interest in the series until I was forced to watch all the movies with a friend for—no joke—lack of anything better to do. After that, I became completely hooked and have since read the series through a few times. I don’t read or watch any other fantasy novels/movies, even though I’ve tried to get into the genre, but I remain in love with Harry Potter. Must must must read!

Conversations With Friends

Sally Rooney

This novel is about an Irish college student named Frances, her best friend/ex-girlfriend Bobbi, and their separate, but equally as problematic affairs with a married couple. There’s a pattern of self-destruction within Frances that makes it hard to decide whether you hate her, love her, or see yourself in her (maybe all of the above?). To me, this novel feels strongly like a modern-day rendition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. It’s one of my all-time favourite novels; I’ve read it about four times (certain parts even more) and annotated everything in it to the point where there’s no longer any room in the margins. I can’t say enough good things about this one!

Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, & Swells: The Best of Early Vanity Fair

Ed. Graydon Carter and David Friend

This is a collection of the best essays and articles from Vanity Fair throughout the early 20th century. It’s definitely not the book for everyone, but I was enamoured the whole way through. It provides a really interesting look into the minds of journalists, essayists, and consumers in the 1910s/20s/30s. Also very cool seeing subtle nods towards the beginnings of different social movements like feminism and civil rights!

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini

Have the tissues ready for this one. This is a novel set in Afghanistan and follows two women, very different in age, who end up married to the same man; the older, Miriam, helps the younger, Laila, escape their abusive husband. It has obvious mother-daughter and self-sacrificial themes throughout the novel, reminiscent of Khaled Hosseini’s first novel, The Kite Runner (another one I highly recommend).

Me Before You; After You; Still Me

Jojo Moyes

I’m a big fan of all of Jojo Moyes’ writing. Her books are generally easy reads, but super captivating and emotional at the same time. I’m especially in love with her Me Before You series. I initially got hooked after watching the movie with Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. I was worried that the sequels wouldn’t live up to the first, especially considering how the first book ended, but all three of them are amazing reads! Highly recommend if you’re looking for a “fluff” read or a romantic novel.

Jasper Jones

Craig Silvey

This one reminds me so much of To Kill A Mockingbird, only it’s set in 1960s Australia and focuses on an Aboriginal man instead of an African American man. It details the story of high school-aged boy named Charlie who gets caught up in a murder case of a girl from his school. Jasper Jones, an Aboriginal boy and town outcast/scapegoat, is thought to have murdered the girl, but matters become complicated when Charlie finds out that Jasper was in love with the girl and the two had been planning to run away together before her death. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading this book, and shed real tears (maybe even more than once).

Outline

Rachel Cusk

This is a really interesting novel. If I’m being honest, I picked it off the shelf at Reading’s simply because it had a nice-looking cover. It’s a novel set in 10 different conversations/narratives; each chapter is a new dialogue between the main character and a secondary character. The book teaches a lot about relationships (especially failed ones) and personal losses. It wasn’t what I had expected when I bought the book (not that I was really expecting anything in particular seeing as I hadn’t even read the description), but it didn’t disappoint. Not exactly a light read, but a good one nonetheless!

 

Got some suggestions for me? Comment your favourite books below!

Tick, Tock

Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve written a fairly similar piece to this before. That piece is hidden deep in the archives of my old blog, back when I had no idea how to use WordPress and my writing skills were…still being developed. And hidden it shall remain.

A few times before, I’ve tossed around the idea of writing a follow-up piece to my original piece on time; I’ve always decided against it because I tend to sound a bit ramble-y and I’m not sure it’s a topic that interests many other people. But the concept of time and the theories that attempt to rationalise it have been popping up everywhere in my life lately, especially as I’m halfway done with my final semester and am starting to look ahead into the future.

Time is a concept that constantly fascinates me and occasionally scares me. You can’t hear it, smell it, taste it, or feel it. You can see the consequences of it, but you can’t see the thing itself. It’s measured by changes we observe and although we as humans try to compartmentalise it and squeeze it into segments to organise our lives, it flows of its own accord, not stopping for anyone or anything.

Studying time is an odd thing. It’s almost disconcerting to stop and think about and discuss a phenomenon that you constantly experience, yet rarely think about, and perhaps know nothing about. The first thing that stuck out to me when studying time at uni was that there are two ways to think about time: time moving and ego moving. To me, this means that there are two types of people: time movers and ego movers. Time movers are those who perceive themselves to be standing still, while the future moves toward them. Ego movers are people who perceive themselves as flowing along with time, toward their future.

The concept of time moving totally came as news to me—there are people out there who feel like time is coming toward them? While they stand still? I’ve always pictured myself moving toward my future, constantly working to get there faster; even as I type that out, it sounds crazy. How can you arrive at the future? Isn’t the future, in and of itself, unable to be reached? And what deeper connotations do time moving and ego moving have? What does it say about who I am as a person that I identify with ego moving, rather than time moving? That’s the thing about uni—it’s like a Hydra: whenever you get an answer to one question, two new questions pop up.

There was another thing that gave me one of those I-subconsciously-knew-that-already-but-it-feels-weird-to-have-it-be-scientifically-confirmed experiences (does anyone else get that? Or is it just an oddly specific thing that only I experience? Please be the former). Social media (and mobile phones in general) have literally reshaped the entire way we as humans perceive and feel time. Studies have shown that when you spend your leisure time on social media, you perceive time as going by faster. Worse still, because our phones are so interwoven into the fabric of our day-to-day lives, our brains are having increasing trouble differentiating between leisure time and work time. That means that we’re feeling more stressed in our down time than we used to.

But here’s the scariest thing of all. We’re starting to consume so much content, and the content we view has an insanely fast turnover rate. Instagram stories and Snapchat stories only last 24 hours. Feeds refresh every single time you open an app, regardless of the last time you checked that app. Snapchats only last a few seconds before vanishing forever. The psychological results of this? We crave updated versions of things faster and more often than ever before: cars, phones, houses, even relationships. We struggle to commit to things for too long, and it’s slowly taking a toll on us.

Committing to something (or someone) for a long period of time has huge health benefits. Studies show that married people are less likely to have a heart attack; those in committed relationships tend to produce less stress hormones; committing to something has been shown to improve mental health; you’re even more likely to live longer if you have the ability to commit (you commit to life and it commits to you). So shouldn’t it really scare us that our ability to commit is being diminished by digital technology?

This was definitely a wake up call for me. Especially as a media & communications student, a massive portion of my life revolves around social media, and most of my days are spent in front of a screen. Being in a long-term relationship right now is a big deal for me, because I’ve always had a small (read: crippling) fear of commitment. I’m slowly learning to like the idea of committing to things (for reference, see my first and only tattoo!), but I definitely still have a ways to go,

So what’s the point of this huge rant, apart from telling you the benefits of commitment (most of which I found from a HuffPost article so who really knows if they’re even true)? The point is that I never thought that time, although an intriguing topic, meant anything more than what I could physically observe of it. I didn’t think of it as a subject worth my attention any more than any other subject, and certainly not something worth researching. But by digging just a little deeper into something I didn’t previously know anything about, I’ve found out more about other people, about the universe, and about myself. And now I can work on making my life and the world around me a teeny tiny little bit better.

Avoiding a Total Mental Breakdown in My Final Semester

So it’s week 5 and I’m drowning. Anyone else out there in your final semester? Final year, even? My kindred spirits; you’ll know my pain.

I’ve kind of cruised through uni up until this point. First year was a total breeze; I barely did any readings, assignments were 1,500 words maximum, and my professors treated us as though we had no clue what we were doing (they were right, we didn’t) (I still don’t). Second year was a little bit tougher. I actually had to do my readings to understand the content, lectures got a little more dense, assignments became a little longer, and our professors no longer spoon fed us and rocked our cradles. Even last semester—my first semester of my final year—was relatively cruise-y. I managed to get away with not listening to most of my lectures and skipping a good portion of the readings, totally winging it come assignment time, and coming out the end of the semester having done okay. But nobody prepared me for my final semester.

In high school, I relied pretty heavily on my older brother to impart on me his nuggets of wisdom and sage advice. He’d already gone through the motions and could tell me what to expect. But then we decided to do totally different things once uni rolled around. He set the bar higher than I thought possible by choosing to do a double degree in Commerce and Law. True to my nature, I decided to be a disappointment to my parents and everyone else around me by pursuing the humble Bachelor of Arts. A second gut punch for my parents came when I told them I was planning to major in Sociology (neither of them knew what that was) (I didn’t really know what that was either, but it sounded relatively easy) (to their immense relief, I added on Media & Communications as a second major in my second semester). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I was completely on my own when I got to uni. I didn’t have my crutch of an older sibling to lean on for advice, so I had to figure it out on my own; since his degrees take about 100 years to complete, I’ve reached my final semester well before he will.

The first shock of this semester came when I saw how many assignments I have to do. Most of my subjects have had two or three essays throughout the semester, 10% of my grade being dedicated to that pesky class-attendance-and-participation trick. But this semester, I’m barely keeping my head above water with my workload. As well as having weekly readings that span hundreds of pages for each respective subject, I also have weekly quizzes, presentations, group assignments, and essays. I was not prepared. Add that on top of a 2-day-a-week internship and you’ve got yourself a Martha Stewart-worthy recipe for a breakdown, folks. I can only imagine what my mental state would be if I had a job (PS someone please hire me, I have no money).

The second shock came when I realised that I have to start thinking about my future. Now. NOW now. The future is no longer the future; it’s the present. I have to start submitting applications pronto. Do I want to pursue a Master’s degree? Will I even get into a Master’s program? Do I want to apply for work? Will anyone hire me if all I have is a BA? What do I even want to do for a living? Why are companies only hiring copywriters and social media managers? What even is copywriting, really? Am I meant to move out of home as soon as I get a full-time job? Can I bring my dog with me when I move out, or should I leave her at home to wonder why I left and never came back? What is superannuation? Is it normal to cry as often as I do?

So. If you’re wondering, or if you want to prepare yourself for what’s to come, here’s how I’m managing to avoid having a complete and total mental breakdown:

Write stuff down. Simple, but effective. I write down a to-do list each day and categorise it by what needs to be done right now, what needs to be done by the end of the day, and what can wait until tomorrow. It makes everything feel so much more doable (plus it’s just so satisfying crossing stuff off the list).

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Don’t procrastinate. Don’t. Don’t do it. I know The Bachelor is on and you’re promising yourself that you’ll get started on [insert thing that immediately sprung to mind when you read this] after this episode. Get started now. At least have your laptop or book open in front of you while the TV is on. Try to guilt yourself into doing at least some of it. Future you will be so, so grateful.

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Dip your toe in every pool. Or however that saying goes. Don’t know what you want to do after uni? Apply for everything and see where it takes you. If you haven’t been offered a job or accepted into a grad program (or whatever else it is you want to do) by the time you graduate, you’ll simply be in the same position you’re in now, but with one more degree and infinitely less essays to write.

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Coffee. If you’re not a coffee drinker, now’s the time to become one. And if you’re a one-cup-a-day kinda person, it’s time to up the ante.

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Making Your Morning Routine More Eco-Friendly

The more I educate myself on environmental issues, the more I realise that there are so many small parts of my daily routine that are harmful to the environment. It’s really easy to become set in your ways and overlook the tiny things you do that are having a massive impact on the environment.

Here’s a list of tweaks you can make to your morning routine that will make your day a little more eco-friendly.

Shaving

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Plastic razors are super bad for the environment, especially the disposable ones that come in packs of a trillion and only last through shaving one armpit. Try switching over to safety razors or razors made out of recycled plastic; or, you know, you could just let it grow.

Brushing your pearly whites

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Plastic toothbrushes fall into the same category as plastic razors: no bueno for planet Earth. Try using a recyclable, bamboo toothbrush instead! Bamkiki is a particularly awesome brand of bamboo toothbrushes because they donate 5% of their profits to an environment-focused charity. While we’re on the subject, be conscious of your water usage when you’re brushing your teeth! Don’t leave the tap running while you brush and try to be aware of how much water you’re using vs how much water you actually need to use.

Removing your makeup

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I only recently found out through my lovely friend Meg that makeup wipes are completely awful for the environment. Most brands of wipes contain a lot of plastic, which makes it really hard for them to decompose and impossible to recycle. A more eco-friendly option is Face Halo: makeup remover pads that only require water to take off your face. When they get dirty, just rinse them or chuck them in the washing machine—they last for up to 200 machine washes!

Packing your lunch

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Using single-use plastic bags is such a waste when there are so many eco-friendly, reusable options out there. Use tupperware, a lunchbox, cotton sandwich bags, or beeswax wrap. If you have easy access to a recycling bin, use paper bags instead of plastic. If you’re in need of cutlery, invest in some reusable cutlery sets; this one even comes with a stainless steel straw and straw cleaner. And don’t forget to pack a travel mug for your coffee or tea and a water bottle!

Unplug

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Leaving things like your chargers, your hair straightener, your coffee maker, etc. plugged in uses energy whether or not they’re turned on or plugged into a device. Unplugging them from the wall when you’re done using them will take 2 seconds and pretty much no effort, but will save tons of energy (and $$$).

Cooling down

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If it’s warm out, instead of switching on a fan or the AC, try just opening your windows! An added bonus of this is that sunlight kills tons of germs and bacteria and fresh air is great for your health, both physically and mentally.

Don’t be a ding dong

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There are hundreds more ways to be more eco-friendly throughout your day—this is just the tip of the iceberg. In general, just try not to be a dodo about your daily routine and how it affects the world around you. Try to stay away from excessive plastic packaging, don’t litter, recycle when you can, and use as little water as possible. It’s not hard; it just requires a little extra thought.

Easy Ways to Create a Positive Headspace for Yourself

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my resolution this year was—is—to be more positive. In the post that I wrote about this resolution, I detailed the ways in which  it has changed my life mentally, physically, and emotionally. I wrote about how all the positive changes I was creating were putting me in a much better headspace, but I didn’t mention that one of the best byproducts of this is how much easier it’s become to pull myself out of a bad headspace. Not only do I no longer get as down as I used to, but I also find it much easier to bring myself out of that negative space now.

Being that I’ve always thought that it’s pointless to have good thoughts and not share them, here’s a list of all the ways I create a more positive headspace for myself.

Turn negatives into positives

It’s so easy to find the negatives in each day: I hate waking up early; my train is late; it’s so cold outside; I’m hungry. But it’s actually just as easy to find positive things about your day: I’m so glad I woke up this morning; I have a cheap, convenient, eco-friendly way to get to work and uni, even if it is a couple of minutes late; I love winter fashion and I have tons of great coats and scarves to choose from; I have the ability to walk out my door and find any kind of food I want, at any time I want, and I have the money to pay for it—not everyone is so lucky. See how much longer the list of positives is?

Be grateful

I’ve made a habit of listing a few things each morning that I’m grateful for. It makes the day so much more bearable and puts me in a good mood. It’s such a positive way to start the day! I find that once I start listing things I’m grateful for, it’s hard to stop.

Thank you, not sorry

It’s so important to replace negativity with positivity when you’re talking to people. Know the difference between when you need to apologise, and when you need to be thankful. Just don’t go overboard and cut out “sorry” completely—taking responsibility for your poor actions is just as important as being grateful for what others have done for you.

Be nice to people, but also be nice about people

It’s one thing to be nice to someone’s face. But the true judge of character is how you speak about someone behind their back. Thinking negative thoughts about others and spreading hate about them will only serve to make you unhappy in the long run. It’s nice to be nice!

Be nice to yourself

It’s so, so hard not to be your own biggest critic. But wherever you can, practise a bit of self-love. Compliment yourself. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend. You’ll be amazed how much happier and more confident you’ll feel.

Take it slow sometimes

I’m a big believer in me-time. But I’m also a big believer in staying productive, and often these two things clash. I get in over my head with projects and assignments and work, and I begin to burn out; but feel too guilty about taking a break to stop. At times like that, you need to remind yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around what you accomplish. You can’t be your best you or do your best work if you’re worn out. Pause for a moment; read a book, watch some Netflix, catch up with a friend, take a nap, do some exercise. Do what makes you feel rejuvenated and at ease.

Surviving A Week With My Partner’s Family; A Cautionary Tale

Throughout uni, my writing professors have always advised against clickbait titles; but I couldn’t help myself this time. I’m writing this post from Brisbane Airport as I head home to Melbourne after a week in Queensland, where I met my partner’s family for the first time. And despite the title, the reality is that I couldn’t have asked to meet a better bunch.

A few months ago when my boyfriend asked me to come to Queensland with him in July to meet his family, I agreed immediately and almost offhandedly, not stopping to consider any potential hitches or dilemmas that could arise. But of course, the doubts and the nerves began to hit me in the couple of weeks leading up to my departure date. What if his parents don’t like me? Is it going to be awkward sharing a house with them for a week? Oh, goodness—what if his dog doesn’t like me? And telling people the reason behind my Queensland trip only proved to worsen my worries, as everyone I told proceeded to voice the exact insecurities I was already harbouring.

My boyfriend (yes, he does have a name: Joe), a realist if I’ve ever met one, simply said, “If they don’t like you, they don’t like you. I think they will, but there’s only one way to find out”, which—of course—didn’t serve to satiate my nerves at all.

So after about a thousand nervous questions about Joe’s family and much thinking and re-thinking about the contents of my suitcase, I was off.

The week was starting off on the Sunshine Coast in an airbnb with Joe’s parents, siblings, and nieces. Anxious is an understatement. Meeting his whole extended family in one fell swoop? Not exactly what you’d call a gradual introduction. Fortunately for me, his family turned out to be amazing (and I’m now lucky enough to have a new, adorable, four-year-old best friend!).

The rest of the week was spent in Bundaberg, exploring the incredible beaches (being that my standard is St. Kilda Beach, any beach beyond that is incredible to me) and cafés and restaurants in the town. Kudos to you, Joe—you’ve spent a year making me think Bundaberg was the end of the earth, only for me to find out that that couldn’t be further from the truth. Joe’s parents were our personal chauffeurs and chefs for the week; we got completely spoiled the entire week. So spoiled, in fact, that when Friday rolled around and I woke up early to head home, all it took to convince me to stay the weekend was Joe saying, “You should change your flight and stay the weekend”.

In short, the week was absolutely perfect, and any fears or worries that I had before heading up North were diminished the moment I stepped off the train. I’ve always thought that the biggest judge of someone’s character is how they act around their parents; turns out, I’ve got myself a pretty damn good guy, and it’s not hard to see where he got it from.

Not Every Man, But Any Man

This piece was originally published in the October 2017 edition of The Eloquent Orifice.

Tired, sticky bodies, pushed together into a suffocating tram carriage.
Tall men surround me. Standing at five feet and eight inches, I still cannot meet their
eyes without tilting my head back. I do not even try, knowing that they will see the
fear in mine.

Suddenly a hand—someone’s hand, anyone’s hand, everyone’s hand—reaches
behind me and squeezes my backside.
There’s nowhere to run to, nowhere to go. I stand completely still, willing myself to
be anywhere else, until I can finally get off the tram.

It could have been worse.
I got off easy.
Some women aren’t so lucky.

I check behind me; is anyone, that man, following me into the train station? My body
slackens with relief when I do not see him anywhere.

As the doors of the train slide open, I take a step into the carriage. My eyes dart
back and forth, left and right, as I work out my game plan.

Empty seat to my right: good. Middle-aged man with his hands in his pockets sitting
in the next seat over: bad. I pass by the empty seat.

Standing room at the opposite end of the carriage: good. Only men standing in the
vicinity: bad. I decide sitting is the best option.

I choose a seat near a woman and a young family; this will be where I am safest.

Forty-five minutes left on the train. The young family and the woman disembark at
their respective stations.

Thirty minutes left. An older man who looks to be in his 60s at youngest boards the
train and immediately makes a beeline for the vacant seat next to me. Please, no.
Choose one of the many other empty seats. I breathe slowly. Don’t assume the worst. I
look out the window.

Fifteen minutes left. The man reaches into his pocket and pulls out his digital
camera.

Twelve minutes left. I glance down at the man’s camera to discover it pointed
directly at me, clutched near his waist, red light on, recording my every move. My
stomach clenches. I clutch my backpack and move to the seat opposite mine.

Ten minutes left. The man shifts his body. I again look at the camera. Red light is
still on. Still angled at me. My stomach, still clenched.

Arriving at the station. I stand up and wait nervously in front of the cold, silver
doors, waiting to be released from this metal prison.

The train slows to a stop. I feel a breath on my shoulder. I glance behind me. The
Man With The Camera presses his body against mine.

I run to the opposite end of the carriage as the doors slowly open, exiting through
the second set of doors. Tears sting my eyes, partly due to the sudden wind rushing
into the train, and partly because of the adrenaline and fear coursing through my
veins. I fumble to find my Myki pass, and I slam it down on the Myki reader to touch
off. I race down the flight of never-ending stairs and sprint all the way home.

Home. Safe. Lucky.

Until tomorrow.

 

7 Easy Ways To Help Save The Planet

“Nature doesn’t need people; people need nature.”

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on environmental issues. In fact, I’m far from it (my high school APES teacher can vouch). Nor am I perfect when it comes to caring for our planet—I shower for way longer than the recommended 5 minutes, I sometimes throw recyclables in the general rubbish bin, and I don’t even know what a compost is. I’m not even sure if “a” was the right article to use. That’s how little I know about it.

Nevertheless, I fully believe that every person on this planet has an obligation and a responsibility to treat Earth with a little TLC. There are tons of teeny tiny, super simple changes you can make in your day-to-day that will do wonders for the world you live in. It’s so, so important to stay informed about the state of y(our) environment and the ways in which you can do your part to help save the planet (you can catch me Googling what composting is right after I finish writing this).

1. Use a travel mug or a keep cup

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If you’re someone who regularly—or even semi-regularly—drinks hot drinks in takeaway cups, you may fall into the trap of thinking that the cups you’re drinking out of are recyclable. I thought that, too, but it turns out that those cups are generally made up of tons of non-recyclable plastic in and around the cardboard part. A better alternative to to-go cups is a travel mug or a keep cup. Steel mugs are the best option, but plastic ones work great too! I personally use a KeepCup—it’s only $20, dishwasher safe, and BPA-free. They come in heaps of different sizes and colours and you can even customise your own. Plus, tons of coffee shops give discounts to customers who bring their own cup!

2. Ditch the straw

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Straws are one of the nastiest examples of a single-use plastic (a plastic product that will be used once and then thrown out). They don’t biodegrade and more often than not they end up in oceans and on beaches. This is obviously problematic and causes major issues for underwater life. Try ordering your drink without a straw the next time you eat out. If you’re in dire need of an iced coffee or iced tea and don’t have a travel cup with you, most Starbucks stores now offer strawless lids for their iced drinks. You could even invest in reusable straws or a tumbler cup for iced drinks—both options are dirt cheap and save you from putting more plastic out into the environment.

3. Catch public transport

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Cars are huge contributors to global warming and pollution. Luckily, there are tons of other ways to get to work/uni/school: ride a bike, walk, catch public transport, get a ride with someone else, give a ride to someone else, or use a carpool service. You’ll save money on petrol and save the environment. Plus, public transport saves you from sitting in peak-hour traffic and you’re free to sleep, read, text, etc.

4. Use a clothesline

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Using a clothesline or a clotheshorse is a great alternative to a dryer. It’ll save tons of energy (not to mention money!) which really helps the environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels aren’t a clean or sustainable source of energy, which means we should try to rely on them as little as we can.

5. Meatless Mondays

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Don’t worry, I’m not about to preach the benefits of veganism or how cruel it is to murder animals for your own culinary pleasure. But going vegetarian at least one day a week is a great way to help save the planet. Most people don’t realise the huge environmental impacts that the meat industry has. It takes 2,500 gallons (nearly 9,500 litres) of water to make ONE POUND of beef. One pound! And on top of that, raising animals for meat takes tons of land, food, and water, which often means mega deforestation. Plus, fishing methods used by commercial fishers often harm ocean life such as coral reefs and other animals, which, in turn, leads to the destroying of ecosystems. So come on—just take a break from eating meat for one day. I’m sure you can find your protein somewhere else.

6. BYO water bottle

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This is pretty commonplace nowadays, but bringing your own water bottle wherever you go is an infinitely better alternative to buying multiple plastic bottles a day, especially when you’re not recycling those bottles. You can buy water bottles pretty much anywhere and they come in just about every colour, size, shape, and price point imaginable. My favourites are the stainless steel bottles from S’well and Contigo. Think of all the money you’ll save!

7. Stay informed

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It’s so easy to find information online that there’s really no excuse to be ignorant about the world around you. It’s 2018 and saving the planet is cool. Watch some documentaries, read the news, listen to podcasts. Answers to every question you have, and those you don’t even know you have, are right at your fingertips. Don’t let them go to waste. Set goals, write lists, take action, and hold yourself and others accountable.

P.S. for any other ignorant ding dong like me, composting is the use of decomposing organic material for growing plants. In other words, it’s using your potato peels and banana skins to grow your plants instead of using harmful, chemical-filled products.