I'll be honest, I've not always been a friend of the bees. When I was 7, a bee landed in my ear and stung me. My ear swelled up to resemble that of a rugby player's, and I had to take that funny banana-tasting antibiotic medicine for weeks before it went back down. Naturally, I became absolutely terrified of the black and yellow blighters. Plus our neighbourhood had stacks of lavender growing everywhere, and its foamy pollen was a bee heaven, and incidentally became my hell.

I've come a long way since then, and if my memory serves me correctly, there are far less of those buzzing bumblers out and about nowadays. I can partially blame city living for the last four years of my life, but deep down I also know that bees are really having a hard time. According to the Soil Association, pesticides (or neonics) are the number one reason why - and let's not be silly, if you spray a plant with chemicals to kill bugs, how are bees going to cope?

Bees are important because they pollinate fruit, vegetables, and crops. These are all things we live off, and make bees critical to our food chain as well as many other animals. If I need to give you more of a reason to help, bees are crucial to the pollination of cocoa beans. Now. Imagine a world without any chocolate. That's why bees are important.

In an effort to help out our little friends, plus having caught a case of bee-fever when I spotted the first bee in my garden earlier in the year (I blame Nectar & Bumble founder Amber!) I've decided to put together a list of easy ideas that can suit anyone living practically anywhere in helping the bees bounce back. If my little London flat can entertain bees, yours certainly can too!

BEE-FRIENDLY PLANTS
Whether you're a gardner or not (and let's be honest, I just killed my cacti so I'm definitely not), there are ways to provide pollen to keep your local bees topped up. For the green-fingered, growing plants such as lavender (I'll try not to shudder), sunflowers, birdsfoot, and thyme all help, and they have their home uses too. Off the top of my head, you can use dried lavender as potpourri, sunflower seeds in baking, and thyme in cooking, plus I'm sure there are many more.

For us lesser gardeners, I really love this alternative I found recently at a permaculture festival: Seedballs. These are little clay balls you can throw on top of soil, and leave to naturally sink into the soil with rainwater and germinate all by themselves. They do a bee mix version which contains five different flowers, and they also tell you when exactly you need to scatter them to have the best chance of growing. Genius!

BUY ORGANIC
We live in a supply-and-demand kind of world, so use your money to vote against pesticidal use and buy organic products. If you're looking for an online shop, Planet Organic is definitely the place, or perhaps try getting an organic veg box delivered - I've used Riverford before and would like to try Abel & Cole too.

DECORATE WITH BEES
No, I don't mean literal bees! The Collection of British Bees print* in the above photos is a wonderful piece from Nectar and Bumble, a boutique store selling cute items that support bee conservation. They also donate 10% of their profits to bee conservation charities too!

If you're not like my next-door neighbour and aren't lucky enough to have bees living in your brickwork (I'm not even sure they know...), try hanging up a hive. These can be tiny things that house solitary bees (this wooden hive is just perfect) or perhaps something larger if you have a garden with enough space. Either way, have fun with it - there are over 250 species of bee in the UK so there's a lot for us to spot!




Finding ethical fashion is far easier than it looks. Trust me - when I first started making the change (chiefly refusing to buy clothes from high-street stores), all I could see was a giant mental mountain in front of me. How could I ever afford to buy ethical fashion only? And considering the styles I like (check my style board on Pinterest) were only being stocked at high-end ethical boutiques such as The Acey?

Over time, I started investigating other avenues alongside refusing fast fashion. Charity shopping has been great for when I've got the time to go out early on a Saturday, but often it's impossible to get to one past five o'clock on a weekday.

Thrift stores are in the same boat. Open at random hours, or in random locations (at least, I haven't yet come across one here on South Bank), you have to also make the above-average effort to get to one.

And then it hit me. What about online? After a little digging, I've found fashion that fits my morals on popular sites that I would never have thought of, such as ASOS's Eco Edit, Braintree and People Tree at House of Fraser, and handmade goodness over at Etsy.

However, my principle source of fashion is on eBay. I love the fact that I can pick up second-hand fashion within my budget, and only go for really special items that I know will be good second time round. The selection is incredible, and my top tip is to know how to refine your search.

I'll usually start by searching for a brand I trust (and also go a little upmarket for better quality products that will have lasted better than some high-street shops). I'll put the brand name along with item name, and my size into the search bar, e.g. Whistles dress 8.

This brings up everything listed that fits that description. I'll then go into selecting 'Women's Clothing', Size '8' and Condition 'Used'. That used button might seem a bit scary to start with, but if you dig deep enough into any description/image bank, you should be able to sift through the dodgier pieces for something that will be good as new.

Take this Whistles dress for example. We're going to ignore that today's weather may make this dress a little impractical, but the material, a grey marl towelling fabric, meaning it washes well and hasn't stretched or got holes in. The fit is purposefully baggy, and I love that - this paper-bag dress is so refreshing compared to my usual curve-fitting high waisted jeans and tops. It also meant that I'm not too afraid about it's fit.

Now, there are downsides to shopping on eBay. It's not organic fabric, or sustainably-made in the first place, but you're not adding to demand when you recycle a product. Sadly, your money doesn't go to a sustainable garment producer or charity, it goes to the seller. But what it does do is create a recycling culture, and I've found myself using eBay more both to buy and sell items.

My main aim is to build a sustainable capsule wardrobe. I'm taking my time when it comes to curating it - I've got a list of key pieces I like, and one-by-one I'm swapping in ethically made or fairly purchased items that fit the minimalist aesthetic I so readily covet. The best thing about doing it this way? I cherish every new piece, and feel good about wearing something that's a little less impactful on the planet.


Coffee and I go way back. Admittedly, it's not the finest of relationships - even now, if I get a slightly too strong-a-brew, I find myself jittery and restless, but gosh if there is a nicer smell to wake up to, tell me now.

However, with there being so much coffee, so many types, and so many cups being drunk every day (165 million in the UK alone!) it was only a matter of time before coffee got a healthy overhaul. The main factors of making coffee 'healthy' come down to the caffeine content, and preventing addiction or reliance on it.

CAFFEINE CONTROL
When you strip coffee back, you get to a roasted bean - as natural as cocoa, but with an energy boost. One way to help curb the caffeine shakes is to use a caffeine-controlled option such as Truestart Performance Coffee. This is something my boyfriend uses before a workout as a healthier alternative to energy drinks and gels, but it's also great if you're looking to stick to a 95mg portion size.

ZERO CAFFEINE
Now, this is something I haven't tried, but if you're looking for a natural caffeine alternative to coffee, I've been told gurana is the way to go. You may have a muddied view of this, as it's often contained in energy drinks, but it's actually a type of fruit. If this sounds good, this Whole Earth Wake Up Coffee is definitely worth a try!

COCOA LOCOA
Another option, and possibly the most revolutionary on this list, is the cocoa alternative I've been trying recently. I picked up two bags of Cavalla French Roast* from Crio Bru, and its fragrant coffee-slash-chocolate taste has been a real treat. Since my espresso days in Paris, I went coffee free for so long, and this would have been really handy. Also, if you're not the mocha type, you could try barley coffee such as this Whole Earth Organic No Caffeine Coffee.

COLD BREW
There's also the idea that cold brew coffee is a little healthier for you - the heat of a regular coffee creates a more acidic drink, meaning cold brew leaves in more nutrients and makes it easier for your body to absorb (although I would take this with a figurative pinch of salt). Last year I reviewed Nomi Cold Brew Coffee and loved the fact it comes in glass bottles, with an almond milk option too.

BATHE IN COFFEE
Finally if you're looking to stop the coffee consumption altogether but still want to enjoy its heady scent, I would recommend a coffee scrub to wash with. My DIY coffee scrub recipe is one of the things I will continually remake when I run out. It's turned around many tough mornings, and makes my skin feel velvety soft.



I also thought it would be good for anyone who enjoys a coffee on the go to mention a few sustainable options to reduce waste - the uproar that echoed online after everyone discovered that the majority of coffee cups aren't recyclable makes these even more pertinent.

My favourite option is the Keep Cup, which I've showcased previously in a Monthly Favourites post - mine is glass and cork, and I find once you get over the initial nerves of asking a barista to fill your own cup with coffee, they're usually quite charmed with the look and that you're being green! Other pretty options include the Sage Boss To Go Cup, the Kinto Cafepress Mug, and the Eco Coffee Cup.


The big mystery has been revealed! I feel like I've been taken on a little journey when it comes to this film. I was contacted out of the blue to attend the premiere of Captain Fantastic, and on a whim I decided to go. It seemed like a cutesy thing to do, even if it was a little out of context for what I usually write about online (heck, I even admitted to it not being in-keeping with my usual content).

However, after spending last night at its premiere, I can totally see why it's a great fit for me, and an eye-opening film for anyone else interested in living sustainably.

Something I discuss regularly with my boyfriend is how much of a change we need to make to really live a sustainable lifestyle. The same as anything, the more aware of something you become, the more you want to change it; be it reducing plastic, eating better, or that little scratch on the ceiling that you notice every time you wake up. Perhaps I'm a little neurotic, but I feel like perhaps the steps I'm taking - and will continue taking for the rest of my life - just aren't a big enough change.

Well, Captain Fantastic explores this quite wonderfully, along with love, laughter, and lots of Noam Chomsky references. In essence, it's a curiously conscious film (see what I did there?!) The film is about a family living deep in the forest, with no influence from society. A tragedy means they have to stray into the 'real world', and navigate the oddities that we know as social norms. I've come away from the film with a sense of balance, and a hunger to delve deeper into some of the subjects touched upon. Writer and Director Matt Ross playfully dropped names and quotes throughout it, hinting at undercurrents of climate change, capitalism, law and responsibility.

Can I also say, the premiere for this was cool. Really cool. As the last film to be shown on the Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, I arrived to drinks on the Riverside Terrace (I went for a raspberry mocktail with lime and mint) and was then given a little red blanket to sit on and shown to an reserved area within the courtyard. We got to hear from producer Lynette Howell, and writer and director Matt Ross, with a few wry hints about the storyline. Viggo Mortensen then came and said a few words, and took a giant selfie with everyone giving the camera the middle finger (you'll get it when you see it!) Afterwards, he came and sat down about six blankets away from me... It was a surreal experience, to watch him in the film with him sat a couple of paces away (especially the completely nude scene...)

Captain Fantastic is a film with a lot of heart and real meaning too. Looking back on it, I feel like it's going to be one of those films you watch over and over again on lazy Sundays when you're looking for some inspiration. A scene that really sticks with me is when the music falls away, and we're left with the family sat together but all doing their own thing, a tender connection keeping them all content. It's a beautiful moment, and it says everything without needing to say anything at all.
From time to time, my skin suffers from a dry patch or two that just doesn't quite heal from a smear of coconut oil. I also have friends with skin conditions that really do need care, and when it comes to natural products, it's hard to find ones that stand up to the reputed ranges from my childhood.

Since taking the natural skincare route, it's been difficult to find alternative powerful creams that really do the trick. I remember as a child when my mum's hands would crack in the winter, and she'd have to make do with E45 and medical creams that really smelt funny, and didn't do much to help. I imagine even now, there will be a pot of the stuff lurking in your very own bathroom cabinet somewhere, and if not that, the weird mineral oil jelly that is Vaseline.

So imagine my delight when I came across the new skincare range from Comvita. Comvita's Medihoney is the first natural derma care range that I've seen with deep healing properties that go from antibacterial wound gels to after sun, and I'm really happy to find advances like this. Not only do they cater to my lifestyle, but they strengthen the philosophy that natural products really are all we need, and that we're not missing out on anything by going au naturel.

Recently I've been trying their Natural Skintensive Cream, which aims to heal very dry skin and eczema. I've been lucky enough to avoid any red bumpy outbreaks as of late (which may be down to my avoidance of lactose), however I can tell from the consistency and formula that this is definitely a product to recommend for more serious skin problems.

The cream is principally made from manuka honey, and plant oils to make a potent cream. Two of my beauty favourites - shea butter and olive oil - feature highly in its ingredients, and the fact that it is pH balanced means it isn't reactive to stressed or sensitive skin types. It's also fragrance free, so there's no unnecessary ingredients in its make-up, something I'm a massive fan of.

I actually gave this to a friend who has been struggling with sore skin on their face for a while to try, with good results. My understanding is that if the skincare product can be used on sensitive skin, and even on the face, it will work wonders on the body too.

Comvita is a manuka honey company at heart and has been using honey as a medicine for over 40 years. I know this will be a little controversial to my vegan readers, but I don't have a problem with honey or pollen products as there is no harm to the bees; only propolis and bee venom make my avoidance list. Comvita is great when it comes to pure products, spanning skincare, vitamins + minerals, medical elixirs, and even oral care.

This post was sponsored by Comvita.