You can change the world, one plastic bag at a time

Did you know that YOU can change the world? Yes you. We all have our part to play, and if we all do our thing, that adds up to a lot, and makes a real difference.

Report predicts that, on the current track, oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050 (by weight)

World Economic Forum – More plastic than fish

seal with plastic bag around neckI’ve been concerned about plastic bags for a long time. As a family, we tried to take reusable bags with us before supermarkets had to start charging for them. I always get upset when supermarket till assistants put fruit and veg in a plastic bag at the till, when I’ve chosen not to use one when I’ve picked one pepper up from the store. [Note, we do try and buy from our local market, but we haven’t been that organised recently, but that’s our ideal. Just trying to give you a picture though of my ideals].

On average, we use plastic bags for 12 minutes before getting rid of them, yet they can take fully 500 years to break down in the environment.

Bioplastics and biodegradable plastics

On our recent family holiday to France, I was delighted to see that all the supermarkets we visited used corn starch bags at the fruit and vegetable counters. It seemed to give me a real statement of intent. The French supermarkets haven’t given out plastic shopping bags for years, (it’s a favourite holiday destination for our family), but this was saying to me, “we’re serious about the environment”.

In England, (who were behind Wales and Scotland in introducing the ban on free plastic bags), at first there was concern that the change wouldn’t work. However, I see a lot less people buying 5p or 10p bags now when I visit the supermarkets. Some supermarkets, e.g. Co-operative, use biodegradable plastic for some of their bags.

Wouldn’t it be good if instead of plastic bags to put fruit and veg in, we were able to use paper or corn starch bags instead? To me, it sends a message out, that we’re serious about the enviroment, and doing what we can to improve our world. I can hear my Mum shouting from the heavens now, “No! I want to see my fruit and veg clearly!” Why Mum? Grandma used to collect everything from the market in her shopper, and nothing was separated until she got home. Why on earth do we need everything in clear plastic bags? Urrggghh!

Now, I’m not saying that “How we used to live”, (anyone else remember that programme from Primary school?), was perfect. However, my Grandparents, who were adults and having children during the second world war, knew how to reuse, recycle and mend things. They never threw anything away – my Grandad’s garage was testimont to that! They grew their own vegetables, when they had the space, and they shared in their communities.

Whilst we don’t know what we don’t know with new technology, (and plastic is still relatively new to our world), I think we can all make a difference by consuming less plastic in our lives. I haven’t even mentioned plastic bottles and take away cups, but hey, that’s for another day maybe. You can make a difference every day with the choices you make about the plastic you use and discard.

I’ve signed the Greenpeace Ocean petition , which adds my voice to their campaign. I’m also going to be writing to the supermarkets in my area, and my MP to ask for more work in support of using less plastic. It may not be much, but I can do this. I can make a difference by using less, and talking to others, and asking the question.

What difference will you make to the world this week, month and year?

Containing excitement is bad for your health

We all get giddy with excitement sometimes don’t we, and it’s sometimes hard to contain that excitement. It’s especially hard containing excitement if we’re doing something in secret, or trying something out before telling anyone. Yes, are you with me on this?

Well, I seem to be surrounded by people at the moment who are containing their excitement about one thing or another:

  • I’ve got a client who has gone underground to work on some new ideas for her business which she’s so excited about she can’t even talk about it
  • My youngest son is going to do his first cyclocross event on Saturday, and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about an event in my life”
  • Another client has launched their website today, KCJ Gifts, and they’ve beenย  finding it hard to contain their excitement all week
  • Some of my online friends are sharing their excitement about their upcoming activities and events

It’s all very exciting to be around ๐Ÿ™‚

Should we ever contain excitement?

Use your excited energy to spread happinessWe sometimes try and stop our children getting over excited about Father Christmas coming, or their birthday party. But why do we do this? Being excited is a fabulous energy to have, and to share that with others, shares happy times more widely.

Whenever we hold something in, it takes energy too. You’ll hear people talk about ‘letting go’ of fear or anger, as by holding this negative energy in, you’re making things worse. So, if we hold our excited energy in ourselves, and don’t let it out as we feel we should be doing, we’re doing ourselves a disservice too. All that energy we should be sharing, and riding on for our life right now, we’re stopping ourselves moving forward.

Sometimes we stop others from being over excited as we may have people within our close network who are having a difficult time, and we’re concerned that the excitement will exacerbate their hardship. Why? Surely, they’ll be excited for us too? Excitement and happiness is infectious, so we’re preventing someone else from moving forward too.

I love the way that some of the training sessions I’ve been on recently have told us to dance, or sing, to get into “high energy”, and therefore high excitement, before the session, or before the task we’re supposed to be doing. It’s fab! It is energising and it brings a smile to your face. It also brings out the best in you and your work. Try it, put on your favourite dance tune and dance to it before you do your next task. And don’t even try to stop yourself from smiling! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, whilst it’s lovely that we are concerned for others feelings, they really do want the best for you. Don’t contain your excitement. Even if you can’t share the details with others about what you’re working on, please do share your excitement with others, and see the ripple effect it has on those around you.

What are you excited about at the moment? Let’s share your happiness and excitement too ๐Ÿ™‚



Who listens to young people

Whilst it’s lovely to hear how schools, colleges and universities are supporting our young people, does this really address what support young people would choose for themselves? Are young people really being listened to? Do we as parents always listen well?

who can your children talk to to get things off their chest. ListenI had a fascinating chat today with an organisation looking to set up a Listening service in schools, as it’s “what the schools are asking for”. Personally, I think that listening services are needed in all communities, as not everyone has someone they can off-load to, or talk to, about what’s on their mind. You know that when you “get something off your chest” you feel better, but not everyone has the opportunity to tell someone else. This can build up over time, until a crisis happens, or, quite often, it affects a person’s mental health.

It got me thinking though. I trust our teachers and education experts. I trust youth workers, and researchers. However, if a listening service, (or something similar) is set up in a school, will the young people want to use it, and just because leadership teams think it’s a good idea, is this the type of support young people want in school?

Schools and colleges have a whole raft of support systems and services, both in school and from external partners to support young people. I personally know some counsellors who work in schools. There are learning mentors. There’s youth workers. Careers advisers, achievement specialists, and whole raft of other support available. Is a listening service really needed?

From the outside, and looking at this logically, to me, listening allows the young person to use that listening ‘space’ to talk about anything they want. A lot of the other services are quite focused and may be looking helping the young person move from x to y.

But do young people understand what ‘listening’ is? Have many of our children experienced really good listening, so would say, “yes! I would benefit from that!”. Or, is this a service that may sound good when we’re discussing it, but when we put it into practice it may not be quite what’s needed? Have we got a lot of educating to do with young people, (and parents and teachers), for this to really benefit them in the way we know it helps adults who access listening services?

I can see it from all sides. But I’m not a young person, so I can’t see it from their point of view.

What’s your view? What support do young people want? Is having someone to listen to them (or to talk to about anything they like), a good idea?


Support for Year 11 pupils

Tonight, you’ve guessed it, we’ve been to an information evening at school, to prepare us all for Year 11 (my eldest son). We weren’t too sure what to expect, and there’s certainly a lot of information available to pupils and parents to support year 11 pupils make the best they can of the year ahead.

Parklands High SchoolMy son, I have to say, is already fed up with teachers telling him that this year is important, and “you know you’ve got exams coming up soon”. His reaction yesterday, on day 1, was, “do they really think we’re stupid and don’t know we’ve got GCSEs this year?”. I take his point!

Whilst I’m all for preparation, and understanding the process to give confidence to our young people, there’s also a point at which too much information, advice and support could tip the balance the other way. At the end of day 2, my son is at risk of ‘switching off’ from messages from his teachers, which I know isn’t their intention!

Far from it. Tonight the focus was all about support. The teachers were focused on the growth mindset, (again, this is a term my sons roll their eyes at, but they do understand the intention behind it), focusing on the year 11’s goals, and how best to study for maximum results.

The teachers openly told us that some year 11s are already telling teachers they are worried about the exams. They told us they have support in place to help those who feel pressured, or stressed this year; those who seem not to be taking GCSEs seriously at all, and all those in the middle. I believe them. The results the school achieved this year were excellent – English and Maths results were all above the national average. The school has confidence, and this is rubbing off on the young people.

We were pleased to see that when devising a study timetable that Extra-Curricular activities came top of the list, and to put those in the planner first. Yay! We’re on the same wavelength with school on that one.

The other really pleasing point, which my son won’t be happy about as it’s been an underlying point of dispute this last year, is that of the use of technology, particularly before bedtime. Despite all the research papers we’ve shown him, this backup from school, and their partner organisation Elevate Educate, can’t be ignored. Getting 8.5 hours sleep was seen as really important, and NOT drinking energy drinks. The speaker gave the statistic that if you drink an energy drink you’ll only retain 10% of the information you’re trying to learn….not worth the effort then?

Following on from yesterday’s post, the Greatest gift you can give your child, it’s great to see this support from school, supporting year 11 in a broader way than simply teaching subjects, and learning facts. I understand the new GCSEs are more about applying knowledge, rather than just being able to regurgitate information, and this wider support from school will help the young people to have the confidence to practice their understanding in new ways.

So, whilst no 1 son may feel there’s a lot of focus on “it’s an important year”, at home, we want to ensure he has the right support. The fact that school said, ” use any member of staff you feel happy and confident talking to”, if you have a concern, means the school are working together to offer a caring environment for the children there.

We hope all schools have this approach, or similar, to supporting year 11 pupils, prepare themselves for the year ahead. And we hope it’s a fun year for them all, and gives them lots of happy memories.

Any other advice or suggestions for supporting Year 11 pupils this year?

The greatest gift you can give your child

supporting your talented childI’m not always a facebook fan, but today they reminded me of this photo I’d taken 2 years ago at the TIPS programme, which is part of the School Games.

My eldest son is a talented athlete, and is currently training to be a Decathlete (athletics track and field – remember Daley Thompson? Or you’ve probably heard of Jess Ennis-Hill? Women do 7 events, and men do 10 events). Two years ago he was selected by his county to take part in the Talent Inspiration Programme, as part of the national School Games event.

As part of the 3 day event, parents were invited to attend a workshop, led by Olympian Miriam Luke, who is also now a Mum of 2. She was fabulous, and helped us understand what the young people had been discovering during their time on the programme – namely, that school work is more important than sport, and even though they may be top achievers in their teens, not many young people will go on and be top achievers in that sport in their adult life. [Obviously all sports are different, with elite gymasts being a lot younger, but you get the idea]. She herself didn’t take up her sport until University.

At the time, I took it all in, and as a family we learnt a lot, and have continued to maintain a balanced life and outlook on life.

Today it struck me, as a lot of children return to school, that these principles should be what all parents should be striving for anyway, isn’t it? Why are parents of other children, who aren’t labelled gifted and talented,ย  not given this same advice on how to best help our young people? Surely, if we re-wrote this as,

The greatest gift you can give your child is to give them your support, help them take responsibility, keep their life in balance and support their success.

The greatest gift you can give your child

The greatest gift you can give your childWould anyone argue with having a balanced life?

Would anyone argue with helping our young people take responsibility?

Is there anytime we wouldn’t celebrate their success?

I don’t think so. I think this should be a mantra for all parents to take on at the start of this new school year.

Is this the greatest gift you can give to your child?