Search

ravenousveggie

Thoughts on veggie food, work, play and life in general

Green Stationery

In my bid to leave less of a footprint on the planet I have been looking for environmentally friendly stationery.  I am a great user of refillable notebooks, pens, recycled paper and making scrap pads out of leftover paper.

I have recently put together a new package for my clients.  It helps them write a robust business plan and then to review it every month.  My task was how to package it. I wanted to find a way that the package can be stored and added to each month.  To keep it neat and tidy, but also easily identifiable and looking good so it motivates you to use it. It didn’t need to be big either.

So I started looking. It turns out that there are no really smart, colourful folders that don’t contain plastic.  Document wallets are either fully plastic, or of a cardboard design that are too big and clunky, or look like something that an official in a stuffy office would use.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I searched various green stationery sites.  Some items such as pens and rulers can be made from recycled plastic.  But not in the case of presentation folders. Even some of the ones that look nice and appear to be made from card have a plastic coating.

Now I  know that stationery should not be seen as a one use plastic, but a lot of people don’t see it that way.  My company recently moved office and in the move we reduced the number of files we needed. This left a pile of twenty plus hardly used ring back files.  My co-directors were happy for these to be simply binned and put to landfill. They can’t be recycled due to the plastic coating. I balked at the idea and took it upon myself to find a new home for them.  I am happy to say that a week later I had homes for all but three of them.

If the majority of people see stationery as disposable, or don’t think that others can use items at the end of their life, then we need to come up with more recyclable options.

So this is a call for designers out there to come out with an alternative to the clunky, dull card presentation folders.  

In the meantime I have asked my clients who are using the new package how they would like it presented.  It turns out that as I have raised the issue, they have thought about it and are happy to find their own storage solution for the documents.

A good solution I think!

I have recently put together a new package for my clients.  It helps them write a robust business plan and then to review it every month.  My task was how to package it. I wanted to find a way that the package can be stored and added to each month.  To keep it neat and tidy, but also easily identifiable and looking good so it motivates you to use it. It didn’t need to be big either.

So I started looking. It turns out that there are no really smart, colourful folders that don’t contain plastic.  Document wallets are either fully plastic, or of a cardboard design that are too big and clunky, or look like something that an official in a stuffy office would use.

I searched various green stationery sites.  Some items such as pens and rulers can be made from recycled plastic.  But not in the case of presentation folders. Even some of the ones that look nice and appear to be made from card have a plastic coating.

Now I  know that stationery should not be seen as a one use plastic, but a lot of people don’t see it that way.  My company recently moved office and in the move we reduced the number of files we needed. This left a pile of twenty plus hardly used ring back files.  My co-directors were happy for these to be simply binned and put to landfill. They can’t be recycled due to the plastic coating. I balked at the idea and took it upon myself to find a new home for them.  I am happy to say that a week later I had homes for all but three of them.

If the majority of people see stationery as disposable, or don’t think that others can use items at the end of their life, then we need to come up with more recyclable options.

So this is a call for designers out there to come out with an alternative to the clunky, dull card presentation folders.  

In the meantime I have asked my clients who are using the new package how they would like it presented.  It turns out that as I have raised the issue, they have thought about it and are happy to find their own storage solution for the documents.

A good solution I think!

Bathroom Design

Do you ever walk into a hotel bathroom and think, ‘ooh this is nice – roomy, nicely decorated, shower and a separate bath!’?

And then you start to use it and wonder what the designers were thinking?

Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

A vast expanse of wall to use but the toilet roll holder is put somewhere where you can’t easily reach it (usually behind you). Toilets wedged in close to the shower for no apparent reason. 

Towel holders are on the other side of the room to the bath/shower, even though there is ample wall space to have them closer.  I love staying at Mal Maison – they have lovely rooms and their bathrooms always look and feel luxurious. They do fall down on easy to reach towel holders.

Sinks are frequently designed to look good, but not to use.  At Champneys I had a lovely looking sink, however it was so wide that it took forever to fill as it was so wide.    Often you get those deep, but small square or oval sinks, with taps which come out so far into the bowl that you can’t  wash your face without headbutting the taps or hitting them with your hands.

Then you get the taps that were not designed for the sink.  Taps that don’t reach far enough into the sink so that you can’t  wash your hands under running water.

When you re-do your own bathroom you probably spend ages looking at how best to maximise the space.  You have a good think about what you are going to need where, and how you will be using the space.

Is it me, or does this not seem to happen in hotel design?

Portion Size

Do you ever go out to eat but feel let down by the portion size?  Now I don’t want you to think I am a greedy person with ‘eyes bigger than my stomach’ (as my mother would say).  Its just that sometimes the portion size of veggie food is so much less than that of the meat and fish options. It just leaves you feeling short changed. And hungry.

One of the first things you get asked by non vegetarians is ‘where do you get your protein from?’  Sometimes I sit in restaurants and ask myself the same question.

On a recent visit to Champneys one of the evening meal options was teryaki braised tofu.  I thought this sounded wonderful as I love tofu. So I ordered it. The portion of tofu that turned up was miniscule.  There was one small two inch strip of tofu on the top of some noodles. By contrast those that ordered the meat equivalent had 4-5 similar sized pieces of meat.  They looked at my meal and all commented on the lack of main ingredient.

This isn’t the first time I have noticed this.  Wagamama has done the same in the past. The tofu portion size has always been small in comparison to the meat equivalent.    I am glad to report that this has improved with the latest menu.


More tofu in the latest portions from Wagamama

A local Michelin starred restaurant I went to served up one duck egg in a jus with a baby leek as a vegetarian main. The meat eaters had two slices of meat, plus veg and potato.

But it isn’t necessarily about protein.  Eating out one Sunday at a local gastro pub I ordered a main of pasta.  My other half ordered their famous roast dinner, which cost £15 – only £3 more than pasta dish.  The extra £3 made all the difference – the roast dinner had 3 times the amount of food. My pasta dish consisted literally of a plate of pasta.  No side salad, or bread. And it wasn’t a big plate. I finished my dish quite quickly and watched my other half continue to wade through his pile of food.  My pasta dish was about the size of the side of veg he had. And, apart from feeling hungry, I was left feeling slightly ripped off. £12 for a plate of pasta that probably cost £5 to make.

I don’t know why some restaurants seem to think that vegetarians have smaller appetites. I have not met one yet. Vegetarian food is much cheaper to buy so why charge the same for smaller portions size, and often less complex dishes.   Is it a lack of understanding and thought or is it greed – of the money kind?

Monthly Loves – April

April – a month of holidays, warmer weather and a special party

  • Seville – My partner and I managed to escape the cooler weather and spent 6 nights in Seville.  It is a lovely city, easily discoverable on foot (and lot of trams to get around on) plus great train links to other cities.  We also managed a day trip to Cadiz by train. Eating out as a vegetarian was interesting but not overly difficult. The restaurants in the centre generally had a better vegetarian choice.  The restaurants used by the locals were more limited, but did have better atmosphere. Our hotel also had an excellent environmental policy……

  • Dance In The Hurricane – I am a  big fan of Toyah and have been since 1980.  Her latest album, In The Court Of the Crimson Queen, is a great re-working of a previous album with some great new tracks added.  Dance In The Hurricane is probably my favourite new track. It is deeply personal and poignant and brings back memories to me of my own family.  
  • We celebrated my Aunt Meg’s 90th birthday, and I was put in charge of organising the cake for the party.  To be honest I was a bit daunted by this. I love cake and am great at eating it, but cooking or ordering one was a whole new world for me. I also had to please both my sister and my aunt.  No pressure then. Making it myself was an immediate no go. Time constraints and my inability to cook any cake that doesn’t come our brick-like were my biggest issues. But trying to find a cake maker who could do produce one was much more of a struggle than i expected.  Apparently they get fully booked up months in advance. Luckily for me I found Putty Cakes, who produced the most amazing cake, beautifully decorated and conveniently located on the way to the party venue.

Long Service Award

I recently had the humbling experience of being given a long service award. This was in relation to me completing ten years in a voluntary role as a Community First Responder.

 

Community First Responders are volunteers with the Ambulance service who attend 999 medical emergencies in their local communities.  The idea is that we can often get to patients, and start giving medical attention, before the Ambulance service arrives.

 

On one hand I was really grateful to be recognised for my service.  On the other hand I had difficulty receiving my award from the Chief Executive, who had only been in post for a little over a year and was about to leave for a new job.

 

As I looked round the room I came to the realisation that all the people at the top of the organisation were relatively new in post.  The majority of people receiving long service awards were all frontline staff. Some of these staff I too had had the privilege of working with over the years.  Some I could remember from my first year responding.

 

When I first started volunteering the Ambulance trust had a relatively stable management structure.  I got to know those in senior roles – meeting them at training sessions and out on jobs. As a volunteer I felt included and that I was really making a difference.

 

Over the last seven years I have lost count of the number of manager we have had.  The average length in post for them is 6 months. Very few of them have had experience of dealing with volunteers.  It feels that some see it as tick box exercise to add value to their CV. For some it is an internal HR issue as they are seconded into the role and them moved on elsewhere  – even when they want to stay in post.

 

This lack of stability has led to a real disconnect between the volunteers and the organisation.  We know changes need to be made on the way our role is delivered and to our knowledge base and training.  However the way this is being rolled out feels as though it is assuming we have nothing else to do and have all the time in the world to attend training sessions.  The understanding of how volunteers work is severely lacking.

 

So receiving a long service award, from someone who had been with  the organisation for such a short time, and was about to leave, just felt really strange, as well as really good. 

 

But then this is a reflection of the world we work in now where long careers with the same organsiation is becoming a thing of the past.  Long Service Awards may also become obsolete one day, so I am thankful to get one.

 


Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

Task Overload

Ever had one of those days where, in your head, the number of tasks to complete appears to outweigh the time available?  We all go through this at some point, but how can you deal with it?

One option is ‘head in the sand’ and jut plough on its what your memory says needs doing first.

Another option is to take some time to review your tasks and review agains priority and ongoing tasks.

I recently went through this process and  ended up limiting all my clients and the amount of time I spend on them monthly.  I then added time for my own company admin and even time for lunch breaks.

This showed that, even allowing for travel time, I have enough time each week to do everything I need to.

This was good news for my panicked, overloaded mind.

My next step was to create a quick visual to show what work I can do and when.  This was only an high level view as, apart from a couple of clients who I visit on specific days, no week is the same.  

This has helped me come up with a strategy for planning my weeks.

In addition to this I use Asana to track all my tasks.  It is a great tool to use to help track projects, one off and repeating tasks.  It is also free to use or up to 10 members.

Having completed this review, and put a task tracker in place, I now feel that I can handle my current or load.  I also now have a way of identifying when the work load is becoming too much, and I need to get some help, before it becomes too stressful.

How do you plan and manage your time? Would love to know your top tips and apps that you use.

Monthly Loves – March

March – a month of windy weather and the continuing hope of warmer days to come.

  • Gardening – the warmer weather has meant I have been able to get out into the garden and tidy up.  I also managed to plant seeds for tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and spring onions. This is way better than last year when I didn’t get anything done until the end of April, and had a rubbish return. So here’s hoping for a bumper crop this year!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
  • International Women’s Day – I had a great day celebrating with women’s achievements, and reflecting on where work still needs to be done.  This was with fellow small business owners and also as part of the SheSays Brighton Festival.
  • HeartStart Course.  If you have ever wanted to learn some life saving skills, but have been put off by the cost of a first aid course, then sign up for a Heartstart Course.  Run by volunteers as part of a British Heart Foundation initiative, this two hour course taught me so much. I now feel confident to deal with a heart attack, a cardiac arrest, choking and bleeding. Check for your local course here
  • The Kinder Living Show – A small weekend show highlighting local businesses that have environmentally friendly products for your home and lifestyle.  It was great to see so many different products and to talk to the owners and learn more about living a greener life. There was also an are where you could have clothes mended, and electrical items repaired.  I hope they run another one next year!
  • Coconut Rice Pudding –  A lovely vegan pudding full of flavour and comfort!

Service With A Smile

It never ceases to amaze me how the attitude of staff in the same company can vary so much and make so much of a difference to your experience with that company.

Today  I ventured out to meet a friend and decided that I would take the bus rather than drive or take the train. I travel a lot for work and tend to drive so was keen to be able to switch off for a bit.  I could have taken the train however it means changing and hopping the connecting trains are working. And with Southern and that is all a bit up in the air. The bus gave the option of starting my journey within easy reach of my home, takes rough the same time as the train, but required no changes.  On top of that the return fare was over £4 cheaper.

It is my first time doing such a journey on a bus and the driver on the way out did not instill me with the sunny disposition a first time journey requires.  In fact he was quite gruff and appeared bored, even slightly annoyed, that someone wanted to get on his bus. When I arrived at my destination I wanted to check where the return bus stop was.  He looked slightly miffed at my question and, whilst answering, did not look at me at all.

Ho hum. At least I knew how to get home.  


Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash

The driver on the way back was completely different. Friendly smile when I got on, and happily checked my ticket and welcomed me aboard.   He greeted everyone who got on board and patiently and politely answered all questions- giving extra details so you would know exactly where you were going to get off.  This is a man who knows that just having a seat on a bus does not make the journey for a lot of people.

Overall the bus journey was a lot more sedate than taking the train. The passengers tended to be less noisy and would be having happy conversations with each other.  They tended to be on the more mature side. As there are no tables on a bus there was less spreading of belongings and generally people kept themselves and their litter, to themselves.

I will be taking the bus more often in the future.

Bad News

Recently two friends gave me bad news – they told me they had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t know they had gone for tests or that they had concerns. But then again why should I?  I would probably keep quiet about it until I knew for certain.

In a moment I could see their lives falling apart around them.  They are both waiting for full diagnoses and treatment plans, so the future for them both is uncertain.

Naturally they are worried and thinking of the worst case scenario. Our discussions have ranged from organising the practical (work cover, wills, getting to appointments etc) to things they want to achieve before they die. The holidays they want to have, friends they want to see, things they want to experience.

All I could do was to be as supportive as possible, whilst trying to control my own shock, disbelief and emotions.  In a weird way I too felt my own world starting to crumble a little.

One friend is also a client so there was also a brief thought about loss of income as well as a good friend.  Of course I felt guilty for thinking this. In no way is loss of work greater that the loss of health, or a good friend. It was just one of those impact thoughts that naturally crop up and disappear as quickly as they came.

After these two bomb shells I was feeling a little battered  by life. Not for my own situation but for that’s of my friends.


Photo by Charity Beth Long on Unsplash


As the saying goes “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade”.  And with that in mind I fully intend to make sure their coming journeys are supported and filled with good memories as much as I can, whatever the outcomes.  

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: