The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine’s Day edition)

In the eyes of a Buddhist, maitri is authentic and pure love. It means to feel compassion, kindness, goodwill, and love toward all human beings, equally, without any exceptions—including our partners.” wrote Elayane Youssef on Ethical Elephant.

Last year I wrote about a day of love where Valentine’s Day is not only for lovers but for everybody you love from your partner to your friends, family and yourself. This year I want to follow the Buddhist believe to share the love even further to the people who you don’t know and who might need your thoughts, love and caring. But before I dive into how you can share your love with strangers I thought to discuss why it isn’t usually done and why we should do it.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gift-Giving

Very often we are believed and pushed to show our love for our loved ones, whether it is Valentine’s day, Christmas or Birthday, we should be gifting our loved ones. I love giving presents to my loved ones but I do have the feeling that gift-giving days are increasing each year and people who we must give presents to are increasing in numbers. Speaking with others about gift giving I’ve noticed that people put a lot of pressure on themselves for giving ever more expensive presents and Christmas presents are expected to cost a minimum of £100 for each person you are giving a gift. Making a quick calculation that would mean I should be spending approximately £2000 on gifts every Christmas, which would easily take me on 3 holidays.

Then there are, graduations, weddings and christenings, which again are wonderful celebrations, but when planning a wedding you are being told that the guests won’t enjoy the party unless you gift them with amazing souvenirs of your wedding, I start to wonder whether the wedding is for me or for the guests who get a free meal, present and a party in exchange for showing up, congratulating you and possibly bringing you a gift. Then we have leaving parties for the quick turnover staff, all the housewarming parties, great you got a new job celebrations, back from holidays gifts/souvenirs, some people gift each other on New Years (this might be a remnant from Russia where they give gifts on New Years instead of Christmas which is a deeply religious holiday), so will we be gifting the ever-expanding network of people in our lives on Halloween as well?

Is gift giving becoming the synonym of love and care, in the western countries, when we do not actually have time for the loved ones as much as we feel we should? It is shown in the movies we watch and many of us experience it. When I was a kid my dad went often on work trips and I got accustomed to getting a small gift whenever he came back, actually so accustomed that I remember asking him once when he would be going for another work trip as I was really looking forward to a gift. Those days he was away from home well over half the year. Now that I live away from my family and friends I always bring presents home, as though they would reimburse the time we’ve lost.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gifting around the World

In other cultures, gifts are not given for birthday and there are many cultures that don’t celebrate Christmas, but rather other holidays. However, most cultures still give gifts, mostly as tokens of gratitude for being invited to a celebration or for a business deal, but sometimes for love and for care as well. The one thing I found out about the different gift-giving habits is many gifts are either money or food, and in many cultures, different items can be perceived as rude such as umbrellas or clocks in China.

Essentially gift giving is an important part of human interaction that can be especially very important in many cultures and social situations. A gift can tell another person that one really cares, although to others it can feel like an unnecessary burden as reciprocal gifts are expected almost all around the world. And some people just don’t mind gifts but rather like support or company of the gift giver more than the present, which you can read more about in the 5 love languages.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Gifting Strangers

I wondered why the consumerist market is not pressuring us to give gifts to strangers and those we don’t know until I realised that they do but these gifts are masked under the word “charity” or “donations”. Occasionally these charities change the wording to “give a gift of water” or any other gift, which actually sounds like a much nicer way to put it. Why don’t we, instead of just donating money, rather give a gift? Gift giving, as we’ve learned so far, is meaningful interaction. We think about what we want to give others, what would suit them and what would make them happy. Why shouldn’t we make it meaningful when we put money into a donation for a charity or when we are doing a charitable thing? There are many people out there who do not receive gifts, who are lonely, who are poor and who, rather than receiving anonymous money, might like the human interaction with a heartwarming gift. Of course with many charities, you are not able to see how your donation or a gift is actually impacting the other person, but there are some that let you know or see this happening. Alternatively, you can be generous and gift stranger that is located closer to you.

Although giving gifts and showing love and care to those you love is something that each of us cherishes, there are people who might need it more. There are already multiple guides on what to gift to your loved ones which you can google or check some of my older gift guides, but what I recommend is giving them time and possibly give a gift to a stranger. There are some great examples of gifts you can give to those who need them.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving (Valentine's Day edition) - byLiiL

Give Gifts To Those Who Need Them
  • Why not send a loving public letter to the big companies requesting them to send Valentine’s present to the labour making the items they sell and get rich on. The present could be a bonus for working so well or items that they really need in their lives but can’t afford.
  • Why not gift the gift of water to those in need.
  • Why not gift necessary beauty or sanitary products to your local shelters.
  • Why not gift a cup of hot drink to the homeless person on the street to warm them up on these cold days.
  • Why not gift a bag of groceries to the poor neighbour, or even better give two gifts in one by inviting them for a dinner to your house to socialise with them. (make sure that you are safe though)
  • Why not gift your company to the lonely elderly.
  • Why not gift blood at the blood bank, or even better your bone marrow.
  • Why not gift a bee with flower seeds that will bloom in the summer to give them more food.
  • Why not sponsor a child in a third world country and give them a gift of a better life?

Pictures are from Pexels.

The Anatomy of Gift Giving - byLiiL

Why shouldn’t we be thinking and loving everybody on this planet on Valentine’s Day?

With love,

Lii

 

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Why You Should Feel Gratitude For Having a Home

If you follow my Instagram you might be aware of how the whole of Scotland has been driven crazy by the snow (we have around 20-30cm of it in Glasgow). The public transport closed, most jobs and schools were closed and people stayed at home after stocking up on food as though expecting a zombie apocalypse. I’ve seen people happily spending time outside building snowmen with their family and friends like it was the whitest Christmas. Maybe we have been blessed with another few days to spend quality time with our loved ones. And that is the mindset that I’ve had for the past couple days. I’ve only mastered up to do the bare minimum of work a day as the rest I’ve spent cuddling with the cats and enjoying the rare extra time that I get with my fiance.

Why You Should Feel Gratitude For Having a Home - byLiiL

Whilst I’ve been cosied up in my house in the warm, with food and comfort, every now and again I get a pinch of guilt and gratitude. During this cold time, I’ve seen posts about people and animals freezing to death outside. How lucky we are to have a home and the means to provide for us, and what will happen to those who live on the streets? My anxiety grew stronger when I realised that I have no idea how to help homeless in the local area. There is some information online, however, I still find it too limited to how big the problem is in the UK, there is estimated 68,000 women living roughly on the streets, in shelters or temporary homes alone, not counting the children and men as well.

Why You Should Feel Gratitude For Having a Home - byLiiL

I feel cocooned in my little comfort bubble, but if nothing else I can find out what I can do on a regular basis or in emergency situations to help out homeless.

  • Check our Shelter, Crisis and Roundabout websites for advice
  • Donations to homeless charities (food, hygiene products, clothes, money and other stuff).
  • Check where your local homeless shelters are so that you can advice homeless where to go, or you could even find out what are the rights of homeless people and encourage them.
  • Talk to them, so they don’t feel socially isolated.
  • Arrange local places which are closed (such as schools, cafe’s etc.) to shelter homeless over the cold nights.

Why You Should Feel Gratitude For Having a Home - byLiiL

It might be my Finish upbringing, but I feel that there is a problem with the way charities work. Although, I find it necessary at the moment, however, I believe they shouldn’t be necessary. If the government would accommodate enough financial support towards dealing with the problem at an early stage there would be less need for charities. Leah from Style Wise said it excellently:

Charity is only good now because it is necessary. But the world we should be working toward is one where people are far too important to ever be turned into charity cases, where we don’t get to feel good about giving.

There is a lot of support that is in place, however, people are not knowledgeable about it. Homelessness is seen as an embarrassment and people tend to withdraw, rather than ask for help.

Do you know what you would do if you suddenly became homeless?

I’ve heard people say that homelessness is a problem of drug addicts, however, that is a very superficial and ignorant way of looking at the problem. Often homelessness can occur due to being let go off work, difficult family relationships or numerous other reasons that we couldn’t even imagine. If the support is given at an early stage there could be financial savings for the state, as those supported would become productive members of the society more quickly and wouldn’t require the current structure of various levels of homeless shelters and building their lives up again. In Finland, homelessness is seen as a big problem which needs to be solved first before tackling other problems that might cause the homelessness, as “having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier”.

Why You Should Feel Gratitude For Having a Home - byLiiL

I am happy that there are many people who want to help homeless people and many charities in place, however, I see that as a community it should stem from the government and their legislations. There should be more support available to people in need so that homelessness wouldn’t happen, and there should be more information available to young as well as older generation so they know where to turn to if they are hit with these problems. And it should be easier to access help such as benefits when faced with losing once home. What do you think?

Why You Should Feel Gratitude For Having a Home - byLiiL

To finish this off, I will do my best to help homeless charities, especially for the wintery cold months, whilst acknowledging the need for systematic change. I wouldn’t know what I would do if I became homeless and even the thought scares me! Therefore I am feeling so much gratitude for having a warm home, food and healthy social life and I think you should too.

Do you have any additional advice on how to help homeless people or homelessness in general?

With love,

Lii

Happy Favourites of the Week – Uno and a Book Haul

The Colour Purple – I had been pushing this book further and further on my reading list until one day I decided that it was time to read it. I was so surprised when I swallowed it in a couple of days and enjoyed it immensely!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Uno and a Book Haul - byLiiL

Chamomile Manuka Tee – It is soothing and relaxing to my mind and my tummy. It has been great for these chillier August days!

In A Heartbeat – The new Pixar short animated movie about a boy coming out. Of course, I had to watch and within such a short time managed to shed more than just a couple of tiers. It is really sweet and beautiful, as well as funny!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Uno and a Book Haul - byLiiL

Unsolved Murders – This week while working I’ve been listening to the Unsolved Murders podcast and been completely obsessed! Although there are some quite grim parts when they discuss the murders, the main part of the podcast that I like is the speculation and analysis of the mystery; who did it? why they did it? and so on. Also, so of the murders have happened in the 19th century or early 20th century so there is a good amount of history and description of the time, which is very fascinating.

Little Book Haul – I really don’t like any kind of hauls, but when I get to do it for a charity, I can accept it occasionally. I went into a local Cat charity shop (a great concept for cat lovers) and found a deal on 4 books for £1. Luckily I found 4 books that I was actually quite excited about. Hurray for book deals!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Uno and a Book Haul - byLiiL

The Versions of Us – I was not expecting to like this book, but I quite enjoyed it. It has a very similar feeling to David Nicholls One Day with its love story. The main concept of the book is the three different versions of this couple’s lives if they would’ve changed one moment in their life.

Uno – Who remembers this game? I had forgotten all about it, until one of our friends, visiting us, asked if we had them. And of course, we started an Uno tournament and I am sure there are many more to come!

Happy Favourites of the Week - Uno and a Book Haul - byLiiL

Big Sick – I went to see Big Sick with my friend in the local cinema and I laughed harder than I’ve had in a while. It was a sweet story and a good laugh, definitely, recommend! It also really makes you appreciate your health and your relationships (well if the relationship is good).

 

What made you happy this week?

With love,

Lii

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder?

As you have probably noticed I am all up to support the small brands and talk bad about the big brands, especially if I feel they are taking the small brands thunder with ethical or sustainable things. Not following? Let me explain. Recently I’ve seen a lot of articles about ethical swimwear; it seems there is a boom in the industry. Designers from Europe, USA, Australia and Canada, especially, are producing swimwear with various ethical ways such as GOTS certified cotton, fair trade or recycled ocean waste materials. I find it absolutely amazing to hear that these small brands are making their mark with their ethical produce!

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder? - byLiiL

If you have read about these small brands, you have probably also read about the fashion and sportswear giant Adidas producing swimwear and shoes from recycled ocean waste. My first thought was great, more marketing for the ocean conservation and sustainability. My second thought was, wait…  by using the same technology and marketing tactics isn’t Adidas taking the limelight from all the other brands within the narrow ethical fashion marketing sphere?

Recycled Ocean Waste

The highly marketed recycled ocean waste fabric is Econyl, a trademark by Aquafil which is made in Slovenia. It is a fibre made out of recycled nylon 6 which they collect from few locations around the world and some volunteers collect them discarded fishing nets. The fibre is produced in a closed loop system and can be recycled numerous times. It sounds great compared to virgin nylon and it is definitely a solution for nylon 6 waste. You can check their website if you want to read more about it.

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder? - byLiiL

There are several brands that use econyl to make their swimwear. Auria, a brand from London, was one of the first brands that used the fibre and has built a brand on making their beautiful ethical swimwear by using only econyl fabric. Koru likewise to Auria has built their brand producing ethical swimwear and only using econyl, whilst they are in New Zealand. There are several others that you can find just by googling and on the Econyl blog where they share the brands that are using their fibre. And then, of course, there is Adidas, who made a collaboration with Parley to create an eco swimwear collection and shoes to raise awareness for the ocean and marine conservation. Currently, they produce 50 % of their swimwear out of recycled materials but are aiming for 100%.

Econyl provides any brand with a sustainable new nylon fabric. Small brands don’t have to innovate to create an environmentally sustainable business. What they do with it is the difference. Small brands have to drive their sales with beautiful and unique designs, each catering to a slightly different niche market and retailing for £50-170 per swimsuit. They boast with ethical swimwear that is made out of recycled ocean waste and produced fairly by making it locally or in fair trade factories. Whereas Adidas caters to the mass market with a price to match £25-51 and although they spread the message of ocean and marine conservation to a wider public, the price questions whether the swimwear is made in fair conditions. In addition, when the small brands have been able to build their brands on the sustainable fabric, I wonder why it is taking Adidas this long to do it 100% nevertheless of their aims. Is Econyl production not quite meeting the Adidas swimwear production rates, or is it just green marketing tactics?

Are Big Brands Stealing Small Brand Thunder? - byLiiL

I do think that it is great there are many options to buy more sustainable alternatives than the general high street mass market options, but I do feel Adidas is stealing the thunder from the smaller brands while not being quite as committed to the cause. When googling recycled ocean waste swimwear Adidas collaboration with Parley has several first clicks, whereas I originally read about the smaller brands because I follow several ethical blogs. However, I do not think these small brands could have spread the message as wide as Adidas did, on their own. To make this planet sustainable we do need everybody working for it; producing sustainably, educating people and spreading the word. Maybe this way we challenge each of these brands to be even better and more innovative with their sustainable ways.

Pictures are from Auria, Econyl and Proswimwear websites.

 

What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

With love,

Lii

What I Was Up To In June

I can’t believe June is already over! This has been a month of reflection for me. I’ve been working more from home and being in my solitude really makes me think! I can influence what I think about with podcasts that I listen while I work or with articles that I read on my free time, however, reading and listening to all the challenges we face with making the planet to be a better place for all and learning about oppression to so many different groups of people can often make me a bit sad before it pushes me into action.

Straws - Eco-Friendly or Healthy?

Due to the reflection, I wrote more about what was going on in my head such as are summer bucket lists necessary and can you fake body confidence. Especially the latter one is a topic that I don’t even like to talk about to my close group of people, but something that I think about and struggle with often. Don’t you think that writing things down just makes more space and sense in your head? Unlike speaking about things, when I write I really dig deep into why I am feeling a certain way, talking is not as easy.

Inspiration of the Month - Fight and Thirst for Education - byLiiL

This month I have also been really tapping into sustainability in general. It’s quite unbelievable how many layers such topic can have. In June I wrote about Honest Rosie – a capsule wardrobe, I shared articles on sustainability and problems with charities, I shared an amazing recycling website Earth 911, I wrote about the sustainability of straws and OneSqin – organic tampons and skincare, and education for girls. Talking about education, which was my inspiration of the month after reading ‘I Am Malala’, I’ve been educating myself on photoshop, start-ups, sustainability and feminism. I couldn’t be more excited and I feel I don’t have enough time for all of my interests!

Uncovering The Secrets Behind Fashion Sizing - byLiiL

This month I started a new thread of posts about fashion and some sustainability issues with it. The first post was about fashion sizing, more or less to explain why we struggle with finding garments that fit us, but I will be tapping into more sustainable topics in fashion soon as well. In addition, I shared my favourite Insta pics from May and how I love pink evening skies.

I still don’t know what July will be like, most likely quite similar to June, as all my summery plans are for August. But you never know what opportunities reveal themselves and I plan to live in the moment!

 

What did you do in June? And what are your plans for July?

With love,

Lii

Summer Bucket Lists – Are They Necessary?

I am a true lover of all kinds of lists and make them on a daily basis from to do lists, to what to buy from the store and what I want to accomplish in a year. Summer is here and although I have been really excited about it for some time now, I don’t seem to get inspiration to make any kind of list of what I want to do this summer. At least not the kind that summer bucket lists would usually involve. I’ve been thinking maybe there is something wrong with me. In our culture summer holidays are the time for vacation and taking it easy. People are planning holidays and times to spend with friends.

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When I still lived in Finland my bucket list would have included a lot of swimming,  spending time on the beach, doing a grill, visits to the countryside, drinking out with friends on midsummer’s eve and may day and so on. In the UK I don’t really do most of those things. I do reminisce them fondly and think how fun I had in my teen years and later on as well.

Since I graduated from University I haven’t really seen summer as the ultimate holiday time. Mostly, because I work for myself. I schedule my days, weeks and months the way I want to, which means I have my holidays when I want to and do everything else when I want to. I don’t really have bucket lists anymore, I have wish lists of things that I dream of such as travelling to certain countries, being brave enough to do a bungee jump and so on. For this summer I do have a wish list as well. I wish that I will have a fun time while I work, I wish that I can take my work to the next stage and I wish that I will earn enough money so that I can go on all the trips that I want to do this year; Ireland and Netherlands are definitely on the list. I want to read more books, but they are always on my list and I want to enjoy my time outside. None of this is something that needs to happen, but rather something that would be nice. I will be perfectly content with none of it as well.

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I understand that for many, summer is still the ultimate holiday time and with the sun shining and the temperatures high. That is why I wish that people would, rather than making bucket lists of things that need to be done in a certain amount of time, just enjoy the summer and have fun on an impulse. And while you are enjoying your time, try to think of the environment a little as well and keep it sustainable.

 

What do you think are summer bucket lists still necessary?

With love and I hope you have a great summer,

Lii

 

What have I been up to in February

I had trouble being motivated and inspired in February unless we count the inspiring Iris Apfel, who I wrote about in the beginning of the month. I was unwell for about three weeks of the month, which in February seems even longer than any other month. Being frustrated and stuck at home I concentrated my time on reading books such as The Buried Giant and Persepolis and watching tv-shows and movies that got me more inspired to learn more about different cultures.

Happy favourites of the week - learning experience - byLiiL

Being stuck at home has made me dream a lot. I’ve been dreaming about a dining space and about warmer weather. My two furballs have been a big comfort and seem to be happy about me being home so much. Some enjoyment I’ve gained from using my Matt&Nat handbag when out and about and using my new favourite items from Lush. Valentine’s day brought me many lovely messages from friends and a happy smile from my boyfriend on receiving his sustainable valentine’s day cards with two lovey-dovey foxes.

Are cat's affectioned - byLiiL

I’ve had some time to research sustainability and wrote about 5 easy sustainable fashion changes and why I would change to natural cleaning products, rather than use the mainstream options. Most proud I have been about being able to keep up with regular posting! Hurray! Now I hope March will bring some more sunlight into our lives and I can go and enjoy ice skating while the rink is still open, yoga and walks in that sunshine!

What have I been up to in February - byLiiL

How was your February?

With love,

Lii