In a mixture of tragedy and election; there has been no shortage of political comments pertaining to those less fortunate than the population of the internet. Of course, it is a political issue; but particularly in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire this week, individuals appeared out of the woodwork wanting to help. Had I been at work or in another city I'd have felt painfully helpless, knowing that I had so many things which I just didn't need.
It is true, I think, that most people have either money or time. When I was in my first year of university I had a huge amount of time and not a lot of money. In my second year I found myself with less time, more money, and absolutely no wisdom. Right now I'm probably about as poor, time and money wise, as I've ever been - and yet I still filled a suitcase yesterday with things which I absolutely didn't need. Which highlights the third thing which you can be rich in - material possessions.
While the government have a duty to do anything in their power to make sure people are safe, including the least fortunate among us, we are individuals and simply voting a certain way is not enough. Each of us has an individual duty to make choices, as overwhelming as that can feel. I am feeling an emotion close to anger surrounding the fact that many of the same people who want the government to help those less fortunate than them, are also buying fashion from places which are driven by children working in unsafe environments. That's just one crude example, but it is a paradox which I've not yet seen addressed.
There are some practical things you can do at any time, there's no need to wait until disaster strikes to think about people who are barely getting by;
1) Give Blood.
Only if it is safe to do so; but in a lot of cases it is, so let the donation people decide that for you. Blood is ALWAYS needed, don't ever think that there is enough - there isn't. It's also millennial friendly because you can book it on the internet, winner.
2) Have a proper clear out.
Get rid of anything that you do not wear, does not fit, or that you do not like. Also get rid of anything that makes you sad just by it being in your wardrobe - don't hold onto that £30 top that you have worn once and don't really like just because you only bought it a month ago - the result is the same. Go one step further and get rid of anything that you like but don't need. Forget about the money that was spent on it - let it be a lesson for next time, but consider it to be over and done with. Sentiment is valid, though - if there are a couple of things which you bought on holiday and which bring back happy memories, keep them. And then...
3) Send your clothes to Charity Shops...
...rather than selling them on eBay. I've battled with eBay and consistently found it not to be worth it over and over again. If you have damaged or stained clothes, you can take them to H&M (just one example) as they take fabric rather than only wearable clothes. They turn them into clothes and give them to those who need them most.
4) Pay an extra 20p to buy milk which is fair for farmers.
5) Use cruelty free Makeup
Stop buying brands which test on animals - that is, anyone who sells in China. Okay so this doesn't directly affect people, but animals are important and I'm fairly sure they're not for testing makeup on, and it happens more than you would think. Don't tell me that information isn't available to you - it absolutely is. Go to Cruelty Free Kitty for an extensive guide. Also use cruelty free Makeup Brushes. Spectrum are cruelty free, so you don't even have to forgo the aesthetic. My main problem with this is that while it is no longer allowed in the UK to test cosmetics on animals, it is required by law in China, and companies decide to sell in China aware of this, in order to make more money.
6) Buy the Big Issue.
I've heard so many amazing things about this company in recent months, including anecdotes from people selling them who really sing their praises.
7) Donate your time
Do you have a spare 3 hours a week? You know what, I bet you do. Honestly, I reckon you do. Or even a spare few hours a month? You can volunteer at most local hospitals or hospices, doing a huge variety of things, and organisations such as Radio Lollipop exist to make the lives of children in hospital as much fun as they could possibly be.
8) Stop giving a little bit of change to people in the street
Sounds backwards right, but there have been a huge number of adverts around London recently stating, albeit in quite a brash manner, that the money you give to those on the streets could be keeping them there. Buy them food instead. Alternatively, volunteer at a homeless shelter - just google homeless shelters in your area, there are always plenty.
9) Buy from brands which do not exploit their workers, which pay a fair wage, and which provide safe working conditions.
Admittedly, it's probably the most difficult of them all. Not only because we seem to be in a habitual cycle of buying cheap clothes, but also because the information can be slightly more difficult to find than for other ideas. The Mind Palace podcast frequently mention brands which are sustainable but this largely depends on your own opinions, as factors related to 'any job is better than no job' and 'without the jobs which wouldn't pass working regulations in the UK, these people wouldn't be able to feed their families' come into play.
10) Go Independent
Obviously sometimes there just isn't an independent option - but that isn't very often. There are loads of options for Coffee;
For Stationery, head to Ohh Deer, Nouvelle Daily, London Graphics Centre,
You can even apply it to food (head for fresh fruit & vegetable markets etc - if you live in London you probably walk past one on your way home)