Little Ways to Help Save Our Planet

Whether you’re interested in saving the bees, the rainforests, the oceans or even your local park, you should be reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible in the process. Although this is obviously not as influential to the grand scheme of a cause as making a donation, little lifestyle changes can still help you make an important difference in the world. I know how easy it is to fall into thinking that your changes are small and insignificant, but you could be the person that inspires someone else to make a change as well. And then the process continues. That’s how change is made. So here’s a list of a few ways you can start contributing to saving our beautiful planet before it’s too late:

Shorten your showers.

Did anyone else used to see those commercials on the Disney Channel, where Brenda Song explained how much water would be saved if we all just shortened our showers by 2 minutes? Well, she wasn’t wrong. An average shower uses 5 gallons of water per minute, so cutting off 2 minutes would automatically save 10 gallons of water (enough to fill a large home aquarium!) I love a long shower just as much as the next person, but those should be saved as a luxury and not as a part of a daily routine.

Unplug electronics and chargers while you’re not using them.

One of my worst habits is leaving my phone and laptop chargers plugged into the outlet behind my bed at all times. Believe it or not, this actually uses power, even if nothing is plugged into them. The effects of leaving a charger plugged in may be minimal when it comes to your electric bill (maybe 10 to 15 extra cents a month,) but if you think about the amount of people on Earth who use outlets, that number surely adds up. Unplugging a charger may be one of the easiest fixes on this list, so try to be conscious and take a few seconds to form this good habit.

Wash your clothes in cold water.

While most fabrics fare better in cold water anyway, many people ignore these instructions and hit the hot water button anyway (often due to the myth that this somehow gets clothes cleaner). In addition to shrinking clothing, washing laundry in hot water also wastes a lot more energy. Other laundry-related ways to save power and water include only washing full loads (you should be doing at most one load a week) and refraining from drying things that you have time to air-dry.

Turn the water off while you brush your teeth.

While dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two full minutes every morning and night, no one ever said anything about leaving the water on for that whole time period. Most sinks use around 3 gallons of water per minute when left on, so that would about to 12 gallons of water a day wasted. Going back to an earlier point, that’s even more water than those two extra minutes in the shower.

Make the most of the daylight while you can.

Who else instinctively turns the lights on as soon as they enter their room, regardless of what time of day it is? I know I’m definitely guilty of that, and it’s a habit I am definitely trying to curb. I like to sleep with my blinds closed, and I always forget to pull them back up in the morning, meaning my room is usually dark. Instead of doing that and relying on the lights, I know it’s important to make the switch to opening the window during the daylight hours. Besides saving energy, this can also help improve your mood and make you feel way less claustrophobic in your room.

The Best Ways to Soothe Your Sunburn

For anyone that’s as pale as me, going to the beach can sometimes turn into a nightmare. What starts as a fun day hanging out with friends by the water can quickly turn into a week of looking like a lobster, which is something I always dread come summer. Besides the fact that a sunburn can look super embarrassing, it can also damage your skin. The best trick I could give you to avoid the redness is to not get burnt at all (carrying around a bottle of SPF 30 is always the way to go,) but we are all guilty of neglecting our skin until it’s too late. So, if you’re like me and are constantly in denial about how easily you burn and are now regretting it, here are some tricks I’ve picked up for soothing your sunburn as soon as possible:

Whip out the aloe vera

I know this is a basic tip that (hopefully) everyone knows by now, but that’s because it’s so effective. One of the worst parts of a sunburn is feeling like you are radiating heat and an aloe vera ointment (a cooling agent) combats that. It’s important to stay as cool as possible when you have a burn without drying your skin (which could irritate it further.) Aloe vera is the best of both worlds in this case, and I would recommend always having a bottle laying around your bathroom. Alternatively, holding a cold  compress against affected areas can also be very soothing.

Take a cold shower or bath

This tip is similar to the first one, since it’s all about keeping yourself cool. The water doesn’t have to be freezing, but should be slightly colder than you’re used to in order to take the extra body heat into account. Nothing can be worse on a sunburn than continued exposure to heat, whether it comes in the form of sunlight or shower water, so try your best to switch up your regular shower routine to soothe the pain.

Take an OTC pain reliever or anti-inflammatory if pain is extreme

Although this is only really necessary in situations where the pain is unbearable, an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen can be extremely helpful in easing the pain of a bad burn. In addition to relieving pain, an anti-inflammatory can also take down some of the swelling and push the healing process of a sunburn. Do not be fooled, though; medication can only do so much, and you have to give the skin time to heal at its own pace. A sunburn is a sunburn, and there isn’t a magic pill that can change that.

Stay out of the sun!

This is perhaps the most important point I can make. You don’t have to become a hermit or anything, but if you have a bad sunburn, you should keep it out of the sun for as long as possible. More exposure to the sun could only serve to irritate the affected spots and either worsen the existing burn, or burn you in a different place. If you must go outside, wear loose, long clothing that covers the burns. In this case, your go-to of leggings and skinny jeans are a definite no.

Some Classics To Add To Your Beach Read List

Every summer, Barnes & Nobles crowds the shelves closest to the doors with piles of “beach reads.’” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I got tired of reading a bunch of different books with the same generic plot lines and characters. A few years ago, I swore off “beach reads” and decided to turn back to the classics ‒ and I think that others should try to do the same. If you have an interest, here’s a list of some literary classics that I recommend everyone read this summer:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This was the first book I chose when I embarked on my journey to rediscover the classics. It’s one of those books that, once you read it, you fully understand why it came to be so famous. A quintessential, albeit dated, coming of age novel, Pride and Prejudice is surprisingly relevant, funny, and self-aware (even in 2017).

1984 by George Orwell

We’ve all seen the headlines about the ‘sudden’ spark in popularity of Orwell’s classic dystopian fiction, 1984. But have we all actually read the book? Not all high schools require this book in the curriculum (mine didn’t,) and some even ban it (it’s consistently one of the top 10 most banned books in America). But it is an understatement to say this book is a necessary read‒by the time you’re halfway through, everything you think you know about government has flipped on its head in a thrilling, but terrifying way. And that may just be what we need right about now.

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Technically not an autobiography, Tender Is The Night is Fitzgerald’s unofficial account of his life with Zelda. Closely mirroring their relationship, it helps the reader understand what went with one of the greatest American romances behind closed doors. It’s packed with Fitzgerald’s beautiful prose, love, luxury, tragedy and so much more. What else could you want to read about this summer?

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Something you need to know going into this book is that, at many points, it will be difficult to make sense of what is going on. But that is the genius of Woolf’s prose. In Mrs. Dalloway, what seems frivolous suddenly becomes serious (and vice versa).  Written in a stream of consciousness style, Mrs. Dalloway lets you get into the heads of all of the characters and understand them on an emotional and intellectual level. She subverts literary traditions about narration through this technique, solidifying this book’s role in changing storytelling forever.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I would be lying to you if I didn’t mention that this book is definitely on the longer side. It actually took me the majority of a summer to read the first time, but it was totally worth it. Forget Of Mice and Men‒this book is Steinbeck’s literary masterpiece (and my favorite book of all time). Combining multiple generations of a family into one story, by the end you’re left wishing that you had more time left with the characters.

Easy Tricks For Taking Better Instagram Photos

Despite how much we may deny it, we all know that we notice how many likes our pictures get on Instagram. Especially if a post we thought would do well, doesn’t. The standards for a good Instagram account at Emerson are high‒I mean, how are you supposed to compete with all the photography accounts, all white aesthetic pages, and modeling accounts? Well, I’m not saying that your page will get famous overnight, but I can assure you following a few simple guidelines will get you a few more likes here and there.

Always make sure your horizon line is straight.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone posts a photo of a landscape, and the line is crooked. It’s basically impossible to get a perfectly straight horizon line when you’re using your iPhone to shoot (like I do,) but there is an easy way to fix this before you post it. Go to your photos, click edit, and then the crop/straighten icon. Drag the image around until your horizon line matches one of the lines on the grid, and then you’re all set.

Don’t rely on pre-made filters.

Although it may be easier to upload a photo, click one of Instagram’s filters, and then post, it doesn’t always work out that well. You can almost always do a better job touching up the picture yourself (whether you’re using an editing app like VSCO or just the edit feature directly on Instagram.) There are a lot of options for what you can do to the photo, but I recommend sticking with fixing the brightness, contrast, the highlights, and the shadows. Play around with these for a few minutes and you can seriously upgrade the photo without making it look too obvious (like a filter would do.)

Be careful with vertical photos.

If you go out with your girls and you didn’t get a good photo, did you really even go out? Everyone’s natural instinct when taking a picture with a few friends is usually to take a vertical photo with the people filling the whole screen. Although this would look great printed out, or posted on Facebook, a vertical picture isn’t always the best choice for Instagram. Yes, Instagram made it possible to make the whole thing fit without cutting anyone’s head off, but it could still mess up your feed. On your feed, only a square version of the photo will appear, which means some heads or feet will still be cut off of your vertical picture. You can easily avoid this by either leaving some empty space on the top and bottom of the photo, or by taking a horizontal picture to begin with (which is my personal go-to). Trust me, your feed will thank you.

Take your selfies on the camera app, not Snapchat.

It’s so tempting to take all of your selfies on Snapchat, where the image doesn’t flip and you don’t have to wonder why your face always looks off when it does. But the cold, hard truth is that the quality of the camera app is just overall better than Snapchat. Downloading a picture from Snapchat (and then editing it) runs the risk of becoming grainy, while a camera photo usually stays sharp no matter what you do to it. My advice is to learn to love how you look in the selfies where the image flips because that’s how the rest of the world usually sees you, anyway. The only person that’s accustomed to seeing your face in mirror images is you, so while you may think you look better, everyone else may think you look just a little different. (And to piggy-back off my last tip, I also recommend trying horizontal selfies over vertical ones so nothing gets cropped).

Songs To Add To Your Summer Playlist

Whether you’re cruising down the highway with your windows down, relaxing on the beach with your friends, going on wild adventures or just chilling in your room, a summer playlist is always a must. The radio is a good fallback but what about when you’re not in the car (or when you get tired of hearing the same few songs over and over again?) I recommend that for the moments when you don’t want to leave the soundtrack of your summer up to chance, you add these songs to your playlist:

Replica – The xx
Genre: Indie

After years of hiatus, The xx’s I See You marked their highly anticipated return to music. I’ll be the first to admit my unpopular opinion, which is that I couldn’t seem to fall in love with this album as much as everybody else. This song stood out to me, though, and will definitely be my first choice for a chill song.

Drive (Los Angeles) – Lolawolf
Genre: Electronic

The first time I heard this song was in the movie 6 Years (which made me ugly cry way more than I’d want to admit.) But, after separating my (probably over the top) emotions from this soundtrack, I realized I needed to hear it again. What I like most about it is that you can sit back and relax to this song without falling asleep, making it the perfect late night driving song.

Don’t Leave ft. MØ – Snakehips
Genre: Electropop

Last year, Snakehips gave us “All My Friends” featuring Tinashe and Chance the Rapper. Now, the duo is blessing us again with “Don’t Leave.” Basically, this song is a foolproof way of bringing the life to any party and MØ’s voice is no joke.

In Cold Blood – Alt-J
Genre: Alternative

Few people are more excited about Alt-J’s upcoming album RELAXER than me. This will be their first album release since 2014, and I’ve been patiently waiting. “In Cold Blood” is just one of the few singles they’ve released early, and it definitely will help pass the time until the June release.

Glazin’ – Jacuzzi Boys
Genre: Indie

When this song came up on my Spotify Discover playlist a few weeks ago, I knew I had heard it somewhere (I was guessing it was in one of the ~cool movies I had watched recently). After scouring the internet, I realized that I had actually heard it in an episode 90210. Take that as you will. But regardless of how you feel about early 2000s teen dramas, definitely give this song a chance this summer.

Cut Your Bangs – Radiator Hospital
Genre: Rock

I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve jammed out to this song with my sister in the car. It’s short, sweet, and to the point with catchy lyrics and an even catchier guitar riff. This song was released in 2014 and still hasn’t gotten old, so that probably means it never will. It’s officially time for everyone to jump on the bandwagon and add this song to their summer playlists.

I’m The One ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, & Chance the Rapper – DJ Khaled
Genre: Hip Hop

Okay, I know I said I’m tired of Top 40, but just let me have this one. “I’m The One” is an infectious mix of different voices and sounds, and even the biggest hipster has to admit it’s the song of the summer.

Making The Most of This Summer Without An Internship

Being at Emerson, it’s likely that you’re constantly surrounded by freshmen with more on their resumes than your parents. That’s just the way it is here, which means there can be a lot of pressure to build up your own portfolio through internships or other professional experiences. However, as we all know, starting out can get a little tricky—especially when you don’t get that call back from a position you really wanted. The truth of the matter is that sometimes things just don’t work out, but fear not. Even if you didn’t land the perfect internship position, there are still a lot of ways to stay productive this summer. Here are just a few ways that you can make the most of your four months off from school.

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