A lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon us and destroyed best-laid plans around the world. Even as the Biden government rolls out the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan following a series of federal stimulus bills, economic recovery seems a long way off. According to the United States Labor Department, there is a 5.9 percent unemployment rate in the country at the moment, with 9.5 million Americans currently out of work. While these figures have improved markedly since the record high in April last year, they still indicate that it will be a significant amount of time before the labor market can recover to pre-pandemic levels.
As economists and monetary institutions argue endlessly about whether we are presently in a recession or a depression, individuals struggle internally about whether we should live in the moment or be frugal for the future. But old habits are hard to break in a consumerist society. From cutting-edge electronics to obscure pantry items, much of our emotional satisfaction stems from the purchasing of products. In trying times such as these, many people engage in shoptimism to improve their mood and have a break from the prevalent feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. And why not? After making it through 15 months of financial distress and pandemic restrictions, we all deserve to reward ourselves.
Buy Less, Buy Better
The 21st century is all about convenience and along with fast food, fast download speeds, and fast hook-ups, we also have fast fashion. Instead of having only a couple of major collection launches each year, fast fashion retailers can produce a new collection every two weeks, encouraging consumers to subscribe to a perpetual cycle of buying and discarding as they pursue trends. Sadly, these affordable fast fashion items have a hefty hidden cost. The questionable manufacturing practices of fast fashion brands include wage exploitation, employee health abuse, and environmental pollution.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 11 million tons of textiles see the landfill each year, the majority of which is clothing. With more than half of fast fashion products shelved or discarded after a few months, the carbon footprint and subsequent waste involved in the trade is staggering. In response, several trends have emerged to create a completely different fashion experience. While the consumption of luxury products is rarely framed in the light of moderation and sustainability, this decade has seen a movement towards the production of high-end fashion items as a cure to constant cheap consumption.
Shoppers are increasingly aware of socioeconomic and environmental issues and are very conscious of how they spend their money. Having less disposable income due to the financial downturn has not stopped our desire to shop but has instead prompted us to spend conscientiously. As an alternative to buying a large number of cheap clothes, consumers are now likely to purchase a few better-quality and more expensive items. These high-end products are generally manufactured to responsible standards and made of extremely durable premium materials. In addition, luxury products are also less likely to be wantonly discarded and often retain their value for years.
The value retention of luxury apparel and accessories is one of the factors driving the latest market in the fashion industry—resale. In 2019, the Kardashian-Jenners launched their Kardashian Kloset website, reselling a curated collection of pre-loved clothing, shoes, and handbags. In March this year, Kering—the luxury group that owns designer fashion houses Alexander McQueen and Gucci—made headlines for acquiring shares in the high-end resale platform Vestiaire Collective. According to the Financial Times, the current pre-loved luxury market is worth $24 billion and is expected to rise to over $50 billion by 2023 as the popularity of luxury resale grows dramatically by the day.
The burgeoning high-end resale market has given prolific shoppers with closets full of designer apparel and accessories an extra stream of income and a veritable investment portfolio. By now, some of you must be looking at your wardrobes and thinking, “How much is my designer bag worth?” Indeed, the luxury secondhand market is so vibrant at the moment that there are apps designed to help people authenticate and value their assets through artificial intelligence recognition. There are also platforms that assist users in listing their luxury goods for potential buyers to peruse.
It seems that millennial and Gen Z shoppers have shrugged off the social stigma around secondhand products and embraced the benefits of sustainability instead. Through resale trading and the circular economy, consumers are given access to limited-edition and vintage designer products, luxury items are given an extended lifecycle, and the environment is given a breather from the pressures of relentless production. Despite the despondency of the times, our evolution towards a more sustainable society is cause for optimism (and shoptimism). Trends come and go, but fashion lasts forever. Let us hope that the resale industry will help it last in our lives and not in our landfills.
The average full-time employee in the United States works 1,767 hours a year. Compared to our European counterparts, Americans are on the job for an additional hour per working day. However, longer working hours do not necessarily translate to more productivity. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US and Denmark shared the same GDP per hour worked outcomes last year but workers in Denmark worked an astonishing 421 hours less than those in the US. Similarly, workers in Mexico produced the lowest GDP per hour worked of all OECD countries, even as they put in 2,124 hours of work a year.
Let us go back, for a minute, to the Industrial Revolution. In the late 18th century, businesses sought to maximize the output of their factories by establishing a ‘sun up to sun down’ workday. Combined with low wages which led workers to endure long hours of work to earn a liveable salary, factory employees of the time were clocking a laborious 10-16 hours a day. In 1818, Welsh activist Robert Owen began campaigning for the eight-hour workday with the slogan, “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” Despite numerous protests, strikes, and fair labor campaigns, the movement did not become a standard for nearly a century.
In 1914, the Ford Motor Company shocked the world by cutting the basic workday down to eight hours while increasing wages twofold. This change led to a marked improvement in worker productivity. Combined with massive innovation in their production and manufacturing process, Ford doubled their profit margins within two years of the change. As many businesses changed their standards to follow in Ford’s footsteps, the federal government finally put the eight-hour workday into law with the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1937.
Running on Real-Time
Coming back to current times, researchers are now suggesting that perhaps eight hours of work is still too much. Compared to the labor conditions of the 1900s, our modern working circumstances are definitely much improved. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the institution of the eight-hour workday was not based on the optimum number of hours we can concentrate or stay engaged; it was simply a humane response to the grueling conditions of the time. With the advancement of automation and engineering, the workforce of our grandparents’ era became free to take on less menial roles. As we ride on the peak of the Information Age, is it time for us to harness technological advancements to achieve better productivity?
According to our bodies’ circadian rhythm, we have two periods of peak productivity each day—in the morning and in the late afternoon. The middle of the day is the procrastination zone, where our energy and concentration are at their lowest. In fact, studies have shown that full-time employees are productive for only three of the eight hours on the clock. Many progressive companies are now experimenting with shorter work days or four-day workweeks, which are said to allow employees to be happier, healthier, more invested in their jobs, and ultimately more productive.
Of course, it is not just a matter of cutting down employee working hours alone. Information technology has now allowed us to automate and streamline many of the processes that typically take up a lot of our time. Instead of managers having to use pen and paper or manually filling in spreadsheets to plan employee schedules, a modern online calendar scheduling tool can help to save both time and effort. Businesses can likewise take advantage of a free online scheduling tool to display availability for their services and accept bookings remotely. By cutting down on administration, employees and managers have more time to focus on creative and constructive tasks that benefit from the human touch.
Scheduling for Success
BookMeToday is a premier scheduling appointment software designed to help companies effectively manage the time of their employees and customers. With almost 20 years of experience in creating customized online booking software for corporate clients, BookMeToday is now creating solutions to suit the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs. As BookMeToday is a cloud-based software, all information is updated immediately, and business owners, employees, and customers can access it easily using their laptops, tablets, or smartphones. They can also receive instant notifications and alerts of bookings or changes.
Staff scheduling and management are one of the most sought-after features of the BookMeToday platform. Through the dashboard, managers can allocate appointments to specific staff members, while receiving reports on their productivity, sales, and schedules. The software can also permit staff members to manage their own work calendars and leave requests, allowing a collaborative approach in schedule management. This releases managers from having to resolve minor scheduling conflicts between staff and offers employees both autonomy and accountability for their time.
For businesses that deal with a large number of clients, BookMeToday’s robust online booking system is an invaluable tool. The platform offers multi-channel bookings, meaning that customers can make a reservation from a social media site like Facebook, your business listing on Google, or your website. The online booking system displays real-time availability, allowing potential customers to pick a suitable time slot without having to tie up the reception desk. The software also comes with a secure payment option, so customers can make deposits or payments upon their reservation. If appointment slots are fully booked, the software can even offer potential customers the chance to join a waitlist and be informed of any openings.
Customers love convenience and simplicity. BookMeToday helps you to build trust and lasting relationships with your customers by shortening response times and providing personalized booking options. The platform allows customers to schedule recurring appointments in a single booking and companies can reward loyal customers with priority slots on the calendar. Should customers want to schedule multiple consecutive services, the intelligent platform can automatically find a time where this is possible. Even big groups are catered for, with customers having the power to schedule and pay for group bookings in one transaction.
BookMeToday is a feature-packed online scheduling solution. From smart time zone adjustment to the intuitive and informative dashboard, the software will modernize every aspect of time management for your business. Upgrade your scheduling process with the latest technology and let BookMeToday propel your company into new levels of productivity.
Picture this: You have a major exam coming up, one that could decide whether you will proudly advance to the next year, or be doomed to repeat all the classes of this year.
The course you’re taking is not an easy one. Even you, smart cookie that you are, may not be able to make it.
So you study. You study like a man or woman possessed. You spend every scrap of free time reading and rereading your notes. After class, on weekends, on public holidays, or even past midnight. You don’t waste a free second.
Eventually, the big day comes. You enter the examination room, and begin the test.
Things seem to go well for you at the start. The answers just flow out of you, and you feel good about yourself. Eventually, though, fatigue starts seeping into your mind. Your thoughts become hazier and more confused, until you eventually fall asleep while the exam clock is ticking.
Burnout is real, folks. You need rest. No matter what your elders may tell you, one can’t just power through mental stress and fatigue with pure willpower alone. Sometime or another, you’re gonna have to take a break.
Despite our modern preoccupation with “the hustle”, such endless toil is actually counterproductive, because it’s antithetical to how the brain works. Research has found that it’s only in moments of downtime that your brain can consolidate memories, retain skills that you’ve recently learned, restore imaginative energy to a dull and languid mind, and even outright heal your body and maintain your immune system.
Put it simply, without rest, you won’t remember a thing, your thoughts will be as bland and boring as tofu, and you’ll get sick a lot more often.
Luckily for you and me, there’s no better time in history for one to enjoy a short break. Today, we have all sorts of entertainment that we can access at the touch of a button. In fact, there’s so many that you might be unsure where to start!
Well, let me lay out a few recommendations to start with:
1. Watch Videos
Yes, we’ve all watched videos before. But they don’t have to be quick or frivolous to be entertaining.
There are many video creators out there that you could learn all sorts of topics from, in a fun and exciting way. From philosophy to geography, history to even game design! If you can get a degree for it, then you could almost certainly learn it online too.
Your video-watching experience doesn’t have to be all mindless!
2. Play Games
Perhaps you want your entertainment to be a little more interactive?
If you want an immediate gaming fix, then browser games should be your first port-of-call. They can be run on a browser almost immediately, bypassing any need for lengthy downloads or having to reserve memory on your device of choice.
If you want a little risk with your fun, you can try your hand at the latest in casino online games. If you’re feeling a little more old-school, you could try these older hands of browser gaming. Browser games have been entertaining generations of bored people on a budget for years. Their continued presence is proof positive that you don’t need fat stacks of money or terabytes of free hard drive space to be a “real gamer”.
3. Be Creative
One’s break time doesn’t have to be filled with pre-packaged entertainment, though. Your break time can be a productive time too!
Are you currently following a book or television series? Is your mind bursting with all sorts of story possibilities, from the secret backstories of side characters to the romantic escapades of two characters that you know are an item (even if the story has yet to acknowledge them as such)?
Well, you’re in luck! There is an entire thriving community of writers online, who revel in taking their beloved fictional properties, and writing their own stories on top. You might already know them as fanfiction writers. These people are some of the most supportive readers and writers around. Many professional authors got their start as fanfiction authors, in fact!
Perhaps your talents lean more towards the visual? Some sites allow your artwork to be posted online to be admired by others, much like the fanfiction scene above. If you can draw or paint, it doesn’t take more than a drawing tablet or a scanner to present your work to the world, and hopefully get many gratifying compliments about it.
That concludes my list of things to do while on a break. But before I conclude, let me make one last recommendation:
Remember to get back to your studies eventually!
The purpose of taking a break is to refresh your mind, leaving it sharp enough to handle the mental tasks ahead of it. So once you played your games, watched your videos, took a nap, or unwound your mind with some other pastime, you should be able to get back into your studies with renewed vigour and refined wit!
Good luck on your studies!
Cannabis is the most widely cultivated drug in the world. The plant has been utilized extensively by human civilizations since ancient times. It is referred to in the Hebrew version of the Bible as an ingredient in holy anointing oils and the Ebers papyri as an Egyptian medication for numerous ailments. In the Asian continent, the Atharva Veda—one of the four holy Hindu texts—lists cannabis as a source of soma, an elixir that allows priests to be liberated from their physical bodies and achieve a higher state of enlightenment.
Cannabis was first adopted in the United States in the 17th century with hemp or cannabis ruderalis as a textile crop. Hemp was a fast-growing and versatile type of cannabis used in the production of rope, sails, clothing, and sacks. The government strongly encouraged the domestic production of the plant, with the Virginia Assembly decreeing in 1619 that every farmer had to grow hemp. At that time, the possession of hemp was so prolific that it was considered legal tender in some states. By the late 19th century, derivatives from the cannabis plant had become a common ingredient in various medicines and were sold over-the-counter in pharmacies.
In the 1930s, a combination of xenophobia, the Great Depression, a hard-line stance on narcotics, and a peculiar propaganda film called Reefer Madness led to the federal government enacting laws to restrict and outlaw cannabis use. While hemp continued to be grown across the country during World War II for the production of military necessities, the other uses of cannabis became increasingly demonized and criminalized. Nevertheless, despite the listing of cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis use has remained high across the nation.
<h3>Growing a Whole New World</h3>
The good news is that we have made big strides in the push for the legalization of cannabis in the last few years. During the 2020 election, every introduced cannabis-related ballot was passed and 1 in 3 Americans now live in a state where cannabis use is considered legal. Recent polls have shown that a staggering 91 percent of Americans support cannabis legalization for either recreational or medicinal use and the conversation about federal legislation reform is undoubtedly intensifying.
In the private sector, the growing legal cannabis industry is grabbing the attention of entrepreneurs, investors, manufacturers, and researchers. According to The US Cannabis Report 2019 Industry Outlook report, the domestic cannabis industry is projected to grow 14 percent annually over the next six years, reaching an annual market value of approximately 30 billion by 2025. For states such as New Jersey that have recently legalized cannabis, this translates to nearly 20 thousand new industry jobs.
The cannabis boom has also attracted food and beverage brands, with fast-food chain Carls Jr. introducing a limited-edition Rocky Mountain High burger and Martha Stewart launching pet chews infused with CBD. Big players in the addiction industries of alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals are buying into the cannabis industry, investing heavily with the intent of selling their products en masse in the future. It is expected that pressure from such giant conglomerates will push the government to ramp up legislation reform.
As legality and regulation of cannabis continue to develop in the US and around the world, the industry seems set for an expansion explosion. However, it is important to keep our sights trained on the progressive values that have sustained the cannabis community in the previous decades. As Big Marijuana looms on the sidelines, we should remember to support small local businesses and those run by women or people of color, and work to dismantle the systemic racism that led to the criminalization of cannabis in the first place.
<h3>A Different Class of CBD</h3>
The cannabis plant produces over a hundred different cannabinoids, with the most prevalent and renowned being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike THC, CBD does not bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors in the brain and so does not produce any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. Studies have shown that CBD can have a whole host of benefits to our health and wellness including reducing the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD; relieving pain, inflammation, and migraines; improving sleep quality; preventing epilepsy and seizures, and complementing cancer treatment.
With so many different brands entering the market, it can be difficult for consumers to find a high-quality real CBD oil product that truly delivers. You could search for ‘CBD oil buy’ but not every store having a CBD oil sale will have premium products on offer. In this developing market, Roma Leaf is a CBD online store with a difference. One of the founders of the boutique business is a CBD oil consumer herself, who uses the product to manage her anxiety and hemiplegic migraines. Roma Leaf is the result of her quest to produce the most consistent, safe, and effective CBD oil.
All the ingredients that make it into Roma Leaf CBD oil products are organically grown, non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan. Their premium extraction process uses pressurized clean carbon dioxide and specialized equipment to extract CBD and other phytocannabinoids from the cannabis plant, obtaining the purest and most unadulterated cannabinoids. From sourcing to packaging, every aspect of Roma Leaf products is created in the US, ensuring top quality and traceability.
Some brands of CBD oils are variable across manufacturing batches, leaving customers dissatisfied with the unreliable results. Roma Leaf is committed to delivering consistency across all their products to ensure that their customers receive optimal benefits with every use. While most CBD oils available today use olive or coconut oil as a solution base, Roma Leaf exclusively uses organic hemp seed oil that is rich in omega fatty acids to provide customers with better and longer-lasting results.
In line with their dedication to providing the purest THC-free CBD oils, all Roma Leaf products are tested by ISO 17025-certified third-party laboratories to ensure uniform standards of cannabinoid and terpene potencies. In addition, these lab tests guarantee that their products are free of pesticides or herbicides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, residual solvents, and other contaminants. These lab certificates are available for download on the Roma Leaf website, so customers can rest assured that they are only consuming the best ingredients for their bodies.
As the cannabis marketplace grows and changes, consumers can look forward to more cannabis-based products from CBD oil tinctures to balms and bath bombs. While we wait for scientific research to substantiate the medical benefits of cannabis, we can enjoy CBD oil in all its forms and the calm and relaxation that comes with it.