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My Top 10 Non-Fiction Reads of 2023

Friday 19 January 2024

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A new year is upon us and you know what that means?! MORE BOOKS! Okay I should calm down. I’ve already shared my top 10 fiction books of 2023, and you can see what those were here. However, I also love a good non-fiction read. Whether that’s a book on climate justice, a personal story or memoir, or a deep dive into a particular topic, I love getting stuck in. Here are some of my favourites from this year! I’d love to know your recommendation too. 



An Extra Pair of Hands: A story of caring and everyday acts of love by Kate Mosse


Kate Mosse’s portrayal of care and love is deeply touching. My heart ached when I finished this book, it was beautiful. Mosse shares her experiences living with and caring for her parents and her mother-in-law in their elderly years and of losing both her mother and father. In some ways this is a sad book, and I did get teary every now and again, but wow it’s so full of hope and joy. I especially loved when Mosse discussed the close friendship between her mother and mother-in-law developed particularly after her father died, and of the companionship her and her mother-in-law found in each other in lockdown. It’s a truly gorgeous look at love and connection. But Mosse doesn’t view her experiences in isolation. The Covid-19 pandemic looms large in the background of this book, as it still does in many if not all of our lives. When looking at the concept of caring, Mosse highlights the systemic inequalities that face paid and unpaid carers in the UK, including working conditions and exposure to disease. 



“No Offence But…”: How to have difficult conversations for meaningful change by Gina Martin & co.


“No Offence But…” is one of the most useful books I’ve read this year. Gina Martin highlights the importance of individual conversations in social change and equips us as readers in how to undertake them in an impactful way. Each chapter begins with a problematic phrase such as “Boys Will Be Boys”, “To Play Devil’s Advocate”, “Men Aren’t Doing Anything to Help Feminism”, “I Don’t See Colour” and “It Was a Different Time”, which are subsequently unpicked and debunked it such as a way that you can never see them as valid ever again. Gina and her guest writers are incredible at doing this. In Martin’s chapters, she shares experiences from her own life, such as her first memory of experiencing misogyny as a child or a friend’s sexist behaviour. The situations described by Martin (and her guest contributors) are so every day and really share the frustrations of regular and normalized discrimination. However each chapter highlights the exact arguments that can be used to counter this kind of behaviour, certain key facts to remember and tips on how to challenge these situations. “No Offence But…” is a crucial read for anyone wanting to make the world a better place.


 

Strong Female Character by Fern Brady

 

This copy of Strong Female has gone through many different hands as it has been passed around a friendship group and beyond. Strong Female Character has many reviews saying that it’s incredibly funny and has been marketed in that way too, which makes sense as Brady is a well-known comedian. However, (and I know friends of mine who’ve also read the book agree with me) that is not the word I would use to describe this book. Of course there are moments of humour, but oh my god this book is heartbreaking and intense and stressful. There is so much trauma in this book I don’t think it’s really fair to call it funny. It is, though, a brilliant portrayal of undiagnosed neurodivergence, poverty, mental illness, addiction, and harmful relationships. It’s a lot and I would through a ton of trigger warnings in there. But it’s so incredibly raw and honest – perhaps one of the most open memoirs I’ve ever read.   


 

A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar by Harry Nicholas


A Trans Man Walks Into a Gay Bar is a beautifully written story of self (and sexual) discovery. Harry Nicholas charts his experiences figuring out his gender and sexuality (or as he puts it ‘The Lesbian to Straight Man to Gay Man Timeline’), navigating Grindr and the gay dating scene as a trans man as well as figuring out the rest of life. Nicholas states at the beginning that this is not in any way a guidebook or ‘how-to’ of being trans or gay (not that there is any one way of being either those things anyway) but that he wanted his story to be out there as he had only seen memoirs or accounts of being either gay or trans, very rarely being both gay and trans. This book is intimate and tender, with Nicholas showing amazing vulnerability and openness. It shows the duality of the difficulties that come with being trans in a transphobic society and trans joy. I loved it. 


 

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon


As I’ve been trying to understand my own brain and mental illness, I’ve been trying to read more stories about OCD and people’s experiences with living with it. Bryony Gordon’s experiences with OCD are intense. It’s a lot. But it also felt like she was not holding back and was being very raw in bearing her all – the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to widen my perspective and read the experiences of other people with OCD and also those with other mental illnesses. A good and interesting read, but a lot. 

 

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit


This is potentially my favourite non-fiction books of the year. It’s one of those books where I feel like I grunt with enthusiasm when I try to describe it rather than using my words. However, that’s not really helpful when I’m trying to describe it to you using the written word. But rest assured if I’ve already made some strange noises trying to figure out how to tell you how much I loved this book.

 

In a sentence, this book is a biography of George Orwell, centring on his relationship to nature. But it’s so much more than that.  Solnit uses Orwell as a springboard to discuss a whole range of topics including beauty, joy, aestheticism, workers’ rights, the rise to fascism, our connection to nature, Stalin’s lemons, colonialism, slavery and gender inequality. There’s so much in this book it feels like it spills from the pages. I read this as I was studying nature and power in Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier for my Master’s dissertation, and although she focusses on a completely different author, so much of Solnit’s writing here felt relevant. Orwell’s Roses heavily influenced my dissertation and brilliantly highlights the connection to human action, nature and systemic power structures. To say I adored it would be an understatement. 



Radical Intimacy by Sophie K. Rosa


This book was everywhere on my social media at the beginning of the year, and it looked fascinating so of course I crumbled to the inevitability of advertising. It was worth it though. Radical Intimacy looks at the relationship between capitalism and well, our relationships, of all kinds, our physical and mental health and our outlook on social connections. I have made notes, underlines and scribbles all over this book, which is always a good sign. Sophie K. Rosa covers all sorts of relationships in this book - from friendships, romantic and sexual relationships, family, and even our relationships with strangers, all of our interactions are impacted by capitalist ideology, which separates and isolates us from each other. Rosa breaks this down brilliantly. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.


 

Tell Me the Truth About Love: 13 Tales from the Therapist’s Couch by Susanna Abse


I love books about love, relationships and human connection. I also love books that analyse the way our brains work and how we think. Tell Me the Truth About Love is a combination of all of those things. Abse’s laid back writing style draws you in and the compelling stories keep you there. Each chapter plays on a fairy tale and shares a different story of a couple Abse has worked with (with names changed and other identifying characteristics removed). Let’s admit it, it’s entertaining reading about other people’s struggles, but it’s also fascinating delving into understanding behaviour.  

 


Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit


Rebecca Solnit is a theme on this list. I absolutely adore her work. It really resonates with me and gets my mind whirring. 

 

Hope in the Dark should be mandatory reading for anyone involved with climate activism, anyone who deals with eco-anxiety or climate doomism – basically anyone who is worried about the climate crisis and wants to make the world better. So much of this book also applies to so many other social justice movements too – basically anywhere that we need hope. Solnit characterises hope not as a passive feeling that happens to us but an active one which needs effort and action to sustain it. This book helped me feel so much better about the world, about climate activism and really informs a lot of what I do. Where there is no action, there is no hope. 


 

Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing by Clayton Thomas-Müller


I read Life in the City of Dirty Water at the beginning of the year as part of Shado Mag’s Book Club. Thomas-Müller came to speak to us as part of our book club and it was amazing to hear him speak. His words and his story is beautiful and touching and I’m so grateful that he took the time to speak to us.

 

A Life in the City of Dirty Water is Clayton’s memoir, following him throughout his childhood in Winnpeg and the systemic discrimination facing indigenous people in the land colonially known as Canada. At times, this book is difficult to read as we look back at Clayton’s experiences. He covers incidents of sexual assault and rape, domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, drug use, gang violence, suicide and suicidal ideation and environmental racism. Heavy as the subject matter might be, it is also profound and raw, yet inspirational and comforting. It is a warning against burnout and hustle culture as is so prevalent in activist spaces. It is a lesson that we are all part of one ecosystem. It is a reminder to reconnect to the earth, to ourselves, and our heritage, in whatever that may mean to us. It is also reminder that if we are fuelled purely by anger we will burn up ourselves and those around us - that when hatred drives your work, you eventually turn into the thing you’re fighting against. 


 


This blog has been neglected somewhat while I completed my Master’s, but now I have so many ideas for blog posts I would love to share with you and I hope to post more regularly in 2024. To help me have more time to spend on this blog, it would be amazing if you could buy me a cuppa or two to keep me going! It would mean the world to have your support and would also help keep my cat warm. 

 

See you soon,

Jemima

If you liked this post you might like: My Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2022


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My Top 10 Fiction Books of 2023

Friday 12 January 2024

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Happy 2024! I’m so excited about what this year could bring. It’s my first full year outside of education, having finished my Master’s back in September, and I’m just now fully getting into the swing of reading whatever I want to for fun. Despite completing my dissertation last year, I still managed to have some good non-uni-related reads (although several books I mention here are uni-related, but I really loved them otherwise they wouldn’t be included). I also ended up revisiting a lot of old favourites, particularly in the second half of the year. I decided not to include these in my top reads of this year, just to include books that were new to me. Some of these books have also appeared on previous editions of these lists before and kind of thought it was unfair to include established faves amongst new ones. 


 

I reread all of The Hunger Games series and rewatched the films about a week during the summer and fully returned to my 13/14-year-old obsessive state. This series never gets old and still has so much for us today. Seeing parallels between the Capitol and Israel at the moment has been chilling. 

 

I also reread The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein whilst I was ill with Covid, and just before Christmas, Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern (also known as Where Rainbows End). All of these books are so comforting to me – the characters just feel like coming home. Something I want to prioritise when it comes to reading this year is fun and ease. I don’t need to be reading hard-hitting serious things all the time. I want silly and fluffy love stories in with discussions about justice and power. I’ve already read 2 books this year and I’m just so excited about stories again.


Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

 

An Agatha Christie classic. I have seen the most recent film adaption of this book several times and I love it. The story is so intriguing and complicated. There’s so much about human desires, connections and power in there. Ugh I love it. I got so into this book. I read it while I was in Sweden in October and ended up reading most of it whilst I had an evening to myself. I love it when I completely get fully absorbed in a story. 


 

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

 

God this book healed my heart and then broke it again. This novel focuses on the romantic relationship between two young Black British people in South East London trying to make their way in creative industries. I won’t say anymore otherwise I will discuss the whole plot. It is gorgeous and raw. I don’t really know how else to describe it to be quite honest with you, but wow Caleb Azumah Nelson is just such a brilliant writer. I know he’s written a few other things as well and I would love to read more of his work.


 
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

 

Hamnet made me baby cry. It follows the story of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, and his children. It is, afterall, named after his only son. I love any book that flips perspective to lift up the voices of the most marginalised in history and Maggie O’Farrell did this beautifully. A loving tale of family, care, isolation and grief. 

 


Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

 

Parable of the Sower is THE climate novel. I’d been meaning to read it for ages but had got prompted to do so by studying ecocriticism at uni. I really enjoyed it and think it feels like a much more contemporary novel than it is, having been published in 1993. A post-apocalyptic world (starting in 2024, lol), we follow Lauren, a 16-year-old girl, as she navigates family, religion, and survival in a world and society that is crumbling into chaos.

 

I’d also add trigger warnings for sexual assault and murder. 


 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

 

As self-proclaimed Hunger Games girlie, I was very nervous about reading the prequel in case it didn’t live up to the original trilogy. However, after my re-read of the series I decided it was time to finally give President Snow’s story a crack. And I did really enjoy it. I loved the way she built up and hinted at how different elements of the society had progressed and become more extreme. I also thought the characters were really interesting too. Don’t get me wrong though, I do still prefer the originals. 


 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

 

I spent a lot of time with Rebecca this year, mostly due to the fact I wrote about it for my dissertation. The title of my dissertation was “For Manderley was ours no longer”: power, control and the natural world in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca” and I absolutely loved working on it. Despite spending around nine months of the year with this book, I still love it. There’s so much nuance, the characters are so interesting, and the world descriptions for fascinating. It’s a tale of intrigue, murder, deception, patriarchy, class and power struggles.



Weyward by Emilia Hart

 

Weyward was actually the first book I read last year, and I started the year off very well indeed. The story follows three women across three different time periods: 1619, 1942 and 2019. However, each of these women has some connection to nature they can’t quite explain. Emilia Hart completely sucked me in and made me feel involved in these women’s experiences. It’s a powerful story of female solidarity, women’s power, connecting to nature and our history. 

 

There are however several trigger warnings I would bear in mind before you read. These are for domestic violence and abuse, sexual assault, pregnancy loss and suicidal ideation. 

 

Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence 

 

Lady Chatterly’s Lover is known as a smutty book, as controversial and as, well, post-WW1 porn. I didn’t exactly think it was the smut-fest history and popular culture has made it out to be. It does however have a fair bit of problematic language and that can’t be excused. There’s a lot that I think is still so valuable about this this book however, particularly by looking at this novel as climate fiction. In fact, there’s more discussion and depiction of nature than there is of sex. I very nearly wrote about this book while at uni but didn’t end up doing so. There’s so much to say about capitalism, class, gender and the environment in this book. I think it’s fascinating. 


 

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie 

 

Another Agatha Christie! Her books are so easy to read and plots so gripping. I read The Body in the Library very quickly. I was absorbed and didn’t figure out whodunit. I just enjoy a good Christie murder story. This is probably lower down on my faves rankings, closer to 10 to be honest. It didn't blow my mind or make me feel incredible things but it was fun and engaging.


 

Variations by Juliet Jacques

 

In this beautiful collection of short stories, Juliet Jacques tells stories of trans people in Britain throughout history. I nearly went to put this book in my non-fiction faves post but remembered partway through that it’s actually fiction. The characters feel so real, I guess because they’re based on real people and are supposed to portray real experiences. Each story uses a different form, such as blog posts, diary entry, film script, and is set in different areas of the UK in different time periods. Each is brilliant and I love Jacques’ way of writing. She is so skilled. If you want brilliant well-written stories to dip into, Variations is for you. 


 

I am so excited about reading more novels this year. I’d love to hear your recommendations and your favourite reads of 2023!

 

This blog has been neglected somewhat while I completed my Master’s, but now I have so many ideas for blog posts I would love to share with you and I hope to post more regularly in 2024. To help me have more time to spend on this blog, it would be amazing if you could buy me a cuppa or two to keep me going! It would mean the world to have your support and would also help keep my cat warm. 

 

See you soon and Happy New Year!

Jemima


If you liked this post you might like: Me at 23

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Me at 24

Monday 23 October 2023

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As I child, I would have thought that I’d have my life much more together aged 24 than is my reality. Don’t get me wrong, I think that kid would still be really proud of who am now and maybe slightly in awe of my life now. I mean, I get paid to write about things I care about and live with a cat – what could be better than that?! 



24-year-old me is tired. I did just finish my Master’s, so I have good reason to be. I think everyone I know is exhausted at the moment. The state of the world has been a lot (understatement of the year) and has been grinding us down slowly. I’ve been trying to prioritise rest after handing in my dissertation, but that’s easier said than done. Capitalism also has a handy habit of making us feel incredibly guilty about resting and not working constantly. That’s super fun, thanks to whoever came up with that system! In such a system, actually resting becomes an act of resistance. And we can do our best to prevent harm to ourselves by reminding each other of that.

 

I finished my Master’s on 1st September, meaning that, at the time of writing, I have been uni-free for 7 weeks. It’s still early days and I’m trying to relax into some kind of routine. At the moment, that’s a lot of figuring out an organising system for my new flat (more on that in a bit), trying to figure out how I can survive (i.e. earn money to pay my bills and rent) while doing want I want and care about (i.e. campaigning, educating, writing). I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I want to expand and continue my freelance work – whether that’s journalism, campaign projects, workshops, social media, research or other community engagement. I have so many ideas for things I want to do and be a part of, but I know a lot of them take time and slow work to achieve. I’ve got time and am not rushing anything, and staying at my hospitality job post-Master’s is definitely keeping some sense of continuity in a very disjointed time. 

 

I moved house just after submitting my diss. This involved very stressful few days of frenzied packing, sorting, redistributing and cleaning before I moved into my flat. This has been the first time I’ve lived somewhere that came fully unfurnished. Although buying a fair chunk of furniture and appliances is expensive, I had a lot of fun finding cute and cheap secondhand items. There are still a couple of non-essentials on my list (mostly more shelving. I have a lot of books…), but the flat has come together really well. My flatmate and I (and our cat Mayonnaise!) have made it such a cosy space. 

 

At 24, I feel much more secure and comfort in myself. In my values, my friends, my knowledge, my sexuality, my skills, even my fashion sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an incredibly anxious bean (I have spent almost all of being 23 monitoring the regrowth of a chunk of my hair after I pulled it out as a result of my trichotillomania) and I get panicky, uncertain and paranoid on a regular basis. But I’m now much more aware of my brain and how it behaves and (some of the time) when it’s lying to me. 

 

I’m still religiously watching Strictly after nearly two decades of fandom, but I’m also bawling at the Ghosts Christmas specials and getting inspired by Alaska Daily. Quiz shows like House of Games and The Wheel are my go-to happy shows. I read books that inspired me, informed how I think and make me reassess the world around me. I also read books that are silly, frivolous, entertaining and have very little impact on my behaviour. Some of these books may be shit but they give me comfort, provide fun, laughter and escapism. And boy do I love them for that!

 

I feel incredibly lucky to have the pals that I do, even if I don’t see most of them as often as I would like. So many people from so many different areas of my life give me such joy and hope in people. Because if there’s one thing I believe in, it’s people. I feel like I have a genuine support network around me, and I’m so grateful for that. There’s nothing like feeling genuinely safe with the people around you. 

 

I may be tired, but this newly-24-year-old is excited about the future and what it will bring. More cats and more books I say! 



If you liked this post you might like: Me at 23

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5 Easy Ways to Take Action This Fashion Revolution Week

Friday 21 April 2023

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Happy Fashion Revolution Week! Okay, so it officially starts tomorrow but we can get ahead of the game. 

This is the week we commemorate the 1,134 mostly women garment workers who died when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013. This year, it is the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy and as always it is a reminder of the change that has been made since in the industry and what needs to come. It is the week we take stock of the progress we have made since then and push to make the industry better. It is the week we remind ourselves why we campaign for a better fashion industry and just how bad the system can be. 



1. Email brands as part of campaigns such as #SignTheAccord


It gets to them. It really does. We know mass emails influence a brand’s actions. They care about what people think of them and how their reputations hold up. We’ve seen this tactic produce effective results with campaigns like #PayUp, Victoria’s Dirty Secret and more. These bring ethical concerns straight to the inboxes to those who have decision-making power and can have a huge sway in brands’ actions. The threat of a removed or reduced customer base can influence policy, especially when combined with other tactics as part of a wider campaign. 
 
Campaigns often share email templates to make it easier for you to take action. For example, here are templates made by Remake for you to contact executives at Levi’s to demand they sign the International Accord on Fire and Safety, a legally binding agreement which ensures basic health and safety for garment workers that was first introduced in the aftermath of Rana Plaza. 


2. Talk about it with friends, family, and anyone you can


We need everyone to take action. And that means getting information spread amongst the majority. Tell people that only two percent of garment workers are paid a living wage. Tell them that Boohoo not only owns Pretty Little Thing but also Nasty Gal, Debenhams, Oasis, Coast, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, MissPap, and more. Tell them how some migrant garment workers in garment factories in Leicester producing clothes for Boohoo are being pai as little as £1 per hour. Tell them how Shein is producing 17 times more clothing than Boohoo, who are already notorious for their over-production. These facts are shocking and they are shocking for a reason.  These facts wake people up to the scale of the problem and prompt an alteration of behaviours. 


3. Donate to organisations, campaign groups and unions working to change the industry


Change happens faster when there are funds behind it. Campaigns run more smoothly and have more impact when they have better funding. The people working behind the scenes are able to focus more of their time and energy on the campaign, rather than having to take on other jobs that may be completely irrelevant to the campaign and increase the likelihood of burnout. 
 
Whether it’s a regular donation, a birthday fundraiser, or one-off, every donation is important and makes this work continue. Fashion Revolution week is a great time to look at how and where you can give your money to support the people on the forefront of action in the fashion industry. 
 
Remake hold fundraisers, both to sustain their own operations but also to provide direct relief to garment workers. These funds go directly to garment worker unions working on the ground and can provide support to workers and their families who have lost work when a brand suddenly ends a contract, does not pay for their orders (as happened in the 2020 lockdowns), or something else happens that threatens the livelihoods of garment workers wherever they are in the world. Previous fundraisers by Remake have helped provide food for garment workers in Bangladesh during the intense floods in 2022. 
 

4. Comment on brands’ posts asking ‘who makes their clothes?’


Again, this comes back to reputation and public image. Can they answer this basic question? Most likely not. The more brands are asked this question, the more ridiculous they look if they can’t answer it. If lots of people repeatedly, consistently and publicly contact them on these issues, the more pressure is put on them to change. 
 
If you follow me on Twitter, you will likely have seen me trolling Boohoo. It is one of my favourite pastimes and only takes about 30 seconds to do so. You can get a bit of public shaming and embarrassment in with your morning cuppa! 
 

5. Share your Fashion Love Story


The anti-haul posts! Take an opportunity to show you’re a garment you adore. If fast fashion is the toxic ex, slow fashion is the healthy partner who treats you with respect. As Orsola de Castro put it so well: loved clothes last. Share the story of a well-loved garment: how you met, your favourite memories, how long you’ve been together. Sharing our fashion love stories helps disrupt the narrative that clothing is disposable and instead pushes towards a culture of longevity, care, and circularity. 


If you liked this post you might like: 50 Questions To Ask Your Favourite Fashion Brands


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Clothes I Got in 2022 as a Slow Fashion Campaigner

Friday 3 February 2023

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Last year, after being inspired by fellow slow fashion blogger Farihah (@easypeasysustainability), I decided to keep a log of my clothing consumption for the entire year. It was overall a successful project and was useful to look at my clothing consumption and whether I really practice what I preach. I started off really well, making sure to write down details of each item straight after I got them, but a few items I forgot to log and only remembered at the end of the year when I was doing a review. I hope I've not forgotten anything else! But hey - nobody’s perfect. 

 

In this post I’m going to go through the garments and accessories I obtained this year. I have included any garment I received this year – they could be bought new or secondhand, given to me as a gift, for work/volunteering, or as hand-me-downs, or swapped. I’ll go through more specific stats on them at the end of the post, but generally most of the clothes I got this year were secondhand, and I also had a chunk of garment made for me by family members (big up both of my aunties for never letting me be without adequate knitwear!). 



1. Mustard Turtleneck Top

 

The first two items on this list were given to me by my flatmate. She had a few things spare that she didn’t wear anymore, so first asked our other flatmate and I to look through and see if there was anything else we wanted. I picked this out and I wear it a lot. I love a bit of yellowand bright colours, and it fits in really well with the wardrobe I already had. I wear this with jeans and skirts, and it also works really well as an extra layer underneath other tops, dresses and jumpers. 

 

Price: £0

 

2. Woolen Cardigan

 

The second garment given to me by my flatmate in 2022. This cardi fits well under shorter jackets, adds a cosy extra layer to winter outfits, and works well by itself in the spring! Its colour also means it goes with pretty much everything.

 

Price: £0

 

3.  Floral Dress

 

After I finished a few university assignments in February last year, I went on a little solo trip to Edinburgh to celebrate and relax. I had a great time visiting Edinburgh’s various vegan eateries, touring its bookshops, and walking up Arthur’s Seat. I also stumbled on an amazing place called Zero Waste Hub or SHRUB Coop. They are incredible. There is a pay as you feel café, loads of secondhand goodies including clothes, books, and all sorts. They are fabulous and would recommend checking them out! While I was there, I picked out this dress and absolutely fell in love it. I have worn it a lot, on a mixture of occasions. It can be dressed up, or dressed down, and is easily layered (including with the mustard top I mentioned above!) to make it suitable for all weathers. 

 

Price: £5



4. Jeans

 

My old black jeans from M&S that I’d had for years finally gave out on me in 2021. The holes around the crotch had just got too big to repair and had frankly got inappropriate as well as quite cold. In March some friends came to visit for a long weekend, and we ended up in Retro, a vintage clothing shop hidden away in Newcastle city centre. A few days after they left I returned to Retro on the hunt for some new jeans. I tried on many pairs, and finally tried on these and they felt great. (They also make my bum look great if I do say so myself and it is a big win for my ego!). If you have met me in real life, you have likely seen me wearing these jeans. I have almost definitely passed the landmark 50 wears already. The people in Retro are lovely, I would highly recommend having a wander in and a chat to whoever’s on the counter. 

 

Price: £15

 

5. White Lace Top

 

In April, Newcastle University Feminist Society ran a day trip to the coast! We went to Tynemouth for a BBQ at the beach. Before we headed to the beach, we stopped off at the market in the metro station. We looked at secondhand books, ate vegan doughnuts, and this top caught my eye. I was stressing about the ethics and sustainability of top, and got chatting with the seller. She told me the clothes she was selling were deadstock from Debenhams after it had shut down a few months beforehand. I was happy that although it most likely wasn’t ethically produced, I could prevent a top I absolutely loved from going to landfill. I didn’t have much cash on me, and she didn’t take card, but she was happy for me to pay whatever I had on me. That ended up being only £2.80! 

 

Since then I’ve come to call this my ‘bisexual pirate top’ and absolutely adore it. I only wear it on days that I’m not working (pubs and long white lace sleeves would not be a good combination). I’ve worn it on more snazzy occasions but also like wearing it casually. It makes me feel fancy if I wear it casually and honestly we should be chasing that feeling more. 

 

Price: £2.80



6. GNDR Baseball Cap

 

In June I went to Green New Deal Rising’s meet-up in Coventry. It was the second mass meeting the group has run and it was great to see my climate pals from all across the country. At the meet-up were able to collect campaign materials like flyers, stickers, as well as t-shirts (if we didn’t already have them) and hats. I already have a GNDR t-shirt from my first action with them back in August 2021, but liked the idea of having a baseball hat to wear in the sun! I wore it a lot both while out campaigning and generally in the sun in summer. I don’t really have many summer hats, and this was particularly useful this year as I had my first summer on anti-depressants – us SSRI pals need to take care of ourselves particularly in sunny and hot weather. 

 

Price: £5



7. Todos Somos NEST Top

 

I attended a university awards event with North East Soldiarity and Teaching (otherwise known as N.E.S.T), a student-run solidarity and support organisation for refugees and asylum seekers in Newcastle and the North East. We all wore the same tops and kept them to wear at N.E.S.T sessions too (like English language lessons, circus club, etc.). They were given to us new, and as they were needed quickly and on a tight budget (as tends to be the case with small voluntary/third sector organisations), I’m unsure of the ethics of their production. This top is super comfy and I have also worn it as a pajama top many times since! It’s all about reuse. 

 

Price: £0


 

8. Guinness Top

 

As a bartender, your place of work sometimes gets sent free things (read: merchandise/advertising) by drinks brands. We had a few t-shirts sent from Guinness and I took one. I don’t know about the origins of this top, but it is comfy and easy to move around in. I only really wear it when I’m working, but I guess that’s its purpose. It’s useful to have a top that’s designated for work, just as I have some garments that I specifically don’t wear on days I’m working. 

 

Price: £0

 

9. Red Scarf

 

In July I went to Northern Fashion Week in Manchester and took the opportunity to stay with my uncle and auntie and to spend some time with them. Not long after I arrived, my auntie handed me a gorgeous red scarf she had knitted for me. I had to wait a few months to wear it, but it has been so great to wear in the winter. It’s a lovely colour and is so cosy!

 

Price: £0 (gift)


 

10. Pink floaty top


At the end of September/beginning of October, I went into Flea Circus (a secondhand/ethical shop in Newcastle selling all sorts of goodies from plants and jewelry to books and furniture) to get a birthday present and card for my flatmate. I saw this top and fell in love with it. Stocked from a local seller, the top is vintage and had been altered slightly to be cropped. The material is also gorgeous. I did my usual method of leaving it for a little while and if I still thought about/wanted it after some time, I’d go back and buy it. I went back to Flea Circus the next day and bought. It makes me feel quite fancy and the floatiness (yes I made up that word) of the material gives me so much joy.  I got a compliment from a customer while wearing it at work almost straight away and felt very pleased with myself. 

 

Price: £13

 


11. Pink Patterned Coat

 

A few weeks later, I went back into Flea Circus looking for a birthday card for my gramps (there’s a theme here), and got totally side tracked by this gorgeous gorgeous coat. I tried it on and spent ages pondering whether or not to buy it, and eventually decided to leave it and wait at least a day (while keeping my fingers permanently crossed that no one else bought it in the meantime!). I thought about it for the rest of the day and the next, so decided to go back and buy it. This would be my clothing investment for the year. 

 

I have since worn it a lot. It goes so well over so many outfits, and it actually has decent pockets! I’d been looking for a longer coat for a little while as I want to be able to wear a coat over my long cardigan, and this one fits perfectly! 

 

Price: £60



12. White Scarf

 

In September, my uncle and auntie came to visit me for a day while they were on holiday in Northumberland. Almost as soon as I saw them I was given a new scarf. This one is somehow even bigger and softer than the other one. It’s like having a blanket on me at all times. I have been to sleep wearing it a few times I will not lie. 

 

Price: £0 (gift)


13. Recycled Sari Scrunchie

 

I either have a scrunchie forever or I lose it very quickly. I’d just lost my favourite scrunchie, and decided I needed a new one. When I was in Oxfam looking for some new socks and a bar of soap, I saw a row of scrunchies made out of gorgeous fabrics. As I was in need of a new scrunchie, I bought an orange one and have been wearing it a lot since! It is made by a company that recycles old unused saris into new garments and accessories. The fabric is so soft and comfortable in my hair. I think these are great and would also make great gifts to femme pals. 

 

Price: £2.99

 

14. Socks 

 

Many of my socks are thinning or having holes in. It happens sometimes and can’t be avoided. I need to figure out a way of reusing old socks or repairing them, but right now I don’t have that skillset, so I desperately need new socks. On the same trip to Oxfam where I got the above scrunchie, I bought a couple of packs of socks. They are very soft, quite thick, and from a brief scan, the company seemed to be ethical. I will likely needsome more at some point, so if you have any recommendations for ethical sock brands, please let me know!

 

Price: £4.99

 

15. Bag

 

For Christmas, my auntie and uncle gave me an incredible brown over-the-shoulder bag. It’s gorgeous and I spent much of Christmas Day with it around my neck. It fits my laptop and has plenty of room for books and snacks (my priorities in life). It’s so practical, sturdy, and suits my style, I love it! I’ve used it most days since receiving it! It is ethically made by Aura Que, who produce accessories and bags in collaboration with workers in Nepal. 

 

Price: £0 (gift)

 

16. Multi-coloured croqueted hat


My other auntie is great at crocheting. Last year she crocheted me a scarf and several headbands. When her, my cousin and my uncle came around on Boxing Day, they brought loads of crocheted hats for us to choose from. It chose this amazing multi-coloured bobble hat. It’s incredible and it looks pretty complicated to make (I have no idea if it actually is or not). 


Price: £0 (gift)

 

17. White croqueted hat

 

I ended up with another hat on Boxing Day. It was originally a plan hat that fit snuggly to my head. However, when I put it on we decided it needed a flower embellishment and my auntie crocheted me one then and there. It makes me feel quite like Elle Woods when I wear this one!

 

Price: £0 (gift)


-----

 

Overall, I spent £108.88 on clothes and textile accessories in 2022.

 

Out of the clothes I gained, 41.2% of these were secondhand, 23.5% were homemade (big up my aunties), and 35.3% were new. 

 

I bought 47% of them and was given 53% of them. 

 

Out of the garments I received or bought that were new, 66.67% were ethically made (I haven’t included the homemade items in this).

 

2022 was the first year I actually monitored my clothing consumption, and I think I’ll keep doing this in years to come. It’s useful for me to know exactly what clothes I’m gaining and why. It helps me to both improve my own attitudes towards clothes and reassure myself that I’m only buying what I love or getting garments from sources I trust where possible. I think it says a lot that as a fairly privileged gal (read: middle class, slim, cis woman living in a city in the Global North) I was not perfect in my consumption. Not all the items I got this year were ethically made. But you know what this means?! That we demand system change at the same time as trying to change our individual attitudes and behaviours around clothing. 




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