Did I Complete My 2018 Goals?

Friday 28 December 2018

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This time last year feels like an actual age ago, I could barely remember what my original goals were by the time I sat down to write this post. Luckily for me, the Internet had my back (the real reason I publish my yearly goals on here).

Get into uni

Check! I am now attending my first choice uni and am loving it so far. Despite the stress of deadlines and a never-ending reading list, I’m loving learning new things about books and politics and theories. Let’s hope I feel the same way this time next year.

Read 25 books

At the time of writing, I’ve read 60 books this year, and I still have about a week and a half to go. So yeah, a little more than I was aiming for. I aimed lower than was the reality due to my trepidations about how much I’d be able to read during A Levels, when in fact I read more during my A Levels than in the summer. I’ve read much more non-fiction this year, and I think I’m going to try to make more of an effort to read more fiction next year. 

Do more direct campaigning on an issue I care about

I have done a lot more in regards to several issues important to me, including the death sentence of Nadia Hussein and period poverty. Period poverty and stigma is something I’ve particularly done a lot of this year – from an increased amount of blog posts about the topic, adding to social media campaigns and doing more to help in my local community. There’s still always more to do though. 

Have a second draft of The Bookshop

Ha! Yeah. I feel like I need to devote some more time to this. For real.

Go vegan for at least a month

This time last year, I was a relatively new veggie dabbling in veganism but unsure of what I was doing and serious doubtful that I’d be fully vegan in under a year’s time. At the beginning of the year, I thought that I may try out a month of veganism in November and then see how it went, but as it turns out, I’d already been fully vegan for several months before November hit. This is probably something that has been a major feature of my year.

Write 50 blog posts

This one hasn’t gone quite so well as a few of the last ones. This will probably end up being my 35thpost of 2018, leaving 15 left unwritten. Whilst I may be disappointed with the number of posts I’ve written this year, I am feeling great about the direction my content is going in. I feel like it’s what I should be writing about. Not to mention that I did my first sponsored blog post this year – a massive milestone for me which seriously makes up for the missing 15 posts.

Go on at least 4 trips with friends

I think I’ve just about managed this one. Maybe. Brighton in March, Ireland in June, Paris in July are all definite. Do a couple of trips to London count even if they were only day trips? I think they do. Check!

Research more into fast fashion and ethical consumerism

If I’ve learned one thing in the past year, it’s that being the perfect ethical consumer is a complete myth. It’s a dream, a fantasy. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. 

I’ve been trying to make sure my wardrobe is made up of items that I truly love and use often. I had a proper cull in the summer and donated a lot of items to charity, significantly reducing what I have. Now, I think a lot more carefully about the origins of my clothes and tend to buy new items from charity shops or Depop. I’ve been looking into more sustainable brands, but haven’t bought from any yet as they tend to be a little out of my price range. 

I’ve been following a lot of ethical influencers who discuss all sorts from fast fashion to lowered waste and veganism (some of my faves are Sustainably Vegan and Venetia Falconer, but keep an eye out for a more substantial recommendations post in the future), all of whom have really helped me develop my understanding and find new areas to help my learning. 

I have to admit that I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved in 2018 – let’s hope 2019 is a goodun!

If you liked this post you might like: Goals for 2018
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No. More. Plastic. by Martin Dorey | Book Review

Monday 10 December 2018

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In my Ethical Gift Guide, I mentioned this book as a great beginner’s guide to plastic reduction and as an introduction into a more zero-waste lifestyle. 
Overall, I think the book is good and very much needed in our current situation. I would recommend anyone give it a rad – whether you’re a well-seasoned zero/low waster or just trying to see what all the fuss is about. Dorey provides useful evidence of why a severe reduction of our collective plastic use is needed and lots of simple ways which combine to make a huge impact and are quite easy to implement into your life. 

Whilst I would definitely recommend this book, there are definitely flaws in it. 

For example, Dorey places a heavy emphasis on recycling rather than simply reducing. He says to look through the items that you use and vow not to buy them again if they are not recyclable or look for other products which use recyclable plastic. This is a very useful approach for people who are looking to gradually reduce their impact or don’t necessarily have the means to buy items packaging-free. However, there is only a limited amount of time that plastic can be recycled, and even then it can often disperse micro-plastics out into the environment. Out of the three Rs (as Jack Johnson once sang…), the emphasis should be put on reduce and reuse as our recycling systems are under too much pressure and aren’t as effective as is needed. 

Similarly, Dorey seems to simply gloss over the issue of animal agriculture for the environment. Even setting aside the emissions produced by animal agriculture, the waste produced is astounding. Can you even buy fish and meat without plastic? The elephant in the room: veganism. It’s so much easier to reduce plastic use when you’re buying plant-based. I’m not saying full-on veganism is right for everyone, but the general strategy of reducing as much as possible is the way to go in my opinion. The mention of the ‘butchers’ and ‘fishmongers’ even goes so far as to suggest that eating animals can be done in a sustainable way. There is a little acknowledgement about the fact that the fishing industry is one of the biggest global plastic polluters, but the topic needs to be discussed further in order to make a difference.

One useful element of this book is a small section where Dorey breaks down the different types of plastic: their common uses, recyclability and toxicity. This is something I don’t know much about and I think is quite interesting to know about. 

I feel like I may have come off a little harsh when discussing this little book. My criticisms shouldn’t marr the usefulness of it. The term ‘plastic-free’ has become somewhat of a buzzword in the past year or so, and that is incredible. Books like these and documentaries such as Liz Bonnin’s Drowning in Plastic are doing wonders to bring the issue to the attention of the wider public and help more people think differently about the way they consume. And hey, I always love a good environment stat, and this book has lots!

3.5 stars. 

Last week, Hannah Brown wrote a blog post recommending books based on this here blog. The books she recommended seem really interesting and have gone straight on my TBR. If you like the content of my blog then you’d probably be interested in the titles she suggested too, so go and check them out here

Jemima x

If you liked this post you might like: Books I've Read This Summer (2017)
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Ethical Christmas Gift Guide

Monday 3 December 2018

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I won’t lie, the thought of Christmas this year made me panic a little bit this year from my purely eco-warrior side (my festive side is very excited). There’s plastic wrapping, foil and single-use stuff everywhere… Not to mention I haven’t decided what to make as the main part of my Christmas dinner yet! But there’s ways of ensuring that presents you buy are better for both the people of the world and the world itself. Here are some suggestions:

Wild & Sage Soap for Calais - £5

I bought three of these in September – two as birthday presents for two of my best friends, and one for my own personal use. Wild Sage hand make their vegan soaps in a little , and I couldn’t recommend them more. First of all, they smell amazing. Second, they are super moisturizing and feel great. Thirdly, they are completely plastic free – they aren’t completely naked as they have to be posted, so they’re wrapped in paper (which, of course, is compostable). 

They do lots of different soaps; the one I have in particular is their Soap for Calais. For this soap, Wild & Sage give all of their profits to the charity Care 4 Calais, which helps refugees and asylum seekers on the Calais border. 

Lush Charity Pot Hand and Body Lotion - £3.95 (45g)

Lush has lots of gift-able products. Yes, they have their pre-made gift boxes, but they do contain Styrofoam peanuts, which I don’t think break down very quickly, and probably leave micro-plastics hanging around all over the place. However, you can always make your own little gift set with your own boxes or non-plastic wrapping (their scarves are quite useful for this). This way, you can save money, plastic and make it a bit more personalised for the person who will be receiving it.

One of the pieces I think would make a great gift from Lush is one of their Charity Pots. These come in several different sizes, and, at the moment, they have a limited edition naked version (no plastic container). It smells so lovely and can be used on your hands and body – I tend to put it on my hands before I go to bed. One thing that’s really special about these pots is that all the money given (apart from taxes) are given to the charity on the lid, and these range from women’s rights and LGBT movements and animal rights and welfare globally.  I don’t know about you but I think that’s bloomin’ fantastic. 

The Charity Pot has been running for 10 years and, according to the Lush website, have raised £4.3 million for the various different charities they support. 

Lush, in my opinion, are a great company. Although they have some plastic use, they do run a repurposing and reusing program with some of their pots. Similarly, a whole load of vegan products and are famous for their anti-animal testing campaigns, among their other political campaigns. 

Just be aware of any allergies the person you’re giving to has and AVOID at all costs. For example, I was going to get a Charity Pot for one of my best friend’s for her birthday but when I checked the ingredients saw it contained aloe vera and put it straight back down because I knew of her allergy. Keep an eye out people. 

Books (all prices based on Hive)

Books are always incredible gifts. Whether they pass on information or share a story, books are powerful things. They literally change the world. The world is made a better place when a new book is published or picked up in a library, a charity shop or a bookstore. (Except books like Mein Kempf, let’s be honest here.) Most books will be a good choice, but here are some suggestions:

The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White – £8.15

Anyone who knows me, or even follows my Twitter, will know how much I love The Guilty Feminist. They’re my favourite podcast and I feel a little thrill every time I see a new episode on my feed. I have seen them live once and am going to see them again in May – I cannot wait! Earlier this year, Deborah Frances-White, the presenter and founder of the Guilty Feminist released this book. Each chapter focusses on a different issue, which has probably been discussed on the podcast at some point, but she writes in more detail about. I was given this by my parents for my birthday and I haven’t got around to reading it yet, but I can’t wait to!

As the Guilty Feminist don’t have advertisers or other sponsorships or crowdfunding, the profits from this book will mean that the Guilty Feminist is able to keep running, spreading the rod of feminism, informing and campaigning wherever they can. Just by buying this book, you would be helping to keep a movement alive. 

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies, curated by Scarlett Curtis – £7.89

This book has taken the latter part of 2018 by storm. I have seen it everywhere. Curated by Scarlett Curtis, this book is a collection of articles, poetry, short creatives pieces, letters, etc., all from a collection of feminists. There are big names such as Gemma Arterton, Deborah- Frances-White and Helen Fielding among several women who I’d never heard of, but I am excited to read their work. All the profits for this book go towards the women’s rights charity, Girl Up. 

How to Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum - £5.85

I read this book in October and essentially, it’s a beginner’s guide to reducing plastic consumption, and would therefore be a perfect gift for someone you know who is at the start of their plastic awareness journey (sorry to be cliché with the J-word). Written by the Head of Oceans at Greenpeace, this book has lots of useful tips, and is also made with minimal plastic. 

No. More. Plastic. By Martin Dorey - £6.35

Similar to the previous book, Martin Dorey (founder of the Beach Clean Network and #2minutesolution campaign) provides facts about the plastic crisis and lots of #2minutesolutions to help resolve/reduce it. He does more on recycling rather than reusing and doesn’t particularly talk about several solutions I would have thought are actually quite obvious, particularly in terms of menstrual hygiene. I read this in less than an hour and will be handing this around to anyone I can (with my annotations, corrections and editions, of course). It’s a get people started with reducing their waste.


You can never really go wrong with food as a present, let’s be honest. Well, unless you give a box of Roses to a vegan. There are lots of ways you can give more ethical food pressies! One of my friends and her boyfriend are making their own jam to give this year, and my family have often given jars of our homemade chutneys before. You could make some cookies, or whatever it is that you know the person you’re giving to loves!

If you don’t fancy cooking something up for yourself, you could start by heading over to your local vegan shop (if you have one). They often have Christmas gifts or packages, or you could make your own gift bag with the goodies they might have. For example, in Newcastle I know that the Hungry Vegan sell sweet hampers and Tyne Cheases do an amazing looking range of vegan cheeses which I am very tempted to get as gift for myself as part of Christmas dinner.  

Something homemade

Some of my most treasured presents are ones that have been handmade (such as the Suffragette-coloured crochet blanket I was given for my birthday). There’s something so special as a gift that has been made with you specifically in mind. They are unique, simply put. This could be a painting, photo, blanket (as said before), some form of clothes,  

Oxfam Gifts

Whilst being a charity shop being primarily known for their second hand items, they do also have set of new stock. For example, they sell products from Divine (their dark chocolate is vegan and incredible), Bio D, Chilly’s, as well as travel mugs among others. You could easily make a zero waste starter kit or ethical food goodie bag for someone. I love my Chilly’s water bottle, and as they are a little pricey, they would make an excellent gift for someone who hasn’t yet got a water bottle. 

And hey, you can always find something incredible second-hand there as well!

Magazine/newspaper subscription

By this, I obviously don’t mean get your best mate subscribed to the Daily Mail for life. That’s neither fun nor ethical. If you know of an independent or otherwise pretty cool magazine that someone will like/does like, then make sure they don’t miss out! Sure, it’s not the most low-waste option, but it can really do a lot to help support creatives who are doing great things.

A magazine I love is oh comely. They are a feminist magazine who have loads of really interesting articles, including niche interviews, affirmations, book recommendations, ethical fashion among other issues. One recent article I thought was particularly interesting was one on feminist porn by Soma Gosh. They’re doing some super cool stuff. 

A couple of years ago my dad got me a subscription to Private Eye for my birthday. Private Eye is one of my favourite newspapers, if you can call it that? It criticizes absolutely everyone, even down to local governments, and explains issues in a way that makes it easier to understand. Also, cartoons. I live for the cartoons.

Another option in this area could be to donate the money you would have otherwise spent on a present to The Guardian. As one of the only mainstream left wing newspapers left, they are not owned by one specific person, instead by a trust, and also have no paywalls. This is done to keep their writers as free as possible and their work as accessible as possible, so that everyone has access to their articles and therefore more people can be informed about the world as possible. This would be a great gift for anyone you know who is an avid Guardian reader.


I don’t know about you, but for me, growing up clothes were a present that I regularly got from relatives – right from sparkly dresses and leggings when I was younger to wacky Christmas jumpers and the jumper and jacket my grandparents got me for my last birthday. Clothes are practical presents which can mean so much. 

Charity shops

Clearly Oxfam isn’t the only charity shop there is. And charity shops are treasure troves. Clothes, DVDs, books, nick-knacks, small things that could mean a lot. Obviously, don’t just go and buy any random crap you find straight away just because, but you never know, you could find a piece that someone would love and wear for years. Charity shops are places where you find pieces that you wouldn’t anywhere else. 

Upcycling Stores/Beyond Retro/Ethical Clothing companies

If you don’t want to go rooting around in charity shops, you can find plenty of new ethical clothing. There are lots of ethical companies you can try, too many to list even, and there are several places to check online, including my Fast Fashion 101 resource document and the app Good on You.

There are also lots of upcycling clothing companies across the UK (and the rest of the world). For example, Beyond Retro are a company with stories in Brighton and London, who take vintage clothing and repair them or improve them so they can be used and loved again. I bought my favourite pair of trousers from their Brighton store in March and they are now one of the highlights of my wardrobe. They also have an online shop which would definitely be worth having a look at (seriously, I should be sponsored for this blog post – anyone who’s been featured, hit me up).  

These are those trousers on the first day that I wore them!

Tips and Tricks

  • Try to reduce the amount of wrapping you use

-      Wherever possible buy recycled/non-plastic wrapping paper or reusable wrapping (such as scarves, which can also then add to the present!)
-      Try to give the present in person wherever possible, meaning you don’t have to 
  • Aim to get them something useful. We have all got those presents which we’re not entirely sure what to do with, or where to put it, and have ended up throwing away or donating or still have hanging around in a corner. If it’s something they’ll use regularly then there’ll be less dead material hanging around. 

  • Experiences are a wonderful alternative to material gifts. It doesn’t have to be expensive either – it could simply be a picnic on the beach or a pizza and film night put in your diaries and to be prioritized over everything else. Tickets to see a show, spa days, concert tickets, etc., are all great ideas depending on what you can afford. 

If you liked this post you might like: 5 Ways You Can Save Money by Reducing your Waste
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Returning to Tampons - The Time I Lost My Menstrual Cup | #ACupaDay

Monday 19 November 2018

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Over the past year and a bit, I have become reliant on my menstrual cup. Not only that, but I seem to have formed a bit of an emotional attachment to it – I know, that sounds extremely weird, but it’s true. 
My relationship to my period however, changed in October as I started on the combined pill. Yes, I decided to screw with my hormones and see what the results were. My reasons for going on the pill and my experiences of it so far aren’t the main aim of this post, but I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some point. In relation to my cup, the pill added another element of uncertainty to my period – I knew it would start at any moment but had no idea how my body would react, meaning I was on edge for half a week. Because of my constant anticipation and stress, I carried my menstrual cup around in my bag (in its little cotton pouch it came in) for several days. It came with me everywhere – to uni, the library, shopping, society events – and all the time I was paranoid it would fall out of my overpacked bag, as I normally won’t carry it around with me. It seems inevitable almost, that my paranoid checking up on my cup turned out to be not quite so paranoid, and a bit more, well, common sense. 

Yep. That’s right. I’ve officially lost my menstrual cup.

I realized when I got back to my flat later on, when I thought my period might have started, I went to look for my cup in my bag, and it wasn’t there. Obviously, panic ensued. 

Luckily, my period hadn’t actually started (thank you again, paranoia), but I was now almost certainly without cup. So, trying to avoid further panic, I decided to retrace my steps the next day. I went to each place I went (the student bar, Sainsbury’s local, etc.) and asked whether a menstrual cup had been found or handed in. So, that was fun. To be honest with you, once I’d asked one person it was easier asking the rest. As much as I’m used to chatting about my vagina, my period and my menstrual cup on my blog, on Twitter and with friends, or at least people I am comfortable with, it was definitely a different experience talking to total strangers about it. It made me realise that I still have some trepidation about talking about periods – the taboo still remains even in someone like me who talks about my cup at every given chance possible. But along with that realization, it forced me to tackle that and get over whatever barriers I had left. 

In the end, I didn’t find my cup – and as my period was due literally any second, I had to buy a pack of tampons for the first time in over a year. Having to use tampons again simply reminded me of how much I hate them in comparison to my cup (let’s just say my morning yoga was not as comfortable as if I’d been using my cup). They felt uncomfortable and unsanitary (even though they are technically ‘sanitary’ products). I couldn’t ignore everything that I know about them now – the microplastics and toxins... I felt guilty every time I put one in the bin. But I had no choice. I had to relearn how to use tampons again – something I never thought I’d have to again not something I’d actually initially forget how to do.

As soon as I’d lost hope of finding my first menstrual cup, I ordered a new one which I now have safely in one of my drawers. It was odd seeing it there – it still is a bit actually. It’s completely unstained, the bag it came in has different colour strings and the stickers I got with it have different branding. I do miss my old one. I have feel bad whenever I think about it, lying somewhere unused, for years as it gradually degrades. It was in use for a year, so I got some decent use out of it – I saved a decent amount of money and saved a lot of waste – but I nevertheless can’t help the twinge in my stomach when I think about it. 

RIP to my first cup. October 2017 – October 2018. 

If you liked this post you might like: Sustainable Alternatives to the Menstrual Cup

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Sustainable Alternatives to Menstrual Cups | #ACupaDay

Friday 9 November 2018

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I shout about how much I freakin' love menstrual cups all the time – oversharing about my menstrual cycle has kind of become part of my brand by now if we’re honest – and sometimes that can get a little overwhelming. I can make it seem like the only sustainable option for menstrual hygiene is a menstrual cup. But for many people, a menstrual cup just isn’t them – for the same reason people use pads over tampons, or pads with wings over without, it’s personal preference. I haven’t tried any of these, but I’ve heard lots of good things about all of them, and it’s all about finding what’s right for you. So, what are your options?

Reusable Pads

When I first heard about reusable pads, I have to admit I wasn’t convinced. They seemed to me to be a bit, well, unhygienic. How many do you need? How often do they need to be changed? It didn’t seem to work to me. However, I am more converted having heard many people talking about them

There are several options for reusable pads: you can make your own or buy some pre-made. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, making your own will tend to be cheaper as you can use old material from clothes, towels, flannels, etc. There are lots of DIY tutorials on YouTube – one I would recommend is on one of my favourite YouTube channels, Sustainably Vegan. 

If you don’t want to make your own, then you can get some from several brands, such as ACALA, which will be more specialised and less bulky than the ones you may make yourself, as they use microfibers rather than the bulkier materials I mentioned earlier. 

Katy Gilroy, a fellow blogger, uses pads by Earthwise Girls and Silly Panda and told me that ‘they’re revolutionary!’ As I have never used them before, she helped me understand a lot about how they work and how affordable they can be: 

‘They range in price but you can get a pack of three for under a fiver, which I don’t think is bad at all! They’re so easy to use, too, with poppers keeping them secure – and when it’s time to change your pad all you need to do is rinse it until the water runs clear, and then chuck it in with your regular washing to make sure it’s completely clean and ready for your next period.’

Period Underwear

Period underwear fascinate me. Ever since I first saw one of those THINX adverts on YouTube I have been intrigued. I assume that they work in a similar way to reusable pads in the way they absorb the blood. Period underwear are super convenient, especially for the beginning or ending of your period, where a menstrual cup, tampon or pad can kind of seem a bit pointless – like a sustainable panty liner almost, although it can definitely hold a lot more than a panty liner. 

Edit: Since the publication of this post, I have bought my own pair of period underwear and absolutely love them! While a lot more work needs to be done to make them more accessible, I would highly recommend them to anyone who can afford them. Other brands include Wuka and Modi Bodi

Period underwear are currently excluded from the tax removal on period products (specifically pads and tampons) in the UK in January 2021. This means they will continue to be taxed at 20%, a significant cause for their inaccessible price tag. To help change this, please sign the petition promoted by Wuka to make period underwear more affordable. 

Organic Tampons

You may not want to give up tampons, and that’s fair enough, but you may still want to reduce your plastic consumption, and most tampons contain a hell of a lot of plastic (from any applicators, wrappings, to even the tampon itself) so you’re not sure here to go. Organic tampons are still single use, however, as they don’t contain any plastic or chemicals, they’re much healthier for both the environment and vaginas. This means you won’t get any extra micro-plastics or chemical in your body, and reducing the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and that the biodegradable nature of the tampons means they’ll have a less significant impact on the environment – OHNE have also completely scrapped the plastic applicators, you can opt for or against cardboard applicators and are even developing biodegradable plastic applicators!

Organic tampons are gaining prominence. Brands such as OHNE and TOTM are gaining popularity - in fact Tesco have recently announced that they are starting to stock the brand TOTM in their stores, making them much more accessible and visible to the general public. 

However, there are issues with organic tampons still. Most are 100% or mostly cotton - a material which requires a lot of water to grow and produce. Similarly, this is not an option which reduces waste overall. Yes, they will reduce your plastic consumption, but these are still spreading into our environment. So, if possible, I would recommend one of the other options mentioned over these.

If you liked this post you might like: My First Thoughts on the Menstrual Cup

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