November & December 2020 | Monthly Wrap Up

Wednesday 30 December 2020

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The past couple of months have been hectic but somehow haven’t felt as stressful as they could have done.

Favourite part?


With lockdown and then Tier 3 and 4, I’ve not been up to much (like most people!). But it’s still been pretty good I’d say. Especially considering the circumstances!


One of my favourite things the past couple of months has been going for a lot of walks and seeing more of the area surrounding where I live. Not having my weekends filled has meant I’ve been able to explore a bit more and force myself to go outside! 


As since the beginning of lockdown, I’ve relly been enjoying online events, including talks by Layla F. Saad and Fiona Thomas, Remake Community Calls, as well as hosting some of my own events as part of FemSoc!


Before my flatmates and I went home for Christmas, we made the flat look really festive and I absolutely loved it! Here's to the wonders fairylights from Poundland and some green fabric can do! I was really glad to get home for Christmas though and feel like I have had a decent amount of rest time – not doing any work at all is amazing!  But I’ve now been back to work for a couple of days and it won’t stop until I finish my degree! (No you’re the one panicking about that.)

Oh! And I got a fringe! Here's to dissertation procrastination haircuts...

Best read?

I’ve actually read a lot recently! They’ve mostly been for my course, but they have all been super interesting and I’ve enjoyed them all. At one point in November, I read 3 books in a week. It’s fair to say I was quite tired by the end of it! Books I read for my course were The Beetle by Richard Marsh, which was very weird but was quite easy to read and enjoyable; Dracula by Bram Stoker, which I did really enjoy although there were definitely some bits they could have cut out! I also read Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn and The Sheik by E. M. Hull.


I read Trumpet by Jackie Kay and held a book club event around it for my uni’s Feminist Society. It’s such an incredible book and I honestly couldn’t put it down. It’s such a beautiful story of love and grief and it’s so wonderfully written!


I have also read Quite by Claudia Winkleman, which I found very funny and readable, as Ruby Rare’s Sex Ed, an incredible book I would recommend to everyone. That book is what our sex education should be!

Favourite tunes?

As always I’ve listened to a fair amount of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. I’ve also been loving Taylor Swift’s new album, evermore, I find it quite relaxing. I’ve been listening to a ot more Dolly Parton, specifically her new Christmas album and her album Here You Come Again (including singing quite loudly on a train carriage I thought was empty but turned out not to be). 

My favourite music to work to recently has been the soundtracks for Ratatouille, How to rain Your Dragon and Narnia. 

Image source

Favourite watch?

As I’m sure a lot of people have a found, a combination of lockdowns (including a mixture of Tiers 3 and 4) and winter has meant a lot of TV has been watched. 


My flatmates and I watched Catastrophe, which I absolutely loved and miss. We lso watched Strictly, I’m a Celeb and Bake Off when they were on, as well as the old reliables: Gogglebox and First Dates. I may also have been binge watching Made in Chelsea, and yes it’s shit but I can’t stop watching!


And of course there’s been Christmas watches: both Home Alone films, Arthur Christmas twice, Dickensian, Muppets Christmas Carol and the 


I also watched the BBC Dracula series. I thought the first two episodes were incredible but the third one went a little bit rogue and I’m not sure what I think about it. 


I introduced my family to the show Lovesick, and they lved it as much as I do! And then I’ve watched Bridgerton with my mum over the past couple of days and loved the silliness!

Image source


What did I learn?

Rest is crucial!! This is the same for the whole of this year but I suddenly noticed how tired I was when I went home for Christmas once I wasn’t worrying about work for a week and a bit. Things really catch up on you and we all need to take care of ourselves!


What’s happening next month?

I’ve been in Tier 4 since Boxing Day, but have to go back to Newcastle for university at the beginning of January - doing my best to keep Covid safe of course! I’ll be mostly working on some final assessments and my dissertation.


What’s been on my mind?

Honestly just trying to keep on top of everything! I’ve had so much to do, I’ve been focusing on my uni work and other commitments, as well as making sure I take time for myself and actually relax on the weekends. It’s a plan which seems to be working so far.


Favourite blogger/vlogger?


I won’t lie I’ve not watched much YouTube or read many blogs recently. I’ve been focusing on all the work I’ve had to do!


Favourite post?


I wrote a lot of the posts published in November and December earlier on in the year and I quite enjoyed revisiting them when they were released.


Some of my favourites are How to Check a Fashion Brand’s Ethics and Sustainability, 5 Ways You Can Support Ethical Fashion Without Spending a Penny and My Slow Fashion Journey.

Biggest inspiration?


Not very exciting, but honestly just getting through this year and trying to do the best in my degree!


Any other favourites?

This one has to be seeing my cat for the first time in 3 months. I missed cuddles with her!

If you liked this post you might like: October 2020 | Monthly Wrap Up

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How to Check a Fashion Brand’s Ethics and Sustainability

Wednesday 16 December 2020

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 Being able to tell if a brand’s practices are ethical and sustainable is difficult. We have greenwashing, lack of transparency and a whole load of flashy marketing to push passed to help us make purchasing decisions we’re happy with and to help us know where to direct our activism. This post outlines my process when researching into a brand and some tips I’ve picked up along the way. Sometimes, the answers are confusing, and although it may seem incredibly cynical, I find that going into research assuming the worst of brands tends to be the best (and often most accurate) approach. They must prove that their supply chains and practices are ethical and sustainable to you as a citizen and potential purchaser – think of it like a defense in court but just with fashion brands.


First, go to their website

This should be the first thing you do every time you want to find out more about a brand. What does their homepage look like? Have they got green, natural imagery everywhere that’s a bit overwhelming? Do they have ‘sustainable collection’ plastered everywhere? This is likely to be greenwashing if they don’t clearly state their ethics and sustainability policies elsewhere on their site.  Now, most brands will have a page related to these issues. They may be called something like ‘Sustainability and Ethics’ or ‘Supplier Code of Conduct’, but we’re looking for more than them just having that page. If they go into specifics on their site they’re more likely to actually be ethical. These include include details such as naming factories and countries, stating their materials clearly, highlighting whether or not their workers get a living wage. If they’re being vague and simply stating their ‘commitments’ to ethical working conditions and sustainability, you need more information. The important thing here is what they’re doing to make changes and ensure these commitments are a reality. What are they doing to follow up on these claims?


You can also keep your eyes peeled for any accreditations which may pop up on these pages. These may be from Fairtrade, Fair Wear, Ethical Trade Initiative and more. If a brand includes any certification logos on their page, look up those certifications and see what they actually mean. 


As it is now compulsory in the UK for brands to publish their Gender Pay Gap, you can also find that out relatively easily. Some will have this on their websites, but the Government website should also have them. However, these stats don’t account for their supply chains or other companies they own. Boohoo, for example has a 0% median gender pay gap, whereas their subsidiary companies Pretty Little Thing and Karen Millen have gaps of 29% and 49% respectively. The UK average is 17%.


Google their brand name along with words like ‘sustainability’ ‘ethics’ and look through the results

This is good for getting the initial picture. You may see some major red flags straight away or it may be a bit more complicated. When you search ‘Boohoo ethics’ for example, you get loads of information about Leicester and their generally terrible supply chains. Other brands may be less specific. Most brands aren’t great, but it’s generally about determining the horrendous ones from the bearable ones. This will take time just having a flick though articles and headlines, but it will provide you with a broader picture of the brand. 


Use tools like Good On You and Clean Clothes Campaign’s Fashion Checker to find out background more information


There are loads of great tools out there to help breakdown the ethics of different brands and when deciding if you want to buy from a brand or not. Many of these tools show different elements of ethical production and go into different levels of detail. 


Good On You are a great resource. You can use their app and their website to find information about brands’ records in regards to workers’ rights, environmental impact and animal welfare (if they use materials such as fur, leather etc.). They don’t go into a huge amount of detail but I find Good On You to be incredibly useful to get the general gis of how good a brand is. The one thing I find frustrating about Good On You is that that tend to only have information on bigger brands, so you often have more work if you want to find out about smaller brands. 


Other useful tools include Clean Clothes Campaign’s Fashion Checker. This website will tell you whether or not the garment workers making clothes for a brand are being paid a living wage or not. They also have more information on what minimum vs living wage means and how it affects garment workers, the gendered aspects of the garment industry and a whole host of other great resources to learn more about the industry from podcasts and reports to Netflix shows. Fashion Checker provides a bit more information, highlighting the brand’s revenue, other brands they might own, their top 3 production countries and any commitments they may have made to improving their supply chains. 


Find detailed information on Remake's Transparency Report

Remake have recently released their incredible new Transparency Report, and it is incredible.  Remake rank their brands in a slightly different way than just saying ‘they’re good’ or ‘they’re bad’. They have 4 main categories: Rockstars, Up & Comers, Wannabees and Offenders. Each brand gets a different number of points based on five different categories: Traceability & Transparency, Maker Wellbeing, Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Raw Materials and Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion. While some brands did much better than others, every single brand surveyed lost points on the last category, which measures racial diversity at board levels and throughout their headquarters. 

Currently, they have the information about 40 different brands on their website, however they are aiming to expand to 400 soon and you can request to find out more about a specific brand if they haven't got their information up already. This report includes all public information about the brands, so you have one place to go to for everything! I love it. 

They also further divide brands depending on their price and what type of clothing they make. To me, this is a temptation for endless clicking. I find that kind of research a bit addictive, but maybe that’s me being nerdy for ethics. I'm so excited to see how this grows!


You can also check Remake’s Pay Up Fashion campaign website to keep track of which brands have paid their suppliers since the start of the pandemic and who hasn’t (spoiler: many still haven’t). 


Check Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index

Brands who do well on this Transparency Index aren’t guaranteed to be ethical or sustainable by any means (H&M took the number one spot in the first report and they are certainly not ethical), however, it is a good means of knowing what information is out there. We can’t know if a brand is ethical or sustainable in its practices if they’re not telling us any information about its supply chain. Transparency is the first step for any brand to move toward a more ethical framework and it is vital when communicating with the people who buy their clothes. 


Contact the brand!

If you can’t find much elsewhere, ask the brand directly. Send them a message on social media or tag them in a post/tweet asking them for more information. You can also find a contact email for most brands quite easily, so send them an email asking to know more about their supply chains and their policies in terms of ethical and sustainable production. You may get no reply (as has often been the case), or you may get something that may as well have not been a reply, or you may get something pretty decent and detailed – it all depends on the brands themselves but analyse their responses carefully. 


Just remember that the people behind the social media accounts and emails aren’t the ones who are exploiting garment workers and the environment and ultimately don’t have the power to make change quickly, so make sure that you’re being nice to them! They may be able to pass on concerns their customers have to people higher up and what they’re allowed to tell you is certainly indicative of the brand’s ethical policies. 


Keep researching and keep updated

Brands are always changing. New scandals emerge and we have to remember that brands can change and do actually do better sometimes. We have to keep holding brands to account, even if they’re ones who are open about trying to do be better. Follow fashion activists on social media, keep an eye on how and when brands are being covered in the news, and let them know what you think of their actions. And remember that it’s okay not to be a perfectly ethical consumer, because frankly no one is – we just have to try and hold those in power to account and to demand they make meaningful change. 


If you have any questions about figuring out how ethical and sustainable a brand is, just comment on this post and I’d be perfectly happy to help you! 

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5 Practices to Implement into Your Self-Care

Friday 11 December 2020

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 Self-care is necessary at the best of times, but right now it is more important than ever. There are different challenges to our mental health than life pre-pandemic, and we need to adapt and think of new ways to look after ourselves we maybe didn’t have to consider previously.

1. Write a list of everything you need to do

Anyone who knows me in real life will probably know how much of a list person I am. I make daily lists of things to do, and have a huge list on a Google Doc separated into different categories, to help me keep track of different areas of my life (e.g. uni, my blog, other projects, general life things, etc.), and honestly, having these lists helps me so much. 


Having everything stuck in my head stresses me out, and leaves me overwhelmed and confused. My making a list of everything I need to do, no matter how small, I dump everything in my mind onto the page (whether paper of digital) and I can think so much more clearly. I guess it’s quite similar to how some people use journaling as a tool to clear their minds. 


2. Go outside

Get some Vitamin D! As we’re all spending so much time inside now, this has become much more of a chore or something we have to remind ourselves to do. Even if it’s only to pop to the shops or a five-minute walk around the nearby streets, you’ll be glad to have a change of scene. I think having somewhere to physically be is something we all miss and feel like we took for granted, I know I do. I used to spend most of my days out of the house working in different uni buildings or cafes, and I am definitely going to miss that this year. However, I’m still trying to break up my days with scheduled plans to walks outside, even if it’s just to sit on a bench with a cup of tea for 10 minutes. Brave the cold, get moving and get some fresh air!

3. Cook something from scratch

Cooking is like meditation to me. Whether I’m cooking in silence or having a dance party in the kitchen, the act of putting together something nutritious always calms me down. I’m not sure if there’s some psychological links behind it, but having that process does wonders for me and really helps me unwind and to really do something I love. And you have to eat after, something you may forget to do if that’s the space of mind you’re in, especially as the days blur into one in lockdown. 

4. Speak to friends or family

Just because we’re socially distanced, that shouldn’t mean that we have to be socially distant – if that makes any sense at all? If you’re able to, foster the relationships you cherish and try to stay connected where possible. While we do need time to ourselves, humans are social creatures at heart, and this forced behaviour will take its toll. Wherever possible, we must try to mitigate that. Just remember that if you’re seeing people you don’t live with in person to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to protect both yourselves and others and that you’re following the law wherever you are (i.e. standing at least one metre apart if not two metres, wearing masks, unless you have a medical reason not to, and being outside if possible).

5. Fight for change 

Like many others, I believe that activism is a form of self-care. Wellbeing is not an individual thing. It is dependent on us as a collective, and political decisions impact on the wellbeing. A bubble bath is useless if mental health services aren’t properly funded, or if systemic racism is damaging both the mental and physical health of people from ethnic minorities, particularly Black people. Calling for wider systemic change not only seeks to improve overall wellbeing in the immediate term, but also for longer term impact so that future generations can have an improved wellbeing and better mental health than those who have come before them. 


In the words of Audre Lorde: ‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,’ and therefore all acts of self-care, whether acts of sheer survival or of engaging with wider political systems, are acts of defiance and revolt.

If you liked this post you might like: Self-Care is Not Pretty | Rethinking Wellness


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5 Netflix Originals You Need to Watch

Friday 4 December 2020

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 In the age of streaming (combined with the spates of boredom brought on by a pandemic) it can often feel like you’ve exhausted all streaming services possible. But there’s always more out there, especially when service algorithms aren’t showing us a show we may absolutely love because we binge-watched a whole load of crappy Vanessa Hudgens Christmas romcoms that one night. Here are some of my favourite Netflix Original series that even if you’ve seen before, you’ll love watching again!

1. Dear White People

I am obsessed with this show and I am anxiously awaiting it’s fourth and final series. It’s genuinely one of the best TV series I’ve seen in ages. Aside from the characters, the cinematography and directing is beautifully done. The point-of-view structures for most of the main characters all discuss different issues, and develops each character in deep and believable ways. They’re all so complex and you can believe that they’re real people. This show is all about nuance, understanding other people’s perspectives and developing your own to encompass that. It highlights issues such as colourism, intersectionality, white privilege, class divisions, police brutality, the model minority stereotype, and a whole load more. All while being funny, clever, unpatronising and complicated. Honestly this show is so well written and the talent in all aspects is phenomenal. Bring on series four!

Source: Netflix


2. Dead to Me

A dark comedy centred around the growing friendship of two middle-aged women, Dead to Me had me hooked. Grief is a central theme to this series, both in terms of what we grieve and the different ways people manage their grief. Both of the main characters are complex, well thought out, and interesting.It is suspenseful throughout, and while I didn’t think the second series was as good as the first, I’m still excited to see what happens next!

Source: Netflix

3. 13th

Directed by the brilliant Ava DuVernay, this documentary discusses how slavery didn’t end with the passing of the 13thamendment, due to a loop-hole relating to prison-labour. I learned so much from 13th. It was such an eye-opener and after I watched it, I have also come to learn more about how the prison-labour system operates in the UK (although I don’t know enough as I should and am still learning). Not only is it incredibly informative, it is also an incredible piece of film-making. It’s so well put together, with outstanding visuals and structure. Some of the backgrounds to the interviews look amazing. My favourite is the abandoned train station where DuVernay interviews Angela Davis. This is also available to watch on YouTube. 

Source: Netflix

4. Sex Education

I feel like everyone has watched Sex Education, but there’s no way I couldn’t mention it here. Some people find the mixture of US and UK settings and of different era aesthetics a bit off-putting, but I quite like it. I love loads of the clothes, especially Aimee’s outfits in series 2. This show talks about so many issues that don’t tend to get representation in mainstream media or education. The cast is diverse in several ways, and the wide range of storylines covers so many areas, both serious issues like sexual assault, revenge porn and drug addiction to blossoming friendships, joyful coming out scenes and moments of empowerment. Episode 7 of series 2 never fails to make me cry. I won’t lie, I also kind of aspire to be Jean Milburn... Gillian Anderson at her finest. 

Source: Netflix

5. Never Have I Ever

If you need any more proof of what a talented writer Mindy Kaling is, look no further than Never Have I Ever. This high school coming of age series centres around Devi, in the year after both the death of her father and her temporary paralysis. It covers grief so well, and even the characters who would be normally depicted as horrible people in any other teen drama are given complexities and become likeable. But don’t worry, it’s not all seriousness. While it is certainly heartfelt and touching, it is also hilarious. I genuinely laughed out loud so many times, and do I even need to mention that John McEnroe is the narrator. Yes, you read that right, John McEnroe?! There’s so much I could say about this show, I could honestly go on for ages. One of my other favourite aspects include the way they represent female sexuality, the fact that teenage girls actually want and think about sex too – something I’ve not really seen anywhere before. 

Source: Netflix

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