In goals

My Goals for 2019

I won’t lie, I’m really quite proud of how many of my goals I managed to accomplish last year. Let’s hope 2019 continues along that same way!

Read 70 books

I always like to include my GoodReads challenge on my yearly goals list, as they do tend to be quite significant. This year I’ve gone much higher than I have done previously, but I think I can do it. Last year, I read 62 books, exceeding my goal of 23. As I am doing a degree in English Literature, I have to read a lot (at least one book a week), so I think that will help me read the extra few. I’m really stretching myself with this one, but a challenge won’t do me any harm!

Publish a What I Read in 2018 blog post at the end of the year

This follows on from my last goal, as it should mean that you all get to see which books I’ve read this year. I’ve been trying to do this kind of post properly for the past few years. I originally did a post like this in 2016, however, I would like the one I write this year to be a little more in depth. As I’m aiming to read 70 books, I may have to do publish it in 2 or 3 parts. I think the reason why I rarely seem to manage to do this post is because I leave it mostly to the last minute (i.e.) at the end of the year, when I’ve forgotten most of what I thought about the books I’m writing about. Instead, I’m going to try to gradually write it throughout the year.

Stop touching my face

For the latter part of 2018 my skin was utter shite. I’ve never had great skin, but for a variety of reasons it just went into chaos. I have established a more rigid skincare routine now and it seems to be helping. However, I do have one habit which I know is not helping when it comes to my acne: touching my face and scratching spots and scabs. It may not be great to hear about, but I’d say it’s one of my main goals for this year, and hopefully it’ll help improve my skin.

Make sure to do at least 10 minutes of yoga every day

Last year, I actually made a conscious effort to do more exercise and improve my fitness, and I really did it for the right reasons. I started doing yoga every morning during my A Level exam season, and it helped me so much. I felt so much more relaxed and focused. I did more yoga over the summer, but properly established more of a morning routine part of the way into uni, but only about 5-7ish minutes at a time. Over Christmas I mostly lost my routine. This year, I want to keep my routine going as much as possible, try more difficult routines and for longer. 

Pass my first year of uni with at least a 2:1

As I’m writing this, I’m one exam away from finishing my first semester at university, and I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly! Overall, I’m quite happy with my results. I haven’t got all of them back for this semester yet, but I think if I work hard I can do it. Ideally, I’d love to get a First, but I’d be very happy with a 2:1, so that’s my goal. 

Reduce my plastic use as much as possible

Again, this is something I'm trying to continue and improve upon from last year. I made a really good start, especially with research and and keeping the issue at the forefront of my mind. One thing I particularly want to improve on is to not buy lunch out so much, and focus on making my own.

Perfect a vegan cake

Basically since I turned veggie, I’ve been trying out vegan baking. Whilst I’ve managed some things well – like scones and Welsh cakes – I haven’t made a truly great cake yet. I’ve tried several recipes – a few have been good-average and several which have been, well, kinda crap. One literally had the consistency of a bouncy ball. How does that even happen?? Anyway, I would love to have a truly great vegan chocolate cake by the end of the year. I just freaking love chocolate cake. 

Diversify my reading 

For the past few years I’ve been trying to broaden the scope of my reading, so that I’m consuming art from people who have very different experiences than I do. However, my attempts haven’t taken up too much of my overall reading percentage wise. I’m going to try and make BAME, LGBT and translated books take up a larger proportion of my year’s reading.

What are your goals for 2019?

If you liked this post you might like: Did I Complete My 2018 Goals?

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In Monthly Wrap Ups

November/December | Monthly Wrap Up

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, they’ve interrupted my Wrap Up schedule, so you get two in one this month! (Oh, and happy 2019!

Favourite part?

Oh my life, I feel like I’ve forgotten half of what I’ve done in the past couple of months. I’ve had plenty of nights out with my friends, including an ABBA night. 

After my mid-module assessments, I went home for a few days. I didn’t realise until I was back, but it was so needed. And then there was Christmas! I have to say I’ve had a very chill festive period this year – seeing lots of family and friends and spending time with my cat. 

I feel like I’ve done a lot but not that much at the same time? I don’t know, this section just seems quite empty for 2 months, but hey, that’s life. 

Best read?

I suppose that now I’ve been doing an English Literature degree for three months, my reading should be going up, and I’ve definitely been thinking more about what I’m reading and how I go about it.

In November, I read Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners, Steve Waters’ The Secret Life of Plays and A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney as part of one of my English modules. I much preferred the book we studied in December, Kurt Vonnegut’s Salughterhouse-5.  

Alongside these, I also read No. More. Plastic. by Martin Dorey, Refuge by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, and Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep by Michael Schulman. You can read my review of Dorey’s book here. I received several books for Christmas, and have read a couple over the festive period too. So far, I’ve read An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan, which I thought was incredible. I’m also currently reading Their Finest Hour by Lissa Evans, the book which is the basis for one of my favourite films, Their Finest. I’m also reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick as part of my study of Blade Runner.

Favourite tunes?

I’ve had a mix this past couple if months – my loves ABBA and Stevie Nicks of course, along with Patti Smith, The Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, more film soundtracks, Billy Joel and Simon & Garfunkel. Oh, and Christmas songs of course.

Favourite watch?

I’ve finally finished Grey’s Anatomy. I won’t lie I felt a little empty when I realized I got to the end of what was available on Amazon Prime (anyone know where to find series 15?). All the crappy Christmas romcoms available on Netflix (obviously). 

I watched Casablanca for the first time in the middle of December and loved it. It’s referenced in several of my favourite films (When Harry Met Sally, La La Land, etc.) and so it felt like something I had to see, as a sort of preface to those films.

What did I learn?

Megabusses have surprisingly good wifi. Yes, Love Actually can be watched twice in one day and still be just as good. Oh boy have I missed lasagne, and it’s okay to not be productive sometimes.

What’s happening next month?

2019! Here we go again. I’ve got an essay due on the 10th and an exam a week later, so most of January is going to be research, writing and revision. Then I’m going home again for another 10 days before the beginning of Semester 2 starts. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit some friends and catch up on a bit of blog writing and reading, it should be good to have a few days with absolutely no work due. 

What’s been on my mind?

Deadlines and reading. God that sounds boring doesn’t it. Tied into that I’ve had lots of other topics in my mind – feminism, the refugee crisis, among others that I’ve managed to link into my uni work or even make a whole project out of!

Favourite blogger/vlogger?

Sustainably Vegan, Rachel Ama, Leena Norms and all my usual faves. I loved Hannah Witton’s Vlognukah as I have done before, but thought that this year her videos were quite different and refreshing.

I also enjoyed Venetia Falconer’s Alternative Vlogmas series and have binge watched lots of her videos recently. 

Favourite post?

It has to be my Ethical Christmas Gift Guide. I spent a lot of time working on it and I’m proud of how it turned out. Go check it out if you need a present for anyone (probably a tad late promoting it now, but never mind!). 

Biggest inspiration?

Honestly? Deadlines.

Any other favourites?

All the blankets I was given for Christmas in addition to the ones I already had. For some reason I think people think that I’m cold. Also mulled wine. My winter aesthetic is wine-stained lips. 

If you liked this post you might like: October 2018 | Monthly Wrap Up

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In goals

Did I Complete My 2018 Goals?

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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In books environmental review

No. More. Plastic. by Martin Dorey | Book Review

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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In environmental feminism inspiration

Ethical Christmas Gift Guide

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 for Waterstones)

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 – £11.99

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 – £12.99

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 - £12.99

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 - £6.99

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, but I would recommend having a look through What’s Your Legacy is an online catalogue of ethical clothing companies, so would definitely be useful in finding a specific something.

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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