Survey on Vegan Friendly Fashion

An MSc student has been in touch to ask that I publicise her dissertation questionnaire. She is conducting research on consumers’ purchase intentions and the marketing of vegan and animal friendly fashion.

If you are female and over the age of 16 she’d love to hear from you! It takes around 10 minutes to complete and all participants have the chance to win a faux leather Ipad case by vegan fashion label Denise Robool.

Here is the link: http://goo.gl/forms/ro3zOMJKdR

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Fieldwork in China on Grocery Shopping for Over 65s

Arriving at Tsinghua University campus, Beijing

Arriving at Tsinghua University campus, Beijing

I am currently in China! Beijing specifically, but before that I spent a week doing fieldwork in Qingdao and Nanjing (in the Mid/South East). It was always part of the plan that I would come to China during my 18-month research contract at Winchester School of Art. The project I joined, ‘Silver Shoppers’, looks at the grocery shopping experiences of consumers over the age of 65 in both the UK and China.

Findings aim to improve our understanding of the consumer behaviour, values and capabilities of this increasingly heterogeneous population with implications for future research, retail business strategy and social policy on ageing and wellbeing. Having completed the UK fieldwork (which you can read about here), I set off for China at the beginning of July.

Why the UK and China?

The retail markets in the UK and China are very different but are united in the need to develop solutions to service the ageing population. Equally, within the globalized retail industry, China is regarded as the biggest and most profitable overseas market by major international firms such as Tesco (UK), Wal-Mart (US), Carrefour (France) and Metor AG (Germany). Chinese consumer needs are different however to the needs of consumers in Europe and the US, particularly amongst the older generation who have to adapt to broader societal changes and the impact of new globalised technologies. This research seeks to understand older consumer behaviour both within the context of the newer supermarket environments and more traditional grocery stores and markets. There is also a gap in the literature looking at older shoppers experiences at open markets in China.

What we did

Data collection in China follows much the same methods as the UK. With three regions selected across the country, we aim to follow the everyday routines and shopping habits of 30 participants using a diary and inspection card pack for six weeks. We also conduct filmed observation of their normal grocery shopping routine and a post-shop interview. In the UK this focused solely on supermarkets but here in China, half have been to supermarkets and half to open markets.

How I got on

I’m sure it’s little surprise to know I don’t speak Chinese so we have a Chinese team based at Tsinghua University partnered on the project. A group of Masters students are managing the fieldwork, using the materials we developed in the UK which were then translated into Mandarin. By the time I came over the participants had been recruited, a plan was made and I joined the group as they started data collection in the first two cities. All of the interviews were conducted in Chinese but I was at least able to observe the shopping process. The students themselves were able to communicate with me in English (to a mixed degree) and looked after me very well! It was a great introduction to China and although it was an intense week of travel and long days, I really enjoyed it.

At the end of the week I ran a training session on data analysis so they will manage the rest of the process. My manager (the project lead) is Chinese so there’s no problem there when it comes to going through the findings. I’m now back at Tsinghua University in Beijing where I will stay for 3 weeks in total. This gives me a chance to explore the culture some more and do some informal observations, visiting the main supermarkets and watching people on the street.

Vegetable market in Qingdao, China

Vegetable market in Qingdao, China


Shellfish and seafood at the market in Qingdao

Shellfish and seafood at the market in Qingdao


More from the open market, Qingdao. What are they??

More from the open market, Qingdao. What are they??

What I’ve found

The thing that strikes me most about China, in general, is the contrast between rich and poor, new and old, shiny and dirty etc. In Nanjing we stayed next to a huge, shiny shopping mall with Starbucks and a cinema and Western clothes shops. But outside, people were selling fruit on the streets just placed on the pavement and a worker from a small restaurant was peeling his veg outside on the street. The train from Nanjing to Beijing went nearly 300km per hour but still had a dirty, squat toilet. Queuing to enter the National Museum of China a security guard grabbed my arm and moved me an inch sideways to get us exactly in line, but everyone pushes onto the subway train before you have a chance to get off. Everything is a contradiction. But maybe that’s good. They have the technology to make life easier, but can still ‘rough it’ better than us in the UK. We’re probably too precious. Too preoccupied with health and safety.

The same could be said for the supermarkets vs open markets. To me, the open markets were not hygienic at all. But as all proper food comes from the ground or sea to start with, it’s probably right that we should have to prepare things to eat ourselves. Qingdao is on the coast, so the market there was packed full of fish and seafood, a lot of it alive. The vegetables at the market too just seemed huge! A lot of people travel by bike, and watching them strap their shopping to the back is quite interesting.

Supermarkets have a lot more staff than in the UK, with assistants hovering around each main section. Fruit and veg is weighed before going to the till, sometimes you pay there and then separately. They have lots of pick and mix sweets and brightly coloured packets creating a rainbow effect. In Beijing so far I’ve visited Carrefour, but got distracted by the ‘imported foods’ section. I bought Babybel! They had a map to show the store layout at the entrance, something suggested by a number of our UK participants. Obviously Carrefour is French rather than Chinese, but I hadn’t seen this in the UK.

In terms of shopping with the older people, there are far fewer mobility scooters and wheelchairs here. They just don’t have the space to get around in them. I spotted this in the Hutong in Beijing though. Similarly, I’m sure a lot of people don’t bother with pushchairs. I haven’t seen many. Some of our Chinese participants can’t read and write either so they have family members helping with the diary tasks, but clearly, this has to affect their shopping, especially in a supermarket as opposed to the open market.

Motorised bike/wheelchair with parasol

Motorised bike/wheelchair with parasol


Useful map in Carrefour, Beijing

Useful map in Carrefour, Beijing

There’s not a huge amount more I can say until I see the results (translated back into English for me!). We will be publishing a comparison study of the UK and China, as well as on the two contexts individually. I’ve had some time to be a tourist too, so I’ll post another blog about that later!

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Shopping for ethical wood flooring

ethicalwoodflooring

When I moved into my flat nearly three years ago the excitement of having my own place to decorate and do up was overshadowed by a lack of time and money to really do what I wanted to it. I got a new kitchen but it was cheap, and now my oven has broken and so has the cupboard door. I’m also still waiting to have it tiled (although I have recently purchased the tiles!). However, I did find ways to put my stamp on the place, and for me that meant a lot of second-hand furniture. Your home should be an extension of yourself, so for me that means trying to live in a healthy and ethical environment, warm but admittedly a little bit shabby. Buying second-hand furniture let me ‘save’ proper solid wood pieces from landfill and give them a new home.

Part of the second-hand magic is not really knowing where that item has come from. Right now I’m sat at my 1950s desk typing this blog. Who else has been sat at this desk? What did they write? Would did they have to say? It’s mindboggling! Of course, the unknown isn’t always desirable. When I buy anything new I want the exact opposite. I want to know where that item has come from and who made it. And often that’s tricky to find out.

What’s FSC wood?

If you’re buying new furniture, wood flooring, decking or kitchen worktops you can sleep soundly at night by choosing FSC certified products. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an international non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting responsible and sustainable forestry. Founded twenty years ago, FSC work with forest owners, businesses and communities to ensure forested areas remain environmentally and socially sustainable. They provide principles for managing forests well, helping communities benefit from the land whilst ensuring that harvested trees are replaced or allowed to rejuvenate naturally.

The FSC audit forests through trusted partners such as the Soil Association, putting their name and logo to wood that meets their ethical principles. The certified chain of custody tracks timber through the supply chain so we, as consumers, can trust wood and paper products with the FSC logo as having been produced in a responsible manner. It is the only forestry scheme endorsed by major charities like WWF and Greenpeace and as such has become a desirable certification for retailers to acquire.

A great one-stop shop for FSC certified wood flooring, decking and wooden kitchen worktops is www.woodandbeyond.com. Sourced straight from the manufacturer, Wood and Beyond are able to offer a wide range of quality, ethical wood flooring at competitive prices. If you need advice on the best wood flooring options for your home, check out this simple guide.

How else can you make your home ‘ethical’?

Another thing I looked into when I redecorated my flat was environmentally friendly and healthy paint. According to the Guardian the constituents of conventional paints may include formaldehyde, heavy metals and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. None of those things are particularly good but luckily there are plenty of alternatives available from the likes of Ecos Organics Paints and earthborn. Plus, if you can’t live without Farrow and Ball, they do eco paint too!

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5 Reasons I Love Fieldwork (and 5 reasons I’m glad it’s over)

I’ve been in my role as a research fellow at Winchester School of Art a year today (happy anniversary to me!). I’m employed on an ESRC project to look at supermarket design and service for the over 65’s (in the UK and China), using a mixed method approach of participant observation, interviews, diary tasks and a quantitative questionnaire, similar to the methods used during my PhD. Since starting the job a year ago I’ve been working towards the UK fieldwork which if I do say so myself, has been no mean feat. We had 30 participants involved across three regions of the UK for 6-8 weeks and each one had to be visited 3 times for interviews and observation.

Recruitment was tricky as these things often are so mostly I’m just relived that we had enough people to take part and now have LOADS of data. It’s been three months of proper fieldwork but in the two months proceeding that I travelled around for recruitment and store manager meetings. This post pretty much sums up all that’s great about fieldwork (in my role at least) and also why I’m glad it’s done. I still have six weeks in China coming up, so fieldwork isn’t quite over yet, but I have few responsibilities during that time. I’m just there to broadly unsure data is collected in the same way we did in the UK.

Travelling

Our research areas were Dorset, Shrewsbury and rural Northumberland and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of these areas. I now know all the best beaches to head to in Dorset on a warm summer’s day if you want to avoid the Bournemouth crowds, but I’ll never forget the glorious sense of isolation at Bamburgh beach, Northumberland as I literally ran, skipped and jumped along the shore in my jogging gear after a tip off from a participant earlier in the day.

Confirming ‘hypothesis’ and finding out new things

Fieldwork is what research is all about, being out there finding stuff out. I love it as the weeks go on with certain themes reinforced and then someone will come along and say something totally new, helping you remember why you ask the same questions over and again.

Meeting people

I had three research assistants helping on the project (until the last few weeks when I’ve been back on my own) so it was nice hanging out with them and not being totally alone but the participants themselves have been so lovely! I’ve spent 10 hours with some of them over 3 or 4 visits. I’ve received homemade jam and offers of a place to stay if I’m ever back in the area, plus countless cups of tea and biscuits. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know them and hearing how much they’ve enjoyed participating in the project.

Being productive

It’s quite easy to be productive when there are things to do and people to see. We were visiting six to twelve participants a week, collecting 20 hours of video and audio data over a few days on average. Even just visiting one participant a day felt like time well spent.

Staying in hotels

I’ve got my ‘regular’ hotel in Shrewsbury now and stayed in one of the most haunted in Northumberland. Big beds and big breakfasts are definitely perks.

Late afternoon on Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

Late afternoon on Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

And 5 reasons I’m glad it’s complete . . .

Travelling

The places were lovely when I got there but travelling every week takes its toll. I flew to Newcastle (I know, I do feel guilty!) which often meant a 7am flight as I’d rather have an extra night at home. Whether by train or car there is no easy way to get to Shrewsbury from Southampton. One day after 6 hours travelling home and a road closure in Soton that brought me to a halt, I abandoned my car and walked home because I couldn’t face sitting in the car anymore.

Relying on other people

It’s to be expected that fieldwork never goes exactly to plan. The Friday before our first week in Shrewsbury I was left with just one participant as others dropped out. It’s no ones fault and we managed but it put the timetable off track as we had to recruit more. What I did do was phone participants a lot, and certainly the day before appointments so I never turned up at someone’s house with them having forgotten I was coming.

Data management

Once you’ve collected the data you have the stress of making sure it’s safe at all times! There were a few panics about whether interviews recorded and if I’d copied a file into the wrong folder. Plus my laptop was slow to catch up and needed an emergency trip to IT for a memory boost two weeks in.

Not being productive

I’m not going to complain that fieldwork isn’t a good use of time because it’s a brilliant use of time, but it is tiring and you need to be quite single-minded to keep everything in order so very little writing has occurred during the last 5 months. Awkward when you have two people waiting for paper drafts.

Staying in hotels

I love my flat really and didn’t like missing out on social events and seminars (yes really), but mostly I just can’t stand making tea with long life milk!

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Discover Ethical Products Every Month by Subscription

Subscription boxes are definitely hot right now. It’s not unusual to have a regular veg box delivered to your door, but you can also get monthly deliveries of tea, razors and socks. These aren’t particularly fun things though are they? (although I do love tea and socks).

May contents of This Good Box

May contents of This Good Box

I had a very nice delivery recently, a small box of ethical goodies from This Good Box. This Good Box makes it easy to discover fantastic ethical or natural products as you sign up to have a small selection posted to you (or a friend) every month. You can also buy individual boxes without subscribing, and each month is focused on a theme.

May = CREATE. And this was the box I received recently through my letter box.

The box exceeded my expectations – at first I wasn’t sure whether a regular supply of more ‘stuff’ sat comfortably with the slow consumption cause but looking through the contents I soon realised it offered so much more than just stuff. Founder, Lianne Howard-Dace, wanted to encourage the contents to be shared. As part of my ‘Create’ box I had some yummy Fairtrade organic chocolate from Chocolate and Love, a natural cuticle butter by Filbert of Dorset, a felt brooch making set, Sarah Corbett’s ‘A Little Book of Craftivism’ (worth checking out) and fabric pens to decorate my own plain bag. A note inside provides suggestions of ways to share the contents and spread the word, by sharing the chocolate with someone I haven’t spoken to before, or making the brooch to pass to a friend. At the moment it’s aimed at women but they hope to launch a men’s box in the future.

Craftivism and fabric pens from this good box
Chocolate and love Fairtrade
This Good Box

I hadn’t heard about the chocolate company before, so it’s a great way to promote small brands and ethical products. Keen to speak to Lianne about This Good Box, she happily answered my eager questions (and offered an exclusive discount code, see the end of the post!) –

1. Where did the idea for This Good Box come from?

It came from something in my own life really. I wanted to live in a better way and learn where to find great ethical products – at the same time I was enjoying receiving several subscription boxes and had the idea to bring the two things together. I just had to see if anyone else would want to buy it as well and it looks like they do!

2. How do you source the products each month?

Sometimes I’ll think of a useful item that works for the month’s theme and set out to find an ethical version which is easier with some products than others! Other times I’ll discover a brand and know I need to get it in the box or a social enterprise might contact me and we’ll see how they might fit with future boxes. Everything has to be able to fit through the letterbox as well so it’s a big challenge but one of my favourite parts of running This Good Box.

3. The box offers ideas of ways to share it’s contents, why do you think this is important?

From the offset I wanted a random acts of kindness vibe to run through what we’re doing and the products are so shareable it really lends itself to that. I can be quite introverted by nature but I really believe that connectivity with the people around us is so important; we can’t solve the problems facing our world without each other. Community is really important in my life so I want to find little ways for people to build a sense of it in their own lives. Sometimes getting out of our comfort zone is incredibly rewarding!

*DISCOUNT* This Good Box have kindly offered a promo code for any readers of my blog to get £10 off your first box. Use EMMAGOODBOX1 to get £10 off a one-off purchase and EMMAGOODBOX to get £10 off any subscription plan. That equates to a box of ethical goodies for just £7.50 + P&P! Get yours from www.thisgoodbox.co.uk

Filberts of Dorset natural beauty

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Mindful, Fair Trade Jewellery by Mosami

clover2

Jewellery can be so much more than adornment. Often we attach deep meaning to pieces because they were a gift, an heirloom, a memory, a way of saying thank you, well done or I love you. The pieces by Mosami can mean all of these things, but importantly they also come with a symbolism of their own. Mosami is a brand combining beautiful jewellery design with the benefits of mindfulness, a feature I find captivating. If you seek to find greater courage, success or happiness, there is an ethically crafted piece to suit your mood along with an accompanying simple mindfulness ritual to practice whenever the moment takes you.

Mosami was founded by Sarah Greenaway, a woman passionate about sustainability, peace and beautiful things. We met up over coffee to chat about her plans for Mosami, my plans for Ethical High Street and the global need to continue moving towards a greener economy. Mosami pieces (necklaces, earrings and bracelets) are made from recycled or Fairtrade silver. As Sarah explained, she’d like to use more Fairtrade silver but as it is fairly new on the market, availability cannot currently keep pace with demand. In fact, with just one Fairtrade certified mine in the world, Sarah is part of a small group pioneering the Fairtrade metal. The silver is sourced from Sotrami, a mine in Peru where a dedicated team have worked hard to gain Fairtrade accreditation.

All of the Mosami pieces are designed by British designers and made by men and women highly skilled in their craft. Mosami aims to raise awareness of the shocking environmental impact of artisanal mining, offering jewellery that is beautiful to wear, and made with respect for people and planet.

So how does Mosami team jewellery with mindfulness?

“With a little practice jewellery can do more than just remind us of happy times passed, it can remind us to make positive choices for a happy future too. Mosami pieces are created to inspire beautiful personal rituals that blend empowering thought patterns with everyday routine”

Just as Buddhist prayer beads help aid meditation, Mosami show you how to use their pieces to take time out and focus your thoughts. I love the Wisdom Cuff (£125) that Sarah was wearing when we met. Made from 100% Fairtrade silver the “Words to Live By” cuffs are a tribute to the Celtic reverence for the wise oak. Each is decorated with oak leaves and acorns, and discreetly inscribed with words of wisdom from icons of more recent times.

WisdomCuff_Mosami
Not only do the inscribed quotes by Mother Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi and Charlie Chaplin provide a mindful thought to empower you through the day, but the bracelet itself can provide reminder to be true to your own wisdom as you gently touch the hand-beaten metal as a reminder to slow down and take a mindful moment.

Browsing online you can shop by product, wish and ritual. So –

to improve positive thinking and to feel lucky every day try the Lucky Day Clover Necklace (£70) and accompanying Lucky Day ritual.

Clover_mosami

Or be reminded of your inner happiness with the Marigold necklace (£60) and accompanying happiness ritual.

marigold_Mosami

You can shop Mosami online at: www.mosami.co.uk

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