Shop Traidcraft for the UK’s Widest Range of Fair Trade Products

Do we buy fair trade goods to make a political statement, because we want to help others or because we believe it’s morally just? It’s a question that circles debates on ethical consumption, but whether consumers seek out fair trade goods or just stumble across them, sales are up and we have more choice of fair trade goods than ever. You’ve probably heard of Traidcraft, they’ve been around since 1979 when they started as a Christian response to poverty. Traidcraft is now a combined trading company and development charity selling a wide range of great fairly traded goods.

Traidcraft stock clothing, food, gifts and cards, toys, household and homewares so they are a great first-stop for your Christmas shopping list. Always looking out for traditional toys for my niece and nephew, I recently took delivery of the Traidcraft wooden pull-along dog. It’s a really sweet gift for young children and certain to be loved by all. In this case, my sister had just got an 8-week old real puppy who seemed to relish not being the smallest thing in the house anymore, dragging the wooden dog around when the kids turned their backs!

Traidcraft have an extensive range of groceries – toiletries, jams, cereals, biscuits, fruit juices and more. I usually buy my Divine chocolate from Ethical Superstore but Traidcraft stock it too, and in multi-packs! Divine chocolate is made with the finest quality Fairtrade cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of smallholder farmers in Ghana.They stock clean and fair eco-friendly Fairtrade household cleaning products and soaps, made with natural, plant-based ingredients. They have gorgeous handmade cards and notepads and plenty of Christmas things, cards, decorations and gifts. The Divine advent calendar is just £3.99.

Traidcraft pull-along puppy
Traidcraft fairtrade wooden puppy

Check out their special offers for sale items. I love this ceramic blue bowl/planter made by Mai Handicrafts, a social enterprise based in Vietnam which aims to find work for neglected families by selling handicraft products to local and export markets. You can find out more about all their producers online – every product has a story.

You can request a Traidcraft catalogue here, or perhaps you’d like to be a fair trader yourself and sell to others?

Post to Twitter

Posted in Fair trade | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

COSSAC Cool: Ethical Fashion

COSSAC ethical fashion yoga

I get approached by new ethical fashion brands quite regularly but COSSAC is different because COSSAC is a fashion label that just so happens to be consciously ethical in approach. This means that rather than relying on ethics alone to make a brand profile, COSSAC is a trend-led label for the youthful woman who loves life, loves fashion and wants to make a stand for what she believes in.

COSSAC launched yesterday, 24th October 2014, and currently has two small women’s collections. Utilising conscious design with low environmental impact, the label was founded by the lovely Agata Natalia Kozak who says:

“The reason for starting COSSAC is the desire to make something good, something I believe in and love doing that additionally will have a positive impact on fashion, society and environment. It’s not about making money, it’s about starting a positive change, a little fashion revolution.”

Agata uses fabric suppliers in the UK, India, Germany and Turkey and currently bases production in the UK and India. At present 80% of the fabrics are fair trade, organic, recycled and/or sustainable with Agata working towards 100%.

For the Eye’ is a fashion-forward collection of trendy separates. The look is minimalist, pieces for going out in the evening or heading to parties. This top (£75) for example, is made from organic cotton velvet and recycled fur with a sheer organza panel at the hem. The organic cotton top I’m wearing above (£25) is part of the ‘For the Soul’ collection, a range of lounge/casual/yoga gear featuring my favourite – slogan tees. I will definitely wear mine for yoga, but right now I’m wearing it with a long grey jersey skirt. I can’t wait to see what COSSAC have in store for future collections!

To view the full collection visit: www.COSSAC.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/COSSACfashion

Twitter: www.twitter.com/COSSACfashion

Instagram: www.instagram.com/COSSACfashion
Watch COSSAC Behind The Scenes. A/W14 photo-shoot on You Tube: http://youtu.be/U98OZ7Mnd-c

Post to Twitter

Posted in Ethical Fashion, Fashion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Climate Summit and the Place of Ethical Consumption Research

Last week (23rd September 2014) saw the UN Climate Summit, where global leaders from Government, business, finance and civil society came together to announce their commitments to action in areas that are critical for keeping global temperature increases to less than two degrees C. The 8 proposed Action Areas were Agriculture, Cities, Energy, Financing, Forests, Industry, Resilience and Transportation. I’m not going to provide a summary of the summit because there is plenty of information online but it has prompted me to share some thoughts from two conferences I went to this summer.

carbonmap

Have a look at this climate map from the Guardian (click here). Watch how, as my friend said, the world ‘breathes in and out’ as you flick between highest population data and highest consumption – or consumption and all levels of highest vulnerability to climate change. It comes as no surprise that the countries with the highest levels of consumption are not the countries with the highest population, nor those at greatest risk of problems associated with sea level rise and poverty.

The inequality is both startling and disgusting, and world leaders at the summit did appear to be concerned about the tangible effects of climate change in the form of severe weather events. In a press conference following Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli’s speech, Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters that “weather extremes have greatly affected the Chinese people.” According to a report by the European Commission, China’s carbon emissions increased by around 10% PER YEAR in the decade prior to 2013 at which point it slowed to a 3% increase, whilst the EU had a 4% decrease.

In order to slow CO2 emissions we need a greater commitment to more sustainable consumption, at all scales, from personal to global. Whilst we do drastically need to cut carbon emissions, I think this could be framed more positively through a holistic sustainable consumption approach rather than focusing on carbon emissions per se. Lots of research is being done to try and learn more about consumer behavior and the motivation behind individual action. With climate change now regarded to be a critical policy issue, what’s the place of social science research in this agenda?

I attended two brilliant workshops/conferences over the summer that got me thinking about just that:

Ethical consumption and the globalising middle-classes: Philosophies, policies and practices, Durham University

Sustainable consumption and lifecourse transitions, University of Surrey.

They were only a week apart, so it was great to immerse myself in these overlapping topics and tease out the key themes across the two. The content of course did differ, as did many of the approaches with Durham being mainly geographers and Surrey mainly attended by sociologists, however I certainly got a sense of where future research is headed, and which directions we should steer it in.

The key theme for Durham was ‘globalising’, the argument being that most of the research conducted on ethical consumption is exclusively from the point of view of the West. Such research utilises a Western take on what it means to be ethical to consider the role of the consumer in the Global North and the producer in the Global South. Events like the UN Summit on climate change rely on a global agreement to produce any effect; therefore we cannot continue to be bound to this north/south dichotomy but should instead look at different variables and viewpoints. A couple of particularly interesting points to take from this workshop for me were –

How are ‘ethical’ products marketed within the Global South and what does this say about different attitudes and values?

What do we mean by ethics? Can we start laying judgement on ethical endeavours elsewhere without an understanding of the different cultural definitions of ethics?

As an example, a well-known chain/department store in Bangladesh called Aarong states on it’s website that it “is dedicated to bring about positive changes in the lives of disadvantaged artisans and underprivileged rural women” yet according to Prof. Nicky Gregson, there is no mention of this message in store. The growing middle-class (30m people) in Bangladesh are shopping to keep up with the latest fashions. Status as exemplified by taste is of utmost importance, and shopping at Aarong enables a form of distinction for this group. The ethics are silent though, rather than capitalising on ethics for commodity value, Aarong is an example of consumption with ethical effects not ethical consumption as a route for political action.

This is quite a different way of thinking through ethical consumption, which at least in the Global North, is considered a purposeful act to play out identities, politics and status. As discussed (but certainly not proven) during the workshop, perhaps such explicit reference to ethical production/consumption is too close to home in Bangladesh. With cheap clothes accounting for around 78% of total exports, the garment industry is both a source of ethical contention and a major factor in the increasing wealth of the growing elite. Similarly, in South Africa and Kenya locally sourced fair trade brands sell to their own middle-class not by focusing on a message to help the poor but on ‘love Africa’. Place, and therefore geography, is critical in forwarding this work and expanding the definition of what it means to be an ‘ethical consumer’.

The need for consistent terminology also came up at the Surrey conference and is particularly important if we want ethical/sustainable consumption research to successfully span different countries, cultures and disciplines. We discussed whether more interventionist research is indeed ethical as I proposed it as a helpful way to move forward in understanding how to change consumer behaviour. It’s one thing trying to find out why we act the way we do, but what about ‘nudging’ individuals to do things differently? As the title of the workshop suggests, we discussed lifecourse transitions, moving into the metaphysical realm of postulating how views of life after death may alter what we do in life. Maybe its philosophy we are missing? There are many ways to approach research on sustainable/ethical consumption/lifestyles and I think we’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. The important thing, is to keep sharing ideas not just with each other but with policy makers and society at large too – globally.

Post to Twitter

Posted in Economics, Environment, Fair trade, Garment workers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pants to Poverty Discount Code

Pants to Poverty

Pants to Poverty is planning a relaunch for 2015 amidst exciting plans to live and work with suppliers in India. The brand, which is a familiar one to conscious consumers, are furthering their work to support sustainable business relationships by moving operations to their farmer’s office in Odisha, India, for a few weeks. The trip aims to let the Pants to Poverty staff document and assist with the harvest of the organic cotton that goes into making Pantabulous products. It’s a wonderful chance for the team to be fully involved in the ‘cotton to bottom’ process and whilst the relaunch won’t involve a significant change in product offering, the trip will no doubt inspire the team to develop new shapes and styles.

P2P IMAGE 5

You can buy Pants to Poverty online, plus they have a wide list of stockists across the UK. The lovely team have offered an exclusive discount code to readers of Ethical High Street, you just need to quote ETHICALHIGHSTREET (in caps) online to get 10% off. Why not stock up on new undies for winter? They make great gifts/stocking fillers too!

Read more on Ethical High Street (which, by the way, now features the indie ethical shop directory)

Post to Twitter

Posted in Environment, Ethical Fashion, Fair trade, Fashion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I was on BBC Radio!!

Ahead of this weekend’s Festival of Thrift, the Mark Forrest Show looked at second-hand shopping, status and sustainability. I’m featured in a brief interview focused on my studies on second-hand consumption, very exciting! The first part is about the Festival of Thrift, my section starts 4:45 minutes in.

Post to Twitter

Posted in Economics, Environment, Ethical Fashion, Fashion, Life | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Corner Shop – Felt Groceries by Lucy Sparrow

I met Lucy Sparrow in Southampton last month and was really interested to hear about her forthcoming shop opening in London. She’d been busy planning the launch of The Corner Shop for months, but this was a shop with a difference; all of the groceries were to be made from felt!!

As a textile artist, Lucy mainly works with felt and wool creating over-sized soft versions of existing objects and major art works. The Corner Shop is her latest project and has received wide-spread media attention, and for good reason, it’s brilliant! Felt fruit and veg, newspapers, tins of soup, packets of biscuits and pick-and-mix sweets are just some of the goods you’ll find there. You can buy items online made to order or by filling out an order form in the ‘store’. Open until the end of the month, you can visit this cute corner shop in Bethnal Green at 19 Wellington Row E2 7BB. It will then be moved to Brighton in October 2014.

You can find Lucy at: sewyoursoul.co.uk/

Grocery1
grocery2
grocery3
grocery4

Post to Twitter

Posted in Events, Retail | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment