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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Uni Project Turned Brit Business: Get Made in Britain Clothes Online

British manufacturing UK design shirt

The British Clothing Co is a brand new online retailer of sustainably sourced, British manufactured accessories and clothing.

The idea was originally dreamed up as part of a university project in 2013, as Hollie, then studying Fashion Marketing at Nottingham Trent, wanted to research into an area she felt strongly about; ethical and sustainable fashion. At the time, there was becoming slightly more awareness of British manufacturing due to the likes of Mary Portas’ “Kinky Knickers” campaign, along with some major retailers releasing British made ranges.

From here she researched into consumer attitudes towards fashion consumption, whilst also speaking to a range of manufacturers within the British Isles. She found that most of these manufacture small-scale production lines and even bespoke products, making sure they are of the highest quality, and meaning they will last for season after season. This is the complete antithesis of the disposable, fast-fashion many British consumers have become accustomed too.

After graduating, gaining industry experience and doing some traveling, Hollie decided in early 2015 to put the ideas into action and started The British Clothing Co. Putting together a brand with a strong ethos and range of suppliers who resonate the same values of quality and craftsmanship. The mission being to educate and inspire consumers of the wide selection of quality garments produced from a variety of brands within Britain, proving that fashion can be sustainable, for the environment and their local economy.

At present, The British Clothing Co stocks pieces from a variety of brands from across the British Isles. For the sartorial gentleman they stock garments by Meccanica Cycles and Quantock Clothing, including Chinos, Polo Shirts, Merino Knitwear and Polo Shirts, along with a small preview-collection from Living in Light. For the classically stylish woman, there is a wider range of boho-inspired dresses from Living In Light, along with Hugget Jackets and incredibly feminine workwear by Client London. Along with accessories, including hard-wearing canvas backpacks by Sidewinder Apparel and up-cycled clutch bags by Reniqlo.

Check out these pieces and more at www.thebritishclothingco.co.uk. Additional lines to be added soon!

100% British wool pencil skirt, £69

100% British wool pencil skirt, £69

Made in London stripe backpack, £139

Made in London stripe backpack, £139

Made in Britain menswear

Made in Britain menswear

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Mother’s Day: Just another greeting card day or a chance to say I love you?

original_love-hearts-card

When I popped into my local shop this morning to pick up the paper there was a queue of people in front of me buying flowers, chocolates, and greeting cards. It could be any celebratory day: Valentine’s, Christmas, birthday, but it is in fact, Mother’s Day. Over on Ethical High Street I wrote about gift ideas for Mother’s Day that didn’t involve buying a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t mean buying stuff for special occasions is a bad thing. Consumerism is often thought of as a dirty word and ‘greeting card days’ just a chance for shops to push their well, greetings cards. What though, if we consider shopping as an act of love?

This is exactly what Danny Miller proposed in his book A Theory of Shopping (1999). An anthropologist at University College London he was the first person to talk about shopping in this way; shopping as a way of showing love. Miller argues for the importance of the relationship between people and things and how this affects every day social and family life. The type of shopping that Miller talks of is not so much shopping for televisions and fashionable party dresses, but rather the type of shopping needed for everyday provisioning such as for food and basic clothes. Miller argues that everyday consumption practices are more than just fulfilling the most basic physical needs, but they are also linked to social relations, love and care. This is just the kind of shopping a mother does, so on Mother’s Day it’s no surprised we’d want to give something back. Flowers and chocolates say ‘I’m thinking of you’ and a simple ‘thank you’.

Whether we’re buying food for the family or jewellery for a friend’s birthday, shopping is both a form of nurturing and a message to say we care. It’s a way of spreading love through something material. If we give the right gift it can be something the receiver keeps forever, as a reminder of a particular time, place and person. Memory lockets are an example of a thoughtful gift because they are timeless. The same is true for collectable items, books or family heirlooms. Although I’m sure the best gift a mum could receive is the chance to put her feet up.

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