Spring Beauty: The Story of the Daffodil

"Narcisa 0012" by Martinas Angel

“Narcisa 0012″ by Martinas Angel

Signs of spring are starting to shine through. On the way to work today I passed lots of daffodils. Daffodils are my favourite flower! They are a sure sign of spring, a bright yellow beacon of life emerging from the (wet) ground. I love how they ‘spring’ up all over the place – at the side of the road, on roundabouts, outside your window. When people plant daffodils they provide pleasure year after year.

Daffodils have quite a history. They are more than just a sign of spring, they have other symbolism attached to them. Daffodils are officially known as by the name ‘Narcissus’ and native to Europe, North Africa and West Asia, traditionally appearing in woodlands. Narcissus is a figure from Greek mythology who drowned whilst gazing at his own reflection in water. It’s not known if the two are actually related but certainly in the West the daffodil is seen to symbolise vanity and egotism. In popular culture the two are often associated, for example in the Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali. The oil painting depicts Narcissus sitting in a pool, gazing down. Not far away there is a decaying stone figure which corresponds closely to him but is perceived quite differently; as a hand holding up a bulb or egg from which a daffodil is growing. Could a story of such gloom be related to a flower of such life?

In modern times, the daffodil is used as a symbol of Easter and iconic for Mother’s Day. It’s also the national flower of Wales, chosen because it is in bloom for St David’s Day on March 1st. From the sixteenth century, the daffodil was given fun synonyms such as ‘Daffadown Dilly’ and ‘Daffydowndilly’. Narcissus has had various uses from ancient times. Romans used narcissus ointment to create a fragrance called Narcissinum. Arabs used it in their perfumery, as well as to cure baldness. In India, the oil of narcissus, as well as fragrant oils of sandal, jasmine, and rose, is applied to body before prayer. In France it was used for treating epilepsy and hysteria. The scent of the oil is strong and rich, and is used in some famous perfumes although you probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Personally I think the best use for daffodils is to leave them be. Even with their dark mythology, I still see them as happy, playful flowers and a sure sign of the changing seasons. Their beautiful yellow hue brightens up the dullest of settings. They grow easily here in the UK so you can snip off your garden surplus and bring them into the house, carbon footprint free!

With Mother’s Day coming up, Marks and Spencer have the most beautiful bouquet of 80 sunny daffodils and 20 purple tulips, currently on offer for £25.

Daffodil bouquet, M&S

Daffodil bouquet, M&S

You can also check out my recent post for Fairtrade Fortnight on Ethical High Street where I look at Fairtrade cut flowers and why such certification is necessary in an industry we rarely consider past the beauty of the blooms. Fairtrade flowers are available from a number of places including Marks and Spencer and online at Arena Flowers who offer free delivery 7 days a week, perfect for Mother’s Day.

I’m currently writing about a different Fairtrade product each day for Fairtrade Fortnight, see them all at ethicalhighstreet.co.uk

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Nominate your Eco Champions for Observer Ethical Awards 2015

Observer Ethical Awards 2015 - nominate image

I’ve taken an interest in the Observer Ethical Awards for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever submitted a nomination. Which is terrible considering a) how easy it is to nominate online and b) how many brilliant people and projects I know deserve recognition. Perhaps that’s why I never nominated, because I simply couldn’t choose one over others, but then that’s an awful excuse too considering you can submit multiple different nominations for each category. With this in mind, I don’t feel entirely comfortable sitting here and telling you to vote, but, you really should vote.

For a start, it’s the tenth anniversary year of the awards. And secondly, Ethical High Street (my ‘baby’) was asked to be an official supporter for 2015. Ten years ago the Observer Ethical Awards launched with the idea that a lot of good people were doing brilliant things for environmental and social justice in the UK and that such acts should be celebrated. Despite national policies to cut carbon emissions and support the vulnerable, it is often up to pioneering individuals and small enterprises to make a real difference to local communities and the environment.

The Observer Ethical Awards celebrate individuals, businesses and groups. You can check out all of the categories below. Nominations have been open since the end of January and are only open for another month, but who has the tricky task of picking the winners? Well, in part you do. Three of the awards will be voted for by the public, that’s,

Best Ethical Product of the Decade
Campaigner of the Year
Green Briton of the Year

The responsibility of awarding the other categories falls on the shoulders of an exceptionally strong team of judges, including:

Stuart Bailey, head of sustainability and climate change, National Grid plc
Dr Damian Carrington, head of environment, the Guardian
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and chief executive, Kids Company
Liz Earle MBE, founder, Liz Earle Wellbeing
Ben Fogle, TV presenter, writer and adventurer
Livia Firth, creative director of Eco-Age Limited, founder of the Green Carpet Challenge®
Jane Goodall, primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace
And more!

They will be wading through the nominations for the ethical wildlife award, sustainable style award, community energy project, and categories for arts and culture, film and television and the Ecover Young Green Champion.

The results will be announced at a packed awards ceremony in July. Stay tuned for more updates and get online to vote for your favourites.

Find out more: ethicalhighstreet.co.uk/observer-ethical-awards-2015/

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New Ethical Brands at Berlin Fashion Week

Since it’s inception in 2007, Berlin Fashion Week has been a mecca for championing young designers and sustainable fashion. They run the Ethical Fashion Show and Green Showroom as a platform to promote some of the best ethical and green fashion brands. With an exhibition, a ‘Knowledge Lounge’ for green fashions, panel discussions and other activities, the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin is a genuine B2B fair for the professional fashion trade. Monday sees the start of Berlin Fashion Week 2015, which runs from 19th to 21st Jan. 165 international labels, including numerous new exhibitors, are set to present their progressive designs at these trade fairs, providing information about the future of sustainable production. That’s a lot of exciting new eco fashion!

Two fashion brands showing for the first time at the Ethical Fashion Show are Antiform and my friends at Here Today Here Tomorrow. Already well-loved in England, these proudly British brands are reaching out to Europe and the independent street style movement in Berlin sits happily alongside the high quality, responsibly sourced and produced collections.

Here Today Here Tomorrow is a fashion label that has been committed to social and environmental values from the very start. At the heart of their collections is the consideration of ethical production, beautiful materials and high quality contemporary design. Designed by the team in London, each product from the Autumn Winter collection is hand knitted by skilled Nepalese craftspeople, accredited by the World Fair Trade Organisation.

Antiform is a pioneering and experimental fashion label who is challenging the fashion world from the inside out. Each piece is hand crafted in their UK workshop by skilled makers, dedicated to using industry waste to create innovative fashion pieces combined with traditional craft.

Take a look at their collections below and say hello if you are heading to Berlin next week. The increase in brands to the ethical fashion showroom just goes to show that desire for, and interest in, ethical fashion business is increasing. It’s great that the event is being used to start a conversation too, with the inclusion of panel discussions and book launches, it’s about working together to build a better fashion future.

www.heretoday-heretomorrow.com
www.antiformonline.co.uk
Click here for a list of other exhibitors.

Antiform

Antiform

Antiform

Antiform

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

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January Sales on Ethical Fashion, Eco Living and Sustainable Style

Ethical fashion often gets criticized for being too expensive compared to the staple high street stores. Sale season therefore offers a great opportunity to try out a new brand or treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally buy with many eco brands offering brilliant deals online and in stores.

Over at Ethical High Street I round up some of the sale offers available for womenswear, menswear and kidswear. You can check them all out here.

Other ethical fashion and sustainable clothing brands on sale include:
whomadeyourpants – 30% off pants ethically made in Southampton.
Chinti and Parker – up to 70% off mens and womenswear including 100% cashmere knits.
High-fashion led pieces at COSSAC
Mens and womens casual wear at Howies
Beyond Skin – 30% off vegan shoes
Pure Collection – Up to 70% off cashmere
Mud & Water – up to 50% off womenswear
Liv – sale on clothing and gifts

Classic Arun knit from Liv, produced by British knitters Peregrine. Now £47.40 from £79

Classic Arun knit from Liv, produced by British knitters Peregrine. Now £47.40 from £79

Taking a look at the offers available from Ethical Superstore is a must. The online shop stocks everything from ethical fashion to eco kettles all now on sale. The Christmas clearance includes discounts on ethically produced decorations and Divine chocolate. They have special offers all year round and free delivery on purchases over £50. See for yourself at http://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/
wooden-elephant-block

Finally, what if you received an unwanted gift this year? Or the kids got duplicate presents? You can use the boot sale app Shpock to turn those items into cash by selling them on in your local area. Find out more here. It’s the perfect environmentally-friendly way of selling things on or buying second-hand items locally.

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Brand Watch: Nomads Clothing Fairtrade Since 1989

Nomads Clothing began with a beautiful story. Founded by a pair who met whilst backpacking around India in the 1980s, they snapped up £200 worth of ethnic clothing and headed back to sell it in the UK. Returning to India with the profits they made they decided to start Nomads Clothing, inspired by the Indian culture and gorgeous fabrics and artisan crafts they came across. Nomads continue to travel to India several times a year to develop their collections, which make use of print and detail to create contemporary, covetable pieces.

There is plenty of information online about Nomads fair trade policies. Supporting handicraft artisan skills, you will find traditional methods such as patchwork and block printing in their collections. Equality of pay for male and female workers is guaranteed, as is no child labour. Keen to protect the environment too, Nomads continue to increase their use of organic cotton.

You can pick up a wide range of womenswear from Nomads – dresses, tunics, trousers, coats, tops and blouses. Pictured here you can see me in the Jasmine Print Cowl Neck Dress (now on sale at £42 from £60) which I absolutely love! Made from organic cotton with an easy side zip fastening and just the right amount of stretch, it’s the perfect go-to dress for any occasion. The print is quite Christmassy too!

Nomads fair trade organic dress

Alongside all the great prints they have plain basics including quality long-sleeved t-shirts and shirts. Jewellery, bags, scarves and gloves can be found in their accessories collection including cashmere fingerless gloves for just £20. You can find a stockist list online and head to your local fair trade retailer, or else, now is the time to check out their collections online where they have 30% off many products www.nomadsclothing.com.

Nomads have been trading for 15 years and have refined a business model to support workers, protect the environment wherever possible and offer lovely, and affordable clothing for conscious consumers. They should be a staple in any women’s wardrobe.
Nomads fair trade ethical clothing

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Brand Watch: Naturally Selina Scott Mohair Socks

It seems everyone has been a bit ill recently, including me, so it really cheered me up when I received a gift from Naturally Selina Scott. What better for winter than some cosy luxury socks, they have been worn many, many times already I can tell you. Knitted from a mohair/nylon blend, these socks are sustainably produced and ethically sourced and most importantly will keep my feet warm even on the coldest of days.

SelinaScott Socks

Famed as a BBC journalist and presenter, Selina Scott was one of the first female newsreaders in the 80s. It was whilst filming a documentary in Scotland twenty years ago that she came across and subsequently adopted 6 Angora goats! Back at her 200 acre farm in North Yorkshire, Selina decided to start selling beautiful Mohair socks, using the lustrous Mohair fibre from these gentle animals.

The business has gone from strength to strength and as her own goats have hit retirement (I’ve been assured they still live happily on the farm!), the Mohair is now sourced from selected farms in South Africa where the socks are also made. The brand also sells cashmere shawls and scarves from Outer Mongolia and hat, glove and scarf cashmere sets sourced from Afghanistan.

Mohair makes a great choice for socks. Sheared from Angora goats in ‘long glamorous ringlets’ twice a year, Mohair is a strong, sustainable fibre. It washes well, not that you’ll need to wash them every wear, the anti-bacterial properties of the fibre keep your feet smelling fresh for days! Providing warmth when you need it, but still being breathable, these are the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn.

Ankle socks start at £9.95, Kids day socks are £14.95 and long walking socks are £17.95.

You can also buy their superfine cashmere shawls and support the Born Free Foundation. In super glam leopard and snow leopard prints, £25 is donated to the wildlife foundation for each £149 shawl. Cost per wear, I don’t think that works out too bad as I’d want to wear it every day.

https://www.selinascott.com/

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