The Ethical Gift Box: Easy, friendly, gift-giving ideas

August 2017 – Jeremy Stone sets off to Asia with his wife Tina and three kids in tow, home schooled on the road as they backpack their way across the continent. Their mission – to teach their children about countries and culture as well as sow the seeds for a new business idea. Exactly a year later they land back in the UK all set to launch a new business; The Ethical Gift Box.

The Ethical Gift Box sells beautifully curated gift boxes containing products with a positive social and environmental impact. Pre-made boxes are creatively designed with individual recipients in mind; For Him, For Her, and for different interests (Cooking, Travel, Lifestyle, Relaxation, Well-being). Customers also have the option of designing their own box of goodies. Most boxes are in the £25-35 range and include a selection of thoughtfully-made things together with a presentation card detailing the story behind the makers. Customers can personalise the box with a message of their choice and their favourite colour in raffia ribbon. 12 globally inspired box bands, ranging from Balinese to Moroccan, finish the look.

Values are core to the enterprise: fair trade values, environmental values and family values too. A life long traveller, Jeremy has always been passionate about fair trade. He is inspired by Andre Gunder Frank’s Dependency Theory and influenced in particular from a long period travelling across the Indonesian Archipelago back in the late 1980’s from East Timor to Sumatra.

Jeremy told me, ‘Indonesia is typical of countries in Asia where you receive so much warmth, kindness and generosity from local people who live from day to day without any long term security. It’s impossible for you not to want to give something back! What’s more, seeing how local crafts people are terribly exploited by middlemen and international traders seeking to maximise profits only motivates us more to instil fair trade principles into our business and ensure that crafts people get paid fairly for their creativity. The delight in selling is not in the selling itself but in being able to go back to a supplier and place a bigger order knowing the knock on benefits that it has to the local community.’

Jeremy has also experience installing environmental values into a major multinational; having worked as Global Environmental Manager for Cadbury Schweppes. He has a wealth of knowledge therefore not only in environmental management but also in global communities and social enterprise.

The integrity of The Ethical Gift Box comes through clearly in the way in which products are presented and described. How often do you see a photograph of the maker next to an online purchase? That’s exactly what you get if you buy this upcycled cushion, handmade by Lamai in Thailand. Whilst many of the products come from connections Jeremy and his family made in Asia there are British made products too, such as candles and miniature bottles of Raspberry infused gin.

Pre-made gift boxes include ‘For Her Vegan Wash Box’, ‘Wine Lovers Box’ and ‘Kids Baking Box’. You can buy products individually too with products filtered by ethics, for example fair trade, recycled, vegan. I love the wooden twig spoon; it’s little things like this that bring me daily joy! Whilst the product range isn’t huge, bath time, stationery, homeware and jewellery are all covered.

I’ve just had four family member’s birthdays in the space of two weeks, six if you count the dogs (and they certainly get presents too!). I always find it a challenge to balance gift giving with my own values; what if what they want is from a store you’d normally avoid for ethical reasons? There’s also the time required to source good quality, interesting and ethical/sustainable gifts – tricky when everyone’s birthday comes at once! The Ethical Gift Box makes this process a lot easier and spreads the love further. After all, it’s not just your loved one who gets a great gift box, but you are contributing to the livelihoods of the talented makers and their communities too.

Visit www.ethicalgiftbox.com

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Plastic Free Friday!

Earlier this year Friends of the Earth launched Plastic Free Friday. Buoyed by public awareness of the dangers of excessive plastic consumption, Plastic Free Friday asks us to ditch the single use plastic for at least one day a week. Sounds simple, right?

Plastic pollution has been a key public concern in recent months/years, with the award-winning series Blue Planet commended for raising public awareness across the globe. The 5p consumer levy for plastic bags, started in England in 2015, was a turning point in consumer awareness; making most of us at least more conscious about our plastic footprint. The number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets in England in 2014 stood at 7.64 billion – 200 million more than in 2013. Since the levy, the use of single-use bags has decreased by 90%. Now a report by the UN states that more than 50 nations have pledged to cut their plastic pollution. The report also outlines 35 potential plastic substitutes, presenting solutions to the problem of single use plastic.

As well as being a global concern, plastic pollution is something we are all responsible for. Friends of the Earth’s campaign is a great starting point for cutting down on single use plastic. Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

1. Take your own shopping bags to avoid the single-use plastic ones.

2. Morning tea drinker? Check that your tea bags are plastic-free or switch to loose leaf. Several tea bags use polypropylene to seal the bags.

3. Pack your own lunch box to avoid buying a sandwich on the high street, and remember to take your re-usable mug for caffeine on the go. ECOlunchbox have a great range of plastic-free lunch box solutions.

4. Buying dinner? Buy fresh, loose veggies from the market or supermarket. See if there is a wholefoods store near you that sells loose food cupboard essentials to carry away in brown bags or your own reusable containers (rice, spices etc).

5. For post-work cocktails, tell the bartender to ditch the straw. Or at home (or even to take one with you) Poppy Bee make reusable stainless steel straws to replace their plastic cousins. Poppy Bee UK sent me their straws to try out (see said Friday night G&T above) and I am definitely a convert. They are the only LFGB certified reusable straws on the market (i.e. strictly tested for safe human use) and come with a cleaning brush, as well as being dishwasher safe. Buy them on Amazon.

Join the conversation at #PlasticFreeFriday

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Blog Update: Ethical consumption, organic living, sustainability, fashion & me!

My blog started nearly three years now, and since then it feels like everyone has a blog. I’ve kept a diary on and off since I was nine, so I guess it’s just an extension of that, except if I published my actual diary my stats would probably go through the roof (not that I’m saying I lead a particularly exciting life). Moving on . . .

My blog has evolved since first inception but not massively (I’m still totally indebted to Mike and Mic for helping me set it up, thank you boys!). It started as purely an ethical fashion site but I have since posted on various sustainability issues. Still though, I feel a bit limited in what I feel I can talk about despite the fact that in some ways I’ve become more interested in the ethical part rather than the fashion part of ethical fashion. Many of the blogs I really enjoy reading include interiors, foodie posts and organic living.

So am I going to stop blogging about ethical fashion? (whatever ethical/eco/sustainable fashion may be) No. But I am changing tack. I’m in the very, very early stages of developing a new website, and this will be a website not a blog. It will cover all kinds of ethical consumption topics, but in a way relevant to the average shopper (there, I said it, I have to do it now). This is some time off though and I don’t want to give much away to be honest, why spoil the surprise! This blog (back to the one you’re reading) will therefore be more about me, my life and anything to do with ethical and sustainable living that takes my fancy. Me is my PhD, my newly purchased flat, yoga, health and fitness, fashion and textiles, food and second-hand/old stuff. I’ll still be an ethical fashion chic, that’s part of the package, but I also have the platforms of the Oxfam fashion blog and Ms Wandas Wardrobe to talk about that, both of which I’m a regular contributor to.

Ethical/sustainable living is in essence what I will be writing about, so just like it is now, but with pictures of cake amongst the clothes. It’s quite new to me too, this ethical/sustainable living stuff, so I want to do a bit of exploring. I’m the ultimate supermarket convenience shopper and it’s only recently that I’ve grasped much context of what fruit and veg even cost, I’d just chuck it in the trolley. It’s difficult when you live in a tiny flat with no garden and money is greatly limited but I want to start thinking more about where my food is coming from, and rely less on chemical cleaners and plastics. I picked up this organic living book in Oxfam which I’m using as a starting point. It tells you how to make organic beauty products, natural cleaners, how to grow fruit and veg and erm, keep a cow. I’m not giving up my make-up though, oh no.

OrganicBook

Anyone got any tips? (on organic living, not keeping a cow)

Cake!

Cake!

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