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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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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Shopping Ethically on the High Street, is it Possible?


Speaking with one of my PhD peers the other day (she is studying labour standards in the clothing industry) we realised that although there are many ethical and sustainable fashion brands springing up, the main way to purchase them is online. Personally, I don’t have a problem with buying clothes online, but I understand that many people do. It doesn’t help that a lot of ethical items simply are more expensive than lower end High Street prices, making it a big commitment on the customer’s side, even if they can send it back (who has the time to faff with returns?) and with less well known fibres such as hemp, bamboo or organic cotton, how do they know what it is really going to feel like against their skin?

Discussing how to coax customers to take a risk, to buy online and buy from a brand they don’t know very well is a whole other essay. Niche, ethical, brick-and-mortar shops do exist; places like Eco Age in Chiswick and FAIR in Brighton, but I passionately believe that there should be a place on every High Street where you can be reassured all of the products sold are ethical. However, that will take some time so the best we can do is compromise.

There are lots of ways you can shop with a conscience on the High Street, in fact, as these big brands are unlikely to disappear in the near future (not collectively anyway, individual chains it seems are never safe) we need to support their ethical initiatives to encourage more of it. ‘Ethical Consumer’ compiled a list of their top 5 ethical High Street stores, these being Lush, Monsoon, M&S, The Co-operative and John Lewis. Now, none of these are the cheapest options on the High Street, nor are they the most expensive.

Lush tries to only use natural ingredients in its beauty products, doesn’t test on animals and supports various charitable campaigns. The Co-op provides allsorts from bank accounts to coffee. They were the first major retailer to champion Fairtrade in their grocery stores. M&S is worth supporting as much for their ‘Britishness’ as for their commitment to Plan A. They have taken considerable steps to help tackle climate change, to reduce waste, to support fair trade and to encourage healthy living. Monsoon sell beautiful clothes and came top of Ethical Consumer’s Clothes Shop Buyers Guide and Supply Chain rankings. They set up the Monsoon Accessorize Trust in 1994 to help improve the lives of disadvantaged women and children in Asia and they worked with Oxfam on an organic cotton project. John Lewis made the list for their partnership scheme as they are an employee owned business.

Many of the High Street chains offer organic or Fairtrade cotton at some time or another. H&M’s Conscience Collection, for instance, was a success with large stores featuring the organic cotton range in a feature window display. If you want to shop ethically on the High Street, you need to compromise and you need to work out what your priorities are. Is it fair trade or sustainable materials? Maybe you want to support independent boutiques; they might not stock ethical brands but it is a great way to support local business and avoid the huge chains.

I would really recommend Lucy Siegle’s book ‘To die for: Is fashion wearing out the world?’ for a comprehensive overview of the contemporary fast fashion dilemma. Drawing on her wealth of experience and people she has spoken to, I assure you it will make you think about the High Street in a different way.

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