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! My personal favourite, Divine chocolate is also available on their website in more flavours than you could ever imagine! Made with the finest quality Fairtrade cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo, Divine comes from a co-operative of smallholder farmers in Ghana. Traidcraft also 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?

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Ethical High Street has Launched!

Oxfordhighstreet

My new website Ethical High Street has launched! I came up with the idea some months ago for an easily accessible online resource which helps your average shopper navigate the British high street more ethically. I felt that other resources are often aimed at heavily engaged consumers and can be quite hard on the high street chain stores when the fact of the matter is that 99% of shoppers use them and aren’t going to actively seek out ethical brands online. So Ethical High Street actively promotes the high street and all of the shops you’ll find there – chain stores, department stores, indies and charity shops by highlighting the more ethical or sustainable options. Rather than trying to find the worst in brands, we try to show the best. It’s all about compromise.

www.ethicalhighstreet.co.uk

Ethical High Street will be a slow burner. I have other things on at the moment, like my PhD but I do have various ideas for growing it in the future. So up on the site already we have:

Myself talking about the history of modern shopping and how the way we consume has changed over the decades.

Wendy from Moral Fibres provides some great tips on shopping ethically on the high street.

Didi from Sublow Clothing talks about starting her own sustainable fashion brand.

Stephanie asks how your sportswear shapes up and reviews the brand Howies.

I talk about food co-operatives, the return from e-commerce to bricks-and-mortar stores, and more! Coming up I will be looking into Clarks shoes, People Tree, charity Christmas cards and ethical Christmas decorations.

If you’d like to contribute to the site, get in touch at emma@ethicalhighstreet.co.uk
Follow us on twitter @EthicalHighSt or Facebook.

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Ethical High Street Spotters: I need YOU!

You may have noticed that I have a new project. I haven’t talked about it much until recently, but it’s got to the point where I can’t shut-up about it now. I already had a vague idea when I went to the Innocent Inspires entrepreneurship event at the end of July, but it was Innocent co-founder Richard Reed’s simple advice ‘just start’ that got me going. Just take one step and things will start rolling forward (what d’ya know, it was true!). For me, that one step was to contact a web developer to find out if my idea had legs. It does, and I’ve done a lot over the last few weeks although I don’t feel like I have much to show for it yet.

I want to create an online resource to help consumers navigate everyday shops with more of an ethical conscience. I’ve been involved with ethical fashion for the last few years and have seen it grow exponentially but am astonished when I talk to some people that it still has hippie connotations. Shoppers think ethical fashion is expensive, unattractive and not easily accessible. They just don’t know where to start. People often tell me that I should start an ethical brand, but I think the market is saturated right now. Until more people are going out looking for that thing, we need to go back to basics.

Most of our shopping is done in the same chain stores and supermarkets, so rather than have this them-and-us divide I want to fill the gap in the middle. I think it’s better to get 50 people to make one change rather than one person change their entire life. Not least because over time those 50 people will hopefully go on to make one more change, and another, and another. I want to encourage shoppers back to independent stores with a bricks and mortar street presence, because ethical stuff shouldn’t just be online. I want to tell people that it’s ok to buy things from chain stores if you’re thoughtful about it. I want to give shoppers easy to understand and positive information about retailers rather than focusing on the politics of ethical consumption. And I want to do this across the whole high street, not just for fashion but for home and gifts too. Oh, and I want it to be stylish, not like some of those other ‘green’ websites.

There is plenty I can do with Ethical High Street; I’d like news features, shopping guides and an interactive community. I’ve since met up with another developer who had some really exciting ideas. I have a pen and notebook glued to me right now, but there is a load to do. This is where I need your help. I can’t be in ten places at once so I need all of you lovely people to keep your eye out for great products. If you’re reading this then you’re already part of those ‘in the know’. A fashion chain has launched a charity tee? A stationer has started selling recycled cards? A new ethical indie has opened in your town? Please let me know! I need a team of spotters who can tweet me or email me (pictures!) so we can start sharing tips as a community. I am also looking for contributors to write for Ethical High Street so if this is you then please get in touch.

Want to be an Ethical High Street spotter? Want to blog? Email me: emma@ethicalhighstreet.co.uk
Or Tweet: @EthicalHighSt

Still shopping; but better.

PS. Have you seen my competition? It’s not very often I just give things away you know . . .

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A July Weekend in Paris

Lanvin shop model at Musée Carnavalet

Lanvin shop model at Musée Carnavalet

I went to Paris last weekend with my mum and little sister, a lovely treat from my mum! I’d only been once before and that was for a couple of nights in February (yes for Valentine’s Day, with an ex), it was freezing and we spent one day in Disneyland making time to see the city very limited. So in many ways this felt like my first real experience of Paris, and I loved it.

We were staying on the edge of the business district, La Defense. We had a really good value hotel and were able to get the metro into the city each day. We didn’t go with much of a plan, I’d done the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre before but I had some shops I wanted to find and I was keen to do a gallery of some sort. We saw all the sites and ended up doing much more than I expected. We walked a lot!

Some of what we did:

• We went to the Musee Marmottan Monet, a small museum full of Monet and other impressionists. I love Monet, I remember studying him for months for my A-level art coursework, so it was wonderful to see some of his paintings up close. I love his prints but I went for the cheap option, I bought a pretty postcard and then back home bought an old photo frame from a charity shop for less than £1.

• The only thing my little sister couldn’t leave without seeing was Jim Morrison’s grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery on the edge of Paris. If, like me, you’re not rock ‘n roll enough to know Morrison’s biography, he was lead singer of The Doors and died in Paris in 1971 aged 27. Going to the cemetery was definitely a highlight of my trip. I’ve always found cemeteries interesting anyway, but this one was unlike any I’ve ever seen. It was full of huge tombstones and little chapel buildings almost. Oscar Wilde was there too, he had an odd Egyptian looking monument in his memory.

Jim Morrison's grave was tiny compared to others around it

Jim Morrison’s grave was tiny compared to others around it

• We nosed around the shops. I wanted to find Merci which had been heralded by Time Out as a cool shop full of clothing, jewellery, homeware, books and ethical bits and pieces. Well worth a visit, it had a cafe area too. Lots of things I could have bought but I managed to restrain myself.

The entrance to Merci from above, it's tucked away down a side alley

The entrance to Merci from above, it’s tucked away down a side alley

• We had the most amazing hot chocolate at Angelina’s tearooms. Housed opposite the Louvre, Angelina’s was founded in 1903 as a patisserie and tearooms in a beautiful old building. The hot chocolate tasted just like melted chocolate, with a pot of cream on the side. The management probably won’t be happy with me for sharing this but we were visited by three little mice while we sat at our table. They ran out from the skirting board looking for crumbs. We found it quite entering and oh-so very French.

Yum!

Yum!

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