For years, the high street was the centre of the universe for the shopping world. If you wanted to buy some food, a new sofa or some clothes then you took a wander to your nearest high street and started to browse. Then came the supermarkets, however, and we all started to shop at Tesco or Sainsbury’s, ignoring the local high street as if it didn’t exist. Well, now, they’ve got even more competition and you don’t even need to leave the house to shop. With the growth and popularity of the internet, families can do all their grocery shopping and all their clothes shopping and anything else that takes their fancy online. It’s had a big impact
Shopping, Shopping Everywhere But Not a Till in Sight
So, nowadays, instead of queuing at a checkout and waiting your turn until you can pass over your cash, you click on a little button and you’re done. It’s great: all the hassle of buying has gone in an instant, you can just choose what you want, click done and wait until it’s delivered. Yet there are pitfalls attached, of course. Every activity that you complete on the internet has its potential problems from unexpected crashes and timeouts to security leaks. Having your credit card details stolen is not a good experience and before you know it, they could have racked up an almighty bill. So be careful. Check every site that you spend money on and make sure that they are secure. Card companies provide accreditation to sites that pass their test, so look out for the padlock sign to ensure your money is in safe hands.
The Lights are On but Nobodies Home
It’s a great idea that you’re going to sit at home and wait for your parcel to get to you. With a lot of supermarkets, they offer delivery times early in the morning and in the evening, so you can make sure you’re at home when they come. Otherwise, you face the merry go round of delivery times. A lot of companies offer delivery times in slots of 3 hours or half a day. Online retailers tend to be a lot better than the gas companies and others, but they still have to be worked around. If you are at home during the day, then you have no problem: you just continue your everyday routine and wait for the delivery men to arrive. If you are usually at work, however, then you may experience some difficulties.
A lot of people work around this by having packages delivered to their place of work: they can then carry them home afterwards. This isn’t an option for some, however, so they need to work around it. Being able to choose your own schedule is a start and then you need to make sure there is someone at home. Otherwise, finding a trusting neighbour or relative to pick up the parcel for you is an option. If it does get delivered when you are not home, then you often have to pick it up from the company’s warehouse.
All I Want for Christmas
When it comes to gifts, then you have a huge selection and choice online. From birthday and Easter presents to personalized gifts, you can choose pretty much anything and have it delivered directly to the recipient. This can really come in handy if you live a long way away from your friend or family member.
One event that you may need help with is at Christmas time. Secret Santa ideas are hard to come by: you can’t exactly ask your friends, can you? So get online and check out your options.
Giving jewellery as a token of love or affection is a time worn tradition. It often poses an ethical dilemma, however, for those who prefer to shop with a conscience. Particularly when you are giving a gift that is supposed to represent love or friendship, it seems absurd if the gift itself was not sourced ethically. Thanks to reforms in the gold trade and an increased awareness of the importance in ethical trading, it’s now far easier to choose fairly traded jewellery.
For thousands of years, perhaps even tens of thousands, both genders have enjoyed giving, receiving and wearing jewellery. The jewellery industry has suffered a fair amount of bad press in recent years and issues have been highlighted in films such as the 2006 movie Blood Diamond. But it has been thanks to the public and media interest on these issues that has ensured many jewellery buyers and producers have cleaned up their act. Of course, many traders have been bringing Fairtrade jewellery to the market for years already.
The gold trade in particular has become more transparent thanks to the partnership of Fairtrade International and the Alliance of Responsible Mining. Together they created the Fair trade and Fairmined gold certificate, which enables makers, buyers and consumers to have more choice about the gold they purchase. The increased availability of Fair trade jewellery also means we have a widened choice of styles and products. Rather than the same old classic styles, we have been exposed to the beautiful craftsmanship of local tribes or groups from the other side of the world.
Buying jewellery that has been fairly traded is a ‘no-brainer’ for the ethical consumer and thanks to changes in the industry and a heightened demand from the buying public, it’s now easier than ever to find fair trade jewellery. As a symbolic gesture of your love for someone, a gift that is both beautiful and ‘fair’ is a winner every time.
With Easter fast approaching, it may be worth remembering how important it is to buy fairly traded chocolate. It is also important to think about the environmental impact this festival can have by way of the consumption of Easter eggs. It is estimated that 8000 tonnes of waste are generated each year in the UK alone, due to the excessive packaging of Easter eggs. Most of the 80 million eggs that are sold in this country are also not fairtrade products.
Chocolate is a product which is vitally important to buy fair trade. Fair trade chocolate is readily available, so the choice is easy. In order to cut down on the packaging, remember that the chocolate doesn’t need to come in the form of Easter eggs. An extra special bar or box of fairtrade chocolate can bring more warmth and show more compassion than an over packaged, non-ethical chocolate egg.
Slavery and child labour have both been rife in the cocoa industry for a long time and the best way to tackle these problems is to incease demand for fairly traded chocolate that guarantees fair prices and good working practices for the growers. Fairtrade chocolate has changed the lives of millions of people. No-one expects you to have a chocolate free Easter, but our enjoyment of chocolate should not have to mean that someone else has suffered.
So this Easter, consider both the environment and the cocoa growers when you make that all important Fairtrade gift purchase.
Retailers in general were apparently extremely relieved last weekend as the long-awaited and dreamed for retail Christmas rush finally kicked off with a vengeance. On being interviewed, countless shoppers confirmed they’d been too busy saving up to start their Christmas gift buying expeditions early this year. Millions of us have been leaving it ‘til the last minute. And millions more of us have been buying online in an effort to track down the best possible deals and bargains.
The leatherwear market is no different. After a quiet start, December 2011 has suddenly blossomed into a bumper year with many outlets experiencing sales up more than 40% on last year, when the snow put the kibosh on Christmas shopping and disrupted deliveries across much of the UK.
The leatherwear sector is lucky in that it’s also high fashion again this winter, with leather jackets for menand women top of the style list for fashion conscious buyers who love to stay warm. There’s still a threat of serious snow and the past two years have made us very wary of the winter weather! So far it’s been relatively mild. But you never know… another reason leather jackets for women and men are flying off the shelves. Even if it’s blowing a hooley and snowing fit to bust, the cold won’t find its way through wonderfully warm and durable leather, your second skin.
What’s in store for Christmas shoppers searching for the perfect leather jacket gift? Men’s leather classics for winter 2011/2012 include the soft, supple single breast boxy or fitted jacket, fully lined for less than a hundred and fifty pounds if you know where to look. At the other end of the pricing scale there’s the fabulously luxurious Shearling leather jacket, sumptuous and thick with a fleecy collar to keep you completely cosy. Vintage-look Nubuck styles of every conceivable kind. And leather bomber jackets in unusual colours like tan and cream as well as smart black and rich brown.
The most popular ladies leather jacket and coat choices this winter are designer-style hooded jackets with belts to cinch in the waist – very flattering! There’s any number of lengths and styles of zipped and buttoned short jackets in scarlet and purple, green and navy as well as the usual classic black and browns. And, for those of us who like to really push the boat out, the stunningly posh and luxurious Toscana lambskin coat, a triumph in quality and great looks that’ll last a lifetime. No wonder leather’s taking online shoppers by storm this Christmas!
As we move toward being a more environmentally aware society, every aspect of our lives, even present buying, must be reassessed to make sure that we are doing our best by the environment. Choosing environmentally friendly products used to just mean that the packaging was recyclable or that the manufacturer had adhered to some basic policies on sustainability. Nowadays, many producers, especially smaller artisan producers, have started providing the consumer with completely eco-friendly products that have virtually no carbon footprint. These days, it’s even possible to buy luxury products such as jewellery that is environmentally friendly and fair trade.
There is actually no better way to show how much you care and love for someone than to buy a present that has also caused the environment no harm at all. Luxury products, as with many consumer items, can come at an extremely high environmental cost. Many gifts use large amount of energy for production such as new books, ‘luxury’ jewellery or a new pair of leather shoes. Those who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint may be interested to find out that more and more manufacturers are trying to come up with an increased range of environmentally friendly gift ideas.
Making use of the natural and sustainable materials that surround us is one way of making sure a loving gift can also be eco-friendly. Jewellery makers such as The Leakey Collection use natural products such as fallen wood or grass and turn them into something beautiful. These companies are leading the way in providing consumers with a choice to purchase sustainable, fair trade and eco-friendly products. Ethical jewellery that uses natural materials and can be sourced without costing the earth is the perfect way to show you care.
Everyone needs tea towels. Some people even collect them as mementoes from holidays and days out. And the Eden Project’s beautifully made, large organic cotton tea towels fit the bill perfectly as well as being an ethically responsible gift choice.
Featuring a pretty herb print by the well known Cornish artist Ley Roberts, they’re a whopping 50 x 80cm, masterpieces in 100% organic cotton. Plus there’s a stylish apron to go with it. There’s a special Eden project apron in a gorgeous floral print too, again by Ley Roberts. Measuring 63 x 86cm, they’re just as well made as the tea towels and suitable for men and women who love spending time in the kitchen creating mouth-watering meals. Great for gardening too… or to keep your clothes clean when enjoying crafts and art projects.
Both are made from lovely, thick organic cotton is grown in Turkey. The print itself is handled in Cornwall, just two miles from the Eden Project itself, which is nice to know. Originally created for sale in the attraction’s shop, they’re now available from Green Tulip online ethical gifts store. A full 5% of the sale price goes right back to the Eden Project to help with their amazing conservation and education programmes, research into sustainability and overall upkeep. So when you buy, you make a direct contribution to an excellent cause.
Did you know that ordinary cotton farming uses a great deal of pesticide? Although non organic cotton doesn’t harm your health in any way, shape or form it can have a terrible effect on the people who farm the crop.
Cotton is usually grown in developing countries and using large amounts of fertiliser, under pressure to return large harvests in the short term, damages soil fertility in the long run. Pest control costs money and often results in cotton farmers getting into serious debt, which in turn affects the health and welfare of their children. It’s a vicious circle and one the Eden project is determined not to contribute to.
These days more than 170,000 farmers are producing an organic alternative and, interestingly, crop yields are not particularly different from the pesticide route.
With the Eden project’s support organic farmers avoid debt and learn how to use natural pesticides which help keep pests away from the crops. They can grow food alongside their cotton crops without being poisoned, for eating or for sale, and their economic outlook is a lot brighter. The resulting higher incomes mean better health and education for them and their children, which can only be a good thing. So join in now and buy Eden project cotton products for the common good!
If you’re anything like me you’ll have a notebook in every room. There’s nothing worse than having a brilliant idea in the bedroom only to forget it before you’ve scuttled downstairs to the living room, where you’ve left your pad and pen.
Anyone who’s into ethical shopping appreciates the flood of delicious options made from sustainable materials. Just because they’re worthy and responsible it doesn’t mean they’re dull. Once upon a time recycled paper was the poor cousin. But the huge rise in demand over the past few years has made today’s recycled papers and cards indistinguishable from quality non-recycled materials.
The Eden Project, in Cornwall, is one of the county’s most popular tourist attractions as well as a treasure trove of fantastic plant life. And their funky range of recycled paper notebooks, sketch books and ring binders are a case in point.
Originally designed by the Cornish Designer Ley Roberts for the Eden Project, they’re quirky and colourful, perfect for any room in the house… including the bathroom if you’re prone to having your best ideas immersed in a lovely hot bath! But they’re more than just a pretty face. As well as looking good enough to eat, 5% of the sale price of Eden Project designs goes back to the Eden Project charity itself. So when you buy you’re contributing to the organisation’s educational programme, conservation efforts and vital research into a sustainable future.
There’s a handy A5 hardback linen covered notebook, the ideal bedside, project, travel or cook’s notebook. There’s a version with an elastic strap to keep things neat and tidy, with a nifty mix of lined, plain and squared paper. Plus A4 versions, great for kids and budding artists, light enough to carry comfortably just in case inspiration strikes outdoors. Some people carry a notebook in their handbag or briefcase. Others are so amazingly organised they keep an A5 notebook and pen in every handbag they own, just in case. If you’re a real human ideas factory, you might need one in your car too!
In line with the Eden Project’s ethics, all their paper products are printed in Cornwall so have a nice, low footprint. And they always use 100% recycled paper.
Of course you could always use your smartphone to ‘jot’ ideas down. But there are so many beautiful notebooks around, it’s a shame not to take interior design advantage and make them an integral part of your home’s look and feel. And an essential part of your kit whenever you leave the house!
May the 14th saw the celebration of World Fair Trade Day 2011. Organised by the WTFO, this annual event is celebrated around the second Saturday in May each year. The WFTO is a global network which represents over 400 organisations, movements and charities. WFTD 2011 was a celebration of the movement and aims to raise awareness and bring together producers, businesses, consumers and social enterprises who are involved in the trade processes.
This year saw events occur all over the world. In America, an estimated 100,000 people took part in a coffee break which was held at many venues and included food tastings, talks, music concerts and many other events. The Fairtrade Town Campaign celebrated the day by declaring 1000 towns across five continents as Fairtrade towns.
Extensive celebrations and fund-raisers occurred all over Scotland, organised by the Scottish FairTrade Forum (SFTF), whose ultimate goal is to make Scotland a fairer trading nation. The SFTF have asked people to pledge to do just one thing to support fairer trade as part of their Countdown Campaign. The Scottish celebrations happened at five important sites, including the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Edinburgh Zoo. Canterbury held it’s own Market over the weekend of WFTD 2011. Other UK based celebrations included fashion shows, talks and the Fairtrade Fortnight Awards. The Fairtrade Foundation hung a record breaking length of bunting in Battersea Park. The bunting had been stitched together by volunteers as part of a campaign for fairer trade rules in the cotton industry.
The theme for this year’s celebration is the motto ‘TRADE FOR PEOPLE – Fair Trade your world’. The aim of this motto is to demonstrate that communities and the environment are the most important aspects of trade and that we as the consumer have the power to change things. By choosing fairtrade gifts with the prominent fairer trade labelling, consumers really can make a difference.