This icy winter just seems to keep getting colder, so why not add a touch of warmth to your home with this beautiful burnt orange organic and fair trade duvet cover? Currently on sale at a reduced price at Biome Lifestyle, this stylish and comfy double duvet cover is 100% hand woven, with each thread hand set on the loom by workers in Bangladesh. Workers are paid a fair wage for their products, with fair and safe working conditions, so by purchasing this you are helping marginalised workers secure fair pay and build their own future and invest in their own communities. Because the cotton is organic, you are also ensuring that the planet’s resources are not damaged by toxic pesticides (as non-organic cotton is a pesticide-heavy crop). The beautiful burnt orange colour is achieved by combining three different colour threads on the loom, giving each of these lovely soft duvet covers a richness of texture that will complement any bedroom – and add a bit of warmth to these cold winter nights. Matching pillowcases are also available (and are also currently on sale!) so why not treat yourself? And best of all, you can sleep easy under your organic and fair trade duvet cover knowing that your purchases are helping others and the planet at the same time.
Even the most expensive or luxurious of Christmas crackers are destined for landfill five minutes after you’ve pulled them, but not these beautiful Biome eco seed crackers. Simple and stylish, the crackers come in boxes of six and they have a secret – each cracker is made from handmade seed paper, so once you have pulled the crackers you can plant the exterior paper and you will be able to grow your own wildflowers – much better than just consigning a pile of shiny paper to the rubbish bin! Inside the crackers you’ll find the traditional motto, snapper and hat, with each gift hand-made by a small co-operative of disadvantaged women in Nepal. The Wonderful Women collective in Katmandu helps socially and economically disadvantaged women build up their skills and independence and earn money in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. The women are paid fair wages to make their own chemical-free felt from soap and water and hand sew the lovely decorations for the crackers. The eco seed crackers themselves are handmade in the UK. They are also simple and stylish to look at, so would be an attractive addition to any festive feast. So why not pull a Biome eco seed cracker this Christmas, and help socially disadvantaged women in Nepal build a better future for themselves at the same time?
This beautiful fair trade footstool is a great addition to any living room. The simple but stylish design is made from pale banana fibre woven onto a rattan pole frame and topped with a comfy cotton, feather-filled cushion. The cushions are available in hand woven white cotton from Indonesia or blue or terracotta fabrics sourced from the UK, depending on your decor needs. The fair trade footstool is part of a range by the Fair Trade Furniture Company, which specialises in furniture made by fair trade producers in Indonesia. This fair trade agreement ensures that workers are not exploited and receive a fair wage for their work, enabling them to invest in their own communities. The Fair Trade Furniture Company is also committed to environmental principles – it avoids air freighting where possible, and aims at using energy efficient supplies in both its warehouses and showroom, as well as trying to use the most environmentally friendly materials for its products. The company places great value on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of its producers in developing countries, so you can sit pretty on this fair trade footstool, comfortable in knowing you are helping craftspeople in developing countries earn a fair wage for their work.
Fair trade cruelty-free silk scarves allow you to enjoy the beauty of silk without any of the guilt that accompanies traditionally manufactured silk. In commercial silk production, silkworms are killed during the production process, either by the cocoons being submerged in boiling water or pierced with a needle, so that the silk can be unravelled in one long continuous thread, but no such methods are involved in creating these beautiful fair trade cruelty-free silk scarves. The cruelty-free, traditional production method allows the worms to chew their way out of the cocoons, and results in a gorgeous, tactile texture that is caused by the broken threads. As well as being kind to the worms, these cruelty-free silk scarves are kind to people, too. Available in Prussian Blue and Cassis, they are handmade in India using traditional methods of hand spinning and weaving that have passed down from generation to generation. Because the manufacturers are paid a fair wage for their talents, buying one of these stylish cruelty-free silk scarves helps you protect the livelihoods of traditional artisans, helping them build and maintain their communities. So as well as making an elegant gift (for yourself or someone else!), these cruelty-free, fair trade silk scarves enable small producers to thrive and prosper. So why not treat yourself to one of each colour?
Pants to Poverty Santa pants are the latest style from ethical underwear manufacturer Pants to Poverty. Pants to Poverty was set up as an evolution from the Make Poverty History initiative and proves that fundraising can be both fun and serious at the same time. The Pants to Poverty Santa pants, like all Pants to Poverty ethical underwear, are made from organic cotton (so reducing their environmental impact, as standard cotton is a chemical intensive fabric) and are Fair trade, ensuring that producers are paid a fair wage for their goods and not exploited. On top of this, £1 profit from the sale of every pair of Pants to Poverty Santa pants is reinvested into campaigning for Trade Justice. The red and white Pants to Poverty Santa pants are available in male and female styles, and small, medium and large sizes. These sexy, snuggly eco-pants make a fun, festive and cheeky gift for the man or woman in your life – and at less than £10 per pair, they are an ideal stocking filler. Or you can wear them with stockings, the choice is yours! However you want to wear them, and whether you have been naughty or nice, why not put a pair of Pants to Poverty Santa pants on your Christmas list?
In an era of mass-produced, identical, soulless products, there is something particularly charming about handmade goods, such as these Fair trade handmade Kilim rugs from Namaste. Hand-woven in India by skilled craftspeople using traditional production methods that have been passed down through generations, each handmade Kilim rug is slightly different, so each its own unique charm. The rugs are made from a mixture of jute and wool and come in a range of designs, including Birdsong, Inca and Diamond, and a selection of sizes. Each Fair trade, handmade Kilim rug is hardwearing and strong, so is an investment piece that will last for years, reducing the need to replace and therefore generate landfill waste. And when you buy a handmade Kilim rug from Namaste you can be sure that the skilled craftsperson has been paid fairly for his or her work, so your purchase helps small producers and their communities. So not only can you enjoy the beauty of a handmade Kilim rug in your own home this winter, you can rest assured that your money is not just helping a corporation fat cat enjoy a bigger bonus, but is helping traditional craftspeople keep their skills alive.
With Christmas fast approaching, many people are wondering how they can celebrate the holidays without damaging their green credentials. Traditionally Christmas is a season that creates huge amounts of waste, much of it going straight to landfill. One way to avoid buying heavily packaged, gimmicky gifts that people don’t need (does anyone really ever use a foot spa?), is to buy a gift hamper. An ideal Christmas present or, if you’re visiting the relatives over the festive season, a perfect hospitality gift, a basket of foodie goodies will be enjoyed over the holiday. Buying practical gifts such as food cuts down on waste and, in these money-conscious days, is particularly welcome. The Fair Trade Hamper from Natural Collection is sure to put anyone in the Christmas spirit. Filled with tasty treats from Traidcraft and Divine, the hamper includes a selection of cake, puddings and chocolate (including chocolate coins, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake). The whole package comes in a Fair Trade woven basket that can be reused afterwards. It even includes a Christmas card! And because it is completely Fair Trade, you can be sure that your generosity won’t only be appreciated by the recipients, but also by the producers, who are guaranteed a fair wage for their crafts and produce. This enables them to support and help educate their own families, creating a stable livelihood and a better standard of living for them and their communities. And that, surely, sums up the spirit of Christmas?
For high-quality, eco-friendly fair trade gifts and homewares, look no further than Nkuku. The name comes from a village in Zambia and was inspired by the travels of the founder of this Devon-based company, which aims to promote fair trade and reward traditional artisans in Africa and India by selling their work in the UK. Examples of this include the stylish Savannah leather case, perfect as an alternative to a briefcase. The Savannah is handmade from leather and is dyed using vegetable extract and tree bark by a co-operative in Rajasthan, so you can be assured that not only is the bag eco-friendly, the workers are paid a fair wage for their work. Nkuku also sells classic leather-bound journals and photo albums, made with naturally tanned leather and recycled paper. If you’d rather use vegetarian friendly materials, Nkuku offers stylish journals and photo albums bound in hand-printed cotton paper, which come in recycled cotton boxes, or books made from recycled saris, making each one different depending on the fabric used. If you are looking for eco-friendly homewares, Nkuku produces a range of handmade cotton bed linen, printed by hand using traditional methods and wooden block printing, as well as high quality woollen throws, made from recycled wool. So you can enjoy original, beautiful things for your home while knowing you are supporting a fair trade, environmentally responsible company and helping traditional artisans profit from their skills.
Britain has become a nation of coffee drinkers, but that habit has a high ecological cost as every day millions of disposable cups end up thrown away, destined for landfill. It is estimated that in the US alone, around 25 billion disposable cups are thrown away, and while the UK isn’t quite that bad, it does have an increasing problem. Most of the cups you use when buying takeaway coffee are coated in plastic resin, which means they cannot be recycled, so simply end up as more waste. To make matters worse, very few cups are made of recycled material – they tend to be made from virgin paper. But you can still have your morning coffee without adding to the landfill problem: use the I Am Not A Paper Cup porcelain mug. This double walled porcelain cup is especially designed for takeaway coffee, coming with a removable silicone lid. And, as many vendors now offer a small discount when you bring your own mug for refilling, it can even save you money in the long run! There are other ways you can make your morning coffee eco-friendly. Choose a coffee shop that uses Fair-trade coffee and organic milk, and you help coffee producers get a fairer price for their goods, and encourage eco-friendly farming practices. Or, of course, you can get into the habit of making your coffee at the office: take in a cafetiere and a pack of Fair-trade coffee and you will very quickly save yourself a considerable amount of money, as well as helping reduce waste. You might even be able to persuade your boss to switch to one of the new range of eco-kettles, which save energy and money by boiling as little water as is needed every time. All these small steps add up to significant eco-savings – and you still get to enjoy your morning cuppa!
While ethically made, Fair Trade products are becoming increasingly popular, Fair Trade fashion still has struggled to shake off its slightly dowdy image. Some mainstream, high street retailers such as New Look and Marks and Spencer now stock organic cotton items alongside their main ranges, but for many people, the words Fair Trade fashion conjure up tie-dyed clothing, shapeless smocks and twee print dresses. This could be changing as, more and more, high end designers are recognising that there is a market for stylish, well-made clothing that is both fashion forward and ethically made. Set up by Peter Ingwersen and aimed strictly at the luxury end of the market, Noir is a high fashion brand that doesn’t compromise on either style or social conscience. Pieces include beautifully made shirts, tuxedo jackets and tops, proving ethically made doesn’t need to be ugly.
At the more affordable end of the scale, People Tree has done a lot to help shake off Fair Trade’s frumpy image, offering smart design at high street price. Fair trade jewellery, too, has moved away from its ‘hippy image’, with brands like Made and Fifi Bijoux making stylish, ethically produced and – most importantly from the fashion point of view – wearable pieces. Made’s design partnerships with celebrities like Peaches Geldof is also helping bring Fair Trade to a younger audience.