Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Fairtrade beauty products

Between various events I've been to and articles I've researched recently, I've come across an encouraging number of initiatives bringing ethical ingredients to beauty products.
One of the most exciting of these is organic certified Somali incense, being used in the gorgeous-smelling frankincense range from Neal's Yard Remedies. The frankincense is a tree resin gathered by the women from semi-nomadic pastoral tribes, whose families mainly depend on their livestock - cows, goats and camels - to make a living. Despite the long-running unrest in Somalia, wholesalers have managed to get accreditation for frankincense gathered by women from the Samburu people. More information from here and here.
The second project that caught my notice was from Tropical Wholefoods which, as its name suggests, usually sells dried fruit and nuts. But as a by-product of this, it has started sourcing from its dried apricot growers in the Gilgit area of Northern Pakistan other parts of the apricot, with Fairtrade certified crushed apricot stone hulls going to Boots for Fairtrade body scrubs, and apricot kernel oil again heading for Neals Yard's lovely products. And, of course, most of this comes from parts of the fruit that would normally go to waste.

Originally posted at Manchester Massages

Monday, 10 August 2009

Another good eco-weddings article

Via a wander round the internet links generated by my latest internet social networking fad, the lovely SheWrites, I came across this neat little article from an LA green living website, which has a good list of tips, especially on less-considered aspects of the wedding like how to research what you might (or might not) want to do in the first place...

Friday, 31 July 2009

Ruby battles

I wrote about rubies - specifically the horrors behind the mining of Burmese gems - last year, but today another story about ethical issues in ruby mining came my way.
An outline of the Free Greenland Ruby campaign is as follows:

A legal war is waging in Greenland as the native Inuit Greenlanders fight for their rights to prospect for the ruby through small-scale, responsible mining just as their ancestors have done for centuries.
On 16th August 2007, native Inuit Greenlanders were arrested for mining ruby. True North Gems (TNG), a Canadian mining company, informed on the Inuit to the local police who were told by The Bureau for Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) to stop them prospecting for ruby - even though this violated the Danish Government's own Mineral Code and the UN Declaration of Human & Indigenous Rights.
Soon after, there was a clamp down across the island on the rights of indigenous people to mine. Mr. Lars Lund Sorensen, the head of a division at the Minerals Office at the time, said:
"We don’t want your sort of people having access to this kind of wealth."
The BMP then set about hiring lawyers who would twist interpretations of Danish laws to cover up their behaviour and protect the interests of TNG. They even instructed the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute local people but offered to drop charges against miners if they signed paperwork stating they will not mine again. Where this bribe was refused, they issued fines.

The campaign is being promoted in the UK by Greg Valerio of Cred ethical jewellers, and there's a petition on the campaign website.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Carbon offset weddings. Ho hum.

Several months ago I received this email from a very nice sounding women introducing another carbon offset calculator, this time for weddings, and offering me the opportunity to be an affiliate for the scheme.

"I'd like to introduce Brighter Planet; we help people and businesses reduce and offset their carbon footprint. We have developed a simple carbon offset calculator for weddings that is fully embeddable, and will be featured on The Green Bride Guide's new website. Our affiliate program (through LinkShare) would automatically pay you a commission when people visiting http://theethicalwedding.blogspot.com/use the calculator and offset their wedding. You can see our calculator at the bottom of this page: http://brighterplanet.com/products/event_offsetting
Please let me know if you're interested and we can easily set this up, and help your couples make an ethical AND climate-friendly commitment to the future."

Now, there are dozens of different carbon footprint and offset calculators out there now, although this one may indeed have a USP in being wedding-specific. The problem is, of course, not in the generally well-meaning people setting some of these little enterprises up, but in the broader concept and practice of carbon offsetting itself. There are the ideological objections - that planting trees or paying for technological developments in Majority World countries doesn't challenge the fundamental necessity that we re-think our own ways of living. And there are the objections in practice - that many of the projects being paid for are at best well-meaning but vague and at worst deeply corrupt and destructive. There have been monoculture forests planted on stolen land in Mexico, hydro dams that go to power factories and smelters that just churn out more consumer crap for our wasteful society, and fraudulent double-counting of carbon credits that mean that a lot of money goes into a few pockets and bugger all happens to help the environment.
For a more comprehensive critique of, and information on, the problem see Dan Welch's report for Ethical Consumer.
Needless to say, I won't be signing up for the affiliate scheme, but I have put in the link above in case anyone out there does want to use this service.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Ethical Wedding stories

Yes, I know I've been shamefully poor at posting all that background material that was meant to go up ages ago. Events, dear boy, events. But just quickly, here is a link to OA and my wedding story on Katie Fewings' Ethical Weddings website, along with lots of case studies of other ethical weddings to inform and inspire.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Ethical Weddings Fair

This is just a quick mention of the Eco Chic Wedding and Home Show 2009, being run in Birmingham (at least it's not in bloody London, like practically everything else on the universe. Sorry, I'm bitter at my so-called union, the NUJ, whose women's conference was announced in London at less than a month's notice, making it prohibitively expensive for anyone outside the South-East. Typical).
Anyway, I've never been to one of these big consumer shows, and the part of me that thinks that generally speaking less is more is very scared by the whole idea of them. But on the basis that people do want to buy nice things for their weddings, and it's better that those things are made fairly and in more environmentally sustainable ways, I guess I'm giving it a bit of a plug. So it's on Sunday 8th March, and details and booking information can be found here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

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