Friday, 29 January 2010

Eco-Friendly Bites on the Somerset Levels

Ex-employee of our Glastonbury shop, Amy Lawson, who left to set up her own Eco-Friendly shop in the town, has recently branched out and opened a refreshment cafe on the Somerset Levels.

Eco-Friendly Bites at the Avalon Marshes Centre offers Fairtrade and organic refreshments and snacks, such as jacket potatoes, pies and scrummie cakes. They're all served in bio-degradable containers by staff who wear aprons and use oven-gloves produced by Bishopston Trading Company.

So next time you're visiting Somerset, and out walking on the nature reserve or starling watching, warm-up with Amy's eco-friendly refreshments.

Photo by Lynne Newton

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Observer - Fair Trade Fashion

This Sunday's Observer Magazine included an interesting article about Fair Trade Fashion by Lucy Siegle. In the main in was an interview with supermodel Erin O'Connor, who talked about her work with TRAID and SEWA - a federation of self-employed textile workers in Delhi. What struck me were the similarities between the accounts given by members of SEWA, and those I heard from women tailors at the K.V.Kuppam Tailoring Units when I visited last year.

SEWA are based in an urban area and provide employment to home-workers. In contrast, the K.V.Kuppam Tailoring Units are based in a very rural area and our partners there work together in purpose built tailoring units, rather than at home. However, despite these differences, the benefits that accrue from stable, fair-wage employment are more than simply financial ones.

One of the workers interviewed for the article, Rubina Bano, describes the sense of independence that comes with earning her own wages. She also describes the training in embroidery work that SEWA have provided for her. Her colleague, Zeenat, describes what, within the Indian textile industry is the luxury of having paid sick leave. Reading this was almost like hearing echoes from my conversations with tailors in K.V.Kuppam.

This is Uma, a member of the Mahathmagandhi Tailoring Society in K.V.Kuppam. Although only 24 years old she is one of their hardest working tailors. She has worked there for 6 years and lives with her mother and father within walking distance of the Units. She is an intelligent and confident young woman. Like all members of the Tailoring Societies, her above average wages and year-round stable employment are accompanied by a healthcare allowance, holiday pay, gratuity and provident fund payments. Training was provided in tailoring skills, and the quality of her work is extremely high. I would not be surprised if next time I visit K.V.Kuppam she has been promoted to a more responsible position.

As Lucy Siegle and Erin O'Connor highlight, Fair Trade is about much more than just increased earnings: it offers people an opportunity to fulfil their potential in a way that is normally denied them in the fast-fashion industry.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Fairtrade Home

Before Christmas I spoke to a woman who was ordering our velvet fabric to make her own Fairtrade curtains for her living room. She had already bought a selection of cushion covers from us and some throws from another company: she told me she was planning to refurbish the room with only Fairtrade/Fair Trade items. It got me thinking as to just how far could you go towards having a Fairtrade/Fair Trade home....

1. Furniture. The appropriately-named Fairtrade Furniture can help you with this. Their comfy and stylish armchairs are made by skilled Javan crafts-people.

2. Floor-Coverings. Adorn your floors with beautiful Indian Kilims from Myakka. Like us, Myakka are based in the South West of the UK. They have been sourcing their products from Indian suppliers on Fair Trade terms since 1999.

3. Bedding. Of course you can source Fairtrade certified organic cotton sheets, pillowcases and duvet sets from us, or you could just go for the first two and make yourself a patchwork quilt of Fairtrade cotton cloth from Fairtrade Fabric instead of the duvet set - in either case you'll be creating much needed employment for the weavers of K.V.Kuppam.

4. Bathing. After a bath-time pampering with Neal's Yard Fairtrade Jasmine Shower Gel, dry yourself off with a soft and cosy bath towel from Natural Collection.

5. Wining and Dining. Finally relax with a glass of Fairtrade wine from Ethical Wines, sipped from Fair Trade recycled glasses handcrafted in Bolivia.

Let me know of other items you can think of to add to a future Fairtrade/Fair Trade home...

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fairtrade in the Family

We recently had a lovely lady in our Bradford on Avon shop who bought a velvet skirt. She was delighted with it and the following week came in to buy her baby a stripey poloneck to match her own that she had bought a few weeks before.

She said she could remember her mother buying her clothes from us when she was a child, as a matter of fact her playgroup leader was a director here at Bishopston Trading Company many years ago. Her mother still buys clothes from us: so three generations of the same family dressed in our organic Fairtrade cotton clothing.

Thanks to Laura and Lucy for this one!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Fairtrade Cotton Fabrics - On Sale!

Happy New Year everyone. Our sale is currently in full swing and it includes what we think is probably the largest range of organic Fairtrade certified cotton fabrics on the web.
We've got shirting-weight handloom, a lighter lawn, sumptious velvet, and practical denim: all at reduced prices. If one of your new year's resolutions is to make your own clothes, or mend the ones you already have, then take a look here.

Freshly woven handloom cloth arriving at the K.V.Kuppam Tailoring Units.