Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A successful dinner and a roundup of lovely shops

Yes, the fair trade birthday party was a success and so was the food.
Just thought I’d share a few pictures of dinner, all of which arrived safely after mad dashes from my kitchen to Vale’s dining room.
Oh, and the placemats were lovingly made by Vale’s own hands.

Most impressively, the pumpkins (but not the sunflowers. It was April!) all came from Vale and Dean's back breaking efforts on their allotment. All very sustainable.

Now, back to business.
I’ve been thinking hard of the questions I’ve asked myself when I first started writing this blog.
Is it possible to live an entirely ethical life if ethical means only buying organic, local and fair trade products?
My initial (admittedly premature) conclusion is: very unlikely. Unless I look at it as a full-time job.
I can certainly see that it is getting increasingly easier to find such products – in London.
For the time being, and if you wish to lead a reasonably uncomplicated life, there are ways to avoid consuming mass production mega-cheap shiny plastic.
This is my reasoning: I’m spending money to buy something. It is a business transaction. It needs to be an attractive deal for me, the consumer who is handing in the cash. If it is something I like and it happens to have a fair trade sticker on it, great. But:

1. I will certainly not buy a bag I don’t like, only to help a farming community in the Philippines. This is not sustainable. It is an artificial business arrangement destined to fail eventually, when people tire of that particular cause and go on to the next country in need. Fair trade cannot be a synonym for charity.

2. But what if I love the bag and there’s no fair trade seal in sight? How much time and energy am I prepared to spend to find out its origin? And is it not the retailer’s responsibility to make that kind of information available?

With this in mind, I am tempted to compromise and look for shops which have taken the trouble to tell me a little about where their goods come from - provided it is a happy place, of course!
It may be that my new cushions aren’t made of certified organic cotton. But they are a) lovely and b) made by a co-operative of independent artisans in the state of Minas Gerais, in Brazil. I really, really love them:
I found this and other handmade clothes and accessories at Meninastore, which, being the fruit of my sisters' hard and loving labour, I, of course, never tire to publicise.

Another shop getting it just right is Magpie. Like Meninastore, they work exclusively with independent artisans and designers, and can trace their products to a healthy production-distribution chain.
I refuse to even step into the kitchen until I can wear his apron:

So, so beautiful!

Enamore specialises in organic and vintage fabrics. Their clothes and rather racy underwear are all designed and produced in the UK.
AND, they also sell their clothes in real, non-virtual shops. See a list of shops here.
I’m off to find this dress:

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