Dear friends and colleagues (you are friends because everyone who supports Shared Earth is a friend!)
This is a report on our progress, on the event of our 32nd Birthday. Shared Earth opened in York on 10 November, 1986, and grew quickly. By 2000 we had 5 shops and were importing Fair Trade products from about 15 countries. Then in 2008 came the financial crash; our shop in Birmingham made a huge loss and in 2010 we were forced to close all our shops except York and Liverpool. We struggled to survive.
So where are we now?
It took a while to get back on our feet after 2010, but we have done it. York and Liverpool were our busiest shops and their sales have continued to rise; and our wholesale sales have increased by over 20% each year for the last 5 years. This growth has allowed us not just to support our current Fair Trade suppliers with extra orders, but to take on many new suppliers.
New products launched this year include mango wood and recycled bicycle chain products from India; raffia baskets from Madagascar; recycled glasses from Tanzania; and colourful new ceramics from Thailand. We have also just started ordering again from one of our first suppliers, Salay Handmade Paper in the Philippines. They make greetings cards from grass, dried flowers, leaves and other local waste. It’s key to our policy that we buy products made with sustainable or recycled materials if we can… this month we are launching the first Fair Trade bamboo socks in the world!
And in January we launch a range of truly eco coffee cups, made with rice husks (most are made from bamboo and contain melamine, a plastic). Other forthcoming ranges include organic incense and candles from India; a new Fair Trade bodycare range from India; handmade greetings cards from Kenya; and lots of new products from Bali, where a new agent is working for us. 2019 looks to be an exciting year!
We have always wanted to support the environment, not selling plastic bags for instance in our shops. This year we have been trying to eliminate plastic in our suppliers’ packaging – not easy, but we’re trying. In our own packaging, we’ve already converted to compostable pack-a-chips, we now use biodegradable bubble-wrap, and will be using biodegradable parcel tape by the end of this year. This may seem a small matter, but our warehouse sent out about 20,000 boxes, using 1,300 rolls of tape, last year!
I’d like to end by thanking you for your custom. I hope that you will continue to support us and wish you all the very best for the coming Christmas season.
Founder and MD of Shared Earth