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Getting rid of plastics

Getting rid of plastics
You know plastics are out of hand when your wooden shelves are plastic veneer, your "biodegradable" cup is packed with melamine, your supermarket vegetables sit in plastic straight jackets, your toothpaste oozes polyethylene microbeads, your sausages are cased in nylon, your favourite team plays on a polypropylene pitch, while you comb your polyester hair with a plastic comb paid for with a polymer £5 banknote.

Shared Earth is working hard to rid itself of plastics, both in its products we sell and in the packaging that those products are shipped in but isnít easy and donít let anyone fool you to believing that it is. While we all welcome the fact that even the right-wing press are now calling for an end to the plastic tide that floods our lives, the truth is that there that talk is cheap. Greenwashing is easy and everyone is at it.

For example, how can we rid ourselves of the billions of plastic bottles that gather in our bathrooms and lunch boxes? In my familyís bathroom there are 53 plastic bottles. Fifty-three! OK I have three daughters but letís be honest, boys too are interested in grooming and smelling good.

Created On  9 Apr 2018 22:40  -  Permalink
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Trip to India 2018 - Part 5: Visit to the weavers of Chaksimultala village

Trip to India 2018 - Part 5: Visit to the weavers of Chaksimultala village
Moons ago I visited the tropical house at Kew in London and breathed the hot humid air that sticks to your shirt and I walked among plants that were so busy growing you felt that if you turned round quickly you could catch them at it, sprouting leaves and fruit like popcorn leaping out of a pan.

Ninety kilometres south west of Kolkata I have that same feeling as we pass turquoise houses, and tractors heaving four times their mass of sugar cane, as if balancing a sofa on a roller skate. 

Our guides stop repeatedly to ask the way. Onto smaller roads, we pass the busy sari shimmering haze of small towns, and squeeze through sun-hammered villages thick with lorries, shoppers, motorbikes, and shadows glimpsed through doorways. A canal appears alongside the road. I say canal appears but in truth no water is visible, only a long depression to our left into which someone has tossed an enormous and never ending salad of water lilies.

A slow gingerly shudder over a rickety wooden bridge and the driver cuts the engine. We have arrived.
Created On  2 Apr 2018 21:24  -  Permalink
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Trip to India 2018 - Part 4: Mud, colour, guns

Trip to India 2018 - Part 4: Mud, colour, guns
A lazy morning, it being Holi. Breakfast at 10am. Someone explains that all the food is vegetarian because hotels are owned by Jains. The same source assures us that all Jains are very rich because they eat no meat. This, plus the fact that they drive very large cars and either wear white clothes or no clothes at all, accounts for their stunning business acumen.

There is a kind of poetic justice about being filthy rich but condemned to walk around in your birthday suit, eating nothing but salad.

The taxi arrives. There are four of us: David and I, Febry and her friend Toby. We have booked for a large car. What arrives is probably the smallest car in Delhi, aside from Tuktuks.

Empty roads. The only people out on the streets belong to the species homo colourfulus. Red faces, yellow faces, multi-coloured faces Ö Quite a few are very definitely drunk. As convoys of motorbikes carrying multiple passengers kick up the dust around us I am reminded of a spaghetti western. A tuktuk lurches across a junction, four guys standing, leaning out, dancing and swinging their arms wildly in celebration. Struggling to keep the three-wheeler upright, the driver clings the handlebars with the grim look of a condemned man.
Created On  4 Mar 2018 21:55  -  Permalink
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Trip to India 2018 - Part 3: Birds, Butterflies & Punjabi Rap

Trip to India 2018 - Part 3: Birds, Butterflies & Punjabi Rap
Today we are visiting Karm Marg, an ashram 12 miles out of Delhi.

Enough traffic talk except to say that today is the first day of Holi Festival so actually there is comparatively little traffic on the roads. In next to no time we are in the countryside. The village of Kheri Kalan does deserve a special mention for the highest and nastiest sleeping policemen I have yet Ďenjoyedí. I lose count of how many times my head actually hits the roof of the car. We have almost arrived, according to the Ola map (a local variation on Uber), when we find our path blocked by a huge water or sewage pipe. The pipe is surrounded by villagers, male and female, who are busy digging and shifting earth. 

Having got advice from a stander-by we turn round. A big detour round the village takes us past a lake complete with ibis. Dozens of roadside cows chew lazily as we pass. Eventually we reach a narrow track leading to the open countryside and, last stop on the left, a colourful gate and the words "Karm Marg Ė Chritable SocietyĒ. (yes, it does read Chritable).
Created On  3 Mar 2018 22:19  -  Permalink
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Trip to India 2018 - Part 2: The day Taja 8 met a ghost

Trip to India 2018 - Part 2: The day Taja 8 met a ghost

Q. What do camels and elephants have in common?

A. You find both of them on the wrong side of the road walking in the fast lane on dual carriageways in India.  

Today we are spending a second day at Tara, Tara has been a Fair Trade company for over 40 years, even longer than Shared Earth has been around Ö They supply us with jewellery, stoneware, bike chain giftware and more.
Created On  1 Mar 2018 12:41  -  Permalink
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Trip to India 2018 - Part 1: Traffic and "Fork Handles"

Trip to India 2018 - Part 1: Traffic and
A first visit to a new country is always a mixture of excitement and trepidation. What will I experience? Will I get ill? This visit to meet our many suppliers in India is no exception. Five days into our journey I have a few moments to walk you through.

First of all, being ill. I can write this now because I feel much better, thank you. I had succumbed to Delhi Belly within twelve hours of arriving. Yes, I know, pathetic. You rush back and forth from what is politely called the washroom feeling stupid; your body has let you down and you cannot focus properly on the task in hand. Thankfully the world has invented Immodium and within six hours I was feeling better. 

So, my angry bowels out of the way, letís talk about what David and I are doing in India.

Working with a Fair Trade company we are here to meet the producers and suppliers of a huge and varied range of craft products from across India. Every day starts with a car journey. There appear to be no useful maps of Delhi and only occasional pavements. There are tuktuks but only chain smokers would appreciate what tuktuks do to your lungs.
Created On  26 Feb 2018 21:08  -  Permalink
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My First Trip to India

My First Trip to India "Never again,Ē I said to Jeremy (Shared Earth MD) after our trip to Bali. "Itís too far, I canít cope with the heat.Ē I was adamant that me and trips abroad were a one-off. An experience of a lifetime, not to be sullied by excessive time spent in airport departure lounges with swollen ankles, and yet, here I am sitting in my hotel room in New Delhi, with the air conditioning blasting out, eternally grateful to be granted this experience once again.

I have never been to India. Iíve seen it on TV, Iíve heard other peopleís accounts, Iíve read all our producer stories and yet nothing was quite enough to prepare me for what I was seeing first hand; it really is a different world.

Created On  24 Apr 2017 13:58  -  Permalink
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Caitlin Moves to York!

Caitlin Moves to York! Hey Iím Caitliń-rose, you may recall my last post about Crystals.

Today Iím going to talk about a major life change Iíve undertakenÖ Moving to York!

I moved up from my hometown (the absolutely amazing Liverpool which I will always love) to the stunning city of York around the second week of September, my main reason for moving was to make the most of a brilliant opportunity offered to me by Shared Earth, to progress into a full time role, and also to satisfy my wanderlust, I adore travelling! Conveniently, the tenancy on my flat was coming to an end anyway so it seemed like it was just meant to be!

Created On  7 Apr 2017 13:25  -  Permalink
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A Visit to Meelarp Ceramics in Lampang

A Visit to Meelarp Ceramics in Lampang

We didnít see wild elephants today but there was a chance we might and on wildlife treks that is often as good as it gets.

We werenít trekking to be fair, this is a business trip to Meelarp Ceramics in Lampang, 95km from Chiangmai. The road cuts through mountains and forest which make up one of Thailandís nature reserves. Between them Chiangmai and Lampang have 13 nature reserves.

The heat was intense; without air-conditioning Jeremy and I would have made a good impression of chickens browning in a rotisserie.

Created On  8 Mar 2017 15:20  -  Permalink
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On a Buying Trip in Thailand Ė Chakuchat Market in Bangkok

On a Buying Trip in Thailand Ė Chakuchat Market in Bangkok

Buying trips are nothing but hard, hard grind. Honestly. And the occasional wonderful meal Ö particularly in Thailand.

We spent two days at Chakuchat Market in Bangkok, remaking contact with existing producers and seeking out new contact and products.

Imagine pacing backwards and forwards in a 4 kilometre long sauna while pushing past 200,000 shoppers and a million different products and you will get the gist of it. The market is 1.1 square kilometres in size (27 acres for farmers out there) and contains 15,000 different stalls. Plants, t-shirts, incense, jewellery, art, dream catchers, lighting, cuddly toys, carvings, electrical products, kitchenware, pencils, candles Ö the list is endless.

Created On  6 Mar 2017 10:22  -  Permalink
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