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Fair Trade, Eco and Ethical


Say No to Plastics (including Thermocol)!

Say No to Plastics (including Thermocol)!In its recent campaign to reduce plastic, Shared Earth recently wrote to its suppliers requesting them to avoid the use of Thermocol (polystyrene) in packaging. Thermocol sheets are often used, for instance, to fill in gaps, when rolled up cardboard sheets can be used instead.

Created On  9 May 2019 12:28  -  Permalink
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Trip to Bali 2019 - Part 2: Making a difference

Trip to Bali 2019 - Part 2: Making a differenceWe have been sponsoring our dreamcatcher supplier, Wayan (a different Wayan) to make a difference in her community, with her matching our support with her own. But we have never found out what she is doing with the money.

We shouldn’t have worried. She explains that our funding has been supporting a clean and green project in her village.
Created On  11 Mar 2019 14:50  -  Permalink
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Trip to Bali 2019 - Part 1: Smiling dog – growling tiger

Trip to Bali 2019 - Part 1: Smiling dog – growling tigerThe dog lies lazily in the entrance, smiling happily beneath the growling tiger.  Ten metres further on a carved figure of a man clutching a chicken stands beside another entrance. At a street corner in a village a stone deer peers out from the undergrowth beneath a temple.

We are on a buying and information gathering trip in the most art and craft rich country I have ever visited. We are in Bali.

The word ‘art’ refers to a wide range of activities involving human imagination and creativity to create objects, performances or events that shape or change or reinforce the way humans view the world. In many countries the vast majority of people are consumers of art rather than producers. But not in Bali. Travel miles along Bali’s roads and you find that every second shop is packed with arts and crafts. Everywhere you look people are making things.
Created On  8 Mar 2019 11:08  -  Permalink
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Shared Earth is 32!

Shared Earth is 32!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.
Created On  10 Nov 2018 9:50  -  Permalink
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Getting rid of plastics

Getting rid of plasticsYou 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 isn’t easy and don’t 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 family’s bathroom there are 53 plastic bottles. Fifty-three! OK I have three daughters but let’s 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 … 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 ‘enjoyed’. 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 – Chritable Society”. (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 … 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, let’s 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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