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Since its launch in 1994, the Fairtrade mark has become recognized as a trustworthy, independent consumer guarantee for products that help producers in developing countries get a better deal from international trade.

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For the past three years the Fairtrade Foundation have held an annual campaign called Fairtrade Fortnight, a two week long celebration of everything Fairtrade where they encourage the nation via a series of events, activities and other resources to choose Fairtrade products.

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the launch event for Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 (22 February – 7 March), held at The Royal Institute of British Architects, Portland Place, in London.

On arriving at the venue, which was right in the heart of London, I was taken aback by the luxurious pinkly lit entrance.  Once I’d collected my name badge and visited the cloakroom, I was led up a marble staircase to be greeted by a host of drinks – wine, beer, orange juice, apple juice and water – all of which were Fairtrade and donated by various companies such as Calypso and Fairhills.  In the main hall impeccably dressed waiters waltzed about offering various Fairtrade canapés, which again were donated.

According to the invitation, this reception would be “a unique opportunity to meet and hear from people from across the movement”, and indeed it was.  The first half hour of the evening was spent networking, and on my rounds I met a number of interesting people, one of whom was the Media and PR Manager for the Fairtrade Foundation, Martine Julseph.  When asked what made her decide to get involved with Fairtrade, she replied:

To be honest, even before I knew much about Fairtrade I have always preferred Fairtrade products because of what they stand for.  I think it is important that producers get a fair deal and by buying Fairtrade it makes you feel connected to the producers

Among the many other Fairtrade supporters, retailers, manufacturers, producers and consumers in the room, I also met Claire Hamer and Janine Passley who run a company called ei8ht.  Collectively they have spent 15 years buying for the UK’s leading fashion retailers including Topshop, ASOS.com and River Island.  During this time they implemented sustainable strategies at Topshop, introducing Fairtrade Cotton and collaborating with small communities in Africa on projects such as Global Mamas.  More recently they have been instrumental in launching The Green Room and ASOS Africa on ASOS.com.

Supermodel and TV presenter Lisa Butcher who is spearheading the Fairtrade Foundation’s cotton campaign for Fairtrade Fortnight was also at the launch, having returned from India after visiting the Agrocel Pure & Fair Cotton Growers’ Association.  Commenting on her visit Lisa said: “Now that I have seen for myself the difference Fairtrade can make, I believe that the fashion world should consider using more Fairtrade cotton. I was really struck how people here often forget about the people behind their clothes. Anything new is never easy, and we need to work a little harder to achieve the unknown. But it’s not impossible to change the way we view cotton and the challenge is back to the industry”.

Each year Fairtrade Fortnight has some kind of theme, last year’s being “Go bananas for Fairtrade”, which saw people organising banana eating events (Fairtrade ones of course) and a record was set for simultaneous Fairtrade banana eating over a 24 hour period.

For this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight people in the UK and Ireland are being encouraged to swap everyday shopping basket items such as tea, coffee, chocolate, cotton tee-shirts, pineapples, bananas, cakes, sugar and a host of other products for Fairtrade ones during Fairtrade Fortnight 2010. During the two weeks, the Fairtrade Foundation will be totting up product swaps on a special online swap-o-meter, which can be accessed by going to their website.

The aim is to get people in Britain to make one million and one swaps over the two-week period and change the lives of millions of farmers around the world.

Prior to the launch event we were told to bring our favourite Fairtrade item along with us to swap with someone else at the event.  I took a big bar of Cadbury’s Diary Milk chocolate and swapped with a lady called Kerry Fuller who is from Dorset Cereals.  In exchange for my chocolate bar I received a couple of boxes of Dorset Cereals’ Fairtrade chocolate granola cereal and a box of Fairtrade Clippers teabags.  My breakfasts are sorted for the next month now!  If you would like more information and want to get involved, visit the Fairtrade website above and get swapping!

Fairwear 2010 was the largest Fairtrade fashion show the UK has ever seen. Taking place in the stunning surroundings of Bristol Cathedral, ethical designers showcased their latest ranges. Lorna Tweed and Ellen Dowell took to the front row to report for hello eco living.

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The highlight of the show was a collection by Leafric Designs, founded by sisters Sashana and Melissa Miller. The bold and striking designs were presented by models strutting down the runway in a bizarre ostrich style walk (which made us chuckle). This edgy fairtrade couture stood out from the rest of the Fairwear show where the majority of the collections did little to break down the ethical clothing stereotypes of dowdy cotton garments.

Cotton Candy brought some fun to the night with their bright and breezy range. They used head turning coloured tights to set off the old faithful little black dress and bows and beads to sweeten up basic t’s and shirts.

People Tree showed off their new pieces created with the help of Emma Watson. The best word to describe this range is prepy, the Jack Will’s of the Fair Trade fashion world.

Fairtrade fashion is definitely going places and with the face of Burberry turning green, who knows who we’ll welcome to the fair-trade fashion arena next year?

So for all of you eco chic lovers out there guess what’s back? Fairwear 2010 returns to Bristol and it isn’t coming through Century Bristol Cathedral doors quietly; oh no! This year’s show is the largest Fair-trade catwalk show ever to take place in the UK.

Ethical fashion hits Bristol
Ethical fashion hits Bristol

The fashion show, taking place on 25th February, aims to promote Fairtrade to improve the lives of producers in developing countries.

So how is it going to out do itself this year? Well since the Fairwear brand has become established the ‘Fairwear Fashion Show’ has become an important date in everyone’s fashion calendar – displaying the changes that should be happening in fashion all over the world.

This year sees Harry Potter’s very own Emma Watson showcasing her fair-trade range in association with leading fair-trade designer brand, People Tree. Emma’s collections brings a little bit if edginess to the show:

I wanted to help People Tree produce a younger range because I was excited by the idea of using fashion as a tool to alleviate poverty and knew it was something I could help make a difference with.

As more and more people become aware of the positive message being promoted with the use of fair-trade fashion it’s not just the great British public becoming involved – many designers, actors and musicians are showing an interest in the constantly changing world of fashion; and luckily it’s changing for the better.

So what will you lucky people be seeing? Well fantastic collection from of course Emma Watson; Debenhams 5G range which involves Sir Steve Redgrave’s stunning designs who simply uses Fairtrade cotton from Mall; I think we love him already.

Bishopston trading fashion company are unveiling their collection. Along with ‘Life’s not fair but my knickers are’, Bristol based company; ‘Spunky’. Not to mention the spectacular Laura Ashley, Warehouse fairtrade range which include Bibico, Leafric, Wombat and Ethics Girls.

But guess what? It doesn’t stop there, musicians from Sarodplayer, contemporary dancers from the Invisible circus known as ‘Movement Collective’ will be amazing us with their fabulous piece also. And if that’s not enough for you then get ready to say hello to a whole host of celebrities. Actor James Redmond is acting as compare at the show. As well as BBC3’s very own Tara Starlet from ‘Blood Sweat and T-shirts’ will be talking about some of her experiences.

Fairwear Fashion Show is hosting some pretty big names but also it’s letting some fresh new talent on to its runways; the fashion students from Filton College are creating a collection for the show as well as the their media students creating a 2 minute advert on fair-trade fashion which will be shown at the event then judged by a celebrity panel. So big stakes for the new talent!

The Fairtrade fashion show is endorsed by the Fairtrade Foundation and the Ethical FashionForum. All Fairwear fashion houses use certified Fairtrade cotton or are members of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO).

So all in all this is an event you don’t want to miss. Show your support for fair-trade fashion and get on down there; what’s the worse that can happen you save the world one piece of clothing at a time.

Get your tickets now: 25th February 2010, 4pm & 7pm at Century Bristol Cathedral.

Fairtrade fortnight (22 February – 7 March 2010)  is a celebration of making the trading world a fairer place. You can get to show your support for the producers in the developing world through what you buy.

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Fair trade isn’t just about bananas or chocolate, it can also relate to the beauty products we buy and use on a daily basis. To mark this fortnight of festivities, we spoke to Green People who work with a range of suppliers who have projects in place that build up rural infrastructure, focus on education, provide fair wages and healthcare.

Charlotte Vohtz, founder of Green People, explains;

“We launched our first organic skincare products over 13 years ago and from day one, we have been fastidious about ensuring that, wherever possible, the raw ingredients which are used in our skincare products are produced on a fairly traded basis.   It is really important to us that people can be confident that the families that have been involved in the production of these gorgeous organic products are paid fairly, work in good conditions and have good prospects.”

Here are some of the real stories behind the ingredients that go into Green People products:

Ghana – Organic Shea Butter

The first and only Organic Fair Trade Shea Butter in the world it is handmade using age-old traditional methods in Ghana.  The production process does not use chemicals or solvents.  This fairly traded project provides employment, a fair wage and good working conditions for a community of 600 women who produce over 120 tonnes of butter each year!

Shea Butter provides moisturising, regenerative and anti wrinkle properties for skin.

Dominican republic – Organic Cocoa Butter

GP buy Fair Traded, organic Cocoa Butter from a project in the Dominican Republic which helps to train growers in sustainable harvesting and provide the financial help to expand their crops.  It has assisted communities in investing in much needed community water systems, local healthcare and educational scholarships whilst providing fair wages and living conditions for its 9,000 farmers and 350,000 individuals involved in the production – ensuring the Cocoa quality is one of the best on the market!

Cocoa butter provides wonderful softening and moisturising properties.

Bulgarian Valley – Organic Rose Otto Oil

This family-run operation in the Bulgarian Valley of Roses produces 60 kilos of Organic Rose Otto oil a year.  The land has been reclaimed by local farmers after the communist regime and is being reworked to get the valley back to the beautiful landscape it once was.  The harvests provide work for people from all over Bulgaria including three generations of the Nikolaev family who gather together to handpick the roses.

Rose oil is packed with therapeutic benefits – it’s soothing on the skin, regenerates new skin cells and promotes a feeling of well-being.

Namibia – Myrrh

The Myrrh used by Green People comes from a project in Namibia which supports the Himba tribe, who depend entirely on the income from the collection of Myrrh resin.  A group of women hand collect 100 kg in a day from 1200 different trees, but these nomadic people do not have the opportunity to create a market for the Myrrh.  Their support creates a regular and much needed income to the Himba people.  (This project is supported by WWF and the Namibia government).

Myrrh rejuvenates and helps heal damaged and sensitised skin.

India – Organic Peppermint Oil & Spearmint Oil

Over 40 small farms work together to produce a large amount of Organic Mint oils.  Over the 8 years of partnership the local community have been able to expand their farms and offer the opportunity of education to the local children.

South Africa – Organic essential oils

Rose geranium, Lemongrass and Rosemary are just some of the organic essential oils that we source from South Africa.  There are a wide range of projects going on in the country which support local communities, providing employment and a fair wage for the producers.

Organic essential oils make up much of what goes into natural skin care products, as these oils have beneficial properties for the skin and also a beautiful scent.  This allows the company to avoid using artificial fragrances, to which many people have sensitivities.

The Fair Trade Foundation are running ‘the big swap’ during Fair Trade Fortnight where you are being challenged to swap your regular products – whether this be food or beauty items, for those that have been fairly traded. You can register what you’re planning to swap at their website here.

Most of us want a decent tipple this Christmas and if you’re anything like the team at Hello Eco Living you want the best ethical, organic or fair trade wines and beers out there.

Organic grapes for gorgeous ethical wine
Organic grapes for gorgeous ethical wine

We’ve spent the last couple of months sampling some fantastic drinks that you can enjoy this festive season without questioning your eco credentials. From wine to Port and over to larger we have found a collection of taste sensations  for Christmas 2009. Enjoy…

 

Pomegranate Wine – This year’s “must talk about” wine

Wow, Pomegranate wine – this is really different and such a treat. In fact we think that this would make a really great Christmas pressie and will have you being the centre of attention for bringing the most imaginative drink to the table.

Our Chris gave it his verdict: “On the nose notes of cherry and pomegranate dominate the lively bouquet. A fairly dry wine bursting with complexity and fairly a high alcohol content of 13.8 percent. It could pair well with a rich Italian dish, though we drank it with salmon and cheese and it did not over power. The pomegranate fruit is an unusual flavour for wine but becomes increasingly pleasing and familiar with each sip – we will be certainly drinking more of it in time.”

This corker comes from the Rimon Winery in Galilee and combines the health benefits of pomegranates (lots of antioxidants) with the pleasure of enjoying an unusual wine.

Pomegranate Dry wine RRP £21.99

Terra Prima Reserve Port – Hello Eco Living’s Top Pick!

We’re a bit addicted to this sweet, smooth tasting port and will be well on our way to ordering a batch for our Festive Season.

Terra Prima Reserve is an organically produced Port by Fonseca.  We’re impressed that it’s the only organic Port to be found on UK shelves and is available in a stylish green box (although we didn’t get to experience the box, boo). It’s also vegan and vegetarian friendly.

When we asked Chris to give his verdict he said:

A delight to drink and pick of the review – at £14.99 this port can rival those double it’s price – it’s fairly sweet, but full of mouth watering fruits, also good depth and complexity, a true gem, an ideal match with the christmas pud on the 25th or after dinner cheese and crackers.

Fonseca Port has great eco credentials and has long been recognised as a pioneer of bio-diversity and organic production in its native Portugal.  Winning the BES Biodiversity Prize earlier this year for its viticultural practices is a sign that Fonseca has earned its place amongst the great green pioneers of the world.

Terra Prima Reserve Port £14.49 in Waitrose or Booths

2008 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling – A German Gem

In our household we’ve been cracking open red wines for possibly the past 6 months, since our fascination with Bordeaux began. So when a white gets mentioned I jump to attention – I love white wine but it’s often tough to find a good one. This one is definitely up there. It is so moreish. We drank and we simply wanted more.

A bit of background on this particular Riesling – Since 2007, Germany’s organic wine growing area has grown by 60% and now, almost 5% of all German vineyards are organically farmed. However, for them it’s not just about consumer demand, but about quality and respect for the environment. Changing the way they farm to become organic or biodynamic is no small feat – it requires commitment and significant cost but those that make the switch are convinced that by doingso, their wines will better reflect the “terroir” on which they are grown, resulting in a purer, more complex wine with more balance and natural character.

2008 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling – £13.50, Jascots Wine Merchants

Freedom Organic Larger – Right here in the UK

We’re not just all about wine and port this festive season; we’ve also catered for the larger drinker. Freedom Brewery has a lovely story as well as being a tasty beer.

Freedom is Britain’s first lager only producing microbrewery is based on a farm next to a deer sanctuary in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire (sounds like a very nice place to work!) It is situated on top of a natural underground lake of Burton brewing water – the world’s finest hard water for brewing. Water is drawn from this sustainable source via a bore hole and used without any treatment for the brewing process. The site has Soil Association accreditation for producing organic lager.

The taste is light with hints of caramel – a very pleasant drink for the boys and girls this December.

The products are also suitable for vegetarians and vegans (seaweed is used in the filtration process as opposed to fish based products). Freedom lagers are left to mature for a minimum of 4 weeks to enhance the flavour.

Freedom Organic Lager £24 – direct from the website for a case of 24 x 330ml bottles