Tales From The London Green Fair
Back on the 9th and 10th of June, I set up a stall at the London Green Fair with the help of some family and friends. It was a long and enjoyable (if tiring) weekend and I met some really interesting people with whom I chatted for much of the day.
This post is going to wrap up some of the things I learnt and some of the other organisations and causes that I met while I was there. Sorry if I missed anyone out, I have tried to go through all the info I picked up and choose those bits that I think my readers will get the most from.
First of all I’d like to give a big shout out to our neighbour at the fair, a lovely lady by the name of Charlie Ross. Her passion for a sustainable textile and fashion industry led her to set up Offset Warehouse which not only sells high fashion of an ethical nature but also has one of the most comprehensive collections of sustainable, organic and fair-trade fabric and accessories. This allows others would-be designers to source small quantities of sustainable material which would otherwise be very difficult to do.
Now I hadn’t really thought too much about my clothes’ impact on the environment (and on society in general) before the fair but I’ll certainly be looking a bit more closely into these things when I next come to shop for something. One thing that Charlie mentions in an interview she did is the need to move away from “fast fashion” toward a culture of reuse and being satisfied with what clothes you already own instead of falling victim to the latest trends. This approach sounds very sensible indeed.
Knowledge Is Like A Garden…
…if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested – African proverb
I came away from the fair with my brain buzzing; I had spoken to so many people, many of whom were extremely knowledgeable about living a low impact lifestyle and I had been introduced to a number of people/organisations that share their knowledge with the world through magazines, films, guides or websites. Here are just a few of them:
Inspired Times – I was lucky enough to meet up with editor Sharon Henshall who gave me the last couple of issues and having read through them I can say that they give some genuinely practical advice not only for living a green life but also one which is healthier for mind, body and spirit.
They themselves had featured sustainable fashion in their spring edition while also delving deep into, among other things, spirituality, eco travel ideas, living off grid and gardening.
As you’d expect, the magazine is printed on 100% recycled paper using only vegetable based inks. Currently just £12 for an annual subscription, this quarterly magazine is one that I myself have just subscribed to.
Daisy Green Magazine – this online magazine was founded by Nicola Alexander and I spoke to her regarding not only the magazine but also her wish to reach as many people as possible with a green message through collaboration and cooperation. I could see and hear Nicola’s enthusiasm for the green movement and Daisy Green Magazine reflects this.
With sections on fashion, beauty, travel, food and other green events along with the latest in green news, Daisy Green is an online magazine with much to say and it has gained a loyal following over the years.
Good & Green Guides – we are at most danger of slipping back into our wasteful, non-sustainable ways while out and about and this is especially true if you are not familiar with the area you happen to be in. This should no longer be a problem though with a Good & Green guide for London being launched very shortly.
This is the first of these guides for the UK and goes along with ones for various Dutch cities. The guide is also available on the iPhone so you can have it on the go and get directions to local ethical shops, food outlets, yoga studios, aid organisations and much more besides.
I like the idea of the phone app but I can see a potential problem with the printed version which may soon find itself out of date as new businesses crop up and old ones move or shut down. But still, I like the idea of directing people away from those businesses which are not necessarily sustainable or ethical and towards those that are.
Recycleopedia.com – the idea here, dreamt up by Paul Bearman, is to inform people of what they can and can’t recycle in their local area. It attempts to pull information from local council websites showing you not only what you can put into your kerbside bag or bin but also the nearest place you can recycle larger things such as old TVs or tyres.
Members of the public can add items or locations to the database (well they will be able to but it’s still in Beta release and I couldn’t get the sign up to work). I tried the search for many items and it got most of them correct but sometimes I’d type in an item and it wouldn’t understand – I searched for bottle tops, for example, and it thought I meant clothes.
Not all of the information is correct either; I asked about margarine tubs in Westminster and while it understood the item, it told me that I couldn’t recycle them in my blue bag when I know for a fact that I can and this is confirmed on the Westminster website.
Obviously with a site like this there will be a few bugs but community participation is vital so I am glad to see it being incorporated from the very beginning because no single person can handle all the changes that go on at all the local councils.
Nicola Peel – I was very pleased to meet Nicola at the fair where she was one of the speakers. While I didn’t catch her speech, she did pop by my stall later on and gave me some good encouragement for what I was doing. She had just spoken about how individuals can make a difference and I try to give people simple and actionable advice here on my blog.
I learnt that Nicola is also a filmmaker and after checking out her website I saw that her latest offering, Blood of the Amazon, is all about the effects that the oil industry has had not only on the Amazon rainforest and river but also on the indigenous peoples who live in these remote places. I hope to see this documentary soon and will write an honest review of it on this blog right after.
Other Notable Causes
While I wasn’t able to meet everyone who attended the fair, I got myself round many of the stalls and would just like to mention some of the other great causes and people I met.
Greenheart Project – the ambitious aim of this non-profit organisation is to build a small solar powered cargo ship that will help island and coastal communities to trade more easily with a wider marketplace. Because of its unique design, the proposed craft will be capable of sailing in very shallow waters meaning it can reach remote coastlines and population centres that are far up river where other vessels cannot venture. No longer will these communities be restricted to selling their goods in small nearby towns but instead will have access to bigger and more lucrative ports and cities.
Earth Education Project – “Empowering women in Nicaragua” is their slogan and also their aim. They do this by encouraging women in the La Chureca community to set up and grow a sustainable business recycling old paper and cardboard into new greetings cards, gift bags, notebooks and even photo frames.
Because of the way they are made, no two products will ever be exactly the same and this uniqueness adds to their charm. I was fortunate enough to be given one of the cards at the fair and it really is a work of art – so much more meaning and a lot more thoughtful than a store bought product, I’d encourage everyone to buy their cards and other paper wares here from now on.
River of Flowers – bees, where would we be without them? But in urban environments these buzzing creatures and other pollinators such as butterflies find it difficult to survive because of a lack of suitable feeding locations. This project aims to plant urban meadows that will act as “pollination streams” so our flying friends can easily move about cities (particularly London where it all started) and find flowers to feed on.
Lush – with stores not only around the country but also around the world, Lush cosmetics are a huge company but do not let this deter you; they have strong ethical principles against any form of animal testing and use fresh, organic ingredients in their products.
They also campaign with vigour on fronts such as animal protection, climate change and human rights. All in all they are a pretty ethical choice for your cosmetic needs.
Reboot – budding eco entrepreneur Steffan Lemke-Elms from Wales has taken 4000 discarded Wellington boots from the Glastonbury Festival and transformed them into cool bracelets, notepads and can/bottle holders.
Only the top parts are converted into products; the lower section of the Wellies are transformed into hard wearing, protective clogs that are sent to Kenya where they will provide safe footwear for people in the slums of Nairobi and Nakuru. A fine cause to support and proof that one person can make a difference.
Soapnuts – I don’t want to go into Soapnuts too much at this point as they have kindly agreed to send me a sample to try and I’ll be reviewing them in full at a later date. In essence they are dried fruit shells that contain a natural soap which can be used to wash clothes and can be turned into a concentrated liquid that can also clean other surfaces. Keep your eyes peeled for my full review coming soon.
Photos From The Weekend
Here are some photos of me, my stall and the rest of the London Green Fair 2012:
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