The Magic of Twitter

Last night I was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, when a purple and white patterned teapot caught my eye…

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It turns out, I have this teapot (a hand-me-down from my parents when I moved out) and barely use it. So I messaged Marks & Spencers to let them know I had a lid and was happy to part with it.

One day later, the teapot is wrapped up and ready to be posted.

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Social media often gets bad press, but this week, it has definitely done good!

I hope this lid brings happy tea brewing to it’s new owner, an early Christmas present from one stranger to another.

Christmas Gifts: 10 Ethical Ideas

 

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  1. The most ethical gift of all is the gift of Nothing. Often we are given gifts that we do not need, nor want. The gift of nothing saves money, prevents waste (both gift and packaging wise) and puts more emphasis on having a good time, rather than a materialistic Christmas.
  2. If you have a large family or a big group of friends Secret Santa is a great solution. Instead of giving many pointless gifts you give one meaningful one. My family are doing this for the first time this Christmas. We have each picked a name out of a hat and set a budget of £10. Unfortunately the whole ‘secret’ part of Secret Santa has failed a little bit, but it is the thought that counts…
  3. Make Smthng Week runs from 2nd – 10th December. It follows the mass consumerism of Black Friday and encourages people to Make Something. Why not bake some mince pies, make a cushion or toy out of old clothes, fix a broken game, paint and oil an old bike?9bccce7e78018250c8f3f5b773b0ced1.jpg
  4. Instead of giving something, Do Something. It is better to collect moments not things. Treat your loved ones to a meal out, or a trip to the theatre, or a spa day, or a weekend away. Me and Fiona (my sister) have done this for the past few years. Last year it was a trip to Warsaw, the year before a trip to Budapest, this year we’re going to go to the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library.
  5. Buy from a Charity shop or give a charity gift. Oxfam have some great suggestions, for example you can shelter a refugee for £15 or for £9 buy a tap to provide safe water. This year at work, instead of doing Secret Santa, we are each buying a toy and donating it to Cash for Kids.
  6. Purchase an Ethical Product. Ethical Superstore is a great site to go to for all sorts of gifts ranging from beauty products, to chocolates and gadgets.
  7. This time of year there are Christmas Markets left right and centre. Visit these markets and Shop Local. When you support an independent shop, small business or local store you are supporting someone’s dream. House of Habit Jewellery and Sweet Memory Lane are two of my favourites.Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 17.35.18.png
  8. Head to Etsy and Shop Handmade. I may (or may not…) have gotten my Secret Santa gift from here. Similar to shopping local, by buying something handmade you are supporting a person rather than a corporation. It means much more to know that time and effort has gone into the item, rather than it rolling off a production line.
  9. Books are a favourite at Christmas. It’s always best to try and buy second-hand books saving money and trees. For new books use a local independent shop or head to Hive to buy online.
  10. Get someone a Subscription. Subscribe someone to a monthly delivery of socks, natural beauty products or curry spices. Check out The London Sock Exchange they not only deliver new socks but recycle old.hero-box-ginger_1920x.jpg

StreetLink

This week has brought us the first frost of the year. I was shocked to wake up Monday morning and have to use my scraper for the car windscreen. Whilst I do love these fresh frosty mornings, it does prompt a thought for those who are sleeping rough on our streets.

There is no national figure for how many people are homeless across the UK. This is because homelessness is recorded differently in each nation, and because many homeless people do not show up in official statistics at all. Government street counts and estimates give a snapshot of the national situation. The latest figures showed that 4,134 people slept rough across England on any given night in 2016 – a 16% increase compared to the previous year, and more than double the amount in 2010.

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Sleeping rough is horrendous at the best of times, never mind when temperatures are hitting minus figures. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do when you see somebody that is homeless. Personally, I want to help, but I’m not sure giving that person some money is the best way. I know that if I donate to a charity, that money or clothing can go further in helping a homeless person, than giving a person a couple of quid. But how are homeless people found by these charities to receive that help?

A great app, StreetLink, is there for you to record when and where you have seen a homeless person. Dead easy to do. Head to your App Store, search ‘StreetLink’, download and then when you next see somebody sleeping rough follow the prompts on the app for information to submit. The StreetLink team will then ensure the person sleeping rough is connected up with the services, accommodation and support available in their local area to help them away from the streets as quickly as possible.

StreetLink is currently only available in England and Wales. I know I have followers from all over the world, so if you have a similar scheme in your country, please share in the comments section to promote that great service to others.

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Autumn clean & a challenge

Fashion these days is fast, we are buying and chucking away clothes more than ever. Most clothes that are bought are made unethically, using unsustainable materials, tonnes of water and energy and producing lots of waste. They are cheap and disposable.

I started an ethical transition with my wardrobe last December, and this autumn I’m having another major clear out because I still have way too many clothes that I really do not need.

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In the clean out process I was cut throat, if I couldn’t see myself wearing it at least 30 times it was gone. This is called the 30 wear challenge. The other weekend I dropped four bags off to charity shops and I’m selling some stuff on Depop. I thought I was doing alright at it, until… Labour Behind the Label asked if I would like to join their challenge…

Every year Labour Behind the Label host the six item challenge in Lent which is designed to test our reliance on fast fashion and raise funds to help garment workers. Basically the idea is simple – you select six items of clothing from your wardrobe and pledge to wear only these every day for six weeks. Crikey!

They tell me not to panic and that you can have unlimited access to underwear, accessories, footwear and sportswear. But your main items of clothing – dresses, trousers, tops, skirts, jumpers, shirts or cardigans – must remain the same throughout.

I don’t know if I can do it? Can I really dedicate six weeks to wearing just six items of clothing? So this is where I need your help, I’m down for doing it, but only if some of you will do it with me! So… any takers?!

Bella Green is back.

Wow, September really did fly over. I cannot believe a whole month has gone by since my last post. We’re now into October, and some crazy people have even started talking about the ‘C’ word (local Co-op officially have mince pies on their shelves)!

I took a break from blogging throughout September as my diary was rather chocker.

At the start of September I visited London where I ate lots of scrummy food and supported Team Shearer in the charity football match Game 4 Grenfell.

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I then walked 25 miles along Hadrian’s Wall, my final challenge this year raising money for Labour Behind the Label. It was great meeting new people, working as a team and well and truly blowing the cobwebs off in the Northumberland air.

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Finally my long-awaited holiday to Dubrovnik arrived.

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Fully rejuvenated, I’m now ready to throw myself back into blogging.

As October is Fairtrade month and hosts Anti-Slavery Day I’ll be focusing on these areas for this months posts. If you have anything you specifically would like me to cover, please let me know.

Hope you’re all well. I’m very very happy to be back.

Ciao Bellas xxx

The Monthly Gift

My first ever blog post back in December last year was about Monthlies, a period subscription box. Their boxes are filled with sanitary products, all organic and plastic, chlorine, animal testing free. For every box you purchase, 20% of the profits will go to support women and girls in the UK and abroad. I still use Monthlies, they are amazing, but over the months I’ve managed to accumulate quite a stock of excess sanitary products.

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A few weeks ago in Nottingham I stumbled upon The Monthly Gift who are a campaign that donates sanitary products to homeless women and those who have limited access to them. This was a perfect solution to my ever increasing pile of pads!

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Periods are annoying on a good day. But they are a whole lot more difficult to deal with when you don’t have a home or a bathroom or money and that is the reality for thousands of homeless women everyday.

The issue even goes beyond the homeless, girls in the UK are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary products. Female pupils could be skipping up to a week of school every single month because they can’t afford sanitary products and they’re too afraid to ask for them due to the ridiculous stigma and shame still attached to periods.

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You can help.

If you don’t live local to Nottingham there is also a Monthly Gift Manchester  and many other charities that help provide period support to those that need it such as; The Homeless Period, Action Aid and Irise. Food banks are also a great place to donate.

Give it a go!

Step Up

For regular readers you will know that I am currently raising money for Labour Behind the Label who are a charity that campaigns to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. This month they launched a campaign for shoe brands to Step Up and tell us where our shoes are made.

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In 2014 24 billion pairs of shoes were produced, 87% of those shoes were made in Asia. Workers in the shoe industry face many issues from poverty pay, long working hours and denial of union rights to health and environmental risks.

 

Naga-Bai-65-years-homeworker-–-sewer-2Meet Naga Bai, a 65 year old home shoe worker from Ambur in India. For every pair of shoes she stitches, she earns just 10p. She can sew a maximum of 10 pairs per day, meaning her daily income is about £1. This is far too little to live on, a kilogram of rice costs up to 43p. As a home worker, Naga Bai is not eligible to receive any employment benefits, such as a pension or medical insurance.

 

Many shoes are made of leather that use toxic chemicals and dyes which can be dangerous to workers. Chromium 6, used in leather tanning, can cause asthma, eczema, blindness and cancer. When it transfers to the waste water it causes harmful pollution to the environment and to communities nearby.

cys2Here is Jahaj and his brother, aged 8 and 7, working in a factory where animal hides are tanned in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh. They process the raw hides into the first stage of leather. Their job is to get inside the tannery pit, which is full of hazardous chemicals and pull out the hides. They both suffer from rashes and itches. Asked why they perform such dangerous tasks, they said: “When we are hungry, acid doesn’t matter. We have to eat.”

Labour Behind the Label are calling on us to ask ‘who made our shoes’. If brands are transparent about where their shoes are being made it helps workers to claim their rights.

For example…

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Compensation – When the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, more than 1,100 garment workers were killed. But before their families could seek compensation from the brands, the brands’ labels had to be picked out of the rubble. This is because information about which brands were making clothes at those factories wasn’t publicly available. In the horrific event of another catastrophe like Rana Plaza, transparency will allow compensation to be paid for workers and their families much more quickly.

Wages and employment conditions – Knowing the average wages of workers on different grades within a factory and across similar factories would allow for a union to scrutinise whether wages are fair and enough to live on. Women homeworkers play an essential role stitching leather uppers for shoes. But they are often invisible, their rights ignored and they are at the mercy of their employer. Brands must identify and recognise homeworkers and give them the same rights as any other workers.

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What can we do?

You can sign Labour Behind the Label’s petition to call for leading UK shoe brands and retailers Schuh, Office, Faith, Debenhams, Dr Martens, Primark, Asda, Very.co.uk, Bohoo.com, Boden, Harvey Nichols and Sports Direct along with leading global shoe brands Deichmann, Camper, Prada, Birkenstock, CCC and Leder to:

  • Publish the names and addresses of all their suppliers
  • Report on progress in moving away from dangerous chemicals
  • Show that they are respecting the human rights of the people who make their shoes, ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions.

You could reduce the number of shoes you buy. An increase in fast fashion has                   drove brands to resort to using unethical practices in making shoes. Buying less                 and better quality will help to combat this.

Or you could buy from ethical shoe brands such as: