Monday, 23 July 2012

Feel Good Online Shopping with Ethical Living

I'm sure many of us can recall being frustrated at the lack of ethical products available in large department stores and shopping centres. We can also all remember feeling saddened at some stage by the hardships faced by people in developing countries and their daily struggle to survive in unforgiving circumstances. However it's rare that we feel empowered to take action and start making a difference. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sara from Ethical Living, who is taking that extra step in order to help create a better future. 

Q. What inspired you to create the Ethical Living online store?

Only recently I went to our local shopping mall and tried to buy a handbag. A task I thought would be quite simple. I didn’t really have any style in mind, however it had to be sweat shop free. I was very disappointed in the result of not being able to find a single bag! In addition to this I have two young girls who I want to grow up in a world without slavery, child labour, poverty and human trafficking. All of which are much more common than I first thought.

I started Ethical Living to offer an alternative to consumers, with the hope of one day making ethically produced products mainstream and readily available in local shopping centres.

Beak to Tail Carry Bag supplied by the fair trade organisation SHOHOJOGITA , a Bangladesh word which means “helping each other”

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the positive impacts of buying Fairtrade items?

Fairtrade items give people in terrible situations the opportunity to access basic items and services which we all take for granted. They provide the artisans funds to purchase food, housing and medical treatment for themselves and their families. 

Handmade Owl Paper created by artisans employed by Eastern Screen Printers, located in Saidpur, Northern Bangladesh
One of the organisations we purchase from is currently building a school for poor children in India and looks after 9 orphaned children. This type of community involvement isn’t achieved through typical sweat shop produced items.

Q. Do you think Australians are becoming more aware of the consequences of their purchasing decisions?

There are a large number of ethically minded consumers and the group is growing. It would be wonderful to see ethically produced items become part of mainstream shopping and available in large department stores.  We hope to work with other organisations to eventually make this a reality.

Q. Do you have a favourite item in store right now?

I love this multi-strand turquoise necklace. It’s great at adding a little colour to an outfit and it’s made by women who have been rescued from sexual exploitation. 

Q. What steps has Ethical Living taken to reduce its own ecological footprint?

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our processes to ensure we have the least environmental impact possible. Currently we use as much recycled and reusable packaging as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to find space to store all of the donated boxes and tissue paper we receive for packaging.
Our carry bags are also handmade from recycled newspaper and string. With all of the profit from these bags being donated to charity.

Many of our products are also made from recycled materials. Just to name a few, we currently have handbags made from recycled fruit punch packaging which would have otherwise have been sent to landfill. We also have a range of jute toys which as completely biodegradable.

Baby Jute Giraffe supplied by Siham Craftlink who are working toward empowering crafts people in the developing world through fair trade

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

I take most of my inspiration from stories of survival. People who are able to overcome such difficulties in their lives and still find the strength to change their lives and help others are truly inspiring.

The Starfish Project has beautiful stories of courage and strength from ladies who were sold into sexual exploitation and have since been rescued. They make the most amazing
jewellery to support the work they do in rescuing other women. 

Coconut Shell Multi-Strand Necklace made by the Starfish Project, which is committed to restoring hope for each woman that enters its doors
Q. What does the future hold for Ethical Living?

We are currently in the process of increasing the range of products we stock to include even more jewellery and fashion accessories. We are also looking to supply a children's clothing range.

It’s great to be able to support a wider range of organisations and so exciting to see such support for fair trade and ethically produced items. 

You can also find Ethical Living on Facebook and Twitter  

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Eco-Fashionistas, Lend Me Your Ears!

I've encountered some extraordinary ethical earrings perfect for the elegant and the ecochic and I wanted to share them with you.

I hope you enjoy this exclusive and eclectic mix ranging from the ephemeral to the exotic!

Are you excited?

Light Bulb Earrings by POT Lab - These brilliant earrings were handmade in Italy using recycled light bulbs formerly used in toys and torches!
Diamond Snowflake Earrings from Brilliant Earth - These dazzling earrings feature conflict-free diamonds
Paisley Leaf Earrings by Real Jewels -These deliciously designed earrings have been crafted from 100% recycled silver
Huarayo Earrings by A Peace Treaty - These are just beautiful and very flattering! A Peace Treaty employs artisans with above fair trade wages and invests in creating income generation opportunities for out-of-work artisans, disabled and widowed women
Eco-elegant Earrings by Twice Creations - These funky accessories were created using discarded plastic milk containers - a waaay better reincarnation than landfill!
Buzzed Paper Earrings by Crumple - I love the amazing hand drawn design on these recyclable paper earrings...bee-utiful ;o)
Bunny Love Earrings by One Happy Leaf - Tee hee! It's bunnies with love hearts on their butts!! :D Oh yeah and I guess I should also mention that they're snuggled onto sustainable bamboo wood
Arrow Earrings by Hannah Naomi - Handmade by a US designer who works with recycled materials to create something exceptional
Little Piece Large Drops Reversible Earrings by Kylie Gartside - The stunning design was inspired by the Jacaranda tree in the artist's backyard which was then cut into recycled sterling silver
Beaded Zipper Earrings by FabTabulous -Stand-out from the crowd with these upcycled beauties
Angel's Wings Earrings by La Jewellery - These delightfully unique leaf-inspired earrings have been handmade from 100% recycled silver
Woven Camellia Earrings by Polli - These dainty flowers have been crafted from 75% recycled stainless steel by a low CO2 company
Mohican Earring by Emma Ware - For a fabulously strong individual look I recommend this single earring handmade from reclaimed materials
Deepta Flower Earrings from People Tree - Everyday is spring with these lovely flower motif earrings made in India under fair trade conditions
Gold Elephant Earrings from Cheeky Monkey - Popular with eco-conscious celebrities these exciting elephants are made from recycled 10 karat gold
Unique by LerènieS Contemporary Art Jewelry - These earrings live up to their name! Lovingly made from recycled paper by inspiring artist Maria Francesca Batzella
Confetti Earrings by The Leakey Collection - These fun fair trade candy-coloured earrings are made from Zulugrass, which has been harvested by community groups in Kenya
Recycled Pencil Earrings by Zincwhite - Ah! Such a cute idea! The designers rescue waste pencils straight from the factory and upcycle them into a happy new life on your earlobes :D
Cherry Pea Pod Earrings by T_Design - SO darling! Loving these handmade clay earrings with a dash of cherry flavoured cheekiness
Long Earrings by Gina Melosi -This extremely chic look has been created using black Ruthenium plated on recycled bronze; with recycled sterling silver posts and sterling silver liquid chain drop
Circles of Light Drop Earrings by Christy Fisher - Made from reclaimed old bottles these lovely earrings remind me of viewing portholes at an aquarium
Angel Wing Stud Earrings by Nissa Jewelry - Feel like you've stepped out of Greek mythology with these gorgeous wings made entirely from recycled metals
The Circe Earrings by Epheriell - Sustainable designer Jessica Van Den has created something simple yet striking
Perched Birds from Funky Jewellery and Bags - These artisan created earrings are ADORABLE!
Fern Leaf Drop Earrings by Hovey Lee - These sculptural earrings were inspired by nature and were made from reclaimed brass
Grace Stud Earrings by Kimberley Selwood -These sublime roses have been elegantly crafted from recycled silver. Stunning!
Yellow Paper Dangle Earrings by Ginny's Boutique - These deliciously quirky earrings were created using recycled paper beads, antique sheet music and Swarovski crystal. Putting a new spin on the phrase "music to my ears" ;o)
Remember Studs by Mel White - Symbolising the essence of 'memory', these recycled silver studs will help you look unforgettable!
Fabric Studs by KooKooCraft - These fresh one-of-a-kind studs have been handmade using scrap fabric
Zipper Pull Earrings by Zipper Design - Not looking for anything too frou-frou? Digging the industrial aesthetic? Then you'll love these upcycled earrings!
Econut Leaf Earrings by Khmer Creations - LOVING these tropical island-esque earrings which have been handmade by a small group of high school students from subsistence farming families in rural Chamka Bai Village, Cambodia. By creating beautiful coconut jewellery, these girls are able to earn enough money to continue their schooling
(1) Retro Sun Earrings (2) Small Teardrop Sitting Hare Earrings by Oria Ethical Jewellery - Loving the eye-catching designs in recycled sterling silver from artists Tania Kowalski and Synnove Saelthun
Gato Earrings from Artisan Life - Vibrant handmade earrings inspired by Pre-Columbian designs and ancestral artisan techniques
Silica Shard Earrings by Oceanides - I really love this distinctive design inspired by a species of marine plankton which has a glass skeleton
Warrior Earrings by Valentina Kova - An intense and visually appealing design with 10% of the proceeds going toward art programs in New York City public elementary schools
Red Reflector Earrings by LifeCycle - What a brilliant use for discarded bicycle reflectors! Adds a lovely dash of colour to your eco-chic look
Meow Kitty Cat Earrings by Redwinged Blackbirds - EEEeee these are purrfectly charming earrings made using upcycled mini scrabble tiles and a vintage comic strip
(1) Teal Tea Porcelain Earrings (2) Let Go Porcelain Earrings by Mrs Peterson Pottery - I'm extremely fond of the delightful and thought-provoking handmade designs of this Blue Mountains artist
Vegetable Salad by Deko Projects - These cool and quirky creations are made from recycled plastic shampoo bottles
Blue Tagua Drop Earrings from Knots & Stones - These 'vegetable ivory' earrings are so chic! Knots & Stones promotes fair trade practices and works with artisans based in South America
Twist Pavé Diamond Earrings by Jessica Poole - These stunningly elegant earrings have been crafted from 18ct Fairtrade and Fairmined ecological white gold
Shake It Earrings by Miss Maggie's Place - These sugar sweet earrings have been created from upcycled soft drink cans. Great for casual summer outfits!
Inner Tube Earrings by Becycle Trashion Jewellery - A funky option made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes
Pawai Bay Earrings by Green Diva Jewellery - These ocean inspired earrings have been made with Fair Trade flourite and 100% recycled sterling and fine silver
Silver Spiral Drop Earrings by Courtney Gillen - These extremely versatile earrings are made from 100% recycled sterling silver
Makassa Ceramic Bead Earrings by Projeck Tabitha - These handmade beads were glazed and fired by a small group of women in a village in Sarawak
Beige Jute Natural Earrings from RMS Jewels - Vintage 1960s clip-on earrings are a fab option for the non-pierced eco-fashionista
Bohemian 15 Earrings by Calico Juno - I really like the intricate, stained-glass window meets vegetation design
Porcelain Blue Flower Earrings by Two Birds Four Hands - So affable and pretty! I love that each ear gets its own cheerful complementary yet unique design
Turquoise, Yellow and White Drop Earrings by Rachel Essex - Rachel has used vintage beads to create a scientifically stylish molecular look
Leaf Drop Earrings by Jade Gedeon - Looking at these I'm transported to another time and place with secret walled gardens and mysteries to be solved. The exquisite leaves are crafted from recycled brass
Marti Earrings by Joanna Cave - Such a graceful feminine design! These pale pink earrings have been made with a minimum of 90% recycled silver
Vinyl Record Earrings by Les Creations d'Ana - Wear these super trendy upcycled accessories while you listen to your favourite DJ set at that club you like
Oceane Earrings by Dirty Librarian Chains - These outgoing and bubbly earrings are made up of items rescued from shuttered jewelry factories in the North East United States
Woven Black Circle Flower Earrings by Green Tree - The detail in these recycled wood earrings is so lovely!
Owl Penny Stud Earrings by Studio La Touche -Oh so cuuute handmade repurposed penny earrings featuring the presence of the ever-popular owl
Hot Cocoa Tin Can Earrings by Anna Johannson - Made from vintage blue-and-white Dutch cocoa tin cans, these earrings are remarkably beautiful!
Fox and Rabbit Cameo Earrings by Bird of Play - These delightful bamboo critters must go to a loving home!
Turquoise Strength Earrings by October Anniversary - Turquoise stones were chosen for their reputed ability to heal and were set into recycled antiqued bronze
Each Other Hoop Earrings by Mel White - Each recycled silver hoop has a different extraordinary ecochic charm which have been designed to fit together
Orange Fan Earrings by Mata Traders - Loving the playful nature of these fair trade earrings which have been handmade by a women's artisan group in India
Cottage Earrings by Hippie Kingdom - Oh my! I CUTE
Mini Heart Earrings by BeauCoco - These lovable hearts were made by a disabled group located on the remote island of Rodrigues in the Inidan Ocean
Silver Star Dangle Earrings by Ruff & Cut - How could you not feel stunning with silver stars adorning your ears? Made from certified recycled sterling silver and 10% of the proceeds go toward Ruff & Cut's charity partners
Sea Foam Beach Glass Post Earrings by Sour Is By The Sea Glass - I love the ethereal quality of sea glass and the subtle hints of a secret past!
Petal Wing Earrings by Susan Suh - The combined inspiration of petals and wings have led this New York designer to create a stunning piece of wearable art. These earrings have been handmade from recycled sterling silver and have been enhanced with glimmering peridots (my birthstone!)
Gold Wink Earrings by Fifi Bijoux - These attractive and unusual etched circle earrings are made from 9ct fair trade gold
Vintage Floral Stud Earrings by Starlight Woods - Made from a fallen tree branch, these one-of-a-kind earrings are both darling and distinctive
Gear Stud Earrings by Tirana Jewellery - This innovative designer takes items she has discovered such as machine parts and creates molds which are then reproduced in recycled precious metals