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Archive for March, 2010

The midas touch?

Not long after I posted about the new fairtrade standards that are going to be introduced for gold mining I logged onto BBC iPlayer to catch up on the first episode of the travel show ‘Tropic of Cancer’ – oh how relevant!

The presenter, Simon Reeve, begins the series in Mexico and stops along the way at the tiny village of Cerro de San Pedro (St Peters Rock) Which hundreds of years ago built up because of the presence of gold in the area.

The villagers recount how a couple of years ago a Canadian company came and started mining close to the village. From the village side all you can see are huge walls and the fact that the mountain behind is half the size that it was and a huge mound of rubble (when we say huge, the size of the mountian…) has been built up alongside it.

They tell of how because of the explosions their houses are falling apart around them but there is nothing they can do. Any protests aginst the mining are met with hostility, vandalism and violence from the workers of the mine (also locals)

It isnt until the camera is allowed to visit the mine that you see the extent of the problem

The cluster of buildings in the background is the town – completely dwarfed by the mine!

This is why we need safe, environmentally friendly mining practices, and standards of working, agreement with local parties and profits going back into local communities.

So lets make a decision to buy only the most ethical gold, or recycled where possible – hurry up CRED with the certification!

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In our features on rings a short while ago we were able to talk about recycled gold, but not about Fairtrade, as no such certification exsisted. Well, that is about to change.

This week CRED made a great announcement. Here is what they have to say:

Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have announced the long-awaited launch of the first international independent third-party certification for gold production. The new Fairtrade and Fairmined standards will mean that millions of impoverished artisanal small-scale miners around the world will be able to receive independent certification and recognition for their efforts, bringing economic security to millions of families and their communities around the world.

Here at CRED we have long recognised the value in knowing exactly where our gold comes from, the way it was mined and all the hands it has passed through. Along with our mining partners Oro Verde™ we have championed the cause of the artisanal miner and the Fair Trade approach that seeks to put control back in the hands of the producer and pay a Fair Price for their work.

CRED are founder members of ARM, and CRED Founder Greg Valerio has been instrumental in seeing this new standard completed, working closely with FLO, ARM and all other parties involved. We are delighted for him and for everyone involved, and look forward to the great benefits this standard will bring to the mining communities that form ARM, and the many more around the world that will be brought in.

Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will guarantee a minimum price, creating security for producing communities. It will include a 10% Social Premium that will support the education and development of entire communities, and a further 5% Ecological Premium will be payable to miners that extract gold without the use of chemicals. Miners like CRED partners and ecological champions Oro Verde™.

Oro Verde™ have been producing independently-certified artisanal gold for over 7 years. They have worked hard to develop gold production that uses no chemicals, protects the environment and supports the continual development of producing communities. Oro Verde’s model was the inspiration and prototype used to produce the Fairtrade and Fairmined standard. As such Oro Verde™ will be first in line to be certified.

CRED continue to produce truly ethical jewellery in Oro Verde™ Fair Trade gold. Our Eden Wedding Rings and the sumptuous Penelope Collection by Annabel Panes are the latest examples of CRED’s pioneering journey towards excellence in design and ethics. With CRED and Oro Verde™ you can buy with confidence knowing that our jewellery is the fairest attainable.”

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The John Lewis partnership – a top choice for many couples wedding gift list – has won the 2010 Retailer of the Year award from the Homes & Gardens Classic Design Awards. For the second year running John Lewis pipped other giants Marks & Spencer and Laura Ashley to the post.

Retailers play a key role in British design, searching out the new and gently influencing the tastes of their customers. This award aims to celebrate a retailer that has most successfully captured the hearts and minds of readers of Homes & Gardens.

Homes & Gardens tells us why John Lewis deserve the award:
‘The key to John Lewis’s success is that, despite all the economic turbulence of the past two years, it has continued to expand and innovate both on the high street and online. It is also focused on refining its offerings; last autumn the retailer launched new furniture, bedlinen and accessories that were collaborations with designers such as Neisha Crosland, Nick Munro, Matthew Hilton and Sebastian Conran. The result is that John Lewis appeals not just to its traditional following, but also to a new generation drawn to the dynamic nature of this innovative retailer.’

Other things we love about John Lewis are that they have truly embraced the need for more sustainable design, offering a range of environmentally friendly products including recycled glass crockery and organic cotton bedlinen to name a couple – but there is still a long way to go!

If you are considering John Lewis for your wedding gift list, let us know why below.

See details of the other winners here.

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Come and get inspired for your forthcoming wedding at UK Aware this April.

From organic wine suppliers to natural mosquito repellants for your honeymoon, there is a wealth of information and ideas for your wedding at UK Aware, plus a dedicated Eco-Chic Weddings speaker session on Saturday 17th April.

An panel of experts in planning ethical and green weddings and honeymoons will be presenting inspirational ideas and answering your questions on all aspects. The panel includes:

– Jen Marsden, author of ‘Green Guide to Weddings
– Katie Fewings, founder of Ethical Weddings
– Niki Clarke, founder of Wedding Notebook
– Laura Greenscape, founder of EcoEscape
– *A soon-to-be-announced special guest*

The UK Aware show, held at London Olympia, is the largest show dedicated to showcasing sustainable lifestyle ideas and suppliers. From the Green motors expt and massive fashion clothes swap, this years show will also include a fashion show by stylist to the stars, Lupe Castro.

Here are some of the great suppliers who can help you with your wedding:
– Organic wines from Vintage Roots
– Plan your honeymooning travels with EcoEscape (who also know some great UK wedding venues)
– Get naturally covered for the tropical trip with Incognito mosquito repellant (remember them from Dragons Den?)
– Browse gifts for your independent gift-list at the Traidcraft stand
– Get your skin looking glorious with a natural skincare regime from Tamu

SAVE £4 – Get your tickets to the show for a discounted £6

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The supermarkets have been vying for our attention recently with their green products and ethical fashion collaborations – I’m not saying they are green-washing, as I feel that each small step that each of us takes can add up to making a difference.

If we support these ventures and they prove popular, hopefully it will show the retailers that green & ethical is the way forward – such as Sainsbury making ALL their bananas fairtrade…

So what has caught our attention recently?

Tesco up-cycled fashion range

Using unsold products from their Florence + Fred clothing range, Tesco have collaborated with ethical designer brand ‘From Somewhere’ to upcycle  these peices, creating new outfits and pieces from the unused fabric and parts of the old, rather than it ending up in landfill.

From Somewhere, along with Junky Styling and Traid, have been pioneering the upcycling movement, creating desirable outfits from cast-offs, or pieces we have become bored with. (Orsola de Castro, the designer behind the brand also created the dress Livia Firth wore to the oscars this weekend, made from scraps of fabrics left-over from designers collections – read about it on her Vogue blog)

Upcycled putfits are usually at the higher end of the price market due to the one-off nature and all the hand-sewing and constuction that goes into each piece. However, this new Tesco range, being sold exclusively online, will offer a similar concept at more affordable prices due to the fact that for the first time a retailer is able to put volume behind the concept.

Check out the video about the concept, the super-eco factory and interviews with the designers.

Be inspired to upcycle your own outfits, rather than discarding and buying new when you are trying to save for a wedding! Get together with friends to see what fabrics and shapes you can pull together and re-make.
M&S plantable chocolate wrapper

Ok, so it isn’t a bar you pick up for 50p, but a ‘box’ of chocolates that you would give for a gift, but still, a step in the right direction. M&S have launched, just in time for Mothering Sunday, a box of chocolates, of which the box is made from seeded paper and when planted will see a variety of flowers loved by butterflies pop up- double whammy gift – chocolate and flowers!

And now is the ideal time to plant seeds for summer flowering, so it is the ideal gift for someone between now and may (during the planting period!)

It is possibe to buy seeded paper, and is popular for wedding invitations and thank-you cards, so you could re-reate this idea yourself for favour ideas, rather than spend £4.99 on each guest…

Let us know what you think about the Tesco clothing range and the M&S chocolate wrapper, or any other supermarket initiatives, below…

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The good-old British weather – beautifully unpredicatable, and we love it, or at least talking about it!

But for those who have dreamt of an outdoor wedding, there is just no-way to ensure the weather in ol’ Blighty…

But one way of getting the outdoor feel without worrying about providing enough umbrellas, is to hold the event in a greenhouse. Not the one your Dad grows the tomatoes in, but on a grand scale, such as at Kew gardens or the Eden project.

The Temperate house at Kew gardens in London is the largest Victorian glasshouse, and is perfect for a wedding reception. Dine surrounded by tropical plants – it is beautiful when lit at night. However, if this is out of budget you could hire one of the smaller venues and hold a cocktail reception in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Couples who are dreaming of a luscious rainforest backdrop for their wedding day, but who don’t want the carbon footprint of flying to the tropics, can now tie the knot in the beautiful surroundings of the Eden Project. Choose from the tropical jungle of the Rainforest Biome or the fragrance of the Mediterranean Biome, depending on the theme of your wedding.

The Eden project grows organic food on site, so you can have delicious food with a seasonal banquet with a strong focus on locally-produced food. The in-house wedding organisers can help you decide on cake, flowers & wedding favours, as well as show you the beautiful photo locations, such as the biomes at night, where the reflections of the lights give the effect of a star-lit sky, whatever time of year.

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