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How to be an ethical shopper

Know your logos, sustainability and is your fave brand a goodie or a baddie? Georgie Hopkins of Wincanton's fair trade furniture biz Myakka, shares her tips on ethical shopping

man and woman

Georgie Hopkins and Simon Whitehead have been working with small family-run artisans and manufacturers in India, Vietnam and Thailand for around 20 years to create Myakka‘s collection of globally-inspired, handmade fair trade furniture and other decorative bits and bobs.

garden table and chairs and bench

Committed to building good and long-lasting relationships with suppliers, their ethos is simple: treat other people the way you’d want to be treated yourself. Be genuine, useful, honest and responsible, in terms of the products themselves, how they’re sourced, the suppliers, as well as the impact on the environment.

men planting trees

Simon visiting the Myakka sheesham replanting programme in Hikar, India

Fair Trade is all about decent working conditions, market prices and fair trade terms for producers and makers in the developing world. If you choose where to spend your money carefully, you can make a real difference.

Look for logos

fairtrade logos

Easypeasy: the Fairtrade logo means that whoever made/grew/built the product was paid a sustainable living wage.  Green & Black’s Maya Gold (yum) was the first product to bear the symbol but you’ll find it on over 4,500 products including tea, coffee, bananas, flowers, spices, spices – and gold (handy).

Other labels include WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation) and BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers).

Carpets and rugs with a GoodWeave label means that no child, forced or bonded labour was used to make the product.

How ethical is your favourite shop or brand?

See how some of the high street and best-known online brands score on The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Company Index. Everything from energy through food and drink to fashion and beauty products. Fascinating reading.

Sustainable woods

Solid wood furniture can be an investment but check what it is and where it’s from. Look for fast-growing woods grown on sustainable plantations like sheesham and monkey pod or mango – the ultimate sustainable hardwood – which comes from mature trees felled after they stop producing fruit. Recycled wood’s another option, but check that it’s been responsibly sourced.

brightly coloured armchairs and sofa

Sustainable clobber

Do you need to buy new? Consider pre-loved. Look for natural fibres made by companies with green credentials. Buy well and make it last.

Buy bamboo

If you’ve ever had it in your garden you’ll know that bamboo grows super fast, so fast that it can replenish itself in a season – very eco-friendly. Strong and hardwearing, it can be turned into everything from furniture via toothbrushes to a pair of socks.

Myakka Fair Trade Day offer

To celebrate World Fair Trade Day, Myakka are offering a discount on these baskets handwoven by hand from natural kaisa grass growing  in the fields surrounding the weavers’ homes in Bangladesh.

The Kaisi Sari Rectangular Basket was £34 now £26; the Kaisa Sari D-Laundry Basket was £59 now £49 and the Kaisa Sari Round Berber Basket was £39 now £32. Available until midnight on Mon 24 May.


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