Team Hope + Anchor made big plans for 2017: We vowed to look after ourselves and the world better, by shopping in a more ethical way.
Our new approach to shopping has been rewarding but time consuming. There are helpful organisations online that rate brands by their environmental, social, and political approach, but often disagree with each other. Ethical accreditations have also been useful, but we routinely disappear into a 'what actually counts as ethical' wormhole. Many companies don't publicly take an ethical stance, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are worse than the ones that do. We’ve had some successes (Riverford organic veg - turnips and all, clothes from ethical brand People Tree) but more epic failures (Pampers nappies are very effective, Amazon is really rather convenient, and fast fashion is a difficult habit to break).
A recent project looking at the future of charity shops for Oxfam, invigorated our interest in ethical shopping once again. Among the people we interviewed, we met a sizeable group who liked charity shop shopping because they felt they were doing good while they shopped. While the thrill of random finds and low prices were also important, buying something from Oxfam meant money going to a good cause, supporting Fairtrade (through buying from Oxfam’s new product range), and less waste going to landfill. Like many of us, many of them found ethical shopping difficult and complex, and Oxfam offered them a simple, guilt-free solution to buying freely.
Working with Oxfam renewed our enthusiasm for our ethical crusade, and got us thinking. Aside from the best known ethical brands and of course Oxfam, who else is out there, making shopping for good a little easier? Here are our top five:
Veja: If they are good enough for Emma Watson...ecologically sound and fairtrade footwear made in Brazil and France.
Hiut Denim: A brilliant brand story and great jeans too: They are made using traditional techniques in the Welsh town of Cardigan, by skilled craft people who were left behind when a long-established jean factory closed down.
Gather & See: Sourced from ethical fashion designers from around the world, Gather & See offer a curated collection that is fashion-led but sustainably made.
Ecoffee: These are inexpensive and an alternative to using disposable cups with your daily/hourly coffee. Light, robust and designed to fit in your handbag, you give them to the barista each time you order a takeout drink. These can halt a whole lot of landfill and are also nice to hold.
Matt and Nat: Matt and Nat’s motto is to live beautifully. Inspired by nature, they create bags from sustainable materials including recycled nylons and plastic bottles, cardboard, rubber and cork. Fashionable and guilt free for vegans too.