Nowadays, people are much more of what they're buying – most of us want to buy well and be as environmentally friendly as we can, especially when it comes to our home interiors that we have to live with all year round. However, it can be difficult to know where to begin. A great place to start is looking out for a Fairtrade mark, but what exactly is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade-certified products guarantee that a minimum price goes to the hardworking farmers in developing countries and also adds an additional fee for social development projects including education, health and gender equality in their local communities. So it's worthwhile looking out for, particularly when it comes to farmed products like food, cotton, and tea and coffee.
To celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight (February 25 until March 10) we’ve rounded up some of our favourite sustainable Irish brands, some working with Fairtrade farms around the world, while others source a bit closer to home, focusing on finding local raw materials and creating as organically as possible.
The idea of White & Green was created at a dinner party in Co Wicklow a few years ago when interior designer Sari Winckworth was voicing her frustration with her daughters, Rebecca, Danielle and Andrea, about the lack of chemical-free bed linen in the market.
After a year researching the industry, coming up with the best designs and finding the right partners to help realise their vision, the Winckworth family now work directly with organic cotton farmers and their Fairtrade factory in India, combining classic designs with the finest cotton and master craftsmanship, to create quality bedding that is made to last.
Creator Lindi Campbell Clause is a third-generation Kenyan with an Irish background now living and working between Ireland and Kenya. She has partnered with the Hadithi Crafts helping them with their mission to support the traditional basket weaving communities of the Tsavo region in Kenya.
This community-based organisation works with over six-hundred women, nurturing their traditional weaving skills and supporting them in finding markets for their baskets and actively searching for ways to showcase these traditional artworks around the globe and to tell the stories of these resilient women and their incredible artistic talents. You'll find The Village Workshop wares at the Dublin Fleas or direct from their website.
Original, organic and Fair Trade are the principles behind Sandymount store, Mira Mira.“I worked for a short time in Nepal with manufacturers and saw first-hand how beneficial investment in communities and their skill sets can be. As a result, I ensure I work with companies that have an ethical trading policy, that there is no child labour in manufacturing and that sustainability, environmental impact and quality are central to their ethos” explains owner Bronwyn Thomson.
Her travels have influenced her taste, which she describes as eclectic. “I love colour and pattern so it's pretty crazy sometimes.” Lifestyle plays a part too and since becoming a mum, the store's offering has moved from soft furnishings, lighting, gifts and occasional furniture “mostly reclaimed wood and metal pieces from India” to include children's bedding, clothing and toys.”
According to Bunny and Clyde, innovative design and sustainability go hand-in-hand. The brand first came about after the three co-founders, Lucy, Natalie and Margaritte, fell pregnant simultaneously and decided to create a range of timeless heirloom nursery furniture using non-toxic materials to ensure each piece is as kind to little ones as it can be. “By using safe natural materials and finishes we ensure not only a healthy planet but also promote healthy homes," they explain.
All the materials used come from nature, making their products either recyclable, renewable or biodegradable along with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certification, this ensures that their wood has come from forests that are sustainable and responsibly harvested. Each product is handmade in Ireland with every effort to eliminate wasteful practices in terms of resources, labour, and materials, by only producing according to demand.
“At Fairthreads, we believe that there is an opportunity to improve the lives of those that manufacture our goods.” Fairthreads is owned and operated by Michael Guiney Ltd who has been involved in sourcing homewares and fashion products since 1971. The idea for Fairthreads came from the documentary True Cost, which focuses on fast fashion and consumerism and the impact that it is having on developing countries and the environment. Fairthreads source fabrics that has been manufactured in a completely transparent supply chain.
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Stable of Ireland are known for producing beautiful Irish textiles and accessories that nod to our heritage, but are at the same time completely contemporary. Each week, founders Francie Duff and Sonia Reynolds hit the road and visit one of their 17 fabric suppliers, who are dotted around the island. The small independent brand and shop create products that don’t bow to fads or trends, but are designed to be handed down through generations. After spending years building relationships with makers and manufacturers, the duo know each person involved in their products’ creation personally, and source their cashmere from nearby Scotland.