An email from India

Hi All

We’ve just got this email from Henri, in India. She’s visiting our cotton growers and manufacturers.

During the trip they have popped in to the Orphanage that we are helping to support.

 We thought that we’d share it.

“Hello…

We’ve just literally come back in from the orphanage – it was amazing! we’re all really really proud to be involved even if it’s only in a small way…they’re such great kids, all learning english, going to school, and just so so sweet. Adam and the girls absolutely loved it – really inspiring, and i think we’re all a little bit overwhelmed really. wish you could have come along too…but i’m sure you’ll be over soon enough!
 
There were about 20 of them there, another 40 at school, college etc – two real tiny tots – a 2 and half year old boy (quite literally a quarter the size of sam) and a little 5 year old girl the same size cos she’s got growth problems – so cute though…was thinking we could smuggle them into our bags when we come home? And the older kids were really lovely, one going to college doing bio-technology bsc, another doing IT, and really good people – looking after all the younger ones etc.
H xx

Adam Gibbard Photography

Shooting for frugi In India

 

Preparations are now underway for a pretty amazing job.

 
I’m off to India next week with the frugi team to cover the entire production process of Organic children’s clothing. Were starting on the farm were the cotton grows (i’m quite worried about the tigers) and all the other stages that go to creating a beautiful and ethical clothing.

 
We are going to be highlighting some issues that you may not be aware of such the effect of nasty GM farming on our lovely organic cotton farms, and the indian cotton industry as a whole. We will also be covering some of the amazing work that Frugi helps to do within the communities which they work with. We will be visiting the orphans that frugi are helping to put through education and visionary fairtrade communities. So if I don’t get eaten by a tiger expect to see some very real images on this page soon.

Working with Frugi is just fantastic, fact.

Perfect bacon sandwich

 

Ok, stay with me. This is related to organic cotton clothes and all things Frugi…honest.

BUT

I had the most amazing bacon sandwich this morning. It was made with local, organically produced, bacon, organic bread baked here at Gear Farm, and topped with one of the Frugi chicken’s organic eggs.

Quality ingredients assembled with care.

Ok, the analogy is there. We try and make Frugi like my bacon sandwich.

Happy munching

Kurt

Buying Organic cotton clothes

It’s a tricky thing, this being green and environmentally friendly. On a day-to-day level we can all turn off light bulbs, use Eco-friendly washing powder and washable nappies or Eco-disposable nappies on our babies. Clothes, however, seem to be a  slightly different matter.

You see, when it comes to buying clothes we are torn by the compulsion of desire. Good design and quality manufacturing, coupled with good branding = a great product. It is very difficult to look beyond this even if you err on the, as Jeremy Clarkson would say, Ecomentalist side!

The challenge for clothing companies is, therefore, to make their clothes both desirable and as environmentally friendly as possible. Since we started Cut4Cloth (Now Frugi) 5 years ago, the number of retailers selling, and the quality of  organic cotton clothes they sell has increased dramatically.

Gone are the itchy-scratch hippy dippy garments of the past, replaced by beautifully designed quality clothes.

This is a good thing. It means that more people will buy organic, because the clothes are desirable.  For many, the ethical aspect is an added bonus. 

What needs to happen is for all manufacturing and retailing to operate in as an environmentally friendly fashion as possible. Then, by default, consumers will be buying ‘green’ without knowing it.

Then we can all look ‘cool’ in our amazing ‘threads’…man, without having to do any tie-dying whatsoever. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that you understand….phew )

By

That dude, Kurt Jewson

Ode to Autumn 09

Sorry about this – Alex has got me started and now I can’t stop…

Ever heard tell of the Princess

With twenty mattresses, no less?

She couldn’t get to sleep, you see

Because of that annoying pea.

She tossed and turned all through the night

Now to the left, now to the right.

She counted sheep, to no avail –

That pea was harder than chain mail.

Young ladies, if you’d like a tip

On why that Princess got no kip,

It’s simple, the poor girl, I fear

Was quite bereft of Frugi gear.

Does your skin itch, or chafe, or burn?

Your clothes bring on a funny turn?

Does mother try to cram you in

To things that hurt your gentle skin?

You really should try out this stuff –

It’s soft as silk, and twice as tough.

These lovely clothes will set you free

From the discomfort of that pea.

Frugi wear was made for this –

To bring princesses lasting bliss.

 

Posted by Zoe R Frugi Customer, Crusader and poet

Child Labour

Last night’s Panorama and all the recent news following the use of child labour & Primark, has caused a bit of a stir. Kurt got a bit tearful reading the article in The Guardian, and our Frugi Crusaders have been discussing it. So I thought we should bring it to the forefront of our blog….

There are plenty of questions that have arisen. Should factories that are found to be using child labour be shut down instantly (as currently seems to be the way of ‘handling’ the situation), or is there a better way? What happens to all those children, and adults, who are suddenly unemployed? Who is at fault…are the big companies that sell the clothes to blame, or are consumers just as guilty?

If you haven’t already read/heard the news, then have a read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/22/india.humanrights
We’d be interested to know your thoughts…

Greenwash and doing it right

I came across a great little blog posting toady entitled Authenticity and reality and intention

It made me think quite a bit about running a business in an open and honest manner. There seems to be a great deal of “Greenwash” out there, which is confusing for all. (A synic would say that perhaps it’s meant to be confusing?)

Here at Frugi we are trying to do things right. In the end if you try to hoodwink people into believing that you’re something that your not, you’ll get found out…so why bother. On our site we’ve detailed our certification for all to see. How many others have done that and are open to questioning? If if they haven’t then why not?

Kurt

Answering the “I can’t afford to be green” brigade

by Diana E – Frugi Customer & Crusader

So I meet a lot of Mums in my weekly whirlwind of toddler groups and baby classes and I love chatting to them about “what being a parent is like nowadays”. Worries revolve around the things we “should” be doing as caring parents, baby massage/swimming/signing…! The list is endless and it is very easy to get absorbed by our own particular worries of baby’s developmental milestones/health problems/work-home balance. The issue of “saving the planet” seems, if not inconsequential, then at least not so close to home.

When it comes to discussing an eco-friendly lifestyle, the initial reaction I get is one of “well that’s nice if you can afford to do that, but it’s not for me”. Now roughly translated this means that green/organic/fairtrade products are viewed as having a financial premium which excludes less well-off families from joining in the great big green party!

My question is whether that is REALLY true? Do you pay for being green? Do people see our family as “rolling in it” because we take the environmental implications of our decisions into account and therefore don’t simply go for the cheapest option?

There is no doubt that you do pay more for fairly traded, chemical-free, quality organic cotton products precisely because they are fairly traded, chemical-free and organic. I do love buying new clothes for my children but I can’t afford to dress them entirely in new clothes and that is fine with me. To compensate for my purchases of new clothing I scour charity shops, nearly-new sales and other friends’ attics (with their permission!) to find clothes that will complete their wardrobe. In short, whatever I buy new I want to be ethically sourced, the rest is recycled or was a gift. I don’t think I spend any more on my children’s wardrobes than a Mum who buys a comprehensive mix’n’match selection of clothing from any one of the High Street stores for each season/size/gender.

Being green for me means not buying excessive amounts of anything, reducing waste (that includes clothes that are worn once before being grown out of!), choosing to make do with much less (the inimitable “quality not quantity” cliche). I get much more pleasure from my well thought out purchases of a few key items than a myriad of poorly made bits of tat that will not withstand the rigours of frequent washing and line-drying (do you know how many clothes say “dry out of direct sunlight”?!!!”). I am striving for those modern ideals of having a clutter-free, minimalist house where the things I surround myself with are either useful, beautiful or have sentimental value, I reckon with a following wind I should achieve that by 2020!

But really, and this goes far beyond clothing, the bottom line is this. Using borax to clean my kitchen floor IS cheaper than using a branded floor cleaner, using soda crystals and vinegar to unblock my sink IS cheaper than Mr Muscle, using collected rainwater to water my vegetables, not washing clothes if they are not dirty/smelly (gasp!)… it’s just not EASIER and it’s not the norm which means that in order to live this way you need to learn how to do it, and this excludes many because they feel they are unable to learn a new way of living.

So if you aren’t ready to take the plunge on the whole borax/vinegar thing then I have a fun suggestion, why not throw a “Clothes Swapping” Party? Invite at least a dozen friends to bring along all their old clothes that don’t fit or don’t suit and get swapping! New clothes for free! Make sure you have a cross-section of body sizes (tactfully) and ideally some nibbles/drink too! The parties I’ve thrown have been a great success and rarely does anyone leave without anything new.

I’m going to be weighing up in more detail what I think my “green” choices are costing me over this summer, so watch this space!

 

Musings on green-ness

Pistachio, pea or bottle?

by Alex C – Frugi Customer & Crusader

Let’s start with a confession.  I’m pseudo-green.  I may have a green veneer, and my friends think I’m British Racing, but underneath it all, I’m what Dulux might call ‘Hint of Apple’. 

Oh, I use cloth nappies.  I grow a lot of my own veg.  My organic veggie box comes from a farmer just up the road, and I buy my organic meat from my local butcher.  My little boy is still breastfed, despite being 15 months old, and (oh yes) I spend quite a bit of money on expensive organic clothing from Frugi, rather than the perfectly serviceable stuff from Primark. 

But (and don’t tell anyone) it’s all a sham.  I don’t do these things out of concern for the planet.  It’s a combination of laziness and guilt with a little dollop of mother’s pride (no, not the bread) that drives me on. 

Let’s take cloth nappies.  If I was truly green, I would use nappies made from a sustainable natural fibre which doesn’t need pesticides to grow well.  Bamboo and hemp both fit the bill.  I’d select those made in the UK, or at least in Europe, to reduce the air miles and my carbon footprint.  I’d wash them at 40 degrees, perhaps with a tiny amount of eco-friendly non-bio and some vinegar.  They’d be dried on the line, of course. 

Do I do this?  Um…..well no.  Poor old Oliver has finest quality oil-dependent polyester on his bum, dyed lurid colours, probably using carcinogenic azo dyes, by Mexicans who are probably on the minimum wage.  The nappies are then sent to the US, then to the UK, then to me.  They’ve seen more of the world than their owner ever has. 

But  – and here’s the thing – I USE them.  They are easy.  They fit well. They wash well (though I insist on another eco-crime of a 60 degree cycle and some Persil).  They dry in a matter of minutes, either outside, on the radiator or (tut tut) in the tumble dryer.  They don’t give Oli a rump the size of a small planet, so he doesn’t need special trousers. 

And on the subject of clothing, Oli is usually clad in second-hand clothes from an NCT nearly new sale (if you’re a parent who’s never been to one of these – GO!).  I tell myself this is eco-friendly – after all, these clothes might have ended up in landfill – but I do wonder if this is outweighed by the fact that some of these second hand bargains are undoubtedly made by children in sweatshops in the Far East from fibres which have been drenched in chemicals.  Frugi gear is a bit different, of course – organic cotton and fairly paid workers, though they’re still in India.  Nice though that is, it’s the fact the stuff needs little or no ironing that makes it attractive – my laziness again. 

Life is a balancing act.  Being green in one way often means sacrificing green-ness in another.  I went on holiday recently – a flight (boo!) albeit a short one.  Did I take cloth nappies along?  No – I wasn’t going to spend my time handwashing them in gallons of water.  Did I take the more environmentally friendly disposables along?  Well no; I reasoned it would have increased the emissions from the aircraft too much, not to mention maxed out our baggage allowance.  I bought Pampers once we arrived, and mentally flogged myself all week. 

I could go on.  I breastfeed because it’s cheap and convenient, not because it’s eco-sound.   My organic veggie box is delivered because I can’t be bothered to lug potatoes around the shops.  In short, I am a fraud. 

But underneath my pseudo-green veneer, there may, just possibly, be a redeeming feature.  It’s not a big one, but it’s this:  I try to think.  I don’t always do what I should, but when I commit one of my frequent eco-sins, I stand in a corner and think about what I’ve done!  It doesn’t always stop me doing the same thing again, of course, but one day, when the angel on my shoulder has pricked my conscience yet again, it just might.

So who knows, there may just be a deep green core in this hint of apple!

Alex C – Frugi Customer & Crusader