product of my past

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Posts Tagged ‘ethical consumerism

Ubuntu International Project: redefining African fashion?

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In this world, there are two kinds of people: those who see how far we’ve come and those who are fixated by how far we still have to travel.

At the Ubuntu International Project showcase at Vauxhall Fashion Scout,  I was unfortunately one of the latter. The show got off to a turbulent start, running close to an hour late and then frustrations growing as people jostled for seats. By the time the lights came down and Nelson Mandela’s voice rang out, defining the ‘ubuntu’ concept: “I am what I am because of who we all are,” my expectations were high but my patience was low.

The show got off to a good start with Clinton Lotter‘s collection of dogtooth shift dresses, fitted jackets, pencil skirts and finger gloves in black and forest greens. Fashion for sinister ladies-who-lunch. But soon I was more bemused than blown away. Jewellery by Frankli Wild was by turn both fascinating and – from the third row – somewhat reminiscent of a crafts project: all golf balls, copper wire and brightly coloured stones. By the end, I concluded that the show would have probably been be better appreciated with my eyes closed as I couldn’t fault the music but had no shortage of criticique for the designs. Read the rest of this entry »


Making the case for organic cotton

CC Yosef Hadar / World Bank

On Friday, 9 September, I hosted the Africa Fashion Guide book launch on behalf of its author, Jacqueline Shaw. The evening consisted of two panel discussions, the first on ethical fashion and the second on African fashion. The latter sparked debate about what is ‘African fashion’? Was is style over substance without a satisfactory focus on developing skill in garment making or in building an industry. My views on this will be blogged later.

But what also came across from the former was how little people understood the benefits of ethical fashion. Like the general public, much of the audience – though involved in the fashion in some way – were uncertain about how organic cotton, for example, differed from conventional and what the point  was. Last year, I wrote a piece for the Ecologist highlighting the development benefits of organic cotton. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eliza

September 26, 2011 at 1:40 am

Food vs Fuel – the truth about biofuels in Africa

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Whoever said the truth shall set you free forgot to mention that you first have to find out what the truth is and that’s dirty work. On the biofuel vs food security debate, it’s difficult to grasp hold of the truth amid the hyperbole, the passion, the barrage of facts and the evidence of environmental gain or of human loss.

In early May 2011, the NGO Action Aid published a report entitled Fuelling Evictions: community cost of EU biofuels boom. The tone the report sets is one of a David versus Goliath face-off. The underdogs being some 20,000 people living in the Dakatcha woodlands of Kenya, an area held in trust for the communities by Malindi County Council and earmarked by the Italian-owned biofuels company Nuoze Iniziative Industriali, (through its subsidiary Kenya Jatropha Energy) for the cultivation of 50,000 hectares of jatropha.

Jatropha, touted in 2007 by Scientific American as “green gold in a shrub” because it “seems to offer all the benefits of biofuels without the pitfalls,” by 2009 had lost some of its shine. Thought to be able to thrive on marginal lands, and therefore pose no competition to cultivation for human consumption, an early study by Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies found that while jatropha can indeed grow on lands with minimal water and poor nutrition, “if you plant trees in a marginal area, and all they do is just not die, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get a lot of oil from them.”

So back to present day and jatropha has been steadily replacing food crops in communities from Senegal to Kenya, with devastating effect. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eliza

May 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Week one of Carbon Fast – the importance of being ernest

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CC Ian Britton, Freefotouk

I have long been a supporter of Tearfund: posting in campaign cards, obediently – if infrequently – praying about poverty, corruption and poor governance and buying adorable trinkets I have no use for whatsoever from their ethical gifts site.

So when I was asked to join in the Carbon Fast over lent, I leapt at the opportunity – both to populate my new blog and to finally take concrete steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

In my mind it seemed easy enough to take up the challenge to do small acts that would help reduce your carbon footprint: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eliza

March 17, 2011 at 8:06 am