I like to think that I live quite ethically, I’m vegetarian and eat organic and local produce when I can. All of my beauty, shower and house cleaning products are green and plastic and cruelty free. My baby wears biodegradable nappies and I buy all the families clothes from ethical companies or second hand.
But one thing I’ve never thought about is the stuff that I use when on my period, I generally just go for the same brands of tampons or pads over and over at the supermarket without thinking that there might be alternatives that are better for me AND cheaper.
When looking to buy new ethical clothes people tend to go for organic cotton, but did you ever stop to think about whether the pads and tampons you are using are organic cotton?
70% of women in America use tampons, and over a lifetime that can be as many as 11,000 tampons or pads*, now that’s a lot of cotton. But what kind of cotton goes into these pads and tampons?
In California it is now illegal to feed the leaves, stems, and short fibers of cotton known as ‘gin trash’ to livestock, because of the concentrated levels of pesticide residue. Instead, this gin trash is used to make furniture, mattresses, tampons, swabs, and cotton balls.** So you are essential putting pesticides into your body. How awful is that!
Then there is the price, don’t even get me started on the Tampon Tax!
New research has revealed that British women spend as much as £18,450 on their periods over the course of their lifetime.*** That is absolutely insane!
Since tampons and disposable pads are so expensive and bad for you there must be an alternative right?
I am a relatively recent convert to the Mooncup menstrual cup and cloth pads, I was as I expect most people are, dubious at first, a cup that you have to empty? Big bulky, smelly cloth pads? But this isn’t the dark ages and cloth pads have come a long way since homemade rags pinned into victorian womens undergarments.
Available in bright cheerful colours and patterns as well as various sizes and absorbencies and made from natural and organic materials I only wish that I had found them sooner!
Although the initial outlay may seem like a lot overall it is a lot cheaper with the pads and cups lasting years rather than 1 use.
Another great item for your period is ‘period pads’ available from Thinx they act as both pant and pad, are supremely comfortable, come in different styles, colours and absorbencies and are my favourite thing ever!
Many cloth pad companies and Thinx work on a buy one, donate one scheme where for every purchase you make they provide a girl in the developing world with a pack of pads.
With Period poverty in the UK rising and many girls from low income families missing school because they cannot afford sanitary products**** some companies have now started to do the same here. Cloth pads and cups may be able to provide a solution to this problem if introduced to period education and invested in by the Government.
A bill is already going through in Scottish parliament making it a requirement for schools to provide pads and tampons and we hope that the UK government will follow suit.
For more information check out the following!
Posh & Co, Eco Dreams, Honour your Flow, Earthwise Girls, Feminine Wear, Luxury Moon and Lady Days Cloth Pads.
There are many facets to the diamond that is parenthood, some of them rough, some of them smooth, but all of them as complicated and beautiful as the last.
Your world changes in every way possible, but how do you carry over your personal morals and ethics to this new part of your life, how do you keep living ethically and sustainably when the bin is filling up with dirty nappies and it seems like it would be so much easier to order takeaway every night than to ever cook again? Then there is how do you pass on your morals and ideals without forcing them upon your children?
Rather than dwelling on whether it was even morally ethical to bring a child into this world due to the uncertain future that our world faces, environmentally, politically and socially I prefer to focus on how I can minimise the negative impact on the planet of having a child, make the world a better place for her and teach her how to make it a better place by leading by example.
One of the biggest environmental problems with having a child is the impact of the amount of waste from dirty nappies to leftover food, broken plastic toys and old clothes. Sometimes there is not a lot you can do if you have to throw away smashed up toys, chewed to pieces biscuits and clothes so soiled they are a lost cause but there are definitely ways to minimise the amount of rubbish!
Firstly clothes, all the clothes I have bought her until now have been second hand from charity shops, ebay and depop or hand me downs from friends and family. She will get new clothes as presents from time to time but I endeavour not to buy new clothes myself. It makes absolutely no sense to me to buy her new clothes when she grows out of them every few months and there is some stuff that doesn’t even get worn once before it gets resold, passed on to friends with younger babies or given to the charity shop. She will be turning one soon and I have bought her a Little Green Radicals dress to wear not just on her birthday but until she can no longer squeeze into it and when she is a bit bigger and has slowed down with her growing then there are so many awesome organic and fairtrade childrens clothing brands out there to choose from including but not limited to Little Green Radicals, Frugi, Piccalilly, Tootsa, Where does it come from? and Tommy & Lottie to name but a few!
Secondly, Nappies, I had every intention of using cloth nappies, I bought some second hand had everything prepared and ready but when I got round to using them I hated them and she did too, they were bulky - none of her babygrows would do up over them and they seemed uncomfortable for her and hot too as she was really red where they were clearly rubbing on her. So I sold them on and did some research into disposable nappies that were not so bad for the environment, this is when I found Naty, made from natural, renewable and biodegradable resources including compostable Nappy Bags made from gm free corn film they are the perfect solution if like me you aren’t using cloth nappies but don’t want to buy ones with plastic in them! Baby wipes are also a big problem at the moment clogging up sewers and littering the oceans so Naty have made wipes from biodegradable wood pulp sustainably harvested from FSC certified Scandinavian Forests and any scents are natural from plants rather than chemicals.
Lastly toys! All the toys she has at the moment have been presents from family and friends or I have bought second hand from Charity Shops, Facebook Marketplace or online selling sites like Gumtree but with her first birthday coming up I didn’t want to buy her any old plastic rubbish so did some research into some lovely fairtrade and sustainable toys for her!
From Babipur she’s got some Plan musical Instruments and some Lanka Kade cars, both these companies make really lovely fair trade toys from sustainable rubberwood and we will definitely be purchasing from them again in the future!
I also got her a Puppet from The Puppet Company who manufacture in the Far East in factories that visited regularly to ensure high standards in workers conditions.
I also bought some felt vegetables, a wooden crate from Ikea and a mini metal watering can so that she can practise for helping me in the real vegetable garden and I can teach her all about her food and where it comes from. Ikea are ahead of their time in terms of sustainability and have lots of handy tips on making your home more sustainable on their website.
To me the importance of organic, fair trade and biodegradable products is obvious, why would you buy products for your child that were possibly made by someone else's children that are being forced to work in horrendous conditions? If it is not something you would want for your own children how can you spend your money on something that allows such practices. Non organic cotton not only has disastrous effects on the farmers that grow it and the bees who are being killed by the pesticides on it but it can also have effects on your child's health if there are chemicals on and in it.
Children are expensive and their cute and tiny clothes can often end up having a not so cute and tiny price tag, this is just one of the reasons why I buy second hand, the other being that with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of clothes ending up in landfill every year I am saving at least some from going to waste and by passing it on yet again I am reducing each items carbon footprint even further. If you have noone to donate your second hand items to and you can’t be bothered to sell them on (let's be honest having a child doesn’t leave much time for anything else!) then there are plenty of charities that can send them overseas to mothers who don’t have money to buy lots of clothes for their children.
That pretty much covers the material side of things, but what about emotional?
How do I make sure that I lead by example? And ensure she grows up free of prejudice whether that is race, species or gender.
I know that I can only do the best I can with the help of my partner, friends and family but I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to be a perfect example of the kind of person I would hope her to grow up to be! And I think that is probably the same for all parents and this is a very similar story for parents all over who understand the importance of bringing up the next generation to be changemakers in the world!
I love teaching her new things and seeing the wonder in her eyes and although she is still very young I try to explain things to her as if to an equal although of course in a simplified form! There are many different approaches to parenting, I know and not everyone will get where I am coming from, people are often confused about us bringing her up vegetarian until we can give her all the information at an age at which she will be able to make an informed choice and then if she wants to start eating meat she can as they say she doesn’t know so why should we care but that doesn’t make sense to me, why would I give my child something I myself wouldn’t eat, just like I make sure to use organic shampoos on her as I use for myself.
In the end there is only so much I can do and she will eventually find her own path, all I can do is guide her and help her anyway that I can!
For our Wayfarer Collection, we teamed up with The Northampton Hope Centre to pilot a scheme offering employment to homeless and vulnerable people. In May we took on our first candidate, Angela, who is receiving background support from a liaison officer funded by The Lottery Fund. Six months down the line, we want to share our experiences and hopefully encourage other businesses to follow suit.
We live in a time of individualism and capitalism, a combined ideology that is encouraged by the media and political establishments in the name of financial pursuit. As a result of our financial drive and community detachment we often tend to value each other by financial success rather than emotional, creative and practical worth. I hope to break down the misconception that poverty and addiction are a direct result of individual failure.
Angela talks openly about most of the experiences that led to her becoming homeless. Her stories are full of emotions ranging from tears of sadness to fits of laughter. One thing that is clear to me is that for the most part, she has been a victim of circumstance which escalated from an uncontrollable tragedy in her life into addiction and incarceration.
I believe in the Rat Park theory of addiction which demonstrates that addiction is controlled by your emotional and physical environment and not by the drug itself, as demonstrated by the rats in 'Rat Park' and the tiny fraction of people to have ever become addicted to opiates in hospitals. After all nobody wants to be an addict! We fail to treat addiction as an illness due to our war on drugs. We live in a system that criminalizes people that need help and creates a public perception that the addicts are to blame for their circumstances. I cant't speak for everyone but If the worst imaginable turn of events happened in my life I think the pain would be too consuming for me to cope with it in a healthy way.
After her incarceration, Angela found it very difficult to find work and tells me she received no support to help her transition back into society. People often re-offend because they don't receive any support to resolve an existing emotional problem or to find work so that they can lead a normal life.
Our media make it harder by demonising addicts, convicts and poor people, when what they need most is support. They often highlight the drain on taxes that welfare claimants create, whilst at the same time marginalising them and reducing their chances of progression.
Inevitably Angela's past has lasting effects on her, and as an employer we have adapted to meet her needs which has been an invaluable learning curve for ourselves and our team. She is a kind compassionate person and a dedicated member of staff. She is currently working part time until she is comfortable enough to increase her hours. Her income is now less than when she was on benefits but she loves the pride she gets from her work. Angela is an example of the great things that come from a small opportunity and a little support.
A few months a go I saw a post on a Facebook group from a girl who was homeless. penniless, sofa surfing and looking for a job. We had some odd jobs at the time and I contacted her to see how we could help. She had no transport and no money to travel to our office so we arranged for one of our staff (Sarah) to pick her up and drop her off each day. We asked her to wear messy clothes as some of the work involved oiling leather and she replied " I only have one set of clothes". We didn't have continuous work available, but in the time she was with us she managed to find a permanent position as a receptionist with another company and get on top of her life.
I have always been compassionate towards homeless people, which I think was indoctrinated into me at a young age. My father died living on the streets when I was a young child, and I was brought up by a mother that at times had to use food banks to feed us. I think as a result of this my grandmother felt a need to help the homeless and used to do the Big Issues nighttime walk to raise money for their charity.
I recently watched the BBC series 'Famous Rich and Homeless' which put wealthy celebrities on the streets for a week for them to experience (to some degree) what it is like to be homeless. I was appalled at the way peoples attitude towards a person instantly changes when they believe you are homeless. As if being homeless and relying on others generosity isn't degrading enough, these people are then subjected to second class citizenship.
Are people so caught up in capitalism that they really believe people are solely responsible for their own failures? We live in a world where to become successful we tend to tread on others, and this system creates victims. George Osborne's 2016 budget sees cuts to some of the poorest in society whilst giving tax breaks to some of the richest and our recent government has seen homelessness increase by 55% as a direct result of these type of cuts. How can we continue to blame victims for their circumstances when we choose to deny them an equal chance of success? Our poor perception of these people has been reinforced by the demonisation used by our media, which pushes them further away from society.
People are under the illusion that it will never happen to them, that they are somehow immune to failure. We should all ask ourselves, how many months without a job could we maintain a home? How long would your savings last? You may have a good support network, but what if they were taken away from you? What if you suffered a mental illness? Domestic violence? A house fire? What will happen to you during our next financial crisis?
I don't believe homelessness has a simple solution because it is not a simple problem. It is made up of too many factors. I do know that that preventing people from falling into poverty is a much easier task. We hope to be part of this by inviting vulnerable people to work with us on our new collection.
It is a sad fact that where governments have failed, charities have had to step up and as part of our support we will be donating a percentage of each bag sale from our new collection to a homeless charity of our choice.
By Ozric Vondervelden
(What Daisy Did co-founder & partner)
Check out how we are tackling homelessness here!!
We recently showcased our products at Latitude Festival in Suffolk, where we had the pleasure of meeting some of the volunteers and staff working for PCF (the Philippine community fund).
PCF a registered charity since 2002 are a non for profit (although not registered) NGO. They have built and run a school made from recycled shipping containers with the capacity to hold 1000 children in Manila. they offer a pathway out of poverty to children and families forced to live and work in dump sites and cemeteries. the program aims to protect children from trafficking, child labor, and exploitation.
Each of the current 550 children being educated receive breakfast and lunch through the charity at a cost of less than £1 per head per day. PCF also support another 300 children in government education.
The children and their families are given access to the charity's health clinic, to help ease the financial pressure that may force them back into dangerous work.
PCF employ its own social workers to offer advise, support, counselling and practical help to the students and their families.
what we find interesting about PCF is their unique and innovative way in which they financially support the students families. parents that are struggling financially are offered work creating beautiful pieces of jewellery and fashion from ring pulls.... that's right! ring pulls!
Each year PCF work with Festival Republic at Latitude and Reading Festival. PCF brings dozens of volunteers to work as green messengers, a keen team of people who have the job of encouraging recycling, educating people on sustainability and enforcing the festivals green initiatives. In exchange PCF get to take home as many ring pulls as they can pull. it might not sound like a fair exchange, but in fact each ring pull is worth 4p to the charity and in the hundreds of thousands can create plenty of work within the impoverished communities they support. you will also find PCF's stall at the events where you can purchase the finished products from previous years of collecting.
check out #onthepull for more infomation
PCF are currently running an emergency campaign for extra support. Its monsoon season in the Philippines. Peoples homes are flooded, and with poor sanitation people are at an even greater risk. The schools are closed during this season but PCF are reaching out for financial support to keep the school open as an emergency shelter. Gentrification is also forcing people out of slum areas into more secure housing. PCF are offering community support in the transition,
If you would like to find out more about PCF, please visit www.p-c-f.org.
There are many ways in which you can help support the great work these guys are doing.
Send in your ringpulls!
PCF, PO Box 294, Hedge End, Southampton SO30 2YD.
Volunteer at the next music festival! Or if your not one for loud music PCF have fundraising and admin opportunities.
PCF also accept donations of school supplies. A full list of items needed can be found here.
The care of each child costs £65 a month.
this covers 7 hours of education a day,
The maintenance and improvements of the library, play areas, sports equipment, and computers.
Extra support for students that fall behind, or have difficulties in studies.
Daily school transport.
School uniforms, shoes, school bag, workbooks and supplies.
Reward system to Encouraging high attendance and academic achievements.
Sponsorship starts at as little as £20 a month.