Green Pioneers Interview: Yours Sustainably

To help celebrate the work of green pioneers and share great environmental achievements with the world we have decided to produce a series of interviews with a huge range of green champions from across the world.

YS LogoLynn and Jessica are behind Yours Sustainably, an online store selling carefully sourced products from around the globe. They sell only sustainable, socially responsible, recycled or eco-friendly gifts and accessories, and donate 10% of their profits each month to charities that focus on sustainable development.

Tell us about what you do?
We are the mother and daughter team behind Yours Sustainably, an online store launched in 2011 selling ethically sourced products from around the world. Our business idea grew from our love of craft and the environment and our concern for future of the planet and the people in it.

about us picWe promote ‘positive consumerism’ by sourcing sustainable products that fulfil at least one of our criteria of being fair trade, socially responsible, recycled or eco-friendly. We firmly believe that sustainable products can be beautiful, desirable and functional, and that shopping for ethical, environmentally sensitive goods shouldn’t involve compromising your wants and needs. We tell the story of each product through dedicated supplier pages so that our customers can learn more about these inspiring companies and hopefully make better-informed choices about the things they buy.

We also encourage our suppliers to write guest blogs for us and involve ourselves in charitable and fundraising activities, as raising awareness of sustainable issues and charitable endeavours are an equally important aspect of our business.

worldWhat is your background?
Daughter, Jessica:
I studied Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design after which I moved to Cairo, Egypt. Whilst living in Cairo I worked for a socially responsible luxury bed linen company Malaika, which specialises in hand embroidery. The company teaches local women to hand embroider and once they have completed the training program they can work from home so that they have a chance to earn an income without disrupting their family and social norms.

Since being back in the UK I have been involved with the charity Fine Cell Work and menswear designer Trine Lindegaard on a project working with male prisoners in embroidery and design workshops. I will begin a Masters in Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion in September, where I hope to start a women’s embroidery cooperative.

Mother, Lynn: I have always loved craft and am very keen on knitting, sewing and gardening. I took full advantage of adult education classes in a variety of craft based subjects whilst my family were growing up and am now embracing being a business woman; making use of my banking background and developing my new found social media skills!

P1040024What work have you done so far to develop?
Our business is growing and we now have over 40 different suppliers from around the world. We are continuing our search for innovative, well designed sustainable products and learning new sustainable related information every day. For instance one of our latest suppliers is Wremade, a great charity that is part of Wre Scrapstore. By stocking their great craft kits and interviewing them for our blog we have learnt about the amazing network of scrapstores across the UK that collect waste material from local businesses and offer it for sale to schools, community and craft groups.

We were involved in the charity, Find Your Feet’s ‘Curry For Change’ event last year, which involved cooking a curry feast for friends and offering some great raffle prizes. This year we are organising a swishing event in aid of the charity Women for Women. We are always looking to increase our own awareness of sustainable issues which we can also pass on to our customers. We recently watched the documentary, ‘Trashed’ which is about the global waste crisis and was part of the UK Green Film festival. Our review and thoughts on the film can be found on our blog.

What plans do you have for the future?
For the future we would like to continue expanding our product range and produce our own range of products. This is something I [Jessica] will be exploring within my masters program. We would also like to continue with our fundraising efforts, looking at different ways and events to raise money for worthwhile causes. We will continue to build on ways to communicate our message of positive consumerism and raise awareness of sustainable issues with our customers.

cupsWhy do you think this work is so important?
It is generally accepted that the way we are living, using the planet’s resources, destroying natural habitats and exploiting developing countries is not sustainable. There needs to be a change in government and foreign policies and the practices of large corporations to place more emphasis on sustainable solutions to social and environmental issues. As individuals we can make changes in our living habits such as making an effort to reduce our waste production and recycle. We love our reusable sandwich and food wraps and reusable drinks bottles as it means we no longer need to use cling film or tinfoil for our lunches. With small changes and increased awareness we will be able to put pressure on governments and corporations to change their agendas.

What can people do to take part?
Duck_StripeSailor_HiResWe are hoping that there is a wave of people that are becoming more aware and more interested in sustainable issues. Obviously we would love people to support our business ethos and suppliers by shopping on our site and becoming more aware in general of the choices they make as a consumer. As stated previously we hope to encourage people to change their behaviour in their daily lives, whether it is carrying a reusable shopping bag so that we can eliminate the use of plastic bags, supporting ethical designers who work with developing communities or following Vivienne Westwood’s wise words of ‘buy less, choose well and make it last.’

What green issues are you most passionate about?
We strongly advocate the adoption of a ‘slow fashion’ approach and a move away from a disposable consumerist culture. We want to see more transparency in supply chains from large companies and more responsibility for the welfare of their workers and environmental practices. We highly recommend Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For, Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? for anyone that wants to learn more about the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry. The choices and actions we make in life are all interrelated, so each ‘green issue’ is equally important to the other.

Check them out online http://www.yourssustainably.com/

Top 5 discussions at the Friends of the Earth 2012 Conference

Caroline Lucas

This weekend I attended the FoE 2012 Conference to learn more about the campaigns and actions FoE are undertaking, as well as to listen to some interesting discussions on environmental issues. Here at Healthy Planet we work hard to help grassroots conservation projects achieve their aims through the support of the Healthy Planet Conservation Community. It was interesting to see how a much larger and long running environmental Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) works out its priorities!

Polly Higgins

Polly Higgins

Businesses and Ecological Systems

1.)  @PollyHiggins, Campaigning Lawyer, discussed innovative approaches to social change. There is currently a push towards the evaluation of nature to encourage businesses to appreciate ecological systems. Referred to as ecosystem services, these are provided for free by nature including water, air purification, timber and nutrient cycling. Polly argued that if you evaluate nature then it creates an ownership and will only encourage the current problems. She believes we need a radical shift in our attitude towards ecosystems and wildlife and the only way to change the relationship between business and the environment is through a legal and moral responsibility.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

Unbalanced society and Government

2.) @CarolineLucas , the first Green party leader, gave a very passionate response to the question ‘Do government or people bring about change?’ Lucas made it clear that the current relationship between government and the citizens is unbalanced.  The governments frustrating and slow response to environmental policy is weak due to the lack of pressure from the citizens, while the citizens expect the government to take action on urgent environmental issues for them. A vicious circle indeed!

Group Cooperation

3.)  @Andy2Atkins , Exec. Director of FoE, joined in on the ‘Who brings about change?’ discussions. Atkins believed it is vital that all groups cooperate including large and small NGO’s, grassroot activists and local groups to focus their strategies allowing for less mixed messaging and more impact.

vivienne westwood

vivienne westwood

Environmental Ceiling

4.) @KateRaworth , Senior Researcher at Oxfam, gave a fantastically engaging talk on the partnerships that social and environmental organisations must make.  As she described there are planetary and social boundaries, living beneath the environmental ceiling where we no longer put excessive stresses on the environment but also providing a social foundation for every human on the planet. So how can this be done? It would take a lot of change but little resources, for example:

  • To meet the calorie needs of the 13% of the world’s population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply
  •  Bringing electricity to the 19% of people who currently lack it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions
  • Ending income poverty for the 21% of people who live on less than $1.25 a day would require just 0.2% of global income.

Geo-engineering

5.)    Professor Richard Owen, University of Exeter, discussed the much debated topic, geo-engineering. Described as ‘the deliberate intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming’. There was a lot of interest from the audience and as much support as concerns for the concept of climate engineering. Owen talked of the methods available including releasing sulphate particles 20km into the atmosphere to reflect the solar glare that increases the warming of the planet. As bizarre and alien sounded, this does happen naturally near volcanos, researchers have found after an eruption the atmospheric temperature lowers by half a degree. Owen hopes the public awareness and interest in geo-engineering grows and is developed to have positive results for the conservation of our planet.

To read more about Raworths ‘Why we need planetary and social boundaries’

Log on to: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2012/02/can-we-live-inside-the-doughnut-planetary-and-social-boundaries

Friends of the Earth conference webpage:  http://www.foe.co.uk/conference

Twitter hashtag: #foeconf

All photos from http://www.facebook.com/wwwfoecouk

Healthy Planet is launching the Conservation Community

We will be bringing together people who care about the planet in our new social network which will take over our former product “Adopt a plot” and  allow you to help conservation parks & activities across the planet in very practical and tangible ways. Launch date set for November 1st 2012! Download the PDF for details: Conservation community launch

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Written by Olivia Couchman, Conservation Coordinator at Healthy Planet