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environment

Do You Think About Social Change?

Social change, social parity, economic empowerment - it all sounds like a leftist, liberal wish list, doesn't it? But what if this was actually possible - not through demonstrations and protests and May Day marches - but through direct action. A business model which is the antithesis of the one that is based on satisfying shareholders' appetite for profit. One which also shuns handouts in favour of fair wages. That is what Social Business is all about! This is by no means a new idea, and I am, in no way whatsoever, the first to believe in it or write about it. This is a growing movement which puts business right at the front and centre of the fightback against inequalities of all sorts - economic, social and environmental. The aim is quite simple - generate opportunities for people who live in poverty and then reinvest the income to further those opportunities to bring about social parity. Just to be clear - a social business is, after all, a business. An economic activity which needs to be profitable to be sustainable. So, businesses like ours do not shy away from the idea of making a profit. However, selling is not our only goal. Our second goal, which is equally as important, is creating a social impact not only in the lives of the artisans who we work with, but also in the lives of the customers that we serve. Our ultimate aim is to revive and bring to the mainstream arts and crafts that are on the verge of being lost to the world so that these talented artisans can earn a respectable wage and also pass on their skills to more. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, they say. It sure takes time, but it does happen. According to a recent independent analysis, the Social Enterprise sector contributes £60bn to the UK GDP, nearly three times larger than the agricultural sector! There are about a 100,000 social enterprises employing over 2 million people! All involved in this quest to bring about a social impact. So, when you buy from a social enterprise, you're not adding to the coffers of a multi-million pound corporation. You are helping change the world, one small but perfectly good idea at a time. You are helping create a slightly more equal society.   I'll end this post with the words of Gandhi which tell us that personal and social transformation go hand in hand and which I feel are quite apt for the Social Enterprise movement - both for the businesses and our customers without whose help we would not be successful.
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him... We need not wait to see what others do.
  And on that positive note, and since this might be the last post for 2018...warmest wishes for a wonderful Christmas and here's to a new year full of promise!

Sustainable Living – Buzzword or Necessity?

Now that is a term you might have seen bandied about quite a lot these days. But surprisingly, sustainable living is not a new mantra at all! This used to be the way of life before the advent of the industrial revolution. No, let me rephrase that - before the advent of corporate greed and the need for profitability at any cost. For, to blame the industrial revolution for the ill-effects of our excesses that we have become accustomed to in our society today would be a great disservice.

So, what do we mean by sustainable living?

Well, in very simple terms, it is all about consuming the resources available to us responsibly so that we can make it last without disturbing the balance of nature. To borrow from another old cliché, we really do have just one of this planet with its limited resources which need to be used by all 7.2 billion of us.

To put it into context, lets pick (just) one of the most glaring problems of our times - that of plastic waste. Do you know how much plastic waste we produce annually in the UK alone? 275,000 tonnes! Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic a year! And why exactly is plastic waste a problem? Because not only does it takes nearly 500 years to decompose but also requires a lot of energy to produce.

But all of us recycle. That should be enough, right?

It would be enough if we recycled what we used in exactly the same quantities. That would not put any more pressure on our resources. But if we take up the case of plastic again, the use of plastics is going up by 4% annually.

On a recent trip to Bruges, I was met with this sculpture of a whale rising up from the canal. Made from 5 tonnes of plastic waste recovered from the ocean, it is meant to make an impact on the public & the millions of visitors to this city. But does the city address this problem? No. Water is still sold in millions of single use plastic bottles. Tourists devour frites and waffles using plastic plates and forks. Nowhere can you see any innovative solution to overcome the plastic waste problem that the whale sculpture so beautifully highlights.

And therein lies our basic quandary - we would readily create monuments to our issues but shirk away when it comes to implementing a solution.

Is there anything that can be done?

Yes, sustainable living to the rescue! I mentioned at the beginning that this is not a newfangled idea but something that the human race has known all along. However, with the temptation of an easy life driven by corporate profits, we have lost track of those ideas and techniques. 

Sustainability, by its very definition, goes hand in hand with being eco-friendly. Sustainable production not only uses earth friendly techniques but also provides sustainable livelihoods to those who have preserved these techniques and are ready to pass them on to future generations.

That is why, we have partnered with initiatives that bring out the best in skills and products and also help our environment along the way. Be it handmade wooden toys coloured with non-toxic natural dyes, handmade greeting cards made from recycled paper, board games that instil environmental awareness, handwoven fabric homeware and accessories or eco-friendly heating - each of our product lines has been carefully chosen with the principle of sustainable living in mind.

Here's to a sustainable future for all of us! 

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