Making a positive future starts now. It’s easy to be caught up in the negativity and toxic political noise of social media and the mass media, but behind the scenes, so many people are working to make a positive difference in our world. It seems to me the most radical action you can take in the face of today’s problems is to actively find practical solutions. On this page, I’m collecting links to individuals, organisations, and resources that I’ve come across that inspire me. This is mostly UK focused (unless I say otherwise) because that is where I live.
A few years ago, I started to investigate ethical clothing and realised that it is surprisingly hard to source clothes that aren’t in some way harming animals, the environment or people. I’ve been slowly phasing out purchasing high street fashion and am replacing my wardrobe with items bought from businesses that are making an effort to changing the production of clothes. Here’s my list:
BAM – dresses, t-shirts and tops, yoga wear made from bamboo
Beyond Skin – fashionable vegan shoes
Ethletic – vegan, organic trainers that look like the ones produced by big brands, the same price, but without the exploitation. Remarkably Converse tried to sue these guys, which pretty much means I will never buy Converse again.
Everlane – one of a new breed of online clothes shops that go in for radical transparency in their sourcing.
Finistere – sustainable clothing made by cold water surfers. They do knitwear, outerwear, dresses, bags, socks, hats, beanies, trousers etc.
Monkee Genes – it’s really surprisingly hard to buy jeans that aren’t profoundly unethical. Here’s where I buy mine.
Ninety Percent – give away 90% of their profits – care about worker welfare and the sourcing of their materials. You can buy general everyday clothes here.
Patagonia – amazingly for such a big brand, a real force for good in the world. They also make great clothes.
People Tree – fair trade and organic general online clothes shop. Sells dresses, knitwear, footwear, trousers, jackets etc.
Rapanui – a really fabulous company based on the Isle of Wight, concerned with ocean conservation. Buy organic, environmentally low-impact t-shirts, hoodies, socks, flannel shirts. You can print your own design.
Vivobarefoot shoes – these are good for your feet and sustainable. They have a range of vegan shoes. I own a few pairs.
Wills Vegan Shoes – I’ve bought several pairs of shoes from this shop. They are beautifully made. In addition to the vegan thing, their business is carbon neutral.
Lush – vegan soaps, shampoos and more
Neal’s Yard – it’s sometimes easy to forget that brands that are successful can also be awesome companies. Soap, shampoo, makeup, essential oils and herbs.
In the near future, a combination of climate change, availability of land, growth in global population will put strains on food production. At the same time industrial agriculture is threatening soils, water, and causing suffering to animals on a historical scale. Lots of people are thinking about this from different angles, from investigating alternative systems of agriculture to using technology to grow our food in labs. Here’s some I’ve come across.
Calf at Foot Diary – ethical dairy farming
The Good Food Institute supports companies trying to solve problems with the future of food.
Memphis Meats (US only) – grows meat from animal cells
Ann Miller’s Speciality Mushrooms – wonderful shop where you can by innoculated logs and other things to help you grow your own mushrooms.
Real Seeds – Frighteningly, most of the world’s seed companies are owned by multinational companies and hybrid varieties are ubiquitous, which means non-hybrid seeds are becoming rare. This means that plants that you can save seed from are also becoming rare. Real Seeds specialises in non-hybrid varieties and prefers it if you save your seed and don’t keep buying it from them. A truly wonderful business.
Into the Sticks – the owners of this eco-campsite sold everything, built a tiny home and lived off the grid until they managed to create this place.
The Knepp Estate – a former cattle farm, now one of the largest rewilding projects in Europe and a really fun place to stay too if you fancy a bit of glamping.
Ben Law / Ben the Woodsman – sustainably manages his woodland and builds eco-housing
Heb Housing – I saw a number of these houses while visiting Skye. Carbon neutral housing that remain snug even in Scotland.
The Passivhaus Trust – The Trust aims to promote the principles of Passivhaus as a highly effective way of reducing energy use and carbon emissions from buildings in the UK, as well as providing high standards of comfort and building health.
Permaculture Magazine – Permaculture explores ways we can live well sustainably. This wonderful magazine and website (I subscribe to the journal and look forward to it arriving in the post) is a wealth of information that will connect you to some truly inspiring people. Some things I found by reading the magazine:
Charles Dowding’s Website – no dig gardening
Steph Hafferty’s website – all about no dig organic gardening
There are so many charities doing wonderful things. Here are a few I support.
Born Free – founded by Virginia McKenna and her husband Bill Travers, this is a truly rare charity. In a world where big charities have become tainted by the highly paid ex-corporate class, a true breath of fresh air. The money genuinely goes where they say and if you ring, Virginia herself may pick up the phone. Wild animals don’t belong in cages. Born Free helps them back to a more natural life.
Tower Hill Animal Sanctuary – run by world record marathon runner Fiona Oakes, a haven for animals created by an extraordinary human being.
Ben Law, Woodsman
Alan Weisman, Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World