Eleanor Cawte
  • Female
  • Surrey/Hampshire borders
  • United Kingdom
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Eleanor Cawte's Discussions

Bribery, corruption and fashion?

Started this discussion. Last reply by shailini sheth amin May 25, 2009. 2 Replies

 

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Profile Information

Profession / role:
Trained as a lawyer
My primary role in relation to fashion is:
Consumer
I am looking to discover or buy
Fair trade office wear; a flash of inspiration; a job working with things useful and/or beautiful close to home?
About me / About business or organisation:
Consumer and strong believer in trade not aid, paying people for doing not being.
Amateur shoemaker, brewster, embroiderer, travel addict and Indophile.
Never a fashion victim - I wear what I like, regardless of whether it's "in fashion".
Career history / Company history:
On a career break after 10 years as a public sector lawyer, temping in secretarial/admin jobs while deciding on long term career options.

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At 10:24 on May 28, 2009, Anna said…
Hi Eleanor

Thanks for your reply, it was interesting to hear your response to the event. I thought I'd take a minute to respond where I can, but I must confess I am no expert in any of the areas you mention.

I'm glad you enjoyed Carolyn's speech, I missed the first half of it, but what I managed to catch I enjoyed also. I love the interweaving of personal stories with the story of the evolution of BTC as a business.

I wasn't able to attend the Organics workshop so I can't comment very specifically on what was discussed. To a certain extent I can sympathise with your point of view: when it comes to objecting to GM technology I feel it must be done based on solid reasoning - not simply as a knee-jerk reaction. Of course I'm no expert on the details, but my understanding of the GM cotton that has been introduced in India, is that it quickly loses the resistance to pests that its advertised as having, leaving the cotton farmers back at square one - borrowing money at exorbitant interest rates to pruchase chemical inputs but with the added expense of having to buy seed each season.

Your idea of teaming up with Philanthropists to utilise the benefits of GM technology is an interesting idea, but my inclination is that actually there are already experts working around the world on pest management strategies and water conservation techniques, and the that the money may be more effectively used by employing them to develop and transfer skills to the farming communities that need them. BTC purchases all its cotton from Agrocel, it is both organic and Fairtrade, and they have gained quite a reputation for their agricultural support work which has allowed farmers to see their incomes increase whilst their expenses decrease. Given the proven success of this and the high impact a relatively small amount of money can have, I would rather encourage Philanthropists to support this kind of work, rather than new technologies that take years to develop and need long-term thorough testing before they can be introduced into the biosphere. Although perhaps I sound a bit of a luddite myself!

I'm sorry that you felt rather deflated on the Fairtrade side of things. I'm part of the Bristol Fairtrade Network, and we were keen to organise Cotton On as a chance to get people critically engaged with Fairtrade rather than just celebrating it as we have done at many other events. It is a complex thing, especially when it comes to cotton because the production chain tends to be so lengthy - I suppose we were hoping to leave people inspired but at the same time critically aware of say the difference between a Fairtrade Tshirt from M&S and a Fairtrade Tshirt from People Tree or BTC. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation has a very strict certification system and they have chosen to focus their work on agricultural producers primarily. However, I think like all complex systems, they take time to develop, and my understanding is that they are researching how to extend the benefits of the system to the manufacturing stages of production as well as the initial agricultural production. At some stage in the future I think this will be extended to garment manufacturing. Purists like BTC, People Tree, Traidcraft and Pachacuti are members of WFTO (previously IFAT), a body that looks more specifically on production chains and aims to embed the Fair Trade principles at every stage.

I agree that a plethora of labels can be a dangerous thing: potentially confusing for the consumer and possibly leading to further cynicism. However, on the flip side I think the variety can be utilised as a positive means for learning and sharing best practise. I have to admit I am quite skeptical of any company that claims to have all the answers to tackling global injustice, I think we have a lot to learn from each other.

Anyway, I'm really glad you came along, I hope overall the experience was worthwhile for you.

All the best

george
At 13:33 on May 27, 2009, Anna said…
Hi Eleanor

Did you make it to Cotton On? I'd be interested to hear what your thoughts are on how the event went. thanks, george
 
 
 

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