Adventures in Ethical Consumerism

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Organic Week

Get ready people, and try to contain your excitement, because 4th - 12th September is Organic Week 2004!

Cynics may dismiss this as just a week-long PR exercise for the Soil Association, the chief organisers of this, "the UK's biggest celebration of organic food, drink and sustainable living."

I don't have any problems with the Soil Association. From my point of view, they are a registered charity working hard to raise standards of organic farming, to promote organic living, and to educate people about sustainability, pesticides, GM crops and the like. All very positive.

For me, the most interesting part about Organic Week is the possibility of getting to visit an organic farm:

"Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September is Organic Experience Weekend - many organic farms across the country will be opening their gates for barbecues, farm trails and other activities."

There will also be many discounts on organic food everywhere. Check the website for details.


I don't do much shopping at Tesco, but one product of theirs I really love is their own-brand Fair Trade plain chocolate. This is gorgeous! They do a milk chocolate option as well, but personally, I'm not a lactose-lover.

I love things with very few ingredients. This chocolate has only:

Fairtrade Cocoa Mass (68%)
Fairtrade Sugar (27%)
Fairtrade Cocoa Butter (4%)
Emulsifier (Lecithins)

That's it!

(Lecithins are a mixture of crude soybean oil and water)

If you are concerned about nuts, this is a good chocolate. Like practically any chocolate on the market, this one contains the standard "may contain traces of nuts" warning. I'm not going to say it's competely nut-free, but the trace in this product is so minute as to be barely noticable.

The bar costs 59p. This is maybe a lot when compared to a Twix or a Kit-kat. For me though, it's a bargain. Sure, I could save a few pennies and go unethical, but the experience just isn't the same - for the taste buds or the conscience!

Inside the earthship wall

Inside the wall
Originally uploaded by the beev.
Many of the earthship building materials are recycled, including walls made from old tyres packed with soil and empty drink cans!

For more information, visit the Craigencalt Ecology Centre website.


Earthship close-up
Originally uploaded by the beev.
An earthship is a sustainable house. All its energy needs are met by small-scale hydro, wind and solar power. The water is filtered rainwater and the heating is stored when the sun shines and slowly released by the walls when it is cold. The front of the (south-facing) house is a greenhouse with tomatoes growing in it. The earthship even takes care of its own sewage treatment.

This is an experiment in Scotland. As a house like this has never been built here before, it remains to be seen whether it will be warm enough to live in during winter.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Chemical-free tobacco

Lately I've been smoking American Spirit tobacco. It costs more than the stuff I used to smoke, but not enough to put me off. Some people I've spoken to have said that American Spirit is prohibitively expensive. Well - I'm lucky - I don't smoke so much that it makes a difference. I won't worry about a pound or two when the packet is going to last me a whole month. And if you smoke so much you can't make a packet last that long: too bad! Try cutting down!

So why am I paying an extra pound or two every month for tobacco? It's simple: American Spirit is 100% additive free. Other tobaccos aren't. I don't know what the additives are exactly, but some of the usual suspects are listed on the American Spirit packet: "sugar, propylene glycol, synthetic aroma substances, preservatives [and] what are termed chemical burning agents." Lovely.

I've always known that cigarettes were full of other dodgy stuff in addition to the tobacco leaf, which probably isn't nearly so deadly on it's own. I've always suspected that even my ordinary hand-rolling tobacco was not so pure as I would like it to be. Now I am in a position to choose a variety that I know is clear of all the unecessary stuff. Great!

I also have the added bonus of knowing that the company I am buying from is not marketing its products to kids. There has been a lot of scandal recently about the cynical efforts of some companies to get young people to notice their brand. I'm glad to say American Spirit is not one of those companies.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Test post

Click here for PDF

Organic Exchange

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Originally uploaded by the beev.
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