The feel good factor

Consumerism is a double-edged sword. While it's great that in most cases we have the ability to buy what we need and have plenty of choice, it also means we live in a world often far-removed from the production of the goods we buy. Shopping has become second nature - and we barely give the provenance of products a second thought. We always want more - and we also want cheap and easy.

However, scratch the surface of our spend, spend, society and we also face problems of sustainability and responsibility. It's hard to balance a modern lifestyle that encourages throwaway consumption with the access to global information we have. We know we are the lucky ones while others are homeless and hungry. We know huge swathes of our countryside are giant rubbish bins and that our excesses have future ramifications. As parents, we wonder what legacy we are leaving our children. But we do have some of the power in our hands. How we chose to shop and the things we buy can make a difference - and set an example for the next generation. 

Teach ethics

Ethical clothing is a natural choice if you want to put your compassion where your currency is. There is something innately wrong about dressing your kid in cheap clothes if they are made using child labour and earth-endangering chemicals. If you want to teach your children to care about their own health and for the environment and the people that live in it, consider an ethical and sustainable school uniform - one free from synthetic toxins that can aggravate eczema and allergies. Ecooutfitters provide ethically-produced, chemical-free garments - that you can be sure do not 'cost the earth' or rip-off the workforce in developing countries. The summer dress that my daughter tried was lovely and soft with a decent length to it. She loved the design features at the waist and the pockets that were actually deep and strong enough to be useful. It has washed well and I drip-dried it to check it doesn't really need ironing (I'm not a stickler for the no-creases approach to life). It's 100 per cent organic cotton and has a lovely deeper red than the mass-produced 'bargains' you often see in the supermarkets. 

Share your cuppa

Another good way to shop responsibly is to seek out companies that give something back. As well as introducing products sold on this basis to your everyday life, it's lovely to give gifts that show you care too. Which is where The Kettle Shed comes in. Each and every time you buy a box of brew (be it for you or a lucky recipient - I'm thinking end of term teacher gifts!) from this company, it donates some of its tea directly to homeless shelters across the UK. Effectively you're not just buying yourself a cuppa - but also one for someone who is really in need. I tried out a box of the Carrot Cake fuso bags - a blend of rooibos and carrot cake flavours drawn from cinnamon, carrot pieces, mallow flowers and almond slices. The caffeine-free herbal infusion was a perfect pre-bedtime treat, warm and spicy. 

So next time you come to splash the cash - why not think outside the box and see if your money can buy more than just 'stuff'.

It's all good!

Recently I wrote about the concerns I have with many food labels. The feedback I received proved that most people feel exactly the same - confused and disappointed! Which is why I wanted to share a recent foodie find.

Goodness Gracious Foods began life in the kitchen of founder Katherine Gubbins, a mother and a yoga teacher. It offers a range of organic baby food purees based on the 5,000-year-old Indian health system of Ayurveda. That means only 100% organic ingredients and the introduction of new grains, flavours and spices because the brand simply believe 'we are what we eat'. Goodness Gracious promises that its food is naturally nutritious, organic and tailored to the stages of a baby’s growth. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains no salt, sugar, or additives or gluten. And you can see this on the lovely, clear label! The apple puree for example is - yup 100% apple! And the banana, plum, quinoa puree contains just that (and some water).

My kids (age 7 and 9) and I sampled the fruit purees. We all loved them (in fact my delightful kids were fighting over them!). I can easily see in situations when carrying fresh fruit is difficult - in hot weather, inside bags, on long journeys etc - how these pouches could be a viable alternative for young children and adults (post-race maybe if you can't stomach those gel packs!). I'm sure the savoury pouches are just as good too - both for babies as their nutritional needs increase - and potentially for adults out camping in the wilds or even ultra-running, when food storage and cooking is not an option. 

You can buy the pouches online or in these UK stores. So, show your support for the honest food companies trying to make a difference in the world!

You drop and I'll shop...

This weekend I supported my husband at his first ever full triathlon - the Hever Olympic - which is part of the Castle Triathlon Series. Despite hubby clocking a rather impressive race time of 2.58, as a spectator I still had plenty of time to enjoy the castle grounds AND the merchandise on offer in the event village. So I thought I'd share my two personal favourites with you!

I'm not going to lie, there was plenty of sexy on display at the triathlon. Not least the shiny Airstream caravan used to display the equally desirable ashmei running apparel range. The company is the elite athlete of the workout wardrobe scene, aiming to be the 'finest performance sportswear in the world'. The kit combines the benefits of merino wool, clever design elements (like the multi-function jacket cuff with a hidden merino mitt and thumb loop on jackets) and styling that would sit comfortably in a 'sports luxe' feature in Vogue. My absolute favourite is the Running Skort (who doesn't love a skort?!) and the high-end Ultimate Softshell Running Jacket, designed to protect the runner against the elements without getting sweaty on the inside.

Another standout retailer at the event was sponsor Saltskin - which makes vibrant children's wetsuits. The wetsuits will keep your child warm and protect them from the sun - and you'll have no trouble spotting them on the beach. Full-length styles come in tiger, giraffe, cow and ladybird patterns  and shortie suits in leopard, zebra and bumble bee styles. The suits are ideal for your summer hols, particularly if you like to body board. The company also produces UV suits and rash vest and short sets in the distinct designs so land lubbers can enjoy the seaside safari too.

Fancy something for yourself or for your mini-me?  Go on, you know you want to...

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