Category Archives: Uncategorized

Africa’s Fairtrade Cotton Farmers

I read this article today.  It is a little old, written by Elizabeth day in November 2010  for The Observer.  However it is still very much up to date.

It explains the subsudies given to USA, European and the Chinese cotton farmers – and then the impact this has on the cotton farmers in the very poor nations.  The subsidies really manipulate the price of cotton and has such a negative impact on the farmers in such places as Mali, West Africa.

Liz outlines the way in which Fairtrade has a positive impact.  The “Premium” resulting in access to health care, clean water and some education.

There is also an interesting video.

I have recently had an update from the Fairtrade Foundation regarding the fair trade cotton production for the garments we have made for us in India.  The organisation at the start of our Fairtrade chain is an organisation called Delight.  What a great name. 

The premium has partly financed water tanks for the groups livestock, as well as a communal stage for meetings and entertainment. They have also spent their premium on helping to finance and construct an English medium school called Swayam Academy through the Mahima Education and Welfare Society trust. The children of the tribal farmers (approx. 110) receive free education, transport, stationary and books at this school.  I have visited this school and some of the cotton farmers.  Once again I am reminded that when I read articles like the one Liz has written and think back to my visit then the inspiration it gives me results in our range of Fairtrade t shirts, aprons, school uniform and and polo shirts.

The real idea is to share.  Although the recession is having an impact on us here in the UK.  Our wealth is beyond the experience of the cotton farmers  I met.  If we at Cotton Roots together with our customers share just a little, the effects are magnified in such a important way to those growing the cotton in India and Africa.

Fairtrade & Organic Aprons Supplied to Dorset Cereals

I recently looked at the Dorset cereals website. We supplied them with aprons which they need for prizes fro a competition a while ago.  The aprons were a lovely chocolate brown and were both organic and Fairtrade certified aprons.

Well Dorset Cereals have a lovely website and a great competition to win a camper van which is fun and a little/very addictive 🙂  Have a go at

Organic and Fair trade garments on the BBC

We were delighted to host the BBC Working Lunch team to Cotton Roots and Impact Trading.  It was exciting to be filmed at work and a great boost to us all here.  The reason they wanted to film us was to shouw our ethically sourced aprons, t shirts, polo shirts and hoodies.  They are all either Fairtrade certified or organic garments.

I have been watching various clips on You Tube today showing cotton farmers around the world who are changing to organic and Fairtrade certified cotton.  It was good to take the time to do this. Sometimes when business is tough I have doubt about how much we can invest into making this side of our business work.  However watching these short films make me quietly more determined and somehow believing that it is not only the right decision for our suppliers in India but one that will be be a good one for us.  It will need us to continue to go on ordering stock and believing.  Call it a hunch or instinct I am still going along the path we have chosen.  Just writing this in the blog, remembering the BBC here and all the telephone calls we have had from customers pleased to have found us makes it “stick” more in my mind.

You can view the feature from the BBC Working Lunch here – BBC and Cotton Roots

Bespoke Fairtrade School Polo Shirt

We started the process some time ago.  The school in Bridgend have a very active eco committee run by pupils. They decided that they wanted to include ethical school uniform in their approach to sustainability and fairness.

The school is being rebuilt and they decided upon a new colour and a new style for their summer uniform and “re-launch” of the school.  We are at the stage where they have been pleased with the final samples are we are ready to go into production.  Purple with grey trim on the collar and cuffs, also the option of grey polo shirts with purple trim.  Even if we do say so oursleves they really do look smart.

They will soon go into production ready for spring and summer next year.  The best news?   They are made with Fairtrade certifed cotton from our cotton roots range.

Made to order Fairtrade school uniform polo shirts

This is the first secondary school customer we have who have chosen the Fairtrade cotton option.  We have lots of primary schools who have fairtrade uniform.  So I am really pleased that the whole order is exciting………Fairtrade, bespoke, made especially for them, and that they are from my homeland South Wales.

If you know of a school considering Fairtrade or Fair Trade school uniform please put them in touch with us.  They can ask for me, Susan, and we will work with them from design concept, sampling, right  throught to the final product.

Happy days!

“Bee Lovely” Organic T shirts supplied to Neal’s Yard Remedies

I have recently spent a Saturday on a “keeping bees” workshop.  It was riveting. I loved it. Sue Bird ran the workshop and as she has fifty bee hives she certainly knew her stuff.  But it was obviously more than a business for her and she loved her bees.  I came away loving them too and full of admiration for them.

Did you know that the worker bees are all female. That the queen bee makes one mating flight in her life and that the drones all think yipidy do da and race after her, elbows sharpened, in full buzz,  to try and be “the one?”  When the hive gets too full the old queen if slimmed  down again (by feeding her less) so that she can fly again.  She will then leave the hive taking a swarm with her and leaving a young queen in her place.

I wish Sue had a website I could point you in the direction of  – her workshops are so worth going to.

Anyway back to business.  Just at that moment Neal’s Yard Remedies came along and asked us to supply organic yellow t shirts. Printed with their “Bee Lovely to Bees” design.  You see they have a campaign to help the endangered honey bee and have an online petition which you can sign here.  They want to promote banning particular pesticides which directly impact Bees.  SIGN UP!

Supplied "Bee Lovely" Organic T shirt

Jenny worked hard on this order and the final result was certainly very effective. It was great that Cotton Roots organic t shirts were selected for this promotional campaign. We are proud to have supplied Organic and Fairtrade garments to another outstanding company. I was especially rewarding that it was right at the time I was learning all about keeping bees. 

Gave us a Buzzzzzz here at Cotton Roots 🙂

Honey Bee in flight with full pollen sacks

Fairtrade School Uniform Sweatshirts

Fairtrade Junior School Sweatshirt

We think we are the first and the only company with Fairtrade certified school sweatshirts in stock.  We now have red and navy and two school have started to order the stock.

It has been quite a long process.  Lots of samples made my Morses in India, patterns made and re-made.  Styles adapted until we were finally happy.  Our Fairtrade cotton for the sweatshirts still comes from northern India in Gujarat.  It will be interesting to see how many parents and schools will want them.  Well perhaps more than interesting as this has been quite an adventure from start to the finished product.  See our fairtrade school uniform –  Fairtrade school sweatshirts, fairtrade school polo shirts here. Continue reading Fairtrade School Uniform Sweatshirts

Free Energy Grant £500

Energy Grant 500

Energy Grant £500 for businesses
Good news!  Did you know that there is a simple no strings attached grant for £500 available to businesses? We have applied for it and I have been pleasantly surprised as it has been a very simple process.

Basically if you can improve efficiency by reducing your energy consumption you can get the grant. We have applied for a grant so that we can install a fan in the ceiling of our premises to push down the heat, and a plastic curtain to cut out the loss of heat through our warehouse doors.

It is great to find something that supports our business to continue our work towards a sustainable approach.

Click here for a link and application form. If I can offer any assistance please give me a call. 01908 290482

Cotton Prices

Well…..times are very “interesting” shall we say at the moment.  Cotton prices have reached all all time high by a considerable amount. They have $2 a pound and it has filtered through to garment manufacture over the last year.

The reasons why are many.  But basically there is a world shortage.

Less and less cotton has been grown globally because other crops have been more viable for farmers to grow.  particularly in th USA where farmers were given money by their government to grow crops which could produce fuel.  So they have reduced production of cotton and grown corn instead.  Cotton  a little while ago in the USA was being sold for around 40-50 cents a pound.  However in time we think that some of these farmers will switch back to growing cotton and help reduce the short supply

Then there was the bad weather and severe flooding in Pakistan and a bad monsoon in India hit their production hard.  The final blows were a poor crop in China and then the Indian government slapped export quotas on raw cotton.

The result – a shortage of cotton. Shortages of anything means higher prices as we manufacturers rush to buy cotton so that we are sure not to let our customers down.

Phew.   It si taking its toll but in one way it has given more “clout” to the farmers who are now able to influence the price where once they were in the control of the big buyers.

Cranfield MBA Students come to Cotton Roots

We are really pleased – but also a little nervous.  Two MBA students are coming along to Cotton Roots to scope a study report identifying environment, society and governance issues to our company.  This is a part of their “Managing Sustainable Business” MBA assignment.  I hope that the study will be useful to them, a hands on opportunity and also hopefully it will be very useful to us!  I find it motivating when we have input from someone outside the business.  Their views are different to ours and sometimes takes us in other new directions.  So watch this space.

As a alumni of Cranfield I can highly recommend them.  I always come away full of ideas for our company.