Ever thought you really can’t be bothered but after the event found yourself saying “That felt good. I should do that more often”?
I don’t know what you’re thinking of; I’m talking about exercise. Thinking about it is the easy part. We love the idea of exercise. Buying the appropriate apparel, the new trainers, the fancy equipment….so much more exciting than actually breaking out into a sweat. The good news is that for us ethical consumers, we can make some of these purchases with a clear conscience – yoga mats made from natural rubber or organic cotton; fair trade volleyballs; recycled fleeces; fair trade leggings; ecological bike cleaner or recycled backpacks. That’s a good start.
We all know that it’s good for us. The NHS leaflet I was reading about Depression the other day (as you do) lists exercise as one of the great self help remedies. It makes you feel better – the scientists tell you so; you know it for yourself. My children’s Primary School have Morning Exercise (a la Chinese) for all children every day – it’s said to stimulate the mind and be a great start to the day. It’s actually my daughter’s favourite part of the day. The Government Change4Life campaign states that active kids are happy kids – actually, that’s pretty true in my experience too. Whether I like it or not, my younger children are like dogs and are all the better for a runaround in the fresh air every day.
But being human, we either find every excuse not to get fit or go mad and get completely obsessed. Exercise to excess leads to sports injuries, over-competitiveness; health issues; an unhealthy obsession that consumes all our time and money. As usual, moderation is called for. To be honest, I’ve yet to reach the level where moderation is an issue. As for many of you, I suspect, the aspiration far outweighs the reality. Our local tennis club doesn’t miss a trick. It knows how to tap into aspiration. It holds open weekends during Wimbledon, for all those who sit in front of the TV, itching to get a racket in their hands. An opportunity to transform that inclination into action, sign on the dotted line for a year’s membership and then spend the next 364 days making up excuses not to get on court again. (or for those less cynical amongst us, to rediscover a long lost love for the game and a newfound fitness).
I can’t help wondering (as I do on a weekly basis) if we have not all gone a tiny bit mad. We purchase every labour saving device known to man and then join a gym to work out. We distance ourselves from manual work and then realise that our bodies actually need it. When I was in Malawi last year, my friend remarked to a woman on a foot treadle pump in the blazing sun that people in the UK pay good money to go to the gym for exactly the same kind of workout (as I said, mad).
So here are my five top tips for regaining (assuming you ever had one) a level of fitness this summer:
1. Discover the joys of gardening. Our garden is so overgrown through years of neglect that I certainly have my work cut out. I hear allotments are the new cool – get digging, weeding, pruning. You couldn’t work more muscles if you tried.
2. See housework as a form of exercise. Instead of investing in miracle products that do the work so you don’t have to, rediscover the satisfying combination of more natural household products with a fair dose of elbow grease – a great result all round.
3. Leave the car at home. Take the time to walk or cycle. It may take a real effort to hang up the car keys, but you will feel better when you get there. One of the greatest ironies in my life, which my husband is quick to point out, is driving to the gym; one day, I will silence him.
4. Play with the kids. I don’t know if all kids are the same, but I can’t send mine out to play – they want me to go out with them. How can the kids be inspired to be active if I sit and watch from a garden chair? Why would they think being active is fun if no-one is modelling it for them? This is a real trial for me. I didn’t enjoy outdoor games as a child – why on earth would I enjoy them now? But I do enjoy seeing my children learning how to hit a ball, skip or play hopscotch. So I play for ten minutes and then sit watching for ten minutes – a happy compromise for all.
5. Arrange a summer of activities. Call me mad, but I have come up with a summer of fun – a sheet of pre-arranged activities with a meeting place and time – and given it out to all my friends. A bike ride, a walk to the pub, an all-age rounders match, Sports Day…we’ll see who turns up and have fun with whoever does – the more, the merrier. At least it will get us out and about.
This is all common sense. As I said at the beginning, we all know the theory; it’s turning it into practice that’s the problem. These are my modest aspirations. Let me know some of yours. I have five children off school for seven weeks coming up. Seven weeks of not being able to get to the gym and needing to find my exercise in other ways – so the more ideas I receive from you, the better.Google+
Back in January our Managing Director Andy wrote a blog “Our 2009 pledge to you” and asked for your feedback and comments. We were really pleased by the number of you who took the time to write in and leave some great feedback and ideas. Thanks!
From your responses it became clear that packaging was an issue close to many of your hearts. Unfortunately a great deal of packaging often just goes straight to landfill, so in the belief that through small changes each of us can make a big difference, I decided to review our current packaging and find greener, more eco-friendly alternatives.
One of the main bones of contention mentioned by many of you was our use of bubble wrap. As an ethical company, bubble wrap is a great source of conflict as it unfortunately isn’t green (eco-friendly I mean!). It is annoyingly necessary to protect glass and fragile items with bubble wrap but the plastic nature of the product means it creates waste that fills up landfills and takes many years to biodegrade. This was the first item that I wanted to change and I was so pleased to find a wonderful new green alternative to this conundrum – biodegradle bubble wrap. GeoBubble has the same benefits as traditional bubble wrap – protecting orders from damage while in transit but, what is so fantastic is it will safely dissolve naturally into the environment. And it is a lovely green colour too!
Another element we wanted to change was the way that we pack our bottles. Fragile products need extra protection, but frankly our old cardboard bottle holders required a degree in advanced origami to assemble! Our new wine bottle holders are now made from reconstituted paper and are pretty robust as this video demonstrates. They’re made from 100% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable too, helping to minimise the amount of rubbish that gets sent to landfill. It makes a great excuse to buy one of our fab ethical wines!
All of the paper that we use to pack our boxes and protect your orders during transit is recycled, and with no waxy lining you can recycle this paper all over again, not to mention the fact that it’s compostable too. Another eco-friendly packaging favourite is Eco-Flo packing, which looks and functions like polyestyrene, but biodegrades exceptionally quickly (check out our video clip in The Great Packaging Debate blog post).
As often as we can we reuse old boxes which means your package sometimes doesn’t look as pretty as it could, but the ecological benefits defiantly outweigh the negatives. If we can’t find a box to reuse, we use new boxes which are specially manufactured without wax, so can therefore either be recycled or you can use them to build a fort/time machine in your living room!
We hope you’ll agree that we’re heading in the right direction with our packaging and practices, but we are always on the lookout for new inspiration so if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.Google+
We never like to miss the opportunity to bend the ear of a politician – yesterday we had two visit the Ethical Superstore. Wendy Morton, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Tynemouth, was welcoming Bernard Jenkin MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, to our region, and decided that Ethical Superstore would be a great example of a North East business doing well despite the tough conditions. After a tour of the warehouse and offices, a fairtrade cup of tea was enjoyed by all.
Andy Redfern commented “It’s all too easy to criticize politicians for being out of touch, so we never like to miss the chance to let them know what it’s like at the grass roots.”
Wendy gave us this feedback “As a Conservative I support Fairtrade. Developing Countries need aid but they also need economic development, trade and skills to lift them out of poverty. That’s why I believe Fairtrade is important.
“I was really impressed by the vast range of Fairtrade and ethical products at the Ethical Superstore – they have everything from groceries, to gadgets, to gifts. But what struck me most was the innovation and imagination behind many of the products. For example handbags made from recycled juice packets, and beer glasses made from recycled bottles.
“Visiting a place like this really does provide food for thought.”Google+
The latest line of products to enter our ever-expanding warehouse here at EthicalSuperstore is the great new Spring ‘09 range from the outdoor clothing and technical apparel manufacturer, Patagonia.
We’re excited to bring you this new product range, including hiking boots, men’s and women’s walking and outdoor equipment, and some fashion pieces.
Patagonia started life as a one-man mission to make and sell affordable and reliable climbing gear to like-minded people. Now, after over 30 years in business the folk at Patagonia still hold the same values dear; simplicity, utility, respect for nature, and a minimalist approach to life and work.
The range is not only functional and stylish though, it also boasts top-notch environmental credentials; Patagonia use recycled polyester in many of its clothes and only use organic cotton. You’ll find more information on individual garments’ materials and make-up on their product page.Google+
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