Each of the ethical categories we use to evaluate Green Tulip products against is listed below, with information on the sort of things we look out for and what we avoid. Each product on the site has icons indicating which of these ethical categories it falls into, and a section with information specific to that range called ‘the ethics behind it…’. There is an awful lot of information below but it's a complex and interesting subject and we'd rather you have the information there if you want it. However in the unlikely event that there is anything else you would like to know don’t hesitate to contact us!
NATURAL The word ‘natural’ is very overused in today’s marketplace and is often misleading, with many companies claiming to sell natural products when in fact they are packed with synthetic ingredients and contain maybe just a few token essential oils. At Green Tulip we make sure we find out exactly what is in a product before buying it so you can be assured that that everything we say is natural really is. These days people are often very aware of what they eat but tend to worry less about what they are putting on their skin. However the skin is the largest organ in the body and what you put on it can be absorbed directly into the blood stream and travel round the body. To make sure you know exactly what is in all of our toiletry products we list full ingredients for every product, and ensure that they contain no animal products and where possible no synthetic ingredients. None of our products contain the detergent Sodium Laurel Sulphate or Parabens - the chemicals used as preservatives. With new natural ingredients being discovered all the time we keep an eye on new brands and new products to ensure we have the best natural products available. We also work hard to find you products that are good value for money, rather than accepting that just because a product is natural it is significantly more expensive.
ORGANIC Recent years have seen huge growth in the market for organic product - both for food and non-food. We have sorted through the huge range of products out there to ensure everything marked as organic on our site is actually certified as organic by a respected certification body – ideally the Soil Association. The Soil Association is Britain’s largest and most recognisable trademark for organic produce and it sets probably the highest and most comprehensive organic standards in the world. Their website www.soilassociation.org is the best source of information if you have any questions about organic produce, but we have detailed below the basic principles behind organic farming and why organic is best, and then focused in on two specific segments of the organic market. The basic principle behind organic farming is that it relies solely on the natural ecosystem to ensure a crop grows successfully – avoiding the mass use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and therefore encouraging a more natural environment for both people and animals. People tend to eat organic food because they think it tastes better, but there are also real benefits to our health (from avoiding unnecessary pesticides and harmful food additives) and to the environment. Organic farms use on average 50% less energy than their non-organic counterparts, they avoid the use of fertilisers which means no emissions are given off in their manufacture or use, and the higher percentage of carbon in the soil on organic farms also reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Organic Beauty Products Whereas organic food must meet legal standards, the same does not apply to beauty products. The term organic can be used on products that contain only a tiny percentage of organic essential oil and are then topped up with synthetic ingredients you want to avoid, even those aimed at babies and children. We only mark as organic beauty products that are certified by a respected certification body and everything we stock is as natural as possible (with the supplier often working towards organic certification). Organic Cotton Cotton farming uses one quarter of the world's pesticides and can have a serious effect on the health of cotton farmers. As more and more pesticides and chemical fertilisers are used, the soil fertility is damaged, forcing the farmers into buying more chemicals to encourage their cotton plants to grow and sinking them and their families into debt. Organic cotton is now farmed in over 22 countries in the world, including many developing countries. By farming organically cotton farmers have reported that they do not have to get into debt and using viable alternatives to pesticides protects their health. Organic cotton farmers can also grow food safely on their land, which they can then use to feed themselves and their families or sell to increase their income.
BRITISH Much publicity has been given to ‘food miles’ – the distance food travels from food to plate – mainly because these food miles add substantially to the carbon dioxide emissions that are contributing to climate change. The same issues are true for non food products – with the miles travelled often even greater as a large percentage of products now come from the Far East and India. By buying British you can ensure these product miles are minimised, and at the same time can support British Industry – with the employment and community benefits it brings. At Green Tulip we buy British whenever we can – and if there is a choice between two similar products - one British made and one made in Australia for example - we will always choose the British one. As a small business ourselves we also try to support other small businesses – often specialist producers who have a real enthusiasm for their trade and a determination to supply like-minded retailers. This also means you will rarely find any of the products on our site being sold by the big retailers.
FAIR TRADE Over the past few years the official Fairtrade mark has started appearing on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are getting a better deal, confirming that the growers or workers have been given fair pay and treatment for their contribution to the making of the product. Currently there are nearly 1,500 certified products, but certification is still limited mainly to food and drink, with cotton and chocolate recently added. The foundation aims to extend their certification to include other products such as gifts and clothing in the future, but significant work is required to research, and set, the standards products need to be reviewed against. More information from website www.fairtrade.org.uk As Green Tulip’s assortment focuses on gifts there are very few, officially certified products available to us, but that does not stop us focusing on buying from suppliers who have a fair trade policy. In fact, the majority of the suppliers we deal with, both here and abroad, have in their ‘mission statement’ that trading fairly is one of the guiding principles in all their dealings. In some cases these principles extend to profit-sharing or producers working on a co-operative basis – both providing much higher job satisfaction. And finally, this approach means that not only does the grower get a fair price, but the entire production chain – from processor, shipper, manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer - gets treated with equity and fairness too.
RECYCLED At Green Tulip we aim to offer customers products that are stylish and contemporary, and it is surprising difficult to find recycled products that meet this brief! Much as recycled silicon chip boards and recycled tyres have a positive environmental effect, they don’t tend to make stylish products, so our assortment of recycled products currently focuses on glass and paper – and we will just have to keep looking… Recycled Glass Glass is unique in the fact that it can be infinitely recycled without compromising its quality, and if recycled glass is used to make new bottles or glasses the energy needed in its manufacture is greatly reduced - 315kg of CO2 is saved per tonne of glass melted (after transport and processing) or, more simply, recycling two bottles saves enough energy to boil water for five cups of tea. When you take account of the fact that recycling reduces the demand for raw materials (which have to be quarried from our landscape) and reduces the amount of waste glass which needs to be landfilled there really are many convincing reasons why buying recycled glass is an environmentally friendly choice. Recycled Paper In contrast to glass paper cannot be recycled indefinitely - it can only be recycled 4-6 times as the fibres get shorter and weaker each time, and some virgin pulp must be introduced into the process to maintain the strength and quality of the fibre. But the recycling of paper is still vitally important – it reduces the need for virgin pulp and therefore timber; it reduces the need for the disposal of waste paper, and the resulting methane emissions as it biodegrades; 28-70% less energy and less water is used in producing recycled paper (compared to virgin paper); and as recycled paper is not usually re-bleached (which is why it can have a greyish tinge) it produces fewer polluting emissions into the air. And, as the future of recycling ultimately depends on there being a market for it (ie. closing the loop), you really should invest in our tempting range of recycled paper notebooks, cards and wrap! More information on recycling can be found on www.wasteonline.org.uk.
SUSTAINABLE Products fall into the sustainable category when they are manufacturered from crops that have a minimal long-term effect on the environment, and in some cases even have a positive effect. Bamboo is the best example of this – known as the miracle plant, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, and is an endlessly renewable resource - growing new shoots from its root system after being harvested. It thrives naturally without using any pesticides or fertilizers, takes in greenhouse gasses and produces 35% more oxygen than the equivalent stand of trees. For other plants such as trees and palms, sustainability is all about halting the destruction of forests and plantations around the world, and the resulting damage to the eco-system. Any wooden products we sell at Green Tulip are from managed forests, as is the palm oil in our candles. In addition our wooden toys are made from rubberwood, which is a by- product of the rubber plantations and which is only harvested once the tree has stopped producing rubber. Certification in this field comes in the form of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – an international non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management, and all the social and environmental good that brings. And finally some points on the wider issue of sustainable development, and how many of the products sold by Green Tulip can help us work towards those goals …. These days we regularly hear that the current model of consumption in the western world is unsustainable, and that action must be taken. But what does this mean? , and the goal for the future is summarised as ‘sustainable development’ – ‘'development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. Listed below are the four main issues that have been highlighted as priority areas, and how our products can help: - building sustainable communities where people want to live and work, now and in the future (helped by supporting both small British businesses and fairtrade communities). - change the way we generate and use energy, in particular minimising greenhouse gas emissions (organic farming and recycling both help towards this). - change the way we design, produce, use and dispose of products and services so that we can achieve more with less and live within our resources (helped by using recycled products). - protect and enhance our natural resources and our environment (helped by using sustainable crops, and using natural and organic, rather than synthetic, ingredients).