fair trade policy

environmental policy

Product Profiles

Producer Profiles


Ganesha fair trade policy

Ganesha is an alternative trading outfit that markets the traditional industries of India, working directly with the producers.

Our aim is to add as much value to handmade products, through quality in design and making, as we possibly can. In this way, we maximise the earning potential of the (often rural) producers, at source. And this puts more money into local economies.

It's about extending the market for marginal producers (marginal, because sometimes they just are, not by any particular design, e.g. producers in a geographically isolated place) and marginalised producers (e.g. women, low-caste, religious minority, disabled, producers). Sometimes the groups are co-operatives of craftspeople. Sometimes they are organised as social enterprises, diverting profits into community resources. Sometimes they are charities. Sometimes they are marketing associations helping artisans sell their products. You can check out the producers by clicking on the names in the lefthand menu, and explore them for yourself.

Trading in this way, from our direct experience in the field, we see how empowering it can be -particularly for women, and how alternative trading gives people more control and the chance to fulfil their potential and direct their own futures.

We buy and market goods on the following basis:

  • Most goods are bought from co-operatives and producer associations whose aims are to benefit society as a whole. We also buy goods from indigenous groups and small-scale producers concentrating on traditional materials and industries. Most of our producers are members of WFTO (International Federation for Alternative Trade)
  • Producers will be paid equally regardless of gender, race and caste.
  • Producers will be paid (at the very minimum), the rate set by their co-operative or marketing association or a fair rate determined by the cost of materials and the time involved in the production of the goods.
  • We aim that the producers should receive an income that improves their standard of living and community. We work to increase wages in India.
  • We will offer a 50% advance or the cost of materials to producers and settle payments promptly.
  • We believe in, and actively support the empowerment of local communities, with particular reference to the role of women.
  • We believe that any community development should be the initiative of the people themselves and that we should not impose our own ideas and values.
  • We support community initiatives through our fair trade partnerships, which can involve paying a premium for a product, such as microfinance schemes (though this is dependent on what the market will bear).
  • Where producers are employed they should be free to join trade unions or member associations. We would also expect a fair contract and a good standard of working conditions.
  • We will respect traditional seasonal working patterns and not expect goods to be produced during periods when the producer might be occupied with agricultural activities such as harvest time.
  • We are committed to sustainable development. We will pay a premium for local materials and encourage the complete processing of materials in the community itself.
  • We actively encourage value added in the communities of origin, and undertake product development with this in mind. In this way, more money goes to local economies.
  • We undertake product development with our producers and continuity in the trading relationship is a cornerstone of our fair trade policy.
  • We will support enterprises involving organic agriculture and intermediate technology.
  • We respect traditional designs, however we are aware that many producers are dependent on outside design input in order to produce marketable products. We want to raise the awareness of producers on market trends and provide sufficient support so that they can be self dependent and confident in their own designs and marketing.

Ganesha environmental policy

We wish to work sustainably and aim to examine, and limit, the ecological impact of Ganesha at home and overseas. We are particularly concerned with the following issues:

The environmental and social costs in the production of cotton. The farming of cotton is extremely intensive, in terms of energy (fertiliser demand) and water, and in common with other intensive production systems is damaging to the environment. Scarce resources, such as water are often diverted from domestic use to cotton production, which can create shortages for rural communities, while pesticides and fertilisers are often prone to over-use, which may actually exacerbate crop pests, and lead to pollution of water channels, loss of biodiversity, etc.. Intensive methods of production are also usually achieved at the expense of soil conservation, and are therefore inherently unsustainable.

Little organic cotton is produced in India, though this is gradually beginning to change. We would prefer all our products to be produced from organic cotton, however for most small-scale craft producers, it is difficult to obtain. There is also a logistical and financial constraint in obtaining organic certification for the producers, which instantly discriminates against small-scale production. We therefore buy cotton from intensive production methods, but the trade-off is that the cotton 'economy' is critical to small-scale producers in India.

That said, where we can use organic cotton, we do, and have introduced ranges of organic cotton bedlinen, towels, and also T shirts into our product mix. We aim to stock more organic cotton products in future.

The dangers of dyes to producers and consumers and their disposal All dyes both natural and synthetic can be hazardous to the producer and environment. We are concerned that producers should use the safest dyes and dispose of dye waste in a responsible way with due respect to the environment and local community. Consequently, we are in dialogue with our producers regarding best management for dye waste. It should be acknowledged that even small, home-based industries have an environmental impact, though this is very localised for small-scale industries, and negligible compared with large-scale industrial production.

We prefer the use of natural dyes as this gives the producer more control over the dye materials and process, and are possibly safer. Also, the collection of dye material provides additional employment and adds value to local forest products.

Azo dyes in clothing products have been banned by several EU countries as these dyes are carcinogenic. All our suppliers in India seem to have been prepared for this ban. We have however had conflicting views on how this may affect small-scale producers; one organisation expressed the concern that 'safe' dyes are not manufactured to the needs of the small-scale producer.

The sustainable use of wood Wood is a renewable resource critical to the energy and material needs of many people. Forests are also important in the ecosystem services they provide; protecting watersheds, soils and also providing other essential resources for indigenous people. As nearly all forest in India is owned by the government, most suppliers buy from government auctions which sometimes serves to obscure its origin, and the circumstances of its management and harvesting. We believe in buying wood from sustainable sources. However, because of this difficulty in determining sustainable sources of wood, Ganesha has largely avoided stocking wood products. We would prefer wood to be obtained from local forests managed by local communities but most forests are not managed in the peoples’ interest.

However, we have been researching the Joint Forest Management (JFM) schemes that are emerging in the Indian states of West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, where government forest departments and local communities are coming together to manage state forest lands, and sharing both the responsibilities and benefits. We are hoping that JFM will promote the sustainable use of other non-wood forest products also, which Ganesha hopes to stock in future. We believe that the sustainable use of forest resources is integral to forest conservation. We believe that local communities should have the right to use forest resources to achieve local resource security, and in the creation of income generating schemes. Ganesha's JFM research can be seen on the internet at articles.

The use of post-consumer and industrial waste Ganesha is particularly keen to support the transformation of waste into useful goods, which might otherwise litter the environment. This also gives rise to incredible creativity, and innovation, and also provides affordable and original articles.

The use of environmental pests Ganesha is keen to support the use of materials in the production of goods that might otherwise pose an environmental hazard, (providing they are not intrinsically hazardous to work with). The use of water hyacinth in the making of paper is one example. Water hyacinth, a species native to South America has spread around the water courses of Asia, blocking the free passage of water and in some areas, promoting disease. The use of this species, therefore, not only provides local communities with an abundant biomass supply with which to work, its harvest and use is an act of environmental rehabilitation!

The use of natural materials Ganesha actively supports the use of natural materials such as grasses, rushes and sedge, which provide local communities with an abundant and inexpensive material with which to generate an income. Biomass-based resources tend to be used by poorer artisans.

environmental policy: at home

Energy -Ganesha aims to minimise energy use.

Energy supply
We use a 'green' energy supplier, Good Energy which supports the market for energy from renewable sources, rather than from finite fossil-fuels.

Energy efficiency Energy efficiency is critical. We use energy-efficient bulbs in all our lighting - saving energy also saves money!

Partners use public transport daily, and one of us also cycles daily. Where the use of a vehicle is really needed we rent on a pay-as-you-go arrangement from StreetCar – a shared car club. In this way, we minimise the high energy costs involved in the production of automobiles.
Also, we are claphappy converts to the amazing world of Brompton. This little folding bike can go everywhere with you and can even double up as a shopping trolley –magic!

Waste -We aim to reduce our waste in the following ways:

Recycling Ganesha partners recycle the following: glass, paper, aluminium, plastic, tetrapaks, cardboard, clothing, shoes. Does anyone have any good ideas re what to do with 20 years of toothbrushes? Ahem.

We also like nothing better than to compost domestic organic waste, for use in the garden. Rainwater is also collected and used in the garden and pond. The newts prefer it to London tap!

Reusing materials
Ganesha partners support reusing good clothing and home accessories- buying and donating. I guess it’s sexier to call it ‘vintage.’ Whatever.

Freecycle  We are members of our local Freecycle group. This is where people are giving (+ getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfill. People
advertise their 'waste', anything from cardboard packaging to furniture and electrical equipment, and advertise any 'wants'. Members share things
that would otherwise end up as waste. (A similar arrangement seems to work very well in nature -

one organism's waste product is another's resource!)

Supporting sustainable development

Organic agriculture

We love our organic box scheme and get ours from Farm-a-Round. Regionally grown organic vegetables are delivered to our door. We believe that organic agriculture is more sustainable; organic production is not wholly dependent on fossil fuels, is concerned with long term soil fertility and conservation issues, does not perpetuate the profligate use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Organic agriculture allows greater co-existence with organisms outside the production system, unlike the monoculture and biological desert that is a feature of intensive agricultural systems -simply, organic agriculture is kinder on the environment.

Going local
Ganesha supports local-level goods and services. Ganesha partners shop locally, and seek out the most local services possible. In this way, a local economy is sustained, which profits the local community. Supporting local goods and services is also good for local employment.

Supporting local initiatives
Ganesha partners are members of a local environmental initiative,
Plumstead Common
Environment Group which maintains and enhances the local environment, through voluntary action and liaising with the local council. You will often find us litter picking on a Sunday morning, and summer 2011, we have particular responsibility for starting a local bat group. Our surveying of local bats will also feed into the national survey of bats organised by the Bat Conservation Trust.

Personally and as part of Ganesha, Jo Lawbuary and Purnendu Roy support or are fellows of the following organisations:

Environmental Investigation Agency
Gaia Society (The Geological Society)
Garden Organic
HDRA Third World Organic Support Group
Intermediate Technology
Permaculture Association
Plumstead Common Environment Group
Tripping up Trump